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It’s a Funny Story…..

Over the last few weeks I have been asking candidates how they got into their professions. And more than two thirds start their answer with “well, it’s a funny story”.

Then they proceed to talk about the seemingly unrelated series of events that took place and culminated in them landing in that exact place.

This gives me great cause for optimism. I read a lot about workplace transformation and AI and jobs disappearing. And I worry. I worry about how people will change themselves to keep pace with the shifts in the workplace.

But if that many people fall into jobs that they never imagined when they were in school then I guess there is a certain amount of hope that they will continue to follow new paths.

I have read about journalists who are working in digital marketing, an English grad who is working in software development and the music student ended up being a great project manager.

Many of the initial opportunities came from networking. A former colleague or a former manager reached out or made a key suggestion.

The takeaways:
Keep your network warm. Make sure they know who you are and what you care about. (Not just your title and company).

Be open to listening to ideas and evaluating them as you go. If you are always “way too busy” to consider a new opportunity, they will cease to come your way.

Read a lot. Read about your industry, the tools you use, the news of the day and a bit about the economy. Keep your world broader than your desk.

Basically, if you keep your eyes open for ways to explore and learn about the future, you will be ready when it arrives.


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How to Prepare for a Skype Interview

Skype interviews are becoming more popular.  They are frequently easier to coordinate and they have the added benefit of avoiding traffic jams and  exorbitant parking fees.

A Skype call sounds easy and it is – if you are prepared.  Take a few minutes the day before to get everything set up and checked.  Otherwise you will end up with the same sweaty armpits you would have in  a face to face interview.

Decide what device you are going to use.  Make sure you have the latest updates and a strong internet connection.  Pixelated faces are only funny in Snapchat.

Think about where you are going to take the call.  If it it is going to be lunch time and you will be in your car or truck, that’s okay just tell the interviewer that before hand.  Otherwise, find a neat spot with a flat surface and no distractions.  Art in the background is okay but sitting in front of  your bookshelf of romance novels might not send the right message.

Don’t hold the device in your hand.  Put it on  a book or stand it up on a table.  It is extremely nauseating (for me anyway) if the phone moves every time you scratch your nose.

Do a dry run with a friend.  Ask them where you should look and what they see.  I spent an entire hour this week looking at an Adam’s apple.  Not the best.  Check the angle and the height to make sure you are putting your best face forward.

Log on about 10 minutes before – just like you would arrive a few minutes before your appointed interview time.  Check you hair and your teeth and have a great conversation!


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Stay Warm by Learning New Skills

Friday will be the end of the first week of February. Yes, the first month of 2019 is done. We have wrapped up 2018. It’s been reviewed, analyzed and picked apart and plans for 2019 are coming together.

Lots of people are waiting to see how their bonuses are going to shake out or how company plans will affect or improve their jobs. Looking at new opportunities is not really at the top of the list.

And that’s all well and good but this is not the time to let your career stagnate. Keep things fresh and lively for the best opportunities both inside your company and outside your company.

One of the things you can do is to take courses. There are lots of options. Gone are the days when you had to rush to a course on some far away campus two evenings a week.

There are lots of organizations that offer virtual courses where you login for a specific time with other students. There are also on-demand courses where you can login anytime you want and go at your own pace.

Skillsoft – leadership development, health and safety, business and management training
General Assembly – web development, data, digital marketing
LinkedIn Learning – business, technology and marketing

These are just a few of the places. They all have different price points and different platforms. Some offer free trials or demo events.

Take a look. This is the kind of development that shows at work. People notice when you are learning new stuff and you are excited about it. It shows. Sometimes people even think you are taller.

Let’s face it….at minus 30 degrees, we are not going out jogging. Let’s stay in and learn something.

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Looking for a New Job? Start here.

It’s new year.  I am not one for resolutions, but I know it’s popular to spend the time between Christmas and the New Year drinking too much and dreaming of better days.

For a lot of people, that might include a new job – one that’s closer, pays more, has a better boss or a better mission.

Canada has a pretty strong economy right now and the employment market is tight which means that number of vacancies is up and the number of candidates is down.  According to the federal government, 94,000 jobs were filled in November giving us the lowest unemployment levels since 1976.

This does not mean that anyone who wants a job can get one.  As always, there are pockets where there is a greater demand and pockets where it is shrinking.

For example, you could be the best customer service person alive, but if you want to answer the phones for Pizza Pizza, it will be tough.  Their ordering app for mobile phones is terrific and has a high rate of adoption by customers.

If, on the other hand, you are the person who made the Pizza Pizza app, you have it made in the shade.  Lots of prospects for you – as long as you can network and let people know about your successes.

Other areas of growth:

  • Health care
  • Social Assistance
  • Construction
  • Transportation and Warehousing
  • Cannabis

There are a lot of good possibilities to explore in this list.  If you want to spend some time thinking about these industries, you can start with

You can search for occupations and read about their longer term outlook, wages and education requirements.  It’s pretty dry but it is reliable information that will give you enough to decide what you want to pursue.

Happy looking!

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Hiring Handbook: New Year’s Resolutions

I know that being a better hiring manager is not at the top of everyone’s list of resolutions, but it should be.

If your organization has plans for 2019 that include growth, change or innovation, you are going to need some new people.  People with fresh energy, ideas and perspectives.  This is not to say that you have to ditch the loyal folks who got you to where you are today.  Rather, to replace people who move on and to augment those who stay.

Hiring does not have to be a long and painful process.  Here are seven tips to make it better next year.

  1. Have clear job descriptions that are in real time and properly aligned to the business.
  2. Actively solicit internal candidates. Don’t just rely on posting the job where people can see it.
  3. Pull together the stakeholders and commit to a timeline. Look ahead and block off times for interviews.  If you wait until you have candidates, you will add weeks to the process.
  4. Provide timely feedback to candidates. Protect your brand by communicating clearly and often.
  5. Streamline the interview process. Candidates who are working will have a hard time getting away for seven interviews.  Three should be enough – book ahead and get the hiring people lined up early.
  6. Prepare an interview guide before you start. Outline the specific skills and experience you need and build questions around them. Take a copy of the guide into each meeting.  This will improve your accuracy, thoroughness and consistency.
  7. Have fun! It is exciting to see the passion and confidence emanating from a candidate across the table. Interviewing new people is a great way to feel energized about your team and if that is not your current experience, call your favourite head-hunter.  We’ll take care of it.


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Hiring Handbook: De-risking a Hiring Decision

Sometimes you meet a candidate and you just know that they are they person for the job.  They seem to understand exactly what’s going on without a lot of preamble. By the end of the interview, you are practically finishing each other’s sentences.

But there are other times when you are just not sure.  You know they are smart and have relevant experience but you are just not certain they will be a fit.

What to do about this?

You can kick them to the curb.  It sounds mean but if you really have serious doubts, then you don’t need to invest any more time in the process.

You can have the candidate meet with other people who would interact with them in the organization.  The manager once-removed, peers and members of the team are all possible sources of input.  You can line up a few meetings and then collect the feedback.  You can even share your concerns or provide some of the questions.

References will also provide some insight into how the person will perform.  I am not a fan of back door references (when you talk to someone who knows the candidate without the candidate’s knowledge or consent) but they can be an effective way to gather real information.  You can learn about how they show up everyday and how they deal with stress.

Finally, you can consider using a formal assessment.  I don’t mean a quick and dirty online thing but a real assessment. One that includes input from the hiring manager, an interview with the candidates by a knowledgeable person and a formal debrief with the hiring team.  This type of formal information from someone unrelated to the hiring process may provide real comfort about the person joining your team.

The bottom line is that you should take as much time as you  need to make the right decision. It will be worth it in the end.

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Make the Most of Holiday Hangouts

I don’t know about you but the next two weeks on my calendar are sprinkled with pot lucks, lunches and cocktails. This is generally where I roll my eyes and find other things to do.

But this year is going to be different. I am looking at each get together as an opportunity to learn new things.

I am going to try not to gossip about people in other departments or complain about the weather, Instead, I am going to positive and maybe even interesting.

For example, when someone asks me how things are going, my response is not going to be “busy”. Of course I am busy. Everyone is busy. We would not have jobs if we were not busy.

Instead I am going to talk about one of the search projects I am working on. This opens the door for much more interesting conversation than “I am so busy”.

I am also going to avoid asking about people’s plans for the holidays. There are lots of people who are not going skiing in the Swiss Alps or dining with celebrities. While it can be fun to hear about those adventures, it can be depressing too.

I am going to ask about Netflix instead.  I plan on some heavy binge watching over the holidays and I need some recommendations.

If I can stick to this plan, I should be able to come away from this holiday season with lots of new ideas and information which will be an excellent foundation for my big plans in 2019.


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