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Norma Rae Redux

Unions have long been a cornerstone of the Canadian workforce. Their members have been linked to a strong middle class, a generally prosperous and stable economy, increased job security, tax support enough to sustain robust public services and healthy families.

But numbers just released by Stats Canada suggest the picture is changing, hand in hand with a workforce whose makeup has been undergoing a significant evolution of its own.

Canada’s unionization rate has fallen from 37.6 percent in 1981 — the year it was first tracked —to 28.8 percent in 2014.

And the characterization of its individual members is on the move, too.

NormaRae

Today a union member is slightly more likely to be a female than a male, and to be employed in an office, school or hospital. That’s a stark departure from the more traditional profile of a union member, who was a factory worker, miner or member of another blue-collar trade.

Between 1981 and 2014, the union density for male workers declined from 41 percent to 27 percent. But it remained relatively stable for female union members over the same period, varying between 30 percent and 32 percent.

Another significant change is the drop in the number of unionized young workers, particularly males. This, says the analysis accompanying Stats Can’s release, is most likely a function of the employment shift away from those industries and occupations with high union density (such as construction and manufacturing) and toward those with lower rates (think retail and professional services).

In Canada’s private sector, unionization rates — 15.2 percent in 2014 — have been on the freefall for more than three decades. They are much higher — 71.3 percent in 2014 — in the country’s working public sector.

There are well over a hundred unions in Canada, and they fall into four categories: international, national, independent local and directly charted. On average, a union in Canada represented about 6,000 workers in 2014.

This trend of shrinking union membership is likely to continue, says the report, and the image of a “typical” Canadian union member will continue to be the subject of reinvention.

IT CV FYI

It’s the season for moving from one thing to another. Newly minted IT grads, fresh to the tech job market, are keen to turn the page on this latest life chapter. But it’s an undeniably crowded catalogue, and so everybody needs to make sure their words rise to the top of the page.

And that’s a particular challenge if you don’t have much experience or many credentials to scribble onto it.

Fear not, fresh member of the job-seeking scene. Here are your top four best tips for putting together an IT-focused resume.

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Write selectively. Well-crafted, efficient CVs are a rare breed in this world of verbosity. A crisp resume that communicates your attributes clearly and succinctly is considerably more appealing than a boastful bombast that rambles on endlessly.

Demonstrate applicable experience — even if you don’t have any. That means a would-be systems engineer with no professional hardware design expertise needs to dig deep and point to those elements of his background that called for the same skills this position does. Think project-management volunteer work and school assignments requiring advanced knowledge of current technologies and environments.

Offer lots of evidence of related experience. Expound abundantly on the technical skills you’ve amassed over the years, even if they’re not exactly the ones a particular position seeks. So if they’re looking for experience in OLAP technologies, say, but you’ve only worked with OLTP technologies, don’t leave your not-quite-spot-on qualifications unsaid.

Provide access to proof of your expertise. In other words, take care that all evidence of your social media presence includes professional-level data that support — and don’t contradict — the expertise to which you lay claim. A curious hiring rep who stumbles upon your personal blog will be delighted to find it filled with tales of your management of large-scale technically complex projects.

Applying for a job in the tech sector begins with the critical document of introduction that is your CV. A clean, smart record of your talents and experience is an excellent first page from your excellent next book.