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Posts from the ‘staffing’ Category

The Breakfast Method

From asking applicants to submit an essay or sell you something during the interview to insisting they solve logic puzzles or play word-association games, it’s all about the unconventional in the hiring game today.

But the cake topper is the strategy recently revealed in an interview Walt Bettinger, CEO of the Charles Schwab Corporation, gave The New York Times.

When considering a new candidate, the brokering and banking exec explains, it’s all about character.

pancakesAnd that’s why, in some instances, Bettinger invites his candidates for breakfast and elects to hold his employment interviews at a restaurant. Then he gets to the place a little bit earlier and brokers an arrangement with the serving staff so that his dining partner’s meal comes out wrong.

“I want you to mess up the order of the person who’s going to be joining me,” he’ll tell the restaurant manager. “It’ll be OK, and I’ll give a good tip—but mess up their order.”

The objective of the ruse? To see how the person he’s considering for a job that necessarily contains a lot of adversity will behave in such conditions.

“Are they upset, are they frustrated or are they understanding?” he pondered with journalist Adam Bryant. “Life is like that and business is like that.  It’s just another way to get a look inside their heart rather than their head.

“We’re all going to make mistakes. The question is how are we going to recover when we make them, and are we going to be respectful to others when they make them?”

Indeed. And pass the syrup.

National Hiring Portal for Homeless Youth Turns Problem into Possibility

There’s nothing like a bout of homelessness to dash a person’s expectations of, and chances for, viable employment. A new web-based social enterprise is seeking to address that black mark, though, with a Canada-wide program aimed at linking employers and willing would-be employees.


How it works

HireUp is a youth-hiring initiative that will operate like Workopolis does, with companies uploading in-house opportunities and youth-serving social agencies responding to them with candidates’ resumes. While most of the individuals are homeless and have yet to amass any formal work experience, they make up for this deficiency with enthusiasm for meaningful employment.

Currently, the site features some 180 full-time, and a slew of part-time, positions, on offer with companies such as Home Depot Canada, NEI Investments and Nordstrom.

The nominal fee employers pony up for their participation is reinvested in programs dedicated to improving conditions for homeless youth by way of the 18 social agencies involved in the project.

The scene by the numbers

Canada’s national youth unemployment rate was at 13.5% in October, almost double that of the general population (7.1%). Anywhere from 35,000 to 65,000 youth experience homelessness in Canada each year.

The first program of its kind in this country, HireUp is organized by corporate social responsibility consultancy Impakt. This Toronto-based organization launched the website with the collaboration of Workopolis and the Home Depot Canada Foundation.

HireUp is unique for the way it facilitates a corporation’s involvement in alleviating youth homelessness while simultaneously addressing its own personnel gaps.

Win and win.

The Rise of the “Super Commuter”

Whether out of choice or necessity, a new breed of worker is emerging from the beleaguered population of the North American working public: the “super commuter.”

This is the long-suffering — or at least long-travelling — employee who journeys at least 200 kilometres, once or twice a week, getting to and from work (the “super commute” is also sometimes defined as a return trip that lasts 90 minutes or more).


A new American study from an operation called the Rudin Center for Transportation reports that this quirky subset of the working population is on the serious climb.

The research, which declares super commuters as a “rapidly growing part of the workforce,” has found that these Air-Mile accumulators extraordinaires currently account for 13 percent of the workforce in big US cities. Indeed, eight out of 10 of the major metropolitan areas in the States have experienced a surge in this category of commuter over the last several years.

The City of Houston leads the pack on this qualifier. There, the super commuter contingent grew by a remarkable 98 percent between 2002 and 2009.

In Canada, that faction might include folks who live in the Okanagan and drive to Vancouver or fly up to Fort MacMurray for work, or who live in Montreal and fly to employers located in Toronto.

Super commuters might travel by air, rail, bus or even car. Often, the worker in question will stay in the city where his office is located for at least a couple of days, to make the extended journey worth it. In some cases, super commuters leave their homes on Monday morning and don’t return until Friday evening.

Families whose ranks include super commuters have had to learn to live within these conditions. An abundance of content offers advice on how to ensure their constraints don’t rip them apart — including recommendations that the absent member communicate electronically during the dinner hour, so he might virtually share the meal with his loved ones.

Executive Women Can Advance on Traditional Turf

The talking heads dominating the political scene south of the border may have given a passing nod to the role the fairer sex has to play in a thriving economy during the second presidential debate, but in this country, the binders full of employable executive-level women suffer no such slight. In Canada, women are an undismissively integral part of the economic engine and, further, stand poised to capitalize on even more opportunities in days to come.






A new study by Ipsos Reid polled Canadian female executives and concluded that the best bets for their swelling ranks appear to be in the “traditional” fields.

Specifically, says the research, the healthcare and education sectors offer the most potential for advancement for this country’s executive-level women. Some 58% of the 500 female managers and executives polled say they feel that healthcare provides the best chances for growth in the next three to five years — more than anywhere else. A little more than half of respondents (52%), meanwhile, point to education as the most promising territory for feminine success.

Other professional fields that ranked high on the list were the not-for-profit sector (35%), financial services (32%), hospitality (29%), professional services (23%) and the public sector (22%).

Information technology (11%), engineering and construction (6%), oil and gas (3%), and transportation and logistics (2%) rounded out the list. The industry cited as the least promising for women on the climb (surprise, surprise)? Manufacturing, at just 1%.

Bridging the Immigrant Employment Gap

Everybody’s heard the story about the brain-surgeon cabbie or the chemical-engineer office cleaner. These are the Canadian immigrants who arrive on our shores qualified to the gills but unable to find employment in their new country to match the skills they brought from their old.

Immigrants move to Canada because they’ve heard it’s got lots of jobs and generous benefits. It’s why we take in about 250,000 newcomers a year — more, on a per-capita basis, than any other industrial country. By 2031, StatsCan suggests, one in three workers could be foreign-born.

But these folks’ integration into a new society comes with myriad challenges. In addition to securing employment, there are language, cultural and educational hurdles to be overcome.

According to a July 2008 report, 54% of people who’ve settled in Canada since 2002 have been university-educated. But the unemployment rate for these souls, as of 2007, was quadruple that of Canadian-born residents with university degrees.


Some resources and advice to help this population find its employment feet.

• Bridging programs, like those from the province ( or Toronto’s Ryerson University ( offer mentor-matching and arrange mock interviews with real employers.

• The Canadian Immigration Integration Program ( is a federal government initiative to help newly landed workers find jobs that recognize their experience and education.

• Municipally based programs, such as those on offer from the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (, offer workshops on such esoterica as how to behave in a business meeting, and operate mentoring programs that pair skilled immigrants with established pros.

Planning to Work in Canada ( is a government-produced workbook for individuals who’ve recently arrived.

• Work in Canada ( is an online resource managed by the Montreal-based immigration law firm, Campbell Cohen. It has a slew of resources for foreign-born workers struggling with the transition.

• The Best Employers for New Canadians competition ( recognizes the country’s best employers for recent immigrants, as assessed by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.

• Professional Networks for Immigrants ( is a list of networks run by internationally trained professionals in a range of professions, useful for anyone looking to develop relationships in their field.

• Alternative Jobs to Regulated Professions ( suggests non-regulated job alternatives for different regulated professions.

• Staffing and recruitment outsourcing firms are excellent first and final stops for new Canadians. Check out the bounty at

Navigating the Hump

In the United States, some 12,000 baby boomers exit the workforce every day. In Canada, the median age of “active” citizens is a stunning 43.7 years (we averaged out at 38.1 in 1991), and some 41% of the working-age population is between 45 and 64, up from 29% in 1991. The world’s workforce, as boomers hit magic mark after magic mark, is old and getting older. More senior workers are leaving the labour market earlier, more junior workers are entering it later, and the needs and policies that defined the Canadian workforce even a decade ago are suddenly and stunningly no longer applicable.

So much of the unrest is a function of the so-called “baby-boom effect,” a reference to that swell of souls born between 1946 and 1966 whose ranks represent a full third of Canada’s population and account for 41% of the labour force. Read more

A Senior Moment

The unflinchingly abysmal economy notwithstanding, almost 60% of working Canadians feel that if they were to lose their job today, they could find another, and with similar duties and pay. But the optimism ends with the 55-and-over crowd. Once you’ve passed that not-so-magical divide, says the Ipsos Reid poll in question, your positivity about your employed future shrinks starkly. Just 49% of this population slice sees their professional prospects brightly.

Around here, we see these results as unnecessarily bleak. So you’re stumbling down the other side of the 50s hump when you find yourself relieved of a job. Casting eyes ahead, you imagine a life of only volunteering and retirement. Days filled with euchre, indolence and regular bouts of crying.

Perish the thought. Read more

Rocking the RRR (Recruiter-Recruitee Relationship)

Ours is a time, they tell us, of inarguable and unmitigated contraction. Bellies are tightening, prospects are dimming, hope is shrinking.

Blah, blah, blah.

But let the sun burn clean through the gauze of despair, why don’t you, and you may well discover an adjusted scene in the gloaming.

Things are fiercely competitive on the job-seeking front, yes. But fantastically so. What’s better for a go-getter than the opportunity to get going? And, better still, to do so in the supremely competent company of a professional recruiter?

If your job seeking is taking place according to a recruiter-broker model, it’s important to exploit the resources at your disposal. Remember: Recruiters are paid to act as intermediaries. Here’s how to put them to work. Read more

The Lost (and Found) Art of the Cold Call

Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard the complaints. We know about the cold-calling recruiters who abuse the privilege. The day interrupters who bluster in with ill-informed descriptions of corporate expectations — and scant expertise in assessing whether the guy at the other end of the line is equipped to fulfill them. These are the bad apples of our industry, the glorified telemarketers who are hell bent on making quota — and on dragging the entire orchard down with them.

The fact remains, however, that there is some seriously good fruit to be had in the cold-call crop. These are the professional firms that understand the nuances of the stuff; the serious organizations with abundant respect for the powers of clear communication, personal attention — and the efforts that may be required of them to reverse the effects of the pesticides the last guy sprayed all over the place.

Here are four things that separate the sweet from the sour in a typical harvest. The good cold-calling apples understand that:

  1. They must connect with the right audience (i.e., the individual who oversees the service or product they’re looking to sell). Such direct connection will ensure that the perceived level of harassment of their advance is negligible.
  1. People actually like to be sold to — provided the pitch in question is aligned with their interests. When such a matchup is identified, the client generally doesn’t even realize he’s the target of a sales pitch, so intrigued is he by the simpatico buzz he’s riding.
  1. Their value-add is exposure to something new (companies, services, products, pricing or overall market intelligence). The bearer of novelty is always welcome.
  1. They must always be prepared. They must be professional, know the client’s pains as well as possible, and anticipate nothing more than 30 seconds in which to make an impression. To follow, they must demonstrate their appreciation for the time the prospect has given them. Gracious appreciation always packs a good punch.

Social Media Footprints and Our First Steps

As our staffing and recruitment firm is growing into a mid-sized company, my business partner and I often get asked our thoughts on growth, our brand and our “social media footprint.”. . . Sorry, what was that last part again?

The first two are topics we discuss almost daily, but the last piece to that line of inquiry is something we felt quite ill-equipped to address. What is our Social Media Footpint — or SMF, if I’m being truly hip — anyway? LOL!

Clearly, we realized, the time had come to think about branding in today’s market and how to be a part of the social media train that Austin Powers might have characterized as having “already sailed.” Read more