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Posts tagged ‘permanent recruiting’

Study Up: Drug and Alcohol Testing in Canada

In the aftermath of wheels-up Lance Armstrong’s not-so-surprising confessions to Mme. O last week, now’s as good a time as any to put together a snapshot of the Canadian employment landscape insofar as drug-and-alcohol testing practices go here. Here’s a half-dozen data points thereon:


  1. Wildly inconsistent rulings by various courts, labour boards and human rights tribunals across the country have created a climate of confusion on the subject of random workplace tests for drugs for workers engaged in jobs that are not considered “safety sensitive.” The uncertainty stems from efforts to strike a balance between ensuring a safe working environment and protecting individuals’ basic human rights.
  2. As of April 2012, only eight jurisdictions in this country had a policy on drug and alcohol testing: Saskatchewan, PEI, Northwest Territories, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
  3. The Canadian Human Rights Commission Policy on Alcohol and Drug Testing prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and perceived disability. Disability includes individuals with a previous or existing dependence on alcohol or a drug, and perceived disability refers to an employer’s perception that someone’s use of alcohol or drugs makes him “unfit to work.”
  4. Because they can’t be characterized as “bona-fide occupational requirements,” says the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the following tests are not acceptable: pre-employment drug or alcohol testing, random drug testing and random alcohol testing of employees in non-safety-sensitive positions.
  5. In Canada, the (massive) onus is on the employer to establish that drug and alcohol tests are necessary for ensuring the safe and comprehensive fulfillment of a professional position.
  6. There are currently two prominent cases before the courts —Suncor and Irving (see: — that challenge the muddiness of the “safety-sensitive work” exception and which observers hope might shed clarity on the scene.

Given the swirling uncertainty that characterizes this subject, it’s no surprise that taking a boozy workplace abuser to task in this country is a tall order.

IT Outsourcing Tip Sheet

Organizations that outsource their IT work have a tall order to fill. From aligning the partner’s internal culture with their own, to ensuring an exit strategy is part of the initial contract, there’s much to be considered when entering into such an arrangement.


Here, in the interest of easing the burden, is an IT Outsourcing Tip Sheet. Keep its wisdom close at hand.

  • Do your due diligence. The decision to assign the oversight of IT functions to an external provider comes with a certain amount of risk. Companies need to take stock of that risk via extensive investigation of the subcontractor. Review their portfolio. Check their references.
  • Sign a contract. A company makes its relationship with an IT outsourcer official with a contract. Make sure yours is comprehensive, and includes mention of much. Here’s where you outline how you’ll receive project updates, clarify confidentiality expectations and agree on a timeline for the work. Make sure, too, that the document has a long view that considers your ongoing need for both access to intelligence from this provider over the lifetime of the relationship, and a sensible exit strategy that gives you unfettered closure when it runs its course.
  • Ensure a culture match. By making sure that the culture of the service provider corresponds with your own, you reduce the possibility of having key staff — with critical knowledge of your systems — heading for the hills. Attending mutual social events or organizing participation in each other’s quality programs are two ideas for bridging the gap.
  • Get involved, stay engaged. It’s not enough to simply dump a load of work in an IT subcontractor’s hands and return two months later to survey the finished work. Keep projects on track by maintaining contact. The developers should be accustomed to reporting on their progress and seeking your feedback. No one, after all, knows your business better than you.
  • Buy wisely. While IT spends vary wildly according to company size and sector, some 80 percent of a company’s total IT budget will typically be spent on maintenance, with the remaining 20 percent freed up to take advantage of new projects, improvements and paying for regulatory changes. It’s important to bear these numbers in mind throughout.
  • Be prepared for challenges. It takes time to build an outsourcing relationship. Be patient, and you will be well rewarded.

It’s critical, when outsourcing your IT work, to ensure that you and the subcontractor are always on the same, surprise-free page. Cover your bases thus and the arrangement should prove extremely fruitful.

Canadian Job Seekers: the Age Divide

Young or old, longtime jobless or freshly loosed upon the world of work, if you’re unemployed in this country, you’re making a pretty standard time investment in trying to change that. StatsCan has released a study that sought to identify the differences in job-search behaviours between the older unemployed and their younger counterparts — and has determined that they’re not so distinct after all.

Data, which came from the Employment Insurance Coverage Survey spanning the period from 2006 to 2010, suggest that both age brackets invest equal time in their pursuit of employment.

The study reports that unemployed people aged 55 to 64 spent an average of 13 hours a week job hunting — the same as those between the ages of 20 and 34.
The key differences between these demographic samplings show up in the way each age group looks for jobs. Not surprisingly, you’d be more likely to see the old folks scouring newspaper classifieds and the young folks surfing on-line job boards.


Other findings include:

• Younger job seekers are more likely than older job seekers to connect with employers directly as their main means of finding work.
• Older and younger unemployed workers are equally willing to take a job outside of

their usual stomping grounds.

• Older workers are willing to work for 10 percent less money than younger workers.

• The older contingent of unemployed tends to have less education than the younger one, and is more likely to have skills suited only to a specific industry.

• Both age groups turn to employment agencies in similar numbers.

Ultimately, the StatsCan report is compelling for what it reveals about the commitment Canadians without work are prepared to make to reverse that reality. The DOB on their driver’s license notwithstanding, these folks are dedicated to putting in the hours required to find jobs. What’s more, their job-search habits stay consistent, regardless of the duration of their unemployment. Job seekers spend the same amount of time looking for work 24 weeks into the ordeal as they do during their first eight weeks of joblessness — no matter their age.

More IT Pros Getting Schooled

Professional-level information technology expertise is alive, well and increasingly fortified by the weight that formalized post-secondary education has to lend to the enterprise.

So says the Computing Research Association in its recently published survey of the academically sanctioned IT landscape. This association of more than 200 North American IT-related academic departments, laboratories and government bodies has put together an annual assessment of the intersection of IT and academe, and the results herald a positive near future for this thriving industry — at least so far as the academically prepared participants in it are concerned.

The last year has witnessed increases in the number of undergraduates pursuing post-secondary education in the IT field, says the study, along with continued or increased counts of students in graduate-school IT programs.


Some highlights of the 2010-2011 CRA Taulbee Survey, “Computing Degree and Enrollment Trends,” include:

• Overall enrollment in undergraduate computer science programs at participating schools — including the University of Toronto, Concordia, UBC, Waterloo and Western — rose by 11.5 percent per department in the 2011-12 school year compared to the prior year. It’s the fourth consecutive year during which the computer science department’s ranks have grown.

• The total Masters degree production in computing programs increased by 6.2 percent, this year over last.

• The number of new PhD students in Canadian computer science programs increased by 17.4 percent, this year over last. Overall PhD production in computing programs held steady in 2010-11, with 1,782 degrees granted.

• Anecdotal reports suggest that enrollment growth in IT-related university programming would be even greater were it not for the caps in place — in the form of faculty of infrastructure limitations — at the degree-granting institutions.

Such a steady surge of IT excellence being loosed upon the world can only portend positive things for organizations with mounting technology staffing requirements.

The Burden of Big Data

“Big data” is one of those trending biz terms that makes the rounds in the ample company of intimidated corporate types who have the twitching sense that maybe they’re not getting from the stuff what they might. Which is precisely what a new global IBM study has revealed.


The study in question — the joint product of the IBM Institute for Business Value and the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford — reports that, in spite of the fact that most big-ass data initiatives in which big-ass companies engage are ostensibly designed to improve the customer experience, less than half of them are including external data in the mix.

That, say the analysts, is because the bulk of these organizations really don’t know what to do with the information. For one, there’s the inherent dubiousness of social media (which makes up a big chunk of this float-y data mass) that puts them off. Where’s the credibility precedent in a status update, after all, or in a breezy restaurant review?

For another, they suffer a lack of experience in managing the material on their own. The IBM research — which polled more than 1,100 business and IT executives with a view to understanding how they’re extracting business value from big data —declared that the material is simply too unwieldy and unfamiliar for most organizations to tackle on their own.

They lack the advanced capabilities required to analyze unstructured data — data that don’t fit in traditional databases such as text, streaming data, sensor data, geospatial data, audio, images and video — they say. Indeed, only 25% of the survey’s respondents themselves feel they’ve got what it takes to evaluate the ever-accumulating vastness of such ungainly material.

And this news arrives in tandem with the finding that 63% of these same folks apparently believe that employing and analyzing these data are activities that represent a competitive advantage for them (a 70% increase in affirmative assessment of this reality over 2010).

Sounds like a case for calling in the experts.

At Keen, our data-service offerings — including data collection, warehousing, reporting and analytics — are designed to enable clients to harness intelligence and meaning from their data. The alternative, as the IBM researchers discovered, simply unearths a whole lot of promise, but a decided absence of the chops required to put it into practice.

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

Recruitment by Facebook

Given that some 90% of recruiters currently use social media to help perform their jobs, it’s an increasing no-brainer that this landscape is fertile for recruiters and employers looking to fill their ranks.

Take Facebook, for one.

No longer a conduit for poking and cat videos alone, Facebook has evolved into a fully fledged recruitment tool whose vast audience — presumably dominated by the young and highly employable — now clocks in at a staggering near billion souls. Having recently outpaced Google in the push for popularity, Facebook is now the most visited real estate on the web.

The pie

•  85% of Internet users have Facebook accounts and 74% of them visit the site daily.

• 57% of Internet users have more than 100 Facebook friends.

• According to enterprise software-as-a-service provider HireRabbit, 48% of all job seekers (and 63% of those with a profile) did social-media job-hunting on Facebook in the past year.

How to get a piece

• Launch a Facebook group to establish yourself as a hub of expertise inside the industry whose employment rosters you regularly seek to fill.

• Consider the power of the potential brand ambassadors a Facebook presence makes available to you and your cause, like the 32 million or so (and counting) users who like Starbucks or the 30 million who are fans of Red Bull.

• Given that Facebook’s variably closed status can make direct sourcing a challenge, explore external Facebook network options like Spokeo, Pipl and Wink, where users can directly search for status updates and wall posts.

• The best Facebook career pages are clean and compelling, kept dynamic with news, links, and even contests and quizzes to engage an audience.

• Remember the power of current staffers in promoting your HR requirements. The more Facebookers who post links to your page, the better your chances at finding what you need.

• Investigate the range of Facebook job-search applications — a list that’s ever expanding. Work for Us allows allows users to convert Facebook pages into customized job boards; HireRabbit is an enterprise SaaSS that promotes itself as the most dead-simple option out.