The Procom Jobcast

When Harry hired Sally: Can men and women be friends at work?

Nothin’ to see here, folks.

Nothin’ to see here, folks.

We’ve talked before about office romances, but what about platonic friendships between men and women? What are some things to keep in mind while navigating those close friendships?

What we found online was a lot of handwringing about what was “appropriate” between male and female co-workers, with a big emphasis put on keeping distance in those relationships. We have a lot of concerns about this framing, namely that it relies on three common misconceptions:

  1. A close work relationship between a man and a woman always has the potential to turn romantic. In reality, of course, this is only possible if both are heterosexual, which of course not everyone is.
  2. Also, as far as concerns about any marriages that might be put in danger by these friendships, this assumes that everyone who is married is monogamous, which again, is becoming increasingly not the case.
  3. Finally, these concerns are all framed around the idea that there is even such a thing as “the opposite sex”, that everyone is male or female. We know this isn’t true.

You might dismiss those three debunkings as not being relevant in the majority of cases. We’d recommend checking out the links before doing that, but we’ve got another argument up our sleeve. Limiting these types of friendship has an unexpected other side effect: reinforcing existing power structures.

As Karin Hurt writes in Let’s Grow Leaders:

“Leadership is relational. If you’re a male leader who has big rules about being friends with women, but not with men (or vice versa), with whom do you build deeper connection and trust? Who becomes your go-to guy? Your good intentions have side effects, and the “good-ole-boy” network unintentionally deepens.”

We sheepishly admit that we’d never thought of that before, but it makes perfect sense. So let’s all be grown ups and simmer down about friendships at work, between people of any gender?

Keep your employees from having an identity crisis

Please note, an employee identity crisis is very different from an employee with a secret identity.

Please note, an employee identity crisis is very different from an employee with a secret identity.

Odds are good that, at some point in the last few years, you’ve found yourself with a case of employee identity crisis. Most of us have! Many extremely talented and competent workers have found themselves suddenly underemployed in an economy that was on a distinct downturn, and as a result many of us have had to focus on finding work whenever it was available, regardless of whether it suited our needs or fit our personalities. It can be such a relief to finally find a position that we don’t necessarily care what it is at first, we’re just so happy to be gainfully employed.

In the long run, this can lead to employees who have an identity crisis. Though we’ve found ourselves in a coveted job, something that provides us with a workspace and salary and even even some modest benefits, the environment, management and colleagues we found ourselves surrounded by might not be right for us. When it’s clear that we don’t fit in, we start looking for new opportunities.

If you’ve ever found yourself in the position of not fitting in or feeling comfortable at a job, chances are you’ve encountered at least a few of the workplace dynamics that fuel employee identity crises, courtesy of the folks at Forbes:

  • Bosses who don’t know you. If your bosses couldn’t be bothered to learn you name, let alone your unique skill set, there was no chance of having your abilities utilized properly.
  • Feedback is discouraged. When you learn that no one is interested in your opinion, only your bland compliance, chances are some of your best ideas never got heard.
  • A lack of strong leadership. If you’ve ever found yourself with four direct supervisors who often gave entirely different and contradictory instructions and seemed to have no common expectations, you’ve dealt with this confusing and frustrating situation.
  • “The Urgency of Now.” This kind of climate makes you feel like no one really cares about the quality or relevance of the work being done, as long as it was delivered quickly. With volume privileged over quality, it is very easy to become burn out.
  • No cultural integrity. Beige-and-grey colour scheme? Ill-fitting cubicles? Terrible fluorescent lights? These are bad enough, but when coupled with no sense that we were a team working towards a shared goal, and it is even harder to feel part of a team or make real connections.

Sometimes, having an identity crisis at work can be a good thing in the long run, because they teach us what doesn’t work for us in an office environment. When we know what doesn’t work for us, we can move more actively towards what we do want.

Stock photography — new boss edition

A new job comes with a lot of unknowns. What will your commute to work be like? Will your coworkers talk about diets and astrology until you lose your damn mind? What will your boss be like?

We wanted to peek into the collective psyche of stock photography creators — it’s weird in there, y’all — so we checked out what happens when you search their catalogue for the phrase “New Boss.” You’re welcome.

New Boss 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re just gonna put it out there and say that any boss this committed to Apple Chancery is just gonna be a complete nuisance to work for.

New Boss Magic Finger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For sure do whatever this boss says because if you don’t, he’ll just open a portal into other dimensions and find someone who will.

New Boss Lame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh God, this boss looks like the WORST. You just know he is gonna repeatedly wander into your pod and find a way to work into conversation that he used to be in a band that opened for Lame.

New Boss Shirtless

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you look for in a boss? Because if it’s “agility”, you are about to have a great day. If it’s “a shirt”, well you might wanna keep your resume up-to-date.

New Boss POC 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

This man was literally the only person of colour to show up in the first 10 pages of results for “new boss”. We think he’s looking through those binoculars to see how far away racial equality is.

New Boss Mime

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bad news. Your new boss is a mime. Staff meetings are going to be SUPER annoying while you try to work out if he’s talking about quarterly reports or telling you that the server is getting an upgrade next Thursday.

Who was the best new boss you ever had? Tell us in the comments!

A disruption to the recruiting industry?

This was the first Creative Commons image we got when we searched "disruption." We're not totally sure it's on topic, but we liked it.

This was the first Creative Commons image we got when we searched “disruption.” We’re not totally sure it’s on topic, but we liked it so we ran with it.

The distance between our personal and professional lives is closing more and more every day. Now that social media is so integrated into our professional identities, workplace habits, and simply the way we interact with people around us, the line between public and the private has become increasingly blurred. This had lead to a lot of awkward moments as we’ve adjusted to the consequences of living so much online but we’re becoming more and more comfortable living in public every day. Indeed, some social media sites, such as LinkedIn, are entirely devoted to building one’s professional identity online, sans embarrassing photographs. (For the most part.)

Social media has created new jobs and types of positions — such as community managers and social media specialists — at companies all over the world. Since the way we live and work online has changed, it makes sense that the way that we get hired for jobs has evolved as well. I’m not talking about employers who ill-advisedly asked potential job candidates to hand over the social media passwords so their accounts can be examined; I’m talking about various social media platforms that can be used by job-seekers and recruiters to find better jobs and better candidates for those jobs.

For example, recently Workday, an HR and Software-as-a-Service company, acquired the startup Identified. What makes this acquisition interesting is that Identified have build their brand on recruiting not just by looking at someone’s professional web presence, such as their online portfolio or LinkedIn page, but also their personal activity as well. This allows them to seek out talent that doesn’t necessarily spend a lot of time on LinkedIn, one of LinkedIn’s main limitations. This means they can find qualified workers who have experience rather than official certifications, who are active and knowledgeable in their spheres of influence, but don’t necessarily communicate via official channels. Using big data techniques to locate and score potential recruiting candidates, Identified may also be able to give “predictive data” — in other words, to predict career paths.

Does the idea of being recruited by your greater web presence — rather than your carefully curated, professional walled garden — excite you, or are you freaking out a little right now? Let us know.

Happy Monday — flowered jorts edition

We feel like the folks at Banana Republic have never met an actual "startup guy."

We feel like the folks at Banana Republic have never met an actual “startup guy.”

So maybe your weekend wasn’t all you hoped it would be. Maybe you spent three hours in line for brunch, only to be underwhelmed by the restaurant’s signature take on eggs benedict. Maybe you were trying to keep your kids from drowning at a family barbeque while your brother-in-law insisted they’d “be fine” chasing each other around the pool. (Seriously Jeff, put a fence around that thing.) Maybe you just stayed in and watched Netflix because that’s all you could muster. All those things are fine, but they don’t make for great Monday morning conversation.

Here are a few things to chat about when your co-workers come to your desk, looking for a conversation that will delay the start of their work day.

1. ‘Startup Guy’ fashion is literally a style in Banana Republic’s Summer line

tl;dr – We guess a Banana Republic catalogue isn’t exactly the place to go for realism, and the ‘Startup Guy’ line is no deviation from that. It features a lot fewer sweatpants and a lot more flowered jorts than we typically see in a day.

Ask your co-workers – Who are your style heros?

2. Linus Torvalds gives a tour of his office

tl;dr – This is like MTV cribs, but for geeks! Get a virtual tour of the house that Linux built. Spoiler alert: If you are picturing a treadmill desk, a 3D printer, and a lot of stuffed penguins, you won’t be disappointed.

Ask your co-workers – Whose office would you most like to see?

3. #AmazonCart: A Tweet is all it Takes

tl; dr – Amazon has partnered with Twitter and is rolling out a new way to shop using only an @-reply. Next time you see someone tweet out an Amazon link to a product you want, just reply with the hashtag #amazoncart, and it will be instantly added to your Amazon shopping cart! That’s wild!

Ask your coworkers – Do you think you would ever shop in this way?

Stop saying you don’t need a mobile friendly site

We know at least two people who have both a smartphone and a back-up smartphone.

We know at least two people who have both a smartphone and a back-up smartphone.

We have a few seriously bad technology habits. We work with our email and social media windows open  all day, providing a constant feed of distractions. We love to live tweet events, regardless of whether our followers have equally passionate feelings about the 2014 NFL draft prospects. And perhaps most egregious of all is that we our my smartphones in bed.

The first thing we do when we wake up in the morning is grab our phones to see what is happening in the world. The last thing we do before we go to bed? Same thing, checking our feeds and email one last time, playing a game, maybe even turning on a white noise generator.

Like many people around our age, we’re tethered to our phones an almost hilarious amount of the time. This means that more and more of our time online, whether it be apps or websites, is spent using mobile platforms.

We aren’t alone.

This infographic from the Undercover Recruiter displays some truly stunning facts about just how often people are using their mobile devices for things like searches and services, and just how fast those numbers are growing. Some of the most important takeaways are:

  • A full quarter of all web searches are now done via a smartphone.
  • One out of every seven people on the planet owns a smartphone, and that number is increasing all the time.
  • In 2012, the mobile market was worth $139 billion. In 2015, it’s expected to be worth $400 billion, or more than twice that.
  • 85 per cent of user prefer native mobile apps to using the web.

Perhaps the most motivating piece of data to come out of this graphic is this number: 57 per cent of users will not recommend a company that provides a poor mobile experience. So if you’ve been on the fence about putting time and energy into your brand’s mobile strategy, now is the time to take the plunge!

How vital is your smartphone to your life? Let us know in the comments.

Next-level resignation letter

If you're going to quit, quit big.

If you’re going to quit, quit big.

I’ve never quit as spectacularly as I’d like to. Not that I’ve had much cause to quit in legendary fashion; the vast majority of the time when I’ve left have been entirely amicable and for reasons entirely outside of work, like a sudden move or a return to school. There was one memorable exit interview, where an HR representative seemed very startled when I stated plainly that the reason I was leaving was that they were not paying me enough, and backed that up with current freelance rates for the work I was doing, but that’s about as edgy as I’ve been.

This epic resignation, however, makes me wish I had a job that was worthy of quitting in such glamorous fashion. Not many employment contracts are ended with an interpretative dance performance to Kanye West.

The woman who made this video, Marina Shifrin, is honest about her reasons for leaving her job: she felt her former employer privileged the quantity of content that she and her colleagues created rather than the quality, and that she felt burnt out because of it. Not many people would choose to quit so publicly, though of course Marina could not have guessed the global sensation her video would become; it netted millions of views and even earned her a job offer from Queen Latifah!

What’s even more interesting about this story is that, rather than remain anonymous, Marina’s former employers and co-workers decided to respond with a video of their own, advertising how awesome their company is — motion capture suits! Rooftop pool and sauna — and that, of course, they’re now hiring.

Would you consider quitting in such a dramatic and public fashion? If so, what song would you dance to?

Five great songs about work

Gord, we're not at all sure what you're talking about.

Gord, we’re not at all sure what you’re talking about.

There are literally hundreds of songs about jobs. Many of them are more than a little antagonistic to employers. (Johnny Paycheck, we’re looking at you.) Here are a five of our favourite work-related songs.

1) “My Music at Work,” The Tragically Hip

The lyrics in this song aren’t really about work as such. In fact, we’re not really sure what they’re about. It’s hard to figure out the meaning behind lines like “When the sunlight hits the olive oil, don’t hesitate.” Still, it has the word “work” in the title and the video has Gord Downie in an office so that’s good enough for us.

2) “She Works Hard for the Money,” Donna Summer

This basically the national anthem of service industry workers everywhere. Remember to tip your servers, folks. They work hard for the money.

3) “White Collar Holler,” Stan Rogers

Coal miners and farm hands have dozens of cool blues, folk and country songs written about them, but no one writes songs about office workers. We realize that folks who sit in cubicles don’t seem as downtrodden as coal miners, but there are times when you’re at your desk after everyone else has gone home, writing your millionth TPS report, and you think to yourself ‘Why doesn’t anyone write a song about my plight?’ Don’t worry. Stan Rogers has you covered.

4) “9 to 5,” Dolly Parton

A great song from a great movie. Here’s a fun trivia fact: Dolly came up with the idea for the typewriter-inspired percussion by rubbing her acrylic nails together.

(As a bonus, here’s a slowed down version of the song, in which it turns into a sort of mid-tempo funk number.)

5) “Working for Vacation,” Cibo Matto

If anything, this song actually makes less sense than “My Music at Work.” It actually contains the line “We know we are not apes/but we could make sweet seedless grapes.” We’re not totally sure what Cibo Matto did for a living prior to becoming full-time musicians, but it must have been a singularly unique office.

What is your favourite song about work? Tell us in the comments!

Happy Monday (SWAT team edition)

“No, don’t even worry about it. We weren’t busy anyway.”

“No, don’t even worry about it. We weren’t busy anyway.”

Good morning, readers! We hope you are all having fantastic summers, going on adventures and sitting in parks and eating lots of ice cream. Much like summer colds, summer Mondays are the worst. You have to leave the great outdoors and go into an overly air-conditioned office and answer the question “How was your weekend?” at least half a dozen times.

We want to make that easier for you, so we’ve pulled together a bunch of articles you can say you read over the weekend, to let you put your banter on autopilot.

1. Samsung suspends factory in China after finding evidence that it used child labor

tl;dr – After Child Labor Watch accused one of their factories of hiring underage workers and forcing them to work 11 hours a day, Samsung — the world’s largest smartphone maker — has temporarily closed one of its factories in China. The legal working age in China is 16. Samsung releases an annual sustainability report, which includes a review of human rights and labor conditions at its global centres, and says it has “zero tolerance” for child labor.

Ask your coworkers – Do these kinds of news stories impact your purchases?

2. The 10 Social Issues Americans Talk the Most About on Twitter

tl;dr – In order to determine what the world is talking about, a division of the United Nations has analyzed every tweet sent from 2012 to now. They discovered that the social issue Americans are most concerned about is employment. A total of 6,838,071 tweets contained words like “unemployed” and “hiring”.

Ask your coworkers – What social issue do you tweet about most?

3. Cops Raid Gamer Live On Twitch

tl;dr – In what has to be the most idiotic prank ever, someone reported a Counter-Strike-playing dude for having an actual real life bomb rather than an imaginary video game one. So the SWAT team came to his damn house, wasting a ton of finite time and effort, as well as risking giving this man a heart attack. He seems pretty chill about the whole thing, but we’re livid.

Ask your coworkers – What is the worst prank you have ever pulled on someone?

Well, there you go everyone! And try to go for a walk at lunch or something. It’s good for you.

“Find a loner”, and 18 other things to do at networking events

Stop worrying about being forced-schmoozy and just go make real connections with people in your industry.

Stop worrying about being forced-schmoozy and just go make real connections with people in your industry.

It’s OK, you can be honest with us: you really hate the word “networking.” Whether you’re just beginning your career as a freelancer, or have many years being a part of a close-knit corporate team, “networking” events seem a universal constant in most industries — and odds are, you’re starting to get pretty tired of them. Does the very phrase was make you scrunch up your face and make jokes about breaking out in hives? You have our complete sympathies.

We used to hate the word “networking” too, but eventually we realized that the reason we were so determined to avoid term, and the events, were that it seemed somehow false and inauthentic. If you’ve pictured a bunch of stiff people awkwardly exchanging business cards and chatting strategically about themselves, not interested in making genuine connections but only what they could get out of the people around them for self-serving professional purposes, you know what we’re talking about.

Then, we learned that what we thought of networking was actually bad networking. When we started paying closer attention at events, we learned that networking is actually all about building authentic, mutually beneficial relationships. Building a professional network is about give and take, friendships and generosity, as much as any other kinds of relationships.

With this definition of networking in mind — making real connections with other people with whom you have a great deal in common — these 18 tips for navigating networking events are a great place to start. Even if attending such an event still makes you nervous, these talking points will quickly help you break the ice and get to know your colleagues. Whether you’re more comfortable starting a conversation by bringing up sports, giving a real compliment, or bonding over being a pair of wallflowers together, you’ll find that being a networking success, and just being open to meeting new people and making new friends, are exactly the same thing.

Are coders just… people?

See? Just regular folks.

See? Just regular folks.

Becoming a coder is still an awfully tempting proposition. Whether you’re deciding what to major in straight out of high school, or whether you’re ready to make a career change, there are lots of reasons why learning to be a computer programmer is a great decision. Here are a few, courtesy of Venture Beat.

  • People think of you as some kind of wizard. To anyone who doesn’t know how to code, your skill set will seem like magic. You can use this to your advantage.
  • There are jobs. Coding jobs are proliferating at a rate of twice that of standard job growth, and in a time of economic uncertainly, having highly-sought-after skills is intensely appealing for the security alone.
  • Flexible education. There are innumerable ways to become a certified coder. There are always new undergraduate computing programs opening up; in 2012, the number of such programs increased by over 29 per cent. There are also tons of online courses available to keep up with the demand for education, such as Code Academy and Code.org, so no matter what your needs and situation, there is a program for you.

With all that in mind, some tech experts are beginning to recommend that those interested in furthering technology should turn their attention elsewhere. While everyone is seeking out the next great social app, there is tons of potential in other areas to expand and innovate. Engineers, physicists, and medical professionals are also looking to put these coding skills to good use. Sure, it’s great to have a smartphone that can take selfies, but what if it could also test your blood sugar? It might not just be

The ability to code that is important, but also having the vision to see where that coding knowledge can be applied. So while coding can seem like a safe bet for a career choice, be sure to think about where you want to apply those skills. You could wind up having a bigger impact than you’d imagined.

Work even when you don’t want to, and other advice you’ll hate

We looked up creative commons photos tagged “bootstraps” and this is what came up. We’re sorry.

We looked up creative commons photos tagged “bootstraps” and this is what came up. We’re sorry.

Listen up, y’all. Here is some real talk from our friends — OK, they aren’t really our friends but we feel like they’d like us — at the Harvard Business Review. Don’t procrastinate on a task until you feel like doing it.

Here’s why:

Somewhere along the way, we’ve all bought into the idea – without consciously realizing it – that to be motivated and effective we need to feel like we want to take action. We need to be eager to do so. I really don’t know why we believe this, because it is 100% nonsense. So if you are sitting there, putting something off because you don’t feel like it, remember that you don’t actually need to feel like it.  There is nothing stopping you.

Wow is that ever one of those things that you read and then think “Of course!” and “OH no!” at the same time. It forces us to admit that we might need to stop spending so much time refreshing the Tumblr pages of our enemies while waiting to want to work on a KPI report.

So what do we do, then? Well, the answer to that question contains a fair share of tough love, too:

Too often, we try to solve this particular problem with sheer will. Studies show that people routinely overestimate their capacity for self-control, and rely on it too often to keep them out of hot water. By deciding in advance exactly what you’re going to do, and when and where you’re going to do it, there’s no deliberating when the time comes. No do I really have to do this now?, or can this wait till later? or maybe I should do something else instead. It’s when we deliberate that willpower becomes necessary to make the tough choice.

Sorry, everyone. We promise that we’re not typically bootstraps kind of people around her, but sometimes the lousy truth is that being a grownup means doing a lot of things you don’t want to.

How do YOU battle procrastination? Tell us, in the comments!

Stop agreeing to disagree

Margaret Heffernan, explaining why it's good to disagree now and then.

Margaret Heffernan, explaining why disagreeing is the best way to fight group-think.

We have talked before about the dangers of mistaking your brilliance as common sense. In that entry, we encouraged people to speak up even if you are not sure people will like your idea.

This time we’re asking you to step even further outside of your comfort zone. So far that you are actually voicing opinions that you know people don’t want to hear.

It sounds scary, but Margaret Heffernan makes a pretty great case for it in her TED Talk: Dare to Disagree. She speaks about the dangers of group-think, and the way a dissenting voice in the room can shine a crucial light on weaknesses before they turn into disasters.

Sure it feels better if a meeting is just a constant state of high-fives, and sure it feels lousy to be the only person saying “Um, actually …”, but believe us that it is worth it.  If her TED talk doesn’t convince you, her book, Willful Blindness, will. In it, she talks explores the reasons businesses ignore obvious problems, and how we the end result can be as serious as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

So yeah. Save the world. Disagree. It won’t be as bad as nuclear fallout, we promise.

Happy Monday – Goodnight Moon edition

It’s not going to print the book this big, we’re sorry.

It’s not going to print the book this big, we’re sorry.

Did you see any fireworks this week or weekend? We sure did. At one point someone knocked one of them over and instead of shooting up in the air they shot over at us! That’s not even a set up for a punch line, it is just a super scary thing that happened that we are processing at you. Don’t kick over any fireworks, kids. Stay in school.

Since it’s apparently not socially acceptable to just talk about fireworks all the time — we’ve been trying — here are three things happening in the world right now that you can talk to your co-workers about. It won’t be so bad. Trust us.

1. Russia votes to block web services that don’t store data within the country by 2016

tl;dr – Happy Independence Day, Americans. The Russian parliament passed a new bill that will require companies to store its citizens data exclusively on servers located within the country. Russian MP Vadim Dengin says: “Most Russians don’t want their data to leave Russia for the United States, where it can be hacked and given to criminals. Our entire lives are stored over there.” We’re trying to be optimistic that privacy will be the reality on all the Russian servers that frantically being built.

Ask your coworkers – Do you know what country your data is stored in?

2. You can no longer buy bus tickets with cash in London

tl;dr – Even the most occasional of transit riders can no longer just fish around for a handful of change if they get stuck in the rain and decide to catch a bus instead of walking. Shockingly (to us, anyway), less than 1 percent of all trips are currently paid for this way. Now even that 0.7 percent will have to rely on an Oyster Card that passengers can load up, or old fashioned bus tickets bought with “contactless” credit cards that only require tapping against a machine to complete the transactions. Transport for London said that getting rid of the cash option will save $41 million a year.

Ask your coworkers – How do you typically pay for the bus?

3. Goodnight Moon and Other Picture Book Favorites Go 3D

tl;dr – While we loved Pat the Bunny as much as the next kid — the book’s pages contained a variety of textures, like fake bunny fur — we have to admit that books like that never lasted very long in our house. But with 3D printing technology, the topography of children’s books is about to become a lot more accessible. The Tactile Picture Books Project aims to use this technology to print classic books that visually impaired kids will be able to not just hear the stories read to them, but interact with the book’s pages as well.  The first book printed using this technology is Goodnight Moon. The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Cat in the Hat are coming soon.

Ask your coworkers – What was your favourite book as a kid?

There you go, everyone! Have some great conversations, and don’t set anything on fire.

 

Creepy but true: some people can’t be Googled

Please note, being a "digital invisible" is not the same as actually being invisible.

Please note, being a “digital invisible” is not the same as actually being invisible.

We were talking to a friend of ours about parents and computers. She told us that not only has her Dad never commented on her LinkedIn, he’s almost entirely un-Googlable.

Apparently, when her family bought their first IBM 286  back in the late ‘80s, he managed to format the hard drive within minutes of turning it on. The damage was so severe the computer had to be shipped back to have all the software re-installed by a professional. He never touched a computer again.

Occasionally he’ll ask our friend’s mom to look things up for him, and she’ll add his name in the signature of what is, in reality, entirely her email address. Aside from an old car add and a few obituaries, his name never appears online in any context.

While it’s perfectly understandable why a man like that would have no online presence, as he’s stalwartly avoided any only contact or presence his entire life, there’s another, entirely different class of un-Googlable person.

Known as “digital invisibles,” these are people who go to great lengths to scrub any trace of their online presence from web searches.

The idea is not necessarily to keep their online presences as empty as possible for the technology currently available, although some ill-advised Facebook photo tagging has certainly made us sympathetic to why they would. Instead, they’re more interested is making sure their profile is blank for the next generation of devices, such as wearable tech that can scan a person in real time and connect them to their online presence.

What do you think? Does living a very public, trackable life online made you more or less comfortable? Would you consider making yourself “ungooglable?

Yahoo is looking to revolutionize how you search

Marissa Mayer wants to lean into your internet to give you better search results.

Marissa Mayer wants to lean into your internet to give you better search results.

When the internet was new, finding what you wanted in the rapidly expanding online sea of knowledge was a difficult prospect. Search engines came along to tame this wilderness, like railroads crossing a newly conquered continent. As ways to find and categorize data developed, eventually an undisputed monarch rose among the search engines: Google. Since the turn of the millennium, no other search engine has been able to adequately compete with the search giant’s ability to return search data. Whole new industries, including SEO and SEM, have sprung up to help companies and brands make the most of Google’s ever more powerful search algorithms.

Other search engines, such as Bing, remain active, but came nowhere close to competing with Google’s dominance. Many seemed content to cede the throne. But now, one company is attempting to claw back some of the power from the search engine throne once again: the relatively diminutive Yahoo.

CEO Marissa Mayer is not challenging Google’s supremacy, far from it. Rather, she is hoping that during her tenure with the company, she can offer something different, an alternative to the service that her competition has excelled at for years. While Google has long taken the everything to everyone approach, Mayer wants Yahoo to streamline. While Google continues to go global, Yahoo will offer personalization as a selling point.

Exactly what Yahoo is up to is still under lock and key for the time being, but several key details can be gleaned from previous projects and other statements. This new design may feature a personalized Facebook-like feed that tailors information to a user’s interests; a cross between a social media platform and a search engine; structured search and monetization strategies; and an improved user interface. No matter what Yahoo winds up building, it sure is going to be interesting; after all, Mayer got her start at Google, and may be the one person who can rebuild Yahoo into a real, if indirect, competition in the search engine world.

Looking for a job? Show, don’t tell

OK, maybe don’t show THAT much.

OK, maybe don’t show THAT much.

“Show, don’t tell” is one of the great adages of good writing. It encourages creators to demonstrate rather than explain, conveying information in a way that is more powerful and authentic.

When applying for any kind of position, it can feel like the worst kind of telling, rather than showing. Even the most well-written resume and most thoughtful cover letter still feel like telling rather than showing.

It’s an essential flaw in the format, as we try and distill our work experience, skills and personalities — which are varied, dynamic, unique and every-changing — into a bare, heavily formatted and standardized document. This makes it extremely difficult to tell a lot about a person from simply their resume. This is part of why interviews are so crucial to the hiring process, and why both employers and employees are constantly looking for other ways to communicate with each other.  Digital platforms like Linkedin have potential, but in the end these have just become online versions of our resumes and job postings.

Somewhere, however, might just be the alternative that we’ve been looking for. Set up very much like a Pinterest board, the format is extremely visually-oriented, with tags and tidbits of information attractively arranged. It’s all displayed together on a main profile page, and it’s easy to navigate deeper into a profile for more information about work history and specific skills. Just like social media accounts, users can follow each other, as well as companies that interest them.

While it’s still invite-only for now, we hope that Somewhere represents a real alternative to the resume, both for those who have to write them and those who have to read a gigantic stack of them every time the hiring process begins again.

Happy Monday – Our Home On Native Land edition

More lawyers should have purple hair, if you ask us.

More lawyers should have purple hair, if you ask us.

Canada Day (French: Fête du Canada) is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the British North America Act, 1867 (today called the Constitution Act, 1867), which united three colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire. While originally called Dominion Day (French: Le Jour de la Confédération), the holiday was renamed in 1982, the year the Canada Act was passed.

Probably you don’t care about any of that. Probably you just wish that our settler ancestors had managed to instead enact the British North America Act on “The first Monday in July”, so that you’d be at the cottage right now instead of at the office. Sad trombone.

Since you’re stuck there, we pulled out three articles from this past weekend to give you something to chat to your cubicle-mate about. So at least you have a day off from “struggling for small talk topics”.

1. Supreme Court’s First Nations ruling a game-changer for all

tl;dr – This might not seem like a tech or employment related story at first glance. But the truth is, we don’t yet know all of the impacts of a recent Supreme Court decision about First Nations land claims. It will absolutely affect the resource industry, most immediately the  Northern Gateway pipeline. Following a decades long fight between Tsilhqot’in First Nation and the government of British Columbia, this ruling clarifies major issues such as how to prove aboriginal title and when consent is required from aboriginal groups. Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin wrote unequivocally “This is not merely a right of first refusal with respect to Crown land management or usage plans. Rather, it is a right to proactively use and manage the land.” First Nations groups across the country are expected to file similar suits against companies and projects that will disrupt the ecosystems of unceded territory.

Ask your coworkers – How many generations has your family been in Canada?

2. Facebook is learning the hard way that with great data comes great responsibility

tl;dr – In 2012, Facebook helped facilitate a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences to determine how much your Facebook content impacted your mood. 700,000 members had their news feeds manipulated to show either more positive or more negative content from their friends and family. The study found that online expressions of emotions were contagious, with users who saw more negative posts going on to make more negative posts themselves. Since the details of this study have been released, Facebook has come heavily under fire. Many feel this type of manipulation is seriously unethical.

Ask your coworkers – How much do you think Facebook affects how you are feeling?

3. Hello Mary Sue, goodbye heart

tl;dr – If you are a woman, and a self-described geek, you probably know and love the website “The Mary Sue.” Since 2011, it has been fulfilling its mandate of “highlighting women in the geek world, and providing a prominent place for the voices of geek women.” A great place to find news and analysis about gender in geek culture, it just merged with the gender-non-specific website Geekosystem. Immediately, the site’s “About” page was edited to take out any mention of feminism and female-identifying geeks, which upset the site’s existing audience quite a bit. To make matters worse, the new (male) associate editor handled this completely predictable outcome terribly, tweeting all-caps complaints that he was being declared “THE ENEMY” because he is a straight white man.

Ask your coworkers – Have you ever had a favourite website that turned lousy?

There you go, everyone! Have some great conversations, and do something fantastic with your day off tomorrow!

100 words that you should put on your resume

This person is going to be super embarrassed when they realize they've been handing out a resume that's just placeholder text.

This person is going to be super embarrassed when they realize they’ve been handing out a resume that’s just placeholder text.

There is a task that makes even the boldest and most experienced writers panic. A type of writing so stressful, so frustrating, that no matter how many times it’s been done, the prospect of tackling such a job still inspires groans. The kind of work that inspires a truly epic level of procrastination, to the point where rearranging furniture and deep-cleaning the carpet seems more appealing that completing the task at hand.

We’re talking about resume writing. For a document that is so short and straightforward — often just a few pages, or even a single, information-filled sheet — writing resumes and cover letters is disproportionately stressful. While it can be the easiest thing to chat about yourself in a professional setting, such as an interview or networking event, it suddenly becomes ridiculously difficult to put all of that down on paper.

One of the main obstacles when it comes to resume writing is that the writing can feel very unnatural. It’s often challenging to distil everything about your education, experience, and personality into a highly formal, formatted document. The form can make it difficult to differentiate yourself from every other candidate for a position, which is exactly what you want your resume to do: stand out.

Because of this, whenever it’s been time to update our resume, we’ve always struggled with what vocabulary to use. How do we sound professional yes distinct? How can we let our personality show while still staying within the boundaries of what is appropriate?

A good place to start is this list of resume-friendly words from Careerealism, which provide a great guideline for how to talk about and contextualize your experience and qualifications. Were you known for the way you “accelerated” or “forecasted” various projects? Were you “promoted” or “recommended” for a great career advancement? Do you prefer to “troubleshoot” or “simplify?” Suddenly, rewriting that resume can seem like a game of career Madlibs, and you might just wind up with something that is more accurate, fun to read and attention grabbing in the process!

No one really pays attention in meetings

What do you most often do in meetings?

  1. Pay attention to what is being said and participate.
  2. Do other work.
  3. Have side conversations.
  4. Eat your lunch.
  5. Check your email.

If you answered number one, we’re not sure we believe you. A recent survey on behalf of Fuzebox reveals that more often than not, we are multitasking in meetings. And as we’ve discussed in this space before, people can’t actually multitask.

Does it matter if we’re checked out during check-ins? Unfortunately it does. Low employee engagement has real consequences on a company, and an economy.

There are things you can do, though! You know how when you are in a bar with a TV and you can’t stop looking at it, even when it is playing The Price is Right on mute? Well it turns out the same thing applies to your employees. People are way less distracted during video meetings than in-person meetings! Let’s not think too hard about what it says about us that we can ignore someone in person way easier than we can if they are on a flickering screen.

To get some more facts and tips about engaging employees during meetings, check out this infographic from the Undercover Recruiter:

wantmoreengagedemployees1-2

What do YOU do in meetings? Tell us, in the comments!

 

Want to earn more than a pilot?

Don’t do it, little buddy.

Don’t do it, little buddy.

Next time you ask a kid what she wants to be when she grows up, and she tells you “A writer or a pilot”, you might want to steer her more towards the latter. According to recent reports, the starting salary for a pilot is $22,400 a year, compared to $41,800 a year for a copywriter.

On one hand, pilots can end up earning six-figure salaries later in their careers. On the other hand, who wants to do 15,000 training hours and spend $100K in tuition to make $10.75 an hour?

If want to earn big bucks right out of the gate you’re better off only metaphorically reaching for the sky. Here’s some good news about starting salaries in tech.

Computer Programmer:
Entry-level programmers earn a median salary of $53.6K.

Database Analyst:
Entry-level database administrators earn a median salary of $55.5K.

Environmental Engineer:
Entry-level workers earn a median salary of $52.5K.

As we’ve talked about in the past, salary isn’t the only thing to consider when planning your career: a happy job also requires good work life balance and rapport with co-workers, some offices have dreamy perks like hammocks and catered lunches; and we also want to make sure we are doing work that doesn’t bump against our ethics. So make sure you’re not only focusing on the numbers, everyone! But it’s still good to be realistic about what you’re getting yourself into.

How important are starting salaries to you? Let us know in the comments!

Procom’s Corporate Responsibility Update: Heart & Stroke Big Bike

Procom is proud to partner with The Heart & Stroke Foundation by participating in their Big Bike events across Canada. Big Bike brings companies, community organizations, and other groups together to pedal a giant Big Bike in support of the Heart & Stroke Foundation!

This year, Procom’s branches in Toronto, Ottawa and Kitchener-Waterloo collectively fundraised over $6,000 for this extremely important cause.

By supporting Heart & Stroke we are providing Canadians with the tools, resources and initiatives to help reduce the controllable risk factors of heart disease and stroke. Since 9 in 10 Canadians have risk factors, we know our support can make a big difference.

Procom believes in enhancing the health and well-being of our local and national communities. Our new Corporate Responsibility mandate is focused on supporting health-related activities, while leveraging our business expertise and resources, to create a positive social change.

How’s The Market? Spring Brings Increased Job Activity

It may not have felt like springtime, but the season did live up to its promise of rejuvenation and productivity for Procom. This quarter was extremely busy, with job activity increasing by 14.88% over last quarter.

Keep that momentum going and consider the trends below for the coming quarter!

Top 5 In Demand Roles:

Most Hired Roles Spring 2014

Procom Tops Branham 300 Lists in 2014

In the 2014 edition of the Branham 300 List, Procom Consultants Group Ltd was once again recognized as a leader in the staffing industry. Widely considered one of the premier industry performance metrics, the Branham 300 List recognizes Canadian IT firms based on revenue growth, strong performance, and industry leadership.

Procom reached the top of Branham’s list of Top 10 ICT Staffing Companies this year by reaching $708 million in revenue, with an annual growth rate of 1.6%.

Top Canadian Contract Staffing Firms*
2013 (million) 2012 (million) Growth (million) Growth % HQ
Procom  $        708  $        697  $          11 1.6% Toronto 1978
Randstad  $        315  $        312  $             3 1.0% Toronto 1960
SI Systems  $        295  $        248  $          47 19.0% Calgary 1994
Calian  $        232  $        235 -$            3 -1.3% Ottawa 1982
TekSystems  $        173  $        165  $             8 4.8% Mississauga 1983
TES  $        144  $        140  $             4 2.9% Toronto 1975
Eagle  $        134  $        140 -$            6 -4.3% Ottawa 1996
Ian Martin  $        125  $        135 -$          10 -7.4% Oakville 1957
Veritaaq  $          72  $          60  $          12 20.0% Ottawa 1983
Tundra  $          50  $          42  $             8 19.0% Toronto 2004
TEEMA  $          41  $          30  $          11 36.7% Vancouver 2008
WPCG  $          33  $          28  $             5 17.9% Vancouver 2002
*Source: 2014 Edition of the Branham300 – www.branham300.com

Procom also appears on two other Branham lists, climbing from #5 to #4 on Branham’s list of Top 25 ICT Professional Services Companies, and from #19 up to #16 on Branham’s Top 250 Canadian ICT Companies. Procom’s responsive, results-driven approach is what makes us an industry leader and a key component of your company’s staffing success.

 

 

Procom Ability Prize – Funding The Future

Procom Ability Prize - Scholarship

Procom is proud to invest in Canada’s future with The Ability Prize. Secondary education can be costly; Procom hopes to break down the financial barriers some students face in their pursuit of education, so they can more easily transition into the workforce and contribute to the future success of Canada’s most important industries.

The Ability Prize is awarded to those talented young candidates who have demonstrated academic success and a passion for learning. Up to five $1,000 Ability Prize scholarships are awarded to college or university-bound family members of Procom consultants and clients. Are you a consultant or client of Procom whose child or dependent plans to pursue a post-secondary undergraduate, diploma, or apprenticeship program in Fall 2014? Applications for the Fall 2014 Ability Prize are now open!

Six Ways to Retain Top Talent Without Playing the Rate Game

Every business wants to retain and attract top talent, and your contractor pool can be a great PR tool for your company.  A contractor’s positive experience with your company can yield fantastic referrals; however, negative news about an engagement can travel faster and farther within the industry. While paying your contractors well for a job well done remains a priority, it will prove a waste if relationship management is not a part of your engagement strategy.

Procom wants to help its clients foster and maintain exceptional relationships with their contractors, without playing the rate game.  To keep your contractors singing your praises, follow these six tips for contractor satisfaction:

1)      Clarify Contributions – Contractors may take a while to calibrate your company’s culture and business objectives. Take the time to clearly communicate how their work contributes to company goals.

2)      Manage Expectations – Expectations are established right from the time you request a resource, but backing up those expectations with a clear and concise plan of action will ensure that your project stays on track.

3)      Provide Feedback – Contractors aren’t mind readers. They have vast and varied backgrounds and experiences that influence their approach to each new environment. If a contractor is not performing as expected or is struggling to “fit in”, immediate feedback will help them to do a swift course correction to adapt better to your specific culture and expectations.

4)      Give Props (Judiciously!) – Contractors also need a high five from time to time. Recognizing work that goes above and beyond engages contractors and lets them know that although they are not staff, their work is valued. However, be careful. Too much praise can also lead to pay raise requests…

5)      Build Trust – Contractors are usually brought in to provide expertise or support to a project that is beyond the scope of employee ability.  It is imperative to ensure that trust is built between employees and consultant resources to ensure there is no animosity that may impact the sharing of knowledge and impact the project timeline.

6)      Include in Company Culture - Contractors are more satisfied and productive when they feel they’re part of the team.

 

Pay rate isn’t included on this list of talent attraction factors, because clients remunerating contractors at the industry standard get recommendations based not on pay, but on corporate culture and relationships.

What techniques do you use to build client-contractor relationships? Give us your tips in the comments section below.

Modern Microsoft = 1990s IBM?

IBM may not be the company they used to be, but they sure have some nice buildings.

IBM may not be the company they used to be, but they sure have some nice buildings.

In an interview with Fortune, John Thompson, recently appointed Chairman of the Board for Microsoft, admitted that it was time for the company to take serious stock of its company identity and corporate culture, and make some real changes.

As he was moving into the position, Thompson said that the two biggest questions he said had to be considered were: “As the company grows, do the management systems of how you think about markets, think about deployment of resources, think about allocation of capital all change to accommodate a bigger and different company? And does the culture along the way change as well?”

There are some significant reasons why it’s time for Microsoft to make some significant changes to the way that it identifies itself and operates in the world. Where once they were the operating system kings, their hold on the market has loosened considerably in the last few years, with alternative platforms offering real competition. Also, they’ve found themselves regularly beaten in several emerging markets, such as the tablet and mobile markets.

Thompson likened the situation at Microsoft to that of IBM in the 1990s. He sees the parallels in a few key ways:

  • Like the former incarnation of IBM, Microsoft has become a struggling giant who has realized that they no longer have a monopoly on the market they once had cornered.
  • The competition they are up against are smaller, more agile companies that can adapt more quickly.
  • A strong leader is needed to make some significant changes, encourage specific behaviour, and help the company change.

How Microsoft ultimately adapts to the changes that are required has yet to be seen, but it seems like the transformation will have to be pretty dramatic.

What do you think it takes for a company like Microsoft to turn the ship around? Let us know.

What is going on here? 10 strange recruiting-related stock images

Looking at stock photography is like being punched in the imagination. How many times have you been reading a story illustrated with a photo of a woman sitting at a laptop with her fists in the air in triumph?

Answer: Every time.

We fell down the rabbit hole of recruiting-related stock photography, to bring the most amazing ones to you. You’re welcome.

iStock 1

What is going on in this photo? Have this pair of adult men put themselves up for adoption? This really feels like a “Parents Wanted” poster. Aw, now we feel sad for them. It’s OK, little buddies!

iStock2-2

Whoa job seekers. Why don’t all of you just push that bright green “JOB” button on your keyboards? It seems to have replaced the H key in this model. Check for it! Big time problem solver. Especially if you don’t use many words that have an H in them!

iStock3

Here is another amazing way to get a job that we didn’t think of! Or, to get anything, really! Just write it on a chalkboard and then… click on it? If you figure out how to click on a chalkboard, we’d really like to hear about that.

iStock4

These three photos together are like a baffling tech trifecta. Is the mouse pulling the CV? Does it have the CV locked in its laser vision? Is this the weirdest connect-the-dots ever? Your guess is as good as ours.

IStock5-2

This picture is so ominous! Like, do you want to be the washroom sign dude that the lady points her finger-gun at, like some sort of dystopian Lilliputian Sadie Hawkins dance? No thank you.

iStock6

Look I hate to tell you this, job-searching fellow, but you’ve got bigger problems than not having gainful employment. Um. It’s just that. Um. You don’t have a head.

iStock 7-2

There are a LOT of human-meets-stick-figure things happening in the world of stock photography, everyone. At least this guy seems appropriately confused by that. Like “Why did I hire this stick man?”

iStock8-2

Don’t you hate it when you post a job, and then no one applies except for a bunch of goldfish? Pro tip: Stop dangling your job in the water on a hook.

iStock 9

Oh man we feel so bad for this lady. Do you think she’s just standing in front of someone’s office holding this sign with a look of panic that she is hoping passes for exuberance?

iStock 10

Okay, kid. Who ever you are, you’re hired.

What is the best piece of stock photography you have seen recently? Tell us, in the comments!

Happy Mondays: fiber not fibre edition

Calm down, Portland. The news is not about this kind of fibre, for once.

Calm down, Portland. The news is not about this kind of fibre, for once.

So, um, how about that international kickball competition, hey? Wow all of those countries sure have varying degrees of success getting scores! Sooooo. Anyway. Flags, am I right? Whoo boy. Anyway now that you’ve totally blended into all of your colleagues conversations about the World Cup, how about steering the topic back to something you know a bit more about: tech and hiring. We’ve got three stories ready to help you do just that.

1) Google Fiber approved in Portland

tl;dr – Groups of people don’t agree on much, but Portland City Council just voted unanimously to approve Google Fibre. If the deal goes through, the city residents will have access to free low-speed broadband — if they pay a $300 installation fee — and free WiFi in some outdoor spaces.

Ask your coworkers: When did you first get highspeed internet in your house?

2) Windows leaker Alex Kibkalo will reportedly be deported to Russia

tl;dr – In August 2012 — Alex Kibkalo, who was working at Microsoft at the time — leaked a build of Windows RT and software activation kits to a French tech blogger. The arrest warrant makes it seem like he did it sort of for the lols. Instead he got 90 days in prison and is being deported to Russia. That’s a costly loss of impulse control!

Ask your co-workers: What was the last dumb thing you did and immediately regretted?

3) LinkedIn faces lawsuit for emailing user contacts without permission

tl;dr – You know when you get those out-of-the-blue emails from exes and your heart kind of stops and you mentally start preparing your “Die in a fire” reply before even reading them, but then when you open them they are inadvertent LinkedIn spam? Well, there is a lawsuit about those emails, and it’s not going well for LinkedIn.

Ask your co-workers: When you get requests like that, do you accept them?

Go forth and chatter!  Let us know how it goes, in the comments!

 

Communicate Better with Upper IT Management

Your manager asks whether you’re on track to meet your December 1st deadline. How do you respond?

Response A: “Maybe, but many unforeseen problems have arisen. The laptops that were scheduled to arrive last week were not delivered, which means that we were not able to implement the systems update to the laptops and therefore appropriate troubleshooting to ensure systems compliance could not be done. In addition to that, while we were testing the server, the power went down se we decided to wait until the morning at which point we realized that the laptop had in fact been delivered, but to the wrong floor. The server issue has yet to be resolved but I will keep you posted. I think some developers are on vacation, but I’m not sure, so it’s unlikely the project will get done on time

Response B: “No. We are looking at completing the project by December 7th, and the anticipated cost of this delay will be $5,000. We are still on track to a projected net savings of $20,000 for the completion of this project with little use of overtime.”

If you chose Response B, you’re already on track to communicating better with management. Why? Because despite being the bearer of bad news, your results-oriented language saves upper managers time and energy. Keeping your messages concise and focusing on clear outcomes are two ways you can become a more effective communicator.

Here are some other ways to communicate better with upper IT management:

  1. Communicate results and outcomes first. Opening with results and keeping responses clear, concise, and quantifiable gets busy upper managers’ attention and appreciation.
  2. Be prepared to share. Once you have provided an upper manager with the results and outcomes through quantifiable data, be prepared to elaborate and to substantiate with more detail as the listener requests it. In response B, where “little use of overtime,” an upper manager may request that you elaborate on which individuals will be putting in overtime or whether you have devised any strategies to mitigate overtime costs.
  3. Be honest and offer solutions. Response B is effective because the consultant is honest in her ability to meet a deadline and doesn’t overpromise. Before you approach management with a problem, show some initiative and build your relationship with management by doing your research: develop at least one solution to that problem, as well as the pros and cons of your own solution.
  4. Isolate expectations. In your preparation for a meeting with an upper manager ask yourself what you want to get out of the meeting. Are you looking to affirm that you have taken ownership on a particular task? Do you want to provide a status update? Do you want to communicate specific goals? Once you have determined the purpose for your communication, next ask yourself what it is that you expect your listener to do with the information that you communicate. Isolating your expectations prior to your meeting will provide a framework to your conversation with upper management. Be sure that by the end of your meeting you are on the same page as to what is being expected from both parties with respect to future actions.
  5. Have a good attitude. Display a positive attitude when communicating challenges and triumphs to upper management and be open to constructive criticism. Also, there are times when communicating is not nearly as important as listening. Listen to instruction from upper managers and commit to their direction with humility. I tis important to show gratitude for these opportunities because that manager has chosen to share his/her valuable knowledge and experience with you for your benefit.

More helpful suggestions:

Email vs. Face-to-Face

Email is not the best medium for communicating complex and difficult ideas. Instead, opt for face-to-face communication and leave email for brief and simple updates.

Details

The level of detail needed in your communication as your project progresses. For instance, detail is most important at the beginning stages but becomes less of a priority as the project progresses, if everything is going according to plan.  However, specific detail should be provided if a problem surfaces or deadlines will not be met.

Remain calm

Talking to upper IT managers can be intimidating. At the end of the day, managers are human beings, too. Don’t be afraid to take a casual and relaxed, but professional approach with them.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Communication is a skill and just like any other skill, learning and perfecting is a life-long approach. Put your communication skills into practice in a supportive and fun environment, like Toastmasters or improv classes.