The Procom Jobcast

Is your career stalled? Take an improv class!

Uri Alon, one of the funniest people in physics today.

Uri Alon, one of the funniest people in physics today.

“In the middle of my PhD, I was hopelessly stuck,” confesses scientist Uri Alon. “Every research direction I tried led to a dead end. It seemed my basic assumptions stopped working.”

Does that sound familiar? It sure does to us. Okay, minus the PhD in physics. We tend to get hopelessly stuck on things like “Trying to think of a good joke about TED Talks”. But we all have our own struggles. No shame in that.

Anyway, Dr. Alon is an improv actor as well as an physicist. And making up goofy skits on the spot is what helps him get unstuck in hard times. See him explain how, in his TED Talk below. Spoiler alert: He sings a blues song on a ukelele about the pressure to publish scientific papers.

Bring it on, ALS! Procom CEO Takes on the Ice Bucket Challenge

This morning, Procom’s founder and CEO Frank McCrea braved this chilly August weather to complete the #ALSIceBucketChallenge. ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease affects thousands of Canadians each year and kills 2 to 3 Canadians every day.

Procom and its employees believe in enhancing the health and well-being of our local and national communities by supporting health-related organizations, which is why we’re proud to participate in this exciting challenge!

Just because we dunked the boss, doesn’t mean we won’t be donating! Procom has made a donation ALS Canada and is challenging our friends from the following corporations to do the same:

    • Terry Power of Eagle
    • Tom Turpin of Randstad
    • Dave Hayward of Modis

Terry, Tom, and Dave you have 24 hours to join Procom in the fight against ALS!

Where Does My Resume Go? An Introduction

Our new “Where Does My Resume Go?” series aims to answer that very question, as asked by countless job seekers. Since most employers now rely on Applicant Tracking Software (ATS),  finding out where your resume goes isn’t as simple as it used to be.  Understanding how staffing firms filter and vet your resume may keep it from falling by the virtual wayside.

Don`t let your resume fall by the virtual wayside

“This poorly formatted resume will make for perfect birdcage lining!”

The job market is trending toward contracting and the promise of temp jobs becoming permanent has led to more job seekers signing contracts instead of traditional employment agreements. No matter what kind of job you’re looking for, you’re likely entering your CV into the resume management database of either an internal recruitment department or an external staffing firm.

So then, what happens from there? Will it get seen? If you’ve sent your resume to a staffing firm, when and how does the company hiring you come into play? And what about when you land a position: who do you call when you have questions or concerns? The answers to these questions are more complex in the digital age.

In our opinion, the first step to getting your resume through the proverbial door and signing your name on that dotted line is understanding where it goes and how it’s vetted. Once you’ve done that, you may have questions about how to best engage with the recruiter who has contacted you, when to re-engage with your recruiter or staffing agency, and whether your contract will be renewed once its finished.

The “Where Does My Resume Go?” series — which we’re going to call WDMRG for short, because we like catchy acronyms — will explore the following issues:

Week 1 – How do I get my resume noticed?

Week 2 – How do I keep a recruiter interested?

Week 3 – My contract is almost up – where’s my recruiter?

After reading this series, you should be able to navigate every stage of your job search with confidence.

Have questions about the job hunt that Procom isn’t answering? Feel free to ask them in the comment section below! 

Is being ignored at work worse than being harassed?

Someone please pay attention to this man.

Someone please pay attention to this man.

Is negative attention better than no attention? That is the questions asked and answered by a new study out of the University of British Columbia.

You know the feeling of telling a joke in a room of coworkers, and nobody laughs? Imagine every day being like that. Is your stomach in knots yet? Ours too. It turns out that kind of feeling, sustained over time, is actually more detrimental to your mental health than workplace bullying or harassment.

Not convinced that’s true? Let this sentence break your heart:

“We’ve been taught that ignoring someone is socially preferable — if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” said Professor Sandra Robinson, from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, who co-authored the study.

“But ostracism actually leads people to feel more helpless, like they’re not worthy of any attention at all,” Robinson said.

We don’t want to lay too much #realtalk on you, but we can really relate to that. Researchers found that while most consider ostracism less harmful than bullying, feeling excluded is significantly more likely to lead to job dissatisfaction, quitting and health problems.

The thing is, ostracism isn’t always malicious. More often than not, it just looks like entering a room, saying “hi,” and no one even looking up from their computer. Or realizing that all of your co-workers have been going out for drinks every week and you’ve never been invited. Or no one noticing when you come back from vacation. It’s like death by a thousand cuts.

Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in at work? Have you ever befriended an awkward co-worker? Tell us, in the comments!

Happy Monday — “Wait, The Onion is satire?” edition

REALLY, people??

REALLY, people??

Wow it got super cold this weekend, hey? How did you cope? We did a lot of knitting. And by “did a lot of knitting”, we mean looked at a LOT of knitting patterns on the Internet. In between hours on Ravelry, however, we managed to pull out three stories you can chat with your co-workers about this morning. You’re welcome!

1. Apparently, Facebook is experimenting with a ‘satire’ tag for fake news

tl;dr – Oh thank god. Hands up if your incredulous relatives post stories like “Busch Gardens Unveils New 9,600-Mile-Long Endurance Coaster” as if they are real. Keep those hands up if you feel like you’re the only one who keeps pointing out that the story isn’t true, only to not be believed by your Uncle Doug. Facebook is going to start tagging stories like this as “satire,” for all the good that will likely do.

Ask your coworkers – Have you ever seen the website of people who believe the Onion?

2. Norway’s Chess Olympiad shocked by two deaths

tl;dr – Two participants have died within hours of each other at the Chess Olympiad in Norway. Does this sound like a season six episode of the X-Files or a second-rate Stephen King story or what? So far, police are saying these are natural deaths. Right.

Ask your coworkers – Would you ever watch a chess competition?  

3. The Man Who Invented Pop-Up Ads Says ‘I’m Sorry’

tl;dr – Remember Tripod.com? When Ethan Zuckerman worked there, he unleashed something awful on it that he still regrets. He says: “At the end of the day, the business model that got us funded was advertising. Along the way, we ended up creating one of the most hated tools in the advertiser’s toolkit: the pop-up ad.”

Ask your coworkers – Do you have a pop-up blocker installed?

There you go, kids! Have great chats! Oh also we told you to write a poem last week. So if you did, paste it into the comments here.

You make me wanna wear dresses: what women in tech really look like

Polyvore's Cindy Chu could fully kick your ass.

Polyvore’s Cindy Chu could fully kick your ass.

It is 2014. Most of us are carrying around a small computer with access to all of human knowledge in our pockets at this very moment. Despite the fact that we live in the future, women in tech are still spoken about with an odd mix of confusion, reverence and hostility. It is like we are mythical creatures who are somehow able to develop apps and operate video game controllers, even though we aren’t men.

Look everyone. We have been the core of the tech world from the very beginning; the first computer programmer in the world was a woman named Ada Lovelace. But still, women’s presence is constantly questioned and fretted over. This real-world anxiety about women in tech frequently translates into pop culture, where female characters are often absent from shows that engage with the industry, or are shown to be confounded by or uninterested in technology.

This lack of representation inspired ReadWrite to photo document  some of the real women of Silicon Valley and beyond. These photographs capture the styles and personalities of these brilliant women, as well as their diversity of strength.

Many of these photographs combat the stereotypes about how women (and everyone) in tech look. As photographer Stephanie Chan explains, “That monolithic look, gendered by definition, excludes men and women. Through my interviews and photographs, I learned that the female equivalent of this stereotype just isn’t out there. It’s not because there aren’t any women in tech. They just aren’t being represented properly in media, and this creates a cycle where real, living women who pursue technology as a career don’t read as such.”

The stereotypes is that a woman can be either stylish or capable, never both. So capturing photos of women who clearly and unapologetically break that stereotype becomes a very important act. These women are battling misconceptions just by being who they are, and that is pretty radical.

Is your presentation going badly? Here’s what not to do.

What would you rather do, speak in front of a crowd, or die? It might not surprise you to hear that many people say they prefer the second option. Many of us just hate being the centre of attention, and are convinced we are going to screw up and embarrass ourselves forever and have to move to a new town.

There are endless lists of how to improve your presentations, how to be more relaxed in front of a crowd, and how to be engaging and informative all at once. Sometimes, however, there’s nothing quite as educational as a lesson in what not to do.

Lucky for you, we have a perfect example.

At Samsung’s CES 2014 presentation, Transformers director Michael Bay was speaking about Samsung’s new Curved 105-inch UHD TV. He was supposed to get up there and talk about how this screen will be the best way to experience his  action-packed and special-effects-drenched films. Like, if you like explosions … imagine explosions on a curved screen. Anyway.

It didn’t go so well, though. There was a teleprompter error, and, well:

So the next time that you’re feeling a bit sweaty-palmed and week-kneed while giving a power point presentation at work, take heart. At least you are not Michael Bay, whose meltdown will live forever on Youtube. You’re crushing it, by comparison.

How do YOU feel about public speaking? Tell us, in the comments!

You + Your Job = true love always?

Don’t worry, you don’t need to wear one of these.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to wear one of these.

We are always surprised at the types of things people seem resigned to not liking. How often have you heard an “old ball and chain” jokes about someone’s spouse from someone who has a Dilbert comic posted in their cubicles.  Like, if you don’t enjoy your work life or your home life… I guess you are just miserable all the time? Okay.

While job complaints are very common, it’s alarming to think that so many people are unhappy with something they do with such a huge chunk of their time. Wagepoint unearthed some pretty unhappy numbers that illuminate the scope of this job hate:

  • 75% of employees are unhappy with their jobs
  • Only 13% feel engaged by their jobs
  • While 63% are not engaged, even if they don’t identify as actively unhappy
  • A whopping 24% of workers downright hate what they do

But, it doesn’t have to be that way! Being stressed and unhappy is extremely unhealthy, physically and mentally.  Doing something that we hate takes a serious toll on our well-being.

While tough economic times have made many people scramble for any kind of paid work at all, we should try as much as possible to hold out for a good fit.

The problem is, how do we know what is a good fit? Many of us have been stuck in jobs that are dissatisfying for so long that we’re not sure what to even hope for.

Here are some hints that you might be on the right track to a job love:

  • Does your employer respond to you quickly? Are they jumping all over you right from the get go?
  • Are you interviewed by someone with decision making power in the company, and someone you will be working with closely? Do they want to get to know you in an honest, genuine way?
  • Is the conversation between you open and clear? Are they trying to build a relationship with you?
  • Are they concerned with hiring someone whose personality, attitude and values match their company mandate, as much as your skill set?
  • Are negotiations frank and comfortable, and free from pressure?

If you can answer yes to all of those questions, you may have just found your employment dreamboat! Congratulations!

Do YOU love your job? Tell us, in the comments!

Three reasons people hate recruiters

We bet THIS guy never forgets any facts about his clients!

We bet THIS guy never forgets any facts about his clients!

To be a recruiter is to be both adored and demonized. When everything is going smoothly, you feel like a complete hero. The kind of hero who plays match maker between job-seekers and employee-seekers, until everyone is completely stoked with the results.

Getting to that point isn’t so easy, though. Sometimes recruiting is a complex, three way square dance that can put recruiters in a pretty hate-able position.

What’s a recruiter to do to keep the slings and arrows at bay? HR Hardball has a few excellent tips for keeping everyone on both sides of the fence happy.

Here is your what not to do list:

  1. Pass Clients Around: If a client responds to an inquiry and shows interest in a recruiter, it can feel pretty crummy when they find themselves immediately handed off to someone else in the recruitment office (especially that recruiter’s less highly-ranked colleague). If you make contact with a client, make every effort to serve them personally. If you do feel like you need to make a hand-off, make sure you are only doing this when you believe someone else can genuinely serve them better.
  2. Have a Memory Like A Sieve: It can be hard to remember every detail about every single client, but make every effort to keep your facts straight. It doesn’t inspire confidence if a client feels you probably have no idea who they are.
  3. Doing Too Much Digging: Too much research can also be off-putting, so if you’ve done a ton of scouting on a particular client, keep things professional and surface-level at first. You don’t want your clients to feel like you tracked down their LiveJournal.

Do you have anything to add to these rules? Are there any recruiter bad habits or behaviours that would make your top-three list?

 

Happy Monday — 18 corgis who are stoked about Buzzfeed’s venture capital funding edition

If you need us, we are dead from cute.

If you need us, we are dead from cute.

Did y’all see the Supermoon? Don’t lie. If not, you need to get it together. It’s the summer! Don’t just refresh Facebook all weekend, go outside! The internet will still be there when it gets cold out.

Anyway, speaking of the internet, here are three stories you can talk to your co-workers about to distract from the fact that you missed the Supermoon.

1. Hope you’re having a good weekend. BuzzFeed certainly is, with $50M in A16Z money

tl;dr – Here is some stuff you might not know about your favourite source for “18 Books Perfectly Described Using Emojis:” it has 100 technologists on its team, as well has 200 editors and writers ( including Pulitzer Prize winning Chris Hamby). That was good enough for Andreessen Horowitz, who gave the news site 50 million dollars in venture capital this weekend.

Ask your coworkers – What is YOUR favourite Buzzfeed list?

2. This Bug’s Bite Can Turn You Into a Vegetarian

tl;dr – Hundreds of people across the United States can no longer eat red meat because of the ironically named “Lone Star tick”. Here’s the science: “The lone star tick carries alpha-gal, a sugar found in red meat. It’s harmless when humans ingest it by eating beef, pork, rabbit, or venison. But when it comes from a tick bite, the body’s immune system goes on high alert—causing a severe allergic reaction that could be deadly.”

Ask your coworkers – What would you do if you got bit by this tick?

3. Nest Smart Thermostat Can Be Hacked to Spy on Owners

tl;dr – While it’s pretty cool that this thing learns your preferences — it tracks when you turn the heat up and down — hacking it doesn’t even sound hard!

“Yier Jin and Grant Hernandez of the University of Central Florida, along with independent researcher Daniel Buentello, demonstrated that by holding down the power button on a Nest device for 10 seconds, then plugging in a USB flash drive, one can inject malicious software that can take over the device.”

Ask your coworkers – Would this make you less likely to want this kind of thermostat?

There you go, kids! Have great chats! And do something crazy this week, like writing a poem.

Sustainability in business isn’t just window dressing

These are pretend. We don’t have these.

These are pretend. We don’t have these.

As consumers become more well-informed, they become more careful about the choices they make. Everyone wants to make whatever difference that they can to make the world a slightly better place, right?

For a lot of companies, this has translated into making more ethical options available to their customers. This goes beyond product choices, however: consumers and clients just don’t want a green product, they want to know that the companies who make those products are also sustainable.

As Fast Company expertly points out, sustainability is about so much more than employing a buzz word or “window dressing.” Companies that prioritize environmental concerns, and make efforts towards transparency enjoy more benefits than simply good karma.

Overhauling your environmental practices means shifting your thinking. In order to get that shift happening, here are several myths about sustainability in business practice, and some of the tangible benefits to be gained from being willing to change:

  1. Profit doesn’t have to mean plunder. Impact investing and creative company designs are showing more and more that business models can do real good in the world while still being intensely profitable. Often these business models are more creative and nimble than their traditional counterparts.
  2. Doing good is a kind of investment. Doing real good in a community that goes beyond a dollar amount and has a palpable impact on people’s lives and the environment around them builds communities, relationships, and ultimately is beneficial and profitable for the company.
  3. Sustainable companies outperform their unsustainable colleagues. While unsustainable models have short-term gains, nothing beats sustainability for big-picture performance.
  4. Consumers vote with their money, and they’re voting for sustainability. Companies that can’t keep up will eventually get left behind.
  5. Sustainability is essential to the survival of every industry. It’s not just a feel-good choice, but the absolute best way to ensure a company’s continued profitability and success in the future.

How much does sustainability impact YOUR consumer choices? Tell us, in the comments!

If inventors don’t care about patents, why should any of us?

Patents have been awarded to some pretty weird things.

Patents have been awarded to some pretty weird things.

Serbian-American inventor, engineer and futurist Nicola Tesla was one of those rare minds who seemed to have been born long before his time. He is known for his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs which included inventions and ideas used in the invention of radio communication.

In spite of the fact that Tesla himself lived off of the proceeds of his patents, his name is honoured by the Tesla electric car company who, is a startling move, recently made all their patents freely available to competitors.

When CEO Elon Musk originally made this announcement, many were quick to call it a foolish decision. Most company protect their patents jealously, and are quick to launch litigation about competitors who come too close to copying their work.

Tesla’s move, however, may in fact strengthen their brand rather than weaken it, and Harvard Business Review points out a few key reason why this may be the case:

  1. There is historical precedent for patent sharing. Everything from steel production to open source software has benefited by sharing rather than restricting knowledge.
  2. Sharing patents ensures Tesla will attract the most talented employees and engineers, and will allow more likelihood that those potential workers will be more familiar with their products and inventions.
  3. Sharing patents builds community and trust, helping to foster large and mutually beneficial professional networks.

The most crucial thing that Tesla making their patents freely available has revealed, however, is what the company sees as their competition. As Musk has stated, “our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.” Right now, Tesla is more concerned with giving their fledgling technology the best chance it can possibly have, and that means being as open about their innovations as possible.

How the startup world could learn some humility

Like, does your office really need so many of these?

Like, does your office really need so many of these?

In many ways, startup culture is one of infinite possibilities. They are known for their fresh business models and corporate cultures, and prone to wonderfully disruptive and nimble thinking. Bigger companies with complex internal processes cannot match the speed and alacrity of small startups. As technology evolves at an ever-increasing rate, more and more startups have exploded on to the scene with brilliant takes on how to best harness the new discoveries and advances that are happening every day.

Typically, however, the culture of startups is tied to resources. Specifically, to ideas of abundance. There is so much newness, so many things going on, that the best way to found a startup is to to harness a wealth of resources and do things in the best, quickest, cleverest way possible.

One health startup, however, is taking a completely different approach: humility, rather than abundance.

Possible Health, which provides access to health care in extremely poor and remote communities, is turning the idea of a startup on its head. In doing this, they are providing a model that could have a deep influence far beyond the non-profit world.

While most startups strive to do the most with the very best resources, Possible Health pushes the idea of doing more with less. Often way less. They have to deliver health care regardless of the environment, infrastructure, and obstacles of where they are working. Their process have to be incredibly streamlined and function no matter what.

According to CEO Mark Arnoldy, “grit is very closely tied to humility”. For Possible Health, grit means resilience, strength, and the ability to bounce back from difficulties and failures — all lessons that for-profit startups could certainly benefit from!

Are there ways YOU think the startup world could do more with less? Tell us, in the comments!

Happy Tuesday – Flappy’s back, alright! edition

 

Doesn't it just make your stomach clench in frustration?

Doesn’t it just make your stomach clench in frustration?

Here is our favourite tweet of the week: “if u have a [lot] of money you can buy a special other house by a lake with shittier versions of all your stuff and go there to eat chips”.

But that beautiful dream hasn’t happened for a lot of us. So while your co-workers might have spent the weekend fishing off of a dock, maybe you spent the weekend sitting in the park behind your house watching a dude play the bongos while his girlfriend made him a sandwich. Ugh.

Want to deflect all the cottage-talk at work after a long weekend? Here are four stories that will help you do just that.

1. Mercedes S Class Active Lane Assist Hack

Not to rub salt in the “you’re not rich enough to have a cottage” wound, but probably you are not rich enough to have a Mercedes, either. So maybe you don’t know about Active Lane Assist, “a very smart cruise control system, using the road markings for lanes and sensors to keep an eye on the road and keep the car about where it should be.” Wow. Anyway, this is only supposed to work while at least ONE of your hands is on the wheel. One driver found a way around it, though, by taping a can of pop to the wheel. Huh.

2. Don’t fly camera-equipped drones over our police stations, LAPD says

The LAPD is trying to find out whether they can legally prohibit civilians from flying drones with cameras over department-owned parking lots.The inquiry was sparked after a South Bay man who routinely films police activity and posts the footage on his website flew his drone over the parking lot of the LAPD’s Hollywood station this week and filmed squad cars going in and out.

3. Flappy Birds Family brings the game back as an Amazon exclusive

The somewhat new version is called “Flappy Birds Family”. It promises to be less addicting than the original through a greater reward system that will ideally make a player feel satisfied after a few levels, rather than a few hours. Oh also there are ghosts now? We’ll see how that goes, I guess.

So there you go, kids. Enjoy your banter, and try not to think about Bongo Guy anymore.

How a job interview is like a first date

Pretty romantic.

Pretty romantic.

It is tempting to treat a job interview like a beauty pageant. According to Inc.com, the two have more in common than you might think. Both involve putting on a fancy outfit, trying to seem at once as interesting and normal as possible, and answering questions on front of an audience. Both are about a very specific kind of performance, about appearing “your best” instead of an accurate portrayal of your authentic self.

Only one is likely to result in a recorder rendition of the M*A*S*H theme song, but otherwise they are pretty interchangeable.

We think it’s time to ditch this model, however. Let’s treat job interviews more like first dates. This not only better reflects the consequences of the hiring process — bringing in someone who will be working towards the same goals that you are, and someone you’ll be spending a ton of time with — but also helps for hiring managers to approach the process a little differently, and more effectively. In particular, thinking of a job interview like a date helps employers focus on the following:

  1. Looking to the future: rather than considering only what an employee has done in the past, look at the skills and potential that then bring to the future of the company.
  2. Building relationships: thinking about how an employee will fit in with the rest of the team, and actively helping to integrate them into that culture, is immensely helpful towards building a health office culture.
  3. Celebrating differences: instead of looking for employees whose skill sets mirror your own, consider those who bring something new and different to the table, complementing what is their rather than simply re-enforcing it.

Doesn’t is seem reasonable to think of hiring an employee as starting a relationship when you consider just how many hours a week you’ll be spending together? Changing your thinking about the hiring process can yield some very different, and positive, results!

Why should you care about having an inclusive workspace?

Admit that you kind of wish you worked here.

Admit that you kind of wish you worked here.

Employers, let’s get the basics out of the way first: building and maintaining an inclusive workspace is legally and ethically the right thing to do. You should have inclusive hiring practices in place, and all of your employees should be welcomed and treated with respect and dignity.

Don’t get too self-congratulatory about how selfless you are being, however. Because you will benefit from doing this work, too. While researching inclusive workspaces, Andrew Tarvin discovered a whole host of reasons that these types of organization excel:

  1. A Healthier Workplace Culture. Tarvin discovered that employers who made inclusivity and priority had happier workers with a higher degree of job satisfaction and an overall more positive workplace environment. There was also lower incidents of employee turnover, and the morale was generally a lot better.
  2. Better Work Being Done. Inclusivity doesn’t just make employees happier, but it also makes their output better. Those who worked in inclusive spaces were far more productive, were more innovative and creative, and demonstrated more advanced problem-solving skills. They also tended to be more flexible and better able to adapt to change.
  3. The Best Employees Possible. Inclusive organizations pull from the widest possible pool of potential employees by welcoming everyone, and therefore tend to find the best people for the job. They also attract the best workers with their positive morale and environments, tend to foster growing talent the best, and retain those employees the longest.

Employees, what are some of the concrete, tangible benefits you have seen in inclusive work environments? Employers, what have you noticed improve when you took steps to actively make your workplace more inclusive?

“Try this”, or how to know if you are a coaching leader.

The duck in the lead here looks fully freaked out.

The duck in the lead here looks fully freaked out.

In a recent Fast Company article on leadership styles, Robin Benincasa draws a clear distinction between managers and leaders. Though the roles are often conflated, the two identities actually occupy very different places.

  • Managers ensure that everything is in place to make their team members as successful as possible, from removing obstacles to providing motivation.
  • Leaders have talents that benefit and inspire the rest of the team, and whose role is based on their abilities rather than any specific title.

As Benecasa explains, “The best managers consistently allow different leaders to emerge and inspire their teammates (and themselves!) to the next level.”

Choosing the right leadership style can have a huge impact on how much you can bring to the role and the success of your team.

When taking on a leadership role, ask yourself whether the group needs:

  1. a pacesetter to help dictate the speed and quality of work that is expected, and to set the standard moving forward;
  2. an authoritative presence to provide guidance, encouragement, and focus;
  3. an “affiliative” leader who can focus on the interpersonal dynamics of the team and relationships between individuals;
  4. a coach who can inspire those around then to dream experiment and innovate;
  5. a “coercive” leader who can take immediate charge in a crisis,
  6. or a leader whose democratic style lets team memebrs participate in the decision-making process and make any goal a shared vision?

Once you know what leaderships style is best for your specific role and context, your leadership abilities are sure to be even more effective and successful.

Rein it in, Zappos: why a wacky hiring process isn’t really the way

We feel you on this one, Alisa.

We feel you on this one, Alisa.

In an article for Inc.com, Suzanne Lucas refers to online resume systems as “recruiting black holes,” and not without reason. The process can be bland and impersonal, and often the sheer scale of recruiting campaigns can make it nearly impossible for your resume and cover letter to make the impact you were intending. No matter how creative and well-constructed it is.  It’s stressful on both sides of the table, as those hiring are also experience job application fatigue.

So what is a business to do?

Online shoe store Zappos has decided to do away with the traditional hiring process. There will be no job descriptions posted, no applications called for. Instead, Zappos has created a proprietary social networking site called “Zappos Insiders”, which interested applicants have to join and participate in to be considered for one of the approximately 450 positions the company is hiring for. They call job postings “conversation killers,” and instead believe that chatting with internal experts will create a more engaging an authentic hiring experience.

It sounds pretty fun, but Lucas is not convinced in its merits. She points out a few key problems with this process:

  1. It’s hella time consuming. Writing a tailored cover letter and fine-tuning a resume for an online application is not the most fun thing in the world, but asking a potential employee to make what amounts to a new social media account, spend the time building it, and out even more time into chatting to insiders while trying to impress them is too much to expect from anyone.
  2. It doesn’t give a more authentic picture of a potential employee. Throwing a bunch of strangers into an online platform and forcing them to talk to each other is the electronic equivalent of speed dating, only with non of the fun or face-to-face connections. It’s a pretty lousy way to get to know someone.
  3. It prevents people from applying to jobs according to their needs and skills. Job descriptions might seem cold, but they are also incredibly helpful when it comes to matching one’s needs and strengths to a potential position. When none of the applicants know exactly what they are applying for, they also don’t know if they’re suited for it or if it will work for them which makes it even more of a waste of time.

We all agree that online job application processes need an overhaul, but this doesn’t quite feel right. What do you wish was different about the online application process?

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!