The Procom Jobcast

Tweet me a job!

Oh hey! It's @ajob tweeting at you. Excellent.

Oh hey! It’s @ajob tweeting at you. Excellent.

Social media has changed a lot of things in the last decade-and-a-half, from how we define the terms “friend” and “like” to how much we know about the social life of our cousin Jeff. It’s also changed how we look for jobs, and how employers find us. One of those changes is a rise in the amount of “passive” recruiting that takes place, or recruiting of people not actively seeking employment. And if you think that employers are just looking through LinkedIn, think again. Here’s are some of Jobcast’s tips for recruiters.

They may not be visiting your career site, or looking on job boards, or even have a LinkedIn profile, but now a day’s pretty much every single human (in the first world at least) has some form of internet presence. Heck, there were over 35 million #selfies posted on Instagram last year. There are 231.7 million active monthly users on Twitter, Google plus adds 25, 000 new users on the daily, and Facebook accounts for 16% of total internet use.

If you can’t reach candidates via job boards, you can tweet at them, connect with them on Facebook, add them to your G+ circles, and even heart their excessive Instagram selfies. People love it when you double tap their #selfies!

That’s right. They’re even in your Instagram, which means you may want to think twice before posting those bachelor party pics. And lest you think this is just a western phenomenon, read these quotes from India’s Jagran.com:

“As talent leaders in India are also increasingly targeting ‘passive’ talent or quality candidates who are not actively seeking their next job, recruiters need to devise a more intelligent hiring strategy to stay ahead of this trend,” Abdulla said.

“How a recruiter shapes and influences a candidate’s perception of the organisation as a place to work is a major task for any talent organisation or HR function,” Abdulla said.

So there you go, even when you aren’t looking for a job, jobs are out there looking for you. They could even be seeking you out from the other side of the world.

 

What do you want for Christmas? A job?

Jobs, a great gift, but super hard to fit under the tree.

Jobs, a great gift, but super hard to fit under the tree.

If you’re hunting for a new job right now, you’re probably debating scaling back your efforts for the next few weeks. You’re busy with holiday obligations, and most hiring managers probably aren’t around anyway, right? Wrong. According to the hiring professionals surveyed by Undercover Recruiter, this is the time to set yourself apart from the pack:

Freyja White

Senior Professional Recruiter at COASTLINE

I don’t find the job market slows down at all – in fact quite the opposite. Companies are in the last month of their fiscal year, their budgets for the New Year are already approved and sitting on their desks, they know who they are replacing in the new year and what new positions are being added to their departments and they are raring to find new people to hire.

So, no, don’t slow down a job search at all!

Jose Watson

Pioneering Spirit Recruiter for Lowe’s Home Improvement

I say take advantage of this slow season to really get your employment brand out for candidates to celebrate new careers!

Claire Giancola-Belmares, MBA

Director of Talent Acquisition, Thomson Legal at Thomson Reuters; Dakota/Scott County Workforce Investment Board

Give yourself the gift of a new opportunity in the New Year! The holidays are the perfect time to reflect on your current situation, research and make a resolution to propel your job search.

There you go. This is the time to double down on your efforts. Go get yourself a new job for Christmas!

 

“Oh look, chips!” (a holiday-party-small talk how-to)

Just doing some light mingling.

Just doing some light mingling.

The office holiday party is an event that inspires a lot of different emotions in people. On one hand, it’s a chance to get to know your colleagues as people, and find out that Janice from IT is wickedly funny and Muhammad from accounting knows all the words “Stayin’ Alive.” That, and there’s a really good dinner and a desert buffet at the end.

On the other hand, it’s also where you get to hear your slightly sauced CEO give a speech that includes the phrase “tearing the competition a new one” — that really happened to a friend of ours — and discover that Lou from marketing has a lot of opinions on, well, pretty much everything.

Here are a conversation starters from the folks at Levo, that will hopefully distract Lou when he starts explaining the “proper” way to cook salmon.

1) What’s one word that categorizes 2014 for you?

Often, the holiday season wraps up the corporate financial year, so retrospective thinking is common during this time period. With this question, you are essentially inviting someone to think about and summarize the impact of 2014. This question opens up many doors as someone can take the perspective of work, personal life or even a more macro worldview. How your conversation partner answers this question will help you discover a lot about them as a person and colleague. Ask follow up questions to uncover the stories behind the theme of 2014 and conversation will flow from there.

2) If Santa could put one gift for you under the tree, what would it be?

In the spirit of holiday fun, throw out this question to spark a lighthearted discussion with a stranger. Often in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, the adult in us overtakes the inner child. Offer someone the chance to ignite their childlike enthusiasm and imagination as you inquire about one thing they really desire and why. You may discover a shared hobby or pastime that could spark an entirely new tangent in the conversation. Be sure to share, too! Dream up your most desired gift and share your story behind it.

3) What are you most excited for next year?

When you give someone the chance to talk about what excites them, you learn about what they value most. Pay special attention to facial expressions and body language when people speak about plans with passion and excitement. Being a great listener means taking in all the verbal and non verbal cues in conversation and sometimes reflecting it back to the speaker. If you notice someone’s eyes light up when they’re speaking about a project, tell them about their glow.

There you go, you’re ready to be the most fascinating person of the evening. Except for Muhammad, because that Robin Gibb impersonation is wild.

Four places not to network

This would be an inopportune time to start handing out business cards.

This would be an inopportune time to start handing out business cards.

Networking is crucial to career advancement, and we’ve written about it more than a few times over the course of this blog. All that said, it’s important to have an “off” switch when it comes to networking, too. If you’re always in networking mode, you’re probably looking pretty off-putting and doing your career more harm than good. Here are four places where you should never network, according to US News and World Report. Some of these seemed obvious to us, but you can never take these things for granted:

1) At a celebration with an honored guest or a highly personal focus on someone

The risk: Shifting the focus of the event away from the honoree and onto you. Ambitious networkers can come across as a bull in china shop if they are gregariously greeting others and asking for business cards.

The best practice: Focus on the celebration and the celebrant. You can still network, but only in a very subtle way. In “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie says if you can get people to speak about themselves and what’s important to them, you’ll have their interest.

2) At any event, when it’s way past closing time

The risk: Hearing and seeing more than you want to or need to and being remembered as the person who saw and heard someone at a time that was not his or her finest hour. There are times when we regret our behavior. And so we may avoid anyone we associate with or remember from that moment in our life. It’s very similar to the halo effect experienced when someone associates you with a wonderful event or happening in their life, except the association is now negative.

The best practice: Watch the time at an event. There is a point when the attendance in the room wanes, and that’s when you should leave. Don’t try to network when people are becoming louder or more argumentative or dropping their inhibitions.

3) At a highly personal tragedy

The risk: Coming off as callous, calculating and uncaring. These moments and gatherings are all about the survivors or the victims and those who care about them. Seeing this as an opportunistic moment can immediately backfire and be extremely detrimental to your reputation.

The best practice: Now is the time to leap into action and to help in ways that are helpful to those in need or suffering. In “The Go-Giver,” Bob Burg shares that changing focus from getting to giving, putting others’ interest first and continually adding value to their lives ultimately leads to unexpected returns.

4) At a children’s party or event

The risk: Being perceived as that overly ambitious person who puts his or her needs and interest above that of a child. Imagine being at a soccer game and realizing that the person you’ve been wanting to meet is sitting next to you on the bleachers. There’s no amount of time or money at stake that makes this the right time to network.

The best practice: Remember the basics of relationship building: Find out what’s important to someone, and share your common frame of reference. This could be quick comments about how well his or her child is doing or a comment on how great it is to be able to see the game. Be a part of the event, and make time to participate.

So there you go, no children’s parties, no funerals, no events where everyone is bombed. Again, we feel like this shouldn’t be necessary, but on the other hand, we all know “that guy” who would drop a business card on you while you were fleeing a burning building. We also all cringe when he sees us in the line at Starbucks. Maybe the next time he’s telling you about how hard he’s hustling, you could show him this post.

Have you ever had someone try and network with you at an inopportune time? Let us know in the comments.

Be proactive at work, but not too proactive

Hold your horses there, eager beavers. (They said, fearlessly mixing animal metaphors.)

Hold your horses there, eager beavers (they said, fearlessly mixing animal metaphors.)

“Proactive” has become a bit of a go-to buzzword in job descriptions over the last few years. Everyone’s ideal candidate is “proactive.” In fact, according to the folks at Inc., 87 percent of job ads have the word in there somewhere. But, apparently you don’t want to be too proactive. You want to be able to read people’s cues before you go jumping in. A recent study by professors at the University of Bonn and Florida State University found that being proactive can backfire:

“Anyone taking personal initiative should first make certain that one’s own activities are also actually desired,” professor Gerhard Blickle from the Institute of Psychology at the University of Bonn said in a press statement.

Employees should be careful when tackling projects that do not fall directly into their line of work or expertise without carefully communicating their intentions first. Otherwise, the study warns, they risk being labeled as “isolated troublemakers.”

“This consequently means that appropriate identification of favorable opportunities and the ability to adapt to the respective situation are important preconditions for skillfully putting personal initiative behaviors into place,” Blickle said.

The research went in three phases:

The first study involved 146 employees with their supervisors from a wide variety of fields. Standardized tests were used to survey the extent to which the employees themselves took the initiative for action and had social acumen: How well are colleagues’ emotions and plans perceived and classified? Is communication efficient? The questions also focused on the ability to react appropriately to the respective situation. Together, the employee and supervisor estimate how receptive the respective company is to proactive behavior.

In the second study, a questionnaire was used to ask 143 employed participants about their skill in utilizing favorable opportunities for changes through carefully selected behaviors. In addition, personal initiative was assessed in turn and the employee’s performance was evaluated by the supervisor. Result: The personal initiative demonstrated led to better performance appraisals if the skill regarding correct behaviors was pronounced.

The third phase of the research confirmed that soft skills, like a “feel for the appropriate moment,” are key if you want to be the sort of person who steps up to take on extra tasks.

Along with employees and supervisors, colleagues were also included in the survey this time. The result confirms the previous findings: A positive atmosphere for proactive behavior only leads to good performance appraisals if the participants demonstrated a high degree of personal initiative as well as social acumen and sensitivity to the right opportunity.

So before you go waving your hand to take on every project, take a look around. Are you going to be stepping on someone’s toes? Mowing their metaphorical lawn? Is there a way you could clearly communicate what you want to do?

How proactive are you at work? Let us know in the comments.

 

Two Tips to Stay Motivated During the Holiday Season

Resist the urge to grab for this crown!

Resist the urge to grab for this crown!

This time of year can be so tough to stay focused. There are treats all around, and workplace festivities — more on those in future blog posts. Also, let’s be real, it’s really tempting to try to get some online holiday shopping done, “in between tasks.” Next thing you know, you notice the sky is getting darker and you realized another day of productivity has sort of passed by you.

What to do?

Blogger Lauren Berger has some great tips to pass along. We’re going to focus on our two favourites:

  1. Take a walk: This is one of those pieces of advice that feels so inane that you kind of half-roll your eyes every time someone suggests it. It’s right up there with telling someone to  “take a long bath” if they are feeling overwhelmed, or saying they should “just take deep breaths” if they are having a panic attack. Unlike these two things, however, we can vouch for its effectiveness. In addition to helping prevent dementia, a walk just functions as a great reset button when you are spinning your wheels. If it’s too cold, just walk faster! Trust us.
  2. Make a plan: Often when we can’t seem to start working, it’s because we don’t have an obvious next-thing-to-do. It’s amazing how effective it can be to just stop, and figure out all the steps to a task (even one that seems simple!) and write them all down. You might realize why you are stuck — maybe there is a report you need to read, and you forgot you don’t have it yet. Or maybe just the thrill of being able to cross things off as you do them will be all the motivation you need to hop back to it.

What do YOU do when you can’t seem to hop to it? Let us know, in the comments!

How to ask for a raise (according to an early 20th Century German philosopher)

Walter Benjamin, thinking very deeply about how to ask for a raise.

Walter Benjamin, thinking very deeply about how to ask for a raise.

If you were looking for advice on how to ask for a raise, you probably wouldn’t think to ask Walter Benjamin. For one thing, the Frankfurt School philosopher was known for his analysis of Goethe and Kafka, and translating Proust into German. He wasn’t known as a high powered recruiter and career guru. Also, he’s been dead for over 70 years, so asking him anything would be a bit of a challenge.

Nonetheless, in 1931, Benjamin went on German radio and gave listeners some advice about how to ask for a raise:

  1. Timing is key. Don’t approach your boss just after you have underperformed on a project. Wait until you have done something great, the boss has acknowledged it, and the doors to his/her heart and mind are metaphorically open.
  2. Be confident… When speaking with the boss–don’t be shy, fearful, or submissive. Most bosses like people with gumption.
  3. …but not arrogant. However, never be impolite or arrogant. Simply remind him of your accomplishments and draw attention to the value that you have brought to the company. State the facts.
  4. Be direct. Above all, maintain your dignity, stay on point, and speak your mind.
  5. Own up. If your boss reminds you of a time when you were not productive, do not blame your poor performance on a colleague or circumstance. Doing so is unfair and makes a poor impression. Point out that you are loyal to the company, want to contribute, and are eager for greater responsibility.
  6. Broaden your appeal. Do not address the question of the pay raise in terms of your needs alone. The boss is interested in his business, not in the private lives of his employees.
  7. No threats. Do not threaten to quit. Your boss is likely to call your bluff. You are not an injured party. Threatening to quit never works.
  8. Watch your words. Do not use the words “unjust”or “unfair,” when asking for a raise. A boss does not let himself be told which employee deserves a raise. That is his concern. It is inappropriate to speak to your boss about other employees’ salaries.
  9. Be positive. Maintain an arsenal of courage and composure, dignity, and determination. Cultivate a fundamental attitude, a state of mind, an inner bearing that communicates the basic values that a successful person displays at work, with the boss, and in the rest of her life. Be clear, determined, and courageous. Know what you want. Remain both calm and polite throughout the conversation. Tune your antenna to your boss’s state of mind. Be curious about her perspective. Ask her questions about her career, about how she got promoted and won raises. You do not have to sacrifice your dignity in the slightest.
  10. Be prepared. Be composed. Do not be discouraged. Consider your struggles a kind of sport, and approach them as you would a game. Contend with the challenge in a relaxed and pleasant manner. If the boss says no, keep a clear head. Ask him why, and when you should approach the issue again, and what you can do to improve your chances. Successful people are never sore losers; they don’t whine and give up after every failure. In fact, they keep their chins up, weather misfortunes, and live to fight another day.

So what do we think? Was Benjamin on to something? Do his tips stand the test of time? Or should he stick to pondering “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction?” Let us know in the comments.

 

Happy Monday — beware of drones edition

Apparently drones are a menace in ways we hadn't even imagined.

Apparently drones are a menace in ways we hadn’t even imagined.

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? Here are some things to discuss with your coworkers while you secretly panic on the inside about what to get your sister.

Drones abound, airplane insurers are scared

tl;dr — According to German insurance company Allianz, the insured value of the world’s commercial airline fleet will be going up in the next few years, due in no small part to the rise of the commercial drone. Apparently there are very few rules regulating drones, meaning that insurers see them as a growing collision hazard in increasingly crowded skies.

Ask your coworkers: what would you do with a drone of your own?

Angela Merkel has come out against net neutrality

tl;dr — The German chancellor says that having a special internet fast lane is crucial to the development of things like driverless cars and telemedicine.

Ask your coworkers: how well do you understand net neutrality?

An Egyptian student discovered a major flaw in PayPal’s security system

tl;dr — “Former hacktivist” and information security student Yasser Ali discovered a flaw that made him able to access customer accounts with “one click.” He reported it, got $10,000 for his honesty and PayPal fixed the problem.

Ask your coworkers: how often do you use PayPal?

Alright, there you go. You’re informed now. Go blow minds.

Video Friday: advice for the young, fabulous, and broke

Right now, you’re probably looking at this saying “I’m not broke, why should I watch this video?” You might also be saying “I’m not even particularly young.” (Hopefully you’re not saying you’re not fabulous, because we think you are.)

The reality is, even if you’re neither young nor broke, our old pal Suze Orman’s advice is actually pretty universally applicable — put yourself out there, make yourself invaluable, out work the rest of your colleagues, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and spend a couple dollars to enhance your long-term employability. In an age where people are changing companies constantly, it might be worth it to spend the time and money to learn French or Python. It could be the difference maker the next time you’re up for a new gig.

 

Best theme songs for tv shows about work

There have been literally hundreds of television shows set in workplaces over the years. Some of them have had really great opening sequences. Here are a few of our favourites.

Are You Being Served (1972-1985)

One of the longest running sitcoms in British history is more than a little problematic in 2014 — we don’t think you could get away with writing a character like Mr. Humphries or the near-constant sexual harassment today — but man, that theme song is so groovy.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977)

If you can’t watch this opening sequence without exuberantly throwing YOUR tam in the air, there is quite frankly something wrong with you.

The Office (U.S.) (2005-2013)

No show opening has done a better job of making us care about the characters before they’ve even said a line.

The Office (U.K.) (2001-2003)

Oh, the sense of impending doom and drudgery. Like, nothing even remotely bad happens in this opener, but you just get the sense that the trek to this dreary industrial park, or trading estate as they say in the U.K., is the best thing that’s going to happen to you today.

Street Legal (1987-1994)

Being a lawyer is a tough job, and includes many hazards, not the least of which is PUNKS RUNNING IN FRONT OF A PIZZA PIZZA! Look out!

Want to know what is holding women back? Ask Women

Emily May of Hollaback and 21 Leaders' Oraia Reid

Emily May of Hollaback and 21 Leaders’ Oraia Reid.

You’ve probably overheard conversations among peers, mostly male, wondering why there aren’t more women in leadership positions. While it would be nice if there was just one easily-solved answer to that question, in truth there are as many different answers as there are women.

Fast Company recently pulled together first-person answers, from women who are acting as leaders in their companies and/or communities. Even having achieved as much as they have, they still feel like they are being held back. Here’s a highlights reel of what they are trying to overcome, and what tactics are helping:

Arianna Huffington, President and Editor in Chief of The Huffington Post:

“The greatest obstacle for me has been the voice in my head that I call my obnoxious roommate. I wish someone would invent a tape recorder that we could attach to our brains to record everything we tell ourselves. We would realize how important it is to stop this negative self-talk. It means pushing back against our obnoxious roommate with a dose of wisdom.”

Katie Rae, Managing Director of TechStars Boston and founder of Project 11:

“The most important thing I ever did was own what I wanted instead of listening to other people’s advice.”

Sallie Krawcheck, Owner of the Ellevate Women’s Network:
“Gender biases still exist. Recognizing and relentlessly curbing them yields a superior team and, the research shows, is associated with superior business results. By shifting the onus of ‘not holding women back’ onto the management teams, we can avoid implicitly pushing everybody to exhibit the same types of workplace characteristics of the existing management team. After all, the benefit of diversity is to actually have diversity.”

Mei Lee, Vice President of digital marketing at Condé Nast:
“I follow a method called the 10, 10, 10 rule. When I am faced with a challenge or problem, I would ask myself this question, “How does this affect me in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years? This resets me and gives me immediate perspective on how I should move forward.”

Rachel Sklar, cofounder of TheLi.st and Change the Ratio

“Fear, insecurity, inertia, money—all those have held me back in my life and still do. I have to fight against it all, and all the time, to put myself out there. The world will always tell you no if you let it. You have to fight for yes—but when it happens it’s so much more worth it, and you’re so much better. Getting things easily only looks good. Working your ass off to earn something is what actually feels good.”

Emily May, Cofounder and executive director of the anti-street harassment non-profit Hollaback!

“I think what’s holding women back has less to do with personal decisions, and more to do with societal decisions. The maternity leave policy in the U.S. is one of the worst in developed countries globally. The Violence Against Women Act struggled to pass last year in spite of one in five women getting sexually assaulted on college campuses. And women leaders can’t take media opportunities without a barrage of comments on their breasts and/or wrinkles. With the deck stacked against us, being a woman leader is an uphill battle and we’re all just trying to navigate it as best we can.”

What do you think is holding women back? Tell us, in the comments!

This is your brain on performance reviews

Your brain, not a fan of performance reviews.

Your brain, not a fan of performance reviews.

Back when Jack Welsh ran GE, the company was big on annual performance reviews and ranking employees. Welch would have the heads of each of GE’s businesses rank their executives, then cull the lowest performers. (The system was unflatteringly referred to by outsiders as “rank and yank.”)

If you’re not an early ‘80s GE senior manager, chances are you hate performance reviews, and yet, as of 2012, more than half of Fortune 500 companies used some sort of rate-and-rank approach to performance reviews. It turns out there’s a valid reason you don’t like these reviews, even if you’re someone who would likely do well on them, according to the Harvard Business Review:

In general, there are two explanations for why PM doesn’t work: One, merely being ranked provokes a “fight or flight” response, which gets in the way of “thoughtful, reflective conversations” (but is great for when you’re being chased by wild animals, which probably isn’t exactly what your manager is going for). Two, a ranking assumes that people are fixed — either good at something or not — and incapable of change, though we know that’s not true. The article’s authors say we should start with the opposite assumption: that we all can grow and change. Then we should get rid of the numerical rankings. After all, “only one person typically feels neurologically rewarded by the PM exercise. It’s not the high performer, but the senior executive who oversees the ranking system.”

These annual reviews are gradually falling out of favour, and are being replaced with a more feedback rich system, in which employees and managers are in an ongoing dialogue about performance and goals. While this may be more work for managers, it relieves the stress of the annual review and helps everyone reach their goals.

Happy Monday — Europe versus Google edition

Inside Google's European headquarters in Dublin. It's quite fancy.

Inside Google’s European headquarters in Dublin. It’s quite fancy.

It is December. The countdown to the holidays is officially on. You are probably already making your list, checking it twice, and trying to figure out how to keep Jerry from accounts payable from talking to you about fly fishing at the Christmas party again. (Jerry, we’re stoked FOR you, but we don’t share your enthusiasm for hip-waders.) While you’re ruminating on that, here are some non-Christmas, non-fly fishing related things to talk about this morning:

Clinkle is paying people $20 cash money to use it

tl;dr: Payment app/cautionary tale Clinkle has been paying college students across the U.S. $20 to download the service, which, in our opinion, kind of defeats the purpose of developing a payment app.

Ask your coworkers — Would you download an app if someone paid you?

The European Parliament wants to break up Google

tl;dr: EU parliamentarians voted 384-174 in favour of a non-binding resolution that would urge anti-trust regulators to break up the company that they say is coming too close to being a monopoly in certain areas.

Ask your coworkers — how much of your life is monopolized by Google products and applications?

Your company’s “B-players” may be more important than you think

tl;dr: Every company has high flying superstars, but according to the Harvard Business Review, most companies are ignoring their quietly competent employees — the character actors of the corporate world — and not doing enough to help them reach their potential, resulting in a less efficient  company, overall.

Ask your coworkers — who’s your favourite character actor?

There you are, go out and be fascinating.

Procom Movember Progress Report (Final Week!)

Well, it’s the last week of Movember, and what a blast it’s been! Procom’s patchy, itchy, piratey efforts did not go unrewarded. Our Toronto and Waterloo teams are grateful to all of you who donated to help improve men’s health across Canada.

We’ve raised $75 so far, but we still have 2 days left! If you’re in a giving mood, please donate to our Movember Fundraising Page, or to any Movember initiatives you’d like to support.

To thank you, we’d like to give you a final look at our glorious scruff:

Bryan didn't get the purple shirt memo, but boy did he get the mustache memo!

Bryan didn’t get the purple shirt memo, but boy did he get the mustache memo!

John from Waterloo: "Can you see the 'stache? Can ya?!"

John from Waterloo: “Can you see the ‘stache? Can ya?!”

What do you get when you combine a start up with a not-for-profit?

These charities are a little more sophisticated than just boxes.

These charities are a little more sophisticated than just boxes.

It turns out the future of charity may look a lot like the future of everything else; it’s going to involve a lot of online startups. Google.org, Google’s non-profit arm — yes, Google has a non-profit arm — recently partnered with charity startup accelerator Fast Forward to hold and event that was a sort of TechCrunch Disrupt for charitable start-ups. Not only did they give the startups a chance to demonstrate what it is they do, they also donated $20,000 to each company, and offered to match all other donations dollar-for-dollar, up to $100,000 per organization.

Here are the organizations that were there, according to VentureBeat:

One Degree

One Degree bills itself as a “Yelp for social services.” Its site is a directory of local nonprofits and social services that residents can learn about. They can even click through to the services they need.

Although our communities could always provide more and better resources, an even bigger problem is that people who qualify and would benefit from the existing resources often don’t know what’s available and where to find it. Many don’t even know what they qualify for.

Sirum

Sirum is one part sustainability, one part heath care, and one part philanthropy. Clinics and hospitals constantly dispose of unused medications their patients didn’t take or need, sending them off to medical waste incinerators. Sirum’s team thought, “Why not collect these medications and donate them to clinics with patients who need them but can’t afford them?”

With Sirum’s app, nurses in donor clinics can upload tallies of their leftover and untampered with medications, creating a manifest of their available inventory. Sirum then finds recipient clinics in need of them.

Medic Mobile

With mobile and web technology becoming more and more accessible in developing countries, Medic Mobile is building tools that enable community health workers to better care for others.

Through parallel SIM cards, little microcontrollers that slide under the SIM card and run apps, Medic Mobile’s apps enable community health workers to register pregnancies with a local hospital, coordinate urgent care, alert clinics that their community is experiencing an outbreak, and so on. Local clinics and hospitals install Medic Mobile’s dispatch software and can keep track of these incidents. Since Medic Mobile works through the text messaging protocol, it doesn’t require an Internet connection.

Noora Health

Noora Health focuses on what happens to patients once they leave the hospital. Oftentimes, family members are overwhelmed and don’t have the basic skills to help their loved ones with aftercare, such as changing bandages properly and frequently, checking vital signs, or providing care that’s specific to a patient’s situation.

Noora Health takes waiting rooms and turns them into classrooms, as co-founder Katy Ashe said on Wednesday. Noora Health trains hospital and clinic employees to teach family members how to take care of patients once they go home. The health workers also teach and keep in contact with the families and patients through video-chat, since hospitals are sometimes far from where they live.

Moneythink

Although health and related needs are crucial, Moneythink is taking on a different kind of challenge: financial decision-making. Unfortunately for many teens and young adults, frivolous and impulsive financial choices often have huge repercussions on their lives later on.

Moneythink, created by University of Chicago alumni, started out as a year-long, in-class program for high school students in at-risk communities. Moneythink volunteers spend time every week teaching the students about money management and ways to be responsible with their finances.

But Moneythink’s team soon realized that the classroom is not where these teens are making their financial decisions — most of that takes place when they’re not in class. So the startup recently released a photo-sharing app, described as a “gamified Instagram for finances” by students, which helps them share their good decisions with their classmates.

So what do we think of the future of charity?  Would you donate to any of these apps?

Listening to the Ticktockman

Yes, we did manage to work a Harlan Ellison reference into this blog post. And yes, we are quite please with ourselves about it.

Yes, we did manage to work a Harlan Ellison reference into this blog post. And yes, we are quite please with ourselves about it.

Are you frequently late? Or even chronically late? Are you late for something right now?

If any of those things are the case, you’re not alone. One in six American employees are late to work at least once a week. In slightly worse news, one in three American companies have fired an employee for lateness. If you fear that you may someday be subject to a lateness-related termination, don’t panic. Here are a few tips to help you get back on time, courtesy of the folks at Quartz:

Check your mental health:Being chronically late can have deep psychological drivers that go beyond having too much to do or underestimating traffic. Problems such as attention deficit disorder and obsessive compulsiveness—which often drive late-goers to spend needless time fixing crooked placemats or over-surfing the Internet—can be to blame.

Avoid over-scheduling your day: Society tends to reward busy overachievers. But the tendency for overachievers to over-schedule activities often leads to tardiness, according to DeLonzer. Pace yourself throughout the day and you’ll have a higher chance of making it to your next event on time.

Wake up earlier: A to-do list of small tasks—like figuring out what to wear, remembering important meetings, packing your keys and umbrella—can take up more time than you think, not to mention leave your mind frazzled when you have little time. According to a study by Harvard biologist Christoph Randler, waking up early can help you anticipate problems and minimize them.

Clear away distractions: Little distractions that go unnoticed can eat up a lot of time. These include leaving tempting snacks scattered around your home or work area, email alerts, social media feeds, and even mirrors. Yes, preoccupation with mirrors makes time go by faster than you think, which is why they’re placed next to elevators and other areas where you need to wait for a long time.

Don’t blame public transportation: A major benefit of living in a large metropolitan area is great access to public transportation. A major drawback: public transport is not always reliable. Only 77% of short-term trains in the US are punctual compared to 90% of those in Europe. To pre-empt this problem, factor in ample extra time before your departure.

Don’t fool yourself—you’re not that fast:Even meticulous planners overestimate their efficiency at completing tasks. The official term for that is the planning fallacy… Add 5 minutes onto even your most conservative time estimates.

Drop hints that it’s time to wrap up:Don’t let over-talkers squander your valuable time. If a manager, co-worker or friend is going on too long in conversation, there are subtle body cues that can politely signal that it’s time to go—gather your notebook and pen or slowly start standing, for example.

Own up to the problem: Sometimes being late is a foregone conclusion. When that happens, be courteous enough to call or text the person you’re scheduled to meet with to say you’re running late and how long you’ll be. Admitting fault can show strength, character, and leadership.

Hopefully this will help you get wherever you’re going on time, or at least help you figure out why you were late.

Are you a prompt person? Do you have tips and tricks to get places on time? Let us know in the comments.

“How many friends do you have?” and other questions you don’t want to answer in a job interview

How many friends do I have? Well, there's Ross and Rachel and Phoebe. I'd consider Chandler more of an acquaintance really...

How many friends do I have? Well, there’s Ross and Rachel and Phoebe. I’d consider Chandler more of an acquaintance really…

Job interview questions are strange animals. Everyone dreads being asked what their greatest weakness is, and then having to balance the pros and cons of being honest versus the now clichéd approach of “turn your weakness into a strength.” For years, Google was infamous for making interviewees spend a lot of time answering “brain teasers” like “Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco” and the difficult to comprehend “Explain the significance of ‘dead beef.'” Google subsequently deep-sixed the practice after discovering that it didn’t actually help them find better employees at all.

It turns out that many South Korean companies are now going through a Google-like moment when it comes to asking seemingly irrelevant interview questions. For years, Korean companies have tried to determine if someone will be a “fit” in their organization by asking doozies like:

  • What do your parents do for a living?
  • How much alcohol can you handle?
  • What will you do if you don’t get hired by our company?
  • Have you ever been in a situation where you felt you were in despair?
  • How long do you plan on working for our company?
  • What do you plan on spending your first paycheck on?
  • How many close friends do you have?
  • How does it feel like to live far away from your parents?

Women applicants got it even worse, by by being asked such additional winners as:

  • As a woman, do you want to be an executive?
  • How many years do you think you’ll be working?
  • What will you do with your job if you get married?
  • Are you dating anyone?
  • What do you think of male-female interactions?
  • How long does it take you to do your makeup?

(All of those questions were taken from a Korean blog called Tistory, which got them off of job search sites.)

Thankfully, new privacy legislation, as well as a fear of angry would-be employees taking to Twitter, means that questions like those are falling out of favour.

Still, it makes you feel better about the “greatest weakness” question, doesn’t it?

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve been asked in a job interview? Let us know in the comments.

Happy Monday — coder underpants edition

OK, you have our attention.

OK, you have our attention.

OK, so we assume that you spent your entire weekend gearing up to see, then seeing, either the new Hunger Games movie, Interstellar, or both. Which is totally fine. Here are some things you can talk about that don’t revolve around either Jennifer Lawrence or Jessica Chastain saving the planet.

1) An Airbnb exec thinks the company should get a Nobel Peace Prize

tl; dr — During the company’s annual retreat, which happened last week, Airbnb Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy, Chip Conley was asked where he’d like to see the company in 10 years. His answer? “I’d love to see us win the Nobel Peace Prize.”

His rationale, according to Fortune, is that Airbnb is helping with cross-cultural understanding.

Ask your coworkers: are you an Airbnb person or a hotel person?

2) The highways of Silicon Valley now feature photos of coders in their underpants

tl;dr — Silicon Valley firms are embracing the old media, specifically billboards, and paying between $14,000 and $40,000 a month to put up billboards on the 101 freeway between San Francisco and San Jose. Uber and Airbnb have both sprung for ads, and all the billboards along the highway are now booked up until next summer. The most noticeable billboards, however, are from tech jobs site Dice (as pictured above). These ones win for attempting to make commuters smile and proving they have the hottest tech talent by putting up giant pictures of coders in their underwear.

More cautious commentators are pointing out that this mirrors some of the excesses of the turn-of-the-millennium dot-com boom.

Ask your coworkers: billboards on the highway, entertaining or distracting?

3) People respond better to goals set as a range, rather than a single number

According to researchers at Florida State, people lost and kept off more weight when their were given a goal of losing 1-3 pounds per week, as opposed to a goal of 2 pounds. That’s because high-low goals are simultaneously challenging and achievable. Think about that the next time you’re trying to increase productivity at the office.

Ask your coworkers: how do you set goals?

OK, you’re good, go be fascinating.

Procom Movember Progress Report (Week 3)

Alright, now we’re cookin’! Thanks to all of you who have donated to Procom’s Movember Fundraising team, so far. We’ve raised $65 in total for Men’s Health and would love to end the month with a bang.

Please donate to Procom’s Movember Team today to help us fight for Men’s Health issues across Canada.

Remember, these ‘staches won’t be around for much longer:

ProcomMovemberWk3

They’re turning on eachother! Okay, Josh is turning on them…

 

 

John Casciato from Waterloo is getting desperate for donations!

John Casciato from Waterloo is getting desperate for donations!

Every day is casual Friday and other tech hiring trends from across the pond

Move over San Mateo, it's Shoreditch's turn.

Move over San Mateo, it’s Shoreditch’s turn.

Have you heard of Tech City? How about the Silicon Roundabout? Those are two of the nicknames that have been given to the tech district currently booming in London’s East End. A recent article in UK publication Growth Business listed the top six trends in the Roundabout — where the battle for talent is beyond fierce — and we noticed that many of them hinge on one common theme; they all show that these companies value talent and aren’t afraid of breaking with tradition to make workers feel at home. And we’re not talking about the early 2000’s dot-com boom tech cliches of Razor scooters and Foosball tables in the office. All these trends are aimed at meeting in-demand workers on their own turf and showing respect for their time.

Here are a few of our favourites:

1) Shared workspace

Sounds a bit dodgy at first but it’s all about being open to trying a new/different working environment. If you’re a small business you can really take advantage of using a shared office as it saves you having to deal with the commercial side of renting a building to work in, instead you can use the pay as you go option which is flexible to your business growth.

The agglomeration economy helps with the sharing of ideas, meeting people who can help advise and grow your business along with sharing resources and ideas in a reciprocal environment.

2) Dress down culture  

Don’t be afraid to ditch the suits and chuck on some jeans. Most companies in Tech City have adopted this approach and it’s proven successful. Employees want to feel relaxed and comfortable at work, allowing them to do so improves the working environment and may well increase productivity. It may not look as ‘professional’ but that’s Tech City for you.

3) Be flexible with interviews

You only want to interview your candidate next week Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at your office. Sounds perfect for you right? But be aware that good candidates are in high demand. So aside from them probably already being in a great job, they’re also more obliged to interview with your competitor over a coffee tomorrow before work than wait to be squeezed into your schedule next week.

An accommodating and flexible approach to the interview allows employers and candidates to get the most out of the process and really get to know eachother. Shoreditch Grind is a cosy coffee shop in Old Street and is a great place to ‘break the ice’ and discuss all things tech. Meeting candidates over a beer is also a very accepted way of conducting interviews.

Would any of these things make a company seem more appealing to you? Let us know in the comments.

Step away from the koosh ball and build a fishing pond

Here’s a set of instructional photographs for employers considering new “perks” programs for the office:

How many managers imagine “pizza Friday” makes their staff feel:

Screen shot 2014-11-15 at 9.11.20 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How “pizza Friday” often makes staff feel:

Screen shot 2014-11-15 at 9.11.34 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What staff would really prefer:

Screen shot 2014-11-15 at 9.11.47 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s right, employees are getting maxed out on “fun” office perks like pizza parties and ping pong tables. Instead, according to this Fast Company article, they are looking for healthier perks, like … onsite fishing ponds.

You might laugh, but the grounds at Acuity Insurance in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, contain a pond full of fish that employees can catch and take home and eat. If that’s too rugged for you, other places are offering things like life coaches, farmer’s markets, and grants towards home improvements. Things like these are seen as long-term investments in employees and their well-being.

We don’t know about you, but that sounds better than awkwardly standing around making small talk with co-workers, trying to discreetly pick onions off of rubbery pizza.

What perk do you wish YOUR office offered? Tell us, in the comments!

 

Want to learn something? Teach it to someone else

Gabe Kotter, a man who learned a lot through teaching.

Gabe Kotter, a man who learned a lot through teaching.

Some of the very best jobs out there are those that allow us to be students for our entire careers. Jobs that allow constant opportunities for skill development and growth are more rewarding and exciting, constantly encouraging employees to stretch what they are capable of and presenting them with new challenges. While employees flex their brain muscles, employers get a more engaged and highly trained workforce; it’s a win-win.

If your workplace offers courses, training opportunities or seminars and you’re eager to learn, you’re likely excited to sign up and take advantage of whatever these opportunities. But have you ever considered offering to teach a course or lead a workshop? Even if you don’t consider yourself an expert in your field, you may be surprised at how useful your knowledge base is, especially when shared with your whole team.

And besides, teaching is one of the best best ways to learn. Not only will you be sharing your skill set and knowledge base, you’ll also be improving your own capacity and competency in the process.

What is it about teaching that helps us learn? A few things, it turns out:

  • We tend to learn things piecemeal, picking up things as well go; teaching helps put these smaller pockets of knowledge and individual skills in order.
  • Teaching forces us to restructure information in our minds in different ways, to make that information more easily understandable by other people; in the process, we get a better grasp of what we know.
  • When you working out how to teach something to someone else, you realize the gaps that you may have in your own knowledge, so that you can fill them in.
  • Teaching causes us to think about what we know and how we do what we do more deeply, so that we examine the why instead of the how.

Instead of just soaking up all the knowledge at your next professional seminar, offer to lead a panel discussion or workshop as well. You’ll be shocked at how much you’ll learn!

Happy Monday — fake Soylent edition

FYI, neither Soylent nor Schmoylent are people.

FYI, neither Soylent nor Schmoylent are people.

So we don’t know what’s up in your neck of the woods, but here in Southern Ontario, it started snowing this weekend, and we’re struggling to cope with that. Although, maybe you’re one of those people who loves snow and is already planning your ski weekends. Either way, you’re probably having a strong emotional response. Here are some talking points so you don’t just natter on about the weather.

1) Someone has invented a knockoff Soylent. It’s called Schmoylent

tl;dr — Soylent, the food replacement that has developed a strong following among too-busy-to-eat Silicon Valley types has run into some pretty major supply chain issues recently, with people waiting up to five months for their food-powder to arrive in the mail. Thankfully, two clever entrepreneurs have invented a DIY knockoff called Schmoylent which has a much shorter turnaround time. The only problem? It “turned into grits” when mixed.

Ask your coworkers: would you eat/drink/whatever it is you do with Soylent?

2) The tech industry is moving back from the burbs

tl;dr —  For years, the tech industry has been typified by sprawling suburban campuses, that have pretty much everything you need to live. These campuses are convenient, but impossible to access without a car, or a shuttle bus. Now, the new breed of tech firms are moving back downtown, closer to where their young workforces want to live. Not only that, but more and more corporate thinkers are realizing the the closeness of urban workspaces may be good for innovation.

Ask your coworkers: do you prefer a downtown office or a suburban office park?

3) BlackBerry and Samsung are BFFs

tl;dr — After years of rivalry, BlackBerry has decide to team up with Samsung and focus on what it does best, which is mobile enterprise software. Samsung makes the phones, BlackBerry keeps your corporate email from being hacked, and everybody goes home happy.

Ask your coworkers: how dedicated are you to your choice of smartphone?

Procom Movember Progress Report (Week 2)

The first week of Movember has come and gone and Procom has made very little progress, follicle-wise. Men’s health in Canada is more important than a perfectly full beard, anyway. So, if you have a few bucks to spare this month, donate to our Movember Fundraising Page.

 

Without further ado, here are the fuzzy update photos you all came here for:

Procom Toronto Movember 2014.

Bow says that next time he won’t smile, because it makes his ‘stache look bad. Don’t worry Bow, it can’t look any worse.

Procom Kitchener-Waterloo Movember 2014

John Casciato of Kitchener-Waterloo says, “Movember seems to be making the hair grow on my head….” Hmmm, how strange.

52 minutes on, 17 minutes off.

Have you been working for 52 minutes at this point? Time to do like these two and go take a walk.

Have you been working for 52 minutes at this point? Time to do like these two and go take a walk.

By now we’ve all heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder” about a million times, but what exactly does that mean? According to a recent workplace productivity study, it means taking 17 minute break for every 52 minutes of work you do. Social networking company the Draugiem Group studied their employees using a productivity app called DeskTime. Here’s what they found:

What they found was that the 10% of employees with the highest productivity surprisingly didn’t put in longer hours than anyone else. In fact, they didn’t even work full eight-hour days. What they did do was take regular breaks. Specifically, they took 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work.

“Turns out, the secret to retaining the highest level of productivity over the span of a workday is not working longer—but working smarter with frequent breaks,” wrote Julia Gifford in The Muse when she posted the study’s results. Employees with the highest levels of productivity worked for 52 minutes with intense purpose, then rested up, allowing their brains time to rejuvenate and prepare for the next work period.

It’s also important to note what those super productive employees did during those breaks. They didn’t look at cat videos on YouTube — although it would be hard to fault them if they did— or browse Facebook. They got up and left their desks completely. That bit is key. They took a walk, or read a few pages of a book.

How long do you go between getting up from your desk? Let us know in the comments.

How’s your NaNoWriMo book coming along? Need some encouragement?

Just think, you could be the next Hugh Howey.

Just think, you could be the next Hugh Howey.

Last week, we told you to take the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge and write a novel about your workplace this month. We are now almost half way through the month, and you should be closing in on 25,000 words. You’re also probably starting to wonder why you’re doing this. Well, artistic self-expression is one reason. Bragging rights is another. The third is unimaginable riches. The folks over at Mental Floss published a list of 14 NaNoWriMo novels that actually wound up getting published. Here are some highlights:

Wool by Hugh Howey. From Barnes and Noble: “In a ruined and toxic landscape, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.” Ridley Scott has expressed interest in directing the Wool movie, the rights to which have been purchased by 20th Century Fox.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. She wrote it during two NaNos, but we’re not holding it against her. The Night Circus spent seven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and won an Alex Award from the American Library Association in 2012.

Take the Reins by Jessica Burkhart. This was actually the first book in what has become a very successful pre-teen series for Burkhart. The Canterwood Crest novels began with a draft of Take the Reins in 2006’s NaNo.

So just remember to thank us when Sony/TriStar options your book about an IT specialist who finds a portal to an alternate dimension in the back of the server room.

Do networking events make you feel dirty? Here’s how to fix that

You're feeling uncomfortable already, aren't you.

You’re feeling uncomfortable already, aren’t you.

I think we can all agree that networking events, as in events that are specifically designed for only the purpose of networking and nothing else, are often pretty awful. When done poorly, they take everything that’s awkward about small talk and add a big dose of career pressure on top. Rather than an opportunity to show off our best, most authentic and dynamic selves, networking events can come across like the most stilted and forced corporate first-date scenarios.

There’s no wonder that these events can leaving us feeling a little well, dirty. If you’ve ever felt like leaving the discomfort, stress, and fake friendliness of a networking event to go take a real-life shower, you’re not alone.

It turns out that there are quantifiable reasons why networking events (or anything that makes us feel gross or icky, really) make us feel physically unclean. Networking events – the kind that are pre-planned, calculated affairs, ie the worst, as opposed to spontaneous networking – tend to be the kind of things that we think of as “dirty.” In studies, people identified the inherent sense of selfishness in networking functions to be the thing that made them feel the most grody, and tended to associate these memories with cleaning products to demonstrate their abject dismay.

So how can we feel less unclean about going to networking events, especially when they might actually be important for us to attend? The key may be into looking at those who didn’t have such strong negative reactions to the idea.

  • Those in positions of power liked networking more, because they felt they had more to contribute to the interactions via experience and connections.
  • Focusing on what you bring to the table can defuse feelings of selfishness and, consequently, dirtiness.
  • Attend networking events that are less about career ladder climbing and more geared towards collaboration, so you’ll be focused on the possibilities rather than the small talk.

Regardless of whether or not networking still makes you feel a little slimy, a long post-event bubble bath is probably a great way to unwind, so do that either way.

Happy Monday — ABBA for a cash-free Sweden edition

Not the first people we'd consult about financial policy, but hey, different strokes.

Not the first people we’d consult about financial policy, but hey, different strokes.

Are we alone in wondering where the sun went, or how quickly people in this country move from T-shirts to parkas? If you’re like us, you probably spent the weekend looking wistfully out the window, wishing summer would come back. Unfortunately, you can’t really tell your coworkers that. Try talking about these things instead.

1) One of the guys from ABBA wants to get rid of all physical cash in Sweden

tl;dr — Björn Ulvaeus is leading the lobby to make Sweden the first cashless country. He says that getting rid of cash will both help cut down on crime and save the state millions of krona in printing and transportation costs.

Ask your coworkers: Do you still carry cash regularly?

2) Twitter is paying execs extra not to jump ship.

tl;dr —Twitter had it’s IPO a year ago last week, and overall, it hasn’t gone as well as they’d hoped. Neither user growth nor stock prices have hit the levels that investors had anticipated. Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the resulting exodus of managers and execs has caused the company to offer more money for people to push back their exit announcements.

Ask your coworkers: Would you hold off on quitting a job if your employer offered you a raise?

3) Have you ever had a lousy boss? Chances are they were an insomniac.

tl;dr —A research team has discovered that there’s less variance between so-called “jerky” bosses and nice ones than there is between the same manager on different days. What’s the difference maker? How much they slept the night before. While “tired people are cranky” isn’t a groundbreaking finding, very few people have managed to quantify it like this before.

Ask your coworkers: How many hours sleep do you average in a night?

OK folks, go out there and be fascinating.

Video Friday: The Printz, we hardly knew ye

So, last Friday, we celebrated Halloween by looking at the hijinks of Werewolf in the Office, a web series about a remarkably normal werewolf in a a remarkably normal office. It got us thinking about another one of our favourite office-based web series, The Printz.

Fair warning, The Printz was designed as an ad for a copy shop, which is part of its genius. We salute any company that asks the question “How should we promote our business?” and comes up with the answer “With a series of vignettes about a brooding son of Viking royalty, attempting to work in a 21st century office.” If nothing else, you have to love that swing for the fences attitude.

Here are a couple highlights:

 

Procom Movember Progress Report (Week 1)

Even if the men of Procom don’t achieve the luscious upper-lip locks they so desire, it’ll all be worth it.

It’s week one of Movember at Procom and the team’s scruff is barely visible. Regardless of whether we come through with Zach Galifianakis level beards this month, we hope you’ll consider donating to Procom’s fundraising page or to any other teams participating in Movember – a month-long fundraising initiative for Men’s Health.

Don’t let the men of Procom suffer through scratchy scruff in vain: Donate to Procom’s Movember Fundraising Page today!

Procom's Movember Dream vs Movember Reality

Bryan, Josh, and Bow of Procom Toronto have a long way to go!

Our  Kitchener-Waterloo captain is making slow but steady progress, too!

Our Kitchener-Waterloo captain, John Casciato,  seems to be making more progress… though it could just be the lighting.