The Procom Jobcast

How to SEO your resume like a pro

It’s hard out there for a resume.

You may have the skills, but your job hunting game won’t be on point if said skills are getting overlooked.  On average, every corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes– with 72% of them going unopened by hiring managers. It’s an over-saturated and inundated competitive landscape, and in the electronic-era we live in, writing your resume for both humans and robots is a must-have know-how that will bolster your application, ensuring it’s found by the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) used by recruiters and HR professionals.

The whole goal is to align your resume to the job description, so incorporate these tips into your job search to SEO your resume like a pro:

Keywords are key

There’s actually nothing really special about keywords—they’re just words, what makes them matter is how often they occur and the company they keep. An optimized resume should match your qualifications with specific job descriptions.SEO Your Resume like a Pro_clip-01

Repetition is necessary

Keywords used early in your resume are valued higher than those placed lower in the document.

DO: Include these valuable identifiers in your summary, highlighting your key skills and then continue to sprinkle them between 6-8 times throughout the body.

DON’T: Include technical skills within the summary or bottom of your resume. Instead, list them within each project.

HINT: Pay attention to the “Requirements” and “Qualifications” in the job description. Identify the hard and soft skills from the job posting and mirror the language in your resume.

Be consistent and creative with words

There are three types of keyword matches that will resonate with the robots:

  1. Broad match: Keywords can appear in any order along with other terms
  2. Phrase match: Use of exact keyword with any other term before or after
  3. Exact match: Keywords appear exactly without any other terms before or after

Example: Job title description keyword: marketing coordinator

  1. Broad match resume title: marketing communications coordinator, marketing associate
  2. Phrase match resume title: corporate marketing coordinator, PR & marketing coordinator
  3. Exact match resume title: marketing coordinator

DO: Use the exact keyword in the title for the job you’re applying for, or if your previous job title was more flexible, include keywords that are associated with that specific position.

DON’T: Use keywords that only contain various acronyms or titles that are not widely accepted or known, or apply to a job with irrelevant job titles.

HINT: A “marketing coordinator” will find his or her way into an interview room with a hiring manager before a “branding ninja” will even be noticed by the resume robots.

 Remember, resumes still touch human hands

You’re writing your resume for both hiring managers and an ATS, so keep it pleasing to each. Create a word document that has a balance of both the visual appeal and proper ATS formatting. The goal is to optimize the content to rank with the robots but also look good when under human scrutiny.

DO: Look for areas within your resume for optimization in sections like job responsibilities, accomplishments, education and summary of qualifications. Use different forms of keywords in different sections for maximum optimization.

DON’T: Complicate things. Keep it simple with no complex layouts. Stay away from including tables or graphics. Robots can’t read graphics and they misread tables.

HINT: When you submit your SEO’d resume, be sure to include your postal code. Without your postal code, you won’t be found by anything or anyone.

Your resume is the key to unlocking your success, and if you’re gunna be a bear, be a grizzly. Use keywords to turn your resume into a master key, and unlock one of these great opportunities!




7 Office Space traits that will get you promoted

Some have vilified him; others still celebrate him, but whether you loathed or loved when Ron Livingston Jack Berger broke up with Carrie Bradshaw with the infamous 7 word post-it note, you’ve got to admit: Ron is kind of a boss. He’s clearly wise in the ways of concise communication and in making definitive decisions; he keeps good company and takes action. All in all, he knows how to work the world and the workplace.

It’s basically magnificent.

So if you, too, seek to achieve awesome in life and at the office, ask yourself, “What would Ron do?”
(Or try these 7 tips in honour of one of the best movies of all time.)

1. Always be looking to create opportunities to improve your workplace.
Because you’re inventive. And innovation matters.

WWRD: See a better way of doing things? Master the ability to maximize your workplace value by continuously looking for ways to expand your sphere of ingenuity throughout the organization.

2. Ask for more responsibility 

WWRD: Ask for more work, so your boss sees your interest and desire to help your department and company succeed. More responsibility also increases your knowledge-base and puts a spotlight on your value to the organization– and that’s good. Unless that spotlight is from a florescent bulb.

No one looks good in florescent lighting.  (In the case of actual said lighting, see number 1 about improving workplace conditions.)

3. Don’t skip the office party. No matter how lame you think it will be.

WWRD: Don’t miss out on the chance to socialize with co-workers because you don’t want to “mix business with pleasure.” You’re basically skipping out on a chance to learn more about office news and you end up alienating yourself from people who you spend 8 hours a day with. Who gets remembered when it comes time for an advantageous project or reward? Not what’s his or her face who never shows up.  However, copious libations are generally frowned upon.

4. Be a team player

WWRD: Hold up your end. Don’t call yourself a team player and then balk at having to pitch in on other projects. Complaining is futile; ask how you can help instead. Being a team player builds your reputation, and making  thoughtful decisions and having honest interactions with others is significantly noticed.

(But don’t do this. This is a bad decision.)

Speaking of bad decisions…

5. Be drama free 

WWRD: Office environments mean you have to work closely with different personalities. Don’t like a co-worker? Your boss doesn’t or want to care. Unless there’s a real problem, keep your co-worker complaints to yourself. Bringing drama to the workplace implies your maturity level isn’t worthy of the next step. And no one likes a gossip either, by the way.

Stop that immediately.

6. Quantify your results 

WWRD: Those who get results get ahead (unless you have a horrid personality, no one wants to work for someone who can’ t get along with others). Keeping records of what you’ve done to enhance the company’s bottom line puts you and your department in the good books. It not only shows your value but also your loyalty and commitment to the organization.

7. Practice self-promotion

WWRD: Modesty is a virtue, sure, but if no one knows of your greatness, you wont get ahead. Let it be known if you’ve created an award winning program or achieved another worthy goal. Use performance appraisals not just to go over your accomplishments, but to talk with your boss about potential advancement opportunities. Sell yourself!

Now set forth, and achieve the level of greatness you’re capable of.

And remember, if these 7 tips don’t help you land the promotion, the post-it could also always help you leave to find another opportunity:


On-demand is in-demand: How to retain talented contingent workers

Remember when a little unknown company by the name of Netflix emerged back in the early 2000’s? Some people were curious, others were dubious, and now over a decade or so later, more than 50 million members globally subscribe to the on-demand media streaming giant.

There’s a visible trend emerging in the talent-recruitment world, and with over 40 per cent of the U.S. workforce comprised of contingent workers, studies show that companies are following the Netflix business model: On-demand workers are in high-demand.

The contingent workforce typically encompasses a set of highly skilled IT specialists and Consultants to light-industrial workers, and this growing number of multi-faceted talent is rapidly changing the way organizations are doing business. According to a recent report released by supply management firm, Ardent Partners, 92 per cent of enterprises indicated non-traditional staffing was a vital to moderate part of their overall corporate strategy. By 2017, contingent workers; including Independent Contractors, statement-of-work-based labour and freelancers will account for almost 45 per cent of the world’s total workforce.

For many businesses, non-traditional staffing offers a way to tamp down on costs while acquiring skilled but scarce talent. A contingent worker may be pricey, but the cost is temporary—making them much more palatable to a bottom line.

So, the plusses for businesses add up; but for contingent workers who frequently have to answer the question of where the rent money or mortgage payment is coming from each month, there lay a distinct discrepancy.

How do you keep temporary talent from jumping ship?

The first mistake businesses make is the assumption that contingent workers are happy to wait until their current contract expires to discuss a new deal. Wrong! A recent study from Procom shows that while still on assignment, 31 per cent of contingent workers are always looking for another opportunity elsewhere. Are you doing everything you can as a business to keep contingent workers engaged? Try these tips for reducing turnover of contingent staff:

  1. Next steps discussions

Like every type of employee, contingent workers desire certainty, and if they don’t have it with their current employer, they will look elsewhere for security. When a contract begins, automatically set up “next steps” discussions at the midpoint and subsequent midpoints until the contract expires. At each discussion provide details about upcoming opportunities, and be clear as to whether or not there is a possibility that the assignment would be extended.

  1. Recognize their value

Inclusion is key. Appreciating the unique needs of a contingent worker involves an up-front effort to ensure inclusion in the workplace. Although they can’t be identified and treated as full-time employees, avoid creating subcultures between full time staff and your contingent workforce. A Contractor knows his or her position may be eliminated at a given time, and their salaries and any other perks are pre-determined compared to those of full-time employees; they’re not as incentivized as the rest of the staff. As an employer, businesses can’t be careless or apathetic when dealing with a contingent workforce. To remain motivated, productive and inclined to stay or return for future projects, contingent workers need to feel as though they are part of the team and not just temporary bodies in a seat.

  1. Develop and maintain close communication with your staffing agency

Staffing agencies are your third party connector, and they make it their business to know yours, as well as their Contractors. Ask to be kept in the loop with their surveys within the labour pool, so you can have feedback as to what you can do or do differently to hold on to your talent in the future. Do some companies invite their contingent staff to company events and Christmas parties? These perks can increase engagement, word-of-mouth referrals and inspire intention to return for future projects.


At the end of the day, when it comes to the contingent workforce, there’s a clear correlation between the basic human regard awarded Contractors and their subsequent intention to stay for the duration of their entire assignment, perform at their highest level and return for future projects. Treating temporary staff in line with the true value they contribute to your business will pay off by way of retention.

Resumes: Your missing zip code could be the reason you’re missing out

Have you found yourself dwelling within the realm of the “in between?”

It’s the place where Job Seekers temporarily reside while in between careers—and also a polite response to overzealous academics when asked what you do for a living (and you aren’t currently employed). “Oh, I’m in between careers at the moment” seems a suitable reply.

But there’s a reason you may be in a perpetual state of living within the in between—and it could be as simple as not having your zip code on our resume.

We’re here, where are you?

It’s called radial searching, and it’s a major filter recruiters, job boards and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) use when seeking suitable candidates. Having your zip code on your resume is more important than your actual address. You may live within a two block radius of a potential employer, but if your zip code isn’t listed on your resume, you won’t get filtered in during the first round of applicant pooling.

How does it work?

As soon as location details are entered into an ATS, key terms and words found in your resume pertaining to that specific job description are drilled down on, and qualified candidates within those location parameters are selected to be contacted. If no qualified candidates are found, recruiters and hiring managers will perform a manual search of their database, and you may get lucky and turn up during that second round of manual searching. But why take the risk?

Searching by zip code geographically narrows down the number of qualified job seekers, and if you can’t be found, you don’t exist—and neither do your exemplary qualifications.

Your resume is your foot in the door. Ensure your address is complete with your correct zip code, so you can be found when opportunity knocks.

So you want to be a federal contractor?

Communicate Better with IT ManagementYou’ve been working in the private sector for a while now– maybe right out of school, and you’re starting to get calls from recruitment agencies about government contracts. The wheels may begin to start to turn and you think, “Maybe I should start consulting?”

But what does this even mean?

Here are the top three things you should know about government bidding:

#1 The RFP process

The government hires through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process where selected vendors (i.e. recruitment agencies) get invited to bid on government jobs – the vendors coordinate with Consultants/Contractors and work together to respond to these requests.

Unlike the private sector, where companies can sort through simple three page resumes, these RFPs can include long corporate requirements and bidding structures that would make individually applying to these preferred roles very difficult and sometimes next to impossible.

So what to do? As a Consultant, it’s best to:

  • Align yourself with vendors (recruiters and managers) who get to see these requirements daily and let them know what opportunities you would be interested in.
  • Ask your recruiter lots of questions. To an experienced competitor, each RFP is different, and there are a lot of nuances. Some opportunities may take up to six months from RFP submission to be awarded, some may be as quickly as two weeks. Asking questions will help you understand the timelines and process for each contract.

#2 Government resumes

The difference between a private sector and public sector resume is about 30 pages… Just kidding, but not really!

Most government RFPs don’t feature an interview, instead they rely on extensive resume and proposal documentation to evaluate candidates.  This means there’s greater importance in defining what you’ve done in writing. The old three page resume rule doesn’t apply – the more detail the better. Here are a few tips to get you on the right track:

  • Clean up the dates. Government policies and evaluators make overlapping jobs/projects very difficult to get credit for. Despite having worked on multiple projects concurrently, you’ll need to break these apart in your resume and clearly state beginning and end dates to each project.
  • Details, details, details! Each of your projects/work experiences should have a summary, along with specific tasks and duties you completed. Also, be sure to include what technologies were used.
  • Education/Certification – while you would commonly list these within your resume, most proposals will require a copy of your diploma or certification to be included. Best to get those ready to go ASAP.

Remember, this is just a start! When bidding, there will always be more to include that’ll speak directly to each requirement.

#3 Security clearance

Nearly every Federal Government RFP will include a security condition that requires potential bidders to hold a valid personal security clearance and possibly an organizational clearance if you are to work as an
Independent Contractor.  Security clearance levels range from enhanced reliability (lowest), secret and top secret (highest) depending on the project and information within. More on security clearance levels can be found here:

It’s becoming more and more common that Candidates must have an active clearance when participating on a proposal rather than at contract award/start date. So, how can you apply for a clearance?

  • Establish a relationship with your recruitment agency to review whether you might qualify for a security clearance, and to find out what level you might need to work in your field.

If you qualify for a clearance, application processing times range from 1-2 months for enhanced reliability and significantly longer at higher levels.

Wrap up

Every government RFP is a little bit different and many of them will have surprises, so you won’t know what’s exactly required until you start working on a live opportunity.  Despite this, the three preparation steps above will surely put you on your way to being eligible to bid on (and potentially win) a contract within the Federal Government.

To get further information on any of these topics feel free to contact Procom Ottawa, or myself

About the author

Edmund Watson is an IT business development and recruiter for Procom Consultants Group in Ottawa, Canada. In his role, Edmund works with Procom Clients and Candidates to match IT professionals with a career position beneficial to both the Contractor and Client. Edmund specializes in public and private sector agencies, helping businesses acquire talented people and manage their contract workforce.

6 Reasons why pirates make the best leaders

They’re a savvy lot, indeed.

Often wily, never without a plan and always with an eye on the coveted prize, buccaneering pirates of days long past were adept with skills born to manage the fickle temperament of their industry, thwart the machinations of usurping competitors and lead a crew comprised of loyal yet varied characters.

So whether you’ve pegged the Jack Sparrows and Black Beards as plundering plagues on free trade or simply overzealous privateering enthusiasts— ain’t nobody got time to argue semantics on Friday!

But if you share these transferrable traits, your management skills are definitely up to pARRR….

(Okay, first time, last time—promise!)

Not all treasure is silver and gold mates, so take what you can from this list. Give nothing back.


1. Pirate captains are creative tacticians. They strategize the best course of action to take in battle and the ingeniously clever ways to achieve the desired result.

Lead like a pirate: Tacticians are shrewd decision makers. Make good decisions.


2. Pirate captains take risks, and calculated risks are necessary to achieving victory.

Lead like a pirate: Security is mostly superstition. Dare to fail to achieve success.


3. Pirate captains lead by example, recognizing leadership is a privilege gained through trust.

Lead like a pirate: Avoid mutiny. You aren’t good at everything, recognize where others can do a better job and delegate accordingly.


4. Pirates have mastered the art of parley. They’re proficient at holding a civilized discussion between opposing sides during a workplace dispute.

Lead like a pirate: Identify points of agreement and disagreement; listen to what each side is saying and discuss an action plan moving forward. Then throw the offending parties overboard. (Just kidding, don’t do that…)


5. Pirate captains adhere to a code, and they divvy up the booty evenly.

Lead like a pirate: Sharing the wealth creates a motivated team. Hoarding the spoils of success (be it money, praise, etc…) inspires nothing but disgruntled conflict. Don’t be a greedy hoarder.


6. Pirate captains have pets. Pets in the workplace heighten employee morale and encourage productivity.

Lead like a pirate: Avoid monkeys. A dog would be preferable; probably a small one.  But no cats. Cats in the office would just be weird.


So even if their “business” dealings may be open to interpretation, pirates lived by a code of conduct and displayed a brand of leadership that we can still learn from today. And remember, the problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?

Resumes: Your missing postal code could be the reason you’re missing out

Have you found yourself dwelling within the realm of the “in between?”

It’s the place where Job Seekers temporarily reside while in between careers—and also a polite response to overzealous academics when asked what you do for a living (and you aren’t currently employed). “Oh, I’m in between careers at the moment” seems a suitable reply.

But there’s a reason you may be in a perpetual state of living within the in between—and it could be as simple as not having your postal code on our resume.

We’re here, where are you?

It’s called radial searching, and it’s a major filter recruiters, job boards and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) use when seeking suitable candidates. Having your postal code on your resume is more important than your actual address. You may live within a two block radius of a potential employer, but if your postal code isn’t listed on your resume, you won’t get filtered in during the first round of applicant pooling.

How does it work?

As soon as location details are entered into an ATS, key terms and words found in your resume pertaining to that specific job description are drilled down on, and qualified candidates within those location parameters are selected to be contacted. If no qualified candidates are found, recruiters and hiring managers will perform a manual search of their database, and you may get lucky and turn up during that second round of manual searching. But why take the risk?

Searching by postal code geographically narrows down the number of qualified job seekers, and if you can’t be found, you don’t exist—and neither do your exemplary qualifications.

Your resume is your foot in the door. Ensure your address is complete with your correct postal code, so you can be found when opportunity knocks.

Procom Raleigh wins the Triangle’s Best Places to Work Award

Employees are a company’s most valuable asset, and ours like us…they really like us.

The search was on for the best places to work in 2015, and Procom Raleigh can be found among the top 50 winners. Each year, The Triangle Business Journal honours companies in four different size categories that have worked to promote a workplace culture that employees champion. Winners were chosen based on an employee-survey process conducted by Quantum Workplace. Once nominated, a company had to meet a threshold in employee participation – a percentage that varies based upon the size of the company – to be eligible for recognition.

They say that culture is to your employees what brand is to your customers. At Procom, we’re proud to foster a culture where our talented teams can work, grow and deliver on our shared mission of building great careers for our consultants and healthy organizations for our clients—and the present is only the beginning.

When work is awesome, employees are engaged, clients are loyal and business is good.

And we think it feels pretty good to be recognized as one of the best.

Metrics matter: data integrity and reliability in the world of talent recruitment

Measurement is what makes marketing a science, rather than a superstition. We live in an ever-evolving world, and the fast-paced staffing industry is no different. Advances in technology have made harnessing the power of data even easier, but what do metrics really mean and how do we qualify them? If a company measures the wrong metrics, it’s very likely to end up directing the wrong behaviours within their teams.  It’s important to look at your data and figure out where you’re going to get better results for your decided course of action.

There are many interesting metrics that can be analyzed within your data but they may not all lead to more placements, gross margin or tangible benefits.  But if you can find those few nuggets that can increase your time to hire, hit ratio or enhance any of your conversion ratios, you’re definitely finding money making opportunities.


Data hygiene

OK, making decisions from false data leads to bad decisions… So what do we do? Well, if faulty data is even a small problem in your organization, this should represent a clear call-to-action for you. It means that you need to be scrubbing your data more carefully.


Throw out the numbers that don’t make sense – even when at a glance they make you look good! Like us, you’ve probably noticed that you routinely encounter all kinds of invalid cases in your metrics that can skew them for better or worse. While it may be tempting to publish numbers that reflect an unseasonably high close ratio on your part, the conclusions drawn from them won’t be any more valid. At best, you’d be setting a client up for an unrealistic expectation and at worst– you’d be lying.

It’s always better to throw your own numbers out the window, rather than run the risk of having a numbers-savvy client (or potential lead) throw them out for you.


Communicating metrics

You want to ensure that the value of your metrics is effectively communicated and not just blindly accepted internally. Broker an understanding of their true meaning for team members of every level within the company. If you want your metrics to encourage the right kind of decision-making, you’ll need to achieve buy-in from these people. Talk about the real trends hidden in the numbers and not just the numbers themselves.

Finally, keep your numbers as straightforward and non-convoluted as possible. Use visuals if these help to convey your meaning. Then share your insights and make them accessible to team members and stakeholders.


Small data

In a data-driven environment, decision-making must be a top-down push. If an understanding of your metrics’ value doesn’t reach the uppermost echelons of your organization, the numbers are unlikely to create any real positive traction. Staffing companies do not compete in the “Big Data” space, but they should focus on small to mid-size data instead, since this is where we see small numbers having the greatest impact. In this regard, the integrity of your small data becomes a surprisingly powerful factor in effective decision-making.


Final thoughts

The bottom line is that we all make decisions from flawed data, regardless of our size or levels of expertise found within our organizations. The point is to use this flawed data and any related missteps to get better at our craft. We simply need to be committed to moving beyond that in order to properly evaluate our people, our clients and the ways that we do business. When we do this, we uncover shorter avenues to providing better and more accurate work, while strengthening our own business (and that of our clients) at the same time.


About the Author

Wendy Kennah is the director of recruiting for Procom Consultants Group in Toronto, Canada. In her role, she has overall leadership and accountability for the strategic direction, development and growth of Procom’s recruitment practices and policies. Procom specializes in the Information Technology contingent contract and permanent staffing industry. Previously, Wendy was the vice president of recruiting for Brainhunter, Inc and was responsible for the national recruitment strategy in Canada.


Interview fallback questions: the do’s and don’ts

fallback interview questionsIt’s that time of the interview. You’ve weathered all of their questions and things seem to be going well.  Now you’ve hit that critical moment – they want you to ask them a few questions.

Most people come into this part of the interview and they start to coast.  They think, “Is there anything I want to know?”  Then they either ask nothing at all or just start lobbing out questions: What will my workspace be like? What is the benefits plan like?

And blah, blah, blah…

This is the wrong approach!

At this point, you’re still auditioning for the job, and this section is a crucial part of your overall performance.  The best, most hire-ready candidates know this and will ask questions that:

  • Demonstrate they are passionate about getting this specific job, even if they have a few things on the go
  • Reinforce the skills and values they presented in the Client question portion
  • Communicate any of their key selling points that were missed in the Client questions

In short, they ask smart questions designed to help them stand out from other Candidates.  So how do you do it?


  • Write your questions down, and bring them with you to the interview (because it demonstrates your preparations, and we all forget when under stress)
  • Ask your recruiter for knowledge about the job and the Client environment
  • Research the people you’re meeting on LinkedIn or through your own sources


  • Ask questions that matter most to you about salary, benefits or work hours. These sorts of questions are important, but they often create distance when asked.  It’s best to save these questions for a late stage interview or pass them through an intermediary (i.e., your recruiter or corporate HR or).

Fallback questions

The best questions to ask are always specific to the job situation, and so you’ll need to put some thought into it every time you interview.  Despite that, below are a few fall back questions that fit most scenarios – if you don’t have anything else, use these:

  1. How will my performance and success be measured?
  2. What kind of results do I need to deliver to be a top performer?
  3. If I am extremely successful in this role, what kind of impact will that have on your organization?
  4. For me, culture has always been an important part of work, and it’s the type of thing I really can’t get a sense of from your website. How would you describe the culture here?

Finding a job can be a job. Nailing the interview and finding a great career fit won’t just happen—they’re driven results. As a job seeker, you’re in the driver’s seat; be proactive in arming yourself with the tools that will propel you forward.

Welcome to the new!

As you may have noticed, we’ve got a whole new look for our brand. Here we will share engaging project stories and other content for both our Consultants and Clients, offering insight and commentary on everything that’s happening in the changing world of work, making our value clear to potential Clients and partners. We know how important it is to stay relevant in this business – our website’s new design approach is intended to reflect our company’s expertise and the focus we place on meeting our clients’ business needs. There are also some added features for our valued Consultants including enhanced job postings, with more interactive features coming soon!

That said, this new website is really just a piece of a larger re-branding exercise that the company has recently undergone, in which we will be making the value of our expertise and service offerings clear through project stories and helpful content that will help you make informed and strategic business decisions for you, your teams, and stakeholders.

Procom’s vision is to be recognized as the market-leading source of high-performing solutions and advice for organizations that care about recruitment and talent management. So while our online presence may look a little different, we are the same Procom that you have come to trust.


Website_Announcement-01“Are you looking to find top talent?”

Finding the best available contract talent in the market is what we do every day. Talented resources and multi-disciplinary networks are at the core of our process, making this a service we can deliver with speed and accuracy.

Somewhere out there your ideal candidate is ready with the skills you need. Let us find them for you at the best possible rate.



“If you’ve found your own talent, are they properly engaged?”

We develop technology that is adaptable to the needs of your environment – not the other way around. Procom’s Contractor Management Technology is a customizable software solution that enables you to manage your contract workforce with visibility, transparency, and cost-effectiveness. We help you streamline lengthy hiring cycles, identify key inefficiencies, and ensure that all your suppliers are held to a consistent level of accountability.


icon - chart“Are you looking to manage risk and save money?”

Procom’s contractor payrolling solution is a managed service where you can outsource the business process activities related to the management of your Direct Sourced contractors in order to achieve process optimization, minimization of risk and reduction of costs.

We bring an integrated software-plus-service approach to contractor management, and can deliver a program tailored for your organization.

We’d like to thank each of the many people who participated in the creation of the refreshed brand elements, as interviewees, workshop participants and project contacts. The result is a strong brand message, with clear core values and an overall internal document to that will make it easier to live and reflect the Procom experience and brand going forward.

We promise to respect our role in the labour market and the confidence placed in us by our Candidates and Clients.

We are Procom. And we want to work with you.

What We Learned at Bullhorn Engage 2015

Written by Kent McCrea

It’s been roughly a week since several members of the Procom management team were down in Boston for the annual Bullhorn Engage conference.  A big kudos to the Bullhorn team, and particularly their marketing group for pulling off such an upscale event this year.

bullhorn engage 2015 gordon burnes presenting

On June 11th, delegates from countless staffing services companies converged on the Boston area to gain keen insights from industry leaders.

The conference was unbelievable – Bullhorn organized a wide range of panelists that spoke to the fundamentals of the staffing business – specifically our Consultants, our Clients and our staff.

Lauren Jones (Director of Talent Acquisition Resources & Strategy for Volt Workforce Solutions) led a particularly fascinating session on methodologies for Increasing Candidate Engagement in the Digital Age.

The session focused on a key question…  Has the Consultant experience gotten better or worse? The fact remains that despite tremendous innovation in the recruiting industry over the past 30 years – ranging from the days of faxing resumes in the ’90s, to the rise of email and job boards in the early 2000s and today’s world of multi-platform, multi-medium recruiting – the Consultant experience has in many cases suffered.

As our partners are increasingly challenged for time, we find that more and more of our conversations and services are delivered through low-fidelity communication platforms, such as email, VMS portals, text message (thank you, Millennials) and voicemail.

Some of this we control, as the recruiting industry as a whole has sought out more efficiency, but other items – such as the trend to VMS interfaces for Client interactions – are the result of a tidal industry forces that are very much beyond our influence. For me, the phrase “adapt or die” readily comes to mind.

And despite these challenges for time and the trend to low-fidelity service points, we face a paradox… Our partners on the Client and Consultant side have rising expectations of personalized service and one-to-one relationships.

So what’s a recruiting team to do?

Well, the theme of the conference was Engage, and the Procom team walked away refreshed, energized, and ready for this challenge. It is clear to us that opportunity will not come from pursuing the same old ways of working. It will be up to us to develop our approach to deal with the future and this new environment we live in.

While our technology teams work to refine the tools we have available (and there are exciting things coming), we must remember that in our business people matter, and it comes down to individuals to make a difference.  This has always been the culture at Procom, and it is our job as managers and recruiting professionals to never lose sight of it.



Kent McCrea is Procom’s newly appointed COO.

He is a member of the management team for the Procom Group of Companies. Kent is dedicated to providing Procom’s customers with technology-driven resources and solutions that build business value. Kent’s areas of focus include competitive analysis and financial management. He brings to Procom a diverse career background and powerful insights into the staffing services industry.



Largest Independent Canadian Staffing Firm Names New COO

Procom Congratulates Kent McCrea

kent mccreaIt is with great pleasure that Procom announces the appointment of Kent McCrea to the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the Procom Group of Companies. Kent’s academic credentials include a BBA from Wilfrid Laurier University, and an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Prior to joining Procom in 2008, Kent worked with CIBC World Markets in New York and became a holder of the Chartered Financial Analyst ® designation.

Since his arrival, Kent has played an ever-increasing role in support of growth for the Procom Group of Companies, first taking on responsibilities for Keous – A Procom software development subsidiary – before relocating to Ottawa as Branch Manager for the Procom Consulting Group. In recent years he has been increasingly involved in operational aspects of Procom. His appointment to the position of COO is a well-deserved formalization of his ongoing efforts.

“I’m truly excited to take on this new role,” said Kent. “The relationships between Procom and our clients have evolved admirably over the years, and the increase in business has brought the company to a turning-point. It’s both a challenge and a wonderful opportunity to be able to help see Procom through this next period of momentous growth.”

About Procom

Procom is one of North America’s leading staffing and contract workforce services providers. Successfully meeting the needs of Fortune 500 clients for nearly 40 years, we have 14 offices across North America, with over 8,500 skilled professionals currently on assignment.

Procom has long been recognized as a market-leading source of high-performing services and solutions that transform how our clients acquire and manage the very best talent. Relying on the excellence of individuals to make a difference, we know that people matter.

And we want to work with you.

Contact Procom

To learn more about Kent McCrea and Procom, please contact
Nicole Dupuis, Marketing Manager
2200 Yonge Street, Suite 700
Toronto, ON M4S 2C6
Toll Free: 1-800-461-4878 x607
CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst® are registered trademarks owned by CFA Institute.

The 2015 Branham 300 List – Procom Continues to be Canada’s Largest ICT Staffing Company!

branham 300  logo


Procom is pleased to announce its rankings on the Branham Group’s release of the Top 300 List.  The Branham 300 listing has become the most comprehensive listing of publicly traded and privately held IT companies in Canada.

The Branham Group’s 300 List was released on April 22nd and appeared in a special edition of the Globe and Mail newspaper, in which Procom held on to its 1st place ranking on the Top 10 Canadian ICT Staffing Companies.

Procom also appears on two other lists placing 18th on the Top 250 Canadian Tech companies, as well as maintaining our rank of 4th place on the top 25 IT Professional Service Companies.

We continue to grow, and remain one of the largest Canadian-owned and operated companies in the country!

We take this moment to thank our clients for continuing to put their trust in Procom, supporting our reputation for delivering the highest quality in IT Staffing and Contract Workforce Services. We’d also like to extend a special thanks to our employees for their efforts in keeping Procom one of the best-performing companies in the business.

For more information on the Branham Group and to view the results of the Top 300 List please visit their website.

For more information on Procom please visit our ‘About’ page.


Procom est heureux d’annoncer son classement sur la liste Top 300 du groupe Branham.

La liste Branham300 est devenue la liste la plus complète des  entreprises cotées en bourse et privées dans le domaine de TI au Canada.


La liste a été publiée le 22 avril 2015 et est apparu dans une édition spéciale du journal Globe and Mail, dans lequel Procom maintient son classement de 1ère place sur la liste des 10 meilleures sociétés de recrutement dans le domaine de la TIC.

Procom apparaît aussi sur deux autres listes, classée 18ème sur la liste des 250 meilleures sociétés technologiques canadiennes, ainsi que le maintien de notre 4ème place sur les 25 meilleures sociétés de services professionels en TI.

Nous continuons à developper, et restons l’une des plus grandes sociétés canadiennes au pays!

Nous aimerions profiter de l’occasion pour remercier nos clients de leur confiance continue, leur soutien de notre réputation comme fournisseur de services de haute qualité dans le domaine recrutement et main d’oeuvre en TI. Nous aimerions aussi remercier tout particulièrement nos employés pour leurs efforts à maintenir Procom comme l’une des sociétés les plus performantes de l’industrie.

Pour en savoir plus sur le groupe Branham et pour voir les résultats de la liste Top 300, veuillez visiter leur site.

Pour plus d’informations sur Procom, veuillez visiter notre section “A propos de nous“.

What’s Happening? Here Are Our 1st Quarter Labour Market Trends

The market trends for this quarter saw a slight dip in the demand for Developers and PMs, but a proportional rise in the need for Business Analysts. That said, Developers clearly maintain a decisive lead on the action, and enjoy double that of Project Managers as the next highest trend.

Traditionally in the lowest demand across these five categories, QA Specialists and Architects are essentially swapping stats here, representing a variance of less than a percentage each category from early 2015.

An important figure to consider as we all emerge from the slightly slower holiday season is that jobs received overall is up 3.1%! These numbers remain consistent with what we have seen to date, and are metrics that (so far) show little fluctuation.

Procom's labour market trends for April 2015

Procom Wins with Deloitte for 9th Year in a Row!

Canada's Best Managed Companies - Platinum Member Logo

Each year Deloitte recognizes the Best Managed companies in Canada. This year represents Procom’s 9th year as a recipient of this prestigious award.

Here at Procom we are overjoyed and extremely proud to be named among the 2014 Platinum Club winners of Canada’s Best Managed Companies!

This is the ninth time Procom has been a recipient of this distinguished honour, given annually by Deloitte – a testament to our core values of reliability and integrity, our position leading the staffing industry in Canada, and our determination to constantly grow, improving our processes and performance, always.

Procom began its involvement with the Best Managed Companies program in 2006, and since that time our business has more than doubled, despite one of the largest recessions in recent memory.

In 2013, Procom achieved Platinum status and our portfolio of large enterprise clients stands today at its strongest level ever. Our relationship with the Best Managed Companies program has helped build our reputation and attract top discerning clients, but the dedication and teamwork of our talented employees has been a key factor in Procom’s success.

“Having started Procom out of my home some 38 years ago, I couldn’t be happier to see the company thriving today. I truly believe that it is our commitment to our values, and the extraordinarily high caliber of people making up this company that set us apart from our competition each and every day. In this regard, we strive to not only lead the staffing and payroll industry, but also to supporting its future.”

We look forward to growing, innovating, and earning a decade’s worth of Best Managed titles. We know well that our people make all the difference. We’d like to extend a very warm thank you to everyone on the Procom team for their hard work & continued support! You deserve this most of all. Indeed, we couldn’t have done it without you.

Frank McCrea, CEO & President

Deloitte will be recognizing Procom, in addition to our fellow Canadian winners of the Best Managed Companies on the @DeloitteCanada Twitter feed at If you would like to join the conversation please use the hashtag #BestManaged.


L’expertise de Procom a été reconnue par Deloitte 9 années de suite

Chaque année, Deloitte Canada reconnaît les sociétés les mieux gérées au Canada.  Cette année Procom a été récipiendaire de cette prestigieuse distinction pour la neuvième année consécutive.

L’équipe de Procom is particulièrement heureuse et très fière d’avoir été récompensée par et obtenu la distinction honorifique du Club Platine de la société la mieux gérée au Canada

C’est la neuvième fois que Procom a été le récipiendaire de cette distinction honorifique, attribuée chaque année par Deloitte.  Elle constitue un témoignage de nos propres idéaux et valeurs de fiabilité et d’intégrité.  Elle conforte notre position de chef de file de l’industrie de la dotation de personnel au Canada et notre détermination à continuer de croître et à améliorer nos procédures et nos performances encore et toujours plus.

Notre participation au programme des Sociétés les Mieux Gérées nous a aidé à bâtir notre réputation et à attirer les clients les plus exigeants.  Mais c’est le dévouement et le travail d’équipe de nos employés talentueux et dynamiques qui a joué un rôle essentiel dans le succès de Procom.

“Ayant fondé Procom à partir de mon domicile, il y a 38 ans, je ne pourrais pas être plus heureux de voir la société si prospère aujourd’hui. Je suis persuadé que c’est notre attachement à nos valeurs, et le niveau extraordinairement élevé du personnel de cette société qui, chaque jour , nous distinguent de nos concurrents. A cet égard, nous nous efforçons d’être non seulement les meilleurs de l’industrie de recrutement et de dotation, mais également à soutenir son avenir”.

Nous nous réjouissons de continuer à accroitre, à innover et à gagner des prix de Sociétés les Mieux Gérées pendant toute une décennie. Nous savons très bien que notre personnel fait toute la différence. Nous aimerions remercier chaleureusement chacun des membres de l’équipe Procom pour leur travail acharné et leur soutien continu. Vous méritez cette distinction plus que nul autre, car effectivement nous n’aurions pas pu atteindre ce niveau d’excellence sans votre appui.

Frank McCrea, PDG et Président

Procom sera reconnu par Deloitte, en plus de d’autres gagnant canadiens du prix des Sociétés les Mieux Gérées au Canada sur le fil Twitter de Deloitte, à Si vous aimeriez vous joindre à la conversation, veuillez utiliser le mot-clic #MieuxGérées.


How’s The Market? New Year, Steady Stats

It’s 2015, but the New Year has only brought minor shifts in job placement trends. Although Developers, Business Analysts, and Project Managers remain the top 3 placements for last quarter, Business Analyst placements decreased by 7.2%, sliding down to third on the list while Project Management placements jumped to second place, increasing by 1.4%.


The 3 Ways Your Organization Can Help Recruiters Make the Best Candidate Submissions

A recent Procom survey revealed some surprising ways in which you can help recruiters find your organization the perfect candidate.

Engaging contract labour cuts costs and improves your bottom line, but it can be difficult to find best practices for dealing with the recruiters who get you those contractors. The key, it turns out, is communication. Most recruiters at Procom agreed that the “hands-off” approach is not the best way to go about helping them screen potential candidates. In fact, only 1% of recruiters suggested that hiring managers remain un-involved in the process.

When asked about the best ways in which clients can improve the candidate screening process, 40% of Procom recruiters agreed that having clear, unchanging criteria for the role was most important. 27% of recruiters surveyed said regular check-ins helped them find the best fit for the job, while 22% of recruiters contradicted the top result by suggesting that flexible criteria from hiring managers was most helpful.

How can an organization apply these somewhat conflicting results? The truth is that these pieces of recruiter advice tie in together quite well, in that they all require clear and open lines of communication. A regular check in with a recruiter can help you examine and re-negotiate your criteria for a role if you’re flexible, or re-affirm your strict guidelines if you’re set on a certain type of candidate.

Think of these top 3 survey results as a venn diagram, with the flexible approach and the inflexible approach as overlapping circles, and regular check-ins in the middle. Whether you have strict or flexible criteria for the role you’re filling, clear communication with your recruiter about your expectations is key:

Whether you have strict or flexible criteria for the role you're filling, clear communication with your recruiter about your expectations is key.

Whether you have strict or flexible criteria for the role you’re filling, clear communication with your recruiter about your expectations is key.

Let us know how often you engage with recruiters during the screening process! Leave a comment to tell us more about how you like to find the best candidate for your job.

Video Friday: dogs in the office

Once upon a time not so very long ago, if you suggested a bring-your-dog-to-work day, people would have looked at you like you were a Martian. Now, though, it’s a growing trend, and many workplaces are finding that, rather than being a distraction, a dog or two around the office can do wonders for morale and productivity. If you don’t believe us, check out these studies from CNN:

Randolph Barker, a dog-loving management professor, monitored the stress levels of employees at a retailing and manufacturing business with a 14-year history of allowing dogs in the workplace.

On any given day, the firm would have 20 to 30 dogs and 450 to 550 employees working across a facility about the length of five to seven football fields, Barker says.

A sample of 76 employees were studied — some brought their dogs to work, some didn’t, and some didn’t own dogs. The study found that while everyone started the day with low baseline levels of the stress hormone cortisol, those who didn’t bring their dogs to work reported drastically higher levels of stress by the end of the working day.

Those who had their dogs with them had low levels of stress throughout the day, and about half of that group felt that dogs were important to their productivity. Of the two groups without dogs, 80% felt that the dogs in the workplace had no negative effect on productivity.

It’s also possible that having an office dog could engender a pack mentality in employees.

In 2010, psychologists at Central Michigan University ran tandem experiments to find out what impact the presence of a dog could have on team work. Paired groups were given a collaborative exercise that involved generating ideas and then reaching a consensus on which one was best.

So there you go. Dogs in the office. Not such a bad idea. And now, here’s what you’ve all been waiting for; a video of a whole bunch of dogs getting unleashed on an office full of stressed out employees.

Beyond Manic Monday

Looks like this guy is having a great Tubesday.

Looks like this guy is having a great Tubesday.

How many of us have sat, staring at our screens, trying to figure out what to do next?

How many of us are doing that right now?

Maybe we all just need some direction. Enter the case for themed days, via Fast Company. Make a list of all the things you have to do in a week, and then organize them into categories. Then assign a category to each day, and you’re off to the races!

It’s not to say that you still won’t have certain tasks that you do every day (good luck telling your boss that you are only replying to emails on Thursday), but when you have time in-between those daily to-dos, you won’t be at a loss with how to fill that time.

Are you waiting to hear back from someone in marketing about the Request For Proposal you’re working on together? No sweat. If you’ve decided that it’s Followup Friday, you won’t flail around half-starting things while the feedback loop closes. Instead, you’ll know to check in with all of the clients who you haven’t chatted with a bit, to see if there is anything you can do to strengthen that relationship.

Another great perk is that you get to stay on one topic all day. We’re sure you’re a genius who is able to have a financials meeting followed by an HR one, but not everyone can do that. But if you are focusing on prospecting all day, you don’t have to keep jumping from headspace to headspace, and instead can have meetings that compliment and build on each other.

When Forbes writer Rachel Gillett tried out themed days for a week, she saw a decrease in procrastination and an increase in workflow. That’s good enough for us.

What would your themed days be? Tell us, in the comments!

Stock photography about office holiday parties

Well, you survived the season of stressful party games and awkward banter around the chips table. What could be better? Probably everything? Anyway, all those Santa hats got us thinking, how does the idyllic world of stock photography treat holiday work parties? Let’s find out.

noise hats







Do noise-makers and Santa hats even go together? Either way, imagine how enraged the cleaning staff are going to be tomorrow when they come in and have to find a way to vacuum up seven thousand pieces of crepe paper confetti. The worst.

gift affair








Oh man. Is there anything more stressful than the office Secret Santa gift exchange? We think these two are either having a secret affair, or have worked in the same department for 8 years and never actually had a conversation. Either way, the look in their eyes is one of pure panic.










This man has literally never seen a Christmas tree decoration in his life. Look at his poor confused face! If it wasn’t for his awful striped shirt, we’d feel kind of bad for him.







You just know this dude is mansplaining some aspect of this woman’s job to her that she does way better than he ever will. Stay strong, boxy suit lady! Keep applying for other jobs!







No, Carl from Finance. You try this every year, and no.

Just 350 days until next year’s office party.

What is YOUR best office party story? Tell us, in the comments!


Facebook thinks it can tell when you look drunk

The Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research Lab is trying to save you from yourself.

The Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research Lab is trying to save you from yourself.

We’ve talked a lot over the last little while about the importance of social media in searching for a job, how employers aren’t just vetting candidates social media, but are using things like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find potential new hires. We’ve also mentioned how, given this, you probably want to keep your profile as clean as possible, which can be tough during a time of year that’s basically an endless round of parties Thankfully, the folks at Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research Lab have taken some time off of building robot butlers for Mark Zuckerberg to help with that. Their new digital assistant will analyze your face in photos and try to determine if you’ve possibly had one too many.

Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence Research Lab is developing a “digital assistant” that will identify whether you look drunk or sober in a photograph and ask if you actually want to upload that photo. Yann LeCun, who oversees the lab, told Wired magazine that the program would be like someone asking you, “Uh, this is being posted publicly. Are you sure you want your boss and your mother to see this?”

This enhanced facial recognition program—an extension of the technology that recognizes your face from photos and suggests tagging—will be developed using a form of artificial intelligence (AI) called “deep learning.” It’s a promising avenue in the field that “could understand language and then make inferences and decisions on its own,” according to MIT Technology Review. Deep learning has been studied since the 1980s but has recently seen tremendous development—Android phones use it to recognize voice commands and Microsoft uses it to translate Skype calls in real time, for example.

Of course some folks aren’t crazy about these developments. They don’t’ like Facebook analyzing faces, fearing that the faces will be used for targeted ads, or having their computer be anything more than a conduit for their online interactions. They think it would be like their phone keeping them from making calls. Other people, though. are just worried about Facebook insulting them.

@Danielle_CE@guardian That won’t get offensive at all. Facebook: “You look drunk? You REALLY want to post that?” Me: “That’s just my face”

— Zack Cooper (@Z_Cooperstown) December 10, 2014

What do you think of this? Blessing? Curse? Opportunity for accidental insult? Let us know in the comments.

‘What do you want to do with your life?’ and other questions not to ask your younger cousin at Christmas dinner

The youth are our future, just don't bombard them with vague questions.

The youth are our future, so maybe don’t bombard them with vague questions.

You probably have a least one teenager in your family. Maybe it’s your little cousin, maybe it’s your niece or nephew. If you don’t see them often, you’re probably going to struggle to think of something to say to them at Christmas this year. We don’t have a lot of insight into that, other than to remember that teenagers aren’t a monolithic group, they’re individual’s with individual interests.

We would, however, advise against asking one specific question: “What do you want to do with your life?”

The Globe and Mail has a pretty good breakdown as to why that’s a bad question:

Underlying all these questions is the good-hearted attempt to prophesize a child’s future career prospects. This notion is troublesome since the whole concept of work is in a state of disruption.

It’s no secret young people are already struggling with employment. When October’s U.S. unemployment data was released, it showed that 37 per cent of young Americans, aged 16 to 24 were neither employed nor unemployed, meaning they aren’t working but have been out of the work force for too long to be considered unemployed. That trend continued in November.

A Pew Research report suggested that while this young and unemployed cohort may have grown disillusioned with trying to find work, there may be another trend at play: teens and young adults don’t seem as interested in entering the work force as they use to be. The number of young people who said they just didn’t want to enter the work force has grown by 10 percentage points since 2000. Many have decided to stay at school rather than battle it out in a challenging job environment. Is this the chicken or the egg dilemma?

In short, it’s a scary time out there for young people. They have no idea what they’re going to do after school. They don’t even know what jobs are going to exist by the time they’re done university.

If you want to ask them a career-related question, the Globe suggests you try this:

Instead of asking kids what they want to do, how about focusing on what issues they want to solve? What inspires them to get out of bed? How do they build up their skills, network and brand so they can walk into new roles they want once they finish a degree

They also add that you shouldn’t be too surprised if they respond by asking you “How are you going to help me launch my career?” It’s a fair question.


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

“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.