The Procom Jobcast

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’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 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.


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:


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.

It’s not you, it’s us: how to fire someone properly

When asking friends recently about times they had been fired. Here are some of our favourite answers:

“I was fired, outright, from Scotiabank Theatre in downtown Toronto for refusing to charge folks 60 cents a squirt for popcorn butter.”

“I was fired from a convenience store because I dared to do homework when the store was completely empty during my graveyard shift. I was told to ‘come back when I had my priorities straight’.”

“I worked a video games store. The boss was trying to get rid of me on the last day of the 3 month trial employment period, and frantically couldn’t reach me by phone. So he came to my house and fired me in my own living room.”


Firing someone is never easy, but there must be better ways to do it than these above examples. So here’s a handy guide from the folks at Undercover Recruiter about how to fire someone the right way.

Some tips:

  • Make sure the firing isn’t happening after they have only had positive feedback
  • Fire early in the week, rather than leaving them to stew over the weekend
  • Don’t fight their claim to unemployment benefits

For a deeper dive into the best practices, check out the infographic below:


Have you ever had to fire anyone? Ever been fired? Tell us, in the comments!

Why not write a novel about your job?

The late Doris Lessing, who obviously would have wanted you to write a novel this month.

The late Doris Lessing, who obviously would have wanted you to write a novel this month.

November is National Novel Writing Month — aka NaNoWriMo — during with participants around the world try to each write a novel during the month of November. It sounds crazy, right? We think you should do it. Being able to say “my novel” in casual conversation is pretty thrilling.

Did we talk you into it? Now you just need to decide what to write about.

Nearly every writer has had a day job, so it’s not surprising that many of them end up writing about the world of work. If you’re similarly inclined, book blogger mirabile dictu has pulled together a list of the top eight workplace novels, which might help inspire you.

Here are three of our favourites from their list:

  1. Kipps, H.G. Wells: While you might know Wells for his science fiction undertakings like War of the Worlds and The Island of Doctor Moreau, his own favourite self-written work was Kipps. It’s a lovely rags-to-riches story. Spoiler alert: Money doesn’t buy happiness.
  2. Love, Again, Doris Lessing: Not many workplace novels have 65-year-old women as their protagonists, but Lessing is not your typical writer. (Check out her exasperated response to winning the Nobel Prize for Literature). Love, Again takes place in a theatre company, and asks a lot of tough questions about romance.
  3. Chilly Scenes of Winter, Anne Beattie: This 1976 novel is explores office culture. Fun fact: When they made this book into a movie, the audience didn’t like the happy ending! Three years later, the film was re-cut to have a sad ending, and this second version was pretty successful. People are weird.

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

Happy Monday — cell phone therapy edition

Look, we’re just gonna say it: We think human therapists are a really good idea

Look, we’re just gonna say it: We think human therapists are a really good idea

Happy Return To Standard Time, everyone! We mean, everyone who lives in a place that practices Daylight Saving Time.

What did YOU use your extra hour for this weekend? Frankly, we hope you slept. You probably don’t get enough sleep. But if you want to tell your co-workers that you spent it reading tech news, we’ve got you covered:

1) Lie down and tell the app what’s wrong

tl;dr — “Researchers at the University of Maryland have found that vocal patterns change as feelings of depression worsen, and they suggest the world is not too far away from a computer program that can analyze your speech to assess the state of your mental health. The researchers used recordings from six patients and compared the patients’ scores on the Hamilton Depression Scale, finding a correlation between depression and some specific acoustic properties.”

Ask your coworkers: Do you think this kind of thing could help destigmatize mental illness?

2) Disney wins patent for search engine free of piracy

tl;dr — “Hot on the heels of Google’s recent changes to reduce the appearance of torrent and piracy sites in search results, comes news that Disney has obtained a patent for a search engine that is free of pirated content. Not just filtering out piracy from search results, Disney’s patent focuses on promoting ‘authentic’ sites, such as those of copyright and trademark holders, that are related to search terms.”

Ask your coworkers: Would you ever use this search engine?

3) Catchiest song of all time? A Spice Girls tune, say British scientists

tl;dr — Scientists say if you wanna be the pop star with the catchiest song of all time, you need to have a hook that people know right away.In the case of The Spice Girls’ hit “Wannabe,” the study of 12,000 people found it takes just 2.29 seconds to recognize the song when it begins at the chorus “if you wanna be my lover…”

Ask your coworkers: What do YOU think is the catchiest song of all time?

Go forth and chatter!

Happy Halloween: there’s a werewolf in the office

We enjoyed doing last week’s dead programming languages post so much, that we really wanted to do another spooktacular Halloween-related post while we still had the chance. After a little Google searching, we found a web series called Werewolf in the Office, which is exactly what it sounds like.

What we love about this little series is that having a werewolf in the office is actually pretty uneventful. He’s just like everyone else, except he can’t hang out after work when there’s a full moon, because, you know…

After all, werewolves are people too. Or at least they used to be.

Email is dead, long live email

Email, still a part of your life for the foreseeable future.

Email, still a part of your life for the foreseeable future.

Remember when you had your first email address, and you’d check it all the time hoping for something new? Flash forward a couple of decades, and now you probably dread your inbox as much as we do.

But what is the solution? For a lot of folks, they think the answer is a communication tool that will “kill” email. Every few weeks there is some new inter-office chat/collaboration tool, followed by yet another declaration that email’s days are numbered.

But as Venture Beat points out, it’s a bit early to start planning what you will wear to email’s funeral, for a few reasons:

  1. There are more than 4 billion email addresses in the world. That is more than half as many people as there are in the world.
  2. 166 billion email messages are sent every single day. That would be a LOT for another platform to take on.
  3. Even social networking sites that are touted as email killers … send email. More than a billion of the above-mentioned emails are from Facebook, Linkedin, etc.
  4. People hate change. It’s unrealistic to think we’re all just going to start using Asana, or Salesforce Chatter, or even Facebook messages instead of email.

So what do you think about electronic mail’s impending doom? Are you waiting for that email killer that will really take off, or are you pretty fine with things as they are?

Beyond Dilbert: Some of our favourite comics about the workplace

If you work in an office, there are probably more than a few Dilbert comics passive-aggressively taped up around the building. Are you as tired of them as we are? Not only are we just sort of over the rehashing of the same jokes, but  it turns out the author is a sexist creep, too.

Don’t worry, though! Dilbert is not the only game in town! We’ve pulled together a collection of six workplace comics you should be reading, instead of Dilbert.

1) Hark A Vagrant (Ducks), Kate Beaton

Kate Beaton’s comic isn’t just about the workplace. It’s also about Canadian history, family life in Cape Breton, and a fat pony. But we really love the “Ducks” story arc, which is about what it was like to work in the Fort McMurray oil patch as a young woman from Nova Scotia. It’s funny, emotional, and insightful.


2) Brenda Starr, Reporter, Dale Messick

After having her pirate-themed comic rejected, Dale Messick created a comic about a gal-reporter trying to be taken seriously in her workroom. For the next 70 years (!!), the title character had fantastic storylines, including a (doomed) marriage to Basil St. John, “whose eye patch and black orchid serum were a regular plot element.”

Brenda Starr

3) My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable, David Rees

This one is really hard to describe, but believe us when we tell you this combination of clip art and belligerence will have you snort laughing in public. The story is sort of about a company that decides to ditch alphabetical order in favour of something elusive but better, in a quest to crush the competition.


4) Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, Kelly Turnbull

Do you like, retired space marines, action heroes, hijinx, and the future? If so, click here quick and check out what one artist things would happen if these things were all combined and set in a half-way house.


5) Shortpacked, David Willis

A charming sitcomic about the employees of an off-brand toy store. This story is also set in the future, and its goofiness is offset by its great writing and subtle commentary on social issues.


6) Wasted Talent, Angela Melick

This autobiographical comic is written by a (female) engineer in Vancouver, and focuses partly on her experiences in an engineering-based office. If you like it, good news! There are 10 years’ worth of backlog to get yourself caught up on!


What are YOUR favourite workplace comic strips? Tell us, in the comments!


Meet the New LinkedIn Recruiter Profile Page

LinkedIn-Logo-2CThe LinkedIn recruiter page has, at long last, received a much-deserved overhaul. The Recruiter tool has long been one of the greatest assets for companies using LinkedIn, allowing them a kind of behind-the-scenes access to potential candidates; it’s also a part of the website that most average users either don’t know exist, or don’t understand in detail. Despite remaining somewhat mysterious, the LinkedIn Recruiter service has been successful, and this update to the profile page aims to make it even more useful.

In addition to an aesthetic overhaul — the Recruiter page now more strongly resembles a standard user profile — the new design aims to make using this particular tool more convenient. New features include:

  • the ability to add or remove a candidate from the clipboard simply and quickly;
  • easily viewable message and interaction history with a candidate;
  • clearly visible work history information for each candidate, including logos and access to other recruiters that candidate has worked with;
  • and prominently displayed recruiting tools.

The new design is clean and simple, and was clearly designed with utility in mind. Have you visited one of the new Recruiter profile pages yet? What do you think of the changes? Does it make you more likely to reach out to a recruiter on LinkedIn?

Happy Monday — Chimps on Streetview edition

Productivity plummeting.

Productivity plummeting.

It is the last Monday in October, everyone. What are you going to do with it? We recommend going for a walk at lunch time under the blue sky. The days are gonna start getting shorter, and we’re gonna need all the sunshine we can get.

Once you’re back under the fluorescent glow, here are some stories to chat with your co-workers about!

1) Google Streetview gives glimpse into the world of Jane Goodall’s chimpanzees

tl;dr — Thanks to a team who spent nine days with backpack-mounted cameras mapping Gombe national park, you can now sit at your desk watching chimps riding on their mother’s back, park rangers taking measurements and the spectacular view from ‘the peak’ – reportedly Goodall’s favourite spot in the park, which sits next to Lake Tanganyika.

Ask your coworkers — What is your favourite animal?

2) 5 Bay Area Restaurants End Tipping—Will Others Follow Suit?

tl;dr — Five restaurants in the Bay Area are doing away with tips, and instead adding a 20% surcharge to every bill, which will go to the restaurant. The plan is that it would be divided between kitchen workers and servers and bartender, based on “performance”.

Ask your coworkers — Do you think this will result in higher wages for some staff?

3) Twitpic’s photo archive acquired by Twitter hours before deletion

tl;dr — Twitpic, the photo-sharing service built to be used with and almost completely reliant on Twitter itself, was forced into shutting down back in September, but its archive, full of years of user photos, was on its way to deletion until Twitter stepped in at the last minute.

Ask your coworkers — Have you ever lost pictures that meant a lot to you?

There you go, everyone! Enjoy our chats, and don’t forget to go outside. You’ll thank us later.

Meet a Procom recruiter: Jenna Craig

Nice belt, Jenna.

Nice belt, Jenna.

Jenna Craig, a recruiter with Procom’s Ottawa office started in the industry after going to see a recruiter as a job seeker, and spends her spare time wearing a giant championship belt. Seriously.

1) How would you describe your job?

I would say ever changing. Basically every day is different. As a recruiter we talk to so many potential candidates with varying backgrounds. When people ask me what I do for a living, I always find myself going into an in-depth explanation about my day to day activities, with them always responding with “Oh, you’re a head hunter!”

2) How did you get into recruiting?

I actually kind of stumbled upon it. After college, I went back to my summer job in Carleton Place, Ontario, and was referred to an agency by my sister, as a job seeker. When I went for my initial interview with one of the recruiters there, I was a little overwhelmed because I didn’t even know that this type of industry existed.

That agency ended up hiring me as an executive assistant where I eventually moved into a recruiting role.

3) What drew you to it?

Initially, I liked the busy atmosphere and teamwork that it entails. I like that it’s different every day and I get to speak with people from all different walks of life.

4) What did you do before?

Prior to recruiting, I worked in electronic assembly which actually helped me a great deal at my previous agency as we staffed quite of few of these types of positions.

5) What’s the best part of your job?

Although I have been a recruiter for four years now, I still get really excited when one of my candidates gets the contract. You could ask just about anyone in my office, you would actually think it’s my first placement every time. I usually have to make a conscious effort to tone it down. There’s something so rewarding about assisting someone not only to find a great opportunity, but one that is an overall perfect fit.

6) What would you tell employers about using a recruiting firm?

I honestly don’t know why employers wouldn’t use a recruiting firm. We’re specifically focused on finding them the best possible talent for their business needs. I think one of the main things employers should know is that in order to do so, we need all the information from the required skill set to if they do team building events, such as coffee every Friday morning. Although small in the grand scheme of things, it’s these little details that we can relay to candidates to really sell the position as well as the company.

7) What would you tell job seekers?

I would tell job seekers to keep their resumes up to date and send them over when a project is completed. Especially here in Ottawa, where we deal with many competitive Government contract opportunities, it is important that we have the most up to date resumes so we can reach out accordingly.

8) How would you describe the culture of Procom?

As a whole, I’d say everyone at Procom is extremely friendly and helpful. Our branch here in Ottawa is pretty tight knit. Upbeat and hardworking are the first words that come to my mind.

9) What do you do when you’re not at work?

I recently won our first Recruiter of the Quarter competition here in Ottawa. As part of the prize, I received the “National Capital Recruiter Smackdown Champion” wrestling belt, which I wear in my spare time.

Would you use a dating site to find a new boss?

Job interviews and first dates actually have a lot in common. That said, don't get them confused and try to hold your interviewers hand.

Job interviews and first dates actually have a lot in common. That said, don’t get them confused and try to hold your interviewers hand.

While at first glance they might seem like entirely opposite concepts, job interviews and first dates actually have quite a lot in common. In both scenarios, you’re at once trying to impress someone and present your absolute best self, while also trying to gauge the situation and determine whether it’s something you’re interested in, too. When you carefully compare them, finding the right job and the right partner share more similarities than you might expect, from the importance of personalities matching up to how important both can be to your overall happiness.

Keeping this in mind, the idea of finding of using a dating site to find the boss that’s right for you suddenly doesn’t seem so ridiculous after all. And, to be fair, the service is not exactly a dating site, but it does borrow a lot of the structures, principles, algorithms and business models. Elevated Careers is a new service that will be offered by eHarmony starting in December, which “will run a new version of its famous compatibility assessment — only this time for job applicants and their would-be superiors.”

So far, eHarmony is keeping pretty tight-lipped about how closely the metric for matching employers to employees will match up with the “29 Dimensions of Compatibility” that they use to create successful romantic pairings, but do admit that many of the same kind of qualities that need to match up for relationships to work also apply in the workplace. This can be anything from conflict resolution techniques to whether someone is introverted or extroverted.

Thinking about job searches from a dating site perspective, this kind of business model does illuminate one idea in particular: that thinking about whether or not a job is a good match for us, and whether it will ultimately make us happy, is not considered often enough when we’re looking for work. While we might take years to find the person we click with, we tend to leap at whatever employment is offered, but with only 29 percent of people feeling valued at their jobs and 21 percent looking to change jobs in the next year, maybe it’s time to make job matchmaking a bit more of a priority.

What do you think? Would you use a service developed by a dating site to help you find your dream job?

What hotels are trying to learn from Airbnb

Your hotel wants to get to know you better.

Your hotel wants to get to know you better.

Earlier this year, Airbnb rebranded itself with a new logo — a symbol they called the “Bélo,” meant to indicate connection and belonging — and the motto “people, places, love.” It was a move clearly meant to highlights of the service, which allows people to open their homes and properties to travellers looking for a place to stay: personal connections. Rather than the formal distance of a hotel stay, Airbnb users are staying in someone’s home, and whether their hosts are present in the space or not, patrons have many more opportunities to interact. Whether this means sharing space with their hosts and chatting every day, or simply interacting through correspondence and reviews before and after a stay, there is a personal touch, and the chance for connection, that other kinds of travel accommodations don’t provide.

That kind of connection and personal attention is what the creators of Voyat, “a social CRM tool aimed at the hotel industry,” are hoping to bring back to the hotel experience. Benjamin Habbel, one of Voyat’s co-founders, created the service based in part on his own travel frustrations.

Online booking made his hotel stays anonymous; staff had no idea who he was, what his personal needs were, or what his history as the hotel’s client might be. In contrast, Airbnb, which also uses online booking, created a direct connection between clients and hosts.

Voyat’s strategy is twofold: first, the service allows clients to connect their social media profiles, such as Facebook and Google+, to a loyalty account. This will help hotels not only get to know their clients better and more closely, but also let them track what those clients are saying about their hotel stays on various social channels, both positive and negative. Secondly, the service enables hotels to better track their clients travel habits, the frequency of their stays, and their needs, and offer individually tailored rewards

Online booking has thus far led to completely different experiences for clients of traditional hotels and services like Airbnb: while the former has become more distant and anonymous, the latter has found opportunities for personal connections and relationships. Voyat’s hoping to make hotel service personal again — do you think their model is a recipe for success?

Procom’s Spooky Programming Languages Graveyard

Here lies Mesa...

Here lies Mesa…


With Halloween around the corner, we decided to get as spooky and scary as one can on an IT staffing blog and take you through our graveyard of dead programming languages.


It’s possible that PEARL’s big problem was that the similarly named Perl came along and started confusing everyone. Seriously, try Googling PEARL programming language right now. Almost all the hits are for Perl. The language received it’s last standardization in 1998, and PEARL’s page at the Deutsches Institut für Normung, Germany’s national standards body, which was responsible for said standardization, produces a 404.


FLOW-MATIC was the first English-like programming language. It was designed by computer science foremother Grace Hopper in 1955, after she found that the business customers who were buying the then-state-of-the-art, size-of-your-dining room UNIVAC I were uncomfortable using the mathematical notations required to make the thing go. While FLOW-MATIC itself became antiquated quite quickly, several of FLOW-MATIC”s core concepts made it COBOL, the next programming language that Hopper helped develop, which is still in use today.

We’re hoping FLOW-MATIC will be reincarnated as an old school rapper.


Mesa was created in the 1970s by Xerox PARC, the company’s research arm, and was used to create Xerox GlobalView, Xerox’s technically brilliant but commercially unsuccessful Graphic User Interface. While it was eventually replaced within Xerox by Cedar, it’s been acknowledged as a major influence on the development of Java.


A Canadian product, ZOPL was created by Markham, Ontario’s Geac Computer Corporation in the early ‘70s for use on mainframe computer systems for banks and libraries. It’s name stands for Version Z, Our Programming Language. Except for a couple companies using some very old legacy code, ZOPL has been out of circulation since the late’ 80s.


Which languages or technologies are you mourning the loss of this Halloween? Tell us in the comments!

Happy Monday — Trolls in jail edition

We wish they could at least talk to each other.

We wish they could at least talk to each other.

October is rushing by, everyone. The mornings are getting darker, you might have pulled out an extra blanket or two, and your Hallowe’en planning is kicking into high-gear.

In case you don’t want to tell your co-workers that you spent the last three days trying to source the perfect Groot costume, here are some tech articles you can say you were pouring over all weekend.

1. Internet trolls could face 2 years in prison if British proposal becomes law

tl;dr — The U.K.’s Justice Secretary Chris Graying told the The Daily Mail he will be introducing a proposal to quadruple the country’s current punishment for online abuse, from six months of jail to two years.“These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life,” he said.

Ask your coworkers – Do YOU think trolls should go to jail?

2. Facebook to DEA: Stop impersonating people and trying to sell drugs

tl;dr — Facebook has sent a strongly-worded letter to the U.S.’s DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) telling them to stop creating accounts on the social network to impersonate real people and try to catch criminals. This comes shortly after the government agency was revealed to have used a real woman’s identity to message others offering drugs, eventually getting the woman wrongly arrested.

Ask your coworkers – Are you eyeing your FB friends a bit more suspiciously now?

3. BBM goes all Snapchat with new ephemeral timer feature

tl;dr — Blackberry is following in the footsteps of numerous messaging apps with an ephemeral “timer” feature, a trend that was popularized in recent years by Snapchat. With the timer, you will be able to control how long your messages and pictures can be viewed within BBM.

Ask your coworkers – Do you think this is a smart move for the company?

There you go, kids! Have great chats! And we’re really excited to see your Hallowe’en efforts, even if your coworkers aren’t.

Why Hootsuite’s CEO says we need to make “girls who code” a priority


We want all girls to get this excited about coding!   (Photo courtesy of Jon Lim,

We want all girls to get this excited about coding!
(Photo courtesy of Jon Lim)

Pop quiz!  Rank the following companies from highest percentage of women on staff to lowest percentage of women on staff:

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Twitter
  • eBay
  • Yahoo
  • Linkedin

We’ll wait.

Okay here it is:

  1. eBay
  2. Linkedin
  3. Yahoo
  4. Facebook
  5. Google
  6. Twitter

But before you give eBay too many high fives, it’s worth noting that even though women make up 42 percent of their staff, they still represent only 34 percent of its tech positions.

Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, has three great ideas about how to get more women into tech:

1) Culture: Tech’s “hostile macho cultures”


Companies that enable or encourage fratboy, brogrammer antics—be that in the form of tasteless jokes or rude lingo or general narrow-mindedness—actively alienate women from their workforce. How they can possibly afford to do so—when tech talent is so hard to come by—is another matter altogether. (As entrepreneur and advocate Dan Shapiro notes, “To literally handicap yourself by 50 percent is insanity.”) Given the apparent pervasiveness of this kind of antagonistic environment, it’s little wonder that a gender imbalance persists.

2) Nurture: Girls who code


Something is deterring young women from entering the field in the first place. But when is this happening and why? By the time girls are in high school, tech has often already been ruled out as a career option. Only 1 percent of high school girls express an interest in majoring in computer science in university, according to a report from the American Association of University Women.

3) Breaking the cycle


Finding ways to interweave entrepreneurship and tech—and get young women interested not just in engineering but in creating their own businesses—is an absolutely critical step in changing tech culture and addressing the gender imbalance. Women founders, after all, have the opportunity to create their own workplaces, actively redefining the atmosphere and attitudes in the startup world.

We’re always impressed when male CEOs have clearly given so much thought to gender equality in their business. We hope other tech leaders take note of Holmes’ suggestions.

Do you feel like YOUR place of work does enough to encourage women to tech positions? Tell us, in the comments!