Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another reason to avoid falsifying a résumé?

Here's an item from one of my favourite blogs about the results of a recent series of psychological experiments, about what happens when people wear fake sunglasses. Please watch the video with Dan Ariely.

The General Discussion section of the research paper to which Ariely refers begins with the sentence, “We suggested at the outset that people adopt counterfeit products because they are trying to improve their self-image; our studies show that counterfeits have the ironic consequence of harming self-image via inauthenticity, inducing a ‘counterfeit self.’”

Would it be a stretch to suggest that falsifying one’s résumé is like wearing fake designer sunglasses, inasmuch as it is likely to make one feel an uncomfortable sense of alienation from oneself? Perhaps not. Then the joint task of the career developer and the client is to get an accurate description of the client’s identity and to find ways of presenting it well, in résumés and other places. It would appear that one benefit of these services beyond helping with employment issues might relate to the client’s sense of authenticity.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Background Study Source for Career Developers

The Open University of the United Kingdom offers quite a number of free short courses in a variety of subjects. It appears that the ones most likely to be of interest to career developers are in the 'Society' topics category. Here are three of the courses that look interesting to me.

Economics explains discrimination in the labour market”: Discrimination in the labour market exists in many forms: the ‘glass ceiling’ ageism, racism, etc. This unit will help you look at this problem with a new perspective: through economics. You will learn how economists have tried to understand what drives this distortion of the labour market and why women and the ethnic minorities seem to suffer the most.

Living and working in the new economy”: The new ‘service economy’, is it a direct result of globalisation? This unit examines the switch from manufacturing to services and looks at the impact of information and communication technologies on the economy as a whole. The ‘new economy’ has many benefits, but at what cost?

What do we mean by ‘family’?”: The idea of ‘family’ is very powerful in contemporary UK culture and policy. Family lives have been the subject of many anxieties both at the personal and policy levels. How do public debates relate to people’s everyday experiences of families? In this unit, you can explore the many attempts at defining ‘family’ and why these complex and contradictory meanings are important to us. We begin to unpick questions of power and inequality, to test our everyday assumptions about families, and to reflect on the values underpinning them.

I have previously mentioned how to find videos of interest to career developers on this blog:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Job Descriptions Out of Thin Air

About twenty-five years ago I was assigned to write a suite of job descriptions for the software personnel that would double the size of the unit of which I was a member. Expecting some kind of iterative process I consulted the best references I could find at the time and submitted a draft version. Need I say that I was a little surprised that I should have heard nothing more about the job descriptions until we started interviewing for the positions some months later—especially since they carried salaries ranging to about $70,000 per annum?

If you are wondering why I mention this it is because I want to emphasise that many employers radically underestimate the slippery nature of the human side of their enterprises. Quite literally they can be fighting unfair dismissal litigation one moment then repeating the hiring practices that doomed them to failure the next. I emphasise this because we, as job seekers and career developers, need tactics and strategies for circumventing the follies of a great many employers.

One thing that a person can do is to find out what an employer actually needs from an employee to consider that employee a success (the job description will not tell you), and to tell the world (honestly) what you do successfully. If you want some guidance then here's a place to read more.
I'm indebted to Peter Giblett, a contact on LinkedIn and Plaxo, for making me aware of this article.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Missed Appointments: What Can We Do?

Statistical information about how often clients fail to appear for their appointments is probably lacking. However, given the number of times I hear of it from career people in the trenches I suspect that the rate is higher than we would wish.

Apparently psychiatrists experience similar problems. Today I happened upon an article entitled "Four Steps to Reduce Missed Patient Appointments" in that offers some remedies for them. Not all are applicable for those of us who work in organisations that make no charge to clients for our services. The other ideas might improve your efficiencies though.

My principal concern has always been that clients who fail to maintain contact will also fail to follow a coherent plan or will become disillusioned. I was heartened to read that Dr Mark Rosenberg should express parallel ideas. We seek to offer a series of services that will get people back into work. Continuity is important.

Let me know what you think! What do you do in your shop to help clients keep their appointments?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Apparently Well-Prepared Employer

A couple of weeks ago somebody on LinkedIn said that the proof that most of us don't care about our careers is in our lack of planning and care in executing those plans. I have been tempted to retort that it's obvious to me that few employers much care who they hire. Otherwise they would take more pains in defining what work they actually want done and how to recruit someone who would enjoy growing into their jobs.

It was with my customary, perfectly dreadful attitude toward the majority of employers that I happened upon the pages that McKinsey & Company use to support those who are considering applying there. Do take a look.

McKinsey seems to know what they want in their consultants, they believe they know how to find out whether applicants have what they need, and they can even tell applicants how to prepare so that both sides are able to judge one another effectively. Now, obviously few companies can afford to go to these lengths but considering that personnel represent one of the most important, and most problematic aspects, of any enterprise I wonder that employers seem to give so little attention (care?) to recruiting.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Expensive Career Credentials? -- Ask First

I am indebted to careerchatter on Twitter for bringing this item to my attention: A New Generation of Ontario Teachers in Professionally Speaking, The Magazine of the Ontario College of Teachers. Judge for yourself of course but I would say that these statistics should make anyone think twice about spending the money and time it takes to become a teacher in Ontario.

There might be other professions that publish information like this. In any case, I am grateful to this college for their contribution.

If anyone knows of other organisations that provide related kinds of information that would help people to plan their careers please let us know.

Another way of finding start-up money

Read Seth Godin, Debt, equity and a third thing that might work better.’

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mining the Big Boards for Information, I

One of my clients asked me recently to help him select from several additional qualifications he might obtain to further his career. My immediate thought was that I would probably have considerable difficulty gathering summary information to support any advice I might give. Beyond that, each combination of qualifications would likely imply a somewhat different career path, and only the client could decide whether that path would be suitable for him. It occurred to me to propose a technique by which the client could monitor a stream of data and accummulate the information he needs for himself.

Let's say that the client lives in Toronto and that he has already identified the following possible qualifications: CCIE, MCSD, CISSP and CBAP. We go to the advanced search page and complete it as shown here. Having pressed 'Find Jobs' we can choose either to get email updates or an RSS feed for the jobs that mention these qualifications.

When you start reading the series of advertisements that result from doing this you will gradually (or perhaps quickly) appreciate that the career paths associated with one or more of the qualifications are unsuited to you. In this case you should just request that the emails stop or abandon the RSS feed. Another possibility is that you will find that some qualifications are associated with other qualifications, as far as employers are concerned, and that those other qualifications are more, or less, sought after. You can adjust your study plans accordingly. It's also worth scanning entire advertisements for general information about employer expectations and the ways in which your career will fit within each industry.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Building a Better Job Feed: and Together

First of all, I'm indebted to Bryan Webb for making me a little more aware of what people want from job sites(!): (a) They would rather search two than ten! (b) eluta and indeed make one good choice of those two. Let me show you how to make a feed that combines the results from these two sites. You can have your feed either in the form of email or as RSS suitable for, say, the Google Reader.

You'll need a Yahoo! login. With that you can go to Yahoo! Pipes where you can create a pipe that looks like this.

For now just select the two YQL modules and the Union module and connect them with the Pipe Output module. Now open the advanced search form in a separate tab or window. Indicate the types of job advertisements required and where those jobs must be, then click on 'Find Jobs'. Right-click on the RSS feed button and use the menu to copy the underlying link. Now return to the pipes display and copy the eluta URL into the YQL module and add the remainder of the YQL statement (the "select *" stuff and the enclosing double quotes). Now open the advanced search form and do the same thing with its RSS feed URL in the pipes display. You now have a complete pipe that combines and

Make a trial run of your new pipe and save it. You can now go back to your page of feeds and can elect to add your new pipe, as a feed, to your chosen feed reader. However, if you do not use a feed reader just proceed now to process your feed with FeedBurner.

Open FeedBurner in a separate tab or window. Copy your feed from your Pipes display page into the FeedBurner box labelled "Burn a feed right this instant." and follow the remaining steps. You now have a source of email that combines alerts for your choice of jobs, for the geographical area you selected.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A More Efficient Form of, II

In a recent posting I showed how to build a composite feed consisting of three job feeds from for Hamilton, Niagara Falls and St Catha-rines, Ontario with duplicate ads filtered out. Then I used Yahoo! Alerts to generate emails in place of the output from the RSS feed.

Somebody on LinkedIn told me that he doesn't like using Yahoo! Alerts (for reasons I won't go into here), which led me to explore other ways of turning RSS feeds into email. I had long forgotten FeedBurner but it actually yields a more elegant solution in combination with a web page. I used Google sites to host the thingy that FeedBurner makes. The advantage is that there is no need for copying anything from one web page to another. The user just registers heris email address with the FeedBurner page. This is how it appears.

Go here to subscribe yourself.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Résumé: Basic Advice, Right on Target

To be really blunt, I'm bored silly reading the same advice about résumés over and over again. What's more, no matter how long-winded I may be myself, I prefer economy in the writings of others. So I delight in finding places where many or most of the basics of writing serviceable résumés are set down within a few paragraphs.

Here's one I just found: the Élite Résumés Blog section.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A More Efficient Form of

There's little doubt that is a great way of identifying job leads. Nonetheless it's results can be improved upon in some ways and I'll describe one in this posting.

Suppose you live in the Niagara Peninsula. Then you would be interested in job advertisements posted on for the Hamilton, Niagara and St Catharines areas. Now you could simply arrange to be kept informed about these areas as individual job alerts. However, the likelihood is that you would receive duplicate advertisements. For the purposes of this article--to keep it simple--let's assume that you want to see all advertisements. This would have the advantage that you would avoid missing opportunities.

I am going to describe how to set up a Yahoo 'Pipe' to get just one feed for the three areas, without duplicate ads. If you just want to know how to use the pipe then just cut to the chase scene (below).

This is the complete diagram for my pipe at The three boxes on the left represent feeds from, one each for Hamilton, Niagara and St Catharines respectively. To obtain the URLs I visited the corresponding pages at, then copied and pasted the URLs from the RSS feed buttons.

The three feeds are merged in the Union widget, then sorted on job titles. Then the Unique widget discards duplicate ads based on the guid in the merged feed.

The Chase Scene

Most people stay clear of feeds. Do you? No problem! Here's how to receive bunches of ads as email.

  1. In a separate browser tab or window open Yahoo! Alerts.
  2. Select 'Feed/Blog.'
  3. Copy this URL into the edit box at 'A':
  4. Select how often you want to receive alerts and indicate your email address.
  5. Save your alert.
Good hunting!