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

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Career Development Services Working Group

The entire community of other CDPs must have heard about this before I did today. I say that because apparently it has been around since 1983 and it's somehow a part of The Forum of Labour Market Ministers. (I learned about it from Tannis Goddard's blog e-Career Landing.)

The FLMM-CDSWG is a pan-Canadian organisation and they held a symposium in Winnepeg last October. One PowerPoint from that symposium looks particularly useful since it summarises the kinds of training that CDPs have, the kinds of services we perform, our aspirations and so forth.

Too bad that CDPs do not appear to be more prominent, as a group, at a gathering of this kind.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Finding Stuff About Canadian Universities

One of the chores that some of us often do involves helping clients find information about programmes and courses at Canadian universities. Someone called Chris Redmond maintains a dandy list of the URLs for these institutions on the University of Waterloo site. As far as I know though there is no easy way of searching it.

So I've whipped something up. It's a Google custom search that will pick through the items listed on Mr Redmond's page from Alberta through Yukon. Here's a link you can bookmark.

Request: Can anyone tell me of a similar list for colleges, please?

Editorial: When I want to find web pages for universities in some countries using Google it's easy because the institutions have their own subdomains: .edu in America, in the UK, in India, in Australia and so on. (I use Google's 'site' clause.) In Canada it's hard. Why don't universities make it easy on prospective students, careers people and academics by asking CIRA for a nice new subdomain--say, The little custom search described above would be totally unnecessary with this change in place. Universities could even continue to operate their old domain names.

Friday, April 23, 2010, “BC’s Immigrant Legal Toolkit”, is the website of The Immigrant Public Legal Education & Information (PLEI) Consortium Project. The main menu tabs are Employment Standards, Residential Tenancy and Resources. Although it has been developed in British Columbia it appears to be relevant to the entire country.

Comments anyone?

My thanks to PovNet for making me aware of it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Crowd-sourcing 1984

Many years have passed since I read George Orwell's classic, 1984. If I remember correctly he envisaged a time when most people were kept under constant central surveillance. Maybe it's time to break the news to clients that it's not just employers (or imaginary rogue states) that might keep watch on us.

Nowadays surveillance is not central. Everybody on the planet with 'net service can see what has been recorded about you.

Nowadays you never know who might be recording your voice or your actions. Surveillance is now crowd sourced.

Anyone carrying a fairly ordinary digital camera or cellular telephone can surreptitiously record anything they can see you doing.

If you're a bus driver, a passenger can record a video showing you reading a book whilst you're driving on a highway.

If you're a bus driver (clearly passengers hate their drivers), a passenger can show that you take unscheduled bathroom and coffee breaks with your passengers waiting.

If you're prone to violence of any kind (even if it's 'just' verbal), you'll appear violent forever.

I did only a quick search to find these. I left many out, only because I have such refined taste in entertainment.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Who's Represented on

Maybe someone at would respond to queries about the statistical composition of their database of jobs. I don't know. In any case, I wanted to see what I could find out for myself. I wanted to know which job boards are prominently represented on and about which companies might turn up too.

I needed a reasonably large sample. I therefore looked for 'retail sales' jobs within 50 km of Toronto. (I did not insist that the words 'retail' and 'sales' be in the titles of jobs since I was mainly interested just in obtaining a big sample.) Then I counted the number of appearance of each organisation claimed to be a source, that is, marked with 'class=source' in the HTML source for the pages. This table shows what I found. Please be aware that each page typically includes 23 job advertisements, which is to say that I included what indeed calls 'sponsored jobs'.

Canadian Job Bank
Indigo Books & Music Inc.
CPG Connect
Walmart Canada
59 • Dr. Pepper Snapple Group
Home Depot • Rogers
Employment News • • TELUS Communications
CIBC • Future Shop
Acosta • Drake International • Juicy Couture • Nestle • Toronto Jobs
BBT • Bohire • HMV • HotJobs • IBM • Sales Careers Online • Scotiabank • lululemon athletica
Apple • Brainhunter • CGI • Capgemini • Gymboree • HP • LeapJob • Luxottica Retail • Macquarie Group Limited • Town Shoes
2 • Cadre Staffing Inc. • • Chuck Latham Associates, Inc. • Coca-Cola Enterprises • GuruLink • Honeywell • Invesco • JobServe Canada • Kronos Incorporated • Manpower • Pitney Bowes • PlanITSearch • RBC Centura • Sales Talent Agency • Stoakley-Dudley Consultants Ltd. • TD Bank Financial Group • The Nielsen Company
7-Eleven • Accenture • Aegon Canada • Alliance Data • Aon • Ares Staffing • Asurion • • Best Buy • Bilingual Job Fair • • Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated • Colintex Placements Inc. • Daktronics • Dev Bistro • Diageo North America Inc. • Dice • EMC • Find Jobz • GE Capital • GMAC • General Physics Corporation • Global Access Now • GoodLife Fitness Inc. • • Justmeans • Kelly Services • Kronos • Manitobajobs • Manulife Financial • NCR • Newell Rubbermaid • Now • Olympus • Philips • President's Choice Financial • Procom • Reckitt Benckiser • Restoration Hardware • Rich's • Robert Half Technology • Sapphire Canada • Sapphire Technologies • SearchWest Inc. • Sterling Commerce • SunGard • • The Bryan Group Limited • U-Haul • University of Toronto • Vertis Inc. • Volkswagen of America, Inc. • Waste Management Corporation • altisHR • eFinancialCareers • eFinancialCareers Canada • •

Friday, April 16, 2010

Best Kind of Advice

Apparently you can advise someone to pick a certain option, or to reject an option, or you can offer information that helps the person make a decision, or you can suggest ways of making a decision. Read “What is the Best Way to Give Advice?” if you want to advice about which approach to use.

I have to say that I somewhat doubt this particular result. In my experience clients usually ask what career path to follow—and seem to expect that we would know!

Personal Construct Theory : Tutorial Series

Dr Valerie Stewart began a tutorial series about the Repertory Grid as a blog just a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Good Intro to Personal Construct Theory

The April 10th podcast in Natasha Mitchell's series “All in the Mind” on the Australian Broadcasting Network is a good introduction to George Kelly’s Personal Construct Theory. Definitely worth a listen, even if you’re already familiar with the basics: “You, the Scientist! Personal Construct Psychology”.

Thanks to the Advances in the History of Psychology blog for alerting me to this one.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Interview Questions May Look Weird

... without being at all unreasonable.

Ten interview questions keep appearing for discussion again and again on the 'net. Here's how they appeared on a couple of days ago.

"How many tennis balls are in this room and why?"
Asked at Yahoo

"You are in a room with three switches, which correspond to three bulbs in another room, and you don't know which switch corresponds to which bulb. You can only enter the room with the bulbs once. You cannot use any external equipment (power supplies, resistors, etc). How do you find out which bulb corresponds to which switch?"
Asked at Goldman Sachs

"Are your parents disappointed with your career aspirations?"
Asked at Fisher Investments

"If I put you in a sealed room with a phone that had no dial tone, how would you fix it?"
Asked at Apple

"If you were a brick in a wall, which brick would you be and why?"
Asked at Nestlé USA

"How would you move Mount Fuji?"
Asked at Microsoft

"Develop an algorithm for finding the shortest distance between two words in a document. After the phone interview is over, take a few hours to develop a working example in C++ and send it to the manager."
Asked at Google

"Given a dictionary of words, how do you calculate the anagrams for a new word?"
Asked at Amazon

"How many hair salons are there in Japan?"
Asked at Boston Consulting

"Say you are dead -- what do you think your eulogy would say about you?"
Asked at Nationwide Insurance

The ones in blue seem to make complete sense to me inasmuch as they do relate in some obvious way to the employer's business. This is not to say that Yahoo would be interested in the number of tennis balls in a room. Or that Boston Consulting would probably be interested in the number of hair salons in Japan. But they would be interested in a candidate's ability to estimate these numbers in some reasonable way.

Similarly large parts of what both Google and Amazon do relates to processing words. Naturally they want to know whether candidates can do this with some confidence. In fact, in the case of Google I have noticed that team members in ancillary, non-technical project roles are expected to understand a good deal of the underlying technology.

I have coloured some of the questions in grey. Perhaps if I had a really high IQ I would be a better judge of these questions. As it stands though it appears to me that it would be way too easy to miss the factors that are critical for answering these correctly. Assuming that you did cleverly identify the key factors needed, how would your ability to answer the question about the lightbulbs and switches benefit Goldman Sachs?

The questions coloured orange are complete duds, in my opinion, because, without normative information no-one can accurately gauge the responses to them. However, this was really not my point. I wanted to say that careful, intentional interviewers construct interview questions that attempt to measure or probe candidates' suitability for the work they will actually do. Surely that's what they want to know.

From the candidate's perspective, my experience tells me that, if an interviewer cannot be induced to ask meaningful questions that reveal job content then don't accept a job offer. The interviewer likely doesn't know what the job entails her/himself. Assuming that this individual becomes your boss how will s/he know you've done a creditable job?

Getting, & Getting Rid of, Computers

Some employment agencies are in the highly desirable position of receiving up-to-date computer hardware and software products at below market prices on a regular basis. Others aren't.

If your agency has already filled its entire basement and attic spaces with debris then you might be unaware of the Charity Village section listing organisations that recycle this stuff. If you are in the opposite position then you could register with electronic.cycling.association. There are many places in Canada that need computer products. If you have some to give then you could, if you like, look for some that need them in your own locality.

Friday, April 2, 2010

What Have The Unions Ever Done For Us?

I have tried many times to express these ideas. Never have done the way that this video does.