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

Monday, May 31, 2010

Want to Work in Supercomputing?

Learn Linux. Failing that, AIX. (Amongst a good many other things.)

To see why visit In graphics: Supercomputing superpowers and click on 'By OS'. In fact, Linux is huge in the professional computing world, not just in supercomputing.

Friday, May 28, 2010

What Really Motivates People to Work


Wellesley Institute Workshop Materials Available

The Wellesley Institute (of Toronto) has made a big collection of their workshop materials available that are likely to be of use to a lot of non-profits.

Many of them are self-explanatory and can be used as-is. They are licensed to allow non-commercial, "share-alike" repurposing.

Topics covered include:
  • writing grant proposals
  • doing research interviews
  • volunteer management

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Where Engineers Are Likely to Find Design Jobs

Statistics Canada publishes a steady stream of papers about all sorts of topics of possible interest to career developers. I subscribe to this stream as an RSS feed which I built using the page2RSS service. (You can subscribe to my feed too if you wish.)

A paper called “Characteristics of Canadian Manufacturing Firms That Undertake Design Activities: An Empirical Analysis of Results of the Survey of Advanced Technology, 2007” by H. G. Sam-Aggrey attracted my attention a day or two ago because it indicates where engineers and others in designer occupations might be mostly likely to find employment.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the paper’s summary:
  • “Among industries, firms engaged in computer and electronic product manufacturing and those in machinery manufacturing had the highest propensities to perform design.”
  • “Larger firms are more likely than smaller ones to engage in design activities.”
  • “The main differences between design performing firms that are innovators compared to the non innovators are that the firms in the latter group are more likely to be small firms, less likely to be exporters, less likely to be using advanced technologies and less likely to have a high percentage of their employees involved in R&D activities.”
From the point of view of the job seeker I would say that most of these characteristics can be ascertained from a study of on-line sources, such as Strategis.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Encouraging Lists of Jobs for Job Seekers

One of the blogs I like to read is Careers in Theory. A recent item was about counterfactual thinking. Which made me think about two occasions when job seekers who probably had little acquaintance with computers asked me to show them where our job board was. On each occasion when I said that we used computers for that and I motioned the individual toward a keyboard he quickly but politely ducked out of sight. I have since mused counterfactually that it would have been better had I discarded the assumption that everybody loves these stupid machines.

Lots of employment agencies do display paper job advertisements on their bulletin boards. I'm sure that many job seekers are more comfortable with this medium. However, I suspect that's it somewhat costly to keep them up to date. A fair bit of scissor work is involved.

Here's an alternative. True, it does involve the computer. Fortunately though the work involved is entirely routine once you get started. What you'll get is a listing of sample jobs from centred around your town or city. It will look something like this.

I've chopped the display off at the right to fit here. I've also truncated the last bunch of jobs because there's enough of the display here to give you the idea.

To get the listing you would just run the software, it displays its output to a browser, and you print that output to a printer for display on your bulletin board. You can refresh the list as often as you wish.

Please let me know if you're interested and I will send you the script with instructions. Free of charge. There are more elegant approaches to this problem. As might be expected though they involve more programming effort. If there is enough interest in this little project I'll do my best to find the time to pursue one of those better approaches.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Employment & Job Finding How-To's, II

I've just been reminded that the watchmojo1 site includes videos relating to careeers and employment. So I've included this site in the Google Custom Search that I built early in 2009.

This is how it looks.

It works just like Google (except that it's restricted in the sites it considers). Just put your query in the box and click on 'Search'. To gain access to this search facility and to bookmark it go here.

The benefit of using this Custom Search is that you are searching only sites that offer how-tos and tutorials, which filters out an enormous volume of detritus. You nevertheless obtain large collections of alternative learning materials in most cases.

If you identify other collections of tutorials please let me know! How to Ace a Job Interview

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Television and Film Occupations

A recent RSA podcast “The Evolution of Comedy” could be useful to some people as a source of information about what television comedy writers and producers do and how they develop new ideas. They also respond to questions about getting into this area of writing. Good entertainment too.

Colleen Ross of the CBC interviews Eric Armstrong of the theatre faculty at York University who coaches actors in various accents. As our ears are becoming accustomed to hearing more accents actors have to master more of them.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Orwell Prize-Winning Blog, 2010

Oddly enough the Orwell Prize was awarded this year to the blog called "Winston Smith-Working with the Underclass". In this case Winston Smith is the pseudonym of a social worker in the UK who works with young people (not the main character in 1984).

I can see why this guy protects his identity. He's scathing about the system in which he works and not delicate in describing his clients. Looks like a good read.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Financial Services for People on Low Incomes

Many of the people we work with are, one way or another, living on low incomes. When they run into financial difficulties many of them turn to ‘payday lenders’. Here’s an article from the Wellesley Institute on this important topic: Cashing In? Payday Lending and The Need for an Alternative.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Occupation Descriptions: Big Collection of Videos

The Federal Government's “Working in Canada” Channel on Youtube includes videos about a good variety of occupations. Although they are intended as a “source of free and useful information for immigrants” the ones I’ve watched could be valuable for non-immigrants too. Here are the titles that I just scraped from the introductory page.

Looking for a Job • Graphic Web Designer • Cabinet Maker Supervisor • Quality Control Supervisor • Food Quality Technician • Water Treatment Specialist • Mold Maker • Aquaculture Equipment Supplier • Salmon Farming Program Coordinator • Customs Manager • Aquaculture Projects Coordinator • Finishing Technician • Heavy Equipment Parts Technician • Taxi Driver • Professional Driver • Aircraft Interior Technician • Small Appliance Technician • Major Appliance Service Technician • Electronics Service Technician • Appliance Service Technician • Collision Repair Technician • Fish Hatchery Manager • Process Equipment Operator • Avionics Maintenance • Heavy Equipment Mechanic • Industrial Millwright • Automative Glazier • Carpenter • Fabricator Welder • Boilermaker • Pipefitter • Plumber • Industrial Electrician • Automotive Mechanic • Guest Services Attendant • Housekeeping Room Attendant Trainer • Vehicle Technician Instructor • Field Artillery Soldier • Artillery Officer • Corrections Officer • Bartender • Hunting Guide • Tour Operator • Independent Sales Agent • Mechanist • Police Constable • Police Canine Unit Team Leader • Announcer • Videographer • Artists • Actor Entertainer • Musician Jazz • Agricultural Reporter • Firefighter Rescue • Heritage Interpreter • Publicist • Gallery Curator • Environmental Consultant • Environment and Waste Management Technician • Firefighter Paramedic • Occupational Therapist • Large Animal Veterinarian • Aquaculture Veterinarian • Independent Producer • Pollution Control Officer • Health and Safety Officer • Director of Safety and Compliance • Public Health Inspector • Geomatics Analytical Technician • Designer Draftsperson • CAD Draftsperson • Aviation Maintenance • Aircraft Simulator Technician • Instrumentation Technologist • Software Tester • Technical Engineer • Registered Engineering Technologist • Forest Technologist • Aquaculture Technician • Software Solutions Architect • Software Technical Illustator Writer • Biomedical Engineering Technologist • Manufacturing Technician • Aircraft Structures Technician • Aircraft Maintencance Engineer • Metallurgical Engineer • Industrial and Mechanical Engineer • Waste Disposal Engineer • Chemical Engineer • Electrical Engineer • Communications and Electronics Engineer • Software Engineer • Process Engineer • Mechanical Engineer • Automative Applications Engineer • Environmental Engineer

Jobs for Mathematics Graduates

A question that comes up a lot on LinkedIn is, what jobs are there for new graduates in mathematics? The American Mathematical Society web site is a reasonably good source of information on this topic. Here are three relevant pages:

Unfortunately that last one seems to be marked for deletion. (Suck it up fast.)

To my scaly, old eyes some of the jobs in the “Early Career Profiles” sound a tad dreary but maybe that’s just the horrible reality of many jobs nowadays and maybe new graduates need to know that.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Canadian Social Determinants of Health

Although some of the benefits that career developers have on the health of our clients are indirect we can take satisfaction in knowing that it's clear that better career outcomes are just some of the benefits of our magic. For more about the importance of the social determinants of health in Canada have a look at the new study available via The Canadian Facts.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Job Developers: Wanna Make a Job Feed?

Thanks to a new arrival on the web,, if you can display a job advertisement in a web browser (and you can always do that, one way or another) then you can add it to a feed in gleanr. Jobs in feeds are much easier to share with employment counsellors, other job developers and clients. It's really easy to do.

Here's how.
  1. As you would with other sites like this, you will need to open an account on to use it.
  2. Now click on 'New Channel' to make a place to put your job advertisements. This will become the source of items for your jobs news feed.
    I called my channel 'Jobs'. (OK, so I'm unimaginative.) Here's part of the display of my Jobs channel with just one advertisement in it.

    Most of this display is none too interesting. I'm showing it to you mainly because of the presence of the RSS feed symbol in the lower, righthand corner. You will need to right-click on that so that you can copy the URL of the feed, so that you can tell all your users about it. Mine here is

  3. Look for "Install & Use the 'Gleanlet'" in the righthand column, and follow the instructions for installing it in your browser toolbar. Now we are ready to start adding jobs to our news feed.
  4. Let's suppose you are a job developer and that an employer has just told you that she needs a couple of store managers within two weeks. She has posted an advertisement on the company's website.
    To capture it all you have to do is browse to the corresponding job page, highlight the significant part of the page by dragging your mouse across it and then click on 'Glean It!' will offer you a form in which you can further details if you would like before you send the selection to one of your channels. Anyone who has subscribed to your RSS news feed will now receive this advertisement as a new item now.
Variant 1. Some employers do not post jobs to their web sites but this is not a problem. Usually an employer can supply an advertisement in the form of an MS Word document. Simply save the document as a web page, open that web page in your browser and then process it as before.

Variant 2. Some employers supply job advertisements in the form of PDF files. There are a number of free services on the 'net the perform conversions of PDF files to HTML. One of them is Input the PDF job advertisement to this site and open the output from the site in your browser; process it as before.

Packaging: Your final step would probably be to offer your feed in the following form, that is, as a link marked with the RSS feed symbol.

PS: is a great way of collecting useful tidbits about a lot of topics, not just jobs.

5th Annual BiRegional Networking Day

Niagara & Hamilton, Ontario regions. Featured speakers:
  • Paul Copcutt
  • Thomas Stirr
  • Sandie Heirwegh
  • Trudy Parsons & Judy Travis
  • Lisa Ellis
  • Tina Dias
See the site for more stuff.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Procrastination Series

Dr. Timothy Pychyl, Associate Professor of Psychology at Carleton University, offers a series of podcasts about procrastination that is intended to be accessible to non-specialists.

Disguised Advice for Recruiters ... and All Managers

Cathy Moore is an instructional video designer. This is her video about rethinking how we should go about producing instructional materials.

I think her advice works in a much wider variety of situations. When you're considering job applicants, for example, you should be probing whether they are capable of the behaviours that will actually be required given your working environment. When you're managing others you should be asking yourself what behaviours you need from them and how you can communicate those needs.

What do you say?

Cathy Moore publishes the Making Change blog.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Journalism as a career

Here's Colin Schultz' blog post from yesterday. He has just graduated from a journalism programme. Has a collection of videos from significant people in Canadian journalism.