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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Online help: depression, anxiety & worry

I've just learned about the Australian National University's e-couch from the psychsplash blog.

"e-couch is a self-help interactive program with modules for depression, generalised anxiety & worry, social anxiety, relationship breakdown, and loss & grief.

"It provides evidence-based information and teaches strategies drawn from cognitive, behavioral and interpersonal therapies as well as relaxation and physical activity."

Once you have registered you are given a couple of quick tests of your levels of anxiety and depression, and then offered the use of any of their five programmes. I would say that the ones of most frequent value to our clients would be those for depression, anxiety and worry, and social anxiety. The others, for grief and loss, and for divorce and separation could also be useful at times.

As the site itself stresses, there may be substitute for a consultation with one's physician. However, these materials may serve to supplement what is available elsewhere.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Literacy Huge Problem for Newcomers

In this talk Craig Alexander, Senior VP and Chief Economist, TD Bank Group, discusses the importance of literacy to the Canadian economy. Although he emphasises that newcomers typically have good or excellent literacy in their own languages their difficulties in acquiring English and French skills in Canada markedly retards their progress here. This is not just their problem. It's a problem for all of us because we will depend on their productivity as our population ages. We need to invest in our new citizens, and in the literacy skills of all Canadians.

I'm sorry that the production quality of this video is not better. It's worth watching anyway.

Video streaming by Ustream

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sloppers, Sponges, Supersloppers, Slimers & Thieves

Ah! How I regret that our streets are no longer graced by water carriers like this one. I cannot regard this entirely as progress, and career developers may be like water carriers.

Nevertheless, change is inevitable. Today a friend told me about zenni optical where you can buy prescription eyeglasses for as little as US$6.95. What will this do to opticians who charge hundreds?

We already know of many occupations that are being assailed by, or lost to, technological change. If you would like to read a somewhat different categorisation to account for occupations loss then you might consider Andy Kessler's WSJ article, "Is Your Job an Endangered Species?," or his book, which is mentioned in the article.

Water carriers are no longer needed in a society that has pipes and a reliable supply of potable water. Now look at LinkedIn. Large numbers of people there have mastered the basics of résumé writing, job interviewing, job search, and so on—they constitute the information supply—and sites like LinkedIn provide the pipes for conducting this information to thirsty users. Unless career developers find ways of adding greater value we will be like water carriers.

What can we do for clients that cannot be done by non-specialists?

"Die Wassertragerin", by Eugene de Blaas

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Metaphor for Acceptance

As in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: "The Unwelcome Party Guest." Wander around on youtube for plenty more.

Thanks to the "Scientific Mindfulness" blog for making me aware of these.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Bereavement has been studied quite a bit while job loss has not. Bereavement might therefore serve as a model for the psychological and social effects of job loss (or it might not). Since I still sometimes hear people mention Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' ideas uncritically as a source of guidance regarding bereavement, and hence job loss, I think it worth mentioning an article that appeared in the New Yorker magazine about a year ago, Good Grief. It provides a broader view.

Thanks once again to Vaughn Bell (no relation) and his Mind Hacks blog.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Let's Do Better for Immigrants

I learned about the Ontario InMyLanguage web site this morning. The home page says, "Information You Need in the Language You Want" and it provides links to versions in English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Gujarati, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil and Urdu. I was delighted to find an offering like this, and immediately jumped to look at what it offers in the way of advice about looking for a job in Canada?

I'm obviously biased about this—I think finding a job is of outstanding importance to most people—but I really hope the rest of the site is much better than this page.

The first paragraph is about the best sources of information about jobs. It should not be about which ones might be 'helpful' (whatever that means). Rather it should be about how a job seeker should allocate their time and resources to the exploitation of these sources—in Canada. In my view the paragraph would be confusing. Why does the paragraph open by mentioning newspapers at all, when in Canada the major newspapers and many smaller chains post their job ads on web sites? Simply point out that the efficient way of finding job advertisements here involves using the web. Rather than suggesting that some ways of looking for a job are easy but 'not always the most effective' (whatever that means) why not say that we counsel job seekers to adopt a mixed strategy involving a variety of information sources and techniques.

Do some cold calling, do some shmoozing at networking events, maybe do some volunteering, learn to find suitable jobs on the web and apply for them (practise doing the real interviews that result), do some information interviews, and so on. Monitor your results carefully and keep a diary. Record how much time you are spending on each kind of activity and adjust your allocations to better effect.

Cold Calls

'Hello. Have you got a job for me?'

You don't call a company and ask them if they have a job. Or if they want to buy storm windows. Or about various other sales propositions.

You can call a company or an individual that seems to be involved in some form of enterprise of interest to you and ask for their advice. And that advice can include information about jobs in their sector of the economy.

Not every person you call will welcome your calls. When I started making cold calls, about twenty-five years ago, it scared the bejeebers out of me. I assume that it would scare a few newcomers too. Which brings me back to the idea of allocating time and resources. As a job seeker you can spend some of your day on, say, looking for jobs on web sites and as much time as you can stand doing cold calling.

Just (a) prepare yourself with good questions, and (b) don't ask for a job. But be ready if someone invites you for a job interview. (Yes, sometimes it happens if you've given attention to point 'a'.)


In the page I'm discussing they've left out There are over 60 million people on there, several of us Canadian. You can post your achievements, market yourself in various ways and form a network as big as you like. I understand that more jobs are posted there than anywhere else. Obviously, however, just the fact that it's the largest collection doesn't make it the best for any one of us.

Job fairs are cattle markets. Newcomers should be warned.

Find an organisation in your region such as HAPPEN. Such things are specifically designed for networking.

I wonder if networking is overrated?


I think that volunteering might be a good way of learning about work culture. I don't know. In any event, it's probably a good way of learning about Canadian culture. For many newcomers it could be a good way of perfecting language skills and getting used to our quirks.

Jobs Online

Egad. This section needs work.

I can understand that government-funded agencies, like InMyLanguage, might have to avoid seeming to endorse commercial ventures. However, we need to tell newcomers about the most useful general sites and about finding niche sites. General sites include and This blog (the one you're reading right now) has a note or two about finding the niche sites.

And whilst I'm on this topic, let me ask why so many people would have job seekers all but ignore job sites to favour of networking. Although some recruiters definitely post nonexistent jobs, some of them as a matter of routine, most employers do not. Why would a job seeker avoid learning to use job sites efficiently and applying for suitable jobs posted by real employers?

We want our newcomers to do well.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Getting Better at Seeing Trends

15 Trend Tips is an article by specialists in the business of identifying and using trends to promote business activities. Already I've learned one thing from this article: I had been thinking that to be of any use at this I had to be able to predict the future. Not so say these authors. To identify a trend is to see and name a process that is ongoing.

They also distinguish between a trend, such as the need to distinguish oneself from the crowd, from various manifestations of this particular trend, such as buying one's own pet pig.

Useful ideas for career developers, with a section at the end pointing to other sources of information and advice about trends and how to find them.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Want interviewers to sell themselves on hiring you?

Apparently, once you state an opinion to other people you will feel strongly motivated to remain consistent with that opinion. You will tend to alter the views that you express to others, and you will even modify the ones known only to yourself.

When you're about to be interviewed for a job ask the interviewers to tell you why they selected you for the interview. Having now expressed their approval for you, and their reasons for it, in front of others, they will now be more likely to spend the remainder of the interview looking for confirmations of their opinions.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Blog: BPS Occupational Digest

"Mind Hacks" has just announced the appearance of the new BPS Occupational Digest that, in their words, "is a place for news, reviews and reports on how psychology matters in the workplace." The BPS is often helpful, so this could be a great resource too.