ContactPoint Come in and make Contact Thu, 25 Aug 2016 21:13:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Learning to Live with Risk: A Career Strategy Fri, 19 Aug 2016 14:20:00 +0000  

by Lesley Taylor

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” ~JK Rowling, Harvard Commencement Address

We can either choose to live a safe life or to push ourselves to take risks when opportunities present themselves. When I hear the words, “risk taking” I think of people doing things that may harm them in some way. In the context of our careers we probably won’t face “life threatening” situations but all of us will face uncertainty at some time during our work lives. Here are some common career-related situations that may require us to take a personal risk: finding a new job, switching careers, presenting at a conference, applying for a promotion or taking early retirement to start a business.

Looking back over my career I can see the times when I pushed myself to take a risk and go after something that I wanted and times when I hesitated and lost out. Usually when I set my mind on something I would analyze what I needed to do, make a plan and focus on achieving my goals. At one point I was asked to take on a leadership role that involved managing a long term care facility. I didn’t feel confident although my boss thought I had the qualifications and would do just fine. To this day I regret not stepping up and taking that risk. As a result of my timidity I lost out on a career opportunity that many people only dream of.

When taking a risk, there is a good chance that we will fail, at least some of the time. But there are things that we can do to reduce the likelihood of failure.

1. Keep the big picture in mind. What do you want to do with your life? Why is this important to you?
2. Plan/prepare. It is easier to take a risk if you can prepare for it. In the short term this is not always possible but if you continue to challenge yourself on a regular basis; for example, learning new skills, you will be better prepared when the larger challenges present themselves.
3. Develop a contingency plan. Having an alternate plan can help mitigate the risk.

Most of us are risk averse and there is a reason for that. Over time humans evolved to become highly sensitive to physical threats in order to survive life or death situations. But today few of us face these situations on a daily basis.

And, although we are wired to focus on the downside of stepping out of our comfort zones we can also achieve some real benefits from taking calculated risks:

“Taking calculated risks is good for us and can benefit our health and happiness. Studies show that people who take measured risks regularly, and challenge themselves just enough to feel uncomfortable are the happiest.” (

It’s important to remember that risk taking is highly subjective. What seems threatening to me will not be the same for you. And if you want to live a full and happy life doing work that you love, learning how to live with risk will be worth it.

Remember, “Fortune favours the bold!” –Virgil

]]> 0
Don’t Make Any Assumptions: Inside U of T Mississauga’s Career Centre Thu, 18 Aug 2016 20:21:31 +0000 Listen to this episode of CareerBuzz at

“Don’t make any assumptions,” said self-confessed career geek, Felicity Morgan, “about what you think about any career area.” Felicity is director of the career center at the University of Toronto at Mississauga. The UTM career centre serves over 13,000 students, with 15 staff. When we make assumptions we risk “not see your own biases and not identify career opportunities.” Instead, Felicity recommended career exploration: “Check it out, talk to people, check yourself out internally if it’s the right thing for you. You can only make the best decision with the info you have in front of you. So get that info in front of you.” Hear the whole interview.

CareerBuzz is hosted by Mark Franklin, president and practice leader of CareerCycles.

]]> 0
Key Competencies that Matter: A Mixed-Method Research Approach Tue, 02 Aug 2016 13:44:17 +0000 By Vedran Tintor

What key competencies will help an individual land a job? Which qualities matter the most? What do employers really look for in a candidate? These, and many other questions, prompted researchers from Humber Research Analyst Postgraduate Program to explore what key competencies matter most, using a growing job occupation: market research analysts.

This study explored the perspective of industry experts through a triangulated approach of job posting content analysis, online surveys, and qualitative interviews. In addition, for a more comparative analysis, a survey was administered to postgraduate research analyst students to see how their expectations match up. The findings identified desirable key competencies employers are seeking, with several differences between different types of market research companies, as well as areas of mismatch between the expectations of both students and prospective employers.

While this report focuses on a specific career profession – market research analyst – it is useful to both career researchers and practitioners alike. First, the report generally adds to the debate about what matters most – hard skills or soft skills. In addition, its unique and comprehensive research methodology may help inform future projects – of broader occupational focus. Finally, this project focuses on a profession that is increasingly relying on cutting edge technology to deliver optimal results. This project married human capital and market research and the results may benefit researchers and practitioners that focus on occupations heavily dependent on technology – a trend that will most likely re-shape most industries in not so distant future.

Read the executive summary and full report.

Vedran Tintor is a critical thinking researcher who has successfully blended market research and human capital research with his past recruitment and job search strategy work. With education comprising of business, research and career coaching, he aims to balance IQ and EQ, quantitative and qualitative research, and thinks with both parts of his brain. Some of his present research interests include strategic foresight and market research, futurism and labour market (i.e. predicting future jobs), as well as human-robot interaction in the world of work. He is working for BMO Financial Group as a research analyst professional.

]]> 0
6 Easy Steps to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile: Tell your Story and Own your Brand Mon, 25 Jul 2016 15:56:30 +0000 Listen to this episode of CareerBuzz at

“LinkedIn is the site where we’re investing time, not wasting time,” Leslie Hughes, LinkedIn optimization specialist and owner of PunchMedia, told Career Buzz listeners. “Linkedin is not the sexy social media site, it’s not the one everyone goes to gleefully every morning,” said Leslie, but it is the business network, so it pays to make it good. How?

Leslie highlighted 6 steps to start optimizing your online presence and improving your LinkedIn profile:

  1. Do a digital audit. Find out your “online first impression,” Leslie recommended. Conduct a search on yourself to see how you are being perceived by potential hiring managers or clients. Make changes to remove unflattering content.
  2. Get a professional head shot. “If you do nothing else, focus on a really good head shot so you appear confident, smiling and approachable.”
  3. Craft a strong headline that’s not your job title. Bypass LinkedIn’s default headline which is your most recent job title, and go for this formula: _[descriptive title]_ helping _[these clients]_ deliver _[these results]_, for example, Career management leader helping individuals and employees manage their careers for the future
  4. Understand the Summary is the most important content. “You have 2000 characters to effectively tell your story.” Need ideas? Leslie recommended watching Simon Senik’s TEDTalk, Start with Why.
  5. Go long on copy. In your Experience and Volunteer and other sections, “long copy outperforms short copy,” Leslie said.
  6. “Put the ‘social’ in social media.” Don’t just rely on a static profile, engage with others through Shares, Posts, and interactions in Groups.

Leslie Hughes recommended listeners use these social media tools and steps “to own their brand and to become their own digital media agency.”

Also in the show Denise Raposa discusses the careers of older adults in our changing work environment.

CareerBuzz is hosted by Mark Franklin, president and practice leader of CareerCycles.

]]> 0
Positive Psychology experts discuss Hedonia, Eudaimonia and the Virtuous Organization Fri, 15 Jul 2016 16:43:27 +0000 Listen to this episode of CareerBuzz at

With so much interest in positive psychology, how can we use it to enrich our careers and lives? How can it help us to flourish?

These are questions that today’s podcast guests help answer. Guests were speakers and exhibitors at the recent Canadian Positive Psychology Association’s national conference held in Niagara on the Lake, June 2016.

First up: Kim Cameron is Professor of Management and Organizations in University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. His past research on organizational virtuousness, downsizing, effectiveness, and the development of leadership excellence has been published in more than 130 academic articles and 15 scholarly books. His current research focuses on virtuousness in organizations–such as forgiveness, gratitude, kindness, and compassion–and their relationship to performance. He is one of the co-founders of the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan. Kim was recognized as among the top ten organizational scholars in the world whose work has been most frequently downloaded on Google. Kim Cameron is today’s first guest.

Today’s second guest is Veronika Huta. Professor Huta obtained her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at McGill University. At the University of Ottawa, she teaches statistics and positive psychology. Her research compares different ways of defining and pursuing the good life, or eudaimonia (which is the pursuit of excellence, virtue, personal growth), and hedonia (which is the pursuit of pleasure, enjoyment, comfort). She studies these pursuits in relation to personal well-being, the well-being of the surrounding world, cognitive and physiological responses, and predictors (such as, parenting styles, worldviews). She is a founder of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association, and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Happiness Studies.

Finally… frustrated after a workplace accident, Hardy Premsukh started focusing on whole-body health as part of his recovery plan. Unable to find the proper tools to help him with this goal, he started working with psychologists, medical doctors, mathematicians, and other experts to develop a comprehensive platform that could create a more complete picture of how the body and mind work together. That platform – the FlourishiQ platform – knows how behavior and lifestyle choices impact health.

CareerBuzz is hosted by Mark Franklin, president and practice leader of CareerCycles.

]]> 0
Wading into the workplace: Employers’ tips for recent graduates or inexperienced workers Mon, 11 Jul 2016 15:03:21 +0000 By Jay Gosselin

As throngs of recent university and college grads begin to wade into the mysterious waters of today’s job market and countless high school students search for summer jobs, I wanted to share some tips you can pass on to your clients – tips that come from employers themselves.

Working as a co-op program coordinator for one of the largest universities in Ontario over the past two and a half years, I have facilitated close to 500 mid-term evaluations between employers and our students during their work-terms. These students are enrolled in a variety of academic programs (eg. engineering, business and the humanities), and are working in a variety of sectors (eg. start-ups, non-profit, government, corporate). The co-op office uses these discussions as opportunities for employers to communicate the strengths and weaknesses of each student, and to encourage open conversation to help the student in their professional development.

Having experienced such a large sample size, I have been able to witness firsthand the importance of the often cited “soft” or non-cognitive skills for recent graduates entering the labour market. The degree to which the demand for these skills is similar across all industries and work environments is remarkable, even for a believer in the importance of transferable skills like myself.

Here are some must-dos to share with your young clients to help them make an impact and progress from good to great – or even exceptional employee status – regardless of the length of their stay.

GOOD (i.e You’re likely to keep your job – at least in the short-run)

Early is on time: If your boss “suggests” that you start work at 9:00 am, don’t roll in at 9:05 am, whip up a latte in the kitchen and make the office rounds until 9:45 am. Be at your workstation for 8:45 am and take a mid-morning break to spread your smiling face around the office and grab a caffeinated beverage. You can set your own schedule when you start your own company. For now, be on time.

Act like a professional: Dress appropriately, address colleagues and management with respect, use email AS EMAIL (not as an extension of your smartphone) and be mindful of who you share your “late-night” stories with. Should be no-brainers, right? Unfortunately, in today’s culture of flat organizations and open-door policies, some basic workplace behaviours tend to slip down the slope from professional to personal. Don’t get me wrong – I am a big proponent of the more collaborative and less hierarchical management style, and I’m the last person who will tell you to be someone you’re not. But if you’re someone who doesn’t like to iron shirts, buy wrinkle-free shirts. If you’re someone who likes to have a few drinks on the weekend, keep it to the weekend.

Meet deadlines: It is rarely the case that managers of new staff or students will impose unrealistic deadlines. Completing work ahead of deadlines shows work ethic and initiative to take on more. However, it is never a good idea to sacrifice quality for time. Quality first. Figure out how you can be most productive and use that strategy to achieve efficiency.

Learn HOW to ask questions: I would be surprised if even one of the 500 evaluations I conducted didn’t involve a discussion around asking questions. Does the student ask them, are they socially aware enough to identify good times to ask, do the questions indicate a deeper interest in the work… or are they basic procedural questions? These are the themes that come up consistently. The good news is that employers CLEARLY understand and support the fact that their new employees will not have all the answers. The catch is that the nature of the questions you ask and the manner in which you ask them speaks volumes about your interest, understanding and potential for success in that line of work. Bottom line: don’t be afraid to ask but don’t knock on your manager’s door every five minutes either.

GREAT (i.e You can count on a solid reference for your next job)

Learn balance in problem-solving: Managers LOVE when junior staff understand the balance between asking questions too quickly and spending an entire day trying to solve a problem that could have been answered in one question to a senior colleague. Unfortunately, there is no universal magic formula that determines this balance. It requires the more nuanced social competencies that employers so often speak of (i.e he/she “just gets it”). Best practice probably looks something like this: 1 – try to figure it out yourself; 2 – Google it; 3 – ask a slightly more senior staff member that works near you; 4 – go to your manager.

Take initiative: This is (hopefully) not the first time you are reading or hearing this advice. Ask for more work when you complete a task – don’t sit back and wait for the next thing that comes across your desk. Taking initiative will ALWAYS be a crucial characteristic if you want to make an impression in the workplace. It demonstrates interest, work ethic and a desire to help move the organization forward.

Review your work… and then review it again: Before submitting any work – from an email to a re-organized filing cabinet to a briefing note – review your work AT LEAST twice. In today’s world of fast-paced, multi-modal communication, it is easy to misspell, misuse and misdirect information. We all do it from time to time. This is an area for development for almost every student I meet with. Those who submit quality assignments the first time around make a significant positive impression.

Be positive: It may or may not be surprising to learn that one of the biggest selling points for employers that hire students is the energy, enthusiasm and fresh perspective young people inject into the workplace. Make the most of your youthful energy. Avoid negative language, gossip and drama. Positivity is contagious, and people will remember you for the way you make them feel.

Exceptional (i.e They will do whatever is within their power to secure you as a full-time employee)

Be like George, curious: Intellectual curiosity is without a doubt the characteristic that has been highlighted most often by managers that rate their students as exceptional. Intellectual curiosity means digging deeper and seeking to understand the “big picture.” It means not being satisfied with understanding WHAT to do, but constantly seeking to understand WHY you are doing it. It means striving to comprehend the larger strategy or logic behind the work that the organization does or the problem you are trying to solve. This exploratory style is a key indicator of potential for career advancement in most fields (if not all).

Provide possible solutions to problems you uncover: Average employees notify their manager of the challenges they encounter in their work. Exceptional employees offer possible solution(s) to these challenges. This means thinking through the problem and being proactive in analyzing potential remedies. Potential solutions can be creative, but should be rational and communicated in a way that asks a question, rather than claims superiority of thought (i.e “Do you think it would be feasible to try X” or “Given Y, have you ever thought of Z?”).

Ask for and integrate feedback: The more successful co-op students I work with crave constructive feedback. During our meetings, they often tend to be disappointed if their manager does not identify areas for improvement. They recognize that personal and professional growth is a life-long process, and they continually find ways to implement feedback in order to improve their work.

Work passionately: There are very few things in this world that are more inspiring than passion. When passion is shared between two people it creates an emotional bond that facilitates trust and communication. Demonstrating a genuine interest in your work and the mission of the organization will help you create connections with other staff. As a number of social scientists have shown in recent years, human decision making is driven in large part by our emotions. Therefore, fostering positive bonds between yourself and other staff members should serve you well when the time comes to re-new a contract or hire a full-time staff.

Follow these tips and you are sure to make a positive impact in your workplace, whether you are working as a camp counsellor or an accountant. Just remember – while this may not be your dream job, you can use this job to start building towards your dreams.

Jay Gosselin is the founder and president of MentorU and Discover Year. His varied work experiences, travels and current positioning in both academic counselling and the labour market make him a valuable resource for high school and university students seeking to make the most of their lives after high school.


]]> 0
Is Mandatory Co-Op the Future for Ontario? Tue, 05 Jul 2016 19:49:02 +0000 I read an article recently which stated that all Ontario students, enrolled in secondary and post-secondary institutions, might soon face mandatory co-op placements prior to graduation. The idea arose as a recommendation from a “highly skilled workforce expert panel,” convened in December 2015 to develop an integrated strategy to better link the education system with the future job needs of Ontario’s economy. The goal is to have all high school and post-secondary students to have at least one “work experiential learning opportunity” before they graduate from their respective institution.

On the surface, this seems like a fantastic idea; after all, one of the biggest hurdles to finding a job after graduation is a lack of relevant work experience. It stands to reason then, that gaining industry specific work experience prior to graduation would be an important step to amending that. However, there seem to be several unanswered questions and further considerations around this mandatory co-op proposal:

-Currently, Ontario high school students are required to complete 40 hours of volunteer work prior to graduation, and this has proven very difficult for some students to accomplish. Whether through procrastination, laziness, or lack of options, many students often end up scrambling at the last minute to complete their hours. How would the mandatory co-op be implemented so that it is completed in a timely fashion, and is meaningful for the student?

-How do schools intend to find employers willing to host all of these students? Not only that, but how can students be assured that their placements will be valuable, and not just spent photocopying and filing?

-How would the program account for the vast range of majors and programs attended by post-secondary students? It may be relatively easy to find a placement for a finance or engineering student, but what about those majoring in German literature or Philosophy for example? There are potentially many issues around finding opportunities for students in some of the more specialized or niche subject areas.

-What will the standards for evaluation be? It seems to me that for this idea to be effective, students should be evaluated around some common criteria, even though they would be working in varied subject areas and at different companies / organizations.

-Who will oversee the implementation of this plan? The government? The educational institutions themselves? A partnership?

The other question this idea brings to my mind is, why are matters around career education and preparation always decided on by employers and the government? Do these entities ever consult with post-secondary staff and Career Development Professionals for their input on how best to prepare students for the world of work? After all, these individuals arguably spend more time working with students than the government does, so soliciting input from them would make sense.

So, while this mandatory co-op idea seems like it may be the answer to the youth unemployment / underemployment problem, much work still remains to make it a viable and successful program.

Read the original article here:

]]> 0
Importance Of Toys and Play In Learning and 3 Immigrants Share Their Secrets Of Success In Canada – CareerBuzz Podcast Thu, 30 Jun 2016 21:00:35 +0000 Listen to this episode of CareerBuzz at

Ever wonder what it’s like to immigrate to Canada? In this episode of CareerBuzz Mark interviews 3 immigrants from the Toronto Region Immigration Employment Counsel (TRIEC) about the strategies they used to find success and ways immigrants can make new connections, integrate into the Canadian workforce and learn to love their new home.

Also on the show Ilana Ben-Ari, founder of 21 Toys discusses her growing start-up company, the importance of toys and play in learning and her company’s new game The Failure Toy, which teaches how to reframe failure as feedback.

CareerBuzz is hosted by Mark Franklin, president and practice leader of CareerCycles.

]]> 0
Successful Job Placement and Retention Through Workplace Accommodation Identification Sat, 11 Jun 2016 01:43:37 +0000 My previous post provided an overview of the types of task challenges faced by people with disabilities, and the need to understand these challenges in order to determine the appropriate accommodations.  This post explores accommodation options for various types of barriers to work performance, as well as how to request them.  For the purpose of this article, accommodations refer to strategies, adaptations or job modifications that can be applied to allow the employee to work effectively and efficiently.  The following are some typical accommodations that are most often needed in the following areas of functioning:

Stamina and Work Speed:  extra breaks as required; elimination of strenuous activities, adjustment of duties or job sharing; permission to work at their own pace; flexible or reduced work hours; and permission to work from home

Mobility and Motor Functioning:  wheelchair accessibility; close proximity to facilities; positioning equipment and materials within reach; an ergonomically designed, adjustable height sit/stand workstation; assistive devices for motor control (writing/grip aids, touch pad, trackball or head pointing system); mechanical lifting devices; stand/lean stools or anti-fatigue mats; and adjustment of non-essential job duties

Vision:  printed material in larger font; natural or full spectrum lighting; tinted eye wear or shaded windows; colour overlays or transparencies; adaptive computer technology (text to speech, zoom magnification); Braille; tactile materials for the blind; and a global positioning system compass or other talking landmark device

Hearing:  elimination or reduction of sources of background noise; strategic lighting and seating arrangements to reduce glare and provide a good view of the speaker; adaptive telephone technology (headsets and speaker phones for hard of hearing); sign language (ASL) interpreter; close captioning; setting the context for messages; providing written material in advance; speaking clearly with an unobstructed view of the mouth; and maintaining eye contact

Literacy:  material that is written in clear language; converting written information into a checklist format; a reading pen that scans and defines words; voice output, screen reading or literacy software; and manual or electric handwriting, line, form cheque or column guides

Numeracy:  computer assisted instruction software such as MathTalk; a talking calculator with enhanced functioning (fractional, decimal, statistical, scientific, construction); talking measurement instruments (tape measure, scales, multimeter, micrometer, caliper, stud finder, level); and premeasurement guides or jigs

Attention, Learning and Memory:  a quiet environment or private work area; a noise cancelling headset or white noise machine; an alternative teaching modality that matches the person’s learning style; extra time to learn tasks; an extended probationary period; a note taker or voice activated recorder; job coaching or mentoring; job sharing or restructuring; verbal, written or visual cues; safely secured lists of important factual information; and verbal or email reminders of important deadlines

Organization, Time Management and Multitasking:  a flowchart of steps involved in a task and categorized flowchart of tasks to be performed simultaneously or separately; dividing larger assignments into smaller tasks; permission to complete one task or project at a time; a daily/weekly planner or electronic organizer with a colour-coded system representing the task or event and level of importance; and a workstation providing adequate space for writing, supplies and work in progress

Supervision:  a written contract outlining responsibilities, expectations and accommodations; ongoing support, positive feedback and encouragement or weekly/monthly check-ins with the supervisor to discuss progress, issues and ways of handling problems before they emerge

Mental Health:  time off for doctor’s appointments,; immediate telephone access as needed to a mental health professional; permission for time out to regroup; limiting social conversations to areas away from the immediate work area; freedom to refrain from job related social functions; permission to transfer to another team, department or shift in the event of interpersonal conflict; and advance notice of changes including a transitional meeting with the new manager

Environment:  a smoke, chemical and perfume free facility; avoidance of or protection from high levels of radiation; permission to take breaks for fresh air; alternative working arrangements during construction; and nontoxic forms of pest control

Transportation:  a car pool, designated company or personal driver or use of taxis; an electric bike or moped; assigning nonessential duties requiring driving to another employee; and coordinating work hours with public transit schedules

The Job Accommodation Network ( and Tetra Society ( are good resources for help with identifying appropriate accommodations for individual clients, or for developing unique assistive devices based on individual need.

Once suitable accommodations are identified, it is important to disclose to an employer the need for such accommodations in an appropriate manner.  This can be done through an accommodation request letter, which can be presented before or after a job interview or when offered a position.  The accommodation request letter is a good self advocacy tool for asserting your client’s rights and needs while reiterating their strengths and suitability to the position.  It explains in a clear, concise and positive way:

  • the skills and experience they have to do the essential duties of the job
  • the existence of their disability and need for accommodations on the job
  • the type of disability they have, the tasks that are difficult for them to do, and how the disability affects their performance of these tasks
  • the adaptive coping strategies they used in the past; and
  • the accommodations they will need for the position offered to them

This letter is concluded with an invitation to the employer to provide feedback on recommended strategies and accommodations.

Given the current model of service delivery, recognition of and negotiation for job accommodations will improve the chances of job placement and retention while validating the effectiveness of the agency, thereby increasing the likelihood of continued government funding.


]]> 0
Starting Over at 35 – Inspiring Story of Career Change Fri, 10 Jun 2016 18:18:34 +0000 Listen to this episode of CareerBuzz on

On the surface Melissa Hughes had it all. In her words “On the outside, my life at 35 looked great  —  a promising career, a doting partner, an elegant home, things, vacations, a big engagement ring, money in the bank… There was just one problem: I wasn’t happy.”

After a series of career error corrections Melissa sums up her career aspirations as “…wanting to do meaningful things with good people”. Melissa, a communications professional with past careers in journalism and classical music, publicized her tumultuous story of Career & Life change in her Huffington Post article Starting Over at 35.

In this episode of Career Buzz we talk to Melissa about her inspiring story and learn about her mantra on career & life.

Also in this episode; we speak with David Bowman, founder of TTG consulting, a consultancy specialized in corporate career change & transition, about Career Management in organizations and the importance taking control of your own career.

CareerBuzz is hosted by Mark Franklin, president and practice leader of CareerCycles.

]]> 0