ContactPoint http://contactpoint.ca Come in and make Contact Sat, 24 Sep 2016 15:55:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.1 Moving Past Stuck: Getting Real and Changing It Up – Part Two: Changing It Up http://contactpoint.ca/2016/09/moving-past-stuck-getting-real-and-changing-it-up-part-two-changing-it-up/ http://contactpoint.ca/2016/09/moving-past-stuck-getting-real-and-changing-it-up-part-two-changing-it-up/#respond Mon, 12 Sep 2016 21:10:57 +0000 http://contactpoint.ca/?p=50473 Read Part One: Getting Real

Part Two: Changing It Up

Once you have gotten to the heart of the matter and excavated the core challenge(s) you are faced with, you have a choice of how to respond. Mark Twain once espoused, when you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot, and hang on! In that spirit, I would suggest that there are different ways to tie the knot, four classic choices we have in any challenging relationship:

Avoidance; Altering some aspect of the situation; Adapting to the situation by changing our perspective; and Acceptance. Here is a brief overview of each of these choices along with suggestions for applying them in an employment counseling situation. Consider each of these options with your particular situation in mind.

1. Avoid the person/situation and hope it goes away.

And who hasn’t tried this scenario? Think back to the various situations/people in your life in which you used the avoidance method. In how many of those situations, did the person or the problem simply “go away”? In our dreams, right?

While we’d like to think that dodging the difficulty or evading the proverbial enemy provides an easy escape from having to make a choice at all, we know in our bones that avoidance itself is a decision – it is a choice to not act. Avoidance can be a very tempting choice, but it often results in both prolonging and worsening the problem rather than resolving it, rarely working towards the highest good of those involved.

In an employment counseling situation, just because you’re not making headway with a person, doesn’t mean that someone else couldn’t. In the best case, connecting them with another counselor or finding a way to change up the situation could bring surprising results. In the worst case, the person may be having an adverse effect on others in the program, on the job, or in the classroom. Either way, one of the other three choices is probably a better bet.

2. Change the situation by altering some aspect of it.

Even if we can’t avoid difficult relationships or situations, we can work to alter them. Rather than perceiving the situation as “fixed”, apply a healthy dose of curiosity and imagination, brainstorming ways to modify the circumstances or the way in which you operate. Here are some examples of altering an employment counseling situation in which you feel fed up and at the end of your rope.

  • Be totally open and frank about your experience and why you are finding it challenging. Explain that you trust that you are not working with a complete picture, and you don’t want to make false assumptions. Ask for clarification about the traits/behaviors at issue.(For example, “You’re saying you want to go to work, but you have turned down three offers in five days. What am I missing here?”)
  • If relevant, express that there is a difference between care-giving and care-taking, between being useful and being used. Communicate how you feel those lines have been crossed in this situation.
  • Ask the person to identify what he/she thinks might be keeping them stuck – Denial, Confusion, Fear, Avoidance, Procrastination, Overwhelm, Waiting for the perfect time/option? (The spirit in which this question is asked will profoundly affect the outcome – take care to pose it the spirit of inquiry rather than judgment.) Once they have identified the core challenge, ask pose this question in relation to it, “What would have to happen in order for you to move beyond or through this?”
  • Move from a counseling model to a coaching approach. Assign the person a task, making them accountable for the next step in the process. If and when it is not accomplished, you have the opportunity to give feedback on their behavior, which is always better than comment on their character! Be totally clear about the rewards/effects for following through on commitments made to you, as well as the natural consequences of failing to do so.
  • If the person is not responding well to your advice or suggestions, consider who they would listen to, setting up an advice call or an informational interview with someone from their targeted industry or vocational area.
  • Suggest a change of roles. “If our roles were switched, what would you say or do to inspire me to consider going to work (stay on the job, volunteer for an internship, etc.)?”
  • Propose that you invite a “fresh pair of eyes” and a new perspective for the next meeting – a colleague or two, or perhaps someone who you know has influence in the person’s life.
  • Ask point blank: “My time and energy are limited and I have a lot of people to serve. I don’t feel like we are making headway, so I am asking you – how do you think I can help you?” (Remember the scene in the bathroom in Jerry McGuire when Tom Cruise is pleading with Cuba Gooding Jr., – “Help me help you!”)
  • Request their honest feedback. What would he/she like more of, less of, or in addition to what you are offering at present?
  • Suggest that perhaps another counselor (program, services, etc.) might be of help as you feel at an impasse. In the case when the only option left is to cut him/her loose, state it as such, and discuss what steps might be taken to restore your faith in him/her before you make that cut. Propose a timeline with certain goals to be accomplished, at the end of which, you either proceed or somehow sever the connection.

3. Change your reaction to the situation by adapting to it:

Sometimes we don’t have any level of control with regards to the situation – the person is going to keep showing up, and there is nothing you can do to alter that fact! Even when we can’t change the circumstance, we always have the choice of changing ourselves in relation to it and regaining our sense of control by changing our expectations and attitude. Here are some ideas on adapting to the situation by getting a different perspective.

  • Situations or relationships that challenge us are always “wake-up calls” of one kind or another. Reframe the problem with the opportunity or lesson it offers. If you feel “at the edge”, ask yourself, “At the edge of what? What lies on the other side?”
  • See everyone you meet as a teacher, each offering a unique tutorial. The greater the difficulty, the deeper the lesson. (Stubbornness is the test of your patience, another’s rudeness has put your pride on trial, and the sheer dishonesty of another is the experiment in strength of character in yourself.)
  • What quality or trait is this situation requiring from you in order to bring about the desired outcome, or possible resolution? (e.g. Patience, kindness, flexibility, tolerance, assertiveness?)
  • When we are knee-deep in a challenging situation, we tend to respond emotionally, causing us to lose connection with our deeper wisdom. Rising above our personal stake and inquiring from different perspectives can help us reconnect with our instinctual knowing. Think of a few of the wisest people you have ever known or read about. What do you think their advice would be to you in this situation?
  • Our everyday thinking has the power to either renew or deplete our spirit, to nourish the best in us or to steal our thunder, to bring clarity to a situation or to distort it. Have you reduced some complex reality to black and white or have you made room for shades of gray? Is your thinking limiting and restrictive, or creative and expansive? Are you stuck on the problem, or are you constructively seeking solutions? Are you reacting in a way that is impulsive and emotional, or are you responding calmly and reflectively? Is your thinking more defeatist or strategic?
  • One way to steer your thinking is to become aware of where you are placing your focus. Is your attention on what is wrong in the situation, or on what is right? Is it invested in what is probable, or in what might be possible? Are your thoughts fueling the fires of your hope or your fears? Are you betting on what is strong in the other person, or on what is weak? Optimism and pessimism are both self-fulfilling prophecies, so take great care in the direction in which you lean.
  • Another way to “mind your mind” is to pay attention to your language. Words such as “always,” “never,” “should,” and “must” are telltale signs of self-defeating and distorted thinking. When you hear yourself utter the word “loser”, replace it with “underdog”. Replace “user” with “survivor”. You will never regret giving people the benefit of the doubt.
  • Remind yourself that no conclusion should ever be foregone. Replace certainty with curiosity. When tempted to describe things as they “are”, consider describing them as they “seem”.
  • Help the other person change his/her reaction to the situation by having him/her shift perspective, like putting on different pairs of sunglasses. What does this situation look like through the lens of melodrama? How about comedy? How will this situation appear to him/her a year from now? What previous transitions has this person been through in his/her life that lends a different view to the present transition? Has this person been in a similar situation before, and if so, how did they succeed in moving on?

4. Change your reaction by accepting the things you cannot change:

In situations that are unavoidable and completely out of our control, the best way to cope is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change. In that spirit, I offer a three-part poem entitled “Like it or Not”, which speaks succinctly to accepting the realities presented by three categories of people we face in our business: those we cannot help; those we help in spite of ourselves; and, those we help, but never know. It is my hope that for any situation in which you feel at the end of your rope in trying to help someone, you will find consolation in one of the three parts of this poem. Please share this article and/or this poem with others who you think might need that extra bit of encouragement or solace in a difficult situation in which they have begun to feel ineffectual in helping another person, in or outside of work.

In the meantime, in the face of anything and everything that we find challenging, let’s take to heart the simple wisdom espoused by Theodore Roosevelt who said:

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”… (and I would add)… in the best spirit possible.

Part One: Getting Real

Denise Bdeniseissonnette is an internationally renowned trainer and keynote speaker who has authored several celebrated books including Beyond Traditional Job Development: The Art of Creating Opportunity, Cultivating True Livelihood, and 30 Ways to Shine as a New Employee. Known for coupling the philosophical with the practical, Denise delivers inspiration with equal portions of hand-on tools and techniques. In her unique and characteristic style, Denise brings together her talents as poet, writer, storyteller, teacher and career developer. Denise Bissonnette’s acclaimed Resilience Series is now available “on demand” for the first time!

 

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Moving Past Stuck: Getting Real and Changing It Up – Part One: Getting Real http://contactpoint.ca/2016/09/moving-past-stuck-getting-real-and-changing-it-up-pt-1/ http://contactpoint.ca/2016/09/moving-past-stuck-getting-real-and-changing-it-up-pt-1/#respond Mon, 12 Sep 2016 21:09:21 +0000 http://contactpoint.ca/?p=50464 “What do you do when you feel at the end of your rope, at a dead end, or at best, your wit’s end, with a person you are supposed to be helping? You feel as if you have tried everything, but nothing is working. What then?”

Anyone in the helping professions can relate to this question, as it conjures images of situations that caused emotions ranging from mild frustration to outright aggravation and the infinite variety of vexation in between. I believe this question is relevant to anyone attempting to be of assistance to another, be it an employee, a client, a customer, a co-worker, a student, a friend, a neighbor or a family member. Despite our best intentions, at some point we begin to doubt our effectiveness in the relationship, left to ponder questions like the following:

  • Am I being more of a hindrance or a help to this person?
  • What is the difference between being supportive and being co-dependent?
  • What are the proper boundaries in this relationship?
  • How do we recognize the difference between being useful and being used?
  • What is the fine line between care-giving and care-taking?
  • How do we discern when to hold on, when to let go, or how to alter the dynamic in order to hit the “re-set button”?

 

Obviously each situation is unique and influenced by a myriad of factors, not the least of which is the personalities of the individuals involved and the particular context in which they find themselves. Even so, as I reflected on what I have practiced and taught over the last few decades regarding employment counseling, I believe that there are some basic tenets and fundamental principles that remain constant across the board.

With the intent of presenting these ideas in a simple and straightforward format, I offer two pieces for your considered reflection: Part One: Getting Real, and Part Two: Changing It Up. As you read through these ideas, keep a person or two in mind with whom you feel challenged or nearing the end of your rope, and see if they help to bring clarity, insight, or discernment to the situation. Likewise, recall a time when you were on the receiving end of someone else’s failed attempts to help you move forward in your life/work. See if you can pinpoint the challenge in that situation, from your point of view, from the questions below.

 

Part One: Getting Real

A problem well-defined is half-solved. Until we are clear on where the true conflict lies, we cannot entertain ways of resolving it. Perspective is everything, but when in the midst of a difficult situation, it is not easy to see it from multiple standpoints. Here are eight angles from which to get a better grasp on the bigger picture, each offering questions for excavating the core challenge(s) in the situation.

    1. Most conflicts are not between two people, but between the values and/or commitments that each holds in the situation. Considering the personal agenda, hopes, fears, and unique viewpoint that each of you brings to the relationship, it is important to ensure that you are working towards the same end.

 

  • What is your intention in this situation, what are the values you are bringing to it, and what do you see as the end-goal or the primary objective? What are you most committed to in this situation? (How would the other person respond to these same questions?)
  • Are you working towards the same goal and bringing similar values? Is your intentionality in sync? Are you committed to the same things, or are you working at cross-purposes?

 

    2. All communication is context-bound, greatly affected by the roles and relationships in which we find ourselves. Multiple factors such as culture, race, age, gender, religion or economics come into play which can profoundly influence the efficacy and/or quality of the relationship and your ability to be helpful.

 

    What role(s) are each of you are being asked to play in this situation?

  • Is the person involved in this relationship by his/her own volition or by someone else’s authority?
  • Is the person you are helping free to speak his/her own mind, or are there other factors coming into play? If so, what might those be?

 

    3. With the desire of bringing humanity to our work, we bring the whole spectrum of “being human”. While we would like to think that we respond purely professionally, we can never fully extract our personal reactions to any given situation. In the same way that we perceive each person’s gifts differently, we also respond to individual faults and foibles in a way that is distinctively our own.

 

  • What exactly about this person/situation has you feeling fed up or at the end of your rope? What trait or behavior is this person exhibiting that is driving you crazy, and what precisely is your emotional/mental reaction to it?

 

Sample traits/behaviors: Not listening; Makes excuses; Rudeness or disrespect; Not following through; Changes mind; Unrealistic; Demanding; Victim mentality, etc.
Sample reactions: Frustration; Anger; Helplessness; Disappointment; Confusion; Waste of time and energy; Going around in circles, Exasperation, Annoyance, etc.

 

    4. The field of psychology tells us that we tend to judge ourselves by their intentions, but others by their behaviors. Interestingly, the same behavior holds different meaning depending upon the intentionality behind it. For example, what one person experiences as “demanding”, another may mean to be “assertive”; what one sees as “flighty”, for another is an attempt “to be open to possibilities.”

 

  • Considering your response to the question in #3, could there be a flip side to that trait/behavior that would more accurately describe the other person’s intention/experience?
  • What word do you think the other person would you use to describe your behavior in this situation? What is the word that more accurately depicts your intentionality?

 

    5. It’s not so much our circumstances that we respond to in life, but our narrative about it. With the intent of being objective, we need to own our spin. By going bigger than the story we are telling ourselves about it, we treat it not as fact, but as subjective fiction. This helps us to zero in on our perceptions, judgments, and attitudes, along with our blinders and/or our blind spots.

 

  • What is the story you are telling yourself about this person/situation? Are your thoughts and judgments about this completely true or is it possible you are operating with partial information? Where there have been missing pieces, to what extent have you filled them in with assumptions, lending power to your imagination rather than to your most rational thinking?
  • What story do you think the other person might be telling him/herself about you and the situation at large? Under what false assumptions might he/she be operating? Can you give this person the benefit of your doubt, and do feel that you are on the receiving end of theirs?

 

    6. Depending upon our response to it, any given situation could result in a variety of possible outcomes. While we have little power to control the various events and circumstances that come our way, we can greatly affect the outcomes of those events through our choice of response.

 

  • What do you see as the best possible outcome for the highest good of everyone involved in this situation? How is your current response to this situation helping or hindering that outcome? (The same question should be asked of the other person.)

 

    7. There is a big difference between having input into another’s situation and having actual influence, which is why being in a position of authority does not always translate into effective leadership. Even when we do wield power as a result of being in authority, we need to be cognizant of the quality of the influence we are having; like fire it has the power to warm or to burn.

 

  • To what extent do you feel your input is actually having influence with this person?
  • Who or what does have influence with this person, and how is that affecting the situation for better or worse?

 

    8. In every situation there are things that are within our sphere of control, and other things that are not. Distinguishing between the two, we have the discernment to keep our focus and attention in the areas in which we have control, and let go of those aspects of this situation in which we don’t.

 

    • Where are you investing your focus and attention in this situation? Are there aspects of this situation in which you need to let go? (The same question should be asked of the other person.)

 

Part Two: Changing It Up
Denise Bdeniseissonnette is an internationally renowned trainer and keynote speaker who has authored several celebrated books including Beyond Traditional Job Development: The Art of Creating Opportunity, Cultivating True Livelihood, and 30 Ways to Shine as a New Employee. Known for coupling the philosophical with the practical, Denise delivers inspiration with equal portions of hand-on tools and techniques. In her unique and characteristic style, Denise brings together her talents as poet, writer, storyteller, teacher and career developer. Denise Bissonnette’s acclaimed Resilience Series is now available “on demand” for the first time!

 

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Managing Your Career While Going Through Cancer Treatment http://contactpoint.ca/2016/09/managing-your-career-while-going-through-cancer-treatment/ http://contactpoint.ca/2016/09/managing-your-career-while-going-through-cancer-treatment/#respond Mon, 12 Sep 2016 18:42:50 +0000 http://contactpoint.ca/?p=50465 Listen to this episode of CareerBuzz at CareerCycles.com

Cancer strikes without prejudice – but people from all walks of life and within all levels of the cancer community can be united in a common goal of coping with this life-altering event. People living with cancer can and do play a significant and powerful role in their own journey. Kim Adlard has first hand experience witnessing how involvement impacts experience. And involvement starts with developing awareness of what’s available in terms of support, services, programs and activities. Hear Kim share her story and the new resource she founded, One Access Space, Kim also shared these valuable resources: Cancer and Careers and Working with Cancer

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

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Accessibility in the Job Search Phase http://contactpoint.ca/2016/09/accessibility-in-the-job-search-phase/ http://contactpoint.ca/2016/09/accessibility-in-the-job-search-phase/#respond Mon, 05 Sep 2016 03:14:21 +0000 http://contactpoint.ca/?p=50330 You are working with one of your clients who has a disability and, through your connections, learn of an upcoming position that matches his interests and skills. He is very much interested in the job, but you are told that he must apply online – a significant challenge given his visual impairment.

The Employment Accessibility Standard of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) mandates that organizations must identify, remove and prevent employment barriers while providing accommodations at all stages of hiring, from recruitment to job offer. While much effort is put into providing accommodations to overcome disability related barriers to task performance once a person has been hired, little consideration is given to making the job search process accessible. This is particularly evident in online applications, phone screening and behavioural interviews.

One of the pitfalls to the online application process is an inaccessible website. In particular, it creates barriers for people who are visually impaired or have other types of limitations in visual processing. In an effort to help employers make their online application tools more accessible, the Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology (PEAT), funded by the U.S. Department of Labour’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, surveyed people with disabilities across the nation and identified a number of accessibility flaws including complex navigation, inaccessible form fields and time out restrictions; lack of video captioning and alternative text for images (replacing images with textual information); as well as poor screen contrast and mouse-only input option. Forty-nine percent of the participants interviewed rated their last online application as difficult to impossible. Nine percent of this group were unable to complete the application, while twenty-four percent required assistance.[1]

Interviews can be a barrier to people who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing. Their disability may come into play if they may need a sign language interpreter or have difficulty hearing interviewers who speak quickly or unclearly; have a pronounced accent; do not look directly at the applicant; or who are not seated in a strategic position so that the applicant can read their lips and facial expressions (this is particularly problematic in a telephone or panel interview).

The interview process can also pose an obstacle to people with learning disabilities who have limited verbal expressive ability and have difficulty answering questions in a way that demonstrates their competencies, experience, potential and suitability to the position. These limitations may be exacerbated by depression and low self esteem that often develops from long term unemployment.

Behavioural interviews are particularly challenging to people with disabilities of all types because the underlying premise is that how an applicant responded to and solved work related or other problems in the past can be an indication of future performance and, as a result, indicate how effective s/he will likely be in the current job opening. Many people with disabilities, because of the nature of their illness, parental over-protection or societal exclusion, have lost out on developmental milestones and learning experiences available to their non-disabled peers. Their opportunities to learn skills are quashed and their potential remains untapped. This lack of experience, which is so commonly a mandatory requirement for any job, can make it difficult for applicants with disabilities to demonstrate communication, decision-making, problem solving and other core work related life skills developed as a result of lived experience with disability.

So, if we go back to your visually impaired client who has been instructed to apply online, what can you, as an employment counsellor or job developer do?  In accommodating persons with disabilities during the application process, the Government of Canada stipulates that the purpose of such accommodation at this stage is to remove barriers created by testing methods (verbal, written, electronic/technical), without compromising the nature or level of qualifications required.[2] They provide examples of standard accommodations such as attendant services, sign language interpreters, alternative communication formats, reader services and technical support. While physical and sensory accommodations are relatively easy to identify and apply, more subtle accommodations for invisible disabilities such as mental illness, learning disability or autism require more innovative, creative problem solving such as communicating skills and experience through portfolios, job trials or reverse job fairs in which candidates interview prospective employers.

Conversely, the guidelines set out by the Government of Canada state that the applicant must responsibly communicate the need for and participate in identifying their accommodation needs with the appropriate contact person in charge of scheduling and conducting the interview process. This includes the nature and extent of functional limitations and experiences with past successful accommodations. Request for accommodation must be made to the employer’s company or organization and, in particular, to the relevant department or person in charge of the hiring process such as the human resources adviser assigned to the hiring process of that particular job; the hiring manager; or a Human Resources diversity representative.

Unfortunately, by the time a vacant position is advertised, there is little flexibility in negotiating bona fide or non essential duties of the job.  Given the pressure to fill the position as quickly as possible, there is also no time to get to know the company’s needs and work culture, nor for the employer to learn about your agency’s services and your candidates’ strengths. On the contrary, the ideal accommodation for people with disabilities in the job search stage is relationship based job development on the part of the job developer long before a vacancy is posted.


[1] Thomas, Empish J. Thomas (28-10-2015); http://www.visionaware.org/blog/visually-impaired-now-what/the-challenges-of-applying-for-a-job-online/12

[2] Government of Canada (2014-09-15). “The Application Process, Accommodation for Persons with Disabilities”. http://jobs-emplois.gc.ca/centres/apply-postuler/accomodation-adaptation-eng.php:

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Learning to Live with Risk: A Career Strategy http://contactpoint.ca/2016/08/learning-to-live-with-risk-a-career-strategy/ http://contactpoint.ca/2016/08/learning-to-live-with-risk-a-career-strategy/#respond Fri, 19 Aug 2016 14:20:00 +0000 http://contactpoint.ca/?p=50073  

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.” (lovelivehealth.com)

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

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Don’t Make Any Assumptions: Inside U of T Mississauga’s Career Centre http://contactpoint.ca/2016/08/dont-make-any-assumptions-inside-u-of-t-mississaugas-career-centre/ http://contactpoint.ca/2016/08/dont-make-any-assumptions-inside-u-of-t-mississaugas-career-centre/#respond Thu, 18 Aug 2016 20:21:31 +0000 http://contactpoint.ca/?p=50058 Listen to this episode of CareerBuzz at CareerCycles.com

“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.

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Key Competencies that Matter: A Mixed-Method Research Approach http://contactpoint.ca/2016/08/key-competencies-that-matter-a-mixed-method-approach-to-research/ http://contactpoint.ca/2016/08/key-competencies-that-matter-a-mixed-method-approach-to-research/#respond Tue, 02 Aug 2016 13:44:17 +0000 http://contactpoint.ca/?p=49292 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.

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6 Easy Steps to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile: Tell your Story and Own your Brand http://contactpoint.ca/2016/07/6-easy-steps-to-optimize-your-linkedin-profile-tell-your-story-and-own-your-brand/ http://contactpoint.ca/2016/07/6-easy-steps-to-optimize-your-linkedin-profile-tell-your-story-and-own-your-brand/#respond Mon, 25 Jul 2016 15:56:30 +0000 http://contactpoint.ca/?p=49145 Listen to this episode of CareerBuzz at CareerCycles.com

“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.

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Positive Psychology experts discuss Hedonia, Eudaimonia and the Virtuous Organization http://contactpoint.ca/2016/07/positive-psychology-experts-discuss-hedonia-eudaimonia-and-the-virtuous-organization/ http://contactpoint.ca/2016/07/positive-psychology-experts-discuss-hedonia-eudaimonia-and-the-virtuous-organization/#respond Fri, 15 Jul 2016 16:43:27 +0000 http://contactpoint.ca/?p=48820 Listen to this episode of CareerBuzz at CareerCycles.com

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.

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Wading into the workplace: Employers’ tips for recent graduates or inexperienced workers http://contactpoint.ca/2016/07/wading-into-the-workplace-employers-tips-for-recent-graduates-or-inexperienced-workers/ http://contactpoint.ca/2016/07/wading-into-the-workplace-employers-tips-for-recent-graduates-or-inexperienced-workers/#respond Mon, 11 Jul 2016 15:03:21 +0000 http://contactpoint.ca/?p=48721 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.

 

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