No More Mediocrity

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How To Ace a "Crazy Good" Interview

The world of interviewing is getting more complicated. In addition to Skype and panel interviews, job searchers now have the added complexity of deep generational gaps and stiff competition during the interview process. How does one stand out in a slew of interviewees, without appearing desperate?

Crazy Good Interviewing, a new, very readable book in the Library's career collection, features some unconventional ideas along with a sound approach towards applying a variety of techniques and skills to help ensure success. Despite the title, the author is not suggesting that wild behavior is in order. Instead, he uses anecdotes and case studies to guide the reader on how to break away from the ordinary and hum drum, and to make a meaningful impression and create "crazy" good connections.

Some highlights include:

1. The Power of Threes, an effective technique for answering an interviewer's open ended questions such as "What relevant experiences have prepared you for the job?"

2. An interviewing model called ACT Out for assessing strengths, communicating verbally and non verbally, and thanking and staying connected to the interviewer

3. Tyes of interviews, including phone, group, and Skype based, along with excellent tips such as remembering to alternate your gaze between the webcam and your computer monitor

The author, John B. Molidor, is the CEO/President for Michigan State University Flint Area Medical Education, and understands how communication styles and interviewing skills can complement each other. Recommended.

Mistletoe and Mingling

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As this is the season to mix and mingle, we are featuring our popular interview from last year with local management consultant Lisa Dare about networking strategies during the holidays. Here is some of what she had to say:

Lisa, we have heard that contrary to popular belief, Christmas holidays are actually a promising time to secure a new position. Do you agree?

That’s a great question and yes, it is a myth that holidays or quieter times of business aren't a good time to be looking for work. Consider that most job seekers mistakenly assume that activity slows down in companies and therefore decrease their search efforts. By virtue of that thinking, this creates less competition and easier entry into speaking with potential employers. At the moment, the job market is pretty hot as I spoke with several HR recruiters from the oil & gas industry last week who have not seen any decrease in their workload. Also, while people may not secure a position right away at this time, it’s still a good idea to have informational interviews and gather market information on various industries as people generally tend to be in a much more receptive frame of mind around the holidays.

Is it quantity over quality during big parties? Should the goal be to connect with as many people as possible?

I would always choose quality over quantity. There is a tendency towards thinking that the higher the number the better the odds. However, from a strategic point of view, it is important to consider the best use of time and resources. Are you better off handing out your business card to 50 people whom you may not remember, or speaking with 5 or 6 people with whom you made a strong connection and then continuing to build those relationships? People will also find that by investing time in cultivating those relationships, the numbers will come—that’s the power of networking combined with strong relationship building skills.

What about party etiquette when someone is networking? For example, is it wise to stay clear of the rum and eggnog?

It’s important to remember that in these types of events you are always “on.” Be aware of what type of image and impression you are conveying to the public. It is not to say that you shouldn’t be yourself but depending on the context of your situation, it might be wise not to over imbibe as you want to be able to put your best self forward and not an altered version of yourself. There are many an office party story that has resulted in unfortunate outcomes for both staff and managers alike—you want to steer clear of becoming one of those characters.

Do you have any other networking advice over the holiday season?

While it is important to continue your efforts over the holidays, don’t forget to take time out for yourself. Ensure that you have sufficient time to attend to yourself and those around you as well as continuing with your job search. Look for different opportunities and events that are connected to what you are looking for. In addition, volunteer opportunities, community events, spousal parties and events within your network may also hold possibilities so be open to all opportunities. Most importantly—stay positive. This is the season to reflect on what we are grateful for and look forward to greater possibilities.

Lisa Dare is a management consultant, leadership & executive coach, and facilitator. She is also the incoming president of the Calgary Association of Professional Coaches and a volunteer with the Central Library’s Strategic Networking program that runs every Thursday evening at the Central Library. She can be reached at ld_assoc@telus.net

Lost Your Interviewing Mojo?

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Recently, I talked with a discouraged, unemployed job searcher. She had a wonderful skill set, years of experience, and a sharp resume that was landing her interviews. But things had ground to a halt. What was happening in the interview? Was she too nervous or fidgety? Was she coming across as too desperate? Was she failing to make a connection with the interviewer, or did she need to be more prepared?

Library resources can often help. Interview books are one of the most popular parts of the Calgary Public Library's career collection. Along with sample questions, research strategies, advice on what to wear, and the psychology of the interview process, they offer valuable and often surprising advice. Sometimes, however, mock interviews offer the best opportunities to fine tune the art of the interview.

Alberta Human Services offers a highly regarded, two day workshop Interview Skills Workshop in Calgary, at no cost to job seekers and run by qualified career practitioners. As well as stressing the importance of being properly prepared for an interview, these workshops:

  • review current interviewing theory and selection practices
  • develop increased confidence and comfort with the interview process
  • offer an opportunity to practice interview skills and strategies

 

The Public Library's Career Coaching program also features volunteers that can offer up to 30 minutes of advice and mock interview questions, if the two day course doesn't work for you. As well, Bow Valley College Career Connection hosts in house and library interview workshops on a regular basis.

Job Loss or Job Transition?

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So many people in Calgary are in job-hunting mode, either because they've lost a job or because they want a different one. The Job Loss or Job Transition? program is designed to give you the tips you need to deal with loss and move forward in your professional life.

Job Loss or Job Transition?

An interactive workshop intended for those who:

    • Have recently lost their job
    • Are looking for a new job
    • Want to learn how to navigate a volatile job market

This workshop will provide practical tips on:

    • How to recover from job loss
    • Building a job loss action plan
    • How to evaluate new opportunities and job offers
    • Maintaining employment once you have it

 

Saturday, November 24, 2012
11:00 am to 1:00 pm
Central Library, Third Floor (register online or by phone)

 


Presenter Paul Chisholm has worked in Human Resources and staffing for over ten years. Upon completing a Bachelor’s Degree and Diploma in Human Resource Management, Paul began his career as a technical recruiter. Servicing the manufacturing, Oil & Gas and engineering sectors Paul has recruited everything from new graduates to technical specialists to executive managers.

On leaving the staffing business Paul moved into Corporate Human Resources as an in-house recruiter. Dealing with line managers and company executives on a daily basis has provided Paul with an excellent insight into recruitment decisions. Over the years, he's had countless interviews with all levels of candidates, has provided training on interview skills, job search and resume writing. His approach is to provide practical real world advice to those seeking to maximize their job search potential.

WORKshift

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On Friday, November 16th at 11:45, the Central Library is pleased to host Dr. Laura Hambley as she presents on The Psychology of WORKshift, in conjunction with the Career Development Association of Alberta. Learn how employees can have the flexibility to work when and where they are most efficient, and how this relates to career planning . We interviewed Dr. Hambley to get a primer on WORKshift and where it is headed:

Dr. Hambley, I understand the term telecommuting is no longer in vogue, nor best describes this push towards flexible work environments (WORKshift). Is this trend gathering steam in Calgary?

Yes, WORKshift is definitely gaining momentum. I’ve seen interest in and adoption of WORKshift reaching a tipping point in Calgary this past year, having grown significantly since I first began my research in this area in 2004. And not just large organizations are adopting WORKshift, but also small and mid-sized, and both private and public. Not everyone uses the term WORKshift, and we use it synonymously with telework. Organizations sometimes coin their own terms for WORKshift arrangements.

Companies such as TELUS, the City of Calgary, ATB Financial have all embraced this work environment for employees. Do you have a sense of why other companies are more reluctant?

Managerial mindset is one of the biggest barriers we see. Basically, managers believing that their people must be seen to be working. This is known as “presenteeism”, and in actuality a person sitting at a desk does not guarantee they are being as productive as possible!

Do you think companies are worried their employees will be less productive if they are not in the office?

Absolutely. They do not trust people to manage their time and distractions, and to prioritize work appropriately. But this lack of trust is a major issue, as whether one’s team is in or out of the office, trust needs to be there for effective working relationships to happen.

Is WORKshift more popular with women than men? If so, why?

I have not seen differences in numbers of men or women who WORKshift. We do see greater adoption with the younger generations as a trend, which makes sense given increased comfort with technology. We also see certain departments or industries being earlier embracers than others. Not surprisingly, the IT departments tend to pave the way.

Is the prevalence of portable technology making this more feasible?

Absolutely! This article was published recently – it shows what may be coming in the future with the current levels of technological progress. As well, this website also has great information for those wanting to learn more about WORKshift.

Laura has a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology specializing in the human dynamics of virtual leadership/teamwork and WORKshift. She has completed and published extensive research on the critical success factors for effectively leading virtual teams and WORKshifters, has co-authored a book on the topic (Growing the Virtual Workplace, 2008) and her research has also been published and presented at international conferences Laura is an entrepreneur who has helped create The Leadership Store, a Calgary-based leadership consulting firm and founded Calgary Career Counselling. She is also an Adjunct Professor with the Department of Psychology at the University of Calgary.

Beyond Golf

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This week I had the happy pleasure of taking part in a Job Search Boot Camp, sponsored by Alberta Human Services, where I reconnected with local career expert Nell Smith. Poised to start work on a new retirement book for Boomers, she shared the following article she wrote and had been presenting in her workshops. Along with the points below, Nell recommends the books 10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About and You Could Live a Long Time: Are You Ready? for those of you thinking beyond traditional retirement, both available at Calgary Public Library.

There’s more to retirement than golf and travel, the two most common interests of past retirees. Today, boomers and pre-boomers are re-inventing a retirement in which anything is possible. Here, whittled down from over seven decades of life experience, research, and the experiences of family, friends and all those wonderful people who have participated in my career and retirement planning workshops, are my ten best tips for retiring to a life you design, one that is fulfilling and unique to you.

  1. Phase your retirement. Instead of going abruptly from full-time work to full-time leisure, continue to work part-time, do contract, temporary, or casual work. Start a new career, start your own business, or take on a project that interests you.
  2. Know yourself, what is important and what you love. Stay true to who you are. Retire from the inside, out.
  3. Join a group-which is the easiest way to stay socially connected. Fear of social isolation is a common concern for retirees. Could a service or book club be in your future?
  4. Nurture the family relationships and friendships you want to keep; rekindle friendships that have lapsed; let go of friendships that are not in your best interest.
  5. Continue to learn something – a new skill or new knowledge. Learning keeps you mentally alert, interested in the present and future, and interesting to others. Have you always wanted to play the guitar? If not now, then when? Give it a try.
  6. Keep physically active. Go for a daily walk even without a dog. Cycle, swim, run, ski, try line dancing, or walk to your neighbourhood coffee shop.
  7. Volunteer for a cause you believe in, formally or informally, locally or globally. Contribute your skills and wisdom for the greater good of your family, community, or society. Broaden your thinking from “me” to “we” and you will create new meaning and purpose in your life.
  8. Adopt an attitude of gratefulness and compassion towards others. Seek opportunities to express these daily to those whose paths you cross.
  9. Be creative. Yes you can. We are all creative in our own way. Explore in what new ways you want to express your creativity: could it be art, music, inventing, quilting, scrap-booking, gardening, photography, writing, designing, crafting, woodworking, decorating. The possibilities are endless. Explore - give it a try. There’s nothing to lose and who knows what you’ll gain?
  10. Feed your soul: meditate, pray, journal, read spiritual books, be in nature, do yoga, tai chi, listen to music…all great ways to de-stress and just BE. Follow the advice on a bench in Fish Creek Provincial Park that says:

Take the time to sit and ponder; let your mind and spirit wander. Enjoy the view; embrace the day; remember to take the time to play.

 

Nell Smith is a professional retirement planner, career consultant, adult educator, and author who created the Retire to the Life You Design© program that currently operates in four Canadian provinces. Nell is writing a book for boomers on how to re-engage, re-energize, and re-invent their retirement from the inside out.

Moving On and Up

by Roberta

It's Your Move—a personal and practical guide to career transition and job search for Canadian managers, professionals and executives

This month’s Library book review is from Calgary Public Library career coach volunteer Blaine Hrabi.

Since coming across It's Your Move about 4 years ago, I have found it to be the book that I regularly refer to and recommend in my work as a career practitioner. It comprehensively deals with career transition in a very linear, step-by-step approach. Author Marge Watters covers everything from dealing with sudden job loss, determining your strategic advantage, marketing yourself, sealing the job offer, and managing all the important details in between.

Her approach offers numerous activities to help take inventory of your skills, determine the most appropriate career path, differentiate yourself in the job market, and effectively network to help achieve success in your job search.

This book is primarily geared towards Canadian executives and professionals. It has excellent examples of resumes, cover letters and networking letters, including rationales as to why each document was approached in a specific way.

The new, hot-off-the-press, 4th edition (which is available at a number of Calgary Public Library branches) has many new features, including up-to-date advice regarding the effective use of social media including LinkedIn.

Whether you are a fellow career practitioner or a job seeker looking for a book to help you figure out what to do next, this book is a worthwhile resource.

Blaine Hrabi is a Career Coach and Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant with a specialty in transition, career assessment, professional profile development, transferable skills analysis and counseling for career satisfaction. He works as an independent practitioner and as a consultant for clients across Canada.

Keeping it Positive

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Join us at the Central Library on Friday, October 19th when we host Dr. Anna-Lisa Ciccocioppo's lunch hour discussion on how to apply a positive psychology perspective to enhance career counselling, as part of our ongoing partnership with the Career Development Association of Alberta. We asked Dr. Ciccocioppo's more about the topic, her research at the University of Calgary, and how this branch of psychology continues to evolve:

Dr. Ciccocioppo, positive psychology is a relatively recent branch of psychology, and there seem to be varying definitions. How would you describe it?

I would describe it as the scientific study of human strengths and what goes right in life. Psychology has traditionally focused its research on diagnosing and treating problems, so the Positive Psychology approach turns this around and focuses on assessing an individual's character strengths and how they can further enhance our lives.

Given that many of us are experiencing huge changes in the workplace, can these strategies help with optimism towards new concepts or workplace practices?

There is a lot of uncertainty in the labour market, and changes in the workplace can be challenging to navigate. Learning more about our character strengths can serve as an important part of the self-assessment process, and having that self-awareness is an essential part of career development. When we become more aware of the character strengths that are most important to us, it gives us valuable information that helps us to make good decisions and to seek out new fulfilling opportunities. My research colleagues (Dr. Janet Miller and Dr. Sonya Flessati from Mount Royal University) and I have presented on how Positive Psychology can be used in our own personal and professional development as career practitioners and with team building in the workplace.

Certainly stress and negativity don't help foster creativity at work. Is this part of its appeal as well, and how?

Yes, I believe that Positive Psychology's approach encourages us to harness our strengths to assist us with problem solving and enhance our overall well being, which in turn fosters an environment in which creativity is encouraged and nurtured, and people are more engaged in their work.

Dr. Ciccocioppo, you’re an accomplished national and international speaker. What drew you to this topic, and how to you think it will develop and evolve?

Dr. Miller, Dr. Flessati and I have been exploring how to integrate this perspective into our career counselling research and practice for nearly ten years. Positive Psychology's new perspective was intriguing, and we saw ways in which its focus on strengths was very much in line with what we as career counsellors strive to do. Both Positive Psychology and career counselling look to empower individuals with a greater awareness of their character strengths and how to make choices that align with them. In the last few years, greater attention has been placed on the use of Positive Psychology in career counselling. I think that with ongoing economic challenges and instability in the labour market, it is more important than ever to be aware of our strengths, to be adaptable, and to focus on employability rather than employment. The Canadian Positive Psychology Association is brand new and the first national conference was held this past summer. It will be fascinating to see how Positive Psychology's impact on our work grows and evolves.

Calgary Public Library has a wide range of books and audio material on postitive psychology, including The Happiness Advantage. For help in researching more on this topic, call the Central Library at 403-260-2782. and we would be happy to assist you.

 

Loving the Legal Life

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In anticipation of the Central Library's full day Law Connect Event on October 17th, we talked with local lawyer Gillian D. Marriott QC, to offer her take on law as a profession, and the importance of making law accessible to all Calgarians.

Gillian, the upcoming Legal Grounds clinic is an amazing opportunity for Calgarians to access free legal advice. It also aligns perfectly with your work with Pro Bono Law Alberta an organization that promotes access to justice by creating and promoting opportunities for lawyers to provide free legal service to those of limited means. Why is it important to you personally to volunteer your time to community events and organizations that offer this type of service?

As a lawyer, I believe that I have a responsibility and an obligation to give back to my community. I have been given the privilege of developing a skill set and an ability to provide legal advice, something only a lawyer can do. My view is that as a lawyer the best way I can give back is to provide that advice to individuals who might otherwise not be able to access it. The Legal Grounds Clinic is an excellent opportunity for me to do so, as it is for the volunteer lawyers from Norton Rose Canada LLP who assist us in Calgary.

Do you think that events such as these help make the law and lawyers more accessible, perhaps helping remove perceived barriers?

Yes. Many individuals don’t realize that the problem they are dealing with is a legal problem. The opposite is also true: many people think they have a legal problem when they don't. The first step is to actually have an opportunity to talk to a lawyer. That is often difficult and somewhat intimidating. Events like this held in public spaces such as the Library make it easier for individuals to engage with the lawyers and receive the advice they need.

Did your career path as a lawyer play out as you envisioned when you entered law school?

No, but I am not sure that I had a vision. I talked and argued a lot, and thought Perry Mason was pretty cool. I started out thinking I would be a corporate solicitor, but have practiced criminal and family law as well as general civil litigation. However, regardless of what type of law I was practicing I was always involved in community organizations or legal clinics that allowed me to utilize my skills as a lawyer to help others. When I was offered the job as ED of PBLA it was an opportunity to do that full time. I was given the chance to take on something that I’m passionate about, which is working towards ensuring that individuals have access to legal services and therefore access to justice.

Gillian, we understand that you also volunteer your time by mentoring. How does offering that kind of support and experience help young lawyers?

Mentoring young lawyers is so important. The practice of law is very different from law school and young lawyers need to be prepared for that. Law school is largely about dealing with abstract concepts along with intellectual exercises. A law practice means dealing with people and their problems. It’s about using common sense and practicalities to effectively, efficiently and calmly finding the solutions that work for clients who are often confused or can’t find their way.

People generally go into law because they want to help others and I believe that should be nurtured. Lawyers have to remember that and they need to be encouraged to do so on an ongoing basis. They really need to be given the opportunity to continue with the "feel good" work as well as the work that they do generally. Mentoring gives me the opportunity to help young lawyers figure out how they want to practice and to encourage them to help the people who otherwise wouldn't receive their assistance.

What advice would you give those wanting to enter the legal profession?

My advice to someone who wants to enter the profession is to really think about why you want to go to law school and why you want to be a lawyer. These are two separate questions. Then work to become the best lawyer you can be, while remembering that it is a privilege that carries with it obligations and responsibilities: to be a lawyer with strong legal skills, to be ethical and have the highest integrity, and to give back to your community. You have to determine how you will define being a "successful lawyer" and then strive to achieve it. Remember: it’s not always about how much you can make.

Jobs! Oil and Gas Services

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On October 16th and 17th, the Oil + Gas Services Online Career Fair will connect job seekers across Canada with oil and gas services companies hiring for some of the industry’s most in-demand occupations.

This will be a great opportunity for job seekers to learn more about the possible career options in this busy sector, meet recruiters from companies, post your resume, and apply for jobs.

There are 5 exhibitors hiring for approximately 500 positions. The final list of companies participating is:

- Baker Hughes

- Calmena Energy Services

- Cameron

- CanElson Drilling

- CGGVeritas

- ClearStream Energy

- Ensign Energy Services

- Halliburton

- Hallmark Solutions

- Nabors Production Services

- Patterson – UTI Drilling

- Precision Drilling

- Tervita

- Titan Drilling

- Trican Well Service

The information booths point include:

- AlbertaWorks

- Canadian Association of Geophysical Contractors

- Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Companies

- Petroleum Services Association ofCanada

- Careers in Oil + Gas

Along with their interactive website, more information can be found at www.facebook.com/calgaryjobsfeed

Be prepared , and research the companies before you go online. Remember: the Calgary Public Library can assist with company research and offer suggestions for interview preparation materials.

As well, This Globe and Mail article has an excellent overview of virutal job fairs and their rise in popularity, along with strategies on how to prepare.

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