Search This Blog

Friday, December 30, 2011

Hiring for Entry-level HR Position

I'm guessing you landed here because you were looking for an entry-level HR role.  Unfortunately I don't have one to offer at this time.

However I do have some advice, being an HR grad not so long ago... and one that is tired of hearing complaints and seeing postings on LinkedIn about how hard it is to find an entry-level HR role.

The truth is, your degree/diploma doesn't mean much to anyone outside of you, your family, and maybe some of your friends... honestly.

Yes, not having these credentials would limit opportunities even more... but what value is added by having one?

Every spring, recent HR grads (not to mention the other business majors) walk across a similar stage that you did and get their diploma... Thousands of 'em.

You don't need to be an economics major to see the supply and demand picture that is being painted here.

Depressed yet?

Don't be.  If you are reading this and are still in school - then I am the ghost of employment past to show you the error of grads that came before you.  If you did graduate already, give me a sec.

If your school offers a co-op/internship program that aligns with your program take it!  Yes it might add a year to the time that you are in school; see this as an investment in time and not a setback. 

If your school doesn't have this - get one your damn self!  The college I went to had a co-op program, but the co-op department was having trouble finding organizations that would hire (yes, $ not free) students from the HR program... it wasn't even a recession at the time.

So in between classes I applied/emailed/called (yes, I picked up the phone and called) organizations saying what I was looking for in terms of a 4 month co-op placement to get some hands-on experience.

Eventually I found a great non-profit that said they would take me on - but could not afford to pay me.  Some of my colleagues said not to take this, but I said  'Yes!'

I have volunteered before, I will do it again, and plus I had the opportunity to assist with recruitment, learn an HRIS system, network (non-profits are great for this), and update a variety of employee and operational manuals.

Some of my colleagues got paid roles... where they enhanced their knowledge of the alphabet by filing for 8 hours a day... WHo the hell wants to do that? Big picture: this will not enhance your resume.

The same non-profit hired me part-time for a semester while in University, and for a 1 year contract when the HR Manager went on Mat-leave... in hindsight that 4 months of unpaid experience kind of seems worth it, eh?

In summary - be ambitious - don't let your future be written for you.  If you want something go out and get it - now!  Don't wait until graduation to develop a strategy... the job market will never get asier, so the competition starts now.

To those of you that have graduated... what can I say? 

Probably what I say to most business gaduates - don't worry about getting something in your chosen field immediately.  Employers want experience, and if you can't bring it to the table finding something may prove challenging.

Challenging, not impossible.

Leave no stone unturned.  Your Facebook status should say what you're looking for, you should be joining discussions on LinkedIn, you should attend networking events.

Overall, stop blaming the job market.  It is tough, but your attitude has to be tougher.  Your high GPA is great, but without a little grit and determination - you are just one of the thousands of recent HR grads looking for an entry-level position.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Persuasion: A Book Review

So a couple weeks ago I reviewed Kevin O'Leary's book Cold Hard Truth.

Since then, I have been reading the book of another Dragon - Arlene Dickinson.

The first big difference between the 2 is obviously the personalities.  Perhaps because Kevin has a bit more public profile, being on Shark Tank in the US, on the Lang & O'Leary Exchange on the CBC, and that new show Redemption Inc.

You want to know about Kevin O'Leary? He's a capitalist.  His words were 'he speaks on behalf of money'.  Making money is what he does, this is his story.

You want to know about Arlene Dickinson? Good - she has quite a story to tell.

I think like most people, I see Arlene as one of the quieter Dragons.  I assumed that she probably went to a major business school, majored in marketing or communications, worked her way up the corporate ladder and managed to find herself on Dragons' Den.

I was completely wrong.

Arlene's story is extremely motivational and more about the soft skills in life.  Arlene was born in South Africa and came to Canada when she was very young. 

All she ever really wanted was a family, and that is exactly what she got - pretty much right out of high school.

She says what made her the business mogul she is today, was her drive to provide for her family. 

Through out the book there were many statements she made that I loved:

Yes, you need to have some core competencies and an appetite for hard work and for learning, but the main qualities you need are tenacity, perseverance, and faith in yourself.  It's that complex and that simple.

Last impressions are almost as important as first impressions.  Remember, you are playing a long game, and the real thing that's at stake is not a particular job or piece of work but your reputation.  Your reputation is your strongest currency in business.

As everyone finds out sooner or later, persuasion does come with a cost.  Accountability.  Once you've convinced people to give you what you want, you'd better be sure you deliver.

There are tons of quotable sections, but these are 3 I particularly liked.  Now the title of the book is called Persuasion but in no means a 'how-to-guide' or anything like that.

It is full of personal anecdotes and reflections on different experiences from her life journey so far.  So if you're looking for a guide teaching you how to persuade people, this isn't it.

If you're looking to learn a little bit more about 'the quiet dragon' and how she came to her success and persuaded some of the right people along the way - then check it out!

I think most of the other Dragons' books are going to have some personal examples and some great stories.

Have you read any of the other books from the dragons? Any recommendations for my next pick?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cold Hard Book Review

What's going on?

Anything new and exciting?

Over the past week I have been reading Kevin O'Leary's new book 'Cold Hard Truth'.  It was a great read - but content wise I didn't find a ton of take aways, and maybe that's just because of my age.

I think if I was 17 or 18 I would have valued the business (and life) advice in this book a whole lot more.  That being said, it was a great insight into the 'rude' dragon.

I had no idea that he was dyselxic as a child, or really how he started The Learning Company - and how he really made all his money.

That is what I took from this book.

To me, it was more of an autobiography of Kevin O'Leary and the reader is welcome to take from it what they will - in no way is this a 'how-to' kind of book, so don't go in expecting it - unless you're still relatively young... then listen to his advice on money management.

One story I liked most from the book was how he was in the washroom at the Toronto airport when Dragon's Den was first becoming popular and a guy called him an asshole.  Through out the book he refers back to this incident a few times - despite saying it didn't hurt him... maybe not, but it sounds like it made an impact.

Through out the book, Kevin refers to his money as 'soldiers' and how he doesn't want to put it in harms way.  I have watched him on the Lang & O'Leary Exchange enough to know that he does feel to be a qualified representative of money - and in the book he identifies this.

Do I always agree with his approach in how he shoots down ideas? No - I am in HR, I try to sugar coat the truth a little bit so it doesn't lead to tears... The Cold Hard Truth is slightly more delicious when heated :)

Do I think you should get the book yourself?

Yes - if you want insight on how Kevin became the Venture Capitalist he is today, but not how to do it yourself.

I haven't read the books from the other Dragons' yet - any feedback?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

HRPA Member: To Be or Not to be?

For me the choice is simple - I will not be... but let me elaborate.

As of May 31st 2011 I am no longer a member of the HRPAO - It has been nearly 6 months and it feels great.

In the meantime I have joined another provincial association and will continue to develop in my chosen profession.

Anyone that has read my past blogs knows that over the past year I did several blogs about Bill 138 (Now Bill 28), the HRPAO leadership, and their Customer service (or lack thereof).

Basically, my experiences with the HRPAO was enough for me to not want to be a member any longer.

Here is the story behind my decision:

I graduated from university (only a few years ago) and my next goal was to obtain the CHRP designation and start on the career path of an HR Professional.

It was not long into this journey before the HRPAO would make me question my membership with them, and the value that I would get from it.

I asked questions about national unity for the CHRP, and their Director of Membership and Chapter Relations  tried to intimidate me... I think HR should be about mutual respect and accommodation, and follow some basic customer service protocols.

Following this, the HRPA Members LinkedIn group owner told me to effectively 'shut up'.

Last year I raised questions about Bill 138 and their Registrar put forth a complaint about me and threatened to put me in front of a committee... For being rude.

Further more, the way the HRPAO board treated the Toronto Board for opposing Bill 138 was absolutely a schoolyard bullying tactic and not representative of good HR/Business practice in any sense.

Who says "Sign this contract saying you won't oppose us - right now!"

Not HR Professionals - that I am for certain.

Dealing with the HRPAO has provided more than enough material to write The Caprano's 2.

This blog is not a sob story, but rather a reflection of the lack of HR leadership at the HRPAO. 

Does this mean I am not going to continue my career in HR?

Not in the least. 

Does it mean I am going to leave the HRPAO?

Obviously it does.

Thankfully, Bill 138 didn't pass.  However, the process around it provided more than enough of a glimpse into the HRPAO's management style; combine this with all the other nonsense I had to deal with and I decided to leave.

Some people have asked me if working towards the CHRP is a worthy endeavour - and my answer is Yes!

I still believe that holding a profession to a standard is a good thing, but that achieving it should be held to a common national standard... seems logical right?

So therefore, go for your CHRP - but remember, membership with the HRPAO is not necessary in obtaining or retaining your CHRP. 

You still can be an HRPAO member - just remember to keep your head down, be quiet, pay your membership dues, and do not question them.

But do you want to be a CHRP or a SHEEP?

As for myself, I will continue to take courses, attend conferences, and network because I think it is a good thing to do in terms of personal and professional development... not because I need recertification points.  It will just not go to the HRPAO leadership - why pay bullies?

Remember, the HRPAO needs members more than members need them.

Do not let their actions deter you from a career in HR if that is what you want to do - we live in a great country and you have (better) alternatives.

I will leave you with a few frequently asked questions surrounding HRPAO membership, the CHRP designation, my decision to leave, and how you can too!


1. Do I need to be a member of the HRPA/HRPAO to obtain my CHRP designation

No.  The HRPA targets membership from other provinces, so why can't it work the other way?

Just keep in mind that if you practice HR in Ontario and have the CHRP designation but membership with another province, you can no longer use the CHRP designation on things like business cards or email signatures (in Ontario).

2. Why did you leave the HRPA/HRPAO?

Dignity.  I believe in standing for what you believe and not being bullied about it; Boycotting the HRPA/HRPAO is the first step any of us can take.

3. How can I transfer my membership/CHRP to another province?

Join the provincial association of your choice, then Contact the HRPA/HRPAO's Registrar Coordinator explaining where you want to transfer it to... Keep in mind the process is different in Quebec, but all other provinces have a transferability agreement.

4. How do I maintain my CHRP with my new provincial association?

Verify with them.  Outside of Quebec, the recertification points/process is relatively the same as it is in Ontario.

5. I don't have my CHRP yet, do I need to join the HRPA/HRPAO?

Not necessarily.  It may be easier to write the NKE if you are an Ontario resident, but all the other provinces (outside of Quebec) still have the NPPA - you could obtain your CHRP designation more quickly based on this.

6. Will I be able to get a job in HR in Ontario if I'm not a member of HRPA/HRPAO?

It hasn't been a problem for me - I have attended several interviews and have identified that I am not a member of the HRPA/HRPAO, that my CHRP is recognized by another provincial assocation and have been fine.  In fact, many senior HR Managers that I have met were not fans of the way Bill138 was 'snuck' in by the HRPA and are happy to hear about how I stood up for myself - It shows individuality and confidence.

7. What will the HRPA/HRPAO do if no one joins their association?

I don't know... probably just use their Twitter accounts to complain about home appliances I guess...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Commuting... the best part of your day?

What's the worst part of your day from Monday to Friday?

For most people I'm going to guess it is your commute time... Am I right?

I'm now going to toss around stats about the average time from home to work around the world and how my city compares, I just want to know how you make the most of it.

I found that through school and now working over the past few years that having an iPod helps pass the time - and plus I have blogged about my love of music before... my commute is a good time to zone out and listen to some tunes.

But I like you so I'm not going to lie to you - my iPod is getting old and I'm thinking it might be time to replace it.  The one I have is about 6 years old now, which I guess is old for technology and certain breeds of dog.

The battery life isn't as long as it used to be, sometimes it is not as responive as I would like... and plus have you seen some of the new tablets?

I have thought of getting a tablet because the price seems to be going down on these things and I'm thinking that they would make my commute time on the subway not seem quite so long - not only could I have music, but games too! Maybe even do actual work!

My only concern might be the size, because sometimes I use my ipod for the gym.

I'm trying to decide... should I upgrade to a tablet, or should i get a new (younger) more attractive iPod?

How do you make your commute bearable?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We are the Economy!

I blogged not too long ago about this possible 'double-dip' recession that world seems to be worried we're going to go through.

After Obama's speech this past week, there doesn't appear to be alot of good new out there about our world economy.

There is job losses on both sides of the border here in North America, and Europe is wondering if it can maintain the Euro in light of Greece and other heavily indebted countries to make up the EU.

Can't we all take a step back and look at the big picture?

We are the economy... we are the markets... therefore - isn't it us who is in need of repair?

I don't want to come off like a hippy or anything, nor do I want to sound like the average economist saying we're going through a 'market correction'. 

What I do want to say is - evaluate what is important to you.

To me, I think things like my personal health, and the well-being of my family are important... this doesn't take a ton of money to maintain.

I'm not going to tell you to destroy your credit cards and run for the mountains - I'm just saying: evaluate what is important to you and keep moving forward!

The economy is based on how we spend, and the reality is there's a ton of baby boomers who make up a good portion of the North American population that aren't spending that much.

I mentioned before that there will no doubt be swings in the market as spending patterns change and industries lose their relevancy (i.e. Blockbuster leaving Canada).

This is no reason to panic, and I'm not saying to make it Credit Card City either. 

If any correction needs to take place, it is from within - evaluate what is important and keep moving forward.

Monday, August 22, 2011

RIP Jack Layton

When I heard of Jack Layton's passing this morning, I felt as though Canada was truly at a loss.

Even non-NDP voters in my experience have never had anything really horrible to say about the man, he was just a man of the people... Something every politician wants to be seen as.

This was not only his image but who he was.

I have met Jack in passing and he always brought life to the room he was in.  I saw him speak at Yonge & Dundas square back in University and was amazed how one man could truly identify with all the different demographics in attendance - it was a protest for uranium drilling in a small town in northern Ontario

He was a great sport; I heard him a few times as a guest on the Dean Blundell show on the Edge in Toronto before elections and supporting Movember.

I think all Canadians thought of Jack Layton and the NDP as one in the same... No Jack, means no NDP.

Overall, Jack Layton was a great person who was a proud Canadian and improved the lives of everyone he met.

My condolences go out to Jack and his family and friends - he was a great figure on the Canadian political landscape and will truly be missed.

R.I.P. Jack

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Next Recession?

Remember 1998?

I do... everytime I look in my driveway.

I think it was a great time to be alive... but little did we know what would only be 2 years away... Y2K and the peak of Napster!

I loved Napster, I personally enhanced my appreciation of music through it and was even buying CDs back then... from record stores, not just Amazon.

I think everyone but the recording industry loved Napster - they saw it as they beginning of their end.

Now lets fast-forward to 2007.

It was also a great time.  Even the first half of 2008 was pretty good as I recall.  I was working a ton trying to get through school, but it was fine - jobs were available and I had 2 of them.

Then it happened - the stock market collapsed due to the crash of the 'sub-prime mortgage' catastrophy in the US housing market.

I was working at a major insurance company that summer when it happened... shit hit the fan. 

It was September 2008 and I was going into my last semester of university and to be perfectly honest it didn't really impact me - I wasn't trading in the stock market and all my money belonged to the school.

In 2007, the average person (certainly in Canada) may not have known what the terms 'sub-prime' or 'recession' or 'bail out' really meant... but they sure do now don't they! They have become apart of our vernacular.

To the point where people are starting to ask - when will the next one be here?

For the time being, the US has raised the debt ceiling and even Alan Greenspan is saying "we can always print more money".

Never thought I would hear HIM say that...

But will we have another recession?

Like the Napster example illustrates, industries will come and go.  Sub-prime mortgages (or something similar) will probably happen again... Don't people always want what they can't have?

If you want to see a historical perspective, check out the August 9th article on Both Sides of the TableIt is an interesting view of the past 3 years.

This past month was an interesting one on the markets to say the least... But what we can see over the long-term is that things (industries, problems, governments, etc.) will rise and fall, but overall we collectively move forward.

Don't think of it as a recession, but simply part of our evolution.  Has our evolution ever been linear? Has the growth of our companies ever been linear?

No - so this expectation of the economy doesn't make sense either.

Our economy and world will continue to go through periods of growth and decline whether venture capitalist spending is strong, or not.

I'm not an economist, but I do watch trends.  While trends won't necessarily predict the future, they say a ton about our past.

When will the next recession be? I don't know.  Will we have one?


What do you think?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

27... the scariest number in rock

So as you may of heard, Amy Winehouse died this past weekend.  While I can't say that I was ever really a fan of her music, my condolences do go out to those that were and her family.

What truly caught my attention was the fact that she died at 27.

I remember when I was first getting into rock music and at around 12 or 13, 27 seems kind of old... not so much anymore.

What I soon found out, from watching different documentaries and stuff, was that alot of rock stars (especially from the 60's) died at 27.

This includes:

- Jimi Hendrix
- Janis Joplin
- Kurt Cobain
- Jim Morrison
- Brian Jones

Am I missing anyone?

It is unfortunate when anyone leaves this world at such a young age, especially those with talents that bring joy to so many others.

For any parents that read this, please educate your children about drugs, their addictive nature, and the short and longterm side effects...

RIP Ms Winehouse!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer so far

Hello all,

How has your summer been?

I haven't blogged in awhile so I thought I'd just pop in and let you know what's going on.  I've been reading 'Does the noise in my head bother you' - the Steven Tyler Memoir.

About 2 years ago I read Slash's autobiography and so far my thoughts are the same - how are these people alive?

That being said, reading the book reminds me of all the interviews I've seen with Steven - he sort of jumps from one topic to the next, breaks into lyrics, and makes some pretty cool references when he is passionate about something... Gotta love the guy!

I know in my last post I talked about 2 of the CD's I've been wanting to get... I ordered the Head Cat CD from Amazon about 3 weeks ago now and haven't got it... I went to Sunrise to see if they had it... apparently the distributor is 'unreliable'... it kills me to be waiting this long to hear the album.

Anyone out there got there hands on it yet? Is this just a shipping to Canada issue?

I will try and be more regular with future blogs, but in the meantime I'm enjoying summer, can ya blame me?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Let the music do the talking!

I love music... it is a huge part of my life... anyone that follows this blog with any regularity knows that I have made reference to groups from the Dixie Chicks to Motorhead... So ya, my tastes are pretty broad.

I know this blog is primarily about HR, jobs, and career-related topics... but it's my blog so I'm gonna do what I want  :)

There are 2 albums coming out this summer that I can't wait to get my hands on:

1. The Head Cat - Walk the Walk... Talk the Talk

2. Whiskey Devils - The Mahones Tribute Album

The Head Cat, for those who haven't heard, is a Rockabilly side project of Lemmy (Motorhead), Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats), and Danny B. Harvey (Rockats).

Anyone that loves the great rockabilly music of the 50's and 60's should definitely check out The Head Cat... it is a great return to rockabilly roots, with the gravel sandstorm that is the voice of Lemmy Kilmister... The album comes out July 5, 2011 - can't wait to crank it this summer!

Two other genres that I love are Irish/celtic music and punk... it works... And a Canadian-based group called The Mahones do it very well.

For their 20th Anniversary, Whiskey Devils was produced as a tribute to The Mahones and contains covers of classic Mahones tunes from The Bloody Irish Boys to The Gobshites.  The album comes out June 28, 2011.

If you know of any other great bands I should check out I would love to hear about them!

Happy Listening!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Are MBA's Worth the Investment?

Many people have asked me whether or not they should do an MBA... I don't know, I don't have one.

That being said, are they worth the investment?

In looking at any investment you need to first ask - What is my expected return? How will I be better when the degree is complete?

If you were considering any other investment you might ask:

1. How many competitors are in the market?
2. What is the annual return for the past 3 years?
3. Is the growth sustainable?

One thing is for sure, the amount of people pursuing post-secondary education is increasing so the value of a diploma or undergraduate degree does not hold the same weight it used to - look at your graduating class... that long line up going across the stage is applying to the same jobs you are.

That being said, the number of MBA's aren't exactly slowing down either: In 1965, fewer than 10,000 MBAs were granted to U.S. students. In 1977, the number rose to 48,000 and in 1998, it was 94,000.

So is an MBA rare? No.

Is an MBA valuable? Depends who you ask.

If you look into it, there are plenty examples of people who have found that there is an ROI in terms of career and salary growth, and others who have done okay with out one.

I'm not going to tell you what to do, but simply ask that you weigh your options and don't blindly sign a cheque to a business school thinking your salary will be triple the cost of tuition upon graduating - this may not be the reality.

In weighing your options you need to ask yourself:

1. How much am I willing to spend?

2. Is there evidence in my company that an MBA is the only way to grow my career?

2.a. Do I want to be with my current company for at least the next 3-5 years (this can be a stipulation in tuition assistance).

3. Am I willing to put forth the effort and time this will take? It will be a lot... could be 1 year full-time, or 3 years part-time.

4. Have my current qualifications held me back from growing in my career?

5. Do I want to open my own business? Lots of MBAs do.

These aren't all the questions to consider, but are important questions to ask yourself none the less.

So before you do your GMAT review, consider these questions and what you would expect from an MBA.

Do you have an MBA? Are you considering one?

I would love to have some more perspective on this.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Casual Fridays... What do I wear? How do you decide?

For those of you that know me, you know that I am not a fashion expert and I don't want this blog to seem like I am pretending to be otherwise.

However, casual Friday's continue to present a challenge to most folks.

Through out college and university, my collection of awesome t-shirts grew (and continues) to include some pretty cool pieces... However, outside of maybe an advertising/creative workplace I don't think that anyone would expect a co-worker (let alone HR) to show up in a Dropkick Murphy's T-shirt on Friday.

So what do we do?

I have worked at some companies where formal (descriptive) policies outline what can and cannot be worn (i.e. no t-shirts with big logos, no ripped jeans, no skirts above the knee, etc)

It's casual Friday's that make me think that working in a hospital might be easier; unfortunately we can't all just wear medical scrubs.

Since most of the people reading this blog are probably not medical professionals, I would like to hear what you think the best policy is when it comes to casual days/casual fridays.

Personally, I try and follow what I refer to as the 'first date rule' which means: if I think it looks to sloppy, or it is not the image I would want to project on a first date then I won't do it.

Pretty simple... works for me... could probably work for you too.
This being said, what is your process/ideology?

Or better yet, hilarious examples of casual fridays having gone wrong :)

Or if you are a medical professional and want some great scrubs, check out: 

Friday, April 29, 2011

People will be People

I want to start off by saying that I did not wake up early to watch the Royal wedding of William and Kate, but with every media outlet reporting on it missing it has been difficult.

But through my second-hand exposure, what I have been able to reflect on is how alike we all are... regardless of title, wealth, or power - we are all just people.

Prior to the wedding, there was reports of Kate's ... umm... "Eccentric" Uncle Gary Goldsmith and his past

At the wedding there was everyone from Elton John to David Beckham... So what?

At any wedding you go to, everyone will have a relative they really hope will behave... then there is the unpredictable acts that children do:

From Tom Pettifer doing what 8-year olds do best:

To an overwhelmed bridesmaid, Grace Van Cutsem:

But what does this have to do with regards to those of us in the workplace?

Alot.  While all of us aspire and respect people with title's like: VP, Director, CEO, Prince, etc. we are who we are.

While I don't think the words "Can we afford this" ever left Katie's mouth in preparing for the wedding, and most of us will never be involved in any ceremony of this level, at the end of the day it is a wedding between 2 people.

Regardless of title and background, they are just 2 people that found each other and want the best for each other - regardless of their crazy relatives... on both sides.

If I could tie this into the workplace, it would be to say that it is important to remember the human side in everything you do... we are not perfect... and neither are our families.

All the best to William & Kate!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Unpaid Internships, are they worth it?

Depending on where you are in your career, or life, chances are you or someone you know has had to evaluate the worthiness of an unpaid internship.

The theory is this: the company offers you a chance to gain some great experience for your resume, and there really isn't a financial commitment from them... win-win?

I remember back in college, when I had no HR experience, and the majority of my experience was in a kitchen or customer service kind of role - we were all there at some point.

In my program we had the option of taking 3 different co-op positions, paid, during the course of our program and a chance to learn some great skills.

Long story short, this was still a difficult process but I did manage to get an internship... but unpaid.

But I was young and figured, so what?

The company was offering me a chance to get into some policy development, revising job descriptions, and a variety of other experiences  - so I took it.

A few other colleagues managed to get co-op positions at different companies.  Most however found that they did alot of filing... they got paid... but were primarily exposed to filing.

I didn't get paid, but I loved my co-op position.

I don't want to sound like a Guidance Counselor, so I apologize in advance.

But whether an internship/co-op placement is paid or not isn't the point - it comes down to the ROI.

The way I justified it was, I wasn't getting paid to be in school - so what was the difference?

Long-term, the experiences gained during this initial placement really helped pave the way in next opportunities - it established momentum in my HR career.

In short, the worth of an internship doesn't always come down to the paycheque but rather the skills you can gain to sell yourself for the rest of your career - think long term!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tradeshows & Job Fairs

Hello all,

So spring is on the way... well officially it's here, but weather-wise we have have a ways to go.

Every spring, the minds of young men and women everywhere turns to... um... EMPLOYMENT!

I was a new-grad a few years back, right in the peak of the recession actually, and found it tough.  I'm sure at this point in time it isn't much easier.

That being said, I do recall the Trade Show Displays that would grace my campus every year around this time promoting different companies and possible internships.

For the most part, I found them to be a a frantic tossing of resumes amongst the vinyl banners and would leave with some swag and a ton of pamphlets... but is this helpful? Is it effective?

With this approach I always felt like a number, yet never felt there would be an ROI.

I have blogged about interview tips and how to answer some of the tougher interview questions  that may come up - but this blog is going to be more about approach, or at least my take on it.

1. Start early

If you are in first year, great - you should speak to your career counselor about a co-op or internship program at your school... Experience trumps grades in most cases.

2. Network 

Or as we used to say - make friends.  Meet people from a variety of programs - take advantage of social or extra-curricular things in school.

3. Have an opinion

...and then share it!  Through things like blogs, or LinkedIn, or even Facebook and Twitter - share!  Your name should be able to be found on Google and the results should be positive... Alot of recruiters admit to 'Googling' applicants, so let them see how well-informed and professional you are.

4. Help people

It's the golden rule... what goes around comes around.  However you want to say it, just help other people - it is a good thing to do and may go along way to supporting point #2 above.

5. Be open

When I first graduated, I was very narrow-minded.  I only wanted to work in HR and nothing else; looking at other options and realizing the advantage of being young will open you to other experiences... at the very least you'll have a well-rounded resume

That's my 2 cents... what about my other HR colleagues?

Any advice for our new or soon-to-be grads?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

AODA: What you need to know

Do you have a business in Ontario? Do you have at least one other employee?

Great - listen up!

You have probably heard about the upcoming legislation called the 'Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act' but may not know everything about it... and not saying I do, but here is what you need to know:

As well, having 'safety signs' posted that let customers know of service disruptions is important.

Fortunately, the Ontario Government has a variety of templates and tools to help you get started.

I know this is specific to Ontario, but it is only a matter of time before similar legislation makes its way across all provinces.

This piece of legislation, I think, is a good thing that in the long run will probably make our lives easier - how grateful are you for automatic doors for example?

What is your organization doing to get prepared for it?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bill 138 & HRPA... Again

Hello all,

The email below came from the members of the THRPA and HRPYR board today regarding Bill 138... I am not making any edits as I completely agree:

February 25, 2011

Dear Fellow HRPAO Member:

This is a communication about the proposed Ontario legislation, Bill 138, to replace the existing 1990 Bill that establishes the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario (HRPAO). We have two concerns:

1) The lack of process -- consultation and communication; and,

2) The actual content of the Bill.

We are very concerned that HRPAO tried to move this Bill through to completion without consultation with the Membership, and without communicating about it. For example, this entire story began with HRPAO preparing a draft Bill and sending it to the Government. They could have, and should have held consultation with Chapters and Members when preparing that. They did not. In fact HRPAO claims that this entire process began with the Government of Ontario drafting legislation. We know that is not true because Bill 138 is not Government legislation; it is a private member's bill. HRPAO claims that events moved so quickly that they did not have time to communicate with us, the Members. Yet almost daily we receive emails from HRPAO on all types of issues -- apparently all more important than this Bill.

You recently received an email from Bill Greenhalgh, Chief Executive Officer, asking you to support Bill 138. Since HRPAO has been telling everyone that the Membership is already supportive, we wonder why they now find it necessary to ask for support – it seems somewhat contradictory. We want to address some of the things that he said:

Before you dismiss these points as being alarmist, please ask yourself. If HRPAO does not intend to use its proposed authority in these ways, for example, to investigate at will, then why are they specifically mentioned in the Bill?

Unlike HRPAO, we believe that it is very important that every Member take time to read and to understand the Bill. This is a far-reaching Act that will affect how each Member, and their employers, can practice or employ HR.

We are in agreement that HR is a profession, and perhaps we need new legislation (although most of the other provinces do not), but we do not have Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) like accountants or defined standards of practice as do lawyers or doctors. It is only in the last two years that HR metrics have been made available by our association, and at best those are best practice guidelines, not standards.

But even more concerning than the content of the Bill is the complete lack of process in its introduction. For a profession that is built around fostering openness, collaboration, respect and transparency, the lack of process is extremely troubling.

In addition, HRPAO has been attacking those who ask questions or express concerns. Both the Toronto and York Region Boards (the two Chapters that have been asking questions) have been eliminated. Members have been suspended or lost their Directorship, and had their reputations attacked for questioning the Bill, and/or signing the petition against the Bill. These are not actions of an Association that we want to have more power!

We welcome your feedback. Email us at:

What can you do? Educate yourself about the contents of the Bill here.

Read what others are saying: (the former Toronto Chapter website)

Ian Welsh, (Member and consultant) HR Toolbox Blog click here.

David Doorey (York U Prof) Blog click here.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, if you agree that Bill 138 is flawed, please sign a petition against the Bill available here.

We estimate that less than 50% of the Membership has been aware of the Bill, but of those 50%, over 7.5% have signed the petition AGAINST Bill 138. For a public survey that is a huge number!



Monday, February 21, 2011

Job Alignment & Rock 'n' Roll

A few nights ago I saw the documentary on Lemmy Kilmister, lead singer of Motorhead.

I am a huge Motorhead fan, and also love Hawkwind, and The Head Cat - so a documentary on Lemmy was of huge interest to me.

Now most people wouldn't link HR and Lemmy; I mean this is the guy who was quoted as saying, "they said acid wouldn't work if you took it 2 days in a row, but we found it did if you doubled the dose."

Pictured above: An HR nightmare, or success story?

Still, I couldn't help but see the parallels between how Lemmy was portrayed and our job as HR Professionals to make sure the right people are in the right jobs.

Let's do a quick profile of what we know of Lemmy:

  • He loves music (everything from Chuck Berry to Metallica to Johnny Cash)
  • He does not care what you think of him
  • He is a great leader (only original member still in Motorhead)
  • He is respected by many in the music community (from Ice T to Ozzy Osbourne)
Before he had his own successful band, he was a roadie... If he isn't setting up the equipment he is playing it.  Music is his life.

As he said in the movie to the question 'how long will you continue to perform', "I'm not really qualified to do anything else."

As much as I love his dry wit - this definitely isn't true.  He is extremely knowledgable about the second world war and has a fascination with historic weaponry... but I wouldn't make him a tour guide at a museum either.

He has never settled down, but his bandmates in all his different groups are clearly his chosen family.  He is committed to what he does, not because he has to be there - he very much wants too!

Despite some of his lifestyle choices, he has always put the music first. 

Whether you are a fan or not, I would suggets going to see the movie if only for his dry british humour alone.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Working From Home: Win- Win

To put things into context, I'm writing this blog on the snowiest day in Toronto in 2 years.

Rather than wake up early and go to the office and face what would have been an even tougher commute, I have had a relatively stress-free morning.

I have worked from home before, and loved it!

Minus the interaction with co-workers and listening to a funny morning show on my way in, I do enjoy working from home because:

1. I get to sleep in

2. I save time/money on commuting

3. I can catch up on chores around the house

4. I can play my music as loud as I want :)

What are the benefits to my employer, or any other for that matter?

1. More focused employee - no distractions in the office

2. An empowered workforce - there is obviously a level of trust established

3. Money saved (anyone can use my desk, I'm not drinking the coffee, I'm using my internet connection)

4. No one has to hear my loud music

Have you ever worked from home? Love it or hate it?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Shut up and Sing

Remember the Dixie Chicks documentary 'Shut up and Sing'?

Lead singer Natalie Maines actually received a hate letter with the line, "Shut up and sing"... basically saying 'keep in line and stop stirring things up'.

This happened because of a one-off comment in England where she had said during a concert that she was ashamed that George W. Bush came from Texas... That was it.

All she did was express disapproval and the retaliation started.

I saw them in concert at the ACC as part of this tour and her answer to this was 'I don't know how I am supposed to shut up and sing!'

She had a big grin on her face and the audience roared with laughter... I will never forget this!

At the time it was very tense in the southern states, with people burning their records and holding demonstrations - the usual large scale intimidation/retaliation tactics.

Through out the show she expressed love and appreciation for Canadian fans, the audience, and the level-headedness our country is known for.

What's the lesson in all of this? Stay true to yourself and stand up for what you believe!

Why am I telling you this?

Well to me it seems like a good example of the HRPA's response to the membership whenever we question a decision they have made.

When Mr Zimmer proposed Bill 138 he stated that the membership wanted it... Yet most of the membership was never aware of the contents of the Bill prior to being proposed and are disqusted when they do.

I tried creating discussion around it and have been blocked from several HRPA groups on LinkedIn... Wonderful way to treat your membership.

So rather than 'shut up and sing' people have been flocking to the petition that opposes this ridiculous bill.

Rather than open the floor to discussion, the HRPA continues to try and shove it down our throats and stop any discussion around it:

You want a reason to oppose Bill 138?  How about 10?

Want to have your voice heard? Click Here!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Buffalo North?

So as you may have heard, Target has bought out Zellers for $1.8 Billion.

Like with any change, some people are thrilled and others are not.

Like when Wal-Mart moved North in the early 90's and took over Woolco stores - some Canadians were open to it, some loved it, and others thought we were becoming the 51st state... Fast-forward a few years and Wal-Mart is a staple in many Canadian towns.

Trying to be optimistic, it means that jobs are created in Canada and that less people are headed across the boarder to shop at these retailers.

On the other side of the coin, where is our Canadian identity going?

While retailers like Shoppers Drug Mart, Giant Tiger, and Canadian Tire remain symbolically Canadian, what is the difference?

When you go shopping (for everyday items) do you make an effort to be patriotic, or just look for the best price?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bill 138... then the world!

When I started this blog I didn't want it to be constant rebuttals against the HRPA but with the way things have been going over the past few months, it sort of has been.

While Bill 138 remains controversial amongst members, the HRPA maintains a PR campaign of "It is good for you, now eat!"

While I have said previously that I think that the HR Professionals Act from 1990 could probably use some updating, the attitude of the HRPA prevails.

The attitude of 'trust us, everything is fine'. 

It is not fine.

Regardless of 'how good' this act may be, many paying members are upset that they have not had their voices heard or were made aware of what the contents of this new act would be before being submitted.

In the latest email from Antoinette Blunt (HRPA Chair) there is points like:

  • The plan was outlined in HRPA's strategic plan -- available on our website to all members -- nearly three years ago;
  • Bill 138, which was drafted by the government with input from HRPA, represents the coming of age for the HR profession. For the first time, the Bill puts human resources on par with other first tier professions;
  • Bill 138 provides the human resources profession the same regulatory authority as that given to the accounting profession;

Well here are some questions then:

While a plan was outlined, the content was not... This is where many members feel a disconnect.

Drafted by the government with input? You mean input like this:

52. (1) In conducting an investigation under this Act, an investigator may,

(a) at any reasonable time, enter and inspect the business premises of the individual or firm under investigation, other than any part of the premises used as a dwelling, without the consent of the owner or occupier and without a warrant;

And as far a regulatory authority goes, the CGA that we are being compared to is an empowerment for the Association... not the membership.

Some people will tell you that Bill 138 is in the best interest of the profession, but so far this seems to mostly be HRPA(O) staff... Is anyone not employed by them happy with Bill 138?

Not that I can find.

To completely understand why Bill 138 was initiated, you need to understand the HRPA(O); here is a brief history:

As recently as 2007, they were still called HRPAO - a provincial organization.

In May of 2010 they took away the NPPA - the second exam required for the CHRP.  Other provinces still have it; Where is the national unity?

In November 2010, Bill 138 was snuck into its first reading.  If passed, the HRPA(O) will be granted significant powers over their membership

Experts in change management and public relations, these things have been introduced slowly, but still met with controversy at each stage.

As per my previous blog, trying to open discussion with them has been a futile effort. 

As per the HRPA website, they changed their name to HRPA, "In an effort to create a brand that’s relevant to audiences everywhere."

Why would a provincial organization need to do that?  Oh right, it's because they are hungry for power!

Bill 138 in my opinion is the HRPA's next step in trying to be a national organization - taking over rather than working together... very un-Canadian.

Recently, the THRPA created an online petition so we can have our voices heard... If you disagree with Bill 138 then perhaps you should sign it by clicking here!