Mastering Calgary's Unspoken Work Rules

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Mastering Calgary's Unspoken Work Rules

Are you new to the job market in Calgary or Canada? Do you sometimes find it a challenge to figure out how to succeed at work? Join Matt Adolphe, author of Canadian Workplace Culture, as he offers insights into how to navigate Canada's conflict averse culture.

Thursday, February 20
5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Central Library

The book makes for great reading, and offers insights into how workers are unaware of the unspoken, unwritten rules of workplace conduct. As the book summary reminds us, not knowing those rules can be the beginning of an employees undoing; breaking them, making the wrong impression on new peers can stand in the way of promotions and success in the workplace. This book explains the 10, generally unspoken, rules that enable employees to the workplace to fit in, become accepted and succeed. You'll discover why, in a non-assertive environment it is so important to put the feelings of others first, avoid conflict, be diplomatic, and build the strong rapport with colleagues that leads to success in the workplace.

Our careers team at the Calgary Public Library recently chatted with Matt to find out more about the process of putting the book together:

Matt, what prompted you to write the book?

I have a passion for helping people succeed. And I believe people must have the right tools in order to be successful. In this case, many people asked me how they could be a good fit for the job market here. After reviewing available literature, I realized that a clear and accessible hand book was needed to help people find the answer for this question.

In your opinion, how much is someone’s success at work dependent upon understanding and adapting to varying workplace cultures?

Very important. As we know, Canada is a wonderfully diverse country and within it are different cultures living and working side by side. Having said that, I just wanted to give people a picture of the expectations traditionally owned and operated Canadian companies have. And even though the cultures in companies may vary from place to place, there are still some general connections we can make. In the end, to survive you need to adapt to your environment. And in order to adapt, you need tools. I hope this book gives people some of the tools they need to be more successful in their work environment in Canada.

Matt, you have a very interesting career path. How did it help support the research for the book?

I have always been fascinated with history and culture, and that fascination has guided me throughout my studies, travels and work. As a result, I think this background helps me to see a culture in an objective way. And when I came back to Canada, after living overseas for years, I was able to see Canada from a completely different perspective—from the eyes of a newcomer. That is ultimately when the book started to take shape. If people want to get a job and keep a job, they need to know those unspoken rules in the workplace.


This program will start promptly at 5:30, and will be followed by our regular Thursday evening Strategic Networking session. And if you would like someone to review your resume, don't forget that our Career Coaching program also starts at 6:00 p.m.

Beyond the Criminal Record

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According to recent statistics, roughly 13 per cent of Canadians have a criminal record.

These are usually minor offences that can create barriers for mobility, travel, and especially employment. Yet even with the strong demand for employees in Alberta’s bustling economy, there is often wariness or reluctance to hire these workers.

To explore why, the Calgary Public Library and Alberta Human Services are hosting a two part program: Committed to Work: Dealing with Criminal Records.

The morning session, Calgary's Overlooked Labour Pool, is geared towards career practitioners and employers and will focus on hiring strategies, best practices, and great stories, with representatives from Cargill and Devon Energy, lawyers, and more.

Calgary's Overlooked Labour Pool (for Employers)
8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday, February 25
Central Library, 2nd Floor John Dutton Theatre
616 Macleod Trail SE
(Access the theatre entrance from Macleod Trail)

Join us for a coffee, great conversations, and a reminder of the great resources available to support and encourage the engagement of this vulnerable population.

You can register either on the Library’s Program link, or through Eventbrite.

Beancounters Aren't Boring

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Based on last year’s inaugural success, the Alberta Accountants Unification Agency is hosting its second annual Accounting and Finance Career Expo. I met with Nancy Green, Manager of Career Services with the AAUA, to chat about strategies and tips for this January’s event, which has attracted 30 employers:

Nancy, Robert Half and other surveys are showing steady growth in the accounting and finance fields. Are there any current hiring trends that job seekers need to be aware of?

The forecast is good for the industry, but companies are being careful with hiring decisions. While technical skills are important, they’re also focusing on soft skills such as critical and analytical thinking, leadership qualities, and the ability to develop and bring forward recommendations. It’s important that candidates think about these skills before the job fair, and to be open to looking beyond work experience to draw out these qualifications. Remember that you can pull out transferable skills from other areas of your life.

Nancy, we heard that last year there were still participants who could have been better prepared for the event. Do you have any suggestions?

For those who have registered online (do it soon!) we email you tip sheets and information prior to the event, and you are strongly encouraged to read them. As for tips:

  1. Know yourself and your skills, and be ready to speak to them
  2. Dress business casual or formal. A collared shirt is a necessity for men
  3. Come prepared by researching the company and developing specific questions to ask company representatives. Remember not to monopolize their time, and keep your interaction to 5 minutes
  4. Bring your business cards, notebook, pen and resume
  5. If you are offered a card or contact information by an employer, remember to follow up with them within a week. A simple thank you is a good first step
  6. Smile, be genuine, and have a firm handshake
  7. Leave the backpack at home!

You mention that job seekers can bring their resumes. Are all the companies accepting them?

Expect that most companies will refer visitors to their website or job boards. This doesn’t mean you can’t use the opportunity to talk to recruiters about the range of career paths within their company, or the key skills required for the jobs you are interested in. And remember that this is a great networking opportunity to talk to professionals in your industry.

Nancy, does your agency provide support to job seekers trying to improve their employment readiness?

Yes. If a job seeker is a registered CGA, CMA or CA member in Alberta or is a student registered in the CGA, CMA, CA or CPA programs in Alberta, they should email me at ngreen@albertaaccountants.org to see what services we have that can help, such as interview preparation or resume advice.


Need more networking tips? Calgary Public Library has a big selection of books loaded with inspiration and practical tips.

Need help finding them? Call our friendly staff at 403-260-2782.


Keeping Your Head and Nailing the Interview

by Roberta

A nice, fresh batch of career books recenty arrived, and there are some very solid reads in the bunch. Here are some of my favourites, and reasons why:

Keeping Your Head after Losing Your Job: How To Survive Unemployment, by Robert Leahy

The buzz: Advice and strategies to help boost your self-esteem and confidence, decrease anxiety and feelings of helplessness, and develop resilience and strength during unemployment. Dr. Leahy’s thesis is that by keeping your head and learning how to deal with your situation, you can learn how to live your life more effectively when you get a job.

What I love so far: How to accept uncertainty, challenging your reasons for worrying, dealing with unemployment as a family.

The Everything Job Interview Question Book, by Dawn Rosenberg McKay

The buzz: Strategies for hundreds of interview questions to increase your confidence, along with help on handling inappropriate questions, advice on questions to ask employers, and tips on handling remote interviews.

What I like so far: Behavioural interview questions, guidance on how to communicate what you can bring to the company, and follow up advice.

The Subversive Job Search: How to Overcome a Lousy Job, Sluggish Economy, and Useless Degree to Create a Six-Figure Career, by Alan Corey

The buzz: A narrative, unconventional, self depricating and humourous little book full of career advice and Corey’s sly techniques on how to create a lucrative job.

What I like so far: How he recovered from “financial implosion”, his boldness, and his “subversive job tips.”

The Essential Job Interview Handbook, by Jean Baur

The buzz: Offers detailed interview strategies and solid insights into the logic behind the questions, while encouraging thoughtful and extensive preparation

What I like so far: A Good, Better and Best strategy for examining questions, years of professional experience to back up the advice, and lots of pull out tips for quick reference.

21 Days to Success Through Networking: The Life and Times of Gnik Rowten, by Ron Sukenick and Ken Williams

The Buzz: Written to help you meet and prepare for the reality of successful job hunt by presenting scenarios through the perspective of a fictional character to learn how to extend, deepen, and effectively use your personal and business networks.

What I like so far: His method of pulling out critical and “Aha” moments to drive home important networking concepts, and a quick and effortless read that prompts contemplation.

Paying and Powering it Forward

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Odette helps a customer with their resume Career Coaching at the Central LibraryVolunteers power two of our most popular programs for job seekers at the Central Library, Strategic Networking and Career Coaching. Drawing from years of experience as recruiters, human resource managers and career practitioners, this dynamic group brings energy, expertise and practical advice to our sessions every Thursday evening. With 2000 volunteers throughout our organization, the Library understands and highly values their vital role.

Recently I was asked: Can volunteering help or enhance one' s job search?

The founder and president of Act Three, a Cincinnati-based firm that helps women get back into the workforce, believes so. In a recent article, Julie Shifman elaborates on her top seven reasons why, including volenterring is important:

  1. You acquire new skills.
  2. Volunteering can show you're staying engaged in the work world and learning new skills.
  3. You improve your LinkedIn profile.
  4. You make new contacts.
  5. You’ll get a feel for today’s work environment.
  6. You gain an in-depth knowledge about a specific cause.
  7. Your self-confidence will grow

The last point rings especially true to me, as I have seen the effects of a protracted job search on morale and self worth. Isolation, rejection and frustration can take its toll, and giving back is one of the easiest ways to help shift a mindset.

Calgary based Propellus (formerly Volunteer Calgary) has made it easy to search for positions that suit individual needs and talents. Its online database helps secure suitable matches, which can often result in longer placements and greater satisfaction on both ends.

Ready to take that next step? Join us this Thursday November 28th at 5:30 p.m. at the Central Library, as our Strategic Networking host Lidia invites a speaker to discuss their views on volunteering in the community, and its potential to help job seekers.

And if you have ever dreamed of being a mascot, or helping bring reading and books back into the lives of Calgary's seniors, have a peek at the wide range of volunteer opportunities right here at the Calgary Public Library.

Social Media and Job Search

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So anyone out there actively looking for a job: you're using social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and so on) in your search, right?

If you're not, you may be missing out on opportunities. Employers are increasingly using social media to recruit and research potential employees and to post jobs and current news about the company or organization.

How Social Media is Changing Business — And Your Job Search (Mashable)

When you apply for a job the hiring manager will likely check to see if you're on LinkedIn. If you want to research potential employers and see if they're hiring, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook (yes, Facebook!) are often the place where employers put their most up-to-date news and job postings.

A social media presence is key in creating your personal brand to market yourself to employers.

So what are you waiting for? While the upcoming sessions of our popular Career Basics: Enhancing Your Job Search Through Social Networking and LinkedIn: Get Your Profile Up and Running are full, check back at the end of the year for sessions running from January to April plus all new programs relating to business, job search and social media topics.

In the meantime, here's just a few of the great books and ebooks in our collection on using social media to help find the right job:

Books

Ebooks

Older Workers in Canada

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"With the leading edge of the baby boom generation now in their mid-sixties, there is considerable interest in how and when these individuals will retire. To help place this issue in a broader context, this paper provides information on the employment histories of individuals who were aged 33 to 38 in 1983 and aged 60 to 65 in 2010."

(Executive Summary, An Overview of the Working Lives of Older Baby Boomers)

A new Statistics Canada survey, An Overview of the Working Lives of Older Baby Boomers, highlights the work experiences of older baby boomers (for this study that means those between 1945 and 1950) and finds that these olders boomers are likely to have worked long-term—more than 12 years—in one position and with one employer.

"Baby boomers mostly hold jobs long term, StatsCan says" (CBC News, October 2, 2013)

As the population of Canada ages so too will our workforce. Living longer (and healthier) means more older Canadians will be part of the workforce.

"Five Financial Realities of Living Longer" (Globe and Mail August 19, 2013)

Most of us will work several different jobs and even have to reinvent ourselves in new careers or by starting our own businesses. Mid-life career change is a hot topic right now. If you're looking for more information on this or related topics, you may want to check out some of our many books on this or register for our popular Mid-Life Career Change program:

Career Basics: Moving Forward—Mid-Life Career Change

Learn about the unique challenges and opportunities that come with looking for work mid-life, along with resume strategies. Workshops are led by professional career practitioners from Bow Valley College's Career Connection.

Monday, November 25, 2013
6:30 to 8:30 pm
Saddletowne Library

Book & ebook

Career Conversations—Law and Legal-Related Professions

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Interested in a legal careers? Visit us from 11:30 to 2:00 p.m. during our huge Law Connect event on Wednesday, October 23rd at the Central Library.

Sign up on event day to speak with people who work in the following professions to learn more what they do in their jobs:

  • Lawyer
  • Legal Assistant
  • Paralegals
  • Regulatory Analyst

 

Melissa is one of the volunteers on the 24th, and works as a regulatory analyst in Calgary. We chatted with her to find out exactly what she does, and how she got there:

Melissa, tell us a bit about your career path

After graduating from Bow Valley College, I went into matrimonial law. Gradually, I made the switch to regulatory law, and in June, 2013 I was offered a Regulatory Analyst position at a local firm. So what do I do? I am responsible for the scoping, execution, and commitment follow up of regulatory and environmental permits, approvals, notifications and commitments for new capital projects as they relate to local, provincial, state, and federal authorities with varying jurisdictions. I am also responsible for pipelines that are provincially regulated in the eastern part of the country, as well as federally regulated pipelines. I think my career path demonstrates that you can progress naturally into other fields and take other forms of education upon graduation.

Do you find your work interesting and meaningful?

I am challenged every day at my job, which makes my job more interesting. My employer trusts me to work independently, and I have the privilege to work with people who care about their company. I really feel as though my employer cares about honesty, hard work and integrity, something that’s often hard to find.

To find out more about this and other great legal related professions, drop by Wednesday and take part in the day's events:

Career Conversations: Law and Legal Related Services
11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
Central Library

You can also sign up in advance to meet with a lawyer in Law Connect: Legal Grounds Summary Advice Clinic (offered in partnership with Pro Bono Law Alberta) and learn more about local legal services during the Law Connect: Legal Resources Fair.

Contact us at 403-260-2782 with any questions.

Career Programs at the Library

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The Calgary Public Library offers regular free programs on job search and careers to library members. Below is just a taste of some of our upcoming programs. Go to our Programs page to see what else we have to offer this fall!

If you're interested in any of the programs below, you can either register online (click on program title) or by calling us at 403-260-2620.

Program

Date and Time

Location

Job Loss or Job Transition?
Learn how to cope with a layoff and explore new opportunities.
Discover how to create new strategies and how to
negotiate job offers in this interactive workshop.

Saturday, Oct 26

10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Central

Career Basics: Moving Forward—Mid-Life Career Change

Learn about the unique challenges and opportunities that come with
looking for work mid-life, along with resume strategies. Workshops are
led by professional career practitioners from Bow Valley College's Career Connection.

Wednesday, Oct 16

6:30 to 8:30 pm

Tuesday, Nov 5
6:30 to 8:30 pm

Monday, Nov 25
6:30 to 8:30 pm

Crowfoot


Thorn-Hill


Saddletowne

Career Basics: Interview Skills

Improve your skills by learning about different types of questions and
how to answer them. Workshops are led by professional career
practitioners from Bow Valley College's Career Connection.

Monday, Oct 21

6:30 to 8:30 pm

Monday, Nov 4
6:30 to 8:30 pm

Village Square


Saddletowne

Career Basics: Resume Development

Learn how to create a professional resume to put your best foot forward.
Workshops are led by professional career practitioners from Bow Valley College's Career Connection.

Saturday, Oct 26

2:00 to 4:00 pm

Saturday, Nov 30
10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Signal Hill


Central

Love The Job You Hate: Yes, It's Possible!

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Do you feel stuck in your job, or are you day dreaming about a big change? You aren’t alone. Recent research has shown that 44% of North American workers are unsatisfied with their jobs. But is quitting or being miserable your only option?

Happily, it’s not. Due to popular demand, we've invited back coaches Ann Nakaska and Sue Styles as they present a Central Library workshops on how to Love the Job You Hate on Saturday, September 21st. Discover the top reasons employees quit their jobs, and learn the three keys to embracing the job you have.

Here's what they've had to say about work and job dissatisfaction:

Sue, in your experience as a career consultant, what are the major factors for job dissatisfaction?

Sue: In my experience, the feelings of frustration due to inter-personal relationships have a huge impact. I have heard repeatedly that people will stay at a job they don't like because the people are so great and they have built relationships.

Sue, you recently authored a book entitled "How to Enjoy Your Work." Did anything in particular inspire you to write it?

Sue: I meet and talk with employees everyday who confess they don't care at all about their role at work. In my own progress through different jobs I discovered how to enjoy my work even though I didn't like my job. There is value if you can develop an ability to focus on it, and I wanted to share my insights and strategies with others, whether or not they wanted to stay in their current situation.

Ladies, what are the signs that it’s time to quit and move on?

Sue: Seth Godin writes a fabulous little pocketbook called The Dip which addresses this question exactly. I read several years ago and it really helped me gain some objectivity. When the eight hours of one’s day is spent complaining, being frustrated, even perhaps feeling nauseas and overly stressed then it's definitely time for change!

Ann: The major signpost I use is energy levels. When I am feeling burnt out and have tried a number of different ways to solve the work issues, it’s probably a sign to start looking. That being said, I believe everyone should be actively engaged in their career planning process all the time. When people are more engaged and proactive, they are less likely to find themselves in the position of being unhappy at work.

What is your top strategy for taking charge and making a positive change?

Sue: One of my favorite quotes is "Accept conditions as they are or accept responsibility for changing them, " coined by Dennis Waitley. The first thing is to acknowledge your current conditions and then be determined to move towards the conditions you desire. It all starts with a viable vision and then a plan followed by action.

Ann: My top strategy is to be a proactive career planner. Career decision making happens every day in little ways that most people are not even conscious of. I encourage people to become more aware of the career decisions they are making.

How much control does the employee have in creating a better work experience for themselves?

Ann: I believe that people have much more control than they think they do. What they often don't have is the information they need to create a better work experience. Also, I believe the feelings of lack of control often come from seeing ourselves as "the employee.” Instead, we need to realized that we are an integral part of industry and that employers, customers and shareholders need us just as much as we need them.

Sue: My initial response is the same as Ann's—more than you think! Depending on the role and company, you can be instrumental in developing yourself as well as your role. Most businesses are not looking to make employees miserable. They want staff to take ownership and submit ideas, and they want people who want to grow with the company.

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