Unplug, Ditch the Cell Phone, and Make Meaningful Connections

by Roberta - 1 Comment(s)

To say that I’m obsessive about LinkedIn wouldn't be far from the truth. I make it my business to convey to job hunters how crucial it is to have a snappy, completed profile, and write and deliver courses on the topic at the Calgary Public Library. So when I saw the title Link Out appear in our collection, my interest was tweaked.

It turns out that I heartily agree with Leslie Grossman and her premise that social media has it only partially right. That while it is a useful tool to reconnect and expand connections, only in-person and authentic one-one connections can truly build lasting, authentic, and powerful relationships. While not everything in the book is new, there are little gems and great action plans, especially for those of us who like lists. Case in point is her refresher course in etiquette:

  1. You had me at hello (look them in the eyes and make a positive first impression)
  2. Follow up Etiquette (do it right away)
  3. Lock down your cell phone (don’t be rude)
  4. Three strikes and you are out (remember people are busy and need reminders)
  5. Say thank you three times (don’t ever take your contacts for granted)
  6. Keep your entourage in the loop (keep them connected with their positive influence)
  7. Prove you can be trusted (do what you say you will do)
  8. Treat others how you would like to be treated (the golden rule)
  9. Pay it forward (focus on giving, not receiving)

All true and easy to set aside as life gets busy. And Ms. Grossman allays fears and networking anxieties with practical advice on quality over quantity of connections, how to break the process down, and (happily) how not to beat yourself up when you make mistakes or forget to send that thank you note.

Interestingly, this book aligns well with a recent article in Inc. Magazine, where author argues that traditional networking is dead, and to concentrate on quality not quantity.

And for those of you who want to get the ball rolling and put yourself out there, I'm really happy to announce that our Thursday evening Strategic Networking group is restarting on September the 5th at the Central Library. The flood of 2013 put the brakes on the group over the summer while the Library was closed, but we are all looking forward to meeting new faces and welcoming back old friends. Please stop by.

Bridge Over Troubled Water

by Roberta - 0 Comment(s)

While Calgary continues to be an attractive and potentially lucrative destination for foreign born workers, the road to finding a great job is not always easy. On top of adjusting to a new culture and climate, there are often barriers to employment that include licensing and working requirements. This is particularly true for engineers and geoscientists, who often have extra hurdles, and we meet many of these new Calgarians at the Library every day.

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) regulates the practices of engineering and geoscience in Alberta, and has a website designed to help these workers.

But more was needed.

That’s why we were excited to learn of their new liaison, whose role is to listen, counsel, and help newcomers maneuver through the system. Recently interviewed for the industry magazine PEG, Guillermo Barreiro’s experience and qualifications make him uniquely qualified to help and provide an extra level of support.

And for those newcomers who are trying to understand and thrive in Calgary’s unique business culture and may have skill gaps, there are a wealth of local programs to choose from, including:

These and other program can also be found in Alberta Human Services Employment, Training and Career Services Directory. Understanding that it’s often tricky to keep on top of all the new and emerging employment related programs, they created this excellent and up-to-date resource to help keep you connected to all outstanding support available throughout the City.

Calgary Public Library also has a wide variety of books to help, including our popular You're hired-- Now What? : An Immigrant's Guide to Success in the Canadian Workplace. Make sure to talk with Library staff to help get connected to the resources, programs and events that can help you move your career forward.

Women in Work Boots

by Roberta - 0 Comment(s)

There’s a new gal in town with a Backer Board and a mission.

She knows that if you were to ask a group of high school girls what they know about the variety of work in the trades, it’s pretty likely their knowledge on the subject would be slim. The industry continues to battle an image problem, especially with women who last year represented only 4% of those working in the construction trades. Yet for those women with successful careers in the industry, they are quick to point out many advantages: their ability to advance in the profession, continual learning, and gratifying, tangible, and independent work.

The Canadian government is working to create greater economic opportunities for women in many sectors, including non-traditional occupations, especially given current and looming shortages. They admit however, that there is a serious lack of knowledge about hands-on professions, which contributes to the problem. Post secondary institutions are working hard to improve and change the situation, along with business, government, and industry groups. But more inspiration is needed.

Here’s where Calgary’s Jill Drader comes in. An educator at SAIT, Tile Setter, and consultant associated with the skilled trades since 2007, Jill recently created the Women In Work Boots site. By sharing stories of local women working in a wide variety of trades, her mission is to inspire more to make career changes, own and run a related business, or explore the industry as a viable option after high school. And stories are important. Subtle changes in the way women talk about their roles in construction and how they got started in the industry will go a long way in bringing more women to it, according to Debbie Wadsworth, female construction leader and former president of the Canadian Association of Women in Construction in a recent interview. "Sometimes the things that count are really subtle, like what you do, how you got there, or talking about how much money you make.”

Featuring links to education, industry resources and apprenticeship guidance, Jill’s site is an excellent supplement to provincial initiatives such as Tradesecrets. But I was curious about mentorship opportunities, and asked Jill for her opinion and to share where this whole journey is taking her:

Jill, let's talk about mentorship opportunities. Do they exist in Calgary, and how important are they?

Mentorship is a critical part of passing on relevant information to women thinking of entering the industry. I've found career fairs sometimes have female mentors working the booths for various companies as recruiters, or as union members. I've also seen third part organizations create interactive career fairs and use round table discussions featuring mentors to deliver and share information.Unfortunately, there are so few women in the skilled trades that to take a percentage of those and make them visible mentors would prove challenging. This speaks to why I started the website: one, to use stories as a means of mentoring, and second to use the advice offered in the stories as a means of coaching women by using a web platform of storytelling.

What kind of feedback have you had to the site?

It’s been incredible. I've had emails from across Canada and USA, and even the UK and Australia, from women who found and follow the site. I've had the provincial government and oil and gas companies ask me to do events, public speaking, and conventions speaking about the the project. I've had representatives of the government call me to thank me for Women in Work Boots, and my MLA office is helping me. I have men emailing me and asking for advice. And most important, the women whose stories I featured and shared have told me they cried because they were so proud to read their journey and the way I told it. It brought to light that their work is meaningful, important, and a source of pride, which was my goal.

What is next on the horizon for you?

Taking this information to national and international audiences. Currently, I'm in Toronto waiting for a meeting with a national TV network that found me and invited me for an audition/interview of a show they want to pitch to me. This proves my previous point, that this movement was created to spread organically and wholeheartedly through storytelling and word of mouth.

This fall, I will be launching a digital magazine version of the website. I'm also writing a few chapters for a U.S. Women's Study program that asked me to contribute to their course, Women Work and the Web. And it turns out that I found a missing link to women in the trades: business education, and how it will enable men and women to run a great enterprise. With an industry in such high demand, I find that those hard at work often don't have any extra time to study, explore and learn more. To address this, I've created an online course to launch this September where they can purchase, download, and learn business trade fundamentals at their own pace, with access to me and my team for questions and follow up.

Oh, and raising my 1 and 3 year old sons is the first priority!

Career And Employment Agencies in our City Centre

by Roberta - 0 Comment(s)

During our Central Library flood closure, we have been fielding many emails and calls from regular customers eager to update their resumes and push their job search forward. While Central will be closed for another few weeks, help abounds in the downtown core. Although many of Calgary’s career and employment centres were affected by the floods, all have been working incredibly hard to maintain or restore services to job hunters.

Here is the latest update as of July 10th:

  • Bow Valley College's Career Connection (150 – 615 Macleod Trail South) has now reopened, but without fax service
  • Due to the recent floods, the City of Calgary Youth Employment Centre has set up a temporary location to assist Calgary’s youth ages 15 – 24 with their career and employment needs. Beginning on Wednesday, July 10th YEC will be open, and youth can drop in anytime Monday to Friday between 8:00 and 4:30 p.m. at the University of Calgary Downtown Campus, 4th Floor Room 416, 906 8th Avenue SW. Call (403) 268-2490 for updates
  • Directions for Immigrants was affected by the flood and is therefore delivering temporary services out of Ford Tower (7th floor, 633 - 6th Avenue SW) and sharing space with the Francophone Connexion Carriere program. Call 403-355-1779 for updates
  • The YWCA’s new Employment Resource Centre (320 5th Avenue SE) is now operational, helping women find and maintain meaningful employment
  • The Alberta Works Centre (Century Park Place 5th Floor, 855-8 Avenue SW) is fully operational
  • Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (#200, 138 - 4th Avenue SE) is fully operational
  • Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (5th Floor, 1111 - 11 Avenue SW) is fully operational


We are eager to see our job searchers and networkers back at the Central Library as soon as possible, so keep your eyes on our website for updates on our ongoing career programs, weekly career tours, Career Coaching, and Strategic Networking.

True Grit

by Roberta - 0 Comment(s)

For those of us based out of the Central Library, the last few weeks have been interesting. Suddenly displaced, trying to conduct our business as close to normal as possible, and dealing with the highs and lows experienced by our friends and neighbors, this crisis has really made me think: What allows some to adapt and cope better than others and what keeps us from feeling helpless, hopeless and powerless and instead be able to push forward and thrive?

“In the worst of times, there is always that person who, through amazing grit, shines, who makes ‘it’ happen in spite of all adversity….and that means using your grit to finish strong, even when the winds are blowing you back.”

The above quotation comes from Put Your Mindset to Work, a great career book that provides fascinating insights into the mindset it takes to win and thrive in a job. It provides sound strategies that can be applied to a host of challenging situations. And it’s much more than a positive attitude. Authors Reed and Stoltz start with the studied premise that “96% of employers picked mindset over skill set as the key element in those they seek and retain. Mindset utterly trumps skill set. Not by a little but by a landslide.”

The authors list the 3G Mindset for Success: Global (vantage point), Good (bedrock) and Grit. They expand on each of these three areas by focusing both on what employers are looking for and also how these mindsets can help employees retain and excel in a great job.

It was the Grit section that called me back over the last few weeks of turmoil. I agree that it’s our grit that can fuel us with what we need to forge ahead and make it through challenging times. According the authors, grit is comprised of our growth, intensity, tenacity and resiliency and their book provides tools, quizzes, worksheets and advice on how to explore, reflect on and improve these traits. Without a doubt, it’s that resiliency that’s proved so valuable to many of us in these past weeks, and will continue to be relevant in many facets of our lives.


Job Interviews—the 4 Ps of Successful Interviews

by Janice - 2 Comment(s)

During Career Tours at the Central Library, I often ask the participants how many enjoy the interview process. Generally one or two brave souls will raise their hands. The rest of us look at job interviews as something we have to endure.

So what can we do to help ensure a positive job interview experience? According to the ALIS Tip Sheet: 4 Ps are key to a successful interview:

1. Prepare

  • Know yourself
  • Know the organization and the job
  • Know your accomplishments

Pre-interview preparation can be the key to a successful interview. The Library has have books, articles, databases and programs to help you research a job, industry or employer and better understand yourself and your accomplishments (as applicable to job interviews). Contact us to get started.

Two databases to start your employer or key contact research:

  • Reference USA: Canadian Businesses
    This database includes more than 1.5 million Canadian company profiles, providing information on type of business, company size and key contacts.
  • Canadian Newsstand
    These databases allow access to full articles, columns and features from major Canadian dailies and smaller regional daily and weekly newspapers, including full text of Calgary Herald articles from Dec 7, 1988.

2. Practice

As I say to customers, most of us don’t have much practice in selling or marketing ourselves—this is why practice is so important. The library runs programs on preparing for interviews and has books, ebooks, DVDs and other information sources to support you. I always suggest having a friend, colleague, classmate or family member do a mock interview with you. Give them a list of typical interview questions and answer as if you are in an actual interview. The more often you practice answering these types of questions, the more likely you’ll be able to answer similar questions well in real interview situations.



3. Participate

Participation is how you present yourself in a job interview, from your appearance and how you greet the interviewer(s) to how you behave during and after the entire interview process. Hiring managers often get an impression of you in less than 2 minutes so be sure to make those first minutes (or seconds!) count. Preparation is another aspect of participation: if you have researched the employer and position, you’ll have targeted responses to the interviewer’s questions and have prepared intelligent questions for the interviewer.

Forbes 5 Ways to Make a Killer First Impression

What You Wish You'd Known Before Your Job Interview David Schepp AOL Jobs

4. Be Positive

Remember to always remain positive, both during the interview process and afterwards. View an interview that doesn’t lead to a job as practice, learning or even networking for future potential positions. Interviews can be stressful and not getting a job can often be a big blow to the ego. Talking about the experience with others can help you realize that most of us have stories about “interviews gone wrong” or “the perfect job that got away.”

Our popular Strategic Networking program is a great place to come talk to others and get some positive support in your career journey.

Hail Claimed Your Roof? Who Ya Gonna Call?

by Roberta - 0 Comment(s)

Having felt the angry scourge and aftermath of several damaging hail storms this past summer, I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that Canada’s property and casualty insurance industry is one of the largest contributors to our financial sector, employing more than 110,000 Canadians. Not far behind is our banking industry, with full time employment having increased 25.4% over the past ten years.

It appears to be a rosy outlook. Yet many are unaware of the variety of jobs, complexity and growth opportunities within each sector, even with the growth of, and reliance on, automation. According to the Canadian Banker’s Association, for example, these new technologies have resulted in interesting jobs that focus on the development of in-depth and value-added customer relationships, requiring banks to recruit employees with higher education or skill levels.

This is all good news for those thinking of using their transferable skills in a new profession. To explore this, the Calgary Public Library, in partnership with Alberta Works, is hosting a full day event focusing on these careers entitled Discover Careers in Banking and Insurance Wednesday June 19, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Central Library.

We are featuring a morning hosted by industry leaders and career champions, followed by an afternoon hiring fair. Trevor Buttrum, from the Insurance Institute of Canada, will be one of our keynote speakers and there to answer questions and address misconceptions. One of his favourites? “You do not require a business or finance degree to work in the industry,” says Trevor in a recent interview. “In fact, no matter what your background, chances are you can find ‘a fit’ in the insurance sector. Gifted at math? Consider a role as an actuary. Have a kinesiology, nursing or health sciences degree? Think about work as a loss adjuster specializing in accident benefits. English your thing? Take a look at underwriting." In other words, there is lot to explore and consider.

We invite you to join the discussion. To register for this free event, visit Eventbrite, or visit us the day of the event. For the complete list of companies and training partners at the event, visit Calgary Jobs on Facebook.

Employer Sleuthing

by Roberta - 1 Comment(s)

Canada’s Oil and Gas industry will need to find a whopping 125,000 to 150,000 new workers by 2022, according to a new report by the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada. With issues such as retirements and turnover, compounded by strong industry growth, there is a heavy demand for skilled workers in the sector.

Hence, the upcoming Global Energy Career Expo June 12 & 13 at Stampede Park, a chance for job seekers to meet face to face with recruiters. Words of advice for attendees this year, however: come prepared. I spoke with recruiters after last year’s event, only to find out that the majority of attendees were going to employer tables without targeted questions, and without knowledge of the company or industry. One recruiter told me “When I asked what kind of job this gentleman wanted and why, he responded, 'Well I don’t know, I just want to work for your company.' He knew almost nothing about our company. And he expected me to look at his resume and figure out what he’d be good at our company, or our how he’d fit in. That’s not my job. That’s his.”

Being properly prepared for these opportunities is my theme when I present at the Oil and Gas Job Search Boot Camps: Employer Sleuthing: How to Research Employers and Stand Out in a Crowd. We also came up with a cheat sheet of suggested questions when researching employers, maybe a few you haven’t considered. Library staff answer questions like this on a daily basis, so don't hesitate to contact us at 403-260-2782 if you need research support.

Could a Coach Improve Your Life?

by Janice - 0 Comment(s)

Do you wonder what it is like to hire a coach? Join us for our second annual Taste of Coaching event today at Central: May 22nd 11:30 am to 1:30 pm and tomorrow at Crowfoot: May 23rd 6:30 to 8:30 pm. We interviewed Carol and Anita about their experiences working with a coach. After working with a coach, Anita Yok Sim Ho was inspired to become a coach herself.

How did you find out about Coaching as an option?

Anita: I was very curious about professional coaching while being coached myself in a Leadership Program. I decided to push beyond my usual comfort zone and become a professional coach. To me, coaching is all about love for people and reminding them of their infinite personal potential.

Carol: I first learned about coaching through a friend when she mentioned she was finding it extremely helpful talking with a life coach. Her comment was in response to an observation I had made about how she seemed to have a greater zest for life lately. It was a couple of years after that conversation before I sought out a coach for myself when I was struggling to create and implement a plan for how to accomplish my vision of living somewhere warmer than Calgary in the winter months.

Was the process what you expected?

Anita: I have come to learn in life to expect the unexpected, which means I enjoy the sweetness and fullness of the present moment so much more and have many more possibilities than if I were stuck in a certain expectation. To be an effective Coach, you have to go through the depths of yourself first before you can really ask a client to do so. You have to walk the talk!

Anita Yok Sim HoCarol: I wondered how someone who didn’t know me and didn’t have any corporate or small business experience would be able to assist me. I was pleasantly surprised – no, totally amazed – to find that this coach could help me move forward without having much in common with me at all. I attribute this to the professional approach taken of creating a joint understanding of the outcomes I wanted to achieve through coaching, the presence and engagement of the coach as I explored and came to my decisions, her persistence with insightful observations and inquisitive questions designed to assist me in gaining greater clarity and subsequent encouragement so I would commit to the actions that would move me closer to my vision.

I have heard coaching described as having an experienced guide walking alongside and guiding you towards your own answers that lie within. Can you describe your experience of being coached?

Carol: For me, the coaching experience was an opportunity to dive into myself and discover both delightful strengths and characteristics that aligned with my vision and life objectives as well as a few key beliefs and behaviours that were working against what I said I wanted. Having a coach make objective observations and ask insightful questions was fundamental in helping me get real with my underlying motives. The coaching experience was the opportunity for me to have a neutral and confidential sounding board so I could talk ‘out loud’ about my ideas and how I wished to achieve them while not worrying about being judged or told what I should or shouldn’t do.

Anita: At CTI, which is considered as one of the Harvard’s of the Coaching Schools, I experienced an environment which cradles you in love, compassion and acceptance in all that you can be. There was absolutely no judgment from other coaches, only vast possibilities. I had say in whatever direction I choose for me, period. There were no excuses, approvals or “shoulds,” only what I wanted and that was all I needed! This resulted in a sense of clarity, focus, passion and peace of mind in all that I wanted in life. This leap of faith into the unknown has allowed me to live a life I never thought possible. Coaching respects and maintains your personal values while providing a structure of accountability to empower you to persevere in fulfilling all of your wishes, which is our natural birthright.

Did your coach talk about accountability? In other words, did they help you move forward and keep to your plan?

Anita: Coaching is all about accountability and self-responsibility. Life happens and we often become unfocussed and push away our needs and focus on the needs of others. In coaching, the focus is always on the client’s interests to ensure precise continued forward movement and growth.

Carol: Yes, we definitely spoke about accountability and accountability partners – people in my life that I can call upon to support me achieve success in a specific action or activity. What I liked is that we also looked at the potential internal and external barriers to me achieving the actions I committed to at each coaching session.

Is coaching like most things in life, whereby if you put your whole self forward, you are likely to receive more in return?

Carol: Absolutely!I quickly realized what a treat I had given myself to be able to voice and work through my ideas, visions and plans in a safe confidential environment that also encouraged me to consider alternate perspectives simply by offering a non-judgmental observation or question.I could physically feel the change in my energy level both during and after the coaching experience.Since that first coaching experience, I continue to invest in regular coaching for myself because of the tremendous value I get from these precious moments of 'me time.'

Anita: Absolutely! I feel so honored when a client puts their trust in me and decides to lay their cards out on the table in order to truly take the driver’s seat in life. I greatly admire my clients for their courage and strength in sharing the hopes and dreams that fell away or got lost somewhere along the way. For me, life is meant to be lived passionately and to its fullest expression. If you are going to be living, live BIG!

Many thanks to Carol and Anita for sharing their experiences. Anita Yok Sim Ho from Holistic Balance is an Integrative Health & Wellness Professional Coach.

Future Foggy? Need to Get Unstuck?

by Roberta - 0 Comment(s)

Calgary Public Library is thrilled to be hosting our second annual Taste of Coaching event on May 22–23rd. Along with learning more about what coaching has to offer, Library customers will have the chance to sit down with a coach to get a taste of the coaching experience.

I had the pleasure of working with a coach in the past year and know personally how the coaching process can create focus on personal and professional issues, provide insights into dilemmas, and encourage a commitment to personal goals. Each one of us has something we want to work on and improve in life, and sometimes there is great value in having a skilled coach meet us where we are in life and help guide and support us.

To help give you a sense of how coaching works, we talked with local coaches Gary Armstrong and Nancy Love:

What attracted you to the profession of coaching?

Nancy: I was a classroom teacher for many years. What I noticed was that when I ASKED students about things they remembered. When I TOLD, them they forgot. So I spent a lot of time finding the right question to ask to get them to think about things differently. I love coaching because it does the same thing. It provokes learning, self knowledge, and self confidence. I love to watch the lightbulbs go on and to see people believing in themselves and their goals.

Gary: I had a coach. The experience was significant in moving me forward and inspired me to learn to do the same for others. Coaching is a strong fit with the skills that I picked up in my career as a police officer and educator. Both professions required that I listen intently to what was being said and ask thoughtful probing questions, two hallmarks of great coaching. I was amazed how asking questions which reflected intent listening could uncover thoughts I had never articulated before—thoughts that were the catalyst to new and sometimes very personal discoveries about how I was being perceived by others.

Coaching can be a transformative and profound process. How does it affect your clients?

Gary: What I notice most is the impact being heard has on people. Consistently people will delve deeper within themselves to find the answer to their own toughest questions when they believe someone else is their willing to hear them through. I am awed by the progress people make in their careers when they explore their own thoughts and devise strategies they know are right for them. It is extremely rewarding to help people move forward in such a significant way.

Do you believe that many of your clients have the answers to their questions hidden inside them?

Nancy: Everyone knows what they need to do to change a situation. Most just need a nudge in that direction. I like to use time-lining. I ask the person to consider a future point or a point in the past and look at the present situation from that perspective and describe it in detail. It removes the emotional response or adds a different emotion to the understanding of the situation.

Gary: I believe we all know our best path. Early in life we develop a set of values which guide our conduct and help us chart a direction in a career, or for that matter life. Understandably we all differ and from time to time we face situations which collide with our values. In those moments we may make small sacrifices to our values for the sake of harmony. For me coaching, in part , is an opportunity to affirm my values and return to a course of action I know is right for me.

Have there been any books or articles you have read that really explained or spoke to the power of coaching?

Gary: Mary Beth O'Neil's book Coaching with Backbone and Heart stands out for me. My opinion is that for most friends the heart piece of being there for someone comes naturally. It is the backbone that can be harder to call on. However there are also friends who have more backbone than heart. They are the ones who sometimes are too willing to tell it like it is. O'Neil does a great job of showing how both are needed in a balanced coaching relationship. Moving between backbone and heart is quite similar to teaching someone a new skill or task following the old adage two steps forward one step back. Being challenged to take two steps forward at times can be quite daunting. Being able to judge when to take a step back is heart. Balancing both is an acquired skill that a coach brings that a friend may not always be able to.


Gary Armstrong is an Executive Coach and President of Empowered Employee Education. Gary’s services appeal to enterprises developing current and next generation leaders. Those who wish to positively implement and navigate change with a collaborative, communicative, strategically thoughtful leadership team that possesses the skills required to focus others on a clear mission and vision, centered on confirmed values. gary@empoweredee.com


Dr. Nancy Love, PhD, M.Ed. works in many cities across North America to present the PULSE programs to government agencies and private industry. She is the author of PULSE Conversations for Change. Her continued interest in how people use conversation and language lead to the formation of the PULSE Institute which studies People Using Language Skills Effectively. http://www.pulseinstitute.com/

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