Monday, November 23, 2009

Impact Gala Caps Off Global Entrepreneurship Week

Last weekend I was honoured to attend the Impact Entrepreneurship gala which capped off Global Entrepreneurship Week and the Impact National Conference 2009. After meeting the aspiring young entrepreneurs at the gala I can assure you that the future of the Canadian economy looks bright.

Kunal Gupta founded the Impact Entrepreneurship Group in 2004. Impact is Canada's largest non-profit, student-run organization dedicated to encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit amongst youth in Canada (

A longtime entrepreneur myself I was inspired to meet the next generation of entrepreneurs. It was incredibly fun to be in a room filled with young people from all around the world who are bursting with new business ideas and the energy to see those ideas through. I was impressed again when my mailbox filled up with "nice to meet you" emails from the youth I met at the gala. I know these people will have an enormous positive influence on our economy, creating jobs and wealth for themselves and others.

Justin Trudeau was the keynote speaker at the Impact Gala. After the conference he tweeted, "Blown away by the young leaders at Impact entrepreneur's conference yesterday; tomorrow is in good hands. Journée famille dans le nord." Justin presented a strong vision for engaging more young people in entrepreneurial projects and helping young Canadians think INNOVATIVE!

I started young as an entrepreneur myself. I think it began when I sold gift items from the Regal Catalogue so I could buy a bike. In high school I saved money for university by starting up a sports skills summer camp. While I attended Waterloo University I ran an Student Painters franchise in California. I'm thrilled to see that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and kicking among today's youth and that Impact is there to help them.

I've noticed lately that small and medium sized businesses create many of the job orders that we receive. Many small businesses are thriving in this tough economy. I believe that entrepreneurs are leading the recovery from this recession. The students and new grads I met at the Impact Gala will contribute to a bright future for all of us. I have no worries about Canada's economic recovery.

I applaud the Impact team for inspiring our youth to think big, achieve their mark, and ultimately turn their very own entrepreneurial ideas into reality!

Tim Collins

Sunday, November 22, 2009

8 Tips to Differentiate Your Resume

Most employers and staffing companies receive five times more resumes for a job post than we did a year ago. Stafflink reviews as many as 2000 resumes in a month. A hiring manager or recruiter at a Fortune 500 company may review even more. How can you make your resume stand out and be one of the few that makes it to the next stage? Some keys to differentiating your resume are:

  1. Readability
    Layout and ease of reading are essential to getting your resume noticed. All too often the best candidate does not have the best resume. Sometimes a weaker candidate with a more readable resume gets to the interview. Make sure your font is readable on a variety of computers. When friends proofread your resume ask them for feedback on size and clarity of the font and layout you have used. Use consistent formatting. Your headings should be the same style throughout the document. Use bold text, indents, lists and tables to assist recruiters with finding the information they are looking for. You may be the most qualified but if people cannot quickly scan your resume and find the relevant points you will not get the job.
  2. Use of Tables or Charts
    Use a table to summarize your number of years of experience with skills. For example, hiring managers love to be able to look at a resume and see that the candidate has 7 years Java, 7 years Oracle and 5 years in the banking industry, without having to flip through the entire resume. Staffing companies routinely summarize candidate’s skills for clients. Why not do it yourself and make sure your experience gets noticed.
  3. List Your Accomplishments
    While it is important to list the key job responsibilities for each position you've held, it is equally important to list your accomplishments. For example: “Reduced payment processing time by 30% when new business intelligence tool was implemented.” Your accomplishments show the added value that your bring to a job.
  4. List the Technical Environment For Each Position
    List all the tools that you worked on with each project. Make sure these tools correspond with the table listing the number of years of experience with skills. A recruiter should be able to look at each job and know immediately what technical tools you used to complete a project. Describing the technical environment is a good way to add relevant keywords to your resume.
  5. Key Words
    Almost every recruiter will try to fill their requirement by doing a Boolean search on their applicant tracking system, Web 2.0 tool or online job board. Put as many key words as possible into your resume. Recruiters do not have time to read every resume they receive. Usually recruiters will search resumes using keywords relevant to the job. Keyword searches enable recruiters to create a shortlist of resumes that rank highest in searches. These are the resumes that we take the time to open and read more closely.
  6. Cover Letter
    A good cover letter or email introduction with an attached resume is another way to get your resume noticed. Make sure it is specific to the job you are applying for. This needs to be no more than three paragraphs. List your most relevant qualifications in bullet points. The main purpose of the cover letter is to get the recruiter to read your resume. I recently received two page cover letters. I can guarantee you that a lengthy cover letter does not help a person get hired.
  7. Volunteer Work
    This is valuable work that not only helps society but can lead to your next job. Do not just mention that you worked for Big Brothers. Talk about what you have done for Big Brothers and some the skills that you developed and contributed to this work. If two candidates are identical in technical skills, sometimes volunteer work will differentiate you as a desirable candidate.
  8. Review of Resume
    Have at least five different people read over and comment on your resume before you post it. Some clients will not interview you because you have a grammatical error on your resume. Do not differentiate yourself with a spelling mistake. While spell check is a great tool to start with, make sure you have some human eyes read over your resume as well.

Tim Collins

Monday, November 9, 2009

Preparing for New Accessibility Laws

On Jan. 1, 2010, the government of Ontario rolls out the first phase of its new Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). This new legislation requires the public sector to comply with new customer service standards. Private companies have until 2012 to comply. If you have more than 20 employees and you serve customers then this is a good time to ramp up your efforts to make your business more accessible.

By making your business more accessible you'll be reaching out to a market estimated at $25 billion. Perhaps the most compelling argument is that reaching out to and embracing fellow citizens who face physical or cognitive disabilities is the right thing to do.

Study after study proves that diverse and accessible businesses are more successful. Many companies invest in marketing campaigns to spread the word about their diversity. When your company is fully accessible to persons with disabilities and a wide spectrum of people with diverse backgrounds, you'll enjoy improved customer and employee loyalty and a broader market for your services. Accessibility is a differentiator that will allow you to retain staff and become more successful. I know firsthand this because it has worked for Stafflink.

Training your staff is essential to getting on board. Some training options you could explore:

I offer diversity and accessibility training throught Stafflink Solutions as well. I'm speaking at the HRPA 2009 Diversity Conference on November 25.

George Brown College is an example of a firm that thrives by embracing diversity and improving accessibility to their programs. Their acclaimed assistant chef program has a nearly 100% placement rate and is regarded as one of the best in North America.

Do you have success story about making your business more accessible and embracing diversity? Please share it.

For more information about the legislation:

Tim Collins

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Canada’s Wireless Industry

Recent studies have shown that Canada’s wireless industry is one of the most expensive in the world and yet one of the most inefficient.

The big three: Rogers, Telus and Bell seem to be able to add fees to your bill for things they call "government regulations". One almost needs a PHD to read and understand a phone bill. We were excited to hear that the Big Three would have some competition in 2010.

It seems logical that more competitors would bring prices down and perhaps even make the hieroglyphics they call a bill more readable. We will see soon.

If you are negotiating for a new phone plan these days the Big Three will give you more rebates than in the past. But why should we have to negotiate buying a phone like we are buying a car. Just give me the best price without me having to negotiate and I will be very happy.

A recent ruling by the CRTC has challenged whether or not Gloablive, one of the companies that is supposed to compete with the Big Three, will be able to go ahead. The concern is Globalive’s foreign ownership.

Globalive has hired hundreds of Canadians and is ready and setup shop here to compete with the Big Three. I am told that they are more ready than some of the other new competitors. (Globalive is not a client of our firm).

My question: If a foreign owned company can create hundreds of jobs for Canadians and create more competition for some of our own firms is this a bad thing? I recognize that I am simplifying this analysis. But I know this much for sure. Most Canadians are in favour of creating more jobs for Canadians and having cheaper wireless services.

The government is now getting involved on the ruling on this case. How do you think the government should rule on this? Should the wireless industry be regulated by government? Do we need more competition in the wireless industry? Should new wireless firms be required to be Canadian owned and operated?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Employment Gaps on Resumes

Many jobseekers are worried because they have 4-6 month gaps on their resumes. In the past recruiters were told to put candidates with gaps into a "B" pile. Two years ago if a candidate went to an interview with a large gap in work experience, they would be expected to explain the gap.

That question is still going to come up in an interview today. But the cause of “the gap in the resume” is more likely to be the economy.

How long is an acceptable gap in your resume?

There are still employers and staffing companies that only want to hire people that are presently employed. Their theory is that companies will keep their best employees even in a tough economy. This theory is a little short sighted. Many excellent individuals have lost positions not due to own performance but due to the overall performance of their company.

Many employee cutbacks at companies were made to save money. In many cases people with higher salaries were cut and replaced by junior people. Are the junior people better employees than higher priced talent? The point is that many strong candidates are on the market right now because of the economy. This is a great opportunity for employers to access talent that was harder to find in the past.

Every day we interview candidates that would be working in a better economy . We look for patterns on resumes. If a candidate has gaps throughout their 10 year work career than a red flag goes up. But if they have a gap in in the past 6 months it is obvious what caused it.

My advice to jobseekers: Be prepared for the “gap in the resume” question. Do not just say it is because of the economy. Give a brief explanation without being negative about your previous employer. Negativity about a past employer is always a red flag for employers.

My advice to employers: Expect to see a surplus of jobs in the spring. Consider all candidates if you want to remain competitive and hire the best new employees.

Tim Collins