Champions Career Centre: 2012 AGM Wrap Up - Thank you! Champions Career Centre: PTSD in the Workplace Champions Career Centre: Speak. Share. Thrive. Help Create Alberta's Social Policy Framework Champions Career Centre: Inaugural Post

Jim's Story - Using LinkedIn to Find A Great Job

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A job search isn't about just finding any job, it's often about finding the right fit. Finding the right location, co-workers who share similar interests and flexible work arrangements to allow for personal needs are all important parts of finding the right place to work. Many of our clients are also concerned with how their disability will affect their role in the workplace and their relationships with their colleagues. In many cases, the job search is more art than science, where finding a place to succeed involves looking beyond wage and job tasks towards a greater appreciation of a quality work environment.

This was particularly true for Jim, a 50 year old Champions client with a hearing disability, who wanted to find a workplace where he fit and not just receive a pay cheque.

At Champions, we provide many types of supports to our clients who are seeking employment. Assisting with career planning, resume development, job search techniques, interview skills and networking are just some of the services we provide to our clients. Some may classify these as traditional career services, as they are tools which have been used for a long time to support people in their job search. However, in the past decade a host of new tools have become available to people looking for employment. Open positions and job applications are almost entirely submitted on-line and utilizing social media websites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook can be crucial to finding new positions and networking your way into a new job.

When Jim came to Champions he wanted to polish his resume and update his traditional job search skills as he hadn't needed to look for work in a long time. He was also completely unaware of how much things had changed in the world of job searching. Jim was unaware of LinkedIn and the possibilities of using an internet profile as part of a networking strategy to find employment. As he was open and willing to learn about social media, our case managers worked with him to create a LinkedIn profile to build connections with previous colleagues, friends and employers.

Shortly after creating his profile, a contact on LinkedIn referred him for an open position at their place of employment and the rest is history. Using LinkedIn, Jim quickly discovered that many of the people working for this company were people he already knew who shared similar interests as him and had families whose children were friends with his. Jim landed the job as an office administrator and hasn't looked back - the job was the right fit in in every way.

*Interested in learning more about LinkedIn and how it can enhance your job search? Read our three part series on using LinkedIn to make great connections.*

2012 AGM Wrap Up - Thank you!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

We want to thank everyone who took the time to attend our Annual General Meeting on June 13th to join us in celebrating another year of shifting perceptions of disabilities in the workplace.  We appreciate you fighting off a cool and rainy spring day to listen to our stories, share in our clients' success and hear about our vision for the future.

We would also like to thank our clients, John Liu and Tirzah van Lindenberg, for sharing their stories with all who attended. Both stories were gripping and inspiring and we are truly grateful to you for taking the time and effort to talk about your experiences with Champions and overcoming barriers to employment.

Finally, a big thank you to Kevin Mark for being our keynote speaker. Kevin's presentation, Pursuing the Career You Want, was both motivational and inspirational as he talked about pursuing his dreams while providing tips for being successful. It was easy to see why Kevin was a Toastmasters District Champion and even easier to understand why he is now choosing to pursue a career in public speaking!

We look forward to another of year of helping our clients achieve employment success while partnering with local employers and community organizations in Calgary.

We released our 2011-12 Annual Report at the AGM, a digital copy is available for download but if you would like a hard copy please feel free to request one by contacting us at

PTSD in the Workplace

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 27th was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Day and people worldwide raised their voices together to bring attention to this condition. To help raise awareness we decided to discuss PTSD and ways to help people with this disorder succeed in the workplace.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD Awareness Day is largely driven by veterans in the United States who have suffered traumatic experiences in combat, but there are many people who suffer from PTSD who aren't in the military. In fact, the Canadian Mental Health Association defines PTSD as an anxiety disorder that one in ten people will experience in their lifetimes. Specifically, they define PTSD as:

" anxiety disorder characterized by reliving a psychologically traumatic situation, long after any physical danger involved has passed, through flashbacks and nightmares."

Psychological trauma may be experienced by soldiers during combat, but other events such as physical and sexual assaults, vehicle or work accidents and natural disasters also may cause people to suffer from PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD are not limited to those who directly experience a traumatic event, they can also be developed by those who witness the event or learn that a family member or friend is in danger.

Beyond anxiety, flashbacks and nightmares, people suffering from PTSD often develop co-morbid conditions such as depression, alcohol and drug addiction, dizziness and immune system problems.

PTSD is generally treated with therapy, while medication may be used to help alleviate symptoms related to depression and anxiety.

PTSD in the Workplace

Employment enables people with disabilities to fully participate in society, generate income, experience success and build self-esteem. All of which are critical elements of psychological health. Indeed, people who regain employment after the onset of a disability often report higher life satisfaction than those who are not working. Finding, and maintaining, work can often reduce the symptoms and isolation commonly experienced by people with PTSD.

For people who have a job, PTSD may lead to impaired functioning at work and problems such as absenteeism, work disability and unemployment. Generally speaking, problems in the workplace associated with PTSD appear to be very similar to the impairments experienced by people with major depression. People experiencing PTSD may have trouble maintaining concentration, poor sleep patterns, memory deficits and other challenges. However, treatment for PTSD and accommodations in the workplace can can dramatically improve their quality of life and productivity at work. 

A variety of accommodations and practices can help people with PTSD succeed in the workplace. These include:

  • Allow for scheduled rest breaks to prevent stimulus overload and fatigue.
  • Wall calendars, checklists, written instructions, printed minutes.
  • Reminders of important deadlines via email and memos. 
  • Flexible work schedules and/or job sharing with another employee.
  • White noise or environmental sound machines (to help eliminate distractions).
  • Mentoring by a co-worker or retired worker.
  • Providing encouragement, moral support, and a listening ear.
  • Understanding that PTSD and symptoms of any psychological condition may ebb and flow, and that the person may experience good days and more challenging days.
  • Support for pursuing treatment and assistance, even during work hours. Employers should know that treatment is a process that can be effective in managing psychological symptoms and conditions. Supporting employees in their need to regularly follow up or comply with treatment recommendations is an important part of their recovery.
Building a workplace where people with disabilities can succeed requires flexibility and open communication. Not every person experiences their disability in the same way. One person with PTSD may struggle with having their back to the opening of their office or cubicle. Another may have their symptoms intensified by hearing sirens outside on the street. Simple accommodations like changing the layout of an office or moving to a different side of the building can go a long way in helping to manage job stress. Being open, honest and willing to communicate and search for solutions at work is the first step to creating a workplace where everyone can succeed. 

Speak. Share. Thrive. Help Create Alberta's Social Policy Framework

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Speak. Share. Thrive.

Your input is needed to help create a social policy framework that will guide the future of Alberta’s social policies and programs. Social policy is about how individuals, communities and government come together to address social challenges, create conditions for the well-being of Albertans, and support people who need help to meet their own needs. Participate in the Speak. Share. Thrive. interactive public engagement and share your ideas about how together we can meet our needs and aspirations – in areas like housing, employment, safety and security, and childcare.

The social policy framework will provide direction for how communities, business, governments, non-profit organizations and others work together to give all Albertans the opportunity to live in dignity and contribute to society. It will also help guide discussions about the Premier's commitment to eliminate child poverty and reduce overall poverty in Alberta.

Visit to join this important conversation: type your ideas in the wiki, take the survey, respond to a blog, or take part in a discussion in your community. The deadline to participate in the discussion is July 31.

Share your ideas about how we can support all Albertans to build a better quality of life – for themselves and their families.

Inaugural Post

Monday, June 25, 2012

Welcome to the Champions Career Centre blog! At Champions we are committed to shifting the perceptions of disabilities in the workplace and assisting people with disabilities find meaningful employment.

In our blog we will discuss disabilities in the workplace, give career advice, tell the stories of our clients who are finding success and post anything we find inspirational. We hope to create meaningful discussion about disabilities and employment and hope our readers will join us in advocating for more inclusive workplaces.

We are always looking to write on topics that appeal to our audience so please feel free to suggest any ideas you would like to see explored here. You can connect with us through comments or on social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest)!