Champions Career Centre: What is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities? Champions Career Centre: What the CRPD Means for Disability and Employment Champions Career Centre: Stephen's Story: A Little Tremor Wasn't Going to Stop Me Champions Career Centre: International Day of Persons with Disabilities in Calgary, December 3rd Champions Career Centre: Avoidant Personality Disorder Champions Career Centre: Addiction as a Disability Champions Career Centre: Assistive Technology - What and where do I get it? Champions Career Centre: You're Hired! Now What? Champions Career Centre: Transitioning Into a New Career Champions Career Centre: Marooned Without A Compass Day Champions Career Centre: Considering a Career in Nonprofit

Celebrate IDPD at Work: Take Action, Remove Barriers

Thursday, November 29, 2012

YODA:  So certain are you. Always with you what 
             cannot be done. Do you nothing that I say.

LUKE:  Master, moving stones around is one thing, 
            this is totally different!

YODA:  NO! No different, only different in your mind! 
             You must unlearn what you have learned.

LUKE:  Alright, I’ll give it a try.

YODA: NO! Try Not. Do or do not.

Finding the right person for the right job in your organization is always a challenge. Compounding this situation is how Alberta is already experiencing strong economic growth and low unemployment levels, both of which create the possibility of a serious labour shortage in the near future.  In this environment, it is not uncommon for an organization to try and think “outside the box” in their recruiting strategy to access untapped pools of talent.

Just how far are you willing to go to find new talent? Often we take this challenge quite literally, which leads to us hiring from foreign countries and recruiting at universities all over the world to find the people we need. Other times we take the challenge more figuratively and we look for candidates who may not have the requisite experience or certification we generally expect, but who have transferable skills which can make them successful with the right guidance.

But what if there was an untapped pool of candidates that didn’t require you to look on the other side of the world or seek candidates who don’t have the qualifications you expect? What if the only thing preventing you from accessing this talent is your own perceptions or preconceived notions of what fits?

The talent pool I am talking about is skilled and qualified persons with disabilities.

The word disability can conjure up an endless amount of images. This is because the range of disabilities people experience is almost endless.  You may know someone who is blind and requires a cane to get around, but many people who are blind still have vision.  You may know a person with cerebral palsy who cannot walk, but each person with cerebral palsy can have vastly different symptoms. 

Similarly, the range of abilities of people with disabilities is diverse.  One of the biggest misconceptions we see is employers matching positions to disabilities. For example, thinking a person in a wheelchair is ideal for a desk job. Yet we know people with spinal cord injuries who work as travelling salesmen. We know people with anxiety disorders who thrive in high pressure environments. 

To truly think outside the box in your recruiting you have to first remove the limitations you may assign to a person because of their disability.

As Master Yoda says, “Try not. Do or do not.”

Trying implies giving something a chance and if it doesn’t work you can move on.  This doesn’t work for ethnicity, race or gender, nor does it work for people with disabilities in the workplace. Doing implies permanent and consistent action.  Doing implies actively seeking ways to remove barriers which may exist in the recruiting and hiring process. Most importantly, doing can position your organization for continued success with diversity and inclusion both now and into the future.

What is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Over one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability.

Persons with disabilities, “the world’s largest minority”, often face barriers to participation in all aspects of society. Barriers can take a variety of forms, including those relating to the physical environment or to information and communications technology (ICT), or those resulting from legislation or policy, or from societal attitudes or discrimination. The result is that persons with disabilities do not have equal access to society or services, including education, employment, health care, transportation, political participation or justice.

Evidence and experience shows that when barriers to their inclusion are removed and persons with disabilities are empowered to participate fully in societal life, their entire community benefits. Barriers faced by persons with disabilities are, therefore, a detriment to society as a whole, and accessibility is necessary to achieve progress and development for all.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognizes that the existence of barriers constitutes a central component of disability. Under the Convention, disability is an evolving concept that “results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

Accessibility and inclusion of persons with disabilities are fundamental rights recognized by the CRPD and are not only objectives, but also pre-requisites for the enjoyment of other rights. The CRPD (Article 9, accessibility) seeks to enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life and development. It calls upon States Parties to take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to all aspects of society, on an equal basis with others, as well as to identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers to accessibility.
In spite of this, in many parts of the world today, lack of awareness and understanding of accessibility as a cross-cutting development issue remains an obstacle to the achievement of progress and development through the Millennium Development Goals, as well as other internationally agreed outcomes for all.

The commemoration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities in 2012 provides an opportunity to address this exclusion by focusing on promoting accessibility and removing all types of barriers in society.

What the CRPD Means for Disability and Employment

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), is a human rights treaty which protects and promotes the rights of persons with disabilities. Created in 2006, the CRPD contains civil, cultural, political, economic and social rights as part of a framework to address the exclusion and lack of access encountered by persons with disabilities around the world.

The Canadian government ratified the CRPD in 2010, joining 125 other countries who have committed to equality for people with disabilities. By ratifying the treaty, Canada has agreed to act and monitor progress in achieving the commitments of the treaty. This means Canada must act to ensure appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the CRPD, and to "take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination against people with disabilities."

As an organization committed to assisting persons with disabilities find meaningful employment, and helping employers to be more inclusive, we know first hand of the many barriers which deny persons the right to work. The CRPD is an important treaty as it calls for laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace. However, the CRPD recognizes that promoting rights is much more than the prohibition of discrimination and requires certain duties of employers. These include providing barrier free workplaces that follow the principles of universal design and provide reasonable accommodations. The CRPD also requires governments to actively promote and provide opportunities and programs for persons with disabilities as well. 

Article 27 of the CRPD deals specifically with employment and demands the parties to the treaty take these appropriate steps to protect the rights of persons with disabilities:
  • Prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability with regard to all matters concerning all forms of employment, continuance of employment, career advancement and safe and healthy working conditions;
  • Protect the rights of persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, to just and favourable conditions of work, including equal opportunities and equal remuneration for work of equal value, safe and healthy working conditions, including protection from harassment, and the redress of grievances;
  • Ensure that persons with disabilities are able to exercise their labour and trade union rights on an equal basis with others;
  • Enable persons with disabilities to have effective access to general technical and vocational guidance programmes, placement services and vocational and continuing training;
  • Promote employment opportunities and career advancement for persons with disabilities in the labour market, as well as assistance in finding, obtaining, maintaining and returning to employment;
  • Promote opportunities for self-employment, entrepreneurship, the development of cooperative and starting one's own business.
  • Ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities in the workplace.
  • Promote the acquisition by persons with disabilities of work experience in the open labour market.
  • Promote vocational and professional rehabilitation, job retention and return-to-work programmes for persons with disabilities.

Stephen's Story: A Little Tremor Wasn't Going to Stop Me

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Stephen (right) with his Case Manager, Andy.

Putting the luggage down, Stephen noticed a slight tremor in his left hand. Strange sensation he thought as he stared down at his hand.  Shrugging it off as a side effect of being tired; he picked up the luggage and continued on his way.

That was the spring of 2009 and Stephen was working several jobs at a mid-sized hotel including, but not limited to, banquet waiter, porter, front desk, dining room service – kind of like a jack of all trades.

As that summer progressed, he noticed the tremors were now in both hands and that his energy level was dropping, so much so, that there were several times he thought he was going to faint.

“It also was getting harder to hide my symptoms from my co-workers,” says Stephen. “My slight tremors had now turned to shakes, loud noises were making me nervous and I was unable to do banquet and dining room service tasks as it was simply too tiring.”

No matter how Stephen tried to hide his symptoms, “and believe me I tried”, he wasn't being successful because he had no idea what was happening to his body. People started staring and making assumptions – like maybe the tremors and shakes were a result of him drinking.  Stephen was nervous about admitting that his body was changing and he did not know why. Added to this was the stress of constantly worrying about what other people were thinking and saying around him.

“In the fall of 2010, there was a medical convention going on in town and the hotel I was working at was part of the conference,” says Stephen. “As I was assisting one of the hotel guests, who was a Doctor, he asked how long I had Parkinson's.  I asked him how he knew I had Parkinson's and he told me he was a Doctor and recognized some of my symptoms as Parkinson's.”

Finally Stephen had a name for what was happening to him. He went to the Foothills Hospital and received the official diagnosis in 2010. Knowing he had Parkinson's provided Stephen with the opportunity to be able to disclose to his employer. Together, they drew up a plan to provide accommodations to allow Stephen to continue to do his work. Simple accommodations such as not working the late shift, reducing the amount of weight he lifted, and the chance to sit down when he got tired.

Eventually, Stephen’s conditions worsened to where he had to go on medical leave and prepare for the new path his life was taking. Not sure what that path was to look like – Stephen found out about Champions through his Doctor and made an appointment to attend Orientation.

“Champions gave me the moral support and confidence I needed to start believing in myself again,” says Stephen. “The staff makes me laugh and they introduced me to other people in Calgary who were struggling with chronic medical conditions.  They also helped connect me to supports in the community, such as AISH. I felt like I finally belonged.”

Champions help Calgarians to see people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions differently.  They focus on the abilities and strengths of each individual and how they contribute to the overall fibre of the community – building a diverse, inclusion community where everyone is valued for themselves.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities in Calgary, December 3rd

Thursday, November 29, 2012

On December 3, 2012, the Calgary community and its business partners along with the Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities invite you to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, recognizing the achievements and contributions of persons with a disability.

The event is hosted at Centre Street Church from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm, with the main program being from 11:30 am - 12:30 pm. 

The event is hosted by Const. Patty Desmoreaux of the Calgary Police Services Diversity Resources Team, and features performances by local talent. The event will include:
  • Award presentation to Calgarians who have had a significant impact on persons with disabilities in the community
  • An information fair featuring local businesses 
  • A performance by Renfrew Educational Services Children's Choir
  • Displays about disability services and organizations 
  • Art display and show by local artists, featuring the piece “A Meaningful Life”
  • Interactive user friendly sessions open and accessible to all ages and abilities including: Music Therapy, and Horticulture Therapy 
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations. The annual observance draws attention to the many ways in which those with disabilities enrich our communities. It also increases awareness and understanding of disability issues and trends, and helps to mobilize support for practical action at all levels by, with and for persons with disabilities.

This year's theme is "Celebrating Inclusiveness and Community”.
The event in Calgary is one of many celebrations taking place across Alberta, Canada and worldwide that brings together persons with a disability and the general community and aims to:
  • Showcase the skills, abilities, contributions and achievements of persons with a disability 
  • Promote a positive image of persons with a disability 
  • Involve persons with a disability and the broader community in activities to celebrate and raise awareness of International Day of Persons with Disabilities. 
Sign language services will be provided courtesy of DHHS.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

Monday, November 26, 2012

Avoidant personality disorder (APD) is considered to be an active-detached personality pattern, meaning that people with APD purposefully avoid people due to fears of humiliation & rejection. It is thought to be a pathological extension of the "normal inhibited" personality, which is characterized by a watchful behavioural appearance, shy interpersonal conduct, a preoccupied cognitive style, uneasy affective expression & a lonely self-perception. The avoidant pattern seems to range in varying degrees along a continuum of symptoms from mild to extreme. In mild cases, a person may be said to be normally shy, whereas extreme cases indicate personality disorder.

The symptoms of APD overlap with those of generalized social anxiety disorder (GSAD) . It has been demonstrated that GSAD and APD are based on the same underlying pathology and differ primarily in the severity of social anxiety & social functioning, with APD being the more severe disorder. The evidence that most people diagnosed with APD will also meet the diagnostic criteria for GSAD, but people with GSP do not necessarily have APD supports this view.

A. Significant impairments in personality functioning manifest by:

1. Impairments in self functioning (a or b):

a. Identity: Low self-esteem associated with self-appraisal socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior; excessive feelings of shame or inadequacy.

b. Self-direction: Unrealistic standards for behavior associated with reluctance to pursue goals, take personal risks, or engage in new activities involving interpersonal contact.


2. Impairments in interpersonal functioning (a or b):

a. Empathy: Preoccupation with, and sensitivity to, criticism or rejection, associated with distorted inference of others‟ perspectives as negative.

b. Intimacy: Reluctance to get involved with people unless being certain of being liked; diminished mutuality within intimate relationships because of fear of being shamed or ridiculed.

B. Pathological personality traits in the following domains:

1. Detachment, characterized by:

a. Withdrawal: Reticence in social situations; avoidance of social contacts and activity; lack of initiation of social contact.

b. Intimacy avoidance: Avoidance of close or romantic relationships, interpersonal attachments, and intimate sexual relationships.

c. Anhedonia: Lack of enjoyment from, engagement in, or energy for life‟s experiences; deficits in the capacity to feel pleasure or take interest in things.

2. Negative Affectivity, characterized by:

a. Anxiousness: Intense feelings of nervousness, tenseness, or panic, often in reaction to social situations; worry about the negative effects of past unpleasant experiences and future negative possibilities; feeling fearful, apprehensive, or threatened by uncertainty; fears of embarrassment.

Job seeking for someone with APD can be very challenging because it triggers the individual’s basic concerns. The individual will often have a great deal of difficulty effectively presenting their skills and qualifications. They will be awkward and uncomfortable in a job interview (or not show up).

In employment they may have a great deal of trouble in new or changing situations. They will have trouble with interpersonal relationships and public speaking. They will tend to be perfectionists but downplay their skills, abilities and accomplishments. They will have a great deal of difficulty with any job that requires them to "sell" or even present their work to a potential customer, or even other co-workers. Since their standard practice is to avoid situations that elicit their anxiety, they may just not attend important meetings, or be unable to participate in team discussions because they cannot allow themselves to feel part of a team.

Accommodating a person with APD shares similar strategies to accommodating persons with other anxiety disorders. Some options are to:

  • Allow reports and presentations to be submitted via writing, rather than orally
  • Take quick breaks during the day to grab fresh air and step away from the rush of work
  • Flexible arrival times (and then leaving times) to mitigate the stress of getting to work on time or to avoid rush hour transit situations 
  • Taking time away from work to visit your doctor or therapist
  • Having a desk away from the main entrance or out of the busy traffic of the office

Addiction as a Disability

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

When people think of disability, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Someone with a white cane… a hearing aid… a limp? How about none of the above? What if someone has no visibly defining characteristics of having a disability? Invisible disabilities are working their way into the public consciousness. A disability is now something that can be seen, observed, communicated and/or yes, even felt. More specifically, addiction, as a permanent invisible disability, is part of the disability definition.

We at Champions define a disability as any barrier which restricts the ability to perform one or more areas of daily living. Addictions definitely fit within this description. 

Addictions are strong appetites. Addicts are people who have a strong appetite. Appetites generate desires, and the satisfaction of these desires generally provides pleasure. A drug addict has strong appetites for some drug, and, indeed, a person with a strong appetite for Internet use is an Internet addict.”  - Relating Addiction to Disease, Disability, Autonomy, and the Good Life: Bennett FoddyJulian Savulescu

Some hold the misconception that when an individual is ‘clean, sober, or controls their addiction’, there are no longer restrictions on life. In fact, an addiction has permanent effects on each individual. Through support the addiction doesn’t disappear, but rather is controlled. That control can only be maintained with different accommodations.  

Someone living with an addiction to alcohol may need to accommodate by not exposing themselves to alcohol. This may prevent them from eating in certain restaurants and therefore restricts one or more areas of daily life. Similarly, a work addict may need to accommodate by having strict behaviors and limitations between their work and personal lives. This may be in the form of rituals to transfer attention from home to work, or segregating clothing to limit work and personal attire.

Although it may be highly stigmatized, perceived by some as temporary, or dismissed all together, don’t be mistaken, addiction is a disability. Although an addict my not be giving in to their appetite, the effects the appetite has, are permanent and constant. 

Assistive Technology - What and where do I get it?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Assistive Technology is an umbrella term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and also includes the process used in selecting, locating, and using them. AT promotes greater independence by enabling people to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to, or changing methods of interacting with, the technology needed to accomplish such tasks.

The term Adaptive Technology is often used as the synonym for Assistive Technology, however, they are different terms. Assistive Technology refers to “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities”, while Adaptive Technology covers items that are specifically designed for persons with disabilities and would seldom be used by non-disabled persons. In other words, “Assistive Technology is any object or system that increases or maintains the capabilities of people with disabilities”, while Adaptive Technology is “any object or system that is specifically designed for the purpose of increasing or maintaining the capabilities of people with disabilities”. Consequently, Adaptive Technology is a subset of Assistive Technology. Adaptive Technology often refers specifically to electronic and Information Technology access.

When working with employers one of their biggest worries about hiring and retaining persons with disabilities in their organizations is accommodations and the costs associated with them.  Most employers believe that when hiring or retaining someone with a disability they will need to purchase assistive technology, but what and where do they get it.

There are many types of assistive technology available.  The assistive technology required by an individual in the workplace depends on a number of factors:
  • What the job requires
  • What are the particular needs of the individual
  • Type of disability the individual has
Assistive technology is put in place to give an individual with a disability the same opportunities at work that someone who does not have a disability has.  It assists the individual to be productive and contribute within the workplace.

There is assistive technology available various disabilities including:
  • Learning disabilities
  • Vision disabilities
  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Hearing disabilities
  • Physical disabilities
Assistive technology depending on the needs of the individual can be (this list is not complete):
  • Tablets or ipads
  • Keyboards
  • Software like JAWS, Zoomtext or Dragon Naturally Speaking
  • Communication devices
  • Screen readers
  • Magnifiers
  • Adapted mouse
  • Amplifiers
  • Seating supports
  • Writing devices
  • Recording devices
  • Different applications
As mentioned above the needs of the individual determines what the assistive technology required will be.  The individual requiring the assistive technology will have ideas and suggestions of what they may require and should be part of the process of acquiring the right technology for the individual.

It should be noted that assistive technology does not only benefit persons with disabilities in the workplace but can benefit non-disabled persons too.  And keep in mind not all accommodations require assistive technology but if it does there are a number of community services that can assist employers and the individual requiring the assistive technology to determine what is needed and where to source it.


You're Hired! Now What?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Congratulations! You got the job! It’s time to celebrate!

You obviously were diligent in your job search, you aced your interview and you are now embarking on a new journey on your career path. Your hard work has paid off. Now is not the time to discontinue your efforts; it’s time to channel your energy into excelling in and preserving your new position by using your employment maintenance skills.

What are employment maintenance skills? They are the qualities, abilities and behaviours you need to master in order to stay in a job over the long term.

According to employers, the five most commonly cited reasons why new employees didn't last were as follows:
  • Inability to accept coaching or feedback
  • Inability to understand others' emotions or manage their own
  • Lack of motivation or the drive to succeed
  • Attitude or personality was ill-suited to the job or work environment
  • Technical or functional skills were inadequate for the job

Looking at this list it is amazing that, except for the last point which falls under the category of “hard” skills, the reasons for terminating employment are the lack of “soft” skills or “people” skills. These are the skills that have to do with how people relate to each other: communicating, listening, engaging in dialogue, giving and receiving feedback, cooperating as a team member, solving problems, maintaining a positive attitude and resolving conflict.

So what are employers looking for in their employees? They are looking for the following qualities:

·         Self-control - managing your own emotional state
·         Ability and desire to communicate well - organizing and presenting your thoughts clearly
·         Motivated - having a strong work ethic, possessing the ability and desire to learn
·         Accountability - being receptive to feedback, admitting mistakes and fixing them
·         Leadership - being a role model, taking initiative
·         Dependability - being punctual, sustaining regular attendance
·         Adaptability - accepting changes, being flexible in your behaviour
·         Ability to get along with others - having a positive attitude, avoiding workplace gossip, managing/resolving conflict
·         Occupational Skills - working toward continuous improvement/professional development

      Development of soft skills is a part of life-long learning. The process does not begin and end with your job; it becomes a philosophy of life. Working to advance these skills will definitely enhance your professional behavior.

Links for Developing Soft Skills

Free Tutorials

Learning Blogs

Suggested Reading
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves and Patrick M. Lencioni

People who are unable to motivate themselves
must be content with mediocrity,
no matter how impressive their other talents.
-Andrew Carnegie
(Thanks to our guest blogger for their submission)

Transitioning Into a New Career

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stir some in some globalization, add a pinch of legislation, add a scoop full of management cutbacks, sprinkle job dissatisfaction, spread work place injury and then preheat the oven to 365 days of layoffs. What you have is the recipe for a career transition.

With the threat of job layoffs, company cutbacks, workplace injuries, and job dissatisfaction, now is the time to start thinking of your future. Whether you have the free will to do so or it’s as a result of “forced change” due to workplace injury or layoff - It’s never too late to start over in life. 

Every idea can be best realized through a strategic plan. Planning a new career is no different.  A good place to start is by asking loved ones, friends, co-workers and career coaches what they perceive as your strengths and weaknesses.  Taking that advice and incorporating an honest self-assessment of what you are good at and what you need improvement on is key to being successful when transitioning into a new career. The key word is honesty.

This brings me to my next point which is self-improvement and marketability.  One way this can be achieved through education.  Education can assist you in obtaining the solid background needed for your new career and allow you to be more marketable. 

Network! Network!! Network!!  It pays to use old acquaintances, co-workers, clubs, associations and social media to reach out to old or new contacts in order to enquire about a particular field that you are interested transitioning into.  You can obtain information about what it’s really like to be in that career, get an idea of the different opportunities, what and if there are common struggles and hopefully even some insight as to what the salary range is like.  It pays to do the research in order to avoid headaches at a later date.

Consider using community resources that specialize in assisting individuals with their career plan – including writing a resume.  Remember, before meeting you, a potential employer uses your resume to form an opinion of you so do not take it lightly.  Also take the time to adjust and clean up your social media files.  It is a fact that 86 percent of recruiters review candidates’ social network profiles – whether or not the candidates have shared those links.  Ensure that you do not have any inappropriate “party” pictures as 47 percent of recruiters respond negatively to pictures of alcohol consumption.  If you’re looking into a new career, start by cleaning up your old image.

We are in an era where it is uncommon to find individuals that work at the same place for more than five years -- just look around your current workplace.  Making a transition in your career is exciting and can be very rewarding, just keep in mind that in order to be successful you will need to be honest about your strengths and weaknesses, consider continuing education, network and update your resume, including the use of social media.  If you are serious about your transition, then you will need to take serious steps to get there.  Good luck!

(Thanks to our guest blogger for the submission!)

Marooned Without A Compass Day

Monday, November 12, 2012

Among the various holidays that each nation has to offer, Marooned Without A Compass Day appeals to me on both a personal and professional level.  I am one of those people whom, in my early thirties, still does not know what I want to do when I ‘grow up’; while I am not too concerned about this on a personal level the implications that it brings to my professional career in an employment agency may cause some people concern.  But… fear not!

As I work with individuals on a daily basis to reach their ultimate career goals; I have long learned to accept the fact that the often seemingly directionless steps that people take with regards to their careers are often vital in gaining the relevant experiences that will, with a little nudge from myself or my colleagues here at Champions, enable an individual to create a strong foundation from which they can move forward towards finding and retaining meaningful employment.

Yet, this blog is not designed to discuss the person centered planning we use to develop successful clear career planning objectives; instead I have chosen to focus on the use of Social Media and its implications towards a successful job search.   In addition to my apparent blasé statements with regards to my own directionless career path I must confess that I have been a staunch rejectionist of the Social Media platform. 

Until now…

While at one of our monthly staff meetings we were informed that our Marketing & Communications Coordinator (formerly referred to, by myself, as our Social Media Surfer) would be on holiday for several weeks and that the rest of the team would be helping to continue the great work that he is doing.  Initially I was annoyed at having Social Media forced on me – rather like enduring a stubbly kiss from old Auntie Barb at the annual family reunion, who’s rogue chin hair, having successfully escaped the ravages of the tweezers, tickle ones’ cheek as her false teeth fight to retain their grip on her gums while she plants said sloppy kiss. While I was in my irritated state I almost missed the valuable facts regarding Social Media and its benefits, these facts helped to change my focus from frustration to an acceptance that Social Media is very, very valuable… Rather like the $50.00 bill in old Auntie Barb’s claw-like clutches which will be presented post puckering.

The simple facts speak for themselves and need no further narrative to press the point home:

92% of employers use Social Media in their recruiting practices. 

Of these employers 93% use Facebook and 54% use Twitter.  

73% of employers have successfully hired someone through Social Media.
LinkedIn remains the social network with the most successful hires.

86% of recruiters review candidates’ social network profiles – whether or not the candidates share those links.

These staggering figures have changed my mindset completely and I am now recommending that all of my client’s develop, at the very least, a LinkedIn profile.  Now!  Immediately!  However, while I can provide another direction on the Employment Compass my own lack of knowledge of Social Media is proving to be a barrier in helping my client’s past the initial “you must have a LinkedIn profile” stage. 

It is easy to offer a direction and, yet, sometimes individuals need more than a compass to be able to move forward.  This is why I am proud to let people know that on December 6, 2012, Champions will begin their first Social Media focused workshop called, rather unsurprisingly, Jumpstart your Job Search with Social Media.

Champions have recognized that a direction towards a horrifying horizon of the unknown will only be successful with the support and encouragement that we all need at times.  With regards to our new workshop, you will find me front row and centre with my pen poised to scribble down the important facts which will enable me to confidently and comfortably talk to my clients about the true value of a well honed Social Media Portfolio and it’s implication in a successful job search.

Considering a Career in Nonprofit

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Imagine waking up and going to a job that you enjoy and that actually makes a difference in the lives of people you serve and the community you live in.

If you are at a standstill in your career or looking for a change and want to do something that makes a difference, then consider a job in nonprofit.  According to a study from Independent Sector, nonprofit employment has doubled in the past 25 years, encompassing 10 percent of total employment in Canada and the United States.

Not sure where to start….the first item you need to consider is why you want to work at a nonprofit?  Is it because you believe the work will be rewarding or that you could facilitate positive change in your community?  Perhaps you have a passion that could be tapped into and you get paid for it.  Whatever your reasons, write them down. 

Your next step is to research the various organizations to see which ones align with your values and reasons.  Through your research, you may also find a nonprofit that is aligned with or in the same field of work in which you are or were employed. 

Also take note during your research of the potential drawbacks of a career with a nonprofit such as salaries not being equal to the corporate sector or the work hours can vary depending on the activities you are doing.

Once you have identified some potential matches, you then need to review your resume to see if how it can be tweaked to highlight your strength and skills relevant to the organization’s needs.  If you have done volunteer work, list all of your responsibilities and the experience gained through this. Look at the qualifications required for the position and see how you can match your experience and draw qualifications from there.  One skill that is in great demand at any nonprofit is the ability to manage multiple projects and activities at the same time as many nonprofits have lower staff numbers, you may be called on to juggle multiple activities and tasks.

No matter your role within the nonprofit, you will find the rewards of a career in nonprofit far outweigh any of the potential drawbacks you may have uncovered through your research. You will join a group of dedicated co-workers who are fully focused on the mission, vision and impact of your work.