Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

Archive for June, 2009

Staffing websites are all the same…

Posted by sweens on June 26, 2009

After a discussion with my VP today, has anyone else noticed how all staffing agencies relatively have the same content and ‘promises’ on their websites?

 Most agencies promise best fit candidates and unique staffing solutions to meet the changing needs of any organization.  This is usually achieved through a comprehensive screening process and an automated system which increases the candidates a client can have access to at any given time.

 Ultimately the goal is to start with your feet running – a database filled with thousands of candidates – to quickly match candidates to requirements.  While large corporations are likely to have a vast supply of resumes from applications, they usually lack the software or technology to store them and search them once they get a new requirement. 

 And thus you have the benefits of a staffing firm.  Obviously this is the view of the staffing industry from 30,000 feet; however it speaks to the promises made by every staffing firm.

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Following up on a job: It’s like dating…

Posted by sweens on June 24, 2009

I think some candidates need to realize that at times they can walk a fine line between following up with a recruiter and stalking them.  I recently came in one morning and had 17 (no I am not exaggerating) messages from the same number.  However the messages only involved the sound of the person hanging up the phone.  No actual message.

 Naturally, the next day the number called me again and I was a little hesitant to answer the phone so I was hoping the person would leave me a message.  No message was left but another 12 hang ups were.  I mean really, enough is enough.  Leave me a message so I know who is calling and what you are calling about.

 We live in a world where almost everyone has caller ID – in fact I can not even think of someone who does not have caller ID.  This means that your call is showing up somewhere.  There are times throughout the day when I am busy and will not answer my phone.  Perhaps I am on my cell phone or even working down the hall in a boardroom.  God forbid I may even be interviewing a candidate and am simply unable to pick up my phone at that moment.  The solution to getting in touch with a recruiter who you are having difficulty connecting to is to leave them a message and let them call you back.

Calling a recruiter 15 times a day is not the solution. 

 Getting a recruiter to call you back can sometimes be like giving your phone number out at the bar.  Once you get that number, how quickly should you call them?  How many times should you call them?  Ultimately, there reaches a point where you just have to give up and say “he or she is just not interested in me”.

 I am not suggesting the a candidate give up, but candidates need to be aware that recruiters often work on tight deadlines and finding candidates as quickly as possible can usually be the best way to close business.  With that in mind, the position you want to talk to me about, may not be the number one thing on my priority list.  It does not mean that I will not call you back; it just means that right now I have something else I need to do.  While finding a job is likely your number one priority, the job you are applying for may not be my number one priority yet.

 I can appreciate the passion any candidate puts into finding a job and following up with me.  I just want to say – be careful of how aggressively you tackle this.  Candidates who call me too many times in a day remind me of trying to get a girl on a date and calling her 10 times without leaving a message.  It will just end up making me look bad and will act as a turn off.  Is she going to want to date me?

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Labour market: Finally coming around?

Posted by sweens on June 23, 2009

This is more of a question then a statement for me.  I am curious to see how everyone else perceives the labour market these days.  For myself, I have been busier as of late then I have been over the past few months.  Is this the same for everyone else?

Based on the market I work in – a Government town – the market should be quiet right now as many employees take long and extended vacations.  However, I have seen a recent increase in Government contract opportunities.  While I have not yet seen a drastic increase in private sector hiring, it may be coming.

 Is anyone else experiencing a growth in volume of open positions?

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CV: Curriculum Vitae

Posted by sweens on June 19, 2009

As one of my fellow LinkedIn contacts pointed out to me, many people do not know what is meant when I or someone says the term ‘CV’.  So hopefully we can offer some clarity on the issue here.

 Curriculum Vitae – more commonly known as ‘CV’ is another term for resume.  Curriculum Vitae loosely translates’ into course of life – or so I read on the internet. 

 So when someone asks you for a copy of your CV – they really just want to see your resume.

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Sending out your CV: Putting your best foot forward…

Posted by sweens on June 17, 2009

This morning I was looking over a CV for a candidate I just put forth on one of my open requirements. Before I got to the project details, he had a brief summary of 32 projects that he had completed over the last 13 years. I thought to myself, boy that is a lot of consecutive projects. He must be good!

Throwing his qualifications aside for a minute, I came across another reason why this particular candidate has been so good at continually finding contracts. His resume is awesome. Not only is it organized and easy to read through, but he took the time to highlight all the portions in his resume that were applicable to the specific position he was applying for.

This made my job very easy!

It demonstrated a few things to me as I quickly went over his CV. First, this candidate is likely a hard worker and is not lazy. Second, he understands the role. And third, he wants to stand out from all the other candidates. And to be honest he really did. I quickly wrapped him up and move forward with him with all the important information I needed perfectly presented in his CV which both I and my client are likely to appreciate.

 Moral of the story….taking that extra bit of time to prepare your CV before you submit it can go a long way!

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Resume Writing: The objective…

Posted by sweens on June 15, 2009

As my blogging buddy Jonathan McLeod has pointed out before, there are some points that candidates put on their CVs that a recruiter typically does not find very useful. I am speaking about your hobbies. However on the same train of thought, I would argue that the OBJECTIVE portion of your CV is a crucial one – but it is often done poorly.

‘The objective’ is usually the first part of your CV that I read when I am evaluating a resume. I want to see your objective match what my client is looking for. A mistake candidates often make is that they have a generic resume with a generic objective.

This is fine if you do not have any specific titles listed in your object and talk more about your desire to contribute to an organization, develop skills, etc. What you should avoid doing at all costs is having and objective that says “I am looking for an Architect position” and then submitting that resume to a Database Administrator position.

You now have a resume that does not match the job details/client needs and you likely just screened yourself out for that specific position.

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Keep your eyes on the prize…

Posted by sweens on June 10, 2009

And in this case, the prize is your newest job opportunity.  But in order to get that opportunity, you need to have a specific method of applying for opportunities.  This blog serves more as a reminder that when you (the candidate) are dealing with a recruiter or a staffing agency – you need to put yourself in their mindset.

 We look for ‘the’ candidate and not ‘a’ candidate.

 What does this mean?  It means you should avoid sending in your resume to a recruiter saying that you are interested in any positions they have open which may meet your skill set.  This translates’ into – you are open to any opportunity rather then the right opportunity.  This has the same effect as applying to multiple jobs with the same company or recruiter.

 I have said it before, but your resume should be tailored to a specific job.  Sending in the same resume for numerous jobs makes a recruiter wonder how you can be the right fit for one job, when you think you can do multiple jobs.

 Remember a company wants something specific!  Whether they go through a staffing firm or they do their own hiring – they have a specific list of requirements which you should try to meet with every application.  Aim to be ‘the’ candidate when applying for a job, rather then ‘a’ candidate…

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DOs and DON’Ts of resume writing: Don’t make mistakes….

Posted by sweens on June 9, 2009

Well to follow up my post from yesterday I have come across another issue with some of the work I have been doing. Mistakes in the resumes of my candidates! Hey, it happens. We all make mistakes but like any recruiter will tell you, showing ‘us’ your CV with a lot of mistakes in it, does not give a favourable impression.

I am not talking about spelling mistakes but rather mistakes in the overall formatting of the CV like: different fonts; projects out of order; and missing projects all together. These can really make sorting through your experience an ‘adventure’, not to mentioning completing grids a disaster.

Now I know this is a bit of a stereotype, but often times these mistakes are found in the CVs of some really senior candidates – but this a trend I would expect with new resume writers and not the experienced ones.

I am not meaning to point the blame anywhere because I certainly make my fair share of mistakes, and really, I can understand how a project gets numbered incorrectly when you are listing 39 projects in your resume. But do everyone a favour and proof read your CV a few times.

It will make everyone’s life easier in the long run…

Posted in Recruitment | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

If it wasn’t for the last minute: Nothing would get done…

Posted by sweens on June 8, 2009

Well here I am again looking to screen candidates against tough Government skills grids at the last minute.  I find myself reminiscing of being back in University and staying up all night trying to finish my 50 page paper the night before it was due.  At the time, that was common practice for me.  I have always enjoyed and thrived while working under pressure – perhaps which is why I like refereeing so much!

 But this is still a stressful adventure.  I came into today, one day behind my deadline with two positions left to fill.  Coming in on the weekend did not really help lighten the work load, but luckily I got one position filled today, and have the other one about fifty percent done.  And really I have to thank the candidates who have given me the time of day to help me complete my work.

 Who knew finding Documentation Specialists would be so hard?

 I certainly did not, but am learning the hard way.  I think I more or less just wanted to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who has worked with my today although none of you are likely to read this.  I should be able to complete my project within the deadline – but like most projects – the last minute is sure to turn up some challenges…

Am I the only one who works this way???

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UPDATE: Unemployment rises to 5.9%, as national rate jumps to 11-year high

Posted by sweens on June 5, 2009

By Krystle Chow, Ottawa Business Journal Staff
Fri, Jun 5, 2009 9:00 AM EST

The unemployment rate for the Ottawa-Gatineau region rose 0.4 percentage points in May as the local economy lost 3,800 jobs, in line with a broader trend across the country.

While the local jobless rate increased to 5.9 per cent, the employment drop was the smallest seen so far in 2009, and unemployment was far below the national rate, which rose 0.4 percentage points to an astonishing 11-year high of 8.4 per cent.

Employment decreased by 42,000 jobs in May, driven largely by steep manufacturing losses in Ontario. It was the only province to experience significant job losses; in fact, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan all reported higher employment numbers, and other provinces held steady.

“(The Ottawa-Gatineau rate) is also below that of the southern Ontario cities such as Windsor, London, all the cities affected by the automobile sector, which have double-digit unemployment rates or close to it,” said Statistics Canada analyst Vincent Ferrao.

Still, he noted that the local jobless rate has been creeping up lately, and it’s the highest percentage of unemployed people in almost four years, tied with January 2007 and November 2005 which both reported the same 5.9-per-cent unemployment rate. To see a higher local rate, one would have to go back as far as October 2005, when unemployment was at 6.6 per cent, Mr. Ferrao said.

“Unemployment is relatively higher than what we’ve seen recently, as there was strong job growth in the last couple of years but we’re not seeing that so far this year,” he added.

The deterioration between the three-month moving average for the period ended in May and for the previous month was spread out over a number of sectors, namely the accommodation and food services; information, culture and recreation; educational services; business, building and support services; and construction sectors. There were no large decreases during the month.

In fact, there was an increase in the battered high-tech sector, which added 1,500 jobs to employ 54,600 people in May, offsetting the small decline in the previous month.

“It’s encouraging – the last time we saw an increase in the tech sector was in December 2008,” said Mr. Ferrao.

Still, high-tech employment is down by 7,000 year-over-year, contributing to the 16,400 jobs lost overall during the 12-month period leading up to May.

The weakest link, however, was the retail and wholesale sector, which has reduced employment by roughly 13,000 jobs over the year, bringing the number of people working in the sector in May to 72,000.

As well, the business, building and other support services segment, which includes employment agencies and call centres, shrank its workforce by 10,000 jobs, to employ roughly 18,600 workers.

The declines were offset by healthy increase in the public administration and construction sectors, which both added 5,000 jobs each over the year, to end up with 152,000 and 36,000 workers in May, said Mr. Ferrao.


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Junior or Senior candidates: I’ll take senior…

Posted by sweens on June 3, 2009

When it comes to recruiting a role, most clients are dividing the level of experience they are looking for into three categories:

  1. Junior
  2. Intermediate
  3. Senior

When it comes to recruiting roles of different experience levels, a different challenge presents itself with each level you are searching for.  Me personally, I would rather take on the senior role over the junior role.  I would prefer the most difficult position a client is trying to fill over an entry level position any day.

The reason for this is not that there is a higher commission on the senior role, but rather that I find it extremely difficult to search and evaluate resumes for junior level candidates.  I do not know how many times a client has said “find me someone right out of school and I will take them”, but if I had a nickel for every time I heard that – I would probably have enough to make a quick run to Starbucks.

While the idea of finding someone right out or school seems easy, I have found it to be rather difficult for a few reasons.  Firstly, someone fresh out of school likely does not have a lot of technologies listed on their resume so they are less likely to turn up in searches.  Secondly, I do not think they have gotten used to the process of finding a job – posting CVs, using search firms, etc – so any online profile they may have is minimal and not easy to find.  Lastly, it is hard to evaluate their skill set when they are coming directly from school and to weigh them against other candidates usually becomes a personality fit rather then a focus on their technical skills.

Perhaps this is only my view, but this type of search takes me out of my ‘comfort zone’ and leaves trying to find different ways to track down these people.  Usually my greatest success has come from posting the position on job boards that new grads pay attention to like:

–         Facebook
–         Kijiji
–         CraigsList 

Does anyone else have this problem, or am I in my own world?

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Recruiting resources…

Posted by sweens on June 3, 2009

A special ‘thank you’ to Tom Blanco who advised me to check out the following recruiting blogs as additional sources for information on recruiting and the industry on the whole.  Please check out the following websites:

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Invite me…Invite me

Posted by sweens on June 2, 2009

Perhaps my blog for today is more of a ‘rant’ – inspired by Rick Mercer – however I have a complaint I would like to share with everyone who is using LinkedIn.

Why do people send me an email asking me to invite them?

Clearly you already have my email address, so just add me!  My profile states that I am an open networker.  In fact, my name includes my email address when you view my profile so people can invite me at their discretion.  If you have reached the maximum number of invites you can send, simply send LinkedIn a request to increase your limit and they will do so.

As member of the group, I have run into my limit twice now and have had no problem increasing my limit.  Take the time to invite people yourself, rather then making more work and getting the invites sent to you…

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QA Analysts in Ottawa: Where are you…

Posted by sweens on June 1, 2009

I have had at least three Quality Assurance position assigned to me over the last 2 weeks and I have found them to be challenging.  The reason for my challenge is that I receive so few applications from local candidates.  Can anyone tell me why?

I receive many applications – I would say too many applications – however most of the applicants are from the Toronto or Montreal area.  While I have no problem working with out of town resources, I find it hard to believe that there are so few local candidates. 

I personally do not like being assigned an order by our Toronto office (corporate headquarters) and then submitting them candidates that lives 5 minutes away from their office.  This makes me feel like I am not doing my job.  Surely a recruiter in Toronto can find a Toronto based candidate who will travel – because I am certainly finding them.

Perhaps it is the situation of the labour market which is forcing people to expand the location they are willing to work in, but more and more candidates seem willing to accept a contract five hours down the 401 for the same rate they would get paid back home.

I am going to look into finding a ‘QA’ only job board because I am not turning up enough local candidates.  Perhaps they have something against traditional job boards like Monster and Workopolis.

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GM files for Bankruptcy

Posted by sweens on June 1, 2009

General Motors began the process of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today in New York.  While the automotive giant is optimistic that the Canadian unit may be able to avoid seeking bankruptcy protection, the president of the Canadian Auto Workers Union said he would be ‘incredibly surprised’ if all GM plants managed to stay open.


Please read the whole article at:



The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is also reporting that 14 GM plants are scheduled to be closed.  

Please read the whole article at:

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