Saturday, March 20, 2010

Canadian Staffing Industry Awards - ACSESS

It’s ACSESS award season. The timing couldn’t be more perfect to feature our highly respected industry awards. As I write this message for Dialogue magazine, the Vancouver Winter Olympics are in full swing. Omnipresent on every television set, in every home and in every restaurant, is the background chatter and ticker tape reminding us of the medal winners.

Whether awards are international Olympic medals, commemorating incredible athletic feats, or national ACSESS industry awards, acknowledging outstanding contributions to staffing in Canada, it is always exciting and uplifting to celebrate award recipients and recognize their extraordinary accomplishments.

We will be announcing our industry award recipients at the national annual conference in Mississauga, Ontario, in May, 2010. Each of our ACSESS awards has meaning on many levels. Intensely vigorous competitors pause and join together to honour and celebrate their business rivals’ special accomplishments, leadership, chapter success, community service, and health and safety performance. The recipients deserve every bit of recognition we can offer.

We all deserve a little bit of special recognition. I propose that we introduce the “Survivor Award”. If you are reading this magazine, you survived the most difficult economic cycle ever experienced by the Canadian staffing industry. Although we are still in a fragile recovery period, it’s probably safe to say that the worst is now behind us. You survived. Congratulations…you are a winner!

During these tough economic and political times, ACSESS has demonstrated the depth of its strength. While most staffing associations in other countries experienced reduced membership levels accompanied by service and staff reductions, ACSESS held strong. Canadian staffing companies turned to ACSSES for representation, training, tools and resources. More companies became new members and our membership continued to grow. ACSESS has clearly secured its status and reputation as the single national voice of staffing, effectively representing our industry and membership. If there were an international award for best industry association, ACSESS would be a winner, too.

We remain in a fragile economic environment and there is no easy path to follow; there never will be. We remain surrounded by political and social forces that do not fully appreciate the value we offer to people, companies and the economy; we always will be.

Every permanent, contract and temporary job that we fill is exciting and uplifting. That’s the nature of our business. The best way for us to achieve greater recognition is to stand on the award podium and proudly show the world what we have accomplished. We have a lot to celebrate. This spring, ACSESS will recognize our award-winning member companies, chapters and individuals. Let’s take a lesson from the Olympics and flaunt our every success for the whole world to see.

This is a reprint of the Presidents Message in the spring edition of the ACSESS Dialogue magazine (Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services.

You can download the entire magazine from the ACSESS Website

Steve Jones
National President

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Canadian Staffing Index: A Leading Indicator of Economic Recovery

The Canadian employment rate is heading in the right direction and temporary staffing is leading the way!

Last week, the Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services (ACSESS), in conjunction with independent research firm Staffing Industry Analysts, released a new groundbreaking monthly index that tracks temporary employment across Canada. The Canadian Staffing Index reported consistent job growth for several months as far back as May 2009. Statistics Canada then followed with the news that 25,000 Canadian jobs were created during the month of February 2010.

It’s a well known fact that Statistics Canada’s job creation numbers are a lagging indicator of the economy, however, it is believed that the new Canadian Staffing Index, which measures temporary help hours, will provide a real-time barometer of employment activity and a reliable leading indicator of near-future full-time job creation.

The March 12, 2010, the Labour Force Survey produced by Statistics Canada says that “employment has been on an upward trend since July 2009 (+159,000 jobs),” and that “this contrasts with the sharp drop of 417,000 between the peak in October 2008 and July 2009.”

In comparison, the Canadian Staffing Index shows that temporary employment hours were on an upward trend three months ahead of the more traditional Labour Force and Unemployment data.(

It’s interesting to note that the lagging Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey and the current Canadian Staffing Index both confirm that employment peaked in October of 2008. Had the Staffing Index been in place at that time, the decline in temporary personnel hours may have provided an ominous foreboding of the devastating job losses that ultimately followed. It only makes sense considering that temporary workers are typically the first to be cut back in slow periods and the first to return in a recovery.

Temporary staffing is primarily used by business managers to hedge against the uncertainties and fluctuations in the economy. Other research data shows that temporary employment will often transition to regular full-time employment when the work requirements become more consistent and predictable.

The Canadian Staffing Industry Index is a reliable tool for business managers, economists and governments in their development of policy and decision making. The names of the actual survey participants and the individual companies’ data is kept confidential, administered by an independent research firm, Staffing Industry Analysts, but we know that no other survey of its type with such an extraordinarily high percentage of the total market share has ever been collected or reported on in Canada.

All of our companies within Design Group Staffing Inc., including The People Bank, Placement Group, Design Group Technical Staffing, Allen Professional Search, INTEQNA, Aimco Industrial Staffing, The Medical Recruitment Network and La Banque de Personnel participate in the submission of confidential and timely data. When our data is combined with the other respondents’ data, the survey provides trends and hours worked by over 30,000 employees. Now that’s a sample size to be reckoned with!

We will continue to deliver future Canadian Staffing Index results through future editions of the Staffing Insider. The way things are going, we predict that the next Canadian Staffing Index will verify that there is more job growth in the current month. That’s because we are busy…so you will be, too.

This article was written by Steve Jones and published during the week of March 15, 2010 in the Staffing Insider, a regular email broadcast produced by The People Bank, Aimco, Allen Professional Search, La Banque de Personnel and the Medical Recruitment Network.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Internet Job Boards - Friend or Foe

By Steve Jones, CPC March 11, 2010 for Photograph by: Handout, ACSESS

The Internet and job boards have given you and the rest of the entire world an equal ability to discover and apply for all the same jobs.

The Internet and job boards have given you and the rest of the entire world an equal ability to discover and apply for all the same jobs. Technology makes it easier for the qualified and the unqualified to clutter the field making it more difficult for you to stand out from the crowd. Understanding Internet job board technology can give you the upper hand when developing your resume and employment application strategy.

Here are a few quick tips that will increase your job board application results.

Tip #1 - Resume Key Words

Most employers use indexed database technology where the words and phrases contained within your resume are stored and then searchable within the database. It is very important that your resume contains the words and phrases that an employer will likely use in their resume searching and filtering process. For example, you may have had the title of "Product Support Specialist" in a call centre for an electronics company. If your job search is focused around customer interaction then the words "Customer Service", "Call Centre", "Client Support", "Inbound" and "CSR" are common words and expressions that might work for you. On the other hand, if your career objective is more technically focused than people focused then you should shift the emphasis of words in your resume to describe the specific products and technologies that you are familiar with.

You already have the headings in your resume like “Career Objective”, “Education” and “Career History” so why not include a heading called “Key Words” then list a set of key words that might match common words used by employers when using a database search engine.

Tip #2 - .doc File Format
Employers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to store and sort the resumes and applications they receive. Most ATS are capable of handling Microsoft word .doc file formats but many have difficulty handling resumes in other formats such as PDF, .docx, wpd, html and other standards. These formats may have their advantages but not when attaching your resume to an on-line application form. If the words and phrases within your resume cannot be extracted by the employer’s applicant tracking software then you run the risk of never being noticed by a real person. Always submit your resume in the world's most common format.

Tip #3 - Follow Up
The biggest problem with on-line systems is the lack of human interaction. In the end, people will hire people to work with other people. Do your research and figure out who the human resources or hiring manager is and then send them a personal note pointing out that you have applied on-line. Include a professional letter that contains information that will motivate them to bypass the computer sorting process and go directly to your application. Try to make contact in person, over the phone or by email.

We frequently hear people talk about how lucky or unlucky they are in their job search. Luck has nothing to do with it. Remember that the smarter you work, the luckier you'll get.

The People Bank is an active member of ACSESS, the Association of Canadian Search Employment and Staffing Services and Steve Jones is President of both The People Bank and ACSESS.