Friday, July 23, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics

Mark Twain popularized the saying in "Chapters from My Autobiography", published in 1906. "Figures often beguile me," he wrote, "particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; ...There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

The title of this blog is not to suggest that the recent employment data is false, but only that some interpretations of the data may be misleading.

Earlier this month, Statistics Canada reported that employment rose in Canada by 93,000 in June prompting some prominent Canadian media to prematurely declare that the economy is roaring ahead.

Globe and Mail columnist Jeremy Torobin wrote " Central Canada’s job machine is back and revving into high gear" in his article published on July 9, 2010.

Immediately following the shocking report from StasCan, the Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services (ACSESS) reported that the industry Hours Index jumped by 7 points from the previous month of 79 to 86 in June, 2010.

The reality of the Staffing Index is that temporary and contract hours are a real-time indicator of employment activity that will typically translates into Stats Canada number 3 months later. The increased numbers reported by ACSESS for June are an indicator that Stats Canada will report another bump in jobs in the fall.

The reality is that times are still tough. We are forced to reinvent our businesses, realign our costs and respond to the sluggish global economy. Our markets are changing, our jobs are changing and our industries are changing. Temporary and contract employment are the tools that help our business leaders to transition from old to new.

Another reality at The People Bank and Aimco Staffing, is that we are experiencing an increase in sales, marketing and customer service full-time jobs. This is an indication that our customers believe in economic growth ahead.

Here is a copy of the ACSESS press release.

Positive Results from Canada’s Staffing Index for June

More Signs of Economic Recover from ACSESS

Mississauga, ON – July 2010. The June 2010 Canadian Staffing Index was released this week by the Association of Canadian Search, Employment & Staffing Services (ACSESS).

June’s Index showed a significant increase of 7 points over the May score representing the highest score in over 18 months. Since June 2009 the index has recovered 18 index points but is still 14 points off the benchmark 100 set in July 2008.

While single month differences can fluctuate based on available billing hours, seasonal differences, summer employment and other trends, overall the index is a very positive sign for Canada’s economy. The temporary workforce is returning to pre-recession levels, meaning that companies are cautiously ramping up their workforces.

While still some way to go, the Staffing Index would suggest that we remain on a steady, if somewhat slow economic improvement. The industry expects July numbers to reflect increased holidays and vacations, resulting in a lower index number. That trend should revert to being positive in the Fall.

“Canada’s staffing industry is encouraged by these results and we feel this is a true “pulse” on the economy here. Cautious optimism and a gradual steady recovery remains the watchword according to the Canadian Staffing Index.” said Steve Jones, President of ACSESS.

ACSESS’ belief that the Index is a “real time” indicator of the current state of the economy becomes stronger with each month that data is released. Numerous ACSESS members in regions across Canada have reported a significant increase in recruitment activity and are anxious to see how this will be reflected in upcoming numbers that are expected to be high during the fall months, traditionally the busiest quarter for staffing firms.

About the Canadian Staffing Index:

The data is collected by Staffing Industry Analysts, an independent company
specialized in the staffing industry.

The data is provided by a representative number of Canadian staffing companies providing services in the provinces across the country.

ACSESS believes that this “real data” supports U.S evidence that the Staffing Industry is a barometer of economic performance, and will provide information for economists, politicians, analysts, researchers and journalists in addition to members of the staffing industry.


ACSESS is the single voice for promoting best practices and ethical standards for the recruitment, employment and staffing services industry in Canada. For more information visit:

About Staffing Industry Analysts

Staffing Industry Analysts is the premier research and analysis firm covering temporary employment and the contingent workforce. Known for its independent and objective insights, the company’s proprietary research, data, support tools, publications and executive conferences provide a competitive edge to decision-makers who supply and buy temporary staffing. In addition to temporary staffing, Staffing Industry Analysts also covers these related staffing sectors: third party placement, and staff leasing (PEOs). Founded in 1989, the company is headquartered in Los Altos, California. For more information visit:

Media Contact:

Suzanne McInerney, CPC
Communications and Marketing Specialist
Phone 1-888-232-4962

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Covering Letters

In a recent application for employment, the following covering letter caught my attention. It turned out to be a slightly modified copy of a previously written piece of internet folklore.

According to the satirical hoax has been circulating since 1990 as an asnswer on a college application to NYU. It was originally written by a high school student named Hugh Gallagher, who entered it in the humor category of the Scholastic Writing Awards and won first prize. It was subsequently published in Literary Calvalcade, a magazine of contemporary student writing, and reprinted in Harper's and The Guardian before taking off as one of the most forwarded "viral" emails of the decade."

I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently.

Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row. I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I'm bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don't perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat 400.

My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me. I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations with the CIA.

I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid.

On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prize-winning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin.

I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.

But I have not yet had an interview with you.

This particular applicant did not get the job he was applying for but he reminded me that a good covering letter really matters! Here is a little tip.

When you are applying for a job through an internet application or job board, the system may limit the number documents you can attach. Always attach your resume. Since covering letters really matter, customize your covering letter for every job and then copy and paste the entire letter into the comments box of the application form.