Hess Associates

Should a Man Wear Brown Shoes to an Interview?

What is the big deal? Brown leather and black leather are ….. leather! Why the concern?
Dressing for success has always been a purposeful, meaningful, activity.
So when it comes to what shoes men should wear to an interview:
Some will suggest dark, polished shoes, black or brown, laces or loafers.
For others, a pair of black oxfords or cap-toed oxfords is a good choice of footwear. Get ones that don’t have super thick soles so they won’t look like boots. Boat shoes are not acceptable for business formal.
http://www.wikihow.com/Dress-for-an-Interview and http://www.realmenrealstyle.com/brown-vs-black-shoes-men-style-tips/ .
However, it has been documented that if you want a job in banking, and certainly in Britain,
brown shoes simply will not do http://startouch.thestar.com/screens/ad89eac3-b524-43a7-9bb8-0221b0e171ed%7C_0.html or http://thetab.com/uk/2016/09/02/wear-brown-shoes-interview-youre-not-getting-job-city-17463.

To be helpful, an informative youtube item discusses 3 factors in determining which to wear and when:
1. The occasion – if very formal – one could consider a job interview formal, depending on the job level – wear black
2. Time of day – darker clothes and shoes toward evening – black – and yes, brown could work if the event has an early start,
3. Time of year – colours worn are lighter in summer, brown could work.

What is the story behind black vs brown shoes, anyway?

“If we go back in menswear history, we find that Beau Brummell (1778 – 1840) liked his black, champagne polished boots for town wear. (Others) followed his example and wore black footwear for formal occasions and in town (London). During this period, rules along the lines of “no brown in town” or “no brown after six” were very much respected, and ensured people were socially accepted.”
“By the 1950’s, the “no brown in town” rule was no longer valid, although black was still the color for evenings”. These days, brown can be worn with almost anything, except real formal attire.

However Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, raised quite a stir when he saw fit to wear his brown shoes with a navy suit, not only to a meeting with the US President, but also to his own swearing-in ceremony http://www.who2.com/justin-trudeau-wore-brown-shoes-with-a-blue-suit-at-the-white-house/. It seems that in your 30’s to your mid to later 40’s you can wear brown shoes but past 50 you
should stick to the black shoes tradition.

Other notables wearing the same were Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall. It does seem, “that in 2016,
it’s also a choice that from a fashion standpoint looks increasingly right.”

So the take-home message for 2017 is that brown shoes are great, but will not do with a tux,
in British banking circles, and probably not in a higher level ,e.g. C-level ,interview setting.
Wearing black shoes will eliminate one worry factor – interviews are stressful enough.

Why is Retirement so Challenging?

Retirement involves change. And change is never comfortable. We remember how many times we wanted to exercise more, eat healthier, and lose those nagging few pounds that make us unhappy. And we try to forget how few times we succeeded even temporarily. Let’s try to understand the changes you as a retiree will face:

1) Habits – Our habits are one of our major roadblocks. In fact habits are automatic programs that perform most of our daily functions. Recoding some of these programs isn’t easy.

2) Time – Your time becomes unstructured. The Monday to Friday routine has shrunk and the Saturday/Sunday schedule has dramatically expanded. All of the errands and tasks delegated to the weekend can now be moved to the Monday to Friday portion of the week. Leisure activities such as movies and concerts as well as fitness activities can be spread throughout the week. And this leaves many retirees
not knowing what day of the week it is.

3) Distractions – Distractions are ubiquitous. There are many meaningless distractions as watching TV, daydreaming, reading newspapers, and playing games on your favorite mobile device, but there are also good distractions such as having coffee with friends.

4) “GO TO” person – As the retired person you become the fixer for family and friends and become designated to do the work. You are the one who is expected to come up with solutions and execute them as you are the one who has retired.

5) Loss of identity – Our society defines the individual by the work they do which is tied up with our self esteem. Retirement can change you from the senior corporate executive to the man walking the dog at 3 PM which can be a great loss in self esteem. You also have less reason to feel that sense of accomplishment which nourishes your soul.

6) Money – Frequently you may have less money to spend and more time to spend it.

7) Health – you can spend more time worrying needlessly about your health and seeing more doctors and specialists for minor ailments.

8) Loneliness – At retirement age, it is not unusual to lose loved ones. Being able to share the wacky parts of life as well as the difficult ones without a spouse, family member, or friend can add to the feeling of loneliness. This feeling increases as one ages, so having a circle of friends or family
helps to decrease that feeling of isolation and loneliness

Despite the fact that in the Western world people are now living longer than at any time in history, some of us have a very strong desire to retire early. The question is whether this is a wise thing to do.

The people with the longest longevity (and are among the happiest) live in Okinawa, Japan. They don’t even have a word for “retirement.” The closest they come is “Ikigai”
which means Reason for Being. The French have “Raison D’etre” — but they also have a word for retirement.

A gentleman in his late 80’s who was working full time was asked when he intended to retire and responded “I retire every night.” Maybe the answer to aging well is “never retire.”

When is it Time to Look for a New Job?

You have been working for Company A for a number of years – along the way, you may have had a promotion or two or three, with more responsibility and the ability to provide more input.
Co-workers have come and gone or remained, and may or may not actually have become friends. Your work has fallen into a routine, even if the scope has grown.
Should you stay there and continue to grow? Are you growing at all, or stagnating?

Signs to look out for:
1. Your boss and you may not get along and your boss is your age or younger – unless you can change departments, you may have reached a ceiling.
2. Getting up and going to work is no longer motivating.
3. Receiving emails and texts from people at work is a huge nuisance since you are no longer interested in anything to do with work after hours.
4. Your job has become stressful and you not only have no time to sleep properly but you also stay up worrying about work-related issues, and your work/life balance is gone.
5. You have information on the fact that the company is not doing well or may be acquired.
6. You have not received much of a pay raise in a long time and subordinates are earning just as much.
7. You no longer feel part of the cultural fit – the demographics have changed, and you don’t even like the people around you, and suspect the feeling is mutual.
8. The goals of your job are no longer the goals you have for your career.
9. The commute has become much longer in recent years as traffic patterns have changed.
10. You don’t feel appreciated and your skills are not being fully used.
11. You are suddenly being expected to do way more travel than you originally signed on to do.
12. A headhunter has told you about an amazing opportunity and you are surprised to find that you really feel like exploring it.

If some of these ring true, it is time for serious reflection, career counseling, reading career opportunity ads, and consulting with a recruiter.

Dating and Your Workplace – Do or Don’t – But Most Do

Is it illegal to have a romantic relationship with someone in the workplace in Canada?
The real answer is “No”.

Discrimination on the basis of family status is illegal, but of course your date is not (at least not yet) a member of your family. Some companies have developed policies frowning on intra-company dating, but such a policy is not a federal or provincial law (http://www.hrmonline.ca/hr-news/can-you-legally-ban-office-romances-208795.aspx), and would not hold up in court.

If you begin to work at a company where your present dating partner works, it is probably advisable to disclose this at the outset. For starters, you would not want to report to this person, nor would you want to have them reporting to you. The company would not want this arrangement either. If you did not disclose this at the outset, it would certainly not remain a secret in any case.

Of course, it is always best to behave in an adult, friendly, non-romantic fashion, to keep up a normal professional comfort level in all of your doings and relationships that take place during the work day. Policies of the 21st century on workplace romance have to adjust to today’s society – where hoodies and jeans have replaced suits and ties – it is a different world.

Often the easiest place to meet someone you would like to date is at the workplace – common interests, face to face, relationship development starting as professional friends. It would certainly not be in a company’s best interests to discourage this.

“With more people delaying marriages until after they’ve started their careers, and work seeping ever deeper into our lives, workplace romances have become commonplace. In a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, 40% of employees reported having dated co-workers sometime in their career” (http://www.canadianbusiness.com/lifestyle/is-your-policy-on-office-dating-updated-for-the-21st-century/).

“According to Stephanie Losee and Helaine Olen, authors of the book Office Mate: The Employee Handbook For Finding — And Managing — Romance On The Job, about 50 per cent of workers in the U.S. admit to having dated co-workers. The British payroll company Portfolio Payroll revealed in 2002 that seven out of 10 of their workers had a romantic relationship” (https://www.thestar.com/life/2012/08/02/the_dos_and_donts_of_office_romances.html).

The main thing is to adhere to certain personal, co-worker, and company boundaries:
– Make sure you know your company’s policies on office dating
– Be certain that this is not heading toward sexual harassment
– Do not undeservedly favour, reward, or promote your dating partner
– Don’t have intimate relations with your boss while continuing to work for her/him
– Don’t think no one else knows you are dating a co-worker – they always know eventually
– Let you boss know you are in a relationship (to clarify your situation)
– If you do break up, do not harass your former date, punish them for breaking up, or flaunt your new dating partner – if this new person is also from the same company

Apart from all of this, have fun! Look what you gained by taking this job!!!

10 Ways to Work from Home Efficiently

More and more people are working from home – either for themselves, or for an employer who is happy with having them ‘telecommute’.

If you are employed by an organization within driving range, you may be expected to appear at company meetings on occasion, or on a regularly scheduled basis. Whether you are nearby or truly a remote worker, your employer may also have the expectation that you will work regular hours and be available, say from 9 to 5, for phone calls, conference calls, discussions, advice, submission of documents, tables, drawings, plans, charts, whatever.

Even if you are running your own show, you may have clients who expect to find you during regular business hours – unless you are an artist (in any sense of the word), where your time is your own.

So what are some mechanisms for making this work, being efficient, not wasting time, and not being distracted?

1. Have a designated workplace – essentially an office, with a door. Try to restrict everything in this room to work-related materials, and try to avoid clutter.

2. Set regular hours for yourself, even if you are not restricted by employers or clients.
Work is work and should be compartmentalized. If your time is your own, you can still set a regular number of hours, even if you prefer working at night. There is nothing wrong with taking time off during the day if you know how many hours you have to work to succeed.

3. To get the feeling of going to work, try to go for a walk after breakfast, either long or short, as you prefer, and then ‘arrive’ at work, go into your office, and close the door.
Even if you don’t go out for a walk, perhaps use a tread mill, lift weights, or do something else to energize yourself. Best also to get dressed – anything but pyjamas.

4. Try to limit reading the news on line or catching up on social media to off-hours,
as difficult as this may be, as it is really easy to waste a lot of time.

5. Tell your non-business friends that you have regular business hours and gently try to get them to respect this – if they call, ascertain that all is well with them, and ask if you can call back outside of business hours. Most people will be OK with this.

6. Nothing wrong with a coffee break, lunch break, etc. – you would do this within a company anyway – just watch your precious work time.

7. A real temptation for the cooks amongst us is making dinner – there is nothing wrong with throwing something in the oven – perhaps you can do the prep the night before.

This is one of the great perks of being home while being at work. Even staring a load of laundry is feasible – but apart from simple cooking, like baking a prepared dish,
the more you do, the more you will get used to doing, and the less time you will spend on work. Habits are hard to break, once established.

8. Do you have pre-school aged children? It is impossible to mind children while working.
Maybe a well-behaved baby who likes to sleep. If you seriously have to have regular day time working hours, you should consider day care or someone at home during the day, unless you can work out some sort of schedule with a partner.

9. Treat yourself once in a while! Sneak out and go to the great sale you read about, go out for a real lunch, take 15 or 30 minutes out to exercise, meet a friend for lunch or coffee – you worked hard to find a job you could do in the comfort of your great home.

10. Guard your free time! People who work from home often find themselves working too many hours – it is so easy to wander into your office and get carried away. Remember that there is another life outside your office door!

Is a Manager Entitled to Overtime Pay in Ontario?

Overtime is the amount of time someone works beyond normal working hours. The term is also used for the pay received for this time (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overtime). Actual hours and rates may vary from province to province in Canada, but it seems overall that this does not apply to managers and supervisors.

As outlined by the ON Ministry of Labour, “Managers and supervisors are not covered by overtime rules.”
However, to be exempt from overtime regulations, “he or she must do work that is supervisory or managerial in nature and only do non-managerial or non-supervisory work on an irregular or exceptional basis.” (https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/tools/esworkbook/overtime.php)
If this work non-managerial role becomes regular in nature, he or she “would be entitled to overtime pay if he or she works more than 44 hours in a week.
Possibly employers treat this in a kind of gray area.

As a matter of interest, in the early 2000s, the Superior Court and the Court of Appeal of Quebec rejected a suit for overtime based on the fact that although the employee’s title had been reduced from Director to Analyst, his duties remained essentially managerial in nature.

It is the actual duties one performs that determines who is overtime- eligible.

To read further on this, “Essentially, if someone performs both exempted and non-exempted work, then if the non-exempted work is more than or equal to half their work time, they may be entitled to overtime” (http://www.ottawaemploymentlaw.com/2013/08/overtime-for-managers-ontario-esa.html).

What are the Disadvantages of Hiring Contract vs Full-Time?

1. Lack of continuity
2. Contractors expect freer rein in what they do as they are the subject matter experts
3. Your permanent employees may find comings and goings of contractors disruptive –
People they have just formed working relationships with disappear
4. Often work remotely so harder to communicate with
5. Are not invested in the success of your company
6. More likely to leave prematurely if they get a better offer
7. More frequent recruiting efforts to continually find contractors – a lot of turnover
8. You may be questioned about whether they are truly contractors or full time employees
9. Harder to fire – depending on how your agreement is written
10. Hard to build a core team if you focus on contractors – they do not add permanent value
11. Hard to build up assets – good employees are valuable assets
12. You may run into intellectual property issues with things that they create

Mind the Gap!!! And How to “de-Gap” your Resume

So you have been off work for a few months, either due to the labour market, or the labour (maternity) market, or because you had worked for 10 or 15 years, or more, and seriously wanted a break, or due to family obligations. All fine, but what do you do about the gap? Or as they say in London, its’ up to you to Mind the Gap!!!!
These days, companies tend to look for employed people, assuming they are totally up to date,
happy, not bitter, and maintaining their competitive edge. You have to fit this same bill.

If you have been out of work for a while, make sure your skills are where they should be,
doing this either by studying, volunteering, doing projects as a consultant, honing up at home
(depending what area you work in of course). Put this on your resume in the appropriate spot.

If you have stayed home on parental leave, perfectly fine!!! But again assure the employer in some way that you have kept up – online courses, for example (after all, you are up all night anyway, so might as well study!!!).

If you wanted some “ME” time, you probably deserve it. But make sure it is evident that you are still “with it”, and in the know – whatever that means in your profession. The same would be true
for any happy or sad family obligations you had to attend or attend to.

Give yourself a tetanus shot so you are not rusty:

Network with people in your field, so any potential employer will know, while speaking with you, that you know what’s what, and who’s who. Also networking is a really good way into the job market. Nothing beats human contact, nothing. You can’t operate in a vacuum.

If the gap is a few months, it is not dishonest to use years worked at each company, e.g. 2010-2013, instead of Feb. 2010 – March 2013, keeping the proper years. Also consider a brief explanation of any gap in your cover letter. Best to put it out there in an honest fashion.

Have a positive attitude, and have your resume look positive, so that you could say you were trying to refocus your career and find a position within your industry of choice, and perhaps a specific position.

Try engaging people with blogs, write articles, or try to be a knowledge expert, subject matter expert, answering questions on some of the LinkedIn interest groups, or within societies in your industry, so people get to see your name and associate it with knowledge.

Keep up your physical side, work out, swim, run, whatever you prefer, as this will make you feel and look better (and who knows whom you may meet at your health club!).

Update your profiles on all social networks, with as much work detail as you can. Recruiters are out there!

As you know, getting a job is a full-time job!!!! Enjoy your time, as soon you will be back in the 9 to 5 routine!!

How to Hire the Best Talent

With over 7 billion people out there, certainly there is someone who can fill the position you are hiring for. Of course they do not all live in North America, or the UK, etc. but when you put out the giant sifter, you should be able to isolate a few choice people.

Here are some articles on how other companies do it and/or explanations about why your process is not working:
1. Here are Google, Amazon and Facebook’s Secrets to Hiring the Best People

2. An article from Workopolis on three reasons why smart people don’t get hired


3. An article by Jeff Atwood, Founder of Stack Exchange and Discourse, on why you are not hiring the best and the brightest


4. An explanation about why Steve Jobs considered hiring the right people your most important job and how to improve your hiring skills


5. A very recent Business News Daily article on 9 ways to improve your hiring process


6. An article from Monster on 3 ways to hire great people and avoid hiring disasters


Hope some or all of these work for you !!!

5 Reasons to hire a consultant

1) Specialized knowledge and expertise

2) No long term commitment

3) Load balancing

4) External unbiased perspective

5) Financial
People have two kinds of families; work families and home families. And if it’s a family business the two families are intertwined. So for the sake of clarity let us discuss only the work family.

Firstly, from time to time special needs arise within a business that require a unique kind of expertise. Frequently the most efficient manner of acquiring those skills and expediting the project is through a consultant and this would be the first reason to hire one.

Secondly, a well defined set of activities and milestones and the piece that the consultant will play in this scheme needs to be generated. The consultant arrives at point A and leaves at point B and there is no long term commitment from the client.

Third – The obvious advantage is that staff can proceed with their work assignments without the additional burden of a multitude of tasks. The added load is absorbed by the consultant and the workload would be evenly distributed despite the added tasks.

Fourth – Many consultants have had lots of experience in their niche and understand the pitfalls and best practices and will point out from their experience the best way for the client to proceed without being biased by political baggage that work families
are burdened with.

The fifth and final reason to use a consultant is that financially you wouldn’t have to pay benefits and other perks which permanent employees receive. Tax contributions would also be unnecessary. Just another reason to use consultants and to keep your work family humming and happy.

But by now you are wondering “What does my home family have to do with all of this?”. If you hire the right consultant(s), you will be able to leave work on time and spend more time with your home family!

Herbert Hess

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