Hess Associates

You do often hear the joke “Chief Bottle Washer” as someone’s self-designated job title. Maybe they do do some of that, just pitching in in the coffee room, no doubt. Still, they may in fact be the most helpful team mate there. This self-title is both humble and funny, revealing interesting characteristics about your co-worker, boss, or employee.

Kidding aside, titles have always meant a lot – VP of Sales and Marketing, vs Account Manager – connotes leadership, success, judgment, authority, responsibility. But doesn’t that depend on the size of the company? TD Bank vs a new venture with 6 employees? Sort of tradition vs JLabs, MaRS, Silicon Valley and Waterloo, ON start ups.
Sure, titles are part of the promotion hierarchy, and have a value.

But some companies are now looking at exciting, unusual, descriptive, challenging titles to attract millenials and Gen Z, who seek excitement outside of tradition. For example, “data wrangler” vs “data analyst”, “VP, People” vs “head of human resources”, “shine artists” vs “shoe shine boys”. Some of these suggest that the person is more creative and talented. Some companies even give new employees the ability to choose their own descriptive titles. Whatever they will be proud of when they hand out a business card and will motivate them in their jobs (Wall Street Journal, Thursday Nov 15, 2018).

How will this affect one’s ability to move up in the next company? A professional resume which properly describes his/her job functions and successes will totally illustrate the unusual extra characteristics depicted in the title and serve to clarify. May even show someone who thinks outside the box.

Many people will say they don’t care about titles when they are being interviewed for a position,
and some really mean this, and feel that responsibilities, culture, reputation and prestige of the company, remuneration mean more. At a high level, you can always find people with recent titles such as Director, Manager, even VP, intermixed, probably reflecting the size of the different organizations. But some people want advancement through title.

The point is, these days, that as usual, there is not one answer, but there are refreshing and exciting approaches being taken.

This past holiday season, did you think about what you would rather be?

Santa Claus OR Benefits Manager?
Caroler OR PR Manager?
Choir Master OR Project Manager?
The Grinch OR Chief Compliance Officer?
Rudolph OR Team Leader?
Christmas Elf OR Associate Engineer?

Whichever way you see yourself, be the best you! And great success in 2019 from Hess Associates.
Paula Strasberg is VP Recruiting, Hess Associates (Search)
And President of Editmyresumenow.com

Many people are overqualified for their jobs. They may have higher education than the position they are in demands, they may have held higher positions previously , they may have many more years of experience than their company required when they signed on. But think about it: do you not want the smartest people with the most to contribute?
And what does overqualified mean, anyway? A Ph.D. versus an M.Sc., 15 years of experience compared to 5, management background against those with no delegating ability, able to see the big picture, versus someone who doggedly (yet well) does their job with no interest in what is happening around him / her?
You want to build your company / team with strong, involved, alive, invested employees.
The trick is to hire them, and be able to keep them happy.

So what are the problems you will have to contend with / consider?
1. Salary – money is important to everyone, but for some people, the company reputation, prestige, quality products, interesting research, amazing benefits, 1 hour closer to home, great time off can make up for a differential, allowing a greater work / life balance. Many people seek these perks.
2. Boredom – the job you are offering may not be the Sr. Manager of XYZ but the role may expose the potential employee to many facets of the industry that s/he never had the opportunity to learn about. Perhaps it is a job in regulatory affairs, and s/he would now be the person interacting with Health Canada or the FDA – maybe they never did this before. Certain parts of the new job may still be challenging, and the team may be strong and fun to work with. Just make sure that s/he has enough to do.
3. Pride – you may worry that the potential employee will be embarrassed to take this job,
or interact uncomfortably with the team, feeling it is all beneath her / him, and
considering his/her previous job, or degree, or whatever. But this position may be in a different area, and s/he may want a shift in direction and will be thrilled to learn something new and contribute his/her skills to an allied area. You will also find that many people reach a point where they want to do the real job they love and do not want to worry about management issues.
4. Fear of rejection – this applicant may sense that you only want to hire him / her until you find someone closer to the job description, who may not have as many future job demands. If you like his / her skills and want to hire him / her, you must ensure that you and your team make her / him feel valuable and accepted, not resented, seen as a threat, or marginalized.
5. Hiring Manager not assessing pertinent qualities on resume – many people write their resumes with their job experience near the top and skills further down. A hiring manager may just look at titles and dismiss the person out of hand, feeling that s/he is not serious about taking a lesser title, or feeling threatened him / herself by the person’s background. It is important to match the applicant’s skills with the requirements of the job. Can s/he do the job? Is s/he bringing what you need to the table? Yes – then grant him/her an interview wherein you can sort out other issues. They will bring a fresh perspective , expertise, and contacts that can impact business and drive revenue.

If your company is on an upward trajectory, then hiring someone with promotion potential and management background arms you with the ability to grow, with the aid of the great people you already have in place. S/he will have the skills to help you scale up quickly and efficiently.
It’s a win-win situation.

Carly Fiorina gave the 2001 commencement address at Stanford University. The most valuable class she took when she attended Stanford was not in Economics or Psychology. It was a graduate seminar in “Christian, Islamic, and Jewish Political Philosophies of the Middle Ages”

Every week she read one of the great works of medieval philosophy (~1,000 pages) such as Aquinas, Bacon, Abelard and then distilled the philosophy into 2 pages.

Her process was quite interesting. She would shoot for 20 pages and then edit those to 10 pages and finally to 2 pages that would contain the essence. Then repeat the process over again the next week.

The skill she developed was the ability to distill and synthesize and get to the very essence of things.

The rigor of this distillation process, and the work of refining was where the real learning happened.

Over the course of her career, she honed this skill and finally ended up as the President and CEO of Hewlett Packard and also a Republican candidate for the U.S. Presidency in 2015/2016.

She goes on to look at a life as a great work. Living life is a process that needs to be refined and distilled. She started with thousands of pages of text that came from her beliefs, education, relationships and experiences and started to distill her essence.

The way she did that was by confronting her fears, and mastering them. It was the “light bulb turning on” moments that brought her closer and closer to her true self.

She let her fears motivate her, not inhibit her.

You can read her speech “The process of distillation: Getting to the essence of things” at http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/execteam/speeches/fiorina/stanford_01.html

Or listen to her commencement address at https://www.c-span.org/video/?164865-1/stanford-university-commencement-address

Herbert Hess is the founder of Hess Associates, a recruitment firm involved in placing contract and permanent staff in the IT, Medical Device, and Biotechnology sectors.

The main purpose of a resume is to generate an interview but a few intermediate steps occur between the time you complete and send the resume.

One of the most important things you can do is have the resume proof read by another individual after using a spell check program. Nothing is worse than having your resume discarded because of a typo. Typos are very easy to make so make sure your resume is error free.

You should distinguish yourself from others. One way is to save your resume file with your name and the word resume beside it instead of using initials or just the word resume. This file can be in .pdf or .doc but different versions of Word can skew the way the resume looks especially if it has been heavily formatted. The person opening your resume may be using a different version of Word so I suggest sending a .pdf file.

Avoid using “To Whom It May Concern” when sending your resume. It may appear that you never went to the trouble of finding out hiring manager’s name. Send it to the Hiring Manager after calling the company to find their email address. Most of the time if you send your resume to a non-hiring manager you will either receive an acknowledgement of receipt or more frequently nothing at all. And after a period of no responses your self-esteem can take a hit. So you must send it to the hiring manager.

When should you send out your resume? Most job seekers send their resumes out on Monday morning but that isn’t when companies update their job listings. Thursday is the best day. So if you want to get the advantage send your resume out later in the week.

Let’s summarize:

– Make sure the spelling and grammar are perfect
– The resume file should have your name on it
– Send your resume to the Hiring Manager
– Send it later in the week

You may not generate an interview for each resume you send out but your percentage will greatly improve.

If you have concerns about your resume, please consult http://www.editmyresumenow.com

Dr. Molly Shoichet has recently been appointed Ontario’s FIRST Chief Scientist. She holds the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Tissue Engineering and is University Professor of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, Chemistry and Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto1.

However at present, within the so-called STEM fields – Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) only 1/4 and 1/5 of graduates from IT or engineering respectively are women, and even then only ¼ of these women become or remain employed in a STEM-related job2.

Why is this so?

Many women find STEM a breeding ground for sexist or abusive behavior. “Climbing ladders loses its appeal if you’re forced to dodge sexism and harassment the whole way up”3.
Going along with that, it also seems that “If they’re likeable, they’re not considered leadership material; if they’re competent, they are judged to be inadequate women”4. Women often feel marginalized and resent being assigned less challenging tasks than men are assigned5.
A study from Frontiers in Psychology6 revealed that women leave STEM for 3 reasons: (1) inequitable pay coupled with a demanding life style incompatible with family life, (2) boring assignments not matching their skills and (3) little recognition of any achievements.

This is also meaningful, given that the percentage of women working in traditional male-dominated industries in Canada in mid 2017 varied from 11 to under 25% (construction, logging, forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas, transportation, and warehousing7. Now this is not surprising, as most women are not drawn to he-man, muscle-man occupations. Nor are they drawn to occupations such as drilling, blasting, bricklaying, and so on where they represent ~1% of the workforce. Not all jobs within these industries however are at the hands-on heavy lifting stage, yet still in the more office-related positions women are under-represented.

Perhaps with more female leaders such as Dr. Shoichet, this will all change. These leaders can be role-models, mentors, your cheering section, and willing to reward success equally across the board.


One of the difficult questions facing HR department heads is whether it is better to build up a strong internal recruiting department or leave the headhunting side to a third party. A lot of this depends on the size of your company, how many hires you make per month, and the level of position. If you are hiring a large number of interns, summer students, trainees, and so on, you should generally do this internally.

For mid or senior level positions though, third party recruiters offer several advantages:

1. Time is money – there is a process to recruiting, and part of it involves the inevitable sifting through all of the non-relevant, inappropriate resumes that are submitted in response to ads on job boards or web sites. Recruiters are paid an agreed-upon fee, and good or bad, time is not calculated directly into this equation. Paying an in-house employee to do this does not make sense. Some companies though will hire a third party and pay them by the hour to do this – we have done this on several occasions.

2. Internal recruiters can waste a lot of time looking at inappropriate resumes – but third party recruiters are not restricted from recruiting directly from your competitors (unless you have a non- compete agreement with a specific company). Direct recruiting is not something in-house staff can conscionably do, and it is far less time-consuming than looking at resumes from job boards. The person you normally want is working for your competitor and not looking at job boards anyway.

3. There is also the economy of scale offered by recruiters. They are often looking for similar people for similar organizations. The process of advertising, a list of potential competitors, a list of people applying for these types of positions, people whom they may have already qualified are likely all there and ready to go.

4. Headhunters have excellent databases of professional people and often are affiliated with other headhunters, expanding their databases many fold, and leveraging the social media power of more than one search firm. They are thus able to enlist the help of other headhunters to help with your search, in a process seamless and invisible to you (as we are able to do courtesy of our membership in NPA – National Personnel Associates).

5. Often a resume does not truly reflect the applicants’ skills and backgrounds. Many headhunters will, with the cooperation of an applicant, edit her/his resume to properly reflect what they do. This is not something your staff would do, and this person could turn out to be your next great hire. Your internal recruiter may have rejected her/him.
(We are also affiliated with a company that does resume editing – EditMyResumeNow.com).

6. Third party recruiters are very helpful when you want to hire contract (temp) professionals, such as CPAs, IT specialists, Project Managers, and others. These people prefer to work contract, and are often on recruiter databases and can be on their payroll, making your job easier. This can be a very fast process and can do a lot to alleviate stress within your organization.

7. Recruiters normally vet applicants, do reference checks, and help ensure that they are the right person
who will stay with your company and do a great job – the cost of a bad hire is exceptionally high.

8. Importantly, third party recruiters can talk money with a candidate – they will be able to manage a candidate’s financial expectations and find out what offer is likely to be accepted. This makes the process easier and helps each side come to a mutually acceptable agreement, avoiding having the process go off the rails.

A good recruiting company can become your trusted friend and advisor – they will not leave your company and take a job with your competitor, as your in-house recruiter might. They will come to learn the strengths and goals of your company and be able to extol the benefits of being your employee. You will feel comfortable leaving the recruiting to them. Outsourcing recruiting to a third party works.

Whichever side of the divide you are on – either hiring or applying for a position, cultural fit is something that comes into play, and that you have experienced.

Cultural fit is the likelihood that a job candidate will be able to conform and adapt to the core values and collective behaviours that make up an organization. (http://searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/Cultural-fit).

This fit is part of what companies and hiring mangers call “soft skills” – sometimes intangibles, based on subjective impressions, the candidate’s long term goals, personality, and sadly, can be a euphemism for age or gender. Some companies use psychological testing to try to determine these factors.

Whereas hard skills are easy to delineate on a resume, and can be tested for in most situations, a candidate matching the hard skills requirements better than all other candidates may not get the job. Hiring managers will say s/he was not a fit. It is often hard to elaborate, as the answer lies between the lines.

You may be too serious, too light-hearted, be out of the average age range (unless you are applying for a management position). In fact, if you are applying for a management position, they may not like your management style, even if you have managed many such projects, types of people, or departments before. Or as a manager, you may feel this way about an applicant.

Cultural fit may also reflect your own insecurities if you are the hiring manager – Do you feel threatened by his/her knowledge and skills? Do you feel you will be supplanted? You may feel that you cannot give her/him orders, or that you will be uncomfortable working with her/him.

Recently we were asked to recruit a department director for a company. The VP to whom the position reported chose to hire the least experienced person, as she felt she could only influence this person, and she was not comfortable having someone close to being her equal in the position. Truly this does not benefit the company, but it is not a rare occurrence.

In another instance, we sent five programmers to be interviewed for a position. The manager again chose the least experienced, who would require the steepest learning curve. Why? He said he liked him best. He could work with him, plain and simple.

No explaining love, really.

But some of this could border on discrimination. “Discrimination is an action or a decision that treats a person or a group negatively for reasons such as their race, age or disability. These reasons are known as grounds of discrimination. Federal employers and service providers, as well as employers and service providers of private companies that are regulated by the federal government, cannot discriminate against individuals for these reasons.” (http://www.chrc-ccdp.gc.ca/eng/content/what-discrimination) Please also refer to this web site for employer obligation and human rights protection in Canada, as this is a very complicated issue.

What does this mean? Hiring a recruiter on an exclusive basis means just this – you choose one recruiting firm for your assignment and this firm, normally within a reasonable time-frame, has the mandate to find your number 1 choice for the position. Recruiters working on a contingency search compete against a number of other companies and whoever first produces the resume of the person who is ultimately hired wins. It is all or nothing.

So what are the advantages of giving this exclusivity to a headhunter?

1. It gives the recruiting company the time it needs to set up the search properly.

2. With contingency it is a race against time so there is no time to find the talented people who are not looking but must be discovered / cold called / “recruited” from their parent company. Contingency forces companies to submit often partially qualified candidates before anyone else does. If they take the time to schedule appointments to talk, and soul-search, other companies will call them, or even worse, but common, submit their resumes if they come across them, without calling at all.

3. Contingency Methodology – standard – quick – search database, do some advertising, look through boards, not enough time to be thorough and contact people who like their jobs and are not looking. This does not mean that they will not find a good candidate – it just means that it is harder to be organized, list your competitors, call their people, etc.

4. Focus on getting potentially qualified candidates rather than A players due to race with competition

5. In general, emphasis ends up being on speed not quality, due to circumstances

6. Exclusive basis – would recommend 3 to 5 highly qualified candidates – recruiters do the screening – on contingency, the employer ends up screening multiple candidates from all over and doing the QC.

7. Your firm is better represented if candidates get one message, not many, from many firms.

8. Becomes a top priority search for the recruiter firm in terms of time and effort.

9. The recruiter firm ensure that the whole process is complete and successful – follow through right to the end, even into the first weeks of employment.

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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44CECmweCpk

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.

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.”

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