Hess Associates

Yes, FRAMES, not blue light glasses (lenses), another craze. As people in lockdown spend more time staring at laptops and other digital screens, they’re ordering more blue light glasses, despite a lack of conclusive evidence that the glasses actually reduce eyestrain or protect from the effects of blue light.

But here we are talking about FASHION, and nothing but. Have you noticed lately, and if you are not living under a rock, you must have noticed, or surely will now, that everyone, like  – everyone, is sporting blue frames – from TV hosts (like Stephen Colbert and Savannah Guthrie) to White House correspondents (like Jonathan Karl) to medical correspondents/experts (Allison McGreer, Barbara Yaffe ) to politicians (Liz Cheney) to Hollywood (Ben Mankiewicz (TCM).  Even I have 2 pairs and will be ordering a third. What about you? Are you in style (not that it matters during a lockdown, unless you are being interviewed on TV, live on Zoom, or are dispensing medical advice)?

How did this happen? Where did our originality go? It seems that the source was one of US’s favourite weathermen (NBC), Al Roker, an aficionado of a wild variety of different styles and colours of frames. Apparently this pair of frames, The Roker, was designed and custom-made for Al in 2019 byAshley Bezamat , founder of Dom Vetro Eyewear, Los Angeles, and images of Roker wearing these frames, went viral. Suddenly these blue frames caught fire and were everywhere –  on Instagram, thehuffpost.com, Pinterest, USA Today, Esquire, Oprahmag.com, you name it.

And since then, sporting blue frames has spread across all walks of life, in most countries – just turn on your TV and take a look.

One could say then that @AlRoker is an Influencer, a word that seemed to grow out of nowhere in the social media / marketing realm over the last 10 years – someone with the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others. An Influencer is highly visible and if it looks great on her/him, it will look great on you, and you will follow said influencer and buy the same brand, colour, or style.

In the workplace, being able to influence other people, gain consensus, inspire confidence in others, are all good traits, the mark of a leader, or a leader-to-be.  And don’t forget the huge importance in sales – influencing others to buy your products. A whole topic in itself.

How about in a job interview setting? Here it is crucial to be able to influence your interviewer .

You have to recognize your strength(s) and try to aim your answers towards pointing out how these skills will allow you to add value to the company or team. You are influencing others to buy the best product in the world – yourself.

Oh, and make sure you are wearing those blue glasses frames. You must look “with it” in an interview.

It is only natural for us to want to separate our work persona from our social, family, friend, school self. Our kids, pets, vacations, hobbies, relationships should be another world away from our place of employment, or potential place of employment. Perhaps that used to be true.

But we all know that with the advent of Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and so on, most of us have posted details and photos and perhaps videos that represent our non-work, human selves. Who looks at this stuff that we have spent all this time posting? Who looks at pictures we have been tagged in, even if we don’t want to be tagged? And the rules on these sites change rather quickly, so that most of us don’t really know everything we can or can’t do on the sites, what other people can say about us without our permission, and so on. Plus it takes time to go back and edit the sites, even if we are aware of the new rules. And what have we said or posted about others? We also know that none of this stuff goes away. Even if you delete it – it lurks somewhere, waiting for the astute to find it.

According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and about 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees. The three main platforms that most employers check are LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. About half of employers – 47% – said they wouldn’t call a person for an interview if they can’t find them online. (https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2377-social-media-hiring.html). Numbers are even higher in a recent blog from Skillmeter (https://skillmeter.com/blog/screening-job-candidates-using-social-media).
Sometimes profiles can be misleading, out of date, or reflective of simple activities that would not pertain to their hireability. Best to ensure that you have a positive online presence. You could even consider having public and private profiles. An interesting article about the ethics of all of this can be found at https://www.hrzone.com/talent/acquisition/social-media-screening-is-it-ethical.

Linked In is another issue. It is considered THE professional network. People are careful here to curate and tend to their profiles. Hiring managers will look at this to compare to your resume, to see if your present and previous positions are the same on both LI and your resume, to look at your stated education, your recommendations, to see how connected you are, the groups you belong to, etc. It is a really good idea to keep this profile refreshed, have a photo, include enough relevant information, especially if you are seeking a new position, making a presentation, publishing a paper, seeking tenure, hoping for a promotion. You are not invisible and extreme humility with very abbreviated information may deter potential employers and recruiters alike.

Just remember that whatever you do online is public domain, finders’ keepers.

During this coronavirus pandemic, social distancing has mostly been mandated across the globe. Even before this new era, in order to save on initial interviewing expenses, many hiring managers or HR managers were conducting initial and even follow-up interviews using Facetime- or Skype- like technologies. Some companies are/were making hiring decisions based entirely on video interviews.

5 main related technologies are used:

1. Facetime is excellent but only if each party has a MAC/ Apple product. This can also be video’d for future reference (https://www.imore.com/how-record-facetime-call-your-iphone-or-mac).

2. Skype, which is owned by Microsoft, actually offers free video services for both MAC and PC, Calls of course, if both the interviewer and interviewee have Skype user names, are free anywhere on earth. Some employers will choose to videotape the interview. This can be done with either MAC or PC (https://support.skype.com/en/skype/iphone/), or if PC, downloading supertintin.

3. Google+ technology works on many platforms but one must open a Google account.

4. Video services, managed by proprietary software, not free, including recording of all interviews, if desired – similar to 1, 2, and 3, offer an organized setting and easy recording. These include but are not limited to hireview, montagetalent, or interviewstream, sparkhire.com, or take a look at this 2020 review of other systems (capterra). Some of these will have mobile apps as well as desktop.

5. If the interview is for a very high powered position, it is possible that this will be conducted in a video conference formal setting. For most positions however, webcams associated with PCs or MACs, Tablets, iPads, phones suffice.

A few precautions for the hiring company:

1. Ensure that your device, formal teleconference room set up, or webcam/computer set ups are ready to go – that the internet is working, the sound is right, passwords are set up. This includes video and audio tests that are easy to run.

2. Be aware of where the eye of the camera is, in order to look directly at the candidate – this gesture is very important and just as hard for them as for you.

3 .Have a clean, dedicated, professional appearing work area – part of your job. In addition to determining if this is the best candidate, the other part of your job is to present your company in the best light, so that the candidate will want to join your team.

4. If at home, make sure no people, animals, radios, TVs, outside traffic will interrupt. Most hiring managers will not carry out interviews at home, but with global considerations and time zones, this is a possibility. Especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Make sure the area behind you is clear and clean.

5. Done properly, this form of interview should still give you an idea of the candidate’s personality, body language, ability to look you in the eye. This can be hard though as people want to look at the speaker on the screen and if they do this, they cannot look at the camera – this is probably the biggest pitfall of the process. Conversely, your body language will speak to the candidate as well.

6. As with traditional interviews, have your list of questions ready and organized.

7. Be prepared to describe your company’s physical layout and location, perhaps even size of offices, cubicles, loft or not, elevator or stair access, windows – all things candidates having on site interviews will be exposed to.

Whichever platform is chosen, the interview process using video may not differ substantially from a more traditional process. It is still the candidate on one side, the potential employer on the other, either singly or as a group.

Note that 80% of major US employers (100 – 10,000 employees) take advantage of live video interviews somewhere in the hiring process. One assumes similar statistics for Canadian companies.

Interestingly, some employers will choose to use software whereby they can email the candidate a link to a series of questions they must answer by video. Then the hiring manager or HR specialist can review their answers when convenient – either all candidates at once, of separately. There are a variety of such applications, – Again, see capterra – where candidates can be prescreened via pre-recorded video interviews.

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 https://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 https://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. (https://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.” (https://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.