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Monthly Archives

August 2010

How to set your intern up for success – 5 tips from an intern’s perspective

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By guest contributor, Sydney Helland, Career Edge intern at Career Edge Organization

Career Edge Organization has connected thousands of prospective interns with host employers for over a decade, and I am delighted to be one of these fortunate job seekers to land a role that has already allowed me to make leaps and bounds in my professional development after only a few months.

In contrast to my fellow 500-odd interns currently filling positions at host organizations across Canada, I believe I have a unique perspective by working as a Career Edge intern directly at Career Edge Organization itself. In my role as Project Coordinator and Sales Support Assistant, I interact with interns enrolled within the three different internship programs (Career Edge/Ability Edge/Career Bridge) and at all levels of participation. I assist initial job seekers with the registration process and the completion of their internship documents prior to their start date. I provide them with resources throughout their internship, and continue communication once they have achieved alumni status.

Considering the extensive amount of internships I witness on a habitual basis, I have been able to make a fair assessment of what an intern requires from their employer to succeed in their role, all while growing professionally toward the objective of a rewarding and progressive career.

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An innovative screening technique enables employers to achieve their recruitment goals

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By guest contributor, Heather Brown, Applicant Screener

As an Applicant Screener for the Career Bridge paid internship program, it’s really inspiring to know that over 1400 internationally qualified individuals have successfully gained professional Canadian work experience through our program.  But, I’ve come to realize it’s not just the interns, however, who are benefiting from the program.   Employers benefit too.  It’s essentially a “win/win” situation, both for internationally qualified job seekers and for employers seeking quality, diverse talent with exceptional English or bilingual English/French communication skills.

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“Why aren’t more businesses hiring immigrants?” Good question!

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I came across an interesting editorial today written by Rick Spence for the Financial Post. The article, entitled “Why not hire newcomers?” also appears in the Montreal Gazette, the Calgary Herald, the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen and many others.

The stats are surprising, considering the skills shortages felt by businesses across Canada:

A survey by the Canadian federation of Independent Business shows 78% of small business owners reported not hiring any recent immigrants between 2003 and 2006.

The article, featuring an interview with the Indian-born President of Pitney Bowes, Deepak Chopra, highlights the benefits of hiring foreign-trained professionals as well as some tips to “help more businesses benefit from Canada’s cultural diversity.”

Chopra leads by example, not only utilizing the skills of a global workforce but also providing ongoing support and training to help break down cultural barriers. For example, at least 40 senior staff members at Pitney Bowes are mentoring new immigrants through The Mentoring Partnership program offered by TRIEC.

According to Spence, Chopra recommends the following three tactics:

  1. Engage in strategic planning
  2. Get to know other cultures
  3. Form an advisory board

We’d like to add a 4th tip to the list:

You guessed it… Career Bridge.

Our paid internship program for Internationally Qualified Professionals has not only provided incredible opportunities to skilled immigrants, it as also provided our clients with incredible talent. Most people know we work with numerous medium and large organizations across Canada such as RBC and the Government of Ontario. Well, small businesses hire Career Bridge interns too.

So while 78% of small businesses hadn’t hired immigrants between 2003 and 2006, we know of numerous small businesses working with us today to bring international skills and knowledge to their workplaces, such as Interkom, Polar Mobile, AMR Process Inc. and many others.

The trouble with giving bad references

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Checking references are a critical part of the hiring process. At the very least, it is a basic form of risk management that allows employers the peace of mind of knowing they did their due diligence.

Reference checks can also act as a tie-breaker for an indecisive hiring manager, when two or more candidates are a qualified fit for the role and organization.

As employers, we know the importance and value of checking a candidate’s references and so when we’re called upon to give a reference, we know the stakes.

Today’s Globe and Mail features an article by Wency Leung warning employers about some of the potential consequences of giving a bad reference.

These risks can include lawsuits for defamation and privacy or human rights complaints.

In extreme cases dealing with issues like theft, fraud or workplace harassment, it’s understandable that an individual may want to warn an organization against a potential liability.

In fact, I would ask employment lawyers this: is their legal risk involved in not disclosing full details about a former employee? In other words, if you did not warn a company about hiring someone who committed fraud or is a potential danger to the workplace, can you be held legally responsible? This would make for a great discussion some other time but, I digress…

Outliers aside, it’s important to consider that employees who did not excel in one organization may still go on to shine in others.

The Globe and Mail article touches on this:

“…more often than not, friction between employees and their bosses are a result of a bad fit.”

You might recall that our recent quarterly e-Newsletter featured several articles on the topic of person-organization fit. This is because fit is our specialty.

We know from research that one’s fit with an organization impacts their productivity, engagement, satisfaction and retention.

This is important to keep in mind when either giving or receiving a not-so-glowing reference. Before bad-mouthing the former worker, consider whether you think the issues are inherent within the individual or if the negative experience might have just been a result of the situation.

When checking references, employers will often ask, “would you hire this individual again?” This is a safe opportunity to get your point across without splurging on details or venturing into the murky grey area between facts and opinions.

But then keep in mind the impact that answering no, or saying do not hire, may have on the individual. Even if you don’t provide any reasons or details, the employer will then likely be less-than-enthusiastic to hire the individual.

So take “fit” into consideration – the individual may be a real asset to another organization. Think of your own credibility as well. If a former employee succeeds and climbs the ranks in another organization while you were slighting them, you risk appearing unreliable.

Play it safe when giving references – make sure you are well informed of your organization’s policies and practices around it and of course, it doesn’t hurt to know the legal ramifications as well.

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