Saturday, December 22, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

Tales From A Toronto Job Seeker - Part 2

It's been a couple of months since I last blogged about my job hunt, so here we go.

In the last week alone, I have twice been told it's down to me and another candidate ... and the other person got it. So of course I vented my frustration on Facebook, until a trusted friend with more wisdom than me (thanks Patrick!) mentioned that many people aren't even getting to the job interview stage.

He's right. Point taken. In this competitive environment it's much appreciated to get face time with a hiring manager for an hour and put your best foot forward in convincing them you're the best fit for that particular role.

"So, John," you're asking (probably not but it reads better), "It's been four months and nothing yet. What gives?"

Well, quite simply, I have been very careful in choosing what jobs I apply for. I have been taking the sniper rather than the shotgun scatter approach and being selective. Roles that interest me, are a good fit with my skills and experience and have room for growth and development are the ones I have been applying for.

Those roles are like buses. Nothing for a few weeks and then four come along at once. (That's not to say I haven't been "cold calling" and networking on LinkedIn too.)

Most job ads list the role, the experience required and the responsibilities. I'm going to flip that now.

Here's what I can offer and the kind of organization that I'd like to work for.

Work/Life Experience
Newspaper delivery round at 9. Worked in a grocery store after school from 13-15. Cleaned the coffee machine and delivered packages across London for a stockbroking company in 1986 dressed like Rick Astley (cool at the time). Took night school after work for my dealing exam. Failed it the first time. Retook it and passed. On the dealing desk at 19. Not for me so quit and went travelling for a few years, including two years in Israel on a kibbutz ( working for food and lodging. (Book published about it in 1999.) First journalism job in 1995 (small business magazine). First editing job in 1998 (security magazine). [Hello Canada in 2000!] Created and developed six websites. Second editing job in 2005 (technology newspaper, nominated for science and technology reporting award). Managing Editor of major single-word domain website in 2005 (, loads of fun, especially creating a podcast on a shoestring budget that made the Top 10 of North American Comedy downloads on iTunes). Joined a private school as Acting Communications Manager in 2007 (won two awards). Third editing job for alumni magazine. PR agency work in 2008. Joined my second private school in 2009. Also co-founded my own green, non profit called Greenscroll ( Loads of freelancing, social/digital media work/consulting in the gaps from around 2006 onwards ( Full story here, plus testimonials, plus mugshot

Working for an organization that gets all of the above.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Where Does The Food Network Get Its Diners From?

As a massive foodie, I like to follow chefs and restaurants, attend events such as Soupalicious (parsnip and white chocolate puree with pistachio and sour cherry anyone?) and religiously watch the Food Network and Food Network Canada.

Food, the scene around it and the people who can make it well are really interesting to me.

I was watching Chef Wanted With Anne Burrell last week (the Old Homestead episode) and noticed a very familiar face as one of the diners = none other than Restaurant Impossible's regular contractor, Tom Bury. He wasn't happy with the quality of the steak that one of the contestant chefs had cooked during their job interview to work at the restaurant.

Tom Bury is not happy with his steak!
Of course, it may have just been as simple as one Food Network participant appearing on another Food Network show, but I would have thought there may have been a caption to identify him as such? A lot of those people probably know each other and hang out in the same circles, but it just struck me as odd.

I asked Food Network, Food Network Canada and Tom himself, but no reply to date.

Now I wonder where the diners come from in these shows, and if they are out-of-work actors, real customers who get a free meal for being on the show or simply friends of the Food Network.

I also spotted The Next Food Network Star's Adam Gertler as the dinner party guest of a Chopped contestant (the "leftovers" episode).

Yeah, I know. Too obsessed with food and the shows.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tales From A Toronto Job Seeker - Part 1

So, I haven't blogged for a while and thought it was time to put fingers to keyboard and get back into it. More for the creative outlet than anything.

I started this blog on November 21, 2006 to document my job search after leaving It was an interesting way for me to keep track of the process, and to also fill in those gaps in the day when not scouring job boards, networking, Linking In and partaking in other top secret stuff that I can't mention here in case the other Toronto Job Seekers read it and leapfrog me into a plum role!

Searching for a job is something that most people will have to do at some time in their life. It can be pretty worrying not to feel that you're actively earning a living, but balancing that is the thought that when on your deathbed, you're not going to say, "I wish I'd spent more time in my office cubicle. Too late now!"

As a firm believer in the work/life balance, it is very important that you work hard for yourself or your employer, but find time to forget that and relax a bit ... otherwise you're never "off" and will burn out very quickly.

The same goes for the daily job search. Spend a few hours a day engaging in that process, but realize it's not a bottomless well of jobs. There are only so many APPLICABLE and RELEVANT jobs you are suited for and have a good chance of getting, so don't spread your net too wide. (The Caps Lock was intentional by the way to show that people are only suited to certain jobs, so don't panic ... and wait to apply for those you really have a passion for and think you'd be good at. Your fake enthusiasm for jobs you don't want will soon show, and then you'll be parting ways with that company pretty soon after. A waste of your time and theirs, and also hurting the person who was qualified for that particular job in the first place.)

My personal aim is to apply for an average of two jobs a day. Sometimes it's none -- sometimes it's four. Depends on the timing of when they are advertised or you hear about them behind the scenes via contacts, friends and family.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being on LinkedIn. At the very, VERY least, research the company you're applying at -- even if the application form is one of those crappy "import from resume, no formatting, computer reads it first before a human sees it" online hiring tools. That way you can at least show some respect and address your cover letter to the hiring manager personally. The little touches go a long way and might elevate you over the competition.

Talking of respect, it goes both ways. Usually you get an auto-generated response to acknowledge your job application, so at least you know it got there. Sometimes you hear diddly squat. I would like to give a shout out to Shawn Mitchell, Director of Content and Communications at CharityVillage who took the time to send two personal e-mails explaining the delays in the hiring process on their end. That kind of response is very rare, so hats off to him for representing what looks like a great place to work!

This will be an ongoing series, so more to come in Part 2. As always, open to job leads. You can find me on my LinkedIn profile. Thanks!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Back On The Market Again

Unfortunately, after three years at Greenwood College School my job was terminated yesterday, so I am back on the market and looking for my next opportunity.

I'd like to stay in the education sector if possible, but definitely want to stay in the realm of communications.

Any job leads gratefully accepted!

Here is my LinkedIn profile.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Milestone For Greenscroll

So, very proud to say Greenscroll greened over a million pages last week. Cheers to all our supporters!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chief Vice-President Of Rainbows And Puppies

Back in the heady days of March 2009 I wrote a post on this blog about social media job titles. At the time I was freelancing so was Chief Bottle Washer, but had ambitions to move up to Chief Letter Opener.

What brought this to mind was a job posting I saw today for "Director of Customer Success." What the hell does that mean?

In this non-fad (read: ingrained) social media era, is there a competition to think up the most vague job title going? How does a Director of Social Media, Director of Community Management or -- heavens above! -- Director of Marketing and Communications relate or compare their level of employment with a Director of Customer Success?

When they go to job interviews, how do they get a gauge on salary expectations when there is nothing to relate to? Does a Director of Customer Success earn more than a Director of Community Engagement, for example?

The point I'm trying to make is with all these weird, made-up social media job titles starting to propagate, anyone can call themselves something ... but it doesn't mean anything! There's no yardstick to rate the position or job role against.

Agree? Disagree? I'm open to opinions.

John Carson
Chief Vice-President of Rainbows and Puppies