Saturday, June 23, 2007

Vancouver Football How a Winning Streak Gone Bad Help Your Career

Life’s Work

Viewpoints on Careers and Workplaces from HR Expert Minto Roy


I was talking to a man the other day, early-40s, professional, talented, but obviously way off his game after a reshuffling in his company left him packaged off, the shock of sudden unemployment a body blow to his self worth. Something about his presentation – or really the shadow of what I could see his presentation probably used to be – made me think of this BC Lions season. They went 11-0. Undefeated for, if you’ll pardon the pun, the lion’s share of the year. Every sportswriter in the country started talking about their magic, their legacy, calling them one of the best teams ever to play the game. And it looks like they started to believe their own press. They got complacent. They thought they were invincible. They thought the talent and skills that got them their success would be enough to keep it. But the other teams in the league were working while the Lions were basking in the glory of being unbeatable. And then they got beaten – four times in a row – falling to 11-4.

The people I work with who find themselves in a sudden career downturn have a lot in common with athletes who go off a winning streak.

When you lose your first game, it’s a fluke. You’re a winner, after all. You shake it off. When you lose the second, you begin to doubt yourself. At the third, panic sets in. If a fourth loss hits, a lot of people lose themselves. They start thinking like losers and there’s no turning back. It’s no different in your career. Send a few resumes and no one calls, no big deal. Come second or third in an interview, move on. Three, four, six months unemployed? It’s a long hard road back to confidence and professional net worth.

And that’s where a good coach comes in. I hope ___________ (Lions coach’s name) is kicking his players’ butts about the need for constant improvement and relentless hard work. And I hope he’s playing them reel after reel of game tape from those first 11 games to remind them who they really are. By the time this goes to print, we’ll know whether the Lions are 11-5 and still lost or 12-4 and they’ve found themselves again. They need to get the team that fought hard and drilled the fundamentals and believed in themselves back out on the field. Winners don’t always win. They just never stop fighting and they always come back.

Are you a winner in your career? Are you constantly playing your best game? Do you have Plans B and C ready for the inevitable day when the game changes and Plan A isn’t good enough anymore? If not, it might be time to get a coach in your corner.

Minto Roy offers Vancouver’s leading edge career development services through the Premier Career Management Group, and hosts Careers Today, a weekly radio show on CFUN 1410 AM, every Saturday from 3-4 pm. Please visit and



Dear Minto:

I have been looking for work for over three months. In that time I have had three companies pursue me very enthusiastically, with at least two interviews each, one was even three interviews plus a long dinner. But I have been the “second choice” every time. I asked for feedback but they just said they found someone more qualified. How do I find out what I am doing wrong so next time I get the job?

Thanks, Tim

Dear Tim:

Here's something you should do Tim.

Contact the companies that didn't hire you. With sincerity and humble curiousity say the following.

"I really appreciated the opportunity of meeting you and your company. I realize I finished second but I was hoping you could provide some insight, ..and.. I have a request."

The manager will probably say ok, what would you like to know?

"Well, can you tell me with candor, one or two things the number one candidate had that I did not have."

Listen to the answer closely. Do try to re-submit your interest, do not try to correct their perception, simply listen. Probe further, when appropriate, for example the manager might say. "The number one candidate had more industry experience than you."

You might say at this point "was that the only difference?

Here again, you are trying to prolong conversation, gather data and truly understand. But you are also trying to create the phone atmosphere for condusive for your request.

The next step will be to say:

I have a request? Would it be possible over the next few weeks to meet the candidate selected for a few minutes.

The manager might be confused by your request but explain that, even though I don't know the candidate, you certainly are impressed that he was chosen for such great company. That meeting this individual might provide some valuable knowledge and insight for the next time you compete.

See what they say.

I would bet that half the time the manager will be ok with a future meeting.
I bet most managers would be very impressed with your intrinsic pursuit of knowledge and sincerity.

Most importanly it keeps you in mind as unique if their business expands or if the primary person doesn't work out.

There is no shame in not winning. It is only a waste if we don't see it as a way to learn and create future opportunities.

Go learn Tim.

The Vancouver Board of Trade and Networking


After becoming an active member with Board of Trade, I was surprised to observe that 80% of the B.O.T. members are made up of small businesses and their employees. The key word being "small". Most non-members however view the board as a group of companies with 1000+ employees and revenues in tens of millions of dollars. When I say small however, I mean fewer than 250 employees and the majority of companies with fewer than 25. Maybe that’s why I haven’t run into any salt-and-pepper-hair-grey-power suit-types lounging in high-backed leather chairs whirling crystal shots of premium scotch with trails of cigar smoke wafting around them. That world may exist – maybe even somewhere in Vancouver – but the Board of Trade I have come to know is about advancing the progress of business and business owners, and most of them, even those with offices in skyscraping towers, actually work pretty close to the ground.

If you’re reading The Sounding Board however, you may already be way ahead of me in figuring this out. My work with PCMG and Careers Today Canada has me talking to small business owners looking to recruit new staff. I also speak with many talented professionals seeking a career change or advancement. The Board of Trade represents a great opportunity for them. However, when I talk to non-members about attending Board of Trade events to meet potential new hires or to develop relationships which could lead to future career opportunities, many question whether the Board of Trade is really for them… that they not ready for "that level".

I constantly re-inforce the "that level" is where their missing the opportunity. That level is ground level. In a metropolis sense, street level. But more correctly metaphored as a farmland community.

The Board of Trade is a unique and properous farmland. Within in it's land many farmers (businesses) grow crops and these farmers support each others growth.

The farmland obviously benefits when it's farmers prosper. But the BOT does more than just exist and hope that it's land and it's farmers succeed. The Board aggressively engages to assist all it's farmers through a stream of constant events. The Board lobbies to ensure the least resistance and build bridges with government. Expert speakers consistently offer new advice on how to farm more effectively. Farmer's markets are regular events. Buyers and other farmer converge within various events. These events offer a dynamic forum to; make partnerships, strike deals, and develop support networks.
The Board co-ordinates of the farmland acitivities ensuring that every farmer no matter how small or big has the opportunity to contribute, grow and harvest.

The farmers (business members and their employees) benefit have several advantages. The foremost being a common ground of membership. This membership becomes a statement that you take the growth and activities of your farm business seriously. The common behaviour I notice in active BOT members is an unwillingness to make their farms successful. They fully engage the farmland community as a part of their growth and development. With this growth theBOT farmland also provides an excellent recruiting ground to harvest new talent or employees.

Board of Trade events are full of talented professionals looking for career opportunities. These individuals make attractive additions to any farm business as they combine two keys elements to any great hire. The number one being the skill and required knowledge needed for growth. But almost as important, a commitment to a successul behaviour pattern. A pattern of continuous networking and involvement in the farming business community. These employees can immediately impact a new business farm with their own developed networks. With these developed contacts new markets can be secured for crops or produce. A business recruiting from the BOT also secures an employee with the practiced skill of cultivating great relationship. A great example to promote behaviour with existing and other new hires.

Most of us are familiar with the instructive juxtaposition that good networking, positive networking, should have more in common with farming than it does with hunting. The idea, of course, is to slowly cultivate long term relationships which keep growing and bearing yield season after season instead of killing random prey, eating for this season, and then moving on to the next at the risk of eventual partner or client extinction. Seems logical, right? But, as the local purveyor of 20 kinds of pumpkins and squash and 14 recipes for each might say, “Wait, there’s more!”

At a Farmer’s Market, the whole town and half the region comes out to celebrate what everyone has accomplished that year. It’s a place where bragging is enjoyed and expected, and where encouragement and support are subtle yet ubiquitous (everyone’s produce is given a place and properly admired; no one’s pie is left unconsumed). Everything from the rawest of raw materials (milk directly from the cow) to the strangest things which may be made from them is on display (a cow carved out of hardened butter is always a sight to see). Of course people come there to buy and sell and trade their goods and services. But they also learn and exchange tips and inspire one another to keep going through good times and bad. The scattering seeds from one field to another are relationships and ideas which ensure growth for all. And that is where the metaphor really bears fruit. The Farmer’s Market brings the community together, gives them not just a place but also a standing invitation and a framework in which to build relationships and solidify their community connection. And you don’t have to be a landowner to contribute to or benefit from the experience. Everyone brings something and the whole becomes so much more than the sum of its parts.

If you moved to a new town and you wanted to become a part of it, the Farmer’s Market would be the first place you’d go to connect. And if you wanted to show that you were generous and community-minded, joining a heritage committee or volunteering to judge the chili cook-off would be a great way to demonstrate your commitment. So, to you small business owners looking to expand, if you are looking for talented hands to help grow your business, I suggest among the questions you ask them about skills and qualifications should be a few questions about their networks and their community service. People who come out to the Board of Trade and Spirit of Vancouver and the many other networking, professional and service associations around town are saying, “I’m in.” They are value-added employees, who will help everyone on your team to grow. They get it. And they deserve the growth and advancement which comes from stepping up and chipping in. And to those of you looking for transition, you need to get on board. It’s not about an old boys’ club. It’s more like Our Town. And success is about showing up.

The Board of Trade keeps growing, in large part because it is such fertile ground for community relationships and collaborative opportunities to flourish. As 2005 comes to a close, I’m looking forward to next year’s crop.

Author’s Box: Minto Roy is President of The Premier Career Management Group and host of Careers Today on 650CISL, a weekly radio program devoted to recruitment, hiring, workplace culture and employee engagement. Please visit and


An Open Letter to All Canadian Employers.
I realize the job market is red-hot and recruiting talent has never been so difficult.
Managers across the country speak openly about their frustration with recruiting hardworking, professionally educated, skilled talent for their company’s growth.
But on the other side of the hiring desks, thousands and thousands of qualified immigrants are under-employed or unemployed and continue to struggle to find professional work in their field. This vast untapped well-educated, hard-working, labor-force is right in-front of your eyes.
However, our eyes can deceive us.
At first glimpse a new immigrant’s resume brings massive confusion; “ never heard of the university,” “never heard of their previous employer,” “ don’t really know much about the country or culture,” “probably has weak English skills,” “no Canadian experience.” I realize that most hiring managers lack the time and resources to properly screen ANY candidate, never mind a candidate that has no common ground and comes from a city that they have never heard of. Your company however, must recognize and validate what is not on the resume and overcome stereotypes of the immigrant labor force. Consider the value of the professional that is right in front of your eyes. What you see can your company a huge advantage in this tight labor market.
Make sure you see these 5 things about the Professional Immigrant Labor force.

First: Canadian Immigrants come prepared to work.

They have no-choice, this is not a vacation. They bought a one-way ticket.

Try this, go to the airport, and buy a ticket to another country. Land with $10,000 and set up a place to live, buy furniture, place your kids in school and then see how quickly you want to find work and create stability and professionally identity.

Second: Professional Immigrants come pre-screened.

Your tax dollars have set up rigid screening criteria for new immigrants to enter Canada. They must possess and credibly prove their education and experience. The government has already acted as a first level HR screen for your business. Furthermore, the education standard and academic competition in many foreign countries result in creating top level international students. These bright minds are ready and hungry to become a part Canada’s international growth.

Third: Cost-Effective Hires, A Huge bargain for your company.

The vast majority of professional immigrants under-market and under value themselves. They just want a chance to prove they can do the job. To prove they have the right qualifications. They are driven by a need to be identified professionally in their new county. Making a salary commensurate with their current market value in a skills labor shortage market is the last thing on their mind. Many small to medium size companies, can add; MBA’s, PHD’s, from internationally recognized institutions to their corporate profile at a fraction of the cost. Tell that to your share-holders!

Fourth: New immigrants work very hard.
Most immigrants do not come from a country where 9-5 is the norm. I have assisted many new immigrants that worked 50-60-70 hours a week as routine. This work effort is further fueled by their pride not to disappoint their new employer, themselves and their family here and in their homeland.

Fifth: New immigrants will increase your business growth.
Internally for your business, adding culture and information from another part of the world can only bring growth and exciting diversity to your current staff.
Externally, your company will have ability to communicate and talk to customers, suppliers and partners in different languages. The company has the capacity to increase its local reach and position your brand and products into new cultural communities, cities, new countries.
Think about your business growth. Is your company selling more and more each year to new immigrants? If not, then you’d better jump on the band wagon. There is no greater consumer group coming to Canada every year that needs EVERYTHING. This means hundreds of thousands of new customers for your business.
I urge Canadian Employers, look beyond the words on the resume. Look beyond your perceptions or stereotypes of professionals immigrants. The major solution to the labor shortage is right in-front of our eyes.
They are just waiting for you to see.

Minto Roy
President / CEO
PCMG Canada / Careers Today Canada