This week is Administrative Professionals Week, join Randstad in thanking your friends and colleagues for their support and hard work as business support professionals and executive assistants.
From dictation to direction, a profile on today’s administrative professionals.
When Nancy Cote, the Vice President of Randstad Canada’s Western Division began recruiting administrative assistants for Canadian companies over 27-years ago she was looking for people who could type well, people who would by answer phones, do the filing and book meetings. But now, in 2014 she says that, “Things have changed; they’ve drastically changed.”
To a room of 150 bright eyed men and women beginning their careers as business support professionals at an event at Conestoga College on April 16, 2014, she shared how.
“They (administrative assistants) might have even been making coffee or picking up laundry, anything to make their executive or manager’s life easier,” said Cote.
The stereotypes aside the role changed in big ways that means that today’s admins don’t just help one person they are supporting entire companies.
“Sure typing is still important as are computer skills; but the fit and the values that the employee have to match with the organization,” said Cote, explaining that “Business support professionals are no longer making coffee as a primary function of their jobs – they aren’t picking up laundry – they are providing support in the direction of the organizations they work in. Their values matter more than their typing skills.”
"With Kelli's help in an eight hour day I can get done what would take me 12 or 14 hours," - Tom Turpin Randstad Canada President.
For Randstad Canada’s President, Tom Turpin, his administrative assistant, Kelli Cutler is exactly as Nancy described – a communicative expert who helps her executive leader and the organization behind him, achieve more.
With Kelli, the company can get more done: says Randstad Canada President
“With Kelli’s help in an eight hour day I can get done what would take me 12 or 14 hours,” said Turpin. “Kelli has the unique ability to not only take what gets said in a meeting and carry those marching orders out the rest of the company, but she can also anticipate what needs to be done –she fills in the details on plans and I value her opinion on everything from personnel to strategy.”
In Tom’s role, he’ll have everyone from Randstad’s clients, shareholders, corporate leadership from other parts of the company coming at him at the same time all with important priorities all of them impacting the business in one way or another.
Admins keep things from falling through the cracks.
“With Kelli when a client priority comes up, she can help me reprioritize everything; if I had to do that myself things would fall through the cracks – big things and with Kelli that doesn’t happen.”
For Nancy this type if integration into business strategy and directive scheduling that Tom outlined isn’t an exception it is the rule.
“We did a study which looked at what type of activities business support professionals are doing today and while many are doing traditional secretarial tasks, 41 per cent of respondents said they are making managerial or recruitment decisions,” explained Cote, speaking to a study performed by Ipsos Reid commissioned by Randstad called The Changing Face of Today’s Business Support Professionals. “To me this means they are an integral part of management. They are bringing people into the company, this they have a say in how organizations develop. “
Meet Kelli Cutler
For someone who has been in the position the role is even more nuanced. Kelli has worked within Randstad twice, supporting two company executives for more than six years.
“It is fun, you get to be a business driver, you get access to the entire company. I’m at the centre of everything I know how the business works and even though it can be stressful waiting for people to track back with things or having to follow up with so many parts of the business it is a great job,” said Cutler.
With years of experience and specialized training admins know the systems and processes to help organizations get things done.
Kelli has worked all over the world, having grown up in Australia and completing a traineeship in Clerical and Administrative Skills in Australia in the 1990s. “It was sort of like an apprenticeship; you’d work for two days a week and attend school for two days a week and it took a year to complete.”
In the 20-years that Kelli has held business support roles she’s worked in diverse industries ranging from engineering to insurance and now in the human resource management and recruitment field. She’s worked all over the world from Banff, British Columbia, London England, Sydney, Australia and now in Toronto, Ontario.
“All of the skills I learned and have developed are transferable it has given me the flexibility to build an exciting career,” said Cutler.
That flexibility and adaptability are two of the most important traits for an executive assistant today, Kelli also admitted that she's a bit of a control freak, "It helps me keep everyone in line."
The variety of work environments and difference in technologies has meant Kelli has had to constantly keep learning and growing her skill sets.
"It isn’t just that you’re going to change over from one word processor to another but every company – every leader, has different ways of doing things,” Kelli explained.
Another benefit of her role, Kelli said that the variety of work she does keeps her interested. She’ll organize large company events, direct campaigns and at times lead corporate social responsibility activities.
“People trust me. I’m given parts of projects or whole ones they know that it will get done. I’m a business driver, and I’m a silent one – I help everyone communicating to the executive looking good and I keep the executive following up on time, it is a two way street.”
The role may change but it will never disappear
In closing her speech Nancy was optimistic about the industry and roles she’s recruited for most of her professional life.
“The role has come a long way from dictation to direction and I hope today’s business support professionals know how valuable they are and how exciting the next few years will be,” Cote said. “Admins aren't making coffee anymore and business support professionals are only going to be more important in the years to come.
Help Randstad Canada celebrate Administrative Assistance Week and share this story with the hashtag #Happyadminday.
7 Tips to Becoming an Employer of Choice
by Elena Candeloro, Talent Acquisition Manager, Randstad Canada
At Randstad Canada, earning a spot as a “Best Place to Work in Canada” by the Great Place to Work ® Institute Canada for the 8th year in a row is a pretty important cool for us. What makes this win so important to us is that the results were determined by the people who know our company best – our employees!
After 8 consecutive wins, it’s quite an honour and it’s become crystal clear that we indeed have a lot to be proud of. Ranked amongst the top 50 in the country, next to impressive multinational organizations like Google, Microsoft and Starbucks, this announcement solidifies that Randstad Canada is truly a great place to work.
Best workplace lists and accolades make it clear that being a good employer is good for business, but becoming a top-rated employer is not a matter of chance. The best employers know that they benefit from their reputation and they make decisions every day to ensure that their status as a great place to work is maintained.
Becoming an employer of choice isn’t easy. It means taking an honest look at your organization’s culture and having a clear idea of what you want it to become. That may result in acknowledging some difficult truths and making internal changes. But the rewards are hard to overstate. You’ll boast the best workers, performing their best work, all while positively impacting your business’ bottom line.
So what can you do as an organization in order to gain recognition as a top employer? While there is no magic formula, the following tips will set you on the right path towards becoming an employer of choice.
Figure out what it’s really like to work for your company and then identify the good and bad.
- Look at your competition and see what they are doing. Take note of what works and what doesn't.
- Position your brand by identifying your target audience and knowing, and giving, today's employees what they want. To help you with that task, Randstad Canada conducts yearly research probing what it is Canadian’s look for in an employer. You can download the material here. (hyperlink to Randstad Award research doc)
- You can also use exit interviews, employee focus groups and stay interviews to establish your brand reputation. They will allow you to gauge employee perceptions and allow them to openly discuss what is and isn't working for them.
- Determine the attributes of your company and sell your strengths to potential candidates. Attracting and retaining people who share the same values as your company and brand will result in a higher level of employee loyalty.
- Use employee referral programs. Employees who refer friends and colleagues to your company clearly think your company is worth working for.
- Social Responsibility. Many people want to feel that they’re doing good. As an organization you can recycle, partner with a charity, and engage in fundraising activities. At Randstad, for example, employees are given one full work day per calendar year to volunteer at the non-profit organization of their choice. The possibilities are endless.
Project managers help teams deliver products, tools and programs on time and on budget. Aspiring PMs can pull their leadership lessons from history, mentors or training. Some of the most important project managers of all time were military leaders - directing large teams to complete dangerous tasks. Two such leaders were T.E. Lawrence and Joan of Arc.
5 Project Management Lessons From History
T. E. Lawrence - Unpredictability can be a powerful tool
Lesson 1: Sometimes it is best to give teams and managers leeway to both make mistakes and produce unpredictable results.
Thomas Edward Lawrence also known as Lawrence of Arabia was made infamous for his role in uniting the Bedouins tribes during World War I, to mobilize them to fight the Ottoman Empire was a man who was given enough freedom in his role as a field commander to make the impossible, possible.
Having travelled throughout much of the middle east as an academic and a field archeologist, he was specially suited through language and cultural knowledge to liaise between the English military and various parties in the region.
His commanders were busy in their part of the war and gave him enough room to operate in a unique style - taking their garb and adopting the cultural traditions of the Bedouins tribes he rallied them together helping the growing Arab revolt take hold. In doing so he rallied them against an English enemy winning some of the most stunning victories in battles of the last century.
Lesson 2: Project managers need to manage peoples' talents, skills, ambitions and expectations as well as a projects' budgets and timelines.
Joan of Arc - Good morale is a strategy unto itself
Lesson 3: Just because someone’s idea sounds insane to you one day, doesn’t mean they are wrong and that they won’t make it happen.
When an illiterate farm girl who claimed to hear the voice of God telling her to lead an army against the English in 1429 the King of France at the time, Charles VII, did what any good leader who was behind the eight ball on a project might do, he said (I'm paraphrasing here) “Go for it Joan, that sounds crazy enough to work.”
Joan’s conviction which started years earlier when she said she received visions from God and a message to help drive the English from France led her to passionately make her point up the chain of command.
Lesson 4: Find people who believe in your plan and refine your pitch until it finds its audience, or you become more effective at persuading the people who need to be persuaded. Joan found people to listen to her idea, she made a case for it passionately and when it came down to execution she got it done.
She was laughed at along the way until the King of France agreed that at least she believed what she was saying, and with hope in little else, he invested in arming her with horse and armor and let her march on Orleans.
She became a moral leader to the army and helped make the war one of religion instead of power and money. After being shot in the neck and shoulder by an arrow, Joan stayed on the field of battle carrying a battle standard and was attributed much of the credit for the ending of a months’ long siege. and taking Orleans.
After defeating the English in many battles, she fought a group of French dissidents who had broken from the Catholic Church. She'd demanded their conversion back to Catholicism and following a subsequent battle she was captured by a fellow Frenchman, sold to the English, put on trial on nonsense charges and then executed by being burned at the stake. Later she was found to be innocent.
Lesson 5: One big lesson from Joan’s story is one of caution. Know when to stop when you’ve won. Don’t over extended yourself and get burned at the stake for your ideals; stay flexible and role with the punches.
Last week with the reveal that the Heartbleed vulnerability was exposing peoples' private information to identify thieves we ran down a list of best practices of things to leave off your resume.
This week we want to share three other tips to help you keep yourself secure while you're on the job hunt.
1. Avoid open networks
In every coffee shop in the country there are open networks to surf the Internet on. You also have Bluetooth equipment connecting your phone to your computer or your mouse. If at all possible avoid jumping on open networks, this is a great way to expose yourself to data risk.
Instead, try tethering to your phone, which you can password protect. Also, make sure you password protect your Bluetooth transmissions, because that's another easy way to gain access to your private data.
If you must use a Starbucks Internet connection don't do any banking, or make and online purchases over the network. You might still be open to risk but you'll make it a little harder for criminals to access your credit information.
2. Apply to reputable employers
When you need a job sometimes we apply to positions that are a little risky. You might find a contract job on Craigslist, or a fulltime position with a company you've never heard of, that your friends don't know anything about and who's website looks like it was made yesterday.
It isn't hard to build a website, it isn't hard to post a job ad. You need look into company's and their reputations before sharing all of your personal information with them and even more important, when you begin to work with them. Ask yourself, is this company a licensed business? What processes are in place to keep my information secure? How am I going to be paid?
If some of these questions start raising red flags, or if after working with someone for a year you don't receive any T-4 information for tax purposes there may be something untoward going on. Reputable companies will have processes to follow when you begin working if you haven't heard about the company find out as much as you can before applying.
3. Tell someone when you are going for an interview
When you are meeting new people, whether it is a date or an interview it is best to let other people know. Most first meetings today are done in public, but if you are interviewing for a new job in a private office it is always a good idea to tell a friend or family member where and when you are going; if only to have someone call you afterward and ask you how it went.
Data visualization now helps us interpret the world
Forget a bar graph, or a pie chart how about a time lapsed representation of rental bike use in New York City which could detail the ebb and flow of cyclists travelling from work to home, or a real time indication of how different city events made people move from one side of the city from another. Or General Electric’s visualization project that helps the company quantify how people use their radiography tools like CT Scans and MRIs.
The advances in programming mean that we can visualize more data in more interactive ways. Languages and tools like WebGL are only starting to be used to make the Internet more interactive.
Data and how it is shared has turn what was a private business conversation, into a valuable marketing tool and a way for the public to consume data in an impactful illustrative way. Readers no longer have to wade through tables of numbers; we can be shown moving graphical statements.
Science is advancing faster than ever before
In science as with business, experimentation is the root of all learning and knowledge. For scientists working around the globe, big data has rose to prominence long before anywhere else. In fact even the World Wide Web (as it used to be called) was invented to help the processing of data coming from the CERN, or the Large Hadron Collider.
The giant particle collider produces terabytes of data and the idea behind the World Wide Web, was that the global partners what built the Large Hadron Collider would all need access to the data so all of the scientists working with the data around the world would be able to work on projects simultaneously.
Everything from biology to astronomy is performed on a technically enormous scale. Today database developers and data analysts playing as important roles in the completion of theoretical and practical science as researchers are. Allowing the data they collect to be interpreted and worked with – even doing so is a science in itself.
In astronomy it would be impossible to collect and interpret the cosmos’ ultraviolet light without the use of big data, these are things we can’t see – we can only “see” them with tools that produce data.
Future generations will know more about us than ever conceived
With every cell phone and key stroke we’re producing a digital record of our lives. Anthropologists of the future will know what we’ve done, where we’ve done it and who we did it with to a degree that is astonishing compared to even 15-years ago..
Even today people are using GPS tools integrated into heart rate monitors to track and quantify physical activity. Other people are using digital tools to improve their productivity or track their spending habits.
It is possible today and will increasingly become possible to put metrics on everything you do and at the end of the day it will be Big Data that lets you understand that data and how you interact with the rest of the world.
Have you seen an interesting data visualization, share it with us on Twitter @RandstadCanada.
Your personal information is safe with Randstad Canada
This week the Internet’s security has been shaken. A vulnerability has been found in OpenSSL which is the most popular cryptographic library, that protects everything form your credit card information to your personal data stored at the Canadian Revenue Agency, whose online tax filing system is still down after the vulnerability was identified.
Randstad Canada is not affected by the Heartbleed OpenSSL vulnerability; we use another form of SSL cryptographic library that is secure. You can have confidence that your personal information is safe with Randstad Canada.
While we know your data is secure with us, your resumes may not be equally safe elsewhere.
The best way to protect yourself and your personal information is to give as little of it out as possible. That includes during the job hunting process. Resumes often contain valuable personal information - protect yourself and avoid including the following;
1. Your Home Address
This used to be a standard on resumes back when we’d all drop them off or mail them in. Responses might come back to us in the form of a letter of offer. Today this isn’t needed and you are giving away a vital piece of your personal information. With your home address your name, your work history and your phone number you are opening yourself up to risk, also resumes don’t need this piece of information, it should be edited out.
2. Age or Birthdate
This is another vital statistic and has been used as an authentication security measure. People do not need to know how old you are and they aren’t allowed to ask. Remove this from your Facebook profile, do not put it on your resume and be wary if anyone during an interview process asks.
3. Social Insurance Number
While this is important for credit checks and once you’ve been hired don’t share this with just anyone and never include it on your resume. Be wary of providing it in emails; if at all possible provide it over the phone or in person on a form. Employers will need your SIN number for tax purposes but that’s about it. Your SIN number is not a form of identification.
4. Driver’s Licence Number
Just like your birthday, or home address your Driver’s Licence information should be kept as private as possible. While this is a piece of ID unlike your SIN number, there is no reason to include your driver ID number or a photo copy with a resume. There are jobs that require this information and application processes that require a copy of your licence to vet you for insurance purposes. These proceses are standard and acceptable, but unless someone needs this information for a reasonable purpose do not provide it.
5. Banking information
Direct deposit is the standard form of payment for employees across the country. Even the Government of Canada is phasing out its use of cheques of direct deposit.While this information such as a blank cheque or direct deposit form is used in the employment process this isn’t something you should be providing prior to being hired on. There is no reason why a potential employer needs this information.
Great leadership is about more than simple business success, it is about how you build your teams, help them grow and watch as they work increasingly well together.
Here are 3 Leadership lessons everyone should learn
1. Allow people to fail
Failure is a powerful teaching tool. Controlling the parameters around that failure and the risk to your business or department are keys to personnel development. Give people the opportunity to try something new, teach them what you can and watch their growth. If they falter be prepared to help them and if they fail let them know that is a part of both life and business.
2. Message control
Giving you teams freedom to communicate builds interoffice cooperation and flattens the typical vertical power structure. There are risks to doing this; you never want to be put in the situation where your stakeholders are being told one thing by one project group and another by yourself or another team.
As a leader of a business, a team or an organization controlling what messages are going where is almost as important as what you're saying. Your reputation is on the line, protect it by building processes and stages of review for external or internal (vertical) messaging. Listen to your team and build concensus - then at least if there are multiple messages they'll be singing the same song - only perhaps a bit out of tune.
3. Stay positive, focus on your successes; don't divide people
Everyone will make mistakes, sometimes we slip up in what we say on a conference call, other times we aren't as prepared as we should be for a meeting. The matter of it isn't whether we'll make mistakes, but what we do afterward - not repeat them.
In cases were have the opportunity to share your accomplishments focus on the positives results, talk about how your projects benefited the teams and keep as up beat as you can be about scenarios that were less than ideal - speak honestly and learn from what didn't work or what didn't bring your team together.
The lesson is to not overreach and to plan accordingly. Division doesn't lead to strength within an organization or team. Controversy can lead to the development of strong ideas but teams need to coalesce into a unit to accomplish anything of real value.
Westeros’ labour market has seen a dramatic shift over the last three seasons. After a change of leadership from Baratheon to Lannister, employment of farmers, merchants and craftsmen has seen a sharp, 67% decline, while there has been a boom of spearmen, marauders and pillagers to make up for the losses in the soft skilled trades of vintners of the south. Employment in soldierly is up 61% year to date.
The Dreadfort has seen a boon in dungeon guards with a modest increase of 12%, but that has been offset by a decline in fortification maintenance positions, resulting in a net loss of 41% for the month of March.
Beyond the wall, Wildings are riding in a high labour market after The King of the North made a series of acquisitions prior to his projected march on The Wall.
Castleblack and the Men of the Night’s Watch, continue to see difficulty recruiting, with losses caused by White Walkers and other perils resulting in a decline in ranger employment by general attrition of 2,300. On that note, with the dismissal of their current CEO, the Night’s Watch is searching for a new Lord Commander, there are also many positions available in the Rookery, with new ravens needing to trained and maintained.
The Free Cities
Despite the hiring of 10,000 Unsullied unemployment in the Free Cities is up 41% due to the release of slaves in Astapor and Slaver’s Bay. This number is inflated largely due to the damage to the slaving industry done by dragons and freedom.
Are you going to watch Game of Thrones this season?
Looking for work outside of Westeros?
Every social media platform can be a valuable networking tool for your business or yourself. Whether you are job hunting, or doing business development knowing what to post online can help you or hurt you.
Linkedin as a platform for self-marketing can help you reach hundreds or thousands of people in your industry or community – but you need to be careful with the content you are sharing and what it says about you or your company. Being too repetative or sharing the same things as everyone else can make you blend into the crowd.
Find what speaks to your audience, what gets people to engage with your thoughts or projects. Then create pieces that highlight your strenghts and that people have fun with.
6 Posts you always see on Linkedin
This stock image
We are all guilty of overusing stock imagry. You'll see this shot everywhere. There is probably an algorithm out there; time on Linkedin / likelihood of engaging with this stock image.
Word searches are a lot of fun, they are also all over Linkedin right now. The science behind how your brain recognizes letters is complex; don’t read too much into it if you read Soda before Patient.
These frustrating numerical puzzles will often get 300 or more comments with people explaining their answers; we see a lot of engineers sharing posts like this. Try making one yourself, new puzzles become very popular.
Tongue in cheek jokes about different professions seasonally
There is a collegial attitude on Linkedin comparing different professions with each other and making jokes about professional stereotypes. This was a favourite last month in relation to Canada’s National Engineering Month, it will doubt pop up again next March.
If it can go on a poster in meeting room, or the gym, you might see it on Linkedin. Before posting things like this, try to determine what this piece means to your audience and how widely it has already been shared.
Keep calm and something
The British axiom popularized during World War II has been given a new life as the catch all get-things-done meme.
What are some other popular memes you've seen on Linkedin? Share them with us on Twitter @RandstadCanada
If you need more advice on networking read, Great Places to Network Offline.
Fortune recently published an article titled, How millennials can think beyond the selfie written by Hootsuite’s CEO, Ryan Holmes.
In it, Holmes indicts multiple generations (anyone ranging in birth year from 1980 to 2000) by cherry picking examples of poor social media use like offensive remarks made on Twitter by one notable CTO and citing the debunked Time Magazine feature calling millennials generation Me, (every generations has called younger generations selfish).
Homles’ critique of 20-years of social media users is unfair for a number of reasons, one being that the way a 33-year old and a 13-year old use social media are completely different but that’s beside the point.
Where today’s networkers fall flat isn’t digitally, it is in real life where their skills need work.
The connections you make face to face are deeper, they carry more meaning and build greater mutual empathy. In a study performed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, they found that even through video conferencing you elicit greater empathy than through text or phone.
Empathy is your ability to recognize and respond to others’ emotional state. Peoples’ emotions are important in networking and in business. Do people like you? Do they like what you are saying? In your responses to their statements or questions are you responding in a way that helps or hurts them? By meeting face to face you increase your chances of building strong connections.
5 great places to network offline
1. Alumni associations
If you’ve graduated from a college or university connect with your old classmates and get involved locally in events at your alma mater. You class mates; teachers and deans may have job leads for you.
2. Conferences, trade shows, and public meetings
Find industry or community events that interest you and take the time to get engaged. Don’t attend and tell people you are networking, attend and learn about your community or industry interest. You might not immediately find the job or business connection you are looking for, but you will be bridging towards that connection by meeting people and being interested.
3. Volunteering anywhere
Helping others is a great way to put your name out there. This is a way to put yourself in the best light possible. Charity events are seasonally abundant in almost any community and instead of paying for a conference ticket, see if you can volunteer. It can be a rewarding experience and the personal connections you’ll build help you in the long and short term.
4. Local intramural sports or other competitions
If you are so inclined, sports are a great way to get to know people and keep yourself healthy. You meet fun people and work with them over a period of weeks or months. Any type of competition where you are engaging with groups of people is a strong networking opportunity. Whether it is a poetry slam or a Scrabble competition you will meet people!
5. Tweet ups
Tweet ups blend real life and our digital lives in an exciting way. They give you a chance to meet people who you follow and engage with personally. Any time you actually connect with your followers in real life you build value into your social network, making those digital connections stronger and making the relationships you’re building more worthwhile.
What's the best experience you've had networking in real life? Share you story with us on Twitter @RandstadCanada