Category: Looking for work!

Posts involving my job search.

Pennies From Heaven

Perhaps our parents were wrong: money might not grow on trees, but it could be freely given. Image and linked story article belong to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the authors mentioned in the link.

In my past posts on this blog and also on my video series on YouTube, I’ve argued that getting people back to work was far more than just keeping a roof over one’s head and food on the table. I’ve also stated that the unemployed make really lousy consumers. This means they will be hoarding every penny left to their name, spending only when necessary. No vacation trips, no eating out at nice restaurants, no big ticket purchases like that plasma TV or car. If consumers don’t buy, companies can’t sell. Companies cant’t sell, they don’t make money, which means they go out of business or lay off staff. This in turn results in more unemployed people who won’t buy, and the feedback loop continues. It could be successfully argued that jobs and business are symbiotically linked. One cannot exist without the other.

The unemployment situation in this country is far more than a social issue. It’s a national crisis, but it’s a tough problem to fix, because the economy is anemic and companies are not hiring. An obvious solution would be to lower the corporate tax rate and offer tax credits to companies that hire people, but some might say, “that’s just giving our hard earned tax dollars away to corporations”.

All right then, so we don’t give the money to corporations. What about social services? Bah! We already give a ton of tax dollars to welfare offices and employment assistance centers, an industry based on the misfortune of those living in poverty if not outright homeless. So far those services are not giving us the return we pay as deductions off our paycheques. I can tell you as a job seeker I am less than satisfied with the services I’ve paid for over the years. Maybe that money should go somewhere else. According to the following article, that somewhere is basically everyone.

At first glance, it sounds insane. Give everyone free money, no strings attached? Crazy talk! But as the expression goes, it’s so crazy it just might work.

Think about it. Instead of dumping money into a bloated government bureaucracy that costs hundreds of millions of dollars (if not billions) per year yet produces little results, eliminate the middleman and put it in our pockets. What would each person do with the money? It’s fair to argue that some might just blow it on drugs or booze and end up killing themselves, but it was not the money that killed them: those people self-destructed. Others might put it toward rent and food, and not have to worry about getting sick from not eating properly or from exposure to the elements. Accumulated over time, that money could be spent to start a business or go back to school, which would lead to a more comfortable standard of living. From that, expect healthy consumerism to follow: vacations, TVs, computers, cars, boats, eating out. Increased consumerism means business growth, which equals more jobs created and less reliance on this stipend.

The domino effect that comes from everyone suddenly having this money is easy to see. No need for student loans. No more old-age pensions. Reduced medical costs. More tax revenue to pay for services like roads, hospitals, the electrical grid, sanitation, education, law enforcement, the military. All from this crazy idea of simply giving away free money.

It does sound crazy, but to quote Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. We’ve lived under the concept of a welfare state for decades here in Canada. Do any of you see any change in the fortunes of those who are trying to keep afloat in this Age of Austerity and the jobless recovery?

We’d be crazy not to at least consider alternatives that might work. This idea could be the solution.

Thanks for reading!

David

Couched Intentions

CouchSurfing Ad
My ad on Couchsurfing. Property of David Alan Gay with permission to use provided credit is given to the author.

I’m not a mayoralty candidate in the municipal elections, but I feel I’ve been canvassing like one for the past few weeks.

I’ve been calling up friends, family members and even former co-workers to ask if I can stay with them while I continue my job search. If you’ve been following my blog, I mentioned I’m losing one of the places I’ve been staying at as a base of operations. If this is your first time here, click the link for a recap.

The responses I’ve received have been varied: some offered a few days here and there for me to stay. To those people I say thank you for helping me during this trying time of my life. Others have given me reasonable and understandable explanations why they could not accede to my request, and I accept that with no hard feelings and will ask someone else down the list.

The problem that I face now is that I’ve run out of people to ask. That’s it. There’s no one left, at least those I know of.

Before I left Kitchener, I created a profile on a site called http://CouchSurfing.org. I created the profile as a fall-back in case I ran out of places to stay, and it looks like it’s going to be needed. The site is about envisioning “a world made better by travel and travel made richer by connection. Couchsurfers share their lives with the people they encounter, fostering cultural exchange and mutual respect”. In simpler terms, people host others for a few days, while exchanging values, stories and experiences in the process.

I can get behind this. We now live in a world that encourages a “me first” mentality where everyone else is an opponent, while looking down at (if not ignoring) those who are in danger of falling through the cracks. I much rather live in a world where everyone works together for a better society.

I have a lot to share with my potential hosts, not just through common interests but also because of my 50 years of life experiences. I grew up in a time period where there was no access to the Internet, no mobile communications, and in an economy that was a lot better than it is now. On top of that, my job search that has been ongoing since the start of 2010 has been both a life-changer and a personal rebuilding process.

On the other side of the equation, I can benefit from hearing an alternative point of view based on a cultural or generational perspective. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “there is nothing insignificant in the world. It all depends on the point of view.”

I cleaned up my profile a little to make it sound less needy-for-a-place-to-sleep and posted a few notices asking for hosts to stay with. I also contacted a few potential hosts, but I’ve been declined so far. I understand their initial caution since they do not know me from Adam, nor about my past as a responsible law-abiding citizen who wants to meet people to share experiences. That has not dissuaded me from my goal. and that is to broaden both my horizons in life experiences as well as offer more choices to stay while I continue the job search.

Thanks for reading!

David

P.S. If you are capable of offering a few days a month for me to stay in either Toronto, Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, or Elmira (all in the province of Ontario, Canada), feel free to contact me.

Head In The Cloud’s

20140826__165609_Android
Welcome to the Chrome Age: my new Chromebook. Picture taken by David Gay, with permission to use provided credit is given to the author.

If my friend sticks to her current moving schedule, I have 2 months left to find new places to couch-surf. The type and number of places I end up staying at will affect what I can carry with me and how much. If I have to hop a lot from place to place, then the best I can carry is about a week’s worth of clothing and supplies. My current laptop, a Lenovo Thinkpad running Ubuntu, will not work under these circumstances. It has served me well in my job search, but it’s too heavy and awkward to lug around. A lighter alternative is required that I could carry at the drop of a hat. The problem, however, was that most of the notebook and laptop brands were out of my budget — except for one.

Enter the Chromebook. An example of a thin-client, produced by Google, this type of notebook uses the cloud to store most of its user data, and runs on the ChromeOS operating system, which is a Linux-based and requires the user to work most of the time from inside a browser. At a back-to-school bargain at around $250 (Canadian), was it worth it?

Well, first the pros: It’s very light, thin and has nice large keys for my clumsy sausage fingers. The 11.6 inch screen is very easy to read, and the fully charged battery gives between 6 and 7 hours of off-outlet use. The boot-up time is very fast. Instead of traditional function keys that represent a feature (brightness, volume, etc) that you have to remember, there are a row of keys that explicitly state the above functions. You work with apps, not programs and the Chromebook comes preloaded with apps like the Chrome browser, Gmail, Google Docs (documents), Google Sheets (spreadsheets), Google Slides (presentations), Google Drive, Google+, YouTube and more. If you want to install more apps, Google Play is the place to get them. The Chrome browser uses the Pepper-based Flash plug-in so if you like Farmville, Criminal Case, Trainstation or any other Flash-based games, fear not, the Chromebook can handle it very well. This particular Chromebook (HP) uses a dual-core Samsung processor.

It has its limitations, though. The amount of RAM and file storage on the Chromebook is quite small: it only has 2 gigabytes of RAM and 16 gigabytes of local storage, both using flash drive technology.  The Chromebook is designed to allow the user to create, store, and manipulate data on the cloud courtesy of Google Drive, not locally. While Google claims any stored data is both secure and always easily accessible, and you get 100 gigabytes of additional storage free for two years on top of the additional 15 gigabytes a new Google account is allocated, you are very dependent on a constant Internet connection. The Chromebook can operate in offline mode, but in that mode you have to work with is the base 16 gigabytes of storage. You can use USB flash drives to increase offline storage, but those are not directly synchable with Google Drive. You’ll need to drag and drop there, which on a Chromebook is murder to do since there are no mouse buttons on the track-pad. To emulate a specific mouseclick, you need to tap the pad with one, two, or three fingers. I’m very computer-savvy, yet found the group finger taps hard to do, so I decided to use a portable mouse instead.

The bottom line? If you want a very affordable laptop that is great for working on the cloud and for websurfing, has a fast boot-up time and a long battery time, the Chromebook is perfect for you. However, if you are comfortable with Windows and how a mouse traditionally handles under that operating system, enjoy the wide variety of Microsoft games and applications, and need a lot of offline hard drive storage, perhaps you may want to try putting more money towards a standard notebook, laptop, or ultrabook. In my case, the Chromebook will serve me well as an important part of my mobile life and job search strategy.

Thanks for reading.

David

If A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words…….

Example Of One Lengthy Application
I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. This application felt like doing an exam in college

There’s a debate about employers being too fussy and strict with the hiring requirements on the Workopolis web site. Employers say the stringent requirements are needed in order to ensure a perfect fit for the position, and it’s the job-seeker’s fault for not having the skills to get hired. On the other hand, job-seekers like myself accuse employers of not understanding the requirements of the position and allowing credential creep to inflate the requirements to ridiculous proportions. 

I’ve written about credential creep in a previous blog post, so I am not going to expand on that further. Instead, I want to give you a peek of what I sometimes come across during my job search, as reason why I feel hiring managers are going off the rails with the qualifications. The following link below is an example (from PetSmart) of an application process I come across between one-third to one-quarter of the time.

Before I continue, I want to state this post is in no way attempting to define in a negative light how both PetSmart and any other companies, agencies, or organizations it works in partnership with operates. I’m simply bringing to light, using actual documentation, what job seekers like myself have to go through when forced to apply to openings using this application process. 

In addition, the answers I provided in the sample are not actual answers that convey personal information about myself, and I used a fake personae in order to fill out this application for the open position.

LINK

Quite the college exam, isn’t it? I felt like I was undergoing a psych test for NASA’s planned Mars colony mission, but the job I was “applying” for was, as you noted, was for an early morning stocker. The process — from the time to create a profile to the time I saw the “Submit Application” button (which I did not press) — took over half an hour. 

Does this settle the argument about employers being silly with the hiring requirements? That’s still open to debate, but I feel when I come across applications like this — which are hardly rare —- the evidence is quite damning.

Thanks for reading.

David 

P.S. If you cannot read the folder on the Google Drive site, it’s available on Microsoft OneDrive

So When Should I Expect My Free Stuff, Mr. Mayor?

This man is amazing! Not in a good way! Source: Metro Toronto Today free newspaper website. All credits belong to the author and owners.
This man is amazing! Not in a good way! Source: Metro Toronto Today free newspaper website. All credits belong to the author and owners.

I can’t believe I actually voted for this guy.

According to Mayor Rob Ford, the man who actually does not return everyone’s phone calls or Email’s (like from Yours Truly), who is a magnet for every type of trouble and controversy imaginable that has made Toronto a laughing stock of the world, apparently believes the jobless do not need transit.

Well, how about that? Looks like I was doing this job search all wrong! If I don’t need transit, I guess I don’t need to go to interviews, or to go to employment centre workshops to improve the chances of my resume getting selected by the HR manager. I have absolutely no need for transit to go to part time gigs working in a warehouse, mail room, or even delivering flyers!

In fact, if I don’t need transit, I really do not have to leave my home. Oh wait, wait, wait. I don’t have a home. I’m couch-surfing, remember? I hop from place to place, from friend to family member to friend and so on, using their place as a base of operations to look for work.

So, if I don’t need transit, I don’t really need to look for work to earn money in order to buy things. And if I don’t need money to buy things, then I should expect all this stuff to come to me, free of charge.

Wonderful! No wonder Toronto has become such a toilet these days!

Thanks for reading! Off to enjoy the free stuff I expect Mayor Ford to send me!

David

You’rrrrrrre OUT!

A place to stay, even for a short while, is essential in order for job seekers like myself to work odd jobs to pay the bills, such as this flyer delivery job --- at $0.08 per house -- but hey! It's a job! (photo taken my David Gay. with permission to freely use, provided credit is given to the owner)
A place to stay, even for a short while, is essential in order for job seekers like myself to work odd jobs to pay the bills, such as this flyer delivery job — at $0.08 per house — but hey! It’s a job! (photo taken my David Gay. with permission to freely use, provided credit is given to the owner)

When I left Kitchener in search for work back in March 2014, I asked a few friends and family members if I could stay with them for a period of time while I hunted for openings and did the odd temp job and short-term gig. I fully understood that each stay was temporary and not meant to be permanent.

The place of one friend of mine, who I’ve known for over 20 years, has been a frequent port of call since I began my couch-surfing, and I believed that I would not have to worry about losing it. That belief was squashed like a bug after I came home last Friday at (August 8th, 2014) at around 11:30 p.m.

My friend told me she plans to move within two to three months and I can’t stay with her, explaining that she is trying to downsize space and costs to make them more manageable. She especially made it clear that she was sorry for her decision and felt bad for having to tell me this news, news I certainly did not want to deal after having a great evening walking around Eglinton Avenue and Yonge Street.

I don’t fault her for that. I’m not angry. It is her home and I was a guest for as long as she permitted me to stay. I made it top priority to make sure I did not give her any reason to reconsider her decision. In fact, I put a lot of effort into being a contributing part of her household. For example, after I completed my job search in the morning, I washed her dishes to ensure she did not have to do them when she came home from work. When she went away on vacation, I fed her lovely pets. Every time I did a temporary assignment or short-term gig, she received part of what I made to pay for the things I used, like hydro, water, and the Internet (especially the Internet!). I also remember one time that I cleaned her shower (volunteered for the task, in fact) because she could not stoop down to clear the tub due to an injury. Let’s be clear: I was certainly no sponger while living there.

While I did those things because she is a wonderful friend, perhaps I also believed it would ensure my stay was stable enough to continue my job search without worry of losing a place to sleep. I admit there is a feeling of betrayal, irrational as that might sound.

All I know is that I have to drop whatever plans I have in continuing my job search, working temporary assignments and short term gigs, and bettering my chances as a hire-able employable person so I can find new temporary accommodations to stay. For the next two months, I’ll be like a politician at election time, glad-handing friends and family members I haven’t talked to before asking that rather awkward question: “Uhm, could I, you know, stay with you for a bit?”. This may seem like a joke, but it’s a serious situation. If I don’t find a replacement place to stay, there will be some days where I will have no place to go and have to stay in a shelter or sleep outside. Not a pleasant thought considering summer will soon be coming to an end.

Thanks for reading, and wish me luck!

David.

Painting By Numbers

Is trustworthiness only from people over 30? You be the judge. Link and image from Workopolis, with credit given to both the author of the article and the image supplied.

During my 20-year Information Technology career, statistics were an invaluable tool for solving user issues. In one example, I ran an SQL analysis on a program that revealed one of four database files was accessed the most often, yet it was the third check in a conditional decision chain. By changing the order of the decision chain to make it the first check on the list, the program ran faster. In another example as a systems administrator, I discovered that overall on-line response time was lengthened in inverse proportion to the amount of background jobs executed at a certain time in the business day. By moving some background jobs to execute during at a different time, the response time improved noticably.

Statistics does not necessarily mean truth, however. My approach in solving the problems in the above examples were correct only because the statistical data provided clearly showed the correlation between cause and effect. There are cases where the percentage of probability, though high, can still be wrong based on the sample data provided.

Let’s pretend that for one hour I did a count of all the people entering the Tim Horton’s where I’m writing this post right now, and found that 77% were of Asian ancestry. That does not mean each day and every time, in this Tim Horton’s, slightly more than three of every four customers are of Asian ancestry. Perhaps a few buses full of Asian tourists suddenly stopped in front of this Tim Horton’s to get a doughnut or a coffee, meaning random chance just took a steaming dump on my analysis. In fact, there’s nothing on the display case at this store that would attract Asian patrons over other ethnicities.  In this case, my sample data did not accurately measure the correlation between cause and effect, even though the statistical probability was high enough to lead to the incorrect assumption

It is for this reason I cringe when I read career articles like this one that state a certain type of worker is going to behave in certain way based on age, colour, or whatever. In the case of the employment study I’ve linked, it’s assumed by the statistical data in the report data that Millennials (those under the age of 30) are untrustworthy.

Studies like this reminds me of the racial profiling done by certain levels of law enforcement in order to determine where types of crime were coming from. The problem with that type of profiling, be it for employment measurement or for catching bad guys (and gals), is there might be other reasons why things are happening as they are, yet are not being considered as a possibility.

The report’s conclusion is laughable. Does this mean the moment someone turns 31, they are now automatically trustworthy, as if a switch is flipped? It’s as insane as assuming people commit crimes because of skin colour or the faith they follow. Yet here we have a study that some employers no doubt will read and as a result practice a form of discrimination that is not only unfair, it is something a job applicant who falls into a particular statistical percentage will have a hard time overcoming.

I believe each of us has a personal ledger we are individually responsible for, for all the past actions and decisions made. We can’t blame others if our ledger is running in the red (morally speaking), but at the same time each of us shouldn’t be blamed for the actions of others. When it comes to statistics used in judging someone, the number 1 — that one person alone — is all that should be considered.

Thanks for reading!

David