Friday Professional Group

Friday Professional Group Blog

The Rae Makes Meals Challenge (plus Rae Organizes Her Desk update!)

Besides some very dedicated, healthy individuals, I’m sure we all have days where we don’t have time for breakfast, pick the wrong choices for lunch, and are so tired when we get home that dinner just falls by the wayside into the takeout menu. With the advent of resources like Pinterest and lifestyle blogs it seems like a no-brainer to make healthier – and, often, easier - choices (oftentimes the recipes look delectable and uncomplicated, AND are pleasingly illustrated with pictures of them adorably presented in mason jars! Who could resist, I ask you?). And yet – sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. Actually, for me, it rarely works out that way.

One of the things our fantastic Employment Solutions Specialist and all-around social media expert Shabana does, as you’ll know if you frequent our Facebook or Twitter accounts, is round up and share awesome tips and information on everything from resumes to interview attire to make-ahead dinners. As I looked through some of the ideas on the meal spectrum we’re going to be sharing with you in the upcoming weeks and months, I had a thought – why don’t I take a look at the week I just had, meal-wise, and see if I can do better this week using some of these ideas?

Last week, I actually did better at breakfast than I usually do – I almost never eat breakfast, as I am a devotee of my alarm’s snooze button. I had a cold glass of water, two boiled eggs with a little bit of buffalo wing hot sauce, and tea on Wednesday and Friday. (Friday, though, I also ate three sour soothers. Breakfast of champions!) The other days, I had a cold glass of water and a cup of tea or coffee. So, my goal for this week is to make some truly grab-and-go ideas for breakfast. I started this week with my good old two boiled eggs and hot sauce option, followed by a cold glass of water and some coffee when I got to work this morning. This slideshow has some great ideas for breakfast options – because of a medical condition, though, I can’t eat anything containing gluten, so I’ll be modifying recipes from there and using this site for more ideas and reference for the rest of the week.

As for lunch, last week was also a good week for me. I’ve picked, apparently, one of my best food weeks ever to start this experiment - I brought my lunch (usually a small sandwich and a piece of fruit) every day except for Friday! Usually I run across the street for a salad or a Jugo Juice with protein powder. This probably sounds healthier than it is – it’s sometimes too easy to choose creamy dressings or too much cheese on a salad, and I’ll admit to being honestly unsure how much better a choice a fruit smoothie with protein powder really is for lunch than some of the ideas I want to be trying this week. I’m lucky enough to live right now with my parents and my fiancé, who usually packs my lunch for me while I am racing around in the morning trying to get ready in time to leave, so this week: I’ll be making my lunches the night before! I didn’t manage to get my lunch packed last night, but I did pack some turkey, feta and cranberry burgers, an apple, an orange and a Coke Zero for today’s lunch this morning. Since gluten-free sandwich bread is reaaallly expensive, I was thrilled to come across this website which suggests sixteen sandwich-free lunch ideas, which is perfect for me! I’m also looking at ideas to use or modify from places like this and this.

Dinners? Well, I humbly admit that for dinners, I’m usually off the hook – as I mentioned, my fiancé and I live with my family, and my father is a wonderful and enthusiastic cook. Since two of my other family members are also celiac, that means we’re privileged enough to have safe and delicious dinners usually prepared for us. However! In the spirit of this challenge, I’ll be perusing this to make one dinner (at least – I might aim for two) for me and my family next week. I found, for example, this good-looking delight – that’s probably not the healthiest salad ever concocted, but boy, is it ever up my alley.

I’m actually really excited to take this on! It will involve a good deal of list-making, which is my specialty, and as I look over the plan I’ve got going for the week, I can see exactly where and how this is going to save me lots of time and money in the long run. It gets expensive to eat out for four or five lunches a week! Plus, eating breakfast (my number-one most skipped meal) has been shown to have major benefits. I’ll be back in this space on Friday or Monday to share with you what I made and how the week went in general. Cross your fingers for me! Bon appétit!

-Rae, First Impressions Coordinator

PS: Shabana suggested I share how my desk organization was coming along! She also graciously told me I had been doing a pretty good job. In my opinion, desk organization is still a work in progress. I am doing really well at keeping the pen caddy cleaned out and having only what I need to hand; I am still working on tidying up at the end of the day and not having too much paper everywhere! 


Photo: My unpopular lunchbox in our work fridge. 

The Winter Interview Wonderland

A friend of mine buried neck-deep in snow up in Edmonton and getting ready for an interview sent me a text message yesterday saying “why don’t you do a blog about interviewing in the winter?!” Thanks for the great idea, Stephanie, and I hope your interview was wonderful!

Interviews can be stressful at the best of times and nasty weather just adds one more variable into your preparations – but as long as you do factor the weather into your interview prep, there should be no reason to let some Alberta snowstorm get in the way of you getting there and giving a great interview.

Let’s face it – the getting there can be the most daunting part of that “getting to an interview in inclement weather” proposition, especially if you are interviewing in an unfamiliar part of town. A standard interviewing tip is to know where you’re going and to plan to be there 5-10 minutes early – I would propose that this is doubly important when the weather is frightful. If you’re driving, I’d recommend leaving double the time you would normally allot to travel – and inform yourself about the parking situation! Especially when the snow flies, parking in some parts of Calgary can be difficult to find and expensive. You’ll want to leave enough room in your travel time for parking and possibly walking to the interview location. I am an ardent fan of the 660 News Traffic Twitter feed (@660NewsTraffic) for checking up-to-the-minute traffic information before I leave the house, and radio stations in Calgary announce frequent traffic updates especially during rush hours. Also, Google Maps’ Street View service ( lets you get a peek at the area around an unfamiliar address if you’re not able to drive down in advance to get a feel for the location – it can give you some good hints on parking. The Calgary Parking Authority ( also lists lot locations around the city. 

We all appreciate Calgary Transit’s hard work moving people around our big city; and it’s understandable that bad weather can snarl traffic and transit alike. The Calgary Transit Twitter feed (@calgarytransit) is one of the best I’ve ever seen for keeping customers up to date on delays and for responding to queries quickly and accurately. The Calgary Transit website ( offers a great trip-planning service – but remember that when it snows, delays on busses and C-trains can occur, and leave yourself even more extra time. Again, we usually recommend that you arrive 5-10 minutes early for an interview, but I think a few minutes even earlier than that is completely understandable and even a good sign when the weather is bad – it gives a good impression that you planned ahead.

Are bad roads ever an excuse for arriving at an interview late? Well…I talked to one of our recruiters, and while she wouldn’t come out and say “no, they’re not ever an excuse,” she agrees with me that if you’re leaving yourself extra time and planning ahead, chances are good you can take “bad roads making you late” out of the equation altogether. As with any unexpected delay, though, always call as soon as you realize you’ll be delayed and offer to reschedule.

So, you’re going to be on time – fantastic! But what will you wear? Even if you’re fortunate enough to be driving to an interview, that pesky Calgary parking situation means you’ll likely want to be bundled up and especially wearing puddle-and-ice-proof footwear! You’ll still want to look polished and professional, however – wool overcoats are preferable to down jackets for a sharper look, and you can’t go wrong with sensible black boots for a professional image. I’ve heard of people covering their boots with plastic bags to get from the car to the door – as long as those plastic bags are hidden away in a coat pocket before coming into the office, I say “whatever works.”  Some experts also advise, especially for people who aren’t driving to their interview, wearing winter boots and then changing them in the washroom; bringing along a bag to keep them with their overcoat. This would work out at our office – we have a spot where I keep my winter boots, in fact – but I’d hesitate to recommend it for an interview at other offices where I wasn’t sure of their coat-closet situation. It isn’t quite as professional as choosing footwear which can hold up to both the outdoors and the interview setting. (Bringing shoes to change into is preferable, though, to wearing clunky snow boots into an interview). A nice, warm, solid-colored scarf, gloves (not ski gloves!), and a pair of earmuffs completes your on-my-way-to-an-interview-in-the-winter look. Plus, while you’re planning all that extra time – add on a couple of minutes for a washroom break to make sure the elements haven’t gotten to your hair!

I really believe there are enough things to worry about when you land an interview, so winter wreaking havoc on your plans doesn’t have to be one of them. Remember to leave yourself lots of extra time (more than usual), know exactly where you’re going, and be confident in what you’re wearing to arrive there warm and safe!


-Rae, First Impressions Coordinator



Photo credit: The New York Post

First Impressions Matter

That title might sound a little obvious, coming from the First Impressions Coordinator, but I sometimes wonder if this is an idea that not everyone on the job hunt has thought about. There are lots of great articles out there about making a good first impression on interviewers, how to nail a job interview, even how to get your resume in front of the recruiter to begin with – but lots of them lack one tip which I really feel more people should know about.

Be nice to the receptionist.

Not exactly rocket science, I know – but there’s a reason I’m reiterating it. The reason I’m called the “First Impressions Coordinator” goes two ways –I’m in charge of the first impression our company leaves on you, but I’m also in charge of conveying your first impression to the people who are in charge of making the decisions like “who, out of this pile of resumes, should we bring in for an interview?” 

Let’s say I have two candidates with comparative amounts of education and experience who come in to drop off a resume (a situation which is actually pretty common). One of them greets me with “I wanna see a recruiter”; visibly rolls their eyes when I tell them that unfortunately our recruiters generally don’t take walk-ins, but that I’d be happy to pass along their resume; won’t make eye contact; doesn’t want to answer my questions about the type of role they’re looking for; and leaves without saying goodbye. The other one says hello and asks how my day is going; asks to leave a resume to be considered; is polite and thorough when answering questions; takes a business card; and says “have a nice day!” on their way out.

Who would you recommend the recruiters call when they’re reviewing the resumes?

When you’re dealing with a recruiting agency, the recruiters have to be really aware of the type of candidate they are going to be working with on a job search and presenting to potential opportunities. If the first impression that you’re leaving is of someone surly, rude, snobby or haughty – well, you may not have disqualified yourself, but you’ve definitely added yourself an extra job-search hurdle. I completely understand that job searching is tough – I’ve been there! My advice is just to remember when you’re going into places you’d like to work with – recruiting agencies or other offices alike – that the receptionist is part of the team who is there to help you. Leave the best impression of yourself with the front desk staff member, just as you would do in an interview, and you’ll have gone a long way towards getting that first call back.

-Rae, First Impressions Coordinator

Rae Organizes Her Desk

I’m the person with probably the messiest desk at our office – which maybe makes me the most qualified to look for desk organization tips! I’ve been trying to find new ways that work for my sometimes-scattered brain (does it count as chaos if I know where everything is?) to keep my things tidier and hopefully easier for other people to understand if they need to step into my zone!

My organizational problems tend to come from having a lot of paper and feeling like I don’t have a lot of places to put them (this is because I’m a big note-taker), so I started looking for cute, compact and functional ideas to hold my papers and pens and make my space a little neater.

I started out thinking I could use some of the ideas on Martha Stewart’s website, like her framed bulletin board or covered clipboards – but I don’t have the wall space where I could hang something like that up, since I sit at the very front of our office. Plus, I get the feeling that someone with some crafty skills would make things that looked a little nicer! As much as I loved the neat ideas like paint-can-canisters for holding mail, what turned out to be more important for my desk was tips like “get rid of pens and pencils you don’t need.” I took one look at my pen holder on my desk and realized this was me! Mark Shead’s 12 Tips For an Organized Desk was my lifeline here. I latched onto the idea of “organization by proximity” – keeping the things I need most often closest to me, like my favourite pen, my bright-blue Post-its, and my rack of everybody’s business cards that I put into interview folders – and putting away things I don’t use much. This meant finding a home for things like the building’s fire warden manual, which I think everyone else in the office has forgotten even exists! I also designated a scratch pad for notes and tidied up all the random paperclips strewn about my desktop, cleaned out my file holder, and even took a stab at the pen caddy. (I am not a kindergarten teacher and do not need three pairs of scissors at my desk).

So has any of this helped yet? Well, we’ll see – but I think I’ve made a pretty good start at no longer being the office slob. I did, at the very least, clean up things that should have never found a home on my desk to start with, since I am not the fire warden - this should make the whole ‘organize-as-you-go’ process run a little more smoothly.  And I did get to keep some cute and fun things on my desk, like the mirror Shabana bought me and a paperweight our summer student, Emily, brought me from Vegas. Even in the short time since I started to tidy up my desk, I’ve noticed it helps me think more clearly and feel more focused. Hopefully organizing-as-I-go and keeping the most important things near to me can be the key to happier, tidier working! (Then I'll just need to get started on my desk at home!) 


-Rae, First Impressions Coordinator

Article: How to Ace Your Interview and Land The Job

We found this great blog from the "Undercover Recruiter" about "How to Ace Your Interview and Land The Job: Interview Tips 101"

The interview is your opportunity to make an unforgettable impression on the company you want to work for and get the job you want. Here are some hints and pointers that will help you make that positive impression:


Always be fully prepared – often it is the one thing that an otherwise very competent candidate is lacking. DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Some of you are wondering what does that mean? Some tips for that include:

  1. Drive to the location before the interview so that you know how to get there, where there is parking etc.

  2. Know the full name and title of the individual you are to meet with.

  3. Learn as much as you can about the company.

  4. Find out as much as you can about the interviewer and what they look for in a good candidate.

  5. Know what your goals and objectives are for the future so that you can measure these against what is being offered.

  6. Prepare questions that are specific to that position and that company.

  7. Always be professionally dressed. Even in business casual environments a business suit is required for the interview process.

  8. Arrive on time.

  9. Bring hard copies of your resume. Often the interviewer will have printed it for themselves but it is always good practice to have it on hand just in case.

  10. Bring a pen and a note pad in case you want to or need to make any notes. 


Author: Zag Dutton, President at Career Connections Canada. 

The Age of Social Recruiting

Common Mistakes Not To Make

How to Alienate Employers and Miss Out On Potential Jobs
Recruitment Revolution.Com -
<a href="">Source</a>


Read Your Interviewer

A simple lesson on how to read the person who is giving the interview.


The 10 Job Skills Employers Want

The 10 Job Skills Employers Want

With competition for new jobs at an all-time high, employees must have the skills employers are targeting. From the ability to communicate effectively to the willingness to wear multiple hats around the office, employers today seek workers with a variety of the skills. Here are 10 skills employers look for most in today's fast-paced, technologically advanced workplace:


Commitment to both their job and their employer is something Dennis Boone, former president and CEO of Verizon New Jersey and the current director of Montclair State University's Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship at the School of Business, has always looked for in workers.

"An employee committed to achieving their goals and objectives is a marvel to witness," Bone told BusinessNewsDaily. "I especially value the employee that, when times are tough, continues to strive for solutions and refrains from the 'blaming others' behavior that, unfortunately, we see too often."

The Extra Mile

In order to gain a boss' confidence, employees must be willing to go above and beyond what is typically required of them on the job, said Brett Good, a senior district president for Robert Half International.

"Employees who take on projects that fall outside their normal responsibilities can expand their skill set and explore new avenues for professional growth," Good said. "While you may not always have the time to volunteer for an extra assignment, passing on every opportunity will prevent you from being viewed by your manager as a go-to person in the department."

Wear Multiple Hats

Kevin Watson, CEO and co-founder of jobdreaming, said small businesses don't have room for people who just want to do their job, and their job only.

"Employees that will get hired more easily and ultimately succeed are those that show an eager willingness to do whatever needs to get done, not just what's in their job description," Watson said.

Positive Attitude

Having anything but a positive attitude is non-negotiable for Brian Goodman, managing director of Experis.

"Attitude drives success, and people want to be around positive people. It is contagious, and others will notice," Goodman said. "Naysayers are a drag on business."

Decision Makers

Executive coach and leadership consultant Dave Gambrill believes the one skill that every employee must have is the ability to think critically and make appropriate decisions.

"Leaders don't want to micromanage their employees, but often they are forced to because the employees lack critical thinking skills," Gambrill said. "Ideally, you'd like to say, 'I trust you to make decisions that are good for the business,' and let people come up with their own solutions."


Elle Kaplan, CEO and founding partner of Lexion Capital Management LLC, said it is important for entrepreneurs to find employees who are just as passionate about their job as the boss is.

"When an employee believes strongly in the company's mission, their job is no longer a job. It's a calling," Kaplan said. "I've learned first hand that people work harder when they feel connected to and believe in your mission as a leader and the mission of the company."


In today's fast-moving business world, the worst thing an employee can be is a drain on their boss' time, said Nick Gidwani, founder of

"Employees should be always adding value, and the easiest way to destroy value, so to speak, is to not have your own work organized," Gidwani said. "That could mean simple ideas like naming files or folders properly, or more substantial tasks like writing high-quality meeting recaps."


Wendy Pike, president of Twist office products, said she searches for employees who can be depended on consistently to get the job done.

"As an employer, we need to be able to count on our employees to show up on time and do the work we are paying them to do," Pike said.


In today's workplace, communication is the skill of utmost importance, said Charley Polachi, co-founder and partner at Polachi Access Executive Search.

"You must have communication skills that allow you to succinctly and effectively contribute your thoughts," Polachi said. "An effective communicator leaves no room for error and can exhibit thoughts in a direct manner."


Time and time again, conscientiousness proves itself to be among the top indicators of job performance, said Lynda Zugec, managing director

of The Workforce Consultants.

"Make sure you pay attention to the details," Zugec said. "Spelling and grammatical errors, lost and misplaced files, or general disorganization have the potential to make or break you."


Follow Chad Brooks @cbrooks76. Follow us @BNDarticles, Facebook or Google+.


The 10 Job Skills Employers Want 8:44 AM ET   |    By: Chad Brooks, BusinessNewsDaily Contributor

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