Conceptual image of career management

Making Career Moves in a Recession

Conceptual image of career management
With the unemployment rate dropping to the lowest Canada has seen in decades, ending 2018 at 5.6% according to Statistics Canada, those seeking work have found themselves in a power position over employers. While this statistic is a combination of many factors, and may not be entirely reflective of what job seekers find in each field, the general consensus reflects a larger abundance of positions, affording seekers the opportunity to be picky.

In the recruiting industry, this has shown through the attitude of candidates. With this new-found power in the employee-employer relationship, candidates are less likely to commit and instead enjoy the luxury of shopping around for positions with multiple recruiters. Relieved of the stress to snag one of the few good opportunities available (notably in specialized fields), time is no longer of the essence.

The forecast for 2019, however, may look quite different for job seekers. The winds of change bring a whisper of recession that will reverse the power imbalance currently held by employers and job seekers. Before you find yourself caught in the eye of the storm, however, understanding how this dynamic will affect job seekers can help prevent consistently losing out on desirable positions and ensuring the best decision is made in regards to your career.

Depending on how you view an economic downfall in regards to your career, there are a few ways of approaching a job search. First, the most obvious answer would be to make the change now. Human resources are generally the greatest asset of an organization, but also the greatest cost to the bottom line. So, naturally, in a situation of recession where companies are tightening their belts, the first area they will look to save is within the employee pool. For example, can our team of three Financial Analysts sufficiently operate with just two?

Additionally, a recession often results in lower voluntary turnover. When the job market is tight, people tend to hold on to the security their job holds. As Willis Towers Watson explains, “workers who managed to stay employed tended to remain where they were, especially older workers who couldn't afford to retire.” This means that while companies are offering fewer opportunities, the lack of turnover creates a greater deficit in what could normally be expected of available jobs. With these two key factors in mind, it would seem logical to make a move before this happens and look for an available position while there is still a surplus. This is not, of course, a fail-safe way to progress your career while standing face-to-face with economic decline. If you were waiting for the other shoe to drop, here it comes.

Recall the anecdote of three Analysts. Now, come recession, a company believes they can get along with two. The easiest decision would be made by last one in, first one out - meaning, of course, you. Adding this phenomenon to the equation, it may now look like making that move before an impending recession may not be such a good idea after all. You put at risk the job security you currently hold for lower seniority and a high probability of being the first out the door if your new company is making cuts. How, then, would you make a decision? How would you know if you should make a move or not? The answer lies in context. In all areas of job searching, context is king.

Let’s say you have decided to look for a new job. An interesting role is available at a reputable company and you believe this would be a great move for you. To add context to this situation, you would look closely at what a recession means for the company and industry in question. Taking a page from previous recessions, there are industries that are more recession resistant or even thrive during a recession. Some notable examples include Consumer Staples with grocery stores (people still need to eat) and discount retailers such as Walmart, as well as Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare. In contrast, there are certain industries that generally see significant volatility during recessions including Consumer Discretionary “luxury goods,” Information Technology and Financial Services.  

But most importantly, what is the context for you? What is this job selling, and what does it mean for you? How does this move fit into your story?

These are not always easy questions to answer. If you’re considering a career move and wish you had someone to help you navigate the murky waters of job hunting, reach out to Clarity Recruitment today. Our recruiters are committed to helping you write your next chapter.  


Your Next Step

No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

woman holding white mug while standing

How to Ask for a Promotion in the Finance Industry

woman holding white mug while standing
With a new year underway, you may be thinking about some of your short and long-term goals, both personal and professional. Maybe you’ve been wanting to ramp things up in the career department, and a promotion with new responsibilities and opportunities would help you do just that.

If you’re interested in asking for a promotion, but are a little apprehensive about doing so, that’s completely understandable. Asking your boss for a promotion can be nerve-wracking, as it’s a situation that can leave you feeling vulnerable. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take the risk.

Here are some ways to build your confidence and improve your success when it comes to having that important conversation with your boss.

Understand Your Motivation

Before you discuss a possible promotion with your boss, take time to reflect on why you want the promotion in the first place.

Are you genuinely interested in being more involved with manager-level responsibilities? Keep in mind that, according to the Journal of Accountancy, “to be promoted to manager, a CPA needs to show that he or she can handle any of the work being done by employees below him or her on the pyramid while also displaying the nascent skills needed by those above.”

Or is it that you’re more interested in earning a higher salary and having a title that you feel will be more impressive? Perhaps you’re feeling dissatisfied with your current position and believe that a move up the ladder will solve that? There are a whole host of reasons why you could be seeking a promotion. Inc. Magazine describes some typical motivators for asking for a promotion including Ambition, Money, Opportunity, Dissatisfaction, and Boredom.

Understanding your motivation for wanting a promotion will help you determine whether taking steps to get one is the right path forward for you as well as your timing and how you go about it.

Pave the Way

Before you approach your boss about a promotion, consider whether you’ve already been doing the legwork necessary to prove to him or her that you are serious and prepared to take on more responsibility. Some great ways to build your case for why you deserve a promotion include:

  • Gradually asking for more responsibilities – this can include taking some things off your boss’ plate, if possible. Familiarizing yourself with higher-level responsibilities now will set you up for being able to successfully tackle them if you’re promoted in the future.
  • Making time for professional development – taking additional courses, attending relevant conferences and workshops, and seeking out an appropriate mentor all show that you are committed to growing your knowledge and skill set.
  • Honing the right skills – do your research and determine which skills are required for the job you want, then figure out which ones you have and which ones you need to sharpen or acquire. Managers need to have strong technical skills, training skills, the ability to multitask, exceptional interpersonal skills, and a knack for generating business.
  • Asking for feedback – in order to know whether you’re on the right track, be sure to check in regularly with your boss to find out what you’re doing well and what you could be doing better. This information can help with timing your promotion request appropriately.
  • Keeping track of your achievements – you’re in the finance and accounting industry, so you know the importance of clear data and being able to quantify what’s been accomplished. Use this knowledge to your advantage by creating a memo outlining your successes that you can present to your boss when you’re ready to discuss your potential promotion.
  • Finding solutions to problems – being able to identify current problems with systems, procedures, or staff and coming up with actual, executable solutions that you can present to your boss will show initiative and a keen ability to problem-solve.

Find A Good Time

When it comes to approaching your boss for a promotion, it’s unlikely you’ll ever find the perfect time. However, if you’re strategic about when you broach the subject, you might find your boss more open to the discussion. Just ensure you avoid these common promotion-request pitfalls that Forbes has outlined such as “Asking for a promotion or raise simply based on length of time employed”.

If your boss is dealing with tension and problems in the workplace, it might be best to hold off on asking about a promotion until things are running smoother. That type of situation does provide a great opportunity for asking how you can help out, though.

Look for a time when there are positive things happening and the atmosphere is more relaxed. Schedule a meeting with your boss and be sure to come prepared with notes and clear, quantitative examples of what you’re bringing to the table and how you plan to make things even better.

While it’s natural to feel a bit intimidated about asking for a promotion, don’t let that hold you back. Take a deep breath and go for it. After all, if you don’t ask, how will your boss ever know that you’re interested in taking the next step in your career?

Your Next Step

No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

2018 in Blocks

Top Posts from 2018

2018 in Blocks
New to our site? Longtime fan of our blogs? Don't worry, we here at Clarity have got you covered!
We've pulled together the most popular blogs of 2018:

5 Compelling Reasons to Do Contract Work 
June 12, 2018
Curious about contract work, but not sure if it's right for you? Discover five major reasons you should give it a try. 

How to Understand Your Market Value 
January 9, 2018
While there is no such thing as a perfect job (really there’s not), one that offers us respect, engagement and a salary commensurate with our skills and experience can be rewarding. But how do we actually understand our market value? Here’s how to determine what your work, experience

Making Time for Professional Development
April 17, 2018
Many of us have so much going on in our personal and professional lives that it can be difficult to know how to carve out time for continuous learning opportunities. Here are a few tips on making time to explore professional development options that can boost your confidence and your career.

Bouncing Back After Being Restructured Out of a Job
May 29, 2018
Restructuring cost you your job? These five tips can help you bounce back and find your next role in the finance and accounting industry.

How to Promote Yourself When You’re an Introvert
April 3, 2018
If you prefer to spend time by yourself, feel drained by social interactions, think deeply about the world around you, and sometimes have trouble selling others on your merits, you’re probably an introvert.

Attracting and Retaining Millennial Employees in the Finance and Accounting Industry
May 1, 2018
As more and more millennials enter the workforce, companies are learning that this group has expectations and needs that are far different from those of previous generations.

Meet the Entrepreneur Who’s Tying Canada’s Cannabis Industry Together
November 12, 2018
Clarity Recruitment’s Shane Gagnon finds out what powers Ample Organics, the unseen brain of the Canada’s new cannabis industry. Find out how John Prentice came to be a major influencer in Canadian pot production.

Your Next Step

No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with all out latest job postings. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

Business people shaking hands in interview

Hiring Newcomer Talent in the Finance Industry

Business people shaking hands in interview
From its birth, Canada has been a nation that represents opportunities for newcomers. More than 17 million immigrants have made their way to this country since Confederation in 1867, and newcomers continue to grow Canada’s population today. Canada’s workforce also continues to expand thanks to newcomers. With immigrants making up about one in five Canadians, that’s a huge pool of potential candidates with valuable foreign experience.

That being said, newcomers often find themselves facing barriers to employment. They may struggle with communication, they may not be familiar with the Canadian job search process, or the experience they gained in their home country isn’t recognized by employers here in Canada. Newcomers may also find it hard to express their skill set and qualifications in ways that meet Canadian expectations. This can result in their applications being overlooked and a lack of interview opportunities being granted to them. In turn, companies may be losing out on highly skilled, hard-working individuals that could be real assets in the long run.

Keeping an open mind and knowing how to approach the hiring process when it comes to newcomer candidates can allow companies to tap into this growing talent pool with great success.

Why Hire Newcomers?

These candidates offer many benefits to potential employers, including:

  • A Fresh Perspective – Newcomer candidates’ international experience and diverse skill set can bring new information, strategies, and insight to freshen up “the way things have always been done”. Their international experience and foreign language skills can also help companies expand into new markets.
  • A Can-Do Attitude – Newcomer candidates who have gained a Canadian work permit have already shown their perseverance by taking the time, effort, and financial costs to do so. This can translate into a go-getter spirit in the workplace that drives projects forward while efficiently navigating obstacles.
  • A Connection – As mentioned earlier, around 20% of Canadians are immigrants (and in a city like Toronto, it’s more like 50%). Hiring newcomers provides an opportunity for companies to connect with these wider audiences, and enhance their corporate image by showcasing diversity.

How Can I Hire Newcomers?

When reviewing applications from newcomer candidates, it’s important to think outside the box. These candidates may express their skill set and qualifications in unfamiliar ways, so knowing what to look for and what questions to ask is key to determining whether they’re a good fit for a role.

Some best practices when it comes to assessing these candidates include:

  • Be Aware of Laws and Policies – Understand what questions can be asked of candidates and what questions should be avoided, based on information in the Canadian Human Rights Act, provincial legislation, and policies such as Ontario’s Policy on Removing the “Canadian Experience” Barrier.
  • Do Things Differently – Rather than expect all candidates to move through the hiring process the same way, look for ways to individualize the experience. For newcomer candidates, try to rephrase interview questions to be as specific as possible. If English isn’t someone’s first language, a question like, “Can you tell me about yourself?” might result in the candidate sharing a personal story rather than the expected work-related information.
  • Make Connections – Work to interpret information the candidate provides in a way that makes sense within Canadian expectations. For example, if the candidate is describing one of his or her employers in their home country and you’re trying to understand what industry the company is part of, ask the candidate to compare that company to one found in Canada that may be similar in size and/or scope.
  • Assess Fairly – When reviewing applications from newcomer candidates, look for some of the same attributes you’d expect to find in any resume. Past successes, continued education, and progression within a company or to higher-level roles all speak to a candidate with great potential.
  • Consider Finance-Specific Training – Accounting and finance roles can have unique challenges when it comes to hiring newcomer candidates. It is crucial to understand the difference between a candidate’s experience with GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) in their home country and how that compares with IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards). It may be that the candidate will need to upgrade their education to suit specific roles.

Hiring managers who are interested in finding newcomer talent should work with recruitment firms like Clarity Recruitment to help them understand what to look for and how to adapt their hiring practices appropriately to ensure all candidates have a fair shot.

Your Next Step

No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

Bryn Knox Photo

A True Story: Framing Your Narrative to Transition Industries

Bryn Knox Photo

Meet Bryn Knox, Head of Finance at BenchSci; a successful start-up that uses Artificial Intelligence to assist biomedical researchers in conducting more successful experiments. In his fourteen years since graduating from university, Bryn went from working at a small marketing start-up headed by a close friend to managing the financials of a company with the potential to impact the way medical research is conducted world-wide. It’s an impressive feat; having built a successful career in marketing that in every way indicated he would land among some of the top in the industry, Bryn made a sudden switch to finance. Instead of derailing his growth, this change only seemed to have motivated it further. So how did he do it? When looking back at Bryn’s history, a clear pattern can be discerned. Bryn’s success can be attributed to his ability to extract specific skills from his experiences and apply them in new situations.

Growing up in the small town of Midhurst, Ontario (Population: 3,000), Bryn  was drawn to the University of Toronto because of a desire to experience living in a major city. “[Midhurst] was so rural that you wouldn’t hear anything at night. Toronto was a shock and it felt like it never stopped moving.” After four short years, Bryn graduated from Rotman Commerce and immediately joined a close friend’s marketing start-up in Waterloo. Building websites for online communities, Bryn found the work challenging and competitive, but ultimately decided that Toronto was the spot to begin his career. He gained entry to the Toronto marketing scene first through Nike running room, a purely promotional storefront. It was here that he learned to tailor the skill of consumer connection. “I [got] grassroots marketing experience, community engagement, and [learned] to build momentum behind a brand instead of just trying to sell something in a transactional way.”

Bryn’s experience at Nike led him to 20th Century Fox where he worked on film publicity and promotion, and eventually to Disney where he was tasked with creating partnerships for revenue with no budget. “We were told… don’t pay for them, use the brand to create cross promotional opportunities. It leveraged my background from Nike where I was trying to create a grassroots movement.” A memorable project for Bryn was 2010’s major motion picture, Alice in Wonderland. “Our team collectively, without spending a dime, got space on Tetley packaging to promote the film. They were everywhere and it was a big hit for both Tetley and Disney.”

It was here that Bryn began to learn the value that could be built through partnerships and was where he got his first taste of finance - working with budgets and eventually supporting the finance team. “By supporting them, I began to understand how much we should be spending, [and] on which initiatives in order to get a return. I did well in finance at school and now I was making the connection to see how it can drive a business.”

Once Bryn had this revelation, he discreetly earned his CMA designation and began to explore a permanent move to finance. Through a personal connection, Bryn was submitted to ole Media Management’s Acquisitions Team for a Financial Analyst role. He was hired not because he was the most qualified candidate, but because of his ability to frame his story and connect the dots in his background. “In hindsight, all of the things that I did in marketing with Nike, Disney, and Fox gave me the ability to convey my background and my relevance. The SVP of Acquisitions said that I was able to take a story and tell it back to [him] in a way that other people couldn’t. The acquisitions team wouldn’t just crunch numbers, they would also have to defend their decisions in our boardroom which required strong communication skills.”

With his foot officially in the door, Bryn made a successful transition to finance and began to hone his new industry skills. He was promoted to Senior Manager Digital, a newly created division at ole Media Management. After three years of finance work, received a call from Clarity Recruitment with a new opportunity at Wave, a tech start-up that provides financial services and software to small and micro businesses. Finding a great fit with his boss, Bryn made the move to Wave as a Finance Manager and took on the challenges that come with a start-up business. “I definitely learned to deal with uncertainty during my time at Wave because you are in a start-up and you are managing capital burn to build product and scale. You had to build a story around your product and growth, always understanding the key drivers.”

For Bryn, creating a story was a skill he had been refining since his early days in marketing. After three years of learning the ins and outs of a start-up company and landing the role of Senior Finance Manager, Bryn was approached by the CEO of another start-up, BenchSci, where he currently works as Head of Finance. “Over the last year, I have definitely become more interested in AI and the impact it can have on the world, so finding a company using it to aid scientific research with the ability to help scientists find cures was a perfect fit and opportunity to continue growing while making a positive difference.”

So what’s next for Bryn? For now, he is excited about what the future holds for his current role and the team he is working with at BenchSci. “The Head of Finance job is a new test and it builds on everything that I’ve done. You should never feel truly and completely ready. You need to make yourself uncomfortable.”

Your Next Step

No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

Cannabis Industry

How Finance Professionals Can Break Into Canada’s Cannabis Industry

Cannabis Industry
The cannabis industry has transformed from a niche market that was once considered taboo to a fast-growing, high-profile industry that has been attracting investors and becoming a hotbed of startups. Thanks to legislation that made recreational cannabis legal in October, the market is booming; CIBC predicts cannabis will become a $5-billion industry in Canada by 2020.

With  this focus on the business and investment aspects of the industry, cannabis companies have their financial work cut out for them.

As one of the most tightly regulated industries in the country, a serious demand has been created for finance professionals who are able to steer cannabis companies in the right direction and avoid potential auditing pitfalls. Some common practices a finance professional in the cannabis industry should be prepared for are:

  • keeping track of account records, transactions, and inventory for auditing purposes
  • spotting trends and suggesting courses of action based on the information
  • helping the company navigate tax issues and compliance concerns
  • providing deeper analytical insight into the numbers for future planning
  • educating investors on the unique financial aspects of the cannabis industry and how that affects their investments

So how does a skilled finance professional break into this exciting, rapidly expanding industry?

Get to Know the Industry

Start by researching the industry from a variety of angles including growing, selling, and marketing the products, and gain an understanding of the specific financial challenges the industry faces at all levels.

Stay up-to-date on pertinent cannabis-related news and issues by:

  • subscribing to relevant newsletters or blogs
  • tuning in to topical podcasts
  • following cannabis industry leaders on social media

In particular, finance professionals in the cannabis industry need to become experts on all legal aspects and tax issues involved. Cannabis is treated similar to other agricultural products under the IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards), which involves:

  • valuing cannabis plants while they’re still in the ground
  • reporting net income for growing and harvesting, even in quarters where there were no sales

One of the major challenges facing the cannabis industry right now is the inconsistency in how companies apply these standards, making it crucial for finance professionals to be able to interpret the rules and regulations appropriately.

Build a Strong Network

Once you’ve got a good handle on the ins and outs of the industry, begin to reach out to key contacts at cannabis companies to express your interest and build on your knowledge. Some great ways to do this include:

  • reaching out to / following those in the cannabis industry via social media
  • looking for relevant training programs available locally or online
  • attending industry conferences, trade shows and other networking events

Try Traditional Job Search Methods

The recent growth in the cannabis industry means there are multiple channels through which finance jobs in the industry can be found. Traditional job search websites are now featuring posts for Canada’s top cannabis companies, as well as positions for smaller startups. There are also specialized job boards for the industry.

An especially effective method of finding the right finance role is working directly with a recruitment firm like Clarity Recruitment, which can expertly match your skill set and goals with potential job opportunities.

It’s important to share with recruiters and potential employers your keen understanding of the unique challenges the cannabis industry must deal with, and the flexibility and creative thinking you bring to the table. Show how your knowledge can help a company navigate the murky waters of the cannabis industry’s current financial standards and legal issues.

Your Next Step

No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment, we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

John Prentice Head Shot

Meet the Entrepreneur Who’s Tying Canada’s Cannabis Industry Together

John Prentice Head Shot
People become entrepreneurs for lots of reasons. Some entrepreneurs are made: they respond to opportunities in the market, they have a higher risk tolerance, they do cost/benefit analyses and then they proceed. Others are born… John Prentice, founder of Ample Organics, was born this way.

John didn’t become an entrepreneur because he chose to, but because he needed to; it’s his biological imperative. For John, success isn’t a stable job and lazy Sundays, it’s the freedom he can only build for himself. Work/life balance is a very different concept when you’re born into entrepreneurship; there are no breaks, because his work is his life and his life is his work.

This mentality has always been a part of John. Not having grown up in a wealthy family, he never had the opportunity to take a break. “I knew what it was like to walk up the road to the neighbors and borrow some furnace oil to get through the weekend,” he tells me. He knew that if he wanted something more, it was up to him to make it happen.

This is one of the reasons John started his first business in elementary school. He quickly came to dominate the market for playground lizard retail… yes, John’s first business was selling live lizards to his classmates. This first attempt at entrepreneurship had all the makings of a real, albeit small, business: he found a supplier, identified a market, and developed customers.

Entrepreneurship spawned from this. “It was something I could do on my own.”


John earned some more cash in his teens by building and selling gaming computers, but his first real business success was Elan Games, a chain of PC gaming centres that grossed over $1.5 million annually and won him an ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ award in 2009. He was 23.

The market changed overnight, though, and John had to move on to the next thing. It’s at this point that John speaks sparingly of the only desk job he has mentioned so far – a position he held briefly at a medical supply company of some description. It doesn’t seem to interest him.

“I worked at a medical supply company. Hated it,” he states bluntly, completely skimming over the part where he was the CIO. “It was a means to starting my next thing. I worked along for a couple years, and then after Elan came Ample.”

Ample Organics is the unseen core of Canada’s burgeoning cannabis industry. Weed might be legal now, but that doesn’t mean everyone and their pet can start growing and selling. Ample provides intelligent software solutions for cannabis production needs, integrating growth tracking, lab processing, ecommerce modules, and compliance reporting functionality for their clients. With 70% of Canada’s licenced producers working with Ample software already, they’re becoming the standard in this new(ly legal) industry.

If you’re beginning to suspect that John’s entrepreneurship and technological prowess go hand-in-hand, you’re only partly right. Obviously, there’s no denying that John knows his way around a computer. But if all he wanted was to work with computers and build cool software, there are easier ways than building entire companies.

Each one of his businesses, from lizards to gaming centres to software solutions, has been a means for John to own his freedom.

And freedom isn’t just about money or opportunity – freedom is knowing what you want and pursuing it with everything that’s in you.

Freedom is self-direction; freedom is extreme ownership, and in this case that meant building something from the ground up, and going ‘all in’ with capital, with personal time, with mental cycles… Everything goes into it, because your work is your life’s passion, and your passion is your work. There is great meaning in the struggle, and the life of an entrepreneur like John simply means fighting under your own flag.

Some people are perfectly happy to live in a world built for them, but other people need to create the world anew. And while employees can be either active or passive within their track in an organization, the entrepreneurs they work for can’t ever be passive. An employee has the luxury of deciding how much ownership they want of the world the entrepreneur has constructed. It all depends on what you’re comfortable with.

“I think people get really hung up in their comfort zone,” he tells me, “and they don’t want to make changes. They get satisfied and complacent with who their friends are, and who their network is, and they’re perfectly comfortable with their existences. I think people limit themselves by getting complacent. I’ve never been satisfied with stagnation – I’m always looking for more change.”

Solving problems and putting out fires seems to be John’s comfort zone, as long as he’s moving forward. It’s this drive and confidence that draws similarly talented and resolute people to him, including his wife. Although her fiscal conservatism contrasts starkly with the calculated, but capital-intensive, risks John takes in the name of creating something of value for consumers, she has confidence in his ability to solve the present crisis and move onto the next one.

“The idea of me quitting [as CIO] and starting a company was inevitable for her, and she was good about it,” John says. His wife Amy, now the director of PR and communications for Ample, was largely responsible for supporting the two of them financially during the most stressful parts of Ample’s origin.

Having someone who understands and supports the entrepreneurial madness is essential to having a work/life balance when work and life are one and the same.


Ditto for his team. In the early days of Ample, no future was certain. John relied heavily on his staff to commit to the cause and take ownership of their collective future, no matter how unclear that future was at any moment. His team brought into the strength of his vision and passion, and gave him anything he and the company needed to build momentum.

John’s carefully selected team got him through the rough patches, and continues to move the company forward as they tie the cannabis industry together. But Ample is increasingly stable and self-sustaining, and the challenges of the startup environment are slowly dissipating and giving way to the challenges of scale.

If you think this is a good thing, you’re not John. There’s a reason some people build worlds, and it’s not just so they can stamp their face into Mount Rushmore. John was born into a grey area where there were no clear rules - no right answers. This kind of ambiguity leaves most people searching for structure in frantic confusion, but John likes it this way.

When everything is grey and there are no answers, he’s the one who gets to dictate what’s black and what’s white. And when people follow him into the grey area, they’ll find that he’s left clearly defined rules and answers for them before leaping into another, even broader patch of grey. As soon as grey turns into black and white, an entrepreneur looks for more grey to work with. That’s what an entrepreneur does.

There’s always more to a story than can fit on a page. Get in touch today to learn more about my story, or to find out how I can help change yours for the better.


Shane Gagnon is the Director of Clarity Recruitment Vancouver, with six years of experience in the industry. This is his personal blog, where you can expect to find not only insights from his endeavor to disrupt the recruitment industry, but also a glimpse into his pursuit of a satisfying career for himself and the finance/accounting professionals of Vancouver. Join Shane for each new post, as he reveals the journey that brought him here, and where he plans to go next.

Finance Desk

Why Every Tech Startup Needs a Finance Team

Finance Desk

You have a great tech product or service and have been operating with minimal staff up to this point. But suddenly, things start to take off. You begin to realize that certain aspects of the business now command more of your attention and there is a noticeable lack of financial expertise on your team.

This is where hiring finance professionals is crucial. We’ve gathered some helpful information on what a top finance team can offer and what the most important steps are in building one.

What role does a  finance team have in a tech startup?

Finance teams take care of a variety of tasks to keep a startup running efficiently, including:

  • Payroll – ensuring employees get paid

  • Financing – fundraising processes/dealing with investors

  • Credit control – ensuring clients pay their bills

  • Cash management – overseeing accounts payable and receivable

  • Strategic planning – identifying the opportunities, risks, and associated costs of the business plan/model

  • Forecasting and budgeting – determining when the business could run out of funding

  • KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) – tracking and analyzing financial data

  • Equity and employee stock options – understanding what’s involved in equity and stocks

In addition to these traditional tasks, the role of finance teams is evolving. In a tech startup, they might also assist in areas such as optimizing cloud costs and conducting pricing analyses for new and existing products.

Why do tech startups need a finance team?

Aside from the  day-to-day tasks  a finance team performs, finance professionals  also bring with them specific talents that are crucial in the success of a startup.

A  CEO may understand the inner workings of the company and have a  handle on most financial aspects, but a finance team can help to tell the company’s overall story by laying out the details on paper. Data can be analyzed to create a big picture outlining the past, present, and future of the company or product. This is essential for ensuring the CEO’s decision making is well-informed.

A finance team will also be able to provide highly detailed financial reports which can aid in accurate analysis and comparisons from quarter to quarter. This can provide  answers to questions that may arise such as how much revenue can be expected in the first year or how much should be spent on marketing. This detailed data will also be important when reporting to current investors or working to bring new investors on board.

When do tech startups need to hire a finance team?

While there is no hard and fast rule on this, the short answer is as soon as possible. Many tech startups operate on a jack-of-all-trades basis with a few employees wearing many hats. This may work for a while, but as the business grows and the finance function becomes  imperative, a team of experts will be required to ensure the company’s growth and success.

To balance cash conservation while having an expert available, it’s a good idea to start small. . Hiring contract or part-time finance professionals can help get the ball rolling; they will be able to fine-tune any systems or processes that the company has already been using before a permanent team is necessary. As soon as the budget allows, tech startups should begin hiring full-time, permanent finance team members who can take the reins and steer the company in the right financial direction.

What should tech startups look for in a finance team?

The nature of startups tends to be intimate and familial with a small group of people going through various stages of growth together, making it important to find finance team members who will fit well within the already established culture.

Finance team members should also bring some specific qualities to the table, such as:

  • A professional accounting designation

  • The ability to originate and close deals (fundraising)

  • Expertise in building process and structure

  • Attributes that make them a trusted advisor (act as a partner)

  • Other skills/talents beyond finance (marketing knowledge, etc.)

  • Knowledge of the tech industry

  • The ability to see the big picture

Where can tech startups find top finance talent?

Whether a tech startup is in the beginning stages of its financial journey looking for contract or part-time finance staff or seeking a permanent finance team to lead the way, Clarity Recruitment can find top finance candidates to fit any startup culture.

Your Next Step

No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment, we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career or to partner with us to find your next perfect hire.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

Work/Life Balance Choices

5 Ways Finance Professionals Can Reconnect with the World Outside of Work

Work/Life Balance Choices
When was the last time you had a date night with your significant other? Have you missed a few of your kid’s recitals/games/tournaments in a row? Are you constantly stuck at the office or running to business meetings and having to miss… well, anything other than work? If your answer was yes to more than one of these questions, it might be time to take a look at your work-life balance.

A survey conducted by Duke University and Grenoble École de Management found that among the 800 CFOs who participated in the study, working around 70 hours a week was “normal”. The survey also found (not surprisingly) that these CFOs would like to be working fewer hours.

Constantly working without enough downtime can cause some serious damage! But how can working more be a bad thing, you may ask? Overworking has been shown to lead to burnout, stress-related health problems, and potential breakdowns in personal relationships.

Physically, heightened stress levels for prolonged periods can increase levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in the body, which can elevate your blood pressure and affect your immune function. Stress can also contribute to poor sleep. Mentally, stress can cause problems with memory and concentration, as well as affect your mood (if you’ve been crankier than usual lately, that might be why). This can lead to serious fatigue.

You know that little thing in your pocket/purse that is constantly going off? Smartphones, tablets, apps, and other tech-related advances have made work communications much more efficient, which is amazing, except if it starts to interfere with your downtime. Technology, which allows people to be connected to the office and their work 24/7, has become a major factor in decreased work-life balance.

With the notion of ‘happy workers work harder’ in mind, some companies are looking at ways to encourage taking personal time to combat the lack of work-life balance that many senior finance professionals often face. These include on-site fitness facilities, on-site childcare, mandatory vacations, and options like telecommuting or having flexible work schedules.

These efforts end up paying off in terms of recruiting and retaining talented employees, having lower absenteeism, gaining better productivity, and encouraging more buy-in and commitment to corporate goals.

Having an employer provide opportunities for work-life balance is fantastic, but there are also ways for senior finance professionals to take some control over their time and manage that work-life balance themselves. As you work toward your personal work-life balance goals, why not help your colleagues out in the office by promoting the importance of finding balance and offering them some inspiration? Feel free to use and pass along these helpful tips:

  • Tip #1: Ask yourself, “What does work-life balance mean to me?” Each person will have a different idea of what work-life balance is and how it will work for them. Take time to examine your goals and lifestyle, and decide ideally how much time you really want to spend working, and how much time you’d like for yourself.
  • Tip #2: Communicate your needs/Ask for help. If you’re headed for burnout, let your boss know about it. If you need to take some time off, be sure to request it. It’s important to be clear about what you need to make you the most productive employee possible. It’s okay to ask for help!
  • Tip #3: Make balance a priority/Schedule time. You schedule time for meetings and mark deadlines in your calendar for work, so why not block off your personal time? “2:00pm - Take a nice walk in the park, smell the flowers!” You might find you’ll be more inclined to actually take that time off if you’ve scheduled it!
  • Tip #4: Unplug/Set boundaries. If you are away from work, that’s your personal time. Respect that time by turning off email notifications, putting your phone away, and focusing on something other than work.
  • Tip #5: Plan consistently. Keep track of your responsibilities and plan ahead of time to do your due diligence when it comes to avoiding your work creeping into your personal time. The more organized and efficient you are at work, the more you can get done, and the less you have to worry about it affecting your personal life.

Work-life balance doesn’t always come easy, but if you start making small changes and advocating in your workplace for how important that balance can be, you’ll find yourself reconnecting once again with your loved ones and the world outside of the office.

Your Next Step

No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

Happy Interview

Balancing Likeability and Capability in a Job Interview

Happy Interview
Do I want to portray myself as likeable or competent? The answer is “both”, but the way in which you display each trait will affect your success in an interview. Employers value both warmth and competence; these are the first two thin slices that people will judge. They also prioritize (without often realizing they are doing so) those who won’t compete with members of their group/team. 

Consider the following when interviewing:

  • Insight 1: You need to appear competent right from the start. Without conveying competence from the start, you run the risk of arriving at the worst possible interview outcome - being viewed as incompetent.

  • Insight 2: Competence alone may be threatening to others and it is only a part of what you need. Try to find commonalities with your interviews; match their energy, openness, and engagement. This will help them perceive you as warm and similar to them (it will also reduce the chances of you being perceived as a skilled competitor). 

  • Insight 3: This all happens very quickly, so be aware.  

If you want to get hired, emphasize accomplishments and skills, but do it from a position of service and connection. Frame this information in a way that describes how it can serve the company, rather than having it come across as boasting (no one likes a know-it-all).

In the infographic below, you’ll notice there are four categories (see red arrows) that people fall into when it comes to their warmth and competence and how they may be viewed by others.

These quadrants represent the perspectives that individuals take when making preliminary judgments of warmth and competence. Importantly, these preliminary judgments will influence the entirety of your interaction, in part, determining your chances of a successful meeting or interview.

Knowing how initial assessments fits into the bigger picture of judgment and decision-making can help you to understand the most effective ways to interact with those around you. In this case, choose both warmth and competence.

Want to learn more about warmth and competence? Read what Wikipedia has to say on the topic, or dive into, The Dynamics of Warmth and Competence Judgments, and their Outcomes in Organizations.

Your Next Step

No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.