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.


https://kelloggmbastudents.wordpress.com/2015/08/07/warmth-and-competence-mba-learnings/

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.


Rocket Launch

How to Lead Successful Projects

Rocket Launch

By Katya Forsyth, CA

Why are projects so hard to get done? By now we should know how to successfully complete projects. Shouldn’t we? But as we get more tech savvy, we seem to be getting worse at managing change. Because change still involves people! According to a recent study by McKinsey, only 37% of companies reported successful implementations. The key ingredients to being successful remain the same, but fewer people are doing them.

 

So, if it feels like your company is stuck in the mud and can’t get anything done – you may be right! 

What’s going on, and what can you do differently?

McKinsey is full of smart people, and their study says leaders need to do these 3 things well to be successful implementing change:

  • Own the change
  • Prioritize the Change
  • Track the Project

 

Well that sounds good, but what do we actually NEED TO DO? 

In my experience here are some areas where things often go wrong on projects that FAIL.

Own the Change

  • Define the Problem - Do you know what’s broken?  Sounds so easy, but often leaders jump to solutions of symptoms without defining what the problem is. You need to understand the root cause. A project is unlikely to succeed if you don’t know what problem you are trying to fix.
  • Deal with Poor Leaders - If you had lousy leaders before, you will still have those same leaders making decisions after. A shiny new system won't make poor leadership decisions any better. If you have leadership issues, deal with them.
  • Empower your team - Most stupid processes exist because someone with authority said “do this” without thinking it through, and the staff didn’t want to get in trouble by disagreeing. If you tell your team to do something dumb, will they push back? Do you encourage continuous improvement? Listen to your teams – they know what is going on.
  • Communicate often - Collaboration across teams is hard. You need to keep the team aligned on the end goal, so the right compromises are made for the greater good. That means communicating often! You need to know who will be impacted by the project, and keep them informed on what's going on, even if they aren't on the project team. (The RASCI Matrix can be useful here). If you want change to be successful, you can't communicate too much.

Smart Leaders find the root cause of a problem before trying to fix the symptoms.

Prioritize the Change

For a project to be successful – obviously you should put the right resources on the most important prioritiesBut what are those exactly?

Planning

  • Do a Gap Assessment – where are you now, and where do you want to be in 3 years? Then work backwards. I like 3 years – it’s just long enough to get you to be strategic, without being so long range that it’s not real.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Every business thinks they are unique. They’re wrong. Almost everything has been done before – it’s not rocket science (unless you work at Tesla. Even then - probably lots of ideas you can reuse!) Take the time to do an external assessment. What have your competitors done? Look at other industries. What is best practice? What will work in your company and culture?

If you can implement a solution that has been successful elsewhere, you increase the odds of a successful project for your team.

The solution doesn't need to be unique. It needs to work.

People

The people who will own the project or the system after it’s complete should do theplanning. Seems logical doesn't it? This obvious step is often missed. Projects are a great opportunity to develop staff - so it's a win-win. That only works if there is some extra capacity in the system. If not, back-fill the most junior work so that everyone can grow and develop, at the lowest cost.

So who needs to be on the project team?

  • Experienced leaders - you need people who have done this before or at least have some relevant experience
  • Strong players from the business and IT - don't accept the B team!
  • Engaged Executive Sponsor who talks softly and carries a BIG stick
  • Big egos need to be checked at the door

If the project isn't important, why are you doing it? If it's important, put your best people on it.

Project Tracking - The not so sexy stuff!

The weekly project update meeting. Usually the most boring meeting and the one everyone skips the minute they have a valid excuse. If people are skipping the project meetings – it’s probably because they are USELESS!  Project meetings don’t have to BORE everyone to death by repeating the same admin stuff over and over, and never actually bringing up the real issues.

Here's what a REAL project status meeting should include:

  • A strong Project Manager (PM) who understands the project, is empowered and respected. Without this, don't bother with anything else. A weak PM won't be able to put the feet to the fire when needed.
  • Empower your PM’s to call out anyone who is holding up the project - all the way up to the CEO. (politely of course!)
  • Meeting attendance is mandatory, including the Executive sponsor. If someone can't attend, they send a delegate who is accountable to make decisions.
  • real review of the status of priority items, and any issues/risks holding up the project.

Plan your work and Work your plan. It’s not sexy, but it gets the job done!

The Project Success Cheat Sheet:

  • Find the ROOT CAUSE of the problem first
  • PLAN the work with the people who will OWN it
  • Don't REINVENT the wheel - someone has already done this
  • Put the A team on the project
  • Invest in STRONG Project Managers

If you would like to learn more from an experienced CFO, take notes from this article from one of our own clients. Original artical can be found HERE

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.


Ryan Courson Headshot

Relentlessly Curious: Pursuing Success, the Right Way

Ryan Courson Headshot
Relentlessly curious. That’s the title of this piece, and it’s the only two words that come close to summarizing 29-year-old Ryan Courson’s outlook on business, and on life. …That, or maybe thoughtfully driven. Of course, that’s not all there is to know about the CFO at Seaspan. His story is widely known as are his successes working at Berkshire Hathaway, or any of the other places where Ryan’s stewardship and input drove him steadily and rapidly upward towards his goals.

So what makes someone so successful, so fast? Where does this momentum come from? Ryan says that, aside from good fortune and strong mentors, it’s primarily a function of determination. Okay, but where does that come from? It’s easy to debate the origins of this trait, and Ryan admits that question is difficult to answer definitively.

“Is one responsible for their level of grit or determination… I’ve always struggled to answer this question.”

But he says it doesn’t matter. Determination is likely some combination of inherited predisposition and environmental influence, but it’s beyond our control either way. Dedication becomes routine, and that routine becomes habit. It begins with a level of “forced perseverance,” deciding every day to do the little things that need to be done.

The more you push, the more momentum you generate, but dedication never becomes easy. It is an attribute that must be earned each day.

There’s no magic solution or epiphany where you suddenly ‘earn’ the mantle of determination. The key outcome of perseverance for Ryan is the determination to never stop learning, to never stop improving. Self-improvement and learning are pillars of Ryan’s success; these aren’t tasks that have a completion date.

Self-improvement seems to be everywhere; they have a section for it at your local bookstore, and there’s probably someone posting about it on your Facebook feed right now. But for Ryan, self-improvement isn’t having a Tony Robbins biography collecting dust on your nightstand, it’s about learning at a deep level — it’s about understanding the fundamentals of a craft and then investing as much time and energy as it takes to become a master of that craft.

“Very few people will reach the highest levels of competition without a strong innate desire to learn. Curiosity, I think, is one of the most important attributes as it relates to one’s long-term success,” Ryan tells me. He thinks about it for a moment first, though; Ryan is reluctant to generalize, and he seems averse to making sweeping pronouncements. He knows an awful lot about numbers and statistics, so it makes sense that he always wants to account for the outliers.

Nonetheless, he’s resolute about the importance of learning, just as he is about teaching. “Some of my best mentees have been the ones who have been relentlessly curious,” he points out.

Ryan sees learning as much more than just the ability to pick up information as you go. It’s part of the human condition to want more for less, to find the easy way to achieve the extraordinary. But this devotion to the easy way out leads us astray more often than it provides us with life-changing answers. Ryan doesn’t want to be led astray, and he’s taking no chances on his ongoing self-education. “Learning and absorbing information are different functions,” he says. “It takes dedication to learn. Casually absorbing information like audiobooks or podcasts is entertaining but doesn’t adequately get the job done. …Real learning requires dedication to whatever craft you want to advance.”

Ryan is always learning, and on a deep level. People love to throw around the idiom “fake it ‘till you make it,” and in many cases that advice can be shockingly effective. But you don’t get to where Ryan is by smiling and nodding – pretending you belong. Ryan is Ryan because he capitalized on every opportunity along the way, envisioning the most thoughtful way forward, and then putting in the effort to make that vision a reality.

Everything Ryan does seems to come back to this dedication. I get the sense that nothing he does is half-hearted or passive; he’s fully engaged in everything he does. It’s clear that he’s a high-performer, but as I’ve come to expect, he doesn’t want to generalize on what that means to him.

“High performance – from an individual standpoint – manifests itself in a number of different ways. I think that there are different types of high performers that I mesh well with…so that’s what I spend a lot of time looking for when hiring. But I’d hate to be too prescriptive about what one’s characteristics would have to be to qualify as a high performer,” he tells me. He considers the matter for another moment; it’s clear that accuracy here is important to him. “People get into this checkbox fallacy…it’s like ‘if I check these boxes, I’ll be successful.”

Success isn’t like that, Ryan says. Becoming your best possible self is a matter of perseverance, rigorous learning, continuous self-improvement, and wanting to succeed above all else. Ryan tells me an anecdote he heard about the nature of success in business. It’s about an incipient mentor-mentee relationship wherein a young man asks a wise elder what it takes to be successful.

The older man leads his younger counterpart to the seashore and into the water, wading deeper into the ocean until the young man, shorter by a head, sinks below the surface. The old man holds the young man under until the verge of unconsciousness, at which point the elder releases his young counterpart. He tells his mentee, “You have to want to succeed as badly as you wanted that next breath.”

If this seems hyperbolic, I encourage you to reread everything I’ve written up until this point. It’s not hyperbole for Ryan. “It’s something I live every day, and have lived since I was very young,” he states plainly.

And it’s not about motivation. Motivation is fleeting; motivation is there for you when things are easy.

Long-term, continued success is about taking that will to succeed above all else, and building habits and routines around it. The longer you work at it, the more momentum you generate, the more wins you will generate.

 

But it will always take dedication and grit to keep going, especially when things don’t look as rosy as you envisioned when you started.

This is something Ryan also looks for as he cultivates new teams. His vision is for Seaspan to be a place where people with a genuine desire to succeed and learn can form Canada’s top finance team under his leadership and guidance. 

For Ryan, this is a matter of coaching, but also of fostering a high-octane environment where the team can build and create success together.

“It’s a real performance indicator for me to what level my team is developing from a personal standpoint,” Ryan tells me. “It’s not only professional performance, but from a personal satisfaction standpoint… One of the first things constantly on my mind is ‘How can I help each member on my team grow to become their best self?’ “

This, Ryan says, is reciprocal. His team needs to mirror his pace, but if they’re ready to learn and willing to put in the effort, he’s eager to invest in them. Performance isn’t just about raising yourself, Ryan tells me; it’s about raising everyone around you as well.

“From a cultural standpoint… within three to five years’ time, if my team isn’t able to move on to whatever their next level is, I will have let them down.” This is the investment Ryan makes in the people around him, and the influence his high-performance attitude can have on a like-minded team. But only if they want success as wholeheartedly as he does.

“When you learn how to really want something – learning how to want something as badly as you want to breathe – that’s when you’ll be positioned to achieve the limits of what you are able to accomplish,” Ryan summarizes, and when you’ve found your limits, elite performance manifests by attempting, every single day, to expand those borders inch by inch.

That’s his perseverance, and that’s why he is where he is. What will it take to get where you want to be?

Are you relentlessly curious?

What was the last lesson you learned?

Have you applied it yet?

Ready? Set?

Go.

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 endeavour 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.