The About Staffing Blog

Welcome to the world of About Staffing where we discuss all things relevant to the employment, recruitment and staffing industry.

Tag: hiring

Jun 2015
5 Solid Ways to Make Yourself Stand Out to a Potential Employer

by Joel Thompson


2015 has been a challenging year in Calgary. The ripple effect of low oil prices has resulted in layoffs, diminishing incomes/opportunities, and lower job satisfaction in every part of the oil and gas sector. There are lines of very qualified, skilled, and hard working people applying for the best jobs.People are thinking how on earth do I give myself any sort of advantage in this process? Is this going to come down to mere luck? I recently had this exact conversation with a good friend of mine (an engineer) who is looking for work in Calgary. Together we discovered that while making a descriptive resume is being taught in engineering, making an effective resume and effectively communicating to potential decision makers is not being taught. Working with him and other engineers I discovered the following:




1)   Engineers often expect a detailed approach to reading their resume


2)   Engineers often expect the first person reading their resume to read it in full and have a technical understanding of what is being read


3)   Engineers often expect a fair assessment of each person’s capabilities and a purely objective, mechanical approach to determining who gets called for an interview.




If the person reading your resume is not an engineer or a highly experienced engineering recruiter, I can tell you from first hand experience that most often those things simply are not true. Often the first person reading your resume will be someone working in administration, human resources, or is an outsourced recruiter. While it’s safe to assume they have a vague understanding of what they’re looking for, they are likely not able to make assumptions or connections based on the information you provide. I want to give some very basic advice that has been a great asset to both my candidates and to friends and family who I have advised informally. Hopefully this helps and creates a better understanding of the behind-the-scenes processes that work to decide who gets interviewed.




1.     Make your resume as clear as possible and as relevant to the job posting as you can. HR and recruiters are often inundated with hundreds of resumes for a particular job posting. Though it’s easy to feel slighted if your resume is deleted without it deserving to be so, remember that these folks have to slog through literally piles of information. In the case of HR, this is often not their primary job responsibility and they may not enjoy recruiting. Make it as easy as possible for people to read your resume and understand why you’re qualified. Take the time to tailor your resume to the job you’re applying to. Omit unnecessary details and try to answer, point by point, the requirements for the ad. I’ve always subscribed to Laszlo Bock, chief of HR at Google’s advice: make statements in your resume as simple as possible: “achieved x result using y for period r” or some variant of that simple formula.


2.     Force the reader to continue reading rather than delete your resume. Most people will delete a resume in less than 30 seconds if they have hundreds to go through. Begin your resume with important information. For example, if the job is a mechanical engineering project manager specializing in heat exchangers, make your objective statement something like “mechanical engineer with 5 years of heat exchanger experience looking for project management opportunities ”. Avoid platitudes like “focused, hard working engineer looking to join a great company where I can grow and succeed with the company”. It’s unlikely these statements are being digested, as they offer no important information. Objective statements are only effective if they convey an actual concrete objective; achieving emotional responses is almost impossible in a resume (that’s what the interview is for).


3.     Keep things short and concise. While it may seem like a good idea to include every detail, it is very unlikely your resume will be read in great detail. Make the page easy to read and navigate and be sure to emphasize the most important information.


4.     PERSONALIZE THE COVER LETTER AND RESUME! I can’t stress this enough. There is nothing that looks worse than sending a resume and cover letter that has the wrong position in the title. Take the ten minutes and make it obvious that you put some time and thought in to the application—it will go a LONG way to improve your chances. Not only will your resume and cover letter be more focused and relevant, but you’ll also stand out from the people that spent 30 seconds applying to every job they saw. It’s your career; if the job isn’t worth taking ten minutes to personalize your cover letter and resume maybe it’s not something you really want anyway.


5.     FOLLOW UP AND BE RESPECTFUL! Sourcing the name of the hiring manager is easier than ever with tools like Linked In. Following up your application with a quick, polite call asking if your resume was received and if you need to submit any additional info makes you stand out more than anything else. DO NOT BE PUSHY. This is the worst thing you can be. Taking the time to ensure the HR person or recruiter understands you respect their process is essential. Make sure you do not interrogate or harangue them for more information or to jump the queue. Even if the person seems mildly irritated, I can assure you that—if you’re respectful—they WILL read your resume. If you’re not qualified, don’t expect a call but if you are human nature suggests they will read your resume, and will read it in much greater detail.  I understand that this equates to a “cold call” and is not generally part of an engineer’s toolbox. Working with an engineer friend we came up with a very simple, easy script that ANYONE can use to help in this process. I would be happy to share this script with anyone reading this blog, should they so request.




Of course these are only the first steps and acing the interview is a whole other matter.If you have any questions about anything that you’ve read, send me an email at and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have!




Thanks for reading and best of luck in the job hunt!


Aug 2015
Business in Edmonton - What's on Your Resume?

by Nerissa McNaughton

What are Edmonton employers really looking for? As Alberta's workplaces continue to evolve, so do our hiring preferences.

Business in Edmonton - What's on Your Resume?

Jun 2017
Who Would You Call?

by Sharlene Massie

Sharlene Massie is the CEO and Visionary of About Staffing. 

Today’s blog is about being grateful. I am grateful for the very full, busy, and successful life this career has awarded me, and proud to be recognized as an expert in the employment arena. 

If you need a bit of a boost, keep reading. 


Yesterday I had the pleasure of going for a colonoscopy.  Normally, I like to keep my S#*T to myself, but this thought is not about what happened on the inside, it is what I heard on the outside.  As I was being prepped, really no big deal, warm blankets heating up my cold veins, I overheard conversations going on in the big “prep” room. Now, over the years of listening to people and conversations going on around me, I have written literally thousands of articles.  I admit, after writing in the Calgary Sun weekly for about 15 years, I got tired of writing new material, interesting points, opinions and thoughts about the employment world. But, after my experience yesterday, I realized, I have something to say.  All year I have been trying to piece together stories of the people I meet, people who’s lives are changed for the better because of the work we do.   Every candidate and every client we meet, we try to offer some value to.  Whether we offer resume advice, a temp assignment, a direct job offer, or help with hiring expertise in whatever regard to our clients, we do work to service. So, back to yesterday, I overheard a gentleman speaking with the health care team.  He had asked a few people to pick him up, and to no avail. I felt bad.  He had no one to pick him up.  The team was trying to find a solution.  You cannot have a colonoscopy and go home alone, I see why today. I couldn’t help but think how I could have asked a couple of hundred people to pick me up, and I would have had a couple of hundred people say yes, and happily!  I thought, sure, not everyone has a friends, family, and support network like I do. I can’t have a birthday party without 100 people showing up. But, I also thought that I would also show up for any of them.  You have to be open to giving before you receive.  What kind of giving life did this guy in the unit live?  I don’t know, maybe everyone was busy.  Either way, I am grateful that the work I do and the person I am is such that I will never have to worry about not having someone pick me up from a hospital!  I am grateful that I got the “all clear” in the colonoscopy hospital unit, and the procedure was no big deal.  Today, I weave my own grateful story. 

Jun 2017
Staffing for Canada Week

by Sharlene Massie

About Staffing is celebrating its 20 successful years in the staffing industry, as a result, we want to acknowledge the amazing individuals we have met along our journey! As this week also celebrates "Staffing for Canada" we thought we would take this opportunity to express the importance of using a staffing agency!


Staffing for Canada Week 2017 is celebrated June 4th to the 10th across our nation. It may be difficult for those who are not in our industry to understand how and why we have an entire week dedicated to recognizing the staffing industry.  Of course, I am taking the opportunity to boast about my industry, because even Rachel Notley showed support for the Staffing Industry, with her comments, “The theme of “Putting Canadians to Work/Au Travail” shows the importance of making the most of the workforce in our province and our country, by connecting skilled job-seekers to employment and helping employers meet their labour needs, so I am certainly able to speak up. I am also very proud of what we do, whom we help, and how we practice. This national recognition week originated in Edmonton in 1980 as “National Temporaries’ Week”, and has since become widely recognized in Canada and the United States. The purpose of this week is to acknowledge all those employed by an industry that finds work for over 500,000 Canadians on an annual basis. Not many industries today can say that. 

Temporary workers benefit from the flexibility, training, and supplemental income temping offers. Sometimes, that foot in the door opportunity to prove to yourself lands a temporary employee the permanent job they are looking for. Those opportunities may not exist for those unwilling to temp as a bridge to finding the right job. Staffing firms supply employees in every industry in every job category, from unskilled industrial labour and office support, to technical, professional and managerial positions. There is an agency that handles filling each type of job opportunity in every city across Canada. I believe in our industry association ACSESS, and willingly promote the members. With more than 1,300 staffing member offices from Vancouver to St. John’s Newfoundland, ACSESS members represent 85 per cent of the total volume of business in the staffing services industry in Canada. I put my money where my mouth is, and sit on the Board of Directors for the Calgary Branch of ACSESS, as well as an executive board member of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Alberta and East Kootenays, always promoting the important employment work we do. We promote, support, and operate within the ethical standards of ACSESS and the BBB, ensuring that our clients and candidates are protected and treated with respect. Show your support for the Staffing Industry and staffing in general this week. Recognize a temp, contact your chosen staffing agency, or place an order with an ACSESS Member Agency. Check out the ACSESS Website today for more information at, or go to our website and click on the ACSESS or BBB links under our awards and press category.


Jun 2017
About Staffing's Coming of Age

by Sharlene Massie

 About Staffing turns 21 on June 17th!  What a ride.  It occurs to me that turning 21 is kind of a big deal, not quite mature enough to handle all life decisions, but old enough to drink and gamble in Las Vegas!  The last few years especially were a huge gamble, small business, everything riding on the pennies that could make us or break us.  Surviving the last few years may have included a few glasses of cheap wine with friends as well.  What has really hit me this month though, is that A) we made it, once again, and 2) it is hard to re inject the fun back into the business and people after a long hard road.  But, because of A) we can go back to a business with B).  So, very consciously, I have taken on the responsibility of caring about the fun.  No longer is our company filled with busy work, but instead, how can we work 14 hours a day because we care about our clients, our candidates, our internal team, and the sustainability of our company.  The company not only pays our mortgages and our food and wine bills, but it can be a place that is doing good hard work, that allows for learning and mistakes, but also is a noisy, music playing, grabbing lunch, chatting at reception type of workplace.  Injecting fun back into a somber workplace does take a bit of hard work!  Remembering to smile, to ask simple questions like “how was your weekend, evening, birthday”, buying a workmate a latte’, and saying, “hey, thanks for that” can turn things around pretty quickly.  You’ll notice that I never mentioned bonuses, and big parties as they do not come into play when celebrating the small things that make work a positive experience for people.  Instead, turning 21 has made us a tiny bit calmer when sh*!t hits the fan, we celebrate coming of age with a little less gambling on our future, and a little more appreciation for the co-workers, clients, and candidates we are happy to have in our lives.  The last three years our mantra was day by day.  Get up, go to work, do your best, tomorrow, do that again.  But now, we get up early, go to work early because we are busy, full up, excited to see everyone, smile when we arrive, ask how everyone is, work hard, grab lunches for each other, help each other, leave late, sleep well, and know that everyone we touched that day is happy.  And tomorrow, get up and do that all over again.  21 is a celebration of workplace understanding and acknowledgement.  

Jun 2017
The Meaning of Success

by Sharlene Massie

Sharlene Massie is the CEO and Visionary of About Staffing, Masters at matching workplace culture. Today’s blog post is about job and hiring success statistics.


We interview on average 40 people per week at About Staffing, for positions ranging from short term labour to very specialized professional executive roles.  There are only a few interview questions that we are able to ask every candidate, regardless of skill, or desired employment choice. But, one of those questions we can and do ask everyone is what is the meaning of success to them? I wondered, out of the 34000+ current interviewed candidates in our database, what kinds of answers would I see? Would there be similar answers, or one-of-a kind answers to that key question.  Would I find the meaning of life imbedded in these answers? Would candidates always know the answer, or would they make it up trying to figure out what I am looking for in the answer?  I have my own complex thoughts behind my question of analyzing what the meaning of success is for those looking for a job or a job change.  Here is a compilation of the most repeated answers to the meaning of success, from the highest repeats to lowest, other than a whole bunch of individualized answers and those who could not answer.  The exact question is, “What is the meaning of success to you?” 5834 said achieving goals, 3873 said being happy (good one), 1176 said balance, 898 said skill, 828 said help (giving vs. receiving I think), 673 said being great (at something in particular I assume), 531 said money (I am glad this is way down the list, aren’t you?), 420 said something about meeting or exceeding expectations, 316 said passion, 313 said support, 253 said something about a dream (dream job, dream home, dream lifestyle), 225 said opportunity, 220 said a plan, 187 said education, 185 said to lead, 131 said follow, 112 said win,96 said drive, 52 said travel, 45 said energy, 42 said motivation, 36 said creativity, 34 said limits, 32 said hobbies, 32 said communication, 21 said belief, 19 said parent, 16 said listen, 2 said negotiate.  These answers are scaled down to a word or 2 for this blog, but in my files, some people have given a paragraph of an answer, and some people, just the one word. Many individualized answers were along the lines of doing something you love and doing it well, and with a good team. Customer satisfaction was also a clear answer for those candidates registering for sales jobs. Interestingly enough, my own answer to THE question would have been freedom, to make decisions, to travel freely, to be independent.  Maybe that answer comes from being an entrepreneur, not an employee.  And surprisingly, there was no clear relation to health related answers which should be the top answer for everyone.  All in all, we have gathered some informative statistics about people at work in general, and how different or the same we are. The meaning of success is a unique and positive perspective and something for all of us to strive for.



Apr 2018
Masters at Matching Culture

by Lynne Cihelka


‘Masters at Matching Culture’ is one of About Staffing’s most important slogans. This phrase means we place candidates in roles where they will fit culturally within a company. There is a strong likelihood the candidate will be able to conform and adapt to the core values and collective behaviours that make up the client’s workplace.

As a staffing agency, it is our responsibility to understand the a company’s job culture and find people who have the skills, work productivity, and teamwork attitude to match and fit in well. Recruiters need to make sure that they place someone who strives to succeed in a collaborative environment and vice versa.  If you’ve ever wondered what interview questions recruiters ask to assess cultural fit, keep on reading. Here are a few examples:

“What does Teamwork mean to you? And why is it important?"

This interview question can help recruiters determine whether a candidate is a good cultural fit since it can give insight into their social habits and how they would behave during social interactions. The candidate’s answer will allow recruiters to gauge whether the candidate will get along with other employees and fit in the environment.

“How do you learn something new?”

Problem solving is another great skill to have regardless of the position. A person’s answer to this question will help describe their attitude and determine whether they seek information from others and engage in a collaborative process.

“Describe the work environment or culture in which you are most productive and happy. What is the single most important factor that must be present in your work environment for you to be successful?"

By asking this question outright, recruiters can gain a wealth of information on what environment works best for candidates. As a result, the About Staffing recruiter can fine-tune the placement to ensure the closest match with the expectations expressed by the candidate.

There are many other questions that can assess cultural fit, these are just a few examples. Questions can also be designed specific to a client’s organization. Cultural fit is one of the most significant factors in the success of a new employee in an organization.

About Staffing consistently goes above and beyond to assess fit and ensure a successful placement.

Apr 2018
How did 'Masters at Matching Culture' come to be?

by Sharlene Massie


Part of my job as Founder and Visionary is to keep the business moving forward with new ideas and plans while keeping the basic integrity and core values formed day one intact. #visionaries 

I often attend conferences, take courses, and join business leader groups in hopes to gain one nugget I can take forward to my organization in some way. 

I attended a seminar on woman owned businesses, a 2-day event in Seattle a couple of years ago. #businesswomanOn route to a very cool museum tour, I met a woman on the bus who simply asked what About Staffing does.   This can be easily explained, but then she asked what makes us unique. I easily explained that too, as I discussed our core values and how every part of the business was built on Sincerity, Enthusiasm, Loyalty, and Stability.  I explained about how we are local, we interview, we test on multiple levels for skills and personality and behavioral aptitudes. 

As we continued to chat, she started to probe and ask more ‘how’s’ than ‘what’s’. My answers became more about matching the people culture to the company culture of our clients. Matching culture become apparent as it stemmed from the 20+ years of building on those basic original core values. Eventually, we came to the agreement that due to the thousands of successfully matched candidates to companies, we have indeed become Masters at Matching Culture.  And so, from a 20 minute bus ride with a business owner I had not met before, right questions, right time, and keeping an open mind, our slogan was born.  “Masters at Matching Culture” a true explanation of what we do at About Staffing.