Link to Andrew Langille’s Blog

Andrew Langille is a labour and human rights lawyer who has an interesting blog which I recommend:



Most Humorous Job Ad I’ve Ever Seen

While perusing job listings, I came across a listing for an ‘arborist’, or ‘tree-climber’, as described in the job ad below.   It is well-detailed and, likely one of the most honest descriptions of a job that I have ever seen.  I wouldn’t mind seeing this type of thing from more companies; this way job seekers have a relatively good idea about what they’re getting into before applying to jobs and employers demonstrate that they know exactly what they want.  No BS such as, “we are 5,000th on the list of the city’s top 5,000 employers!* “.

Nothing is more frustrating than a  job description that is poorly organized and sparse on details.  A lack of detail could only lead to miscommunications and unrealistic expectations on behalf of both employers and employees.  As addressed in this ad, the employer acknowledges explicitly that less experience can lead to more workplace injuries, which is important.

*(by the way, we paid someone a lot of money to get on the city’s top 5,000 list)

The job ad is pasted below, exactly as seen on Indeed.com:

Arborist Wanted – Must Love/Hate Trees
Beauregard’s Tree Service – Vaughan, ON
Tree Removal Company located in Brantford, ON seeks experienced tree climber or “Arborist” with bucket experience. If you’ve done this kind of work before, you don’t have to read any further, just submit your application and we’ll go from there.However, if you want to find out what it’s like to work for Beauregard’s Tree Service then read on, my friend.An arborist’s role is not one for the faint of heart. You’ll be expected to climb up nearly to the top of a lot of very big trees – all while using minimal gear and lugging gas-powered tree-destruction devices like chainsaws and pruners. This isn’t just an “off-chance” scenario, you’ll be expected to repeat this over and over again until our daily work is done. Your only hope to minimize the time spent up in these deadly nature-towers is to be efficient and hard-working. You have to haul it in order to get the trees before they get you!

You’ll be working directly for the owner of the company which makes it easy to ask for favours and kiss up effectively. So if you want to borrow the company truck to impress your date, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to buy him coffees and offer to babysit his kids. Compliment his beard on occasion for extra credit. But don’t be fooled! He is not a push-over! He takes safety and job quality very seriously so you’d better be prepared to follow direction and not be a shifty slacker. You’ll be working with a crew of other guys who also don’t like it when you aren’t pulling your own weight – so show up on time and be easy to work with.

Do you know what a bucket truck is? You ever see those guys sitting in a tiny bucket being raised way up in the air to work around power lines? Yeah, we need you to do that, too. We will most likely have less job-injuries if you already have some experience with bucket trucks.

When your job calls for you to work on the ground – be thankful. You’ll only have to worry about limbs and equipment falling from above and not actually falling yourself. We call this “clean up duty” where we typically finish the job by chipping, grinding and sawing the unwanted parts of the tree until we are satisfied that it won’t be a further threat to its owner. This is where the hate for trees comes in. You can’t form lasting relationships with these trees – they need to come down for their own good. If you’re a tree-hugger, this probably isn’t the right job for you.

Aside from that, you’ll need a valid driver’s license and proper certification. That way, we can rest assured that you aren’t going to run someone over or cut your own leg off while on a job.

That’s about it. If you think you’d like to join our team please contact me. We pay about the same as the other guys but we’re a lot more fun to work with. We’re looking forward to filling this position soon.

I'd like to be a tree-abortionist...I mean, arborist when I grow up (image from trees4life.ca)

I’d like to be a tree-abortionist…I mean arborist when I grow up (image from trees4life.ca)

Advice on escaping a bad boss

“Zombie bosses and colleagues are everywhere”, says career expert Alaina Levine.  According to Alaina, these “zombies” are programmed to eat your brain.

This is your boss on Monday morning (from www.creativeuncut.com)

This is your boss on Monday morning (from http://www.creativeuncut.com)

Zombie colleagues suck, but zombie bosses are worse.  Unfortunately many of us have had at least one lousy boss.  In my experience, the only real way to get away from a bad boss is to leave.  Run far, far away.  Learning to recognize narcissistic and/or even sociopathic personalities very quickly is a sure way to avoid prolonged pain.  Of course bad bosses can still be bad without necessarily possessing these traits, but these types are the worst of the worst.

There is no way that the bad boss will change because he or she is a repeat offender (I can put a 99.9% guarantee on that), so you have to change your job.   Odds are your coworkers won’t acknowledge the problem, and if they do, they certainly won’t take any action since they are chicken and think it’s easier or better for their careers to remain neutral.  The upper management knows about it too, but don’t care because they haven’t bothered to calculate the external costs of having a jerk or many jerks in charge, e.g. due to high employee turnover.  It is much easier to sweep problems under the rug and is even easier for jerks to hide in places where higher employee turnover is considered “normal”.

Would you stay in an abusive relationship?  No.  So why would you allow yourself to stay in a job where this is happening?  You have to spend many hours at work so if you care about your career and overall happiness (which I imagine you do), start an exit plan with or without the support of those around you!

Government Job Interviews

The unemployment saga continues.

My partner and I applied for two government positions recently.  We both interviewed for the same position approximately one month ago.  We were both invited to interview for another position this week, although this position is of a slightly higher pay grade than the last one.

At the end of the first interview one of the people on the panel told my partner, somewhat rudely, that he had “a lot of research experience”, but that the position wasn’t a research-oriented position.  Translation: “Find a research job”. But there are no research jobs.  And he’s tried, and tried, and tried (see my other post: ” Underemployed with the Government“).

We were also told that we would be informed as to whether we would be offered the position in “approximately two weeks”.  Of course neither one of us was told anything either way, as we’ve noticed is typical of potential employers to just ignore a person following a job interview if the potential employer is not interested. So we both went into the interview this week having absolutely no idea as to whether we were still being considered for the other position or not.  I have a fair bit of experience, but my partner has a lot of very relevant education and experience for the positions, and really, there isn’t much possibility that there could be anyone more qualified for either job if you ask me.

Many of the questions asked during the previous interview we had were repeated for this week’s interview.  I should also mention that the interview panel was 15-20 minutes late in calling me, and no one thought to apologize or give a reason as to why. At the end, I asked the panel if any candidate was chosen for the other position (first one for which we interviewed).  They replied that no decision was made and that I would be informed later but I should still send in my references in case they decide to consider hiring me for the position (sure).

A few hours later, both my partner and I received an e-mail informing us that we were unsuccessful in obtaining the last position, but that we should still go ahead and apply for future positions.  Translation: “Thanks for being qualified enough to apply so we can waste your time interviewing you for two positions, even though we already know who we want to hire”.  I especially liked that the person who answered my question about whether anyone had been hired yet, lied to my face (okay, over the telephone), as in actual fact a decision had been made with respect to who was offered the position.  When the folks on the panel realized that they hadn’t actually bothered to inform all of the candidates as I pointed out to them, they sent an e-mail as promised.

What’s funny is that part of the interview consisted of behavioural type questions, for, you know, collecting information about how well a candidate would work with others.  Well, a good way to build a relationship with other people is by not lying to them.  But since they can’t even follow their own rule or do their own jobs, I don’t understand how anyone should be expected to work with such hypocrites.  But, since they know they have the monopoly on good pensions, benefits and overall job security, they know people are clamouring to get their feet in the door and alas, they do whatever the hell they want.

Honestly, people should just be appointed to positions because government hiring managers operate like everyone else and will just hire the person they like/know anyway.  It’s a waste of time for both sides to pretend to consider all the candidates, and frankly, at the end we just end up feeling used in the process since we know our qualifications don’t count for shit.  Please, just make nepotism and cronyism acceptable practices.  It is way more efficient.

It’s why we’re screwed.

Underemployed with the Government

I am writing this post on my partner’s behalf.

My partner is a very well educated and accomplished person.   He was able to speak two languages and knew some English before immigrating here fifteen years ago; however, he wouldn’t have considered himself fluent in English at that time.  He carries out research on topics in which, for many reasons, our government should be very interested.

He completed a doctorate and post-doc with the government, and due to a lack of funding for jobs, he wasn’t able to secure full time employment.  As a result, he continued to work on post-doc funding for far too long.  After two years into his post-doc, his supervisor was scrambling to fund it ($20K-$30/year).  He was asked by management to become a citizen under the pretext that it would make the process of obtaining full-time employment “faster”.  At one point, he was told by a director, that it would take less time to hire him if he was “Chinese”.

Managers talked a lot about creating a position for him, but no one ever got around to actually doing it.  The best he could do was to start a consulting business and work on contract.  Managers were happy to keep renewing his contracts, since he was doing good work. He was even putting their names on his research publications.

Also, during his time on contract, he was overlooked for full-time employment in another federal agency; he watched other people with the same qualifications and less experience obtain full time employment within newly created positions, and he completed tasks, including translation of government communications, for free.

A few years ago, my partner wrote a four-hour exam and completed a two-hour interview (with another test) to qualify himself to be in a group of people who may later be called upon to work for the government.  If he was ever called to work (this obviously still has not happened), the position he would fill would still be far below his level of qualification.

The reason that I am writing this post, is that, just this week, the government decided to post an ad for an even lower-tiered position than the one for which he is pre-qualified.  He is waiting to see whether he will have to write another exam for it.

I read a lot about college graduates becoming disillusioned with their job prospects; however, when you spend many years completing a doctorate and post-doc, and spend many more years experiencing underemployment, that’s much worse.  Funding for scientific research (and subsequently research positions, especially in our country) continues to  be sorely limited.  I suppose it’s best for everyone to become computer programmers or MBAs.

It’s why we’re screwed.

Okay, we’re not completely screwed.  The world is a big place, and when the right opportunity comes up elsewhere, we will jump on it.  The waiting is the hard part.


My country’s unemployment system is not working for me.  I had to leave my job for valid reasons last year (I will post more on that later). The reasons I provided for leaving my job were accepted by unemployment and therefore my claim was approved.  So no problem there – nothing to complain about.

The problem I am having is, when my former employer decided to provide information to the government, showing that I’d left my job a few months after I had made my claim, the government just seemed to have forgotten about me.   I waited a number of weeks, and when I logged into my government account online, I read a message that they’d received new information (I assume from my former employer) and that they were working on processing my claim.

When no one contacted me for a number of weeks, I went to the local unemployment office to talk to a live, in-the-flesh person, because basically, the 1-800 number that the government provides is useless, unless you want to wait on the phone all afternoon — if you can get through to anyone at all.  The person at the office told me just to wait and that my claim should be processed.  I thought they had taken their sweet time at this point, but that I’d wait because maybe that was true.  Good.

After several days of waiting, no one contacted me, and so I went back to the unemployment office.  I was told at that point (by the same person I saw the last time) that I should have been completing my reports to receive money and so by now the reports were late, even though I never received official instructions to complete them. Not a letter, e-mail, phone call, nothing. Either way, this person didn’t think to mention that I should have been completing reports the last time.

The messages I read when I logged onto the government website certainly did not indicate that I should be reporting.  The messages I read stated that my claim was still being processed (lots of processing happening, every day, for weeks – my claim has now been very well processed!).  I was given yet another form to fill out to explain why I didn’t complete my reports on time; I guess it was up to me to explain to the government why their shitty system didn’t work.

After three weeks from submitting the form which explained why my reports were not complete, I was not contacted by anyone, so I went to my local unemployment office, again.  The person I spoke to sent an e-mail to … someone (I assume one person? Wasn’t sure. I wasn’t allowed to know where the e-mail was sent) and this someone was supposed to have called me by today.  I was also given the option to call the useless 1-800 number, but I declined that option.

I am anxiously waiting by the phone in hopes that someone will call today to discuss my very delayed claim, but I doubt it.   So I will visit my unemployment office again for the fourth or fifth time in a number of weeks, since I have all the time in the world, while I am supposed to be looking for work and updating my employable skills.

Wish me luck, I’ll keep you posted.  It’s why I am screwed.