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For the past while, we’ve been having a problem at home.

We are fortunate that we have a free local weekly newspaper distributed by home delivery. Everyone in the neighbourhood seems to receive this newspaper.

Except us.

Apparently our golden retriever is a deterrent to its receipt.  Imposing?  Hmm, judge for yourself.  He has his own Facebook page called The Daily Dude (   p.s. “Like” him and you can follow his story and make his mom happy because then she knows he has friends.

But I digress.

By pure luck, this week I received a copy of the paper.  And because we receive this paper so rarely, I sat down to read it cover to cover, even if it is mostly flyers.

I have fond memories of newspapers of old.  They were filled with articles about local politics, store openings and a police blotter.  I specifically loved reading the want ads.  It was the best way to learn who was hiring, why, etc. Then the internet came along and spoiled that experience (or maybe it was the dog that killed the experience, but I digress again).

We in human resources are now essentially Seven of Nine, that is, we are a part of the Borg collective and we spend a lot of time on the interwebs working in something called “Talent Acquisition”.  We’ve honed our search skills and rely upon advanced technology to figure out how to best reach the right people to grow our companies.  Gone are the days of placing the ad and waiting.  Essentially, if you are who we are targeting, we know where you live, what you eat and with whom you socialize.  We aim to be in the right place at the right time to meet you.

So imagine my surprise when I see a paper advertisement, with no reference to an online application, or even a website, with the following text:


Nice opportunity for someone capable of recruiting

labourers and skilled trades for busy temp help agency

via social media, networking etc!

Part-time, flexible hours. 

Attractive compensation including hourly rate,

commission and bonuses!  E-mail resume to:  XXXX


I found the website associated with their domain and it was a disaster to say the least.  The menu included six places to click for testimonials (some blank), and even an option labelled test page.  And then there was a virtual cornucopia of standard WordPress graphics, like this one:


Compelling eh?  Not. . .

I’d be curious to see how successful they really are.

How does this type of #recruitingfail happen?  I want to say that the answer is that it is an agency run by people who know nothing about social media, networking or WordPress, and have no knowledge of the practices of modern talent acquisition.  I’m not sure that is true though.

Are there possible other explanations?  Sure.  Perhaps the term “networking” to them means having a plan to actively recruit at a food truck near one of their customer’s competitors (which actually isn’t a bad strategy and I should try it sometime). Or, perhaps that they believe that you still must resort to traditional methods (e-mail/fax/walk-in) to attract labourers and skilled trades and haven’t made the investments to upgrade. Or potentially this isn’t really a legitimate operation.

To me, when I saw this advertisement, it was like seeing a rotary dial phone in a call center and I had to share.

What’s your take?

Reflections on The Hip

Last Saturday I spent over 6 hours walking on the Bruce Trail making progress on my end-to-end goal.

Murphy's Pinnacle, Photo Credit: Bonni Titgemeyer

Murphy’s Pinnacle, Photo Credit: Bonni Titgemeyer

It was a hot, sunny and humid day on the trail. We’re getting into an area where the terrain is more taxing and hot days don’t help.  The trip included climbing to two lookouts, Murphy’s Pinnacle in the Boyne Provincial Park and Mulmur Lookout located about 4 miles away on private land.

Lookouts are a godsend on a long hike that is largely in the woods because they give you an opportunity to see progress, and give you a sense of satisfaction to know that you made it to the top of a big hill.

So I started this blog about reflecting on The Hip with talking about my trail walking because the two are interrelated.  After the hike we were planning to drive to Brampton to watch the concert on the Jumbotron in the Square, but by the time we finished, I was too tired and sweaty to think about being out any longer.  Instead, I went home, took a bath, ordered a pizza and turned on the tube. That was a smart move on my part since once the concert started, I pretty much devolved into a tear-laden puddle of pride, sadness and reverence.

I am unabashedly a Hip fan.  Little Bones was the #1 song the summer of the year I moved to Canada, and the expression “two fifty for a high ball and a buck and a half for a beer” has meaning to me.  After all, I had just moved from Iowa, where you could get a pint of beer for a dime, that’s right, ten cents, so $1.50 for a beer was expensive and a reminder that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.  Or Iowa for that matter.  And they helped me learn about Canadiana.  They don’t call Gord Downie Canada’s unofficial poet laureate for nothing.

My husband and I don’t talk much on our hikes.  Mostly I like to let my mind get lost in the beauty of the natural surroundings.  But Saturday I purposely attempted to sing as many Hip lyrics as I could remember; hoping to connect my emotions with the experience. I was amazed at how many songs did fit the circumstances but Ahead by a Century fit best.

The concert didn’t disappoint. What I took away though was something unexpected though. The Hip isn’t Gord; it is a group of guys, real Canadians, who play well together. Watching them is like watching a hockey game, players looking for cues to make the right moves to win together.  At several points in the concert, Gord slipped; give him a break, the dude has brain cancer.  What was remarkable is how the rest of the band helped to mask it, by replaying a riff so he could catch it a second time, or filling in words he might’ve missed. And they held nothing back.

In human resources, we like to say that we contribute to building teamwork in the workplace.  The truth is that many great teams start that way, naturally.

Shooting from The Tragically Hip

Photo Credit: Dave O, Flickr

Photo Credit: Dave O, Flickr

Ask any person who has resided in Canada for at least ten years and chances are that this Saturday you’ll find them somewhere in contact with a Tragically Hip event:

     **Schlepping out to Kingston to see their final performance

     **At a party at home, watching the CBC

     **Standing in front of one of dozens of Jumbotrons in communities all over Canada

The Tragically Hip is Canada.

And Canada loves The Hip.

And the rest of the world has absolutely no idea what the fuss is about.

To explain, The Hip is on a farewell tour. Their lead singer, Gord Downie, has terminal brain cancer.  We’ve collectively decided to have his wake while he is still alive, and raise money for cancer research.  The party, which has been going on most of August, has eclipsed the Olympics in terms of interest here. The final concert is in their hometown on August 20th and the CBC is broadcasting it.

That’s right, some rock band from Kingston, Ontario that has had virtually no airplay on U.S. regular or satellite radio is having their farewell concert broadcast live nationwide in Canada, on regular television.

One of my nephews, a literal walking library of music and lyrics, has never liked The Hip.  It’s OK, he lives in the United States and doesn’t understand the music.  I find it funny though that every time I see him, he has to make some comment about whether I’m still listening to the Hip or not. He says that when he thinks of me, he thinks of them.

He once told me that Gord Downie sounds like he’s got a goat in his throat, which is true, but beside the point.

Ok, so this is an HR blog, why The Hip?

I find it to be the coolest thing that we have something that we all love together. The Hip is our music.  It tells the story of Canada, of a place that can be in the middle of everything and far away at the same time, of a place that is beautiful and natural, and commercialized.  It is a place of its own history, with what would be otherwise forgotten stories like a hockey player who dies in a plane crash or a major prison break. Or, a place where it is so calm and quiet that you can get lost in your thoughts.  It is the culture of the north, being performed by the generation after Gordon Lightfoot.

One thing The Hip are known for is mishmash; evolving a new song from an existing one, from experimentation, often done live.  In their honour, I spent a little time and created my own Hip story, using lyrics from fifteen Tragically Hip songs.    I encourage you to try this with your favourite Hip lyrics and see what you come up with.  Feel free to post it in comments.


Watch the band through a bunch of dancers
Quickly, follow the unknown
With something more familiar
Quickly, something familiar

It gets so sticky down here
Better butter your cue-finger up
It’s the start of another new year
Better call the newspaper up

Twelve men broke loose in seventy three
From Millhaven Maximum Security

Looking for a place to happen
Making stops along the way

Late breaking story on the CBC
A nation whispers, “We always knew that he’d go free”

You just hit me where I live
I guess it looked quite primitive

I had this dream where I relished the fray and the screaming filled my head all day.

Then I found a place it’s dark and it’s rotted
It’s a cool, sweet kinda place
Where the coppers won’t spot it
And I destroyed the map, I even thought I forgot it,
However, everyday I’m dumping the body

Bill Barilko disappeared that summer
He was on a fishing trip
The last goal he ever scored
Won the Leafs the cup
They didn’t win another till 1962
The year he was discovered

I come from downtown, born ready for you
Armed with will and determination, and grace, too

Sometimes I feel so good I gotta scream
She said Gordie baby I know exactly what you mean

And that’s when the hornet stung me, and I had a feverish dream, of revenge and death

If I die of vanity, promise me, promise me,
They bury me some place I don’t want to be,
You’ll dig me up and transport me, unceremoniously,
Away from the swollen city-breeze, garbage bag trees,
Whispers of disease and the acts of enormity
And lower me slowly, sadly and properly
Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy

It was in Bobcaygeon, I saw the constellations
Reveal themselves one star at a time

And the rest of the world
Becomes a gift shop