Thinking on your feet gets a foot in the door

Problem-solving and deft response to change have become more important to employers than technical know-how and hard work, two York profs with a job-advice book told Wallace Immen, reported The Globe and Mail Sept. 16. That’s a big difference from just three years ago, when the top priorities were more traditional qualifications of technical expertise, responsibility and a willingness to work hard. So say professors John Dwyer and Tom Klassen, who, over the past year, interviewed executives at 50 large and medium-sized organizations across Canada for a revision of their advice book for job seekers. They did similar interviews three years ago for the first edition of their book, Flourishing in University and Beyond.

“What employers say now is they need employees who can analyze deeply to stay ahead of global competition, can come up with new procedures to keep pace with a blistering rate of change and can solve problems creatively,” said Dwyer, who teaches in the social sciences. While the professors wrote their book primarily for students looking for entry-level positions, Dwyer says these traits are going to be priorities for anyone hoping to develop and thrive in any career in the future.

Employers also report looking more than ever before for people who demonstrate interpersonal skills, the authors say. “Everyone is looking for team players now. Those who get involved and bring energy to groups get spotted very quickly and get the promotions,” Klassen said.

Filmmaker documents abandoned buildings

Robert Fantinatto‘s new DVD, Echoes of Forgotten Places: Urban Exploration, Industrial Archaeology and the Aesthetics of Decay, is a smorgasbord for the senses, suggested The Globe and Mail’s “Architourist” columnist Dave Leblanc. The 43-minute film, released through Fantinatto’s company, Scribble Media, and available at Suspect Video locations and Pages on Queen Street West in Toronto, concerns itself with the unusual yet growing hobby of “urban archaeology.” It involves finding abandoned buildings – usually industrial – and gaining entry, sometimes illegally, to photograph or just “experience” the decaying delights contained within. More than interesting, the DVD is fascinating for what it doesn’t document. It’s unconcerned with when these factories closed, what they manufactured, or even where they’re located (most are in Toronto, for the record), and yet it’s still riveting to watch. “I wanted to make something that anybody in the world could watch,” explained Fantinatto, a 38-year-old filmmaker, editor and 1989 graduate of York University’s film program. “Sort of this generic place that’s in everybody’s town.”

On air

  • Carl James, a professor in York’s Faculty of Education, explained why he supports Toronto District School Board student and community equity executive officer Lloyd McKell’s call for the creation of a black-focused school, on CFMJ’s “The Stafford Show” in Toronto Sept. 14.
  • Biology Prof. Laurence Packer and doctoral student Amro Zayed explained the value of bees in crop pollination and how 20,000 species of bees worldwide are facing extinction, on TVO’s “More To Life” Sept. 15.