Be a Gift Giver: Apply for a Job, Change A Life

Raise your hand if any of the following thoughts have passed through your mind when hitting the submit button during the online job application process: 

  • “Will I stand out as a good fit for this job?” 
  • “Will the right person even see my resume?” 
  • “Will I actually hear back from a human this time?” 

If your hand is in the air right now, know that you’re not alone. At Ian Martin, we understand the job search process can sometimes leave candidates feeling like they’re a party of one in an uncertain and ego-challenging land. While we can’t promise all 10,000 of the candidates we receive resumes from each month a personal follow up call, we do feel strongly that the experience shouldn’t leave candidates feeling disconnected. 

That’s why when you apply for a position with Ian Martin you’re given an opportunity to connect with someone else on the planet who is also on a quest to find meaningful work. Every time a candidate applies for an Ian Martin posting, they’re given a $25 credit to make a loan to a entrepreneur of their choice through Kiva. 

Kiva is an international not-for-profit organization with a mission to alleviate poverty by connecting people through lending. By offering access to small amounts of capital, Kiva connects entrepreneurs who aren’t able to access funds from institutions, friends, or family, the way that many of us in the first world can. That funding, in turn, allows the recipients to do meaningful work to support themselves, their families, and their communities. Kiva loans are true loans, with interest fees and an expectation of full repayment. Kiva’s current 97% loan repayment rate illustrates that the entrepreneurs receiving these funds respect that. 

Since launching our Kiva applicant donation program in 2014, Ian Martin applicants have helped alter the lives of thousands of people across the globe. While not every single applicant elects to donate their $25 credit, the impact of those that do quickly adds up. Four years into the program, applicants’ efforts have already: 

  • Produced over $100,000 in loans 
  • Impacted communities in over 84 countries 
  • Created life-altering new opportunities for 2,776 female entrepreneurs and 900 male entrepreneurs 

To provide a better sense of the impact that applicants are making, here are profiles of just a few of the entrepreneurs whose loans were funded with $25 deposits from Ian Martin applicants in the last few months of 2018: 

  • Nena, an entrepreneur in the Philippines, received a loan of $575 to help buy fish trap materials like plastic screening, bamboo, nails and nylon string, and dried fish. 
  • Zaida, an entrepreneur in Uganda, received a loan of $150 to help stock her store with more tomatoes, onions, and avocados. 
  • Marame’s team of women in rural Senegal received a loan of $2100 to help them buy sheep. 
  • Arc secured a loan of $200 to purchase more hairdressing material and hair products for her beauty salon in Zimbabwe. 
  • Daniel, an agricultural entrepreneur in El Salvador, received a loan of $1,000 to buy supplies to grow corn and pay for labour. 
  • Kadiatu’s female farming collective in Sierra Leone received a loan of $2,375 to help them pay for improved seed, organic inputs, and tractor rental. This will allow them to transition from subsistence farming to working a larger area of land with a higher yield. 

If you’d like to apply for a new position and help change the life of an entrepreneur in the process with a $25 Kiva credit, browse our current job opportunities in: 

To receive alerts about new job opportunities in the industries that are of interest to you, you can also register to have a daily or weekly email with the latest postings sent directly to your inbox, here.

To learn more about kiva, visit


Delight a Job Seeker (and Support the #BEconomy) with these Black Friday BCorp Picks

Is there a job seeker on your holiday shopping list this year? If you’re stumped on what to get them, your search is about to get a whole lot easier. We’ve compiled a list of some favourite thoughtful items that may come in handy during their job search, but that’s not all. Every gift suggestion you’ll find in the list below is made by a company that is, like Ian Martin, a certified B Corporation. That means they’ve been independently audited and meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. B Corps aren’t just in for the bottom line –  they see business as a force for good in this world. B Corp companies compete to be the best FOR the world, the people living in it, and the natural environment. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving! 


Job Seeker Gift Suggestion #1: A Great Work Bag 

For new grads, making the transition from lecture hall to boardroom can be tricky. Help them update their style with a classic bag that means business. 

Our suggestion: The Slim Briefcase by LeDaveed 

LeDaveed bags are made in Canada with Nixburg Bullskin full-grain German leather, which is durable, waterproof, and uses 80% less water than the average leather to create.  This classic briefcase is an investment piece, but they will use it for years to come. The bag was designed based on detailed feedback from 200 on-the-go professionals, resulting in an array of unique features. 


Job Seeker Gift Suggestion #2: A Classic and Comfortable Pair of Well-made Shoes 

There’s nothing that detracts style points from a new interview outfit faster than a pair of scuffed-up old shoes. Ensure they’re dressed for success from head to toe with a quality pair of shoes. 

Our suggestion: Nisolo is a direct-to-consumer shoe company that makes contemporary classics that transition effortlessly from work to play. The James Oxford is a great choice for women and the Luca Chukka Boot is a versatile choice for men. The skilled shoemakers who produce these shoes receive, at a minimum, beyond fair trade wages, healthcare, and a healthy working environment.  


Job Seeker Gift Suggestion #3A High-quality Dress Shirt 

A classic white dress shirt is a job interview staple that deserves a space in everyone’s closet, whether they’re currently looking for work or not. 

Our suggestion: 

Tuckerman & Co.’s dress shirts are made with 100% GOTS-certified cotton, the gold standard for organic cotton. They also have thoughtful design details like non-toxic canvas interlining to help collars and cuffs keep their shape, real mother of pearl buttons and a slightly raised hem, so shirts looks good whether tucked in or untucked. The Men’s White Twill and Women’s White Twill are both timeless choices. 


Job Seeker Gift Suggestion #4A Caffeine Upgrade 

Whether they’re burning the midnight oil perfecting their resume or setting out early in the morning for a job interview, a great cup of coffee will be well appreciated.  

Our suggestion: 

Ethical Bean is a Canadian coffee company that has set a goal to compete with the world’s biggest growers and roasters on quality and taste, but only with fair trade, organically grown beans. Their Sample 6 Pack includes enough coffee to make three pots each of both their Lush Medium-Dark Roast and Classic Medium Roast. 


Job Seeker Gift Suggestion #5A Recommended Reading Collection 

In case their job search has left them feeling in need of a little inspiration, give them some reading material to remind them that it’s possible to have a great career and make the planet a better place at the same time.  

Our suggestion: 

Patagonia’s Business Library is a collection of three books that offers over 40 years of business wisdom, strategies, and practices from a company that was viewing itself as a shareholder of the planet long before it was cool. In Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, Yvon Chouinard, the founder and owner of Patagonia, offers insight into the persistence and courage that have gone into leading one of the world’s most respected and environmentally responsible companies. Tools for Grassroots Activists captures wisdom and advice from 20 years of the Patagonia Tools Conference, an event Patagonia hosts that brings together inspiring thought leaders. The Responsible Company shares stories from experiences at Patagonia as well as efforts by other companies to illustrate some of the key elements of responsible business for our time.


Did you know that just by submitting your resume to Ian Martin, you too can become a meaningful gift-giver? Every applicant to Ian Martin’s jobs receives $25 to invest in a microloan that helps an entrepreneur who does not have access to traditional banking systems via It’s just one way jobseekers can join our mission of breaking down barriers to meaningful work. Together, we are changing the way business is done by creating benefit for people and our planet. 

If you know of someone that is on a mission to find meaningful work, please encourage them to browse our current job openings and also check out BWork, the world’s largest job board for purpose-driven job seekers.


Tap into Your Recruiter’s Knowledge for In-the-trenches Compensation Intelligence

When it comes to attracting and retaining talent, having a solid understanding of salary expectations has never been more important. With the introduction of salary disclosure legislation, like Ontario’s Pay Transparency Act, compensation rates are becoming increasingly front and centre in recruiting. Effective January 2019, jobs that are advertised publicly will be required to include the expected compensation or range of compensation and off-point salary ranges can be seriously off putting to candidates. Where once a sub-par salary often didn’t factor into the recruitment equation until an offer was made, today a monetary miss can stop thousands of potential candidates in their tracks before they’re even finished reading your job ad. Fewer candidates applying means a drastically reduced chance of finding a great fit. 


To help ensure the salary they’re offering will appeal to the calibre of talent they’re trying to attract, many companies turn to compensation intelligence services. These subscription-based reports and online tools offer access to benchmarking data that has been collected and collated from a wide range of organizations. While this information can offer helpful high-level insights, many clients we talk to have told us it can lack some make-or-break nuances. 


Today’s rapidly changing economy can drive significant and speedy changes to compensation rates. Other factors including location, hiring trends and high-demand skill sets are also always at play and may not come across in high-level compensation reports. To illustrate just how quickly and dramatically compensation rates can change, look to this example from the oilfields of Alberta. When the industry was booming in 2015, safety practitioners and professionals were in high demand with the average salary in the oil and gas industry hitting more than $125,000. This was 50 per cent higher than employees working in the health-care and communications industries Canada-wide and Alberta’s average salary for these positions tracked a full 25 per cent higher than Ontario’s. As oil prices plummeted, organizations downsized and these same safety practitioners who had once been in high demand started struggling to find even entry-level jobs. Data suggests that senior positions saw up to a 50 per cent drop in pay for newly advertised positions and junior position salaries decreased by between 10 and 20 per cent. 


At Ian Martin, we have recruiters who are in constant contact with both talent and employers from across North America. These daily conversations provide invaluable and up-to-the-minute insight into a wide variety of factors that can impact compensation rates. Whether it’s an announcement of a new satellite office for a high-profile tech firm that could drive salaries up, the addition of a rail line that will create a larger pool of suburban job seekers or a change in immigration legislation that opens up opportunities to eager international talent, our in-the-know recruiters offer context that, when combined with higher-level compensation data, provides a powerful one-two punch when setting compensation rates.  


Connect with one of our Hiring Experts today for a no-obligation chat about how we can help you set competitive compensation ranges for advertised positions that will help you attract the right calibre of talent and move your business forward. 

Do Candidates Really Care About Corporate Social Responsibility?

You’ve found a strong candidate. The interview is going well. You’ve told them about your company’s impressive benefits package, highlighted the opportunities for growth and development within the position, and shared some of the things your company does to support work-life balance. As you go through your mental checklist of all the factors that could positively influence the candidate’s decision to join your team, you feel like you’ve checked all the boxes. But has your pitch included some evidence that your company is committed to improving the lives of people and the health of our planet? If not, there’s a 50% chance that great candidate is going to walk out the door at the end of the interview and never look back.

According to research, your company’s commitment to corporate responsibility has a direct tie to attracting and retaining talent that may be even stronger than you realize: 

  • 58% of candidates surveyed said they consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. 
  • 55% said they would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if the salary was less. 
  • 51% said they will not work for a company that doesn’t have strong social or environmental commitments.

Highlighting corporate social responsibility is even more critical if you’re trying to convince a candidate that is between the ages of 27 and 35 to join your team.  

  • 67% of this mature Millennial segment surveyed in the study said they would not work for a company that did not have strong corporate responsibility commitments.  
  • 76% of mature Millennials said they would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if the salary would be less than at other companies. 

Ian Martin employees volunteer during our annual B Corp Day in the local community.

Convincing candidates that your company is committed to making the world a better place isn’t as simple as pointing out your recycling bins and sharing some impressive figures from your charitable donation programsToday’s candidates are wary of corporate greenwashing, so be prepared to share some hard data to prove that your company walks the walk when it comes to its social and environmental efforts. 

One way that for-profit companies can prove without a doubt that they follow rigorous standards related to their social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency is to acquire B Corp certificationWhile the certification process will involve time and effort, it will set your company apart as an organization that is not only competing to be the best IN the world, but also to be the best FOR the world. Joining the roster of over 2,400 other Certified B Corps including recognizable names like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and Etsy won’t hurt your recruitment efforts either! You can learn more about the additional practical business benefits that Ian Martin has experienced as a result of our own B Corp certification here. 

Since research suggests that 78% of employees want to be an active participant in helping their company improve its responsible business practices, the corporate responsibility case you present to the candidate shouldn’t focus solely on big-picture initiatives and results. Share examples of the processes and programs you have in place that allow employees to get personally involved in your company’s charitable and environmental efforts. Today, the priority that employees place on opportunities to personally support causes or issues they care about is on par with benefits like wellness programs and tuition reimbursement. If you have a community volunteering or pro bono program, share data to give candidates a better sense of how many employees currently participate. Encourage current employees to share their volunteer experiences on your company’s social media channels. This will allow candidates to see real-life examples of your commitment to your community when they are conducting pre- and post-interview research.

In today’s raging war for technical talent, employers should leave no stone unturned when it comes to convincing candidates why their company is a great place to work. Our Insider’s Guide to Technical Recruitment has some helpful tips to assist you in assessing your company like a prospective employee. If you would like to get additional insight into the types of questions that candidates may have about your company’s corporate social responsibility effortsconnect with one of our Ian Martin Hiring Consultants. 

Happiness at Work Benefits the Brain AND the Bottom Line

Not that long ago, if you’d asked the world’s political and business leaders about the role of happiness in the global economy, you probably would have been told that happiness was a pursuit for birthday parties, not boardrooms. That sentiment has changed drastically in the last decade. In 2011, recognizing that progress shouldn’t be measured by economic growth alone, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and calling for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples.”

Each year on March 20th, the United Nations celebrates International Day of Happiness to help raise awareness about the importance of happiness in the lives of people across the world.

A World Happiness Report is released by the United Nations each year on International Day of Happiness and findings from the 2017 report suggest that there is a vital relationship between work and happiness. While having a job has been proven to make people happier, the equation goes beyond that. Happier employees are also more likely to come to work, be more productive, take fewer sick days and are less likely to quit. Talk about a win-win!

While ultimately every person is responsible for their own happiness, research findings in the report point to specific areas that employers can support to create an environment that encourages happiness.

Work-Life Balance

Being able to achieve a healthy balance between commitments at work and home appears to be one of the most important drivers of an individual’s sense of wellbeing. Those with jobs that leave them too tired at the end of their workday to enjoy the non-work side of life report day-to-day happiness levels that are substantially lower. Workers who report that their job interferes with their ability to spend time with loved ones, and employees who feel they must “bring their job home with them,” report lower levels of subjective wellbeing.


The report’s findings suggest that people with jobs that allow them to do different things and learn new things experience more positive emotions on a day-to-day basis. The desire to learn new things on the job seems to be particularly important to millennials, who in a different study ranked training and development as their most valued employee benefit at a whopping 300 per cent higher rating than cash bonuses! Read this blog post for some suggestions to help create a culture of continuous learning and professional development.


An employee’s degree of autonomy at work, including having control over how their workday is organized and the pace at which they work, is another important driver of happiness in the workplace according to the 2017 World Happiness Report. This finding is echoed by some interesting research from the University of Birmingham. The research compiled two years’ worth of data from 20,000 employees and found that the higher level of autonomy a worker experienced, the higher their sense of job satisfaction and wellbeing. The type of autonomy most appreciated tended to differ by gender. Women placed a higher value on autonomy related to scheduling and location flexibility. Men appreciating autonomy more related to task allocation and pace of work.

A Circle of Support

According to the report, the support one receives from his or her co-workers also has an impact on workplace wellbeing and happiness. This finding aligns with research at Harvard that found that students with strong social support, both at school and at home, tended to be happier and better at dealing with stress. Workers with strong relationships with co-workers are also better at remaining engaged and coping with stress.

What does this all mean for recruitment?

As awareness grows about the significance of happiness in our personal and professional lives, it’s important for employers to realize that the days of relying on salary and bonuses to win over employees are long gone. The growing popularity of university courses dedicated to the topic of achieving happiness in life speaks to the priority tomorrow’s job seekers will be placing on achieving it in their careers. Yale University introduced a new course in January 2018 called, Psychology and the Good Life. The course’s goal is to help students figure out what it means to live happier, more satisfying lives, and teach them scientifically-tested strategies to achieve that goal. A quarter of the school’s undergraduate population enrolled, making it the most popular course ever at the university. At Stanford, one in six undergraduates take a course that promises to teach them to apply design thinking to the challenge of creating fulfilling lives and careers.

Action For Happiness has developed 10 Keys to Happier Living that are based on an extensive study of the latest findings from the science of wellbeing. While these keys weren’t developed specifically for the workplace, reviewing them and finding examples of ways they are demonstrated within your organization can assist in creating talking points that illustrate your company’s commitment to promoting happiness in the workplace with potential employees.

Key #1: Giving – In what ways does your workplace help others? Corporate donations, workplace fundraising for charities and volunteer programs are great examples.

Key #2: Relating – How does your organization strengthen relationships and build networks between employees? Are there corporate retreats, teambuilding events, or meetings that encourage open conversation between employees that you can speak to?

Key #3: Exercise – What things does your company do to encourage employees to be more active each day? This doesn’t have to mean investing in an onsite gym or subsidized gym memberships. Simple things like having bike racks for employees who want to cycle to work or helping clean up nearby walking trails send a message that you support employees having an active lifestyle.

Key #4: Awareness – Does your workplace do anything to promote employee mindfulness? Offering a lunchtime meditation class or even a dedicated quiet space that employees can retreat to when they need some time to collect their thoughts are great examples of how the workplace can support employee mindfulness.

Key #5: Trying Out – What channels does your company have in place to encourage employees to try different things and learn new skills? In addition to formal training and educational assistance, this could be things like casual “Lunch and Learn” sessions or encouraging the use of free online learning tools.

Key #6: Direction – How does your company assist employees to set challenging, yet achievable goals of their own and also ensure they understand their role in helping the company achieve its larger goals? Is this something that has been formalized in your performance review process?

Key #7: Resilience – All employees will be faced with stressful situations at some point. Does your company offer tools or services to help them cope with and bounce back from adversity? Mentoring programs as well as coaching or therapy offered through a company benefits program are potential supports you can showcase.

Key #8: Emotions – What processes does your company have in place to encourage the cultivation of positive emotions like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride at work? Things like recognition programs and sharing employee stories through internal communication channels are great examples.

Key #9: Acceptance – Does your company make an effort to promote conversations that help employees accept themselves and their colleagues as they are? Perhaps there are community initiatives that your company supports that are helping youth to accept themselves as well.

Key #10: Meaning – Is there a connection between the work that you ask employees do each day and a greater sense of meaning and purpose in their lives? Initiatives like workplace volunteer and mentoring programs can help provide a sense of meaning at work, especially for employees that may lack a direct line to a sense of something larger in their everyday roles.

How can we help?

Ian Martin’s Hiring Consultants gather insights every day from our candidates about the organizational values that are of particular importance them. If you’d like some suggestions as to how your company can illustrate its commitment to employee happiness and wellbeing in a more effective way, contact us today for a complimentary assessment of a recent job posting.



Ian Martin Celebrates Land Acknowledgement Installation


At Ian Martin, we exist to connect people in meaningful work. But as we’ve discovered, before you connect people in meaningful work, you must first connect with them meaningfully. Last Thursday, July 5th marked a new phase of Ian Martin’s engagement with and commitment to Indigenous communities in our local area and across North America.

In the presence of Shannon Monk Payne of Sakatay Global, employees in our office enjoyed a catered lunch from Toronto Indigenous restaurant NishDish, made tobacco ties, smudged, drummed, sang, and unveiled a beautiful land acknowledgement statement that now adorns the wall when you walk into our headquarters in Oakville, Ontario. The acknowledgement reads:

The headquarters of the Ian Martin Group is located on the traditional territory and treaty lands of the Mississaugas of the New Credit. This sacred land is part of the Dish With One Spoon wampum covenant between the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas, and Haudenosaunee that bound them to share, care for, and protect the lands and resources around the Great Lakes. Subsequent Indigenous Nations and Peoples, Europeans, and all newcomers have been invited into this treaty in the spirit of peace, friendship, and respect. We are grateful to work in the community on this territory and recognize our shared responsibility to honour the truth of the land and its treaties while strengthening our relationships with Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island. 

For the past four months, a group of employees from Ian Martin embarked on a learning journey with Shannon Monk Payne to build our cultural confidence and awareness with Indigenous communities. Since much of our work is in the oil and gas sector, and since stewardship is a principal value of our organization, this initiative perfectly marries our triple bottom line of people, planet, profit. We have a duty to respect the original stewards of the land upon which we live and work; it is not only the first step towards reconciliation, but it is a step further along our  company mission to break down barriers to meaningful employment.

Land acknowledgements are becoming status quo in some organizations, but we are committed to going above and beyond the writing on the wall. Ian Martin has built a business culture steeped in open, honest, and meaningful engagement that seeks to change the way business is done. As such, we want to go beyond simply unveiling these words and having them rest on our walls. We want to live through these words with an enlivened commitment to engage meaningfully with Indigenous nations to foster mutually beneficial partnerships based on trust, accountability, and respect.

To realize this commitment, we have accompanied this land acknowledgement with a series of internal and external action plans to break down barriers Indigenous peoples face and join forces with our local Indigenous communities to realize more meaningful employment for more people. Ian Martin is also part of the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCNI) First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Engagement Committee, which works in partnership with Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation, as well as Canadian nuclear suppliers, to increase Indigenous representation and opportunity in Canadian business. We have committed to partnering with a local Indigenous organization as part of our newly developed Meaningful Work Foundation. We have established connections and will foster relationships with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, upon whose traditional lands our headquarters operates. We will be rolling out an Indigenous cultural training program to all our employees. We have established our own Indigenous engagement task force to hold ourselves accountable and to keep improving on our goals. Still, there is much work to be done.

May this mark the beginning of a new journey forward not only to open doors for more people in meaningful work, but to open more doors of understanding and meaning in our commitments to the communities with which we share this land.

BCorp Day 2018

Meaningful work was abound on Friday, June 15, 2018 as Ian Martin employees participated in our annual BCorp Day festivities, which included volunteering at several initiatives across our branches in Canada, the US, and India.

Every year we take a break from business to do good in our communities through meaningful, hard work! It is also a chance for us to honour our status as a Certified B Corporation, and celebrates our efforts toward making business a force for good for our communities and for our planet.

Here’s a snapshot of what we accomplished:

Among other initiatives around town, in Oakville, our employees helped plant trees and remove invasive species for Oakville Green, helped build and beautify furniture at Habitat for Humanity, served up a delicious meal at Eden Food for Change, and sorted donations at Safety Net Child and Youth Charities. And after a morning of volunteering, our team celebrated with an afternoon BBQ and pickup softball game – a favourite company classic.

In Ottawa, our team helped out at the Cancer Foundation and the Silver Spring Farm Garlic Project, which helps support persons with developmental disabilities.

In Calgary, employees helped at Seniors Resource Society where they went to an elderly woman’s home and put in 12 total hours of yard labour—everything from cutting the lawn, weeding, and cleaning up her patio.

In Edmonton, our team had a fur-filled morning at the Edmonton Humane Society where they wrote thank you cards for monthly donors and socialized with the animals—basically anyone’s dream job.

In Houston, our employees volunteered at NextOP, which supports military veterans returning to civilian life after honourable discharge. Our team helped veterans with job searches, resume writing, and placement support.

Our India team made a huge impact at the Ashraya Government School in Bangalore. Over 60 employees spent the morning designing projects to help children with their learning and development. The team also donated school supplies to the school, along with their interactive project plans.

All in all, 162 Ian Martin employees participated, with each person contributing to an incredible 512 total volunteer hours! Check out the photos below that capture some of us hard at (meaningful) work:

Ian Martin partners with Autism Speaks Canada

Recently, Ian Martin’s Stewardship Council celebrated the launch of a new partnership with Autism Speaks Canada. Gathering together with a cross section of Toronto’s employers at an event in April called “Senseations,” the Ian Martin Group celebrated the wins and also the challenges faced by the autism community seeking employment—which are, unfortunately, many.

The partnership is the first official partnership of Ian Martin’s newly established Meaningful Work Foundation, which gives 10% of Ian Martin’s profits to organizations that break down barriers to meaningful work. Beyond just giving money, the Foundation creates mutual relationships with its partner organizations—including mentoring programs, events support, and thought/experience exchange—so that together, our impact is maximized.

Members of Ian Martin with Toronto Mayor John Tory

Edwin Jansen, Head of Marketing at Fitzii (a subsidiary of Ian Martin) spoke on behalf of the Ian Martin Group at the event and signalled the importance of the partnership to our overall mission to connect people in meaningful work:

“The employees at Ian Martin are obsessed with doing what we can to build a world where each and every person is pursuing meaningful work, and there is no bigger opportunity to make an impact than with this community gathered here. Adults with autism are 14% more likely to be unemployed than those who are developmentally delayed[KS1] . Not only is there 80% ASD unemployment, but of those who are employed only 6% are making a competitive salary versus people in similar jobs. This job market isn’t just inefficient – it’s completely broken – and we have a lot of work to do.”

We’re just at the beginning of a long road ahead, but we’re moving down a bright path. Ian Martin’s Meaningful Work Foundation will provide an initial $15,000 donation to Autism Speaks. In addition, we’ve made the commitment to participate in the Worktopia program that gives adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) exposure to different workplace settings and provides job search mentoring.

We couldn’t be more excited to roll up our sleeves and begin the first stages of what will surely be a long and impactful partnership. At Ian Martin, one of our mantras is, “hiring is an act of optimism.” As we seek to challenge ourselves and others to engage the autistic candidate pool intentionally and with purpose, we know that we can make a difference for the present and future generations of people who are affected with ASD. Will you join us?

For information on Autism Speaks and how you can get involved, visit them at


Meaningful Work in Cambodia: One IMG Contractor’s Story

Last summer we announced with great enthusiasm the winner of the 2017 Contractor Volunteer Experience program – Sam Cheng. Sam recently returned from his adventure in Cambodia where he spent two weeks installing clean drinking water facilities.

It was truly an experience of a lifetime – read on for Sam’s reflections on his adventure.

There is plenty of time to think on a 17-hour flight from Los Angeles to Singapore. I mulled over respectful approaches to enter and serve a Cambodian village community. I reflected on my reasons for serving, or as my colleagues put it, “Why I would take a vacation from work to do more work.” I fretted over the details—things like what our team dynamic would be like. Most of these wonderings had some form of conclusion but there was one question that kept me thinking: How do I most effectively use this experience to bless the people of Cambodia? It is a country set back by slave labour, malnourishment, and disease—a country where the potential impact of meaningful work can be so clearly realized.

Hygiene education at Banteay Chhmar Primary School.

Upon touching down in the city of Siem Reap we immediately found ourselves in the midst of unfamiliarity, from the heat and humidity to the thickly crowded traffic. Our team promptly made our way west into the Banteay Meanchey province. Our arrival in the province was met with crowds of children as we visited a local school to participate in hygiene education and to distribute hand soap. In terms of our project, it is crucial that education be provided alongside safe drinking water, including education on why water filtration is necessary. While it may seem obvious to us, much of this information is new to those living in rural Cambodia.

After this visit, we made our way to Banteay Chhmar Primary School, our home base of the next few days. There are quite a few adjustments that a Canadian has to make when serving in Cambodia; however, in the hectic busyness of each day, the body and mind adapt quickly. Chaotic traffic, unfamiliar scents, constant sweating in 35-degree heat, sleeping in mosquito tents, and bucket showers became quite normal after the first two nights.

Over the next few days, we spent the daytime hours mixing and pouring concrete, constructing and deconstructing molds, painting water filters, and installing them within individual homes. The installation of these filters was quite simple: we cleaned the concrete housing with bleach, washed the three different sizes of sand and gravel aggregate, poured the aggregate in even lifts (largest on the bottom), ran bleached water through the filter, and measured the flow rate for quality control. Once this process was complete, contaminated water can be poured into the filter to facilitate the development of the biolayer, which sits atop the aggregate and contains microorganisms that consume harmful pathogens. The aggregate also serves to remove contaminants by trapping larger pathogens and unwanted debris.

The Biosand water filters installed by Sam and his team.

Our Biosand water filters were installed in rural villages near the Thai border, where many homes were occupied by soldiers and their families. I tend to wander off and explore when travelling but had to restrain myself this time around due to the potential of unexploded landmines in the vicinity, yet another remnant of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the late 70s that claimed the lives of over 2 million people in acts of genocide.

At each home we visited, we caught a glimpse of daily living in rural Cambodia; and as we listened to the villagers, we heard stories of suffering and great perseverance. One story stuck with me. This story was about a father who was on the brink of suicide after losing his source of income and being unable to support his family. In the thick of his despair, he received several chickens through a Samaritan’s Purse donation program—a donation that changed his mind about taking his own life. In a few months’ time, the chickens had multiplied enough to provide sustainable income for the family. This story resonates with me because I have made similar donations in the past, but with the sinking feeling that a few meager chickens could not possibly provide much. By the testimony of this family that persevered, I am reminded that my vision is limited; these donations, whatever they may be, can have much greater significance by providing hope and saving a family on the brink of collapse.

“By the testimony of this family that persevered, I am reminded that my vision is limited; these donations, whatever they may be, can have much greater significance by providing hope and saving a family on the brink of collapse.” – Sam Cheng

While there we would also stop by villages to promote hygiene education and distribute soap and snacks. These gatherings were always a treat as we had the opportunity to interact and care for all generations of the community, from elderly grandmothers to babies just learning to stumble about. The joy, laughter, and companionship I witnessed among these poor communities were a gentle reminder that many of our material possessions and desires are not necessary for contentment. And, as a Christian, these experiences remind me that I can use my engineering talents and experience for the betterment of others.

“The joy, laughter, and companionship I witnessed among these poor communities were a gentle reminder that many of our material possessions and desires are not necessary for contentment.” – Sam Cheng

Throughout this experience, I was continually inspired by my team members, who at this point had become as close as family. Most of them were either nearing retirement or recently retired—a life stage that is usually associated with rest and relaxation, yet they all had a shared focus: to use their newfound time to love and care for those in need. I can only hope that when I arrive at that life stage, I may have a heart as unselfish as theirs.

Sam and his project team members.

The most difficult aspect of the experience was when it was time to leave. Two weeks is such a limited amount of time—so much still needs to be done. But my work does not end when I leave Cambodia; rather, the next phase of volunteering begins by sharing my story. I hope my story sheds light on the needs in Cambodia and encourages those around me to serve in whatever aspect they can, whether it be monetary donations, short term experiences like mine, or even long-term commitments. Although the necessity for clean water is so painfully dire in Cambodia, it is only one issue on an extensive list. My heart will not let me share my experience without pleading with you, dear reader, to consider getting involved. You and your work are so desperately needed. You can make a difference!

Some people question the need for in-person volunteering because the funds can instead be funneled directly into the area of need. With this experience fresh in my mind, I can confidently say that an in-person volunteering experience is 100% worth it. Witnessing the struggles and desperation first hand is a good reminder of our privilege, and chips away at the apathy within our hearts, while the joyous celebrations remind us that continual striving for material things may be more frivolous than we know. These reminders are sorely needed and always have potential to spread to those around us. For now, I will continue my volunteering at home and eagerly anticipate my next journey to Cambodia.

Sam in Cambodia.


We recently sat down with Sam to discuss his experience in person. You can watch the video here.


4 Recruitment Resolutions for 2018

If the promise of a fresh new year has left you feeling eager to improve, even small changes to your recruiting strategy have the potential to make a huge impact. Here are four simple recruitment resolutions that can help you secure better talent and improve your company’s bottom line in the year ahead.

Assess Your Internal Brand

As competition for today’s best technical talent heats up, convincing potential candidates that your company is a great place to work from the get-go is key. If you’re relying too strongly on consumer marketing messaging or the nuts and bolts of specific job benefits to communicate the advantages of working with your organization, you could be missing the mark.

Do the communications from your company that a candidate encounters during the recruitment process create a sense of what it will “feel” like to work for your company? Do they paint a picture of what sets your company apart from the competition? Strive to reach employees on an emotional level that speaks to their heads and their hearts. You can find a great article here by Gallup about creating a brand that attracts star employees.

Tap into the Potential of Employee Referrals

If you’re not engaging existing employees in your company’s recruitment efforts, you’re ignoring one of the most effective and efficient ways to discover and secure new technical talent. If you’re still not convinced, take a look at some of the research:

  • According to findings from Stanford, employees hired through personal referrals have higher productivity, lower turnover, and lower screening costs.
  • Another study by researchers from Berkeley and Yale found that referred workers are 10-30% less likely to quit and have substantially higher performance on rare high-impact metrics.

If a formal, incentivized employee referral program isn’t in the cards for 2018, consider implementing some smaller changes that will equip employees to be better ambassadors for your recruiting efforts. Start with something simple, like sharing new job postings more widely internally and making it easy for employees to pass along job opportunities to their social media networks.

Leverage KPIs to Find Opportunities for Improvement

Taking a critical look at recruitment data can help reveal valuable insights that will inspire action that is tailored to your unique situation. Tracking cost-per-hire, for example, can help determine if your recruitment efforts are getting more or less efficient over time. Measuring time-to-fill can help assess if the time being invested in things like managing job postings, pre-screening candidates, and checking references is paying off. Staying on top of retention rates can help identify specific positions that may be proving harder to keep filled.

Read our Hiring Metrics Checkup as a first step. In addition to defining some of the key metrics you should be tracking, it also describes how to best measure them.

Enhance Your Passive Candidate Recruitment Strategy

Limiting your recruitment strategy to only those candidates who are currently actively scanning job boards means you may be opting for a subpar pool of talent. Many of the best candidates are not only employed, they may be quite happy in their current position and not even considering looking for a new opportunity. The best real estate agents knock on doors to find homes that aren’t currently listed for sale on their client’s dream street. Recruiters take that same approach to find excellent candidates who may not be actively looking for new work, but might be intrigued by the right opportunity with a great company.

With six decades of experience as one of Canada’s leading technical recruitment firms, Ian Martin has built an extensive database of talent. In addition to the personal networks they’ve built during their tenure as recruiters, with just a few keystrokes Ian Martin’s recruitment staff can tap into a crowdsourced network of talent that’s been built by a collection of their peers from across the globe.

Connect with an Ian Martin hiring consultant today to discuss how we can assist you in reaching your 2018 staffing goals.

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Shake the Trees: 4 Ways to Take Your Tech Talent Search Beyond the Job Board

If you’re not hearing from the type of candidates you were hoping for in your technical talent search, it may be time to cast a wider net. As the battle for technical talent continues to heat up, it’s no longer enough to just post an ad to an online job board, share it on LinkedIn and cross your fingers. Here are some additional channels to consider incorporating into your recruitment strategy.


Slack is a cloud-based team messaging and collaboration app that was initially developed as an alternative to email to help companies communicate more efficiently. It’s been so well received that there are now Slack public communities that have been created to allow people with common interests to communicate. Third party websites like slack list, Standuply and Slofile compile lists of public Slack communities to help people looking to connect with others with similar interests. These communities can be a great way to make connections with technical talent. The Ruby on Rails community, for example, has over 6000 people interested in Ruby on Rails from all over the world, including avid OSS contributors, full-stack engineers, founders of start-ups, backend engineers and students learning Ruby on Rails. Within each community, various topics are organized into subject-based channels.

Top Tip: Watch your manners. When you join a Slack community, take some time to get to know the culture of the community before you start to post and tailor what you write accordingly. When you have a good feel for the community, ensure you are posting on the most appropriate channel.


Meetup is a social networking site that connects people with similar interests and helps them organize offline group meetings. As Meetups happen in physical locations, it is very easy to search by location if you are looking for talent in a specific city. There is a great collection of technical groups. By searching Ruby On Rails, for example, within 100 miles of Toronto, you’ll find Meetup groups of Ruby developers and enthusiasts in Toronto, Kitchener and Waterloo. In addition to being able to see upcoming events, such as a Rail Pub Night, you can also search profiles of people within each group.

Top Tip: Be open and honest about who you are. As this is very much a social platform, members may not be expecting to interact with recruiters or potential employers. Review Meetup’s Usage and Content Policies as a first step before you begin to join groups.

Engage Employees as Evangelists

Employee referral programs are one of the most effective and efficient methods of recruiting technical talent. In addition to coming with a built-in reference, research shows that candidates who have been referred by employees tend to stay longer and be more productive. Equip your employees with the tools they need to communicate within their networks about open positions at your company.

Top Tip: Even if your organization doesn’t have an incentivized referral program in place, look for simple things you can do to engage more employees in your company’s recruitment efforts.

  • Ensure new job postings are shared internally with employees in a way that makes it easy for them to pass on the posting to people in their networks.
  • When employees speak at conferences or trade shows, include a slide at the end of their presentation with a call to action to those in audience to speak to them about employment opportunities with your company.

Connect with Passive Candidates

Your technical talent search shouldn’t be limited to only people who are currently looking for work. Partnering with a recruitment firm that specializes in technical positions gives your company access to a deeper network of talent that includes experienced candidates who may not even be looking at job postings.  Getting a call from a recruiter they respect about a new opportunity can often make candidates realize it might be time for them to consider making a change.

Commute is King for Today’s Young Professionals

There’s an important lesson for hiring teams to take away from housing trends in today’s hot real estate market: don’t underestimate the importance of the drive to work.

Recently, the Toronto Region Board of Trade surveyed 1,100 professionals, aged 18 to 39. Forty per cent had a household income of more than $100,000. Eighty-seven per cent had a university degree, including 44 per cent, who had a graduate degree. Ninety per cent were employed full-time and 66 per cent lived in downtown Toronto.

When asked to rank their top three considerations in where to locate, 76 per cent of respondents said their daily commute was one of their top three considerations, ranking it ahead of distance to amenities (59 per cent) and the cost of living (53 per cent).

These findings serve as a reminder to hiring teams that the daily commute to work can be a deal maker or a deal breaker for potential candidates. In today’s competitive market for technical talent, if your location offers competitive advantages when it comes to the daily commute, you should be selling them. Here are some points to consider:

  • Does your location offer convenient access to major highways?
  • Is there easy access to public transit?
  • Is your office located close to recreational trails so employees can walk or bike to work?
  • Does your office offer amenities like bike racks and showers for employees who choose to ride their bike to work?
  • Does your company have a ride sharing system in place to help co-workers find carpooling partners?
  • Does your company offer any unique incentives for carpooling, such as designated or complimentary parking?
  • Do you offer work-from-home alternatives that allow employees to take a break from the daily commute?
  • Do you have satellite office locations, so employees have some choice about their daily commute?
  • Do you offer flexible hours, so employees can schedule their work day to avoid peak traffic times?
  • Are there convenient parking options for employees?

If your company has a great getting to work story, don’t forget to tell it. Take a look at the candidate’s address on their resume before the interview and offer specific details like typical travel time to the office from that location and public transit options. You can even let them know if there are other employees within your company that also commute or carpool from that location.

If the commute to your location could be viewed by candidates as a con instead of a pro, consider taking action to implement changes that could alleviate some potential concerns. Smart Commute is a program offered in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area that helps employers explore and try out smart travel options such as walking, cycling, transit, carpooling and teleworking. Even if your company isn’t located within the program’s geographical boundaries, the Smart Commute website has company profiles and blog posts that offer great ideas for things your organization may want to consider to make its daily commute story more attractive to potential candidates.


Working out the “Why?” – Stewardship Council Update

Remember when you’d get to school after a night of doing homework, and the teacher says it’s time to take it up?  Well, that’s what happened to Ian Martin Group’s Stewardship Council members on Friday, June 28th as we met together for the second time in our Toronto office.  Our task had been to each come up with three clear sentences that described why we are pursuing Stewardship as an organization. How did we do? Well… let’s just say that we’re all trying again.

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On Making Better Decisions: Or, Why We’re Clover the Moon for Cloverpop!

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.

—Emily Dickinson

A well-made, informed decision is much like a four-leaf clover: hard to find, and lucky to have.

Around eighteen months ago, as a result of feedback from our employees on our company culture and to increase overall accountability and incorporate more diverse input into our decision-making, we made a commitment to change how decisions are made at Ian Martin.

The major shift is based on Dennis Bakke’s book The Decision Maker. We implemented what Bakke refers to as the “The Advice Process,” and the underlying principle of the concept, based on trust, is that every employee can make sound decisions in the best interests of the company. The problem is that traditional companies do not always approach decisions in a way that allows the people who understand the situation most intimately to make the decision to resolve or change. Bakke’s solution, which we have been following and evolving, is to change the culture around decision making by applying the guiding principles of trust and transparent communication. The result so far, which I can attest to, is that more people are engaged, invested, and accountable to the decisions being made.

When we started down the advice process path, our process was recorded using a document template in which the Decision Maker recorded a summary of the advice he or she gathered from interviewing people and collecting their advice and expertise. The process, however, was time-consuming and inefficient. We all know how hard it is to coordinate our schedules with others; imagine having to organize that while making a decision requiring everyone’s input at different stages of the process! This method also became much like a game of telephone: since the decision maker was reiterating what was being said by the experts and advice givers, the input was often recorded inaccurately. These miscommunications missed the crucial nuances of everyone’s feedback and decreased the overall value of the process. As a result, we missed our first target of 50 decisions made using the advice process during one year.

Business is Better in Clover

Then we had a huge Ah-ha! moment when we found Cloverpop, a tool designed to help people make better decisions. Cloverpop’s claim to fame is that they help streamline enterprise decision making: as they put it, “decide twice as fast with half the meetings and 100% visibility.” Add a dash of behavioural science and you’ve got an engine to drive and document decisions. This was initially rolled out on a trial basis and after some initial success, Ian Yates, our Chief Technology Officer, became our “Cloverpop Champion” to help all parts of the organization make better and more distributed decisions. As Ian says,

“Cloverpop allows us to make more inclusive, more transparent, and more effective decisions faster. The ability to track, follow-up, and rate the success of decisions also means we’re continually improving our decision-making skills.”

Compared to our previous process, Cloverpop provides more flexibility to the Decision Maker and Advice Giver. Collaboration and weigh-in all happens in the platform. In their own words, and in their own time, people can provide their wisdom, advice, and perspective from the comfort of their office—no meeting required. If someone feels that not enough context or background has been given, they can request information and begin a dialogue to clarify their questions. The Cloverpop approach has been especially effective in making sure everyone’s voice is heard, since it provides the time and space that is not always available in a meeting setting where one or two strong voices can dominate a discussion. This is important to make sure our decisions are inclusive, informed, and based on the right input (not just the loudest voices!).

To put it simply, Cloverpop was a welcome change. The tool is simple to navigate, and everything is laid out for you in clear steps: it quickly organizes your suggested solutions, and then rates the potential success of these solutions. Although the decision maker has the final say, you can very clearly see everyone’s alignment with the potential solutions. Then, once the final decision is made the involved parties can rate their buy-in. Everyone is kept informed at every stage of the process, and no detail is left unturned.

Breaking Ground for a More Decisive Future

Alongside the rest of the company, The Stewardship Council is learning how to use the tool—and more importantly, we’re learning how to “break the habit.”

What habit might you ask? In a traditional company structure, it is ingrained in the employee who is making a decision to achieve group consensus, or to defer to a person with authority. I’m guilty of both. I currently chair the Stewardship Council, and can honestly say that I’ve struggled with embracing this new practice and breaking from these entrenched habits. Recently, when I was close to making an important decision for Council, my internal moral compass began to sound the alarm; I then found myself hitting send on an email to Tim Masson, Ian Martin’s Chief Steward and CEO, asking for his permission to make the decision! Tim, who is great at reminding us to use the advice process, was kind enough to encourage me to use Cloverpop because he strongly believes in self-management and the benefits of ownership thinking.

As I mentioned earlier, I think it’s important for everyone to remember that decision making is not about achieving consensus. Don’t be swayed by the allure of accommodating everyone’s wishes, or the feeling that all responsibility and accountability is on you. As a decision maker, you will find yourself uncomfortable at times. However, this is a good indicator that you are the right person for the decision, and you can rest assured that by using Cloverpop, your decision will come from an informed position from all parties involved.

Council has so far used the tool three times since December 2016. My biggest takeaway thus far from the process is learning to frame the decision correctly, which involves asking yourself the basic question, “What problem am I trying to solve?” It also requires you to be wary of leading questions, and to remember that the focus as decision maker should be inquiry, not advocacy, which is not always a natural feeling when making a decision. Inevitably, there will be growing pains; for example, one of our advice processes was not framed well and we scrapped it half way through. This is by no means a negative comment—it was a fail forward exercise and what we learned ensured success in our second advice process.

We also realized that setting an ambitious target of 50 decisions within the year wasn’t the right goal for us. Quantity over quality is not the way to go in pursuing our primary target of more inclusive and distributed decision making process. Ultimately, we want more accountability throughout the entire company, and change does not happen overnight. Now, the council is looking for ways to continue to broaden the use of the tool to include more decision makers and more advice givers.

Really, our end goal is about increasing empowerment as much as it is about accountability: it is only by empowering all of our employees to make decisions and become informed advisors that we will harness the power of diversity to make better decisions and help the business prosper.