Julie Slack - Oct 27, 2009

The days of long-term job security are a thing of the past – contract employment is the way of the future.

Jim Geraghty (left) speaks with Jack Sloggett

Jim Geraghty (left) speaks with Jack Sloggett

How to navigate this new trend is the raison d'être of HAPPEN, an organization that helps executives in career transition get back to work. Members assist one another by sharing experiences, industry information, contacts and job search techniques that will lead to new employment. They hold weekly meetings at four Canadian locations, including one here in Mississauga. They met this morning at the Living Arts Centre with guest speaker Lior Samfiru, a lawyer with expertise in employment contracts and terminations.

“Full-time jobs no longer exist,” says Jim Geraghty, president of the local chapter. “Three years is the norm (for staying at one job). There’s more competition now and the opportunities are fewer. The higher up the ladder you are, the more scarce the jobs.” Mississauga resident Jack Sloggett joined HAPPEN in 1998 when he lost his full-time job in the building materials industry.

“I attended a meeting and was impressed by the focus and motivation,” he said. “Coming here keeps you on track and it gives you excellent networking opportunities.
“It opens up a whole new world and you get involved in different industries. It can also be a lot of fun.”

Rather than feeling dejected and unsure of the future, Sloggett got advice, encouragement – and most importantly – job leads. Today, he runs his own consulting firm, Performance Management Associates, and all his work is contract.
Sloggett helps companies cut costs and boost profit. Most recently, he helped an oil and gas company add $5 million to its bottom line.

HAPPEN was founded in 1991. Through its website, www.happen.ca, professionals can find links to employment opportunities like internal job postings and post their own member profiles that can be viewed by thousands of employers. They can also avail themselves of numerous resource documents.

HAPPEN’s executive director Robin Wright says professionals usually obtain employment within 20 weeks of joining the organization, thanks to its strong networking capabilities. “More than 80 per cent of new positions originate in the hidden job market, found through networking and referrals,” he noted.
“People have to be proactive and aggressive in managing your career,” added Geraghty. “That’s our job. To help you come to grips with that new reality.”