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Jenn Harper, photographed at the Cheekbone Beauty office space in St. Catharines, Ont.Tara Walton

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Ten years ago, the idea of being the CEO of her own company wasn’t something even remotely on Jenn Harper’s radar. But several personal struggles and tragedies changed the path of her life and inspired her to found Cheekbone Beauty — Canada’s first Indigenous-owned and founded cosmetics company.

Now, the company has its products on shelves in stores across Canada. It didn’t come easy, though. From being rejected on Dragons’ Den to being initially turned down by Sephora, Jenn has had her fair share of rejection. In this episode, she talks about how Cheekbone was born out of grief, why inexperience can be an asset, and the struggles Indigenous entrepreneurs face in building and growing a business.

Hear Jenn Harper’s story on the Better For It podcast.

Applying for a job? Getting it may come down to your personality score, not your resume

Every year Scotiabank recruiters visit Canada’s colleges and universities to find candidates for more than 1,000 intern positions – and since 2021 they haven’t reviewed a single resume in the process.

Two and half years ago, the Canadian bank started using a talent assessment test from the Kitchener-Waterloo-based Plum in its intern hiring process, doing away with traditional resumes. The switch meant a noticeable increase in the quality of its hires, with a 6-per-cent rise in students who “exceeded expectations” on their evaluations (71 per cent) and a 12-per-cent spike in those who were identified as extremely strong candidates for future positions (80 per cent).

“We challenged our thinking around going from traditional resumes to moving toward psychometric assessments,” says Sloane Muldoon, senior vice-president of global HR services at Scotiabank. “What we found is that accuracy [of the test] was a very good predictor of success for the student.”

Read more about why personality assessments should come first in the hiring process.

Why I became a flight attendant in my 40s, and never looked back

“Diet Coke does something funny at 30,000 feet,” says Wan Lu. “Ask any flight attendant and they will tell you that this is their least favourite drink to pour. It bubbles, it fizzes. It takes an extremely long time to settle. Pop, sizzle, fizzzzzz. A request for a cup of Diet Coke, and heaven forbid, two cups from the same passenger, can elicit a subtle exchange of eye rolls between flight attendants. Please, just take the whole can.

“Pouring drinks while shooting through the air was never a career I envisioned myself in, but much to the chagrin of my family, and many in my inner circle, my part-time hobby job became a dream career.

“It was an odd career move for someone in their 40s. Why would I leave a stable and promising career as a registered dietitian, having gone through graduate school, only to hand out drinks in the sky while dealing with grumpy and stressed-out people? Why would I choose to work such irregular hours, much of it unpaid, suffer through jet lag and miss out on holidays and family events? ‘It must be a midlife crisis,’ I told myself.”

Read how Wan Lu found herself at 30,000 feet.

In case you missed it

Helping Black queer workers navigate a system that often fails them

When Samantha Peters decided to create Black Femme Legal, a workplace toolkit for Black queer workers, it was the realization of a dream for the newly minted lawyer.

“I always wanted to be a lawyer,” says Ms. Peters. “I am lucky that [growing up] I was surrounded by strong, fierce, Black women advocates in my family.”

Ms. Peters grew up in Toronto’s King Street East neighbourhood, influenced by the spirit of activism in her community. She says the idea to create a workplace toolkit for Black queer women, femmes and gender diverse people in Ontario that would include education, resources and referrals came about organically.

“Our story was borne out of an informal working group of queer women, femmes and gender diverse folks who had experienced anti-Black racism, harassment and discrimination in the workplace,” explains Ms. Peters.

Read the full article.

Visibility and mentorship key to advancement of young women of colour in finance and tech

“When you picture a CEO of a bank, what comes to mind?”

Nazia Shahrin poses this question when asked about the representation of women in the financial industry. Ms. Shahrin spent 15 years working in data management at Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and joined Amazon as senior product manager in January.

According to recent North American data from McKinsey and LeanIn.Org, the average person likely pictures a man as a bank CEO.

Women make up 53 per cent of entry-level workers in the banking industry, but less than one-third of SVP and C-suite employees. Even more telling, nearly one in four entry-level employees is a woman of colour, but that number falls to one in 20 at the C-suite level.

Meanwhile, in the Canadian tech industry, 13 per cent of executive teams are women, and only five per cent of tech companies have a female CEO, according to a report by PwC and #movethedial.

Leaders like Ms. Shahrin and Naki Osutei, a VP at TD bank, want to see those numbers grow, so they’re taking action by bringing their passions to work and mentoring others along the way.

Read the full article.

Ask Women and Work

Question: I have worked in the public sector for the first 10 years of my career, but I feel like I could do better in salary, job satisfaction and advancement opportunity in the private sector. I’ve been applying for jobs here and there, but it doesn’t seem like the companies I’m interested in are interested in my experience. How can I better position myself and demonstrate my potential?

We asked Diana YK Chan, executive career coach and personal branding strategist at My Marketability, to field this one:

First of all, it is totally possible to make a pivot or switch industries. But one of the common mistakes people make, and I see this with you, is starting to apply here and there, which means that you lack clarity, strategy and differentiation factors.

The first step you should take is to really reflect on what is it that you truly want. Reflect on your skills and experience, what truly differentiates you, to get a clear understanding of what value you bring to the table. Also, reflect on the ideal role you are targeting, what kind of industries and companies you are going after. That clarity piece is so important because that’s going to help you claim what is it that you truly want so that you can position yourself confidently and effectively.

The second step is to then do research. Take the time to thoroughly research your targeted new industry, the companies and the roles that you’re going after. This can be a combination of doing research online, talking to people, going through like people’s LinkedIn profiles to see how they made a successful career transition and really understand what it takes to be successful in this new role. Understand the core competencies and qualifications that are required. That intel will help you with repositioning successfully in this new space.

The third step is repositioning. You will need to reposition your brand on LinkedIn, in your resume, in your cover letter and your ‘elevator pitch.’ Essentially, you want to use the language that’s tailored to this targeted new role’s needs.

Most people make the mistake where they just update their resume and LinkedIn profile based on their own lived experience, but they’re not thinking about it from the hiring needs of the employers and what is it that they are looking for. My best advice is to really think about those common challenges or problems that need to be solved in this new role so that you can connect the dots of how your qualifications in terms of knowledge, skills and experience are relevant to this new area.

It’s all about positioning your content so that it is tailored to what your audience needs.

Submit your own questions to Ask Women and Work by e-mailing us at

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