Sunday, August 04, 2013

Stars in sci-fi plot of job hunt face battle with 'robots'

Image: Enlarged section from the Blogger template thumbnails.

THE image of a robot wielding power over people's lives would have fitted nicely in a sci-fi plot just a few decades ago. That most famous spaceship commander of the 1960s, Captain Kirk, could have asked a robot to pick his crew, and millions of jaws around the world would have missed a bite or two over TV dinners. However, the 'gee whiz' is now just an echo in the airwaves of time as computer programs provide management tools that society accepts with a shrug.
ONE program even finds errors and inconsistencies in a tax return – ha, ha – and millions of Australians are itching to download the latest version of e-tax from the ATO. Computer technology offers 'yes/no' options for users of so many applications it makes some old sci-fi writers look a tad short of imagination. The scenarios may be scary. Take, for example, the case of a job applicant who spends many hours sweating over the documenting of his/her working life, only to have a computer in effect trash the resume before it even goes under human eyes.
THAT seems to be fairly common as employers and recruitment specialists often use programs to identify key words and phrases in job applications to decide the best candidates. An operator defines the criteria for the program to comb the carefully crafted text, and if it fails to pass the test the writer may as well reach for a Newstart form and see how they go with that robot. But don't give up hope. Some highly experienced writers are available to help applicants jump such a 'techno-hurdle'. Antony Leibbrandt, of Thornlands, has run a resume service in Redland City for more than a decade. IN the mid-1990s, he and his wife Lauren brought their family from Johannesburg, South Africa, where they ran retail franchises. The couple soon opened a children's specialty shop, Only Kids, at Capalaba, and now own a company, Trellidor Queensland, marketing a wide range of security-related products. Antony makes the time to help jobseekers create professional resumes and advertises his firm, A Superior Resume, in our Classifieds, also offering selection criteria counselling, interview coaching and advice on the 'hidden job market'.
ANTONY acknowledges the development of computers in application screening for qualities such as "reliability", "enthusiasm", "ambition" and a host of other desirables but he says the perfectly tailored resume goes a lot deeper. "The key words and phrases may come down to a technical level and applicants can benefit from assistance in identifying them," he says. Antony says two golden rules apply in any job hunt – always be honest and remember that first impressions are important, so practise with a family or friend before an interview and dress well on the day.
This column has appeared in The Redland Times.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Community theatre sends out SOS: 'Support our songs'

Image of George Bernard Shaw courtesy of
The Daily Grime.

HE is lauded as one of the deepest 'thinkers' in world literature but even the great George Bernard Shaw might think again if he could experience the joy of some musical achievements in Redland City. The acerbic Shaw is credited with one of the sharpest barbs for aspiring musicians. He put it bluntly: "Hell is full of musical amateurs."

SHAW clearly didn't know up from down because music is always a heaven for someone, whether performer or listener. Just ask the many millions who express themselves in amateur theatre and the millions more who thoroughly enjoy hearing and watching. The applause says it all. Eat ya words, George. Amid this enormous groundswell of art from the heart you'll find people like Stephen Kay, not trying to mimic the famous achievers but studying the technicalities, creating original works and fostering others who are prepared to have a go. It's all about community, something an embittered old playwright like Shaw apparently didn't really understand.

STEPHEN is celebrating his 60th year in the Redlands. The son of a British airman turned Capalaba poultry farmer, Stephen had his first taste of the Australian rural lifestyle at Morayfield after his family migrated in 1948, via the US. His involvement in community theatre with music stems from his RAAF service as a young man in Victoria. He later worked as a company credit manager and teacher, and studied music theory to help him compose. Now 73, Stephen wrote the first of his four musicals when aged 21. Under the pseudonym of Oliver Thomas, he has also written two books of poetry, two short stories and a novel. His latest project has been to create a musical in the style of Rodgers and Hammerstein and establish a special 'repertory' group to perform it.

THE production of Mister Sunshine, including an impressive total of 18 original songs and a cast of 15, opened last weekend at the Cleveland CWA Hall. The plot centres on a retirement home where the arrival of a "special angel messenger" ends the boredom and gives a recipe for enjoying life. Now with first night jitters settled, Stephen's SOS Theatre Group is ready for two more shows, at Manly/Lota RSL Hall, Melville Terrace, Manly, at 7.30 tonight and 1.30pm tomorrow. Stephen says the acronym stands for Seniors on Stage and reflects his wish to "give seniors something to do, keep moving, keep their brains working and stave off the problems of ageing".

This column appeared in The Redland Times on May 31.