Time to celebrate, time to plan

It’s the end of another calendar year and a new one is right around the corner. 

For the past 10 years, I’ve developed the habit reviewing my Daytimer (yes, I still prefer the paper version), starting day by day in last January and writing down all my accomplishments and activities that I most enjoyed right up to mid-December.

Why Plan

Human nature is such that we focus on the negative events in our lives.  For example, my mother passed away last June.  But, by reviewing, the good things that I achieved in my work and life for the past year puts her death in a more positive perspective for me.

When you break it down, life is such a gift, and I’m grateful to my mother for giving me a chance at a life brimming with wonderful experiences, both professional and personal.  Sure, we’re all going to die, but my annual review reminds me that there’s a lot of living to do before then. And, by living, I mean doing what I find to be important and satisfying.

That is why I usually spend some time early in the New Year to reflect on my annual list of enjoyable experiences and think about my priorities for the coming year.

What to Plan

For example, I just picked up a piece of paper and created columns with the following headings:  Social, Family/Household, Mental, Physical/Health, Financial, Professional, Spiritual.  I wrote Jan-June 2023 at the bottom of the paper.

During the next month, I will write down the things I plan to do in each of those categories for the first 6 months of the year. I plan to do SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) things.  I will write some actions in the Jan & Feb pages of my new Daytimer to move me closer to achieving those things.

When to Act

Every two months or so, I go back to my piece of paper to review my priorities and plans and ask myself: “Do I still really want to do that?”  If, yes, I take another action.  If not, I leave it for the time being.  Sometimes I add or delete certain activities.

What matters most to you in your professional and personal life?  Do you invest time and energy to achieve those things?

The Payoff

Having done this now for the past decade, I am delighted with how much I accomplish each year.  It is so easy to get caught up in the daily grind of life and forget about what really matters to us.  But the things that matter don’t happen by themselves; instead, they require our attention and action.

Plug them into your schedule and enjoy an annual review of your personal and professional achievements.  End each year in celebration…then plan for the next!

3 Tips for making a career change without a pay cut

The biggest fear most people express is their belief that a career change means a big pay cut and, therefore, a poorer lifestyle.  This belief is based on an assumption that a career change means starting over from scratch. Not so. 

Fear of pay cut is a feeling not a fact. 

The fact is that there are so many job opportunities in our current economy, up to 90,000 job titles and more being added each day with new and expanding industries.  Plus, there is a shortage of workers in most sectors.  Workers with skills and experience are in high demand, which means they are commanding higher salaries.  It’s important to investigate a career change target for facts. Then develop a plan to optimize your chances of achieving a career change that results in no pay cut.

Focus on assets not liabilities. 

Nobody is starting over.  There is no substitute for work or life experience.  In my 30 years as a career professional, I’ve found that most individuals underestimate their true market value, especially when it comes to the soft skills that they’ve acquired, such as problem-solving, creativity, adaptability, communication, and teamwork.  Many of them have also acquired other transferable skills, such as knowledge or experience in administration, management, marketing, accounting, training, or finance.  In most cases, any deficit they have in terms of subject matter expertise or technical skill can usually be overcome in relatively short order with on-the-job experience or a micro-credential because most career changers have learned how to learn, often quickly and easily. 

Get support. 

A career change requires a plan and support to execute that plan.  Career changers need encouragement and emotional support, especially from family and friends.  But they also benefit from professional help to guide them through the different stages of change: 

  • how to reposition and repackage their value proposition;
  • how to navigate the job market;
  • how to communicate their value proposition in an interview with a hiring manager;
  • and, how to negotiate a better compensation package.

Top 3 factors to a successful career change in midlife

In the last few years, even during the pandemic, I’ve helped a significant number of individuals make real career changes into a new field or into self-employment.  Based on this experience, here’s the top 3 reasons they did so:

1. Know where to look

There are lots of opportunities in today’s job market but only in specific sectors.  By doing a deep analysis of their transferable skills, we identified which sectors will recognize, reward, and motivate them.  We start with the sectors where there is high demand and high growth.

2. Know how to look

We position and package them for specific jobs in those sectors.  We master the online application process and identify a few very specific people to approach offline for leads and referrals.  Then we prep for interviews by developing compelling stories that demonstrate in very clear and concise terms how they can help these employers make money, save money, improve productivity, attain efficiencies, meet difficult deadlines—all the bottom-line stuff that adds value to an organization. 

3. Stick to it.

Most of these people had some financial security because, by a combination of their age and covid circumstances, the value of their assets (especially their house) had gone up a lot, so they did not feel desperate.  This allowed them to really focus on attaining the kind of work that energized them, work that gave them purpose or meaning, rather than settling on something just to pay bills.  They felt liberated, empowered!  This positive attitude enabled their job search.
In addition, they found it quicker and easier to acquire a new credential, or skill, or subject matter expertise with all the micro-credentials available online.  Succeeding with a credential boosted their confidence in interviews and helped them make their case for employment in a new field.  They could speak with authority and authenticity on how they would handle certain situations in a job. 

Conclusion

Making a successful career change in mid-life is really about understanding and communicating your past accomplishments at work and in life, and how they fit the needs and priorities of a potential employer.  By mid-life, you’ve succeeded in many things that support you to succeed in a career change!

Starting over is not starting from scratch

A local client came to me recently seeking a career transition after 23 years in the same job.  Like many others before her, she asked, “Is it even possible?”

In their minds or, to be more accurate, in their emotions, it feels like a career change means “starting over” from the point of departure 23 years ago when they started their career from scratch. 

No, a career change doesn’t mean you are starting from the beginning.  Having been in the world of work for 23 years, this client has many transferable skills and knowledge because there is no substitute for experience.

To transition to certain jobs that require a specific license to practice—such as medicine or law—then a career change might involve much more education. 

But for many individuals, including this client, there are dozens of jobs that match her work experience. I provided her a list of such jobs that she can easily transition to without further education.

And, today, there over 1500 micro-credentials that she can acquire in the space of a few weeks or months that will qualify her for dozens of other jobs that are in demand.

With just a little career exploration and a few hours of simple research or assessment exercises, most individuals can identify a handful of job targets.

Then it’s a question of hitting those targets with proven job search strategies and tactics. 

Remember, it only takes one employer to recognize your value in this very dynamic job market in which employers a desperate to meet with experienced candidates.

Some individuals prefer to go all in with a job search.  They quit their current job and dedicate themselves to finding a better job fit.

Others, like my recent client with 23 years’ experience, prefer to keep their current job while taking small steps to reposition themselves for jobs that they are targeting as a better fit.

Return To Work

A client in Calgary is looking to return to work after 12 years of childcare, eldercare and pandemic isolation. 

Like many individuals in her situation, she does not like the idea of jumping into job hunting after an extended absence.

In her case, we are undertaking an assessment of her natural talents and previous work and education to match with sectors of the economy where there is a high demand for new employees.

Then we will identify the micro-credential that she can acquire in the shortest time that she can leverage into a targeted sector where there is a significant shortage of workers.

This is the quickest way to re-enter the workforce—to acquire a technical skill that is in high demand by employers. Here is a link to the Massive Open Online Courses.

The great advantage for workers nowadays is that the preponderance of remote work expands options for individuals with a technical skill, especially a computer-related technical skill, because computer skills are now core skills required in traditional sectors—such as transportation, healthcare, manufacturing, education, public administration—as well as new sectors, such as IT, SaaS, cybersecurity, data science…so workers are not restricted to jobs only in their geographic area.  Instead, they can work remotely from anywhere in the country for employers located anywhere.

The key is to identify the sector and skill that best suits you for a return to work sooner rather than later.

If you would like to discuss your situation, please contact me. 

Hiring Trends for 2022

This year is shaping up as an excellent time for many workers to grab better job opportunities, secure better pay packages, ask for additional benefits and perks, and ride out this wave before it fizzles out.

If you’re going to look for a job in 2022, adjusting your actions with these trends in mind might give you a quicker and easier result:

1. Online job search is now dominated by Artificial Intelligence.  All recruiters and most companies now screen candidates into a competition with algorithms searching for keywords and other data on your application or resume.  This means it is not a human being but a machine that is deciding if you are worth time and effort to interview.  You may be a perfect candidate in terms of your experience and skills but if you don’t know how to get through the AI portals with a green light, then you will not make it to the next step.

2. There is an acute labour shortage in many sectors.  The pandemic has produced a lot of job churn in some organizations, e.g., when older workers take early retirement or get recruited into better jobs, or when younger workers leave for family reasons or to find better jobs.  This means that you can look for opportunities with your current employer, even a lateral move but ask for higher pay.  It also means that new graduates should target preferred employers and ask for higher pay and perks than they could expect previously in a tighter job market.

3. Negotiating higher salaries and benefits is becoming normal for workers with significant experience as employers are more willing to negotiate to retain talent and experience.  Perks and benefits have expanded to include not only health care but parenting leave, family planning, childcare support, and flexibility in terms of hybrid office/home employment.

4. Remote work has its pros and cons.  Some organizations are indeed offering competitive salaries to workers who live in different geographic locations than head office.  However, once this war for talent calms down, workers may find their employers reducing pay scales to level the pay gap between geographic locations or lower salaries in general by hiring more global talent working from developing countries.

Career professionals: whadda dey know?

The rate of people changing jobs has been growing month-to-month as the economy slowly recovers from its pandemic lows of 2021.

Information about work and skills is in high demand.  But a labour market study published during November 2021 shows that only 1 out of 5 adults (of about 15 million adults aged 25-64 in Canada) make use of career services to help with their career decisions.  The other 80% tend to rely on family and friends for career advice.  

Not surprising, since most career decisions are private matters, and most adults turn to people they trust for advice during different stages of their lives:

–       What to study while in high school.

–       What to do with a diploma or degree after graduating from college or university.

–       How to get out of the educated-but-under-employed rut.

–       How to deal with job loss or long-term unemployment.

–       How to advance in career once one is employed.

–       How to change jobs or careers without a major loss of income.

–       How to find a job as a newcomer to Canada.

–       How to retire but keep working.

As a career professional for 30 years, I’ve encountered all these situations and continue to do so as many of my past clients refer their family and friends to me ( thank you! ) to advise them on these important transitions.

Help is available

Studies also show that people who use career professionals to assist with these decisions have better outcomes more often than people who rely only on family and friends for advice.

I get it…it can be confusing to navigate the career services ecosystem to find what you need at any stage in your life because there exists a complex set of services—some provided by schools, some by government departments or third-party agencies (funded by government), or non-profit agencies, or private sector companies, or independent practitioners (like me).  The different career terms, supports and capacity used by these service providers adds to the confusion.

I am not the career professional suited for everyone.  It is important for me to know if or how I can best help you.  And to steer you in the right direction.  I need to earn your trust.

That is why I do my best to read these studies, to engage in continuous learning, to update my credentials, so that I can provide you with reliable and accurate guidance about work and skills in this country and elsewhere.  You deserve it!

Want a career change? See fastest growing jobs!

Here’s a list of the fastest growing jobs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  It shows their current average salary in USD plus their expected growth percentage by 2030.

 If you want to know the core job duties of these jobs, visit http://online.onetcenter.org/Type the job title into the search box in the right-hand corner of the page, and select the Tasks associated with that job.

How do you know if you’re suited for doing those tasks?  Whether you’ve got the talents or motivations to succeed in that career?  Read my answer below the list.

Fastest growing jobs

  • Wind turbine service technicians ($56,230): 68.2%
  • Nurse practitioners ($111,680): 52.2%
  • Solar photovoltaic installers ($46,470): 52.1%
  • Statisticians ($92,270): 35.4%
  • Physical therapist assistants ($59,770): 35.4%
  • Information security analysts ($103,590): 33.3%
  • Home health and personal care aides ($27,080): 32.6%
  • Medical and health services managers ($104,280): 32.5%
  • Data scientists ($98,230): 31.4%
  • Physician assistants ($115,390): 31%
  • Epidemiologists ($74,560): 29.6%
  • Logisticians ($76,270): 29.5%
  • Speech-language pathologists ($80,480): 28.7%
  • Animal trainers ($31,520): 28.5%
  • Computer numerically controlled tool programmers ($57,740): 27.4%
  • Genetic counselors ($85,700): 26.2%
  • Crematory operators ($28,420): 24.8%
  • Operations research analysts ($86,200): 24.6%
  • Actuaries ($111,030): 24.5%
  • Health specialties teachers, postsecondary ($99,090): 24.3%
  • Forest fire inspectors and specialists ($42,150): 23.9%
  • Interpreters and translators ($52,330): 23.7%
  • Athletic trainers ($49,860): 23.4%
  • Respiratory therapists ($62,810): 23%
  • Substance abuse, and mental health counselors ($47,660): 22.9%
  • Food prep workers ($27,080): 22.8%
  • Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary ($75,470): 22.4%
  • Woodworkers ($33,630): 22.2%
  • Phlebotomists, i.e. techs who perform blood tests ($36,320): 22.2%
  • Software developers and QA analysts ($110,140): 22.2%

If you’re going to make a career change, you want to be sure that it will work for you, provide you with some job satisfaction to keep you motivated to succeed, right?

Keep your job description aligned with what makes you happy and productive in the workplace, so that you operate 60 per cent of the time in a mode that comes naturally and effortlessly to you.

There is no such thing as a perfect job where you are 100% happy and satisfied all the time.  The world is just not organized that way!  The key to career success is to limit the downside of your job to 40% of your job duties.  That means that the remaining 60% of your job duties will be organized around your natural talents. 

This 60/40 split will energize you.  This is jobfit.  This is a key element of career success!

How to achieve jobfit

Sign on to my JOBJOY FOR LIFE™ Course.  You will identify and define your key success elements to ensure a jobfit.  Get the job that will energize and motivate you.  You can be recognized and rewarded for your natural strengths and motivations!  

Career change tip: Don’t make assumptions

According to many surveys, about half the working population is preparing to make a career change.  We read stories about exhausted nurses and teachers leaving their fields. Or service workers going back to school for IT diplomas. Or senior executives cashing out to sell real estate.

Many individuals change careers for good reasons. But just as many make decisions based on assumptions that could lead them down the wrong path. For example, a good many people have come to me with the intention of going into HR because they want to have direct contact with people and help them. That’s a noble motivation, right? Yes, but most HR duties are about managing processes not people.

Processes or people

HR is about using software and systems to effectively and efficiently deploy a specific resource in an organization—that resource is called talent, or human resources. When employees actually need help for a work-related problem, such as managing their stress or mental health, they are most often referred to a third party. If you want to work directly with people, then consider working in an employee assistance program run by a third party provider.

We need to substitute our assumptions with a reality check. Before committing to a career change, verify that your natural strengths and motivations align with its core duties and responsibilities.

Let’s use the HR scenario again. If by “helping others” you mean meeting with employees one-on-one to listen to their problem, then advising them on their options and helping them choose and appropriate course of action–then you may not enjoy sitting in front of a computer all day using PeopleSoft or some other software to review payroll complaints from workers spread across the country.

If what you really want to do is influence the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of individuals towards some positive change, then identify which “jobs” in HR actually perform that function. Also, check to see what other careers are organized around that core activity.

You can make a better decision about a career change and what you need to do to make it happen with the assistance of my JOBJOY FOR LIFE™ Course.  

Get it straight from the horse’s mouth!

How to determine if a job is a good fit for you.

If you want to know what another career field is all about, how it really works—then get it straight from the horse’s mouth. This old saying refers to the old practice of opening a horse’s mouth to check its teeth to help a buyer determine its health—whether or not it will be a reliable and dependable investment over time–and therefore it’s actual value.

Talking to workers who have been in a particular field for 5 years or more will often give you a true picture of that field. Try and find somebody who is doing a job you would love to do. Here are some questions, you can ask anybody who is doing a job you think you might enjoy:

_    How did you get into your field? Is that still a good way?

_    What are the major responsibilities of your position?

_    What is a typical workday or week like for you?

_    What do you like and dislike about your position?

_    What are the critical skills and personal characteristics needed in this kind of work?

_    What are some of the major problems or issues that someone in your position faces?

_    What are the prospects for someone entering your field today?

_    What are the career paths of this profession? With experience in this field where can a person move?

If you get into a discussion about your background, you can ask:-

_    Given my background, what do you think I need to do to become competitive for a job in this field?

_    Can you suggest anyone else I might talk to?

JOBJOY SMILE

HORSE PUNS

You’ll stirrup trouble!

Quit foaling around.

He has a colt following.

It’s pasture bedtime.

You sound a little hoarse.

I’m waiting for the mane event.

He’s my mane man!

To be or not to be…that is the equestrian.

Don’t look, I’m neigh-kid.

Job change or Career change–which is right for you?

The pandemic has caused many people to re-evaluate their life priorities and surveys indicate that many plan on changing their job this year, some for a better or different job and some for a whole new career.

In terms of deciding what to do, it may be helpful to understand the difference between a job change and a career change.

Career is derived from its Latin root meaning ‘wheeled vehicle,’ which lent itself to the modern notion of a single, linear, vocational direction (the metaphor equating to: ‘following a particular path’ or ‘climbing the corporate ladder’), as working permanently in, or committed to, a particular profession, such as a journalist, nurse, teacher, police officer, engineer, and so on.

Job change is not necessarily career change; some job change involves promotions, or demotions, with the same employer, or a lateral transfer using similar or related skills with a different employer in the same career field.

For example, social media has wiped out many daily newspapers and magazines, and some journalists who’ve lost their jobs have made a job change to a Communications/Media Relations Specialist with a large corporation, a government department or a nonprofit organization. Instead of reporting the news, they now work to “make” news by having their employer’s activities reported as news.

A career change, by contrast, is more difficult and involves moving from one career path to something completely different; for example, a journalist becoming a home renovator as an independent contractor.

Job change or career change—which is right for you? It will depend on your aspirations, preferences and circumstances. Your strengths and weaknesses will need to be factored into your decision. It may be important to do an objective evaluation of the pros and cons of each strategy for your situation.

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