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.  

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.

Example of Career Change as a Journey with a Clear Destination in Mind

As we get older, making a career change is more challenging for many reasons:

– we’re locked into a job that gives us economic security that we don’t want to risk;

– our identity is invested in our job—especially in the way that our family (you’re the breadwinner) and friends (you’re like me) view us—so there is little support for a major change;

– we might’ve tried a change previously and it didn’t work so we’ve lost confidence and don’t really believe we can make a change;

– we don’t have the desire or the energy to face adversity, it’s just easier to coast along with the devil we know;

– we don’t know where to start so we don’t do anything except daydream (news reports consistently tell us about 70% of workers fantasize daily about changing their job).

Whatever the challenge, there is a simple antidote that I have seen work everytime over the past 25 years–take one action towards what you want.

Did that action move you closer to your goal? 

If so, take another action.  If not, identify what was learned from that experience…then take a different action.   Baby steps!  We crawl, we pull ourselves up, we take a step or two, we walk, we run.  That’s life.  Same thing goes for career change.

For example.  A local client visited me 10 years feeling “stuck” in her government job.  She was thinking about going to law school.  After exploring the pros & cons of such a commitment for a young family, she decided against it.

Last year she returned.  She now had 18 years employment as a public servant but still desired a career change.  She had an idea in mind for developing her own business.  We discussed some options and developed a plan with specific action steps.

Action Steps

She took the first action of seeking advice from her network to evaluate the demand for the service she wanted to offer.  Her network was very encouraging.  At the same time, we reviewed all the legal and logistical requirements for starting a business in Ontario and established a timeframe.  She approached several contacts in her network to solicit them as initial clients…but they turned her down!  This took some of the wind out of her sails.

In the meantime, she found it difficult to choose between solopreneurship and registering as a corporation and received conflicting advice from lawyers, accountants and other professionals.

I encouraged her to continue prospecting with her targeted client base; in short, when faced with adversity, swim with your kind of fish.  She attended professional networking groups for business women, some of whom took her under their wing.  She started to feel supported in very practical ways.  She decided not to incorporate, then launched her business and immediately got referrals, new clients and projects.

Her side hustle keeps her busy outside of a 9-5 government job providing grant writing and social media management to clients. She says, “I couldn’t be happier!”

Next Step

We can now plan the next step to build her business to the point that she can go full-time by moving from solopreneur to employer.

Ten years ago this client had one idea that did not pan out…but her desire for a new venture was strong.  In the past year, she took her idea through baby steps to walking and is now preparing to run!

Career change is a journey with a clear destination in mind.  How fast you travel is not the issue.  The point is to enjoy the journey in the one life we get.

Real Job Security is knowing your Motivational Pattern

From our childhood to our current career, we tend to gravitate towards activities and projects that require our natural strengths. Why? Simple—we get pleasure from using our talents in situations that motivate us.

The problem is we do some things so naturally and effortlessly, we think, “Doesn’t everybody do it this way?” No, they don’t. You have a knack for achieving certain results using certain talents because that’s what energizes you—and you make it look easy. Other people might be able to do the same thing due to training or experience but it’s grunt work for them.

    What energizes you?

For example, some individuals get energized by having an impact on the physical world. If there is a piece of equipment, or machinery, or a vehicle, or a household appliance that breaks down or is performing poorly, they repair it, or restore it to its original state. You can tell it energizes them because you can hear them humming, or whistling or singing, or just bouncing around happily as they do what comes naturally and easily to them.

If this talent is caught early in life and channeled into a particular vocation then recognized and rewarded by an employer, they might even end up with a long and happy career as an aircraft mechanic with an airline, or a pipe-fitter in a refinery, or a mechanic in the military, or a maintenance worker for public transit, or one of hundreds of jobs available from hundreds of different employers.

Even if they lose one job, they can quickly adapt or retrain for something similar in another sector because equipment, machinery, and vehicles will always wear out, or break down, or need replacing and require individuals who have a knack for impacting such physical objects with their natural talents and learned skills.

The same is true if you like to have an impact on people, or like to control how, when and where a project or plan will proceed. Or, if you are energized by pursuing and reaching a goal or a target. Or, if you get juiced by engaging in a process of discovering, developing or expressing.

    Motivation matches right work

Each general human inclination can be narrowed down to reveal your particular motivational pattern, and that pattern can be matched to dozens of specific jobs in specific work settings.

This is true job security. When you take the time to understand your motivational pattern then you don’t have to worry if you lose a job because you will already know what other sectors of the economy will recognize and reward you for what comes easily to you.

Don’t let our volatile economy catch you by surprise. Get a JobJoy career assessment done today so that you can do some long-term planning for real job security.

You already have in your hands the right tools to repair and grow your career. Put them to work in your favour.

Is time running out on job security?

As we come to the end of 2017, it is customary to reflect on the past year and forecast the year ahead. What strikes me are two opposing trends that deserve attention.

1. Totality of work. There is increasing evidence that work today governs our everyday conduct in much the same way that religion guided the lives of medieval people during the middle Ages. From the time we awake until we sleep (and even during sleep) our clock is organized around our work obligations—from rushing kids to day-care, to running errands during work breaks, to buying a fast food family dinner on the commute home, to bringing work home, to checking work emails 24/7, to applying sleep aids that mitigate the effects of anxiety, worry and burnout associated with our waking work lives. In many respects, work is not only at the centre of our culture; it is the totality of life! Work is no longer a means to an end but an end in itself.

2. The replacement of good paying jobs by AI, automation, and robots. We all know that manufacturing has been hit hardest by this tsunami of technological change. But millions of jobs are going to be lost soon in other sectors, including finance, law, medicine, education, as well as blue collar jobs like transport drivers, retail clerks, warehouse workers, crop pickers, cleaning staff, and so on. The government mantra for economic growth “Jobs! jobs! jobs!” is moving quickly beyond their ability to deliver job stability for the majority of citizens. In the meantime, the gap between the ultra rich and the rest of us grows ever wider.

These two trends go to the heart of who we are as individuals and as a society. Since the Industrial Revolution, our sense of self-worth comes primarily from our jobs. In short, we are socially worthless without a job. We are what we do; you are your job. It is the link between work and wages that defines us. In this cultural context, net-worth becomes the key determinant of self-worth. We conform and submit our lives to this social norm as the ‘right’ way to live in order to achieve home ownership through job stability and financial security.

Prediction

What I see happening over the next year or so is a broader public conversation about the future of work. Some of you have heard of Universal Basic Income trials backed by some governments and high tech entrepreneurs. This is just one example of people re-conceptualizing the link between work and wages. The notion that “any work is good work” now seems out-moded.

In 2018, I predict we will see increasing pressure on leaders to alter their habits of mind and think beyond “a job for life” as the purpose of existence. This will create a lot of tension, even conflict, in society because the totality of work is so embedded in our way of doing things that the prospect of change will be frightening for many and challenging for all.

If we want our leaders to boldly imagine an alternative future, then we need to prepare ourselves to do the same. Here at JobJoy, we are in the change business. Everyday we help individuals change their jobs or careers.

Change is inevitable! All the more reason to enjoy periods of stability, peace and comfort as they occur. I hope your holiday season is full of them and may good health and prosperity fill you throughout the coming year!

Storytelling is key to career change

As a career counsellor in private practice for the past 25 years, thousands of individuals have confided in me about their motivations for working. For most of us, it boils down to this: we work because we have to, simple as that, in order to pay our bills and provide for our loved ones.

Until now, most of us have had no real reason to question a way of life that is organized in its most simplistic form around our potential to get a good education, secure a stable job, purchase a house, grow a family, and follow a life script of working and buying as a reward for what we do. This is The American/Canadian Dream—‘work hard, play by the rules, get ahead.’

Except that getting ahead is getting much more difficult (even impossible) for many of us due to various social, economic and technological forces. For some, the link between work and wages amounts to ‘wage slavery’ if the work is dull, dirty or dangerous…while others feel stuck in jobs with ‘golden handcuffs,’ because the wages and benefits are too good to give up no matter how much they dislike the actual work.

Even for those who like their work, we must acknowledge that depression—often caused by work-related stress and burnout—is now the #1 disability in North America, costing billions in productivity losses, billions more in social welfare, while eroding family security.

Adding fuel to that fire, we find wages stagnate while housing costs soar and inequality between the very rich and the rest of us increases dramatically. We lose our job security when companies move their operations to cheaper labour markets. Robots are replacing unionized factory jobs. Automation is replacing white-collar jobs. If you doubt it, subscribe to Undone free weekly online mag to track these trends & issues.

All this is now business as usual. And we accept this entirely, well…because we have to.

Really? Do we, as individuals, have to accept this state of affairs as rational and inevitable? Does winning at life mean we must accept this story of work with all its built in assumptions? One of the most effective ways that I know for stepping outside this employment trap is to write out your story and get it analysed for a pattern of meaning.

Storytelling opens up a space for challenging our current identity, for re-interpreting our life experiences in a way that opens up space for new career options. You can change your career, your job, and your life without losing money or status or health or whatever is near and dear to you. There is evidence to prove it. There is the example of thousands who have done it.

In short, your story is not fixed but fluid. You are not trapped but, instead, you have access to many opportunities that may be more rewarding and enriching than the one you have now. We make our story because we make our life. We have choices.

You can create and live a better story!

How to quickly switch sectors or industries

By choice, chance or job loss, many individuals move from one sector to another (e.g. public sector to non-profit), or from one industry to another, (e.g. construction to accounting).  Here are 5 ways to make your switch easier and faster:

1. Identify your target sector and some key organizations that represent the largest or best employers in that sector…then start talking to people in that sector and/or companies.  Find out as much as you can about the main levers that push and pull that sector through our economy.  Why does it exist? What do the key players do in it?  What are the main business models that allow them to operate successfully?  What are the key trends and issues in that sector?  Ask for advice, tips and tricks on breaking into your targeted sector.

2. Align your accomplishments, strengths and preferences with what you learn about that sector.   Think strategically about how to leverage your skills into that sector—which skills are transferrable?  Don’t forget about soft skills — like leadership, communication, and teamwork.  Then ask yourself the following question:  What do I want in this sector AND why?  Transition is not easy so you need to be motivated and determined to make the change to another sector.

3.  Step back from your emotions and look at your situation objectively.  In my experience, this is where individuals need the most help because they don’t feel confident about their chances—they focus on their inadequacies and fear of rejection, instead of focusing on transition as a project, like any other project that can be completed given the right strategies and tactics.  For example,  given your age, education, and experience, what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to achieving this goal in a reasonable timeframe?   What time, money, and energy from you is required to make the shift? For example, are you missing any hard skills or credentials for that sector?  If so, plan to acquire them through further education and budget the necessary time, energy and money for re-training.  Remember, you’ve already got lots of experience so find economical ways of building on what you already know and do.  Start with a few quick steps—what can you do now in the next 2 weeks to move this project forward?

4. Use your ‘goodwill’ network.  Most of the people you already know will not work in the sector that you are targeting.  But your current contacts—the people who like, trust, and respect you—are likely to have surprising connections across industries and will be more than happy to help you in your job search.  Make it easy for them to do so:  “Here’s the sector I’m targeting, here’s some leading organizations in that sector that I’d like to work for, and here are some job titles in that sector that seem to best match my combination of previous work experience and training.  Now, do you know anyone I can talk to?” Use professional social networks online, like LinkedIn to identify mutual connections and ask for warm introductions to the people who matter. Do the same offline by looking for venues where these kind of fish swim, such as local chapters of professional associations, and attend some meetings with the goal of asking Qs like those listed above in #1.

5. Communicate to others in a clear, concise and coherent manner.  Ask questions first, listen to answers, then be prepared to discuss how your background lends itself to success in your chosen sector.  Highlight previous achievements that give a picture of you in action solving challenges or issues relevant to this sector, so that others can see how your knowledge and skills are transferable to the needs and priorities in their organization.  This is how you build rapport with people, how you get introductions to hiring managers, and how to generate invitations to interview and, eventually, job offers! 

It’s not about you selling yourself…it’s about you tapping into the needs and priorities of decision-makers in your targeted sectors.

Individuals change sectors or industries all the time, so there’s no reason that you can’t do so too. 

How Big Trends Produce Big Career Changes

Robots are already building cars in the USA and delivering food in Japanese restaurants. Millions of low-skill manufacturing or service jobs are being replaced by robots that need far fewer workers to install, maintain and repair those robots. Driverless trucks and drones will do the same. Shared services like Uber and AirBnb are cutting deeply into traditional service jobs.

Knowledge workers are also vulnerable. Millions of IT jobs have been outsourced from North America to Asia. Social media destroyed the print newspaper industry. Robo-advisors guide clients through the steps of financial planning. During the next decade, high-skill routine jobs in hospitals, universities and law firms will also be automated, thereby eliminating thousands of professional positions. One British futurist predicts that children today will need to work until 100 at 40 different jobs!!!

Final outcomes are difficult to predict but changes are now occurring so quickly that our political and social leaders cannot respond adequately. For example, the cradle-to-grave job security that forms the foundation of our social order is crumbling before our eyes. Massive dislocation and disruption in the world of work is creating a ‘risk’ society throwing millions of individuals into precarious situations in terms of their ability to earn income.

We are moving from jobs that require a basic transaction between humans (think of how many times a day you perform a self-service task—at the gas station, bank, grocery store, cafeteria, online shopping—that once employed millions of workers) to an interactional economy. Think how hard it will be for robots to perform jobs that have a strong ‘emotional’ component, such as teachers, social workers, homecare assistants, palliative care nurses, and so on. These are just a few areas where people currently working in jobs vulnerable to social, economic and technological trends can start identifying future opportunities.

Helping individuals find re-employment quickly in the same field has been the focus of career services for decades, such as helping a laid off journalist become a Media Relations Specialist with a large corporation, a job change that involves “crossing the street” to work for an organization that was covered previously by the journalist as a newspaper reporter.

A career change, by contrast, is more difficult and involves moving from one career path to something completely different; for example, a journalist with a weekend knack for fixing things might need to transition to a full-time career as an independent home renovator. If current trends continue, this shift from job change to frequent career change may require a significant change in learning skills. Career change is a more complex skill to learn than job search…but an increasingly necessary one.

That is why the field of career guidance is turning to narrative approaches for career change, like the one that I’ve been using for almost 25 years. If a person’s previous job experience does not guarantee future employment, then we must look for clues in their life experience to find a better fit and help them make a complete career change involving a change of job title, employer and regular job duties.

My narrative approach to career assessment involves a written analysis of a client’s stories to identify and define very specific elements of a motivational pattern. Each person’s pattern is unique, not dependent on previous skills or work experience; and avoids occupation, education, age, race or gender bias. As the economy changes, the ‘pattern’ is flexible enough to adapt to a variety of career options. How this works and why was the subject of my recently published research paper, which includes reports of positive career changes by this study’s participants:

IT Systems Analyst to Pet Groomer; Electrical Engineer to Public School Teacher; Occupational Therapist in Mental Health to Medical Research Project Coordinator; Desktop Publisher to Certified Financial Planner; Software Tester to Senior Product Marketing Manager; Medical Laboratory Assistant to Library Clerk; Printed Circuit Board Designer to Musical Therapist; Lab Technician to IT Support Analyst; and Senior Telecom Product Manager in a private sector high-tech company to Senior Director, Global Operations in an NGO.

Results of this research show that life-story writing as a career intervention is often accompanied by positive changes, such as more income; more congruence between job duties and values; an increase in positive emotions and a decrease in negative emotions; more clarity and confidence in career decision-making.

Don’t just react to negative trends in the world of work, be pro-active now by mining your life story for gold!

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