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Get Your Career Story Out There – the Narrative Bio

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What’s your story?Many people stick to the traditional methods of marketing themselves using tools like resumes and cover letters. Don’t get me wrong, these are essential to conveying your value to potential employers, provided that they are well prepared and tailored to the needs of that organization. But there are other methods as well which include online strategies and social media – hmmm, a topic for a future article in 2017 (stay tuned!).

Today though, I’d like to introduce a simple document to add to your repertoire, starting with the Narrative Biography. This document captures your career story in a way that makes for an interesting read about the talents, passion, and experience that you bring in your field of employment. Daisy Wright of The Wright Career Solution recently released a book about the power of our stories and their relevance in the career transition process entitled “Tell Stories – Get Hired”. What better way to capture attention than to share yours in a compelling way as you warm up your intended audience.

A well written bio contains the following elements:

  • A captivating opening paragraph which not only portrays your background, but also conveys that you possess the competencies needed in your role, for your field.
  • Anecdotal stories about how you got started in your career and what attracted you to what you do today.
  • A summary of your proudest moments in life and career, relating examples of times where you have made a difference.
  • The credentials that you have earned during the course of your career and information that adds to your credibility as being the best at what you do.
  • Personal information about you, such as interests and hobbies, as well as the contributions that you make to the communities you are connected to.
  • A closing that evokes interest for your potential target to want to learn more about you and how you can help them to overcome the challenges that they face in their businesses.

We all have a story and sharing it effectively with people can open doors to opportunities that we may have not even considered. In fact, the exercise of drafting a Narrative Biography can be a great way to prepare for getting in front of live audiences to tell parts or your entire career story.

For career practitioners, having clients complete this exercise can be a great way to get them to tell us about what they have done in their careers that may seem trivial to them but are actually significant accomplishments and contributions to the work that they do.

A few years back, I was working with a Marine Biologist who shared a fascinating story about being on a vessel at sea as it was capsizing. In that moment, she needed to make life and death decisions at the snap of a finger. We had already been working together in her transition for several months when she told me this story and I immediately felt and saw how this was a story that a potential employer might identify as an illustration of someone with the ability to make decisions under pressure and with experience overcoming urgent challenges.

Here are some simple ways to utilize this document:

  • Upload it to your LinkedIn Profile (or other online sites) and reserve the Resume as your ace in the hole till you really need to apply for a position (giving you more time to make sure it is customized).
  • Have it ready when attending Networking events combined with a Business Card with the same look and feel that portrays a consistent brand and value proposition.
  • Include it as part of a mini-portfolio package when you arrive at interviews. Pick up a few inexpensive duo tangs, binders, or portfolio sleeves, and have all documents that you submitted in the application process on one side of the binder and new documents such as a Narrative Biography on the other.
  • Use it as a starting point to extract portions of your story that can be used on corporate websites and other organizational materials when needed.

Back in September, our blog suggested that going beyond the traditional marketing materials and going with a portfolio was a good way to knock on new doors. We’ll continue to share ideas like this as we enter the New Year.

Take some time this holiday season and consider expanding your repertoire of marketing materials. Think strategically as you develop your newest collateral and then be ready to put your plan into action. There’s nothing like a fresh start and if you’ve done your ground work, you can start to put a dent in getting through to people you need to persuade to meet you while helping to understand the expertise that you can offer to their business.

Happiest of New Years to one and all … may 2017 be one filled with health, prosperity, fulfillment, and happiness!

Wayne Pagani brings over 20 years’ experience in the career development field supporting people in their career transitions and navigating their way through the career / life paradigm. No matter what stage you’re at in your career, the experts at W.P. Consulting & Associates are here to help.


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Ready Sept – Go! And Go Portfolio!

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man holding career marketing portfolioSeems like just yesterday we were getting ready for summer vacation and the impending relaxation that comes with it. Yet here we are, already into September. If you’re in a career transition, are you ready?

Our May and June articles focused on ways to enhance your Résumé and Cover Letter in “Résumés Done – Now What?” and “We All Focus on the Résumé”. Today, I would like to explore what you can do to expand your career marketing tool kit and think strategically to position yourself more effectively and more successfully for your next opportunity.

Most people understand how to use a résumé and cover letter in a job search. However, there is much more to a successful job search than simply submitting a résumé and hoping you get the invite to an interview. If you haven’t already done so, get organized now so that you are approaching your transition strategically and consider expanding your Marketing Portfolio.

Here are a few ideas that you might consider to make your approach and your marketing arsenal a little more robust: Thank You Letters, Networking or Introductory Letters, Recruiter Letters, Biography, Key Initiatives, and a Comparison T-Chart, just to name a few. Be sure to brand these with the same look and feel, bolstered by a powerful Value Proposition that conveys a consistent message about the value you offer to a potential employer.

A branded business or info card can also go a long way to filling the gap while networking in a career transition to either complement your marketing materials or act as a standalone item. This can also eliminate the need to supply a résumé to everyone you come across, when likely if it is needed a customized résumé will be much more effective.

For more senior professionals, a Business Case may be in order, helping to reflect the industry-specific expertise that you have to offer with a future oriented perspective that will help a potential employer understand how you can help them to offset current or projected challenges. Then again, some of my clients have used this approach to prepare for a salary negotiation, featuring the return on investment that they might bring while gaining the highest level of salary available.

Having a compelling marketing package is enhanced by knowing how to use it effectively in conjunction with effective techniques to market yourself. Open this exercise about your marketing tools and answer the questions as it relates to several options for marketing materials if you’re thinking forward as to how to get a foot in the door to that next opportunity.

People typically perform best when they are better prepared, so think about what you need to include as you start “knocking on the doors” of your future employer. A well rounded Marketing Portfolio that is applied strategically can be a difference maker to achieve your objectives. Not sure where to start or how to go about it, feel free to drop us a message and we’ll set up a brief call to discuss your needs.

In the interim, stay tuned and our blog articles over the fall and winter months will be detailing ways to incorporate some the ideas from this article in your career transition marketing strategy.

In closing, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge our summer blog series for students and youth. This summer we featured a series of excellent articles to support students with summer employment and future career planning contributed by Jean-Philippe Michel of SparkPath … thank you, JP! Looking for career guidance and/or academic advice while planning your next steps, check out SparkPath.

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We all focus on the résumé …

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professional cover letter

Most people understand the importance of having a well written résumé that not only represents them authentically and accurately, but will be compelling enough to the hiring manager to win the interview. But what about the supporting cast? This month, we’ll start with the standard sidekick that accompanies the résumé, the Cover Letter.

What is a Cover Letter and what is its purpose?

There are diverse opinions about the necessity of a cover letter when applying for a position.

Rule of thumb: unless the job posting stipulates otherwise, include a cover letter. Although not every hiring manager will read the cover letter, a well-written cover letter that helps the reader understand more about the candidate and the enclosed résumé, will help to distinguish an application.

A cover letter provides a means for direct communication with the hiring manager or decision maker. It acts as an introduction, and provides a medium to deliver a sales pitch articulating the value that an employer will receive in exchange for services rendered. It can also be the vehicle to address potential issues.

When a candidate has a clear value proposition, this message must be consistently conveyed throughout their marketing documents.

The length of a cover letter is usually one-page. An exception might occur when the candidate includes a T-Chart or provides additional supplementary information that complements the other documents submitted. However, for the most part, the cover letter is most effective when it is short and to the point. The less the reader needs to review, the easier it will be for them to get what they need to make a decision and move on to the résumé.

Cover Letter Prep – Check List:

  • Conduct Market Research – list your findings about the industry / employer needs and challenges
  • Assess job postings or other material related to this role for that company
  • Ascertain what the employer preference might be about the inclusion of a cover letter
  • Utilize questionnaires and strategic planners to extract/gather information for your letter
  • Have a strategy – a clear plan about how to approach targeted industries and employers
  • Write strategically – identify ways that can help the feature items stand up off the page
  • Develop a Value Proposition – articulate how you offer what the employer seeks

Five Elements of an Effective Cover Letter:

1.  The Introduction or Opening

Write a unique introduction that is short yet compelling while capturing the necessary information required by the reader. Come up with something that is different from “as per your job posting on this date…” for example. In one sentence, describe what’s in it for the employer: benefits, value, bottom-line impact.

Tell the employer what you possess that they seek and why you are the right fit for this opportunity. In other words, why should they be interested in meeting with you for an interview?

2.  The Offer or Pitch

Back up your Value Proposition with the credentials and qualifications that qualify you as a candidate. The Pitch is a summary about what you bring in years of experience, areas of expertise, and skills. Essentially, this section establishes credibility.

3.  Supporting Qualifications such as Skills & Accomplishments

Provide examples of how you have used the skills and experience that you introduced in the previous paragraph. Especially make sure to include examples of how this is a “value add” based on past performance.  Possible skills to illustrate here might include: Leadership, Teamwork, Interpersonal and Communication skills as well as your ability to solve problems, just to name a few. But be sure to include clear results revealing the impact that you have had on the bottom-line or the mandate of the business.

Make sure that the examples relate to the position, employer, and/or field supporting what you said in the first two paragraphs. Design these statements in an ACTION + RESULT format.

You can give your example in a narrative format, using one or two relevant examples that help the reader understand how you’ve achieved what they’re looking for in the past. Or you might prepare a minimum of three accomplishment statements, no longer than two lines beginning with action verbs, to describe various competencies and results that they need for this position. Sample Cover Letters can be found on our Resources page.

4.  Your Add-Value

This is the uniqueness that you bring to the role; it’s what sets you apart from the other candidates. Your Added-Value can be a lot of different things, but you want to share that one redeeming quality that makes you the best at what you do. Maybe it’s the languages that you speak; it could be your natural talent for engaging people, or unique international experience. We all have added-value characteristics to offer to an employer, just be sure that what you include here is relevant to the role, industry, and organization.

5.  The Close and Call to Action

What is it about the company that has attracted you? Is the company a recognized industry leader, do they possess the values and culture that makes this a good fit, or are they on verge of massive growth that will require your sill set and experience? Whatever it is, it needs to be true and you need to be authentically interested in that aspect of the company. Then wrap up the cover letter with a request for an interview with the intent to follow up, so they expect the call.

Be sure to include a salutation and leave enough room for a signature on hard copies. Close by indicating what Enclosures, such as a Résumé, that you are including.

A well-written cover letter persuades the reader to pay special attention to the résumé. If possible, avoid the use of the words” “I and “my”, writing instead about the employer. However, do not omit these and make it difficult to read at the sake of expressing your story and value proposition to the company.

Always talk more about what you can do for the prospective employer than about what the employer can do for you. Most employers hire people because they need to fill a role related to functions essential to the business or to overcome certain problems and challenges. Centre the cover letter on the employer’s needs, not your wants.

Over the summer months, we are going to feature a series of articles from guest contributor JP Michel of SparkPath, who specializes in supporting youth to develop a career road map.

Have a safe and fun summer everyone!

Recommended Resource:

Best Canadian Cover Letters by Sharon Graham

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Résumé’s Done – Now What?

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Fund Raising-Career ChangeSo you’ve just wrapped up an exhausting draft of your resume and you’re ready to get it out there and start letting the world know just what you can do for your future employer. But wait …. will this document really let them know that? Also, how is your document going to stand out from the crowd when hundreds of candidates (or more) are submitting on the same posting?

Have you thought through how you will position yourself and develop a strategy that sets you apart? Or like many others, will you now take this generic document and send it out to every job posting you come across online that is even remotely similar to what you are looking for? Keep the following in mind as you move forward if you want to increase the odds of being recognized:

What is a résumé and what is its purpose?

A résumé is a marketing tool that is intended to capture the reader’s attention. When it is designed and written effectively it stimulates action – that leads to an invitation for an interview.

Although the objective here is to land the interview, the first mission of any résumé is to make it to the second round of readings where the employer can narrow the document down to identify candidates.

Remember that while the résumé is a marketing tool for the job seeker, it is a screening tool for the employer or recruiter. Just like an advertisement, the résumé needs to hook the interest of the reader. Résumés are initially scanned by the reader for about 30 seconds or less when they decide whether that résumé goes into the IN or the OUT pile.

So one might view this marketing process from a business perspective. Most of us are familiar with the 6 P’s of marketing – this is Marketing 101:

marketing 101

What value do you offer to the employer (or client)?

A well-developed marketing plan that includes a clear understanding of the consumers’ (employers’) needs and point of view will go a long way to drafting an effective marketing document such as a résumé. So here are some “do’s and don’ts”:

  • DO – Conduct Market Research – know the industry and employer needs as well as terminology
  • DO – Develop a Value Proposition – articulate how the candidate offers what the employer seeks
  • DO – Use keywords, include key words that reflect core strengths and competencies relevant to the role and industry
  • DO – Include accomplishment statements that contain clear results from actions taken; develop Situation, Action, Result (SAR) stories to create powerful SMART statements
  • DO – Ensure white space – make sure the document is reader friendly and avoid having significant information buried
  • DO – Tailor the documents – customize the content for every résumé, letter, and/or document
  • DON’T – Copy and paste information directly from websites or job postings into documents
  • DON’T – Use templates unless absolutely necessary – instead create a unique document that stands out
  • DON’T – Develop a résumé that only contains tasks or task-oriented statements with no results
  • DON’T – Send generic documents to various employers using the same résumé for different target companies and positions
  • DON’T – Forget to proofread the document(s) and ensure that there are no errors
  • DON’T – Overlook the fact that many employers today use Applicant Tracking Systems to screen applications

Have a strategy – a clear plan about how to approach targeted industries and employers. Complement your application activity with sound networking and relationship building activity and get behind the scenes to be known as a subject matter expert in your field.

As we said earlier, a résumé is a marketing tool, but it can only go so far. You need to be the driving force behind your job search and use the résumé effectively as one of many marketing tools at your disposal.

Next month, we’ll look at other documents that might make up that marketing portfolio and how to apply them in your strategy. Have a great month and remember the 6 P’s of Marketing as you navigate the landscape to your next opportunity.

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Are you networking or SPAMMING? There’s a difference ….

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spamWe are all seeing an increase in SPAM messaging online, on LinkedIn and other applications. Most of these are flagrantly done as a way to solicit sales. However, some are inadvertent, including people who are innocently but desperately job searching, which is how it comes across – desperate, when done ineffectively. Well meaning and no malice intended but just not aware of the message they are sending.

This past month, as many of us do, I received a blind invitation on LinkedIn to connect with someone who for all accounts appeared to be what I consider a good new contact based on his contacts who know me and his background which would suggest that he may be a potential prospect for business as well. At the very least, people will sometimes connect and then ask specific questions about how to more effectively conduct their career transition.

However, within less than 24 hours I received the following:

My name is —–  and I am looking for a position as (Title) job opportunity in the field of building construction. Please find attached my cover letter and resume for your kind consideration. Thank you in advance for your time and assistance.

Well, I had only just accepted his invitation in the last 24 hours at this point, knew nothing about him really other than what his LinkedIn Profile tells me. After replying to this individual, it prompted me to think about all the job seekers who engage in a similar fashion when networking to share the following which I suggest to consider as an alternative approach to using LinkedIn and networking with new contacts, online and offline.

  • Random messaging is not a very good approach to connecting with potential opportunities; in fact it will be frowned upon by many employers. It may even lead to people deleting you from their contact list on LinkedIn or reporting your message as Spam.
  • First, before sending a resume, research the firms that you plan to contact and customize your documents to meet their needs — once you are sure that they have a need for someone with your skills and experience. Make sure that they know why you are sending them your documents and even better that they anticipate receiving them. Possibly an introductory or networking letter would help in this regard. Then be sure to get a clear understanding of the best way to approach that firm and what the appropriate protocol might be to get you and your documents in front of a decision maker. Blindly asking for a job when you don’t even know what they need or asking someone you have just connected with to keep an eye out for you, will not get you the results you are seeking.
  • Second, if your intent is simply to ask your network to keep an eye out for opportunities that fit your background, then I suggest that you start by first building a relationship with them. LinkedIn is a great place to network and get to know people better. Then at some point, you might ask them for introductions to key contacts that can help in your search BUT only once they get to know you and what you have to offer.
  • Third, a more effective way to get noticed on LinkedIn and maintain a connection with potential target audiences is to first create a strong, keyword rich LinkedIn profile. This will help you get found in searches and queries by those seeking professionals like you. Then stay active on LinkedIn, post regular status updates, share information that illustrates you as a subject matter expert in your field, and participate in group discussions where people in your industry are gathered.
  • Last but not least, consider leveraging resources that are offered by LinkedIn for job seekers to help you use this application and maximize your efforts.

As I said in my reply to this individual, I share this with you because of the nature of my business where I help clients develop strong job search and career development strategies. In fact, had I been interested, I was not even able to open his resume because the Virus Scan blocked it.

SO if you are sending random messages through social media hoping that someone will find your next career opportunity for you, as comedian Bob Newhart would say: “STOP IT!” and use your time more effectively by not wasting other people’s time. Go about your networking and job search strategically but also respectfully. As a result you’ll receive the same in return and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many people actually want to help if you give them a chance to actually get to know you first.

Illustration courtesy of ddpavumba /

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LMI & You!

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 labour market informationFor those of you who have read past articles that I have written, you know that I strongly advocate for Labour Market Research as part of an effective Career Transition and ongoing Career Development strategy. “But WHY?” you might ask. Well, here are a few reasons and resources to consider as you ponder the next move in your career:

1) The Bubble Effect:

Most of us live in our own little bubbles when we are gainfully employed and busy following the routines that we have created along the way. For that reason, many of us never consider or even take the time to research the market in order to track trends, stay current, and most importantly keep abreast of where we might find a better fit (within or outside our current employer). Or for that matter, what our value might be in an open market.

2) Free Agency:

Free Agents in the world of sports don’t wait till they find themselves on the cusp of transition; they have representatives who start to reach out to other clubs in that particular sport to find out what their asking price might be in the market and who needs what they have to offer.

3) “Ro Ro”:

As that famous canine, Astro, from the Jetsons’ would say when trouble appeared on the horizon, this is typically when most of us give any thought to market research when career transition is either imposed on us or when we are at wit’s end and feel there is no alternative. For most though, it usually occurs when external factors push the envelope, as it’s been my experience that very few embrace the challenges that come with self-imposed change.  At this point, people scramble to try and figure out what their re-entry point into the market will be and how they might get there.

SO before that time comes, think about the following: Who’s hiring?  Who’s not?  What are the current and emerging growth industries?  What occupations will be in greatest demand? And ask yourself:

  1. What occupation(s) are you interested in?
  2. What is the job description of this occupation?
  3. What are the requirements for this occupation?
  4. What is the forecast for employment at this time? And in the next five to ten years?
  5. What is the salary range for this occupation? What are typical perks?
  6. What industries are you targeting? What are the most valued qualities sought by employers in the industry?
  7. What are the working and eco system conditions?
  8. What are the typical titles of this occupation?
  9. What else do you need to know to make an informed decision before moving forward?

Start researching the answers to these questions using these Canadian and U.S. resources.

Sitting tight is the easiest way to go — it’s comfortable and maybe you don’t need to make a change at all. But most of us can more easily navigate our way to the next level in our careers when we create a career road map that helps us to get there.

What are you doing to inform yourself about how to take your career to the next level? Or to be better prepared should the day come when there’s a “RoRo” scenario that forces you to start looking?

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Time for a change? Know, Know, Know!

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time for changeCareer transitions can be self-imposed, but more often than not they tend to be unexpected. Maybe you’re looking to make a change or you’ve just received the news that your position is being eliminated. Or maybe you’re a recent graduate about to enter the work force as you make the transition from academics to that first stop in your career. Whatever the circumstance, do you know where to start and do you know where you’re going? Have you figured out how you will navigate the career landscape?

Here are some simple steps to get you started:

1) Know yourself.

Take the time to assess yourself: your strengths, skills, interests, and values. Can you list the most significant accomplishments that you have attained to this point in your journey? Do you know what difference you want to make in the world?

The time you take to identify these areas will significantly impact the decisions you make moving forward with your current transition and future career development. Equipped with a better self-understanding allows you to brand yourself and share your WHY with the world. Doing so helps you to articulate your unique offering and allows others to understand why they want to do business with you and have you as part of their team.

2) Know where you want to go.

What’s important to you and what is the quality of life that you intend to create? What are the conditions that you want to engage in, either through employment or entrepreneurial scenarios? What are the possibilities?

If you’re the kind of person who goes shopping for anything from a car to your groceries without a clue as to what you’re looking for, then maybe this step won’t matter to you. But typically when you know what you want, you’re more likely to recognize it when it shows up. Creating clarity will pay you greater dividends in the long run.

3) Know the market.

Career Professionals of Canada has declared 2016 as the year of the Regional Labour Market. Do you know your market? What industries or sectors thrive in areas that you intend to approach? Who are the key players? Is your market local, regional, national, or international? For that matter, do you even know who needs what you have to offer?

When you understand the needs of your consumer, chances are greater that you can speak to that audience in terms of what they’re looking for, but to do that you need to know who they are and find out what they need. Then create a message to let them know how you can help them fulfill that need. We call these buying motivators — every consumer has them; you just need to figure out how to appeal to them.

“Find out what you like doing best, and get someone to pay you for it.” –  Katharine Whitehorn

I love this quote because it really brings home the essence of what I believe our careers should be. The marriage between what you love, what you excel at, and what others need, to make a lucrative and fulfilling living. So if you’re feeling a bit lost and not sure where to start …. or dissatisfied with your current career, before jumping from the frying pan into the fire, take the time to explore where you’re going next – you’re worth it!

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles /

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Recharge your career transition as you prepare for 2016

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2016The Year That Was

Well, 2015 is about to come to a close and as we prepare to celebrate the approach of the New Year, it might be time for some reflection on the past year. This can be the perfect time to set your sights on career goals and for those of you that are already entrenched in a career transition to recharge your search. Where are you in your career and in your life? Is it where you want to be? If not, then now is the time to start looking ahead and getting clear about what you want in 2016.

The Year Ahead – Gain Perspective

A career self-assessment is important regardless of where you are currently. It can contribute to developing a vision and career road map for the future as well as identify career options whether you plan to stay in the same field or transition to another. We tend to invest way more time in the process of purchasing a home or vehicle than we do in directing our careers, yet working in a fulfilling career can dramatically increase happiness, self-confidence, sense of accomplishment and purpose. Taking the time to assess this part of our lives just makes good sense..

If you have recently lost a job or are currently in transition, step back and take time to assess yourself and what you have accomplished in the past. For some, this period of transition is a crisis. The Chinese have two meanings for the word crisis. The first is danger and the second is opportunity. How you integrate this life-changing experience will also alter many aspects of the – what’s next for you. It will affect how you deliver the message to those close to you. It will determine how quickly you become proactive. Most importantly, it will determine the impact that it will have on your health and quality of your life.

Take Time to Reconnect

Connect with family and friends; the holidays and year-end provide us with tremendous opportunity to do so. They will be a source of support that cannot be found elsewhere. Reconnect with yourself too. Take time to reflect and, while doing so, consider how this might be used as an opportunity. How can this take your career and your life to even greater heights? Make a list about the things you most enjoyed that provided you with the greatest satisfaction in your most recent occupation. Do some research on what makes a career transition successful. Libraries and the Internet contain a wealth of resources. I recommend a book entitled “Learn to Bounce” – a compilation of personal stories from people who have been through job loss by Anita Caputo and Lee Wallace. This book offers insights and solutions from people and their personal experience who have regained their lives and their careers.

Know your Needs and Objectives … Know Yourself

Start by establishing your needs and objectives. Ask yourself the following questions, then form a system or partnership to design a strategy and lay down the groundwork to get there:

  • Do have a clear picture of what you need and what your objectives are?
  • Have you identified if there is still a demand in your previous work?
  • Were you truly satisfied with your previous occupation?
  • Do you want to transition into something new?
  • Would a Career Transition Assessment be of value to you?
  • Do you know where to market yourself?
  • Do you know the best point of re-entry if you are targeting a different industry or field?
  • Even if you know where the target is, do you know how to get there?
  • How are you going to effectively brand and market your value?
  • Would some form a professional support help to enhance the process?

A thorough assessment of your value and an understanding of the marketplace is essential. The current business climate may mean being more flexible, recognizing that the market is tighter and, as a result, may offer less opportunities aligned with your target. Do your homework. Evaluate what the market will bear and then identify your re-entry point supported by a focused plan to get there.

There a many excellent Career Transition and Development services available that can support you in this process. Research these services, conduct your due diligence, and match your needs with the level, quality, and expertise needed to meet your objectives.

By starting to take these necessary steps, you empower yourself and reduce stress related to your career transition. As you develop a game plan for 2016, you’ll begin to develop your confidence and turn your current situation into a career changing opportunity. Invest in yourself, your vocation, and your future. Before you know it, you’ll be exploring new opportunities and recharging your career.

Illustration courtesy of Anoop Krishnan /

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Careers & Life Style – do you know what you want?

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career decision makingMany job seekers that I meet are often so focused on just getting a J.O.B. (Justifiable Occupation or Business), that they’ve never really given thought to what it is they really want and the impact on the quality of life they intend to live.

Stephen Covey’s approach to setting goals was to proceed with the end in mind and that’s an approach that I like to take when starting with clients in their career transition. By gaining a better understanding of what their vision is for themselves and their families, we have clarity about the journey they are about to embark on. For some, this is the first time they’ve been asked to consider this as part of their career decision making process.

SO if you haven’t already done so, before you scramble to apply to anything that moves – likely on the Internet – do yourself a favour and take some time to evaluate what you really want. Think about the lifestyle you want, the conditions of employment, and the vision you have for where you’d like to be as you develop your career.

Be sure to decipher your wants from your needs as you create your own personalized vision. Here’s a short list with a few of the traditional items, to get you started:

Personal life / Life Style:

  • Values, Interests, and Priorities
  • Work-life balance
  • Health – Body, Mind, Spirit
  • Impact on the family
  • Access to services for family
  • Recreation and sport



Company Criteria:

  • Company Culture
  • Reputation
  • Size
  • Scope
  • Growth
  • Stability
  • Internal opportunity
  • Policies
  • Structure
  • Location
  • Unionized / Non-unionized
  • Other(s):


Employment Opportunity:

  • Compatibility with criteria and values
  • Compatibility with qualifications
  • Role
  • Level
  • Responsibilities
  • People
  • Work environment
  • Eco Systems
  • Flex hours
  • Remote / work from home
  • Challenges, issues
  • Training and development
  • Possibilities for advancement
  • Stepping stone to future opportunity
  • Travel
  • Other(s):



  • Salary
  • Bonus: %, fixed, discretionary
  • Vacation
  • Stock options
  • Retirement plan
  • Life insurance
  • Benefits
  • Medical, eye care, dental, others insurance
  • Disability: short and long-term
  • Profit-sharing
  • Reimbursement of education and development expenses
  • Car allowance, expense account
  • Cell phone, wireless equipment, computer, membership in a club/other services
  • Conditions/severance pay
  • Career Transition service
  • EAP and other programs
  • Restrictive/confidentiality clauses
  • Other(s):


Industry / Sector Specific:

  • Government / Private / Not-for Profit / Other
  • Current/potential condition
  • Industry associations
  • Industry perks
  • Projected trends for the future
  • Competition
  • Challenges
  • Restrictions


Likely there won’t be a 100% fit with your conditions and criteria, however, you will have a better understanding of how well the market can fulfill your wants and needs. By doing so, you also set yourself up to be able to make an informed decision when an offer does come, as you can more accurately assess in advance what you’re ready to give up and what you must have to make this a decision that you won’t regret.

Illustration courtesy of Renjith Krishnan /

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Summer’s Come and Gone – Now What?

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September is time to get back to your job search!As June arrived with the promise of a summer filled with sun and fun filled adventures, many job seekers may have put their job search in low gear. “Why not?” you thought, “it’s summer and we all know that no one hires in the summer, so why not take a break and come back to it in September?”

Well, for one thing September is a peak hiring period, but to be a candidate you already need to be in the pool. And what about the networking opportunities that summer provides? Nothing like outdoor networking meetings on a warm sunny day!

Now September has arrived and you’ve lost momentum. What to do?

All is not lost. Here are five tips to reignite your career transition:

1.   Organize Your Time

Chunk out where you’ll spend time each day. Create your own personal critical path with a plan. What activities will you engage in each day as you go back to the drawing board:

% Self-Assessments:
% Labour Market Research:
% Networking:
% Direct Application:
% Cold Calling:
% Information Interviews:
% Online & Social Media:
% Search Engines:
% Classifieds & Ads:
% Recruiters:
Other Activities to achieve objectives:

2.   Get Out – Get Active.

Don’t become chained to your computer. Think about and plan where you will spend your time each day:

Information Meeting / Interviews – start with people you know and build from there

Business Meetings – Chambers of Commerce host breakfast and lunches

Networking Groups – Meet Up and Event Brite can be good places to start

Employer Presentations – seek out places where potential employers are active

Career Fairs – with the end of summer more events will start taking place

Employment Centres – consult your local support services to find out how they can help

Job Search Clubs – many local libraries and other community services host these events

Personal Boards – connect with other job seekers and create your own triads or support system

Skill Development – participate in some form of skills development engaged with others

Volunteer – in your community, industry associations, or targeted businesses

3.   Market Research

Start looking for those organizations with a need that fits your value proposition.

Gain a better understanding of what employers want and need. What challenges are they dealing with that you can help resolve? Sometimes these can be issues faced by an entire industry, while others may be unique to that organization. Consider how your experience, talent, skills, and knowledge can help to address these problems.

4.   Develop a Targeted Job Search.

Create a targeted approach to your search by starting to track all (and I mean all) potential consumers of your services. Use all resources at your disposal from online sites, to industry associations and local business groups. Include business journals that cover the geographical area that you’re targeting. Keep track by developing a list of all the potentials (the list can exhaustive) in Excel or a database. Jibber Jobber can be an excellent tool to help you with your target list and with tracking all this activity.

5.   Keep Records

In addition to your tracking systems, pay attention and start to take note of what develops for you each day. What and who are showing up in your life? What are you learning about yourself, the job market, business needs, job search tricks and techniques, and most importantly your targeted employers? A daily journal or idea pad can be useful in this regard.

Find ways to stay motivated and connected to your job search every day. Starting over after a relaxing summer can be challenging, but once you find your rhythm you’ll be taking steps towards gaining the interview and eventually closing an offer. Don’t try going it alone; seek out ways to get regular support. Hiring a career coach that can help provide guidance, resources, and inspiration can be an excellent way to kick-start your transition. If you do, conduct your due diligence and interview three or more to make sure it’s a good fit and identify the one that meets your needs as you develop your strategy.

Summer may be over, but the reality is that other than seasonal employers, business never takes a holiday. You never know when or where your next opportunity might come from, so start now and be prepared to meet it when it shows up.

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