How to Find a Career that You Love

We all know that the secret to career happiness lies in finding a job that you love.  The problem is that if you don’t know what you want to do, it’s hard to know where to start.  Here are some tips that will help you find a career that will allow you to make a living and be happy doing it.

Identify your skills and values.  What are you good at?  What skills have you attained from other jobs, in your education, or through your hobbies and interests?  In what types of tasks do you tend to excel?  It will be easier for you to succeed if you pursue a job that is consistent with your natural aptitudes.  You also need to consider your values.  What is important to you when choosing a career?  Do you value work-life balance? A high salary? A flexible working environment? Prestige? Opportunities for advancement?  Opportunities to make a contribution to the community? Once you are clear about your values, it is easier for you to determine whether or not a particular job would be a good fit for you.

Follow your interests.  Forget about the money for a minute; what do you genuinely enjoy doing?  What do you find yourself doing when you have a little extra time?  When do you forget about everything else and become totally focused on the task at hand?  If you can find that in a career, you are definitely on the right track!

Find out what’s in demand.  No matter how skilled you are at a particular job, if there are no positions available, you will remain unemployed.  You need to pay attention to the labour market and identify careers that are in demand.  Check out labour market reports and see which industries and careers are expanding.  Ontario Job Futures is an excellent place to start. 

Consult your network.  Your network can be a valuable resource in your career planning process.  The people in your network know you and your skills, and they give you access to a variety of different industries and contacts.  Talk to people and ask them what careers might be a good fit for you.  They may introduce you to a career that you had never even considered.

The truth is that most people change careers several times in their working life.  Just because you start out in a particular career, doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with it.  However, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by putting some time and effort into career planning.  As Confucius said, “Find a job that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!”  Good luck!

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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What to Do if You Have Been Fired

The day that you’ve always feared has arrived; you were fired from your job.  So what now?  How can you possibly move on from this devastating blow?  Here are some tips that will help you recover from this difficult situation:

Talk to Someone.  Being let go from a job is one of the most challenging situations that you will face in your career.  It shakes your confidence and leaves you wondering how you will manage to pay your bills.  It is not healthy for you to bottle up these feelings.  Find someone with whom you feel comfortable expressing yourself.  When you are given the opportunity to vent, it is much easier to move on.

Reflect on Your Skills and Interests.  There’s no doubt about it; being fired is awful.  However, this difficult situation gives you the opportunity to make a fresh start.  Did you enjoy your last job, or is there something else that you would rather be doing?  Might it be time for a career change?  Evaluate your skills, make a list of your interests, take an aptitude test, or make an appointment with a career counsellor.  Learn about the options that are available to you and try to find a career that you will love.

Don’t Be Negative.  When you have been fired, there is plenty of blame to go around.  You can blame your manager for being unreasonable, your coworkers for not being supportive, and yourself for losing your job.  The problem is that these negative thought patterns will drag you down.  Try to let go of the anger that you feel towards your employer and stop beating yourself up; you are going to need all of that energy to get yourself back on track.

Analyze the Situation.  After a few weeks (when it’s not so fresh) sit down and try to determine what went wrong.  Was it a personality conflict?  Was the job unsuited to your skills?  Did you make a mistake?  It is important that you have an understanding of exactly why you lost your job so that you can prevent it from happening again.

The harsh reality is that most of us will lose a job at some point in our career.  The key to your success is in how you bounce back from it.  If you view it as a learning experience and use it to motivate yourself to reach your career goals, you will eventually see this setback as just another bump in the road.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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When is it Time to Move On?

You have a steady job, and while you know that you should be grateful, you can’t shake the nagging feeling that it’s time to make a change.  While employers do value candidates with a steady work history, it is also important that your career continues to grow.  Here are some indications that it might be time to look for a new opportunity:

You have no enthusiasm for your work.  Your job has become a chore.  You dread going in to work and you count the minutes until you can go home.  If you ever had any passion for this job, it’s long gone.

You aren’t performing well.  You rarely receive positive feedback and find it impossible to achieve the performance objectives for your position.  While this could be an indication that you need to work harder, if you are honestly doing your best, then you might want to try to find a position that is better suited to your skills.

You have a feeling that your job might disappear.  In this economy, nobody’s job is secure.  You never know when a position might be cut or when a company might go bankrupt.  You need to pay attention to what is happening at your workplace and within your industry.  If you get the feeling that your job is not secure, then it’s a good idea for you to start looking for other opportunities.

There is something else you would rather be doing.  Your job and your interests are two completely different things.  While you enjoy your job, your passion lies elsewhere.  You would love to turn it into a career, but for now it’s just for the weekends.

Sometimes it can be hard to let go of a job (even one that is not fulfilling) but consider what it is costing you.  Life is far too short to be wasting it by staring at a clock, waiting for the end of the day.  Get out there and find a job that inspires you!

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

Why You Should Give Job Fairs Another Chance

Many job seekers believe that online applications have rendered job fairs obsolete.  They’re wrong.  Job fairs are an excellent opportunity to network, do research, and connect with potential employers.  Since most job seekers have given up on job fairs, you face less competition there than you would on an online job site.  The key is to conduct yourself professionally, to be strategic, and not to expect too much.  Here are some of the ways that job fairs can be a valuable tool in your job search strategy:

 

Make an impression in person.  Job fairs provide the rare opportunity to make a personal connection with employers, which can put you miles ahead of your competition.  Dress to impress and do some research on the companies that will be attending.  With a little preparation, it is easy to stand out from the crowd.

Get valuable information.  When you’re connecting with people, you never know when you’ll get a useful piece of information.  You could get a valuable tip about the online application at a particular company, or you may even learn about a job lead.  Keep your eyes and ears open and an opportunity might find you.

Discover new possibilities.  When you look for a job online, you are basically just searching for stuff you know.  You look at your target companies and search for your target positions.  But what about all the opportunities that you’ve never considered?  Job fairs expose you to new possibilities and allow you to expand your horizons.  You just need to keep an open mind and be willing to try something new.

Meet other job seekers.  We’ve all heard about the value of networking, but many of us fall into the trap of assuming that we should just network with employers.  However, the truth is that a connection with another job seeker can be just as or even more valuable.  Other job seekers can tell you about job leads, connect you to their network, and support you through the ups and downs of the job search process.  Nobody can understand the challenges you are facing as much as someone who’s going through it too.

Like so many other things in life, job fairs are what you make it.  If you take the time to prepare, dress professionally and work hard to build connections, you can get valuable leads.  The savvy job seeker knows that no job search tool is obsolete; you just have to figure out how to use it strategically.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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Jobs for High School Graduates

You just graduated from high school and you need a job, but you don’t have any experience. While their number is shrinking, you can still find high paying jobs that don’t require a degree or work experience. The advertisements may state that previous experience is required, but if you present yourself as a serious candidate, you will probably be considered for the position.  Here are some jobs to check out:

Delivery Driver: National, regional, and local companies all need drivers and you can get hired as long as you have a clean driver’s abstract. You will need your Commercial Driver`s License, Class D. These jobs usually offer a lot of scheduling flexibility. Starting with a company as a driver could open up opportunities to work towards a higher-paying position.

Security Guards:  Security guards do a lot more than just evict disruptive teenagers from the local mall. You could work at an airport, museum, government office or as a secure cash transporter. To be considered for this job, you must hold a valid security license, be 18 years of age or older, be eligible to work in Canada, have a clean criminal record, and have taken the security guard basic training course (40 Hours)

School Bus Driver: You must have a lot of patience and nerves of steel if you want to drive children to and from school each day. Requirements are a clean driving record and a recent police check. Drivers work twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon and get the same days off as the students. You don’t need a lot of previous experience and the job can come with a decent salary and maybe even benefits. You will also need your Commercial Driver`s License Class B.

Entry Level Oilfield Worker: Careers in the oil industry are readily available in parts of the country. A high school diploma is usually all that is required for entry-level positions . Any training that you need is provided by the oil companies. Workers have the opportunity to work outdoors, usually for decent pay and benefits.

Garbage Collector: You will need to get up early to start your work day, but you also get most holidays off. You have to be physically fit and capable of lifting heavy items.  This job requires a Commercial Driver`s License Class DZ in order to drive the garbage truck.

Cable TV Installer: You can make good money as a cable TV and Internet installer. On-the-job training is provided so the only requirements are good people skills and the ability to communicate with the public.

18-Wheel Truck Driver:  In this job you will spend a lot of time on the road away from your family However, being a truck driver can be interesting and exciting. These jobs offer good pay, and little or no previous experience is required. You have to be trained and licensed to drive big trucks, which means you will need your Commercial Driver`s License Class AZ . Background checks may also be required.

Human Resources Assistant: These assistants are usually in charge of all the company`s personnel files and help the human resources manager in other activities such as hiring, orientation, and training. You may only need a high school diploma for this position. However, you will have a better chance of getting the job with customer service experience and Microsoft Office skills. There are often opportunities for advancement in this field. Many assistants who get additional training and education go on to become managers.

RCMP Officer:  Lots of children aspire to a career in policing. While this job can be rewarding, it can also be hard on families and relationships.  RCMP officers are paid well and receive good benefits.  The requirements are that you: are a Canadian citizen; are at least 18 years of age when you apply; demonstrate good character; have a high school diploma or are able to pass an equivalent assessment; pass a medical examination and are physically fit.

This is a tough job market. It takes a lot of searching to find the right job. Those without a formal education or with little or no employment history can find it especially difficult. There are still jobs out there; you just have to find them.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by:  David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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How to Annoy Employers With Your Cover Letter

The cover letter is one of the most underused job search tools.  When used effectively, your cover letter can show the employer the person behind the resume, explain gaps or other problems, make a connection between your skills and the requirements of the position and convey passion for the job.  Unfortunately, most job seekers do the absolute minimum when constructing their cover letters.  Some cover letters are so bad, that they can actually damage your chances of getting the job.  Here are some ways that you can annoy potential employers with your cover letter.  Make sure that you avoid them:

Don’t send one.  Even the strongest resume is ineffective on its own.  You always need to send a cover letter.  Your cover letter introduces your resume and helps the employer put it in context.  Also, employers will often review cover letters to see if they can get any hints as to what you are like as a person.

Don’t proofread it.  Sending a cover letter with spelling or grammatical errors is the height of sloppiness.  It makes you look lazy and incompetent.   

Don’t customize it for each position.  Are you sending the same cover letter to twenty-five different employers?  Do you think that you’re getting away with it.  You’re not.  When you don’t customize your cover letter, you end up including details that are irrelevant to the employer and you may miss points that are important.  You lose the opportunity to show the employer how you are uniquely skilled for their particular position.  Most employers will give mass cover letters the attention that they deserve.

Make it really long.  Nobody has the time or the inclination to read rambling cover letters.  Keep them brief, (three paragraphs max.) and provide a quick outline of your skills as they relate to the job.

Don’t follow the employer’s directions.  Employers find it incredibly aggravating when applicants fail to follow simple instructions.  Pay attention to what is written in the job advertisement and always apply according to the employer’s specifications.

Since employers are always looking for ways to screen through the hundreds of resumes that they receive for each available position, you never want to be the annoying applicant.  When you are looking for a job, it is always a good idea to consider everything that you do from the employer’s perspective.  If you were the manager, would you hire yourself?

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

When Money is Not Enough

When selecting a job to target, many job seekers fall into the trap of becoming too focused on salary.  Try not to do this.  When you put too much of an emphasis on salary, you run the risk of overlooking other rewards that may be equally, or even more important to you.  Here are some other factors to consider when choosing which jobs to target.

Extended health, dental and vision benefits:  These plans can be pricey when you need to purchase them on your own.  Research how much they would cost and you can calculate exactly how much a benefits plan is adding to your salary.

Learning Opportunities:  Training opportunities can help you broaden your knowledge base, and can also strengthen your profile.

Networking Opportunities:  Some positions give you ample opportunity to make contacts with other professionals in your field.  These connections can be valuable to you in the future.

Vacation/Personal Days:  Some organizations provide their employees with additional days off.  If you value a work/life balance, this benefit could be important to you.

Opportunities for Advancement:  Sometimes it is beneficial to consider accepting a lower level position at a company with the hope of advancing to a higher position at a later date.  This could be a good strategy if it is a company with a strong reputation and significant upward mobility.  Most companies prefer promoting from within over hiring an external candidate.

Flexibility:  Some companies are more flexible with their employees than others.  This flexibility could mean that you have a choice over the hours that you work, or that you are able to work from home.  Depending on your lifestyle, having a flexible employer may be important to you.

Corporate Culture:  What are the values of the organization?  Do they value creativity and innovation or do they value social responsibility?  Finding an organization whose corporate culture is synonomous with your own values will allow you to work in an environment that is more comfortable and fulfilling for you.

Location:  From the outset, you may feel that location is not important to you, but you will likely feel differently after a few days of commuting.  Take into account how long and how difficult the commute will be.  Many people have a daily commute of three to four hours, but consider how it will impact your quality of life before making that type of committment.

Other Perks:  Many organizations offer different types of perks that may be attractive to you.  These perks could include benefits such as: free or subsidized lunches, access to a gym, TTC passes, or discounts.

Fulfillment:  Some jobs will provide you with intrinsic rewards.  It may give you the opportunity to create something new, or you could have the satisfaction of knowing that your work is helping somebody.  Sometimes the feeling of serving a higher purpose outweighs all other rewards.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo From: dream designs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)