À l’échelle humaine: July 27, 2016

2016-2017 Issue 1

IMG_3981Thank you for joining me for a coffee date. In the last column, I promised pragmatic career advice delivered with a caring hug. I highlighted the value of non-linear career paths and how increasingly common they are, despite what you might think. I also committed to offering you a seven-step Career Roadmap to capitalize on the unique features of your story. Today we begin.

Step 1: Your Professional Profile To-Date

This step provides a starting point for framing your professional transition, whether you’re pursuing a new job opportunity, a career change, or post-immigration integration goals.

Please note that this professional profile is not as pithy and results-oriented as your elevator pitch, nor is it as detailed as a CV. Think of it instead as the answer to the question, “Tell me about yourself.” Here are three scenarios to put you in the right frame of mind:

  •   It’s 8:45 a.m. and you are sitting in the lobby of your dream employer, waiting to be called in for your interview. The door opens and a sharp-looking lady with a warm smile invites you in and introduces you to her coworkers. As everyone sits down, she says, “Thank you for coming in today! Can you please take a minute to introduce yourself?”
  •  It’s 11:00 a.m. and you have presented yourself to the registration counter of a CEGEP or University continuing education unit. Asked about your courses of interest, you show hesitation, so the friendly employee introduces you to their Academic Advisor. The latter, shaking your hand, says “Welcome! How can we help?”
  •  It’s 5:30 p.m. and you have just entered a 5 à 7 networking cocktail among professionals in your industry. The courteous gentleman on your left turns to you and with an inviting smile, says “So… what brings you here?”

Each of these three situations requires you to prepare a one-to-two minute overview of your professional background and objectives. All offer the opportunity to make a solid first impression and to establish a relationship with the potential to greatly benefit your career. So how do you put together an authentic, coherent answer?


This involves a bit of work – but not much, I promise! Begin by articulating the four following elements:

  1. Your Education & Certifications
  2. Your Experience: titles you’ve held, industries in which you’ve worked, and skills you particularly enjoyed applying
  3. Your Language Skills: offer an objective assessment of your proficiency level in French, English, as well as others.
  4. Your Broad Career Goals: examples may include
    • A career transition: to switch from a technical role to a management role (e.g. Civil Engineer to Project Manager)
    • An immigration/integration process: to establish your career in a new home (e.g. becoming a Human Resources professional in Quebec)
    • A mission or cause: to contribute to helping ex-athletes excel in a second career


Not all of these details will be included in the three scenarios presented above, but all are indispensable in moving on to the next step in the Career Roadmap. Summarizing your professional profile with this information offers you a clear and objective picture of where you stand today before we talk about the specifics of where you are heading tomorrow and how to get there. In other words, you are moving forward with a purpose. Until you know the places you have been before, the kind of trip you can afford, and at least a general idea of your destination, don’t purchase a ticket!

Step 1 is all about you. As you will see in our next article, Step 2 is the complete opposite. So let’s make sure you start out on solid ground and that your efforts are founded on clarity, confidence, and your unique fit. We start with you, then we look at what’s out there, and then we make the connection. Join me in two weeks for Step 2.

Connect with Maia and McGill’s School of Continuing Studies on LinkedIn.

This article was originally published in French in 24heures Montreal.


2 Responses to “À l’échelle humaine: July 27, 2016”
  1. Camilo Guzman says:

    Very useful!!
    I look forward to seeing the next articles.