À l’échelle humaine: August 24, 2016

2016-2017 Issue 1

IMG_3981Welcome back to a fresh installment of our careers column, dedicated to providing you with practical knowledge and advice. In previous columns, I discussed the initial steps required to prepare for a professional transition; we’re now on Step 3 of the 7-Step Career Roadmap.

Step 3: My Occupation Here and Now

You have now articulated your professional profile to-date and conducted enough research into your industry to have a sense of the key institutions, trends, and regulations in force. As a result, you are clear on where you stand and can carry on a sound, confident, well-informed conversation with established professionals in your field.  Through only the first two steps of the Roadmap, which have likely not taken you more than a couple of weeks to complete, you have already freed yourself from the frustration of inchoate thoughts, overwhelming amounts of information, and a fear of losing – or failing at – a fulfilling professional identity. At this point, you may not yet know exactly how you can contribute to this industry, but you are armed with more clarity and more confidence that you will in fact succeed. And Step 3 will definitively put those remaining worries to rest!

Having completed research into the industry, our objective now is to zoom in to build a complete up-to-date picture of what it takes to succeed in your chosen occupation. We seek an objective assessment with both need-to-have and nice-to-have items for each of the five following elements:


1. What language skills are required? Include the proficiency level in each.

2. What education and credentials are required?

3. What prior work experience is required?

4. What soft skills are required? These may include stress management, listening skills, adaptability, public speaking, analytical and synthesizing abilities, negotiation, and/or the willingness to learn, and none of them are to be neglected! Although they may not be as measurable as hard skills, they are often essential to the job.

5. Your network and networking skills: it’s estimated that 80 per cent of the job market is hidden, so support from established connections gives you more access and more credibility in moving forward. Plus, certain organizations explicitly favour hiring through referrals and then promoting within. Further still, roles in philanthropy, business development and any kind of self-employed work depend in part on a person’ ability to engage new contacts in mutually beneficial relationships. Who you know will likely open doors for you, so that what you know can shine through.


So how do you gather this information?


1. Research posted requirements: Browse online government job boards and select 15-20 job offers that appeal to you, then note the commonalities. What is required, and what is desirable to have? For example, if you’re researching project management jobs and more than half of the related job postings require PMP® certification, those candidates who are not PMI members are limiting themselves. Similarly, if bilingualism is a must in 7 out of 10 positions you see, chances are you are both limiting your access and increasing your competition if your language skills are not up to par.

2. Beyond the postings, Reach out! Networking is the key to unlocking that 80 per cent of the hidden job market and finding out whether the postings reflect actual needs. Attend a 5à7 and you may discover that while five years of experience is listed as a requirement, industry knowledge may eclipse number of years on the job. Reach out to a former colleague and you might learn who’s retiring, who’s restructuring, who’s hiring, and who may be closing shop. Request an information interview and you may learn that they’ve recently decided to explore the South American market and yes, Spanish language skills are an asset.


Now you have access to the complete picture, and can see how you’d fit within it. Moreover, by connecting with people whose paths you admire and whose career growth you may learn from, you have engaged in genuine networking, even if the term otherwise incites in you only skepticism or unease. Nurture these budding relationships, as these may be the same individuals you contact when you are in fact ready to look for a job.

But now, back to our Roadmap. In our next step we’ll guide you through a step-by-step comparison of your professional profile and the results of your accumulated research. Doing so will help identify any gaps, and establish where you need to put your efforts to succeed. I hope you’ll join us here in two weeks’ time.

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

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

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