Patrick Arsenault, Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) works with foreign nationals and permanent residents to address immigration-related legal issues and concerns.
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For the majority of individuals who wish to relocate to Canada either as an international student or a skilled worker, having a strong and realistic career plan is essential. If your plan is to start a new life in Canada, you must have a clear plan and your career will most likely be at the centre of your immigration strategy. It is important that you start thinking about that today. Not all Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants are equipped to provide career coaching. You may want to investigate a little further when looking for a trusted professional to see what their expertise, skills, knowledge, and experience are and whether or not the RCIC is the best fit for you.
In this post, I will present the easy 5-step model I personally use with my clients to start the conversation about career planning. Sometimes, I meet people that have already started the process (or even completed it several times already). Other times, I meet people who have never really spent much time thinking about their career plan.
1. Self-Assessment: “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”
Like Dolly Parton would say: “Find out who you are and do it on purpose". At this step you have to discover who you are and make concerted efforts to embrace that persona in every way you can. You cannot build a career plan if you do not know who you are as a person and what you bring to the table.
Top 10 resources:
According to The Wall Street Journal, scientists have found that the majority of us will be better served not by high SAT scores or STEM degrees but by discovering and embracing our true talents.
* These are just a starting point. Please feel free to connect with me to see if I can recommend different tools or help you decide where to focus your time.
2. Career exploration: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Once you have a better grasp on what kind of person you are, what your strengths and goals are, you need to translate that into career options. This can be a very easy process in some cases, but extremely hard in others.
Top 5 resources:
If you struggle to organize your thoughts, you can use brainstorming techniques.
3. Gap analysis: "What are the best opportunities and unmet talent need?"
There has long been a conversation about whether it's better to be a generalist or a specialist when it comes to career development. In my opinion, Canadian professionals have to become-multi-specialists with transferable AND additive skills. It's no longer enough to be a specialist in something or to have a broader scope allowing you to easily expand your skill set. You need to have demonstrated the ability to become a specialist in various trades and bring added value to the table (something above and beyond what is required for the job, for example, speaking multiple languages).
The first step is to make an inventory of all the skills that you have, the ones you want to work on and the ones that are needed in your field. To do so, you can compile job descriptions over a period of at least three months and compare the requirements.
Top 3 resources:
4. Individual development plan: "What's the plan?"
Once you have a better idea of what you bring to the table, what you want to accomplish, and what the the needs in the job market, you can start working on setting career goals. These should be SMART goals:
Once you have a clearer idea of where you are going, develop an extensive individual development plan, which will not only allow you to determine what your end goal is, but allow you to determine what to do to get there. My favourite individual development template was developed by the University of Missouri and is freely available online.
You should also produce a one-pager that conveys the essence of where you are and where you are going. Having this on hand and even in some cases in a public form, may be useful to keep your professional identity and goals in sight. I transformed mine into a personal website.
5. Pivot: "How to keep the momentum and have a proactive approach to career development?"
Even if you spent a great deal of time and energy organizing and implementing a strong career strategy, its success will rely on your ability to be able to change it to adapt to new realities. In some cases, this may mean starting from the beginning again, or any other step along the way, especially Gap Analysis, as the market changes.
You don't necessarily need to undertake a big career change to pivot. Pivoting can also mean changing some of the things you currently do to expand your horizons, meet new mentors, learn new skills, or anything else that has the power to impact your trajectory.
A great way to keep the momentum going after having built a strong career strategy is to do the 4-Week #PIVOTsprint. You can even invite a group to do it with you so you can grow together and bounce ideas from each other. It's entirely free.
The importance of continuous reflection
Developing a career strategy is hard work. It is difficult, because it forces us to reconsider who we are, rethink our life, step outside of our comfort zone and DREAM. Dreaming can be difficult. We don't want to be so vulnerable as to wish for things we know will never happen. However, without a sparkle of dare and imagination, it's often impossible to reach our full potential or even to move forward at all. We tend to be extremely good at preparing for the worst, but not that good to "prepare for the best". However, it is a crucial part of the journey. We simply can't accomplish what we cannot dream.
I have two activities that I recommend you do on a daily basis and all you need is a pile of index cards. I recommend that, each night, you answer one of these 70 questions. The next morning, flip the card over and write about a pretend scenario where you life might head in the future. This can be far-fetched, but it should be positive. Too often, we think too much about what could go wrong, but we don't spend much energy thinking about what could go well. Hold on to your cards and, once in a while, read through some. This is a great way to brainstorm about your life. Figure out what is working well for you, who you are, what you want, and where you could end up in the future. An article from the Economist discusses how imagining far-fetched scenarios about the future can prepare us to face the unexpected in the present and be better prepared for what is coming.
Always be ready
For any of this to be worth it, it is crucial for you to always be ready. You must remain open to new opportunities and have tools and materials available to sell yourself at all times. You always need an up-to-date:Should I stay or Should I go? Every time you choose an opportunity, you have to turn down something else. Your time is a finite resource and you can't do everything. You have to be mindful of that and determine whether or not the timing is conducive to make a career change.