Who are you? What do you enjoy? What skills would you like to use in your job? Getting to know yourself and understand your skills will make it easier for you to define your goals and market yourself to employers. If you can’t clearly state to an employer what skills you have and how they relate to the position you want, there’s not much chance the employer will do it for you. In addition, working in an field that matches your interests is a critical step towards obtaining job satisfaction.
There are two main types of skills: technical/specialized (e.g. computer skills), and transferable/personal (also sometimes called soft skills, e.g. communication skills). Many personal and transferable skills consistently rate as the most important in the eyes of employers, so make sure you spend adequate time identifying yours. It is worth the time reviewing the Employability Skills 2000+ to see what skills and personal attributes are most valued by employers.
- JobHuntersBible.com – the online supplement to What Color is Your Parachute?
- JVIS.com – Discuss the results with a career counsellor.
- Career Quiz – From the Government of Canada
Self assessment is not an exact science; the exercises contained in many of these sites are introductory. Put more emphasis on what you learn about yourself rather than any specific occupations that may be suggested. In order to get the most out of the exercises contained in these sites, use your findings as a starting point for discussions with friends, family or a professional career counsellor, not as a replacement.
Use these resources to help you learn more about a wide range of occupations. What is a typical day like? What type of education and training are needed? Set some time aside to explore… your career choice is not planned in a day!
- Alberta Occupational Profiles Detailed descriptions of over 1,000 occupations.
- Job Futures A comprehensive site from the Government of Canada.
- Ministry of Education and Training from the Ontario Government.
- SchoolFinder: Careers Occupational information and a career quiz.
Information interviewing involves speaking to people who work in the field you want to learn more about. It is not interviewing for a job. Use it as a way to gather more information about the field you are interested in, so that you can make informed career choices, gather information necessary to write effective cover letters and resumes, and be better prepared for future job interviews.
Information interviews can also be a great way to make valuable industry contacts. If you leave a good impression, your name may later be passed along to someone else who is in a position to interview you (but don’t go in expecting this to happen). In order to leave the best impression possible, you must be prepared and act professionally. Don’t be afraid to set up these interviews; most people genuinely want to help others, especially if your request comes across as professional, undemanding and polite. Whatever you do, don’t use the informational interview to ask straight up for a job.
To prepare for an information interview, do as much research as possible about the industry ahead of time, think of intelligent questions and rehearse what you want to discuss.
Before you head out for your interview, become familiar with the contact’s organization: its products, services, competitors, etc. Also try to gather whatever information you can about your contact. Figure out what you want to discuss. A possible strategy might be:
- Explain why you have set up the interview – what you hope to get out of it
- Provide an overview of your career goals, experience, accomplishments and skills
- Ask questions — get information about trends in the industry, challenges the organization faces, etc.
- Possible questions to ask during your informational interview:
- How do people normally break into the field?
- What skills and personal qualities are most important for success?
- What education and training is needed?
- What do you do on a typical day?
- What do you enjoy most/least?
- What are the biggest challenges?
- Is there anyone else I could speak with (and if so, may I use your name)?
Other tips include:
- Be punctual. This is a must.
- Keep it to a max of 30 minutes (and don’t stay longer than your allotted time).
- Dress appropriately and professionally.
- Be sure you have questions to ask – you arranged the interview after all.
- Be prepared. Like being on time, this also can not be repeated enough.
- Stay on topic. Don’t bring out a resume unless requested.
- Send a thank you note immediately after your meeting.
- Ask for referrals — names of others who you may be able to speak with.
LABOUR MARKET INFORMATION
Who’s hiring? Who’s not? What are the growth industries? What occupations will be in greatest demand? Start researching the answers to these questions using HRDC – Labour Market Information, the national site for Canadian labour market information.
INDUSTRY INFORMATION and PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS
Use these resources to help you learn more about various industries and occupations. Most are Canadian, a few are based in the U.S. Set some time aside, explore, and find something of interest to you! Links have all been checked and updated in 2023.
Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants
Advertising, Marketing & Communications
Association of Canadian Advertisers
Canadian Marketing Association
Canadian Public Relations Society
Aerospace & Air Traffic
Aerospace Engineering in Canada via Job Bank
Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute
Canadian Space Agency
NAV Canada – Careers
Agri-Food Innovation Council
Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance
Canadian Federation of Agriculture
Canadian Apparel Federation
Arts & Culture
Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators
Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers
Careers in Textile Human Resources Council
Cultural Human Resources Council
Design Professionals of Canada
Biotechnology & Pharma
Pharmaceutical Industry Profile via Government of Canada
Public Service Commission (Federal Government)
Federal Student Work Experience Program (Student Jobs)
Provincial Government Career Pages: Alberta | British Columbia | Manitoba | New Brunswick | Newfoundland & Labrador | Nova Scotia | Ontario | Prince Edward Island | Saskatchewan | Quebec
Canadian Medical Association
Canadian Nurses Association
Canadian Association of Optometrists
Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors
Canadian Chiropractic Association
Canadian Physiotherapy Association
Opticians Association of Canada
Hospitality & Tourism
Tourism HR Canada
CIPS – Canadian Information Processing Society
ITAC – Information Technology Association of Canada
Microsoft: Training and Certification
Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Institute of Canada
Canadian Bar Association – Legal Career Centre
Automotive Industries Association of Canada
Careers in Plastics
Wood Manufacturing Council
Mathematics and Statistics
Canadian Mathematical Society
Be An Actuary
Society of Actuaries
Statistical Society of Canada
Media & Journalism / Publishing
Canadian Magazine Publishers Association
Jeff Gaulin’s Job Board
News Media Canada
Oil & Mining
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
ENSERVA – Canada’s voice for energy services, supply, and manufacturing
Science — also see Biotechnology and Health sections above
Canadian Association of Physicists
Chemical Institute of Canada
Canadian Special Events Magazine
Sports & Leisure
Canada’s Sport Information Resource Centre