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Assessing & Planning

You know it.  It's time for a new career.  Whether you've only recently decided to find a new occupation or you've been casually hunting for years, it's time to take action.

If you're heading out of university with no experience, facing a serious disability, trying to raise a child, or struggling to learn English or French in a new country, starting a new job search may seem daunting, exhausting, even frightening.

But the situation need not be discouraging.

With proper planning, hard work, attention to detail, and, yes, a bit of luck, you should be on a promising career path in no time.  The key to success is making a good start: pinpointing what you want and determining the steps you need to take to achieve your goal.

Get online ...

The truth is, an enormous amount of career information is available online.  Virtually every modern industry has a slew of sites devoted to it, many with detailed facts and employee testimonials.  Are you technologically illiterate?  No matter.  Even if you don't know the difference between a URL and a USB, it's a good idea to book an appointment at an employment agency or with your school's career counsellor.  They're there to help you through it all, including navigating the digital maze.

... but don't get bogged down.

While online research can provide plenty of background information, it doesn't show the whole picture.  There's more to career research than words on a screen (or on paper).  You might want to explore alternative means of investigating whether a certain career path is right for you.  Even something as simple as testing out a hypothetical job routine -- for example, trying out a 5:00 a.m. wake-up call or spending the entire day crunching numbers -- can be an awesome way to gauge if a certain career is for you.

Get out there ...

A hands-on approach to occupational study is almost always the best way to see if a particular industry is for you.  Go talk to employers and workers in an industry you're interested in, and check out what it's all about.  Say you're interested in becoming a surveyor.  Establish contact with some contractors or foremen, preferably (but not necessarily) someone with whom you already have some sort of contact.  Offer to buy the person a coffee so the two of you can discuss the nuts and bolts of the industry.  While this approach may seem intimidating or presumptuous, more often than not employers are receptive to the questions of newcomers; after all, you may be the future of their industry.  Just remember to work around their schedules, and not to take it personally if they're too busy to fit you in right away.

... but don't get discouraged.

Even if you've never had a meaningful job, there's no need to panic as you explore possible job paths.  Industry inexperience is far more common than you may think it is.  There's no need to lose hope.  A lack of experience can be compensated for by upgrading your education or volunteering for a local non-profit organization.  Also, there are some government-sponsored wage subsidies available for employers who hire inexperienced workers, making it an appealing option for many companies.  Your local career centre should be able to provide you with more information on such programs.  All in all, a visit to a career centre is a good idea.  You may be surprised at how far simply having someone listen to your career hopes (or even confusion) will help to make the way forward clearer, and will help to keep your spirits up.

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