You’ve completed your education and can’t wait to put it to work. But before accepting the first job you’re offered, think about the kind of career you want to build and where you picture yourself down the road.
Career planning is a valuable exercise, but doesn’t attract the attention it deserves, career professionals lament. “Ask the majority of people how they got their job and they’ll tell you they fell into it,” says Paul Goldenberg, president and founder of BlueFrog Career Transitions in Toronto.
“They needed a job and accepted the first thing that sounded reasonable. But too many people are completely dissatisfied because the things they like to do and are good at don’t match their job. There’s a huge opportunity being missed.”
Rather than “following the herd” into promising sectors, Goldenberg encourages students to identify their interests and skills — and then find a sector that matches them. It’s a philosophy he has shared at the University of Toronto’s Commerce Career Development Centre through his “Leap Ahead” career transition program.
“There are a lot of things we can do, but only a few things we should do,” Goldenberg explains. “Look at how your other skills — such as strategic or creative thinking and research — support your key strengths. They should provide you with direction.”
Barbara Kofman of CareerTrails in Toronto also works with new graduates and recognizes the value of identifying your strengths and interests. “Where do your honest interests lie? One of the mistakes many new grads make is falling into something and it becomes what they do.
“It’s the lucky few who follow their passion,” she says. “Many don’t have a clear vision, which begins with a basic understanding of who you are … Start with knowing yourself and set goals around that. Find a career that fits into that and you’re going to be happy.”
Campus career resource centres and self-assessment tools can help. “All good career searches start with you — your values, what drives you and what enables you to succeed,” Kofman says. “If your number 1 value is money, then it must be part of your framework. If not, it’s not a factor.”