“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins,” said Benjamin Franklin, and look where he ended up.
Your career choice should be driven by passion and interest, but not without paying attention to the economy, the local area, and how jobs are impacted. Conducting research to obtain labour market information (LMI) is critical in having a full understanding of how any career might impact your life positively or negatively. It can help you make the best decision for your short and long term goals, and help you decide the best course of action in pursuing them. There is no point investing in a career that has no long term future. However, there may be value in pursuing a career that holds your passion if you are exceptional in that field or there is likely to be a shift in the labour market. Some people choose careers based on being in high demand as the priority. While this may be wise, it alone should not be a determining factor in your career goal (see the Career Decision Wheel and this blog series for other factors).
LMI should tell you things that will help you make a decision about a career including:
- Which industries, sectors, and employers are hiring and for what jobs
- What trends are shaping today’s work world, including innovation, technology, and pop culture
- What skills, education, and training is required for a particular career
- What the working conditions are like for a potential job
- What to expect in salary and benefits in a particular job
- What barriers may impact you from obtaining work in a certain area
- What job areas are growing now and in the future, and what jobs are likely to be sustained over the course of your next career choice
- What companies are leaders in your area, and what companies offer realistic opportunities that fit your personal circumstances
- What else is happening locally that may impact you
Here is where you can obtain local information that can impact your research:
- Industry and sector websites, magazines, and journals
- Newspaper articles and other news sources including Social Media
- Experts’ blogs and via social media
- Statistics websites, government agencies, and educational institutions
Consider the Source
When evaluating information, it is always advisable to get as much of it as you can, and then to consider the source. First, make sure that you get information from a variety of places, balancing government information with industry professionals and the like. Often by the time government data is scrutinized and published, it is already out of date. Industry professionals may have a better ‘finger on the pulse’ of what is happening, but be careful to ensure that you talk to more than one person so that you ensure a wider range or responses. Some education institutions may provide data that suits their business agenda. Be cautious with all information, and be careful not to create opportunities for self-fulfilling prophesies, where you get the answers you are seeking and rejecting important information that you don’t like. Validate your research with industry professionals by means of an information meeting (without asking for a job); one of the best things about social media is that you can make contact with experts through a LinkedIn network or group, and connect on Twitter too.
Training & Education
Understanding LMI is particularly important when you are considering some form of additional training or when you are evaluating the investment you might be making in an education program. Whether your grandmother pays for a career training or education program, you get a government grant, or pay for it yourself, you should have a solid understanding of the impact of that investment, and whether that money is truly well spent. (It is generally a good practice to evaluate and compare three programs/schools before making a decision. You may also want to consider and compare class size, class composition, instructors, course delivery format, the school environment, length of program, technical support, school accreditation, credit for life experience, scholarship/grant opportunities, tuition, books, and other admin fees.)
Labour Market Gaps
Sometimes it can be helpful to know where gaps in the labour market exist to help you identify what fields may emerge over time. Identifying trends can help you find a potential area for employment or help you craft a career differently than you might have otherwise. For example, someone with a communications background might recognize that the health care sector has a shortage of workers and may position themselves in this area, or a tourism professional may move geographic regions to where the tourism jobs are as trends shift or seasonal work changes.
Labour Market in Career: A True Story
An IT professional working for a large telecommunications firm had a great job – one that he loved and that allowed him to work for a high income with great benefits that included a lot of international work and travel. The company went out of business. As an employee, he had specialized in telecommunications. He and many of his colleagues were laid off and were competing for the same jobs. He quickly found that his skills were too specialized for most of the jobs available on the market; they were not in demand. Most employers were looking for more generalized skills. He also found that his generalized IT skills had not been kept up to date. He learned that he had to maintain his generalized IT skills in order to be competitive in the workforce. He was unemployed for a longer term than his colleagues who had more generalized skills, and had to take a significant pay cut and demotion in order to get back into the job market, but over time rebuilt his career in IT by upskilling in a broad range of skills, and by specializing in areas that stretch across more than one industry.
Meanwhile, a recent grad had to move to a different province in order to get a position in her subject area. She went to graduate school knowing this was inevitable, as she had done the required research to know that the short term plan was an out-of-province job that would lead her back home in a 3-5 year plan.
Labour Market Assessments
One way to assess labour market information is to make a list of the things you want to know (see bullet lists above in this article). Create a spreadsheet, graph or table and plot out the information as you go. Keep supporting documentation to help you along the way, and consider putting it in a career research binder or file folder along with other assessments you conduct along the way. Here are some online links to help you jumpstart your initial research:
Professional Associations in BC: http://www.amcdirectory.com/contact/associations/britishColumbiaA-C.shtml
A Guide to the BC Economy: http://www.guidetobceconomy.org/
Province of BC Labour Market Information
Labour Market Information via HRSDC: http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/workplaceskills/labour_market_information/index.shtml
Working in Canada: http://www.workingincanada.gc.ca
Alliance of Sector Councils: http://www.councils.org/sector-councils/list-of-canadas-sector-councils/
Alberta Learning Information System (ALIS): http://alis.alberta.ca/
LMI Ontario: http://www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/ojf/index.html
This concludes the Career Wheel series. If you were late joining the blog, be sure to continue to go through each section for valuable tips on navigating a successful career and helping focus on your best career goal. If you are still stuck, be sure to meet with a professional Career Development Practitioner.
Paulo Coelho wrote “Everyone believes that the main aim in life is to follow a plan. They never ask if that plan is theirs or if it was created by another person. They accumulate experiences, memories, things, other people’s ideas, and it is more than they can possibly cope with. And that is why they forget their dreams.” Hopefully by following the career wheel you will do more than accumulate, but rather challenge your past plans and remember your dreams. Good luck on your new adventure!
Sarah Nelson’s educational background includes education, linguistics, and career development. Professionally a Career Development Practitioner with a CHRP designation, Sarah has a vast array of work experience across several industries. Her early career began in the hospitality industry and has morphed into a career with a strong focus on education, including being a School Trustee in the public education system, a Learning Consultant in the career development field, and a college instructor.
Her main areas of interest include communication and the power of words, innovation and creativity, living with passion and purpose and a desire to see the world full of lifelong learners who want to ‘be the change’. Sarah is also a “midnight genealogist” with a desire to uncover lost roots for herself and others, with a desire to learn from the past to live in the present and create a better future. Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahnelson71 or Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/sarahnelson71.
- Find Your Career Flare – Intro
- Find Your Career Flare – Skills
- Find Your Career Flare – Interests
- Find Your Career Flare – Values
- Find Your Career Flare – Personal Style
- Find Your Career Flare – Significant Others
- Find Your Career Flare – Education
- Find Your Career Flare – Experience
- Find Your Career Flare – Labour Market