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Thursday, August 6, 2020
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Tips & Training

Celebrating your career – a holiday gift for you and your clients

Whether or not you or your clients celebrate Christmas, there are a few lessons we can take from this holiday to help clients establish a strong foundation for their career development.

If you did celebrate Christmas as a child, you may remember your teachers and/or parents asking you to come up with a list of presents you wanted. As a kid, you mailed these lists to Santa and hoped for the best.

Let’s take that idea and apply it with our clients.

Instead of having clients ask Santa for a new bike or the latest iPhone, have them think about what they want from their career. As simple as it may seem, the exercise takes only a few minutes but can prove incredibly fruitful.

The idea is to have clients identify what they most enjoy about their work. Since most clients arrive ready to share what they DON’T like or want, taking a few moments to help them focus on what they DO want, makes it much easier for us to identify what success looks like.

Here are some prompts to get your client thinking:

❅ The job I really want is …

❅The problems I love to solve are things like …

❅ The work I most enjoy is …

You can change the text and add your own. The point is to help your client identify what they like about their job so they can seek more of those things in the future.

Worksheet - holiday wishlist. The job I really want, The problems I love to solve, The work I most enjoy, Colleagues I like to work with, Hours I like to work, Bosses I like to work with, Salary I want to earn

Click to view worksheet PDF

As we know, this is step one of a successful career plan as defined by Frank Parsons, father of career guidance: “a clear understanding of yourself and your aptitudes, interests, ambitions, resources, and limitations and their causes.” It’s worth noting that Parsons advises us to identify “limitations and their causes” when seeking vocational choices. This exercise may help job-seeking clients identify “deal-breakers” – things that would prevent them from taking a job (for instance, long commutes, low pay, demanding employers, etc.). As career professionals, we prevent wasted time and frustration guiding clients through exercises that steer them away from jobs and/or careers that don’t align with their preferences and/or interests.

With the list complete, clients may now have a better understanding of what makes them happiest at work. Now is the time to encourage them to find more. This may result in any number of things:

  • A client actively looking for new assignments, tasks and direction
  • A client seeking more/less responsibilities in a certain area
  • A shift in careers and/or a career change in the future

With newfound awareness, clients are better informed about themselves, can self-advocate better and may hone in on opportunities they might have otherwise missed.

But this isn’t an exercise strictly for clients. It’s for us, too. We can explore the same questions to identify what we most enjoy about our work.

After sharing these ideas on LinkedIn, career professionals from across the continent weighed in and shared their thoughts on how to apply this exercise to ourselves.

5 questions for career professionals to consider before 2020
  1. If career development is a superpower, how do I use mine best? What are you most known for? What do people thank you for, or praise you for? I’m best known for idea generation. It might be something else for you – helping clients, knowing theories, understanding ATS, reaching clients, delivering workshops. When you name your superpower, I believe it gets stronger.
  2. What tools, upskilling, professional development do I need and what people do I need to know, to be at my best and to serve my clients better? The world of work is changing so rapidly – what are the key elements of my plan to stay ahead of the curve?
  3. How can I serve my clients to the best of my abilities? This forces us to think like a client and identify needs and gaps in service. This is where we can be difference-makers. We want to stave off burnout, of course, but there are always ways to improve client services. Ask yourself – what more can I do?
  4. Who is the clientele I want to serve? This question, shared by David Mendoza, gives us pause to reflect on whom we serve best. Maybe you work on a team and one person serves military members better than any other. Knowing the strengths of the people you work with, how can you work together to best serve each client?
  5. Where do I want to be this time next year? Fast forward to the end of 2020: What would you like to have accomplished by then? How might you get from where you are today to that place one year from now? Thank you Susan Murray for sharing this question.

Why not do this exercise more than annually, suggests Meg Applegate. “If you want to up the ante, do a check-in quarterly, auditing progress and professional wins. It will keep you and your clients on track with their career goals and boost contentment.”

Celebrate the wins before turning to resolutions

Finally, as we look to 2020, spend a few moments celebrating the wins of 2019.

We (our clients and ourselves) are often so busy moving forward, we forget to pause and reflect upon our amazing accomplishments. This exercise allows us to ease into these conversations and help us capture annual achievements. And isn’t that a lovely way to begin a new year? Feeling empowered, successful and excited about our accomplishments, poised to share them at the beginning of a new decade.


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Maureen McCann, BA, CCDP, MCRS, MCIS, MCCS, MCES is a fierce advocate of career development, committed to preparing Canadians for the future of work. Founder of Promotion Career Solutions, she is one of Canada’s top executive resume writers with 15-plus years’ experience teaching, mentoring and facilitating career development to executives, professionals and Canadian career professionals. In addition to her work, Maureen is a volunteer who champions career development across the country. She is a senior board advisor to Career Professionals of Canada and an active member of both the Canadian Council for Career Development Outreach & Advocacy committee and the Canadian Career Development Federation’s National Stakeholder Committee.
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Maureen McCann, BA, CCDP, MCRS, MCIS, MCCS, MCES is a fierce advocate of career development, committed to preparing Canadians for the future of work. Founder of Promotion Career Solutions, she is one of Canada’s top executive resume writers with 15-plus years’ experience teaching, mentoring and facilitating career development to executives, professionals and Canadian career professionals. In addition to her work, Maureen is a volunteer who champions career development across the country. She is a senior board advisor to Career Professionals of Canada and an active member of both the Canadian Council for Career Development Outreach & Advocacy committee and the Canadian Career Development Federation’s National Stakeholder Committee.
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