By Deirdre A. Pickerell

In keeping with the Bulletin’s theme of Spring into fresh ideas!, the goal of this article is to share results of a survey supporting the Where’s the Work? Helping Career Practitioners Explore Their Career Options project and, perhaps, inspire Canada’s Career Development Practitioners (CDPs) to consider whether now is the time to spring into their next career! This isn’t to say it is time to leave the field but, instead, perhaps it is time to see where else, and who else, is deserving of your expertise.

If a December 2011 survey of CDPs is any indication there may never be a more important time to pause and reflect with 9% of respondents feeling overwhelmed in their current job, 46% struggling to find work/life balance, and a staggering 63% considering a career change in 2012. 1

Canadian CDPs are well educated and bring a wealth of skills and knowledge in serving an incredibly diverse set of clients. We also know that in the 2009 pan-Canadian Mapping Study, less than 5%, of those surveyed reported accepting fee-for-service clients. 2 Yet, according to the survey supporting the Where’s the Work? project, interest in environments outside of government-funded services is fairly high; respondents expressed interest in learning more about career-related work in businesses/corporations (61%), private practice/self-employment (56%), post-secondary education (50%), and recruiting/placement services (43%). .

Another interesting result relates to how prepared CDPs believe they are to move outside of their traditional work settings and how prepared they feel their colleagues are; overall, those surveyed feel somewhat to very well prepared (78%) yet rate their colleagues’ preparation significantly lower (46% for the same categories). This seems to indicate that individual CDPs are confident in their own abilities to transition but, generally, less confident that their colleagues could move beyond government contracts.

So, what might inspire you to take that next step in your career? First, remember you are part of a profession with a rich history and Canada is a key contributor and leader within the international career community. Second, it is important to remember that your work is similar, regardless of settings. As more than one respondent to our survey indicated, “the work is the same but the client is different, the language is different, and how success is measured is different.” In transitioning to new work settings you must learn to adjust your language, understand the restrictions and opportunities within the new setting, and trust your instincts.

Lastly, take the time to apply your career expertise to your own life. When was the last time you paused and reflected on your motivated skills, interests, values, or personal style? When did you last conduct an informational interview with a colleague doing work you might like to do, or benchmark your skills/experience? For more, see our 10 Tips for Career Management for Career Practitioners, available at: 

The goal of the Where’s the Work? project is to help CDPs explore the wide range of options which exist both inside, and outside, of the “traditional” environment (defined as government-funded career/employment services for the purpose of our study). The handbook will be available by March 31st and a 3-part webinar series begins March 14th.

Deirdre A. Pickerell, MEd, MA, CHRP, GCDF-i has over 18 years experience as a career development specialist, educator, manager, and human resource professional. Deirdre is passionate about helping CDPs learn more about the incredible opportunities available both within and beyond government contracts.


Bezanson, L., O’Reilly, E., & Magnusson, K. (2009). Pan-Canadian mapping study of the career development sector. Forum of Labour Market Ministers: Career Development Services Working Group. Retrieved from