Career Development in America: Two Perspectives


Buried by Career Anachronisms?
by Sheryl Spanier, MS/CMF

Have you ever, in the process of doing a mundane task, gotten a sudden blast of insight?

The other day I decided to clean out the drawer in my night table. It had become a catch all for anything I thought I might need in the middle of the night, anything I didn’t know what to do with, and a repository for anything I needed to tidy up in the face of company.

I found six bookmarks.

I read my tablet almost exclusively now. No more heavy, dust-collecting, guilt-producing magazines and books piled high on my night stand and desk. I used to love books. Still do, but in a different form. Don’t need bookmarks though!

Got me thinking: What else am I hanging on to that no longer has a use? What notions, activities or belongings am I hanging on to?

And then I started thinking about how that relates to my practice as a career management consultant. My clients are weighed down by expectations and disappointments based on career “bookmarks.” Some are still holding on to a belief that if they just do more of what used to work, they will succeed as in the past. Not true!

Here are just a few changes:

  • Career ladders and five-year plans have been replaced by flexible, opportunistic, synchronistic, risky moves, portfolio careers and detours
  • Standard resumes focused on past achievements, produced on heavy stock and sent to recruiters now are trumped by a compelling online identity, crisp branding and a relevant unique narrative
  • A multitude of long face-to-face lunch information meetings are converting to quick connections via Twitter and LinkedIn, IMs, emails and Skype calls
  • A career path of progressive positions and secure employment is giving way to entrepreneurial thinking
  • Waiting for the “right opportunity” to be presented make less sense than creating your next gig based on marketplace needs

If you are burdened by a career challenge and keep looking in that drawer full of outdated, outmoded and useless tools, replace them with some of these up-to-date alternatives.

Sheryl Spanier’s background in career counselling/coaching spans education, public service, executive career services and individual practice. In her over 30 years in the field, she has worked globally, as a practitioner and market leader for four top consulting firms as well as founding her own firm, focusing on leadership and professional level clients. A founding member of ACPI (formerly IACMP), she served on the Board for 10 years and is now an ICCI Board Governor. She publishes broadly, is often quoted in the media and has published a career series, NoTime4Theories.





The “Why” Behind Continued High Unemployment in America
by Dr. David C. Miles

In the United States, for the first time in more than 70 years, there are and will be significantly more people seeking work than there are open positions available. I expect this reality to continue for at least five more years – probably longer. Seven critical factors are driving this trend:

  1. Longer life spans. People are living longer. The long-held notion of retiring at 65 has become irrelevant; people will continue working into their late 70s and even their 80s.
  2. Expanding technological capability. Technology has eliminated many mundane, repetitive positions. Increasingly, everything is becoming automated, and this extends far past entry-level and low-level jobs.
  3. Enhanced robotics and automated manufacturing. Higher-end technological innovation is replacing the need for human intervention. From computers to home appliances to automobiles, we are progressing rapidly to a true plug-and-play economy.
  4. Higher birthrate. An exploding birthrate is adding a massive number of applicants to the country’s employment pool, particularly among the Millennials (people born after 1986).
  5. Unrestrained immigration. Rising numbers of immigrants – who often accept basic jobs at the lowest pay rate – are adding to the job squeeze. Domestic job seekers who might have obtained their first toehold on the corporate ladder are less likely to do so today.
  6. Separation of job categories. We are seeing a greater divide between jobs requiring “knowledge” and those needing “basic skills”. Many people’s outdated skills aren’t relevant anymore, leaving these workers with nowhere to go.
  7. Outsourcing. With both manufacturing and knowledge work being outsourced, workers are now competing globally with workers accepting substantially lower wages.

These seven factors represent a “perfect storm” in the United States for workers 30 to 50 years old as well as people who wish to see what opportunities might be available.

Dr. David Miles is the Chairman of The Miles LeHane Companies, and author of The Four Pillars of Employable Talent and Building Block Essentials.



The Challenge of Getting References


by Donald Smith
Career coaches have repeatedly seen clients fail to follow up on references from their former employer. This happens even though the client has invested years in making a sincere and useful contribution to their employer’s success, and this reference problem can frequently be prevented. The main reasons for a reference problem are lack of a plan, lack of guidance and lack of courage under understandably stressful circumstances.

Most career practitioners know somebody who has had a good career with their employer, had positive relationships with their boss and colleagues and had at least pulled their weight. Then something happened, relationships soured, their reputation slid downhill and the result was resignation in anger or termination under miserable circumstances.

Unfortunately, this happens wherever there are employees, employers, tasks to perform, money to spend and the inevitable political interactions between factions and colleagues with differing interests, values and ambitions.

It is natural for the ex-employee to avoid dealing with references. They may be clouded by feelings of anger, embarrassment, disempowerment and vulnerability. Creating a plan of action is a challenge too great for many people to handle on their own, and frequently they opt to avoid the reference.

If the reference issue can be resolved, it generally follows that managers and former colleagues will be available to support the job search. It is enormously helpful for them to provide networking introductions and career suggestions. But until the references issues are resolved, this support will generally not be provided. Seen from this perspective, arranging references may be of greater value than having an updated resume.

The career transition experience with Murray Axmith & Associates across Canada shows that positive steps can be taken; this is preferable to avoiding the references issue and hoping that everything will be ok. But the coach needs to have a game plan. This includes:

  • Discussing the feelings which pushed the client towards denial or avoidance, and determining if the assertiveness and motive power are there to proceed with references
  • If yes, helping to develop a plan specific to that client and their former management
  • Developing text, which is believed to be discussable by former management and HR

This text includes the individual’s history with the organization (titles, dates responsibilities), core strengths, some examples of work, a weakness, reason for leaving and whether the employer could re-hire. Taken together, this text is the “Suggestions for telephone references”.

Once the client and the career coach have developed this text, they write “Draft for discussion” on it. The client makes a call to the former manager and asks if it is possible to discuss the references issue. If yes, they send the draft with a request that the employer modifies it and then calls back for a discussion. The desired result is to discover a text that describes what the employer will say when asked each of the reference questions.

Many people believe it is impossible to discuss references with the former employer following termination, but it is a useful premise to assume that if the employer does not feel vulnerable, they would prefer to be helpful (or at least not harmful) to the former employee.

A surprising number of reference issues can be resolved to the benefit of both the employer and the individual. After all, the value of congruence between what the individual says and what the former employer says is enormous. Mutually agreed references help to support a shorter and more successful search for appropriate work.


Donald Smith, MSW, CMF is an independent career coach in Toronto. He worked with Murray Axmith & Associates and Right Management Consultants in career transition (outplacement) services in Toronto for years and has published numerous articles, manuals and books. He has the Fellowship (CMF) designation with the Institute of Career Certification International.


Calendar of Events

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JANUARY 28-30, 2013

Ottawa, ON, CANADA


Theories and Models: Human Development & Life Skills Coaching

FEBRUARY 6-19, 2013

Life Strategies online course


Career Practitioner Institute

FEBRUARY 7-9, 2013

San Diego, CA, USA


CERIC Webinar: Remote Employment 3.0: Legitimate Opportunities to Work from Home

FEBRUARY 26, 2013

Anne-Marie Rolfe, Manager of Special Projects, Employment and Education Centre


National Careers Week 2013

MARCH 4-8, 2013

Everywhere in the UK


16th Annual Career Development Conference (BCCDA)

MARCH 4-5, 2013

Vancouver, BC, CANADA


CERIC Webinar: Introduction to Positive Psychology and the PERMA Well-Being Model

MARCH 5, 2013

Louisa Jewell, MAPP and Shannon Polly, MAPP


CERIC Webinar: Positive Psychology for Career Counsellors and Coaches

APRIL 2, 9, 16 & 23, 2013

Louisa Jewell, MAPP and Shannon Polly, MAPP


Opening the Doors in Asia: Sharing Career Development Practices (APCDA)

APRIL 3-5, 2013



Global Innovators 2013 Conference

APRIL 4-7, 2013



Workforce One-Stop 2013

APRIL 23-24, 2013

Toronto, ON, CANADA


Contact Conference: Exploration. Navigation. Destination.

APRIL 23-24, 2013

Saskatoon, SK, CANADA


CCPA – ACCP 2013 Conference

MAY 14-17, 2013

Halifax, NS, CANADA


10th International Conference on Occupational Stress and Health

MAY 16-19, 2013

Los Angeles, CA, USA


Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA) – 22nd Annual Conference

MAY 22-24, 2013



Canadian Association for Supported Employment (CASE) Conference

JUNE 11-13, 2013

St. John’s, NL, CANADA



Hot Sites: Remote and Self-Employment

Contract World
A unique website at the centre of the expanding world of contract work for home-based customer service agents.

You create a profile and businesses invite you to submit proposals for jobs. Has a focus on contract positions in programming, marketing and administration.

Remote Worker Daily
Offers free resources, advice and daily motivation for “Making Work at Home Work For You.”

Experiencing e-Learning
This blog provides information for people interested in a career in e-learning.

This site connects jobseekers with “flexible” jobs, including telecommuting, part-time and freelance roles.

Source: Anne-Marie Rolfe

To obtain a 20-page report of verified links to remote worker opportunities, sign up for Anne-Marie Rolfe’s webinar on February 26, 2013:


Career Briefs

Discover the new ContactPoint and OrientAction!

In 1997 the website was launched as an innovative virtual community dedicated to the needs of career development professionals. ContactPoint has been around ever since, offering free access to job listings, learning opportunities and support.

Now, ContactPoint is relaunching – harnessing the power of social media to build community, delivering updated content that reflects the changing information needs of a growing field and presenting a fresh, sleek design. ContactPoint’s French-language sister site, OrientAction, is also being redesigned.

Among the new community features of the websites are the ability to create a profile and virtually network with other users via discussion forums and groups. A wiki section will enable those of you with a deep knowledge of the field to share your expertise in this people-powered encyclopedia of career development. The job board will remain, and will be enhanced with a skills database, detailing the competencies required for different positions. And, of course, all the resources you know and love will remain – only updated with new directories, such as promising practices in career services, multimedia content and assessment tools.

ContactPoint and OrientAction are also embracing the latest technological innovations, as the websites will now be compatible with all mobile devices.

Special thanks to our ContactPoint Task Force, who helped us to update the content: Basak Yanar, Connie Augustus, Deirdre Pickerell and Krista Payne.

Stay tuned for the launch of the new sites on January 21, 2013!


Report urges private sector role in employment for homeless youth

A new report by the not-for-profit organization Raising the Roof advocates a greater role for private businesses in addressing youth homelessness, by providing at-risk youth with opportunities such as mentoring, training and apprenticeships. The report also presents concrete ways in which the private sector can engage with this collective issue that, in a time of high youth unemployment, is more relevant than ever.

Titled Everybody’s Business: Engaging the Private Sector in Solutions to Youth Homelessness, this report seeks to complement the work accomplished by myriad community-based agencies across the country that deliver valuable services to youth by helping them develop life and employment skills. Such efforts can only bear fruit if there are businesses to hire these youth. However, homeless and at-risk youth often lack the connections and support necessary to land a position.

The report draws on already existing, successful partnerships between private businesses and community agencies to offer recommendations to those wanting to emulate this model. It is hoped that sharing this knowledge will make this kind of initiative more common, change attitude and policy in the private sector and create more opportunities for at-risk youth across the country.

The full report, as well as a summary, can be downloaded in both French and English at


First-of-its-kind career and employment website for Canadians with vision loss

A new career planning and employment website features dedicated resources for teachers, guidance counsellors and employment specialists working with individuals who are blind or partially sighted.

Created in partnership with the World Blind Union and the CNIB with funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the site is called Project Aspiro and includes information about education, interview techniques and workplace accommodations.

Individuals with vision loss experience among the highest unemployment or underemployment rates of any group in Canadian society. Project Aspiro was designed to ensure individuals who are blind or partially sighted have equal access to information so they can be independent, productive members of society.

The digitally accessible website also supports friends and family, and employers. To learn more, visit


‘Haves’ and ‘have nots’ in the labour market

A new CIBC report points to a growing divide in Canada’s labour market with, on the one hand, an increasing number of positions going unfilled for long stretches of time because of a lack of skilled candidates; and, on the other hand, a growing “surplus pool” of lower-skilled, unemployed workers. The report, The Haves and Have Nots of Canada’s Labour Market, states that the vacancy-to-unemployment ratio is at its highest point since Statistics Canada has started to measure vacancy information.

This is a symptom of a shift in the labour market, where some traditional employment opportunities are disappearing (office administrators, school teachers, butchers, tailors, etc.), while other occupations, especially in the health care sector, face a skills shortage.

The mismatch of companies unable to hire and people unable to find jobs « is simply big enough to impact the economy as a whole, our productivity, our potential growth and therefore our standard of living in the future, » says the report’s author.

Recent changes in the immigration system are meant to address this issue; however, the report warns, these changes are too small to deal with the current skills gap in the Canadian labour market: no less than 30% of businesses in the country have indicated facing a labour shortage.

The report is available online at


Occupations in demand

  • Construction and transportation
  • Auditors, accountants and investment professionals
  • Human resources
  • Physical and life science professionals
  • Civil, mechanical, electrical and chemical engineers
  • Physicians, dentists and veterinarians
  • Optometrists, chiropractors
  • Nursing
  • Psychologists, social workers, counsellors
  • Mining, oil and gas


Occupations with surplus supply

  • Manufacturing and utilities
  • Clerical, general office skills
  • Finance and insurance
  • Secondary and elementary teachers and counsellors
  • Sales and service
  • Cashiers
  • Food and beverage services
  • Travel, accommodation and recreation
  • Butchers and bakers
  • Pulp/paper production and wood processing


Canada’s Career Imperative: How do we fix the ‘talent disconnect’ dilemma?

In 2013, CERIC will launch Canada’s Career Imperative, bringing together leaders from business, education and government for a series of cross-country interactive roundtables to find some common ground for answering the question: “How do we fix the ‘talent disconnect’ dilemma?”

All groups have a stake in the economic imperative of crafting a clearer strategy to develop, connect and retain the best of our talent to meet the ever-changing needs of disruptive regional and global markets.

Recognizing the constant swings in and out of recession and the major forces that influence the changing world of work (technology, demographics and social behaviour), our need for a genuine fix to our “talent disconnect” will require a greater grasp of how:

  • Regional markets across Canada differ in the skills shortage and talent match
  • The educational process could better prepare and connect young people with realistic choices offered by employers
  • Patterns of recruitment and selection are amplified by social networks
  • Society’s cycle of work, continuous learning and personal life aspirations is upside down to 21st century norms

At CERIC our goal is to be a catalyst for conversation on this topic. The aim is to promote networks across the country to foster a better understanding on how career development services intersect as part of the solution for fixing the “talent disconnects”.


Career Evaluation Guide showcased as an innovative tool

A career centre evaluation tool developed in partnership between CERIC and a working group of university career centres directors was recently cited by a report of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) as a promising practice. The report, How Ontario university career services prepare students for the future, highlights “the breadth of services and innovation in career services at Ontario universities” that helps their students adapt to a labour market that is constantly changing. The report showcases the best practices in fields such as experiential learning, skills development, understanding and adapting to the students’ way of life, diversity and services to alumni.

Career Centre Evaluation: A Practitioner Guide is a customized online resource to help university career centres design effective evaluation strategies. This resource provides a look at how five different career centres have tried to understand the components of evaluation and how they developed tools to use in their settings. The guide provides an introduction to a framework for evaluation, sample tools that you can adapt to your own setting, and case studies of evaluation activities at other career centres.

This project was created through a partnership between CERIC and a working group of the career centre leaders at the University of Toronto, Trent University, the University of Waterloo, the University of Western Ontario and the University of Windsor. The evaluation guide can also be used by career centres in other post-secondary as well as community settings.

The COU report cites it as a promising practice to prepare the next generation of career services, along with other initiatives such as the WhoPlusYou system developed by Ryerson University to revolutionize the concept of the job board, and municipal partnerships established by career centres at Queen’s University and McMaster University.

The guide is available online at COU report is also available online at


The Evolution of Distance Learning – My Personal Reflection



by Anu Pala


Technology has played a significant role in the evolution of distance learning and how we access education today. It feels like just yesterday when I received my learning materials for my very first communications course in the mail. I still recall how excited and enthusiastic I was. After all, I loved to learn, and courses offered through correspondence were outside of the regular public school program – kind of outside the box. Some years later, during a career transition, I was once again led towards courses offered through distance learning.


Even though the concept of taking courses in the comfort of my own home appealed to me, it also presented some challenges – especially the second time, as I had lost my vision a few years prior. Although reading materials in audio format were sent by mail, they did not always reach me on time. Along with this, simply navigating through the cassettes was time consuming and draining. Being a person who thrives on social stimulation, staying motivated and engaged was a task at times.


Now, thanks to the web, accessing online programs and courses has become simpler and more interactive. For example, participants learn through numerous mediums including videos, articles, forums, etc. Not only does this create variety, it also keeps participants engaged not only with the content but also with other participants. Along with this, the advancement of screen reading software for sight-impaired individuals allows users to navigate the computer just as efficiently as their sighted peers. Platforms such as Moodle and Blackboard Collaborate, just to name a few, have the capacity to be made into a user-friendly format.


As I reflect back, I wonder if my past distance learning experiences have prepared me for my career on some level? I was working recently as a facilitator and career coach in a national online employment program for people with disabilities. Along with this, I recently completed my coach training certification online.


From both perspectives, I can speak to the value of participating in an online course or program. However, it is important to note that online learning is not for everyone. Whether you have a disability or not, some questions to ask yourself include:


1. What is my personal learning style?
Some students learn better by reading and working through things on their own, while others need that physical connection.

2. Do I have good computer skills?
In order to maximize your learning opportunity, moderate to advanced computer skills are usually required.

3. Am I disciplined?
It is important to be realistic and determine if you have the discipline and time management skills as you most likely will not have someone nudging you.



Anu Pala, a certified life coach and career development practitioner, brings her positive attitude and pro-active nature to her life and work. Over the past 15 years, Anu has worked towards initiatives that promote women’s empowerment and the inclusion of persons with disabilities. Through her vision loss, she uses her personal journey to inspire, empower and move her clients towards reaching their personal and professional goals.




TECHNOLOGY: The Workstory Project


by Sarah Lupker
What do a sommelier, a cultural heritage specialist, an event co-ordinator and a support rockstar have in common? They are all in the early stages of careers they love. And they have all shared their work story on! is a web-based initiative, and pet project, created last year by two Canadian psychology professors, Natalie Allen from Western University and David Stanley from the University of Guelph. Their goal was simple: to create a place where those in the early stages of their careers could share their work-related stories with their peers and near-peers. The project was inspired by conversations Natalie and David have had with their own students and by their recognition that – although people love to talk about their work – many of us only know about a small selection of jobs. And by their conviction that hearing an authentic story, from someone who is not-so-very-different-from-you, can inform, intrigue and inspire.

Aimed at high school, university and college students, recent grads, those new to the job market, and career changers, features a collection of videos and text-based stories. Think “virtual information interviews”. Each WorkStory is recorded – or written – by someone in the relatively early stages of his or her career. In each WorkStory, contributors explain what they do and what they love about their job. And, perhaps most importantly, they describe the (sometimes unexpected and convoluted!) path that they took to get there.

Still in its early days, currently features over 50 videos. From the science-grad-turned-sommelier to the English major who landed a job in publishing (her dream industry!), contributors to WorkStory represent a variety of occupations and wide range of experiential and educational paths. Currently, WorkStory features graduates from over 25 Canadian universities and colleges, who were in various programs, as well as participants whose paths included less formal post-secondary activities. Sharing one’s WorkStory is easy – and requires no invitation! Simply visit our website and follow the Sharing your WorkStory instructions.

Since its launch, WorkStory has enjoyed terrific support, and received great ideas, from career professionals across the country. This year, based on one of those ideas, WorkStory initiated a student ambassador team at Western University. The team is comprised of four students in different programs who work together to spread the word about the project to students and recent grads. In the coming years, we plan to roll out WorkStory Ambassador Teams with students in other educational institutions across Canada.

Interested in learning more about WorkStory? Or sharing your WorkStory? Visit our website at to learn more!

Sarah Lupker is a third-year anthropology and psychology student at Western University. She is a member of the student WorkStory Ambassador Team at Western. She can be reached at


This Is Not Yesterday’s Economy: Internationally educated professionals face significant challenges transitioning into the Canadian job market


by Tara Orchard and Imran M. Ismail

The restructuring of the world economy has led to changes in the structure of work in Canada. Temporary jobs, contingent work, more competition and more skills are the reality of the modern Canadian workplace. These changes have resulted in the need for both employers and workers to be prepared to rapidly adapt and step outside of their comfort zones by doing things differently. These changes pose additional challenges for internationally educated professionals (IEPs) as they seek to transition successfully into the Canadian workforce.

According to the report Winning Strategies for IEPs’ Success In the Workplace, based on a study conducted by the Progress and Career Planning Institute (PCPI), among the biggest challenges facing IEPs has been a combination of a lack of knowledge about the realities of the Canadian workforce culture including employer expectations and the job search process coupled with unrealistic expectations about their opportunities. In fairness to IEPs, they have often come by these expectations honestly as they were wooed by a government seeking to attract workers to support economic growth. During the prosperity of 2002-2008, employers and workers alike were able to take risks; for IEPs, that often included the leap to immigrate to Canada without a clear job or career path. However, times are different now and it is important to help IEPs understand the changing reality of the Canadian job market.

An individual I met in 2011 wanted to know the steps he could take to prepare prior to immigrate to Canada. Following my advice, he proceeded to prepare while waiting to obtain his visa. Despite the difficult job market, he was able to obtain a professional job within only a few months of arriving in Canada in early 2012. Among the keys to his success were:

1) Preparing before his arrival. This involved creating a job search plan including a Canadian resume, learning about the Canadian workplace culture and conducting research to identify relevant employers and geographic targets;
2) Actively using social media networking to help achieve his preparations;
3) Leveraging his international background as part of marketing his benefit to an employer. It is important to remind new Canadians that their training, experience and approach can add a different perspective to an organization and that is worth showcasing;
4) Being adaptable and flexible. The job he obtained was not the job he was anticipating, but by being prepared and adaptable he was able to make it work.

In this difficult economy, not all IEPs will obtain quick success. Understanding the economic reality, which includes realizing what the opportunities are and will be, is an important piece of the puzzle. Hard work alone is not enough; adaptability, research and making connections with others can all support a successful transition when an internationally trained professional decides to step outside of his or her comfort zone to seek a new life in a new country.

Tara Orchard, MA has 18 years experience as a career professional. She is the founder of Career-Coach Canada, Principal at Careeradex LLC., and a featured writer with and Latin Business Today.
Imran M. Ismail, MSc, CDP, is an internationally educated professional with five years of experience as a career professional. He is the Co-ordinator of the Internationally Educated Professionals Program at Career-Coach Canada.



Notre avis sur l’outil : Guide d’orientation professionnelle

par Anne-Marie Blanchet

Élaboré à partir des principaux concepts développés par le Dr. Barbara Moses, auteure à succès de nombreux ouvrages, le Guide d’orientation professionnelle constitue un nouvel outil interactif en lien avec la carrière. Tenir les rênes de sa vie professionnelle est l’un des principes clés du Guide d’orientation professionnelle. Cet outil fournit l’aide nécessaire pour tracer un trajet personnel ainsi que pour surmonter les nombreux défis que comporte la carrière. Le Guide d’orientation professionnelle permet d’entreprendre des autoévaluations en répondant à une série de questions. Les réponses sont conservées et permettent de produire des rapports personnels qui fournissent une rétroaction, des synthèses et des recommandations de perfectionnement. Il est important de noter que tous les résultats doivent passer par un processus de réflexion. Il faut donc prévoir suffisamment de temps pour répondre aux questions ainsi que pour interpréter ses résultats. Dans cet outil, l’utilisateur a la liberté de choisir les exercices qu’il désire compléter, car il s’agit de son aventure. L’ensemble des évaluations et des rapports personnels seront automatiquement intégrés au Dossier de carrière, le référentiel de toutes les données importantes que l’on désire sauvegarder.