Goal Check

As you set out into the world of work you will need to have a good understanding of some key information about your desired career. This includes an overview of the education and training programs available to you, a grasp on workforce trends in your field, and an idea of what “first entry” jobs look like.

Networking will also play a large role in your career research, not only for the access to opportunities it provides, but for the access to information it can provide as well.

Additionally, Labour Market Information (LMI) is the foundation of checking your career goals against the actual opportunities in that field.

LMI available for your geographic area and can answer some of the following questions;

  • What are the highest paying occupations?
  • What geographic regions have the brightest employment prospects?
  • What occupations are projected to grow the fastest?


As you look into LMI, it will become obvious that there is lots of data out there, and you can pretty quickly feel overwhelmed. Thankfully there are sources that summarize the data to make this task simpler for you. At ottawaemploymenthub.ca we update a series of documents called “Occupation Outlooks”. These short reports offer employment numbers, median wage information and projected growth.

Research careers and jobs

Since you have taken the time to “look in” and discover what makes you “you,” and what is in your toolkit, you are ready to look out. At this point the emphasis is on doing some reconnaissance work to get a sense of your desired career’s landscape. Try looking at what high level jobs look like and imagine yourself one day working in that kind of role. This is a good time to look at what kind of jobs are out there and get excited about them even if at this point they may be out of reach.

Some first steps to researching potential careers are:

  • Reaching out to your network of teachers/professors, mentors, family and community organizations
  • Attending information sessions put on by employment services
  • General research online

During your research, you will likely find some “ports of entry” into your desired career that you need to go through. For example if you find that you want to be a machine operator for a landscaping company, you will likely need to find a company that is hiring general labourers for the summer and build a rapport with that company. In the winter you might take some certification courses to be able to operate the heavy machinery next season.

There are many careers out there and many paths to take to get there. Careful research will go a long way to guide you towards a career that is a good fit for your future goals.

Explore education and training options

Once you’ve loosely identified what kind of career you would like to pursue and know what the requirements are, it’s time to explore education and training options.

In Ottawa, there are nine Employment Ontario Employment service agencies with 11 sites. These sites put you in contact with some great resources to boost your education and training.  Exploring post-secondary options such as apprenticeships, colleges and universities directly with the institutions is another important route to consider.

There are several resources available online which can help you with the exploration process. The Ontario Skills Passport (provided by the Ontario Ministry of Education) is a very useful tool in finding out what you need in terms of: Reading, writing, oral communication, numeracy, computer use, planning, researching and critical thinking for virtually any career path you are considering. This can serve as a jumping off point to more research into the specific kind of training you will need for an occupation.

The Government of Canada also offers a similar resource on their Job Bank website, where you can find information on hundreds of occupations. You can also explore careers by Skills & Knowledge which provides a tool that lets you filter occupations by the skills that you have. There is also the option of exploring careers by Essential Skills which breaks down occupations by listing the general skill requirement in multiple areas.

Understand workforce trends

Having a general sense of where the workforce is heading can help you make important decisions like focusing on developing a skill that will be highly valued in the future, or avoiding one that won’t.

The Ottawa Employment Hub provides up to date Labour Market Information which can help you understand the overall workforce and sector trends and the top jobs in Ottawa as defined by the number of jobs and growth in jobs from the past couple of years.

Understanding workforce trends can inform you of whether or not your expectations of your career goals are realistic. It’s possible that your current career goals need some tweaking. For example, some occupations are largely available in a self-employed capacity and not as available in a gainfully employed capacity. What you have determined you want for yourself should align with Labour Market Trends.

An important thing to note about understanding workforce trends, is that there is no crystal ball that one can look into to see the future. Every trend given is simply a projection based off of whatever the current statistics are.  Your job is to make an informed decision based on the information available now.

Network online and face to face

A continuous and persistent effort in networking will help you both meet the right people and learn about your career through conversations with individuals in the field.

Networking is something that you need to do and continue doing even when you are established in your career. Face-to-face networking is a tried and true method for meeting people and demonstrating your professionalism and meeting the right people. With practice, you will figure out a method that works for you and it will begin to feel more natural. There are always employer and industry association events that you can go to and many of them are free if you register early.

Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook serve as great networking tools that can put you into contact with many organizations and people. It’s easy to add or follow someone soon after you have met them, the harder part is to keep in contact with them. One way is to share professional articles with them and initiate a conversation about the content.  Another way is to send information about an industry event or job posting in your profession.

Below are some recommendations as you develop your networking plan:

  • Networking isn’t optional, even if you have a steady job. There is no reason to stop making connections and meeting new links to opportunities. Your network can lead you to great events and opportunities.
  • Make the time to network. Networking isn’t an urgent activity that needs to be completed immediately. It is an on-going activity that builds your resources and opportunities over time.
  • Have a clear and compelling introduction. This relates back to understanding yourself and what you want to do with your career. Networking is an opportunity to provide a clear introduction to who you are in order to leave a lasting impression. It provides a framework for understanding how the person you just met might support your career development. You are NEVER asking for a job while networking.  Instead, you are building rapport, contacts and opportunities to support one another. We will explore this further later on.
  • Don’t be shy! Initiate a conversation. Know that people are interested in you too because they too want to know how you might be important to their network. The trick is to have your introduction ready so you can describe yourself well and then listen as much if not more than you speak.