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Getting Back on Your Feet When the Job Market is Tight

Changes in the labour market can mean that your occupation no longer provides as many opportunities as it used to. Finding new work in your field can be difficult and you may be competing with many job seekers who have similar training.

Remember that you have the skills many other employers are looking for. Your training, education, and job experience still have value, even if it’s outside the specific occupation you’ve been working in.

Take some positive steps to improve your odds of success in a job search. By highlighting your transferable skills when you apply for work, you can stand out from other applicants.

  1. Reach out for support
    Losing a job is never easy. You may have turned to your support network—family members, friends, neighbours and former co-workers—for emotional support. Now some of these people may also be able to help you in your work search.

    When you are looking for work, it’s also important to reach out to people in your wider network: 
    • former teachers and employers 
    • people you know through alumni or work organizations 
    • professional contacts, such as lawyers or doctors 
    • your online network and resources to help you deal with job loss

    Follow these suggestions for contacting people in your network to help in your work search: 
  2. Identify your transferable skills
    When you think of your qualifications for a new job, do you consider only the job-specific skills and abilities you’ve developed through your former jobs and training? What about other skills that are valuable to employers, like being on time, solving problems and taking responsibility?

    These kind of skills are often called transferable skills. You may have developed these skills outside of the workplace. Maybe you have coached a kids’ team, raised money for a community project or helped friends update their computers. Think about the skills you needed for those kinds of activities.

    Transferable skills are used in almost all occupations. Employers look for candidates with transferable skills, including the following: 
    • communication skills, such as explaining ideas 
    • computer skills, such as word processing and using spreadsheets 
    • problem-solving skills, such as analyzing information 
    • time-management and organizational skills, such as prioritizing 
    • personal management skills, such as adapting to changing situations

    Create a list of transferable skills that make you a valuable employee in any role.

  3. Evaluate your work options
    If there are no jobs in your field, you may need to consider working in a different industry or even performing a new type of work altogether. But in a tough job market, your transferable skills become the basis of your future employment and career options.

    To start evaluating your work options, visit OCCinfo to research more than 550 occupational profiles in Alberta. You will find job descriptions, educational requirements, salary information and much more. You will want to identify 
    • industries and occupations that are related to your work experience, job-specific skills and transferable skills 
    • jobs that match your priorities and interests 
    • employment outlooks in occupations you’re considering 
    • alternative work options, such as part-time work, job sharing, temporary work or self-employment

    You may also want to look for some education opportunities to improve your chances of getting a new job. Consider taking some training, such as academic upgrading, an apprenticeship or some additional studies (part time, full time or distance learning), to enhance your skills.

  4. Prepare yourself for the job market
    Now that you’ve identified your transferable skills, work options and network contacts, it’s time to market yourself to potential employers: 
    • Update your resumé, your references and other work search marketing materials to include your transferable skills
    • Contact the people in your network, starting with those most likely to help in your job search, and explain the type of opportunities you’re looking for. 
    • Look for further job opportunities through job banks and fairs.

    If it’s been a while since you have had to look for work, you may also want to do some career planning and refresh your work search skills.

  5. Market your transferable skills when you look for work
    Looking for support and being open to future opportunities can help you move forward after a job loss. When you highlight your transferable skills and abilities, you demonstrate that you understand employers’ needs and show why you are the right candidate for a job. As a result, transferable skills play an important role in getting you started on the next stage in your career.



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