Attention Job Seekers, Pay Closer Attention to Your Skills

Attention Job Seekers, Pay Closer Attention to Your Skills

Most people who have post-secondary education, have been trained to acquire job-specific competencies. You probably had in mind a specific job when you registered for a program at an institute or university. If you were an accounting graduate you would be looking for jobs as an accountant, auditor, or business analyst. Likewise, if you are an immigrant professional living in Canada, you may have used the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system that classifies occupations when you applied to immigrate to learn more about your occupation in Canada. This information allowed you to explore the labour market as a newcomer.

Job seekers trying to learn more about the current labour market in Canada, often look at the current demand for their occupation title. They do not necessarily search for labour information by competency or skill. As we have learned in the past couple of years, things are changing and that also goes for how we view and look for work.

In the Calgary Herald article “Opinion: Your future is not a job but in the adaptable skills you've developed”, the columnist David J. Finch, states that we need to shift our mindset from jobs to skills for the economic prosperity of Calgary. “As people, and as a city, we need to shift from defining our futures through jobs to thinking about our potential through our personal competencies. Developing a rich set of competencies will allow Calgarians to better adapt to the fast-evolving world we live in,” says Finch.

What does that look like? Competencies for Life is a pilot project funded by Calgary City Council Strategic Initiatives Fund and managed by Calgary Economic Development that is focused on transforming how Calgarians view competencies. “It is our hope that through this model, we can shape the growth of the talent marketplace in the new economy and make Calgary a hub for talent,” as the project webpage explains. Those Competencies for Life are an integrated set of 25 enabling competencies anchored in six clusters: problem solving, self-reliance, collaborating, core workplace skills, core literacies, and communicating. In the project’s Introduction Guidebook, enabling competencies are defined as those that enable you to adapt and adopt new job-specific competencies. The problem-solving cluster, for example, includes the following competencies: analytical thinking, curiosity, creativity, and system thinking.

Let’s go back to the accountant looking for a job who has excellent analytical skills. They should try searching for jobs by entering in a search engine the enabling competency “analytical” as a key word instead of “accounting.” This exercise may help them find job postings that do not normally appear in their search results. Having a clear understanding of your own set of enabling competencies beyond the work-specific technical skills allows you to expand your scope of possibilities when applying for jobs. You now have a different perspective on shifting industries or jobs. At the same time, you would learn how to market your talents in the current labour market.

If you are an immigrant professional looking for a job and need help identifying your enabling competencies and making an inventory that attracts employers, talk to a career coach at Directions for Immigrants.