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Career Focus

Does Status Matter?

By LISA TRUDEL - April 8 2020

The job seekers I help include people with a wide range of occupations, ages, and circumstances. Many are Internationally Educated Professionals including Lawyers, Teachers and Accountants. In Canada, over 20% of occupations are regulated which means the law requires you to obtain a licence or certificate to use the reserved title for the occupation or to practice the occupation. Thus, many newcomers need to refocus and find a career that builds on past education and experience. 

My work focusses on assisting with resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn Profiles however the inevitable discussion of redesigning a once very clear career path, into a totally new direction often jumps into our conversation. 

Stepping off a career ladder that once provided professional status is a move that needs commitment to reshaping and redesigning the issue of status. However, does status matter? 

The exact definition of the word “status” varies depending on context. Status can mean simply having a job, or having an income beyond six figures, or having a job title that sounds impressive, or having a University education. 

According to most dictionaries, the definition of status means “a person’s position or rank in relation to others.” I have always preferred the definition I discovered while studying at George Brown College in the Career Counselling program. This definition is the acronym: PULL. It means that your professional status is all-inclusive and embraces paid work, unpaid work, learning and leisure. 

In our paid work, status can be found in our level of responsibility, or job title, or the number of people we report to. It can be found in our salary or symbolic aspects such as the size of our cubicle or whether we have a parking space. 

In unpaid work, status can be found in the value we put on being appreciated as a volunteer, or the recognition we receive from helping others. Often status is found less in paid work and more in our sense of purpose to make a social contribution to our community. 

In learning, status can be found in the grade point average we achieve, or in the respectful communication that we use when writing an online post to support others in our program. It can also be found in our time management planning in order to successfully balance full-time paid work, volunteer work, and family responsibilities.

In leisure, our professional status can be found through our social identity. Our leisure or social identity can be determined by our membership in particular groups such as sports teams, cultural clubs, faith-based groups or charity causes. What we do for paid work or to gain our income, should not define us especially now that we live in an era of precarious and contract employment. At any time, our paid work can disappear, However, what we do in our leisure hours can remain. 

If status is based on what makes us distinct and different from others, then recognizing that our identity is connected to PULL can empower us when we are unemployed. If asked “What do you do?”, answering “I am unemployed” is never good for confidence or self-worth. Seeing ourselves as a full picture of everything we have done in the past, and what we currently do as a volunteer and as a learner, can help the period of adjustment if we are unemployed. 

PULL is a roadmap to help us manage change whatever our circumstances, age or educational level. Try putting PULL into your career planning and you might surprise yourself with a new approach to career reinvention.

To find out more about job searching and how to restart your career contact your local Employment Ontario Career Centre. 

This article was submitted by Lisa Trudel, Career Specialist with the Centre for Education and Training. She works at their Parliament Employment Services location in the historic Cabbagetown district of downtown Toronto and can be contacted at: 

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