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Environmental and Workplace Health

Employee Assistance Program Newsletter

Volume 21, Number 2

Help on accessing alternative formats, such as Portable Document Format (PDF), Microsoft Word and PowerPoint (PPT) files, can be obtained in the alternate format help section.

Career Assessment: Adapting to a New Workplace Landscape

All public servants are affected directly or indirectly by the budgetary decisions of last spring. Some organizations are losing an important part of their workforce while others are more or less impacted by these decisions. Some employees are directly affected and must search for a new position, while others witness these changes and the various impacts on their affected colleagues. The survivors are relieved to be spared but often saddened for their affected colleagues, the budgetary cuts and a workload that has to be shared among a reduced number of colleagues. Many employees are worried and dismayed by the dissolution of their team and concerned about mandates they truly believed in and that could be significantly modified.

Managers, some of whom are personally affected by these changes, must continue to ensure that the unit's mandates, even when modified, are delivered professionally. At the same time, managers need to be present, available and engaged with their employees. How can managers help their employees and themselves to increase their self-confidence and thus gain some mastery over these challenging times?

The notion of control is critical for affected employees. Although we do not control high level decisions, we do have control over our thoughts, feelings and reactions to events that threaten our sense of employment security.

A common reaction to news that negatively affects our workplace and employment status is easy, but counterproductive. We can just passively suffer in silence and wait for the storm to go away or to vent our frustration by criticizing the situation. This approach only increases one's anxiety and stress level.

A more effective response focuses on working within one's area of influence by engaging in a personal career summary exercise, whether or not we're affected by these changes. This involves taking inventory of accomplishments, skills and approaches used to benefit your employer, clients, and colleagues. Regardless of the circumstances, the skills and knowledge gained through work experience, learning and personal perseverance belongs to us. Accomplishments include our initiative solutions generated to tackle problems and make a difference at the office. These positive attributes make us resilient and are transferable to other positions we may seek.

A career assessment exercise can certainly be a --challenging albeit very stimulating one. By committing the required time, patience and energy, the focus is on completing a positive personal objective. It is a way to discover or rediscover past successes perhaps forgotten, and realize how our work over the years has generated valuable results. It shows us that we do indeed have a solid professional profile.

Even though we don't control the overall situation, we can regain self-confidence and focus on new professional objectives.

How does one start this exercise?

The first step consists of documenting accomplishments, contributions and relevant initiatives over the years above and beyond the routine tasks. Documenting accomplishments is the first step in crafting a professional inventory. This inventory will also facilitate the process of tailoring your resumes to demonstrate that you meet the requirements of specific positions. In addition, the inventory will also help you to present yourself with clarity and conviction at subsequent networking and interview opportunities.

A simple way to start is to review your current position and responsibilities. Identify the critical moments, the demanding projects, or situations where you had to use creativity and resourcefulness to find new ways of doing things. Did your contributions help to improve a system or process? Did they enhance customer relations with internal and external clients? Did they help to diffuse sensitive interpersonal situations?

The formula to documenting an accomplishment is to:

  • identify an issue or opportunity;
  • describe the challenges and how they were addressed;
  • explain the positive outcome, and who benefited;

The next step is to record the actions undertaken to address that situation. It is important to use action verbs to describe these situations. For example, being part of a committee has less impact than DIRECTING, COORDINATING, DESIGNING, SOLVING.

The final step focuses on outlining the results or impacts of your actions.What was solved, what was improved, what changed for the better? Personal accomplishments should also be documented as they reveal more personal traits.

Documenting our accomplishments helps to regain a sense of control over our career and our professional future. Acknowledging our accomplishments helps us to feel competent and better equipped to deal with the present storm. Our accomplishments also identify our key skills and major motivators. This self-knowledge helps us to make informed choices.

Workshops and manuals dealing with resume writing skills provide good examples of accomplishment statements.

Managers are in a key position to encourage and assist employees in developing their career assessment. Going through the exercise themselves will not only be of personal benefit, but also will enhance the type of support they can offer to their staff.

For a confidential consultation, call your Employee Assistance Program at 1-800-268-7708 or for the hearing impaired at 1-800-567-5803 24-hours a day

www.healthcanada.gc.ca/eas