Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Sunday, January 3, 2016

"How do I sell my public- sector skills?" job advice

Apr. 27, 2015 "How do I sell my public- sector skills?": I cut out this article Eileen Chadnick in the Globe and Mail on Sept. 28, 2012. 

The Question:

I am a 30-year-old woman, with a Masters in History, who has been employed by the federal government for over six years. I am dissatisfied with my job – the pace, the politics, the subject matter, my department’s direction – and I am considering a move to the private sector. Only problem – I have no idea where to begin. I know I have skills, but I don’t know how transferable they are outside the public sector, nor how to market them. Any suggestions? Should I see a job coach to help “translate” my résumé?

The Answer:

You will be in good company. I suspect there are many others from the public sector considering transitioning into private sector as the public sector continues to go through substantial changes. In order for you to transition successfully, you will need a solid plan. Here are a few thoughts to help you get started.

Clarify your career objectives

What do you want to do in the private sector? Without knowing much about your specific role, I’d encourage you to get further clarity regarding what type of roles you might be interested in as well as the environment you would like to work in. This will help you focus your approach and the required reflection to identify common ground and transferable skills.

“Pace and politics” are equal opportunity players

Your frustrations related to “pace and politics” will not disappear simply by moving to the private sector. These are equal opportunity issues – and can be prevalent in many private sector companies, too. The key is to ask yourself what environment is best for you (what kind of pace and culture) and evaluate each opportunity with that in mind.

Have skills – will “travel”

Take time to reflect on the vast range of all your skills, strengths and attributes. Write them down and consider both the functional skills (such as research methodology if you are a researcher) as well as other personal and professional skills. Think about the 'how' behind your successes. This will reveal useful data about your style, strengths and attributes. For example, do you get things done by empowering others in a team? By being exceptionally organized and resourceful? By turning complex ideas into easy-to-understand concepts? They should be highlighted in your résumé and other career marketing profiles, including LinkedIn.

Be mindful of the differences

While it is important to look for common ground it is also important to know the differences. Take time to research and talk to as many people as you can to learn more about the different cultures and expectations within areas of the private sector that interest you. This will help you in your interviews as well as making plans to close the gap, such as learning new skills.

Build a support network

Anybody building a career needs to have a solid network and even more so when making a significant transition to another sector. Tap into your existing network and build on it to connect with people who can share insights, leads and other valuable support in helping you learn more about the opportunities in the private sector.

Identify learning goals

At the outset, identify learning goals that will help you with your career transition. It might be learning about a particular sector within the for-profit world, or learning new skills, or even how to network.

Consider hiring a coach

A qualified career coach can help you: develop awareness of your potential and relevant, transferable skills; identify your career ‘sweet spots;’ tailor a career search focus that is right for you; identify the gaps you need to address to break into a new area; create a plan that includes networking, résumé preparation; interview skills and more.

Whether you opt to go solo or with a coach, my final words are this: Where there is a will there is a way. Be clear about your goals, create a plan, and work it with diligence, perseverance and an open mind as you explore new options.

"I'm stuck at my retail job.  How can I find a career?": I cut out this article by Eileen Dooley in the Globe and Mail on Jun. 27, 2013.

The Question

I am a female in my mid-twenties and I graduated from university three years ago with a bachelor degree in political science. Since then I have worked in administration, event co-ordination, and, for the past two years, I have been working part time at a retail store.

I am stuck and unsure what path to take. I have volunteered for different organizations, gone to job counselling services and taken courses at community college but I can’t seem to find my footing or a path into full-time employment.

I apply to entry-level administrative jobs but never get a call back. I am worried because I have a huge debt load. I want to start saving for my future but I also want a career.

The Answer

You face a common dilemma for recent graduates: a university degree by itself (unfortunately) does not equal a career.

Instead, it is an entry-level “table stake” that needs to be combined with a sense of what types of roles might best suit your ambitions, your personality, and your local circumstances (what city or town you’re in, and the local job opportunities).

I can certainly empathize with you. Searching for that first substantive role that launches your career often is a frustrating experience full of “Catch-22” moments: not enough experience for some roles, too much education or experience for others.  Getting clearer on what you want to try – at least for a time – is one of your first priorities. Given the uncertainty you’re expressing about your path, I strongly recommend a networking-focused approach.

You seem to have had some roles that could help to connect you with people in a range of fields, and this can be a valuable source of career advice and connections if used properly. To network effectively, you need to start by taking an inventory of what you have liked about past roles. Answer questions like “What have I found challenging?” or “What parts of my past work got me excited?”

Even if you only have one or two examples, it will give you an idea of what you like to do. Now look for roles (not titles) that allow you to do those things you really enjoy and see what kind of skills, attributes and training they require. Tell others what you enjoy doing so they can also suggest roles to investigate: their experiences may point you in some unexpected directions that you hadn’t previously considered.

Your prior roles also will tell you about what type of work environment best suits you. Reflect on what got you motivated, beyond paying the bills. Being able to express these attributes to those who you’re networking with is key to helping them identify opportunities that will suit your emerging style.

For example, it is far better to tell someone that you’re looking for an administrative role in a smaller firm with opportunities to apply your event management skills than simply letting them know you want an administrative job.

You’re starting your career, and it’s seldom that we land that dream job early on. Like many in today’s working world, you’ll have a number of different roles in several fields, all of which will add to your career profile and give you a better sense of what most interests you. The key is to be both patient and persistent.

"After 15 years as a bus driver, I'm at a dead end": I cut out this article by Eileen Dooley in the Globe and Mail on Nov. 6, 2013.


I am in my early 50s and have been employed as a school bus driver for more than 15 years. In the past year, there have been major changes in the school bus industry and my branch was closed. My seniority is gone and I cannot hope for the routes or the wages I was used to. I am on layoff and drive whatever route they need help with until a senior driver takes it away. I am seriously considering going to another bus company, or even changing careers. What's available for someone my age? Please help.


There is no right answer to the question: "What is available for someone my age?" The better question is: "What do you want to do?" I am assuming that you have had steady employment for at least the past 15 years. Coming out of a company after that can be not just scary, but intimidating.

Yes, there are lots of people, older and younger, looking for that next opportunity. There is no reason that you cannot compete with them if you are harnessing your skills and interests. Which brings us back to the question: What do you want to do?

If you want to stick with driving, take a look at what else interests you. Maybe there is a way to utilize your skills in a different way, such as working as a driver in a private company. You may need to examine what credentials you have; upgrading may be necessary to switch things up a bit. It is helpful to leverage the skills you enjoy, even in a different career, and put away those skills you have but no longer enjoy.

It's never too late to do something entirely different. Talk to people who are doing what you may want to do, gathering information about how to break into a different field. You may need to invest in additional training, but it could be worth it if it means that you can turn your career into something meaningful to you. You can also get help from government employment agencies that offer courses and advice about how to find jobs and change careers.

With some reflection and a commitment to pursue new options, you could well find rewarding work in this next chapter of your career. And in your early 50s, there are more chapters to come.

Sept. 27 "Make yourself more employable": I cut out this article by Julie Tyios in 24 News on Oct. 3, 2011.  There is only an e-edition so I have to summarize.  Here are her tips:

-the average job search is 6-9 months
-Skills and expertise, and how you apply them
-attend skills-based workshops
-frequent industry conferences
-share knowledge
-express your points of view
-keep learning your skills and industry knowledge 


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