A Money Coach in Canada

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Anxious about job security? Career coach Karen Begemann provides her third recommendation to strengthen your position in your workplace. (And by the way, if you *are* anxious about your job security, now is a great time to really get clarity on your finances. My online program, It’s Your Money, will help you do just that).
Recommendation #1 focussed on fuelling yourself to be a high value employee by knowing your why.
Recommendation #2 focussed on deepening your work-related relationships by networking

Recommendation #3: Keep Learning
Today, we discuss life long learning and how it can mobilize your career and ensure your skills remain up-to-date.
The term Life Long Learning gets bandied about quite a bit these days but it is one of the keys to staying resilient in our work. Technology keeps taking us in new directions and touches the work we all do in some way. Every field has its own evolution. Are you up to date on the direction your field is headed? If not, it may be useful to do some informational interviewing to learn more about what other professionals see as the future trends in your occupation. Just as in driving, it’s about looking well ahead so we can proactively plan maneuvers and avoid potential hazards. A couple of on-line labour market resources that show trends in different industries are BC Work Futures and Working in Canada.

Think you are too old to go back to school? Think again. Many people of all ages are returning to college or university for retraining or skills upgrading. Find out what you need to learn to ensure you are up-to-date in your field or even better, to take your career to the next level. Even a few evening courses can make a difference to your career. What do you need to do to keep building your skills?

On a final note, practicing these simple tips of clarifying your work purpose, building influential relationships , keeping abreast of changes to your field and continuing to build on your skills will take you a long way to a more satisfying, successful and ultimately resilient career. What is one step you can take over the next couple of days that can help you to build the kind of career you want?

Karen Begemann has worked in the career development field for the past 10 years in government-funded employment programs, the corporate sector and in private practice as a Career Coach and Facilitator. Her passion professionally is helping people to connect with meaningful work. She provides a range of services including career exploration, job search (resume support, networking strategies and job interview coaching) and resiliency coaching (dealing with work related stress). Karen also specializes in working with professional moms who are planning to return to the workforce. She practices in Vancouver, BC and provides coaching services either in person or on the telephone. Karen can be reached at 604-828-5600 for a complimentary telephone session to determine an individual’s career coaching needs. For more information visit www.workmattersconsulting.com.

photo credit: familymwr

Post #1 in August’s Work and Your Wallet series. While this post is Canada-specific, the same demographics are at play in the USA.

The bottom line is that if Canada’s GDP per capita (in plain English:  how much per person we produce – economically, I mean, not having progeny!) doesn’t grow each year (last year we produced 10 cars and 50 shipfulls of wheat and 10 truckloads of lumber;   this year we produced 11 cars and 52 shipfulls of wheat and 12 truckloads of lumber) then we suffer.  You and I suffer.

Bah.  Not suffer, not in relative-to-Guatemala terms.  But we have we don’t have as many cars to trade for bright shiny objects like iPads so we make do with fewer iPads.  Or fewer outfits.  Or fewer loaves of bread.

And how do we make sure we keep producing as much as or more than the prior year?   Making those cars and growing the wheat and cutting the lumber requires people.  In HR lingo, labour force.  Or for the high-falutin’ car-engineer types, talent pools.

If there’s one thing I picked up loud and clear in my 2 years of HR work, and attending a Cdn. Minister’s Conference (long story) on the topic, it’s that the issue is no longer theoretical.  It is upon us.  Our labour pool is just beginning to start its Big Shrink. It scared the crap outta me, truth be told.

**Let me guess.  At this point you are:  <  rolls eyes >    #I’vebeenhearingaboutthisforever. Right? **

Well so have I, and consider this.  The fact that you haven’t yet experienced it, haven’t felt it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.  For one thing, it’s only just starting.  The first baby boomer cohort has just left the workforce.  No problem for year one.   But next year, it’s going to happen again.   And the next year, it’s going to happen again.   We’ll start to feel it then.   And in 2015 it will happen again.   My prediction is that 2015 is The Year when all doubt will be removed from our minds about the impact of the Boomer’s leaving.

And as there are fewer people making the cars, growing the grain and sawing the lumber, our GDP per capita shrinks.

And when we’re at that point, what’s the impact on your wallet?

  1. If you are not a baby-boomer, you will not lack for jobs in Canada and you should be able to negotiate the best salaries of your life.   For the first time in living memory, job-seekers will hold the bargaining power, structurally.
  2. You will pay the most taxes of your life to support the retired and the elderly who will continue to have high expectations, especially healthcare.  At the same time, services you use from the government will be reduced.  Put crassly:  it will pretty much suck.  The retirees will still hold the votes and have the time to be activists. Expect their wants to win, and yours to take a back seat.
  3. It will cost an arm and a leg, even more than currently, for skilled labour.  My advice?  Learn to fix your own stuff!

Take a look at the graphs below.   See the big clump that starts red|yellow|green|blue ? Take a look at how it’s slowly been moving towards the older age and retirement.  Slowly, but surely.

I took the following graphics from NationMaster, which I gather is a sort of Wikipedia.

Canada Population Pyramid for 2000

Age and sex distribution for the year 2000:

Canada Population Pyramid for 2003

Age and sex distribution for the year 2003:

Canada Population Pyramid for 2005

Age and sex distribution for the year 2005:

Canada Population Pyramid for 2010

Age and sex distribution for the year 2010:

Canada Population Pyramid for 2020

Predicted age and sex distribution for the year 2020:

Photo Credit:  Trevor Blake 

I can’t help but have my heart in my throat sometimes when I hear the statistics about people, especially in the States and Britain and especially Greece, who are facing structural financial difficulty. By that I mean: through no fault of their own, they are truly struggling to find work, or their currency has been devalued, or their net worth has plummeted because of the housing market or what have you.

It sounds horrible to say this, but while I’ve known for forever about these kinds of ongoing issues in other countries, like the former Eastern Bloc or Africa, it’s really sinking in at a visceral level now that it’s occurring right next door.

I’m a money coach. I help people manage the money they *do* have, not the money they *don’t* have. Nevertheless, I’d like to put together a series of blog posts for those who are facing particularly acute money struggles. I have some ideas – nothing mind-blowing, just a few topics I hope will prove gently encouraging – that I’d like to post about over the coming months.

Do you have ideas? If you are, or have been, or know someone who is facing serious financial struggle (either short term or long term) would you leave me a comment below? Feel free to use an alias and even a fake e-mail. I just want some REAL feedback.



Photo Credit KuddlyTeddyBear

Jobless Business Card

One of my favourite bloggers, Andy Whitman, is out of a job. He’s smart, articulate, educated and has nearly 30 years of corporate experience. Recently he made it to the interview stage where he discovered he was one in five hundred (500) (500!) applicants. And the work was for only 6 months. Holy Smokes, eh?

Here’s what he wrote:
I have far less money than I used to have. It is almost impossible to find a job. And the things that used to matter in terms of stability and planning for the future don’t seem to matter at all.

Here’s the way it used to work: Go to school. Stay in school a long time. Pile up some degrees because historically the more degrees you pile up, the more money you will earn in your career. Then go to work. Make a couple strategic career changes along the way to bolster your earning potential. Sock some savings away every paycheck, and watch with wonder, year after year, as the cumulative effects of time and compound interest work their magic. Retire at 60, or, if, hard pressed, at 65, and enjoy your golden years in a gated community on a golf course.

I belong to the last generation that bought into this bullshit. The kids know better. It actually worked out, more or less, for the one or two generations ahead of me, and I suspect us Boomers just assumed that this was the way it would always work. But the great unspoken outcome of this recession is not just that the profligate and over-extended have lost their shirts, but that the fiscally conservative — those who have played the game by the rules — have as well. What has happened is that we have now lost most of that savings that had been piling up paycheck by paycheck, decade after decade. When the stock market tanks, the more you have, the more you have to lose. This is an incontrovertible law of the universe, like Banks Cannot Go Out Of Business and Anybody Can Write, So What The Hell Is A Professional Communicator?

I and my piled-up degrees and my 28 years of corporate experience interviewed for a job last week. The hiring manager told me that he had received more than 500 resumes for the position. It is almost miraculous that I was granted a face-to-face interview. But here’s the kicker. If, by some equally improbable miracle I am actually offered the job, I will be able to work for 6 months. That assumes that the corporate budget doesn’t get tweaked in the meantime. Then I get to start the process all over again, 1 vs. 500. And I hate the very terms of the engagement. These people are not my enemies. I know some of them. They are my friends. They are as qualified to work as I am, and just as deserving.

The American Dream? Psssst, here’s a secret: it’s a Nightmare. It doesn’t work anymore because nobody works.

He continues the blog post with some soul-searching thoughts and more optimism than the paragraphs above.

But it sure gave me pause. As a Gen X, I’ve never expected the cozy life-track he describes above, but still, I hate to think we have to learn to scrap for jobs among 500.

Currently, I have a stable job with a good income and a pension plan (for reals). I own some real estate. And I anticipate money coaching income once I kick-start Your Money by Design again in the new year. But I’ve certainly known very shaky financial times. And I hold what I currently enjoy lightly — if the US goes down, we will hurt up here in Canada. A Lot.

I hope it doesn’t ever come to that.

Meantime, if you know someone seeking a a tech writer, or arts (music) writer, spread the word about this fellow OK?