Career Tips from Kathleen: Taking Inventory

Kathleen Garces

After 13 years of working as an accountant for a prestigious company, my friend Jane was laid off.  Although she knew that the company was downsizing, she never expected it to happen to her.  While shocked, she reacted with a sense of relief and was even a bit giddy at the thought of leaving behind her career in accounting.  She felt like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders as she was given ‘permission’ to take a break from working and find a new career.  Her lay-off was the catalyst to get her moving in a new direction.

 Although she was excited at the prospect of entering a new field, Jane felt a bit overwhelmed by what to do next and asked me if I had any advice. This is what I told her:  Take inventory.

 1)    Skills and achievements – Making a list of your transferable skills and the accomplishments that you achieved at your previous job (or jobs) is a great way to protect yourself from getting depressed during this transition in your life.  While Jane felt happy about getting laid off, there was a chance that the high would quickly fade as she found herself without her regular routine and, let’s face it, money.  Keeping up your confidence to pursue something else is key to staying motivated so having the list on hand is beneficial during those low days when you’re wondering what the heck you’re doing.

2)    Values and Interests – By examining what you feel is important in your work, the environment you wish to be employed in, what you makes you happy and where your interests lie, you’ll be able to come to a clearer picture of what kind of jobs or professions are suitable for you.  It’s also a good way of eliminating the ones that don’t fit with your value system or the job and professions that you know you’ll never be happy in.

3)    Goal(s) – Where do you want to be…and when?  By coming up with a goal – whether it’s short or long-term – you can work backwards by creating a plan to move forward.  If you can see where you’d like to be then you can come up with a plan on how to get there.  If you’re new to this, short-term goals are a great way to experiment and build confidence.  For example, creating a list of your skills and accomplishments by next Wednesday is a perfect start and it feels great.  Build on your short-term goals to get to that long-term goal.

 Jane followed my advice but adapted it to suit her.  She also found it beneficial to contact a career services centre that offered workshops such as Career Exploration and Transitions.  The W.I.S.E. (Women in Successful Employment) program at JVS Toronto offers excellent service for women 25 years and older who are underemployed (or working 20 hours or less).  For more information call 416.682.9095 to sign up for an orientation session.


  1. The company I work for has been going through lay off’s for the past year, and just announced that more layoffs were inevitable. With this in mind, all I can do is be prepared. I have been reading some great books to help motivate and prepare me… my most recent book is a book written by Jack Hatfield, titled, “Natural Success Principles.” What I like most about this book is that it taught me that I really have it in me to be successful, so I know that whatever happens, I will be Ok- as long as I work hard at it. I have updated my resume so that when and if the time does come I will be ready to jump.