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THE QUESTION

I went to school for teaching, then switched to counselling and later worked in retail, where I discovered that I love sales. So I'm all over the place with respect to my career. I did what you suggested in a previous column and wrote down some things I enjoy. I'm wondering whether you could give me some idea which jobs might draw on those interests.

My dream job would allow me to travel, sell things, help kids or work with immigrants adjusting to life in Canada. I'd like a job where I get to be a leader, have the answers, convince people to buy things or help people.

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My strengths? I'm a good listener, I can talk to anyone and I'm trustworthy. I'm also interested in different cultures. Any advice?

THE ANSWER

It sounds as if you have training, skills and experience as a teacher, counsellor and sales person. It will be important for you to determine which of these professions you derive the most satisfaction from. You say that you have good listening and leadership skills. Reflect on the types of careers and jobs where can you apply these skills.

You state that you would like to work with children and/or new immigrants. Think about what you want to do for children or immigrants. Make a list of skills that you can offer, such as helping them to adapt to life in a new school or country, to learn English, to find housing, to enrol in training, or find a job.

Dig deeper and figure out how you want to help children or immigrants. Reflect on the value that you can bring to their lives. Consider whether you have the necessary skills to do this or whether you require additional training or experience.

Make a list of possible positions, such as school teacher, school counsellor, youth counsellor, employment and immigration counsellor, career counsellor, youth advocate, immigration advocate, not-for-profit worker, trainer, humanitarian worker, fundraiser, marketing representative for agencies representing children or immigrants, and so on. Keep adding to this list. Look for themes and patterns and group them together. Then prioritize the list.

Next, seek out and speak to people working in these careers. Ask them what they love about their jobs, what they don't like, what they would change, and how they came to their jobs in the first place. Ask about their training and background, whether they would recommend the work to others, what the job market is like and whether they know of any openings.

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Offer to volunteer or job shadow. Keep refining and prioritizing your career list.

Continue to build your network and contacts. Go for information interviews with officials in companies and organizations in which you are interested. Make sure that you do your research on these organizations and officials in advance.

Look for what you love to do, what services, products or programs you love to deliver, and who you love to work with. Match these with the right jobs and organizations, and you are on your way to consciously planning and developing a gratifying, fulfilling and rewarding career path.

Bruce Sandy @brucesandy is principal of Pathfinder Coaching and Consulting and www.brucesandy.com.

Have a question about careers, labour law or management? Send it to our panel of experts: careerquestion@globeandmailcom. Your name and address will be kept confidential.

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