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THE QUESTION

I relocated from Quebec to Alberta because my wife got a great, stable job. My job in Quebec had good pension and benefits, and I was moving ahead in the company. Now, after almost two years, I struggle to find work. As someone mid-career, who should be in prime earning potential, I am losing ground and I'm afraid that my employment gap, coupled with being new to a job market, is hurting my job prospects. My wife, however, is flourishing. I want to return to Quebec, where I still have contacts and job prospects, as I see no hope of success here.

THE FIRST ANSWER

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Eileen Dooley

Vice-president, VF Career Management, Calgary

There are emotions and relationship elements at play here that go beyond professional circumstances. Moving mid-career, without a job, is tough. You do not have the contacts, street credibility or any history in the new job market. Who you know is often more important than anything else.

This is a good time to get creative. Start with a return visit to Quebec to reconnect with your former peers and contacts. Tell them you want to exhaust every angle to keep your family together in Alberta. Ask if they have any contacts in Alberta, and if they can make introductions for you. See if they ever relocated, and ask for any tactics they can pass on. In Alberta, work those new contacts.

You might also consider engaging more heavily in networking activities. While it may seem fruitless, employment opportunities often come from dedicated networking within professional circles (lunch events, conferences), or even community-interest groups that bring out people with similar backgrounds. Check the Meetup communities in your area, and follow up on any event that might connect you to people working in your field.

If that does not work, you may need to have a difficult conversation about relocating back to Quebec. This means planning with your wife: perhaps it is for two years, with regular visits to Alberta for you, and her to Quebec. It is not ideal, but this situation isn't, either. And no job is worth the incredible strain on your relationship.

THE SECOND ANSWER

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Bruce Sandy

Principal, Pathfinder Coaching and Consulting, Vancouver

Often, couples will make an agreement to support one another in their career development – and be willing to move for their partner's career advancement, with the understanding that one's partner will do the same in return when an opportunity presents itself. If you have such an understanding, then you need to consider the impact of returning to Quebec and reneging on the agreement.

And I understand your frustration, but I am curious about what you have been doing to find work. It is important to build your network and visibility – especially in a province which has been experiencing an economic downturn. This is critical to landing a new position – especially in the hidden job market. Remember, the majority of positions in the private sector are filled through word of mouth.

Consider working with a career coach, who can help you develop your career search, networking, interviewing/presentation, business development, marketing and negotiation skills. Write articles, blog and make presentations at business and association meetings to expand your network and increase your visibility. Look for teaching opportunities at local colleges. Start a consulting company where you can provide support to clients in both provinces.

Landing a job in a new market requires innovation, perseverance, networking and patience. Be open to exploring the possibilities.

Karl Moore sits down with Cornell’s Chris Marquis to discuss how the economy and environment interact in China Special to Globe and Mail Update
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