If Google's search history is indicative of Canadians' career interests, there will soon be plenty of spies, nuns and paleontologists throughout the Great White North.
Google provided The Globe and Mail with the top 10 "how to become" searches on the website during 2015. Topping the list is Uber driver, followed by paramedic, commercial pilot, DJ, spy, nun, real estate agent, physiotherapist, police officer and palaeontologist.
While the list may provide some indication of where the career landscape in Canada is heading, Google Canada trends expert Aaron Brindle says that many of the site's most popular searches are a reaction to the year's biggest news events.
"There's obviously been some controversy around Uber drivers here in Toronto," he says. "Similarly, this was the same year the Vatican announced it would cease its crackdown of a U.S. group of nuns, and that might have driven interest in an increase in searches on how to become a nun."
However, the list also speaks to some wider trends in the Canadian career landscape, says Hart Hillman, founder and CEO of Bigwin Group Inc., a Toronto-based global executive search and talent strategy firm.
When reviewing the list, Mr. Hillman was surprised by how many of the careers have been around for generations, yet are getting the most attention now. "Even Uber, frankly, is essentially an evolution of taxi," he says. "James Bond was still here 40 years ago, and nuns have been around for a long time."
Mr. Hillman also points to the fact that the careers listed are, in most cases, considered to be recession-proof, which might imply that Canadians are looking for more stable careers as the country grapples with economic uncertainty.
"These are bread and butter, highly recession-proof roles that speak to security in a pretty turbulent world," he says. "There will always be a need for a paramedic, there will always be nuns, pilots, DJs, real estate agents, physiotherapists and cops."
Furthermore, Mr. Brindle says that many of these jobs can be pursued part-time, and may suggest interest in supplementary income in order to cope with the difficult economic climate.
Another theme that exists amongst all 10 jobs and also is consistent with a growing trend in Canada is the transition toward careers that make a positive impact on society over those with higher salaries.
"People want to do good in the world, something bigger than themselves," says Mr. Hillman. "All of these are ways of helping somebody in a way that's arguably bigger than yourself."
Many of the jobs also have a "thrill factor," says Mr. Hillman, such as spy, commercial pilot, cop and paramedic.
Absent from the list are more traditional professions with higher-than-average salaries, such as doctor, accountant and lawyer. Mr. Brindle says that perhaps that is because such professions have a linear path – i.e., law school, medical school and chartered accountant certification. "People can't get their PhD in spying," he says.
Mr. Hillman, on the other hand, suggests that their absence could be indicative of a changing attitude towards such professions.
"Over the last few years in particular, those professions have lost a little bit of lustre," he says, adding that the 2008 banking crises damaged the financial industry's reputation. "Becoming a doctor, arguably in Canada, one could suggest, is becoming a civil servant, because of all the controls. Becoming a lawyer has always, unfortunately, been stereotyped as heartless, scrappy and unethical."
Though there could be a range of motivations behind these Google search engine queries, such patterns could speak to broader trends in Canada's career landscape moving forward. Google search terms are already considered an accurate predictor of market activity and foreshadowed the results of Canada's recent federal election.
"It's an interesting lens through which to look at the careers that Canadians are looking at," says Mr. Brindle, adding that it will be interesting to see whether the most popular career search terms of 2015 are reflected in job statistics in the near future.