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Consider transferable skills when making career change

YMCA Okanagan employment specialist offers advice to those on the job hunt

Dear Wanda,

I’ve been looking for work with no luck since I was laid off last winter from my landscaping job. My regular employer hasn’t hired me back this summer and to be honest, I’m tired of seasonal work. I need the stability of a year-round job, no matter what it is.

A cashier at the grocery store told me that if I’m not finding work I might need to go to school or get some kind of training, is that true? My son thinks I would make a good nurse. I am used to working long hours, I’m not queasy and I’m good with my hands, maybe it’s something I could do. Or maybe I should go up north? My Employment Insurance is going to run out sometime in the fall, I have no prospects on the horizon and I’m out of ideas.

I would appreciate any advice,

At the End of My Rope



Dear Rope,

Mapping out a career move can be a daunting task, but you are already on the right track by brainstorming and considering your transferable skills. Nursing is generally a long and demanding program with steep prerequisites, however, if a career calls to you, you should listen. Transitioning from landscaping to nursing may seem like a stretch, but when transferable skills and natural aptitudes are laid on the table, you might be surprised at the similarities (jot them down). When you are ready to start moving, you need to be 100 per cent certain that it is in the right direction. Do your research and document reasons why you can say yes to the following questions:

Have I done everything in my power to find work with my current skills? Am I truly suited to this career? Is the timing right for training? Have I explored the cost and training dates? Is the labour market strong in this field? Will there be a job for me when I am finished?

I recommend seeing a qualified employment specialist (check for your closest centre) to outline options, help you validate or revise your plan and assist you in making decisions to ensure your success. Training can be as short as a couple of weeks or up to multiple years, so factor in how fast you need to be working. One creative way to enter the industry quickly is as a first aid attendant (in the oilfield?) and then slowly advance your education in health care while taking in a steady paycheck. A few years down the road you may be the nurse your son knows you could be.

PS: Congratulations on listening to your cashier. One of the most overlooked aspects of job search is networking; in short it means not keeping your job search a secret, but talking employment to everyone you meet (one of them could be a connection to your new employer).

If you have a question for Wanda Kareer, email her at with Wanda Kareer in the subject line.




This Wanda Kareer column was written by Gali Reardigan, employment specialist with the YMCA of the Okanagan. If you are looking for job search help, contact one of the Y’s WorkBC Centres in the South Okanagan. Call us toll free at 1-855-770-5627 or visit our website at



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