By Beth McMahon, CEO, Canadian Institute of Planners

It’s hard to know how long the current situation will last and what the impact on hiring will be in the immediate future. At CIP, we are noticing that job postings have slowed down on our Careers in Planning site and other job banks are reporting similar trends.

As almost half of planners who responded to the National Planning Profession Compensation and Benefits Survey in May and June of 2019, indicated they would consider applying for new positions over the following 12-18 months, some members may now be wondering what comes next. Certainly, students and recent graduates are concerned with their current and future job prospects.

No one knows how long it will take for our economy to rebound, but it will, and when it does you’ll want to be ready. To help you prepare, I’ve put together some ideas and recommendations to assist you in putting your best foot forward.

Get notified: Today – and in the short-term – you should continue with your job search activities. Sign up for CIP’s job alerts and look for local listings posted by your PTIA. I’d also recommend that if you can widen your search radius, you should also consider positions in rural and Northern communities which may offer great career experience.

Update your resume: When was the last time you updated your resume? If it’s been a while, even a few months, you likely have material to add to it. While you are updating it, ask a friend or colleague to read it over – there’s always room for improvement. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, I’d highly recommend creating one.

Invest in yourself: There are so many free and low-cost learning opportunities available right now – you may want to spend some time learning and updating your employment-related skills. Maybe you’ve wanted to update your design or GIS software skills? Or improve a second or third language? It could be a book you just haven’t had time to read – and for inspiration, check out the CIP 100 booklist.

Get noticed: Make sure to stay engaged with your network, both local and further afield. This could be engaging with a local PTIA chapter/division (if you have one), connecting with contacts on LinkedIn (are you part of the CIP LinkedIn group?), or arranging for virtual coffee meetings with professional connections. You might consider writing for Plan Canada or your PTIA publication, which also looks good on your resume.

Volunteer: Now may also be a time to get more involved*, as many organizations are actively looking for volunteers. Some employers who aren’t in a financial position to hire right now may be open to job shadowing or creating new volunteer roles. In the longer term, showing volunteer experience will demonstrate that you care about your community and go above and beyond what’s required of you…and it may actually lead to direct job opportunities too.

*Some people just can’t manage to take on more commitments at this time, so don’t stress yourself if volunteering isn’t an option.

Prepare for video interviews: Love it or loathe it, video communications are here to stay. You may have mastered the Zoom meeting, but have you done a video job interview? I received my first Executive Director position following a video interview way back in 2004, so if it worked then, surely it can work for you now. Check out these tips and practice!

Stay positive: Some day this situation will end and the down-cycle will inevitably rebound with new hiring from the private and public sectors. CIP is here for you – at all stages of your career – so please keep checking back for new job postings and professional support ideas as we go forward together.