Moving Towards Problems, Challenges, and Opportunities

Career decisions are often made through a consideration of what we are qualified to do (based on our education, training, or experience), what types of occupations demand or align with those qualifications (based on job titles), and what opportunities currently exist in the labour market (based on organizations). It’s often not until we’re hired that we understand or even think about what challenges or problems are being solved by that organization, and whether they align with how we’d like to contribute to the world. Michel (2018) suggests that we flip this formula on its head, focusing instead on the challenges we want to solve, and then finding the organizations, the job titles, and the educational pathways that will allow us to do those things.

The reason that this is so important is because it allows us to direct our own careers. While job titles will change with time, the challenges we want to solve will, for the most part, remain the same. Not only that, but there will likely be a variety of ways to contribute to and address problems or challenges that are important to us, regardless of job title. This will not only open the door to a larger variety of career opportunities, but will allow us to be more purposeful in our career decision-making and more resilient in a struggling economy.

Chart: Challenges, Organizations, Job Titles, EducationTo help shift your thinking from job titles to career opportunities, start by reflecting on your own experiences at work in order to identify what is important to you:

  • “When have you felt most accomplished or fulfilled in your work?”
  • “When have you most enjoyed your work? What were you doing?”
  • “What activities energize or excite you most at work?”

Then, ask yourself the following questions:

  • “What challenges do you want to address in your work?”
  • “What will you regret not being or doing in your career?”
  • “What problems are currently missing solutions that you’d like to solve?”
  • “What sort of change do you want to drive in the work that you do?”


Blog by April Dyrda
Registered Provisional Psychologist
Calgary Career Counselling