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So you moved to Canada as a new immigrant! Congratulations. It isn’t easy moving to another country, especially if you are from a different cultural background. But you immigrated for a reason: for better prospects, for a better life for yourself and your family, or just because Canada is a great country.
Yes and no.
Yes, because there are many resources available to you to help you with your jobs search. For instance, the WorkBC Centers in British Columbia, which offer a range of services that support job seekers in finding and maintaining employment and improving employment readiness. Other provinces may have their centers.
You can continue to search online of course (jobs are listed every day) and alternatively work with head hunters.
But sometimes finding work isn’t easy. Even retail jobs are very competitive. Even for such positions, there are two, sometimes three rounds of interviews and offer only minimum wage.
You’re a skilled immigrant; you have your degrees, your work experience. Everything checks out, but yet you’re not receiving interview calls for the jobs you’re applying to in your field. And then while you continue looking for employment, you realize another essential requirement: Canadian employers sometimes ask for “local experience” or education. Some careers also need you to have the appropriate license or designation before you’re allowed to practice.
There are no shortcuts, unfortunately. The processes are longer and more time-consuming than what you may have experienced back home. Most jobs have multiple rounds of interviews, starting in most cases with a phone interview. If you clear that you proceed to the next stage: an in-person interview. Then there’s the skills test. Only then will you know if you’ve got the job or not. You also have to consider the time between these rounds, which could vary from a few days to a week or more.
If you are a new immigrant, here are ten easy tips that will help you get the dream job in your industry, or at least get your foot in the door.
1. Do your Homework
Learn everything you can about the company, including their culture. We can’t stress this enough. If you know a lot about the company and prepare in advance for the questions you may be asked, you have already given yourself an edge. A Google search for keywords like, “Questions asked during an interview” should throw up enough results for you to get started. Plan what you are going to wear on the day of your interview ahead of time. Dressing professionally goes without saying.
2. Keep a Tracker
A simple excel sheet with the names of companies you applied to, what positions and on what dates. You should also note down things like the date of phone interview; the in-person interview; the final result. You can also note down trends if any: are any particular companies or kinds of roles that aren’t responsive. Maybe your skills and experience are not a good match. This exercise will help you to figure out whether you are applying for the right jobs, or whether you need to upskill.
3. Customize, customize, customize
Read the job postings carefully and note down the keywords; note what exactly the employer is asking for. For example, events management experience, or experience in stakeholder management. Based on these findings, mention those skills in your resume and cover letter. You will need to do that for every job you apply.
4. Get the Certifications/Accreditations you need
If getting appropriate licenses, designations or credential assessments is going to help your career, get those at the earliest. Find good institutes or training colleges that offer flexible, affordable, short-term programs. It will boost your chances tremendously.
5. Acclimatize to the Canadian Work Culture
The Canadian workplace is very different from the workplaces or work cultures in Asia. For instance, the culture of calling your boss or manager, Sir or Madam. Here everyone is on a first name basis. Read up about it online, talk to people, find videos, or merely observe local professionals. Do whatever it takes to understand and learn about how people behave, communicate, conduct themselves, especially in professional settings.
6. Work on your Communications Skills
Being from different cultures, we may not understand the nuances of communication styles used in Canada. For instance, in other cultures, we may reply to someone’s email requesting a document by just attaching it, without any greeting, body text or any small talk; Or we may write an email saying, “Can you come to my desk?” These curt emails might offend a Canadian even if we didn’t mean to.
Canadians or North Americans in general, love small talk, getting to know a person, asking after them, etc., so every conversation tends to start with a friendly, “How are you today?” “Would it be possible for you to meet me for a few minutes? We can meet at my desk, or I can come to your office, whatever is more convenient for you.” Or “Hey, good morning, how was your weekend? I am sending over that document you requested right away.” These little things go a long way and could be the difference between getting a job or not. Invest in a good business communication course for starters. There are many online options available today. You will also pick up these nuances as you continue to live and work in Canada.
7. Could be Time for an Attitude Shift
To properly assimilate yourself in the local culture, you may sometimes require an attitude change. For instance, being punctual for your interviews; writing a follow-up email to the recruiter; following through on your promises; or being polite and professional with everyone you meet, including the receptionist and the junior staff without bothering about hierarchy or seniority. Not just the hiring manager. You may already be aware of most of these things. You may perhaps have to be more conscious, that’s all.
8. Think of Changing Careers
In case you’ve been looking for a job in your field for a while and haven’t been lucky yet, it might also be wise to think of a career change. Read reports on in-demand jobs in Canada and once you have your list, try and see if you have some of the transferable skills. You can even consider being an entrepreneur and starting your own business. There are many options available for you: financial planning, bookkeeping, immigration consultancy, home inspection. For instance, if you worked as a lawyer back home, you could consider becoming an immigration consultant and starting your practice in Canada.
9. Be Flexible in your Job Search
Being flexible is important, at least in the beginning. Your primary goal right now should be to get your feet in. Broaden your search. Sticking only to Vancouver or Toronto or just the main cities may not be the smartest thing to do. Look at other cities as well. In the meanwhile, make a list of jobs you can do that don’t require more qualifications or experience than you already have. It could mean taking up an entry-level position in your industry/field. So even though you may be overqualified for the job, you will still start earning an income. For example, if you are a medical professional and are unable to work till you get your certifications or licenses sorted out, you can work as a pharmacist, or a medical office assistant or a receptionist at a clinic, or as a legal assistant if you’re a lawyer. Again, there are many ways to get a job; you only need to be open and receptive.
10. Be Grateful and Stay Positive
Most importantly, don’t let your present situation get you down. Find things to be grateful for, like this opportunity of being in such a great country; or having your family around you; or being able to see, walk, smell, breathe, you know, the little things. Remember, if you’re struggling, especially financially, it is temporary. It’s a blip, like a small bump in the road. The smoothest of highways is up ahead. Focus on the positives in your life, because you create more of what you focus on, and before you know it, good jobs and opportunities will come your way.
Which tips did you find the most useful? Let us know in the comments below. Good luck with your job search.