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Taking place at the Vancouver Public Library, the Career, Education, and Settlement Fair featured a myriad of different booths including one from Ashton College. In addition to informational booths, attendees also had the opportunity to utilize services such as resume building workshops. Representatives from ISS BC looked over resumes to help make suggestions and give tips to ensure a higher rate of success.
Perhaps the most exciting feature of the fair were the five guest speakers sharing invaluable information on topics like Financial Literacy for Newcomers, Making the Most of Foreign Credentials, and 8 Key Steps to Getting Hired delivered by Gobinder Gill.
Born in India, Gobinder Gill lived in the Punjab region before being sent to live in Canada after the tragic death of his parents. Still a child, Gill thought that relocating to Canada would hold a bounty of opportunity and be a positive change.
Unfortunately, Canada was not at all what Gill imagined it would be like. Living in Prince George, British Columbia, Gill was subjected to daily ridicule and racial prejudice in both school and his community. To make matters worse, Gill also lived in abject poverty often times being sent to school without being fed forcing him to turn to garbage cans and dumpsters to look for food.
Not without hope, Gill had many goals and plans for his future. As a teenager he dreamed of becoming a broadcaster. Despite being discouraged by teachers because of his ethnicity and accent, Gill was determined to prove them wrong.
And he did.
Gill pursued his career in the media obtaining a Bachelor of Applied Journalism Degree as well as several diplomas and certifications in acting and film. During his career, Gill acquired over two decades of experience in a variety of positions, including on-air operator, on-air radio announcer, program coordinator, advertising sales representative and advertising sales manager.
In addition, Gill has also written articles for the Vancouver Sun, worked for CBC Radio and Television as a reporter and researcher, and appeared in commercials, film, and television.
Gill has made a career out of his firsthand experience and knowledge with cultural diversity and other issues involving ethnic communities. He has provided cultural awareness training for companies and organizations. In addition, Gill has written a book on cultural diversity in the workplace called Achieving Prosperity through Diversity which is a number one seller on Amazon.
Speaking in a frank and matter of fact manner, Gobinder Gill didn’t sugar coat anything when dishing out his 8 Key Steps for Getting Hired.
The overall message he repeated throughout the forty-five minute presentation was that “you are the only person who can control your destiny.” The only obstacle that you really have to overcome is yourself. Using his personal journey as an example, Gill implored the audience to envision what it is that they want most and take the necessary steps to make it a reality.
“You know when you are watching a scary movie?” he asked the crowd, “Even though you know you are perfectly safe your brain starts to run wild and you begin to question – did I lock the back door?”
“You can trick your brain – it isn’t as smart as you are!” If you meditate over your goals and trick your brain into believing that they are possible then they will happen.
However, it takes more than just a positive outlook to land the perfect job. Landing the perfect job isn’t always easy in the best of circumstances and can be even more of a challenge for new Canadian immigrants. During his presentation Gill offered up tangible advice for immigrants that can help them get the recognition and attention they deserve stressing throughout that Canada’s immigrants are highly skilled and not only a value to the Canadian job market but a necessity.
“It is important to learn the important customs of North American society when going into an interview. Some things that may mean nothing in your own culture could hold a lot of value here in Canada.” Gill implored.
In some cultures meeting someone for the first time with a big smile on your face is thought of as silly, but in North America is the most polite way to introduce yourself. Likewise, ensuring that you have a firm handshake is also crucial. These little nuances are how we gauge personal character, and unfortunately not all interviewers will have the wherewithal to consider cultural differences and disparities.
In addition to common job hunting/interviewing tips like researching the company and customizing cover letters which are free of grammatical error, Gill also emphasized the importance of “soft skills.”
“Soft skills” refers to one’s ability to make small chit chat about “common” cultural topics such as the weather, sports, and the community. Gill suggested that the biggest way in which new immigrants can obtain these skills is to immerse oneself in Canadian culture as much as possible. This can encompass anything from reading local news sources to volunteering in the community and making friends with people born in Canada.
Gill emphasized how important it was to “seem” Canadian. He advised to never wear any cultural or ethnic dress to interviews as well as to alter your name for your resume. During the question period members of the audience made it clear that they were not wholly confident with this advice.
“It’s all about getting to the interview,” he explained, “sometimes hiring managers might be hesitant to call you back even though you are qualified because they cannot pronounce your name or discern a gender from it. It isn’t always right, or how things should be – but it is the way that they are.”
To learn more about diversity in the work place or for more information on Mr. Gill’s tips on getting hired you can visit his website or pick up a copy of his book, “Achieving Prosperity Through Diversity.”