Getting a job
You will not get a job if you don’t have Canadian experience
You will have to work in a survival job initially, before you get a good job in your area of expertise
Canadian employers don’t want to hire newcomers
Do these statements sound familiar? Almost all newcomers that have been here, even for a short while, are told one or all these statements by their family and friends. Even people they have just met will give them this advice. And you know, these statement are very true for many newcomers. Underemployment is a very big issue for newcomers in Canada, and there are enough stories of highly qualified individuals in jobs that don’t utilise the education and experience they bring from their home countries, e.g. doctors driving taxi cabs and engineers working at coffee shops. I have met a few, so I know that the stories are true.
But this does not have to be your story. Many newcomers that come to Canada are successful in getting a job straight away in their field of expertise. They don’t need to work in survival jobs and I was one of them. Was I just lucky? I don’t think so. I took a lot of initiatives to get my first job, and sadly many newcomers just want to rely on the usual ways like applying on the internet. So I say that I made my own luck and took advantage of the opportunities that were presented to me. Many newcomers feel that they are unfairly treated, and say that the government is not doing enough to help them. But what they don’t see is the lack in their own efforts to do the things that are needed to get a job.
I got my first job at one of the largest companies in Canada, an employer anyone would be proud to work for. The job was a couple of levels lower that what I had when I left my country of origin. But it was not an entry-level position. And it was in my field of expertise, working at a job I liked doing. This gave a great start to my professional career in Canada and I have not looked back since. How did I achieve this? Well, here is my story:
I started my job search before I arrived in Canada. I even got shortlisted for a 1st round interview at a company in Canada. And this would not have been possible if I did have the help from the folks at CIIP (Canadian Immigration Integration Project), who helped me develop a great Canadian style resume. When I arrived, I applied to quite a few jobs in the first month over the internet. Actually, my routine was to start applying for jobs from morning to evening (almost 12 hours). And during that time, I was able to apply to at least 15-20 jobs. I think over the span of the 3.5 months before I started my first job, I must have applied to over 600 jobs. (Tip: This is the sort of hard work it takes to get a job, and many newcomers give up too soon, too fast)
I got 5 interview from all this activity. One of them was with the company that I joined. But the odd thing is, the person I interviewed with actually choose to go with someone else. So how did I get the job? Well, when the person I interviewed with called to tell me that I was not the one he had shortlisted, I thanked him for the opportunity and then requested if I could meet him for a cup of coffee. (Tip: Most people would have just said thank you. I made an opportunity out of a loss)
When I met my interviewer for coffee, I first asked him about his for feedback on how I could improve my interview skills. I then asked him for references of colleagues that may also be hiring. He gave me one, and that person hired me. But I did not get the job without trying hard. When I met my future manager, I went to her with a presentation on my ideas for helping the company achieve its goals (I knew the area she worked in and the job she was hiring for). The interview with her was not a formal interview, I just met her over a cup of coffee. But I did most of the talking as I presented my ideas to her. Undoubtedly, she was impressed at my initiative and gave me the job. (Tip: Go the extra mile, do the unexpected. You need to do this to stand out from the rest, from all the other applicants that have ‘Canadian Experience’)
While I was looking for a job, I also took the effort to attend a job finding workshop for 4 weeks at Costi Immigrant Services. During these weeks, they trained me on interview skills and techniques in Canada. If it were not for this workshop, I don’t think I would have been able to do as well as I did in my interviews. I was quite successful in my career in my home country and was very good at giving interviews. But what I learned was that my interview skills in Canada were not appropriate, and I had to unlearn my old ways and learn the Canadian techniques. (Tip: Be open to change and learning new skills and techniques. This will help you be successful in Canada)