Getting a job without having any Canadian work experience
It is the classic dilemma faced by new immigrants: How can I get a job in Canada without Canadian experience and how can I get Canadian experience without previously having a Canadian job? New Canadians bring a vast amount of skills and knowledge which should benefit their new country. Unfortunately, abilities gained in foreign countries are not always valued by Canadian employers. How can new Canadians increase their chances of gaining employment with limited Canadian work experience? Recently, we discussed job search strategies with a few new Canadians who successfully secured employment. When we asked them, “How did you do it?” these three vital skills and areas of knowledge proved to be highly important.
English Language Skills
Having strong English speaking skills is one of the most important abilities required for any individual seeking employment in an English speaking country. Victoria Moreno, who immigrated to Canada from Mexico, accepted employment as a bartender when her English speaking skills were limited. After placing major focus on improving her English language skills she managed to secure employment with one of Canada’s largest recruitment firms as an executive recruiter. Moreno advises that all new Canadians who do not speak good English, to spend less time with people that speak their own language and more time with people who speak English. Moreno states, “I find that a lot of the Mexican people that I know now have been here for three or four years and they don’t speak English at all. They live in the Mexican community, they have all Mexican friends, and they work in a Spanish-speaking environment, so they never learned English.” Moreno adds that the Canadian government provides English language training for free to immigrants and contributes her employment success to these schools.
New Canadians typically have a very small professional network. The ability to build connections can dramatically increase available job opportunities. Vishnu Panthangi, who emigrated from India, currently works as an SAP consultant within the IT industry. He acknowledges that he earned his job by networking with influential people. Panthangi explains that these influential individuals are available to all new Canadians through free immigrant employment programs sponsored by the government. Panthangi enrolled in a free program at JobStart which educated him on job search strategies. He learned how to perform cold calls and follow-up calls to potential employers. He also signed up for a free mentoring program. Vishnu’s mentor helped him stay focused and motivated, and recommended him for the job that he now works at.
Understanding the Canadian Employment Market
Successful job search strategy may vary from country to country. Claire Richardson is a marketing executive who emigrated from the UK. Claire suggests that the lack of temporary employment opportunities within Canada, when compared to the UK, make it more difficult for new Canadians to gain Canadian working experience. Richardson says that many jobs within the UK business sector exist for short monthly, weekly, and even hourly employment contracts but that they are rare in Canada. The lack of temporary employment work in Canada hampers the ability for new Canadians to obtain Canadian working experience to add to their resume. Richardson advises that new Canadians find volunteer work as an alternative to temporary work in order to acquire Canadian work experience. Claire also located a career professional to provide her with guidance on how to revise her resume for the Canadian marketplace.
New Canadians encounter various challenges when entering the job market. Focusing on improving English language skills, networking, and knowledge about the Canadian employment market can increase the chances of gaining employment.