Canada Project

Março 6, 2008, 3:13 pm
Filed under: CURIOSITIES

Experts with immigrant aid agencies offer advice from A to Zon finding that perfect job

Feb 21, 2008 04:30 AM

Staff Reporter
Beginning a new life in Canada is a series of tough challenges for immigrants, and one of the most formidable is finding a job.Mastering the language, learning the culture and gaining Canadian work experience are just a few of the hurdles for newcomers, even for skilled trades workers and professionals.Here are a few tips, compiled from interviews with experts from Toronto agencies that offer various services to help immigrants find those precious jobs.The experts are:Michelle Edmunds is an outreach specialist at Skills For Change.Elizabeth McIsaac is executive director of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.Dorothy Solate is general manager for internationally trained professionals and trades people at Costi Immigrant Services.Janice Rudkowski is director of marketing and communications for Career Edge Organization. A – Attitude“Finding a job for anyone is difficult and requires patience and reaffirming that you’re on the right track and doing the right thing,” says Elizabeth McIsaac, executive director of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.“Doing it in a new country is even more difficult. Pay attention to keeping motivated and positive and not getting down.”Edmunds agrees: “It’s hard. Many of these people are 40 or 50 and have been working professionally for years and they’re basically having to start over again. Some of them come from countries where people with their qualifications don’t have to search for a job.”B – BalanceThere’s a natural tendency to stick within your own ethnocultural group because of language and other reasons, but try to broaden your horizons to make contacts and build networks. “Challenge yourself to connect with a more diverse group and it will create more opportunity,” McIsaac says. C – Communication“No matter what kind of job you are pursuing, polish your business communication techniques to ensure strong written and verbal skills,” says Janice Rudkowski, director of marketing and communications for Career Edge Organization. “The feedback we get from employers who go through resumés and cover letters shows they’re looking for grammatical and spelling errors to filter people out of the system.” Some job seekers view that as insignificant, but every possible angle must be covered to put your best foot forward.”McIsaac says that critical independent assessment of your English language, resume and presentation skills will help correct flaws and mistakes that can cause rejection and lead to overall improvement that will increase your chances of success. “Make sure your communications skills are at the right level for your job,” she says. “Communication skills are important to employers.”D – DiscriminationIf you encounter it, don’t let it defeat you.“Often, immigrants are discriminated against,” McIssac says. “Someone doesn’t like their accent or can’t pronounce their name and won’t call them back. Stay focused. You may experience discrimination but don’t allow that to define who you are.” E – Employment agenciesIt’s not a good bet to rely on employment agencies or recruiters in your job search, Edmunds says.“These agencies collect resumés by the thousands. Certainly, people get hired, but unless a very specialized position is posted or the company is having a difficult time finding a qualified person, newcomers to Canada are unlikely to be referred to an employer, mostly because of (poor) English and lack of Canadian experience.”F – Finding… a job is a full-time job, so treat it as such, Edmunds says.“It’s hard work. A lot of people don’t want to put in that effort.”G – Grooming“It’s very important,” Solate says. “Dress and look professional – jacket and tie, shined shoes, neat and clean appearance.”It also has a positive psychological benefit for job seekers by boosting self-confidence and self-esteem, she says. H – HygieneBody odour is acceptable in some cultures, Solate says. That’s why the sensitive subject must be raised when trying to help immigrants find jobs.“We put everything on the table here,” she says. “You can have all the skills in the world, but if your hygiene isn’t acceptable, you won’t get the job.”Costi Immigrant Services’ clients are also told not to overdo it with cologne or perfume. And foods, like garlic, that cause bad breath should be avoided before interviews, Solate says.I – Interviews Canadian employers like to use behavioural interviews, something many immigrants have not experienced, Rudkowski says.The interviewer might say: “Tell me about a situation in which you were leading a project and were faced with a challenging team member. How did you handle it and what was the outcome?” The informational interview is a way to learn about your industry and build vital contacts.Edmunds explains: “Go to a company’s website, scoop every email address you can find in your area. Then write, explaining who you are and that you are trying to research information on their industry. Ask if you can meet for 15 minutes for a coffee. It’s a numbers game. You might send out 30 emails and get one or two responses.”One of Edmunds’ clients did this, and through the contact got a high-calibre job in the financial services sector within a month. J – Join … professional groups and associations in your field to learn more about the Canadian marketplace and to help build your network.K – Know… all about Canadian business etiquette – proper handshake, standing a respectful distance from someone when talking and other customs.L – Language programsAll kinds of them are offered at agencies throughout Greater Toronto to help you upgrade your skills to the level of English needed in your profession.M – MentorThis is closely related to networking. “Find one in your field,” McIssac says. “Various agencies offer mentoring programs.” A mentor can open doors for you, introduce you to other professionals in your field and make you aware of job opportunities.N – NetworkingThis is cited most often as the number one tip.“When immigrants arrive, they don’t have those professional networks,” McIssac says. “They have to address that and learn how to navigate the labour market.” “Tell everyone you meet you are looking for a job,” Edmunds says. “Go to conferences, seminars, industry networking groups. Create a personal calling card that lists about five of your skills plus your education and hand it out to new contacts.“Skilled labourers should network on construction sites, visit union offices, go to trades conferences and seminars.”Solate agrees that a good calling card is essential. “Networking is important but it has to be done properly,” she says. “You need the right system, and the card is part of that.” O – Ontario A list of resources and links to help immigrants find jobs in Ontario can be found at P – Portfolio Don’t just rely on a resumé and cover letter, Solate says. Assemble a portfolio of your best work. Won any awards or earned any special recognition in your field? Include the actual citations, rather than just list them on a resumé.Q – QuestionsAsk and learn. R – ResearchResearch both the industry and the specific companies you are contacting for jobs. Learn about their mission and goals and how they match your skills and career aspirations.S – Survival jobTry as best you can to avoid taking one outside your area of expertise. Be patient as long as you can. McIsaac says many immigrants grab the first unskilled job that’s available, and experience has shown it can have a detrimental impact in the long term. “It affects your ability to get back into your proper field,” she says. “Try to hold out, because it does make a difference.” T – Target… your resumé to each specific company, know what department you want to work in and why, and spell it out in the cover letter.“Don’t send general resumés to companies because you are asking the employer to dig through it to see where you fit into the company,” Edmunds says. That’s a recipe for rejection.U – Upgrade… your English language skills to the level needed in your profession. V – VolunteerSometimes, this is the only way to gain Canadian experience. Take volunteer work if it’s available in your industry or in the community in general. It also helps in the networking process, Rudkowski says.W – WebsiteCreate a website or blog as another tool to promote yourself and your work experience, and list it on your calling card. X – eXtra effort … produces results.Y – You … can do it. Hang in there.Z – Zero … will be the result if you give up.


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