Supporting Newcomers to Canada
By Lori Jazvac.
As a career practitioner, I have worked with many newcomers to Canada. I have found that a positive attitude combined with patience and flexibility goes a long way. Those newcomers who are most successful exhibit a take-charge approach and determination to progressively meet their goals. They hone in on a specific career target, leveraging important networks and various methods for career success.
Ottawa World Skills interviewed and collected advice from newcomers who overcame obstacles to career success in Canada. Here are some of their recommended strategies:
- Identify an appropriate immigrant serving agency. The newcomers employed a service organization and employment centre that meets their specific needs.
- Practice your communication and networking skills. The newcomers proactively seeked out opportunities to build a strong network of contacts. They got involved in professional networking through various mediums, organizations, and support networks.
- Build a strong resume and cover letter. All five reported that customizing their resume and writing an effective cover letter were crucial to finding work in their field.
- Target appropriate positions. Despite lack of Canadian work experience, the newcomers secured work in their field by selling themselves as the best candidate for the position.
- Emphasize transferable skills. The newcomers focused on developing and maintaining marketable skills and promoting an authentic career brand. They did this by getting relevant job skills training and upgrading their skills.
- Remain culturally open and sociable. The newcomers attended events at language circles, cultural gatherings, and clubs. Not taking cultural differences personally was also vital for personal and professional growth.
- Embrace storytelling. By telling brief stories about themselves, the newcomers demonstrated their achievements and cultural understanding.
- Engage in a mentor-mentee relationship. The newcomers accepted mentoring, and also engaged in risk-taking by serving as mentors.
- Maintain a positive attitude. The successful newcomers perceived their transition as a meaningful learning experience and remained open, ambitious, and flexible to new experiences.
Here are some strategies for newcomers to address career related obstacles:
- Do research – concerning your field and trends to evaluate career prospects.
- Get credentials formally recognized to determine what is valid and what is required to get accredited.
- Consider a bridging program. E.g. Dental professionals or health care professionals likely require the completion of a bridging program to be able to open up a professional, licensed health care practice.
- Apply for training, apprenticeships, or internships for trade programs.
- Volunteer as much as possible to gain Canadian experience, and maintain excellent references.
- Consider investing in a mentoring program for career development.
- Use personal assets. E.g. Multi-lingual newcomers might seek a position where these skills are valued and required.
- Continually enhance communication skills by taking English classes.
- Look into child care subsidy programs.
- Apply to an employment agency or recruitment firm for temporary or contract work to get started.
Those newcomers who enlist the help of a career practitioner to help customize their resume, coach interview skills, and provide job search advice tend to do better than those who “go it alone”.