What To Do When You Don’t Have the Canadian Experience?

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Alfonso was a stock broker in Mexico before immigrating to Canada.  He was living the life, he had a very comfortable income, his children attended private schools and he lived in a large gardened home. When his family`s safety was under threat in his country, he emigrated to Canada. Armed with his 20 years of work experience and a boat load of enthusiasm, Alfonso set out to find a job. It took him 8 months to find a job and it was not as a stockbroker al all, it was as a stock boy at Starbucks at a fraction of his previous salary. He became bitterly disappointed and hopeless.

A Common Story

Unfortunately Alfonso`s story is not a common one. Lack of Canadian work experience remains one of the most serious problems for immigrants in finding work.

When interviewed six months after arriving in Canada, 26 per cent of immigrants said that the lack of Canadian work experience remained an obstacle to successful entry into the Canadian labour market. Even after having lived in Canada for two years, lack of Canadian work experience remained the most serious problem for immigrants in finding work.

Abused Workers

Employers use Canadian experience as a tool to take advantage of immigrants and obtain free labour. This is largely an “abuse”. In fact, the requirement for Canadian work experience may in part be about ensuring a candidate has the appropriate technical skills, but it is often about the cultural competency in the workplace. It is about “soft skills”. Skills that are culturally embedded; such as communication skills, working with others (teamwork), and conflict resolution, and are demonstrated through interviews and other interactions.

What the employer really means is “you are not a good fit to my organization”.

Light at The End Of The Tunnel

There are strategies to get your foot in the door.

Let me  share a few ways to find a job in Canada.

1. Volunteer – there are opportunities is a variety of sectors at www.govolunteer.ca. You may meet people in various fields, learn how people interact, and practice your networking skills.

2. Learn the `jargon` used in your industry – every industry in Canada uses special words (called “jargon”) for machines, documents and procedures that are used in the workplace. Connect with the employer and ask questions that can help you understand the “jargon” and be key to your success in employment.

3. Learn how to write a Canadian-style resume. Have someone look at your resume before you send it out.

4. Be open to learning. Recognize you might not be aware of the culture that is around you. Don`t be afraid to ask questions.

5. Increase your network through networking. Tap into the hidden job market. 80% of the jobs are not advertised. Focus on the hidden job market. There`s less competition.

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