It is not a secret that the world—okay, we need not go far—Canada—is an arid landscape nowadays for jobs. Let us qualify that. There is an abundance of jobs, except that the populace (or more specifically, the new immigrants) have skills that are not suited for the available jobs, and the available jobs require blue collar skills not possessed by—again, we need not go far— Filipino professionals in Canada.
This disconnect has impacted several Filipino lives who intentionally relocated and transplanted their families to that proverbial greener pasture.
What to do, what to do.
First, ye job seekers should not take “no calls”, “no response”, “no headway” personally. It is not because you are not smart enough, or not the right fit, or don’t have what it takes—you do. It’s just that your world has changed and you have to contend with your current reality, that is, the requirement in Canada of “Canadian experience,” several other applicants for a job (about 80 per opening), and the hidden job market.
But there are ways for you to conquer Canada and continue your professional journey here. And this is the main theme in this year’s ‘BC Immigrant Professionals Conference’ co-hosted by ISSofBC, MOSAIC and DiverseCity in March.
Here are some tips from the conference’ featured speaker, Lionel Laroche:
1. If you look like a duck, sound like a duck, walk like a duck, you must be a duck.
You need to know what’s going on and what the current issues in your profession are. To do this (be this), you have to read at least the past 18 issues of the particular magazine of your profession. You can check out the library nearest to you, or subscribe. This is especially critical during networking. You see, you have to use technical words specific to your field so you look, sound and walk like them for them to consider you their own—hopefully, someone will offer you a job (or adopt you) down this road. One with them all, at last.
2. Look for where the jobs are and be realistic about it.
If you are a nuclear physicist, you cannot insist on being a nuclear physicist in downtown Toronto BECAUSE there are no nuclear power plants in downtown Toronto. Yes, Virginio. Either you move to places that are near the power plant facilities (which are nowhere near downtown Toronto), or be a cab driver. Take your pick.
3. It is a numbers game
If you’ve seen how an infographic looks like, that’s what your resume should look like. Okay, not literally. But you have to provide stats of what you’ve done and how you’ve performed in your former job(s). To do this (highlight your accomplishments in a quantifiable way), you have to sit down and list situations and/or problems you have faced in the workplace, what action you took and what were the results. This (hopefully) will give you a clear picture of what you’re good at.
Have you improved efficiency in your workplace by 300% because of your speed and accuracy? Be sure to mention it. But please also be believable. Raising profits from $100,000 to $10 million say in an automobile industry may not be very believable (profit in this industry is typically 10-15% only).
4. There are job openings and there are job openings.
Most times, it is not perfect fit and you know it but you still apply. Don’t. Don’t waste your time, or the company’s. Zoom in on where you think you will be perfect and spend every inch of your brain power on how to best highlight your skills so the HR person will notice you.
Or you can do this exercise: have a list of organizations you want to work in. Say, you have 100. Classify them into A-C (C =70 to 100), (B = 30 to 69) ( A = 1 to 29) and work your way up from C to A, from 100 to 1, trying to talk to someone in the company to find out more about the company or getting an informational interview. Why not start at 1, you ask? Through 100 to 1, you get practice, lots of practice, and get tips and useful information along the way. If you start at 1 not knowing what you should know, then you would have blown the chance to work at your dream workplace. Maybe forever. Practice makes perfect. It is in school, it is in job hunting.
We know it is daunting. We know you have to clock in several hours just to do your resume or your informational interviews or your networking (it’s a full time job!). But you need to do what you need to do. We are in Rome, Virginio, and here, we do what the Romans do, and do whatever it takes.
With a report from Grace Quiddaoen.
Comments from conference attendees
As interviewed by Grace Quiddaoen, Philippine Canadian Inquirer
Giovanni Mata, a practicing immigration consultant, moved to Canada in February 2012. He says:
“The conference offered very informative topics : Canadian employment system, workplace culture, how to set up goals/strategies in job search related to one’s field; going back to school/re-training options and funding opportunities. I thought it was mostly a networking event and it turned out to be much more. I just wish that next time, they would not have the sessions taking place at the same time so that participants would have the options of attending them all or most of them.”
Chatty Lagura, an accountant from Davao, arrived in Vancouver in January 2011. She says:
“I think the 4 fundamental questions when job searching, as presented by Lionel Laroche are very helpful:
- What problems are you good at solving?
- Who has this problem and is willing to spend to have this solved?
- How do you make them (employer) know you exist?
- How do you convince them you’re the best candidate to solve this problem?”
An additional tip: keep your qualifications specific and highlight your specialization instead of being a “jack of all trades.” This makes a lot of sense in a Canadian workplace.”