There are two specific roads that new immigrants travel down when they arrive in Canada. The first road is quite easy to enter, yet is packed with frustrating traffic and gridlock. The other is like a highway, clear and full of the excitement that only the open road can provide.
Yet most professional immigrants entering into Canada enter and travel down the first road, one that’s congested and confusing.
Most immigrants arrive in Canada and go through a very similar career journey. Their first step is usually to integrate within their cultural community–seeking out friends, relatives in their cultural circle and establishing a feeling of home here in Canada.
If you’re an new immigrant the first thing the community tells you is “Welcome to Canada, it’s tough here, you have to start your career at the bottom”
Now it doesn’t really matter that you were a senior project manager for IBM in India, you’re told you still have to start at the bottom because it’s tough in Canada. Further evidence is provided to justify this advice; you have no Canadian Work experience, your education is not recognized, you face racial discrimination, you lack a network of contacts. All this free advice is dispensed by those that arrived before you and have traveled down this road. They had to forfeit their professional lives and start at the bottom. Why should you be any different.
Being new to Canada, this advice makes sense to most new immigrants who know very little about job market. In fact, the advice is overwhelmingly consistent within their community and is reinforced every-time they discuss their career frustration. Inevitably the new immigrant accepts this ideology to be
The second stage on the congested highway leads immigrants outside their community and into the hands of government agencies providing career advice. With renewed hope to live in such a wonderful country that provides free advice and seminars to new professionals with their career search. However, other than changing advisors, the advice received though slightly different seems very similar. The message has now evolved to, “it’s tough, but you should take any job to get started. Work hard you will get ahead at the company”. The message, though disguised still says “you have to start at the bottom.”
It’s tough to say this, but the motive of Government is focused on ensuring that the least amount of people collect social welfare or unemployment insurance not ensuring that you get the right job at the right field at the right level. That is a personal responsibility that should be within each one of us.
I make this statement whenever I talk to newcomers frustrated with their job search in Canada. I tell them, “If I moved to your country I would not find 50 Canadians that had not succeeded and take their advice on to get a great job. I would also not go to the government of your country and expect them to get me a job at my level of career in Canada” That is however exactly the road that they have traveled.
The right road or the highway is a little tougher to get on. I have worked with many successful immigrants to Canada that have secured wonderful careers. Here’s what they did to get on the career highway:
• They did not go only into their community.
• They made a conscious and strategic effort to build friends, relations and networks with all Canadians.
• They sought advice from those within and outside of their community that succeeded in Canada. They networked and left the comfort zone of their communities, joining organizations like to Board of Trade.
• They stayed away from negative or pessimistic influences trying to tell them how tough or impossible it is to achieve success in Canada.
• They sought out professional career counseling from many sources and made an investment to get the right help. They practiced English several hours a day.
• They developed marketing material to promote their skills. Focusing on what they could do for companies in Canada, not focusing on what they did in the past. (This really helps to minimize the “you’ve got no Canadian experience rejection.”)
This advice is not easy to implement, that is why the right road is empty. It takes courage in doing what other in your community don’t do. If you are frustrated with your Career Journey in Canada, ask yourself, what road are you on.
By Minto Roy