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“Fit in Fast” program for new immigrant working professionals

On Thursday July 9, 2015, Bow Valley College introduced the “Fit in Fast” program at Immigrant Services Calgary. This is an online program designed by the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement to help new immigrant professionals to fit in with Canadian expectations. It was a successful event with many attendees. For more information about this program, please visit https://centre.bowvalleycollege.ca/blog/workforce-development/help-your-learners-fit-fast.

Crossing the “Believability Gap”

HOW ARE HIRING DECISIONS MADE?

After the resumes are submitted, and the interviews are completed, how does the hiring manager decide who to hire?

Let’s take a step back for a moment. Hiring managers are usually the leaders of a team, a project, a business unit, or a specific location. They have a budget, a set of accountabilities, objectives or outputs, and a team of people of varying size for whom they are responsible for. They need to believe that whomever they bring onto their team, will help them achieve their accountabilities/goals, and will not negatively impact the performance of their team, or otherwise get in the way of the teams (or organization’s) objectives.

This is what I call the “Believability Gap.”  

It is a gap of doubt, or of fear, that any given candidate for a job, can actually SUCCEED in the job. Generally, the person who best shrinks this gap of doubt, or whom best convinces the hiring manager that they have the skills and experience necessary to cross it, wins the job.

How do you do this?

  • You must make it clear on your resume and in your answers that you not only have the technical skills required for the position, that you have PROVEN competency in those technical skills. The best way to prove competency is by given detailed examples of how you have used these skills to achieve results (or successes) in the past. Before you arrive at an interview, you should write down (in detail) what these examples are that demonstrates your competency in that skill, and read them over and over so you are mentally ready to access them.
  • Research the company and the specific job that you are being interviewed for and ask yourself the following questions

“Why does organization exist? What its purpose? What products does it produce, or what service does it deliver?”

“What are the main problems this company needs to resolve in order to produce, market, or sell/deliver its products or service?

“What role does the position I am applying to or being interviewed for have in resolving these problems, or otherwise contributing to the success of the company?”

“How have I helped my past employers overcome similar problems? What value can I deliver for this company that would make them want to hire me, over another candidate?”

When you have answered these questions for yourself. Write your answers down and read them over and over, and practice saying them.   The goal is not be able to recite them perfectly at an interview, but to have them firmly in your mind, so you can easily access them under the stress of a job interview.

If you can answer these questions, and then discuss them during an interview, you will go a long ways to closing that gap, and increasing your chances of getting a job offer.

Minimum Wage to reach $11.20

Alberta’s minimum wage will increase from $10.20 to $11.20 on October 1st, 2015. The minimum wage in Alberta is currently the lowest in Canada, but will become the second highest once the one dollar increase is in effect.  This increase is part of the Alberta NDP government’s plan of bringing minimum wage to $15 by 2018, which would become the highest in Canada.

The change in wages will also affect liquor servers. In Alberta and several other provinces, liquor servers are paid less than the minimum wage as it is assumed that they will receive tips. In October, liquor servers will receive an increase of $1.50 per hour.  In 2016, they are expected to receive the same wage as other minimum wage earners.

Plans for the next minimum wage increase have not been revealed.

Staffing and Recruitment Agencies

Question: “Should I use Staffing and Recruitment agencies to help me find a job?”

Answer: Yes, and No.

The first thing you need to understand about a recruiter is that they do not work for you. They work for whatever company pays them. YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS.

In other words, they only get paid if the candidate they send to the company actually gets hired. There are several problems this causes you as the candidate.

  • Since a company only pays if they hire someone, they can afford to be extremely picky with what candidates are presented to them, even if their expectations are totally unrealistic (and as a former HR professional I can tell you, they often are). Imagine 10-15 recruiters from different agencies, kneeling down before the company with an offering (your resume). The company is only going to pick the ones that are the absolute best of the best, the closet to what their fantasy of a perfect candidate is EVEN if that is unrealistic.
  • For this reason, it is in the best interests of the RECRUITER (but not you as the candidate) to present the candidates they think the company will most likely choose, so that they are the ones that win the business and get paid, not their competitor. In other words, they often get little reward for taking a risk on someone who is not absolutely PERFECT.

YOU NEED TO REMEMBER THESE TWO POINTS.

That said, there are potential benefits to working with a recruiter.

  • You should approach them because they often have an extensive list of contacts and relationships that they have built with hiring managers/companies. By approaching them, you are (in theory at least) accessing their own network and thus you are POTENTIALLY increasing the number of hiring managers who will see your resume. The more hiring managers who see your resume, then statistically, the greater the chance you will find an employer that thinks they can use your skills and experience.
  • Despite what I have said in my first two points a the top of this article, some recruiters thrive off of marketing imperfect candidates (and everyone is imperfect). They feel they can sell someone to a company, that may be reluctant at first. In this way, they are taking a greater risk, but also may be getting a bigger reward since most recruiters are not doing it. For this reason, it never hurts to approach a recruiter.

Tips on working with recruiters:

  • Keep your expectations low, you cannot rely on them to find you a job.
  • As I mentioned above, some recruiters may see value in your and feel they can successfully market you to a potential employer. So my recommendation is to approach several. There is nothing unethical about this. Keep in mind, they do not work for you , they do not owe you anything, and thus you don’t owe them anything either (beyond basic professional courtesy).
  • Be proactive. Check in the recruiter every 1-2 weeks. Don’t overwhelm them, but do follow up. If they have a website and you see a job that interests you, ask them about it.
    1. They may have forgotten about you. Don’t take this personally, recruiters see tonnes of people and tonnes of resumes.
    2. They may not be interested in marketing you to the employer, but frankly, they may send off your resume, just to get you to stop harassing them. This is good because at least your resume got to the employer.
  • The real key, is to not overwhelm them with phone calls or e-mails. Every few days to 1 week apart between communications is basic business etiquette. This gives people time to respond.
  • Also, listen to them and go with your gut. It may be that they are just not interested in working with you. If this is the case, you need to focus your efforts on different recruiters, or wait a few weeks/few months, and r-re-approach the agency again, and try and contact a different recruiter there.

So in summary. Yes, work with recruiters, but remember, they don’t work for you and thus you need to have realistic expectations, and also be proactive and aggressive with them, but in the bounds of professional communications etiquette.

DRAFT “Names”

Some people upon arriving in Canada wonder if they should change their name to sound more “Canadian.” Common reasons people give are 1) a concern that their name sounds too “ethinc,” and they worry people will discriminate against them, 2) concern that people will have a hard time pronouncing it. Specifically, I have had clients wonder if they should pick a more “Canadian sounding” name for their resume and correspondence. Is this necessary?

The answer is no, It’s not, but even in Canada some people will choose a different first name for people to address them by. This is usually because their first name is long (John, v.s Johnathon) or because the simply don’t like the name they were given. For example, I have a friend whose first name is Agnes, but she prefers to go by “Sue.”

However, most people in Canada are used to “ethnic” sounding names because Canada is a nation with a long history of immigration. Canada is also a meritocracy where people’s ethnic background is largely considered irrelevant to whether they can competently perform a job. The majority of Canadians however, do not care what your name sounds like when it comes to hiring you for a job.

My advice is to use the name you are most comfortable with but above all else, be consistent. This means whatever name you choose, use it all the time and on everything involving your job search and work (including all marketing material) such as:

  • Resume,
  • Cover Letters
  • Email address
  • Linkedin
  • Personal websites, or blogs.

If for instance you use your full name on your resume, use it on your cover letter as well. If you shorten it on your cover letter, shorten it on your Resume. Remember, BE CONSISTENT.

Name formatting and naming conventions in Canada.

In Canada, people’s first name or “given name” comes first, and the family name or “last name” comes second. For example, it would be ‘Jane Smith,’ not ‘Smith Jane.’ In many cultures it is the opposite. If this is the case with your name, I highly recommend changing the order to match the Canadian style, otherwise people will call you by your last name.

E-mail

Try and get an address that reflects the name you choose to use on the rest of your marketing materials. If your name is John Doe, try and find an address like johndoe@gmail.com or the closest thing to it.

Official documents (Transcripts, Passports, government Identification):

You can change your first name for work purposes but I would not advise changing any of your official documents. I would also not advise changing your last name because it is how people will verify that your transcripts, or Identification, etc really does belong to you, even if the first name is different. If people ask you why your first name is different, just explain you were more comfortable with a shorter, or Canadian sounding name.

Use whatever name you are most comfortable with, but whatever do, use it consistently (all the time, and on everything).

National Professional Practice Examination

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) is introducing a new, computer-based version of the National Professional Practice Exam (NPPE).

The NPPE is a mandatory exam that all applicants must pass before they can become licensed to practice engineering or geoscience in Alberta.

Computerizing the NPPE will benefit applicants in many ways:

  • multiple test locations in Alberta and Canada
  • more timeslots to choose from
  • faster exam results
  • practice exam now available

To learn about the NPPE and the practice exam, please visit the NPPE web page.

Maximizing the benefits of immigration for the Canadian economy

Meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers of immigration focused on economic immigration

May 22, 2015 — Toronto — Federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) governments reiterated their shared commitment to maximizing the economic benefits of immigration at today’s meeting of FPT Ministers responsible for immigration. The selection of economic immigrants and the improvement of settlement and labour market outcomes for newcomers were a key focus of the meeting, which was co-chaired by Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander and Ontario’s Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade Minister Michael Chan.

Economic immigration and ensuring Canada remains a destination of choice continue to be top priorities for all participants around the table. Ministers present at the meeting discussed the launch of the new Express Entry immigration system and the ongoing importance of the Provincial Nominee Programs that allow provinces and territories to find prospective immigrants to meet their labour market needs.

Immigration levels planning was discussed by the ministers. Provincial and territorial representatives will continue to provide advice based on labour-market data. This advice will inform the decisions of the federal government, along with input from third parties including private-sector employers in a series of cross-Canada consultations in the coming months.

Ministers also reviewed the ongoing work on Helping Immigrants Succeed: An FPT Action Plan that aims to improve Employment Fit/Foreign Qualification Recognition, Social Connections, and Language for those outside of the labour market.

Ministers discussed progress on the three-year action plan FPT Vision for Immigration to Canada (2012-2015), that is intended to adapt to immigration changes and to build a fast, fair and flexible economic immigration system. Efforts remain focused on meeting labour market needs, increasing Francophone immigration and improving settlement outcomes for all newcomers.

Under the Canada-Québec Accord relating to immigration and temporary admission of aliens, Québec fully assumes sole responsibility for establishing immigration levels, and for the selection, francization and integration of immigrants. In areas under its responsibility, Québec develops its policies and programs, legislates, regulates and sets its own standards.

Quick facts

  • Express Entry is a new way for employers and provinces and territories to access skilled immigrants and quickly fill regional labour-market gaps.
  • A number of provinces and territories have already taken advantage of the Express Entry system by nominating provincial candidates; the first of these are already permanent residents.
  • More than 47,000 provincial and territorial nominees, including their spouses and dependants, were admitted to Canada in 2014. This represents a 42 per cent increase between 2013 and 2015.
  • In 2014, 63 per cent of immigrants were in the economic stream. Governments aim to increase that percentage to 70 per cent in the years ahead.
  • FPT governments are committed to maximizing the benefits of immigration for the Canadian economy by ensuring that newcomers integrate and contribute fully as soon as possible.
  • The Government of Canada will invest almost $1 billion in 2015-2016, in addition to provincial and territorial contributions, to support newcomers’ settlement needs across Canada.

Source: Maximizing the benefits of immigration for the Canadian economy – Canada News Centre

Harper Government announces more help for new Canadians to get into job market faster

 April 13, 2015– Ottawa, Ontario – Employment and Social Development Canada

The Honourable Pierre Poilievre, Minister of Employment and Social Development, released a report today outlining new and better ways to integrate immigrants into the Canadian workforce.

The Minister shared highlights from the report, authored by the Panel on Employment Challenges of New Canadians, during his speech at The Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Immigration Summit 2015, which kicked off in Ottawa today.

The Minister also announced funding for two related projects that will see internationally trained doctors and engineers have their foreign credentials more quickly and effectively recognized by eliminating red tape and taking advantage of new online tools.

The two projects, one led by the Medical Council of Canada and the other by Engineers Canada, will help address some of the challenges noted by the Panel that newcomers face when trying to obtain employment.These challenges include problems getting foreign qualifications recognized, a lack of Canadian work experience, inadequate pre-arrival information and a mismatch of skills to region.

The Minister pledged to carefully study the Panel’s recommendations, which include the need to:

  • require each regulated occupation to develop a single national standard and point of contact and insist that skilled immigrants take the initiative to have their qualifications assessed prior to arriving in Canada;
  • develop a broader strategy for alternative careers, with a more prominent role for regulators, that will support newcomers as part of the licensing process;
  • produce better, more coordinated labour market information targeted at newcomers; and
  • create a sense of shared responsibility among all stakeholders for helping immigrants find jobs that match their skills, with a focus on engaging employers.

The Government’s commitment to helping newcomers to Canada is just one of its key priorities, which also include helping hard-working families by enhancing the Universal Child Care Benefit, introducing the Family Tax Cut and making improvements to the Child Care Expenses Deduction and the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit.

Source: Harper Government announces more help for new Canadians to get into job market faster – Canada News Centre

Networking and Relationship Building for Foreign Trained HR Professionals

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On Thursday March 12th, Immigrant Services Calgary in partnership with the Adiuvo Foundation, hosted an interactive workshop to introduce the concept of professional networking in Canada to foreign trained HR professionals. At this event, participants also had an opportunity to learn about work search resources for job seekers in this field, as well as meet and network with Lisa Lutman – Senior HR Specialist with Accenture.

Should you use Staffing and Recruitment agencies to help find a job?

Question: “Should I use Staffing and Recruitment agencies to help me find a job?

Answer: Yes, and No.

The first thing you need to understand about a recruiter is that they do not work for you. They work for whatever company pays them.

In other words, they only get paid if the candidate they send to the company actually gets hired. There are several problems this causes you as the candidate.

1) Since a company only pays if they hire someone, they can afford to be extremely picky with what candidates are presented to them, even if their expectations are totally unrealistic (and as a former HR professional I can tell you, they often are).  The company is only going to pick the ones that are the absolute best of the best, the closet to what their fantasy of a perfect candidate is  EVEN if that is unrealistic.

2) It is in the best interests of the RECRUITER (but not you as the candidate) to present the candidates they think the company will most likely choose, so that they are the ones that win the business and get paid, not their competitor. In other words, they often get little reward for taking a risk on someone who is not absolutely PERFECT.

That said, there are potential benefits to working with a recruiter.

1) You should approach them because they often have an extensive list of contacts and relationships that they have built with hiring managers/companies.  By approaching them, you are accessing their own network and thus you are potentially increasing the number of hiring managers who will see your resume. The more hiring managers who see your resume, then statistically, the greater the chance you will find an employer that thinks they can use your skills and experience.

2) Some recruiters thrive off of marketing imperfect candidates, and everyone is imperfect. They feel they can sell someone to a company that may be reluctant to take that chance at first.  In this way, they are taking a greater risk, but also may be getting a bigger reward since most recruiters are not doing it. For this reason, it never hurts to approach a recruiter.

Tips on working with recruiters:

1) Keep your expectations low, you cannot rely on them to find you a job.

2) It is beneficial and recommended to approach several. There is nothing unethical about this. Keep in mind, they do not owe you anything, and thus you don’t owe them anything either (beyond basic professional courtesy).

3) Be proactive. Check in the recruiter every 1-2 weeks. Don’t overwhelm them, but do follow up. If they have a website and you see a job that interests you, ask them about it.

4) The real key is to not overwhelm them with phone calls or e-mails. Every few days to 1 week apart between communications is basic business etiquette. This gives people time to respond.

In summary, yes, work with recruiters, but remember, they don’t work for you and thus you need to have realistic expectations, and also be proactive and aggressive with them, but in the bounds of professional communications etiquette.