Immigrants face challenges that others don't, starting with employers who are hesitant to hire people new to Canada -- no matter how impressive their experience in another country might be.
"When you arrive in Canada, nobody knows what you have done, who you are or what you are capable of doing," says Marcela Chein, the Student and Employment Coordinator for the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) in Toronto, and the president of EXATEC Ontario. Chein arrived in Canada in 2013, and credits networking with helping her establish her career in Canada.
"Connecting with people will make you visible, put you under the spotlight where you will be noticed. It will increase your exposure," she says. In her role at EXATEC Ontario (which is also a part of the Professional Immigrant Network - or PIN - program), Chein now focuses on helping others capitalize on the power of connection. Here are her networking tips for newcomers to Canada.
Join a professional association
Join any association that is relevant to your field of study or career, including things like the aforementioned PIN program. This will help you connect with like-minded colleagues and influencers, and meet people from different backgrounds in similar situations.
Connect with people who speak other languages
It's easy to stick around people who speak the same language, but in order to improve your communication skills, it's essential that you connect with people who do not share your mother tongue. This will force you to speak one of Canada's two official languages, and get you to learn more about your new surroundings. Both activities can then make it easier for you to build networks and get better job opportunities.
Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer
It may seem counter-intuitive, but the more volunteering you do, the more likely you will land a job. Volunteering can instantly expand your network, give you something local to add to your resume, and increase the good karma coming your way. After all, the more you give, the more you receive.
One of the biggest challenges when building a network is connecting with the right people. This isn't to say that you have to cynically approach everyone with a clear idea of what they can do for you, but it can help you figure out what associations and events, for example, you might want to join and attend. Set an objective, and be strategic with your time and your networking efforts -- it will pay off.
It's not all about finding a job
As a balance against that last point, it's important to remember that in the end, the objective is to meet people -- not just contacts. The people you meet now, in what can often be a trying period, can become important friends, offering advice, support and recommendations -- all of which can simplify and improve life in your new country.
And maybe, just maybe, when your new friends hear about a job opportunity, they'll think of you.
Visit the Professional Immigrant Network or try the Skilled Immigrant Info Centre for links to other career resources. Other lists of professional associations are available online (like this list on Canadian Careers, or this Wikipedia listing), but they may not be fully up to date, so do some research into your own field. You can also check out sites like meetup.com, which can be an amazing way to connect with people who share your interests, grow your network, and make your next big career move.
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