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Canadian TV program discussing immigration changes

Posted on Apr. 18th 2012 by wendymr
views: 1668, comments: 1
Here's a link to a recent television discussion on Jason Kenney's proposals to change immigration procedures:


The programme is The Agenda, and it was shown on TVOntario. It's 35 minutes long and covers changes including greater stress on language and credential recognition, increasing emphasis on bringing people over as temporary workers, and changes to spousal sponsorship.

The Expatriate Mind on LoonLounge - Kenney swings the ax - Skilled Worker backlog eliminated

Posted on Apr. 5th 2012 by expatriatemind
views: 1238, comments: 6
In what has to be a slap in the face to 200,000 people all over the world who hoped to come to Canada as Skilled Workers, Jason Kenney and the Harper Government have with one swipe of the pen, eliminated the Skilled Worker backlog of immigration applicants.

Here's the news from The Star:

"The federal government is wiping out a waiting list of more than 200,000 foreign workers and returning the $130 million they paid in processing fees as it begins an ambitious overhaul of the country’s immigration system.

"Hopeful immigrants who applied before Feb. 27, 2008, to come to Canada as skilled workers will have their fees returned and be told to apply again under new programs that put greater emphasis on their work skills.

"The news has already created shockwaves among immigration lawyers and consultants, who anticipated myriad legal actions against the government.

“It is another example of the lack of integrity and shortsightedness of this government,” said Toronto lawyer Tim Leahy, who filed a class action lawsuit earlier this year on behalf of more than 300 immigration applicants over delayed processing.

“What does it say about the integrity of Canada? We can refund the processing fee, but how are you going to refund six years of lives of these applicants?”

"Calling the plan “unprecedented,” lawyer Robin Seligman said the government should have first stopped the intake to clear the backlog. Prospective migrants might now think twice before applying to Canada, she added. “How can you trust this government?”

"The drastic move is meant to eliminate a backlog that means skilled workers have had to wait upwards of eight years to get into Canada."

Read the rest of the article here - http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1153793--federal-budget-2012-immigration-reforms-to-speed-entry-of-economic-immigrants

Follow The Expatriate Mind at http://expatriatemind.blogspot.ca/

Don’t Get Ripped Off When Looking For a Job!

Posted on Feb. 19th 2012 by wendymr
views: 1333, comments: 6
When it comes to job-hunting, I’ve said around this site several times that you should NEVER pay anyone for a job. There are several things to know about the process of looking for work in Canada:

1. No-one can FIND a job for you. Anyone who promises that they can do that is more than likely lying

2. Employers never hire sight unseen. You would always have to be interviewed before you get hired. The most any career consultant can do is to get your resume under the nose of a hiring manager, and there is no guarantee of either an interview or a job offer

3. Most companies who charge to help you find a job offer little more than resume and interview advice, and access to job postings you can find elsewhere – and those services are all available free from government-funded employment agencies anyway

4. Finding a job is a long and often difficult process, especially in the current climate. There aren’t shortcuts, though it certainly helps if you’re able to build your own network of contacts in your desired industry. Anyone who leads you to believe that they can give you shortcuts, or make guarantees of success, or do all the work and all you need to do is sit back and wait for the offers to come pouring in... that person is not to be trusted, especially if they’re asking for money

This weekend, on CBC Marketplace, there is an exposé of a fee-for-service career marketing company called Toronto Pathways, which charges clients anything from $3000 to over $6000 in return for promises to find them a job – and all the clients who’ve handed over money they can ill-afford got in return was a bit of resume and interview coaching, and a job posting website that was barely updated and contained nothing not available elsewhere. There is some evidence that this company has been aggressively going after newcomers to Canada, who are likely to be less aware of how the system works here.

Here’s the documentary: http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/2012/recruitmentripoff/

Watch it and you’ll see the promises that are made up front, but then evaporate once people actually pay the fee. The video describes it as a scam, and I can’t help but agree.

What’s even worse is that the kind of services people do get from this company are all available free in every province in Canada, funded by provincial governments. Here’s another video showing the services provided to newcomers by Costi Immigrant Services in Toronto, funded by Employment Ontario:

I work for an agency also funded by Employment Ontario, and providing similar services. No-one is ever charged to access these services, and counsellors who work at these agencies are all trained to be client-centred as well as knowledgeable about the labour market, so services are focused on the job-seeker’s needs, not on what the agency wants to give you.

This kind of service is available FREE all over Canada. Once you arrive and you have your Social Insurance Number, you can walk into any agency and get help. In Ontario, you don’t even need to be a permanent resident or citizen: even if you’re here on a temporary work permit or are a refugee, you can get free help.

How do you find these free services? Start here: http://www.settlementroadmap.ca/

As Nick Corcodilos, recruitment expert, says on another of the CBC Marketplace video: “No-one can guarantee anyone else a job, except an employer after he makes a decision to hire someone. Anyone who is charging you and telling you they’re going to guarantee you a job is probably lying to you.”

Please, if you’re looking for work, get the right advice and don’t get ripped off!

Don't delay !!!!

Posted on Aug. 4th 2011 by Jonnee
views: 1014, comments: 2
The two most popular categories for the Federal Skilled Worker have already taken an incredible leap in processing applications this last month.
I believe that this is because people were watching the trends, and applied with COMPLETE packages early, knowing which professions would be in demand,
(They had prepared themselves, or their representatives had)
This year, only 500 from each category will be accepted.
#1122 Professional Occupations in Business Services to Management is almost full. (336)
#3152 Registered Nurses is at 114 in one month.
Stay alert people!


Great new tool to find local settlement help all over Canada!

Posted on Jun. 17th 2011 by wendymr
views: 974, comments: 0
I want to introduce you to an invaluable new resource to help you find out what assistance is available to you when you actually land in Canada. This is the Settlement Road Map, a searchable directory of non-profit resources offering help with settlement, language training and employment. All of these services will be free, or with a low cost for any parts which aren't covered by existing funding.

You can find the roadmap website at http://www.settlementroadmap.ca/

Just click on the road sign in the picture for the language you want to use: English or French. Then choose your province, and then you will be able to choose a region of that province. If you want information for Vancouver, choose British Columbia and then Lower Mainland. If you want Toronto, click Ontario and then Toronto Region.

You can select the services you need from the three covered: Settlement, Languages and Employment. Just for now, I recommend NOT selecting these and clicking through anyway; we are told that agencies themselves must add information about their services and until they do this they won't appear under a specific search. So just ignore the boxes and click Submit. When you click on an agency name, you will get their address and a link to their website, so you can explore the services offered and see if they meet your needs. As agencies add information about services, you will also see a summary of services offered.

This website is a project of the Canadian Newcomer Magazine, a magazine I've recommended on this website previously for its excellent articles on settling in Canada, finding schools, looking for work, building communities and so on (http://www.cnmag.ca). I am not associated with the Newcomer Magazine in any way, but like to recommend it as a useful resource. Canadian Newcomer founder and president, Dale Sproule says, “We have compiled the best database of settlement sector information in Canada. The newcomer population in this country grew by over 400,000 in 2010 – including students, foreign workers, refugees and landed immigrants – so there is huge need for information that makes the settlement process easier and faster – and a huge opportunity for service providers both inside and outside the settlement sector to reach out to new clients as they arrive.”

If you use the website, tell me what you think!

What's Your USP?

Posted on Feb. 8th 2011 by wendymr
views: 1211, comments: 3
I’ve been told many times by job-seekers that the interview questions they find most difficult are the ones along these lines:

• Tell me about yourself

• Name your top strengths

• Why should I hire you?

Yet I am told by hiring managers that, really, these should be the easiest questions of all. Why? Because they offer you the opportunity to sell yourself: to show an employer exactly what you have to offer that makes you stand out.

Why do people find these questions hard? With the first question, people have told me that they’re not sure what the employer wants to hear (and some interviewees have even answered the question that way: What do you want to know?). They’re not sure what the employer is looking for here: their life history? Their education? Their work experience? Which? Or all three?

If you answered ‘work experience’, give yourself a pat on the back. That’s what the employer is interested in – but not just that. They want to know what makes you special. Why they should hire you over the half-dozen other people with similar qualifications.

(And if you’re wondering why employers aren’t interested in your education, it’s because this is mostly taken for granted. You’re expected to have education relevant to the job, but it’s what you’ve actually achieved that matters. This is why, in Canada, education is almost always at the end of a resume. It’s just not as important as your accomplishments in employment).

Consider the difference between these two answers:

“I have a bachelor’s degree in accounting and ten years’ experience as a company accountant. I worked in two different companies. My first job was as an assistant in a accounting consultancy company. and then I moved to another company as a senior in-house accountant, and then got promoted to accounting manager. I’ve now immigrated to Canada and I’m looking for a job in my field.”

“I’ve been a chartered accountant for ten years, after getting my bachelor’s degree and then my licence. I prefer to work as an in-house accountant rather than for a consultancy, although I worked for a consultancy company earlier in my career. I have a reputation for finding ways to save money – for example, last year I found out about a new program that would allow my company to claim particular expenditure against tax, and we cut our bill by $3 million as a result. I’ve now moved to Canada as the next stage in my career. I’ve put a lot of time into learning about the Canadian accounting and tax framework, and I’m currently looking for an opportunity to contribute to a well-established company where I can quickly show my strengths and build a career.”

Less than five minutes into the interview, who would you want to hire?

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses – and, yes, you’re likely to be asked about your weaknesses in an interview as well. But here I’m focusing on strengths. What are you REALLY good at? What is your USP? That’s your Unique Selling Point, by the way, a term used in marketing but every bit as important in job-searching. If you can’t tell an employer what makes you better than the competition, you’ve already ruled yourself out of the race.

So start thinking about your career. What are your successes? What have you done that makes you proudest? What do you think you do that makes you stand out from your co-workers? Everyone is better at some things than others, and it’s those things you’re really good at that employers want to know about when they ask you to tell them about yourself, or why they should hire you.

Remember, also, that it’s YOU they’re considering hiring, not the team you work with, or used to work with. This means that a job interview is the place where you have unlimited permission to say I, not we. If you keep talking about your past experience as a group effort, the employer has no way of knowing how much of it was your contribution and how much was other people’s work.

Make a list – your top five strengths and achievements. What have you most often been praised for? What do clients or customers or managers or co-workers like about you? What makes you able to succeed where others might fail?

Your USP could be one – or more – of the following:

• You save money
• You save time
• You create new processes that make people’s work easier
• You bring in new customers
• You’re innovative and invent new products/services/ideas
• You find solutions for problems
• You have excellent attention to detail and never let potential problems turn into real ones
• You can sell anything to anyone
• Your designs/other creative work have won awards
• You can build good working relationships with even the most difficult people
• Your projects have always come in on time and under budget

...and so on and so on.

Remember, though, that you need to follow up these strengths with EXAMPLES. So along with this list think of times when you have excelled, and be prepared to tell your story – in summary in your answer to the ‘tell me about yourself’ question, and in more detail later in the interview. This is most effectively done in this format:

“I took on a new opportunity three years ago, as sales manager for a brand-new product which we believed was better than the competition, although the market was already crowded. I developed a strategy to promote it to existing customers and to win new customers. I cold-called, visited customers to demonstrate the product, offered free samples and also special discounts for large orders. Within a year, we were outselling the competition and making almost twice the profit on the product we expected. All that, and my marketing costs came in under budget.”

Here, I described the SITUATION: launching a new product in a crowded market. The ACTION: developing a sales strategy and what it was. The RESULT: the product became the market leader, earning higher profits than expected.

In a real situation, you would likely give more details about your strategy and the results, but for this example here you can see how a story can be told simply and effectively to demonstrate achievements.

And you can see why an employer would want to know more about a candidate with this track record!

Finding a job really is about selling. The ‘product’ you are selling is yourself, and you are the sales representative. In order to make the successful sale, you have to convince the employer of your strengths and unique qualities – and you’re the one who can make or break the sale, depending on how well you know yourself and can get this across to an employer.

Once you’ve identified what makes you stand out, use that information. Turn it into your ‘elevator speech’ or your ’30-second commercial’. Imagine you’re on an elevator ride with someone who has the power to hire you – or at least offer you a job interview. What can you tell them about yourself in 30 seconds to achieve that outcome?

You can also use that ‘pitch’ at networking meetings, as the profile statement at the top of your resume, and even on your LinkedIn profile. See this profile as an example of one which does that very well: http://ca.linkedin.com/in/socialmediacoach

Under the person’s name, you’ll see his USP:
***Social Media Coach | Helping businesses develop successful social media strategies to grow and prosper.***

At one glance, you know what he does – and that he does it successfully. That’s his USP. What’s yours?

New Labour Market Information Source!

Posted on Sep. 7th 2010 by wendymr
views: 1419, comments: 1
Looking for good labour market information for your occupation in Canada? You're in luck!

The Working in Canada website has just been updated, and on that site you will find lots of useful resources and access to information about specific occupations. You will find:

- links to the NOC description for your occupation
- information about licensing and certification, if needed, including in which provinces the occupation requires a licence
- education and training information for the occupation
- main duties
- salary information
- local labour market prospects for cities/regions of your choosing, including current number of vacancies for this occupation on the Canadian government's Job Bank website
- information on that occupation for internationally-trained individuals, including whether or not it is an in-demand occupation for Federal Skilled Worker or any other immigration routes that may be available for this occupation

The Working in Canada website can be found here: http://www.workingincanada.gc.ca/content_pieces-eng.do?cid=1&lang=eng

As an example of what you can expect to find, here is a report for Software Engineers:

Note that licensure is NOT mandatory in this field, though it is available. Also note that the 'jobs available in this occupation' only covers Job Bank, and most employers of software engineers don't use that website to advertise - they would use sites such as Monster.ca or advertise on their own websites.

Be aware, also, that this site is still being updated and you will not find current labour market information or salary information for all occupations, but you will find other useful information.

I hope that this will help you in your labour market research for your occupation before coming to Canada. You shouldn't just rely on this site, though; also keep looking at job postings and researching specific companies as all of these sources combined will give you much more knowledge, putting you in a stronger position once you land in Canada.

Business Culture and Social Interaction: Navigating the Minefields

Posted on Aug. 14th 2010 by wendymr
views: 1222, comments: 7
So you’re doing really well at your ESL classes and spending all your spare time reading up on Canadian history, culture and daily life, when you’re not researching the labour market and collecting your papers ready to immigrate. Fantastic. But there’s another area of preparation you may want to give some attention to, especially if you haven’t had routine dealings with Canadians in business environments.

Business culture and social interaction. Because, yes, Canadians are different. As are, by the way, inhabitants of every country in the world. They’re even different from Americans, incidentally. I’ve emigrated twice, and both times had to learn new unwritten rules of interaction for fear of unwittingly offending people.

Take, first of all, communicating with people. The first minefield is that little word ‘dear’. It’s used in several different contexts. One, as we’re all taught in written English, is the formal letter: Dear So-and-So. That’s fine – except the use of ‘Dear So-and-So’ in business correspondence is dying out. However, using ‘dear’ slightly differently, for example ‘Hello dear’ as the introduction to an email or private message, is not fine, because ‘dear’ in *that* context could be read in two ways, and neither are very favourable to you. One is as a term of endearment, something someone might call their spouse: like ‘Hello darling’ – not appropriate for someone you don’t know, or only know slightly! And the other context is one that’s seen as sexist: when women first started coming into workplaces alongside men in greater numbers in the Western world, some men would address women as ‘dear’ rather than using their name – for example, “Get me those photocopies, dear.” Kind of patronising – and that association has stuck.

The second minefield is making assumptions when you correspond with someone – and that includes sending a resume and cover letter to an employer. I’ve seen ‘Dear Sir’ in cover letters any number of times. I’ve seen ‘Dear Mr...’ when the writer has a last name but no first name – or perhaps wasn’t aware of the gender of the first name. (And that’s understandable; with very few exceptions, I don’t know male from female Chinese or Arabic names, for example). The trouble is that your letter or email is as likely to be received by a woman as by a man – you have up to a 50% chance of offending the person who will read your job application (perhaps even higher, as most HR managers are women). The same goes for message boards and forums such as this – or a professional networking site like LinkedIn. I’ve had people PM me and address me as ‘Dear Sir’, or refer to me as ‘he’ in a discussion thread. You often can’t tell from someone’s message-board nick if they’re male or female, though my first name (visible on my profile) is a common woman’s name in English-speaking countries. It’s very acceptable, and even recommended, in Canadian business culture to address someone in an email or letter as Dear Firstname Lastname, or For the Attention of Firstname Lastname, if you know their name. When you’re applying for jobs, that’s one of the recommended ways of addressing your cover letter. If you don’t have a hiring manager’s name, then the accepted salutation is For the Attention of (or To) The Hiring Committee.

There’s also the handshake. Every culture is different in their greeting rituals, of course, and in Canada – in much of the English-speaking western world – the handshake is at the core of professional interactions. It’s also about the only time businesspeople, both men and women, touch each other. The handshake is expected – at the beginning of business meetings, at the end of meetings, and on being introduced. If you have a job interview, a handshake is expected with all interviewers, at the beginning and end. We’re judged on our handshake, too. The expectation is that you stand at arm’s length from each other – no closer, or you’re invading personal space – and that you grip firmly for about two seconds, and then let go. No actual shaking, no multiple clasps (I’ve had the pleasure of an African handshake, and I loved it, but it’s not the Canadian way) and no ‘limp fish’ grips.

Practise your handshake – if you’re not sure how to get it right, then once you arrive in Canada ask a Canadian, maybe a settlement worker if you don’t know anyone else, to practice with you. And if you don’t shake hands for cultural or religious reasons, think about how you’re going to handle that. In a job interview, you have around ten seconds to make your first impression, and the last thing you want to do is risk offending your interviewer in those first ten seconds!

And these are just tiny minefields. The bigger challenges arise when you get hired and start a job in a Canadian workplace. Lionel Laroche, expert on adapting to multicultural workplaces and author of Recruiting, Retaining and Promoting Culturally Different Employees (http://www.amazon.ca/Recruiting-Retaining-Promoting-Culturally-Different/dp/075068240X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1281821113&sr=1-1 – highly recommended, incidentally) estimates that the most significant reason why new Canadians lose jobs after being hired is *not* their ability to do the job, but instead perceived poor ‘soft skills’ – ie failure to understand and navigate workplace culture. That’s where all those unwritten rules come in again – the meaning in a Canadian context of gestures, tone of voice, posture, workplace social interaction and so on and so on. When I first started my job in Canada, I behaved in my interaction with colleagues as I had in Europe. If I went to speak to someone for a business reason, I got straight to the point. It took me a couple of weeks to realise that this was perceived as rude – that *I* was being perceived as rude. In Canada, the custom is to begin with a quick social interchange – How are you? How’s your day going? – and then get to the point. In my previous work environment, that would have been seen as wasting the other person’s valuable time. Different cultures, different expectations.

Everything’s a potential trap, from those friendly social interactions (and don’t get too personal – for example, in Canada you don’t ask after someone’s family unless you have the kind of relationship where you may have met family members) to body language, eye contact or lack of it, and timekeeping – are you perceived as a perpetual latecomer because your sense of time is looser than Canadians’, or are you seen as a clock-watcher because you assume the working day actually ends on the dot at five pm as you were told when you were hired? Are you seen as a poor communicator because you don’t tell your boss what’s going on, or because you’re continually asking your boss about the smallest things instead of using your initiative to make decisions? A friend of mine from the Middle East quickly got criticised for being needy and over-demanding of attention in her first Canadian job because she referred every small decision to her supervisor and let the supervisor know about her every movement – even going out to get coffee. That was how she was expected to behave in her home country – how was she to know any different? No-one told her. Now, she has a better understanding of workplace communication practices and what’s expected of her and she’s doing fine.

But if you don’t know these unwritten rules, how are you supposed to get them right? There are classes and workshops on Canadian business culture and understanding these soft skills, including at agencies like mine which offer employment preparation services to newcomers. If you want to get a head start, there are also books on the subject – there’s Laroche’s that I mentioned above, though that’s mainly aimed at employers. The book I recommend is You’re Hired... Now What? by Lynda Goldman, price $29.95, though I bought it from amazon.ca for $18.77. Here’s a review: http://www.cnmag.ca/current-issue/860-youre-hired-now-what. I agree with the review: there are bits of advice I saw as patronising (including that scratching yourself at work is a bad idea!), but if you can ignore those overall it’s a really useful guide. And I suppose it’s true that even those more obvious pieces of advice might help someone – who knows?

Good luck navigating the minefields!
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