2016 was a memorable year for many different reasons. It was a busy year for the government of Canada, as they announced changes to the Canadian immigration system. The new system, called “Express Entry,” was based on a ranking score that emphasized, among other things, education, language skills, and work experience as factors that improved people’s chances in immigrating to Canada.
Canadian Immigrant Attorney David Cohen explained the new process and system in detail:
Whereas the old system treated applications on a first-come, first-served basis, Express Entry involves the government selecting candidates from a pool on a priority basis, according to a ranking score, using a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Points are awarded differently under the CRS than under the three immigration programs, and candidates have a large incentive to gain as many ranking points as possible. Doing so
increases their chances of receiving the all-important Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence.
For our readers who wanted to improve their professional skills and employment prospects in Canada, we were able to provide a wide range of articles.
We discussed ways that you can widen your career opportunities by considering alternative, surprising career pathways:
Alternative careers are careers outside your original field. However, you can still use the skills and knowledge you gained during your education and training in your new, alternative career. Alternative careers are great for internationally trained professionals who do not want to go through relicensing in Canada or the United States,
and are interested in exploring a different career path.
For example, if you were an engineer before coming to Canada or the United States, you could explore an alternative career as a general operations manager, an interior designer, or a geospatial information technologist. If you were an accountant, you could begin a new career as a human resources professional, an insurance broker, or a purchasing manager.
We explained the difference between regulated and non-regulated professions, and why it’s important to understand this to become successfully employed in your field of choice:
Certain professions in Canada and the United States are regulated to protect public health and safety. The government regulates occupations that affect a large number of people directly, such as those in healthcare, engineering, law, finance, and education. In a regulated profession, you need a license or certificate from the regulatory body that governs that occupation to be employed in that field.
We also touched on common challenges that would occur from adjusting to new places, new cultures, and new systems. Elena Fenrick from ACAP shared her perspective on this on our “Career Changes and Identity Loss” article:
Immigrating to a new country can open up new opportunities for skilled immigrants and internationally trained professionals, but it can also disrupt career growth. This disruption can cause immigrants to experience “professional identity loss.” Occupation, nature of work, level of responsibility, salary, and stability of work are likely to change after immigration. Adapting to these changes—while maintaining a positive self-image—can be difficult at times.
She also shared tips on how to address this challenge:
Tip #1: Find a Supportive Group
Being part of a supportive group, and having a place to share experiences and discuss new ideas, is a valuable method of rebuilding hope. Brainstorming viable alternative career options is easier for people who have self-clarity and who have identified the skills that they can transfer from job-to-job.
Our friend Joanna Samuels from JVS Toronto shared her advice on how skilled immigrants can take advantage of their transferable skills in the job market:
Transferable skills can be used in many different occupations and work environments. They could be natural talents that are refined through work or hobbies or education. Transferable skills provide flexibility to move from one position to another or from one occupation or industry to another. Math skills, the ability to write engaging and effective reports, customer service skills, etc. are all examples of transferable skills.
Recruitment expert Sergey Kalnish drew on his own experience as a new immigrant and a professional in the human resources world to explain why language and communication skills play an important role when exploring job opportunities or career advancement:
From a salary perspective, having strong communication skills can have a big impact on your bank account. We routinely see this in the recruiting world, where people who can speak and write effectively end up getting better and higher-paying job offers. They also get promoted more quickly within their respective careers. The Canadian workplace is a very dynamic and collaborative one, so you will be a lot more valuable if you can work effectively with other people.
Our WES Global Talent Bridge Program Manager Shaunna-Marie Kerr (née Keslick) listed some of the ways people misuse emails during their job search:
Using unprofessional words in your e-mail address:
When conducting your job search, be sure you are presenting yourself professionally at all times. If your personal e-mail address contains a family nickname, a favourite animal, or similar features, you may want to consider creating a new account. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org is unlikely to project a strong professional image. If you are self-employed or working as a freelancer, it may be appropriate to include a
reference to your occupation in your e-mail address, but use it with discretion.
She also wrote about how skilled immigrants can explore the world of online education to improve their careers and expand their skillset:
Online courses add value to your résumé:
Whether you have years of experience or are just starting out in your career, online programs and courses look great on a résumé. Choosing to study online in your spare time shows employers that you are committed to learning, eager to gain more knowledge and skills, and willing to put in the effort to achieve your goals. As workplaces evolve with the digital economy, an investment in continuing your education can make you stand out in the best way possible to potential employers.
Throughout the year, we were proud to highlight many individual immigrants who successfully settled in Canada: their immigration journey, the setbacks they faced, the opportunities they used, the connections they made, and their advice to other new immigrants. We were particularly proud to share the story of our colleague Anna Mkhitaryan, a credential examiner at our office in Toronto:
Prior to her move, Anna had been working in an office administration role in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. She had also been in the process of completing her Ph.D. and was trained as a teacher and a language specialist in English and German. Her fluency in English helped her adjust to her new life in Canada. “I studied British English,” Anna says, “so it was a little bit easier for me compared to someone who didn’t speak English at all. But even then, it was difficult at first. Especially the way Canadians speak and communicate. It’s different from what you study in school.”
With her knowledge of English and her high educational background, Anna thought her job search in Toronto would be a smooth process. It turned out to be the opposite. “Every job I applied to, they would say that I was overqualified,” Anna says.
And finally, we have Mr. Cohen again, sharing his thoughts on Canada’s immigration plan for 2017, and how you can start preparing for the changes:
There is something exciting going on here in Canada. We have an outward-looking and welcoming government that bucks the global trend. We have infrastructure projects going on from coast to coast to coast. We have growing cities and growing markets. Throughout all of this, we need talent.
In 2017, a brand new permanent resident will join the wider Canadian family on average every 1 minute and 45 seconds. As we can see, there are many programs, each of which seeks to attract certain newcomers. It’s like that ancient idiom “all roads lead to Rome,” only this time all roads lead to Canada. There is a common starting point, however, and that point is to assess all of your options and move forward accordingly.
This was a snapshot of 2016. We encourage you to explore all the other blog posts on skilled immigrants on our WES Advisor blog.
For 2017, we will have more articles, webinars, and events lined up to support your career growth in Canada and the United States. Immigrants play a vital role in our country, and we are honoured to be a part of your journey.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to send them to gtbcanada[at]wes.org. You can also follow us on @WESCanada to learn about what’s trending in the immigration and employment sector of Canada.
Thank you for your support and interest. We wish you all the best for the year ahead.