If you are planning to move to Canada, Isha Zade’s journey may provide some insight into what your own will be like. We asked Isha about her experiences before and after she arrived in her new home country. Isha, who was born in Pune, India, has lived in Canada for less than two years.
In Pune, Isha completed undergraduate studies in biotechnology and a master of business administration with a specialization in human resources. She led a very successful life in India working for a company she loved. Like many newcomers to Canada, Isha left India because of family obligations—not necessarily to pursue a better life.
Isha and her husband were eligible to come to Canada in December 2016. But the couple postponed their move for six months, to time their arrival with the end of the long winter. We asked if she had participated in any pre-arrival services, but Isha replied that she had never heard about such programs.
“In India, there are many paid services to help people immigrating to Canada find a job,” Isha says. “I didn’t believe them because they were promising to get me a job…but I didn’t have Canadian experience.”
Isha was right to trust her gut feelings because no service can guarantee employment; only employers can extend job offers. The government does, however, fund programs that offer free employment and settlement services. They help eligible newcomers prepare for their job search and for life in Canada—all before they arrive.
“That is good to know, and it would have definitely saved me a couple of months,” Isha says.
From Odd Jobs to Networking
Isha says, “Before I came to Canada, I said I wouldn’t do any odd jobs and would focus on getting a junior human resources role—then work my way up. I was not open to any other jobs. After I arrived, I found it was very difficult to get into the core field when you’re new and don’t have Canadian experience. I found I needed to be open and start somewhere.”
“Unless you go out to talk to people, you wouldn’t know about opportunities,” she adds. “That’s how I learned about the Certified Human Resources Professional designation and the Human Resources Professionals Association in Ontario.”
Serendipity Plays a Role
As someone establishing a new life in Canada, Isha says that many things are happening at once and the experience can be overwhelming. “After you land, it’s important to get mental stability,” she advises. “I made sure to build a good home to always come back to and didn’t pressure myself to get a job right away. When I do something, I want to ensure that I do it well.”
By the time Isha was ready to seek employment, she had a new mindset. She did, in fact, work in jobs unrelated to her field, which she secured through job placement services. She hadn’t originally planned to take jobs like those, but they provided a low-risk introduction to Canadian culture.
While working in different roles unrelated to her core profession, Isha continued the search and applied directly to WES through the Career Portal, which led to her soon finding a position as an academic records specialist. (Finding a job is not only about having the right skills and education; being in the right place at the right time—or serendipity—also matters.)
In time, Isha began to reflect on her personal and professional life and set attainable goals for herself. When the time was right, she earned a professional level designation as a Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL), a stackable credential that adds greater value to Isha’s already considerable skill set.
Communication Remains a Challenge
One of Isha’s greatest challenges is communicating, although she speaks fluent English. She explains her situation: “It’s not the language you speak—because, in India, English was the language we used and what professors taught in. For example, it was easy to connect with my colleagues in India because I understood how to communicate, what appealed to them, and how I could explain my point of view without any miscommunication. In Canada, I’m learning how to use more relatable examples and how to construct sentences that are more appealing. So I’m working on this.”
Isha’s challenge is not unusual. Newcomers to Canada generally have the technical skills employers want; however, what they tend to lack are soft skills: communication, social, and problem-solving abilities. These types of skills are typically what employers mean when they require “Canadian experience.”
Words of Advice
Isha has been working with WES for less than a year. During this time, she has consistently held herself to high professional standards. She continues to network with and learn from others in her field. Her long-term professional goal is to get back into the field of training and development in areas related to women in leadership (her area of expertise in India).
Isha provides some final words of advice for those planning to relocate to Canada: “Before you arrive, prepare your résumé, know the culture here and the employment laws, and most of all, keep an open mind. It is difficult to get the same profile [position] you had in India, no matter the years and experience you have there.
“After you arrive, I think it may be helpful to take the first job you get and build up from there. When you are ready, invest in some sort of Canadian education or certification, and network with as many people as possible.”