Internationally trained newcomers often possess a wide range of transferable skills that are valuable in Canada. Transferable skills are skills that you can take from one job to another, regardless of the specific role. These may include interpersonal, communication, project management, and other skills that can be transferred to a variety of different jobs. Emphasizing these types of skills in your résumés and job applications can increase your chances of finding employment as a newcomer because it allows you to be flexible in the roles that you apply for and how you discuss your fit with a potential employer.
Hung Le is a graduate of ACCES Employment’s Financial Services Connections program and an actuary from Vietnam. He successfully utilized his education and skills to transition into a Senior Analyst role at CIBC after arriving in Canada.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I am originally from Vietnam, but I spent five years working in Singapore for an insurance company as an actuarial associate. I continued my studies in the United Kingdom where I successfully completed my master’s degree in Actuarial Science.
When did you arrive in Canada?
We (my wife, our daughter, and I) arrived in 2015.
Why did you want to live in Canada?
I thought that Canada offered a great environment in which to live and succeed. My wife is originally from China and we both felt that Canada was a country that offered something for both of us. We both speak English, so moving to an English speaking country provided a common ground. Canada also provided great educational opportunities for our daughter.
What were your career expectations before arriving and what did you experience when you arrived?
Before arriving in Canada, I was hoping to get into a similar position within the insurance field as an actuarial associate. Once I arrived, I realized how difficult it is to move into this position. There are a lot of people studying and graduating from actuarial science in Canada so there is a lot of competition.
What services and resources did you use to help with your job search?
After I landed in Canada, I visited a local community centre to learn more about job search resources and community support in the area. From there, I was directed to ACCES Employment. I visited the Scarborough location where I met with an employment consultant. We discussed my background and potential job options in Canada. Because my education and job experience were relevant to the financial sector, ACCES recommended that I join the Financial Services Connections program.
How did the Financial Services Connections program help you?
Going through the program, I learned how to identify and articulate the skills and education I had as they related to the financial sector. I became aware of the opportunities that were available to me, especially in the area of risk management within the banks. Through the program, I learned a lot about the Canadian work environment and how to approach employers. I was able to develop a job search strategy and prepare myself for the interview process.
Can you describe the types of skills and experience you have that allow you to transition into the financial sector from the actuarial field?
My study of Actuarial Science taught me the methodology and calculation required to assess risk. I took this knowledge and applied it to the insurance field. The approach to analyzing risk is similar within a bank and an insurance company. In the bank, you are analyzing and looking at different products but you can apply the same methodology for risk calculation. These analytical skills and knowledge were transferable between my previous experience and roles available in the financial services sector in Canada. I just had to be flexible in considering opportunities.
Before I actively started job searching, I made sure I understood all of the terminology used in the financial sector. It was slightly different from what I had used in the past and I wanted to be sure I was using the correct terminology when seeking a position with a bank.
Can you describe how you went about finding your current job?
Once I focused my job search on the financial sector—specifically targeting risk management positions that fit my skill set—I started to have success. I utilized what I had learned through the Financial Services Connections Program and created a targeted résumé that matched my education, skills, and experience to the role I was applying for. I applied to CIBC and successfully made it through the interview process. I accepted a job as a Senior Analyst in Risk Management.
How were you able to convey your experience and skill set through the interview process?
When I was at the interview I was asked several technical questions regarding how I assess risk. I was able to answer all of their technical and risk assessment questions. I explained how my studies prepared me for this type of role. I also talked about my previous role and how it required a similar methodology. I was able to describe different terms used in risk management and I conveyed how knowledgeable I am in this area.
Microsoft Excel skills are also very important in the banking industry in Canada. During the interview process, I was required to answer Excel-related questions, which allowed me to show how well I knew the program. I was also able to demonstrate ways in which I could streamline some of the current processes.
What would you tell newcomer professionals about utilizing their transferable skills to find a new job in Canada?
I would tell someone who is new to Canada to focus on finding a job that utilizes your past experience, but not necessarily to stick to the boundaries of specific roles. The role may not be in the same sector but there are many jobs across different fields that require similar skills and knowledge. Start by identifying your transferable skills, then do your research and learn the sector terminology so you know what they are looking for.
For more information about the Financial Services Connections program at ACCES Employment, please visit www.accesemployment.ca.