Jobs: Accept, Adapt and Embrace

By Kerry Lambrie

Kerry Lambrie is an Employment Specialist with Inter-Cultural Neighbourhood Social Services. He tells us that the approach of adopting new values is unique. “The need to "Adapt, Adjust and Embrace" is a central theme we use in our ELT program.”

Many attitudes and practices in Canada will appear to be the same or similar to those you’ve known in your home country. Some, however, are quite different. It’s important to understand those differences as you prepare yourself for meaningful employment in Canada.

It is hard to explain to anxious newcomers the steps required to gain “Canadian experience”. It takes some time, and many feel too desperate to take the time.

Being new, you require guidance. If you started a new job tomorrow, would you know exactly what to do without being told? The same is true when looking for work in Canada.

The first thing Canadian employers are looking for is the ability to listen, learn and take direction. Many newcomers are too impatient to do this, and miss this first crucial step toward gaining employment.

Canadian experience requires the acceptance of important Canadian values, adapting to the importance of these values and embracing these values as your own.

“Accept, Adapt and Embrace”

Accepting, adapting and embracing are choices that will often lead to success; not doing so will frequently lead to failure.

Canadian employers expect you to have Canadian experience. How can you deal with this when you have not worked in Canada?

Have you considered the idea that the experience itself is not as important to employers as the things they expect you to have learned from that experience? What you need to do is identify what is important to Canadian employers, identify what’s important to you and convince the employer that you share common values, interests and concerns.

Below is a partial list of the values and skills identified as important by Canadian employers:

  • Strong work ethic
  • Independence
  • Reliability
  • Team player
  • Organizational skills
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Initiative
  • Assertiveness
  • Ability to prioritize
  • Problem solving
  • Detail oriented
  • Willingness to learn
  • Ability to take direction
  • Ability to follow instructions
  • Ability to take criticism
  • Phone skills
  • Computer skills
  • Communication skills
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
  • Creativity
  • Good judgment
  • Decision maker
  • Professionalism

Which of these values are important to you? Which ones are you unfamiliar with, or need to improvement? It is important for you to become familiar with these values. These are called “Employability Skills” and will be as important, or even more important than your technical skills when it comes time to get a job. If you can adapt these skills, build on your successes and communicate your abilities effectively, you will have overcome the Canadian experience obstacle.

But, you won’t be able to do this all at once. Developing new skills and values takes time, effort and commitment. Your values change when you change. For example, your values change when you get married or have a baby. The fact that you have now changed countries will result in a need to adjust your values. Your altered values will result in learning new skills. Learning new skills will result in gaining new experiences and new experiences will lead to acquiring Canadian experience.

A note about learning or, more specifically, thinking: To explore the possibilities of Canadian experience, try to think “outside the box”. Be aware that things are not always as they seem. Your current perception is heavily influenced by your past experiences in other countries. This is called your “frame of reference”. Your “box” is what you know and what you’ve experienced, up until now. What you will now learn goes beyond what you keep trapped in your box. Think of this phrase – “there’s more here than meets the eye” – be ready to discover much more! Alter your frame of reference and start thinking outside the box.

CNM