Work: Do you have International Experience?

By Shawn Mintz

Shawn Mintz works for A.C.C.E.S. Accessible Community Counselling and Employment Services, an employment and training agency that offers a wide range of free employment services for both job seekers and employers. 85% of their candidates are internationally educated. For further information call: Toronto 416-921-1800, Scarborough 416-431-5326, or visit www.accestrain.com.

Do you have International Experience? That is the question employers should be asking candidates. However, more realistically, the question many job seekers are hearing is – do you have Canadian Experience?

International experience is an asset because about 50% of people living in Toronto are from other countries. This means companies can tap into different cultural groups, understand cultural differences and employ people who can communicate effectively with other groups of people. You can bring new and innovative ideas to the table – things that worked in your country. Also, international experience gives companies that competitive edge globally.

So, when you are asked if you have Canadian Experience – how do you answer that question? Do you simply say ‘no’ and believe that all employers are looking for Canadian Experience? Or do you tell employers how your experience can benefit that company? Researching companies and looking at their websites will give you an idea about how your experience can benefit the company.

I know that it’s hard to stay hopeful when you have been rejected so many times. However, hope and staying positive is the key to being successful. If you assume you will be rejected when you meet with an employer, you probably will be rejected.

I met one individual last week who was negative about everything. She had lost hope – for her everything was impossible. When you have so much negativity it is hard to see the possibilities out there – and they are out there, trust me!
A survival job is one you can take to pay the bills but is not in your field of interest. Take a survival job, but don’t get too comfortable in that position. An interesting fact is if you stay in your survival job for over two years, you will probably never leave. When I am doing jobs that are not challenging me or of interest, this affects my entire attitude and self-esteem. You are professionals and some of you have many years experience in your field from another country. Don’t lose that experience. Don’t stop job searching and trying to find a job that will make you happy. Coming to a new country might be a difficult ride and you may have to do jobs that you don’t want to. However, when you finally do get a job in your field, everything that you experienced will be worthwhile and you will be a stronger person.

I had one client who knew that the terminology in his profession was different in Canada than in his native country. Every time I saw him he reported that he had done tons of research and was learning everything about his profession in Canada.
Some occupations in Ontario require you to have a license in order to practice your profession. For example, engineering is a regulated profession and you need a license. However you can still work in an engineering related position, as long as you work under a licensed engineer. The first step is to find out if your field is regulated. If so, what steps do you need to take to work in your profession? There is a great website that will give you all this information: www.equalopportunity.on.ca/eng_g/apt/index.asp.

It is also important to have your education assessed in Canada to see if it matches the Canadian standards. Employers are sometimes not sure of the quality of education people received. So if you write on your resume that your education equals a Masters degree in Canada, employers will be more willing to call you for an interview. To get your education assessed go to: www.wes.org.

Once again, I will say that it is a struggle to settle in a new country and find work in your field. There are a lot of non-profit agencies that provide employment services for free. Many of these agencies will give you the tools to be successful in your job search. Take advantage of these resources.

Good luck and remember nothing is impossible, unless you think it is.

CNM