Work: After 10 Years of Living in Canada...

By Efim Cheinis

“When the next visitor came to the interview room, I saw an elderly bald man. Suddenly, he slapped himself on the head and disappeared. A minute later he appeared again, but this time wearing a wig...” - this fragment from hiring manager’s memories highlights the problem of employment of mature people in Canada.

According to Canadian statistics in 2006, the average age of newcomers arriving in Canada was 35 to 40 years. Even the big changes in the immigration system probably haven't changed those age statistics very much. For the first months after arrival, these people face many obstacles to employment, such as weak language skills, no Canadian experience, absence of certificates or licenses, and lack of connections in the business world. However, all of these problems are solved in time.

Cross-cultural consultant Dr. Lionel Laroche reports the following data regarding the unemployment rate percentage among older newcomers: after living 1 year in Canada 30% remain unemployed, after 5 years that figure drops to 12%, and after 10 years of living in Canada the percentage of unemployed immigrants becomes the same as the average unemployment percentage rate in the country (7.5%). But by this time, a new problem arises for newcomers – the trap of age. Having lived 10 years in the country, the average immigrant has reached 45 years of age and enters the mature workers group.

The status of mature workers in the Canadian job market is complex. Many mature workers become victims of age discrimination and are the first people dismissed during an enterprise reconstruction or work reduction. On the other hand, people in their late 40s or early 50s still need to support their families and pay their bills and these obligations force them to enter the job market again. Unfortunately, the age barrier often keeps the mature people among the unemployed approximately twice as long their younger colleagues.

What do older newcomers have to do in order to become employed?
The job search process should be looked at more carefully. First of all, you have to think about continuing your education. You must keep up with technological and economic advancements. For draftspeople, graphic-designers, accountants and programmers, it is especially important to know the newest computer programs.

You have to more patient and flexible when job hunting. Begin an intensive search immediately after dismissal, because the more time you are without a job, the more difficult it is to find one. Do not neglect contract, temporary and part-time job opportunities. Contact agencies that offer temporary jobs, some agencies specialize especially in the mature market employment. Be ready to work night shifts, weekends and during statutory holidays. Willingness to travel, gives you an advantage over young workers who are often busy establishing personal lives and caring for their growing families. Actively use the Internet.

Résumés for mature workers should be different than those of younger job seekers. Do not mention “over 25 years of experience” and do not list leading positions or scientific degrees which do not directly correspond to the position. Limit your career to the last 10 years; emphasize Canadian experience and professional development courses you have taken recently. Do not show the date of your college/university graduation if it was a long time ago. Instead of highlighting your experience, list the skills and achievements that showcase your knowledge of the technology up-to-date. If you decide to specify your hobbies, do not specify activities such as to read books or watch TV, instead include interests like hiking, skiing, tennis etc.

During the interview you might be asked about your age, health and family. Employers may question whether you are overqualified for the given position. Be prepared for the above questions and recognize that the person who interviews you may be much younger than you are. Emphasize that your skills correspond very well to the position you applied for and if your duties will demand to master something new, you will learn quickly and willingly. Tell the interviewer about your good qualities such as ability to look deeply into problems and to find suitable/quick solutions in difficult situations. Note also, that you are a great team worker who communicates easily and effectively with people of all ages. Pay close attention to your clothes and professional appearance.

If you have a problem finding a job, think about such option as self-employment. Many professionals such as accountants, graphic designers, web designers and employment consultants can successfully work from home, using networking with other business professionals in order to find and establish their clientele. Mature people with good working knowledge in supervisory and administrative tasks can use this knowledge in a small business/franchise of their choice. The necessary skills to run a small business can be learned at workshops, which are offered in small business centers across the country.

As the general population in Canada ages, there is a growing number of resources for job hunters over the age of 45, including: The online job board for Mature Canadians, CARP. Tips for mature job seekers. There are job hunting programs and workshops for mature people, which are free-of-charge and available in some Employment Resource Centers, like: The Working Centre in Kitchener-Waterloo

CNM