Four of our clients Madhavan, Hanzel, Maylyn and Nelson immigrated to Canada and soon after arrival found job in the field related to their work in their home country. Before coming to Canada they went through the SOPA program and today they are talking about how they started preparing for their move and what steps they took to ensure their successful employment. And at the end they are sharing some inspiring tips to help new immigrants prepare for their move.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am Madhavan Rajendran from Tamil Nadu, India. I worked as an Industrial Engineer in Michelin Tires. I arrived in Canada with my wife and 3 year old son on June 2016 and moved to Middleton, Nova Scotia. Currently I am working as Total Productive Maintenance Coordinator in Apple Valley Foods Inc., Kentville, NS.
I’m Hanzel Dollezon, from the Philippines and together with my husband and son we arrived in Winnipeg, Manitoba on August 7, 2017. I am a trained and educated accountant in the Philippines and I wish to pursue the same career in Canada. I got a job as Accounting Assistant in an accounting firm two months after my arrival in Canada.
I am Maylyn Moore from the Philippines. I arrived in Winnipeg, Manitoba in July, 2017. I am an accounting graduate and worked as a property administrator in a real estate company in my home country. The company dealt with administrative work, property management and customer service. I am currently employed as a Customer Service Representative in Winnipeg.
My name is Nelson, my Chinese name is Aoyi Xu which could be difficult for Canadians to pronounce. I was born in Shanghai, a huge metropolitan city and important economic centre in China. After 40 years of living in such a super big city, I decided to migrate to a small, quiet and beautiful city, Halifax of Nova Scotia. On May 17, 2017 my family and I landed in Halifax. After all things were settled, I started to search for a job in purchasing and sales related due to my previous work experience. I was hired by O’Regan’s Nissan Dartmouth as a Selection Specialist, which is quite close to the industry my previous profession was in.
Q: Can you please summarize your employment journey in Canada?
Madhavan: Before moving to Canada, I enrolled myself with SOPA and did all the pre arrival courses they offered online. Job Search Strategies was one of the online courses I did before moving to Canada. It was very help full in developing skills needed for job search in Canada.
Hanzel: My preparation began after I attended the Planning for Canada session. I started by following the My Action Plan that my Advisor and I prepared. A few days later I received an email from an Intake Counsellor of Settlement Online Pre-Arrival (SOPA) Manitoba encouraging me to take advantage of the program as well. I’ve registered immediately with SOPA after browsing the website. I had a one-on-one online meeting with the Intake Counsellor, Milagros and she patiently answered questions about my settlement in Winnipeg concerning housing, laws about raising children, and introduced me to the SOPA courses.
Maylyn: Prior to my arrival in Canada, I registered with the SOPA. I saw SOPA posted in one of the immigration forums in Facebook and one of my friends who was a previous SOPA student encouraged me to take advantage of the program. I was happy to note that SOPA, although offered in most of Canada is also province specific, because the staff are based in those provinces. I took my chance because I know that the information and learning that I will gain in the program would help me in my settlement and employment. Although, I have my family in Winnipeg, I told myself to do something as well.
Nelson: After I got my immigration visa in October 2016, I connected with ISANS for pre-arrival program. It really surprised me a lot that soon several facilitators contacted me through email for the valuable courses such as Canadian Workplace Integration, Working in Canada, Soft Skills: Working with Others, Job Search Strategies and Introduction to NS. All these courses are important for a new immigrant and I learned a lot from the materials. The job searching took me around 3 months. I remembered I submitted more or less 30 resumes to different kinds of companies. What I focused on are these vacancies of purchasing and sales and the job title could be something basic, not the same one as I had in China.
Q: How did SOPA change your approach to seeking employment in Canada?
Madhavan: Before taking the SOPA courses I thought I had all the skills needed for doing job search in Canada but taking the Job Search Strategies (JSS) course was an eye opener and prepared me with all required tools and confidence to successfully find a Job in Canada in my own field.
Hanzel: I enrolled in three SOPA online courses: Canada Workplace Integration (CWI), Soft Skills: Working with Others and Soft Skills: Professional Communication. I learned a wealth of information on networking strategies, the importance and the relevance of soft skills and about communication in the Canadian workplace. At first, I felt uneasy and nervous in my soft skills courses but the constant encouragement and support I received from my facilitator, Martin had changed my outlook. I was always excited and looked forward to reading my feedback from my facilitator every time I submitted my assignments in my two soft skills courses.
Maylyn: One hour online meeting with Milagros, the Intake Counsellor, was an eye-opener. I gained information about what to expect concerning my settlement and employment. I also enrolled in two SOPA courses Canadian Workplace Integration and Job Search Strategies. SOPA has 5 courses and all these courses are full of exciting topics about employment in Canada. I wanted to take the other remaining courses but due to time constraints I was not able to take them. In my JSS course I learned how to prepare my cover letter and target resume. My facilitator, Echo, was very patient, helpful and attentive in sharing her knowledge so that my resume will be noticed by hiring managers and employers. She taught me better strategies on how to analyze jobs and target resume to match the job advertisement. The JSS course widened my understanding of where to look for a job, and I was able to understand the ‘hidden job market’. I learned about which websites to use for Canadian job opportunities, about answering interview questions and workplace integration. The JSS and CWI courses are very informative, from the introduction until the end of the course. The techniques and strategies that I’ve learned from SOPA courses really helped me a lot in looking for a job and integrating into the Canadian workplace. Two months after I found a job related to my work back home.
Nelson: SOPA did help me dramatically since it changed my mind of how to get a job in Canada. In China, I always got call from job hunter for a new position and then I just sent my resume out. I thought the intermediate will manage everything for me and finally get me an interview opportunity. Nevertheless, here in Canada I had to prepare my resume and cover letter which is a new thing for me. These two documents resemble two bricks to knock the company door out.
Q: How did the Canadian partner organizations help prepare you for the job market and settlement in Canada, before you arrived?
Madhavan: After moving to Nova Scotia my JSS facilitator Jessie Palmer introduced me to my Employment councilor Kenneth Oguzie from ISANS. I worked with Kenneth and targeted a list of companies where I believed I could find a job suited to my profession. All along I also applied to as many job openings as I can and kept my employment councilor updated about the developments. While applying for a suitable job I also took up a survival job as a contractor. After 4 months of job search I got hired by Apple Valley Food as their Total Productive Maintenance Coordinator which is also my field of expertise.
Hanzel: My Intake Counsellor also referred me to the Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) Manitoba. The referral was helpful as I was able to clarify and determine the correct documents needed to obtain my CPA designation. The staff at CPA-Manitoba, Noah Yagi, answered and guided me on questions that I have on my CPA designation.
Maylyn: I really appreciate my intake counsellor and my JSS facilitator. They were both generous in sharing their insights, suggestions and advice on how to seek employment. The Settlement Action Plan prepared by my intake counsellor was very useful, as it guided me in my pre- and post-arrival preparations. I still refer to the document from time to time.
Nelson: After qualification by my immigration approval, the organization appointed specialist/facilitator to communicate with me through online voice talk or email. I received many materials for how to settle the life in Canada including accommodation, education, medicare, and job.
Q: What strategies did you use to find a job in your field or in a related field?
Madhavan: After finishing JSS course I got into LinkedIn and used that for reaching the potential employers I also created work profiles on the job search websites like CareerBeacon, Indeed, Monster.
Hanzel: In my first month, I attended numerous networking opportunities that helped build my confidence toward integrating into Canadian society. I also searched for jobs and used all the learning I received from the program. Two months later, I got a job offer in the accounting department of a law firm which was totally unbelievable as I told myself, “This is a perfect job!”
Maylyn: Aside from enrolling to SOPA courses, I also attended the two-day orientation at the Planning for Canada in the Philippines, Milagros encouraged me to attend and enroll to pre-arrival services which will widen my understanding of Canada. When I arrived in Manitoba, I also attended the two-week career and information services at Manitoba Start and a one-week orientation about working and living in Winnipeg provided by Entry Program. I applied the strategies that I learned from pre-arrival and post-arrival services in my job searching and to fully integrate in Canadian workplace.
Nelson: I did’t go through networking and volunteer before I found this job. Not because they are not helping, actually I was planning to attend the volunteer and network with people through certain organization and I think they are really necessary for a newcomer. However, when I was looking for a job, I choose those basic position which can be seen as a networking platform for newcomer and from that, you can learn quickly the language and culture to experience by myself.
Q: Describe any challenges you faced in your job search process and the steps you took to overcome these obstacles.
Madhavan: My decision to settle in the rural part Nova Scotia was an obstacle for me since I had to travel long distance to Halifax where all my meetings were with ISANS.
Hanzel: Thank you, Planning for Canada, and SOPA for making me arrive prepared. This program has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. My integration into the community was smooth because I was very prepared to embrace my new home, Canada.
Maylyn: Looking for a job related to my previous work experience was challenging. I never stopped doing my own research as I believe that if a person has the urge and dedication he or she will try his or her best to overcome the difficulties and hardships of job searching. I know it will take time but in the proper time everything will fall into place.
Nelson: I have to say nothing is really difficult as long as you want to overcome. The attitude is the key to door. As a newcomer, there are obstacles like educational background, work experience and language barrier, I truly know that I would never find a job as I had in my hometown and the way of doing something is not the same as well. I tried to change the way of thinking and doing, here in Canada, I fully understand, your first job is to survive with a job.
Q: Please provide any tips for other newcomers in terms of finding employment in Canada
Madhavan: Stay positive and be persistent in your efforts, until you find a suitable job don’t hesitate to do survival job. Good luck.
Hanzel: For the newcomers, I strongly recommend you start preparing for Canada while still in your home country. Register with pre-arrival services like Planning for Canada and SOPA once you received a medical request letter from your visa office. Take advantage of these free services from the Canada government as they will definitely help you get yourself ready to begin your new life in Canada.
Maylyn: Before the approval of your visa, I suggest that newcomers to Canada must spare some time to study, participate and register to pre-arrival services. It is free and funded by IRCC. It is very important to be prepared and fully equipped with information about Canada and your province of destination. Thank you, SOPA staff for all the help I received!
Nelson: As I said above, the attitude is crucial for anything. For me, I forget anything I have done before. I came here for a new life and this means I start everything over. I believe in myself that if I am a valuable person, I can make those successes happen here again
We thank Madhavan, Hanzel, Maylyn and Nelson for their answers and tips and we wish them all the very best in their further settlement and in their work in Canada.