My journey with SOPA* started in August 2019, that time I received a letter from IRCC that I am authorized to utilize the pre-arrival services. I communicated with Saskatchewan newcomer center online and they connected me with the SOPA program where I started my learning preparation.
Below are the steps I followed in my journey to come to Canada immediately after I received the pre-arrival services.
I took five SOPA’s online courses where they guided me to understand the Canadian work culture, how I need to respond to difficult situations at work and what employers look for in the job applicants. I also learned about Canadian job market, how to search for a job, how to build up my resume, how to make a cover letter and how to target resume to certain jobs ads and how to make the LinkedIn profile and more.
Before arriving in Canada
The new life in Canada is not only finding a job, there are more things to find out before starting the job search. We needed to select the location for living, whether we wanted living in a house or apartment, read about children schools, think about actual budget requirements, getting the SIN numbers and opening bank accounts. We also wanted to know what kind of shopping areas are there. I opened an online account through RBC bank and communicated with friends to select the area of living and the children’s schools.
Before coming to Canada, I also registered with APEGS (Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan).
I had my resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile ready thanks my SOPA facilitator and employment counselor who has reviewed them and made suggestions. SOPA employment counsellor was assigned to support me in my job search. Then, I started searching for the employers and companies that can have potential employment related to my experience and qualifications. After that, I started applying for job openings indicating that I will arrive in Canada, specifically in Regina in January 2020.
That was one month before my arrival. However, the trial was unsuccessful; I did not receive any single answer and recognized that it is logical as I am still outside of Canada.
After arriving in Canada
In the first month, I planned to complete all the required paperwork such as activating my bank account, finding school for my children, getting my driving license and renting the apartment. We arrived in time for Christmas and it was very cold to move freely at any time we needed. In addition, we needed transportation. We were lucky to have a friend who helped us in guiding to choose the shopping areas and further guidance to purchase the furniture, clothes and daily life requirements. If you don’t have friends, the newcomer center will be helping and providing the support.
After that, I started building my network with the companies and the key people from those companies that I found through search on websites and doing LinkedIn searches. I applied for more than 30 jobs within two months.
I also tried to enrol in the bridging program but due to the high number of people arriving earlier, I couldn’t enrol right away.
It is hard to find a job when it comes to newcomers; I always have the positive thinking and try to stay optimistic. I think that if anyone works harder and tries their best, they will get what they strive for. It is only a matter of time.
One thing I did after my arrival, I called the employers I wanted to work for to show my interest to work with them. I did this after I applied for a job opening through their company’s website. This action is important to show the interest and the willingness to work with them. Sometimes I just asked to go and meet with the HR and the technical people, to tell them about my background and experience if they had time.
I have few of my recommendations for every newcomer to Canada to follow to have a smooth transition settling and getting a job:
- Using the pre-arrival services is an important step.
- Communicate with the pre-arrival settlement services within the province you are moving to, as soon as you receive your pre-arrival service letter from IRCC. It is free of charge and provided for a reason for newcomers.
- Take the SOPA courses; it is very important to help to smooth the road in front of you once you are in Canada.
- Try to find friends and seek their advice, even to know when to book your flights and the best timing to arrive, and where to stay in the new city you intend to live in.
- Try to register in the association related to you occupation.
- Make your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile ready as per Canadian style.
- Follow your SOPA Facilitator’s recommendations during the courses and take notes.
- Apply for jobs related to your occupation.
- Contact the employers and the companies and let them know that you are around and willing to meet with them.
- Be positive always; you would need to adapt to the new location.
Three months after arrival I was successfully invited to an interview, followed by a second interview; both were successful and I got a contract position in my field and worked for 3 months full time. It was a short-term project and learned a lot from it. I was able to use many things I learned during my SOPA courses. All my friends and everyone whom I knew were surprised that I found a job within 3 months!
Finally, I thank SOPA for their high-valued support before and after arrival to Regina. We are happy to be in Canada and give our experience to others.
Note: Alaa is currently seeking for another suitable job in his field. It is very common in Canada to be offered contract positions and is a big step towards your career in Canada. This is valuable Canadian experience that you can add to your resume. We wish Alaa all the best. Good luck and welcome to Canada.
*Settlement Online Pre-Arrival (SOPA) is an Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) funded program that delivers free pre-arrival services for job readiness, success and retention. Explore the free, pre-arrival resources, services and courses we offer at ArrivePrepared.ca.