When Your Professional Goals Take A New Turn in Canada

Canadian job search does not always look perfect for newcomers. It may have a rocky start, and that’s when building your unique job search strategy is absolutely important. Building the strategy on your own can become hard and frustrating. It is important to use the help of professionals who are there to help you before and after your arrival in Canada. Our SOPA counsellors and course facilitators can support you, while you are still outside of Canada. We will work with you to help you understand the Canadian job market, help you with your resume and cover letter, and help you learn how to strategically use your experience in your job search in Canada. Working with the professionals and following through with the steps they suggest will bring you closer to the job you will enjoy doing.

We are sharing a story of Amani Kattan. She is an experienced lawyer from Jordan. Her Canadian dream and her professional goals did not exactly turn out as she expected, but she is doing all the right things and building a new dream, setting new goals and she is happy with this new turn. Read on to learn about her Canadian story.

  1. Hi Amani, thanks so much for letting us share your story. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I am an internationally trained professional with 20 years of experience. I was a licensed lawyer in Jordan for the past 17 years. I am also a professional translator with 16 years of experience and a quality assurance, proofreading and editing expert with 7 years of experience. I have also entered the tax-consulting field in  recent years. I was able to apply my background in law in the work I did in management, tax, quality assurance and translation.

  1. How did you find out about SOPA?

I found about SOPA while I was still going through my immigration process. I have learned about pre-arrival programs and decided to join the SOPA program.

  1. Would you tell us about your job search?

I wanted to have an idea about the job market in Canada, so I started my job search before coming to Winnipeg. Once I was approved by  Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC), I became eligible for SOPA services. I registered with the SOPA program and after my Intake session, I received a referral to have a session with a SOPA employment counsellor, Ms. Samar Seoudi. She helped me learn about the job market, how to write my resume and cover letter, and helped me identify potential jobs I could apply for.

I applied for my current job after I arrived in Winnipeg. It took me two months to find employment.

  1. Are you working in the same field?

I am not working in the same field as in my home country. I am facing this difficulty here in Winnipeg, as I was a licensed lawyer back in Jordan. I had a rich experience in a managerial position in law, translation, and proofreading, editing and monitoring quality in companies. When I started looking for jobs here, I was advised to apply for legal assistant job openings, until I will receive my license by the National Committee on Accreditation. Yet, when applying for legal assistant job openings, I was told that I am over qualified. Moreover, I cannot apply to a managerial position since I do not have an experience similar to the Canadian one. Of course, the current situation with the pandemic added further difficulty in finding employment or volunteering opportunities. So, I had to apply for an entry level jobs.

  1. What strategies did you use to find a job in your field?

I searched for jobs, worked on my resume and cover letter with the help of my employment counsellor. I used the small network of people I knew to refer me to potential employers. I tried to contact companies myself.

  1. What were the challenges you faced in your job search and how did you deal with them?

When I arrived in Winnipeg, I found out that even though I had a rich experience as a manager within the fields of law, translation, proofreading, editing and monitoring quality in companies, since I am not licensed yet, I could only apply for legal assistant positions. I did not mind, since I still needed to learn the Canadian Laws. I applied for legal assistant jobs, but received few replies. Those who responded to my job applications thought that I was overqualified. I was surprised since I thought this would be a normal route to establish a career in Canada. I felt that I needed  a chance! I tried contacting law firms by telephone to volunteer,  but due to the limited number of employees allowed during the pandemic, there were no available opportunities.

I began thinking of other potential career paths that I could start now, since I will need at least 5 years to become licensed in law. My SOPA employment counsellor, Ms. Samar Seoudi, advised to apply for a Certified International Translator Post Graduate Diploma with TESOL. I thought it was a great idea, because I already had a rich experience in translation. The course was self-guided and that was very convenient for me, as I was able to juggle between my responsibilities and my family. So, I applied and am currently going through the Translator Post Graduate Diploma.

What I learned through this experience is, that it is important not to focus on the main profession. In my case, pursuing a career in law is a long-term project, so I needed to think of something that I could do now. I needed to start to work in order to be able to build a proper life for my family and myself. I really liked the idea of  becoming  a certified translator in Canada and I am happy with the decision.

Meanwhile, in April 2020 I started to work as a customer service representative. It is not the perfect job and does not match the level of experience I have, yet it is a chance to acquire the Canadian experience. So, I think with my Canadian experience as a customer service representative and the diploma in translation I will be in a better position when searching for jobs in the future.

My background in law adds a value in my translation course, as I was able to focus on translation of legal documents and I am really good at that already! The quality assurance and proofing experience assisted because ‘a catching eye’ during translation is needed to provide an accurate final work.

Overall, now after a year in Canada, I am satisfied with my choices and with the advice from my SOPA employment counsellor. Ms. Samar Seoudi understood my needs and advised me based on the competencies and experience I have. I am optimistic that things will get better and after completing this course to become certified translator, I will be able to start a career that I like and enjoy.

  1. Do you have any tips that you would like to share with fellow newcomers in terms of finding employment in Canada?
  • Newcomers need to determine a field of work they want and can pursue in Canada. This is an important step, so that they can focus their efforts on the sector/job they want.
  • They should not to focus only on their main profession; they need to think out of the box of every competency and experience that they have.
  • They need to have patience, as it may take a while before they find a job that suits them.
  • They need to take advice of their SOPA counsellor because they are here to help.

Are you approved to immigrate to Canada? Join SOPA today! You’ll arrive in Canada better prepared, more confident and enter the workforce sooner: www.arriveprepared.ca

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.

This story was prepared by Samar Seoudi, Employment Counselor with SOPA Saskatchewan.

Edits by Albina Ziatdinova, Online Community & Social Media Monitor, SOPA