Newcomer Stories | Start Working on Your Job Search Before Your Arrival to be Prepared Right After
Three newcomers’ stories of successfully finding a job in British Columbia (BC), Canada soon after their arrival! All of them immigrated to BC and found jobs in their fields, however, their paths are different and their stories of finding success, and settling in Canada are different too. What is their secret? Keep reading to find out!
Danica from India, Natalia from Russia, Puyan from Iran are sharing their stories of success, tips and insights. They are settled, working and giving back to their new communities. Before you dive into their stories, Linda our Employment Counselor in BC tells a little bit about each of our graduates. Tell us in the comments which story inspired you the most!
1. Danica Sequeira’s Story
Danica worked with an NGO back in India and showed interest in doing the same in Canada. She managed a group of 1600 volunteers and was up to the task at hand. Danica was motivated, focused, and asked important questions on certifications and credibility working with NGOs in Canada. Her mission was to find employment quickly and having had management experience, she was self-aware, professional and goal-oriented. Danica used SOPA and social media to reach out to people in the same profession and received useful information. Danica urges newcomers to do the same, subsequently, this worked out so well for her that she found work within 2 months of arrival!
My name is Danica Sequeira. I have a Master of Arts in Public Policy and a bachelor’s degree in Commerce, with 5 years of experience collaborating with volunteers in different capacities. I arrived on September 4, 2022, in British Columbia to join my husband who was already living in British Columbia.
Securing a job in Canada was a top priority for me and to achieve this, I enrolled with SOPA. I learnt about the SOPA program through IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) and through a friend who participated in it and had good things to say about it, it was only a couple of weeks before arrival that I connected with SOPA and was referred to the Employment Specialist for an online session. With only four days before I left India with all the chaos around me, I managed to keep my appointment. This is where I gained an understanding of various aspects of the Canadian work environment, the working culture, ethics, Canadian-style resume, cover letter, and job interviews.
My target occupation was Program Manager/ Volunteer Manager in a non-profit organization in British Columbia. I tirelessly applied for jobs in my field, networked with people on LinkedIn, read job postings and prepared my resume and practiced interview questions, and with all my challenging work, I eventually landed a job matching my skills and experience as a Program Coordinator in a non-profit organization.
I am happy with the SOPA services, within only days before landing I received a tremendous amount of help getting prepared. My employment specialist reviewed my resume and cover letter making the necessary changes, and most importantly helped with mock interviews. The mock interview helped in understanding the types of interview questions and most importantly gave examples from my experience. As a newcomer, I found that even though I had years of work experience, I needed to complete a few short courses to upgrade myself and gain relevance in the Canadian job market.
My advice to newcomers is to research your profession and use LinkedIn and connect with people in the field, and not feel shy to ask for help as there are people eager to help and welcome you. You need to use immigrant-serving organizations and programs like SOPA before your arrival in Canada.
2. Natalia Lupanova’s Story
Back in Russia, Natalia worked as a translator with three years of experience. She is detail orientated, organized and an excellent communicator. Moving to Canada she considers the idea of changing her career or using her transferable skills to find employment. Only one month before her arrival, she started with SOPA and found that this program answers all her questions. On arrival, she visited job fairs and spoke to companies she is interested in working with, and it took her two months and four interviews with the same company to gain employment. The field is different, but the opportunity presented itself and had all the transferable skills for the position.
My name is Natalia Lupanova, I was born in Kazakhstan, lived in Russia since I was 4 years old, and arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia in April 2022. In Russia, I worked as an English-Russian translator and project manager’s assistant at a translation agency. I wanted to find something similar in Canada but at the same time did not mind changing my career.
I began my employment journey when I was still in Russia. I was searching for information about the local labour market and ways to find a job. I started SOPA’s Job Search Strategies (JSS) course a month before my trip to Canada. From the beginning, I knew that this course would be beneficial in preparing targeted resumes, and cover letters, and marketing my skills.
A month after my arrival I participated in the MOSAIC’s 10th annual virtual job fair where I had a chance to chat with the company, I was interested in working with.
To sum it up, it took me two months from the date of my arrival and four job interviews within one company to land a job where I could use my skills and experience. The field is different, but the opportunity is excellent, especially after my decision to start a new career once I am in Canada.
The labour market back in Russia is different from the Canadian one. I did not realize how much it differs. I paid more attention to tailoring my resume, presenting my skills, and networking.
I received a settlement plan before my arrival in Canada and had a chance to study it and prepare a plan of action for the first month. The settlement plan contained information about all aspects of life: transportation, renting apartments, insurance, banking, documents, etc. Also, before my arrival, I started receiving notifications about job fairs and virtual events I could attend after landing.
Regarding pre-arrival and post-arrival strategies that I used to find a job, I studied the market on federal and provincial websites; attended a couple of online workshops and worked on the JSS course. After I arrived, I had a chance to attend virtual job fairs and workshops. I have also attended networking events to explore the hidden job market and worked on my LinkedIn profile. At first, my main challenge was spending a lot of time targeting resumes and cover letters. It was something unfamiliar and time-consuming for me. Another challenge was getting ready for different questions during interviews. The guidance and support of the facilitator, and the information in the JSS course about the interviews helped me prepare.
Tips for other newcomers in terms of finding employment in Canada:
- be active, and don’t be afraid to call and show your interest in a position
- apply for a job even if you see that you fit for only 50% according to the job description
- start working on your job search before your arrival, and prepare a general resume in advance so you can target it for each position
- participate in virtual workshops, job fairs, and events (it helps to create a network and find support)
- always carry business cards with you
As an example of an unexpected networking opportunity: I was on my way to Staples to print some documents and found myself chatting with a passenger on a bus. We had a small talk about the weather, Vancouver, and summer. He said that he immigrated here a long time ago and remembers what it is like to be a newcomer. He also asked me for a business card in case he hears about any Project Manager opportunity for me.
3. Puyan Taheri’s Story
Puyan has a Ph.D. in TEFL from The University of Tehran, with twenty years of experience working as an Assistant Professor and teacher. With only one week before arrival, he contacted SOPA with a five-page resume and several questions. Before leaving Iran, securing a job in Canada was his top priority. One of his main concerns was his credential and will it work for him, the Canadian working culture and ethics was some of his other questions. After working on his resume and mock interview he was slightly prepared. Puyan was persistent and immediately after arrival, he started knocking on doors and resending out resumes, within four days he had three job offers as an ESL teacher, which was overwhelming as now he had to decide the best fit for his experience.
My name is Puyan Taheri, and I have a Ph.D. in TEFL from The University of Tehran in Iran and have 20 years of experience in teaching. I worked as an Assistant Professor at IKIU in Iran and I also established an ESL school, “The English Institute” in 2011. My wife and I decided to immigrate to Vancouver, Canada with our five-year-old daughter, having found that the weather, opportunities and living conditions are remarkable there.
Before I left Iran, I decided to make securing a job in Canada a top priority and to achieve this, I enrolled in SOPA Program. This is where I gained an understanding of various aspects of the Canadian work environment, the working culture, ethics, Canadian-style resume, cover letter, and job interviews. I got familiar with the labour market, which was something new to me and had a remarkable review of my resume and cover letter. I was encouraged to work on my strengths and transferable skills which was an important thing to use in job interviews. I also gained knowledge, and experience in answering the opening questions “tell me about yourself” and the dreaded “wage question”.
My mock interview was outstanding, I understood how to use the S.T.A.R. technique, and how to give examples of my work experience which helped me to prepare before embarking on my journey to settle in Canada.
Within four days after arrival in BC, I secured three jobs. I finally decided to accept the one that matches my skills and experience at Cornerstone College as an ESL instructor and a part-time position at MOSAIC employment services. I recommend registering for SOPA because the benefits are critical to your success. Good luck to all newcomers who want to make their dreams come true! I am grateful to SOPA for their unconditional support, encouragement, insightful comments. It was worth it.
What is SOPA?
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.
Post prepared by Linda Ragoonanan, SOPA BC Employment Specialist
Linda Ragoonanan is an employment specialist with SOPA British Columbia, specializing in working with pre-arrival immigrants. She moved to Canada over thirty years ago and has seventeen years of experience in the employment industry. Linda is knowledgeable in supporting clients with their concerns regarding credentials, labour market, licensure, certification, resume, mock interview, and other questions on employment and settlement. Linda is fortunate to work with Job Search Strategies, Soft Skills, Working in Canada, and Workplace Communication. During her career, she facilitated and advised over two thousand clients in different sectors of the job market. Being passionate about people, and culture and writing success stories, Linda’s experience expands from Tourism and Hospitality, Skill Programs and Pre-Arrival services. She believes that knowing how things work in advance can make a tangible difference to new arrivals.
Very reassuring, Thank You