Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Newcomers face unique job search challenges By Kyla Frankowski

This is the fourth part in a series of columns to offer job search tips and advice, written by Lutherwood staff. Lutherwood is a local agency that offers employment support as well as a range of other services which are accessed by more than 20,000 people annually in Waterloo Region and Wellington County.
Newcomers to Canada often face many challenges when looking for work that fits their past experience.
These challenges can include differing work environments, qualification requirements and workplace cultures, as well as a lack of a social network.
However, there are some basic steps you can take to ensure you are on the right track.
If you are new to Canada and looking for work, you need to know how your skills and previous occupation fit into the Canadian labour market. So your first step is to find out which Canadian occupation best matches your experience and skills.
Recently, I worked with an individual who held the title of electrical engineer in his native country.
But when we reviewed his skills and work experience, we discovered that he better matched the occupation of industrial millwright here in Canada. Knowing this, we were able to focus his job search efforts.
The second step is to learn what skills and experience Canadian employers are looking for, review your own skills and experience, and identify any gaps.
To determine Canadian employers’ needs, you should review job postings, talk to employers and talk to people working in your field.
Ideally, you should try and connect with someone who has been successful getting work in your profession so that you can learn what worked or didn’t work for them.
Now that you know what type of job you are looking for and any skill and experience gaps you need to fill, the third step is to create a plan to fill those gaps.
There are many options for upgrading skills and increasing experience, including programs designed specifically for newcomers to Canada. These options include mentoring with someone working in your field, accessing apprenticeship opportunities and enrolling in English-language or job-skill upgrading courses.
Once the gaps are filled, you are in a position to work on your resumé, prepare yourself for interviews and find employers who are hiring in your field.
Finally, build a network. Finding work in today’s economy is difficult enough without trying to do it on your own. A network is a group of people who know you, know what kind of work you are looking for and will help you.
Try to include people who have successfully adapted to the Canadian workplace and culture as well as people working in your field and industry of interest. Find out what job opportunities they know about and who they know that can help you with your job search.
I strongly advise speaking with someone at a local government-funded employment services agency.
Employment advisors can help you focus your job search, identify skill and experience gaps, help you access employment programs, identify training and financial assistance opportunities such as Second Career, and give you guidance on preparing for your job search.
Adapting your professional skills and experience to fit within a new country is challenging.
But with a bit of time, dedication and support, you may be surprised at how quickly you can find the work you are looking for.
• • •
Kyla Frankowski, an employment advisor at Lutherwood, has more than eight years of experience offering employment services. She works primarily with newcomers to Canadain the Job Search Workshop program. For more information, visit

Monday, August 13, 2012

What Happens When You Don't Get What You Want? by Alan Kearns

You have been training for 15 years of your life. You have won a Gold medal in the Sydney Olympics & a sliver at the Beijing. You have just had a great swim, are in 15th place coming out of the water...things are going swimmingly. You are running your race, according to your game plan. You get up on your bike & start out of the gate, for the second part of your race. You're feeling fresh & exicted; you even have the wind at your back. You race your bike up the hill & get ready to put your foot into your shoes.

You hit a speed bump. You crash & wipe out; your Olympic race is over. You watch the winner complete the race & receive the gold medal, as you sit in the medical tent.

Speed Bumps.

For Simon Whitfield, this speed bump meant the messy ending to a terrific Olympic career. He shared, "I hit the speed bump just as I went to put my shoe on, I think. I hit on a funny angle and ended up crowd surfing, which is good for concerts and not so good for sport events." Everyone has them at some point in their lives, a time when your life veers off of your own game plan. From getting laid-off, a frustrating job search, not being chosen for aleadership role, or not being accepted into the program you were hoping to enter. 

Speed Bumps Hurt.

I thought of not just the physical pain that Simon was in, including a broken collar bone & a severe laceration to his foot, requiring stitches. I also thought of the emotional pain not only for Simon, but for all the other people in his life that were supporting him. "My breakdown moment was seeing my wife because I know how much Jennie puts into this and we're a team and she's put in so much sacrifice being at home a lot alone." 

Speed Bumps Can Teach.

Simon shared "It was hard to see my daughter upset, my wife upset and I was pretty upset. That means it means something doesn't it?"

1. We all hit speed bumps in our careers - it's not personal, it is part being a professional.
2. Take stock, deal with the reality of the situation, accept it, AND learn from it.
3. Start a new goal as soon as possible.

Speed Bumps Can Heal.

Simon stated "I don't know that I ever dreamed of four Olympics, two medals and flag bearer, I'm absolutely blown away by the whole thing."

When I first read his quote, I was stunned. I reread the quote to make sure that I had understood it correctly. Now THAT is a high performance athlete. It was obviously not the Olympic experience, that Simon was anticipating. I was so impressed by his forward looking perspective - from disaster to moving forward in less than 24 hours.

We have all had crash and burn experiences in our careers, but it's our response to these issues that is the key. Well done Simon, we are proud of you! You have represented Canada well & have been a great example, to those of us who desire to reach our full potential. 
Looking for help with your personal brand? Looking to become a more effective leader? Who's your career coach? Need help with a professional resume, job search, and interview preparation? Invest in yourself & get the edge in this competitive job market. Take a small step and book an initial coaching session.

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Giving my best, along the road with you!


P.S. Looking for help with your job search? The 90-Day Job Search Program can help you identify the right career fit for you. Click for more details.    

P.P.S. Looking for career or leadership support in Ottawa? We have a terrific team to help you reach your potential & advance in your career. Click here to get started.