Patrick Arsenault, Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) works with foreign nationals and permanent residents to address immigration-related legal issues and concerns.
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On June 21, 2019, I attended a session in Halifax (Nova Scotia) during which three employers talked about their experience hiring three immigrants. The three employees had originally come from Brazil, Uganda, and China.
All three employers agreed that diversity was a strength in their organization. They also talked about how foreign workers bring a wealth of experience, but sometimes need a little more support. Whether that means providing additional help when they are relocating or helping them understand the culture of the organization. Ultimately, they agreed that hiring foreign workers comes with both benefits and challenges. An example they gave is email etiquette. In some countries, it may be common practice to send a quick email without too many formalities. In Canada, these can sometimes feel a little dry.
At the end of the day, it felt like newcomers had the power to outperform and succeed in Canadian organizations if they were provided with appropriate support and opportunities to be mentored. Hiring a foreigner is a great investment into the future. You manage to attract top talent and new ways of thinking, as long as you are willing to put in a little of extra work in the beginning (why it's an investment).
Unfortunately, not all Canadian employers have worked with immigrants, but from what I see, they usually share a similar sentiment. I expect that, over time, employers will become more familiar with the great benefits of recruiting talent internationally and that it will become easier for top talent to settle in Canada.
If you are interested in coming to Atlantic Canada to continue your career, take a look at opportunities available through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program.
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For the majority of individuals who wish to relocate to Canada either as an international student or a skilled worker, having a strong and realistic career plan is essential. If your plan is to start a new life in Canada, you must have a clear plan and your career will most likely be at the centre of your immigration strategy. It is important that you start thinking about that today. Not all Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants are equipped to provide career coaching. You may want to investigate a little further when looking for a trusted professional to see what their expertise, skills, knowledge, and experience are and whether or not the RCIC is the best fit for you.
In this post, I will present the easy 5-step model I personally use with my clients to start the conversation about career planning. Sometimes, I meet people that have already started the process (or even completed it several times already). Other times, I meet people who have never really spent much time thinking about their career plan.
1. Self-Assessment: “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”
Like Dolly Parton would say: “Find out who you are and do it on purpose". At this step you have to discover who you are and make concerted efforts to embrace that persona in every way you can. You cannot build a career plan if you do not know who you are as a person and what you bring to the table.
Top 10 resources:
According to The Wall Street Journal, scientists have found that the majority of us will be better served not by high SAT scores or STEM degrees but by discovering and embracing our true talents.
* These are just a starting point. Please feel free to connect with me to see if I can recommend different tools or help you decide where to focus your time.
2. Career exploration: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Once you have a better grasp on what kind of person you are, what your strengths and goals are, you need to translate that into career options. This can be a very easy process in some cases, but extremely hard in others.
Top 5 resources:
If you struggle to organize your thoughts, you can use brainstorming techniques.
3. Gap analysis: "What are the best opportunities and unmet talent need?"
There has long been a conversation about whether it's better to be a generalist or a specialist when it comes to career development. In my opinion, Canadian professionals have to become-multi-specialists with transferable AND additive skills. It's no longer enough to be a specialist in something or to have a broader scope allowing you to easily expand your skill set. You need to have demonstrated the ability to become a specialist in various trades and bring added value to the table (something above and beyond what is required for the job, for example, speaking multiple languages).
The first step is to make an inventory of all the skills that you have, the ones you want to work on and the ones that are needed in your field. To do so, you can compile job descriptions over a period of at least three months and compare the requirements.
Top 3 resources:
4. Individual development plan: "What's the plan?"
Once you have a better idea of what you bring to the table, what you want to accomplish, and what the the needs in the job market, you can start working on setting career goals. These should be SMART goals:
Once you have a clearer idea of where you are going, develop an extensive individual development plan, which will not only allow you to determine what your end goal is, but allow you to determine what to do to get there. My favourite individual development template was developed by the University of Missouri and is freely available online.
You should also produce a one-pager that conveys the essence of where you are and where you are going. Having this on hand and even in some cases in a public form, may be useful to keep your professional identity and goals in sight. I transformed mine into a personal website.
5. Pivot: "How to keep the momentum and have a proactive approach to career development?"
Even if you spent a great deal of time and energy organizing and implementing a strong career strategy, its success will rely on your ability to be able to change it to adapt to new realities. In some cases, this may mean starting from the beginning again, or any other step along the way, especially Gap Analysis, as the market changes.
You don't necessarily need to undertake a big career change to pivot. Pivoting can also mean changing some of the things you currently do to expand your horizons, meet new mentors, learn new skills, or anything else that has the power to impact your trajectory.
A great way to keep the momentum going after having built a strong career strategy is to do the 4-Week #PIVOTsprint. You can even invite a group to do it with you so you can grow together and bounce ideas from each other. It's entirely free.
The importance of continuous reflection
Developing a career strategy is hard work. It is difficult, because it forces us to reconsider who we are, rethink our life, step outside of our comfort zone and DREAM. Dreaming can be difficult. We don't want to be so vulnerable as to wish for things we know will never happen. However, without a sparkle of dare and imagination, it's often impossible to reach our full potential or even to move forward at all. We tend to be extremely good at preparing for the worst, but not that good to "prepare for the best". However, it is a crucial part of the journey. We simply can't accomplish what we cannot dream.
I have two activities that I recommend you do on a daily basis and all you need is a pile of index cards. I recommend that, each night, you answer one of these 70 questions. The next morning, flip the card over and write about a pretend scenario where you life might head in the future. This can be far-fetched, but it should be positive. Too often, we think too much about what could go wrong, but we don't spend much energy thinking about what could go well. Hold on to your cards and, once in a while, read through some. This is a great way to brainstorm about your life. Figure out what is working well for you, who you are, what you want, and where you could end up in the future. An article from the Economist discusses how imagining far-fetched scenarios about the future can prepare us to face the unexpected in the present and be better prepared for what is coming.
Always be ready
For any of this to be worth it, it is crucial for you to always be ready. You must remain open to new opportunities and have tools and materials available to sell yourself at all times. You always need an up-to-date:Should I stay or Should I go? Every time you choose an opportunity, you have to turn down something else. Your time is a finite resource and you can't do everything. You have to be mindful of that and determine whether or not the timing is conducive to make a career change.
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Most career professionals will argue that "transferable skills" are the most important thing for any job seeker. These skills are essentially the abilities you gained through various experiences, tasks, and responsibilities that can help you perform a task without having to start from scratch. Don't get me wrong, it's essential for foreign nationals to be able to articulate how their previous experiences have prepared them for new opportunities in Canada. However, in my opinion, that is simply not enough. If your whole strategy has been relying on highlighting how you have transferable skills, you are probably not reaching the level of success you want or deserve.
The thing is that ANYONE needs to put forward transferable skills, whether their past experiences are in China or across the street in Canada. Employers EXPECT you to explain to them how your skills are transferable to any job, and more specifically the job that they are trying to fill. So, this should be a given, but not your strategy to stand out. You would be doing EXACTLY what everyone else is doing BUT you would also be dealing with the following hurdles as an international student, an international graduate, or a foreign worker in Canada.
- Weaker networks
If you are not originally from Canada, chances are that you have less connections in the country. When other people are competing for the same jobs, they have more chances of knowing someone who can provide some insight about the job or answer key questions about the organization. They may even know the hiring manager or know someone who can introduce them. Foreign nationals don't always have the same luck and they may find it difficult to network in Canada, especially if they are an international student spending most of their time on campus or a professional still based outside of Canada.
- Lack of Canadian credentials and/or experience
You probably have heard before that you are at a disadvantage, because you lack Canadian credentials or experience. I personally disagree with that. I think that international experience allows us to find new creative ways to solve problems. Unfortunately, not all hiring managers think like me and it is essential for you to keep that in mind. They may think that what your learned may not be transferable (that word again) enough or may not even apply in the Canadian context. In some occasions, they can also be worried that you will struggle to adapt to the company culture or that your personal values may not be compatible with the organization. Success in one context does not guarantee success in a different context. This is always true, but it tends to stay top of mind when hiring managers are speaking with foreign nationals.
Not all employers have experience hiring foreign nationals. They may not be familiar with immigration laws, regulations, and procedures. The fear of the unknown may push them to consider Canadians first or even to leave the position unfilled and wait if they can't find a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen.
- Unfair power dynamics
Finally, hiring managers know that it is more difficult for foreign nationals to secure employment. They may assume that you are desperate and ask you to go above and beyond, accept a lower wage, or compromise in other ways. They may think that they are doing you a huge favour by "giving you a shot", but in reality, they are probably forcing you into a position where you are effectively underemployed. To truly get a job that you deserve, you will have to stand out more than a Canadian would have to (at least that this is what I personally think).
+ Additive skills, knowledge, or experience
The truth is that will make you stand out from the crowd is not transferable skills... that is a given! What you need is "additive skills". I define them as skills that are above and beyond what the employer is looking for. The best additive skills are skills that the employer desperately needs, but that are not included in the job description or that them employer doesn't know they need. Your goal is to show them that you tick all the boxes AND that you bring something else, something BETTER to the table that other candidates may not have.
+ Different perspectives
Research shows that multicultural groups are able to embrace different perspectives, which allows them to find new innovative solutions to daunting problems. The fact that you were able to adapt to different cultures and that you are familiar with various settings make you a prime candidate for many jobs. You have the potential to be more creative and to push the whole team to succeed. A lack of Canadian experience is not that big of a problem. That is something you will acquire (quickly) over time. The other perspectives and lived experiences you bring are UNIQUE and I would argue PRICELESS. You have to let prospective employers know you can:
+ Compelling stories
Recruiters and employers are used to the same resumes and cover letters. What really cut them off-guard and makes them want to get to know you is a compelling story. Because you might have lived in various countries or chose to explore new opportunities abroad, you bring something unusual to the table. This is something you can use to stand out.
As you continue to create your job hunt strategy, I would encourage you to use the following resources.
How To Write A Cover Letter That Recruiters Will Love Using Compelling Stories
The 2 Kinds Of Skills You Should Highlight When You're Underqualified For A Job
"You see a job you’d like to apply for—but there’s a catch, you don’t meet all of the requirements. Despite that, you know the difference between being underqualified or unqualified and you feel confident you fall into the former camp rather than the latter. You can do this job". Read more...
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Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) are experts of Canadian immigration laws, regulations, and procedures. Working with an RCIC can greatly facilitate your immigration process to Canada. However, it is imperative that you check that your consultant is regulated and in good standing with ICCRC. Otherwise, they are not allowed to charge a fee to assist you in your immigration process.
Avoid using WhattsApp at all cost
A number of fraudulent individuals have been reaching out to prospective immigrants pretending to be RCICs. They portray immigrating to Canada as an easy process with little to no requirements if you hire the right people. That is simply not true. I am aware of at least five people who have been approached by fake consultants that were using my name and my picture on WhattsApp to provide fake advise, putting individuals and families in jeopardy. I would recommend to ONLY communicate with consultants using the contact information listed on the ICCRC website and avoid using social media and WhattsApp as it is easy to steal someone's identity.
Make sure you report ghost consultants and identity thefts!
If someone contacts you pretending to be me, please let me know and contacts ICCRC as soon as possible. You should contacts ICCRC any time you are contacted by a Canadian immigration consultant that is not licensed.
Oh, and that's not me and these documents are FAKE/FRAUD!
As you work on your "Canadian Dream", you must ensure you are working with top experts that are regulated and legally allowed to assist you. The risk of fraud is high and many individuals are out there trying to take advantage of immigrants. MAKE SURE you only use the email address listed on ICCRC to deal with your consultant. DO NOT engage with strangers on WhattsAPP or other social media that are saying they can help you immigrate to Canada. They may try to steal your money.
Like many other consultants, other people try to impersonate me on a regular basis. Here are few examples from the many I have been sending to the authorities over the past few months.
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LinkedIn recently produced a list of the most sought after employers in Canada by looking at four key metrics: interest in the company, engagement with employees, job demand and employee retention. These employers are not necessarily Canada's best employers, but they are employers that generate the most interest from Canadian job seekers.
Here is the top 10:
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There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to relocate to Canada or not. Immigrating to a new country is a big commitment and it required a significant monetary investment from purchasing flights, buying new furniture, paying the legal fees, possibly retaining a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, etc.
Most prospective immigrants are curious to know how much they can expect to earn once in Canada. Although it is impossible to know for sure, there is some data that can be useful in making predictions.
The minimum wage and average salaries
In Canada, each province or territory has a legal minimum wage. That is the hourly wage under which it is illegal for employers to pay you. This means that you can count on being paid at least the following wages for any job in Canada.
It can also be useful to look at the annual average salaries for each province. As a whole, the average salary in Canada is around $51,000 and the GDP per capita is USD $48,300, which is essentially the amount of money generated in Canada divided by the number of inhabitants. Canada currently ranks in the world's top 35, well before many other developed countries such as Belgium, United Kingdom, Japan, France, Finland, the European Union as a whole, South Korea, Italy, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, and many more.
* Minimum wage is set to increase to this amount later in 2019
- Data Unavailable
Income and sales taxes
Canadians are generally heavily taxed in order to fund world-class universally available services such as health care and education. On average, Canadians spend more on taxes than they do on basic necessities such as housing. In fact, a typical Canadian family will pay 42.5% of their income to the government. This may be something you are not used to and that you must account for when budgeting. Unlike many other countries, Canada does not include the sales tax to prices displayed in stores. As such, shoppers have to add between 5% and 15% to the cost of most items they purchase, depending on where they live. You can estimate your after-tax income online. It's impossible to truly know how much one individual will pay in taxes without more information. There are a long list of tax deductible expenses and tax credits available to help you reduce the amount of tax you will owe at the end of the year. Fortunately, most employers will automatically take money off your pay-check so you only need to make minor adjustments at the end of the year to either pay a little more or claim a refund if you overpaid.
Cost of living
The cost of living in Canada is very reasonable. Only one Canadian city made it to the top 30 of the world's most expensive city and only another city made the top 100.
Occupation specific salary data
In Canada, professional occupations are attribued NOCs (National Occupational Classification). Once you know what your NOC is, you can look at job prospects and salary expectations by towns, cities, regions, and provinces.
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The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) is an immigration pathway that is run as a pilot program until November 2019. Currently, it is one of Canada's most popular immigration pathway.
Accelerated Permanent Residency
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program is one of the quickest ways to get permanent residency. In fact, foreign nationals can become Canadian permanent residents in about six months. Immigrants value being able to get permanent residency quickly, because they want to avoid uncertainty as much as possible by not having their immigration status tied to one specific employer.
Temporary Worker Work Permit Option
Another facet of the AIPP program that makes it that popular is the fact that workers can obtain a temporary work permit, so they can start working while the permanent residency is being processed. Not every employer will be able to wait six months or more for candidates to move to Canada. Having the option to come work in Canada while the process takes place is certainly appealing.
Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) Exemption
One of the mechanisms in place to protect the Canadian labour market are Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA). When an employer is not able to hire a Canadian worker, they have to go through a complex process where they have to determine what the impact of hiring a foreigner would be on the Canadian workforce. Essentially, the process aims to verify that the position cannot be filled by a Canadian. If the LMIA is positive, the employer will be issued a confirmation that he is allowed to recruit internationally. Many employers prefer not to go through this complex process. This is waived in the AIPP program. In that program, employers become designated by an Atlantic province: New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, or Newfoundland and Labrador. Once they are designated, they only have to advertise for positions for six weeks. If they could not find a Canadian worker, they are then allowed to hire a foreign national without getting a LMIA.
Approved Settlement Plan
When employers use the AIPP program, they have to work with an approved third party organization to create a settlement plan for the newcomer and their families. Immigrants are fond of this, because it requires employers to be fully committed to them. They have to help in the resettlement program. This makes the relocation and integration processes a little easier.
Lower Language Skill Requirements (IELTS scores)
When immigrants apply for Express Entry, they sometimes retake their language test several times to try to score more points for language abilities. The way that AIPP is setup, candidates only need to reach CLB 4, which is lower than with most immigration pathways.
Limited Time Opportunity
AIPP is particularly popular right now, because the pilot program is only confirm until November 2019. There is no guarantee that this opportunity will still exist after that time. Hence, many immigrants are trying to file their application as soon as possible. Working with a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant could be helpful in order to ensure a prompt processing.
Living in Atlantic Canada
Canada is a huge country. Living in one region or area can be very different than living somewhere else. Atlantic Canada is home to breathtaking scenery, easy access to the ocean (in many cases great beaches), and lobster, fish and seafood are abundant and fresh. It's a popular vacation destination and it is known to be a little more laid back, filled with the friendliest people you can meet, and a safe place to raise a family. The cost of living also tends to be lower than in most major population centres, making owning a house easier. Finally, with aging population, there will be a need for more workers in the future.
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Immigrating to Canada can be a long and complex process. The reality is that there are over 60 different immigration pathways to Canada and it's easy to get lost. Most programs are province specific, so it can be helpful to identify provinces that you are willing to relocate to. It can also be useful to remain open to various possibilities.
All provinces and territories accept immigrants and they all have their own unique set of programs. A simple way to look at it is to consider how many immigrants were accepted in a certain province recently and to compare that figure to the total population of that province. The higher the ratio is, the less stringent and competitive the process could be as the province has been relying on immigrants in recent years to grow and fill jobs. Of course, each submission is unique and two different individuals could have a very different outlook in their immigration process regardless of all factors. It can be incredibly useful to hire a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant to demystify the process and identify the best ways forward.
That being said, it is interesting to look at the data from the last census to determine where immigrants are the most needed to meet local needs.
Where immigrants are the most used to meet local market demands
The Prairies stand out for foreign nationals with specialized skills
Overall, the Prairies (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta) have relied more on foreign nationals in recent years to fuel their economy and sustain their growth. Their unemployment is among the lowest in Canada and it went down in the past three years. It can be expected that these provinces will continue to put an emphasis on recruiting top candidates from around the world to help them prosper. It can also be expected that recent immigrants can find others with similar experiences more easily given that they have the highest RIR.
The Prairies should be top of mind for skilled immigrants that have a unique skill set that can contribute to the Canadian economy. There are mechanisms in place to facilitate your transitions and the provincial nominee programs allow for a relatively important number of immigrants to come in yearly.
Ontario and British Columbia remain top destinations for immigrants
Ontario remains a top destination for immigrants. With a relatively low unemployment rate and a higher than average RIR, it stands out as a safe value. It is also the most populous province of Canada and includes both the biggest city and the capital of the country. There are countless opportunities to grow professionally, strongly established support services and communities, and a rich and multicultural setting.
With a decreasing unemployment rate and a strong legacy of immigration pioneering, we can expect to see the RIR increase in British Columbia and to notice more flexibility around provincial programs, including the BC PNP Tech Pilot. British Columbia remains a steady option for new immigrants with its strong and diverse economy, enjoyable weather and proximity to the American market and Asia.
Atlantic Canada eager to join the movement
Although the RIR is lower in Atlantic Canada, it does not seem that the region should be disregarded. In part, it means that immigration remains somewhat underutilized. The region has a weaker economy, which can make it harder to attract foreign nationals. That being said, there is a real need for population growth to counterbalance a significant exodus of young people and population ageing. This is one of the reason why the region launched the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program, which facilitates immigration and accelerates the permanent residence process. There is also a recent focus on entrepreneurship and international student retention , particularly in Newfoundland and Labrador.
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Canada is the most educated country in the world with an average of 55% of working adults having attained some level of post-secondary education, while most other developed countries are closer to 35%.
Canada has one of the best education systems in the world along with countries like Finland and South Korea. What is very interesting is that, for Canada, having more migrant students does not decrease overall performance like in other countries. It increases it.
Canada is also different from most countries that perform well, because it does not have a centralized education system. Instead, each province is responsible for developing its own education system. Individually, they also perform extremely well on the global scale.
If Canadian provinces entered Pisa tests as separate countries, three of them, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec, would be in the top five places for science in the world, alongside Singapore and Japan and above the likes of Finland and Hong Kong.