This article focuses on the process of looking for work in a specific sector or occupation or applying for a specific job. It will be most useful in cases where a newcomer is not using an employment service.
Opening the door through a connection
Anyone assisting a newcomer find work, who is able to open the door to an interview through a personal connection, provides an extremely valuable service in doing so. The connection might be direct, where the person assisting knows a hiring decision-maker or influencer. It might also be indirect, where the person providing assistance is able to find someone else who can open a door. This is where using the sponsor network and networking by newcomers proves most useful.
Even if the person who is making the connection is unable to endorse the newcomer, he or she can ask the prospective employer to at least give a refugee newcomer an interview opportunity and, perhaps, a short-term tryout.
Before applying for a job, an essential task is preparation of a resume. Not only does this provide a concise summary for a potential employer, but it also focuses the newcomer’s thoughts on his or her strengths, weaknesses, skills, talents, and objectives.
There are many resources available online to assist in resume preparation, including the following:
- What do I include in my Canadian resume? What do I exclude? (Settlement.org)
- How do I create a Canadian-style resume in order to find a job? (Settlement.org)
- How to write a good resume (Government of Canada – Job Bank)
- Resume format in Canada: tips and advice (Moving2Canada)
- 5 Mistakes Immigrants Make When Writing A Canadian Style Resume (Prepare for Canada)
- Free resume templates (LiveCareer)
- How to Format Your Resume (Monster.ca)
- Should You Have Separate Resumes For Different Types of Jobs? (Monster.ca)
While having a well-prepared resume is key, combining it with a great cover letter can often make the difference regarding how much attention is even paid to the resume. See these articles to help draft cover letters:
- How do I create a good cover letter? (Settlement.org)
- Smart tips to help you format and write a cover letter (Monster.ca)
- Free Cover Letter Builder (LiveCareer)
Newcomers seeking job opportunities in a professional or office environment should consider the value of establishing a LinkedIn profile and using connections on that network to identify openings and obtain referrals. The following resource is offered in the LinkedIn website:
- Resources for Refugees (LinkedIn)
In Toronto, the Welcome Talent Canada program of Jumpstart (formerly Refugee Career Jumpstart Project (RCJP)), in partnership with LinkedIn, provides training to refugee newcomers on how to leverage LinkedIn’s resources. Newcomers are then provided mentorship through a matched LinkedIn member.
Before submitting a generic resume and cover letter as part of a job application, it will help considerably to customize them for the specific sector, company, and role. Portions of the generic resume and cover letter that should be reviewed to include the newcomer’s:
- Goals and objectives;
- Training, skills and education; and
- Work experience.
If the nature of the work calls for submission of a portfolio or photographs of past work, these may also be worth tailoring to the specific opportunity.
Online search engines/job boards
Online search engines (job boards) can be very useful to gather information about types of companies that are hiring, the roles that they are seeking to fill, and the key qualifications and attributes they are seeking. None, to the best of our knowledge, however, is focused on refugee newcomers, or even, newcomers in general. As a result, the number of online applicants for each position posted may be considerable and the chances of obtaining an interview not as good as if a direct connection could be established with the employer. (If a job opportunity is identified through an online posting, a sponsor or other person assisting a newcomer may then be able to establish a connection to open a door to an interview and even preferential consideration.)
Search engines available, with jobs in the GTA, include the following:
Applying by email or online
Before submitting a job application electronically, consider these two articles on the Settlement.org website: How can I prepare an effective online job application? and How do I apply for a job by email or online?.
See also this article in Forbes: 8 Do’s And Don’ts When You Apply For A Job Online.
For tips on preparing to attend a job fair, consider advice presented on the following articles:
- Job Fair Check-List (Jobs Canada Fair website);
- 6 Job Fair Etiquette Tips (Monster.ca website)
- How to Prepare for a Career Fair (Seneca College website)
Keep an eye on the “Programs & Events” section of this website for upcoming job fairs scheduled in the GTA, which may be of particular interest to refugee newcomers.
Knocking on doors/Applying on-site
Certain types of employers may lend themselves more readily to an unannounced drop-in by someone seeking work. These include retail businesses and some construction sites.
Such businesses, however, may not currently have any job openings. On the other hand, they may have application forms that can be filled in and left behind. Many newcomers have the impression that simply leaving behind a completed application and a resume will be sufficient and are later disappointed that they never received a phone call to invite them back for an interview. It should be explained that persistence is required and that a frequent return to the location may be worthwhile, in order to stay top of mind, show up at just a moment of need, and hopefully find available the right person interested in making a hire. Even better is to find a connection to the employer for a newcomer, in order to open the door for an interview.
Researching the employer
When a job opportunity arises, whether through word of mouth, an online posting, a job fair, an on-site drop in, or otherwise, it is a good idea for a sponsor or other person helping a newcomer find good work to offer to help research the potential employer. This research will be of value in tailoring a resume, answering interview questions, preparing questions to ask an interviewer, and to see if there are any public indications that the employer would be a good or bad place to work.
Word of mouth through a sponsor’s own network and through any contacts of the newcomer is one place to start. In addition, easy sources of information on a prospective employer include:
- Visiting the website of the prospective employer; and
- Googling the prospective employer
Labour market information
As part of preparing for a job search, a sponsor or other person helping a newcomer can look up and explain labour market information in sectors of potential interest. Sometimes, however, job opportunities arise in sectors that were not previously considered. Here, too, labour market research can be of value. The following online references will be of value in this regard:
- Labour market information: Explore careers (Government of Canada Job Bank)
- Ontario’s labour market Search job profiles (Government of Ontario)
- Where can I find labour market information? (Settlement.org)
- What is labour market information? Do I need it? (Settlement.org)
It can be of immense value for a private sponsor or other person helping a refugee newcomer apply for a job to conduct one or more practice interviews himself or herself. He or she should also consider trying to arrange through a connection for an understanding person in the same employment sector that is of interest to the newcomer to conduct a practice interview.
The practice session should include questions that the newcomer should be prepared and even encouraged to ask at an interview.
For tips on effective interviewing (and follow-ups), see the following articles:
- Common Interview Questions (Monster.ca);
- How to Prepare For A Job Interview: 10 Tips to Boost Your Skills (Monster.ca);
- Interview Questions: 57 things you could be asked in an interview (Moving2Canada);
- How do I prepare for a job interview? (Settlement.org);
- How do I prepare for an interview? (Government of Canada Job Bank)
Following up interviews
Following up on job interviews is extremely important. Consider the advice provided in these articles:
- Following-Up in Your Job Search (Monster.ca);
- 4 things you need to do after the interview to land the job (Financial Post);
- Increase your chance at a second interview with these interview follow-up tips (Randstad)
Video series for newcomers on seeking employment in Canada
The Facebook Group, “Hand-to-Hand Supporting Newcomers Canada”, has been producing a series of short videos about different aspects of preparing for a job hunt and finding employment in Canada. These videos are intended to be viewed by newcomers. However, the commentary is provided in English, as well as Arabic, and in some cases, French. Therefore, English-speaking private sponsors and other volunteers can also understand the discussion and engage in follow-up questions and answers with newcomer viewers.
Links to these videos may be found on the group’s YouTube channel.