Where to begin

When and what to talk about, including: pre-arrival, within a sponsorship group; and with the newcomer soon after arrival; when formulating a plan; when preparation for a job search begins; and after a first hire.

Defining “success”

The importance of defining employment success, both short- and long-term. A discussion of the need to reconcile the expectations of private sponsors or volunteers with those of a newcomer and to revisit plans over time, as circumstances and expectations change. Some suggested criteria for success to consider.

Managing Expectations

Talking through unrealistic work expectations, including with regard to the search and application processes, licensing/accreditation requirements, compensation levels, climate factors, transportation issues, English proficiency requirements, vacation, employee and employer rights, and workplace culture.

Elements of an employment strategy

The need for two strategies – one for the private sponsorship group, if any, and one for the newcomer. Look for collaboration and evolution. Topics to consider, from the assignment of responsibilities to the need to learn English, types of work to be considered, mentorship, training, when to start looking, use of an employment service, preparation for a search, and the search itself.

Cultural sensitivities in Canada

A discussion of cultural sensitivities and expectations regarding customs such as body language, touching, personal space, customer service, working for women and with women, religious practices, eating at work, asking questions, punctuality, accountability, work product and quality, and performance evaluation.

Muslim observances that may affect work

A discussion of daily and Friday Muslim prayer rituals, the observance of Ramadan, Eid-al-Fitr, and Eid-al-Adha holidays, and workplace clothing/attire options.

Using the sponsor network to find a job

Suggestions as to various ways that one or more members of a private sponsorship group can be a valuable employment resource, including by personally hiring a refugee newcomer on a full- or part-time basis, lobbying a sponsor’s own employer to make a hire, and accessing personal and professional networks. Even just setting up practice interviews in these ways can be valuable. Also, an encouragement to ensure that all sponsors and the newcomer are on the same page, as to strategy and objectives.

Explaining the risks of working ‘under the table’

What newcomers should understand about the disadvantages of working “under the table” in terms of employee rights, taxation, employment insurance, health and other benefits, private sponsorship eligibility, and moral responsibility.

Preparing for “Month 13”

A discussion of when and how to prepare for Month 13, in terms of employment following the end of a formal private sponsorship agreement. Also included is a discussion of Ontario Works financial support and clawbacks and of Child Benefit payments.