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Canadian Experience, It’s not about you



By May Tartoussy

If you are a newcomer trying to find your way through the Toronto job market, you must have heard on many many occasions from recruiters and friends (throughout your job hunt journey) that you need to get “Canadian experience”. It may not make sense to you, and you may hear it so often it might lead you eventually to think “I am being singled out, I am being discriminated against”. Though on the surface, this may seem true, it is actually a much complex game than you might realize. It’s not actually about you at all. Let me help you get your head around the situation so you are empowered instead of falling into anger, resentment, and self-doubt.

First, it’s important to understand that this is a market that works on numbers and also lobbying. Everything is a number, everyone is a number, and everyone uses numbers to track results or make a case/offer. Universities use the statistics and numbers of employment rates after graduation to attract students. They also use numbers and statistics to attract employers to hire their graduates. Also, know this: in Canada, there is a strict accountability culture. Employers, like anyone else, want to avoid liability at any cost. The result is a linear market that heavily depends on specific avenues for professional employment. Meaning, employers would mostly rely on institutions to hire talents such as universities, professional institutions such as PMI, government-funded employment programs, and recruiters. These institutions make for fewer headaches for employers in hiring qualified staff, lower risk, and less liability.

If you are a newcomer in your thirties, you’ve more than likely already earned your degree from somewhere else, so you lose the university route to finding employment. Some will direct you to government-funded employment agencies, but if you are a business professional, don’t bother with them, as those agencies are intended for entry-level occupations and they deal with funding issues that cripple them in many ways.

Your next option would be a recruiter, but the same principle applies: you are just a number to recruiters to get their sales quotas. While there are amazing ones, however, the number concept always applies. Again, it’s nothing personal. Even though the entire process can feel like they are singling you out, it is not the case. It feels that way because it can seem as if there are glass doors between you and finding employment. You simply are going through this difficulty because you are not working within those professional avenues for employment. i.e. you are on your own, not because you are an immigrant/a newcomer. Canadian-born students have to go through those avenues too: co-op programs, unpaid internships, and a lot of volunteering before they land on paying jobs. This is how this market works. The sooner you realize this, the faster you will succeed and stand on your feet. Please don’t take it personally: I did and I regret it, and others, too.

Another issue that you would be dealing with in this market is that it is going through a massive change in the rise of automation. According to an article   written by John Armstrong, partner at KPMG in Canada and KPMG’s National Leader for Financial Services, “the mid-level white collar jobs are disappearing as many companies are adopting technologies and leaned out their business processes. 42% of our jobs are considered at high risk of being affected by automation”. Let me repeat this: 42% of our jobs are considered at high risk of being affected by automation.”

So, as you see. It is a market that is dealing with a lot of variables. It is really not about you. Some suggestions might help you: Consider joining a reputable professional association, a regulatory body, even a quick course in a program and let them introduce you to the job market. Be informed, follow the numbers, and make your own path. This is still “The New World” where you don’t inherit, but rather make your own fortune.

Note: This post is addressed to newcomers professionals of non-regulated occupations in Canada. Regulated occupations include such fields as engineering, medicine, pharmacy, and nursing, and require, by law, licensing or certification and are governed by regulatory bodies.

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