Library Archives

Finding the first job

It’s easier to find a job when you have a job, or so the story goes. When you’re a newcomer to a new country it’s a bit more complicated. Most often, you’re not coming with a job in place.

You have to get a job:

One of the most difficult things for newcomers is getting that first job. You know what you were before you moved here: Engineer or Teacher, Doctor or Lawyer, Plumber or Carpenter and so on. You arrive and find that your qualifications need to be assessed and the process is long and complicated; or you find it difficult to have any response to your search for employment.. You hear: ‘you don’t have the Canadian Experience,’ ‘your qualifications don’t meet the BC professional requirements,’ or ‘you need to take one or two courses to have your credentials articulated as equivalent to BC standards’ (only to find that the one or two courses are near impossible to get). You find that you don’t know what you are anymore, or how you can make your old life fit with the new.

As your dreams of landing a job in your trained career wanes, it’s important to remember that sometimes, you need that first job to then get the job you want. The first job gives you a pay cheque. The first job counters the ‘Canadian experience’ argument as you begin to live Canadian workplace culture. The first job gives enough breathing room to let you figure out the rest.

My advice to newcomers on finding the first job:

Set your ideal target and set your bottom line:

  • Apply for the jobs that you want, and that you’re qualified for. Apply for the jobs you want, but think you’re not qualified for. The worst that will happen is…nothing. You won’t hear anything back from your prospective employer, or you may hear any of the above variations of why you’re not qualified. The best – you’ll get the job.
  • Apply for the jobs you don’t really want (your bottom line), but could do for short periods of time. Plan to accept a job you don’t necessarily want with a goal of continuing your search. Temporary employment provides breathing room to look for new employment, contacts in the community, and experience. It also looks better on a resume when applying for other positions – employers tend to prefer hiring those who are employed.

Talk to as many people as you can:

  • The folks at your BC Public Libraries are well equipped to refer you to the appropriate resources, whether it be employment assistance, translation of documents, language training, online resources and so on.
  • Contact the organization or governing body of the career field that you wish to work for. A simple Google search for Association of _______ (fill in the blank), BC will likely put you in touch with the governing body of your career. Call them. Ask them if to tell you what you need to know. Ask if you can volunteer in some capacity. The more you connect with others, the more you learn what you need to know to transition to your career in BC.
  • Look for a MeetUp group to connect yourself with others with common goals.
  • Connect with current employees and ask if they are willing to provide you with an informational interview. It may seem awkward, but most employees are willing to share insights into what their job entails. This also builds new connections.

Ask for feedback and practice:

  • Have others review your resume and cover letter to gain feedback. Make modifications if you feel a valid point has been demonstrated and you feel comfortable with the advice.
  • If you have been declined for a position, ask them to provide you feedback. A simple question such as ‘do you have any feedback on how I performed in the job interview?’ will let them know you’re motivated for possible future positions. Take notes of what is said and take time to reflect on how you can improve.
  • Research possible interview questions and have prepared answers for as many as you can. The process of thinking through an appropriate response will save you time and energy in the interview and will help you relax.

There are many more steps to securing employment; especially in a targeted career. The keys to securing the first job are to be open to alternatives, understand that this position is not permanent, and use the resources around you. Consider this practice for your move into your ideal career.

NewToBC? Head to Your Local Library!

If I moved to a new country, the first place I would go is to the local library. In British Columbia, the library is the hub: the community; the information centre. Just walk into a library in BC and you’ll notice flyers advertising workshops and information referrals to a wide array of services from computer assistance, to language learning, employment services, housing, counselling, etc. This is just at the front door! Never mind the information you will find within! The moment I walk into a library, I feel like I’m overwhelmed with helping hands waiting to guide me. It gets better!

The Libraries decided to join forces. NewToBC was created to support Libraries in Metro Vancouver help people who are new to BC. Instead of one library promoting their services, this service aimed at jointly promoting programs, services, community events and resources available to newcomers. The goal was to improve each libraries’ ability to help build welcoming and diverse communities. United, libraries are be able to meet the diverse needs of new Canadians based on location, language and resources.

Folks who are new to BC live in a large geographical area.It is to their advantage to choose a location near them and orient themselves to their new neighbourhood.  Library booksThey can head into their nearest library to discover the possiblities, simply by asking at the information desk. Folks looking for literature in their own language will be happy to know that some libraries specialize in specific language selections AND their local library is able to request materials to be delivered to their own branch! There are various service providers who are closely connected to BC Libraries who assist with learning languages, gaining employment, finding services for early childhood, youth, seniors, refugees, and settlement.

To top this off, NewToBC created the Library Champions project: newcomers to Canada vReading Buddiesolunteer in their local libraries to share the vast resources available to other newcomers in BC: services listed above, events happening in communities, inside tips, connections, friendship, community. The best part? You, too, can become a Champion and a part of your library community. Training is provided and gives you invaluable information about libraries and services in BC. Newcomers have found it useful in finding services, employment, books and new friendships. Information sessions are scheduled at various libraries in October – December.

Don’t take my word for it:

“It helped me first to know more about the library and to improve my communication skills. It helped me to feel that I belong to Canada. I made new friends and meet new people with different backgrounds who helped me to learn more about their culture. The best thing was helping the newcomers and others to learn about the library.” – Ola Sheiy

“As a newcomer, I felt welcomed by Canada, and got to know about Canadian life through the Library Champions Project. This project opens a door for me for my new life in Canada. Thank you!” – Melissa Xu

“The program is a benefit for the new immigrants to increase their confidence and to integrate more into the community, also learn more about the library facilities.” –Sawsan Al. Ramadhan

As an insider, I wish all new Canadians were given the opportunity to know where to start in their pursuit of unbiased, honest and useful information. If you were to respond, in kind, with what your country hast to offer for newcomers, what would you recommend?

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)

Have you ever had an interest in taking a course at university, but didn’t want to pay the price required to enroll? Not only is there the cost of tuition, there’s the additional cost of the application fee, the required textbook and additional student fees. Post-secondary education offers a chance to improve your knowledge in a particular subject or work-related area, but it comes with a very high price tag. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to try the course without the financial cost, to see if you liked it before embarking on the path to a post-secondary education? You can.

West Vancouver Memorial Library will be hosting an information session, to provide insight into a way that you can take university courses, through accredited and recognized universities, for minimal, or no, cost. MOOC – Massive Open Online Courses, are a recent development in distance education that allows access to online courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web[1]. The courses are typically non-credit, but there are often options for receiving recognition for having taken them, and opportunities for receiving credit (which does come with a cost)[2].

MOOC_poster_mathplourde

MOOC courses have many things in common: video based lectures, interactivity through online quizzes, the ability to participate in online discussions, and frequent feedback so you can monitor your own progress. To find out if you’re interested in participating, it’s as simple as looking through the West Vancouver Memorial Library’s list of MOOC institutions and going from there. The library offers these tips to help you decide if a MOOC is right for you:

  • Watch the instructor’s introductory video
  • Check the course outline for prerequisites and the level at which the course will be taught
  • Look at the instructor’s college webpage and search the web for course reviews[3].

If you’re interested in finding out more, head to the West Vancouver Memorial Library on Tuesday, September 23, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. Give yourself the gift of learning without the financial strings attached.

[1] Wikipedia
[2] West Vancouver Memorial Library
[3] West Vancouver Memorial Library