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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Translating your story: the key to re-establishing your career in Canada

I can’t tell you how often I speak to new and returning Canadians lamenting that seemingly age old quandary when looking for a role based in this country: "Canadian employers want current Canadian experience, but how do you get current Canadian experience without current Canadian experience?" Without a doubt this is a deeply frustrating challenge.

At its heart, the best plan to securing meaningful work in Canada is simple. Perseverance is the name of the game. Knocking on doors until one opens is stressful and all-consuming, but ultimately rewarding, as it is the first step up the ladder to build a new career here. That said, I believe there are strategies that can turn a potentially longer process into a much shorter one.

Recently, I had the pleasure to participate in Toronto Homecoming, an event focused on helping Canadians repatriate back to our local market. As in years past, the event was a success. The attendees I spoke with were bright, talented, experienced professionals diligently committed to finding meaningful work in Canada.  Yet, there were two factors that made it readily apparent to me who would find work quickly and who would face a more uphill battle.     

The first and most important element was an individual’s ability to translate their story.  There is no doubt that experience and skills gained abroad are relevant to the Canadian marketplace.  However, if that experience cannot be framed in context and given detail, its value is greatly undermined.  Too often, people I met made the assumption that I knew they worked at China’s 3rd largest investment bank or Spain’s largest telecommunications company just by sharing the name of their former employer.  Individuals who gain traction with Canadian companies have spent time articulating the scope of the businesses they have worked with, the skills they have gained there, and have crafted arguments as to why these experiences are transferable to the Canadian marketplace.  They have done this both in their resumes and in the story they tell about themselves.  They don’t wait to be questioned about their past, they provide context upfront.

On top of that, individuals successful in the search process understand the deep importance in leveraging their story through the cultivation of allies and advocates in the Canadian market.  Online applications are black holes where resumes disappear into the abyss.  Savvy and proactive job seekers reach out and form relationships in the market face-to-face or over the phone in order to share the story they’ve crafted and have those with the inside track give them advice.  Surely, this is not an instantaneous route to a new opportunity – but it is the best and surest way to cultivate advocates who will go out of their way to open previously unseen doors. 

Deciding to leave the known to explore a new market requires a pioneer’s heart.  The key to success is not to lose that proactivity once you get here.  

Lauren Thorek, Associate Director

1 comment:

  1. Excellent insight to a challenging venture!

    ReplyDelete

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