How I got three job offers in two weeks as a new immigrant to Canada

After I successfully started a family — from planning my wedding to having my first baby — I thought the most stressful time of my life was behind me. Until I decided to move to Canada. It’s no coincidence the growing bald spot in the middle of my head showed up the moment my permanent residency was approved. I was born and raised in Dubai, living in the lap of luxury, and surrounded by the support of close family and friends. After I slipped the engagement ring on my wife-to-be’s finger, she whispered in my unsuspecting ears: “By the way, I applied for residency in Canada. We’re moving in two years.” Say whaaaaa?

Moving to Canada
After a lot of soul searching, I decided it was the smart move for my family’s future. But pessimism crept into my head. Will I find a job in time? If I don’t, will I have enough money to support myself? There were a lot of naysayers around me as well, my protective family included. And there is no shortage of online posts throwing daggers at the Canadian immigration experience. But my will and determination prevailed, and the more I was told I couldn’t do it, the more I believed I should! But my will and determination has always been governed by my common sense. I have never been unemployed in 12 years. I first entered the workforce in my early 20s, as a new graduate with no experience and little need for a fat paycheck. Today as a family man, the burden of responsibility pressed down on my shoulders. Now, with over a decade of evolution in social media, I knew that somehow, the job search process must have evolved with it. The suspicious pessimist inside me insisted that there’s got to be more to job searching than the norm — machine gunning your resumé to multiple job boards like LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed, Workopolis, and crossing your fingers until they are stuck in a knot.

And so, my research began!
I scheduled a daily 6 a.m. visit to Starbucks every morning right next to my office in Dubai. Google, YouTube and the Canadian government websites were my research assistants for two hours each day. I visited Canada in October 2015 on a tourist visa, to breathe the Canadian air for the first time, and visited local employment service agencies. My most memorable takeaway during that trip was a visit to a local library, where I discovered several books written by career coaches. I bought a couple and read them on the 14-hour flight back to Dubai. In the months that followed, I planned my job search process. A step-by-step action plan for each job that I would apply for.

Finally, the big day arrived.
On June 1 2016, we touched down at Toronto Pearson Airport. We spent a two-week vacation absorbed in the visions of our Canadian future.
On June 14, I bid a tearful goodbye to my wife and one-year-old daughter as they flew back to Dubai to wrap things up, and I was on my own.
They would be back in three months, expecting our life to begin in our own apartment and a steady income from my new job.

The countdown began.
On June 15, my newly created step-by-step process kicked into action. I proudly call it my Job Track Process, and here it is, in a nutshell:

Connel’s Job Track Process
Step 1: Apply for the job online
Step 2: Research everything about the company and the position
Step 3: Customize the resumé to the job description
Step 4: Find three contacts 1-the hiring manager 2-the recruiter 3-a senior manager
Step 5: Uncover their contact information
Step 6: Research about each person and find a hook to use in the cover letter
Step 7: Construct a personalized cover letter for each person, using the info found in Step 6
Step 8: Email them directly
Step 9: Snail mail my personalized cover letter and customized resumé to them using Canada Post
Step 10: Call them, if required
As you can imagine, each job application took me approximately two to three hours to complete, depending on the complexity of the job description.
Over the course of two weeks, I applied to 16-20 jobs. The results were five interviews and three job offers, all before I got my Canadian driving licence. I selected the best offer on June 30, a full-time job as an IT team leader in one of the largest telecommunications companies in Canada (Let’s Go Blue Jays!). I hate it when people tell me “You got lucky!” I didn’t work through a year of research to rely on luck.

My turn to hire
Back to my story, after I started my new job, one of my first responsibilities was to hire a group of analysts to support our team for a one-year contract. No sooner had the posting went up, the swarms of resumés started pouring in. I was horrified at the results. No doubt, my newfound knowledge from my research set higher levels of expectation in resumés and cover letters. What I received was a pile of effortless generic resumés, where the content was completely misaligned from the specific job description that we took so much time and trouble to create. For the few that chose to attach a cover letter, it started with “Dear Sir / Madam…..” followed by a bunch of weak, overused self-descriptive words like “Self-motivated”, “Fast Learner”, “Eager.” Ugh! If you’re migrating to a new country, securing your first job is the obvious priority. Be smart about your job search and learn about how successful people have done it in the past.

Here’s a couple of new tips I learned:
• You can go to YouTube and search for “TedX Job Search” to learn how global professionals and successful job seekers effectively found jobs.
• Want to check how your resumé matches up against the job description? Check Jobscan.co and copy paste the job description side by side with your uploaded resume to see what score you get.
• Want to really stand out of the competition? Build an online resumé like I did — connelvalentineresume.com — and reference this site in your resumé, cover letter, post-interview thank you note. I’m not a web designer; I used an easy tool called Wix.
• Do you have the description “Organized” in your resumé? Then you will appreciate a tool called JibberJobber to keep a close track of all your job applications.
• There are plenty of opportunities to network in Canada. Go to Meetup.com and find the group in your industry and start attending these events. The sooner the better.

I know not every immigrant shares the same circumstances as me, and everyone will face their own unique challenges, especially those in regulated fields. I know this advice sounds cliché, but always stay positive during your job search. Remember one thing, there are always jobs to be filled. What you see online does not account for the majority of hidden jobs behind closed doors in many companies. Take a look at the latest labour force survey on Statistics Canada to see for yourself. If you’re touching down in Toronto, the 2016 Toronto Employment Survey shows an increase of jobs by 2.7 per cent from 2015 to 2016.

Canada is a massive country, and Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec are thriving business hubs. Your next job is waiting for you, you just need to get off your butt and take active approach to find it. The online job boards that you naively depend on aren’t as effective as you think. If you respect your job search as a job in itself, in that dedicate as much time and effort towards it, you’ll be back in the workforce and living the Canadian dream in no time. It took courage for you to move to Canada. Now your determination will keep you going. Welcome to your new home!

-CanadianImmigrant

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