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I'm moving to the United States and getting married to my American fiancé. Once I get a green card I'll look for a job. I currently live in British Columbia and once I move around Christmas time and begin the whole process it will likely be about six months until I receive documentation and a social security number to allow me to begin working.

I am a family doctor and my understanding is that the best way to seek employment is through recruiters. A friend who works in human resources at a hospital in Canada suggested that sending out résumés or signing up with a recruiter now – eight months ahead of my potential availability – would only serve to irritate potential employers. At the same time I'm nervous to leave the job hunt too long, although I also will be further delayed by the process of applying for a medical license in California which I should have shortly after the immigration approval, around June, assuming there are no glitches.

I was hoping to at least put out some feelers and send my résumé around but I don't want to alienate any future employers or recruiters by starting the search too soon. My understanding is that it's normal to sign up with a variety of recruiters, since each one may have access to a different set of jobs. Is this the right approach to take?


Your friend is correct. The bottom line is if you are not immediately available, both hiring managers and recruiters won't be interested in you now.

Consider their perspective: most hiring managers and recruiters operate on a hiring model, where ideally, they would have wanted someone to start yesterday. If they see that your qualifications fit their needs, they may get excited about it – only to be disappointed when they find out that you won't be available for several months. You will risk irritating them because organizations usually can't wait that long for one person.

Moreover, a great recruiter's calling card is the combination of finding the best talent for the job, and placing them as quickly as possible. Hence recruiters won't be able to do anything with your profile until you are ready to join the work force.

Once you can work legally, sign up with as many recruiters as you wish. I only have one recommendation: Set up a process with each recruiter, where they must get your approval first before presenting your profile to a client. This way, you can first evaluate which organizations are a good fit for you, and consider location, compensation, company culture, and other factors. Plus, you can avoid having your résumé presented to the same organization by multiple recruiters – which is not professional.

Having said all of this, your instinct to put some feelers out there is a good one. While you wait for your papers to be processed, there are some things that you can get started on immediately. The key word here is networking. Get to know the key players locally in your profession, and find ways for them to get to know you, too.

For example, make a list of all the potential organizations you would like to work for. Keep them on your watch list. Check out press releases they issue, so you can stay abreast of their organizational news. Keep your own social media profile active, and follow your target list on their social media platforms, interacting with them where appropriate.

Put together a target list of recruiters; research them well and also interact with them on social media.

As well, consider offline professional networking opportunities. Attend conferences, join associations, and seek out mentorship programs.

By building meaningful relationships now, you'll be able to jumpstart your job search when the time comes. You'll be a familiar name to your target hiring managers and recruiters and that's a great strategic advantage.

Julie Labrie is the president of BlueSky Personnel Solutions in Toronto.

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