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A young Indian business man lost in thoughtsYuri Arcurs

The question

I am a graduate from India working in an Indian government firm. For the past year I have been searching for a job in Canada. I don't know whom to approach. Can you advise me?

The answer

The greatest obstacle that new immigrants face when job searching is having Canadian work experience. Employers want to hire people who can hit the ground running, and some feel experience in this country is pivotal for this. As a result, many new-to-Canada job seekers struggle to find their first big break. While your task ahead may not be an easy one, you will need to work hard and take a creative approach.

First, research companies that are leading the way in hiring for diversity. Each year, various studies announce Canada's best diversity employers. See if companies in your field made those lists. Explore companies that market their services to the new-to-Canada segment, too. Many industries, including the financial and telecom sectors, are serving the immigrant population as a key part of their business strategy. Also consider applying for relevant government jobs related to your past experience.

Once you've identified the target organizations you want to work for, it's time to start networking. This task is all the more feasible in today's social media world, even from a distance.

Identify people to connect with online (e.g. Canadian leaders from your industry, diversity managers at your target employers' organizations, fellow immigrants in your profession who have already established themselves in Canada, etc.). Engage them in smart conversations via LinkedIn and Twitter, for example. Learn more about them, and share your insights as well to create strong networking relationships. This is a considerable time investment, but it's well worth it. Join relevant LinkedIn groups, and participate in their discussions. Network with the South Asian community in Canada too – e.g. make connections with groups such as the Indo-Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Through all of this, seek out virtual mentorship opportunities, and let people know about your job search.

Some job seekers ask me about getting a company to sponsor them to Canada. Honestly, for most, this is not a viable option, because companies will only sponsor a foreign worker if their specific skills are not available locally. Conduct research to see if you would qualify for such an opportunity.

Finally, work with specialized recruiters who focus on placing foreign-trained professionals and also research non-profit organizations that are dedicated to getting newcomers hired in Canada. Utilize all of the resources available to you, to the fullest extent. Stay positive, stay focused, and stay the course to realize your goal.

Julie Labrie is the vice-president of BlueSky Personnel Solutions.

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