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Reframing the Narrative Around ‘No Canadian Experience’

It’s ironic that the same qualifications that allow newcomers to gain permanent residency status and come to Canada seem to work against them once they arrive.

Last Saturday, I hosted a Webinar through New Canadians TV on this notion of “No Canadian Experience”, and am sharing a synopsis of what was discussed. While the content is geared to newcomers, other job seekers will find some of these tips beneficial.

Reframe the Narrative

First of all, the phrase – No Canadian Experience – is a conversation stopper. It’s one way to stop you in your tracks and prevent you from talking about your unique journey and the benefits an employer could gain from hiring someone like you. Instead of ending the conversation, use the opportunity to engage and reframe the narrative.

Address the Elephant in the Room

(Image: Reddit)

If you get the sense your lack of Canadian work experience could be a concern, you might want to address the ‘elephant in the room’ upfront. Admit it (see a sample script below under elevator pitch), then steer the conversation to how your international experience aligns with the organization’s goals and the benefit they will gain from hiring you. However, before you can have such a conversation, you will need to do some preliminary work. This work won’t be easy, so commit to playing the long game. You will discover it’s a better use of your time than sending resumes to every company and not getting a response.

Take an Inventory of Your Skills

Look at all the things you have done, the skills you used and the outcome / impact you made and write them down. This exercise will help you quantify your achievements, make you stand out from other candidates, and provide you with an inventory of your skills to help you showcase your value.

Research, Research, Research

Every job is NOT for you so don’t go sending resumes to every company that has an opening. Research the ones you would want to work with, and you can start with these lists:

Extend your research to social media platforms, starting with LinkedIn. Sometimes names of your connections who work at a particular company may show up. If not, check if someone in your network knows someone at the company, and ask if they could introduce you. Keep in mind that not everyone is going to respond so don’t become despondent and give up if they dont. Remember you are in it for the long haul.

Once you have gone through the lists, select about 15-20 companies, whether or not they have advertised. When you are focusing on just the ones with advertised openings, you could be missing out on hidden opportunities.

Target Recruiters

While I am not aware there’s a Top 100 Best Recruiters list, you can find many recruiters on LinkedIn. Follow the same process as you did with companies. Check your network, then Connections, then search for recruiters (or any other related title). Make sure to target those in your industry. Start with 5-10 such recruiters and reach out to them. See how to forge authentic relationships below.

Dissect the Job Posting

To get the attention of an employer takes much more than sending a resume and cover letter. It requires an understanding of the employer’s needs. The first indicator of what the employer needs is in the job posting. Pay very close attention. Assess your skills and qualifications against the posting. What do you have to offer? How does your experience align with the requirements?

Prepare Your Career Documents

Depending on who you are talking to, employers take between 6 and 10 seconds to scan your resume; the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) probably takes less. This means if your resume isn’t addressing what’s asked for in the job posting, it will be rejected by the employer leaving them to think that you don’t understand their needs.

Forge Authentic Relationships

The key to a successful job search is to build relationships first, ask for assistance second, and offer to be of assistance always. This is where playing the long game will help you forge authentic relationships, build credibility and gain visibility. In the early stages of building these relationships, don’t go asking for a job (unless there’s one that you know they are hiring for.) After all, you wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on a first date! Develop a ‘give, give, get’ mentality. Always ask how you can help your new connections. If you happen to know that an employer is recruiting for another position and you have someone you can recommend, let them know.

Use Every Tool at Your Disposal

As a follow on to building relationships, you are now at the stage where you need to use every tool at your disposal to find the right contacts. You have experimented with LinkedIn, try Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Employers recruiters are on these platforms. What about emails? Most companies have standard e-mail formats. Try sending multiple emails in different format until you no longer receive a “mail delivery error.” You may even want to use the Advanced Search on Google.

Contact as many people as possible while being realistic — not everyone is going to respond.

Develop Your Elevator Sound-Bite

Once you have connected with people you need to tell them about yourself in approximately 30 seconds – the time it takes for an elevator to move from one floor to the next. This is when you craft your elevator pitch or sound-bite. As important as your degrees are to you, that’s not what you want to begin your introduction with. They want to know first how you can help them make or save money. Tell them what it is you do, and name a couple of your accomplishments.

Below is a sample script of an elevator pitch or sound-bite. While it is structured for the interview and will help you address your lack of Canadian experience, it can also be reworked to create a brand paragraph for your resume or help you perfect your elevator sound bite.

“First of all, thank you for inviting me to the interview. I am pleased that something in my background and experience caused you to select me as one of the candidates to be interviewed.

Second, it is true that I haven’t had an opportunity to work in Canada yet and I am hoping you will give me that first chance.

Third, and most significantly, my experience aligns very well with the position. For four years, I was the head of Digital Marketing at _______, with offices in Canada, the US and 17 other countries. My experience includes diverse managerial experience in performance marketing, digital media and marketing technology, and building partnerships with clients to achieve extraordinary results. Conducting regular meetings with staff across all locations and utilizing my bilingual skills, I gained a good grasp of workplace culture and norms allowing me to resolve problems and conflicts before they escalate. With such a background, I am confident I will be able to help you develop and implement your digital marketing strategy across all media channels and platforms.” 

Get Ready to Toot Your Own Horn

“Accomplishments don’t speak for themselves”, is a mantra from Google’s #IamRemarkable workshop that I have had the honour of hosting three times over the past several weeks. This means if you don’t speak up about your accomplishments, you will go unnoticed. In other words, if you don’t toot your own horn, no one will know you are coming.

I hope the above tips will help you reframe the narrative around your lack of Canadian experience and steer the conversation towards the value you will bring to the company. Your unique journey has value. Talk about it. “It’s not bragging if it’s based on facts!”

Have questions? Let’s connect!

Take the Leap and Lead (You Do Not Need a Title)

The next time someone infers that you are not a leader, think twice before responding. Some people are ‘positional leaders’ by virtue of their titles; others are ‘non-positional’ leaders who find a gap and take action. They don’t wait for a title; they take a leap and lead!

In May, I was invited by the Regional Diversity Roundtable to speak to participants in their Community Leadership Program (CLP). The topic was Leadership Model: Vision for Inclusion & Diversity. Below I share some notes from my presentation.

McKinsey report states that, “Awareness of the business case for inclusion and diversity is on the rise. While social justice typically is the initial impetus behind these efforts, companies have increasingly begun to regard inclusion and diversity as a source of competitive advantage, and specifically as a key enabler of growth.”

As the topic takes centre stage, some companies have issued performative statements indicating what they hope to do to make sure all their employees have a chance, not only to sit at the table, but to contribute, to feel a sense of belonging, and to thrive.

Considering the current social and economic upheavals, the topic for the presentation was quite timely.

One of the sources I consulted for my presentation was a report from Deloitte University Press titled “The Six Signature Traits of Inclusive Leadership – Thriving in a Diverse New World”. This report is aimed primarily at individuals in the upper echelons of organizations to help them rethink the traditional notions of leadership. However, these traits are not only meant for these ‘positional’ leaders; ‘non-positional’ leaders also need to develop these traits.

Difference Between Positional and Non-Positional Leadership

Positional Leadership operates from the traditional understanding of hierarchy; people who possess ‘positional power’ because of their titles (CEO, director, manager). Non-Positional Leadership is not constrained by a title; it emanates from people who are able to impact, influence and inspire others to action.

Below I have highlighted the six traits from the Deloitte report. It’s important to note that there is nothing in these traits that suggest one has to have a title to be an inclusive leader. “Lead from where you are”, I told the participants. “No one has to tap you on the shoulder and anoint you a leader. Leadership is noticing the gap and stepping in to do something about it.”

Trait 1: Commitment – Highly inclusive leaders are committed to diversity and inclusion because these objectives align with their personal values and because they believe in the business case.

Inclusiveness requires a commitment to making things better, and that’s done by ensuring fairness and equality of opportunities.

Trait 2: Courage – Highly inclusive leaders speak up and challenge the status quo, and they are humble about their strengths and weaknesses.

“The courage to speak up – to challenge others and the status quo – is a central behaviour of an inclusive leader, and it occurs at three levels: with others, with the system and with themselves.” (Pg. 10). Sometimes self-preservation prevents us from ‘ruffling feathers’ but there are times when we find ourselves in situations that require us to demonstrate courage in speaking up and challenging the status quo.

Trait 3: Cognizance of Bias – Highly inclusive leaders are mindful of personal and organizational blind spots, and self-regulate to help ensure “fair play.”

Everyone of us has some form of bias – conscious and unconscious. As such, we are naturally inclined to lean toward self-cloning and self-interest, but this can be mitigated if we identify and confront our own biases, self-regulate and adhere to existing policies, processes and structures.

Trait 4: Curiosity – Highly inclusive leaders have an open mindset, a desire to understand how others view and experience the world, and a tolerance for ambiguity.

Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell said “…with curiosity comes learning and new ideas…If you’re not curious you’re not learning.” Inclusive leaders know their limitations, and are open-minded; they engage in curious questioning; they listen, empathize, suspend judgement, and entertain other viewpoints. Curiosity helps us learn and grow.

Trait 5: Culturally Intelligent – Highly inclusive leaders are confident and effective in cross-cultural interactions.

When it comes to cultural intelligence, all of us need to recognize that our own culture determines our worldview, and that view can influence our expectations of others. It is important, therefore, that we deepen our cultural understanding and learn from the experiences of others.

Trait 6: Collaborative: Highly inclusive leaders empower individuals as well as create and leverage the thinking of diverse groups.

Cultural diversity is a huge economic advantage and leaders should always be looking at ways to be more inclusive. One way is to ensure that when people collaborate, group members don’t all look and think alike. Groups benefit from people with different ideas, perspectives and experiences.

During the webinar, one program participant asked if she would be considered a leader if she didn’t have followers or a title. I told her that leadership is based on how one acts, not by a title. John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Based on the foregoing, it is obvious that inclusive leaders do not always have titles. Inclusive leaders, as the Deloitte report states:

  • Treat people and groups fairly based on their unique characteristics, not on stereotypes.
  • Understand and value the uniqueness of each person and accept them as members of the group.
  • Leverage the diversity of thoughts that lead to good decision-making.
  • Inspire confidence. When people feel that they ‘belong’ and that they have a voice in decision-making, it makes a difference.

There you have it! You do not need a title to be an inclusive leader. You can lead from where you are. Take a leap and lead!

Sources: The Six Signature Traits of Inclusive Leadership

Book: How to Be An Inclusive Leader, Jennifer Brown

10 Ways to Support Your Career Coach & Resume Writer Colleagues During COVID19

www.thewrighcareer.com

As we brace for what will certainly become the ‘new normal’, the grim reality is that some businesses will thrive and some will not survive. Hopefully, those of us in the career space will be on the thriving end of things. Crisis tends to bring opportunities; we only need to look for them.

At the moment, many of us are engaged in activities aimed at supporting job seekers and our clients during this COVID19 crisis. There are free webinars and online courses on a wide array of career and job search topics, and based on comments I have heard and read, these actions are having a positive impact.

Amidst all of this, it occurred to me to ask the question, how are we doing as a career collective? What support do we have or need? What are some simple ways we could support each other (for free), during this time?

The ten tips on the attached image would be a great place to start. Are there others you could add?

Which career coach or professional resume writer could you reach out to today?