Over the last five years or more, I’ve had quite a few questions from highly trained and highly experienced communications professionals who have gained most of their experience internationally. Some of them are Canadians who have spent a number of years working in Europe, Asia or Australia. Some are immigrants who have done all of their training and work experience in another country. When they arrive in Calgary to look for jobs in this market, they are finding it difficult to get into the market.
Here are some thoughts on how to break through:
- Always be clear in your cover letter and/or resume. Are you legally able to work in Canada (or wherever you’ve applied)? You may well be disqualified if you don’t declare.
- If you are currently still living somewhere else, be clear about when you plan to move to the local area if you already have plans. And, if you’re not planning to move until you have a job, be prepared that employers may favour local candidates (they won’t be expected to pay moving costs).
- In your resume, don’t assume that the reader will know your recent employers. They may be big name brands or organizations in your country of recent residence but not as familiar elsewhere. Always add a brief “context” paragraph under each employer. For example, the business sold product lines x and y, employed 15,000 people in 12 countries in Europe and Asia. That will help the recruiter understand how big and complex the company was and the scale of the work you were responsible for.
- It is up to you to translate the work you have done into language and context that the recruiter can understand. So, do your homework and make sure you define the work in local terms as much as possible.
- If your original language is not English, it’s not a bad idea to be specific about your English skills. I’ve seen statements like “excellent business English, worked in English as the primary business language for my last three employers” or the like. And, it is even more important to make sure that the spelling and grammar in your cover letter and resume are flawless.
- If the titles in your recent roles are not common titles locally, give an equivalent.
- If your relevant education was completed internationally, you may need to provide some context to the nature of your degree(s). For example, “a 4-year applied communications degree”.
- Do some homework on local salaries. They are significantly different in different cities, different countries and different continents. So, make sure you do your due diligence in advance so that you’re not unprepared when asked.
- If you are relocating to Calgary, recognize that many of the available jobs will be in the energy sector. That sector traditionally has a preference for those with experience in their industry. So, if you don’t have that experience, take some classes in oil and gas industry knowledge and show the parallels between the work you have done and the necessary skills for work in the energy sector.
- And, probably most importantly, get out and meet people in your new area. Join the appropriate professional association (IABC or CPRS in Calgary) and attend events. Get involved in community activities. Reach out directly to people you meet. Ask for suggestions. Offer your help to others. In other words, network wisely.
- And…keep trying.
We need and welcome your experience!