I’m new to Canada — an internationally educated professional, with over 10 years’ experience in business — and have started to look for work. I am highly educated with a MBA from my home country as well as a bachelor of commerce.
Will my degrees get me a job? Should I go back to school here and earn more degrees?
Signed: Beyond Education (BE)
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Based on the feedback from employers as well as employment counsellors and job developers with whom I work, just because you are educated, doesn’t mean you are qualified for the job. The more intense the competition, the more your actual hands-on experience in the working world is valued. Unless you are focused on finding work in academia, the typical employer wants to hire people who have relevant experience and who can “hit the ground running” with as little learning curve as possible. Also, employers will often prioritize a person they know and like over credentials.
Here is some advice to consider:
1. Be flexible with your career goal.
Don’t be too fixated on landing a job “in your field”, to start. The world is full of possibilities in the business field (marketing, sales, operations, accounting, customer service, finance, to name a few). Research different ways in which you can use all the transferable skills you learned at school.
2. Identify your strengths/aptitudes.
You chose to pursue academia, which implies you that you have an aptitude for researching, analyzing data, critical thinking, writing, interviewing and more. These are essential skills required in hundreds of rewarding (and lucrative) careers. Find out what you are good at and consider finding an opportunity to volunteer in an organization which needs someone with your current skill set. This will help you confirm your strengths, gain experience, keep your resume fresh and keep your skills current, in addition to possibly securing a reference.
3. Continue learning.
You have been a successful student. This is a big accomplishment. Your learning doesn’t stop. It is only the beginning. Continue your education. Think about part-time, online and other options, both at community college and university levels.
4. Manage your expectations.
Research and identify the occupations with the skills shortages (here’s an interesting article on the topic from 2014). Your university education was never intended to land you a job. It was intended to make you a more complete thinker. It was intended to teach you how to absorb complex information and make reasoned arguments. It was intended to teach you how to learn. Those are skills that you’ll use in any field of work.
5. Build your professional network.
Use social media, especially LinkedIn, to research and connect with people in your field. Learn your business here in Canada. Participate in professional development and training opportunities through your association, volunteering, social media sources, trade shows and alumni groups through your university. Some activities may be at no cost. Your challenge from here on is to find what you’re good at, and keep getting better and better at it. Find a mentoring program for newcomers to connect you with a mentor in your field (JVS Toronto’s TRIEC Mentoring Partnership is an example)
Hope this helps. Welcome to Canada and good luck with building your career in your new home.