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Canada does an excellent job of marketing itself as an open, welcoming country looking to attract new immigrants. It certainly lives up to its reputation in terms of tolerance and ethnic diversity. However, this doesn’t mean you can waltz into Canada and expect to be automatically granted permanent resident status – far from it.
If you’re considering relocating to Vancouver, your very first concern should be getting a visa. There will be plenty of time later to think about the job market, find a place to live or look for a school for your kids.
Don’t assume getting a Canadian visa is a mere formality. The process is often lengthy, admissibility criteria are getting increasingly restrictive, and quotas apply for each visa category.
In other words, you need to do your homework, and do it well ahead of your planned relocation date.
Where can you find the information you need?
The only fully reliable and up-to-date source for immigration matters is the government. You can either talk to the nearest Canadian embassy / consulate, or visit the official Immigration Canada website.
There is a whole range of visas you can apply for, depending on your age, your professional profile, and your relocation goals. Only a specialist can advise you on the best visa category to apply under.
Don’t rely on second-hand information, even if people seem to know what they’re talking about. It doesn’t matter how quickly your neighbour’s son got his visa last year – what you need to find out is how long it’ll take to get your own application processed.
What if you don’t have a visa?
Many foreigners don’t need a visa to get into Canada. However, without a proper visa or work permit, you’ll be considered a tourist. This means you can only stay in the country for 6 months maximum, and you will not be allowed to work.
If you’re planning on working or becoming a resident, you absolutely need a visa or work permit. There is no way around this.
It is your responsibility to make sure you can get a visa before making any significant commitment, such as renting a place or accepting a job in Canada.
As for landing in Vancouver as a tourist in the hopes that things will work themselves out… that’s really chancing it. I can only advise against such a risky tactic, as it could have serious consequences for you and your potential employer.
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Image by Nick 1297, via Flickr Creative Commons
Emmanuelle0 comments | Leave a comment
Trustworthiness is key to any successful job search. Especially in Canada, where interpersonal skills and “clicking” with your potential employer are perhaps the most decisive factors in getting hired.
The trust issue
Let’s tell it like it is: as an expat, you have to work twice as hard at convincing recruiters you’re trustworthy.
Sounds unfair? Well put yourself in the employer’s shoes for a second:
- They don’t know if you’re going to stay in Vancouver for good;
- They have no idea how your foreign degree compares to Canadian credentials;
- You have no local contacts they can easily phone up to do a reference check;
- They may worry you’re going to ask them to sponsor you for a visa.
Now that’s quite a few red flags, isn’t it? No wonder newcomers often find it hard to get interviews!
What to do about it
Thankfully, there are several ways you can work around this issue.0 comments | Leave a comment
Last week, I was asked to provide a reference for someone. The reference form I had to fill was very well thought-out. It was obviously designed to elicit useful answers, not just vague statements along the lines of, “I think you should hire this applicant because he’s extremely professional”.
Most importantly, this form included two questions that shed a lot of light on what truly matters to Canadian recruiters:
- Is this person easy to get along with? Do others/coworkers/clients like him/her?
- Is the individual a happy, positive person, one who people like to be around?
I don’t about you, but where I come from, no recruiter would ever ask about this. Such questions would be seen as too personal, and completely unrelated the applicant’s job performance.
Not so in Canada.
Here, being personable and likeable is part and parcel of being professional.
If you come from a country where technical skills play a much bigger role than personality in being hired, this might require some adjustment on your part.
Too often, foreign applicants play down their personality during interviews, hoping it’ll make them seem more businesslike and trustworthy. Instead, they end up coming across as shy, awkward, and, well, really boring. Not exactly the kind of “happy, positive person” that “people like to be around”!
So don’t be afraid to let your personality show. It doesn’t matter if you’re the bubbly and congenial type, or if you’re more reserved – no one is asking you to pretend you’re someone you’re not.
But remember recruiters will expect you to have a positive attitude, and to be easy to get along with.
Have you witnessed firsthand the importance of being personable in your own job search? Do you have any stories or tips to share? Please post them in the comments!
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If you’re planning to relocate permanently to Vancouver, you may already know that the federal governement is sharply decreasing the numbers of visas in two categories: Skilled Workers (-20%) and Family Reunification (-30%).
How will these changes affect you?
As far as getting your visa is concerned, probably not that much.
What you need to know: the Skilled Worker visa is a federal program.
Because Canada has two levels of governement (federal and provincial), you can also apply through a provincial program called the PNP (Provincial Nominee Program).
Since this program is run by the provinces themselves, federal quotas don’t apply.
So it’s business as usual, then?
Not quite. With the Skilled Worker category becoming increasingly restrictive, chances are more and more applicants will go through the PNP to get their visa. And since BC is one of the most popular provinces for newcomers, this can only mean more competition and longer processing times.
So if you haven’t started the process yet, my advice is to get your visa application in sooner rather than later.
What about the Family Reunion category?
What you need to know: with these new quotas, bringing your parents to Canada could now take up to 13 years. 13 years!
Whether this will affect your long-term plans or not depends entirely on your personal circumstances.
Were you planning on having your parents come to Canada to look after your kids while you start your own business? Do you foresee your aging parents becoming dependent on you in the future?
If so, you may need to re-evaluate your immigration project, or at least adjust some of your plans so that your family life doesn’t suffer.
Were you aware of these cuts to some visa categories? Have they impacted your immigration plans at all? If you have any questions or remarks, please share them with us in the comments!
Was this post helpful? Do you need more personalized advice? Contact me to schedule a one-on-one consultation.1 comment | Leave a comment
You may be familiar with the King Cake tradition in New Orleans, but have you ever tried the French galette des rois ?
Baked throughout the month of January to celebrate the Epiphany, galette des rois is a delicious frangipane-filled puff pastry cake that hides a small porcelain trinket called a fĂ¨ve (literally: broad bean). The lucky guest who finds the trinket in his share becomes king or queen for a day.
The galette des rois is traditionally shared at home with relatives, at school with classmates, or even at the office with coworkers.
This year, the French expat association FranĂ§ais du Monde Ă Vancouver is bringing this age-old celebration to Vancouver, complete with storytelling, singalongs, children’s activities, and networking over coffee or tea for the grown-ups.
Join us on January 30 from 1:00pm to 5:00pm at Ecole Secondaire Jules-Verne (5445 Baillie St.) to share the galette des rois.
Admission is $5 (free for FranĂ§ais du Monde Ă Vancouver members and children under 12).
See you there!
Image credit: Pierre Touzel – FdM Vancouver0 comments | Leave a comment
When it comes to festive and fun wines, Beaujolais Nouveau is second only to champagne.
Every third Thursday of November, French nationals, francophiles and bons vivants all around the world gather to celebrate the release of the new vintage. In spite of a rapidly growing French contingent, Vancouver was lagging behind in the Beaujolais celebration department… until now.
FranĂ§ais du Monde Ă Vancouver is pleased to invite you to its Beaujolais Nouveau Party on Friday, November 19, 2010 from 8:00 pm to 1:00 am at W2 Storyeum in Gastown (151 W. Cordova).
This cabaret-style party will feature two artists who will sing French songs old and new, a DJ from 11:00 pm on, and of course a Beaujolais Nouveau bar.
Tickets on sale at the door ($10) – includes a complimentary glass of Beaujolais Nouveau for FranĂ§ais du Monde members (psst: membership is open to all, not just French citizens!)
Will I see you there? If you spot me in the crowd, please don’t hesitate to come introduce yourself – it’s always great to get a chance to meet in person.
Image by tamaki, via Flickr Creative Commons0 comments | Leave a comment
Talk to any job seeker, or go to any expat forum, and the consensus will be that Toronto has plenty of work opportunities – whereas Vancouver, while lovely, can be a tough place to find a job.
That’s what I believed myself for years, because I had heard it so often, it had to be true, right?
Guess what? Much to my surprise, the statistics actually say otherwise.
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The #1 problem expats run into when they write their rĂ©sumĂ© is that they don’t quite know what to say, and how to say it.
They worry that their English may not be perfect. They worry that their writing may sound quaint, or not professional enough.
So they do what every logical person would do: they get one of those “2857 rĂ©sumĂ©s so impressive they’ll make grown men cry” books. And they load up on clichĂ©s.
The kiss of death
ClichĂ©s are the kiss of death for a rĂ©sumĂ©.
Seriously. Your rĂ©sumĂ© may not make grown men cry, but if it sounds like something straight out of Dilbert, it will certainly make recruiters laugh. Or at the very least roll their eyes and discard your application.
How can you tell?
But how do you know if you’re using clichĂ©s? How can you even tell them apart from normal everyday phrases?
Here’s a handy list of words to avoid in a rĂ©sumĂ©. [I love this article - the author doesn't mince words, and the videos are pretty great too.]
A few choice quotes:
- Old, boring, hackneyed words and phrases make your resume look as interesting as cheap wallpaper.
- Multi-tasker – this has often come to mean that a person can do a lot of things at once, but most of them incorrectly.
- Detail-focused, team-oriented, results-driven, highly motivated, no-nonsense manager. That manager wastes too much time writing adjectives.
Need I say more? Arm yourself with your favourite red pen, and get ready to edit that rĂ©sumĂ© of yours!
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Image by Jean Jullien4 comments | Leave a comment
It’s all well and good to make contacts…
… but if people don’t have a crystal-clear idea of what you do, how are they ever going to remember you next time they hear about a suitable opening?
Without a good “elevator speech”, your networking efforts aren’t going to do you much good.
Simply mentioning what industry you work in – or what your last position was – isn’t enough. You need to give a clear (and preferably memorable) explanation of what your skills are, and what you can bring to a local company.
A few pointers:
For maximum impact, keep your pitch short. One or two sentences is a perfect length.
Give people talking points – something to talk about when they want to refer you. Don’t leave it up to them to decide what story they will tell about you!
If you’re stuck…
Having a hard time coming up with a convincing one-liner? Here are a few tips:
- Identify your strongest skill set, and focus on what you can do for your future employer;
- Try to come up with a catchy or unusual phrase – for example, today I met a Vegetarian SEO Expert. I’m not likely to forget about him anytime soon.
- If you need step-by-step instructions, let me recommend – once again – the excellent Brag! by Peggy Klaus. This book is guaranteed to give you at least a couple of important insights into elevator speeches, personal branding, and promoting yourself. A must-read for everyone!
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Since the prospect of getting to know the right people in a new city can be daunting, here are a few more tips that will help you make useful contacts in Vancouver:
And because this is the best book I’ve ever read about non-slimy networking, I would highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Dig your well before you’re thirsty by Harvey Mckay.
If you have any misgivings about networking at all, this brilliant little book will teach you how to make useful contacts that you can feel good about. Now that’s certainly something worth reading about!
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Image by bending light, via Flickr Creative Commons3 comments | Leave a comment