Archive for 'Working Abroad'

Is your email address hurting your job search?

Posted on 16. Aug, 2013 by in Blog, Relocation, Working Abroad

Here’s a quick (but crucial!) tip for you:

Take a look at the email address you use to send job applications – does it end in .ca or .com?

If it does, great! But if not, it may significantly decrease your chances of being considered for the position.

Email (doubleaf)

Why does it matter?

Of course, you know it’s important to have a professional-looking email address. You probably wouldn’t dream of emailing a recruiter from an address such as or (unless, perhaps, you’re applying for a Hello Kitty merchandiser position or as a surfing instructor – and even then!)

Yet, you may wonder what the harm is in using an address that ends in, say, .uk or .de, as opposed to .ca or .com.

Well, let’s consider the employer’s perspective for a moment. If you were hiring, and you received an application that appeared to come from abroad, what would most likely be going through your mind?

- Is this person legally allowed to work in Canada?
– What if there’s a change in their relocation plans, and they end up not coming to Vancouver?
– What if they decide they don’t like it here, and they leave after a few months? Do I want to go through the entire hiring process again?

Not exactly the first impression you were hoping to make, is it? :-/

We already know that newcomers have to work harder at convincing recruiters. Why risk raising a (potential) red flag right from the start, with an email address that shows your country of origin?

So take a few minutes to create a “neutral” address before reaching out to employers – either through a free email service such as Gmail or, or via your local internet provider if you’re already in Canada.

Was this tip helpful? Do you need more personalized job search advice? Leave a question in the comments, or contact me to schedule a one-on-one consultation!


Image by Doubleaf, via Flickr Creative Commons

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Getting hired in Vancouver: show you’re trustworthy

Posted on 05. Aug, 2011 by in Blog, Working Abroad
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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

Unfortunately, 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 moment:
– 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 for 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.

Trust (lorettaprincipe) (more…)

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Getting hired: the importance of being likeable

Posted on 12. Mar, 2011 by in Blog, Working Abroad

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 far 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.

Spencer Finnley (S is for smile)

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, congenial type, or if you’re more reserved – no one is asking you to pretend you’re someone you’re not.

But do 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!

Was this post helpful? Do you need more personalized job search advice? Contact me to schedule a one-on-one consultation.


Image by Spencer Finnley, via Flickr Creative Commons

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Vancouver, a tough job market? Statistics say otherwise

Posted on 10. Oct, 2010 by in Blog, Working Abroad

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.

The|G|™ (question everything)


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RĂ©sumĂ© clichĂ©s – Just say no!

Posted on 30. Sep, 2010 by in Blog, Working Abroad

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

Clichés are the kiss of death for a résumé. (<- ha! See how easy it is to fall back on the first cliché that comes to mind? And that wasn't even intentional...) Seriously though. If your résumé sounds like something straight out of Dilbert, it will certainly make recruiters chuckle. 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 résumé of yours!

Was this post helpful? Do you need more personalized resume writing advice? Contact me to schedule a one-on-one consultation.


Image by Jean Jullien

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It’s not just about knowing people…

Posted on 16. Sep, 2010 by in Blog, Working Abroad

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.

Personal branding

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 competencies or personality traits they will highlight when they’re talking 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!

Coming up with strong, impactful elevator speeches is my specialty. Contact me today to schedule a one-on-one consultation!


Image by stefano principato, via Flickr Creative Commons

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Getting known: a couple more tips

Posted on 10. Sep, 2010 by in Blog, Working Abroad

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:

5 tips to start off on the right foot

Feeling at home: build your networks online

How to find the best job opportunities through your contacts

bending light (wave hello)

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!

Was this post helpful? Do you need more personalized networking advice? Contact me to schedule a one-on-one consultation.


Image by bending light, via Flickr Creative Commons

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Getting hired: it’s all about who you know…

Posted on 01. Sep, 2010 by in Blog, Working Abroad

When It comes to getting hired in Vancouver, it’s all about who you know – or perhaps more accurately, about who knows you.

The reason is simple: most jobs never make it to or the help wanted ads.
Remember how we said Canadians want to hire people they know, like and trust?

Well, rather than place an ad, most employers will first ask their staff if they know someone who’d like to apply. In some companies, employees even get a bonus for referring a new hire.

The obvious downside is that if no one knows you, no one is going to refer you. And that’s how better-connected newcomers go on to be gainfully employed after a few weeks, when you’re still sitting at home sending dozens of applications and getting nowhere fast.

Depressing? Not really. It’s never too late to start making connections. Sure, some people are natural-born networkers, but you can still make useful contacts even if you don’t see yourself as an extrovert extraordinaire.



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3 job search tactics that don’t work (and a magic formula that does)

Posted on 26. Aug, 2010 by in Blog, Working Abroad

You’ve been in Vancouver for a number of weeks – or months – and it’s time for you to get a job.

But no matter how many rĂ©sumĂ©s you send out, you’re not getting anywhere. No one’s calling you back. You’re beginning to wonder if you’ll ever be able to find a decent job in this city.

Here’s the good news: No, you haven’t suddenly become unemployable. You’re going to find that job.

But first, you need to stop relying on 3 common job search tactics that just don’t work here.

Then I’ll show you the magic formula that will get you hired.

We regret to inform you that...

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The 7 commandments of Canadian résumés

Posted on 23. Aug, 2010 by in Blog, Working Abroad

Having to rewrite your rĂ©sumĂ© is never fun, and it’s hard work – especially when you cannot find relevant advice to guide you.

If you’re trying to rewrite your rĂ©sumĂ© to Canadian standards, you may have noticed that most books and websites are in fact aimed at US job seekers. There’s little Canadian-specific advice available, and much of it is too general or obvious to be truly helpful. At least that’s what I and many of my friends have experienced over the years.

Since expats often ask me to proofread and edit résumés, I have compiled a list of 7 writing tips to help you write an effective Canadian résumé without spending yet another sleepless night toiling over the darned thing!

So if you want to cut to the chase, check your résumé against this list and see how it scores:

Forget résumés ! I do graphics


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