If you are an aspiring or newly landed immigrant, the term survival job is no strange word to you. However, from my insight on the settlement journey of family members, friends and mentees, most people don’t need one.
Let me share my brother’s experience with you. He first landed in Canada in November 2020 and went back six days later. While he was in Nigeria, we worked on his Resume and cover letter and updated his LinkedIn profile to suit roles in Canada without giving him away to his current employer. Within this period, he networked with other professionals in his field on LinkedIn and reached out to recruitment agencies. In January 2022, he moved to Canada and fully optimized his LinkedIn profile. He also proactively followed accounting recruiters on LinkedIn and sent them custom messages about being open for jobs. Within five weeks, he landed his first senior accounting contract in Canada with the help of the second recruiter he sent a message on LinkedIn. In February, he began working without the need for a survival job.
Why am I sharing this experience? Two LinkedIn posts I saw today, inspired me to write this article. One is by an influential accounting professional in Calgary who had initially advised my brother to take up survival jobs, which I had discouraged. The second post was about a settlement agency offering a 16-week program for foreign trained female accountants to learn how to use accounting software. While this program may be useful to entry level foreign trained accounting professionals, I doubt the usefulness to those with at least four years accounting work experience in another country. It is simply a waste of time.
Programs like this subject immigrants to a mindset that they need a bridge to upskill to Canadian level and also get a job at a lower level than they qualify for. Had my brother listened to the naysayer or gone to a settlement agency offering such programs like the one above, he would likely have settled for a junior accounting role, or worse still, a survival job despite having over nine years of accounting experience.
Tips to Land a Professional Job without Taking a Survival Job
Plan before you land
If you have a good job in your home country and months before the expiration of your Confirmation of Permanent Residency (CPR), don’t jump on the next flight to Canada. Like my brother, you can do soft-landing if you must but you don’t have to leave your good job for a survival job in Canada, except you determine that it is worth it.
Understand what it takes to build your career in Canada. LinkedIn is your best friend. Look for people in your field in Canada who are from your home country, if possible because they can be more empathetic and give you cheat codes. Look for people with great career progression who are also willing to share.
Connect with recruiters
My brother was getting interviews before he arrived, they just won’t extend the job offer until he was here. People are getting jobs before they arrive. Connect with recruiters on LinkedIn, and schedule a virtual or in-person coffee if you have landed. There is a great resignation with more jobs than you can think of, you just need to learn how to find them.
Prepare your resume and cover letter according to Canadian standard, and optimise your LinkedIn profile. There are individuals and organizations that can help you do these for around $300 to $1000. Find and use them if you must. That might be the difference between a survival job and a professional. Invest in yourself.
Learn the Canadian culture
When you finally land that job, you need to understand the Canadian workplace culture. Look for a coach or program where you can learn this. Misunderstanding simple nuances can get you fired, you do not want that on your first job.
Finally, remember that you are valuable and deserve to be in Canada. Take your time to plan, research, connect, prepare and learn but most importantly, stay positive. You’ve got this and I am rooting for you!