Joining the Canadian job market
For at least a decade, technology companies in Canada have been saying newcomers arrive with ample technical ability for the available jobs in the growing sector. Their qualifications, however, don’t make up for a gap in soft skills, which are essential for entering the Canadian job market.
Bridging the gap
Many newcomers misread their struggle in acquiring employment and look to adding to their already long list of educational credentials, which is good, but you also need to improve your soft skills in order to succeed.
The reason soft skills is such a critical factor for prosperity in Canada is that when employers ask about “Canadian experience”, what they are actually looking for is evidence that the candidate can work well with Canadians. They want an assurance that this hire will go well with the existing employees. When looking for work in the Canadian job market, it is essential that you put your best foot forward.
What are soft skills exactly?
The main reason that soft skills remain out of the grasp of many people is that Canadians have a hard time articulating what “soft skills” actually encompasses, beyond the sense of interpersonal skills.
Certainly, interaction is a big part of the soft skills package, but it’s only a part of it. Within the arena of just interaction includes the capacity to network with strangers (which includes the art of small talk), effectively communicate (verbally and non-verbally), working in teams, collaborating with others, and demonstrating empathy. The umbrella of “interpersonal skills” doesn’t seem to capture the complex suite of skills needed for all these activities.
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The other large category of soft skills has to do with one’s professional reputation, and how you are perceived by others in a professional environment. This includes your ability to present your personal brand, to evoke integrity and possess a sense of what behaviors are expected in a Canadian work environment.
Often the most technically qualified candidate will not be chosen because they do not come across as having optimism, enthusiasm, and motivation. To the Canadian employer, these are signs that this candidate will be a challenge to work with. The last grouping of soft skills is tied to performance: the ability to think critically and problem solve.
Build on the skills you already have
It is important to note that all cultures have and use soft skills. If Canadians were to move to the Asia Pacific, for example, they would have to learn how to network and collaborate appropriately in the different cultural environment. Newcomers do not arrive in Canada deficient of soft skills. They often have a deep well of them, just not all will be applicable in the Canadian workplace. For many internationally trained professionals, filling the soft skills gap is not about addressing a void, but adding to an existing tool chest. So just what is the best way to determine which soft skills you got is transferable, which Canadian soft skill is a gap you need to fill?
In some cases, the soft skills from their country-of-origin will be transferable. Making an effort to learn people’s names, occasionally bringing donuts, and getting to know colleagues birthdays. These gestures are common across many cultures.
For more information, about how to learn soft skills and how to use them effectively in Canada Download our ebook: Nine Soft Skills No Immigrant Should Be Without today!
This practical guide for newcomers entering the Canadian labour market will help you with your:
- Communication Skills
- Local Language
- Presentation Skills
- Small Talk
- Leadership and Initiative
- Conflict Resolution and Negotiation
- Accepting Constructive Criticism
- Business Etiquette