Home Employment Optimize your career success in Canada with networking, mentoring, and volunteering

Optimize your career success in Canada with networking, mentoring, and volunteering

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Optimize your career success in Canada with networking, mentoring, and volunteering

You might be familiar with networking, mentoring, and volunteering, but are you actively leveraging them in your professional journey as a new immigrant in Canada? Read on to learn how to optimize your career success with these foundational elements.

Take steps towards closing the ‘network gap’

Don’t underestimate the power of networking in Canada to maintain professional relationships that can help you achieve your career goals. If understanding the value of networking is the first step, closing the ‘network gap’ has to come next. 

“The network gap refers to the advantage some people have over others in accessing opportunity, based on where they grew up, where they went to school and/or where they work. As a newcomer to Canada, if you don’t have a network or connection, your opportunities are greatly reduced,” explains Sharvari Jois, director of online services and mentoring at JVS Toronto.

Networks unlock valuable advice, insights and influence, making them important to career success for immigrants in Canada. They are powerful levers for equity and opportunity, especially in the big cities such as Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver or Montreal, where there are normally hundreds of applicants for many job postings. 

Also read: Networking as a newcomer to Canada: Personal branding is the key

To close the networking gap, focus on building relationships with people who can offer valuable insights and support. As a newcomer, you need to understand the cultural norms and etiquette expected in professional settings. Jois advises you to do your research and prepare your networking plan:

  • Identify key people to network with using company websites, Google, LinkedIn, or the people in your existing network
  • Conduct market research to gain insights during your planning stage
  • Do not be afraid to take the first step in contacting the individuals you want to add to your network
  • Be authentic and stay curious – Canadians value authenticity and honesty
  • Attend events related to your field of interest
  • Join professional immigrant networks such as the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), or the Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC) that you can be part of to connect with people in your profession.

Gain insights into your profession with mentoring

Mentoring is a knowledge-sharing relationship that involves learning from a mentor. As a newcomer, the guidance and feedback you receive from your mentor will help you navigate the challenges of job searching in a new environment. A mentor can also help you gain insights into your profession, understand Canadian workplace culture, expand your professional network, and access new opportunities.

As in the case of networking, events and professional immigrant networks are great places to meet potential mentors. Many local settlement organizations also have mentoring programs – just ask!

According to Jois, here’s how the mentor-mentee relationship works:

  • Set clear goals and expectations upfront so that you and your mentor are on the same page
  • Be considerate of your mentor’s time and support and make sure to show gratitude
  • Share your thoughts, feelings, and concerns with your mentor so that they can provide the right advice
  • Use the relationship to gain new skills, build confidence, and understand perspectives
  • Treat it as a two-way relationship: your mentor can also enhance their leadership and relationship skills and give back to the community

Also read: Mentoring in Canada: Take note of these dos and don’ts

For those interested in finding a mentor before coming to Canada, networking is a good route to take. Make sure to find the right person in your LinkedIn network or ask colleagues and classmates if they know someone who can guide you in Canada. 

Prospective newcomers could explore Canada Infonet – a free service run by JVS Toronto and funded by Immigrants, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), which enables you to connect with mentors in your specialized field.  

Find work in Canada by volunteering to demonstrate your value

Perhaps the best advantages of volunteering can be highlighted by Jois herself, who found her current role by initially working as a volunteer. She shares: “My background was in human resources, and I was working for tech companies. After coming to Canada, I started volunteering: I was an English language mentor, where I was helping newcomer women who were not very confident with their English language. That’s when I realized that I wanted to be in this sector, where I could create so much impact. Volunteering gave me that thought and because I was volunteering for quite a bit, it was actually considered as [valid] experience when I applied for jobs in this sector. Finding volunteering opportunities in Canada is relatively easy because it is part of the culture here, and you will see that there are a lot of non-profits and organizations that rely on volunteers.” Resources like Volunteer Canada and Charity Village can help you search for roles in your area. 

Unlocking opportunities in Canada requires more than just a strong resume or good academic credentials: it requires you to build and maintain strong relationships and give back to the community. For newcomers who are not so confident with their English or French language skills, volunteering also provides an opportunity to practice communication skills in a real-world setting. 

Also read: Volunteering as a new immigrant to Canada: Introduction & benefits

As you put the tips shared in this article to use, also remember to approach your job search and career growth in Canada with an open mind and a willingness to learn and grow. Good luck!

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