Q&A: How Do You Start A Career In A New Country?

Real-life advice from two newcomers who are finding success in Canada

A job search is tough enough. But a job search in a new country? That can be a whole new level of tough. Wengage spoke with two women from TalentMinded, a Toronto-based talent acquisition solutions company, to hear their insights on their personal experience and how this type of challenge can provide life skills that put one ahead of the locals. Vaishnavi Anant, Senior Talent Advisor, moved to Canada from India just under two years ago. Her colleague, Emily Hutchinson, former Director of Customer Success, arrived from England six years ago. Here, they offer some of their best practices.

W: What was your mental outlook like?

VA: I was a sourcing specialist when I started out in my 20s. When I came here last year I started as a sourcing specialist again. That takes a toll on you. You’ve gone through this journey already in another country, but you come here and you have to prove yourself all over again. That needs a lot of mental preparation. Accepting that is very hard but I knew I had to start fresh. I said to myself, “I have the experience and I’m going to use it, but for now I have to get my foot in the door and build trust; to say ‘ok, I believe you can do this.’”

EH: I just tried to be brave and put myself out there!

W: How did you make new contacts?

EH: I networked like crazy, even though it’s not my favourite thing to do. Before I left I asked all my connections in the UK for recommendations for contacts; I was a bit shameless but I knew it would be helpful. The best thing I did once in Canada was going to events about subjects I wanted to learn about. I went to every Meetup I could and learned which ones were valuable. I had some cards printed up, so whenever I met an interesting business contact I’d give them a card. Those things slowly allowed me to build up a new network. I would now say my Canadian network is stronger than my UK network.

VA: I went to events, such as Meetups and seminars. The first Meetup I went to was about artificial intelligence, robots versus recruiter, which is totally my field. I could talk about it all day. It was easier to go to places where I knew I could talk about something I was passionate about and familiar with. Then you start conversing: talk about your background and what you’re doing. I think the thing that I did differently is I didn’t say, “I’m looking for a job, help me.” My goal was to make a connection. I was helping them get to know me, as opposed to saying “Here’s my resume.” Why would they help me if they didn’t know me? Don’t have your resume in your hand all the time, poking people to pick it up. You are your own resume—build relationships first.

W: What are the pros and cons of education and work experience from another country?

VA: People don’t know the schools you’ve studied at, they don’t know the companies you’ve worked for, so it’s hard for the employer to assess your background. You do hear: “Sorry, you don’t have Canadian experience.” However, in Canada, people come from so many different places, with diverse backgrounds and experiences and cultures. I think
having different experiences helped me handle different situations more effectively. My company in India was working with people in the US, the UK, Canada and Europe, so I knew that different countries worked differently and people have to be approached in different ways.

EH: Some of it was really hard. I came from an e-commerce solutions background, and when I arrived, Canada wasn’t that advanced in terms of e-commerce. There was a lot of experienced people that couldn’t necessarily wrap their heads around it because they hadn’t lived it—like ordering groceries online and having them delivered, which was just starting to happen here. We’d be building mobile apps and I’d be saying, “Why aren’t we doing it x way?” So I tried to bridge that gap with a lot of show and tell. It’s hard as a female because you can’t always be that pushy voice; you’ve got to use lots of different methods to illustrate your point. At one stage I started writing a blog, looking at trends that started a few years back and showing how they worked now, and anticipating what the future trends were, and my boss started really paying attention. As far as benefits go, one of the leaders I work with now says an advantage of hiring people from another country is that they picked up their lives and moved; they’re used to meeting new people and are open to change, which is very interesting. You’re aware you’ve got to build your profile and earn the respect. It’s a great exciting adventure.

Be sure to check out Business Connections for more articles about the world of work and career-planning. And visit TalentMinded.ca to learn more about they help companies of all sizes grow their business and teams through high-impact talent acquisition programs.


Emily Hutchinson, Toronto, Former Director of Customer Success at TalentMinded
Vaishnavi Anant, Toronto, Senior Talent Advisor at TalentMinded