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The Talent Development Centre includes advice for independent contractors in IT from one of Canada’s top staffing and recruitment agencies. See all posts about immigration.

US Immigration Policy May Help Canada’s Tech Sector

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice President, East Region & Government Services at Eagle

Canadian Maple LeafRecent events both South of the border and across Europe have brought immigration to the front pages as a hot button issue. Undoubtedly it has been a very polarizing social and often disturbing humanitarian issue. But what can we make of the economic and business ramifications for Canada in these changing times?

There is most definitely a labour problem in the entire Canadian economy and one that by all measure is about to get worse. The demographic headwind that we face is a potentially lethal combination of boomers retiring over the next 15 years and an overall aging population not supported by growing birth rates. Economic growth in Canada is inextricably linked to both labour growth and productivity, both of which can be addressed through strategic immigration.

This challenging future that could see more people leaving the workforce than entering in Canada and the structural problems that would entail can be alleviated to some degree by immigration. Canada is not alone in this; in fact, most major economies in the world are facing these kinds of issues. For example, Japan’s economy has stalled as the combination of a low birth rate and very low immigration intake resulted in one of the poorest GDP growth rates of the world’s largest economies.

Canada historically has and will likely always be a leader in helping the world’s most downtrodden and desperate refugees and for that most Canadians are proud. Additionally, how do we also compete to attract in our immigration policy the marketable skills, education and experience that will help boost an economy? These so called Economic immigrants have made up a larger proportion of the immigrant intake for the last decade or so in Canada and will likely remain a focus of immigration policy.

US Immigration Policy May Help Canada's Tech SectorToday, though, with changes in the US landscape as a result of the election of Donald Trump has perhaps led to a very real opportunity for Canada, especially in the Tech sector. Many Silicon Valley based Tech companies have been vocal in their very real concern that the change in US Immigration policy will be very detrimental to them and what they already contend has been a tough struggle for top talent. Foreign workers have been a crucial piece of the Silicon Valley tech skills gap puzzle and with the changes in policy, and perhaps even the heated atmosphere in the US as a result, many skilled tech workers will look to Canada as an option. There are mechanisms in place already such as Canada’s Global Skills Strategy that allow companies to quickly acquire the skills they need on an initial short term basis.

It has always been very tough for Canada’s high tech companies to compete with the allure and frankly other worldly perks and compensation of Silicon Valley but these days perhaps they now have a leg up.

No Canadian Work Experience, Now What?

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Branch Manager at Eagle

No Canadian Work Experience, Now What?Having worked in staffing for almost 20 years, and specifically in Professional Staffing, I’ve seen how our industry has adapted to myriad challenges thrown our way. One challenge that never seems to go away, however, is the challenge that new Canadians face when trying to enter the local job market.  Even in Information Technology, as culturally diverse an industry as there is, candidates often have to overcome employer preconceptions that might not give equal value to experience gained overseas. At Eagle, we practice the mantra of presenting to our clients the very best possible candidate(s) we have regardless of where that skill was acquired and the fact that we make every effort to meet and personally vet candidates means that we are able to make pretty good decisions around their level of ability and skill. But if you believe you are facing challenges because you don’t have Canadian work experience, here are some tips that can help:

  1. Don’t try to hide it: If you believe that you have to respond to your lack of Canadian experience by lowering your expectations, you are helping to feed into the practice of undervaluing the years of experience and academic struggles you’ve already been through. In an effort to hide this, I’ve even seen candidates doctor their resumes to show local experience that didn’t happen. My advice is, DON’T DO IT! If we are going to admit that you have challenges to overcome to be taken seriously as a candidate, it will not help if you commit fraud.
  2. Attitude is huge: I work with individuals daily who are struggling to find work or their next contract for any number of different reasons. While I would like to help everyone, I can’t. But those individuals who are positive and are taking steps to help themselves by taking courses or increasing their level of networking are way more likely to get my time and consideration. If the qualifications are solid and the attitude is great, I’m more than happy to sell your candidacy to my client.
  3. Work is Work: I’ve asked many friends who immigrated to Canada if the work experience here was so different from what they did previously in their home countries. The consistent response is “not really”. And if they did experience differences, it was often more a difference in process vs expectations. In other words, the same thing that can happen when you change jobs and join a new company. It was nothing that they weren’t able to quickly adapt to.
  4. Blend In: Do your research and make sure your resume works in your new job market. While most terminology might not be so different, do check online to ensure that you are using terms which are familiar to the local market. The same applies to resume format. Job or networking sites like Monster or LinkedIn are just a couple of resources you can tap into but a good recruiter can give you tips as well.
  5. Finally, work with agencies that see the value in your experience. If a recruiter attempts to negotiate your rate or salary below market values for your skillset and experience, they are just feeding into a system of discrimination. Instead work with agencies that speak only of your relevant knowledge and experience.

We live and work in an ever increasingly global marketplace. The experience you bring as a new Canadian has intrinsic value in that it helps prepare and lay the groundwork for Canada to compete globally. The struggles you may very well encounter are unfortunately well-documented but some of these challenges can be mitigated.