From its birth, Canada has been a nation that represents opportunities for newcomers. More than 17 million immigrants have made their way to this country since Confederation in 1867, and newcomers continue to grow Canada’s population today. Canada’s workforce also continues to expand thanks to newcomers. With immigrants making up about one in five Canadians, that’s a huge pool of potential candidates with valuable foreign experience.
That being said, newcomers often find themselves facing barriers to employment. They may struggle with communication, they may not be familiar with the Canadian job search process, or the experience they gained in their home country isn’t recognized by employers here in Canada. Newcomers may also find it hard to express their skill set and qualifications in ways that meet Canadian expectations. This can result in their applications being overlooked and a lack of interview opportunities being granted to them. In turn, companies may be losing out on highly skilled, hard-working individuals that could be real assets in the long run.
Keeping an open mind and knowing how to approach the hiring process when it comes to newcomer candidates can allow companies to tap into this growing talent pool with great success.
Why Hire Newcomers?
These candidates offer many benefits to potential employers, including:
- A Fresh Perspective – Newcomer candidates’ international experience and diverse skill set can bring new information, strategies, and insight to freshen up “the way things have always been done”. Their international experience and foreign language skills can also help companies expand into new markets.
- A Can-Do Attitude – Newcomer candidates who have gained a Canadian work permit have already shown their perseverance by taking the time, effort, and financial costs to do so. This can translate into a go-getter spirit in the workplace that drives projects forward while efficiently navigating obstacles.
- A Connection – As mentioned earlier, around 20% of Canadians are immigrants (and in a city like Toronto, it’s more like 50%). Hiring newcomers provides an opportunity for companies to connect with these wider audiences, and enhance their corporate image by showcasing diversity.
How Can I Hire Newcomers?
When reviewing applications from newcomer candidates, it’s important to think outside the box. These candidates may express their skill set and qualifications in unfamiliar ways, so knowing what to look for and what questions to ask is key to determining whether they’re a good fit for a role.
Some best practices when it comes to assessing these candidates include:
- Be Aware of Laws and Policies – Understand what questions can be asked of candidates and what questions should be avoided, based on information in the Canadian Human Rights Act, provincial legislation, and policies such as Ontario’s Policy on Removing the “Canadian Experience” Barrier.
- Do Things Differently – Rather than expect all candidates to move through the hiring process the same way, look for ways to individualize the experience. For newcomer candidates, try to rephrase interview questions to be as specific as possible. If English isn’t someone’s first language, a question like, “Can you tell me about yourself?” might result in the candidate sharing a personal story rather than the expected work-related information.
- Make Connections – Work to interpret information the candidate provides in a way that makes sense within Canadian expectations. For example, if the candidate is describing one of his or her employers in their home country and you’re trying to understand what industry the company is part of, ask the candidate to compare that company to one found in Canada that may be similar in size and/or scope.
- Assess Fairly – When reviewing applications from newcomer candidates, look for some of the same attributes you’d expect to find in any resume. Past successes, continued education, and progression within a company or to higher-level roles all speak to a candidate with great potential.
- Consider Finance-Specific Training – Accounting and finance roles can have unique challenges when it comes to hiring newcomer candidates. It is crucial to understand the difference between a candidate’s experience with GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) in their home country and how that compares with IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards). It may be that the candidate will need to upgrade their education to suit specific roles.
Hiring managers who are interested in finding newcomer talent should work with recruitment firms like Clarity Recruitment to help them understand what to look for and how to adapt their hiring practices appropriately to ensure all candidates have a fair shot.
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