Working in Quebec: The Experience of Three Immigrants

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By Marie-Claude Savoie, Marketing Editor for Jobillico

Most businesses today benefit from the chance of having employees of different nationalities. It is our case at Jobillico too: we have colleagues from Europe, South America and Africa. We’ve asked them for their story in a few words as well as some advice on how to make a place for yourself in the Province of Quebec.

Cherif Zouari

Birthplace: Tunisia

Moved to Canada / Quebec in: 2007

Status upon arrival: Student

Position at Jobillico: Coordinator for Client Performance Service

Why did you choose to come to Quebec?

I had first chosen Canada for the quality of education. I refined my choice further and decided on Quebec since I already spoke French.

In addition, Canadians have a great reputation in Tunisia as warm and welcoming people.

How did you go about finding your first job in Quebec or your position at Jobillico?

I’ve always used the web in job searches. I’d go on recruiting platforms or the career page of company web sites. But I have to say that, on my first searches in Canada, I got very good results from showing up in person at the company to tell them of my interest.

What would your advice be for a newly arrived immigrant looking for work?

Socialize! Network! Keep making friends and get involved in the community! Also, don’t overlook the help you can get from your university as well as non-profit organizations created for new immigrants, and even government agencies.

Just being on the Quebec job market will teach you a lot about people and how things get done. It’s a huge boost to your understanding and integration. That means that, for your first job, you shouldn’t just aim for your dream job. Be patient.

Tell us a funny story that deals with cultural differences at the workplace.

During my first months, I couldn’t understand my boss because of his Quebec accent – I hadn’t quite figured it out at the time. So, I kept answering “Yes, yes, yes” whenever he talked to me. He could have asked anything at all and I would just have gone “Yes, yes, yes”.

Soavina Vanessa Nany

Birthplace: Madagascar

Moved to Canada / Quebec in: 2014

Status upon arrival: Student

Position at Jobillico: Research Agent

Why did you choose to come to Quebec?

I came as a student. I had obtained a scholarship for a master’s degree at Université Laval in Quebec City.

How did you go about finding your first job in Quebec or your position at Jobillico?

I got my first job at the Quebec ministry of transportation. My program included a four-month internship in a business.

My approach to searching for work was to send out about fifty resumes to a bunch of businesses and to scout the SPLA – that’s the university’s job placement service. The ministry took me in and, after my internship, I was offered a six-month contract to finish the project I had started on.

When my contract was over, I went back to the SPLA and other employment web sites. That’s how I found out about Jobillico and the open position on the research team.

What would your advice be for a newly arrived immigrant looking for work?

The best advice I could give is to not search by yourself. There are organizations out there that help immigrants adapt their resume and cover letter to the standards here. They also help in putting your experience forward, preparing for interviews and identifying the needs of businesses via the kind of jobs that get posted.

Tell us a funny story that deals with cultural differences at the workplace.

During my first year in Quebec, I worked for a clothing store that employed both Quebecers and immigrants. At that time, I was still struggling with the way Quebecers pronounce French and the expressions they use. Once, one of our managers told me a joke, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t understand what she was saying. I turned to look at my other colleagues who were also immigrants and I could see how some of them weren’t getting it either. But we laughed because everyone else laughed! When the manager left the room, we asked for a ‘translation’ from one of our Quebec colleagues. That got us a second round of laughter!

Miguel Eduardo Pancardo Tenorio

Birthplace: Mexico

Moved to Canada / Quebec in: 2008 in Canada and 2012 in the Province of Quebec.

Status upon arrival: Tourist… but currently applying as a permanent resident!

Position at Jobillico: Web Strategist

Why did you choose to come to Quebec?

Honestly, I had never considered living here! I had lived in Montreal for a few years and I loved it there. But then, I got an offer for a job in Quebec City in a very interesting industry and speaking with the owner of the company convinced me. So, I took a leap of faith. Three years later and I’m still here!

How did you go about finding your first job in Quebec or your position at Jobillico?

My first attempts were pretty basic. I’d just send out resumes and wait for replies. But, with time, I found much better ways to stick my foot in the door. Here are my favourites:

1- Stop looking for a specific job title. It’s more effective to list your skills and the kind of problems you can solve, and then compare that with the range of roles you might play in an organization. What you used to do in your country of origin shouldn’t be a limit when you’re trying to find your footing.

2- Pick 3 or 4 industries as well as positions that appeal to you, and then write up resumes tailored for these and focused on why you’re the best person for the job.

3- Get detailed contact lists. That’s a more involved option, though. In Canada, there’s easy access to information and I managed to put together a list of different companies with the name of the owners. Then I sent a personalized letter to each to sell myself. I got excellent results!

What would your advice be for a newly arrived immigrant looking for work?

Do everything you can to be useful. Hone your skills as much as you can and show how you can be a “solution” for your employer.

Tell us a funny story that deals with cultural differences at the workplace.

When I arrived in Toronto, I had a certain command of the English language, but not of all the idiomatic expressions that people use in their everyday life. One of my best examples is when I was at the office talking to some of my coworkers about going to a hockey game. I had heard that was the national sport, so after looking into it, I had a conversation with them that went like this:

Me: “Hey guys, there’s a hockey game on Friday I’m going to, who is coming with me?”

One of the dudes: “I’ll take a rain check, man”.

Me: “It does not matter; I will bring an umbrella big enough for both of us”.

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