ASK Donna





Question: I'm a foreign trained professional, a new Canadian, how can I find a job, or a volunteer position, where I will have a chance to show my skills?

Answer: There are so many opportunities for foreign trained professionals to volunteer, coop or apprentice. For those in the Health Care field – check out the training offered by the Military for Physician's Assistants. I understand the program is working very well in Barrie at Royal Victoria Hospital. There is also potential for employment by becoming an entrepreneur and creating your own job – check out Look up your country of origin or a country that has the same cultural background and see what business is being developed between Canada and that country. There will be a list of contacts on the Web site that will be a wealth of information for you. I recommend that you check out the Canadian Manufacturers Association - They have an excellent program for international development as well. The Importers and Exporters Association is another good lead. There are also opportunities through an association called HAPPEN – This organization provides leads and referrals along with speakers who understand the needs of the new Canadian.

Question: I want to work outside the country, where should I begin looking for leads and opportunities?

Answer: There are huge opportunities for those of you who want to consider opportunities outside of Canada. First, look at the companies who have an international presence. Go on those Web sites and do your homework. I use Copernic as my search engine. Look at where those offices are located. What would make you a good alliance for that company? Do you speak the language? Have you had experience culturally with that country? Do you have a professional designation that is a valuable addition to the needs of that company. Once you have done your homework – consider attending networking events that will have companies like your target market in attendance. Consider joining international associations like Rotary Club – they have an incredible source of connections around the world through. The government of Canada offers many choices when it comes to working outside the country. Check out CIDA, You might want to take a course in English as a 2 nd Language and consider teaching in that country you want to work in.

I'm a student – is there a process I should go through to maximize my networking opportunities?

Answer: Networking is critical to your success when job hunting. It's not just what you know, but whom you know and how you can tap into their databank without misusing the connection. I encourage all students to volunteer within their areas of interest. Use those 40 hours of community service wisely – put it on your resume to add value to your school records. Have business cards printed – all you need is your name, address, email address, and if you feel comfortable – develop a personal web site that showcases your relevant outside activities like coaching a little league team, your membership in ACE, DECA, Camp Enterprise or Junior Achievement. My book “Effective Networking Strategies, with the addendum for students is an excellent resource. And is available through our Web site. I also co-authored a book on Mentoring with Akela Peoples, founder of Youth in Motion – the book is an excellent resource should you have the opportunity to be mentored or to mentor. Mobilizing Mentoring is available as a PDF.

Question: I want to volunteer – how do I find the best place for my skills and talents?

Answer: Volunteering is an important part of everyone's resume. Consider where your interests are outside your career path. Do you like animals, children, seniors? Are you interested in the environment, government or technology? Do you like to read, write, research? Are you a loner, or part of a team? Do a brief mind map of who you are, where your interests lay and target areas that speak to those interests. Go to Check out and Charity Village. When you find the right fit – try and showcase your talents and skills – if you're an accountant offer to be on the finance committee! If you are a coach, a speaker, or trainer – offer to handle the media, or perhaps the interaction between board members – use your strengths.

Question: I want to be on a government board – how do I go about it?

Answer: If you are from Ontario, go to the government Web site called - this is the Web site for the public appointments secretariat. Get to know your politicians – locally, regionally, provincially and federally. Volunteer! Let your representatives get to know you – they need champions and they will refer you for board positions once they see your area of expertise. You must develop a rapport before you can expect a reward!

Question: I have a new business and I need a mentor – where can I go to find one?

Answer: If you are a woman and living in Ontario you have a tremendous opportunity with The Step Ahead Program. The mentors are all successful women business owners who donate their time to help up and coming new businesses. If you are a student there is a mentoring program through The Canadian Youth Business Foundation. Youth in Motion also offers a mentoring program to youth at risk and to young new Canadian women. Mentoring is huge in the United States and they even have a National Networking Campaign! The book Mobilizing Mentoring is a good resource and available as a PDF. If you can't find a formal mentor – ask for help from someone you admire, often you will find that person willing to help you. Consider finding a coach – while not a mentor, a good coach can provide you with many of the answers you seek.

Question: I want to know how to become an expert, what do I need to do?

Answer: To become an expert you need to get your name out there! Write articles on your area of expertise. Have an editor look at them before submitting –make sure that they aren't strictly an advertisement on your skills. Select newsletters and magazines that are interested in your topic. Use a directory of associations to find those organizations. Become a speaker if you are comfortable speaking in public – if not consider joining a local Toast Masters club. Write a book – self publish and send it out to the media – learn to write a good media release that will get you in front of your target audience. Volunteer!

Question: How can I find out more about developing a brand?

Answer: Branding is an important part of your business development. People buy what they remember and branding help them remember the product or the service. Start with your logo – use an expert to help you design something that makes a statement. Having a tag line is equally important – getting people to see the logo and repeat the message will help you establish yourself. Consider Sleep Country Canada – “why buy a mattress anywhere else?” Branding is key to beating the competition. There are plenty of experts out there – find one. We can't be good at everything and it's a case of sell what you're good at and buy what you're not. Effective branding could be the difference between Success and Failure. Branding creates a “buzz”. The web has a wealth of resources and experts and they are all at your finger tips. Read, learn from the experts.

Question: I am in transition, where can I go to find a job that fits my talents.

Answer: The federal government offers several training programs that should be considered if you meet the criteria. Consulting as a Career, and Self Employment Benefits are the two most effective. Go to the HRSDC Web site and check out what they offer. HAPPEN is a resource if you live in Ontario. Don't spend your time knocking on doors, develop an action plan that will give you a roadmap to follow. Recognize that in most cases it's a referral that will get you your next job. Who do you know? Have you kept your network current? Volunteer, keep active – don't let yourself get into a slump. Be creative, if you can find a job – create your own! Sell your strengths!

Question: Which organizations should I join? How can I maximize the money I invest in this?

Answer: Do your homework. What do you want to accomplish through your membership? If you want to join a Chamber of Commerce – recognize that you will only get out of the organization what you put in. Don't use the Chamber as a data base that you send out your business information to – it's offensive if you haven't taken the time to develop a rapport with other members. Get active, join an active committee and get your name and your business out there! It's more profitable for you, if you are the only one with your expertise in the club – you have a better chance of referral. Don't join anything until you experience what the members are like, their meeting times etc. Decide if you want to be strictly business, or is there a social aspect that appeals to you. Monitor your results – measure costs vs return on investment. If you don't get more out than you put in – you're doing something wrong. There is a list of all the Chambers in Ontario on our Web site.


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