6 Questions You Need to Answer When Starting Over in a New Country

A friend recently told me that any decent person would have a list of questions or would follow some kind of checklist when they decide to make a big change, any change. What about you? Big changes dig at our own being, they sculpt and model us, but we must understand how much of this sculpting work can be controlled and we must have the necessary tools.


Starting over in a new country has harsh ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ and no matter how ready we thought we were, it will give us a bit of a shake down the road. In a blog article I was reading just yesterday, 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself, I came across a topic we have discussed in several group training sessions: being yourself. The impact this has on someone who is moving and starting over in a new country is huge, for one of the biggest challenges in life is bearing to be yourself. Because it is so much easier to pretend to be this or that, to ignore those thoughts knocking at you from time to time, to pretend this doesn’t matter or that doesn’t count. Yet standing up for what we are, acknowledging what we are not, passionately offering what we can give, taking responsibility for the promises we make – are all steps that only seem to be simple. These promises are the result of extensive research and realistic assessments, but what we don’t take into account during the planning stage is the new perspective we will gain after. Yes, after spending up to one year in the new country. And this new perspective will override some of our initial assessments and will require a new start.

It is challenging to determine exactly what one should expect once in a new country. Let’s call it Canada this time. Looking at the questions below, I thought this is far from being a comprehensive list, but it is meant to be an organic one. A living one – the kind that should get inside you and change itself according to your own needs, living behind a natural instinct of what needs to be done.

These steps are mainly focused on your career development, on how to obtain relevant employment faster and are barely meant to provide more terrain for your further research.


1. Are you ready to start your life in Canada from a settlement point of view? This may translate as well into “are you ready to focus on your career?” Allow time for settlement specific issues and do not rush through it. Those who are taking their time to settle and learn more about their new environment have proved to be more successful in their next steps. The allotted time and financial needs for this period should be planned in advance and given the required importance. Several websites, including those made available by the Citizenship and Immigration, provide extensive resources and links that take you through the medical care system, planning of finances, getting to know the taxation system, finding a place to live, enrolling your children in school or daycare and other tips on adjusting to your new life in Canada. When you can honestly check-mark as “done” all the issues in this chapter, you are ready to focus on your career path.

2. Have you assessed your language skills against your profession and the level you wish to work at? Many times, as newcomers, we assess our technical skills, we evaluate our credentials, but we forget to look at what are the industry / professional communication and language requirements or norms for our specific occupation or a specific position that we are interested in. While an excellent IELTS score is good to have, all it means is that you can communicate at a certain level. What are the accepted norms (these may vary from one province to another)? And most importantly, what do we do if we are not there yet? Planning how to overcome this barrier includes talking to professionals in your own field of expertise. Relying purely on the advice of your relatives and friends will show a lack of initiative and poor research skills.

3. Have you met with a career / employment professional to start shaping out your career path? This involves extensive labour market research on your side, with professional help and advice. Understanding what the labour market projections are for the next 10 to 15 years is really important and you need to have a long term plan that encompasses your international experience and education and is pointing towards a “dream” job. Yes, you are allowed to be bold… in a realistic and humble way. This is not always easy to achieve, but if you believe in it, if this is what you are really good at, you will certainly get there. Receiving professional help in assessing your strong transferable skills and setting certain steps to help you move forward is quite important. Make sure to take into consideration alternative careers that make sense from the point of view of accumulating the much required local work experience as well as acquiring new skills and broadening your professional network.

4. Do you feel comfortable and confident when taking about your profession, experience, and skills? Writing a decent Resume and Cover Letter is crucial, yet only one of the first steps. Once done, you will need to take it to the next level and work out a way to talk about your work experiences. Make sure you are using specific professional terms (relevant to your industry) and adequate communication skills – to nail that right first impression. Tell your story in a beautiful way. Do your research and be ready to make pertinent comments when it comes to compare how the same occupation is seen in different industries, or in different countries, or when it comes to compare credentials obtained internationally with those current in your new country. Provide specific examples. Make sure you know the licensing process well and do not complain or use negative comments during your conversation with a local professional. Someone comes across as confident and qualified, when they manage to be positive about their career path, no matter how difficult or long this path may look at the present time.

5. Have you met with at least five professionals working in the occupation you target? Having a diverse and real perspective on the future of your chosen career is crucial. No matter how much you read about it, not matter how precise the statistics in one or the other area might be, no matter the test you just passed successfully, you will not be able to have a good grasp on the profession you are getting ready to practice in your new country unless you talk to people who are in that same position for at least 5 years. They will provide you with examples and unique stories, therefore, the more people you are able to interview on this topic, the better. Again, in order to be able to complete this task successfully, you will have to undergo some training on how to successfully set up, conduct, and follow up on an Informational Interview.

6. What will a potential employer say about your online presence? There is so much talk going on about the Personal Branding, many of us are quite in the fog thinking what exactly this is and why is there so much expected of us? We are just individuals, not companies. We don’t have a marketing consultant on hand to come up with branding statements. The short answer is, whether you agree or disagree, with the intoxicating raise of various social media platforms – your online presence matters more than you think. Employers will eventually look at your personal brand as being a matching part of their own brand, and that is based on the fact that a company is shaped by its people, by its employees. It happened many times that a change at the management level, followed by a change in the hiring process, brought vital changes in the workplace culture of a company, which in the end ceased to be what it used to be. Therefore, when it comes to hiring a new employee, most employers are now considering several aspects they didn’t have to worry about a decade ago.

Published by Magdalena Mot on http://skillsconnect.wordpress.com

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