Saturday, August 13, 2016

When I stopped following job search advice, I found work!

Immigrating to a new country is never easy. The cultural shock, temperature changes, and being unemployed are just some of the many things one would experience when moving to a new country.

In my case, I immigrated to Canada from the Philippines. Not much cultural shock since the Philippines was heavily influenced by the Americans but the temperature change from hot to cold was something my body still needs adjusting to. The most difficult challenge of all (at least for me) was being unemployed.

First Picture in Canada!

I was happy with my career at the Philippines. I work with amazing people (hello QSR team!) and I love what I do - training and helping schools use Google Apps in the classroom is a rewarding thing to do. I am not talking about the monetary reward but more on the fulfillment of working with teachers and their professional growth.

With my colleagues from QSR
My last training in the Philippines with DepEd Batangas City Division

Anyway, when I arrive in Canada, I was obviously unemployed. It was tough. I was so confident that I'll be able to find work right away but I didn't. I am lucky, though, that my parents and siblings are already in Canada (they immigrated two years ago) so they could support my basic needs (shelter, food, etc.) and of course, moral support and for praying for me. It took me nine months to find full-time job in the industry I want to be a part of.

What did I do differently that allowed me to get a job?

I stopped using a 2-page resume.
All over the internet, people will tell you to limit your resume to 2 pages. I did that the last eight months! Out of the hundreds of applications, I only got a handful of interviews - two of which was when I sent a 4-page resume. What did my 4-page resume contain? First page is the career overview, work experience (which I limited to 1 sentences each), volunteer work, and education. On Page 2-4, I wrote all my project experiences, providing details on what I did and accomplished for each project.

I stopped sending applications through HR black hole systems.
+Liz Ryan loves writing about the black hole. These are the recruitment systems where you fill-up your name, upload your resume, and you never ever hear back. I never did. All the companies, I ever had an interview with, I sent my resume via email or I send messages to the hiring manager via LinkedIn. It was a better shot than sending via Jobvite or whatever other system the company is using.

I stopped pretending. 
I know what you're thinking, Celine, why are you pretending? Here's the thing, when you read about interview tips, they tell you to prepare answers to the typical questions and I prepared and rehearsed them by heart. Tell me about yourself, strengths and weaknesses, etc. Every time I give my rehearsed answer - I was never comfortable and I felt so awkward.

I've always believed that an interview is a getting to know you time. It's the employer assessing if you could do the job and if you're a right fit and you getting to know them and understanding their business and if you want to do the work. YOU DON'T HAVE TO PRETEND FOR THEM TO HIRE YOU. My interview at my current employer was unexpected. They never asked the tell me about yourself question and strengths and weaknesses. They asked me technical questions which I explained as best as I could. I actually had fun during the interview, I felt like I was in a game show. I was smiling and laughing at how awkward I was when I don't know some of the answers. I got to know the company and I showed them who I really am.

I started fighting for my right.
It was the first time I told an employer why I think I deserve the salary I was asking for. I was scared yet I feel good. I was scared because I was so sure they're not going to offer me a job because I told them why I deserve the rate I was asking for. I would never do that (negotiate my salary) in the Philippines. Yet, it felt good because I realized how much power I have in the whole recruitment process. It felt weird because for the last 8 months I felt hopeless and powerless listening to rejection after rejection from different companies.

Last Advice:
As an immigrant adjusting to a new country is difficult in itself and finding work makes it more challenging, my last tip for immigrants looking for work, keep praying and keep pushing - don't settle. I also had a survival job to have income but I never settled - I will never settle because I want to have full-time work in the same industry I was in when I was in the Philippines and I never planned to settle for anything else. Oh and be clear on what you want: what industry, what kind work, which employers, company size, and culture where you want to work in.

Now that I am in, I'll work harder than ever to stay in the job and help my employer in any legal and moral way I can. I shared the good news with one of my former manager (who also immigrated to another country), his reply made me happy:
Hi Celine! I'm really glad to hear that you finally found an IT job in Canada. I'm proud of you for being resilient, and I'm sure you'll fight your way back up the food chain in no time. Enjoy the new role. :-)
I pray that more immigrants (especially fellow Filipino) will find work wherever they may be.