Moving to Canada: Overcoming Challenges to Landing a Job

Excerpt from an interview with Himanshu Reddy

Himanshu Reddy moved to Canada at the age of 33 in the summer of 2022. He arrived in Toronto with two priorities: finding a place to live and finding a job. With his experience in the many cultures of India, he adapted quite easily to the Canadian way of life. Professionally, however, he faced challenges while seeking employment. Here he shares how he learned to navigate the Canadian labor market, overcome his difficulties and land a job in the field of his choice.

I grew up in southern India in a state called Andhra Pradesh. My parents sent me to boarding school when I was 13. They said, “You have to go out and explore the world.” I like to say that I was thrown into the wild and never looked back.

I went to boarding school for six years and then went to college. I traveled across India during my school years and was exposed to many different cultures. When I started working, I traveled even more selling digital programs to companies across India. It was during one of my meetings with a leading Canadian company that I learned opportunities to work in Canada.

I was told that digital transformation was growing in Canada, which piqued my interest. I’d rather be in a growing industry than one that’s already established. This way I can grow professionally at a faster rate, and this is one of the main reasons why I wanted to move to Canada.

I started to explore how I could move to Canada and what choice were at my disposal. That’s when my trip to Canada began. In 2018, I applied to move to Canada by Express Entry. Unfortunately, the pandemic stalled the immigration process, disrupting all my plans for about two years.

Find accommodation in Toronto

I arrived in Toronto alone in July 2022. I had two things in mind. The first was to to find accommodation, and the second was to find a job. I didn’t have a job planned before I moved here. I was taking a leap of faith. I knew my skills and I knew what I was capable of, so I thought, let me come here and see how I perform in the job market.

To start my search for a place to stay, I checked Airbnb but the prices were skyrocketing before my eyes. I decided this was not the road for me. Then I found a website called Homestays and connected with a family renting a room in their house. The location was great as I didn’t have to walk more than five minutes to reach public transport.

I still live with them today, and it feels good. The family is very cordial and respectful of my privacy. Everyone works, so we all leave the house early in the morning during the week. We see each other on Saturday and Sunday to cook. That’s when we catch up and ask how everyone’s week went.

During my first two months in Toronto, I took time off and didn’t look for work, but rather traveled around the area and figured things out. I even went camping with a college friend who was already settled here. I also knew two other people from India who were now living in Canada, so I had good Connections. On a personal level, I would say that moving to Canada was not particularly difficult, but on a professional level, finding a job was not easy.

Become familiar with the Canadian labor market

It was completely new the job market and I had to understand what canadian employers want in a candidate. I learned that I had to get certifications, which was new to me – back home in India there aren’t a lot of requirements for that.

digital marketing has many small niches and I have experience with all of them. In Canada, there is both a generalist and a specialist in this area. I’m a generalist, so I had to be certified in all niches to prove my expertise. It was one of the biggest challenges I faced. I didn’t expect this based on my experience in India where employers only care about your past work. But, in a way, I understand that I am moving to a new country and that I have to prove my abilities.

An organization called ACCESS Employment helped me understand what options were available to me and helped me integrate into the Canadian job market. They offered a six-week certification course jointly run by Humber College, which helped me understand the Canadian labor market, work cultureand work ethics.

Reducing my work goal opened doors for me

My job search lasted about three months, and it was very difficult at first. I applied for positions, but didn’t even receive initial invitations to contact human resources. But after a few months, I realized that even as a GP, I had to restrict the orientation of my to resume. I couldn’t try to be everything. I had to be more specific in defining what I was looking for. My CV had to be personalized at work, and nothing else. So that was a turning point for me.

This change helped me get many interviews and opened the door to connections with people in the industry. Additionally, ACCES invited me to a virtual speed mentoring event where I was able to speak for 10 minutes each to various mentors who have worked for different companies. I asked about the industry and how to improve the way I marketed myself. Their advice filled the gaps in my job search strategy.

I leaned on LinkedIn, also. It was an important tool in my research. A cool feature is that as soon as you see someone hiring, you can immediately send connection request and start a conversation.

It took three months of full-time effort to find a job in my field. Although it took me a while to figure it out, I got a job offer in my field, and that’s where I am now.

Discover Canadian culture

Moving from one country to another is not an easy thing to do, especially when moving from a developing to a developed country. It’s a whole other scale. I find that what Canadians perceive as good or bad is all good for me! Back in India, it took me between 40 minutes and an hour to travel two kilometers to get to work. So when I hear people here complaining about the traffic, I tell myself that you didn’t see anything! It can take a long time to understand all the differences between developing and developed countries. But I try to get a lot of exposure to Canadian culture so I can pick things up faster.

I’m still getting used to the food here. I come from a place that has a lot of spicy food, which I miss. I haven’t found the spices here to do it the same way. I also keep getting used to food prices when I go to the grocery store. I don’t know what the cost will be until check out. Back home, you just have to return the package and the price is there, taxes included. Here you don’t know what sales tax will be, so it was a big shock to me.

Learning about Canadian culture is more important to me than staying within my own cultural community. I have already explored the cultures of India, so here in Canada I focus on meeting people outside of my home community. Every Saturday I go to downtown Toronto to play board games at a bubble tea and cocktail lounge that hosts events. The people I met there, in my new home and everywhere else, are very nice and polite. The fit was no problem. Smiling faces all around.

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