Immigrating to a new country and finding a job that matches your skills and qualifications is not easy. Whatever be your reason for immigration, you need a lot of patience and hard work to find a job and be integrated with the workplace. It takes time and continuous learning and effort.
As an immigrant, you are likely to face some or all these challenges.
- Your previous experience may not be recognized and there will be an ask for local work experience
- Your educational credentials may not be recognized either
- You have skills in a certain area and hope to find a job where you can use your skills. But because of lack of recognition of foreign experience, you may have to start from the scratch again and underemployed.
- People may find your accent difficult to understand. Sometimes their reactions can be disrespectful.
- Your language skills can be a barrier too.
- You need to build connections and network with the locals to get entry into the job market
- And once you get entry to the workplace you are likely to face a new set of challenges of understanding the workplace culture
Say, you know about these challenges and you still need to immigrate. How would you prepare yourself?
While you are going through your immigration process you will have the time to do some of these preparations. You can train yourself in some of these areas while you are still in your home country
Your language skill is a vital factor to your success. Learn the language(s) the host country speaks. If you are immigrating to Canada from India and you have studied English as a First or Second Language in School, that is a good start. But remember, being able to communicate in English is not enough. You need to learn the language as it is spoken or used in the host country. Phrases, words used to express certain things in Canada can be very different from how you are used to in India. Though in both cases English is the language. Even how we greet someone is very different.
You can find resources, videos, training online that will help you understand the differences. The first step is to be able to identify the difference. Then you can incorporate those changes in how you speak or write. Once you start practicing it will come to you.
Next important thing is to learn about the host country. Learn about its geography, history, cultural history, sports, politics, and social issues. This knowledge will help you interact more with the locals once you are there. They will also welcome and integrate you more if you find some common interests to share. For example, we hardly talk about the weather in India, but that is a common ice-breaker in conversations in many other countries.
You may want to follow the local news in the host country, which will help you with both local information and the language. Listening to the local accent will also help you familiarize yourself with it.
There is another aspect that you may want to familiarize yourselves with. The conversations do’s and don’ts. There are certain topics that you should avoid asking your coworkers. You do not want to spoil your relationship. Even though these are not offensive in your home country, they can offend someone in the host country and can be a costly mistake for you.
Many employers provide resources, training, or assign a local “buddy” to you once you arrive and start working as a new immigrant. Get the most out of these resources and learn as much you can. But, be also prepared to work for employers who do not provide any and you have to work things out yourselves.
A common workplace attitude faced by immigrants is that “You have come to our country, so you have to learn our way of doing things. Do not expect us to learn and understand why you said what you said. We do not need culture training, you do”. Understanding the cultural background of coworkers coming from other countries is important for those in the host country. If they make an attempt to learn about you and your culture, that helps build a stronger relationship at work. While many workplaces encourages such cultural training for their employees, many do not provide any. Not everywhere, people will put in that effort to learn about your culture. So, rely on your learning and adapting to the new workplace and do your best.
Also, connect with people who have immigrated to the host country in the past and learn from their experiences. Ask them to direct you to resources that you can use. Or build connections with them to see how they interact and communicate. Be a keen observer and you can learn way more by listening and observing others.