Immigrants will become an increasingly important source of skilled employees. By 2011, immigrants are expected account for 100% of net labour force growth in Canada. But other industrialized nations with retiring baby boomers and low birth rates will also be competing for those well-educated immigrants with global expertise.
Assess resumes to “screen in” top talent
The larger your pool of qualified candidates, the better chance you have of hiring someone outstanding. Use the following suggestions to “screen in” talented candidates you might otherwise miss.
Separate the “must have” and “nice to have” skills needed for the job. (You may already have done this in the job description stage.) Some candidates who don’t have your full wish list of “nice to have” skills may more than compensate for this with other skills, such as experience with international markets. Need help in determining what’s essential? Use this skill sorting tool.
Look for ability, or signs the candidate has the potential to do the job, as demonstrated through past achievements, including volunteer experience. For example, look for evidence the candidate can learn, interpret and apply a law, rather than evidence the candidate knows the law itself.
Look for related work experience, instead of Canadian work experience, a certain number of years of experience, recent experience, or very specific experience. While hiring someone who has done a very similar job is great, there are also benefits to bringing in someone who can learn the job, and who has additional skills (such as international experience.)
Look for the qualities or knowledge needed to perform the work effectively, rather than a specific credential (a degree, diploma, certificate or licence).
Look for the ability to carry out the specific communication tasks required, rather than generalized “effective communication skills.” Assess problems with readability, spelling or grammar problems in a resume carefully: a person whose first language is not English may make errors, but can still communicate at an acceptable level to do the job. Balance typos with other qualities and experience before disqualifying a candidate.
Cultural norms vary widely. Immigrants may include religious greetings, mention of their families or other personal information Canadians do not generally put on resumes. Immigrants may also include information in their resumes about their university ranking because this achievement is highly prized in their country. (If your workplace already includes staff from the same cultural background, you may want to ask them for context if unusual information is included.) Culturally-competent hiring focuses on the immigrant’s skills, knowledge, and experience and doesn’t disqualify candidates because of cultural differences.
Time at previous jobs
When reviewing resumes, long tenure at a job can be interpreted as a sign of loyalty or a lack of ambition, while frequent job changes can be seen as a lack of commitment to employers. But immigrants may have many reasons for atypical employment histories. Ask for clarification before dismissing an otherwise excellent candidate.
Verify foreign credentials
Most employers are less concerned with credentials than with the ability to get the job done, which can be assessed through scenario-based, “how would you handle X…” questions in interviews.
However, if verifying credentials is a concern, ask candidates to provide an independent assessment and verification of their credentials, or commission an assessment yourself through an organization such as the International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES) at BCIT.
Some professions are regulated in BC, and employees in these professions must be licensed. For more information about verifying the credentials of potential employees in these professions, contact the governing body of that profession. List of regulated professions in BC and regulating body contact information.
Content adapted from www.hireimmigrants.ca and BC HMRA Hiring and Retaining Skilled Immigrants Toolkit