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Get that Canadian job faster with these five simple tips


William Zeng, Academic Director, Canadian Securities Institute (CSI), and Shamim Panchbhaya, a senior tax manager, share their experience and perspective on what newcomers interested in starting a financial services career in Canada should be prepared for.

New Canadians sometimes find it hard to adapt to life in Canada due to their limited social networks, lack of Canadian experience and credentials, as well as the country’s uncertain and slowly recovering economy and complex job market.

Not only are new Canadians finding it harder to find positions on par with their education and experience, but it’s also taking them longer to reach the same employment and income levels as their Canadian-born counterparts.

“When companies can’t find the talent they need, while qualified newcomers struggle to find the jobs they want, we clearly have a problem with significant business and social implications,” says William Zeng, Academic Director, Canadian Securities Institute (CSI). “While there’s no easy fix, Canadian credentials are part of what it takes to get that job, faster.”

William Zeng from CSI, as well as senior tax manager Shamim Panchbhaya, share their experience and perspective on what newcomers interested in starting a financial services career in Canada should be prepared for and where they can start.

Zeng has over 10 years’ banking and securities industry experience in Canada and China. He received his BBA from Tianjin University, China, and his MBA at Schulich School of Business of York University in Toronto. He holds CFA, CFP and FCSI designations.

Panchbhaya, MTI, CA, CFP, TEP, provides ongoing Canadian and US tax technical support and training to her bank’s business units, including estate and trust services. Panchbhaya is a member of the CICA, the Canadian Tax Foundation, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, and the Canadian Securities Institute’s Taxation Committee. She is also a contributor to CCH's fourth Edition of the Executor's Handbook.

“New Canadians empowered with the right education and knowledge demonstrate spectacular successes in Canada’s financial services,” she says. “Those who do the best have a good grasp of today’s job market and career trends – and are prepared for tomorrow’s opportunities, proactively anticipating and training to seize them.”

So here are the top five tips from CSI to help new Canadians succeed in the Canadian financial services industry.


Tip # 1: Do your homework

Map out your career path. Canada’s financial services landscape is complex and rapidly evolving, but there are many tools and resources to help Canadian newcomers achieve their education and career goals. One of them is CSI’s Financial Services Career Map – an easy-to-navigate, interactive tool that allows users to search and explore multiple career options and learn about the different roles, opportunities and credentials in Canada’s financial services industry.

Build on your existing qualifications. In today’s increasingly global marketplace, many Canadian employers and investors are looking for professionals from diverse backgrounds who can connect with Canada’s diverse multicultural communities. Make sure you market your education and experience from your home country on your resumé, LinkedIn profile and other platforms.

Bridge the gaps between your Canadian and international experience. To achieve your goals, you may need skills you currently don’t have in the Canadian context. To bridge your knowledge and experience gaps, engage in internship programs or take specialized training courses. Many financial services companies in Canada offer paid or unpaid internships to new Canadians. Programs like Career Bridge help job-ready immigrants find internships. Certificate-level financial credentials are a good option if you’d like to develop specialist skill sets – for example, in retirement planning or small business advice.


Tip # 2: Your resumé is your brand

Treat your resumé as a reflection of who you are and what you want to achieve. Think of yourself as your own brand. Like any brand, it should be defined, articulated and promoted. What is your strongest skill set? What do you have to offer in a highly competitive labour market? Your resumé should spell out – in a concise and compelling manner – why an organization should hire you. It should also project professionalism. Typos, grammatical errors and layout inconsistencies immediately send the wrong message.

Use your resumé to do a gap analysis of your skills. Compare qualifications on your resumé with those required on the job posting. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What are some of the skill gaps you need to work around? Ask yourself which Canadian credentials are a “must” to achieve the specific role you want and which are “nice-to-have.” Ideally, plan to get both. To be considered for the position, meeting minimum educational and licensing requirements might be enough. To actually get it, you need to “stand out from the pack.”

Tailor your resumé. Your resumé is a “living and breathing document.” Update it every time you reach a milestone that helps you increase your value proposition as an employee, such as acquiring a new professional certificate or designation. Your resumé should also be customized to reflect the requirements of each position you are applying for.


Tip # 3: Your network is your net worth

Crack the hidden job market. With 80 per cent of job opportunities lurking in the “hidden” job market, your networks – personal and professional – are critical to landing the job you want. So, think about who you know and mine your contacts in a strategic way. Family, friends, special interest clubs, LinkedIn community or online classes – any group you belong to may open doors. Use every business and social opportunity to mention you want to get into the financial services.

Don’t be shy about cold calling. Develop a “dream list” of employers you would love to work for. Determine which positions would be a fit for you. Then, start calling! Email those who hold, supervise or are responsible for hiring for the positions you aspire to reach. Ask for 15 minutes of their time for a quick information interview. Find out what’s required to succeed in the role that interests you. And don’t forget to weave in your “elevator pitch” – a 30-second “infomercial” about who you are and what you’re looking for. They may have an opening, now or in the future.

Build relationships. Networking is not just about collecting business cards – nor should you expect the people you meet to do something for you right away. It’s relationships. Care about the person in front of you. Focus on how you can be of assistance. Be prepared to offer something of value. Chances are that people who trust you will want to help you. Remember “six degrees of separation”? You never know who might be connected to someone who can open the right door for you. Also, your contacts may end up being your employers, colleagues or clients.


Tip # 4: Mentors are your role models

Find a mentor you trust. Many accomplished financial services leaders would be happy to help as you get your Canadian career on track. Some have gone through the same difficulties you’re facing now. So, find that senior professional you respect and trust and ask them to be your mentor. Did you know that Fellows of CSI (FCSI) – financial services professionals who attain advanced levels of education, experience and leadership in Canada – may be looking to help someone like you as part of their commitment to giving back to their profession and their community?

Build a successful mentor-ship relationship. When you first meet with your mentor, make sure both of you are on the same page regarding what you expect and what the process will look like. It can be a structured formal program or an informal relationship, where you meet over coffee, say, once a month. Regardless of the arrangements, make sure you introduce your mentor to your long-term career plan and get their feedback on the steps you are taking to achieve your goals.

Find mentorship programs targeted towards new Canadians. The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) offers a Mentoring Partnership, and works with community and corporate partners to make sure immigrants can access professional contacts and job search support. TRIEC also partners with the Career Edge Organization responsible for the Career Bridge internships providing newcomers with a better understanding of the Canadian workplace and current industry trends.


Tip # 5: Canadian credentials matter

Get your foot in the door. Doing your research, you may find that there are certain proficiency standards required for specific financial services jobs in Canada. For example, the Canadian Securities Course (CSC), considered the benchmark credential, is the gateway to a variety of careers in Canada’s financial services industry and is required by many employers. Adding the CSC to your resumé will help open many doors. The CSC is available in English and French.

Go the extra mile. Succeeding in Canada’s highly competitive financial services market may require specialized knowledge and skills. For example, in financial advice, these may range from basic financial advice for mid-range clients to more complex integrated wealth management and financial planning for high-net-worth individuals. Canadian designations, such as the PFP, the CSWP and the CIM, will help you meet specific proficiency and competency standards required for many financial advice roles.

Choose the right credentials. Make sure the letters after your name add credibility in the eyes of your employers and your clients. The best financial education programs have a clear focus, high proficiency standards, quality course content, relevant work experience and assessment testing requirements and mechanisms that ensure credential holders maintain their good standing. While certificates are crucial in bridging career transitions and knowledge gaps, designations help navigate longer-term learning paths towards building fulfilling financial services careers.

Posted: Dec 31, 2012

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