Want a job in Canada? You better have these three "Social Survival Skills”
Can you survive? That is the question every employer will be asking himself or herself when interviewing you for a job in Canada as an international candidate. You may be the most intelligent person in your town with the best technical skills in your company. Maybe you even graduated top in your class.
However, all that means nothing if you cannot survive a new job with a new life in a new country. How can you demonstrate the ability to survive? Here are three social skills that you can use in your overseas interview to help demonstrate the ability to “survive” in Canada.
For thousands of years people have been sitting around fires telling stories. If you want a job overseas, you have to tell a story about you and why you will survive and thrive in a new country. People with the ability to tell stories are the ultimate survivors. In fact, in ancient times, wanderers would use storytelling to quickly assimilate into dangerous territory and foreign cultures.
As people spend more and more time on social media, and less time actually interacting with each other in person, it is becoming harder and harder to figure out which individuals have the ability to be directly social. Can you fit into an environment of which you know nothing about? Will the other employees in the company accept you into their community? Will you look up from your computer screen to say hello? The ability to tell stories is a skill that oftentimes acts as subtle proxy for the face-to-face human experience employers realistically need to conclude that you will be a great fit for the company.
There is no doubt that adaptability helps people manage the problems of work and life. All employers know that leaving behind family and friends to start life in a new country is a struggle. Problems are inevitable. However, the real question is whether you have ability to relate to the people you meet and the conflicts that arise in a positive manner as opposed to negative manner. In other words, do you have adaptability?
Demonstrating the ability to deal with conflict and emotion in a positive manner is a critical substitute for the employer feeling comfortable that you will be able to quickly recognize and adapt to the rules of the company and social setting. Typically, employers hiring a domestic employee will establish a three-month probation period, in which time they will observe the employee’s social interaction, language and behavior. If a company is dissatisfied with the employee fit, they can simply let go of the employee.
Unfortunately, bringing over an overseas candidate requires a deeper level of commitment. As such, it is your job to demonstrate the ability to ‘get along’, and showing adaptability will go a long way to accomplishing this goal.
In Canada we like to say that we live in a Cultural Mosaic. Basically, this is a fancy way of saying that cultures co-exist in Canadian society. As a result, it is imperative that you have the social skills, and perhaps restraint, to understand and appreciate people from other cultures. Most importantly, you must show the ability to work with people from other cultures, religions and ethnic groups.
The consequences of employees thinking and acting in a discriminatory manner affect the employer in Canada severely from both a legal and public perception point of view. No employer is going to take a chance on an international candidate that is culturally insensitive. Again, everyone knows that certain stereotypes about gender, ethnicity, and social status are pervasive and perhaps even culturally accepted in different parts of the world. The desire for cultural sensitivity is not a judgment on international cultural norms.
The question for the employer in Canada is whether you possess the skill to build functioning relationships with your co-workers, especially when that requires you to look past existing cultural stereotypes. Do you have the ability to relate to a diversity of clients and employees in a manner that advances the best interests of the company? Are you culturally sensitive in the way you speak and act?
In the end, cultural sensitivity storytelling and adaptability will help alleviate many of the uncertainties planted in the mind of the Canadian employer. In fact, demonstrating these three social skills might be the difference between you getting or not getting a job in Canada.