[Guest Blogger] An IT Pro moves to Canada

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Sam Serajian (Toronto, Ontario, IT Pro)

While being involved these days in writing 70-292, I would like take this chance and to finish my story from previous up to this point where I have landed a job one of the big 5 financial firms in Canada.

Back in 2005, Oct when I arrived in Canada, I had no clue how to structure my resume so that it could be read by employers and in known job-search engines such as Monster or Workopolis.   By using sample resumes found by Google search and getting help and guidance from my cousin’s and her husband’s resumes, I built up an attractive resume, mostly representing my capabilities and experience which still gets views and return emails from agencies.

I started searching and looking for jobs for which I was bringing experience from my country, on the other hand I had no Canadian experience when searching for jobs.  By talking to agencies and consultants I noticed that whatever experience I brought form back home can hardly be counted on to give me a job in the same filed.  Then I encountered the fact that I didn’t have enough communication skills to challenge and response an interviewer or employer.

So I decided to attend the “HRDC employment resources centre” workshops and classes where any person can attend who lives in Canada.  These daily classes and workshops helped me to get enough self-confident to face an interviewer/employer and sell my qualifications; classes could include workshops for Self-Marketing, Networking, How To Prepare for an Interview, what they called "soft skills".

Besides attending part time HR classes, I was modifying and posting my resumes for different or similar jobs to different companies, posting and posting, about 10 to 12 jobs a day (5 hrs a day for 75 days), if you count the number of jobs I posted, they returned only 7 real interviews which I attend and I got my first job in IT in Canada on my 7th interview. That was a real excitement for such a FOB getting his first job, in IT, after 2.5 months.

At first when I started posting resumes although I was looking for the same type of job I was doing back in my country, such as system administration I stopped posting jobs for those high grade jobs, like Network, Firewall, or System Engineers. It was just waist of time!!!- If I am new to Canada (FOB) and have no working experience then the quicksets way to get in to this field is to applying for lower grade jobs such as Technical Support or Help Desk… don’t go for Network or system… they won’t let you in as they don’t know what you did back in your home!

Yes, yes, if you know everything then you can be an infrastructure consultant!  So for me I should say, 3 big reasons helped my getting an IT spot somewhere in this big sea so quickly were:

  1. Could be that I was lucky the Market start growing in fall 2005 and still is!
  2. Also I aimed and planned to come to CA for only working in IT, in any field related to my experience regardless of the pros and cons of immigration! Does it worth or Not! I Didn’t care! I was just looking to feel the IT in North America and get a job and grow! I came for 128 bit-encryption so to speak!””
  3. Again as I said my MCSE was one of the main reasons that I believe it helped me survive in my Career. Thanks to Billy!

You know, they could trust everything I said I my resume, and at the end of the day I think they trusted Microsoft and me representing an MCSE skills.  Now I believe in getting certified and writing exams!

Not only I got certified but I also learned valuable enough hands-on-experiences, competitive skills that affect the employer decision when they are turning a contractor to full-time employee! I know, some big guys are doing only contracts! I am not there yet! And I could indirectly notice that recruiters for even large organizations will ask a copy of applicant’s Certification! I was okay with that! Surprise!

Since 2005 when I came to Canada I have changed jobs three times.  First a 6th months contract, at OPG, supporting Windows XP after migrated from NT 4.0.  Then another 6th month contract, Help Desk, at financial Institute (supporting Towers). This turned into a permanent position at a  financial Institute, Middle line- supporting branches in Canada and the US.  I still need to get more experience and get to know more people instead of dreaming to become a big boss over night!

My tips from what I have learned to those who are new to Canada are:

  • If you think you can take more and longer steps that what I did, then apply for high level positions jobs in small companies only; chances are you get the jobs faster.
  • If you like to stay with one company and gradually upgrading your certifications and knowledge, then it would be great to apply and get a job even in low level grade or position in a large, enterprise network, such as Banks, Government, Service Providers, big hardware software vendors.; you will get well-experiences over time.
  • Don’t send the same look and feel resumes to different companies; revise your resume especially when applying for big jobs at well-known organizations or companies.
  • Any employer, who reviews the resumes online, will get the first impression by taking a glance at applicant’s resume first time they observe it online, regardless of the changes they applicant will make later! Prepare your resume so that it can be well-noticeable in 1 minutes, which is the average time an employer spends time on each resume they find in Monster or Workoplis job engines, unless a resume truly satisfies the employers requirements.

Not to forget to mention that attending the Microsoft TechNet events, TASK events and joining different community groups will help everyone (including newcomers) to get to know intelligent characters and experienced IT advisors who have been a lots of help to me learning and getting guide and advises form!

Thanks to everyone!

Sam

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Sam Serajian is a Help Desk Analyst at a one of the big five Canadian banks.  He moved to Canada from the Middle East in 2005 and has been working on upgrading his skills and moving up the ladder within his organization.  His current technology interests are "to learn more about SMS, Exchange, and to strengthen my knowledge in ISA"

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