Immigration and Professional Transitions: Local Credentials

2013-2014 Issue 2

Our previous posts in this series have already discussed the importance of research, planning, and introspection in order to have a realistic action plan to reach your career objectives.

We suggested drawing a roadmap, and highlighted the importance of language in successfully integrating into Montreal culture.

The next step is evaluating your professional credentials. Because all newly-arrived Montrealers’ internationally-acquired skills have been approved by the government prior to their arrival, many are surprised when they encounter obstacles in getting their credentials recognized locally.

“There is another step in completing a successful career transition in Canada,” says Maia Korotkina, Career and Transition Advisor at McGill University School of Continuing Studies. “Employers tend to favour local diplomas and experience because their perception of risk is heightened every time they move away from something they know. They want something familiar, a local reference, a brand they can trust.” That means earning local credentials, through either work experience or education.

Both provide extensive benefits, such as:
1.    Validating your previously acquired qualifications
2.    Upgrading and updating your skills
3.    It’s an opportunity to get your bearings, interpret the local work culture, understand employer expectations and expand your professional network
4.    You’re conforming to Canada’s work culture, which encourages continuing education and lifelong learning

It’s a process Sorana Gyorgy has successfully navigated. Raised in Romania, she earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and had six years’ experience in accounting before immigrating to Canada. When she arrived in Montreal she enrolled in the Diploma in Accounting program at the McGill University School of Continuing Studies. “If I had come with my Romanian qualifications I would not be able to pass as an accounting technician in Canada,” says Sorana. “By enrolling in school I upgraded my education and my career opportunities.”

Soon after completing the program, she received a job offer with PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada. “It’s thanks to McGill that I have something that resonates with Canadian employers.”

Getting a local name on your resume, through either education or work experience, “provides potential employers with something they can trust, and allows your candidacies to land on more attentive ears,” says Korotkina.

After that, the next step is expanding your business network. Cultivating connections with like-minded professionals is yet another way to reduce perceived risk among potential employers, which makes them an important asset and a gateway to countless new opportunities. Look out for next month’s post, which will discuss networking in more detail.


McGill University School of Continuing Studies offers credit courses and programs, as well as short courses, workshops and certificates. Please visit their website for an outline of upcoming sessions.

This article is available in Spanish on Noticias MontrealInmigración y transición profesional: Credenciales locales

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