Immigration and Professional Transitions: Choosing local credentials

2014-2015 Issue 2


Few would be surprised to know that when transitioning into a new labour market, local credentials can be an asset.

“It’s not always necessary, but it helps,” says Emilie Nketiah, the Career and Transition Advisor at McGill’s School of Continuing Studies. “It says, ‘I’ve been here for a while, I understand the market, and I can adapt.’ Employers will have more confidence in your ability to navigate the workplace culture in Canada and Quebec.”

Many transitioning to Montreal’s labour market are eager to earn their local credentials on the job; in other words, they would like to transition directly into the job market. But there may be a gap between a person’s current experience and the needs of potential employers. “You may need to work on your resume,” says Emilie, “or perhaps you’re simply need to offer employers something familiar. If so, earning local credentials can help.”

But when there’s so many options to choose from – online courses, credit courses, and part-time workshops, to name a few – how do you know what’s right for you?


“Be strategic,” says Emilie. “Someone came to me and said ‘My friend told me to take a marketing course and I’ll get a job.’ That simply doesn’t work.” Instead, ask yourself a few questions to help you get started:


1 – What are you working towards?

“First you need a goal; then you can plan the best way to get there. Pinpoint the job, career or industry you want. Then you can assess your gaps and strong points.”


2 – How does it compliment my current experience and education?

“You may be looking to either continue on your current career path, or transition into something new. Either way, your previous experience could help you get a jumpstart.” If you already have a degree in marketing, and you’re looking to continue in the same field, you may not necessarily need another marketing degree. Instead, you could complement it with a writing course or a communications certificate. Now you have expertise in both subjects, and that can get you through the door.


3 – How will it help me get better at the job I want?

“When you’re evaluating your options, ask yourself how each makes you a better candidate,” says Emilie. “Does it fill a gap you’re currently missing? Or does it compliment your existing skills? How can it help me improve at the job I want?”


4 – How is it relevant in this local job market?

“Do the research, and weigh the benefits,” says Emilie. “Make sure whatever you choose has value, and can get you where you want to go. Someone simply telling you what to do is not a good enough reason.”


Whatever you choose, its purpose is to “allow you to start a conversation, or be invited in to a conversation.” That’s when you’ll have the change to explain your career path, your choices and how they connect to your potential employer. It can get you in the door, and help you stay there.

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