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December 27, 2017

How to Be a Successful Immigrant

It is not easy to settle down in a new country. You have to learn the norms, culture, and language, adjust to the weather, find a place to live and most importantly find a career to sustain yourself financially. But the most important part is to understand that it will take time to settle down. At times you will feel like throwing the towel and going back but let me tell you if you do the right things and stick it out then it’s going to be worth it. Remember it’s a journey and you are in it for the long run.

There are thousands of success stories out there which means if you do what successful immigrants did and avoid the mistakes of unsuccessful immigrants then you will be a success as well.

First thing first: The Risk is not understanding the risk

We all know to a certain extent that settling into a new country is not going to be easy, but the million dollar question is "do you really understand the risks involved". It's only by knowing the risks that you will be able to mitigate them as in this case the saying "what you do not know cannot hurt you" does not apply. So what are the risks?

  1. You will lose your social support network. Most of your friends and family will be left behind. This means that you will feel lonely. You will not have friends to go out with. You will not find a shoulder to cry on. There would be days where you will be wishing just to have someone to talk to. The time difference with your homeland will slowly make it impossible to stay in touch with your loved ones and your relationships back home will start to deteriorate. If you have a sweetheart back home then you will slowly realize that it's hard to keep the spark alive in a long distance relationship.

  2. You have to plan your finances. You will leave your home, vehicle and job behind. You will be starting from the scratch. The money you have will only go so far due to the exchange rate. You have to downgrade and will be facing choices that will make you uncomfortable. It will be like hitting the restart button in your life. The threat of wasting life savings and losing everything is real.

  3. The help is limited and you have to find your own way and any help you are getting might be bad advice. There are a lot of businesses and individuals who have made it their business to exploit immigrants and with limited knowledge of the system, the threat of being a victim of fraud is real.

Well considering the risks involved the stakes are very high but the risks are not there to stop you from immigrating. There are thousands of success stories and you can be one too. But these risks do demand your attention and should be given proper respect. You need to have a clear understanding of the risks and have a game plan to mitigate them.

Seek professional help: Mentor, Accountant, Lawyer and real estate agent

I strongly advise you to seek a mentor in the field of your career. The mentor should guide you in preparing a game plan of 03 months, 06 months, 01 year and 05 years. This will help you in putting your career in the fast lane. The mentor should be a successful immigrant who is a working professional and has connections in the industry which you can utilize. Please never go to a mentor whose sole bread and better is to sell some training course and put the fake experience on your resume to help you find a job. Do not take shortcuts. This will hurt you professionally.

Also, seek a good accountant and a lawyer. These professionals will charge you a fee for their services but please do not make any big decision like buying a house or a business without running through them. Make sure you get an independent professional advice and an independent appraisal of the value of the asset as well as an inspection of the property. These services are available in Canada and should be utilized. Following this advice can save you from fraud and from losing all of your life savings.

Go for a career not a job: Update skills, experience & education

You have come here to be a success and this is not going to happen if you a stuck in a minimum paying job i.e. flipping burgers, doing security, driving trucks and operating a taxi/uber. These jobs will pay the bills but nothing more.

This is why you need a career and not a job. There has to be a clear path to an upward movement. You can start at the bottom or even volunteer but it has to be a career. You must progress upward every 03 years i.e. Junior Accountant to Staff Accountant to Senior Staff Accountant to Manager to Senior Manager and finally a Partner.

But this career growth will only come if you invest in your skills, education and get the right experience. Remember spending on professional development is an investment which will give you guaranteed results. Even if you spend $60,000 on your MBA you will get it back in the first 02 years of your job, so attend all the seminars and professionals trainings that you can get your hands on.

Nobody will hire you straight out of an airplane. Canadian employers do not recognize your education and experience from your home country and this is the biggest challenge that you will face when trying to enter into a career. They will demand “Canadian Experience” and rightly so. They need to be assured that you will fit in the culture and have the understanding of the Canadian norms. Now you can put your tail between your legs and cry foul or prove to the potential employers that you are the superstar that they were looking for.

In reality, the employers are desperate to find the right talent; you just need to prove yourself through your resume, skill set and experience that you are the right person. This means updating your skill set as per Canadian market, for instance, to land a public accounting job you need to learn Quick Books, Taxprep and Caseware. You must have an accounting degree in B.Com or MBA- Accounting. You can volunteer in different accounting firms during busy tax season to get the experience.

The bottom line is you need to choose your field and focus on acquiring the skills, experience and education necessary to have a career in that field and this take effort, commitment, discipline and investment in professional development.

Work on your resume

You are represented through your resume and it is the most important and only document that will get you an interview. Canadian employers and recruiters are used to seeing resumes in a certain way that can be very different from the way resumes are written in your country.

There is software that will filter through the submitted resumes and your job is to stand out during that filtration process. I strongly recommend you to hire the services of a professional resume writer or ask a mentor to help you with resume writing. All your efforts will go down the drain if your resume is not done right.

Chose your circle of influence wisely

“The person who is going to come to pick you up from the airport is going to decide your future in Canada”. This is very true because you are going to see Canada from his point of view. He is going to project his own insecurities, limitations and belief on to you and there is a good chance you are going to accept them as you have limited knowledge.

If the person coming to pick you from the airport is doing an odd job like driving tax or operating a truck then you will end up doing the same. If he is a businessman or a professional you will become one too. So be very careful in choosing your circle of influence as this can make or break you. Please research everything on your own and seek professional and independent advice before you accept someone else realty as yours.

Integrate: Embrace the culture & build Social circle

You must embrace the culture and the norms of the Country if you want to enjoy what this country has to offer. You need to have an active social life. Join groups and clubs to find people to hang out with. Be open to discovering new things and meeting people of different cultures. Do not box yourself by making friends just from your home country. A diverse group of friends will help you cope with loneliness.

Plan your finances

The most important part is your financial planning. You must have 06 months to 01 year of living expenses under your belt. The below chart will give you an idea of monthly expenses based on single person

Rent: $600 to $1,200

Food: $600 to $900

Car: $500

Mobile: $65

Internet: $65

Shopping: $100

Entertainment: $200

Medical: $100

You can see that based on the above chart your monthly expense is around $2,500 to $3,000 (Yearly $35,000 Approx) and if you are thinking that you will reduce your expenses then let me tell you that you are wrong.

If you decide not to have a car then you are limiting your mobility and it will be hard to go out and meet people and do job hunt. You will be wasting a lot of time on public transport and will be limited by public transit access points. Similarly reduction in your mobile and entertainment expense will only limit your chances of making connections and seeking future opportunities. If you are limiting your budget then you are limiting your chances of progress. The above budget is bare minimum so plan your finances wisely as it holds the key to your success.

Buy a car and get the driving license

It is very tempting not to buy a car especially if you are living downtown Toronto, but without a car, your mobility is very limited. What if you have to go to an interview in another city or a senior manager replied to your email and would love to meet you today. In every interview, you will be asked about driving license and your mode of transportation. Employers want to make sure that you will be able to make it to the work without any hitch.

I strongly believe that having a car open ups the geographical area for you to hunt for opportunities. You should open to a job in the whole of GTA and even beyond and this is only possible if your mobility is not limited


Salman Rundhawa

Salman has a strong desire to help others succeed and believe in passing on the knowledge. He likes to mentor others and wish to play part in other people success.
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