#careerCongratulations! You have just landed your first job in Canada. Now what? No matter what kind of work you do, your main objective is to keep it and do it well.

Below are some tips and strategies to help you get through your first day moving forward.

1. First, and most importantly, don’t panic! Take a deep breath and take things in one step at a time. This is not contest, remember that the fact that you got hired shows that the employer already trusts you and knows you have what it takes to succeed in your work.

 2. Needless to say, it is important to report to work on time. Tardiness is one of the top reasons for termination. Anticipate leaving earlier to take into account traffic congestion, bus lateness or poor weather conditions.

 3. Be receptive to learning. Even as an experienced worker, every company has its own way of operating, learn the rules and unwritten informal “policies.” Demonstrate to your new employer you are eager to learn and not afraid of admitting to what you don’t know.

4. Be fully present. That means to be actively engaged by listening, seeing, observing and following instructions. Take lots of notes and ASK QUESTIONS!

5. Do not compare yourself to others. You are not in competition with your coworkers. Recognize that for a while, you may not be able to keep up with other staff. Your focus is to gain knowledge and experience.

6. Focus on progress, not on perfection. Measure your progress little by little. Success does not always transpire immediately. Set SMART goals for yourself that are specific, measurable, reasonable, and time bound based on your current circumstances and can be measured and performed concretely.

7. Establish good relationships with your boss, teammates and other staff members. You will be spending a lot of time with your new team; therefore, it is important that the team can work well together. Getting along with others is an important aspect of keeping your job.

8. Take the time to talk with your colleagues and ask questions about their roles and responsibilities in the business. This will also help with identifying the go-to person when you have concerns

9. Be a team player. Here are some suggestions to becoming a better team player:

  • Offer assistance to a co-worker with a difficult task or project
  • Volunteer to do a task that that no one is interested in doing
  • Share with your co-workers a positive comment that you heard about them. Praise them for a job well done or a positive quality you noticed in them
  • Show an appreciate for differences in individuals in your team, treat them with respect as you would treat your superiors
  • Share the credit of your successes
  • Avoid gossip and rumors. Change the subject when a co-worker complains about an individual or boss. If you cannot say anything positive, best not to say anything.
  • Dealing with Criticism
    • When it is constructive criticism: Smile and say “Thank you!”
    • When it is negative criticism:
      • Deal with the situation at hand and do not focus on the previous incident
      • Try to separate the incident/situation’s facts from your emotions. Listen to suggestions for possible solutions
      • Calm yourself before responding. Resist the temptation to be defensive
      • Be open to listening and discussing alternatives on how to improve in the future
      • Take care of yourself. A lot of new changes can be overwhelming and stressful. Try to remain calm and find ways to relax and embrace the process. Be patient and give yourself time to learn the new job.
Work Cited:
Workshop materials from our Job Retention Workshop
                        “Top Ten Reasons for Termination” by Ann Vessels
                        “Job Retention Strategies” by Frank Girard
                        “I’ve Got a Job, How do I Keep It Guide” – Employment Ontario

Tule Tran, Employment Counsellor

Skills Connect for Immigrants Program at Back in Motion







March 16, 2016 at 6:57 pm Leave a comment

Why is Good Customer Service Important?

Do you own your own business or are you someone who has a job that involves working directly with clients or customers?

As I go out and about to conduct my personal business, shop for what I need in grocery stores, clothing stores, hardware stores and others, I am often frustrated by the poor customer service or complete lack thereof. I have walked out of businesses where employees have been too busy with a personal conversation to even acknowledge my presence let alone offer to assist. There is one fast food restaurant that I will never return to because the person behind the counter never once made eye contact with me let alone smile at me and when my order was ready and placed in a bag it was thrown in my general direction, not handed to me. We ALL have stories of unsatisfactory experiences and some much more serious than the examples I have given.

Group of Diverse Business Colleagues Enjoying Success

Why is good customer service important?

It has been suggested that one occurrence of really bad customer service can be more damaging than a lengthy period of mediocre customer service.

A survey done by American Express in 2014 revealed that:
While 46% of consumers say they always tell others about good service experiences, an even greater number say they talk about poor service experiences. In fact, 60% said they always share the bad ones, and they tell nearly three times as many people (an average of 21 people vs. 8 people).

Remember that some consumers will use social media to ‘spread the word’ so the effects are realistically more far reaching that the numbers above would suggest.

The American Marketing Association completed a recent study in which 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing.

Of course there are some customers who will never be happy no matter what you do. However, it is in the best interest of every business owner aiming for success through repeat business from loyal customers and wants to attract new business through positive, word of mouth advertising, to ensure that employees are thoroughly aware of the importance of good customer service and are well trained in how to deliver it. If you are the one providing the service, focus on the customer. Is there an opportunity for you to go above and beyond the usual level of service? Do it!! It will ensure your employer’s success and make you a valued employee.

So what does good service look like?

1. Every customer should be greeted with a smile. Make customers feel welcome. If doing business over the phone, smile anyway, it comes through in your voice.
2. Don’t just aim to make a sale, complete a transaction or make a deal. Find out what that customer or client really needs and provide information or service that caters to that need, not yours.
3. Angry customer? Listen. Carefully. Sometimes all an angry or upset customer really needs is for someone to listen to and acknowledge their concerns. Then discuss potential solutions.
4. Follow THROUGH with what you promise to do.
5. Follow UP to ensure satisfaction.

Regardless of how great your product or service is, what will keep customers coming back is the interaction they have with the employees of the company they are doing business with. Encourage feedback from your customers and stay diligent in seeking new ways to make those customers happy!

Karen Garland,

Employment Counsellor
Skills Connect for Immigrants Program – Back in Motion

February 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm 1 comment

Just Smile!

“Smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone.” (Stanley Gordon West)
Have you ever tried to walk around a park and keep track of how many people smile at you if you smile? Yes, that’s right; those numbers do change right away if you don’t smile.


Many have tried to determine if smiling is contagious and fairly recent research in neuroimaging says yes, it is. Smiling activates the release of neuropeptides, tiny molecules that fight off our stress (1). Imagine our neurons are using them as communication officers, whole armies of them!
It looks like each time we smile, we throw a little feel-good party for our brains! Our feel-good neurotransmitters (dopamine, endorphins, serotonin) are all on the loose (2) when we smile and that little grin will make us a bit happier in the end.

It’s true, there is magic in our smile! A simple smile can be the source of a whole happy day. It turns out, not only the world smiles with you when you smile, but it also smiles back at you. And there is more: your brain doesn’t know when you fake a smile… if you force yourself to smile or laugh, you’ll be doing it for real before you know it. As a bonus, you’ll make those around you smile as well. We all know that we look better when we smile. My son was only 4 when he told me: “mom, never look in the mirror when you’re upset” and I asked “why?” “Because you might get scared” he said.

There are studies showing that when we smile we’re viewed as eye-catching, peaceful, and open. The other day I saw on Facebook a Disney picture of Donald Duck saying “Since I get no attention when I’m being sad, I’ve decided to smile all the time and annoy everyone with my happiness!” Yet sometimes is not that easy to smile, is it? What causes a smile?

We smile when we manage to accept the surrounding reality and create a sense of balance in our spiritual inner world. We smile when we feel loved and appreciated by those around us. We smile when we feel a sense of achievement after completing a hard task.
Yes, we should also smile when people do things is a different way, as that should remind us of the beauty that lays within diversity. Agree to disagree and smile. I know I should smile when I happen to brush my teeth right after my husband in the morning, and find the toothpaste tube squeezed in the most peculiar ways… it’s like there are some kind of passionate dialogues happening in the morning between those two. And I should smile when my son spills orange juice on the freshly mopped kitchen floor. I should smile when I feel hopeless in front of a sophisticated financial projection, because there sure are millions of people feeling powerful and happy right at the same moment… and because we cannot have it all.

It takes lots of power and wisdom to arrive at the level of acceptance and gratitude that generates an unremitting smile on our faces. Reminds me of my grandma. And then our wrinkles look like a smile too. Our smile is the most important and one of the best accessories we need to wear with all of our outfits! No matter the color, no matter the style.

Going to an interview? To an important meeting? Make sure you’ve got your smile right. If for some of us smiling comes quite natural, for many others does not. This may go back to our cultural background or maybe it’s just a trait of our character. So check your grin. When we’ve decided upon creating a certain image, we’re looking at our outfit, at our body language, at our speaking skills… but we should definitely consider our smile as part of this equation.

Just remember: the moment you smile, there is an entire wave of changes happening in your body that makes you look good!

1. Seaward BL. Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett; 2009:258
2. R.D. (2000). Neural correlates of conscious emotional experience. In R.D. Lane & L. Nadel (Eds.), Cognitive neuroscience of emotion (pp. 345–370). New York: Oxford University Press.

Magdalena Mot
Employment Counsellor / Employer Coordinator
Skills Connect for Immigrants, Back in Motion

February 5, 2016 at 5:43 pm Leave a comment

How to Improve Communication Skills in the Workplace


Communication is undoubtedly one of the most important business skills, regardless of what industry you are in.
As an Employment Counsellor, I have worked with many highly skilled and technically savvy clients whom lack effective communication skills. Honing and developing communication skills is essential in order to understand colleagues, get the job done, and for overall successful communication in the workplace. Furthermore, effective communication allows us to articulate and express even the most undesirable or problematic content in an assertive, polite and respectful manner without severing trust and rapport with others.

Bearing in mind all the successful new Canadians I’ve been working with, I’ve selected the following tips and suggestions to help others improve workplace communication:
Practice better listening skills. Listen wholeheartedly to what the other person is saying, instead of interrupting, thinking of a response, or assuming you know what the speaker is going to say.
Do not judge. You do not have to personally like someone or agree with them in order to communicate effectively. However, you must set aside your judgment and refrain from blaming and criticizing the speaker in order to fully understand their point of view. Even the most difficult communication, when successfully carried out, can lead to improved work relationships.

Be aware of non-verbal communication and body language. Show your interest in what’s being said by making eye contact, nodding occasionally, smiling, and by keeping an open and inviting posture. Body language can speak louder than words. The way you look, listen, move, and react to another person tells them more about how you’re feeling.
Learn about communication preferences. I prefer to communicate via email, but others would rather pick up the phone, or even talk in person. Respect the person you’re trying to contact and use the method of communication they prefer. If you’ve called someone many times and always get their voicemail, but notice the person is always quick to respond to email, switch to email instead.
However, keep in mind the problem with email is that it can be difficult to determine the tone. It is easy to come across as angry and/or upset if you use too many capitals, bolds, and/or exclamation marks. Thus if you are in fact angry, take a few minutes to cool down before responding. If possible, try to communicate over the phone or in person instead.
Always proofread and use Spell Check.

Restate what your colleagues or manager says to you by repeating the important points. This shows you are actively listening and understand the content. It also gives both parties a chance to clarify any confusion before jumping into conclusions.
Effective communication is the kind of skill you must practice on an ongoing basis. Observe how others respond to your communication in order to clue in on areas for improvement. Speak to your Employment Counsellor to learn about business/workplace communication classes and Toastmasters Clubs in your community.

Becoming a competent communicator is in your hands and, based on your own priorities, your path to achieving it will be longer or shorter, it’s up to you.

Good luck!

Reena Didi
Employment Counsellor, Skills Connect for Immigrants Program
Back in Motion

December 18, 2015 at 6:46 pm Leave a comment

The Art of Leaving Phone Messages that Get Answered

woman and man shake hands_feminine_28

Communication is the key to your personal and career success. You hear it all the time, and you see it everywhere. It has somehow become one of the most overused phrases of the modern times. And yet, few pay attention to it and even fewer take the time to understand what exactly it is, how it can be broken down, what it entails and what steps are required to achieve it.


As a new immigrant, aligning your communication to the local manners is arguably the most important skill one should master. For a faster and successful integration, you need to be able to convey ideas, needs, and goals in a way that is familiar and easily accepted in your new society. There is nothing wrong with the way you communicate in your culture. The trouble is that in such a multicultural place as Canada is, you’re now up for a really tough battle as you cannot expect everyone you meet to learn your ways.


In this ever-increasing impersonal world – where emails, text messages, and social media platforms are taking over most human interaction – I still think that telephone communication remains an important skill to have; one that has proven to be very effective. An answered call remains one of the fastest ways of taking care of business. Whatever your need may be, to make or cancel an appointment, get feedback or information, you can be fast, effective, and personal by making a phone call.


The problem is not all phone calls are answered. There are times when you are faced with leaving a message or calling at a later date. If you want your message to be answered fast, follow these few simple rules:


  1. Listen to the recording and make a note of names and business hours. Call back only once and leave one clear message (calling multiple times will not shorten your waiting time).
  2. State your name slowly and clearly. Repeat it, and even spell it. The most common names can sound the same but be spelled differently and create confusion. It is the caller’s responsibility to ensure the other person gets the correct information.
  3. Leave a phone number you can be reached at. Over 40% of the received messages have no phone number to call back to. Chances are, the person at the other end does not remember your number by heart. Your message will now get to the bottom of the list, as it takes time to retrieve that number and in a fast paced environment, priorities change all the time.
  4. Do not rush through the number! Make sure you slow down, speak up and pronounce the numbers as clearly as possible! No matter how good your English is an accent can play tricks on the receiving side. Increase your chances of getting a prompt phone call back by leaving a very clear message.
  5. Give the other person a quick reason for your call. Keep in mind that a voicemail message cannot be longer than 3 minutes. Be short and to the point: “I would like to change my appointment” or “I need more information on the upcoming job fair” or “I have a couple of questions about the position advertised”. The receiver will be able to gather the information needed and offer solutions or insight in a shorter and more productive call back.
  6. Say “thank you” and smile. Try something as simple as “Thank you for your time!” Smiling affects the tone of your voice and the way words sound. Imagine your tone being the ocean and your words ships sailing this ocean. If the ocean is stormy the ships get thrown away recklessly and some may even sink… When the ocean is calm and sunny, the ships are sailing smoothly! Which message would you rather return?


Here is an example:


Start smiling!

Hi. (pause) My name is Johanna Smith. (pause) That’s J-O-H-A-N-N-A, and my last name S-M-I-T-H. (pause) I’m calling to request some information regarding the Technician position with your company. (pause) Please contact me at 123-456-7890. (pause) That’s 1-2-3 (pause) 4-5-6 (pause) 7-8-9-0. (pause) Again, this is Johanna Smith, calling about the technician position, and I’ll try you again later. (pause) Thank you for your time! (Make sure I smile) Have a great day


Hoping all your messages will be replied in no time at all, I leave you with a few more tips:

  • Be courteous at all time. An angry message will only irritate people.
  • If you are nervous, write your message down and calmly read it.
  • Leaving just a name and a number will put you down the list as there is no indication whether the matter is urgent or not
  • Finish your meal, apple or dessert, before you dial a number
  • Smile:)

Michaela Fengstad

Program / Case Assistant
Skills Connect for Immigrants Program at Back in Motion

November 21, 2015 at 12:41 am Leave a comment

Use November & December to Prepare for 2016’s Peak Hiring Period

Hiring fair

January to March of every year could be considered the Peak hiring period for most companies in North America. This is because some companies that are planning to hire new employees may decide to include this in next year’s budget and then work hard on filling these positions at the beginning of the year.
So does that mean that you should stop job-hunting now and start again in January? No, it means that you can take advantage of this slower period to prepare for the big boom of jobs coming in January.
Here are three points to focus on:
1. Make sure all your job search documents and skills are up-to-date and polished
This is the time to take a hard look at your Cover letter, Resume and Interview skills. If your cover letter and resume have not led to quality interviews over the past year then they are not working for you. If you are getting interviews but not getting job offers, then perhaps it is time to re-evaluate your answers. If this is the case, taking a refresher workshop or contacting your Employment Counselor at Skills Connect could be the necessary fix.

2. Reconnect with your Industry contacts, past classmates and friends
Remember all those great contacts you have made over the past year? Remind them you are around and still looking for a job. Use the upcoming holidays as a reason to reconnect. If any jobs you are qualified for come across their desk in the New Year, they may think of you and pass it on.

3. Register with Recruiters
If a specific Recruiter has posted many jobs you are qualified for in the past year, there is a possibility they will be getting more of these job orders come January. Take advantage of this quieter period to contact those Recruiters and ask to register with them. Often they will require an evaluation of your resume, a preliminary interview and possibly some testing.
If you are able to work on these points before the Peak hiring period in January, then you will be a few steps closer to landing your dream job!
Happy Job Hunting, Everyone!
Wanda Kusumajuda
Employment Counsellor
Skills Connect for Immigrants Program at Back in Motion

October 30, 2015 at 9:41 pm Leave a comment

The Best is yet to Come: Dream Job Came True

J.W. is an internationally trained Engineer, who came from China with over 15 years of work experience in her field. Most of this experience was gained while working at DELL (China) Co.

Like everybody else, J.W. wanted to fully utilize her knowledge and skills and to continue her profession as an Engineer in Canada. Therefore, she started to do some more research with the purpose of learning about the process of becoming a licensed Engineer in Canada.


While she was doing her online research, J.W. found out about the Skills Connect for Immigrants Program and decided to join it in October 2013.

As part of Skills Connect, J.W. participated in a series of job search related workshops, including Resume and Cover Letter Writing, Interview Preparation, The Power of Networking, and Essential Skills for Finding a Job. She was an active participant in this program and attended several industry specific events for engineers, our Clients’ Appreciation Night, has expanded her network to meet other skilled immigrants, and joined our mentorship program. She was ever so thankful for receiving, on a regular basis, related job leads and labour market information, on top of individual assistance and support in achieving her career goals in Canada.

Additionally, J.W. has been financially supported to cover for her Project Management Professional (PMP) membership, for her APICS certification exam, exam preparation and English classes. With such a hectic schedule while upgrading her skills in both Canadian workplace culture and her professional field, J.W. found that her job search results were not what she hoped for in the beginning, but she did not give up. She continued to send out job applications to employers and constantly asked for feedback on her Resumes and Cover Letters, discussing them with her Employment Counsellor and Mentorship Coach/Job Developer. After a year of hard work, she was successful in fining a position as a Hardware Support Engineer in Vancouver.

J.W. believes that she was led back to her dream job, in her profession, by doing a thorough labour market research, by upgrading her skills, by networking with others, and last but not least, by having the courage to constantly seek professional employment assistance. Pleased to continue her profession in Canada, J.W. was very satisfied with the services and supports that Skills Connect for Immigrants Program had to offer throughout her job search.
And how true and beautiful is this: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Jocelyn Tsai,
Employment Counsellor
Skills Connect for Immigrants Program at Back in Motion

October 16, 2015 at 7:13 pm Leave a comment

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