Adrian Wyld/canadian press


Sarah Khoo, from Malaysia, speaks with Edward Matti from the Investors Group during a job fair in Toronto.


Armed with resumés, hundreds of eager job seekers were determined to make a good first impression at a job fair aimed at connecting new Canadians and visible minorities with prospective employers.

Among the swarms of hopefuls was Sarah Khoo from Malaysia, who mingled with various employers on hand ranging from IKEA to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

I find these job fairs helpful because they give people an idea of what employers are looking for, said Khoo, 35, who came to Canada just three months ago.

But that doesn't mean the whole process isn't frustrating, said Khoo, who has experience in legal and finance administration and recently finished her MBA from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.

While she has yet to find a job that suits her qualifications, Khoo said she is willing to wait for work that makes good use of her skills even if it means working her way up in a company.

The one-day fair was organized by the North American Strategizing Institute, a company that focuses on intellectual and economic growth for Canada primarily by empowering new Canadians and visible minorities. The institute holds a number of such diversity fairs in Toronto each year and has had similar events in other cities, including Vancouver, Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary.

Kisha Elliston, one of the organizers, said the idea is to provide newcomers who are disenchanted by their job search with a chance to network, and to encourage employers to make workplace diversity a priority.

Our goal is to help connect people to their future employer, she said. Many newcomers are already struggling with language skills, a new culture and have no idea where to turn or how to start, so that is where we come in.

But she admits despite such venues, newcomers often face insurmountable challenges when they delve into the cutthroat working world.

Edward Matti, a regional director with IG Investors Group, a financial consulting company, understands the frustrations felt by those handing him their resumés.

He said it wasn't long ago when he was a newcomer to Canada and was looking for any opportunity to get his foot in the job market door.

I am a new Canadian, or was 17-18 years ago, said Matti, who came to Canada from the United Arab Emirates. And I realized that your education and past experience does count for a lot, so part of the reason I like coming to job fairs is to let people know that they can achieve their goals with little or no Canadian experience.