Q: Hi Jill. I’m a recent college graduate with international student status, applying for an accounting position. I’ve had several interviews with agencies and employers who are all very interested, until they hear that I have international status. No one wants the hassle or takes me seriously because I’m only limited to a year of employment. How can I increase my chances of finding a good job?



A: I recommend you have a one-on-one with a career counsellor through Human Resources & Social Development Canada (www.hrsdc.gc.ca).


Instead of going through the frustrating process of several interviews only to be turned down when you mention your status, you might want to connect with an agency that can direct you to employers who are familiar with and encourage hiring of international students in your position. You should also checked out Service Canada Job Bank (www.jobbank.gc.ca).

TRIEC Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (www.triec.ca) might be another great resource as they’ve got a mentorship program where they match new immigrants with professionals in their field. This can lead to the opportunities you need for Canadian work experience. I would also recommend you visit www.hireimmigrants.ca. It’s a site where you can learn more about what is being done to help Canadian employers learn how to better recruit, retain and promote skilled immigrants. Your best step is to know for sure all your legal rights and restrictions within your international status before job hunting. Good luck.

Q: I was recently let go from my job but the good news is my boss and I still have a great professional relationship. Is it still reasonable on my end to ask him for a letter of reference?

A: You should certainly tread lightly on this one. Since you haven’t mentioned the specific grounds of your dismissal, but you have mentioned the relationship is still amicable, I’d suggest still requesting a letter of reference.

However, you’ve got to use your common sense here. What you might request instead is a very specific letter of reference outlining only the skills or characteristics you know you really excelled at on the job. For instance, if you were let go because of your inability to multi-task on the job you certainly wouldn’t be expecting (nor requesting) a letter of reference raving about your excellent time management skills.

Essentially, if you are going to request this from him you must first have a serious discussion with your former boss. Be sure that you are completely clear on what he will and won’t say on your behalf because the last thing you’d need is for another potential employer to read the letter, give him a call only to uncover all the hidden skeletons.

Before you even request the formal reference letter, you might even want to casually ask your boss if he’d consider being a phone reference should you need one in the near future. In either case, you know the particulars of your dismissal and must keep that in perspective when asking for any favours from his end.

Jill Andrew — CYW, BA, BA (Hons.), BEd. Please include your full name, address and telephone number when e-mailing. All letters are subject to publication.


jill’s tip of the week

Everyone needs a personal day off every now and then, but some employers aren't always as empathetic as we’d like them to be about this. Always keep a record of your overtime — especially overtime you weren’t formally requested to do but did just to 'keep ahead' of your workload. When you need to take personal time, and your boss seems a little reserved, now is a great time to show them all the fruits of those additional hours you’ve completed.