SWOT Your Way to a Job in Canada
What do the following have in common: dry-cleaning, budget motels, doughnut shops, care giving, nail salons, and clothing/garments?
When you enter into a new country you undoubtedly face obstacles. After all, you are different from most of the people in that country. Different how? You were raised in a different cultural environment and, therefore, you probably think about things differently. You are accustomed to the laws, customs, norms, rules, traditions, and attitudes of the country that you are coming from. Much research has been done on cultural differences and it has been found that there actually are significant differences between people from different countries.
For an example of this research, please click on - how Indians differ from Canadians.
Do these realities necessarily mean that 1st generation immigrants are doomed to being average at best? The vast majority of people seem to assume that this is the case. After all, such differences make it difficult to assimilate, to adapt to new workplace cultures, to fit in socially, and to operate on the same wavelength as most people in the destination country. This assumption, however, is incorrect. In fact, not only is it incorrect, the opposite can often prove true: such differences actually provide a substantial advantage. How can this possibly be the case?
To really understand and appreciate why this is the case, a quick lesson in one facet of business strategy and economics 101 is in order. One popular decision-making model taught in strategy classes is the SWOT model: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. A brief summary of the model might be as follows: to increase the likelihood of your success, determine your strengths and capitalize on them, outline your weaknesses and avoid being crippled by them, uncover the opportunities and take advantage of them, and discover the threats and avoid them.
In order for a particular factor or characteristic to actually be a strength, it is necessary for it to be unique or at least rare. If you are doing the exact same thing that others are doing then the value of that thing diminishes. If, on the other hand, you are doing something that people find desirable or useful, and others are not doing it, then whatever it is that you are doing will be valued highly. In other words, rarity signals value.
How does all this relate to cultural differences being an advantage? Well, if you are a newcomer in a country think about the possible strengths that you possess which you gained as a result of being raised in a different culture. Since these strengths were developed in another country, they are likely going to be rare in the new country and, as a result, will be valuable.
You can take things to the next level by then asking yourself, what opportunities exist in the new country which will allow you to take advantage of your strengths? By doing this you will considerably increase your chances of success.
How can you determine your strengths and where best to locate opportunities? One way to start is through our Uniivaa Job Eligibility Tool (at www.uniivaa.com). Included in the report that we send to our users is, among other things, a list of the top three cities in which to find a job for your particular profession. It is within these cities that your particular skills can be the most valued because it is in these cities that there is a substantial need for and, often a shortage of, people with your professional background. It makes sense to channel your strengths into the geographic regions which have the greatest need for those particular skills.
So what are some examples of immigrants who, despite having come to a new country, were nevertheless able to attain the highest levels of success? To illustrate, we provide two examples showing how an Indian and a Filipino immigrant succeeded.
Aditya Jha was born in Nepal, grew up in India, and came to Canada in 1994. He was educated in math and computer science in India. Upon coming to Canada he began to work with Bell Canada, a major Canadian corporation. After his time at Bell Canada he founded a software company, Isopia Inc., which was subsequently acquired by Sun Microsystems for over $100 million. After this success he acquired several other businesses including a confectionary manufacturing business.
Aditya subsequently became a major Canadian philanthropist. He has made significant donations to various educational and humanitarian institutions. In 2012 he became a member of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honour awarded to recognize a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.
Josie Natori was born in the Philippines. She immigrated to the United States in 1964 and studied economics at Manhattanville College. After graduating she worked on Wall Street at Merill Lynch and quickly rose up the corporate ladder to become the first ever female vice-president in investment banking.
After her career on Wall Street, Josie decided to take the entrepreneurial route. She considered several options including opening up a McDonald’s franchise and reproducing antique furniture. Ultimately, however, she decided to go into the fashion industry and in 1977 started a company call The Natori Company.
She built up the company and it now sells lingerie, sleepwear, loungewear, underwear, and various other high end women’s fashion. The company is also in the home furnishings and perfume industries. Her products are now sold in many countries around the world. Josie has received multiple awards and is a highly successful and well-respected figure in the fashion industry.
So now to return to the question posed at the outset. The thing that all of these seemingly random fields have in common is that each of the industries listed was at one time or another dominated by certain ethnic immigrant groups. Various immigrant groups within these industries were able to thrive despite the difficulties they faced.
In the case of dry-cleaning in America, Koreans have dominated the field. Many budget motels have been established, managed, and owned by Indian-Americans. Doughnut shops have very often been owned and run by Cambodians in America. Immigrants from El Salvador have been a large force in the care giving sector. Nail salons in America are dominated by the Vietnamese. Clothing and garments were, at the turn of the 20th century largely owned by Jewish entrepreneurs and workers who emigrated from Europe to America at that time.
It would be untrue to say simply that making it in a new country is easy. It clearly is not. However, there are many possibilities awaiting those who put in the time and effort to figure out what the real opportunities are and how to apply their strengths to grasp those opportunities.