How studying ‘soft skills’ helped an immigrant get the perfect job

posted on January 14, 2014

By Jared Lindzon, the Globe and Mail | Link to Article

By Jared Lindzon, the Globe and Mail | Link to Article

When Luiss Zaharia moved to Canada in 2002, she knew that she would have to work her way up the corporate ladder, but she never imagined that it would be so difficult to find a career that matched her qualifications.

In her native Romania, she worked at Bancpost, a Bucharest-based bank, where she held a post equivalent to vice-president of operations. Though she made only about $400 a month and struggled to get by financially, she had an MBA in banking and stock exchange management, and managed eight of the bank’s branches.

he certainly had the know-how, she thought, for a job in Canada’s financial services sector. When she went to interviews in her field, however, hiring managers would turn her away, saying she did not have enough Canadian experience.

“I said ‘I’m so sorry, I don’t know what is different in Canada. A cheque is a cheque everywhere in the world, a payment is a payment everywhere in the world, a deposit is a deposit – it’s nothing different.’ ”

After a series of odd jobs, she finally landed a co-op placement at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, followed by a data entry position with AGF Trust during the 2004 RRSP season. That led to a position as a mortgage officer, followed by a promotion in 2006 to a supervisory position. But four years later, Ms. Zaharia felt stuck in that role, unable to advance.

“I knew that I had to work hard – I’ve worked hard, and I still have to work hard – but I was also aware that it may be something more, and I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was,” she said.