Prepare, network, and stay optimistic: Anchal’s Story

My name is Anchal Sawhney and I’m a banking professional with over 9 years of experience in customer service, building collaborative relationships, and providing innovative solutions to address clients’ concerns. I moved to Toronto in September 2018 from New Delhi, India, and have a post-graduate diploma in banking and financial support services.

This is my story.

My husband and I moved to Canada for a better quality of life — less pollution, better work-life balance, and a safe and secure environment to start a family. We took a month to settle in and then started with our job search in November. Since the holiday season was soon approaching, there were not as many opportunities available. I applied to approximately 50 jobs each month but none of them converted to an offer. 

During this time, I met many people for coffee chats and spent quality time on LinkedIn updating my profile and building connections. Networking gave me a two-fold benefit: 

  1. One of my connections informed me of a job opportunity with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and asked me to apply online using their name as a referral. That led me to an interview at RBC, and eventually my first job!  
  2. Another person I met through networking was assigned to me as a mentor by TRIEC. She helped me with mock interviews, guided me on answering interview questions, and provided tips to be successful in the workplace.

I was also fortunate enough to find a profile that precisely matched my experience in India. In my experience working with RBC thus far, I’ve observed that each individual is valued as an employee. The general belief is that the key to providing better customer service is to treat your employees well. They will in turn value the customers making it a win-win situation for both. 

I spent a lot of time in the initial months networking and attending workshops. Here’s my advice on making the most out of them:

  • Use networking sessions to learn people’s success stories, understand their backgrounds, workplace culture, and the specific skills needed to grow in your field of work. Build relationships; the ‘hidden job market’ in Canada can only be accessed through referrals and networking.
  • Attending workshops hosted by community centres and settlement agencies may help you in:
    • Navigating potential alternate careers by leveraging your transferable skills: The beauty of the Canadian job market is that your skills can be applied to any field. 
    • Getting the basics such as resumes and cover letters right: The resume clinic hosted by Arrive helped me craft my resume as per the Canadian format and also provided guidance in answering interview questions.

If you’re a newcomer in Canada, I recommend:

  • Preparing an elevator pitch. Have a story and a personal brand that you can showcase. 
  • Focusing on soft skills. They’re integral to the job application process and constitute what’s popularly termed as ‘Canadian work experience.’
  • Preparing well for the interview. Research the company, their values, and vision. 
  • Taking feedback from recruiters constructively. It will help you perform better in future interviews.
  • Sharing thank you notes. It is considered good practice to send them to recruiters and hiring managers after the interview. 
  • Visiting libraries and getting a library card. Libraries hold various helpful sessions for newcomers related to healthcare, banking, finance etc. Take advantage of them!
  • Using LinkedIn to network with people. Don’t let the response rate disappoint you; be persistent and follow-up. In my initial attempts, I contacted about 30 people and only 5 agreed to meet! However, 1 of those 5 people was the head of the banking division at a leading bank!

When the going gets tough, don’t be disappointed. Keep yourself busy, attend networking events, and talk to people; it will help you stay optimistic and eventually help you find a suitable opportunity.