Calgary , Canada

Calgary’s Employment Forums Go Face-to-Face

City of Calgary

October 20, 2011

Bringing the city's hiring managers face-to-face with immigrant job-seekers

Many immigrants who come to Canada want to work for municipalities because government jobs are held in high regard in their countries of origin, says Cheryl Goldsmith, Human Resources Advisor at the City of Calgary.

The challenge is to ensure those who are enthusiastically applying to work at the City are a good match for the jobs, she says.

To that end, Goldsmith and her colleagues partnered with the Immigrant Sector Council of Calgary to establish the Immigrant Employment Partnership Project. The project’s mandate is to “promote employment for newcomers and other immigrant stakeholders in Calgary, and to educate these groups about the careers available with The City of Calgary,” says Goldsmith.

One-stop shop for skilled immigrants

The project has been an outstanding success. This is partly due to the emphasis on employment forums — a “one-stop shop” for new Canadian professionals interested in a career with the City.

Typically, each forum features direct interaction with City of Calgary hiring managers. The forum begins with a general presentation on the recruitment process, followed by individual hiring managers presenting information on how their profession is practiced within the municipality. During these programs, the managers discuss what types of jobs are available, as well as what qualifications and qualities they’re looking for.

Finally, the managers sit down one-on-one with the immigrants, who will get a chance to ask questions. “This is valued as one of the best parts of the forum,” says Goldsmith.

She cites the work of the Immigrant Sector Council of Calgary in helping to co-ordinate the agencies to work with the City at these forums. “We always make sure to keep a balanced focus on our partners in the immigrant employment and settlement sector,” she says.

Employer forums on the horizon

In the past, the forums have focused on the immigrant professionals and immigrant employment counselors. Looking ahead, the partnership hopes to also focus on employers.

An “employer forum,” says Goldsmith, would share the model of the Immigrant Employment Partnership and highlight the importance of:

  • Working as a partner: sharing the leadership and training responsibilities between the employer and the immigrant-serving agencies.
  • Sharing expertise: gaining essential knowledge from immigrant-serving agencies about interviewing immigrants and analyzing their résumés.
  • Being creative: participating in career fairs targeting immigrants and reducing barriers in electronic recruitment.

“Partnership is such a viable model because of the learning opportunities,” says Goldsmith. “Peer-to-peer and cross-sector learning has opened so many doors for the City as an employer. Our hiring processes have been greatly improved because of our partnerships.”

The upside to this multifaceted approach to immigrant recruitment has been an overall improvement in human resources services at the City of Calgary. The City now has International Qualifications Assessment Services guides available online, which allows both HR and hiring managers to quickly check international credentials.

“At present, there is a much higher internal awareness of how international credentials factor into the hiring process,” says Goldsmith. “Before this information was provided on our intranet, résumés with such credentials might have been screened out.”

The City of Calgary has more than 14,000 employees.


Making it Work for You:

  • Educating immigrant employment agencies about your organization’s labour needs and recruitment and screening process allows them to put forward more appropriate and prepared candidates.
  • Hosting a forum that brings together several immigrant serving agencies allows immigrants access to the agencies and the employer all at the same time
  • Posting links to international qualifications assessment and education guides on the organization’s careers site allows both candidates and human resources to quickly check international credentials.

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