One on One: Helping Newcomers Land a Job

Working with a mentor can be a huge boost to recently arrived immigrants looking for work. New research shows mentoring can dramatically improve the employment prospects of immigrants and sharply boost their incomes.

By Richard Blackwell, The Globe and Mail

When architect Eunice Rivera Gracia arrived in Toronto from Germany six months ago, she went to various job assistance workshops but didn’t feel she was really prepared to jump into Canada’s job market.

Then she found out about a program that matched her with a mentor – architect Eva Omes, who works for the City of Toronto. Their relationship gave her the contacts and confidence to start applying for jobs.

It was the one-on-one nature of the mentoring process that made the difference, said Ms. Rivera Gracia, who was born and grew up in Mexico, but then worked in Germany for nine years.

The help in making contacts and networking was particularly crucial, she said. “In the first week, [my mentor] took me to events and introduced me to lots of people.”

When it came time for a job interview, Ms. Omes helped her choose an outfit for the occasion, tweak her résumé, and gave her advice about how to respond to questions.

“She was my coach and my therapist,” said Ms. Rivera Gracia, who was successful in the interview and got the job at a company that provides engineering services to telephone companies.

Working with a mentor can be a huge boost to recently arrived immigrants looking for work. New research shows mentoring can dramatically improve the employment prospects of immigrants and sharply boost their incomes, if the mentor works in the same field.

Among 292 immigrants who responded to a survey conducted for ALLIES, an arm of Toronto-based immigration and diversity think tank Maytree Foundation, unemployment rates plunged from 73 per cent at the time their mentoring program began, to 19 per cent a year later.

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