An immigrant (newcomer) goes to a job interview in Toronto

 

Let’s get this cleared first: I don’t drive for Uber full-time anymore. I started as to try something new and you can’t understand a business unless you see it from the inside. Also, the idea of writing flash stories under the collective name The Journal of an Uber Driver was one of the drivers (pardon the pun) for this enterprise. It’s important because now, I’m mostly going to job interviews trying to find the perfect contract gig. I have quite a lot of firsthand experience with the tribulations of finding a job in Toronto. The story follows:

This morning, after I satisfied my addiction for Chinese buns, with a full stomach and the happier disposition that comes with it, I started the Uber app. First ride was a gentleman from my neighborhood I get to drive twice a week around 10 a.m. when he goes to his doctor appointment. The second was a young man in his thirties going towards an offices area in Brampton for a job interview. Easy guess: his voice was shaking a little, the suit and tie. During the conversation I got confirmation of the rest of my assumptions: three months old immigrant, fresh off the plane. It takes one to know one. I was in his shoes not a long time ago.

We started talking and soon it became a déjà vu.  He applied for many of jobs, willing to start lower than his experience and qualifications could provide. Unlike me, he felt a relief and considers a lucky break the part about diversity in online job application. Those four magic questions:

  1. Do you consider yourself to be an Aboriginal Person?
  2. Do you consider yourself to be a member of a visible minority?
  3. Do you consider yourself to be a person with a Disability?
  4. Gender?

This is a long discussion. I was never decided on how or if I you should answer those questions. I find the questions useful, but I also think it should be a better way to manage diversity.

When he voiced his concern for the objection he got from a number of recruiters about his “Canadian work experience”, I remember my experience with it and started to boil on the inside.

Being an immigrant it’s not easy no matter your work experience. People are people and you’ll get a lot of shit from some recruiters as newcomer in Canada. First time when a recruiter told me that dreaded sentence was after just three weeks in Canada. I looked at her as you will look to somebody that humiliates you just because she has the power to do so. I couldn’t fathom the idea that she didn’t read the first sentence from my CV where I specifically mentioned “date of arrival in Canada as a permanent resident”. Unless she didn’t know basic math leading to a simple deduction, the other explanation was that she did it on purpose. I explained that I worked and studied in multinational/multicultural environments and brought detailed arguments with real life examples to counter that affirmation. Nothing changed. It hurt, but I smiled and said: “Thank you for your feedback”.

There were other unpleasant situations not worth talking about. What’s worth mentioning was another recruiter that also told me I don’t have Canadian work experience, a year later, and then looked me in the eyes. By that moment I was satiated with this bullshit line and automatically thanked and left. Analyzing his body language after the meeting I realized that I was wrong, and I missed an opportunity. His nonverbal cues were everywhere screaming at me: “Prove me wrong. Tell me you want this job and you’ll work hard and your motivation will overcome this issue of Canadian work experience.”

It was right there in my face and I blew it. I wondered how many time I misread the recruiters before. What if I missed other opportunities?

I pulled in the parking lot of the building where the interview took place, looked at my passenger, and told him:

“If you really want this job, like the company, and are willing to work hard for it, tell them so, no matter their objection. Be hungry.”

As I drove away, I saw in the mirror the reaction to my words sinking in. He straightened his shoulders and lifted his chin. Determination. Good. I hope he got the job.

Short disclaimer: The Journal of an Uber Driver is a work of fiction.
Long disclaimer: The literary exercise to define a nowadays character for a novel led me to create these 25 blog posts. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Any opinion expressed about Uber should not be interpreted as having a negative connotation. I admire the company as an incumbent of the platform economy and I am a registered Uber driver for research purposes.