Your bilingual skills can lead to career success in Canada: Four benefits for immigrants and refugees
Published March 6, 2023.
Estimated reading time: 2.5 minutes
- Immigrants and refugees who are fluent in both official languages of Canada, English and French, have a unique advantage in the Canadian job market.
- Bilingualism is particularly valued in sectors such as government, education, health care and customer service, where French and English are used interchangeably.
- New Canadians can leverage their bilingualism to expand their social circles and grow their professional networks.
Canada is a bilingual country, and proficiency in both French and English is highly valued in many industries.
Immigrants and refugees who are fluent in both official languages have a unique advantage in the Canadian job market. Leveraging their bilingual skills can strengthen career advancement opportunities and help them achieve their professional goals.
Bilingualism is particularly valued in sectors such as government, education, health care and customer service, where French and English are used interchangeably. As well, in provinces like Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick, your bilingual skills can be particularly valuable because of language laws and larger Francophone populations. By being bilingual, immigrants and refugees can communicate with a broader range of clients and stakeholders and build stronger relationships with colleagues. This can lead to increased job satisfaction, better career prospects and higher earning potential.
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In addition to career advancement opportunities, leveraging bilingual skills can also help immigrants and refugees feel more integrated into Canadian society. Speaking both French and English is an asset that can foster a sense of pride in one's own cultural identity and contribute to a sense of belonging in your new Canadian community. To highlight the benefits of bilingualism to new Canadians, the Windmill Microlending / Le Moulin Microcrédits blog looked inward and spoke with our Montreal-based client success coach, Shere Ochoa. Herself an immigrant from Mexico, Ochoa is trilingual fluently speaking English, French and Spanish. She works with immigrant and refugee clients to support them as they use their microloan to pay for the costs of accreditation, training or professional development, sharing career planning tips and financial literacy knowledge.
Windmill / Le Moulin Client Success Coach Shere Ochoa, herself an immigrant from Mexico, uses her trilingual skills to serve newcomer clients helping them reach their full career potential in Quebec and the rest of Canada.
Below are the benefits Ochoa identified that bilingual newcomers to Canada will be able to take advantage of:
Benefit #1: It helps you strengthen connections.
Being bilingual allows you to meet English and French speaking people. It can help you make connections, build relationships and friendships with more individuals than those speaking one language. You can leverage your bilingualism to expand your social circle and expand your professional network.
Benefit #2: You can find career opportunities in any part of Canada.
Your bilingual communication skills open the possibility of working in any province or region in Canada. These skills will help you overcome any language barriers other newcomer professionals might experience and open the doors to Canadian employers in places like Quebec, Ontario or New Brunswick.
WATCH: Windmill/Le Moulin’s Shere Ochoa shares three career benefits of bilingualism for immigrants and refugees to Quebec and the rest of Canada.
Benefit #3: Higher income opportunities
Some companies will offer a bilingual person a higher salary for the same position as someone who only speaks English. Ensure you learn about industry-standard compensation rates for bilingual professionals in the field in which you work. Make certain to highlight your bilingualism in salary negotiations with a Canadian employer and be sure your skills are being appropriately valued.
Benefit #4: An expanded job market
Being bilingual increases the career opportunities and options you have within the job market. Not only can you work anywhere in Canada with bilingual skills and knowledge but there are just more job opportunities for individuals like you, across the country. Whether you intend to work for the federal or provincial government, or a seeking a customer-facing position in which you engage with Canadians in every part of Canada, your bilingual talents will position you for career success.
As well, Ochoa says immigrants and refugees who are bilingual in French and English should consider highlighting their language skills when applying for jobs and take proper advantage of the increased opportunities that come with being bilingual in their new country.
Did you know approximately 60 per cent of newcomers to Canada are thinking of making a career change? Windmill Microlending’s Career Change Navigator can help with a career change checklist as well as education and training success strategies. Download the free Windmill Career Change Navigator, today.