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Cross-Cultural Issues in Employment Counselling for Internationally Trained Professionals


Expand awareness by questioning some of our own cultural assumptions ... Introduction ('Honeymoon', 'Vacation') Transition ( 'Hostility') Denial, rejection ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Cross-Cultural Issues in Employment Counselling for Internationally Trained Professionals

Cross-Cultural Issues in Employment Counselling
for Internationally Trained Professionals
  • Presented by Elga Nikolova
  • Skills for Change, Toronto

  • The Ontario Network for International
    Professionals is
  • An online resource
  • Providing sector-specific information, networking
    and professional development opportunities
  • Serving internationally-trained professionals and
    service providers
  • Province-wide

Today we will attempt to
  • Expand awareness by questioning some of our own
    cultural assumptions
  • Create a conceptual framework to put some of our
    difficulties with internationally-trained clients
    into perspective
  • Attempt to generate some solutions
  • Find out how can be part of the

  • Culture
  • Definition of culture
  • Culture shock
  • Dimensions of culture
  • Applications to job search
  • Possible solutions
  • Culture and the professions
  • Any open issues?

Looking for a job is a full-time job
  • And the job description includes
  • A firm handshake
  • Assertiveness
  • Walking the extra mile
  • Selling yourself
  • Highlighting your achievements
  • Maintaining a positive attitude
  • Universal facts, or assumptions?

What is Culture
  • A culture is a way of life of a group of
    people--the behaviors, beliefs, values, and
    symbols that they accept, generally without
    thinking about them, and that are passed along by
    communication and imitation from one generation
    to the next.
  • Source University lecture handouts of
    Communication Across Cultures, by Dr. Daradirek
    Ekachai, Associate Professor, Department of
    Speech Communication, Southern Illinois

More on Culture
  • Culture is symbolic communication. Some of its
    symbols include a group's skills, knowledge,
    attitudes, values, and motives. The meanings of
    the symbols are learned and deliberately
    perpetuated in a society through its
  • Source University lecture handouts of
    Communication Across Cultures, by Dr. Daradirek
    Ekachai, Associate Professor, Department of
    Speech Communication, Southern Illinois

Some highlights on culture
  • There are no good and bad cultures. Each
    culture is uniquely adapted to its circumstances
  • There is a broad spectrum of behaviors. Within
    one culture, people tend to choose the same
  • We may be totally oblivious to behavior, and
    facts of life not common in our culture
  • We may misinterpret behavior and facts not common
    in our culture
  • We assign higher value to behavior and attitudes
    favored by our culture
  • Cultural preferences are reinforced, and
    deviations are discouraged

Culture shock
  • The term culture shock was introduced in 1958 to
    describe the anxiety produced when a person moves
    to a completely new environment.
  • Culture shock is the physical and emotional
    discomfort one suffers when coming to live in
    another country or a place different from the
    place of origin.
  • The term expresses the lack of direction, the
    feeling of not knowing what to do or how to do
    things in a new environment, and not knowing what
    is appropriate or inappropriate.

Stages of culture shock
  • Introduction (Honeymoon, Vacation)
  • Transition ( Hostility)
  • Denial, rejection
  • Anger
  • Escape
  • Depression
  • Acceptance (Humour)
  • Adjustment (Home)

Symptoms of culture shock
  • Sadness, loneliness, melancholy
  • Aches, pains, allergies, insomnia, desire to
    sleep too much
  • Changes in temperament, depression, feeling
  • Anger, resentment, unwillingness to interact with
  • Longing for family, identifying with/ idealizing
    the old culture
  • Loss of identity
  • Trying too hard to absorb everything in the new
  • Unable to solve simple problems, lack of
  • Feelings of inadequacy or insecurity, need to
  • Developing stereotypes about the new culture
  • Feelings of being lost, overlooked, exploited,

How is this relevant to job search?
  • The way we do job search is culturally determined
  • Professional practices vary across cultures
  • Some job search concepts are unique to North
    America, or Canada in particular
  • Some job search concepts may have a different
  • Job search and professional behavior is be
    interpreted differently in different cultures
  • Some job search and professional behavior may
    be judged differently in different cultures

The new wave of immigration
  • In the 1990 new immigrants did not integrate
    into the Canadian labour market as effectively as
    previous cohorts of immigrants
  • Prior to 1961, 92 of all immigrants arriving
    to Toronto came from Europe
  • Of all immigrants who arrived in Canada in the
    1990s, 73 were visible minorities, up to 68 in
    the 1980s, and 52 in the 1970s.
  • In 2002, over 80 of all immigrants to Canada
    came from regions outside Europe
  • Sources Elizabeth McIsaac, "Immigrants in
    Canadian Cities Census 2001 - What Do the Data
    Tell Us. CIC Canada, Facts and Figures 2002
    Immigration Overview

Cultural Dimensions
  • Hofstede, 1980
  • Power distance
  • Collectivism vs. individualism
  • Uncertainty avoidance
  • Masculinity vs. femininity
  • E.T.Hall
  • Time
  • Space
  • Context (information)

Power distance
  • Eastern Europe
  • 1 Canada 2 3 4 5
    6 7 8
  • 0 20 40 60 80
  • 1/ Austria 2/ Pakistan, Iran
  • 3/ Greece 4/ Chile, Peru, Turkey, Colombia
  • 5/ Hong Cong, Brazil 6/ Yugoslavia, India
  • 7/ Venezuela, Mexico 8/ Philippines
  • Power Distance measures the extent to which
    people believe in and support hierarchy and
    uneven distribution of power in a society

High power distance cultures and Canadian job
  • Client-service provider relationship
  • Confusion about status
  • Service provider viewed as a person of power, or
  • Authority of service provider questioned, or
  • Confusion about role
  • Client dependent on service provider, or
  • Overly demanding
  • Job search behavior attitude
  • Lack of initiative
  • Need to follow step-by-step instructions
  • Experience loss of identity
  • Confusion between passive-assertive aggressive
  • Blaming, negativism

  • Eastern Europe
  • 1 2 3 4
    5 6 Canada 7
  • 0 20 40
    60 80 100
  • Collectivistic
  • 1 Venezuela, Colombia, Pakistan 2 Chile,
    Yugoslavia, Portugal, Hong Kong
  • 3 Turkey, Brazil 4 Iran
  • 5 India, Japan 6 Israel
  • 7 USA
  • Individualism measures the extent to which
    people view themselves as individuals
    (individualism), vs. viewing themselves as
    members of a group, elements of a larger entity

Collectivistic cultures and Canadian job search
  • Client - service provider relationship
  • client expects to be given things
  • client expects service provider to do their
    homework for them
  • client dependent on service providing
  • Job search behavior attitude
  • difficulties with assertiveness and
  • difficulties with identifying achievements
  • skepticism about networking

Uncertainty Avoidance
  • 1 2 3 4 Canada 5
  • -10 0 20 40 60 80 100
  • Low risk tolerance High risk tolerance
  • 1 Greece 2 Yugoslavia, Chile, Mexico
  • 3 Venezuela, Pakistan 4 Iran
  • 5 India 6 UK, Hong Kong
  • Uncertainty avoidance measures the extent to
    which people cope well with risky, unpredictable
    and unstructured situations by establishing
    formal rules and processing information

Uncertainty avoidance and Canadian job search
  • Client - service provider relationship
  • may be asking for unreasonable amount or
    useless information
  • may be asking for clear instructions
  • background level of stress increases with
    decrease of risk tolerance
  • Job search behavior attitude
  • may consider themselves overqualified, and their
    local colleagues non-professional
  • may appear under qualified or unprofessional
  • may have difficulties in communicating their
    skills and qualifications

  • High context
  • Far East
  • Indian Subcontinent
  • Arab Countries
  • Latin America
  • Eastern Europe
  • Latin Europe, UK, Quebec
  • English Canada
  • US
  • Scandinavia
  • Context refers to the way in which cultures seek,
    and communicate information to make meaning of an
  • High context information is in the
    circumstances. Non-verbal, and implicit
    information is essential. Professionals tend to
    be generalisits
  • Low context information is in the verbal
    message. Professionals tend to be highly

Context and Canadian job search
  • Client - service provider relationship
  • client may overwhelm service provider with
  • client may not be able to prioritize
  • client may have difficulties identifying, and
    verbalizing their strengths
  • Job search behavior attitude
  • Failure to provide the right amount and detail
    of information during an interview
  • Difficulties with identifying strengths/
  • Difficulties with making sense of information

What are the solutions?
  • On individual level
  • Question own assumptions
  • Work with the client to raise cultural awareness
  • Accept, acknowledge and work with culture shock
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Encourage observation and reflection
  • Probe into clients professional background
    extensively, assist in reframing of professional
  • Refer clients to A-B-C of Job Search, Relevant
    Employment and Sector-specific Terminology on

What are the solutions?
  • On group/organizational level
  • Offer training on cultural awareness and culture
  • Create opportunities for networking as part of
  • Refer clients extensively to networking
    opportunities within their profession (reframe
  • Revisit job development practices
  • Use to refer clients to networking
    opportunities (sector-specific discussion boards)
    and online mentoring

Professional culture
  • Some aspects of professional education and
    practices which deviate among cultures
  • education theoretical vs. hands-on
  • institutionalization of professions
  • technical standards
  • methodology of problem solving and project
  • standards of professional conduct and ethics
  • management and customer service practices
  • The more people oriented an occupation is, the
    more culture-specific it tends to be.

Questions? Enquiries?
  • Elga Nikolova, Coordinator
  • Skills for Change, Toronto
  • (416) 658 3101, ext. 294
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