Connecting employers with bilingual candidates through mystery encounters and second-language skill portraits

November 14, 2017 | Workforce Development

The first contact between an employer and a candidate can be a delicate sales pitch, for both sides.

Candidates come equipped with a diversity of skills, backgrounds, experience, and points of view. They are looking for an employer who can recognize this and encourage the growth and development of their career.

Employers are focused on skill requirements, strategic development, team fit and customer expectations. They invest much time and resources into finding the right talent.

Each side has formed an impression of the other, of how they might make a good fit or not. When placed in a room together, there are still many barriers to overcome.

That’s where CEDEC and its partners – employment service providers, community organizations, educational institutions, government agencies and professionals – are working to break down those barriers. This enables more successful connections to be established between bilingual/multilingual job seekers and employers that can lead to interviews and employment.

Opening doors to new opportunities using the element of mystery

Encouraging strangers to reach out to each other and share who they are can be challenging. In October, CEDEC partnered with the Salon Carrière Formation de Québec, Centre de la Famille Valcartier, Centre R.I.R.E. 2000 and Voice of English-speaking Québec to introduce five mystery employers to job seekers through the third edition of Get Connected – Rendez-vous avec les employeurs.

The organizing committee wanted to focus on the human aspect of the encounters by guiding conversations around the values of employers and candidates in addition to skills requirements.

Throwing in a bit of mystery resulted in a networking blitz that focused on employers’ company values before the skills they are seeking in a candidate.

Employers worked hard to present their workplace values and the skills they sought to hire for without giving away too much information. Once the mystery was revealed, they made their pitch and returned to connecting with the candidates in the room. The element of mystery increased the number of participants present who spoke with all five employers, which was the goal.

Why the mystery?

While we often think of employers as having certain biases with respect to hiring, job seekers have their own with respect to employers. By paring down the meeting to the essentials – a conversation around values, skills and achievements – the goal of increasing connections was met.

Turning the tables on the standard formula reduced the pressure on candidates to make the first move and to speak with employers they might not have approached otherwise. Employers gained more exposure and reached more potential candidates during the activity.

After employers’ identities were revealed, participants had another opportunity to continue their conversations, this time with more focused questions.

Canadian Forces Recruiter Christian Mukolo-Mutware had the most surprising reveal when he walked back into the room after changing from his civilian clothes into his uniform. The reaction of the room was proof that everyone has something to learn about what types of opportunities employers have to offer and who works where.

Employers revealed the variety of positions available, from administration to teaching, call centre to reception and patient attendants, which are open to bilingual candidates.

“It was truly original and innovative,” said Susie Ratté, Administration Officer, CEGEP Champlain-St. Lawrence, who donned a green grad cap to pitch the college’s broad employment opportunities to the group. “I was able to “connect” with a great potential candidate for our Tourism replacement, an employer who can offer business internships, as well as a community member involved in creating Fair Trade campuses!”

Informal feedback from employers was positive. Several reported having scheduled interviews with candidates whom they met through Get Connected activities. Further follow-up will determine the long-term results of these activities.

Thanks to our mystery employers: Desjardins, Central Québec School Board, Canadian Forces, CEGEP Champlain-St. Lawrence and CIUSSS de la Capitale Nationale.

CEDEC’s Get Connected – Rendez-vous avec les employeurs aims to create a space for effective networking, bringing employers and bilingual / multilingual candidates together. CEDEC and its partners are working to make and strengthen such connections and build relationships that enable us to evaluate and improve the process for future opportunities.

Marie-Soleil Touchette, Continuing Education Pedagogical Counsellor at the Centre de formation professionnelle de Limoilou, welcomes visitors to the Zone multilingue at the Quebec City’s salon Solutions recrutement 2017, while Yan Leclerc, Operations coordinator of Exportech Québec, co-ordinates the correction of evaluations. Some 26 visitors received a portrait of their English or French second-language skills thanks to four evaluators (hidden behind the curtain) during the busy afternoon.
Canadian Forces Recruiter Christian Mukolo-Mutware and candidate Susan Takang explore possibilities of a career where she can work in her field and use her English and French-language skills. Mukolo-Mutware surprised everyone in the room when he mysteriously appeared in uniform after having networked with participants in civilian dress, which enabled participants to reflect upon the career possibilities open to them that they had not previously considered.
Jean Teasdale and second-language evaluator Margaret Royal at the Zone multilingue held at the Foire de la Diversité de l’Emploi et de l’Entrepreneuriat in Sherbrooke on October 20-21, 2017.

Understanding the second-language skills a candidate brings to the table

Employers need to quickly sort potential candidates with the English and French-language skills for a particular job posting. During a job fair, it is often not possible to evaluate a candidate’s skills during the brief encounter at a stand.

CEDEC and its partners have developed a skills-based evaluation service that responds to employers’ needs for a portrait of a candidate’s second-language skills in English or French during a job fair. The service enables job seekers to confidently demonstrate their skills to employers and increase their chances in getting an interview or being added to an employer’s bank of candidates.

CEDEC partnered with Actions interculturelles to launch a Zone Multilingue at the Foire de la Diversité de l’Emploi et de l’Entrepreneuriat in Sherbrook on October 20-21, 2017. Second-language evaluators, including a member of the Champlain Regional College team, met with some 40 visitors over the two days.

Visitors ranged from newcomers to the Estrie region to mature workers seeking a portrait of their second-language skills as part of a career transition.

Employers such as Global Excel Management and recruiters like Randstad were eager to meet bilingual/multilingual candidates able to demonstrate their skill level.

CEDEC’s Zone multilingue was also present for the first time at the salon Solutions recrutement in Quebec City on October 25. Approximately one-quarter of the salon’s visitors, 26 in total, had their second-language skills evaluated through the service. With their linguistic portraits in hand, they met with employers seeking candidates for administrative positions, including accounting and receptionist, where English is an important asset.

Employers indicated that they appreciated this service and were better able to identify potential candidates with the language skills they required.

Interested in learning more about CEDEC’s work in this arena? Seeking to partner on an activity? Let’s Get Connected!