A global, diverse, extraordinary talent pool in displacement is in reach

Employers recruiting with TalentLift have a global, diverse, extraordinary talent pool in reach. Our talent platform is a bridge between Canadian hiring teams and talented job seekers living in refugee circumstances globally. 

For a long time, Canada’s skilled visas didn’t work for people living in refugee circumstances no matter how talented they were. Today, that’s changing. Canada has removed barriers like requiring a valid passport, which is impossible for people who can’t get one from a home government like Afghanistan or Syria, and requiring savings in a bank account. These requirements have nothing to do with skills and potential, and have structurally disadvantaged displaced talent. 

With visas opening up, TalentLift and our partners are supporting this talent pool to get visible – and in front of Canada’s hiring teams. 

Who are TalentLift candidates? 

Incredible people, first off. All are job seekers currently living in refugee circumstances and seeking an opportunity to contribute their skills, and to relocate alongside their families somewhere they can put down roots and thrive.  

Our candidates are living in more than 100 countries. The top 10 geographies where TalentLift candidates registered on the talent platform are living as refugees are: Ethiopia, Pakistan, Peru, Nigeria, Iran, India, Turkey, Lebanon, Poland, and Kenya. 

Countries where TalentLift candidates registered on the talent platform are living in refugee circumstances. 

The top 10 countries of origin of candidates are: Afghanistan, Eritrea, Cameroon, Venezuela, Somalia, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ukraine, and Yemen. Their professions span sectors like manufacturing, engineering, tech, healthcare, child care, hospitality, and numerous skilled trades. 

Countries of birth or citizenship of TalentLift candidates registered on the talent platform.

Every day, we and our employer partners meet extraordinary people. Here are just a few of them:

Sisi graduated with a bachelor’s in nursing in her home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, before she had to leave for safety to Nigeria. There, she was able to keep working in healthcare but only informally, and without a secure path forward for herself or her career. Her next stop, however, is St. John’s on Canada’s East Coast where she’ll be a Personal Care Attendant and work towards her Canadian nursing license. Her skills are needed by almost every community across Canada, and Chancellor Park in St. John’s is the team that met and hired her first. She’ll follow in the steps of another new member of the Chancellor Park team, Dilruba, a healthcare professional originally from Afghanistan who said her favourite thing in Canada is “everything.”

Tahsin learned software engineering only after leaving the country where he was born, Myanmar, when he was a kid. He left because it wasn’t – and still isn’t – safe for people who are Rohingya. His family had to relocate to Indonesia, where folks living as refugees can be barred from basics like opening a bank account. Tahsin learned his computer skills from scratch in Indonesia and took courses he couldn’t officially get credit for to soak up information. Now, he’s working as a Full Stack Developer for Canadian green tech company EnPowered while applying for a skilled visa to Waterloo. In Canada, he’ll have permanent residence and a pathway to obtain his first-ever citizenship. New hires at EnPowered share electricity jokes when they start. We think he gets full points for this: “Renewable Energy? I am A Big Fan.”

How do hiring teams meet candidates? 

Get in touch! Once we know more about your open roles and your team, we’ll shortlist candidates with the skills you need.

Our goal is a seamless recruitment and relocation experience for you and the candidates you hire. TalentLift provides talent search, visa, and relocation services all in house. We know that a seamless experience for hiring teams is part of raising the competitiveness of our candidates.

How do candidates register with TalentLift? 

Candidates living in refugee circumstances anywhere can register their skills and aspirations on TalentLift’s talent platform. Registration on the talent platform is simple and free. Candidates can create a profile in minutes and return anytime to update it. We don’t charge candidates any fees at any time. 

On the talent platform, candidates can: 

  • Register a profile to be visible to Canadian employers seeking international talent
  • Upload a CV or create one using our CV builder
  • Express interest in open job opportunities
  • Access upskilling opportunities such as English language courses
  • Live chat with the TalentLift team about any questions

How does TalentLift find candidates? 

Often, they find us! But we also invest in finding them by working with some outstanding non-profit organizations in different refugee-hosting countries globally. Among our partners are FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance, HIAS, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Refugee Action Hub (MIT ReACT), Talent Beyond Boundaries, Lifeline Afghanistan, and several UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) country offices. We intentionally pursue partnerships in underserved geographies, which we consider as places hosting populations of concern to UNHCR but representing low levels of humanitarian resettlement to Canada. 

Another thing you should know about TalentLift? 

We never say no to a challenge facing our candidates, and we’ve never met a closed door without finding an open window. No documents? Can’t register without government ID for an IELTS English test? Can’t get permission to travel internally? No internet connection? An exit process? We solve each and every outlandish and ridiculous obstacle facing talented people in displacement whose skills are needed by teams in Canada. 

Our commitment is a seamless recruitment and relocation experience. That’s our contribution to levelling the field, for the teams and candidates who make transformative hiring happen.

Start hiring: https://www.talentlift.ca/engage/start-hiring/


With the support of the Scotiabank ScotiaRISE initiative, TalentLift has built a talent platform for displaced job seekers to self-register, develop job-readiness, and connect to transformative job and relocation opportunities to Canada. Learn more.

Ontario gains a CNC Machinist from refugee circumstances in Libya

“It gave me an opportunity that I’d never dreamed of,” Mulham said, about the job that brought him to Canada a few months ago. 

Mulham is a talented carpenter from Syria who’s working as a CNC Machinist with a high-end furniture manufacturer in Ontario. He’s two months into his job and already performing as a core part of the creative team, relieving some pressure for a business and sector with an extreme shortage in skilled tradespeople. 

Mulham was living as a refugee in Libya when he got the Canadian job offer with the support of TalentLift. He told his story to our colleagues at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) who helped at key points during the visa process – a critical support because Canada doesn’t have an embassy presence in Libya.

In a video story before he left, Mulham talks about what he’s looking forward to: Working in his field, being able to send his children to school, and the peace of a secure present and future. 

“I will have stability in Canada,” he said. 

Teams across Canada can have this remarkable impact of providing a secure future while gaining a critical skill set. TalentLift partners with UNHCR and NGOs globally to reach talented job-seekers in displacement like Mulham. Your next great hire might be one of them. 

Start hiring: https://www.talentlift.ca/engage/start-hiring/ 

Read more about Mulham’s story: https://www.talentlift.ca/scotiarise-invests-400000-in-talentlift-to-help-job-seekers-in-refugee-circumstances-find-work-and-settle-in-canada/ 

Start meeting job-seekers in refugee circumstances globally

Dilruba, a Nurse pictured above, arrived in St. John’s a few weeks ago. She joined the team at a long-term care facility in a region facing an acute shortage of healthcare professionals. Dilruba is working again in her field, which has been her dream since she left Afghanistan for her safety and sought refuge in India. She said her first day at work was “absolutely amazing.” 

Teams across Canada are supporting talented job-seekers like Dilruba to relocate alongside their families and rebuild their careers.

Companies recruiting with TalentLift have hired Software Developers, Bakers, Carpenters, Personal Care Attendants, Cooks, Long-Haul Truck Drivers, Sales Managers, and Engineers, among others. For these candidates, a job and relocation opportunity is transformative.

This deeply impactful way to hire can’t grow quickly enough. 

There are more than 100 million people living in refugee or displaced situations around the world, and they’re often living in countries where they don’t have basic rights. One of our candidates, a highly skilled Nurse from Iraq, is working 12-hour days in a plastics factory in his current host country where he has temporary status and can’t even leave his city without government permission. Another, a Fullstack Developer (who just got hired by a firm in Waterloo!) who’s Rohingya and from Myanmar, doesn’t have a single piece of official ID from either his country of birth or temporary host country. 

We work with professionals who can’t open bank accounts, can’t send their kids to school, and can’t lawfully work in their field – though many do, and take the lower pay and other insecurity that comes with it.

And yet, these same people find ways to stay current and grow, by taking courses in their in-between hours, by learning new languages, by volunteering in their communities, and much more. 

Each personal story we hear from our candidates has threads of incredible perseverance, adaptability and ingenuity. 

These are people you want on your team. Start hiring with us and meet them.  

Our funders and partners, including Scotiabank and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), make our mission possible. We are grateful for their partnership. 

The optimism of skills-based mobility greets UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi in Toronto

Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Barb Mason, Group Head and Chief Human Resources Officer, Scotiabank.
Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Barb Mason, Group Head and Chief Human Resources Officer, Scotiabank.

Durid is a Maintenance Technician and he and his spouse are working in a Southern Ontario community where their skills are in high demand, and where their daughter can go to school. Anas is a Software Engineer on a Waterloo-based team that has grown four times in size during the pandemic. Kinaz will soon relocate to British Columbia to join a healthcare employer providing critical in-home care. All three were displaced from their homes and careers due to conflict before getting jobs and pursuing skilled visas to Canada. 

These are stories that fill you with optimism, said Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at a meeting in Toronto with Durid, Anas, Kinaz and three pioneering companies – ApplyBoard, Ice River Sustainable Solutions, and Scotiabank – behind a skills-based solution to displacement.

The scale of displacement today is unprecedented since the end of the Second World War. There were more than 26 million people living as refugees globally in 2021, before the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in August and the recent invasion of Ukraine.

Traditional solutions including humanitarian resettlement are essential but inadequate on their own to respond. Additional solutions are needed. Job-backed skilled visa opportunities hold immense promise – including potential to scale. 

Below are highlights from a discussion with High Commissioner Grandi on the promise of this solution. 

A bridge to opportunities

Anas relocated to Canada to join ApplyBoard after the team partnered with TalentLift to find software engineering talent. On his own, when he was living as a refugee in Lebanon, Anas couldn’t get traction in his international job search. It was a challenge getting a foot in the door, and there were other daily problems to face like electricity outages, a plummeting currency, and insecure status in the country. Kinaz faced similar challenges and long working days with little time beyond work and sleep. 

“You don’t have stability in your life that lets you focus on your long-term goals,” Anas said. 

He said the bridge between companies and candidates in displacement needs to widen. Organizations like TalentLift and our partner Talent Beyond Boundaries are part of that important infrastructure.

“I didn’t believe it.” 

When Durid got a call that the manufacturer Ice River Sustainable Solutions wanted to interview him, “I didn’t believe it.” After the interview, when he learned they wanted to hire him, “I still didn’t believe it,” he laughed. As awareness grows among the many thousands of talented people who could use their skills as a pathway out of displacement, more people can start believing it. 

Nearly one million vacancies

There were 915,500 open positions across Canada at the end of 2021. This is the opportunity space for connecting talented candidates in refugee circumstances with the teams and communities that need their skills.

International recruitment is a solution that is not just about workforce needs today but “understanding where the demand is going to be,” said Barb Mason, Group Head and Chief Human Resources Officer, Scotiabank. It’s an investment with enormous payoff for new employees, their families, and the Canadian economy. 

Room to improve: Speed is key

Canada is among a handful of countries pioneering ways to make international recruitment and skilled visas work better for talented people living in refugee circumstances. Equity-based flexibility, like recognizing expired passports and loans instead of savings, is significantly deepening access. But further change is needed to ensure companies can recruit and relocate displaced talent with ease and speed.

The visa timeline remains a challenge, said Jordan Ingster, Senior Legal Advisor with Ice River Sustainable Solutions, which saw demand and operations expand even through the pandemic. The team hired nine trades professionals who were living as refugees and could hire others. 

“We need to make that pathway quick,” said Dan Weber, Senior Director of Innovation and Strategy with ApplyBoard, which recently grew from a team of 400 to 1,600. “We need talent, how can we get it here?”

For that part, TalentLift is here to help. Interested teams can express interest to become part of this impactful hiring solution. 

A discussion with High Commissioner Grandi hosted by Scotiabank in Toronto.
A discussion with High Commissioner Grandi hosted by Scotiabank in Toronto. 

With the support of the Scotiabank ScotiaRISE initiative, TalentLift has built a talent platform for displaced job seekers to self-register, develop job-readiness, and connect to transformative job and relocation opportunities to Canada. Learn more.

Canada’s swift visa for Ukrainians is open. TalentLift is here to support you.

Canada is welcoming Ukrainians displaced by war through a new and swift visa. Under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET), applicants who are Ukrainian nationals may apply for a visitor visa and open work permit, and then relocate to Canada. 

How it works

This visa pathway is open to any Ukrainian national. Applicants apply online for a visitor visa and have the option to apply for an open work permit which will allow them to work for any employer in Canada. CUAET applicants have the following fees waived: Visa application fee, biometric collection fee, and work permit application fee, among others. The visa allows you to travel in and out of Canada and will be processed on a priority basis. Canada will aim to process complete applications in 14 days. 

How TalentLift can support you

TalentLift is ready to assist anyone wishing to rebuild their career and livelihood in Canada. 

We invite Ukrainians interested in pursuing work and relocation to Canada to register with us. If you are eligible, and are displaced by the war, our team will work with you and your family at no cost to seek employment in Canada, to apply for this visa, and to relocate. We will prepare a transition plan to permanent residence to ensure you have a secure future in Canada.

We will support you and your family each step of the way to relocate and begin to rebuild.

Employers wishing to hire can express their interest here: https://www.talentlift.ca/ukraine/

Webinar: Diversify to Include Top Tech Talent from Refugee Sources

Innovative Canadian tech companies are recruiting from the immense tech talent in refugee populations worldwide. Learn about this growing opportunity from the executives of leading companies, and the transformative impacts for candidates and the teams welcoming them to Canada.

Canadian tech companies have an enormous opportunity to lead the world in recruiting from an underleveraged talent pool of tech candidates living as refugees globally. This win-win recruitment initiative helps companies find and retain essential tech skills outside of stretched local markets, while enabling new employees and their families to relocate to Canada and leave refugee circumstances behind.

Join this webinar to hear Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser discuss Canada’s vision to scale this critical solution. Learn firsthand from executives of companies pioneering this transformative hiring initiative – Martin Basiri, CEO of ApplyBoard and Tia Fomenoff, Senior Director of People and Culture with Thinkific – and the gains they see for their teams and culture. We’ll also hear from Anas Jamous on his experience recently relocating to Canada from displacement for a job as a Software Engineer with ApplyBoard.

This webinar is for business leaders with interest in exploring the potential of this impactful model in their companies. The session is hosted by the Tech Talent Welcome Council, a grassroots and growing community of tech teams recruiting displaced talent, alongside TalentLift and CEO-P2P. This movement is just beginning – the Canadian Government aims to support at least 2,000 people to relocate from displacement for jobs in Canada.

We look forward to having you join us to learn more!

Time: Feb 15, 2022 12:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Insights from our practice interview volunteers on supporting candidates in refugee circumstances to put their best foot forward

A woman standing in front of a grey background with a lab coat and head scarf, arms crossed, holding a stethoscope.

Job interviews are hard for everyone. Most Canadians tense up just thinking about the mix of preparation, pressure, hope, and uncertainty they entail.

Now, imagine if a job interview could unlock the chance to move yourself and your family from an extremely difficult place to a new home and future in Canada; if this job meant a life-changing relocation. Imagine too that this remote interview will be in your non-native language. Imagine you’re stressed about the regular electricity outages interrupting your call. Imagine your family is listening in because you all live together in a few rooms. Oh, and you’ve never had a formal interview before.

Each week, TalentLift candidates – all talented individuals living as refugees around the world – head into remote interviews with employers across Canada with constraints on their time, preparedness and wellbeing that are difficult to imagine.

Perhaps the best tool we can provide to help them prepare is a connection to a volunteer in Canada who runs through a practice interview. Our volunteers are human resources professionals, or managers and other team members with internal interview experience, who regularly commit their time to helping candidates in refugee circumstances put their best foot forward in a Canadian interview. They spend 30-60 minutes with a candidate in a simulated interview, and then provide verbal and written feedback including tips to improve before the real thing. 

We asked a handful of our volunteers to share reflections on their experiences in these practice interviews with carpenters, nurses, bakers, developers, and other professionals – many of whom have gone on to receive job offers. They shared some incredible insight on the talent, potential, and aspirations of displaced candidates.

Here are some of their insights: 

Interviewers can help build up confidence and comfort

During practice interviews, Praneeta Patil, a human resources professional in Toronto, reminds candidates about their courage and endurance in getting to this point as a way to build their confidence. “It is wonderful to see them gain their confidence throughout the call which is then reflected in little things like their posture and the way they converse,” she said. “Many of the candidates who are otherwise great at their work just require that boost of confidence.”

During the real thing, interviewers can also help put candidates at ease with smiling, small talk and an explanation of the interview (including what the interviewer wants to learn) at the outset. These techniques can help lower stress and encourage comfort with the interviewer.

Interviewers can avoid testing cultural context by being more aware of differences

Shawn Patterson is an engineering manager in Waterloo and has been struck by differences in team structure. Some candidates have worked in companies around the world that are “very traditional in structure, very hierarchical, so they aren’t used to having an opinion on how teams communicate across the company.” In these workplaces, people “take the work and execute on it” while companies more typical of the Canadian tech scene “are very flat in nature where anyone can really bring up any concern and interact with any team.” 

Being mindful of this contextual difference can help hiring managers probe aptitude rather than experience within a specific cultural setting. See a guide on redesigning the tech hiring process to include displaced talent for more on how to test skills like problem-solving instead of cultural context.

Jane Duffy, a human resources professional in Toronto, identified some additional qualities to keep an eye on in this talent pool: “Give pause and reflect on the candidate you are interviewing. They are likely estranged from their home country and living in very challenging circumstances. This makes them strong, resilient and nimble – all wonderful qualities to have in an employee.”

Interviewers can make simple adjustments to account for differences when interviewing displaced candidates

Michelle Arnold, a policy manager in Toronto, suggested a no-surprises approach: “I’d encourage hiring managers to provide as much information about what they’re looking for to the candidates as possible. These candidates are often living in stressful situations and may or may not be familiar with Canadian industry terms and trends – the focus should be on trying to get a sense of their skills and their capacity and willingness to learn.” Unexpected questions that put someone on the spot usually aren’t the best way to understand skills and potential. 

Praneeta emphasized the importance of overcoming communication barriers. In Praneeta’s experience, “English is not their first language. Many of the candidates listen to a question in English, translate it in their minds to their language, think of an answer in their own language and then translate it to English. Please be patient while they answer.” Shawn too advised care with communication: “Make sure your questions are clear and easy to understand so you get the best response possible from the candidate. If you don’t get the answer you are looking for, it can sometimes be language related so try and ask the question again, in different words. This will help give the candidate the best chance to succeed.”

Candidates can follow these recurring tips

Understand the question. Shawn said, “listen to the question carefully, and ask for clarification when needed before answering. Feel free to take the time you need to come up with a good response.”

Explain why you want to work with this team. Michelle advised, “be specific about why you are interested in working for a particular employer and make clear connections between past work experience and the requirements of the job.” This will help demonstrate that you came prepared and that you appreciate ways that this team and company are unique.  

Be confident. Praneeta said candidates “could be hesitant while talking about their work and often undersell themselves and their achievements.” She emphasized that it’s OK to talk proudly about your work. 

Have good eye contact and smile. “Interviews can be nerve-wracking and this is especially true when interviewing for a role in a different country and language,” Jane said. But these small things help people connect and appreciate the human side of each other. 

Learning and personal growth is a two-way street

As much as they teach and support others, volunteers explained that they take away big personal lessons and value too.  

“Every individual I interview has their own story and is fighting to overcome their own unique struggles and I have nothing but respect for them,” Praneeta said. “I was extremely moved by their strength, fierce zest for life and the willingness to strive and overcome.”

“Hearing how excited candidates are to build a life and career for themselves in Canada has been surprisingly meaningful,” Michelle said. “In one of my interviews, the candidate was talking about all the research she’d done on the city that she was applying to work in, from the geographical characteristics, to the population size, to the major industries and it made me so excited and hopeful about the possibility of having someone that passionate about Canada contribute their skills here.”

Michelle added, “it’s also just really wonderful to talk to passionate, interesting people who are embarking on major shifts in their lives.”

Are you interested in volunteering? TalentLift welcomes new volunteers for practice interview sessions with candidates, with an ideal time commitment of one or two practice sessions each month. Please register your interest here: https://www.talentlift.ca/volunteer-signup/

Canada’s EMPP is open to support skilled immigration by displaced talent

Kinaz is a nurse living in displacement supported by TalentLift who will fill a critical role in healthcare in British Columbia.

Canada’s groundbreaking pilot supporting talented people living as refugees to apply to economic immigration streams is now open. As of today, people living in refugee circumstances can submit job-backed permanent residence applications through the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP).

The EMPP extends some flexibility to address administrative and financial requirements that have previously been a barrier to otherwise highly qualified applicants. Skilled immigration is an additional mobility option for those seeking a durable solution outside of traditional humanitarian resettlement. 

Talented candidates in refugee circumstances can now apply through selected economic programs with the following flexibility: 

  • 1 year of work experience accrued anytime (no recency period) under the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) or Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) programs;
  • Use of a loan from a trusted microlender to satisfy a settlement funds requirement; 
  • Use of an expired passport or other ID in place of a valid passport; and
  • Waiver of the permanent residence processing fee and biometrics fee. 

These changes apply only to applicants to the provincial nominee programs (PNPs), AIP, and RNIP. 

A skills-based solution to displacement

One candidate whose application will be supported under the pilot is Mulham, hired as a CNC Machinist by a manufacturing firm in Ontario. Mulham and his family are living in refugee circumstances in Libya while they wait for their visas. 

Mulham told us this is a chance “to start a new life, to ensure that my children receive a good education and the right to live in a country that values equality among all people, away from conflicts, insecurity and fear of the future.”

Read more about this family: https://www.talentlift.ca/scotiarise-invests-400000-in-talentlift-to-help-job-seekers-in-refugee-circumstances-find-work-and-settle-in-canada/

Essential improvements for deeper equity

TalentLift has made recommendations for deeper equity and the growth of this important and win-win mobility option to Canada. These recommendations build on our team’s operational knowledge of barriers facing qualified candidates and their prospective employers:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GcjQ6LDnCbsIq4J6LYPEs5VkJYjUk3MkmglzUmBWqOg/edit

TalentLift is excited to support Canadian employers and the talented candidates they hire under  the EMPP. We and our partners across hiring teams, alongside IRCC, provinces and territories, and supporting NGOs, are modelling a scalable, skills-based solution to displacement as a complementary pathway to humanitarian resettlement.

Hack the hiring process to recruit tech talent in refugee circumstances

A new ‘Guide on Redesigning the Tech Hiring Process to Include Displaced Talent’ is a collaboration by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Refugee Action Hub, Na’amal, TalentLift, the Tent Partnership for Refugees, and World Education Services, with sponsorship by World Education Services.

Download the guide. 

The tech sector needs talent, and people living and working in tech within refugee populations need livelihood opportunities. This guide of practical ideas aims to help teams design their hiring process to more successfully recruit displaced talent. 

The talent gap across the tech industry and other industries recruiting for tech is significant. As a Forbes writer quipped, “the pandemic transformed nearly every organization into a tech company.” Canadian companies face a shortage of 200,000 software developers. Nearly 80% of CEOs in the United States are concerned about filling tech roles, and it’s projected to get worse. 

Meanwhile, there are immensely talented people working or trying to work in tech, who are living in refugee and displaced populations around the world, searching for international jobs. They keenly want a place in the talent pipeline. 

Work conditions can be extremely difficult in the countries where they live. Many work for lower pay and longer hours than their non-refugee peers, without job security, and without work rights and other legal protection to rely on. Life at home can be highly stressful because of low incomes and fearing for the safety, health or future prospects of loved ones. Despite all this, people find ways to grow their skills, continue learning, undertake passion projects, and look for new opportunities. Their accomplishments in these circumstances show remarkable perseverance, ingenuity, creativity, and drive. 

Pioneering companies are sourcing displaced tech talent as part of their talent acquisition strategies, in recognition of the human potential and the transformative impact of extending a job opportunity in Canada or beyond to someone who’s living displaced. The Tech Talent Welcome Council network of companies across Canada is one example of this growing community. 

As more teams explore this underleveraged talent pool, they may find a design opportunity: Recruitment processes can be adjusted to recognize and overcome some of the challenges facing qualified candidates that are unique to their displaced circumstances. For example, candidates may be unfamiliar with interview formats, and can face cultural differences in representing their experience or their interest in the company. Employers can be unfamiliar with how domestic interviewing norms differ from international ones, lack the flexibility to accommodate scheduling and connectivity challenges, and screen for particular skills that are uncommon in other markets such as software testing automation. 

This guide presents some of the challenges experienced by teams and candidates during the hiring process, and ideas to overcome them. The ideas range from smaller tweaks to larger redesigns towards a more inclusive hiring process. 

The insights and ideas are drawn from a co-design workshop series in September 2021. The workshop convened six tech hiring teams across Canada, candidates who are currently living displaced, and supporting non-profit or training organizations with a goal to explore practical ways to better bridge job and relocation opportunities and the unique circumstances of displaced job seekers.

Why hire displaced tech talent? 

  • Access an underleveraged candidate pool with in-demand tech skills and high potential 
  • Gain knowledge and experience of different cultures, regions, and socio-economic circumstances that will expand diversity of thought on the team
  • Gain creative, agile problem-solvers who have remarkable perseverance and determination
  • Engage your team in a transformative change for peers in refugee or displaced circumstances, and in enriching community-building when new hires can relocate alongside their families from displacement

Excerpts from the ‘Guide on Redesigning the Tech Hiring Process to Include Displaced Talent.’

How hiring teams in Canada can support displaced Afghans


More than 2.6 million Afghans have left the country in search of refuge and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) expects this number to grow in the coming months. Many of those who are in refugee circumstances in neighbouring countries are professionals, tradespeople, recent graduates, or parents, all eager for an opportunity to put their skills to use and contribute in a new home community.

Hiring teams across Canada can be part of the solution by extending job and skilled visa opportunities to talented Afghans and others displaced by conflict or persecution globally.

We and our partners at Lifeline Afghanistan, a non-partisan network of individuals and organizations responding to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, hosted a webinar for hiring teams and other community members to learn how recruitment and relocation from within the displaced talent pool works. 

This unique form of recruitment, supported by the Canadian government and UNHCR through the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot, is a solution to both skills shortages and displacement. It’s a brilliant way to find talent while helping candidates and their families to relocate from displacement. Skilled immigration is additional and complementary to humanitarian resettlement and is a much-needed mobility option for those who can and want to use their professional skills to relocate.

The webinar recording is available on YouTube: https://youtu.be/SrQC2Ma9QGk  

We urge you to watch and consider these actions: 

  1. If you’re part of a team, start hiring with TalentLift.
  2. If you know Afghans who are displaced outside Afghanistan, job-ready and searching for a mobility solution, invite them to seek a job by joining TalentLift.
  3. If you want to engage another way, join Lifeline Afghanistan efforts to support private sponsorship of refugees.

You can also share the webinar recording with colleagues, friends or family and encourage these actions by others.

With the support of the Scotiabank ScotiaRISE initiative, TalentLift has built a talent platform for displaced job seekers to self-register, develop job-readiness, and connect to transformative job and relocation opportunities to Canada. Learn more