Join our team! TalentLift is a mission-driven, collaborative, and high-impact start-up expanding the job and skilled visa opportunities available to talented candidates living in refugee circumstances globally. We are hiring a full-time Candidate Success Officer who will have the opportunity to make a clear impact on individual and systemic levels and to create the scaleable and human-centred processes that power our work.
TalentLift is a non-profit talent agency. We support Canadian employers to recruit and relocate talent from within refugee and displaced populations to fill skills shortages, enabling refugees along with their families to lift to their potential as they advance their careers, secure their futures, and leave displacement behind.
There are more than 26 million people living as refugees worldwide with few options to achieve livelihoods and security. Many thousands have the skills and potential to qualify for jobs and skilled visas in Canada, just like talented people anywhere, but they’ve been historically excluded from recruitment and visa systems. This is changing as TalentLift and our partners drive more equitable access to these transformative opportunities.
TalentLift is the first organization of our kind to offer employers and the displaced candidates they hire in-house services encompassing talent search, visa application, and settlement coordination. We believe that access to opportunities should depend on potential and not the privilege of living without fear.
Our Candidate Success Officer will report to the Managing Director and be responsible for:
Managing a supportive, seamless international recruitment and relocation experience for TalentLift candidates, who are living in refugee circumstances globally and who represent diverse professions, English language abilities, and cultural backgrounds
Coordinating candidate experiences such as upskilling opportunities through our Talent Platform database
Building relationships with partner NGOs and service providers
Developing workflow, monitoring, and evaluation processes
Post-secondary training in public policy, law, immigration, international affairs, human resources, or other social sciences is an asset
2 years of work experience or volunteerism
Excellent communication skills in a cross-cultural environment
Excellent organizational and project management skills
Adaptability and willingness to continuously learn
Nice to have:
work experience or volunteerism in cross-cultural contexts
Experience supporting people living in refugee and displaced situations
Experience with project management and database software
TalentLift is committed to equitable hiring. All candidates are welcome to apply and we warmly invite those who have lived experience in refugee or displacement circumstances, Indigenous backgrounds, and different abilities. Please inquire about benefits and leave policy. We’re happy to share details about our work environment.
The salary range available is $65,000-$75,000 commensurate with experience.
The deadline to apply for this role is October 11, 2021. To apply, please send your CV and a cover letter/email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Canada’s groundbreaking pilot supporting talented people living as refugees to apply to economic immigration streams has an important set of new rules. Phase one of the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP), launched in 2018, successfully demonstrated that displaced talent can more equitably apply if administrative or financial barriers are removed, enabling them to make significant contributions to the national economy and the communities where they and their families arrive to put down roots.
Last week, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship released details for phase two of the EMPP in a public policy. Although applications will not be accepted under the EMPP until late fall 2021, we are excited to share what has been revealed so far about the next stage of the pilot and our recommendations for further development.
EMPP phase two overview:
Exclusive to applicants in provincial nominee programs, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP).
Includes various ways an IRCC officer may determine whether the applicant is in refugee circumstances.
Applicable to only those residing outside of Canada at the time of application for permanent residence.
Permanent residence and biometrics fees are waived for principal applicants and accompanying family members.
If the applicant has a job offer, the requirement to show funds “unencumbered by debts or other obligations” is exempted. This change allows for the use of alternative proof of settlement funds such as loans, donations or grants.
Extension of the recent work experience period requirement under AIP and RNIP. Instead of acquiring one year of full-time work experience in the last three years, the applicant can demonstrate work experience obtained any time in the past.
Valid passport not required. This means applicants with expired or no passports can use alternative proof of identity and alternative travel documents.
Accompanying family members are limited to spouses, common-law partners and dependent children. This is the same rule applied to all applicants to economic immigration programs.
Applicants are subject to all other admissibility and eligibility requirements.
There is a cap of 500 applications that will be implemented as follows:
150 applications accepted until June 30, 2022
350 applications accepted starting on July 1, 2022
The new rules provide important clarification and some new flexibility such as removing work experience recency – a requirement that many displaced applicants can’t meet if they’ve been unable to legally work in their field in a host country. However, there are limits to scope and scale that don’t necessarily align with the fundamental goal of equitable access for displaced talent to the full breadth of the economic program.
Here are our recommendations for deeper equity and the growth of this important mobility option:
Extend access to work permits which would ensure that temporary pathways and the many permanent residence pathways that require in-Canada work experience are accessible to displaced talent.
Extend application to all economic immigration pathways to preserve maximal opportunities and equity of access. This includes extending the exemption from work experience recency and the flexibility on settlement funds across any pathway.
Accept referrals from trusted partner organizations to determine eligibility of applicants as refugees and other displaced people in need of international protection. This method reduces bureaucracy and delays.
Waive the requirement for education credential assessments or accept alternatives such as the WES Gateway Program assessment. Displaced applicants may be unable to obtain the appropriate documentation from institutions in their home country without putting themselves or their families at risk.
Remove the 500 limitation and the expiry of the public policy to allow for further scale.
Extend eligibility to those who are both inside and outside Canada at the time of a permanent residence application to maintain speed and flexibility towards permanence for those who are able to arrive first on work permits.
We are excited to support Canadian employers and the talented candidates they hire under this next phase of 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.
Canada has an unprecedented opportunity to leverage its full range of immigration options to support displaced talent. We didn’t have the policy tools or supporting infrastructure in place during past humanitarian security crises, like the displacement unfolding from Afghanistan’s borders, that have moved Canadians to contribute. But we do now.
Canada has pioneered efforts to open skilled visas to applicants living in refugee circumstances under the Economic Mobility Pathways Project (EMPP). The pilot helps applicants overcome some of the displacement-related barriers they might face despite their skills and potential, like an expired passport with no safe or affordable way to renew it, and little to no savings to demonstrate their ability to settle. Now, when someone is compelled to leave their country in search of safety, their skills can open doors to Canada that were firmly closed before for no good reason.
As Canadians of all political stripes search for ways to support Afghans and other displaced people worldwide, Canada’s political parties should share how their future governments would continue and expand the use of skilled visas by talented candidates in displacement – and by the teams across Canada who are eager to hire them.
We outline below the essential commitments to signal a scalable and inclusive approach to Canada’s displaced talent strategy.
A commitment to continue Canada’s pioneering efforts to attract displaced talent by:
Expanding access to skilled immigration pathways for applicants living in refugee circumstances, which is a solution to both skills shortages in Canada and displacement worldwide, as an additional and complementary mobility option to humanitarian and resettlement pathways. This solution leverages the immense potential within refugee populations as well as the demand for international talent and the availability of skilled visa pathways. It advances equitable access to opportunities that are available to talent from other backgrounds and circumstances. It does all this while preserving and growing the resettlement program for those most in need.
Adapting work permit criteria to enable access by displaced applicants. Specifically, removing the requirement that applicants living in refugee circumstances demonstrate their ability and willingness to leave Canada, and instead asking them to demonstrate their ability to stay through a transition plan to permanent residence. Work permits are the swiftest and most common route to Canada for international talent, and open additional permanent residence options that require in-Canada work experience. Access to work permits is essential to scale and equity of access, because employers require fast and predictable timelines when they hire international talent.
Applying open and flexible eligibility criteria with respect to applicants, so that lengthy refugee determinations and other red tape do not impede recruitment efforts, and with respect to the skilled visa pathways within scope of the pilot. People who are displaced outside their home country and who are in need of international protection should be included, regardless of whether they have yet had an official Refugee Status Determination. All skilled visa pathways should be within scope as a matter of principle and practicality, because displaced talent belongs across the full breadth of the economic stream.
Working with stakeholders to continuously improve. This includes working with the business community, provinces and territories, supporting NGOs, and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to embed further flexibility across skilled visa programs that aims to overcome displacement-related barriers for otherwise qualified applicants. These barriers may include administrative, documentary, and financial rules that have nothing to do with skills and potential.
Setting ambitious targets instead of quotas or caps for displaced talent applicants, to enable predictability, scale, and mainstreaming of access by this immense talent pool.
We’ve gathered the platform commitments in this field by the main parties. We’ll publish updates as new commitments are announced.
Skilled immigration – general:
Transfer the control of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to Quebec.
Reduce processing delays of immigration applications.
EMPP/Skilled immigration – displaced talent:
No related commitments at this time.
Skilled immigration – general:
Prioritize and streamline immigration that would strengthen the health system including new measures to attract healthcare workers, especially in priority areas and regions.
Rework the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to better align it with domestic needs and to protect workers and create a trusted employer system to prevent companies from continuously re-applying to the program.
Establish clear standards and timelines for Labour Market Impact Assessment processes, including options for fee-based expedited visas when necessary.
Establish a path to permanence for those who enter Canada as lower-skilled workers by allowing employers to sponsor applications for permanent residence.
EMPP/Skilled immigration – displaced talent:
EMPP is not referenced but the platform highlights the importance of filling critical gaps and robustly growing the economy with bold and necessary solutions using our immigration system to meet this objective.
Skilled immigration – general:
Bring more skilled workers and address current inequalities within the existing systems in Canada.
Introduce exceptions for permanent residency and citizenship application costs based on household income.
Introduce lower barrier, more accessible pathways to permanent residency for temporeign foreign and frontline workers.
Develop safe strategies for temporary foreign workers and whistle blowers to report abusive employers without losing their status.
EMPP/Skilled immigration – displaced talent:
No related commitments at this time.
Skilled immigration – general:
Reform economic immigration programs to expand pathways to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers and former international students through the Express Entry system.
Establish a Trusted Employer system to streamline the application process for Canadian companies hiring temporary foreign workers to fill labour shortages that cannot be filled by Canadian workers.
Grow and improve the Global Talent Stream program by simplifying permit renewals, upholding the 2-week processing time, and establishing an employer hotline, to allow Canadian companies to attract and hire highly-skilled workers.
Continue to work with provinces, territories, and regulatory bodies to improve foreign credential recognition.
EMPP/Skilled immigration – displaced talent:
Build on theEMPP and work with employers and communities across Canada to welcome 2,000 skilled refugees to fill labour shortages in in-demand sectors such as healthcare.
New Democratic Party (NDP):
Skilled immigration – general:
Ensure that immigration policies and levels meet Canada’s labour force needs and recognize people’s experiences, contributions, and ties to Canada.
Work with the provinces to address gaps in settlement services and improve foreign credential recognition.
Explore pathways to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers
Our partners at FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance work with Afghans both inside and outside the country who have been displaced by conflict and other disasters. FOCUS undertakes resettlement programmes for displaced families and extended relief and recovery support for communities living in vulnerable environments.
Islamic Relief Canada works with communities to strengthen their resilience and to provide emergency aid. They are on the ground in Afghanistan distributing food packs to those most in need with offices that remain open in Kabul, Balkh, Jalalabad and Bamyan.
The Veterans Transition Network (VTN) is a nationwide veteran-to-veteran support network for those transitioning to civilian life. VTN is accepting donations to provide shelter and support to interpreters in Afghanistan awaiting evacuation to Canada.
If you’re considering displaced talent to fill skills shortages, thank you for exploring this talent pool and please alert us about your hiring needs here. We work with talented candidates who are living in refugee circumstances worldwide and who represent a range of professional backgrounds. They and their families may be displaced from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Venezuela, and other countries. All are in need of transformative job and relocation opportunities.
Veronica Wilson, TalentLift’s co-founder and Legal Director, joined Emily Lukaweski in a webinar hosted by the Canadian Bar Association on “TalentLift: Innovation in the Practice of Immigration and Law.”
Veronica spoke about her journey in immigration law that led her to co-founding TalentLift, Canada’s first non-profit talent agency offering in-house visa services that focuses exclusively on supporting employers to recruit and relocate talent from within refugee populations. In just six months of start-up work, Veronica has developed TalentLift into a Civil Society Organization registered with the Law Society of Ontario and is pioneering the use of additional skilled visa pathways under Canada’s Economic Mobility Pathways Project for employers and candidates across tech, manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality sectors.
She showed us why mission-driven leadership creates value for employers and the candidates they hire. “I really value having the time to get to know clients and work with them on a more personal level,” she said.
Driving Veronica and the outstanding hiring teams that partner with us is the potential within this unique talent pool. Candidates living in refugee circumstances “have so much to contribute if given the opportunity to use their skills and showcase their talent.”
Meet Veronica and hear her firsthand leadership journey by watching the video conversation below or on the Canadian Bar Association Facebook page.
Canada is redesigning skilled immigration pathways to include talented applicants living in refugee circumstances worldwide. New steps announced today send a signal that as Canada welcomes record numbers of skilled newcomers to grow our companies and communities, this country will deliberately include the immense talent within refugee populations.
Marco Mendicino, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, signaled a more inclusive skilled immigration system under the federal pilot Economic Mobility Pathways Project (EMPP), which aims to improve access to Canada’s skilled visas.
He spoke alongside Mohammed Hakmi, a fullstack developer hired by Bonfire and the first candidate to arrive under the EMPP, Lisa Smith, CEO of Glen Haven Manor, a pioneering long-term care facility that hired 15 nurses living as refugees in Kenya and Lebanon, and Khodor Ramlawi, one of those talented nurses.
Expedited processing standard for federal permanent residence pathways: This can reduce total processing timelines to somewhere closer to 8-10 months depending on the first application stage, whether through a Provincial Nominee Program, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, or other programs.
Alternative proof of settlement funds: This can overcome one of the main financial barriers, which is the requirement to demonstrate personal savings, typically in a bank account, that can approach $20,000 for a family of three. Refugees often have little or no savings after years in displacement. Enabling the use of loans to meet this requirement would be a much-needed, sustainable solution.
A flexible application process: This may refer to the use of scanned documents which can overcome tech, printing, and postage barriers while enabling more efficient paperless workflows. Traditionally, some permanent residence applications have been paper-based and require original documents, signatures and photos.
Waiving fees for permanent residence: This can further reduce the costs of skilled immigration that fall to applicants, reducing strain on their finances before arriving in Canada and earning a first paycheque.
Valid passport not required: The alternative, use of a single journey travel document (SJTD), enables travel after a Canadian visa is approved without need for a valid passport. Refugees often have expired or no passports, and it can be unsafe or prohibitively expensive to renew or obtain one for immigration purposes.
Critically, the Minister did not yet signal his intention to extend access to work permits to displaced talent. This change would revolutionize their access, by allowing them to compete far more equitably with talent from other backgrounds.
Work permits are the single fastest and most relied-upon entry into Canada for skilled workers. But applicants to work permits must demonstrate their ability to leave Canada, effectively shutting out anyone who had to flee their home country and can’t prove strong ties to another home. If displaced talent can’t access work permits, they have to arrive on the extended timelines of permanent residence, rendering them non-competitive for many employers who need the speed and predictability available to other talent. Additionally, they’re excluded from many permanent residence pathways that require or favour applicants with in-Canada work experience.
Bottom line: Canada is building a more inclusive and equitable skilled immigration system designed to attract and retain talent, regardless of circumstance, to power teams and new home communities. This will be a major source of hope for people living displaced who have potential, and now have opportunity.
We can’t wait to support more teams in Canada to source this incredible talent!
Work permits can bring this progress to scale. You can learn more about the imperative of full work permit access in a Globe and Mail op-ed by Craig Damian Smith and TalentLift’s Dana Wagner, a follow-up Globe and Mail column by Doug Saunders, and a policy brief released by the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration at Ryerson University.
The culture surrounding tech recruiting can be mystifying when first experienced. Why does one resume generate many calls from recruiters, while another with similar experience languishes? How do you answer questions like, “Tell me about a time a project failed?” And how are you supposed to code on a (now virtual) whiteboard when someone is watching you?
If this culture is challenging for candidates in North America, even with coaching from their schools and private courses, it can seem impenetrable to those with tech experience in other contexts. These global candidates have skills that are desperately needed in the tech sector, but employers may not recognize their potential across these cultural differences.
To bridge this divide, peers in tech came together last week to illuminate the hiring process and tackle some of the barriers that can unintentionally disadvantage talented applicants living in refugee circumstances. Twenty-five volunteers from Google, in locations including Waterloo, San Francisco, London, and Munich, connected with twenty-one software developers living displaced in Jordan and Lebanon. This event was hosted as part of GoogleServe, a month-long employee volunteering push, and powered by three non-profit partners working with talented refugees: TalentLift, Windmill Microlending, and Talent Beyond Boundaries.
The idea for the exchange grew from a major opportunity: Skilled visa pathways in Canada are increasingly open to applicants in refugee circumstances under a government pilot called the Economic Mobility Pathways Project, facilitated by non-profits like TalentLift that connect companies facing skills shortages to displaced talent worldwide. Canada is targeting 500 principal applicants and their families moving on skilled visas from displacement over two years. Mohammed at Bonfire and Omar at Shopify are just a few of the brilliant newcomers supported into our teams and communities under this pilot.
The challenge for these candidates is they often have little experience with the style of interviews that are common for Canadian tech employers. When it comes to tech recruiting, few companies do it at a larger scale than Google. Many “Googlers” have experience from both sides of the table, as candidates and interviewers. From that deep experience, volunteers offered tips and techniques and engaged in practice interviews with candidates. In return, they formed connections and gained insight into the experience of their peers coming from contexts that often present challenges such as unstable networks, time constraints, and countless other pressures on their wellbeing that come with living as a refugee.
Here are some of the tips from Googlers supporting their peers in displacement:
Clean, simple, consistent, bullet-pointed: Bullet points help make your CV more legible.
Action words & metrics: Start each bullet point with an action verb (e.g., created, designed, improved) and include metrics to highlight the impact you had in each experience on your resume.
Review the minimum & preferred qualifications: Call out applicable skills that match the minimum and preferred qualifications listed for the position to which you’re applying.
Experience & projects: Recruiters need to see experience with programming languages and frameworks. This can come in many forms. A “Projects” section is a great way to speak to your experience, especially if you don’t yet have a lot of work experience.
Know the types of questions to expect:
Algorithms – can you figure out a solution, efficiently?
Coding – can you write working, readable code?
Systems design – can you reason about how to design a system, ask questions to gather the requirements, weigh design tradeoffs, etc.?
Practice, practice, practice. Practice coding interview questions from sources like: leetcode.com. Do practice interviews to work on your communication.
During the interview, ask for clarifications. Don’t jump immediately into coding.
Make sure the interviewer understands your idea. Speak while coding and explain your solution. Think out loud.
Try to test your solution without being asked. Refine as you go. Scan for bugs in your code.
Don’t panic if you don’t know the answer, try to come up with the best solution you can. Be honest. If you’re stuck, ask for hints.
Be confident. You can be nervous about the interview itself, but be confident in who you are and your skills.
The hiring process can also keep displaced talent out by unintentional design. There’s lots more that can be done to deconstruct, understand, and redesign tech hiring to include the immense talent in displacement.
Pioneering companies in Canada have formed the Tech Talent Welcome Council to support hiring from this talent pool. We’ll be sharing innovations and good practice as our community grows.
Ontario recently updated its intake system for prospective skilled immigrants with a design tweak that enables the province to conduct targeted draws for applicants who are both skilled and living in refugee circumstances. It may be the first example of refugee-inclusive design in the development of a Canadian skilled immigration system.
The new “expression of interest” (EOI) system in the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, used to nominate people who have skills needed by the Ontario economy, asks all applicants to register a profile to determine eligibility and a points score. Those who meet the human capital and other eligibility requirements of a provincial nominee program, and who earn a competitive points score, receive an invitation to apply. What differentiates Ontario’s EOI system from others across provincial and federal jurisdictions is that it enables applicants to self-identify as someone living in refugee circumstances, who is supported under Canada’s pilot Economic Mobility Pathways Project. The new feature will be released pending further discussion between Ontario and the federal government on overall nomination allocation, but it is ready to launch and signals a new and more inclusive era in talent attraction.
For decades, Canada’s skilled immigration systems were unavailable to the talent present within refugee populations. Requirements across skilled visa pathways have systematically excluded applicants in displacement despite their skills and experience. For example, the requirement to have a valid passport excludes people who have expired passports, with no safe or affordable way to renew them from their home country governments; and the requirement to hold liquid funds in a bank account excludes those with little to no savings, who might also be disenfranchised from banking in host countries where they live.
Canadian federal, provincial and territorial governments set out to better understand the barriers facing talented refugees to existing skilled immigration pathways under the Economic Mobility Pathways Project. Launched in 2018, the pilot was part of Canada’s effort alongside the international community to explore more safe and legal immigration pathways available to the now more than 26 million people living as refugees around the world.
Ontario, an inaugural member of the pilot and home to the first person who arrived under it, supported the nominations of five candidates and their families who have relocated from displacement for in-demand work across the province in tech, the skilled trades, and hospitality. Many more candidates are in a visa processing pipeline who hold Ontario nominations. These pilot efforts confirmed beyond a doubt that there are immensely talented people living as refugees whose skills are in-demand in Ontario, and who can qualify for skilled visas as long as unfair barriers – mostly administrative – are removed.
Ontario has deepened its leadership in this pioneering work through the new EOI system. In our view, this system has the potential to do several things as it is trialled and refined. It could:
Enable targeted draws to reflect Ontario’s priority to include and attract talent from within refugee populations.
Waive certain requirements that disproportionately impact the eligibility of these applicants.
Award alternative points for adaptability due to refugee circumstances – perseverance, creativity, reinvention – that offset points awarded for assets refugees cannot yet obtain like Canadian study and work experience.
Through any of these pursuits, Ontario advances the vision that talent lives within refugee populations, and that companies and communities across the province benefit from deliberately including and attracting it. Ontario has created a promising model for governments in Canada and worldwide to follow.
TalentLift supports Canadian employers to find and relocate talent from within refugee populations, and is the first non-profit talent agency of its kind to offer clients in-house visa services. We achieved registration as a Civil Society Organization with the Law Society of Ontario this month.
The Law Society of Ontario introduced a new Civil Society Organization status in April 2019 to make lawyer and paralegal services more accessible to the public. It enables lawyers and paralegals to provide their direct professional services as employees of charities and non-profits like TalentLift. Previously, legal services provided through these organizations needed to be outsourced.
This milestone is wonderful news for TalentLift as we better serve employers and the candidates they hire from refugee circumstances. Our model encompasses recruitment, visa application (through our in-house legal department) and settlement coordination. It adapts what works in the private sector to achieve specialization and efficiency. It’s a major step towards advancing the competitiveness of refugees in the global job market where they can increasingly compete on a level field with all international talent.
The Law Society of Ontario has noted the many potential benefits to delivering lawyer and paralegal services through charities and non-profits, including:
For clients (i.e. our employers and candidates):
Quicker and more direct access to lawyer and paralegal services
Professional services delivered by trained, licensed, insured lawyers and paralegals
Earlier identification and potential resolution of legal issues
Reduced client stress and enhanced client outcomes and empowerment
For charities and non-profits (i.e. TalentLift):
Enhanced organizational capacity to identify and address client legal issues
Enhanced client service by having a lawyer or paralegal potentially on-site to address legal issues
Enhanced ability to provide holistic services to clients
This approval will benefit the companies we work with and the talented candidates they hire from displacement. With TalentLift, companies hire and relocate talent with ease and with significant impact. While candidates engage with a purpose-built and mission-driven legal team in their immigration journey to new companies and home communities across Canada.
Canada can immediately and actively share responsibility by offering displaced people across Latin America safe passage through access to programs for skilled immigrants, Craig Damian Smith of Ryerson University and Dana Wagner of TalentLift explain in an opinion piece published in the Globe and Mail. They argue that better access to work permits would revolutionize mobility opportunities to Canada for displaced talent worldwide – including for those living displaced in Canada’s own hemisphere.