Passed over for promotion (Guest commentary)

Emphasis on soft skills makes it harder for foreign-trained to climb internal ranks
By Melissa Magder
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/16/2009

Canadian organizations are unknowingly missing out on a highly skilled and educated talent pool because of cultural disconnects or misunderstandings. Many foreign candidates get passed over for reasons that have nothing to do with their ability to perform the job for which they are applying.

Poor soft skills and a lack of Canadian work experience are at the top of the list. These issues have garnered much attention and many organizations are running diversity initiatives and trying to adopt a more culturally inclusive recruitment process. Although these efforts to bridge the gap will help, the challenges for culturally different people don’t end once they have been hired. The same challenges exist when it comes to promotion and retention — but these are rarely spoken about.

Take, for example, the following scenario: A job has been posted in a Canadian organization and an internal candidate from a culturally different background applies. HR conducts the first interview, deems the candidate qualified and moves him forward for a second interview. The hiring manager interviews this person as well as a Canadian-born internal candidate and a Canadian-born external candidate.