I’ve been involved in helping to develop Regional First Nations and Industry employment related relationships for several years. We’ve utilized podcasts (https://www.northernconversations.com/), blogging (https://mfgcln.com/category/first-nations-blogs/) and email newsletters to help capture the stories and learning gained from our conversations and meetings. Arising from these constructive dialogues have been regular, monthly meetings between regional HR and Education managers from Industry and First Nations communities. Regular attendees have included representatives from Epicure, Schneider Electric, Terra Remote Sensing, Quester Tangent, The Ralmax Group of companies and Engaged HR (representing Tourism Victoria). Increased trust, relationship and understanding has been a positive benefit from these gatherings (online since COVID). A focus of the last 2-3 months has been specifically on the job interview and resumes submission processes. Let’s briefly review what has been discussed and suggested.
The resume is the traditional cornerstone process towards applying for a job. Early on in our employment searching journey we are taught how to create an effective resume that primarily focuses on the listing of job experiences to demonstrate employment competencies and skill sets. Our recent discussions have determined that this existing process is not necessarily how a First Nations community would represent their knowledge, experience, competencies and personal attributes to a potential employer.
A culturally relevant First Nations and skills review would consist of regular conversation and story sharing. An effective interviewer would draw out job related criteria using storytelling and conversation techniques. As a recent example, conversation based skills assessment has been the primary hiring process used in the Tsawout First Nation Longhouse re-building project (https://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/tsawout-first-nation-rebuilding-community-with-longhouse-groundbreaking-1.24232047) currently underway. Project manager Matt Harry discussed this experience during a recent podcast listed at https://www.northernconversations.com/e/matt-harry-built-contracting/.
But how does a person find a job opportunity and demonstrate interest in the job to begin with? Traditionally we have utilized online job postings, newspaper advertisements and personal networks. However, to encourage First Nations participation, an employer should reach out and build a relationship with the regional First Nations career centers like the Victoria Friendship Native Center (http://www.vnfc.ca/). Trained, experienced and culturally sensitive job coaches/councillors will help manage the communications and cultural challenges between employer and First Nations candidate. These are essential elements (job coach and employment agency) to building a successful bridge to a First Nations employment applicant submission and review.
The job interview is an intimidating process for most people and it is no different for a First Nations candidate. Combining a natural anxiety with cultural barriers, e.g., indifference to authority, a tendency towards shyness, the inclination is for the First Nations candidate to avoid the interview at all costs. So the employer should consider inviting the job coach to the candidate interview within a less intimidating coffee shop type environment. As mentioned previously, skills and applicant experience evaluation thru conversation and storytelling should be the preferred strategy rather than a question/answer type process.
Culturally appropriate and respectful processes must be incorporated into a successful First Nations person’s path to employment. Traditional based employment evaluations are not entirely conducive or effective to a successful First Nations job hiring experience and consideration should be given to re-orienting the process in order to achieve successful Workforce Diversity. Reconciliation means building trust, respect and incorporating non-traditional thinking. That includes the resume review and interview processes.
Numerous Lower Vancouver Island companies are currently re-modelling and modifying their traditional job hiring processes. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for contact information of those employers to further explore how new techniques can be adopted for your workplace.