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2006-05-22 11:13

  ------- By Philip Whitford

  In a difficult employment climate, it is always assumed that ESL speakers will be the last to get jobs. Yet there are always some who get jobs, no matter what their language level. How do they do it? Here are a few strategies that may work for you.

  If you have poor English, you are automatically at a disadvantage when the employer compares you to other job applicants. Even with the most tolerant, patient, and forgiving attitude, the employer can make a decision based only upon what he or she can understand about the potential employee. Yet ~ all know personally, or know stories of job-seekers with bad English who have been hired.

  What are their secrets? Their secrets are built around the idea of complete and effective communication, as opposed to the idea of attaining complete and accentless fluency in English. Complete, of course refers to the use of different avenues and media of communication; and effective means to make a change in the employer''''''''''''''''s knowledge or attitude. The following strategies are built around expanding the number of tools the ESL job-seeker has to communicate their value to the employer, and to making those tools more effective.

  1. Model North American Body Language

  Nonverbal language is very important, and when your abilities in spoken English are low, it becomes even more significant. If you don''''''''''''''''t have the words and phrases in English to communicate your friendliness, desire for the job, self-confidence, consideration for the employer, and so on, your body must do the work.

  This means examining the habitual body language of your home culture and comparing it to North American expectations. Do you habitually stand too close, or too far away from North Americans? Are your hand and body gestures too large or too small? Are your facial expressions misinterpreted? Do you shake hands in the North American way? Do you move too quickly or too slowly?

  Since these are all comparative questions whose answers are different, depending upon your home culture, you must role-play with native-born Canadians and get clear feedback. This is more difficult than you might think, because the native-born will want to help you with your spoken English, and you will likely have to bring their attention back again and again to their reactions to how you stand, walk, and sit.

  HINTS: Handshakes are generally with one hand, firmly placed into the other person''''''''''''''''s palm, with a strong, not crushing grip, and no more than one or two shakes. Generally, North Americans are comfortable with a space of one-and-a-half arm''''''''''''''''s length between the two of you when ~ed, and about an arm''''''''''''''''s length or a bit less when standing. The person conducting the interview sets the rules.

  2. Change the Tone of Your Voice

  Some studies have shown that up to eighty per cent of communication is through the tone of voice, not the words used. Regardless of your accent and your vocabulary, you can make your vocal tone pleasant, firm, interested, excited, warm, and friendly (aren''''''''''''''''t those wonderful "good employed'''''''''''''''' characteristics? - and all through vocal tone alone!)。

  Along with tone go volume and speed. Ideally, you should vary your volume a bit Mile you talk, to show different degrees of interest and desire; bid if that is difficult for you, it is best to speak consistently just a bit louder than normal conversation. This is assertive and positive, and helps the listener past the barrier your accent may present. Speaking just a bit more slowly aids communication because it focuses the employees attention on your words, and presents a general air of confidence. It also allows you to think out your answers carefully.

  HINTS: Tape record yourself so you know what you sound like. Copy friends who have good speaking voices, or copy professional actors on television. Often Men you create a warm and friendly tone in your voice, your body language naturally changes for the better.

  3. Appropriate Personal Dress and Presentation

  At the beginning of the interview the employer hears you say hello, feels your handshake - and of course sees and smells you.

  Your clothing need not be expensive, bid it must fit three criteria. First, it must be clean, clean, clean. Second, it must be appropriate for the workplace - suits for the office, more casual clothes for laboring jobs. Third, your clothes must be, if not Wish or current, not strange. Strange might apply to badly out-of-date styles, such as bell-bottom pants and folly shirts for men, and it might also apply to odd color combinations. And finally, it applies to odd or out-of-place fashion accessories, such as neck-scarves for men, or heavy men''''''''''''''''s shoes for women.

  Finally, be aware of the effect of your smell. I do not mean body odour, for it is a given that you go to a job interview freshly bathed and with your clothes recently laundered. 1 refer to perfumes, colognes, scented soaps, aftershave, and other aromatic make-up you might use. In a small space like an office, a sensitive person can literally become nauseated from a strong combination of scented aftershave, cologne, aromatic shampoo, and perfumed body powder. The objective at this point is to make yourself as UNobtrusive as possible.

  HINTS: Put together a couple of interview outfits and show them to some native-born and get their emotional reactions. Ask for honesty; many people don''''''''''''''''t want to embarrass you, and so may not tell you the truth about your clothing unless you insist.

  Go through the toiletries you commonly use, and smell each one of them individually. If you like smelling ~, choose one only to be your main scent, and use that one only before interviews.

  Now that you have walked in the door, shaken hands, said "hello" nicely, and sat down in your good interview clothes at the right distance…… you have to speak that damn English!

  4. Memorize Jargon in Your Field

  Employers don''''''''''''''''t need for you to speak and read enough English to talk about current events; they need you to have the English that is used in the particular job they are hiring for.

  Concentrate your English beaming on those technical words and phrases which are used most often in the job you want. Memorize the proper names of the machines, tools, software, books, and procedures you will use. Know the names of the products or services you will be selling; if you are a technician, know the appropriate technical language.

  Your mastery of the jargon in your field demonstrates your basic competence and skills to the employer, despite other difficulties you may be having with English.

  HINTS: Go to the library, or to a college and study a textbook in your particular field. Arrange an information interview with a native-born Canadian in the field, and go over these special words and phrases, until you can make yourself understood. If you can say "hello", "good-bye'''''''''''''''', and "his PC has a Pentium 11-300 Mhz motherboard with the new bus technology, 64MB RAM and an 8-Gig Hard Drive, for only $2,100.", you''''''''''''''''ve almost got the job.

  Bring along a technical book or manual to the interview, and read from it or ask the employer to ask you a question from it.

  5. Depend Upon Personal References

  If you cannot speak well for yourself, others must speak for you. Make sure that you have a complete set of references who can speak English fluently enough to make a good case for you to the employer. Native-born English speakers often do so veil in the interview that the employer does not need to call references. Since you cannot do that, you must depend on your references much more. You must make sure that they make points about you that you have difficulty making. Practice with your references the good things that they will say: they are your voice.

  HINTS: If your best friend or former employer cannot speak English well, you may have to get another friend or co-worker with better English to speak for them. You can also get them to have their comments translated and written down, in the form of recommendation letters. These are very good to bring along to the interview.

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