A New Canadian's Guide to Employment in Canada
An important consideration of most New Canadians will be making contact with employers and getting your first job here. The normal processes of getting a job in Canada, however, may not be common knowledge to those who arrive from different countries.Seek out a mentor in your occupation who can assist you with insight into ways that you can promote yourself and improve your job search efforts in Canada;
Network with those people who work in the field including, potentially, those who are responsible for hiring in the field;
Many positions of employment never make it to the stage of advertising. Make use of contacts that you gain by learning about positions which are available but are not yet publicized.
Before jumping head first into your job search effort, it is worthwhile to take the time to recognize the similarities, and to understand the differences, between that process in Canada and your home country. Here, we have summarized some tips on some of the important things to consider before applying for your first job.
1. Your Résumé (Curriculum Vitae)
The format and presentation of the résumé that Canadian recruiters expect from candidates may be very different than the standards in other countries. For example, inclusion of photographs or personal information in a Canadian résumé is not generally considered acceptable, but may be common in other locations. It is generally recognized that a hiring manager may spend only a fraction of a minute screening résumés, so it is important that all facets be appealing.
A critical first step is to re-create the presentation of your qualifications and experience from the ground up. This means more than simply polishing or re-working your résumé for the positions that you pursue in Canada, but rather re-formulating all aspects of this important document following research and examination of what works and what does not. Re-examine each aspect of your skill-set, and present these in a way that a Canadian employer will find appealing.
Much like someone who is undergoing a career-change, the résumé of a New Canadian is fundamentally different from most others. You may wish to place more focus on your accomplishments rather than duties, and identify those facets of your experience that are directly relevant to the employer.
2. Promote your International Experience
An issue facing some new Canadians is the question of experience gained in Canada versus that earned abroad. Some employers may demonstrate a preference for the former, so it should be your goal to circumvent this problem from the outset and to make use of your international experience as an asset to your qualifications, and not the opposite.
Always be prepared to highlight what advantages your international experience can bring to the employer, and demonstrate what consistencies exist between such experience and that which would be gained in Canada. Research the employers that you are applying to, and educate yourself as to how your international experience could benefit the employer. Be prepared to highlight how you are an asset during an interview.
In order to raise your chances of being asked to an interview, it may also be useful to highlight these same advantages in the covering letter that accompanies the submission of your résumé. Again, always research the employer (for example, web sites, investor documentation, etc.), and be prepared to identify those advantages that your international experience offers. At this time during an interview, it will also be useful to describe the achievements that benefited your previous employers, and do so in a manner that relates to the Canadian employer that you are pursuing.
3. Credential Assessment
Do not expect that employers will be familiar with all the various international standards of education. Especially if your education derives from a country in which the standards are significantly different from those in Canada, it may be to your advantage to undertake an objective evaluation of your academic qualifications. Federal and provincial organizations exist which can provide this service, and some professional bodies may also be able to provide such evaluations specific to a specific industry.
By offering objective information on your academic qualifications, you provide your self with an advantage when being considered for the job of your choice. You can help to remove any uncertainty which may exist in the employer's mind as to validity of your education credential in comparison to the standards of Canada.
4. Occupational Organizations
Many occupations in Canada benefit from the existence of a membership body devoted to promoting and bettering its recognition in Canada. These bodies may be responsible for professional licensing, or may simply comprise a voluntary membership of those who work in that role in Canada and wish to see the occupations improvement overall.
Contacting these organizations should be a step undertaken by any job seeker in Canada, but especially those who are recent arrivals. The advantages are numerous:
Also, virtually every province and city in Canada has immigrant support organizations (usually non-profit groups), dedicated to assisting new arrivals. This will generally include employment assistance, in addition to other services such as acclimatization and familiarization with your new surroundings.'
5. Reacquaint Yourself with your Occupation
It is not uncommon for significant differences to exist between your occupation as it exists in your home country, and that in Canada. Differences in terminology, technologies, or other aspects of the position should be identified and an effort made to update yourself on those facets of the job. By doing so, you can remove a significant disadvantage which may otherwise present itself in your résumé or at the time of a job interview.
Virtually every new arrival to Canada will experience a period of time during which they have not yet started working in their new career. In order to help minimize this time by gaining some local experience and demonstrating your commitment to your occupation, seek out opportunities by which you can volunteer to work for a Canadian company.
In addition to the experience that can be gained by volunteering, you will also gain new contacts, and learn the current state of the art in your field. This can provide dramatic advantages in seeking out work, and in strengthening those aspects of your skills that may need it to be competitive here. Of course, there is always the potential that a volunteer position could turn into the paid position that you are looking for in Canada.
Canadian employers will generally want to be provided with professional references who can attest as to the quality of your work. Although a foreign reference speaks equally well about your skills and abilities, a Canadian reference can prove to be very valuable in impressing a hiring manager. A volunteer position can also help you by making such a reference available to prospective employers.
7. Cultural Differences.
Both in terms of your ability to get a job in Canada, and keeping that job, informing yourself about Canada's cultural norms in the workplace can be a very important. Differences between cultural norms can encompass a wide spectrum, from social issues such as eye contact and gestures, to workplace issues such as attire and interpersonal relationships. Familiarity with the cultural practices of your employer and colleagues can go a long way to ensuring your success in the work place. Of course, this also gives you the opportunity to increase your colleagues' knowledge of your own culture.