Welcome to the “How To… Find A Job In Canada” series!
Saying that last year wasn’t great economically speaking is an understatement. Pretty much all countries worldwide suffered from the global economic downturn and Canada was no exception. Yet, a lot of people are still considering moving to Canada, while others are already in the process and are probably worried about whether they will get a job at all.
There is no easy answer when it comes to employment. You know the story… a bit of patience, a bit of skills, a bit of luck.
I’m not a job counselor, and I’m not an expert. But I do know how it works in Canada and I’m hoping to pass along some information that may not be obvious to everyone. A post will be published every Saturday… enjoy!
Canada’s hiring culture is very much North American and can be a bit puzzling at first. It can be summed up in three steps: get the first contact right, be proactive and build your network.
Getting the first contact right
No matter whether you are applying for an advertised position or cold calling a potential employer in your field, it’s important to make a good first impression.
- Do exactly what the ad asks: some ads ask you to send your resume and cover letter by email, so do just that. It’s still common enough to be asked to fax your resume. Yes, it’s a pain, but if it’s what the employer wants… go head!
- Try to fit the position you are applying for: most job advertisements list a series of skills needed to do the job. When you don’t have all of them, or don’t meet the minimum experience required, take a chance and highlight all the skills you have, as long as they are relevant to the position. Employers look for the best candidate, not necessarily superman!
- Get addresses and contact names beforehand: this is really important when you are cold calling, i.e approaching prospective employers. Give the company a call before you send your resume and get the name of the person in charge of hiring, or a contact you can send your resume directly to.
- Follow up: employers can be slow in getting back to you. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to give them a call if you haven’t heard back from them. Just ask how they are coming along with their efforts to fill the position!
- Don’t always expect employers to acknowledge receipt of your application: in fact, a lot of ads state “only successful applicants will be contacted”.
Canadians, and North Americans in general, are usually very proactive (and encouraged to be!) when job-hunting.
The easiest way to look for a job is often browsing for ads and applying for the positions you think you can fit. But in fact, the best methods to find work and those with the highest success rate are:
- Cold calling: see some tactics for cold calling in Cold Calling Tips That Work.
- Networking: this is the best way to tap into the invisible job market.
Both methods are traditionally seen as scary and somewhat intimidating, but… they work. Confidence is everything!
Keep in mind that North Americans value face-to-face contact, and a positive “can-do” attitude. Being assertive (as well as friendly!) helps a lot in getting a job for which you do not meet the requirements perfectly.
Building a network
Newcomers to Canada usually have one big handicap: they don’t have a network. Fortunately, little by little, you will get to know people in your industry, both employees and employers. And this start with the job search.
You should expect a lot of rejections when you are cold calling, since employers won’t necessarily be hiring at the moment. Don’t worry, this is normal! Plus, even though you hadn’t realized it, you are building your network. If a potential employer tells you he is not hiring right now, take a minute to ask for a lead: someone else in the industry who may be interested in your skills, for instance. Always be polite and thanks people you talked to, whether it’s the receptionist, the manager or the human resource specialist. And if you got an interview or the chance to speak with someone on the phone, send a short email thanking them for their time. They could be part of your new network!