Canada's Hiring Culture (5/10)

Canadian Flag on Parliament Hill

Cana­dian Flag on Par­lia­ment Hill

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”.

Being proac­tive

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:

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!


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. @DianeCA — I totally agree. I was new to this “sell­ing one­self” thing when I first came. In Europe, it would be con­sid­ered as brag­ging, but here is it per­fectly acceptable!

    @Nigel Babu — I wish though 😆

    @Sidney — You bet — I hate look­ing for work too.

    @Beth — I agree, every­body is a bit down right now, it’s not the best time to look for a job. Yet, there are opportunities.

    @Brenda — Oh, I remem­ber, I’ve been there! Tell him it’s nor­mal (well, I’m sure you did), it’s just a mat­ter of time.

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