Canada’s Hiring Culture (5/10)

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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. Sounds like good sound advice. In North America it is really important to ‘sell yourself’. Here in Norway if you sell yourself too hard you will make the wrong impression because ‘bragging’ is a bit taboo here. You have to be a bit humble….to be honest though I have very seldom gotten a job by applying to an advertisement. Often it is best to use your connections to get an introduction. I feel my current job was what I would call a “walk in”, I more or less had the job before the interview, as long as I didn’t blow the interview everything was set. So use your connections, and you never know where those will come from, but believe me, you do have them.
    .-= DianeCA´s last blog ..Remembering blog gathering in Le Castellet, Provence =-.

  2. Ah yes, these are painful days for both Mehmet and me. He’s not able to find anything – ANYthing – so he’s not feeling great about Canada. Change will come… we’re just waiting!
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..The Sumitomo boys =-.

  3. @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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