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Finding Job Opportunities (3/10)

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 informations that may not be obvious to everyone. A post will be published every Saturday… enjoy!

There are usually three ways to look for a job: going through a staffing agency, checking out ads or tapping into the “invisible job market”.

Staffing Agencies

Staffing agencies, also known as employment agencies or placement agencies are plentiful. They aim to match employers and job seekers in the job market.

Job seekers do not have to pay for these agencies’ services: the employers pay the fees. Most agencies require you to register online (all the biggest ones have a website) and submit your resume. You will then be called for an appointment: bring another copy of your resume and references, and handle the meeting the same way you would handle any job interview.

Staffing agencies typically test candidates on-site. Your computer skills, language skills etc. will likely be assessed: this could take a few hours. Then, you may be contacted for various job opportunities, ranging from very short term contract to permanent positions.

Staffing agencies can be a great way for newcomers to solve the “Canadian experience catch 22”. A lot of employers will prefer candidates who already have work experience in Canada, but to gain experience in Canada, you have to start somewhere. Agencies are used to deal with newcomers and as long as you have the skills, they will usually be less picky about your lack of Canadian references or experience.

Note that agencies usually specialize in a certain field: construction, administrative support, banking, IT etc. Select the ones relevant to your work field.

Useful links:

Canadian Job Websites

Each province, even sometimes each city had various websites with many job ads. Job Bank is probably the biggest ones, with thousands of ads from the private sector. You can find a pretty comprehensive list of relevant websites by province and by field on the British Expats Wiki.

Jobs in the federal government are advertised on the Public Service Commission of Canada. You need to create a profile and apply for positions from your profile. Be aware that the recruitment process for positions in the public sector is notoriously long (usually months!) and that it is extremely difficult to get a job if you are not a Canadian citizen.

Local newspapers are also a great way to find job opportunities. A long list of ads is usually published on Saturdays and job offers are very current.

Tapping into the invisible job market

It is often said that at least 50% of positions are never advertised: this is the famous “invisible job market”, and probably newcomers’ biggest challenge.

Indeed, a lot of companies don’t advertise vacant positions: either they hope to fill them from within, either they are hiring from a specific network. This is one of the reasons why networking is so important in North America!

It is always good to send a few resumes and cover letters to companies you are dreaming to work for. A lot of them will keep your resume for a while and will let you know if a positions matching your skills is available. I often joke that in Ottawa, half of the people are in “pools”, waiting for dream jobs, usually at the federal government!

It’s a good idea to carry business cards with you and to give them whenever you get the chance. Don’t be shy to talk about your skills and what you are hoping to do: I got quite a few opportunities this way. And don’t forget networking is a two-ways street: it’s not about using people but rather helping each other.

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