Welcome to my new “How To… Canada” series! In this series, I’ll try to put my knowledge to good use and shed some light on my new country: Canada. You will learn how some immigration tips and tricks, how to improve your proficiency in both official languages, how to find a job, how to settle in Canada etc. I’ll publish a new “How To… Canada” post every Saturday.
As a newcomer in Canada, you will probably need to get a job as soon as you can: settling in a new country is expensive. But going job-hunting can be an intimidating task. Here are a few tips to help you find a job in Canada.
Your first goal should be to be assessed:
- Have your documents translated: if your work-related documents (such as degrees, certifications etc.) are not in French or English, you will need to have them professionally translated (for Ontario, you can use the Canada International Translation Services).
- Get your credentials assessed: you may need to have your credentials (certificate, diploma, degree) assessed by an organization. Unfortunately, this is not free… But on the other side, it will demonstrate how your education compares in Canada and will “speak” to your employers. WES (World Educational Services) and the University of Toronto Comparative Education Service offer such services.You can get a list of credential assessment services here.
- Have a language assessment: if French or English is not your mother tongue, it’s a good idea to get a free assessment. You need to be comfortable enough to express yourself in a foreign language all day long at work! If you feel you could benefit from some classes, Canada has some great language programs for immigrants, and best of all, most of them are free (see Learning French Or English). Note as well that Canada has two official languages: French and English. Depending where you settle, you may have to speak English only, French only (Quebec)… or both (Ottawa)! Read more in Canadianism (s): French & English.
All set? You are now ready to get your first Canadian experience! This can be a bit of a catch 22 for newcomers, since you need a first experience in Canada to get a job, but you need a job to have your first experience… you can however use these tips to overcome this:
- Use a staffing agency (also called temp agency or placement agency): they can be quite helpful to newcomers for different reasons: first, they are deal with newcomers everyday and will most likely accept the fact that you don’t have experience in Canada. Second, a lot of these agencies will test your language proficiency, computer abilities etc. onsite, so you will know where you stand. And finally, they will deal with your future employer on your behalf, which can makes things easier if you don’t know the Canadian job culture much yet. The downside of these agencies is that even though they offer their service free of charge for job seekers, your average salary tend to be lower than if you would have applied to jobs directly yourself (that is because employers pay the agencies a commission). Besides, most of the agencies offer entry-level positions in very generic fields (call centers, customer service positions). That said, a few agencies focus on specific fields (IT, medical) and if you are qualified, you may find a great position. Start with reputable agencies such as Manpower, Ranstad, Adecco etc. and never ever pay a fee to register (scam!).
- Be open-minded: if you have a lot of experience working in a specific field in your home country, job-hunting in Canada may look depressing at first. Having all your foreign credentials assessed and recognized takes time and you may even have to take additional classes to work in your field. Thousands of immigrants have the same problem every year and our government is well aware of it. Meanwhile, keep an open-mind and look for a first paid experience in Canada, even if it’s not in your field or in a position lower than your previous one.
So, where would you find job opportunities in Canada? Most Canadian find a job through those three mediums:
- Newspapers: they usually have a weekly “classified” section with a lot of mostly local job opportunities.
- Job websites: they can be either general, either focused on a specific field. A few reputable websites include: Nice Job, Workopolis, Working.com, Job Bank, HCareers (hospitality jobs), Construction Jobs Center (construction), CanadaIT (IT jobs), CTen (engineering and related), Health Care Jobs, Canadian Nurse, Retail…
- Networking: in Canada’s private sector, there is a huge “hidden market”. You will hear about these vacancies that are not advertised through people you know — that is networking. The best way to network is to get to know people in your field and to keep in touch!
By the time you finished this article, you should have gotten your first job interview already! So on D-Day, remember a few things:
- Personnel screening: some employers may ask if you have a a reliabily status, a security clearance or even request a credit report. Reliability status and security clearance and usually asked when applying for a position in (or related to) the government and you will need to give personal informations for it to be processed. An authorization to access your credit report may be asked if you will be handling money or be placed in a position of financial trust.
- Bring references: Canadians loves them! Most employers will ask for references, that is the information (name, email address, phone number) of (usually 3) people you worked with. It doesn’t need to be a former manager, it can also be a former co-worker, a fellow student etc. These people will be contacted and asked a few questions about you (are you reliable, what are your assets etc.). Make sure your references know they can be contacted!
- Prove you have the right to work in Canada: do bring your Permanent Resident card, your SIN card, a copy of your work permit etc. Canadian employers do check if you have a legal right to work in Canada.
Good luck and remember: it takes time to get the position of your dream! As a newcomer, you have a lot of assets and skills but fitting in a new job market requires a bit of patience.