When I started freelancing, I swore I would keep a close eye on my billing system and outstanding invoices. So far, it worked pretty well. I invoice my clients monthly and I have always been paid promptly and in full, although the federal government can take weeks to process invoices—but this is just the way the system is set up.
Browsing: Working in Canada (and elsewhere…)
You’ve just received your work permit or you are about to land in Canada with the permanent residence status? Congratulations! After settling down and going through the practical steps of moving to a new country, you will probably start looking for a job.
Freelancing has its pros and cons. But let me get this straight: you cannot get work done and take care of a kid at the same time. I know—I have tried. It’s a recipe for disaster: the work doesn’t get done and you feel like a shitty parent. So, being a mom and a freelancer… how do we make it work? Here are my five commandments.
Two years ago, I barged into a local accountant’s office, slightly panicked. “I need to incorporate”, I said. “Whatever that means”, I added sheepishly.
The “mute” button was our most handy tool. Especially when we needed to take a break to laugh at a particularly weird customer, or share the details of a funny call with a co-worker. Some couples in the middle of a divorce were calling us to argue about points splitting on a joint account. Some folks yelled at us because their Petro-Canada credit card application had been denied. Some callers had an accent so thick we couldn’t understand a word of what they were saying.
The first lead came early December. MaxSys, an Ottawa-based staffing agency, was hiring call centre agents for a short-term contract. The “language skills” section of my resume had caught the eye of the recruiter, who was desperate for francophones.
I catch funny typos all the time for my clients. For instance, “pubic relations” instead of “public relations” (ooops!) or “people who are death or hard of hearing” instead of people who are deaf or hard of hearing” (oops again!), “delicious Chinese dumpings” instead of “Chinese dumplings”, etc. Let me just say my clients are usually very happy when I spot them.
Other professionals don’t work for free. Creative people shouldn’t either.
And incidentally, neither should immigrants.
Don’t get me wrong: volunteering can be a great way to rebuild a network in your field when you arrive in Canada, to gain Canadian work experience and to update or expand your skills.
Employees will never embrace budget cuts but they can understand them, and most would go quietly and with some dignity.
But they aren’t given the chance, and the degrading treatment they are subjected to is certainly the ugliest side of the North American work environment.
In “Working in Canada: the Good”, I highlighted a few perks of the North American workplace. But the Canadian way of life also has a number of downsides, which you should be aware of as an employee.
Even though I chose to return to freelancing, I did enjoy being an employee in Canada. I got to know the work culture, and workplaces have a number of positive sides I enjoyed.
This feature will explore the ups and downs of the Canadian working world. I hope it will help prospective immigrants and newcomers to understand its good sides and any potential challenges they may face in the workplace.
The transition from employee to freelancer reminded me that, when it comes to getting your first job in Canada, the challenge never ends. I’m now on “contract-hunting mode” and despite my relevant Canadian experience, it feels like starting from scratch again.
My work experience is France is fairly limited since I left when I was 18. I basically embraced the Canadian work culture—I didn’t really have a choice anyway. It’s only when I talk with my family or friends back home that I notice the many little differences that exist between the two cultures.
These days, I noticed a lot of inviting posters popping up on signposts downtown: “summer job, make $300 a day!”, “last year our employees made $10,000 over the summer” etc. So I set to investigate these “great” summer jobs.
I was a French teacher for the federal government for four years. Once day, as I was having lunch in on the Statistic Canada campus, I was approached by two guys. They introduced themselves and explained there were “working here” and took an interest in the papers I was grading.
When I first came to Canada, I had been warned: there are much less holidays on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, and no public strike will change labor laws. Looking back, I can say the system is different but not in a bad way.
I have my own office. An office with a door, a desk, a computer, a phone, a whiteboard and drawers. I also have a very cool magnetic pass to get around, one with my picture on it. I have a favorite lunch place and I hate Monday mornings. I got a new job, in the office. I feel like a lucky girl.
To end this series, I’d like to highlight three qualities job-seekers should develop to cope with the job-hunting process: patience, willingness to learn and flexibility.
The Canadian work culture is, on many aspects, very different from other countries’. So, what Canadian employers value? What are the unspoken rules that help you fit in?
Here are 5 tips to help you out.
Most newcomers to Canada, no matter whether they were chosen for their skills or joined some member of their family, experience some work-related issues at one point or another.
Here are the three most common potential career challenges.
Being comfortable in your workplace greatly impacts how successful you are at work. Here is a list of 10 tips on workplace etiquette in Canada.
Being called for a job interview is both exciting and scary. Exciting because you are being considered for a position, scary because you may lack confidence. Fortunately, with a little bit of practice, you will be able to improve your interview skills.
Read these tips on what to do before, during and after job interviews.