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Finding a job in Canada as a newcomer

At first, it might sound daunting to start all over again in a completely new country and to be honest, initially it is. However, with time and support from the community, you start finding comfort in the new place. The most important factor is to get employed as soon as possible. If you are looking for quick success, here are some important points to keep in mind when finding a job in Canada as a newcomer.

Expectations Vs. Reality

If you are coming to Canada through the Express Entry system, the likelihood is that you are young, highly educated (at least University) and had a well-established job/business in your home country. If you have an expectation that you will land a job right after you land and the job level will be at par with your past experience, you might get some shock.

I am not trying to scare you but rather trying to bring your expectation closer to reality. The sooner you realize this the better it is. It is also not that you will not get the job you deserve, however, there are a few things employers consider before hiring you.

Canadian Experience – It is a chicken and egg story. If you are a newcomer you will not have Canadian Experience and Canadian Experience cannot be gained if you don’t have a job. Employers are aware of the challenges faced by newcomers if they don’t have an experience like familiarity with workplace culture, understanding of the social issues, employer expectations etc. Although employers understand your situation but sometimes apprehensive to hire a complete newcomer, unless their resource pool is empty, and they urgently need someone.

Fluency in English or French (for Quebec) – This is very critical for a workplace setup. The employer will measure your skills on clear expression of ideas and understanding local terminology, especially in jobs that involve client/customer interaction

Canadian Certification and/or specialization – This might come to you as a shock that most of the credentials from your home country, in any industry, may not be considered fit for a job in Canada. This is because almost all industries are regulated, and employers look for Canadian-specific certifications. You will have to get your certifications re-evaluated from a regulatory body in Canada before you start working. You may have an edge if you have a specialization in and that job is in demand like the IT industry.

Start working as soon as possible

Consider this, you have a bucket full of water with a tap at the bottom which is open. Unless you keep filling the bucket with more water, a time will come when you will run out of water. The same is when you come to Canada. You bring all your savings and start spending, what is fixed are your monthly expenses like rent, utility bills, transportation food etc. however what you also need to do is to keep filling your savings with new earnings. So, you have three choices:

  1. Find a survival job while you wait for an opportunity in your field
  2. Search for a job in your own field
  3. Get a Canadian certification or vocational education that prepares you for a job placement

How much you can wait will depend on your risk-taking ability and the savings in the bank. However, it is advisable to give at least 3 months to find a job in your own field, unless you work in a specific field like nursing, trades, finance etc. which requires a credential evaluation and a bridging program to be eligible to work in your field.

Based on the statistics, over time more immigrants do better when it comes to employment than the people born in Canada. Refer to the table below from Statcan.

Source: Statcan

Leaving apart the data for 2020-2021 (pandemic years), landed immigrants have been performing better with time, year over year.

How to find a job in your own field

In this post, I will cover the second point and the strategies to search for a job in your own field.

Start early and do your groundwork – You can start searching for a job in Canada, even if you are not in Canada and you must. Thanks to the online job search websites, you must start looking for the in your field and in related fields. The job market here is different from your home country, hence it will pay off to start getting used to the terminologies at the earliest. Start applying for the jobs even if you are not in Canada. You might get interviewed via a virtual call. If not, at least you will get used to searching jobs and the keywords to search for jobs in your own field.

Research – You must start looking for information available on the sites like Job Bank and start understanding the occupational and career trends to make a clear plan for yourself.

Take help from professionals – This doesn’t mean that you’ll have to spend money. There are some organizations that can help you with your job search before and after you arrive in Canada. You can get an in-person and online service absolutely free to help prepare for life in Canada. These are generally called the pre-arrival services. Pre-arrival services help you to evaluate your education and work experience and connect with employers. You can find the pre-arrival services here.

Once you land in Canada you can use the free settlement service offered by various service provider organizations (SPO) approved by the government of Canada. These organizations help you with preparing your resume for job search, connect with employers, get a language assessment if required, register for language classes in case you need one, sign up your kids for school etc.

Volunteer your time – Community service is huge in Canada and you will realize that volunteering is regarded highly by employers. Volunteering helps build your resume in more than one way, it helps you gain practical experience, gives you a place to practice English and learn the communication at the workplace, meet people from the community, make friends, build a personal and professional network and build your references. References can help you get a job that is not even in the job market, generally called the hidden job market. The settlement services can help you connect with organizations that need volunteers

Build your network and references to tap into the hidden job market – Despite being advertised on the job portals, most of the jobs are filled through references. Yes, this is a reality! I experienced this while working at a large retail organization where managers published jobs but hired people only through the references from the existing employees. Another example is an IT company that never advertised a job but hired only through references. There are many more similar examples that I know of which prove that the hidden market is bigger than the advertised market and not all advertised jobs are meant to hire.

Guidance Interviews – A very powerful strategy is to conduct guidance interviews. You will find that generally, people in Canada are very helpful and ready to support if help is needed. It also helps to tap into the hidden job market and land a job without even applying. So how does it work? The concept is very simple and as the name suggests, you reach out to people seeking guidance and information pertaining to the industry you work in. For example, my wife (who came to Canada to study) works in the IT industry, while doing the final project she reached out to a few CEOs through Linkedin to conduct focus interviews. Many didn’t respond but a few did and the result was that one of the CEOs’was also hiring at that time and he offered her a positing. So, this really works.

All you have to do is to search for some hiring managers who are actively recruiting, connect with them and ask for some guidance and information in the related field. This may not be as simple as it sounds but you never know what might be waiting for you.

Apply for Federal Internship for Newcomers (FIN) – If you are a Permanent Resident or a Canadian citizen for 10 years or less, you may be eligible to work temporarily and get training opportunities with the Canadian federal, provincial or municipal organizations. Through FIN, you may get hired as a temporary employee and work in fields like administration, project support and management, policy and research, computer science etc. More on information and registration for FIN.

Top 5 online job portals – I have personally experienced the responses from the job portals and would like to list those down in the priority sequence:

  4. Glassdoor
  5. ZipRecruiter

Reach out to recruitment consultants – While most of the recruitment consultants will advertise the jobs through the top online job portals, however, it does make sense to reach out to them directly. Search for the recruitment consultants who specialize in your industry/vertical and connect with them on the phone or LinkedIn.

Make your Resume ATS friendly – You may not know, but with technology advancement, organizations (especially large organizations) use Application Tracking System or ATS to centralize candidates’ resumes, simplify the recruitment process for the recruiters and hiring managers by keeping things organized and tracking communication with the candidates. It also saves time by automatically identifying and highlighting top candidates by matching the keywords in the Job Description and Resume. It is really helpful for managing a large pool of applicants and shortlisting the candidates.

Unfortunately, this increases the work for an applicant. Earlier, candidates used to have just one resume and submitted it to most of the organizations, but now the changes must be made in the Resume to match the job description every time you submit a resume. Some tips to make your resume ATS-friendly:

  • Use exact and specific keywords to match the job descriptions, at least twice
  • Use full forms, instead of acronyms
  • Use traditional sections like Education and Work experience instead of creative terminology
  • Images and headers and footers may get lost. For example, if you have PMI image or any other certification image instead of words, it might not get noticed
  • Avoid using information in tabular format

Hope you find the information useful, let me know in the comments section.

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