Jobs: Top 10 Ways to Get Canadian Experience

By Shawn Mintz

Are you Internationally Educated? If so you should congratulate yourself. You are brave and courageous. It takes a very special person who can leave their country and start over in Canada. The following are the top ten ways to find work in Canada:

  1. A good way to learn about your occupation in Canada is to have information interviews with people who are working in your field, associations and licensing bodies. An information interview is when you meet with someone and ask them questions about what they like about their job, dislike and the future potential to name a few.

    This will help you become better informed about the industry. There are other ways to find out about your field such as websites and printed reports. However, talking to an expert or someone already employed will give you a greater insight.
  2. Certain terminology in your occupation may be different in Canada. You may want to go to the library and the Internet to learn the language your industry uses.
  3. Start to reformat your résumé to a Canadian style. Information that may have been relevant in your own country may not be relevant in Canada. In some other countries it’s normal to write your marital status, age and religion. In Canada this should not be mentioned. We have the Ontario Human Rights Code, which protects us against discrimination. Also, have someone look over your résumé before you send it out. You can go to a non-profit employment service and have your résumé critiqued for free.
  4. 80% of the jobs are unadvertised and in the ‘Hidden Job Market’. Tapping into the ‘Hidden Job Market’ involves a lot of networking and making cold calls. These two methods may seem a little intimidating but they are worth trying. 20% of the job market consists of jobs that are advertised on the internet, newspapers and trade magazines. I recommend using these methods a little bit during your job search. However, if you focus on the ‘Hidden Job Market’, there’s less competition.
  5. In your own country you probably had a big network of contacts, however in Canada your network may be small. I have a challenge for you. It’s time to re-build your network in Canada. Socialize with people, attend job search workshops offered by your community, volunteer, attend job fairs and join associations. Talk to everyone! Your family doctor, your children’s teacher or a priest may be able to help connect you to people. Remember that people like to help other people.
  6. Unfortunately you may not be able to have the same job in Canada right away. Try to find a job that’s related to your field of expertise. If you are an engineer find a job as a technician or technologist. Research the positions that are related to your occupation and apply to them. Getting your foot in the door of a company is a great start. Once in, you will probably be able to apply to internal openings
  7. Through volunteering, co-op, on-the-job programs and job trials you will be able to prove your skills and abilities to a Canadian employer, learn about the Canadian workplace culture, gain ‘Canadian Experience’ and build your network. Use your availability to volunteer. If a company doesn’t have current openings say, “I understand that you do not have current openings but I would love to volunteer for you company.”
  8. When asked ‘Do you have Canadian Experience?’ don’t just say no and feel that you have been rejected and that all employers are looking for this so called ‘Canadian Experience’. Tell the employer how your skills are similar to the skills that they are looking for. Also tell them how your international experience will help to benefit the company.
  9. Prepare yourself for an interview by researching the company, position and yourself. Sell your skills to the employer by telling them stories of your accomplishments and achievements. You are a small company selling your most valuable product – yourself.
  10. Stay positive, be persistent, proactive, follow-up with all contacts and maintain your motivation level. If you keep trying, good things will come. You can do it and you will do it. Good Luck.

Version 2 for lower language benchmarks

Top 10 Ways to Find a Job in Canada

  1. Learn as much as you can about a job you want by asking someone who works in that field for an “information interview” (a friendly talk that gives you a chance to ask them questions about the industry and the job you are trying to get).
  2. Every industry in Canada uses special words (called “jargon”) for machines, documents and routines that are used in that workplace. It is a good idea to go to the library and the internet to learn the jargon your industry uses.
  3. Create an English-language résumé (see “What is a Résumé and Why Do I Need One?”, if you don’t have one. You may find that some information that was required in your own country should not be included in your Canadian résumé. For instance, in Canada, your marital status, age and religion should not be mentioned. You should also have someone read your résumé before sending it out. Most non-profit employment services will do this for free.
  4. Only one out of five jobs is advertised on the internet, newspapers or trade magazines. All other jobs are in the ‘Hidden Job Market’, which means they are not advertised. The best ways to find out about these jobs are networking and making cold calls. “Networking” is a word for getting to know people in the industry. A “cold call” is when you go to a company that is not advertising any jobs, to ask if they are hiring. This can be scary, but since not as many people apply for these jobs, you will have a better chance to be hired.
  5. In your own country you may know many people in your field, but in Canada, you must build a new “network”. Meet as many people as you can by volunteering, joining associations, and attending job search workshops and job fairs. Talk to everyone! Your family doctor or your children’s teacher may be able to introduce you to people who can help you. Remember that people like to help other people.
  6. If you had a good job in your own country, you may not be able to get the same job in Canada right away. Look for jobs that are related to the work you know how to do. Once you are working for a company, you will have a better chance to find out about and get the job you really want.
  7. Through volunteering, co-op, on-the-job programs and job trials (see “Learn While You Work” on page 16) you will be able to prove your skills to a Canadian employer, learn about the Canadian workplace, gain ‘Canadian Experience’ and build your network. If you are able to volunteer, this can help you get your first job. For example, if an employer doesn’t have current openings say, “I understand that you do not have current openings but I would love to volunteer for your company.”
  8. If you have no ‘Canadian Experience’ do not feel bad. Explain to the employer how your skills are similar to the skills that they are looking for. Also tell them how your international experience can help the company.
  9. Before an interview, learn as much as you can about the company and the job. Sell yourself to the employer by telling them stories about what you have done.
  10. If you keep trying, good things will come. You can do it and you will do it.

Good Luck.

CNM