Job-Hunting: Strategizing for Meaningful Employment in the Canadian Workplace

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by Irena Valenta

Irena is a Career and Work Counsellor for The Career Foundation.
She has an MSW and over 10 years in employment services.

Securing a job in Canada is no longer a matter of sending a résumé or completing an application form and hoping for the best outcome. Your professional success and financial security depends on your career vision and your self-marketing skills.

Service Canada indicates that “Canada is now part of a fast-moving global community that affects organizations and their employees. The workplace is changing. Organizations are undergoing changes that affect workers.” (

Job seekers are encouraged to look for work that matches their personal values and talents. The term “job” has been replaced by “meaningful work” that is part of a planned career path and contributes to personal and professional development. At the same time, your performance in the workplace is expected to add value to the company. Therefore, the responsibility is on the job seeker to research, to track and to secure employment opportunities. Today’s job seeker needs to be a self starter.

Furthermore, no employer can guarantee a job for life. The concept of “lean enterprise” in most corporate and non-profit organizations is to get the most out of product sales and customer service, while keeping costs and waste of company resources to a minimum. This workplace reality is difficult to accept by mainstream Canadian job seekers as well as newcomers.

For workers who are new to Canada, the settlement and integration process may create problems such as:

  • You may not be able to immediately obtain a job in your profession because you lack the knowledge of how to enter the Canadian workplace.
  • You may settle for transitional jobs to accommodate your life style needs and to upgrade your English language skills.
  • You may have to gain Canadian accreditation for your international academic credentials.
  • You may have to upgrade your technical skills on your own time to become employable in your field of interest.

The Canadian and global economy requires that job seekers become pro-active and self-sufficient in their employment and career management. The good news is that this attitude can be learned and that there are free community employment services to help you apply this career strategizing process to your own job search.

Becoming a Career Strategist

It is not enough to be a “job seeker” who passively depends on job ads in newspapers and on-line job boards. This traditional job search method can be enhanced by using an entrepreneurial job search strategy (where looking for a job becomes your job) and by learning how to become a “career strategist”.

A career strategist knows his/her skills and strengths, has researched the relevant world of work, is a life-long learner, and creates his/her own work opportunities on an ongoing basis. Starting a career path involves creative thinking, risk taking and networking. This individual process also requires support which can be found at local employment service agencies in the community.

Essential Concept in Personal Career Management

In 1996, Janice Foord Kirk (Survivability® Career Strategies for the New World of Work) referred to the importance of labour market research as a skill that is necessary to thrive in an unpredictable workplace.

Ten years later, this concept still holds true for an increasing global workforce in Canada. You may not be able to achieve your career goals as quickly as you had expected. If you cannot achieve your primary job target at this time, you may need to research and target occupations that will bring you closer to your professional goal. A long-term career vision with short-term learning objectives may be a strategy to remain motivated and confident in your career planning.

How do You Strategically Approach the Canadian Job Market?

As a career strategist, you may need to answer the following questions:

  • What skills and talents are employers looking for in my preferred occupation?
  • What are the industry trends in my field of interest?
  • What international business skills and accomplishments do I have to offer the Canadian labour market?
  • Where are the companies/jobs that need my skills?
  • How do I market my skills effectively to potential employers?
  • Which free community employment services can help me with my career path?

Your career success in the Canadian workplace may be determined by the initiative, time and effort you invest in your work search and career strategizing.

Make it Happen

The purpose of this article is to provide some focus for internationally educated workers seeking employment in Canada. Hopefully, this career strategy will contribute to a less stressful and more successful journey into life and work in Canada.

Someone once said that there are three types of people in this world:

  • People who make things happen.
  • People who watch things happen.
  • People who wonder what happened.

Become the person who makes things happen!

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