You may already be aware of this. But Canada has long been considered the land of opportunity. The country’s reputation for this goes back hundreds of years. Foreign-born travelers have thrived in the country since the 1700s. Today, the country continues to live up to what it has been known for.
Unless you are a student, you want to come to Canada for one reason. You want to work here for a better future. For yourself and your loved ones. Like yourself, many share the same goal for coming to the country. And, understandably, this comes with feelings of uncertainty. ‘
As you embark on your new life in the Great White North, you are just made of questions. But, of all of them, the question about finding work is the most pressing. Like many important tasks, you don’t know where to start.
This article will give you the information you need about finding a job in Canada.
Employment in Canada: An Overview
Immigrants need to understand the job market in Canada. A pretty good place to start would be employment for Canadians. So, what is the employment environment in Canada like?
Average Age of Canadian Workers
Like many developed countries, Canadian society encourages teenagers to work. Again, the word here is “encourage”, not “require” or “force”. Between 2016 and 2017, the youngest average age for part-time employment was 15 years of age. During the same two-year period, there were approximately 10,000 Canadian-born workers aged 15 to 24. Young adults aged 25 to 54 made up 35 percent of the Canadian-born workforce. Interestingly, older adults and senior citizens made up the largest portion of the Canadian-born workforce. Out of approximately 171,000 Canadian workers, old adults and senior citizens made up nearly 60% of the workforce.
But, how does the data from these years compare to that of the past? According to Statistics Canada, there were more Canadian workers a decade prior. This means that the Canadian-born workforce is steadily decreasing. Using this data, the Canadian government predicts the number of Canadian-born labourers to decrease further in the years to come.
Why? Because of an ageing population and more workers reaching the age of retirement.
In summary, here are the important details about work and age in Canada:
- Teenagers as young as 15 are encouraged to work.
- The total number of working Canadian citizens is approximately 171,000.
- A vast majority of Canadian-born workers are older adults and senior citizens.
- Statistics Canada recorded the data in 2016 and 2017. So, the figures might be different at the time of writing.
- The Canadian government expects the number of Canadian-born workers to decrease
- The last item is good news for immigrants who want to work in Canada
According to Statistics Canada, the rate of employment for Canadian-born workers dropped over a 10-year period. Meanwhile, it was a different story for migrant workers. For them, employment rates continue to rise. Be that as it may, the decrease in the employment rate of the Canadian-born workers was not due to a lack of jobs. It was from more of them retiring. From these statistics, it could be said that job opportunities remain to be constant.
Earlier, it was mentioned that Canadian-born workers aged 25 to 55 made up the smallest portion of the native Canadian workforce. Compared to immigrant labourers in the same age group, it is a different story. Immigrant workers in the same age group accounted for the largest portion of workers in Canada.
For established immigrants and Canadian-born workers, employment rates from 2006 until the current day remain to be stable between 83% to 85%. However, specifically for immigrants that arrived within 5 years, the employment rate for the group only began to rise in 2017.
But, there is no need to worry. Since you will be part of this demographic, you get to be on the receiving end of high employment rates as well.
In short, we can draw the following conclusions from the data:
- More Canadian workers are retiring.
- As a result, the country needs more workers between the ages of 24 to 55 years
- Employment rates will continue to be high
Now, you have an idea about the average age of Canadian-born workers. You are now also familiar with the dominant age group of the country’s workforce. Let us now move on to the most wanted jobs of Canadian employers.
Well, to increase your chances of getting a job, you need to know what jobs to apply for. And, with the right skills, you will have a better chance of being hired if the job is needed.
The types of workers that Canada needs right now are the result of many factors. Some of these factors are the ageing population and the country’s desire to maintain its high standard of living. So, some of the most in-demand professions are in the healthcare industry. Among these are:
- Registered nurses
- Licensed practical nurses
- Occupational and physiotherapy assistants
Canada also tries to maintain its state-of-the-art IT infrastructure. For this reason, the country is also in need of:
- Software engineers and designers
- Web designers
- Electronics and communications engineers
With its sheer size, the country is also in dire need of people to work in its transportation industry. Over the years, it has become easier for truck drivers to find employment for this reason. But, besides truck drivers, Canada also needs other workers in other parts of the transportation and logistics sector. There are now openings for:
- Aircraft pilots
- Aerospace engineers
- General drivers
As the country continues to develop, so does its infrastructure. Since 2018, the construction sector has been one of the most resilient sectors in the Canadian job market. It has employed more than 290,000 Canadians and immigrants in 2019 alone, making it one of the hottest sectors for job seekers. The construction sector needs more:
- Welders (what country doesn’t need them?)
- Steamfitters and pipefitters
- Construction estimators
- Safety officers
In short, Canada needs many workers in many different sectors.
What Job Seekers Say
If you were to ask Canadians about looking for work, you’d get different answers. But, regardless, most of them are positive and encouraging.
Many migrant workers come in as skilled workers. This does not necessarily mean having university-level credentials. Often, they are just people with technical skills and knowledge of the English language. Many of them will tell you that so long as you have these, you could get employed in Canada.
There are also many immigrants and Canadian-born job seekers looking for “regulated jobs”. Regulated jobs are professions requiring licenses. So, just think of doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, and real estate agents. Many applicants say that employment is very easy after getting bridging courses. This will be explained later on.
This might be a minor detail for you. But, many people looking for jobs would tell you that if you look for a job in one of the industries mentioned earlier, your chances of getting hired would be higher. After all, these industries are important to Canada. As a result, employers consider the services of workers in these sectors necessary.
Hence, as you could see, the feedback from immigrants and Canadian-born citizens looking for work is mostly positive. As an immigrant, getting employment could be a pretty straightforward process. In more ways than one, it is similar to how you found your job in your country.
But, in your country, work experience is a huge plus in any applicant’s resume. For some companies, it is even a requirement. Of course, this depends on the type of job. Employers and hiring officers in Canada are no different.
You may have looked at testimonials in immigration threads online. If so, you may have noticed some people posting things about “Canadian Experience”.
That’s right. In most cases, Canadian employers do hire based on Canadian work experience. This is regardless of any applicant’s educational background and qualifications. Even if an applicant has years of experience in his or her home country, it might not count for Canadian companies.
And, this is a fact. Some (not many) applicants have actually been rejected. The reason is their lack of Canadian work experience.
Be that as it may, before getting disappointed or discouraged, you need to understand what the idea of “Canadian work experience” really entails and means in the immigrant job situation.
In the next section, we are going to be clear on what employers could mean when they say “Canadian work experience”.
On Canadian Work Experience
In the past, some people have identified one barrier to getting employment- the lack of Canadian work experience on their resume or CV. Though a small number of people have said this, you must become aware of the possibility. Because chances are you may get this response from your interviewer.
This might make you feel discouraged. But, with a better understanding of what Canadian work experience is and why companies ask for it, your confidence will be restored.
What Employers Would Tell You
If you were to ask an interviewer about Canadian Work Experience, he or she would give you a straightforward response. It is simply work that you have rendered in Canada. The type of job could be skilled or professional (think “regulated”). It may be on a full-time basis. It may also be on a part-time basis as long as it is equal to the time of a full-time job. And, the total amount of time for job experience is at least a year. Plain and simple, right?
The keyword here is “work experience”. So, as you could imagine, your educational background will not be the primary focus of the employer. Although hiring officers cannot turn down your application based on the lack of Canadian experience, it does happen.
Hence, you will be doing yourself a favour by considering the lack of Canadian experience.
But, just consider it! Do not let it discourage you!
What Canadian Employers Might Not Tell You, But Really Mean
On the surface, Canadian Work Experience is really just that. Work experience in Canada.
Nevertheless, let us look at the facts.
First, we have established earlier that Canada admits immigrants on the basis of need. That is, the need for workers in certain industries. So, the government awards permanent residency because of the qualifications of immigrants. This means that for the Canadian government, immigrants are already qualified. Even if they have never worked in the country.
However, upon arrival, a permanent resident’s job application may be turned down on the basis of a lack of Canadian work experience. The very same permanent resident who was already admitted into the country based on his or her job qualifications.
Do you notice something odd here?
Why would the Canadian government take in immigrants if it knew that they would not be able to find work?
To paraphrase an author on the subject,
“without Canadian experience, an immigrant cannot work. But, without work in Canada, how could an immigrant get Canadian experience?”
It is almost like a bad joke, is it not?
Well, fortunately, the needs of the Canadian population are all too real. Hence, the Canadian government knows better than to take in immigrants only to leave them unemployed.
In other words, maybe Canadian employers are really just requiring work experience in Canada as a formality.
Maybe, they are really just looking for the qualities Canadian work experience gives job applicants.
Here is a short list of what Canadian interviewers actually assess.
You could think of the phrase “you don’t have enough Canadian work experience” as an interviewer’s way of being polite. This means that they use this phrase instead of telling an applicant where things went wrong in the interview. This could mean a few things. One of them is the inability to converse well in English or French.
Workplace communication differs across cultures. In some places, it is not a big deal. But, in Canada, effective communication is the backbone of a peaceful and productive workplace. Employers encourage open and clear communication to make sure that work gets done efficiently and accurately.
For this reason, an applicant’s ability to use the language is measured during the interview. In most cases, the same candidates who do not get the job do not have English (or French) as their first language. As a result, interviewers see right away that these applicants cannot use either of these two languages well.
This is a problem for interviewers or hiring officers since, again, communication is important in the workplace. And, if a worker cannot communicate well, interviewers will see this as a potential problem. One for which they do not want to be responsible for.
Accurate or not, interviewers make assumptions. As far as language goes, the inability to communicate effectively proves the lack of Canadian work experience.
Conversely, proper and accurate use of English or French shows the capacity to give, understand, and act on instructions in the workplace. In many cases, this is enough for interviewers to consider applicants for a job position.
Familiarity With Canadian Workplace Culture
Your English or French skills may be really good upon arrival in Canada. But, this may not be enough. As mentioned earlier, a professional and courteous work environment is very important for Canadian employers and employees. This is the case for many countries as well. Yet, as you might imagine, what is professional and courteous differs across cultures.
It might be helpful to explain with an example.
In many Filipino workplaces, leadership and management structures are hierarchical. What this means is that employees must work depending on the direction of their immediate superiors. Also, the immediate superiors must work based on the instructions and policies of their immediate superiors or upper management.
This “workflow” almost never happens in reverse. In other words, employees should not challenge the decisions of their supervisors. And, supervisors cannot question the decisions or instructions of upper management.
This particular management style is very common in other Asian countries as well. This is present in South Korean, Indian, and Japanese companies.
In Canada, things are different. Management structures like that of Asian companies exist. Only, here, employees are encouraged to communicate openly with their co-workers and superiors. Even if it means challenging or questioning decisions!
In fact, many Canadian managers consider “blind” obedience to be a lack of initiative. Which, for Canadians, is not a desirable quality.
Immigrant workers need to work with the culture of a Canadian workplace. And, if migrant workers have gotten used to the management style in their countries, they might not fit in with the company. Thus, interviewers look for an applicant’s potential to be a part of the company.
So long as you could demonstrate that you can, you will certainly find yourself hired!
Sometimes, when an interviewer mentions the lack of Canadian experience, he or she just means “little to no work experience”. This should not be surprising to anybody. But, job inexperience will always be job inexperience. Whether it is in Canada or outside it.
For this, the interviewer is likely concerned about one thing – skills. Of course, insufficient job experience could signal a lack of exposure to work and a lack of skills.
In any kind of workplace, interviewers are looking for applicants with the ability to perform work. In addition, a company would want an applicant with something to contribute.
These contributions are in the form of skills.
Now, for most immigrants granted permanent resident status, job experience is present. Except, the job experience is not Canadian. With enough job experience, you could convince the interviewer to consider you for a position. Even if your work experience is not in Canada.
Besides the ability to communicate and function in a Canadian workplace, interviewers are really looking for applicants with skills.
So, what does this mean for you?
It means that you can also work around the Canadian work experience problem by showing and emphasizing skills. These skills need to be applicable to a wide array of situations and functions.
Here is an example of what doing this might look like.
Let us assume that you are a new registered nurse. You are looking for a nursing position in a hospital. If your degree is the main emphasis of your resume, then your credentials become too specific to one job – nursing.
On the other hand, if you immediately and consistently highlight the skills that go with nursing, then you could be hired for other positions.
So, instead of mentioning the fact that you are a registered nurse with no experience, you could present yourself as having skills in delegation and metrics-based assessment.
These are skills in nursing that are also needed for other jobs!
Being Clear on “Canadian Work Experience”
To reiterate, few Canadian companies actually mean “Canadian work experience” literally.
When Canadian employers ask applicants about whether they have done work in Canada, they really want to check if:
- They can communicate well in English or French. This is because effective communication is extremely important for Canadian workplaces.
- They can “fit in” with the culture of a Canadian workplace. This applies to the management style of most Canadian companies. It also applies to how people in the workplace socialize.
- They have useful skills to contribute. Again, not having a decade worth of job experience is not a problem. Especially, when a job applicant has the skills that a Canadian company needs.
So, if you can sufficiently display all of the above, it is almost like you do have Canadian work experience!
Getting Hired In and Out of Canada
Now that the issue of Canadian experience is out of the way, let’s talk about how to find a job in Canada.
And, if you are reading this, you might be in one of these situations:
Either you are still in your country, looking for a Canadian employer.
Or, you are already here in Canada, not knowing how to get an interview.
In this section, we will go over the steps you could take for each scenario.
Getting a Job Offer Before Arrival
For some, the best way to get into Canada is with a job offer from a Canadian employer. There is one clear benefit to this. It removes part of the uncertainty that most immigrants encounter. Also, having a job offer from a Canadian employer adds points to the visa application.
However, many people do not know where to start.
Because of the distance, the most common way to go about this is online. Here is a list of sites to get you started. It is not an exhaustive list. There are many other sites. But, these are the ones that have the highest number of positive reviews.
And, with the help of the following sites, you could begin your search on potential employers:
Let’s start with Job Bank. This is not a website, per se. It is actually part of the Canadian government’s main site. Here, employers could post openings for free. For this reason, job seekers could find a large array of jobs on this portal.
And, because the site is part of the Canadian government’s main site, people who are looking for jobs could find information on the openings as well. They could find the salary, location, and educational requirements.
Whether you are looking for work in Canada or your country, having a LinkedIn profile is always a good idea. This website has over half a billion registered users. And, it is the go-to social networking site for professionals.
The site has helped millions of employees network with other professionals online. It is also a useful site for employers. LinkedIn allows employers to research job applicants and do background checks. For this reason, many Canadian employers recommend applicants to have a professional profile with the site.
A professional profile on this site will be useful for any applications in the future.
Monster is a job site. It is one of the most trusted job sites today. Getting many positive reviews from job seekers, this site has a very user-friendly interface. As you reach the page, search tabs will be the first thing you will see. Also, job searches could be specified based on the region. This means that besides looking for work, you can also narrow down your search based on the province or city.
Like LinkedIn, all applicants must create a profile. This allows them to search for jobs on the site. And, a profile on the site also allows recruiters or employers to get in touch with an applicant.
Monster has branched out globally over the last decade. So, if you are looking for a Canadian employer, use the Canadian Monster site.
Ask 10 different migrant workers about the site that helped them get their job. Chances are, more than half of them would tell you about indeed. Of all online job portals, Indeed has been one of the most widely used. Like Monster, it boasts a user-friendly interface, along with a comprehensive list of openings. Also a plus, Indeed also has a career advice resource. It contains articles that advise job seekers on matters like interviews, setting expectations, and resume writing. It also allows job seekers to look at company profiles to aid their research.
Of course, job seekers should also create their profiles on the site for correspondence with potential recruiters or employers.
Indeed has a global presence. So, visit the Canadian Indeed site.
Via A Recruitment Agency
Recruitment agencies are also a great way to learn about job openings in Canada from your country. Over the years, recruitment agencies have become increasingly popular. They are not hard to find. In fact, there are many of them in different countries around the world.
The reason for this is, again, Canada’s need for workers. With more and more companies losing employees to retirement, companies are beginning to rely on recruiters and headhunters more.
Companies enlist the services of recruiters and headhunters already. So, be wary of any recruitment agency that asks you to pay a fee for their services. They have already been commissioned by companies! There should be no need for you to pay much.
Canadian recruitment agencies are also very helpful to job seekers outside the country. They could help you find the right match for your skills and education. In addition, they have also been known to give helpful advice on careers and immigration.
Through Direct Contact
If you already have a Canadian company or institution in mind, simply getting in touch with them would be a great idea too. You can go to a company or institution’s site and look up its contact details. From there, you could contact the company by phone or by email and talk about your application.
Besides the possibility of getting contacted for a position, there are other advantages to contacting companies in Canada directly. First, the employer could hold on to your application (if you sent it). This puts you in line for a position that might open up in the future.
Also, you could be given instructions to contact them later. Even if no position was open at the moment you got in touch, one might open. Because of your correspondence, they may get in touch with you when a position becomes vacant.
Lastly, employers have professional networks of their own. Since workers with skills are in demand, hiring officers may get in touch with other hiring officers. And, if your skills are needed by another company, the hiring officer you may have spoken to might recommend you.
Think of it this way. They can network on your behalf.
Speaking of networking…
Perhaps you know somebody in Canada. Maybe a friend. A former co-worker. Members of your family. Whatever the case may be, you also have the option of asking them to recommend you. They could introduce you to their professional networks. All you need to do is give them your contact details and your credentials.
Do this, and they could tell their bosses or co-workers of your interest to work in Canada. Believe it or not, many immigrants have gotten their jobs this way.
What To Do To Get A Job In Canada As An Immigrant
It is also possible to get a job after your arrival. However, instead of a job offer from a Canadian employer, the first step is getting an interview. To help you get your foot in the door for one, here are some useful tips:
Consider Job Supply and Demand
By coming to Canada on your qualifications and industry, you probably have a specific type of job in mind. That is ok.
However, if you want to increase your chances of getting interviewed for a position, try something different. Try considering a job that has more supply than demand. You could browse jobs that you think many people do not actually go for.
How will you know? You need to do some research. Earlier in this article, you may have read a list of sectors where workers are urgently needed. These are examples of industries that have more work supply than demand.
Doing this reduces the amount of competition you need to face. Also, many of these jobs will hire immigrants with the right qualifications. With or without actual Canadian experience.
So, a little open-mindedness and an adventurer’s spirit will go a long way!
This brings us to the next tip.
Be Open to Work A Job You Did Not Plan On
Have you ever wished that you were more adventurous? Well, job hunting in Canada is a rewarding way to train this attitude.
It is ok to have your sights set on that one specific job. Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to have a different one in mind. And, in Canada, you could increase your options by considering an unrelated job.
For instance, many immigrants with backgrounds in IT often apply for leadership positions in the field. Most of them found jobs by applying for other positions like software development and web designing. Though these are not the types of jobs they had initially wanted, they became employed.
How? By applying for a job they did not initially plan on.
Get Your SIN
SIN or Social Identification Number is a 9-digit identification number issued to you by the Canadian government. All people in Canada should have one. It helps the government identify you. It also allows you to access certain social services and benefits.
The SIN also identifies taxpayers. For this reason, employers require applicants to have this number. Hiring a person without a social identification number is illegal in Canada. This means that you cannot be hired without your SIN.
To get one, new permanent residents need to visit their local Service Canada office. Applicants for the SIN need the following:
- Permanent resident card (if available)
- Confirmation of permanent residence (if the card is not available)
- Any government-issued identification with their picture (e.g. health card, drivers license)
For temporary residents like temporary workers and international students:
- Temporary work permit or student visa
- Any picture ID
- Passport (very important)
Remember. A social identification number will not guarantee a job offer. But, nobody gets hired in Canada without one.
Write a Canadian-style Resume
Your resume is your calling card for the employer. It is also where you could make a good impression. For this, you need to write a Canadian-style resume.
Yours may look slightly different from that of another person. But, it should show:
- Your work experience (volunteer work counts as experience!)
- Your education
The order will depend on how much job experience you have.
You could write a chronological-style resume if you have a lot of job experience. For this type of resume, employment history comes first. And, it has to be from the latest job to the earliest.
For fresh graduates or those lacking job experience, a functional-style resume is advisable. Unlike a chronological resume, skills and qualifications must be the first items seen.
In addition to using the right style for your qualifications, adding social media information will also be useful for employers. As mentioned earlier, this would be a good time to create a LinkedIn profile.
Also, keep it short and sweet. By short, we mean 1 to 2 pages.
Lastly, it is also wise to write a different resume for each job. Interviewers could tell if you just sent a one-size-fits-all resume. This leaves a bad impression.
Coming to Canada, job seekers always assume that they could work immediately. While this is true for skilled workers, it is not always the case for professional or regulated jobs. These are jobs in the medical, legal, educational, and engineering field.
If you want to work in any of these industries, you could increase your chances of getting interviewed and hired by taking bridging courses. These are courses professionals could take to add to their existing qualifications. If you find yourself in an interview without having taken one, you could tell the interviewer that you will.
Besides additional units or courses for nurses, caregivers, engineers, lawyers, and teachers, there are also bridging courses for English and French.
Volunteer Whenever You Can
This may not sound appealing. But, unlike in many other countries, volunteer work is also work experience. Volunteering whenever you can does you three favours:
- It allows you to easily add (literal) Canadian work experience to your resume.
- The appreciative folks you volunteered for could be your character references.
- The same appreciative people could point you in the right direction for paid work.
Would people in Canada be willing to be your local references? Absolutely!
Almost all of them would even tell you that it is the least they could do to thank you.
So there you have it!
The immigrant’s guide to job hunting in Canada!
In summary, you could tell that Canada is a land of opportunity. Given its ageing workforce, the country welcomes everyone who wants to work hard to contribute to its prosperity.
Canadian employers seek the presence and efforts of immigrants. Immigrants like yourself.
With knowledge of Canada’s job environment, you can now plan your job hunting efforts accordingly. Couple this with the right mindset and steps, and you will succeed in being a worker in the Great White North!