As any recent immigrant can attest, one of the top items on your priority list is sure to be finding your first job. Yet, for many newcomers, this process can be easier said than done.
It’s an unfortunate reality that newcomers to Canada often find the experience of looking for work as particularly challenging, with many citing the reason that they simply don’t have any experience working in Canada.
Needless to say, this perpetuates a vicious cycle that can feel impossible to break: No Canadian experience, no job; no job, no Canadian experience.
From an employer’s position, the issue has less to do with someone not having the technical ability to perform the job and more to do with whether a recent immigrant will have an adequate understanding of organizational structure in Canada, and how business is conducted in the Canadian workplace.
To the job seeker, it can be seriously disheartening to feel as though there is no way into the labour market despite everything they do bring to the table.
Thankfully, while having no Canadian experience can be a challenge, it doesn’t have to be a non-starter. Here are some tips on how to overcome this barrier in order to break into the Canadian job market:
During the Job Search phase:
- Prepare a professional resume and LinkedIn profile —
It’s well known that recruiters typically spend a whopping 6 seconds scanning your resume. In turn, your resume shouldn’t announce that you are new to Canada in big bold letters. It’s also well understood that hiring managers will likely review your LinkedIn profile before making the decision to call you for an interview. Considering just how crucial these two job seeking tools are, following the best practices for crafting a professional resume and LinkedIn profile is absolutely essential.
- Resist the impulse to express your desperation to Recruiters —
While it’s perfectly natural to feel desperate to land your first Canadian job, there is a chance that expressing your desperation may be misinterpreted as possessing inappropriate interpersonal skills or poor boundaries. Be sure to maintain your poise and composure when communicating through written and verbal means with Recruiters.
- Learn about Canadian workplace culture —
Take the time to educate yourself in best practices associated with such topics as communication, giving and receiving feedback, and conflict management. An understanding of these issues will help to quell employer’s concerns as to your ability to smoothly integrate into the workplace and conduct business on their behalf.
- Seek out mentorship opportunities —
Leverage LinkedIn’s connection capabilities to find successful professionals in your area of expertise. Send them personalized messages asking for 20 minutes of their time over the phone for the purpose of mentorship. Do NOT ask for a job. Instead, focus on asking questions that will allow you to truly learn about role expectations, projects, organizational structure, and culture. Establish a trustworthy relationship, and there’s a good chance the mentor will refer you if an opening arises in their organization.
- Network, Practice, Repeat —
Take advantage of the various networking groups and events available to you through sites like settlement.org and LinkedIn, in addition to such other channels as meetups and conferences. Also, consider attending a local Toastmasters event to practice your professional communication while expanding your peer network.
During the Interview phase:
- Dress for success —
Be sure to adapt the business formal attire most common in Canadian professional settings. Looking the part will help convince others that you are able to play the part.
- Focus on what you do have rather than what you don’t have —
If you spend your time emphasizing the experience you don’t have or the cultural customs you are still unfamiliar with, this is what will stand out in the Hiring Manager’s mind. Instead, highlight your transferable skills, accomplishments and similar projects you’ve worked on in order to demonstrate how you can contribute to the organization.
- Express your hunger to contribute and succeed —
Managers are interested in candidates with the willingness and drive to find solutions when facing an obstacle. They want candidates who can take initiative rather than someone who requires guidance every step of the way. And they want someone who is here for the long haul and looking to grow in the role and with the organization.
Sharing stories about how you’ve grown with organizations in the past, along with statements similar to those below, will help to convey this enthusiasm and commitment to long-term development:
- “I am very interested in growing with this organization.”
- “I am eager to see how I can contribute to this organization’s development now and in the years to come.”
- Demonstrate cultural fit —
Cultural fit is chief among the attributes Hiring Managers seek out. Take the time to read about the company, learn about their corporate values, ask questions about the culture, and express how you can infuse your own personality into the work environment. Someone who shares the company’s values and can contribute to the overall morale of the team, will be an invaluable asset to the organization.
- Feel confident and be yourself.. we need you here! –
Even more than your background, your education, your skills or your credentials, remember that what you truly offer that nobody else can, is yourself! Yours is a unique combination of experience, personality and point of view, brimming with the promise of fresh ideas and one-of-a-kind energy that nobody else can match. So own it!