Job hunting in Canada as a newcomer is a natural part of the integration process. While moving, you may consider getting a ‘place-holder’ job – something to give you Canadian work experience, as some employers look for it before they are willing to hire a newcomer. However, many immigrants land in Canada with years of experience in their field and would prefer to continue their careers. Blessedly, I’ve been able to work in my field immediately.
So, my tips are for job hunting in Canada as a newcomer who wants a job in their field, not just for a ‘Canadian experience’ job.
As I mentioned, I was blessed to go straight into my field after graduation. It’s no accident though. In addition to studying in Canada, I made use of my school access to LinkedIn and other source materials, and did as many self-learning certificates as I could manage on top of my experience.
For example, I’ve been using Google Analytics and Hootsuite for years, but the certifications look good.
1. Start Networking Immediately, and Start Looking as Soon as it Makes Sense
Network, network, network. Speak up, make acquaintances, and share your knowledge and skills. Whether in person or online, when you’re job hunting in Canada as a newcomer, everyone you come in contact with should know that you are looking or soon to be looking.
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Start looking at the market before you are ready
Familiarize yourself with what’s on the market and what you are looking for. Take note of how many jobs are available with the title you want, where they are and what the going rates are. Keeping an eye on things like that keep you current with the market. That information is useful if you need to recalibrate where you are job hunting and how long you expect it to take you to find something. The more scarce jobs are in your field in a location, the longer the hunt will be. Are you prepared for it?
In addition, depending on your field and where you are located, you will need to start looking as soon as it makes sense. That is, if you go through the interview process and you are successful, you are be able to provide a realistic start date.
2. Update Your Resume
The big ticket item is your resume. Your resume should be current and display your strongest skill sets. That’s true, however, you should also make sure the layout and formatting of your resume is conducive to your industry. If your are not a good writer, or you don’t think you’re capable of doing the research and presenting yourself well on paper, hire a resume writer. There’s no shame in that.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to resumes, but here are a few more tips in that area.
Keep it Clean and Short
My current personal preference is clean, with lots of white-space and a short resume. I say current because as a creative entrepreneur prior to a few years ago, I jazzed it up from time to time, but back then, I had the privilege of not needing a resume. My clients found me, not the other way around. Now, it’s a different playing field.
I also try to keep my resume on one page as much as I can, and absolutely never more than two. Some things will get left out, but you have to be able to pitch yourself in two letter size pages or less. Otherwise, it becomes a case of TL; DR (too long, didn’t read). Here’s the thing, every job you’ve ever worked in your life doesn’t need to appear on your resume. Choose carefully. Include your most recent and relevant experiences.
Keep a plain text copy of your resume
When hunting for jobs, get ready to attach your resume and then input the very same information into a system. It’s extremely frustrating but more often than not required. So it helps to be able to grab the information and put in.
Edit Your Resume to Fit the Job You’re Applying For
While we are on the the subject of resumes, you should always have at least three resumes;
- A resume for the job you want
- A resume for a job adjacent to the one you want (or where your skills transfer very well) and
- A general resume
You can have more, but those mentioned above, at least. Even with multiple resumes, you should still be editing your resume for each job. It’s time-consuming and energy-sapping, but it’s worth it. Because of how much time and effort you should put into applications, it’s also my advice that this should help you be very selective in the openings you apply for.
Even with multiple resumes, you should still be editing your resume for each job.
3. Use a dedicated email address for job hunting
You will also find that a vast number of organizations in Canada require you to ‘register for an account’ to apply a job. I don’t know about anyone else, but I also found this incredibly frustrating. Again, it’s just part of the process.
However, as a result of the constant need to ‘register’, I suggest having a dedicated email address for job hunting. It kept job board emails and responses to applications in a single place.
4. Know what you are looking for
Long before you land an interview, you should know what your ideal role, environment and compensation is. It doesn’t mean you will land it straight away or reject a job that doesn’t check all the boxes, but you should know what the job that will make happy would look like.
When considering compensation, think of three figures;
- Your experience as it relates to the job market and industry
- Your absolute minimum figure (You should be willing to walk away from any offer beneath this number)
- Your ideal compensation range and
- The compensation range you can work with.
5. Keep your LinkedIn active and current when job hunting in Canada
If you are a professional who is job hunting, there is absolutely no reason on earth you should not have a LinkedIn profile. In addition to being the most popular social media platform for professionals, it serves as a job posting site for organizations, a networking conduit, a place to showcase your knowledge and skills, and it’s a recruiters playground.
6. Websites for Job hunting in Canada
While job hunting, there are a number of websites that share job openings. However, some of them will post outdated postings or not remove postings even after they have expired. I was able to reliably use the following websites for job hunting both in Ontario and in Saskatchewan;
I also checked individual company websites like banks and so on, and government and city websites like;
7. Don’t anchor yourself if you don’t have to
This is especially for international students. Unless your know without a doubt that you qualify for a Provincial Nominee category in the province you studied, be open to exploring other areas in Canada. Keep your options open before you settle. You never know.
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8. Track your process
During my most recent job hunt, I recorded 62 jobs that I applied for. The number would have been similar back in April as well. If you imagine, that’s a lot to keep track of. Initially, I used excel but quickly found that Airtable was a much more efficient way to monitor the process. I love Airtable and use it for almost everything! Below is a screenshot of what it looked like when I used it. You can see it tracks the company name, job title, job type, compensation, NOC codes, location, work model, method of application and notes. It was also a great way to compare roles.
9. Employers are vetting you – vet them right back
Many employers would have you believe they are doing you a favour by offering you a job. That’s not the case it’s a mutual exchange and you should approach the interview with that in mind. The potential employer will have questions about your skills and personality. They are trying to ensure that you will be a good fit for the role and their company culture. They are asking you questions to see that they get what they want.
Ask questions to see that you get what you want as well. Prep for the interview by looking into the company and prepare questions about the company, the role and the potential employers expectations. Start vetting then the minute they contact you about your application.
Please take notice of how they contact you about an interview. Did they ask about your availability, or did they just send you an invite? Did they give ample time to prepare? Some recruiters call you and think you for a ‘quick chat’ and then ask about their company and why you want to work with them. That’s rude and arrogant, in my opinion. Ask them to set a time when you can prepare for the conversation.
Questions to ask an employer during an interview
In the actual interview, ask questions about the day-to-day workings of the job duties. Ask who the role reports to (do not dismiss this. March it against what you know should be. It can be an indication of how the employer sees the role. Ask whether the role is new or vacant. If it’s vacant, ask how long the previous employee was in the role. Perhaps ask why they left. Ask how they usually approach your‘ job function’. Ask if they are happy with their plan or looking to do something new. When do they review their processes? What benefits are they offering? Why are they a good employer and why should you want to work for them?
Remember that even when you do all of these things, you are making a decision and taking a chance. No one wants to take a job and have it not work out, but it is a possibility. So, put your best foot forward in an interview. Be respectful, confident and prepared. And take note of whether the potential employer does the same.
10. Be patient
If I don’t know anything else, I know this. Remaining patient while you think of all that needs doing, send out dozens of applications and going on numerous interviews that amount to nothing can be gut wrenching. It ate at my spirit and self confidence. But I had to learn to do what I could do and leave the rest.
Job hunting in Toronto was at a much faster pace, but more competitive. Job hunting in Regina was much slower. Frustratingly slower, but eventually the offers came.
Job hunting in Canada as a newcomer, or anywhere else I imagine is a stressful endeavour. The longer it goes on, the more stressful it becomes. I’m no expert myself, but this is my approach and so far, it has worked. P.S. I didn’t mean to write a 2000-word article, but after months of not feeling it, inspiration hit with a vengeance in the wee hours of the night. I hope it’s helpful and if you are job hunting in Canada as a newcomer, good luck!
Do you have any tips from your experience job hunting in Canada as a newcomer or in general? Please share them in the comments.
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