Newcomers have a wealth of international skills and experience that could be highly valuable in the Canadian labour market, however, they often face a number of barriers they must overcome in order to find employment. An effective approach to finding a job in Canada is to start the preparation before arriving in the country. This will give you a significant advantage, making the job search and settlement process quicker and easier. Here are strategies for overcoming the top five challenges that newcomers face when looking for employment in Canada.
Communication and English language skills
Most employers in Canada place a significant emphasis on the importance of strong communication skills. As a newcomer, English language fluency and gaining an understanding of Canadian business communication is essential to be successful in job searching and in the workplace. Soft skills and communication skills are highly valued by employers in Canada and can often be more important than technical skills or experience.
Programs and resources exist to help advance your English language skills. An effective approach is joining a group that allows you to practice your English in a casual conversational setting. ACCES Employment offers a Talk English Café online which you can join before moving to Canada. Talk English Café sessions let you practice business conversation skills with an English language instructor online. This program is also available in person once you are in the country. Once you arrive, programs such as Language for Workplace Connections™ and other English as a Second Language supports exist through a number of organizations across the GTA.
Framing your experience in a Canadian context
Employers want to hire individuals who can quickly become strong contributors to their company. Although it is illegal for employers to ask for Canadian experience (unless the role specifically requires this), many employers continue to be concerned about how a lack of Canadian experience may limit a person ability to do the job effectively.
To help overcome this obstacle, you should prepare your resume with information that clearly demonstrates the transferability and relevance of your international experience in the Canadian labour market. It is best to list your credential assessment and equivalents directly on your resume. Most employers are not familiar with academic institutions and education from other countries. Providing a short description of companies that you have worked for is helpful in setting the context for your work experience. If possible, set up informational interviews with companies you are interested in working for. This can be extremely helpful to gain context about Canadian workplaces and learn how best to present your experience. In-person informational interviews are also a great way to build relationships and learn more about companies of interest once you are in Canada.
Accessing the hidden job market
Connecting to the labour market requires finding available job opportunities. This may sound like an easy task but only 20% of the jobs that are available are actually advertised externally. There are many job opportunities that are not posted or publically advertised - this is often referred to as the hidden job market. Opportunities in the hidden job market can be uncovered through networking. Expanding your network is one of the main keys to navigating the job market. Through ACCES Employment, newcomers can join Speed Mentoring® events to meet potential employers, learn about job opportunities, practice language skills and build your network.
In addition, you should do some preliminary research into the local job market. There are some great websites available including Toronto Workforce Innovation Group, Working in Canada, and Career Cruising. This research can be done even before arriving in Canada
Start building your professional network in Canada
Networking allows skilled newcomers to meet new people with similar professional interests and connections. Networking is a two-way process and a mutually beneficial exchange of information.
A referral to a job through a direct connection generates 80% more results than a cold call. In other words, job leads from your network are more effective than job leads through any other means. Before you come to Canada you can start to build your network. One approach is to reach out to professionals in your field, use Linked In, join groups or associations and start to virtually meet people in your field in Canada. When you arrive, continue to build your network by reaching out to personal contacts in your community and professionals in your field.
Prepare for your arrival
Taking steps to become job ready before you land in Canada can help to fast track the time it takes you to find employment. You can prepare for the Canadian job market by developing a plan which includes enhancing your English language skills, reviewing your transferable work experience and skills and building professional networks. Using these strategies, you will be well on your way to finding the best job for you in Canada. ACCES Employment now offers a pre-arrival program (Canadian Employment Connections) that will help you to get started with your job search and employment preparation before you leave your home country.