“Is it really true there are a lot of jobs in Canada?”
I’m never sure how to answer this question when asked. Why? Because too many things differ for too many people, and the answer will never be the same.
There are a number of factors to consider when thinking about your work life in Canada. No two stories are exactly the same. If you remember nothing on this relocation journey, at least always remember that. This is because you will need it to build your resilience. It is important that you’re not easily blown left, right and centre once others begin to share their experiences.
Now, to answer this ‘ultimate’ question: low skilled jobs are abundant in Canada. If your goal is to work in a retail store, coffee shop, warehouse or service job like cleaning, heavy lifting, part-time babysitting, etc., you most likely will find something within days to maybe a few weeks. Of course, this is dependent on your communication skills and fluency in English or French (depending on what province you decide to move to).
If your aim is a more professional job, then the narrative changes a bit. One mistake I’ve seen repeat itself is that the resumes used by immigrants to apply for jobs are not modified to have a Canadian feel. They also apply for a range of jobs with a standard resume, which I think is a recipe for not receiving a call back. The commonly held notion is that you need to go back a few steps in your career and start building again in Canada. While I cannot authoritatively say if this is true or not, as experiences differ, what I can say is that it is possible to snag a job in Canada at the same career level you were in your home country.
But this only happens if you can prove what you have garnered over the years in terms of professional work experience. I met someone who emigrated from an African country who kept complaining that he had not been able to secure a job at the same professional level. On engaging him further, it turned out that his last promotion before he left his home country was based on connection/man-know-man, not on merit. He also had been in this new role for just 3 months before migrating and did not have enough hands-on experience to defend being in that role. To be honest, you must be willing to tell yourself the truth and be objective when targeting professional roles in Canada because they will smell your BS from miles away.
This post will not cover those who need to re-qualify before they can work in Canada e.g. those in the medical field. It is more for those who can come right in and start work without needing to take any exams, like those in the IT sector (hello my people!) and admin.
Here are some tips that could potentially help you with getting a professional job in Canada:
Edit Your Resume
Edit, edit, edit, edit! Revise your resume until it has a Canadian feel. You can use templates (some are free) from KickResume for example, if you need a resume builder. Also, try to share your resume with two or three established professionals in Canada to review and provide comments. It would be great to find people in your sector, but any knowledgeable professional would do. One of those I shared my resume with was a Canadian media guru who also worked in the events industry but had no IT experience. Still, she provided valuable comments that helped me in editing my resume. Also, you should avoid using one resume to apply for a range of jobs. One way to fix this is to try to find keywords in the description of the job you want to apply for and modify your resume accordingly.
Upgrade that Cover Letter
Your cover letter needs to be peng! What I mean is, your cover letter needs to make you shine. I find that with myself and several other Africans I’ve spoken with, we have this ‘humility’ where we don’t like to blow our own trumpets.
See, package that humility, put it in a box and zip it up. You need to blow your trumpet and clearly articulate your achievements. Tell the organization why you’re the best fit for that role and what the organization would gain by hiring you. Also, sell your differentiator. What is that thing that you have that no one else possesses. One of mine is that I have lived and worked professionally in 3 continents (3 countries but continents is more captivating ) before Canada and with diverse nationalities so I am able to easily adapt.
Yeah, yeah, we know you’re a smart, achieving, high-flying professional who knows what to do. But, please, stop underestimating these workshops. I have met several immigrants who have never attended a workshop in Canada and I’m yet to understand why. Most of them are free so it’s obviously not for financial reasons. I am not saying attend one workshop per day, or go for thousands. I attended only two, but they were enlightening. One of the workshops I attended coached us on the different styles of Canadian interviews, how to build rapport during phone interviews, how to work around ATS. so your resume doesn’t get missed, how to understand Canadians and their way of thinking, etc. The second workshop I attended had immigrants come share their success stories. Not only was it encouraging but they also shared their mistakes and these were things some of us in the room were already about to do wrong. Sometimes, organizations attend these events too making for a great opportunity to network, which brings me to my next point.
Network, Network, Network
I cannot overemphasize this. You think you need ‘connections’ to get a job in your home country? Wait till you get to Canada! It’s common knowledge how far networking can take you so it’s not like it’s some grand secret. This is not saying that without knowing people you won’t get a job, but it’s saying that knowing people will take you further. Remember, you’re trying to increase your chances and these little details matter. Networking does not guarantee you will get the job, but it helps you open the door and get a leg in before your competence needs to shine through. At the second workshop I attended, there was an IT Manager from one of Canada’s top Telecoms company. We conversed during the workshop and I later sent a polite thank you note via LinkedIn with a request to connect after the workshop. He accepted and I engaged him lightly in professional talk. Two weeks later, there was a position in his organization which I believed I was a good fit for, so I politely contacted him via LinkedIn asking if he could provide a referral. He asked to see my resume and cover letter and was impressed. Through networking, I got to know the hiring recruiter and connect directly. Networking cannot be overemphasized. I also used the word ‘politely’ a lot in explaining this point because most Canadians are very polite, even when they are insulting you. In my opinion, they remind me more of the Brits (based on my experience) than their next door American neighbours. Canadians appear reserved and as a full-blooded Nigerian that I am, I find that I have to tune it down a notch when relating with them.
Have A Positive State of Mind
You will hear horror stories. You will read them online. The IT Manager who had to work in Zara, the doctor who ended up driving a taxi, the chartered accountant who became a dog walker (mind you, dog walking is serious business here, you need a certificate for it – no kidding). I am not saying that these stories are untrue, they actually are very real. But I am one of those who believe that you manifest what you spend your energy on. If you daily channel your energy on these stories, you will manifest such experiences. Relocation is tough and some hope and faith does no harm, to be honest. You need to protect your state of mind and watch what you allow take root. For believers, pray, pray, pray. Ask God to lead you so that you shall hear His voice say, ‘there is the way, go by it.” For those who do not believe in the potency of prayers and would rather not pray, my advice is to guard your heart how best you know how to.
It is also necessary to mention the Proof of Funds (POF). One of the reasons most people have settled for non-professional jobs on arrival is because they needed to make money immediately. They did not have enough funds and needed some form of income asap. The Canadian government does not take your POF away from you but the whole idea of having the stipulated amount or more is for you to survive pending when you find a professional job. You will need to pay rent (which isn’t cheap), eat, commute, and when you don’t have access to enough savings, you can get desperate and take on non-professional jobs. It is not a bad thing to take on these jobs while you keep applying for professional jobs, but the trend sometimes is that you are so exhausted and tired at the end of the day that you end up not applying for the professional jobs. Before you know it, months (or years) have gone by and you end up just accepting your reality in that non-professional job. These jobs are usually physically draining so keep that in mind if you choose to go via the route of working a non-professional job first because of the relative ease of getting one.
Canada is what you make of it. More than anything, enjoy the process and be open-minded. You’ll learn new things and should remain willing to unlearn the old.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime