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Jahdal: 5 Employment Tips For the Highly Skilled Professional Migrating to Canada

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“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.

Attend Workshops
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

Jahdal is a polymath and media junkie who is an IT professional by day and an avid dreamer lost in thought at other times when she is not laughing her head off on Quora or Instagram. She enjoys writing and shares her thoughts @ www.jahdal.com which is a blog on intentional living and a one-stop guide on immigrating to & settling in Canada.

58 Comments

  1. jane

    July 16, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    Thank you Jahdal for this post. Every thing about this post is the truth. Looking for a job in Canada is work itself. You have to fully dedicated to it and be smart about it. Don’t expend your time and energy applying for everything and anything out of desperation. Use the 80/20 rule . Apply only to jobs that are a good fit for your skills and interest. Tailor your resume to fit each job description. Recruiters and hiring manager first want to see what they have asked for before the “good to have”. so yes, for each application you submit, you have to rework your resume. The first step is getting someone to take a look at your resume. Next step, make sure you do mock interviews. Get other professionals to interview you and critic your interview skills. Selling your self is not just about your achievement – at an interview, all the employer want to know is “are you a good fit?” FIT – intellectually and socially.
    There is lot that goes into getting a job in Canada as an immigrant. If you are unsure, there are a of professionals whose jobs are to write resumes, do interviews, etc. it might be worth paying one of them to get you started, else the internet is your friend

    • Jahdal

      July 19, 2018 at 5:32 pm

      These are all so true Jane! Thank you for the insightful comment.

  2. Madame

    July 17, 2018 at 5:05 am

    This is so insightful. Thank you Jahdal.Can I ask some follow up questions from the comment section here?

    • Jahdal

      July 17, 2018 at 9:57 pm

      Hi ‘Madame’,
      Thank you for your comment! Sure you can ask any follow up questions here or via any of the posts on my site @ http://www.jahdal.com

  3. Mobolaji

    July 17, 2018 at 5:13 am

    Thanks for sharing!. I have just moved to Canada myself with the family and this post could not have come at a better time . Very insightful.

    • Jahdal

      July 17, 2018 at 9:58 pm

      Thank you for your comment! How has settling in Canada been so far for you all?

  4. Tobi

    July 17, 2018 at 5:15 am

    Thank you for this insightful and enlightening article. It really helps make thilngs practical and I feel it applies to anywhere we find ourselves in the world.

    • Jahdal

      July 17, 2018 at 9:59 pm

      Thanks a lot for your comment! You’re right, it really applies almost anywhere.

  5. Itohan

    July 17, 2018 at 5:23 am

    I found this very useful not just for relocating to Canada but for everyday life. The tips are real and can be applied anywhere in the world. I am starting right away!!!!
    Well written and articulate too. Made for an interesting read.
    Thank you Jahdal !

    • Jahdal

      July 17, 2018 at 10:02 pm

      Thank you for your comment! Please do get started, you wouldn’t regret moving to the land of the maple leaf *smile*

  6. Abdul

    July 17, 2018 at 5:25 am

    A very insightful and informative article about Canada migration process. Thanks for all the tips and Keep up with your very creative and well written post.

    • Jahdal

      July 17, 2018 at 10:02 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment. I do plan to keep up *smile*

  7. Alo

    July 17, 2018 at 5:40 am

    Great article….every Nigerian who has just migrated or plans migrating to Canada or any western country should adopt the advise of this article

    Thank you bellanaija for this article

    • Jahdal

      July 17, 2018 at 10:03 pm

      Thanks a lot for your comment! Ah thanks to bellanaija or to me *laughs*

  8. Amina

    July 17, 2018 at 5:50 am

    This is very informative. You really did your research. well done Jahdal

    • Jahdal

      July 17, 2018 at 10:04 pm

      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you found it informative.

  9. Bukky M

    July 17, 2018 at 6:12 am

    This article is speaking to me. Thanks Jahdal for sharing . This is very informative.

    • Jahdal

      July 17, 2018 at 10:05 pm

      You’re welcome! So glad you found it informative. Thanks for your comment.

  10. Seunrere

    July 17, 2018 at 6:14 am

    Very well articulated piece. Thanks for the info. With alot of people planning to move to canada,…. Immigration agencies should better take a cue from this and refer their clients to this particular article . Good job

    • Jahdal

      July 17, 2018 at 10:29 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment. Your observation is correct, there are a lot of people planning/already moving to Canada.

  11. Kayode

    July 17, 2018 at 6:30 am

    Insightful article! i do have a question…. In the “Attend Workshops” paragraph, you mentioned something about working around ATS so your resume isn’t missed…What’s ATS? i can’t seem to find anything from google search on this.

    • Jahdal

      July 17, 2018 at 10:31 pm

      ATS is the Applicant Tracking System used in a lot of organizations. So essentially, you need to ‘beat’ the system so your resume is filtered in not out. The system uses keywords from your resumes to determine if the resume gets in or kicked out. Please let me know if you require more information and I can do a post on it. Thanks for your comment!

  12. Molly

    July 17, 2018 at 6:49 am

    A very informative and detailed post! It certainly gives a realistic idea of what to expect and how to go about things. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jahdal

      July 17, 2018 at 10:31 pm

      Thanks a lot for your comment. I’m all for being realistic and objective especially with a life changing event such as relocating.

  13. Kenny

    July 17, 2018 at 7:15 am

    Bravo! This is highly professional and impactful,This information will really help someone out there ….. Kudos to you Jahdal??

    • Jahdal

      July 17, 2018 at 10:32 pm

      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you found the piece impactful.

  14. Tosin

    July 17, 2018 at 7:25 am

    Well Done! Thanks for sharing these helpful tips

    • Jahdal

      July 17, 2018 at 10:32 pm

      You’re welcome. Thanks for your comment!

  15. Dea

    July 17, 2018 at 7:30 am

    I really like this, no sugar coating but very encouraging and also, very practical and insightful. Thank you for sharing!

    • Jahdal

      July 17, 2018 at 10:33 pm

      Thank you for your comment! I’m glad you found the piece insightful. Wow is this your picture? you’re beautiful *smile*

  16. Adeola

    July 17, 2018 at 7:42 am

    So APT! Well written and definitely a ‘MUST READ’ for anyone relocating to Canada! I totally agree with having a positive mindset, the experience of Mr A us quite different from that of Mr B!! It’s also wrong to use Naija resume to search for jobs in Canada, no way!!! Thank you Jahdal for this post and Welldone!

    • Jahdal

      July 17, 2018 at 10:46 pm

      Thank you for your comment! It’s obvious we’re in this Canada together o *smile* hope you’re enjoying the land of the maple leaf

  17. DatEnuguChic

    July 17, 2018 at 11:08 am

    Thank you soo much for this. Already bookmarked it for future references. May the odds be in my favour

    • Jahdal

      July 18, 2018 at 5:57 pm

      Thank you for your comment! Glad you find the piece useful.

  18. Biodun

    July 17, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    Great post! Very informative.

    • Jahdal

      July 18, 2018 at 5:58 pm

      Thank you!

  19. Linda Kenz

    July 17, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Very informative..Thanks for sharing.

    • Jahdal

      July 18, 2018 at 5:58 pm

      Thank you for stopping by.

  20. Canadagurl

    July 17, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Hey Ruthie,
    Aptly written and very informative to anyone thinking of migrating to Canada.Top of the list is Networking…..and please network with individuals outside your nationality.Most people tend to stick to their circle alone and your circle would not provide the needed exposure you require to hit the ground running.
    Another thing is to prepare and plan ahead before coming. Take all the equivalent certification courses and Professional exams Prior to landing(if it’s possible),do your research on your profession job outlook(jobbank.gc.ca is a good tool).
    Lastly surround your self with positive minded people(not the ones that would tell you ” it’s not possible”.Remember some do not have the right papers needed to get a good professional job so it may not be possible for them,but it damn well is possible for you!!!!

    • Jahdal

      July 18, 2018 at 5:59 pm

      Thank you! great tips shared by you as well. We definitely need to break out of our usual circle when networking.

  21. Peter

    July 17, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    Well said!!!

    • Jahdal

      July 18, 2018 at 6:00 pm

      Thank you!

  22. Jummie

    July 17, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Well written article! Very insightful, packed with tons of useful and practical tips. Great Job Jahdal

    • Jahdal

      July 18, 2018 at 6:00 pm

      Thank you for commenting!

  23. Shade

    July 17, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    Very apt!!!! Highly practical, well researched and a total package. And the fact that it was shared in such a light, sefless and caring manner, Very fluid and stylish write up. God bless your good heart.

    • Jahdal

      July 18, 2018 at 6:00 pm

      Wow I’m smiling hard. Thank you for your kind comment.

  24. Flo

    July 17, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    This is insightful and useful. I moved to Canada over 2 years ago and absolutely agree, I especially agree with keeping networking and keeping an open mind. If you cannot do that, it will be very difficult to adapt. I would also add that people make the most of the courses and activities around to improve on their existing skills e.g. Toast Masters is free and beneficial for building speaking skills and networking.
    Great write up.

    • Jahdal

      July 18, 2018 at 6:01 pm

      You’re so right Flo! I’m actually a member of Toastmasters Org.

  25. Rolake

    July 17, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    You couldn’t have put it better. I am even more inspired now. People immigrating to Canada need more valuable information like this online
    Thank you jahdal. Well-done.

    • Jahdal

      July 18, 2018 at 6:02 pm

      Thank you for comment! Glad to know you find the piece inspiring.

  26. Bisola

    July 18, 2018 at 3:28 am

    This is enlightening Jahdal! Please what’s the possibility of getting a good job for the people in the finance world.

    • Jahdal

      July 18, 2018 at 6:03 pm

      Thank you for commenting.
      There are surely good jobs for those in finance as well however from what i’ve noticed certifications matter especially depending on which aspect of finance you specialize in. What exactly do you do?

  27. Jahdal

    July 18, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    Thank you!

  28. Tannenbaum

    July 19, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    Very good write up Jahdal,quite informative .Do keep up the good work as a lot of migrants will gain from it.

    It’s will help people plan ahead so it doesn’t take long to settle in properly.kudos!

  29. Abimbola

    July 20, 2018 at 7:41 pm

    Thanks Jahdal for sharing your insights and experience. They are so invaluable that i shared with some friends and family. Looking forward to read more of your articles. Thanks

  30. Uloma

    September 6, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    Amazing tips , Thanks for sharing.

  31. Babest

    October 23, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Hello Jahdal! Many thanks for this article. Would you advise a finance professional in a prominent Oil & Gas company in Nigeria to move to Canada? Is it worth it?

  32. Tosin

    October 25, 2018 at 11:05 am

    Hello Jahdal please can you help with your full name on Linkedin

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