Ten tips to manage your career transition as a newcomer to Canada

Immigrating to a new country can be a life-altering experience – an adventure that comes with its own set of challenges. In the first few months, in addition to looking for accommodation and focusing on essentials like banking, health and schooling, you are also looking for work opportunities.

The more support you have during this transition, the easier the process becomes. Success in your job search depends on your ability to discover what Canadian employers are looking for and leveraging your knowledge and skills to make the best of available opportunities.

Here are 10 tips to help you transition into the Canadian workforce.

1. Create a Canadian-style resumé
Make a strong first impression with your resumé : Employers across Canada are accustomed to seeing personal information and work background being presented in a particular way, so it’s important to format your resumé  in the Canadian style.

Keep your resumé at no more than two pages and include the most relevant work experience that relates to the job you are applying for. Remember that Canadian-style resumés tend to be in reverse chronological order, meaning your newest experience appears first. The main sections should include your name, preferred job title, contact information, a professional summary, your educational qualifications and professional credentials, in this order.

Your resumé is the all-important first impression, so make sure you include personal and team achievements to help you make a strong impact.

2. Polish your communication skills
Soft skills are highly valued in the Canadian workplace and will not only help you get a job but also with career progression. Continue to work on your oral and written communication which are requirements listed in nearly every job description.  You can learn a lot from online resources on various Canadian websites such as canadianimmigrant.ca.

If English is not your first language and you are moving to any part of Canada except Quebec, you should make an increased and sustained effort to improve your English skills.

It goes without saying that candidates wishing to work in Quebec should make an effort to improve their French skills.

3. Update your LinkedIn account
Over the past few years, LinkedIn has become a great tool for recruiters and job seekers alike. Make sure your LinkedIn account is up to date with the most current information, and there are no grammatical errors. Include a friendly, professional photo.

As soon as you have moved to Canada, change your location on your LinkedIn profile. Remember, recruiters looking for candidates on LinkedIn will favour local candidates over those who are overseas. They will also need to see that you have a professional level of communication before they can consider you for a job.

Connect with others on LinkedIn you might know and join special interest groups that are related to your field and contribute to the group’s discussions.

4. Network consistently
A number of jobs don’t get advertised publicly. This is also called the hidden job market. That’s why networking is crucial to finding jobs in Canada.

Smart networking allows you to gain useful insights and crucial contacts, both socially and professionally. A good idea is to join a local community group like an immigrant-led professional association in your industry. You can gain rich experience from other professionals and learn more about the labour market in Canada.

Research networking events for your profession and participate in events and meetups – given the pandemic, many of the gatherings are virtual these days which could help you access this much more easily; attend online webinars and interact in online forums.

5. Find volunteer opportunities
A proven way to expand your local network of contacts and get that all-important Canadian work experience on your resumé is to volunteer.

Pick volunteer opportunities that are relevant to your skill set and career. You don’t need to dedicate the entire work week to volunteer work, as you need to focus on your job search. Dedicating a few hours a week can help you understand the Canadian work culture, and practise your technical and communication skills.

It’s also a good opportunity to get Canadian references. You can find more information and volunteering and opportunities on websites such as volunteer.ca.

6. Find a mentor
In Canada, there are a variety of mentoring programs that match candidates with an established professional, for occupation-specific mentoring relationships. You can research different mentoring programs in and around you to find an experienced mentor in your industry.

According to the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), 77 per cent of mentees find employment in their field or a related field within six months of completing the program.

A strong mentoring relationship can help you build vital professional connections, learn about Canadian corporate culture and its nuances and gain labour market insights in your field. Use these opportunities to develop your competencies and leverage the wealth of resources and knowledge.

7. Get accredited
Some professions such as teaching, physiotherapy, nursing and social work, among others, may require your foreign qualifications to be accredited in Canada. Other industries and certain trades require converting your accreditations to Canadian equivalents. Or you may need to take further training to gain necessary accreditation to work in Canada.

Research what accreditations you will need and apply for a certificate from one of Canada’s colleges or universities or seek a professional certificate from a professional institution. You may need to take extra courses or write an exam to validate your credentials. IIBA, DRI and CMC are among some of the institutions which offer certifications.

Remember, unrecognized international credentials could prevent you from getting the job even if your experience and expertise match the job description.

8. Highlight your multicultural expertise
Canada is a very open culture that welcomes new immigrants and celebrates multiculturalism. In fact, Canada is home to over 100 nationalities and this diversity is only growing every year.

This means, you can find fresh opportunities with Canadian organizations that need your specific skills and experience to reach different ethnic groups. From consumer brands to leading financial institutions to insurance companies and translation bureaus, many businesses can benefit from your knowledge of specific ethnic communities.

There are also advertising and marketing organizations in Canada that focus mainly on multicultural marketing to drive sales and growth. In addition to competing in the mainstream market, you can also apply for jobs in this growing niche market.

9. Take advantage of government programs
The Canadian government offers free programs to help you find work faster. You can also register online for free employment services with government-funded organizations like JVS, Access Employment, JobStart, NextStopCanada and many others. These organizations offer services to connect skilled newcomer professionals from all around the world to employment specialists to offer support in navigating the Canadian job market.

You will get much better results when you use the information they provide to implement practical job search strategies. Many participants have used these services to find jobs as soon as they have arrived.

You can also find internships or join co-op programs that are funded by the government to offer newcomers valuable experience.

10. Optimize your online presence
Today more than ever it is important to build and maintain a robust online presence. In addition to maintaining your professional profile on LinkedIn, you can consider a personal blog to showcase your subject matter expertise. You can find blogs that are relevant to your industry and get active on them. Share your opinions on articles and answer questions that may pop up from the readers.

Constantly seek out opportunities to demonstrate your expertise and help others. You never know who might see your name pop up online and then look up your profile to find out more.

To sum it up:
Take your time but be consistent and highly organized. Be patient, the transition might take longer than you expect but never lose faith that you will be successful!

It’s important to believe in yourself throughout the process and to make sure others know that you believe in yourself too.

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