i would say the question I get asked the most is, “is it really true that there are a lot of jobs in Canada?”. I’m never really sure how to answer this with either Yes/No because where you stand on the spectrum determines if you’re closer to a Yes or to a No. There are a number of factors to consider when thinking about this important aspect of your work life in Canada and as I always say – No Two Stories Are Exactly The Same. Please if you remember nothing on this relocation journey, atleast always remember that. This is because you would need it to build your resilience and also for you not to be easily blown left, right and centre once others begin to share their experiences.
Now to answer this ‘ultimate’ question, low skilled jobs seem very abundant in Canada. If you target to work in a retail store, coffee shop, warehouse or service job like cleaning, heavy lifting, part time babysitting etc you most likely would find something within days to few weeks. Of course this is quite dependent on your communication skills/fluency in English or french (depending on which province you decide to move to).
If your aim is a more professional job then the narrative changes quite a bit. One mistake I’ve seen commonly repeat itself is that the resume used by a number of 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 in my opinion is just a recipe for not receiving a call back. The commonly held notion is that you have to go few steps behind in your career and start building again in Canada. Whilst I cannot authoritatively say if this is true or not as experiences differ, what I can however say is that it is possible to snag a job in Canada at the same level in your career as where you are coming from. Surely, this means you are able to prove what you know and have garnered over the years in terms of professional work experience. I met someone who immigrated from an African country (name withheld) 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 (or wasta for my middle eastern folks) and not on merit. He also had been in this new role for just 3 months emigrating and did not have enough hands on experience to defend being in that role. To be honest, you have to be willing to tell yourself the truth and be objective when targeting professional roles in Canada because they 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 Medical field etc. It is more for those who can come right in and start work without needing to take any exams e.g IT sector (hello my people!), Admin, Business etc. Below, I share some points which could potentially help you with getting a professional job in Canada:
- Resume – Edit, edit, edit, edit…until it has a Canadian feel. You can use templates (some are free) from KickResume for e.g if you need a resume builder. Also, try and share your resume with two or three well 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 is a well established Canadian Media guru who also worked in the Events industry and had no IT experience which is my domain. She provided really 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 finding key words in the job description of the job you want to apply for and modify your resume accordingly.
- Cover Letter – your cover letter needs to be peng! (lol pardon that, I just had to). Basically, what I mean is that your cover letter needs to make you shine. I find that with myself and several other Africans I’ve related 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 you 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 *smile*) before Canada and with diverse nationalities so I am able to easily adapt.
- Workshops – yeah yeah we know that you’re a smart, achieving, high flying professional who knows what to do but stop underestimating these workshops. I have met a number of immigrants who have never attended any workshops in Canada and i’m yet to understand it. 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 so enlightening. One of the workshops I attended coached us on the different styles of Canadian interviews, how to create rapport during phone interviews, how to work around ATS so your resume does not 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 and it’s a great opportunity to network which brings me to my next point.
- Network, network, network! – I cannot overemphasize this. You think you need ‘connections/wasta’ to get a job in your home country? lol wait till you come to Canada. It is open knowledge how far networking can take you so it’s not like it’s a secret and you have to hush behind closed doors. This is not saying that without knowing people you won’t get a job, but it’s saying that knowing people will take you farther. 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 then 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. i engaged in conversation during the workshop and sent a polite thank you note via LinkedIn with a request to connect after the workshop. He accepted it and I engaged him lightly in professional talk. Two weeks later, there was a position in his organization which was a good fit 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. I didn’t end up going with the company’s offer for personal reasons but my direct manager where I work now turned out to be the neighbour of the IT Manager i met during that workshop. This is Canada….Welcome! 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 usually find that I have to tone it down a notch when relating with them.
- Mind state – You will hear ‘horror stories’ and 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 actually need a certification for it, no kidding- https://www.iapcollege.com/program/dog-walker-certificate-course-online/) etc. I am not saying that these stories are untrue, they are actually very real but I am one of those who agree that you manifest what you spend your energy on. If you daily channel your focus on these stories, you will manifest such experiences. Relocation is tough and some hope + faith does no harm to be honest. You need to protect the state of your mind and watch what you allow take root. For believers- pray, pray, pray, ask God to lead you 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 advise is to guard your heart how best you know how to.
It is safe to mention about the proof of funds (POF) here because this is where it comes into play. One of the reasons most people have stated for taking on non professional jobs on landing 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 s 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 etc 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 per say to take on non professional jobs while you keep applying for a professional job 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.
In a subsequent post, I will share real life experiences of recent immigrants (in their words) on how they got into the Canadian job market. Stay tuned, you won’t want to miss that! 🙂
For my IT folks, I will share some details in the next post and expound a bit on the ‘consulting’ option.
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