As a newcomer, finding a job in your field in Canada is a significant milestone. Not only does landing a suitable job make you feel like you’re starting to settle in your new country, but it also ensures your financial stability and keeps you from dipping into your savings to cover your living expenses in Canada.
That said, finding your first job as a newcomer isn’t always easy. First, newcomers are at a disadvantage because a significant majority of job openings in Canada are filled through referrals, and newcomers typically don’t (yet) have the network or professional connections to help them get one. Second, you’ll be entering a vastly different work environment, and both the company culture, as well as the skills needed for the job, might be different from what were used to back home. And if that isn’t enough, many Canadian employers prefer hiring candidates with at least some Canadian work experience.
Repeated rejection can put a dent in your confidence and belief that you will find employment in Canada. Even worse is the silent waiting candidates often have to endure, because many employers only inform candidates who’ve been selected for the next step, not those who’ve been rejected. However, rejection doesn’t have to slow you down in your job search, nor should it. In this article, we cover how newcomers can deal with job rejection in Canada.
In this article:
- 8 reasons why newcomers might face job rejection in Canada
- How to deal with job search rejection as a newcomer
- 5 positive habits to help newcomers recover from job rejection
Let’s face it, most newcomers experience some job rejections in Canada, at least in the beginning. Once you’re familiar with the Canadian job market and work culture, you’ll likely have a better chance of landing a job. Here are some reasons why newcomers get rejected from jobs in Canada:
Your resume did not make it past ATS
Many Canadian companies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to shortlist resumes that best match the job description. For your resume to make it past the ATS, it must be in a Canadian format that this software can easily read. Moreover, you must include relevant keywords from the job description in your resume. Unfortunately, newcomers are often unfamiliar with the Canadian-style resume and, as a result, their resumes might not always reach the hiring manager for consideration, even if they have all the necessary skills and qualities.
You don’t have any Canadian experience
Having Canadian experience on your resume shows employers that you’re familiar with the professional culture and environment in Canada. It can also be interpreted as proof that you have the skills that are sought after in your industry, or at least transferable skills that may apply to the role you’re being considered for. Although, as a newcomer, you may still be looking for your first full-time, paid role in Canada, you can also build Canadian experience through volunteering, part-time work, survival jobs, and internships.
The employer found a better candidate
Rejection isn’t always about you. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the interviewer may find another candidate more impressive. Perhaps the other candidate had more relevant experience or was a better fit culturally. Whatever the reason, there’s nothing you can do about another candidate’s performance or job fit. You can only work on your employability and try to position yourself in a better light.
You didn’t highlight your skills and achievements well
You know you’re an excellent candidate for the job but somehow you still got rejected. This is when you should ask yourself if you were able to articulate your skills, qualifications, and experience convincingly enough. If you’re unable to properly convey what you bring to the table and why the employer should hire you, then the employer will likely find someone else for the role.
You didn’t come across as enthusiastic or confident
One of the factors interviewers take into account while making a hiring decision is how confident the candidate seems. As a newcomer, it’s natural to feel nervous during your initial interviews in Canada, but a recruiter may perceive this nervousness as a lack of confidence. They may also consider your apparent level of interest in the position, which is often assessed based on your body language, the depth of your research about the company and the types of questions you ask the interviewer.
Unfortunately, even if you’re really into the job and quite certain of your capabilities, that message might not always get through—especially if you’re unconsciously conveying the wrong impression through your body language.
You weren’t a great culture fit
Most Canadian employers want to hire a candidate who won’t just be good at the job, but will also fit well into the existing company culture. In fact, some employers even prioritize culture fit over technical skills, as the candidate’s personality goes a long way in determining whether or not they’ll be adaptable and open to learning new skills.
Most recruitment processes in Canada include a standalone or integrated culture fit interview, and if you’re not well-versed with or aligned with the company culture, you may not be considered a strong candidate for the job.
You asked for too much or too little money
Salary negotiation during the interview can be tricky, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the Canadian job market. Ideally, you want to do your research around the expected pay brackets and the industry standard for salaries in your field. In most cases, companies have a budget in mind for each position, so asking for too much money can be a deal-breaker, even if the hiring manager really likes you as a candidate.
Similarly, asking for too little money can be a red flag for employers too, because it can either mean that you haven’t researched the estimated pay brackets or that you aren’t confident enough to ask for what you deserve. Bear in mind that, in Canada, many employers offer non-monetary benefits in addition to salary, so make sure you do a holistic assessment of your compensation before accepting a job offer.
The company decided not to hire for the role
Circumstances change and sometimes, companies may shelve their hiring plans for a variety of reasons, ranging from budget cuts to downsizing or even shifting business priorities. Although it can be demotivating to learn that a job you’ve been interviewing for no longer exists, there’s nothing you can do about it. Just remember that hiring for the position (or a different role at the same company) may resume later, so it’s best to stay in touch with the recruiter or hiring manager.
Facing rejection from a job can often be harder for newcomers. Your financial stability and mental health may depend on finding suitable employment. Since you’re new to Canada’s work culture and environment, job rejection may also lead you to question your capabilities and increase the incidence of imposter syndrome.
It’s important you remember that rejection is not personal and just because you weren’t a fit for one particular job, doesn’t mean you won’t be a great candidate for other jobs. Here are some tips on dealing with job search rejection as a newcomer:
Do a post-interview assessment
Each “no” is an opportunity to learn and tackle the rest of your interviews better. However, in order to identify where there’s scope to improve, you need to take a closer, honest look at where you underperformed during your interview. Ideally, you should do a post-interview assessment immediately after each interview, regardless of how you think it went. Here’s how you can do this assessment:
- Make a note of the questions you were asked and the top points you included in your response.
- Give some thought to other essential points or examples you could have mentioned to make your answer more impactful.
- Were you prepared for all the questions that were asked?
- Were you confident throughout?
- Did you manage to retain the interviewer’s interest?
- Did you ask the interviewer intelligent questions at the end of the interview?
You can then use the insights from your self-assessment to work on your weaknesses and improve your performance in future interviews.
Send a thank you note
If a hiring manager or recruiter takes the time to inform you that you’re no longer being considered for a role (many companies do not), be sure to thank them for the opportunity. Not only will a thank you note make you stand out as professional and polite, but it’s also a good way to keep a line of communication going with them. It’s also a good idea to add the hiring manager to your LinkedIn network and stay in touch with them. Don’t forget, new roles open in companies often and just because you didn’t qualify for this one, doesn’t mean you won’t be a good fit for a different role later.
Ask for in-depth feedback
Unfortunately, in Canada, most rejection emails won’t include details about why you’re no longer in the running for the job. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t ask. Reaching out to the hiring manager for feedback is a great way to get more insight into your areas of weakness and gives you a better understanding of how you can improve your profile or interview skills for other roles. Moreover, it shows the hiring manager that you’re truly interested in self-improvement and may work in your favour if you ever apply for a different role within the company.
Ensure you’re applying to the right jobs
If you’ve been rejected from multiple jobs of the same type, perhaps it’s time to evaluate whether you’re applying to the right jobs. The job market in Canada may differ from your home country, and the same job position or level may require a vastly different set of skills. Some jobs in Canada may require a license or certification, so be sure to carefully read through the requirements listed in the job posting. This will help you find roles that you would be a good fit for with your existing skills and accomplishments.
Work on your interview skills
A rejection doesn’t always mean that you weren’t a strong candidate for the job; it could also mean that your interview skills need work. It is not uncommon for newcomers to be anxious or nervous during job interviews and that may sometimes be perceived as a lack of confidence in your skills.
Ideally, before each interview, you should research the company and the interviewers and reach out to existing employees of the organization to get a better understanding of the company’s culture. You can then use these insights to customize your elevator pitch and responses to commonly asked interview questions.
Make sure your responses flow naturally and don’t come across as overly rehearsed. You should also familiarize yourself with the STAR interview method and identify examples of impressive achievements that you’d like to share during your interviews.
Identify and fix gaps in your application
If you identify skills or credentials that employers are looking for but you’re missing, focus on building new skills before applying to new jobs. The feedback you receive from hiring managers can also help you identify gaps or areas of improvement in your resume and interview skills.
Almost everybody experiences the sting of rejection at some point in their career. It’s how you deal with it that counts. Will you let rejection emails get you down or will you bounce back? Here are a few ways to stay motivated and hone your search until you land that dream job.
1. Reflect on your skills and capabilities.
Are you highlighting the right skills and capabilities for the jobs you’re applying to? Reviewing job descriptions and learning about company cultures can help ensure you’re showcasing the right mix of soft and hard skills. You can also rely on feedback from interviewers to assess your weaknesses and use these insights to bridge skills gaps.
2. Acknowledge your emotions
While you don’t want to base your self-esteem on not being selected for a job, it is important you acknowledge your emotions. Trying to pretend everything is okay when you’re feeling sad, pessimistic, or hopeless, or beating yourself up for it won’t help. Acknowledge how you are truly feeling and treat yourself with compassion. Speak to yourself like you would a good friend. What advice would you give them if they were in your shoes?
3. Develop and refine your elevator pitch
When you meet someone for the first time, whether it’s for an informal coffee chat or an interview, you must introduce yourself properly. In other words: your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a quick summary of you and your brand. Giving the perfect elevator pitch by speaking confidently about your skills and goals in front of a prospective employer is something many newcomers struggle with, and honing your elevator pitch can help set you apart. Remember to customize your elevator pitch to the role and company to make it more impressive.
4. Ask your network to help
Restarting your career in a new country can be challenging enough at the best of times. One of the ways you can reduce the likelihood of rejections is to ask your network in Canada for help in your job search. Reach out to professionals in companies you’re interested in working for, and once you’ve established a connection, ask if they’d be available for a coffee chat.
If you’ve already been nurturing some of your professional contacts, ask if they would be willing to refer you for relevant roles in their companies. Your network may also be more familiar with the skills and experiences that Canadian recruiters are looking for in your industry and can give you feedback on your application.
5. Keep going
It’s normal to feel dejected if you get no response or a negative response from recruiters each time you send out a resume. However, that doesn’t mean you are incompetent or unemployable. Although rejection can make it even harder to put yourself out there and keep applying for positions, remember to keep things in perspective and try to stay positive. Don’t forget, even if you hear 50 no’s, all it takes is one “yes” to launch your career in Canada.