Moving to a new country and restarting your career takes patience and a growth mindset. It is essential to research and network in order to adapt to local norms, understand industry best practices and get back into your field of work.
Investing some time and effort in preparing for the Canadian job market in pre-arrival can ensure a smoother transition once you arrive in Canada. In this article, we will share some tips, advice, and resource recommendations to help you get started with your pre-arrival job search preparation with confidence and a well-thought-out strategy.
1. Analyze the job market to know the scope for your profession
One of the most popular questions newcomers have while moving to Canada is related to the scope of their profession. While there is no simple or direct answer to this question, there is a process that you can follow to better understand the job market for specific roles in each Canadian city. This process will help you make career decisions driven by data, facts, and numbers.
Download Arrive’s Job Market Analysis Guide to learn how to analyze the Canadian job market using freely available tools and resources provided by the government of Canada. The guide covers 14 industries in-depth with detailed information on evaluating the scope for your profession, certifications and licenses that you may need, setting salary expectations, and the process of finding a job in your field. Some key industries included are Information Technology (IT), Finance, Marketing, Consulting, and Healthcare. Get your free copy now!
2. Check if any licenses or certifications are required for you to work in Canada
All occupations in Canada are classified into regulated and non-regulated occupations. Regulated occupations require certification and/or a license to be able to work in that field. Most occupations related to healthcare, engineering, and law are regulated across Canada, and you will be required to get a certification or license to practice or work.
You can find out if your profession is regulated by typing in your National Occupational Classification (NOC) code and province/territory on the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) website.
To find certification and license-related information, the Canadian Job Bank website is another good resource to refer to as well. The Occupation Trends page on the Job Bank website will provide a list of skills and requirements (such as licenses and certifications) to work in the field. To get to this page, you simply have to enter your NOC code along with the province/territory.
Tip: Be aware that certifications and licenses for certain occupations may differ by province and territory. Therefore, while researching, remember to look up information for the specific province you will be moving to.
3. Update and refine your LinkedIn profile
In Canada, most recruiters and employers use LinkedIn to share job opportunities and find talent. Therefore, keep your profile up-to-date and optimize it for your desired role or position.
Here are some basics to note as you update your profile:
- Treat your LinkedIn profile differently from your resume. Resumes are typically customized to a specific position you are applying for, while LinkedIn profiles are more universal in nature and speak to not just one, but all potential employers.
- Use a professional headshot. Statistics suggest that members with profile photos receive up to 21 times more views and nine times more connection requests.
Tip: For more helpful tips and advice to help you optimize your LinkedIn profile, and build your professional network strategically, read Top 10 tips to optimize your LinkedIn profile for job search in Canada.
4. Take courses to update your skills and knowledge
The job market in Canada can be competitive. Along with obtaining the necessary certifications and/or licenses for your profession, it is worthwhile to explore various online courses to further strengthen your knowledge and in-demand skills. This will help you to be better prepared for the job market and stand out from the competition.
Tip: Remember to update your LinkedIn profile as you complete online courses and obtain certifications.
5. Start a blog or build your digital portfolio
Starting a blog is a good way to showcase your industry knowledge, subjects or topics you’re passionate about, and communication skills to potential employers. Blogging platforms such as WordPress, Blogger, and Wix let you start blogging for free. All you need is a bit of enthusiasm!
For those in creative fields such as design or art, having a portfolio is generally a requirement. Building a digital portfolio will go a long way in attracting employer interest. Compiling portfolios, work samples, or starting a self-managed blog are excellent ways to stand out from the crowd. Some popular sites to build digital portfolios are Behance, Dribble, Adobe Portfolio, Crevado, Flickr, Coroflot, and PortfolioBox.
“I started working on my skills by taking online certification courses, those that were required for my field and some free ones. I also completed some courses through Lynda.com. In the end, I accumulated close to 18 certifications in my field (digital marketing) while I was still in India. I also started my own marketing blog. I was always passionate about marketing-related content, design, and its practical applications. The knowledge gained through online courses gave me the confidence to start blogging. I always listed the blog on my resume so that recruiters and potential employers could go online and see what I already know about the subject.”
6. Sign up with government-funded pre-arrival settlement agencies
The government of Canada offers various free settlement services to help newcomers with an approved immigration visa prepare to live and work in Canada. Most of these programs, including those focused on job search, are available for registration in pre-arrival. Once you register for employment assistance, the settlement agency will usually conduct a preliminary assessment and help you with tasks such as resume preparation and reviews, job applications, interview training, etc.
Some settlement organizations like Planning for Canada offer custom in-person and virtual sessions outside Canada in various countries. There is usually a long waitlist to register for these sessions, so you should look into enrolling as soon as you get your visa.
7. Create a Canadian-style resume and cover letter
The resume format that’s widely used and accepted in Canada may be different from the one you’re used to in your home country. To apply to jobs in Canada, you need a Canadian-style resume and cover letter. Canadian resumes are very brief, usually just one or two pages long, and include a summary of work experience, education, and skills relevant to the role.
- Do not use a generic resume and cover letter for all job applications. Remember to customize it to each position you’re applying for.
- To understand the Canadian-style resume in detail and get useful tips, read the article, How to write a Canadian resume and cover letter.
8. Network with industry professionals virtually
Networking is a way of life in Canada and is crucial to finding a role in your field of work. Canada has a hidden job market. This hidden job market refers to positions that are filled without the employer advertising them publicly. It is said that as much as 65-85 per cent of the jobs are not posted online. This is why building your network is crucial, and LinkedIn is a good starting point for networking.
In the pre-COVID era, people usually networked over in-person coffee chats or informational interviews. Coffee chats can help you learn about the local job market and get accustomed to Canadian culture. Today, due to the pandemic, networking has gone virtual. So, as a newcomer looking to build your network, it’s easy and convenient to set up virtual coffee chats with industry professionals in Canada while you’re still in your home country.
Unsure about how to start networking? Arrive’s guide on Networking for Newcomers to Canada will give you tips on platforms to use, questions to ask, and best practices to network effectively to cultivate meaningful, long-term professional relationships – both in-person and virtually.
“As we navigate new protocols due to the pandemic, events are being held virtually. So attend these virtual meet ups to gain information to understand what it is you may be missing, or identify skills that you currently have that are transferable in Canada and improve your digital presence. Fill those gaps.”
9. Find a mentor
According to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), mentoring involves the pairing of an experienced or skilled person (mentor) with someone who would like to improve their skills (mentee). The mentor acts as a role model and supports the mentee by sharing knowledge, resources, and advice to help them improve their skills. Mentoring can happen in different ways. For instance, it can be as simple as an employee showing another how to complete a particular task, or it can be more involved where working professionals commit to long-term mentoring relationships.
As a newcomer to Canada, finding a mentor (who may be a working professional or an industry leader in Canada) is a good way to learn how to adapt your skills and experience for the local job market and find relevant opportunities. The process of finding a mentor can take a while, so it’s advisable to start early.
You can look for a mentor through organizations like:
- Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS)
- Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC)
- Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC)
- Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council (ERIEC)
- Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO)
“I have been paired with a mentor through the CultureLink mentorship program. She’s a career coach and is hitting the nail on the head for me. We talk about networking, about following up, about how I should approach my job search and interviews. I used to wing every interview. I would often miss the small details. Now, if interviewers ask certain questions, I know what to expect. I am now much better prepared. And I’m much better at doing phone interviews and virtual interviews.”
10. Apply to jobs
As you continue your job search preparation, keep an eye out for positions that fit your profile. The Canadian government’s Job Bank website is a job-listing aggregator, so it pulls listings from multiple job sites, which makes it convenient to browse opportunities. You can also browse sites such as LinkedIn Jobs, Indeed, Monster, Glassdoor, Workopolis, CareerBuilder, and SimplyHired. If you’re looking for freelancing opportunities or remote work, sites like UpWork, Fiverr, Jobboom, Jobillico, and Jobspresso are good options.
With many organizations moving to a remote work model, if you have a permanent resident (PR) visa but haven’t been able to move due to the pandemic, there is an increased likelihood that employers may want to interview you if they identify a good fit. So don’t hesitate to send in your job application and reach out to recruiters.
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Whether you’re planning on switching careers after moving to Canada or getting back into your own field of work, being clear about your career goals, researching the job market in Canada, and connecting with relevant industry professionals will help you set the right expectations and plan a systematic career path for yourself.