July 15th, 2015
This article contains excerpts from an interview we conducted with a 10 year veteran and immigration expert at YWCA Immigrant Services. We will refer to this representative as John.
The job market in Canada can be tough. Its even tougher for newcomers.
Many cannot, or do not anticipate the competition in the Canadian workforce. Education is more accessible than ever. More qualifications and experience are needed.
For some, the North American dream becomes a nightmare.
Contrary to popular belief, most immigrants that come to Canada are actually highly educated. Said John, a representative of YWCA Immigrant Services.
The problem is that employers want Canadian experience and qualifications.
Many newcomers expect to immediately resume work in their field. Some are doctors, lawyers, engineers or other highly educated professionals. However, they cannot find work.
They do not have Canadian credentials.
A staggering 250,000 people immigrate to Canada every year.
Those who are unable to find work in their field must take entry level jobs, start their own businesses or unfortunately, live off of the welfare system.
While it is true that the social system in Canada is abused, not all those who access welfare do it by choice.
Imagine being a doctor with 15 years of experience in your country, coming to Canada and not being qualified to work. A tough pill to swallow for sure.
Despite this, Canada is still one of the best places to live.
To counteract all of the constrains newcomers face, there are many programs to help new immigrants assimilate into the Canadian culture and workforce.
Before immigrating, you should research these programs and prepare yourself for some of the obstacles that may arise.
Before Coming To Canada
You can greatly improve your chances of settling in and finding work if you are prepared.
Speaking with John, there was a clear emphasis on research. More research has to be done prior to immigration.
Understand the process involved with becoming a citizen. Learn about finding work and obtaining Canadian licenses if you have a profession.
Prepare for the year it may take to obtain your Canadian license. Make sure you speak English well enough to communicate.
Be ready to take any job, even if it is entry level. The Canadian experience will make your life much easier.
Newcomers must be willing to take any job upon arrival to Canada. Even if it is an entry level job. Doing so will provide them with the much-needed Canadian experience that will eventually afford them work in their profession.
John also recommends the following:
1) Understand your barriers.
Age can play a part in the employment process, says John. Your command of the English language is also important. Make sure you speak English very well.
Many companies will not hire you if you are over-qualified in their eyes. You pose a risk for turn-over.
Companies know that you may leave after a few months.
They do not want to hire someone who will leave promptly after gaining just-enough Canadian work experience to find a job in their field.
2) Try to blend in. (But dont conform)
According to John, the best thing you can do is blend in. Learn and adopt the Canadian culture.
Understand our mannerisms and etiquette. Even further, speak with our colloquial language.
Accept our holidays and beliefs. It is okay to have your own religion, but you must understand that Canada is not always going to change to accommodate your practices.
Be prepared to partake in the celebration of Christmas and other holidays.
Canadians welcome immigrants into their doors, but they ask for respect of their culture.
Some things like attire or special breaks for the purposes of prayer are not guaranteed to be accepted. Although many workplaces do accommodate this.
Please note: We are not recommending that you conform, or adopt a new ideology and set of religious beliefs. It is quite the contrary.
Canada is a country of many different cultures. We live in harmony. However, many citizens do not appreciate new immigrants who come and expect special treatment.
Understand that with a new culture, comes a new lifestyle.
3) Make friends.
New immigrants need to make friends to ease the difficult transition. It is not fun to feel alienated and out of your comfort zone.
Creating a familiarity and connection with Canadians will help you settle in. If you do not, you may feel like an outsider.
Remember, force yourself out of familiar surroundings.
As Canada is very culturally diverse, you may have the opportunity and feel tempted to assimilate with social circles from your home country.
Not only will this sabotage your English learning efforts (if you arent fluent), but it will also prevent you from learning more about Canada from the locals.
The locals may also be able to introduce you to more job opportunities.
How To Find Work In Canada
There are many ways to job search in Canada. We created a list of 43 ways you can search for a job.
Specifically, you should do the following:
Take An Entry Level Job
Get in contact with the immigrant services providers in your area. They should be able to facilitate work placements or point you in the right direction.
It is also very important to take advantage of your work, even if it is entry level. Find something that can build transferable skills related to your industry.
Make the best of your time spent working.
Some popular ways to find work are using personnel, temp, and other staffing agencies.
Agencies contract out labour for other companies and will place you in a position for as little as one day, to several months.
You can also search for entry level jobs on Jobly or other job boards.
Volunteer or Intern
While not technically employment, you should be credited for some sort of work experience having volunteered or interned in Canada.
One additional advantage to volunteering is that you get a chance to show off your skills and work ethic to potential employers.
Doing work for free can be a foot in the door as they say.
In addition to what weve mentioned, some of the following programs may help you settle and find work in Canada:
Immigrant Services _ Newcomer Programs
The following will include government programs, government funded programs, and other non-profits made to help distribute information and facilitate settlement for newcomers to Canada.
Here you can read over many of the points we have made in regards to professions, credentials and language proficiency.
This is a link to a workplace information database from the government of Canada.
LINC stands for Language Instructions For Newcomers to Canada. The program is government funded language assistance.
Canada will provide free English or French classes for new immigrants.
The link above will give you more information. However, the website is strictly for Ontario. After reading more, simply search for the LINC program in your area.
Many programs are run through local colleges and universities.
The Federal Internship For Newcomers Program provides newcomers with valuable temporary Canadian work experience and training opportunities.
You will be placed within federal government departments, agencies and private sector organizations.
Search for immigrant services in your area. Immigrant service providers will assist in the facilitation of language learning, job searching and other settlement programs.
The Citizenship and Immigration Canada Settlement Program provides settlement services to new immigrants and refugees.
You will be provided with assistance, guidance and support to many immigrant services and community programs.
The link above will provide a comprehensive list of all of the other immigrant assistance programs in Canada. Some of these are not work related.
You will find everything from loans, to healthcare and more information about some of the other programs we listed above.
The list includes most, if not all, of the federally available government programs in Canada.
According to John, it is illegal in some places for companies to ask if you have Canadian work experience.
If you are an experienced professional in your field, be aware of discrimination and make sure to protect your rights.
Yes, you are a newcomer to Canada. However, that does not give anyone the right to treat you like you do not belong or should not get the same opportunity as anyone else.
Luckily, Canada is doing very well to support equal employment opportunity.
Weve already touched on it, but please make sure to do your research.
Many countries outside of Canada do not provide internationally accepted credentials. For this reason, you may have to retake your tests.
Getting re-approved in your profession could take up to a year. This a very real fact that you need to understand before coming to Canada.
Not only can there be long waiting times. Getting re-approved can require financial investments and other requirements like being able to speak English.
Make sure you are financially and emotionally prepared to sacrifice some things.
If you arent already in Canada, you may be considering how to get sponsored.
You will make sacrifices. The sacrifices should be made knowing that you will be moving on to better things.
Canada is a country ripe with opportunity for immigrants. There are many potential setbacks, but nothing in this world is free.
For some, you will have to work very hard. It all depends which country you are coming from, your work experience and credentials.
The key to being successful in finding work as a newcomer to Canada is being ready for the challenges you may face.
Prepare for the work involved, take the time to learn English and do your research.
Doing this will ensure your success.
The main reason people become overwhelmed or fail, is because they are not prepared. They do not understand the culture, job marketplace or competition.
To ease in the transition, take advantage of all the programs that Canada offers. Make Canadian friends.
Assimilate with the culture where you can and try to find a home here in Canada.
Canadians are known for being some of the most friendly and polite people in the world. You should not have trouble making friends here!
Is there anything we missed in this article? Let us know.
What are some of the biggest challenges you faced when you came to Canada?