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No Canadian work experience?

This is a dilemma that many immigrants face when they arrive in Canada. New arrivals are eager and enthusiastic to join the Canadian work force and make a smooth transition to their new life. They suddenly find themselves faced with what seems like a no-win situation: no Canadian work experience – no job; no job – no Canadian work experience!

It seems clear that most employers here will ask for Canadian work experience. What exactly does this mean? It usually means that employers want to see at least one to two years of work experience in Canada or in a Canadian work environment (which may include working for a Canadian employer in another country). Employers want to see that potential new employees are aware of “Canadian workplace culture and work practices” and that candidates know about their field of work in a Canadian “context”, so that they can quickly become effective on the job.

How do you prepare yourself adequately to overcome these obstacles? Some research prior to your arrival in Canada may well assist you to make a faster and more successful transition to your working life here. Before you arrive in Canada, try to find out the answers to the following questions:

  • What do Canadian employers expect from the people they hire?
  • What are some common Canadian work practices?
  • What is Canadian workplace culture?
  • What are the Canadian labour market trends in your area of work?

Becoming established in any new country can be challenging, and experience is key. If you cannot find paid employment immediately upon your arrival, there are still a number of ways to gain valuable “work” experience and build contacts. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Conduct information interviews: Identify Canadian companies similar to your current/previous employer. Information interviews will give you valuable local knowledge about your industry and may lead to further contacts.
  • Volunteer your time with an appropriate local employer.
  • Get involved by volunteering in your local community organisations.

Most newcomers are naturally focused on gaining paid employment as quickly as possible, but it is imperative to understand the pivotal role that volunteering plays in Canadian society. In Canada, one in three people volunteer their time and employers often expect to see volunteer work noted on a resumé.

As a newcomer to Canada, volunteering will give you local references and an opportunity to gain valuable insights into Canadian workplace culture. Although it will not guarantee you a job, it is often a route to finding out about job openings and it is highly regarded by many employers who are looking for candidates who care about their community. A growing number of employers accept volunteering as a valid part of work history.

If you feel you are not properly prepared for your Canadian job search, consider hiring the services of a Canadian specialist or consultant with local knowledge of the Canadian job market and Canadian work practices. Good luck with your job hunt!

PG Author: Thelma O'Connor

Thelma O' Connor, B.A., CERC Relocation Specialist, emigrated to Canada from London in 1995 and now runs Canada Wise http://www.canadawise.com/

Canada Wise provides relocation support, and cross-cultural training/coaching for newcomers to Canada.

Contact Thelma via her web site or by phone: +1 (403) 226-4999.
Follow Canada Wise on Twitter - @CanadaWise

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