It’s a common question among those seeking to immigrate to Canada: How do you get a job in that vast white land? Yes, it’s a frustration but it’s obviously not impossible. Evidence shows that others have gone on before you, and have settled in fine. Somehow, it is possible. What exactly is it that eludes you?
I don’t mean to present it as a tease. I certainly understand the conundrum: you need a job offer to push your immigration process further; yet, you need immigration papers to get even an interview! The only way around it is to work both lines parallel. By this I mean, with both causes in mind, you will need to create your desired effect by stating what the listener needs to hear.
There is help online, by way of layman’s opinions, immigration consultants’ creative advice, and immigration lawyers’ professional legal advice. The real deal is laid out on the CIC website (cic.gc.ca); some may argue, a bit too much information to digest for one individual or family. But, it’s there. Being able to sort out the truth is one of the first major skills needed to live in Canada! Another great thing you’ll learn about Canada is the people here are generally kind and helpful. Approach with a positive, can-do attitude, and you’ll find your way.
Now, on to the specific advice that can help you move those important papers toward your goal.
Know what program is personally beneficial
A quick overview from the CIC website shows that there are several ways to enter Canada legally, and by which you can eventually secure permanent residency. There are federal programs, provincial programs, pilot programs, and yet these are sometimes combined. They are either mainly points-driven or employer-driven. You must look at eligibility for them, and decide where your situation (as an individual or family) fits.
Factors such as marital status (married and common-law relationships carry about the same weight in Canada), education (level and location), years of work experience, language capacity (as evidenced by a French or English test), and age are among the first things to evaluate. There are several sites where you can calculate your chances of total points for all criteria. Recently the demands of these points-driven programs are increasing. So if you are challenged by points, a job offer can improve your overall chances.
Two very popular employer-driven and community-driven programs are the AIPP (Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program) and the RNIP (Rural & Northern Immigration Pilot). The first order of business for someone seeking status under either of these programs is to secure a job. At the risk of sounding redundant, you can’t get very far without this step.
At this point, you may be sitting in your home country wondering where to start. As with all job searches, you will need to perfect your résumé to put your best virtual face forward to possible employers. Canada has an answer to that too; you need to design your résumé in a format that businesses are willing to read (actually, skim). This includes the required Canadian layout and keywords that businesses look for with the type of job you are seeking.
Here’s a word of note for those with education and/ or work experience from outside of Canada. A lot of non-Canadian references on your résumé may be a deterrent for some employers. It may give the impression that your application is not worth the time if you’re not in the country. They truly have no assurance that you may even ever get there. Eliminate your references to the current address, or previous experience all in your home country. Your contact information for the time being needs only include email address, telephone, and LinkedIn profile. Your work experience should highlight your tasks and/ or accomplishments, not the country you completed them in. If that doesn’t sit well with you, there are ways to acquire a Canadian (cell) phone number, if you just want to note it on your correspondence.
Begin sending out résumés
Now the grinding work begins. You have to send out as many résumés as you can to companies for the area/s in which you qualify. Common ways to do this are by subscribing to a list of job offerings, or by signing up for online recruiters. If you are fortunate enough to get an up-to-date list of employers willing to hire immigrants, that is a good start. As often as they update, you can send out a new set of résumés.
There are several sites you may consider, but indeed.ca and linkedIn.com are by far the most common, and most encouraged, all over Canada. Use these sites as a starting point, then add your profile to Job Bank and a couple of other online recruiters. I suggest not spreading yourself too thin, as you can also duplicate your efforts, which decreases your efficiency. From here, it’s a waiting game. I wish you all the luck of getting a response, hopefully, a call for an interview.
In my opinion, that’s the most you can do from your home country. When this starts to become monotonous and unfruitful, it may be time to buy your plane ticket. Things look different when you change your vantage point.
If you enter Canada without status, be prepared to hit the ground running. Know the best place to land, city or province at least. Know which places are best for your career choice, and look for temporary housing there, or at least near. Know what different things you can do once you land – take your language test, network via online sites or groups or career fairs, find temp agencies that may have connections with employers who are willing to sponsor. Be sure of your time limit on your temporary status (days or weeks or months). Keep your eyes out for agencies or events that have the word “immigrant” or “newcomer” in the title. Each little step can be a chance to learn something new. Even after researching from abroad, walking around in your intended environment can provide information you would not have gotten online.
It’s a good idea to get out and mingle. This includes joining an organization or social groups. Look out for career fairs, or seek out your professional association in your area. This is just the basics of finding your “tribe”. Just remember, you are still not legally allowed to work, although you can continue to receive funds from home. And there is no harm in searching for a job. So if asked by a prospective employer, you should speak to them candidly about sponsorship. They still have the option of agreeing to, or not.
Landing with status
If you were fortunate enough to secure a job offer before landing, you are at an advantage. Your employer will be expecting you, so your initial arrangements may be different than as described above. You may be able to lease a condo, rather than an Airbnb or month-to-month arrangement.
If your status does not include a job offer, such as study permit or family sponsorship, you will still need a strategy to secure a job in Canada. Some of the above strategies are good, some are not necessary. I will start with how the prospects line up if you’re a student.
Full-time international students on a study permit are allowed to work on or off campus. Additionally, they may seek remote work, such as online freelancing. Here’s the kicker: they can work a maximum of 20 hours per week while attending classes, but up to 40 hours on school breaks. There is no limit to the kind of work, and all work should pay at least minimum wage. This makes your chances way more open than those who enter as a worker and having to declare a NOC. And since the minimum wage is livable, there’s no harm in accepting the first job offer that comes your way. In most areas, businesses are happy to hire students, particularly if it’s for the lowest of pay.
If you are coming into Canada sponsored by a relative, it is under the presumption that this relative can take care of you financially. It may not actually be the case once you’re here and landed, though. If you have to begin to pay to stay, it’s best to get that résumé together and apply like a wild person! The strategy of leaving out foreign addresses may apply here. Also recognize that you are in a better position to approach a temp agency than a temporary resident is or a foreign prospect living abroad.
There are other programs, some provincial nominee programs especially, that do not require a job offer. With these, there is less stress over the catch-22, but good job hunting and interview skills are required. There are several ways you can seek out help with your résumé or job hunt, including some free services, such as jobskills.org, which is a free service for new immigrants and permanent residents.
Looking for a job is a quintessential task of adulthood; most people do it several times during their work life. Strategies differ by the decade and the economy you’re seeking a job in. Immigrants sometimes have unique challenges in this area, which is expected. Knowing what strategies to apply to your situation could mean the difference between a great or struggling personal economy. Plan your course of action wisely. Others have succeeded before you, so you can too!