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How to Get a Job With No Canadian Experience

Getting that first Canadian job can be extremely challenging.  You get the feeling that employers are reluctant to hire you because you don't have Canadian work experience but how will you ever get that experience if nobody will give you a job?!  Try not to give in to the frustration.  It may feel like it's never going to happen for you but if you are persistent with your efforts, you will catch a break.  Here are a few tips that will help you find the right opportunity:

Focus your search.  Since the job market is competitive, the easiest way to get a job is to demonstrate that you are the best at something.  When you submit a general resume that could be applied to a lot of different positions, you are competing against candidates who are specialized in each role.  A more effective approach is to pick a type of job and focus on that.  Customize your resume and try to find opportunities for that particular job.  This approach is also more efficient because you aren't having to rewrite your resume over and over again to highlight different skill sets.

Use your network.  Employers are always more willing to hire candidates who have been recommended by one of their employees.  When you come as a referral, many employers will automatically interview you and will inherently trust you a little more as you are borrowing your friend's credibility.  Talk to your friends and family and tell them that you are looking for a job and that you could use some help.  Be clear about the type of job that you are seeking and follow up on any leads that they provide to you.  The best opportunities can come from the most unlikely sources.     

Use support services.  There are a lot of community services available for newcomers who need assistance with their job search.  For example, Tropicana Employment Centre can help you write your resume and cover letter, assist you with credential assessment, introduce you to employers, connect you with job fairs, provide you with certifications, assist you with your interview skills and much more.  There are many organizations in the community that can help you with any barrier that you are facing.  Make use of these resources; it could be the edge that you need to get that first opportunity.  

Be flexible.  It can be tough to get your first job in Canada.  Some employers may consider hiring you to be a risk.  For this reason, it is important that you are willing to be flexible.  Sometimes it helps to make a few compromises for the purpose of getting a foot in the door.  Perhaps you could work an afternoon shift or accept an entry level position at a fantastic company.  Once the employer gets to know you and is able to see how skilled you are, more opportunities will become available to you.  

Understand the labour market.  You will find it a lot easier to be successful in your job search if you have a good understanding of the local labour market.  Imagine yourself investing a lot of time looking for a specific type of job only to realize that there are very few of those jobs available.  If there are thousands of people competing for one job, it is going to be difficult for you to be successful.  It makes more sense for you to focus your efforts on an area where there are more opportunities.  You can get a sense of how many jobs are available by searching through the job postings online.  Are a lot of these jobs coming up or are they few and far between?  You can also review the outlooks of different careers on the Ontario Labour Market website.  

While it may seem like people who have Canadian work experience have a much easier time finding a job, the reality is that everyone has their own unique challenges.  Perhaps they have an employment gap or maybe they are trying to break into a new industry.  Instead of focusing on your weaknesses, try to focus on the skills that you have to offer the employer.  If the employer needs someone with your skill set and you can effectively communicate that you are the right fit for the job, you will eventually find an opportunity.  The key is to be patient and persistent.  




(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of