The “Canadian dream”: myth or reality?
I need to get a job as soon as possible—where do I start? Will I be able to find work in my field? What’s the best job-search strategy? How can I overcome employment barriers?
Read on. We have tips and advice for you.
But first, a reality check. With Canadian unemployment near 40-year lows, you might think it’s easy to get a job. Of course, there are opportunities but don’t set your expectations too high. You will be competing with other candidates, including Canadian students and professionals who know the market better than you and can rely on their network. You may face challenges as a newcomer—don’t get discourage and don’t give up!
Is my temporary resident status going to be an issue for employers?
The Working Holiday Visa is a flexible work permit—that’s why it’s so popular! For 12 or 24 months (depending on their citizenship), WHV holders can work anywhere in Canada and for any employer.
However, WHV holders are temporary residents and this can raise a red flag for some employers, who can assume you won’t be committed to the job or are more likely to quit on short notice. Employers hiring for a permanent position may want to take a pass on candidates with a WHV, while those hiring casual employees or temp staff may be more open-minded. If given the chance, you can always explain there are visa options available, including permanent residence status, that could help you stay in Canada.
Do I have to find a job before I arrive?
Even if a few WHV holders secure a phone interview before arriving, most travellers only start their job search once they’re in Canada. First, employers often need to fill the position quickly and you’ll have to be available as soon as possible, if not right away. Second, most prospective employers would rather deal with a landed immigrant, i.e. a temporary or permanent resident who is already in Canada with a valid work permit, a SIN and a Canadian address.
You can always test the market before coming to Canada, but don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back from prospective employers or if you’re told to contact them again after you arrive.
No matter what you decide, read on to get all the tips and tools you need for your job search!
What you need to do before starting your job hunt
Once your work permit is stapled into your passport, you have to complete two steps in order to be ready to work. First, you have to apply for your SIN (Social Insurance Number), then, you should open a bank account in Canada before receiving your first paycheque.
Applying for your Social Insurance Number
By law, employers have to get their employee’s SIN for income tax reporting purposes. You may be able to obtain your SIN right after landing, at the airport, if a Service Canada booth is available and if you land during regular business hours. Otherwise, find a Service Canada office in a convenient location and apply in person with all the required documents. Getting a SIN is a quick and straightforward process for most WHV holders.
Opening a bank account
Canadian payroll regulations call for employers to pay employees on a regular basis, whether weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly or monthly. Most regular employees are paid every two weeks by direct deposit. Casual or temporary employees with flexible schedule may be paid by cheque (and remember it will take a few days for the cheque to clear!). Regardless, you need to have a bank account in Canada to get paid—your employer isn’t going to transfer money to your bank account abroad!
Before choosing a Canadian financial institution, check if your bank at home has a subsidiary in Canada (e.g. HSBC) or a partnership with a Canadian bank.
To open a bank account, you will need to show several pieces of ID (bring your passport) and to provide a mailing address in Canada (use the hostel’s address or a friend’s address if you don’t have a permanent accommodation solution yet). For more information, read The landing process and your first steps in Canada.