Finding a job and working in Canada

Chapter 4: Find job opportunities

Published: 24-02-2020



Find job opportunities

If you ask people how they got their job, some will probably say they dropped off a resume after spotting a “help wanted” signs, while others got connected with the right people, browsed job offers and applied online or even used a staffing agency.
Here are a few of the most popular and efficient ways to find a job in Canada.

Browse classifieds online
The following websites are popular and they have been around for a while, so expect some competition for job offers:

Note that as a WHV holder, you’re generally not admissible to apply for jobs offered through wage subsidy and other assistance programs. These programs fund employers to create employment opportunities for unemployed or underemployed individuals, students, recent graduates, apprentices and persons with disabilities but only permanent residents and Canadian citizens are eligible.

Browsing job offers online is a first step but keep in mind that many positions are filled without ever being advertised. This is known as the “hidden job market” or the “invisible job markets,” millions of openings where candidates are found directly through networking. You can tap into this market as well—read on!

Drop off your resume
Pounding the pavement with a stack of printed copies of your resume is still a thing for retail or food service jobs. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to introduce yourself to the manager—don’t show up in the middle of the lunch rush or during a sales event! Franchises and big-box stores may ask you to fill out their own application on paper or online while small businesses generally have a more flexible hiring process.

Prepare your “elevator pitch”—especially if you’re not a native English speaker—and simple answers to common interview questions, like “what are your main skills?” and “why would you like to join the team?”

Remember that it’s best to hand out your resume/application to the manager, otherwise it will probably end up in a drawer somewhere. Besides, meeting the manager is a chance to get an informal interview. If the timing wasn’t right, ask when the best time to come back would be.

It may be wise to develop an application tracking system to stay on top of your job search—for example a simple Excel template where you’ll enter the date you applied for the position, the name of the company, the address, the phone number, the email, the name of the manager and the various stages of the recruitment process, if applicable (phone call, interview, follow up, etc.). If you responded to a job posted online, take a screenshot of the original offer or save the page. It’s important to stay organized in your job search because chances are, you will get no calls back… and then, suddenly, five calls for interviews on the same day!

Use your network
In North America, networking is common practice and building a professional network is crucial to your job search. There’s a difference between nepotism and using your network to find job opportunities. Just remember networking is a two-way street. It’s not just about you but about developing mutually valuable relationships.

Start by telling people—friend, acquaintances, roommates, business owners, etc.— you’re looking for a job. Explain why you came to Canada, mention a few skills you have, past work experiences you enjoyed and state what you are looking for, exactly. If anyone hears about an opportunity that could be a good fit, you’ll be informed!

If you go to the gym, take classes, play a team sport, if you’re going to an event and if the moment is right, mention your job search. Just don’t dwell on it too much. People want to know what you’re looking for but no one wants to hear you rant about a frustrating job search, interviewers who don’t call back or opportunities that fell through!

LinkedIn is a useful tool to find people in your field. If you can’t send an invitation, get their name and try to find their email address through a public database. If you’re inviting or connecting with someone on LinkedIn, write a personalized connection request instead of using the default template. Finally, remember to change your country/region to Canada in your profile!

You may want to check if there are Facebook groups for professionals in your field.

And don’t forget the network you’re already a member of—! Members generously share tips and opportunities on the forum.

Since you’ll be networking, it may be a good idea to invest in business cards. This is the best way to make a great first impression and share your contact information easily (instead of fumbling around in your bag for a pen or having to spell your name to be added to a contact list!). You can order business cards online, print your own cards or go to a brick and mortar store—shop around for deals.

Register with staffing agencies
There are plenty of staffing agencies (also called “placement agencies” or “employment agencies”) all over Canada and many WHV holders find casual or contract work through them. These are some of the biggest ones:

Many of these agencies have different branches that deal with different industries and niches—for example, one for skilled trades jobs, one for IT, one for admin positions, etc. Don’t show up at the trades branch if you’re looking for a customer service position!

A few agencies only hire permanent residents, like Bilingual Source. Applying is probably a waste of time unless you have a unique profile and the client can be persuaded to sponsor you for a work permit at the end of your WHV.

Remember that registering with a staffing agency as a candidate is free. The agency charges the client (i.e., the employer) a fee.

No matter where you register, the process involves:
• Bringing your passport, SIN, resume and a void cheque (for payroll) before you even get a contract. In return, you’ll get a paper folder filled with every single piece of paper you may need if you’re offered a job, such as time sheets.
• Taking a series of skill tests for about 90 minutes. These tests include performing various tasks using Word, Excel and PowerPoint (mostly for admin jobs), data entry and typing (don’t forget Canada uses a QWERTY keyboard layout and for French, the Multilingual Standard keyboard!). If you’re bilingual, you may have to take language proficiency tests as well, usually a multiple-choice test. Employers occasionally care enough to require the “best performers”, so take these tests seriously, even if every agency puts you through the same screening process.

The most efficient way to register with a staffing agency is to email your resume, create an account or apply for one of the positions posted on their website or on other major career websites. There’s no point in applying in person. Most agencies will follow up on your application fairly quickly if they feel you’d be a good fit for one of their clients or for an open position.

Once you’re registered with an agency, don’t hesitate to call your contact regularly to see if there are new openings. Many staffing agencies are good at harvesting your info and adding your profile to their database of candidates but until you completed an assignment or two, you’re candidate #125487—don’t expect the staff to remember you or give you personalized attention.
Contact companies directly
If you’re looking for a company in a specific sector, try Yellow Pages. You can also use the directories of Canadian companies from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. A business registry search is being developed as of 2018. Until the launch of the new pilot, real-time information about businesses registered in Canada can be accessed through business registries organized by province/territory.

Once you find a company you’re interested in, check out their website (there could be a “career opportunities” section) and their social media accounts (where job offers can also be posted).

No opening? If you’re dead-set on working for a specific company, a final option would be to send your resume and cover letter and hope to be added to the internal database of applicants for unadvertised job opportunities. Great organizations are always interested in hearing from great talents. Your cover letter will have to be particularly strong and highlight unique skills and experience to be noticed.

“I’m overqualified for the job!” “I don’t have enough work experience for the position!”
The job posting says “previous experience required” and you have none, or it requires a minimum of five years of experience and you only have three because five years ago, you were in high school. You have two of the “required skills” but you’re missing a “preferred skill.” If you honestly think you’re a good fit, just apply! Employers are always looking for unicorns but most aren’t waiting for candidates whose resumes shine with perfect qualifications. Maybe you won’t be hired—but maybe you’ll be called for an interview (yay, an opportunity to practise!) and who knows … maybe you are a good fit.

Remember to include all relevant keywords in your resume and cover letter (refer to the job posting) and don’t sell yourself short.

If you have to start in a more junior position, build skills and try to earn a promotion when you get the chance. Once you gain some work experience in Canada and have a few local references, it will be easier to improve your career prospects.

Don’t get scammed!
When you’re actively looking for a job, you have to share some personal information—such as your phone number and email address—with your network and various potential employers.

Chances are, at one point or another, you’ll be contacted because you’d be a very good fit for a mysterious high-paying job—for which you tick all the boxes! A big paycheque, a nice title, an easy schedule … sounds too good to be true? Yeah, it is. This is often the speech multilevel marketing (MLM) companies give when they’re trying to recruit new distributors.

Remember: never pay to work, Google the company when the offer seems to good to be true (especially when you don’t remember applying for a position with the company!) and never work for free. Glassdoor is also a good place to check company reviews written anonymously by employees. Take them with a grain of salt but look for patterns!

Chapter 4 of 12


5/5 (2)


Recommended articles