19
Apr

So, are you legally entitled to work in Canada?

If you are new to Canada, your immigration status is likely to have an impact on your job search. Canadian employers cannot legally ask where you were born, but are well within their rights to ask whether you are legally allowed to work in this country. Those with Permanent Resident status are highly unlikely to face hiring difficulties, but those on temporary work permits may find that employers are more cautious about hiring you, and you have to be ready to answer their questions in order to reduce this risk.

This is not discrimination

First, Canadian employers are well within their rights to give preference to Canadian citizens or permanent residents.They are not legally required to treat temporary workers equally during the hiring process.Some organizations will openly state this in their job descriptions (i.e. “applications will only be considered from those eligible to work in Canada”, or “preference will be given to Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents”).Another way that organizations can find out your immigration status, without directly asking, is to look at your SIN; Those who are on temporary work permits have a 9 as the first digit.

You are seen as a greater hiring risk

Recruitment is an expensive business. While employers probably don’t believe that any new hire is going to stay with them for life, someone on a temporary work permit is seen as much more likely to leave. Perhaps they will think that you will eventually want to return to your home country, or that you may not be able to stay in the country beyond your current work permit expiry date. Simply put, you may represent a bigger cost than an individual who has already achieved Permanent Resident status.

Your Permanent Resident application is YOUR responsibility

Anyone who has been through the Permanent Resident application process knows that it is a time consuming and expensive process. Organizations you are applying to, may be concerned that you expect them to take on this responsibility; Don’t let them think this! If they end up valuing you so much that they are willing to pay the fees in the future – great! But at the application stage you want to make it clear that you will take charge.

Know the immigration basics

You don’t have to be an immigration expert, but you cannot expect your potential employer to be either. As someone who has emigrated, you probably know a lot more about this subject than someone who hasn’t. Before you talk with employers, you want to make sure that you know: how long your current work permit is valid for; when you can apply for Permanent Residency; how long the application is likely to take; and will the employer be required to do anything.  Simple.

Don’t let it take over

If you are asked about your residency status in an interview, answer it accurately but concisely but do not allow this conversation to take over the interview. The focus of the interview should be on your skills and experience that make you the best candidate for the job; not your work permit.

When to disclose your residency status

If you are asked, it should be straight away. Always be honest with a potential employer or you risk being ‘black listed’ within that organization and potentially within the whole local industry. If it is not spoken about during the interview, you should always make sure that you disclose it at the point of offer. At this stage, the organization knows that they want you and they are less likely to be discouraged from taking you on.

Be honest

You might be tempted to be less than honest about your residency status…don’t. Never risk damaging your reputation within the local industry; people talk and you don’t want your personal brand to become one of dishonesty. Answer honestly, assure them that you will take responsibility and don’t let it become the focus of your conversation with a potential employer.\

About Eilidh Sligo

Eilidh currently works fulltime at Capilano University as a Career Advisor, and has advised students and alumni who are looking for worked within the different disciplines at the university. She has worked at universities in both Canada and Scotland and understands the challenge of looking for work in a new country. She is a member of the Career Professional of Canada and is a Certified Resume Writer. Eilidh regulary writes articles on employment and career topics for Capilano University Career Centre, Canadian Career Professionals and FutureWorks.

5
Apr

The Elusive Canadian Work Experience for New Immigrants

“Canadian employers value Canadian experience”. As newcomers to Canada, this is something that we hear a lot during out initial job search and it can be very disheartening. This does not mean, however, that your international employment experience is not valuable. Here are some tips on how to best present this to potential employers.

Make it easy for them

Your résumé, as a marketing document, should make it easy for the reader to understand. You will know if your previous employer was the largest firm in the city with accounts for major industry players, but will someone who has never been to that country necessarily know this?  Probably not. Your priority, as an efficient job seeker, is to make it easy for the reader and this can include adding a short, one or two line description of the organization you used to work for. Don’t simply include the link to the company website as this looks lazy.

Canadianize your résumé

Resume styles vary throughout the world, and you need to make sure that the format you use does not scream “newcomer!”  Doing this is vital as you do not want to risk a potential employer presuming that you do not understand the business norms in Canada. Canadian résumés are concise (usually a maximum of 2 pages) and focus on skills and achievements, rather than duties. Personal details (i.e. birth date and marital status) and photographs need to be removed before you send your résumé out to any employers.

Maximize your cover letter

A well written cover letter can boost your application by showcasing your personality and attitude. Rather than being a repeat of your resume, or simply stating “here is my résumé”, use this opportunity to explain to the employer how you have the relevant skills.  Write a concise story, or example, that describes your behavior as an employee. For example, a time that you went above and beyond for a customer or successfully managed a project that looked likely to fail. Don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm for this particular opportunity at this specific organization. Make them feel special by explaining why you want to work particularly for them.

Adopt the right tone

Starting a cover letter with “Dear Respected Sirs” is not the way to do business in Canada. Similarly to having a photograph on your résumé, it screams “new immigrant” and will make employers doubt if you have the know-how to be a successful employee. Business correspondence in Canada is professional, but friendly. Letters should ideally address the individual by name (i.e. Ms. Keenan or Mr. Singh), never assume that the recipient will be male and don’t marry-off female Hiring Managers, always use Ms. rather than Mrs. Or Miss.

Volunteer

If you have recently arrived in Canada, you have probably noticed that Canadians love to volunteer with approximately 70% giving time and skills back to their communities. Volunteering is not only a way to feel good about yourself, it is an excellent way to make network connections, showcase your skills and gain Canadian experience. Ideally, you want to try and gain experience within your industry, or at least where you are using skills that are transferable to your industry. Remember, you should only be doing unpaid volunteer work for not-for-profit organizations and the average number of hours per week for volunteering is 4.

Don’t only rely on your résumé

Developing your network is one of the best things that you can do for your job search, and this is even more essential for newcomers to Canada. It is unlikely that you will have an extensive network when you first arrive here, so you need to get out there and meet people. Networking is successful as people want to hire people that they like, and it is very difficult to get a feel of someone’s personality from a résumé. Get involved in the local professional associations, attend industry networking events and check out local meet up events. Job search is not a time to be shy, let people know what you are looking for: you never know who might know your next employer.

About Eilidh Sligo

Eilidh currently works fulltime at Capilano University as a Career Advisor, and has advised students and alumni who are looking for worked within the different disciplines at the university. She has worked at universities in both Canada and Scotland and understands the challenge of looking for work in a new country. She is a member of the Career Professional of Canada and is a Certified Resume Writer. Eilidh regulary writes articles on employment and career topics for Capilano University Career Centre, Canadian Career Professionals and FutureWorks.