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.


What is the purpose of Informational Interviews and why do them?

Everyone talks about the hidden job market and how many jobs are not even advertised. So how do you find these hidden jobs? Where are these jobs? Having worked in the employment industry for over 25 years, and helped thousands of people find jobs, I wanted to share what I have learned with you.

So what is an Informational Interview?

You can find a jobs before it is advertised by doing informational interviews with companies that you are interested in working for. Knowledge is power!

Basically, an Informational Interview is a conversation. These are very important in your search for a new job and help in determining if the company is a good fit for you. Informational interviews help you get an inside glimpse into organizations that you would not gain from a job interview. Simply put, it is an interview where the goal is gathering information about a profession or organization rather than securing employment (although job offers can result from the meeting!). It is a fact-finding discussion where you talk with people already working in a particular role, field, industry, or work place about:

• the tasks that they perform and the knowledge and skills that they use

• the path that they took and the experience and qualifications required to obtain their job

• the kinds of people that they serve, lead, and/or with whom they collaborate on the job

• the sort of work environment and culture in which they work

• the joys and frustrations of doing their work, in their industry and for their organization

Your aim is to get an overview of both their typical workday as well as the variety of work situations, interactions and opportunities they have encountered across the course of their career.

You can gain information aboutthe important characteristics that the different companies look for when hiring. This will help you in creating cover letters, and resume that emphasize the key attributes that you have to offer. They are also a great way to practice your interview skills prior to a job interview.

How Informational Interviews have helped my clients find jobs

Many companies have a referral system and ask their staff if they know of anyone who they believe can be a good fit for the organization.Some even give a bonus to staff who refer individuals who are hired. However, it is important to remember that it is not a guarantee that an Informational Interview will result in the person referring you for an opening within a company.

One of my clients, who had and MBA and very little work experience as a Business Analyst, went for an Informational Interview with someone who was working at a large organization that she was very interested in working for. The two had worked together at a previous firm, and when they met for an Informational Interview the employee took her resume into the Hiring Manager and promoted her for an available position. The result was an interview, as she was recognized in the pile of 300 applicants, and ended up getting the job! This does not happen every time, but I have seen it happen enough times to know it works for many.

In another case, I had a client in the biotechnology field who was laid off in early November. Through doing a series of Informational Interviews, he landed a job in early January! He set-up an Informational Interview with someone who he had worked with ten years ago, who had recently secured funding for a new research project and was at the early stages of recruiting. Initially, the company had thought they were going to hire a junior person, but upon meeting my client who had twenty years of experience, they decided to redo the job description and hired him.  The Informational Interview enabled them to realize that his skills could move the research must faster and were critical to helping them grow.

Review your network to see if you know anyone who works at an organization that you would like to work for.  If not, use LinkedIn to find shared connections and ask your contacts for an introduction.

Companies Forecast Future Staffing Needs

Organizations will forecast their staffing needs and often have projects that are waiting for approval.  Usually, they will start to collect resumes and potential staff prior to these projects starting. During an Informational Interview, you can find out about their future needs and gain an understanding of what skills they require. This allows you to determine if you have a skills gap, and enable you to use the time prior to the forecasted position to gain the essential skills.

Consider Informational Interviews when searching for jobs or for identifying the best courses to take that will fit your interests and needs.

My next blog will provide tips on how to do an informational interview and what questions to ask.