Find Jobs in Canada: A Guide for Newcomers
CanadaVisa has built this guide to make it as easy as possible for newcomers like you to find your dream job as you settle in Canada. The country is open and welcoming, as it depends on global talent to support its economic and social prosperity.
Finding a job in your field in Canada can be challenging. But many newcomers show that it is certainly possible – as long as you are prepared.
Table of Contents
- Step 1: Research
- Step 2: Prepare your Resume and Cover Letter
- Step 3: Increase your Chances by Networking in Canada
- Step 4: Apply for Jobs
- Step 5: Prepare for your Interview
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Contact CanadaVisa and Cohen Immigration Law for Assistance
Canada’s labour force has over 20 million people. Newcomers account for a growing share of the labour force. Landed immigrants make up over 25 per cent of workers in Canada.
There are plenty of good Canadian employment opportunities. Each and every day more than 50,000 Canadian job postings go unfilled.
In this guide, CanadaVisa will outline each step you can take to be successful in your job search in Canada.
First, you will learn how to carry out crucial research. Identify how you will be positioning yourself and which employers are a good fit for you, and learn more tips for your application. You will also learn about working in a regulated occupation in Canada.
Second, you will learn about preparing your resume. It is important to prepare your resume in the Canadian format as well as writing a cover letter. In addition, you will learn writing a cover letter and optimizing your LinkedIn profile.
Third, you will learn about how you can increase your chances of landing a job by networking in person and online, as well as mentorship opportunities.
Fourth, you will learn about where to find job listings in Canada, and how to apply for your desired jobs.
Finally, you will learn about preparing for your interviews in Canada.
At the end of this page, you will be able to see the most frequently asked questions about finding a job in Canada.
Step 1: Research
Many job seekers tend to skip this step and go straight to working on their resume and apply for jobs in bulk. However, conducting research beforehand puts you at an advantage because you will learn how you can get a job that complements your career goals. This way, your job search will be more targeted.
Follow the steps below to successfully research your options.
Step 1: The first step is to figure out where you see yourself in a few years. Identify what you are passionate about and what your ambitions are. This will help you in every step of the way.
Step 2: Identify individuals and organizations with experience in your chosen field and industry. Reach out to them and ask them for a phone call or meeting so they can provide you with career advice. Networking is key to not only helping you find employment opportunities, but also learning about the actions you can take to secure your dream job in Canada. Often, individuals and organizations are willing to have coffee with newcomers to provide advice and mentorship. See our “Networking” section below for more information on how to network in Canada.
Step 3: Identify which employers you wish to apply for. You can do this by looking at job listings. Below, you will find a list of different resources that you can use to view current listings. Choose positions based on your knowledge, skills and experience.
Step 4: The next step is to conduct research about these employers you have identified.
You can do so by checking out the 'About' section on employer profiles on LinkedIn. You can also read their 'About' section on their website. Make sure you know about the employer's history, what their products or services are, and how they view themselves.
Check if they have an "In the news" section on their website, where they are likely to publish their latest achievements. You can also search for the employer name on Google News, or other similar platforms.
It is also recommended that you have a look at the employer's social media accounts, where they may be announcing recent news.
Gather as much information as you can that is relevant to your position. If possible, find out who would be your manager.
This information will be useful for you when writing your cover letters and during your interview. This will show the employer that you are prepared.
Step 5: Now that you have done the research, the third step is to work on how you will be framing yourself.
Identify pain points they may be currently facing. Then, identify opportunities.
Your job now is to try to frame your work experience and background as what is needed to address these pain points. Frame yourself as the candidate they need to solve the problems they face.
Step 1a: Working in a Regulated Occupation
About 20% of jobs in Canada are regulated. Some professionals and tradespeople must meet specific requirements of competency and training to practice their profession in Canada. The reason some jobs are regulated is to protect the health and safety of Canadians.
If you wish to work in a regulated profession, you will have to get your foreign credential recognized and receive accreditation, or receive a license to practice. In Canada, workers in regulated professions are accredited by a provincial or territorial regulatory body. This means that the requirements you will need to fulfil to practice in your regulated profession will depend on the province or territory you choose to reside in.
What professions are regulated?
Professions related to health, safety or ethics are usually regulated. This includes doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals; engineers and skilled trade workers; and lawyers and accountants.
There are over 500 credentialing bodies across Canada. For this reason, the first step is usually to identify which province you will move to. You should then identify which occupation you wish to pursue in Canada. The third step is to find out if your chosen occupation is regulated in the province you are heading to.
If you want to know if your profession is regulated, follow these steps:
Step 1: Visit this webpage. It is operated by governments across Canada. This is the most authoritative and trusted source for credential recognition in Canada. The governments operate what is called the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC).
Step 2: On the CICIC webpage, search for your occupation and indicate the province you intend to work in. You can search by keyword or by the National Occupational Classification (NOC) code.
Step 3: In the results page, click on your occupation.
Step 4: In the following page, scroll down to “2. Confirm the occupational regulations” and click on the “Regulations and Laws” tab.
Step 5: If the occupation is regulated, you may want to scroll to “4. Contact the regulatory authority”. In this section, you will be able to toggle between provinces and territories to find the authority that you should contact to begin the credentialing process.
The province or regulatory authority’s website will provide you with the steps you can pursue to be able to work in your dream job in Canada.
You may also consider enrolling in bridging programs. Bridging programs help internationally-trained individuals gain access to training and support in Canada. This training helps you get a license or certificate that would be required to practice your profession in a Canadian province or territory.
Also keep in mind there are over 500 immigrant-serving organizations across Canada that provide completely free support to newcomers. The supports include help finding a job and help improving your English and French skills.
- About credential recognition in Canada;
- Government information hub for credential recognition;
- Where to find free newcomer services in Canada.
Step 2: Prepare your Resume and Cover Letter
It is important to tailor your resume to the Canadian market to be successful.
In this section, we highlight what you should be mentioning in your resume, what you shouldn’t mention in your resume, and how to write your cover letter.
You will also learn how to write your cover letter and optimize your LinkedIn profile.
Make sure to have your resume in the Canadian format
The Canadian resume tends to be more concise than other resumes around the world. You are encouraged to tailor your resume for each position you are applying for. Generic resumes do not go far in the Canadian job market.
Your resume should not be too long. If you don’t have much experience, one page is enough.
Your resume should grab the reader’s attention – quickly. Hiring managers usually have dozens, if not hundreds of resumes to go through. It’s your responsibility to stand out. It’s also recommended to make your resume easy to read and skim through.
You can do this by making sure the resume has a clear flow from start to finish. Start with a career summary or overview at the start of the resume.
In the ‘Experience’ section, only mention roles that are relevant to the job you are applying for, unless you have a short career. Under each role, do not just list your duties, but mention your personal and team achievements. Focus on achievements that may convince the reader that you can help their organization. You can also include technical or software skills if it is appropriate for the role.
Here are some more things that you should do on your resume:
- Use just one font throughout your resume;
- Convert your academic grades to the Canadian equivalent. For example, convert your high school grades to a GPA;
- Include volunteer work if you have any;
- Use keywords that are relevant to the job you are applying for in your resume;
- If applicable, add certification and licensing;
- If applicable, add your foreign language proficiency;
- Include your contact information at the top, including a Canadian phone number.
Here are some things that you should NOT include on your resume.
- The words “resume” or “curriculum vitae”;
- References – it is assumed you already have references and employers will ask you for them if applicable;
- Date of birth;
- Ethnicity or nationality;
- Marital status.
If you need help writing your resume in the Canadian format, you may be interested in CanadaVisa's Canadian Style Resume Builder.
How to write a cover letter?
It is common to attach a cover letter alongside your resume when applying for a job. A cover letter is a short description of why you are a good fit for the job.
Like your resume, your cover letter should also be tailored to each job you are applying for. For example, if you found out the hiring manager, mention his or her name in the beginning of your cover letter.
Introduce yourself and the position you’re applying for. Then, answer this question: “why do you want this job?”.
Next, indicate why your skills and experience make you a good candidate. Don’t just mention the same things that are on your resume. Your cover letter and resume should complement each other.
Towards the end of your cover letter, thank the hiring manager and mention that you intend to follow up. You can also include any additional information you wish to include, such as a link to your website or portfolio.
How to optimize your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is a social media platform that helps professionals connect with each other. You will be able to use it to connect with fellow professionals as well as potential employers. LinkedIn is also a popular website for job listings.
Whether or not you apply for a job through LinkedIn, your potential employer may choose to look you up on LinkedIn to learn more about you, even before calling you in for a face-to-face interview. This is why it is a good idea to have an optimized LinkedIn profile, even if you are not applying for a job on LinkedIn.
Here are some tips to help you optimize your profile.
- Have a professional high-quality headshot as your profile picture. After all, your picture is likely the first thing that recruiters and hiring managers are looking at when visiting your profile;
- Make sure your photo is recent, you are wearing business clothing, and the photo contains adequate lighting;
- Add a good headline. This could be a current or previous job title so that recruiters will be able to find you;
- Include a summary of who you are and what you do. In addition, mention the problems that you may be able to solve for potential employers;
- Include relevant work experience and education. However, you don’t need to list out all of your duties and responsibilities for each role. Keep it short and sweet;
- Ask for LinkedIn recommendations from your old managers. Having LinkedIn recommendations on your profile helps you stand out;
- Include your contact your information in your profile (e.g., your email address).
Step 3: Increase your Chances by Networking in Canada
For newcomers to Canada, knowing how to network effectively can massively help you with your job hunt. In fact, networking can be crucial to finding a job in Canada.
Networking can provide insights and invaluable advice on how to improve professionally, and provide you with career advice and job leads. It allows you to meet other professionals who can introduce you to new opportunities.
Many jobs are not publicly advertised. This means that you have to be actively speaking to people and networking to uncover Canada’s “hidden job market”.
Build a personal brand and get your name out there so that you can be considered the next time a job opportunity arises.
Here is a list of things that you can do:
- Prepare a 30-second elevator pitch so that you know what to say when you do meet the right people. An elevator pitch is where you communicate your value over a short period of time in an elevator ride. Talk about your value and about what makes you different than others. Here is an example:
“Hi, my name is Anand Patel. I’m a games developer with four years of experience in games built with Unity. In my last company, we focused on getting a game to market in just 3 months. I have just arrived from India and I’m looking to continue building my career in Canada. Do you happen to know anyone in this space?”
Note that you should only say your elevator pitch if you are at a networking event and you are asked something along the lines of “What do you do?” or “What brings you to this event?”.
- If you already have some family, friends or acquaintances in Canada, ask them for help. They may introduce you to their connections and this may get you started on meeting the right people.
- Find networking events or job fairs in your area related to your profession. Attend them, and continuously look to create new contacts. Find events on websites such as MeetUp.com and Eventbrite.com.
- Consider spending some time volunteering. This will help you meet new people who may help you find a job. It will also help you gain Canadian work experience and will help familiarize you with the Canadian work culture.
- If you’re not already on LinkedIn, get on LinkedIn. This professional social media platform has become a must-have for professionals looking to network with others in their field and for those who are looking for a job. On LinkedIn, you will be able to search for people and opportunities by location, job title, as well as other factors.
- Join a professional association. These are groups of professionals within a particular industry or field. Joining a professional association can help you gather insights about the industry in Canada, and can also help you connect with key professionals.
Another option is to look for a mentor. If you have a mentor who is a seasoned professional in your industry, this can benefit you greatly in your job search and beyond. IRCC's website lists immigrant-serving organizations that offer newcomers with free services such as mentorship, resume writing workshops, training sessions as well as other forms of employment assistance.
Step 4: Apply for Jobs
In this section, you can familiarize yourself with the resources available to view job listings in Canada.
There are many tools and resources available to help you to apply for jobs in Canada.
Where to find job listings:
Here is a list of websites that you can use to start looking for jobs.
This website is run by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). ESDC is the Canadian federal government department responsible for Canada’s labour market as well as social programs. The website has a database of job listings and other employment services.
Google for Jobs
Use Google just as you would normally and you may find job listings compiled by Google. For example, you can search for “HR manager job in Toronto” and Google's job table will likely appear.
LinkedIn is a social media platform for professionals to connect with each other. It also has a jobs section where you can find plenty of job listings in your desired location.
CanadaVisa offers its own job search tool to help newcomers settle quicker in Canada by finding suitable employment.
Other ways to look for jobs
In addition to these websites specific to newcomers, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) funds over 500 immigrant-serving organizations across Canada. Many of these organizations specialize in employment support, and offer the services for free. You can find a list of these organizations on this webpage.
It may also be a good idea to select employers you are interested in and apply directly through the employer’s website. Many employers have “Career” sections on their website.
You can also reach out to employment agencies and recruiters such as:
- Robert Half;
- Randstad Canada; and
- Hayes Canada.
These organizations can help connect you with employers. You will not be charged for these services.
In addition, if you know where you will be settling, have a look at the province or territory’s website to find any useful resources or job listings on their website. You could also try having a look at the municipality’s website.
You can also apply by email, particularly if you came to know about the opportunity through networking.
After you apply, try following up a few days later to show that you are eager. Be polite.
If you attend an interview, send an email to the person interviewing you afterwards to thank them for the opportunity. This will help you stand out.
Finding a job in Canada is no easy feat, but it is certainly possible. Be prepared and stay positive, and you’ll have a good chance.
Additional tips for applying for a job
- Make sure you have strong references ready from previous employers. Many employers in Canada may ask for references.
- Make sure you are in the right frame of mind. Stay positive, patient and be enthusiastic when you meet people.
- Be selective in the jobs you apply for. Those who apply for jobs in bulk tend to perform worse than those who are selective. In addition, when you are selective, you are more likely to tailor your resume and cover letter to the job, and you are more likely to be more prepared for your interview.
Step 5: Prepare for your Interview
You’ve probably had job interviews before in your home country. Now, you want to learn about how you can prepare for a job interview in Canada. We get it. It can be difficult to attend interviews in a new country with a new work culture.
This is why we’ve written out this guide to help.
Step 1: Study the job description
Make sure you understand everything laid out in the job description and listing. Based on this, you can plan on what questions you would like to ask the interviewer.
Now that you understand what the employer is looking for, try to frame yourself within their expectations.
If there is, for example, a certain skill you lack, make sure you prepare powerful responses, and illustrate your ability and willingness to learn.
Step 2: Research the employer
Use the employer’s website, look at press releases and look at the employer's LinkedIn to research them before your interview.
Understand their product or service offering. Find out if there are any recent updates in the news about the employer. Find information about the company culture.
By getting to know the employer and its challenges, you may be able to provide stronger, tailored responses during your interview. This will also help you ask better questions during the interview.
Step 3: Prepare for the “Tell me about yourself” question
You don’t need to restate your full name. The interviewer already knows that. Give an overview about your experience and education. Mention something that you offer that no one else does. Now that you’ve researched the employer and studied the job description, try to frame yourself as a solution to a problem they may have.
Step 4: Prepare for common interview questions
Monster.com has a fantastic resource to help prepare you for basic questions, behavioural questions, salary questions and career development questions. You can find the resource here.
It is important to note that many of the questions in Canadian style interviews are behavioural-based. An example of a behavioural-based question is: “Have you had an experience with this sort of challenge before?”. They would expect to hear stories that demonstrate your behaviour in certain scenarios.
For this reason, try to remember various scenarios in your past experience, and how you reacted, so you can bring them up during your interviews.
In addition, if you would like to prepare for the question about your expected salary, it may be a good idea to use CanadaVisa's Salary Survey to learn more about the Canadian market.
When you practice answering questions, do so with your speaking voice (out loud), and maintain a professional body posture, as you would in a real interview.
You can’t always prepare for every question that would be asked. Therefore, it is important to prepare yourself mentally to hear questions you were not expecting, and be prepared to think on your feet.
Step 5: Practice your interview
When you’re done preparing for interview questions, practice your interview with family or friends. You can also participate in mock interviews. A mock interview is a practice interview to help you train for the real thing. Many immigrant-serving organizations and staffing agencies offer free mock interviews. They will give you feedback on how to improve your interview skills.
Step 6: Prepare a copy of your CV, your portfolio and work samples
Make sure they are up to date and organized. Bring hardcopies with you to the interview.
Step 7: During the interview
Remember to dress professionally on the day of the interview. Maintain eye contact during the interview, even if it is online.
Be mindful of your body language during the interview.
If your interview is virtual, test your connection beforehand, and make sure you are in a quiet environment.
Step 8: After the interview
After your interview, stand out by sending an email to your interviewer to thank them for the opportunity. Be patient. It is common for the hiring process to take longer than what the employer says in the interview. Do not lose hope if you do not hear from the employer for several weeks. If you have not heard from them after the period they indicated to you, then send one brief follow up email highlighting your continued interest in working for the employer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Your resume should be around two pages long. If you do not have much experience, one page is enough.
Don’t mention jobs that you had earlier on in your career. For past jobs that are less relevant to the position, you can mention them in just one or two lines each.
You do not need to include references, a signature, your date of birth, gender, ethnicity, nationality or marital status.
Only mention your whole work history if it is relevant to the job you are applying for. Your CV should only include essential information. Include your recent employers, and/or the employers that are relevant to the job.
Generally, you do not need to include the references on your CV. The employer will ask for their contact details if he or she wishes.
If it states in the job listing that the employer will want to contact your references, then you can include them on your CV.
You do not need to apply for jobs in person in Canada.
It is common to attach a cover letter alongside your resume when applying for a job. A cover letter is a short description of why you are a good fit for the job.
If your resume does not convey everything you would like, then a cover letter is a good idea.
Introduce yourself and the position you’re applying for, and indicate why your skills and experience make you a good candidate. Don’t just mention the same things that are on your resume. Your cover letter and resume should complement each other.
Bonus tip: do your research on the company, and mention something specific about why you’re a good fit.
Tailored CVs tend to perform better. So even if it may seem tedious, it may be a good idea to have a tailored resume for each position you’re applying for.
Make sure your CV includes relevant information to the position.
The required experience on a job listing should be used as a guideline. Usually, requirements describe what the company wants in the perfect candidate.
Not all of the listed requirements are usually required. Employers know that it is unlikely they will find someone who will fill all the boxes.
You are therefore encouraged to apply for jobs even if you have just some of the requirements, and not all. This is especially true for positions that you feel you can do well in.
Even if you meet 7 out of 10 requirements, perhaps every other candidate will meet 6.
Learning how to network effectively can give you a huge boost in your job hunt. Here is a list of some things that you can do to begin networking when you land in Canada.
- Find networking events or job fairs in your area, especially ones that are specific to your field. Attend these events, meet new people and create contacts.
- If you’re new to Canada, you may want to consider volunteering. The benefits are twofold. You will be able to meet new people who may help you find a job, and you will be able to gain Canadian work experience.
- If you’re not already on LinkedIn, get on LinkedIn. This professional social media platform allows you to connect with other professionals in your field, in your area.
Job Bank is a national employment service, run by Employment and Social Development Canada.
Its aim is to help Canadians and newcomers to find work in Canada. It has a database of job listings and other employment services.
To work in Canada, you must have:
- A Social Insurance Number (SIN);
- A credential assessment if you work in a regulated occupation;
- A Canadian style resume and cover letter.
- Check if any licenses or certifications are required for you to work in Canada in your profession.
- Sign up with pre-arrival settlement agencies. These agencies are funded by the Canadian federal government
- Update and optimize your LinkedIn profile.
- Take courses to stand out from the competition, and to learn new skills and expand your knowledge.
- Create a website and build an online portfolio.
- Network with people in your industry virtually.
- Start applying to jobs.
First, you must know what you want. Your dream job should be the sort of work you enjoy doing that is challenging enough, and satisfying enough.
Your next step is to conduct research to understand how you are going to position yourself in the Canadian market, and which employers are a good fit for you.
After that, you will have to spend some time working on your resume and cover letter. You can re-use a template, but don't forget to tailor both your resume and cover letter to the job you are applying for.
Next, learn about networking in your area and look into mentorship opportunities. You can find out about unadvertised positions this way.
The next step would be to start applying for jobs and preparing for your interview.
Do you require Canadian immigration assistance?
Cohen Immigration Law is a leading Canadian immigration law firm with over 45 years of experience. Cohen Immigration Law is comprised of over 60 Canadian immigration lawyers, paralegals, and other professionals. We are dedicated to helping people achieve their Canadian immigration goals. We assist in areas including skilled worker and business immigration, family sponsorship, work permits, study permits, citizenship, and inadmissibility. CanadaVisa.com was founded in 1994 as the online presence of Cohen Immigration Law. CanadaVisa has since blossomed into the one of the world's most trusted resources on Canadian immigration. Please reach out for assistance. We're happy to help:
Skilled Worker Assistance
Find out if you are eligible to immigrate to Canada through one of the country's over 100 skilled worker options.
Family Sponsorship Assistance
See if you are eligible to sponsor a loved one, or be sponsored by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
Other Immigration Enquiries
Contact us about work permits, study permits, business immigration, citizenship, and inadmissibility.