Whether you are reading this article in your home country or have just landed here, these guidelines will help you understand the ins and outs of looking for a job in Canada.

Conducting a job search in a new country comes after all your social and personal needs have been addressed says Julia Wilson, Employment Consultant at Woodgreen Community Services in Toronto.

Once you have your health, schooling, daycare, transportation and shopping situations under control you can then start thinking about finding a job. With over 15 years of experience coaching new Canadians to career success Julia offers these tips:

  • Before you leave home, make sure the city you are planning to move to is the best location for the work you do. If you are an engineer in the oil and gas industry, Calgary makes much more sense than Toronto as a destination. If you are an IT professional, Ottawa would be a better bet than many other Ontario cities.
  • The web is chalk full of employment resources and services for every city in Canada, google away. The more prepared you are the more confident you will feel that you have at least a basic lay of the land.
  • There are newcomer reception centres at the Vancouver and Toronto airports. Check out their locations on line before you land and make them your first stop.
  • Get comfortable with English as soon as possible. This is the most vital tool to job success. Employment centres can often offer language services in up to 25 languages, ask for help.
  • Ask for help, period. You probably don’t even know half of what you don’t know. Be inquisitive. Canadians are not particularly private people, they love to help others and don’t mind being asked for their opinions and advice.
  • Arrange for a needs and skill assessment either before you leave your home country or early on in your search. If your basic needs aren’t being met you aren’t ready to start a search. Once you know your skill set you have to learn how to articulate it for the Canadian audience… tell, don’t brag or boast, but do learn how to sell yourself.
  • Know that networking accounts for up to 75% of job opportunities. Read about how to do it, talk to people about how they do it and whom they know. Networking is telling not selling, so don’t fear it, embrace it. Networking works.
  • Build relationships in your own cultural circle and then ask your new friends to introduce you to people outside that circle, one at a time, slow and steady.
  • Attend public seminars and lectures, free sessions abound on multiple topics everywhere. The topic isn’t so important as is the chance to meet people from all walks of life with many different interests. These outings can be vital to building your connections, language skills, knowledge of Canadian mannerisms and etiquette, socializing, business practices not to mention food and clothing variances.
  • You can use the computers in libraries for free once you have a library card.
  • Observe and learn workplace communication and etiquette. If making eye contact and shaking hands with everyone you meet isn’t your norm, learn how to explain that you don’t do that or, practice, practice, practice to perfect those skills. Learn when etiquette is gender, age or rank based. If a woman interviewer asks a Muslim male to sit down in the interview room, forego “the woman goes first” and do as suggested.
  • Learn about Canadian small talk.
  • Locate and visit work sites relevant to your industry or profession and observe how people dress for work. Dressing for work on 8th Avenue in Calgary is way different than Main Street in Vancouver.
  • Ignore naysayers. Stick with the glass half full as much as you possibly can. If you can’t be a medical doctor in Canada persue a lesser job in a health care environment where your skills will be appreciated and you will be working with life minded people. There are jobs, new Canadians do get hired.

Woodgreen Community Services in Toronto, helped 8000 new Canadians with job search skills, assessments, resources and workplace integration last year. They are one of many centres in Canada. Look for assistance, it is everywhere. Remember: “You alone can do it, but you can’t do it alone.


Colleen Clarke, Career Specialist & Corporate Trainer


Author of Networking How to Build Relationships That Count, How to Get a Job and Keep It
Co-author of he Power of Mentorship; The Mastermind Group