How to get over the “Lack of Canadian Experience”…Volunteer!

Often times one of the biggest obstacles for newcomers in Canada is their “lack of Canadian experience.” After the long awaited immigration process is finalized the newcomers who have 5, 10 or 15+ years of experience as a professional from their home country are excited to jump right into their profession in Canada, but when they are told time after time that they lack Canadian experience it can be extremely discouraging.

In the July 28, 2009 Canadian Immigrant Magazine article entitled Experience Plus, writer Ken Hernadez addresses many newcomer’s frustrating question “How do I gain Canadian experience if no one will hire me?” Hernadez states, “…internships and volunteering offer great hands-on experience. They allow you to find out how well suited you are for a particular career, enhance your resume and provide you with networking opportunities with people who have similar career interests. Also, you get the opportunity to develop skills, demonstrate dependability and initiative, and build self-esteem!”

Hernadez continues to promote volunteering by writing, “From the newcomer perspective, it may be frustrating to you that you can’t find a full-time job at your level of expertise right away, but don’t let pride make you miss internship opportunities. Here are just a few of the benefits an internship experience can offer you as a foreign-trained professional:

  • insight into your chosen profession
  • improved job prospects — work experience within an organization frequently leads to employment
  • practice in applying and interviewing for jobs
  • an improved resume
  • networking opportunities — a placement can provide crucial opportunities to develop your networking skills and make useful contacts within your industry”

Volunteer work actually gives newcomers the opportunity to gain the much needed “Canadian work experience” and can help enhance several soft skills that Canadian employers seek in today’s workforce.  Some of the skills include: written and spoken communication in English, presentation, small talk, and leadership.  In addition, by volunteering for businesses and organizations newcomers will be able to observer and learn how business is actually done in Canada and learn about business etiquette.

Some of the well known volunteer websites in the Lower Mainland include: