So you don’t have any Canadian experience, Eh?

You’ve been sending out resumes for months now. Your resumes are perfect. An ace in the hole! They are tailored to the employer and the job you are applying for, you have years of experience in a field with extreme skill shortages and you are getting interviews only to keep hearing “you don’t have any Canadian work experience.”

The employer called you, seeing you don’t have work experience in Canada, so why did they call you in for an interview and waste both of your time? Now I would ask myself, what does this mean? Maybe you got here (to Canada) based on your skills and qualifications so why then is it so difficult to get a job using those skills and qualifications!

Strategies to get your foot in the door:

  • Volunteer – I cannot stress this enough if you do not have any experience yet. There are opportunities in a variety of sectors at www.govolunteer.ca. You can meet people in various fields, learn how people interact, and practice your networking skills. Volunteering also gets you out of the house and away from your job search. It is recognized by employers as you are making a contribution to your community. Volunteering will also give you references.
  • Conduct informational interviews – this is a great way to connect with the employer and ask questions that can be key to your success in employment. You might discover that the requirements of your job are far different than what you did back home and that you will need to learn new skills.
  • Employers want to know that you are aware of the workplace culture. This includes: employers expectations of you, common work practices, how do people communicate, what is the command of authority, is there one? And what are your responsibilities as an employee.
  • Be willing to take a position lower than what you had in your pre-landing company. This is still an opportunity to learn the culture and what the expectations are of you in the workplace. Each workplace has its unique culture or personality, but there is also a broader personality that is Canadian workplace culture. It takes time to learn the culture and employers are looking to invest in you long-term so they want to see that you are the right fit.
  • Don’t let things end before they begin. Be open to learning, recognize that you might not have all the answers and be aware of the culture that is around you. If you think you are 100% ready for employment and the employer has any apprehension about your ability, you do not want to appear that your have all the answers. Employers will think you will be difficult to work with and will leave a position unfilled.

Employers are looking for several things when they refer to Canadian experience but at the end of the day, they will more likely leave a position unfilled than put someone in it who they don’t feel is a great candidate. Be receptive to change, and learn everything you can about your career in the Canadian context.

Quote by Jimmy Carter ~ “Go out on a limb, that’s where the fruit is”