Getting Canadian work experience can be challenging. It may take time to find a job. But the more you know about job search skills, how to get a job, Canadian workplace culture and what Canadian employers want, the easier it will be.
To work in Canada, you will need a Social Insurance Number (SIN). You should apply for a SIN as soon as you come to Canada.
Get important information about working in Canada
There are many resources you can use to get information and support when searching for a job in Canada:
- Contact an immigrant-serving organization as soon as you arrive. These organizations often offer job search training sessions, résumé writing workshops and other services to help you find work.
- Job Bank is the Government of Canada’s leading source for jobs and labour market information. The website offers free occupational and career information (about jobs, educational requirements, main duties, wages, employment trends and much more) for occupations available in Canada.
- Service Canada has important information about searching and applying for jobs.
- Your province’s or territory’s website for newcomers is another good source of employment information.
Search and apply for jobs
Search for jobs
There are many ways to look for jobs. Some ways are:
- Research companies where you want to work. They will often post jobs on their websites. You can also contact employers directly to ask if they are hiring.
- Attend a “job fair” in your city or town. A job fair lets employers and people looking for jobs meet and discuss jobs.
- Use job search websites and look at the classified section of newspapers to find out where and who is hiring. Up to 2,000 new jobs are posted every day on Job Bank. On the Public Service Commission’s website jobs.gc.ca, you can find job opportunities with the federal public service.
- Use the services of an “employment agency” that searches for jobs for you. For lists of government employment services and training help, call or visit a Service Canada Centre near you.
- Ask family and friends if they know about available jobs. Many jobs are not advertised and you will only learn about them by speaking to people.
Apply for jobs
Once you have chosen a job that interests you, you will usually need to apply by sending:
A résumé is a list of your qualifications and work experience. A cover letter is a short description of what makes you a strong candidate for that job. You can find information on writing a résumé and cover letter, as well as preparing for an interview, by contacting any of the resources listed in the section “Get important information about working in Canada.”
Based on your résumé and cover letter, the employer will decide whether to invite you for a job interview. A job interview gives the employer a chance to meet you and ask questions to see if you are right for the job. The interview also helps you to learn more about the job and to decide whether you are interested in working for that organization.
After the process is complete, you will receive a formal job offer if the employer wants to hire you. It is common for people to send many résumés and cover letters to different places before being invited for a job interview.
Get more information on looking for jobs by reading the Welcome to Canada guide.
Understand the benefits of networking
Finding a job is easier if you have an established network of contacts. Networking can help you search for jobs in Canada’s hidden job market. It is also an effective way to tell many people that you are looking for work.
Build your resume by working as a volunteer
Volunteering means performing a service willingly and without pay. Working as a volunteer can help you:
- get Canadian work experience
- practise your English or French
- build your network of contacts
- make friends and meet Canadians
- find someone who will be a reference for you
- show potential employers that you are willing to work hard
To find out how volunteering in Canada can help you find a job:
- search the Internet for “volunteer” and the name of the city
- contact an immigrant-serving organization
- visit the Volunteer Canada website
Look for bridging programs related to your job
Bridging programs are programs that help internationally trained professionals and tradespeople who want to work in their field in Canada. Bridging programs can help you prepare and succeed in the licensing or certification process and in integrating the Canadian workplace.
Bridging programs offer different services that could include:
- an assessment of your education and skills
- practical or workplace experience
- preparing you to take an examination for a licence or a certificate
- language training for your profession or trade
- individual action and learning plans to help you identify training you may need
Generally, language and job search services are offered for free. However, there may be a fee for some of these programs. Usually, classroom training or workplace experience is part of the program.
Contact the professional association or regulatory body for your profession or a local immigrant-serving organization to find out about programs available in the area where you plan to live.
Consider alternative jobs
Knowing more about jobs related to your profession can give you more options for working in Canada.
Consider working in an alternative job, so that you can continue to learn about your profession or industry in Canada while you get your licence to work in a regulated occupation or trade.
Apply to the Federal Internship for Newcomers Program
The Federal Internship for Newcomers (FIN) Program provides eligible permanent residents and new Canadians with valuable temporary Canadian work experience and training opportunities.
Look for mentorship opportunities
Many Canadian professionals and business people give free advice and coaching to newcomers settling in Canada. Such mentorship opportunities can be found through organizations like:
- Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC)
- Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council (ERIEC)
- Immigrant Settlement & Integration Services (ISIS)
- Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO)
- Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC)
Start your own business
If you are thinking of starting your own business in Canada, you will need a detailed business plan. You can learn more about starting a business in Canada by contacting an immigrant-serving organization or by visiting the following websites:
- Invest in Canada
- Canada Business–Government Services for Entrepreneurs
- Business Development Bank of Canada
Find out about business immigration programs.
Learn about workplace standards in Canada
In Canada, federal and provincial laws protect workers and employers. Laws set minimum wage levels, health and safety standards, and hours of work. Human rights laws protect employees from being treated unfairly because of their gender, age, race, religion or disability. Visit the Working in Canada website to learn more about workplace standards.
You can also visit:
- Federal Labour Standards
- Workplace Health and Safety
- Government of Canada’s Labour Program
- Labour Mobility
Understand your rights as an employee
In Canada, provincial and federal labour laws help protect employees and employers. These laws set:
- minimum salaries;
- health and safety standards;
- hours of work; and
- parental leave and annual paid vacations.
They also protect children.
There are laws that prevent employers from treating employees unfairly based on:
- sexual orientation
You should learn about provincial and federal labour laws before you begin work in Canada.
You have the right to join a labour union in Canada. You often have to join a union whether you choose it or not. Union fees will be taken from your salary.
If you feel that your employer or union has treated you unfairly, you may ask for advice or help from an officer of the ministry responsible for labour in the province or territory where you work. You can also visit a Service Canada Centre to talk to a federal government labour affairs officer.
Federal and provincial contacts responsible for labour are:
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Northwest Territories
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
- Quebec (in French only)
Find out about Employment Insurance and other financial support
If you are unemployed, you may be able to get Employment Insurance (EI). EI gives you short-term financial help while you look for work or upgrade your skills.
You may also get EI benefits if you are:
- sick, injured or in quarantine for health reasons
- pregnant or caring for a newborn or adopted child
- caring for a family member who is seriously ill with a high risk of death
If you work in Canada, you must pay into EI so that you can use it in a time of need. Your employer will usually take the EI payments from your paycheque. If you are self-employed, you can choose to participate in the EI program. To benefit from EI, you must apply and meet certain criteria.
Financial support for families
Canada has two financial support programs for families raising children:
Other financial support programs
The government has other financial support programs for people in need. In most cases, you must meet certain criteria to use these programs. Visit CanadaBenefits to find out more.
Arrange for child care
If you are working and have young children, you may need to arrange child care. In Canada, most families do not leave children under the age of 12 at home alone.
There are different options for child care:
- licensed day-care centres
- nursery schools
- “drop-in” day-care centres
- home-based day-care services
To learn about the options available near you, speak to someone at an immigrant-serving organization.
Find out about pension programs
There are pension programs that you may be able to use now or in the future:
- The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is a program for workers and their families. It provides basic financial protection if you lose income because of retirement, disability or death. Anyone who works in Canada has to pay into the CPP. In the province of Quebec, the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) replaces the CPP.
- The Old Age Security (OAS) pension is a monthly payment that is available to most people aged 65 or older.
- The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a monthly benefit paid to eligible seniors living in Canada who receive OAS and who have little or no other income.
- International benefits: Due to Canada’s international social security agreements, people who have lived or worked in another country may be able to receive social security benefits from that country or OAS and CPP benefits in Canada.
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