Did you know that immigrants-to-be are eligible for pre-arrival employment support through government-funded programs? To boot, did you know that most of these future Canadians are completely unaware that they can tap into this career-boosting support?

It’s true. In this piece we’re going to focus on a key aspect of preparing for Canada’s jobs market, a key pillar of some pre-arrival services: mentorship.

This piece is published in partnership with Canada InfoNet — a free, IRCC-funded employment program designed for internationally trained individuals relocating to Canada in the next 12 months. Start by registering here.

How can a mentor help someone moving to Canada?

When a Canada-bound professional finds an appropriate mentor, it has a direct impact on their transition into the Canadian workforce. Finding a mentor — someone who has been there, done that, and got the T-shirt — can unlock a whole range of career benefits. Here are just a few:

  • Goal-setting.
  • Perspective on Canada’s jobs market and workplace culture.
  • Guidance on creating a career plan.
  • Constructive feedback on your resume, cover letter, and targeted application strategies.
  • Tips on navigating Canada’s hidden jobs market.
  • Guidance on networking, building your confidence and self-esteem for the conversations ahead.
  • Input on potential skills gaps and how to address those in applications and interviews.
  • Identifying under-appreciated (by you!) achievements in your work history that you can then amplify.
  • Helping you understand idiosyncrasies of Canada’s jobs market: job titles, accreditation, culture, hiring process, and more.

These are just some of the things that go into a strong mentor-mentee relationship — imagine all the possibilities of where this could take you, even before you set foot in Canada!

Mentorship is also free, by its very nature. The secret sauce of a mentor-mentee relationship is the value it brings to both parties; the advantages for a Canada-bound professional are obvious — see the list above  —  but mentors also benefit by developing leadership and communication skills, all while building their own network and enhancing their resume.

Now that you’re sold on the advantages of finding a mentor in Canada, let’s talk about finding the right mentor for you.

Your industry and destination

Canada is big: 10 provinces and three territories spread across six time zones. Each province has its own set of laws and labour standards.

Also, the world lives here: nearly 1-in-4 people in Canada are foreign-born, and this share is even greater when you isolate working professionals from the general population.

What does this all mean? Well, the experience of moving to Victoria, BC might be quite different from moving to St. John’s, Newfoundland more than 7,000 kilometres away. Between these two provincial capitals lie a bunch of popular destinations you may be more familiar with: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie (OK, you may not have heard of “The Soo”, population 75,000, but we placed it here because there are lots of destinations just like it that you could also consider!).

Ideally, your mentor will live in the same province, or even the same city, that you intend to move to, and you also ideally want to find someone with experience in your sector. Your mentor should be able to offer insights on a functional level — provincial accreditation for your occupation, for example — but they should also be able to communicate knowledgeably and empathetically about workplace culture vis-à-vis the specific province or industry you’re attempting to navigate.

So, if you’re a physiotherapist moving to Toronto, getting advice and support from a finance professional who lives in Halifax can only take you so far. But, if you can find another healthcare professional (even if they’re not necessarily a physiotherapist) who lives in the province of Ontario (where Toronto is) you’ll be on the right track.

In some cases, your mentor could be in another province or sector, and that’s absolutely fine — but if you can’t have both your destination and sector covered, try to satisfy at least one (for example, better the Ontario-bound physiotherapist enjoys mentorship from a healthcare professional outside Ontario than from a non-healthcare professional outside Ontario).

Pre-arrival mentorship through IRCC-funded programs

If you’re approved for immigration to Canada, you don’t need to try too hard to find a mentor — Canada’s department of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) actually funds pre-arrival services, some of which offer mentorship as part of a broader employment preparation package.

Canada InfoNet is one such organisation. They’re a spin-off from an organisation called JVS, which for more than 75 years has been helping newcomers take advantage of career opportunities in Canada. All you need to get set up with Canada InfoNet is your approval to move to Canada (such as a Confirmation of Permanent Residence document or IRCC invitation to obtain pre-arrival services) and a plan to move to Canada within the next 12 months. Simple!

In addition to playing mentor-mentee matchmaker and offering a fully digital platform where that relationship develops, Canada InfoNet offers online learning modules, webinars, jobs boards, a resume builder, and help with your resume and cover letter from dedicated, experienced career professionals, all online, all for free, and all offered pre-arrival. We’ve also got a whole guide on transitioning to the Canadian job market with help from Canada InfoNet.

The DIY approach

If you’re not currently eligible for IRCC-funded pre-arrival services, don’t despair — you too can benefit from mentorship. But, you’ll probably need to find your own mentor.

Here are a few ways you could approach finding a career mentor in Canada:

When you identify someone as a potential mentor, consider making your request somewhat informally at first, then build from there. Imagine connecting with someone via LinkedIn, for example, and consider the two approaches below:

Hi Jane, my name is John and I plan on moving to Vancouver in a few months. I see you’ve had great success in media since moving to Canada, and I’m hoping I could ask you a couple of questions about networking there as I gear up for the big move. Do you mind if I send along a couple of short questions? I won’t take much of your time and attention, and you can get back to me in your own time. Much appreciated! – John

Hi Jane, I’m John. Will you be my media mentor in Vancouver? I’m moving soon and need help. Thanks.

Which message is Jane more likely to engage with? The first one, of course. Crucially, John offered kudos on Jane’s success to date and acknowledged that her time and attention is valuable to her. From here, a mentor-mentee relationship could develop naturally.

A final word on finding a mentor in Canada

Moving country opens a whole new world of possibilities, but success isn’t going to land in your lap. Yes, hard work is important, but you can also lean on (and learn from) someone who has been around the block, someone who can leverage their experience and success into your job search and your specific career goals.

And, if or when you’re approved to move to Canada, don’t forget to register for Canada InfoNet pre-arrival services here!