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Finding a job in Canada can be frustratingly slow. Candidates applying for a job in Canada before they have arrived may face even more difficulty.

However, it’s still possible. Prospective newcomers find jobs in Canada all the time — good jobs, remotely, and while competing with local on-the-ground candidates.

So, how do people find jobs in Canada from abroad? While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach that will work for everyone, there are some free resources and techniques that can supercharge your Canadian job search.

This guide aims to inform Canada-bound workers already approved to live and work in Canada — so, workers with a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) or Letter of Introduction for an open work permit of some sort — or who can expect approval on their application soon.

Workers earlier in their immigration journey may actually require a valid Canadian job offer to enhance their chances of admission to Canada. If you would like to learn more, the How to get points for a job offer for Express Entry guide is a great starting point.

Why land a job in Canada pre-arrival?

And why not just wait until you’re actually here, enjoying Canadian life and meeting prospective employers in person?

Well, not only does having a job in Canada lined up mean having reliable income on arrival, it also helps with access to professional connections that can help your career over the longer term, and all while building up valuable Canadian work experience from the get-go.

But, you need a plan.

First, get the basics of your Canada job search right

Before getting into the particular aspects of being a pre-arrival newcomer looking for a job in Canada, let’s cover the basics that apply more generally. Your Canada job search tool kit should include the following:

  • A professional, concise, achievements-focused resume. Which is the best resume format for the Canadian job market? In short, if your resume outlines duties and doesn’t sell you based on achievements, it’s not going to land interviews. Here’s an expert resume guide for Canada.
  • To complement your resume, find out how to craft the best cover letter possible and learn how and when to present a cover letter.
  • Get to grips with LinkedIn. Employers and recruiters are using it. Here’s how to impress them.
  • Grow your network. Introverts can be masters of networking too.
  • Go beyond public job postings. The hidden jobs market is real. And big. Learn how to target your job applications and attract the attention of key decision makers at the place you want to work.

The above is table stakes. It’s the sort of tool kit that any professional should have, but that many don’t. Even just by taking the steps above — really taking them, sharpening those tools — goes a long way towards finding a job in Canada.

Now, on to the specific pre-arrival stuff.

How to find a job in Canada from outside Canada

Having a COPR document or similar job-ready document, such as a Letter of Introduction, is a huge step. With this document, you can confidently approach an employer or recruiter and say I can land in Canada at any time and be working with you the next day. It’s a powerful message.

That said, there remain a few barriers to finding a job as a newcomer about to call Canada home. Let’s clearly state what these barriers are, and outline some steps to overcome them.

The two main weaknesses, real or perceived, of a typical newcomer candidate are:

  • A lack of local experience
  • Emigration risk

Overcoming a lack of Canadian work experience

For better or for worse, many Canadian employers are conservative by nature and prioritize local experience due to doubts over newcomers’ ability to adapt and whether they will stay in Canada long term. Employers may prefer a local candidate who is settled, so be prepared for additional questioning, hesitation, and delays.

Because the employer may have these doubts, it’s the international candidate’s prerogative to reveal themselves as particularly adaptable. Moreover, it’s incumbent on the international candidate to showcase, in their own way, a positive feeling for this move — about why Canada makes sense for them and how they are going to succeed here. Which leads us on to . . .

Overcoming emigration (from Canada) risk

More than 85 percent of permanent residents admitted to Canada stay in Canada longer than 10 years. But, some immigrants leave Canada. The government of Canada obsesses over immigrant retention, while employers typically obsess over “churn” or “attrition” — the departure of staff for whatever reason, which incurs significant incremental costs.

It’s your job to convince prospective employers that you intend to make Canada your long-term home.

Overcoming emigration risk is particularly acute for workers arriving in Canada with temporary status. Not only do temporary workers need to convince prospective employers that Canada will be their long-term home, but, in contrast with COPR holders, they also need to outline how they’ll go about this — and preferably without begging the employer for help (HR departments are not known to love the onerous LMIA process, for example).

So, how do successful Canada-bound workers talk the talk when it comes to emigration risk and reassure employers, potentially even turning this liability into an asset?

It’s all about the soft skills here. Communication is key.

For example, an open work permit holder might say or write something like: “I have already booked my language test for PR. With my education, age, and a few other factors that work in my favour, I’m confident of making Canada my long-term home without needing help from an employer. I ran everything by an immigration consultant I met with last week just to make sure we’re on the right track, and it all looks good, even at this relatively early stage.”

This displays key transferable soft skills such as initiative and ambition, using confident, emotionally intelligent language aimed at impressing and resonating with the intended audience (in this case, a prospective employer).

Build your very own Canada job search team

Canada’s immigration department, known as IRCC, uses public dollars to help newcomers to build out their own team of helpers. IRCC funds a range of not-for-profit career service organizations that serve pre-arrival COPR holders. They can help you:

  • search for and find employment
  • write your Canadian-style resume
  • learn about Canadian workplace culture
  • find a mentor with experience
  • prepare to get your credentials recognized

But, most COPR holders don’t actually use this free and amazing help, either because they don’t know about it or because they don’t think they need it. Pre-arrival newcomers who do lean on this free expert help, however, end up getting hired in Canada more quickly and in more gainful roles aligned with their career trajectory. Even if you don’t find a job in Canada before arrival, using these programs will give you a strong platform for success in finding a job upon arrival.

These pre-arrival programs give newcomers the best possible support for their job search in Canada, even at this pre-arrival stage. Some even include mentorship programs.

Being matched with another immigrant already in Canada who has displayed success in your field can be a game changer. Mentors give you their time and attention for free, and in doing so they expand their own network in Canada. It’s a win for everyone.

Overcoming financial challenges

Moving to Canada comes with unique financial challenges — getting a job and earning a decent income is just one piece of the puzzle.

Scotiabank is committed to easing the financial challenges newcomers face when they move to Canada. We do that by providing solutions and advice to help newcomers achieve their financial goals in the first days and weeks in Canada.

We offer advisors who speak your language, to credit products that don’t exclude you just because you don’t have a credit score yet, and we help you navigate the challenges that are unique to your situation. While we can’t lower the price of moving, we can help you to be able to afford it.

Ready to get your finances on track for your future? Learn more about banking with Scotiabank.

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