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“The Myth of No Canadian Experience”

“The Myth of No Canadian Experience”

Are you thinking of immigrating to Canada, or have you recently arrived and are looking for a job? You should know that many employers look for proof of "Canadian work experience." If you don't have any, they may reject your application.

You may ask yourself, "How can I get a job in Canada without Canadian experience, and how can I get Canadian experience without having had a Canadian job?" 

I was in the same situation as many newcomers to Canada. While still in college, I was applying for jobs in my field, but no one was inviting me to a job interview, let alone offering me a job. Was it due to my lack of Canadian experience, or just a coincidence?

I wanted to find out more, so I decided to get a professional opinion on whether not having Canadian experience actually prevents people from getting a job. Ayesha Saeed is an Employment Counselor at the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) and she agreed to answer a few questions.

1. What do the employers mean by “Canadian experience?”

Employers want to ensure that their employees are familiar with the customs, policies and other attributes of Canadian life, and the regulations and common practices in organizations.

2. Why is it important to have Canadian experience?

Employers want to know that the candidate will be able to fit in with the team. They aren't going to change the way the whole team functions for a person unfamiliar with Canadian workplace culture. It takes time for a new employee to get accustomed to policies, regulations and common practices in the workplace. For instance, Canadian health and safety standards may be quite different for immigrants.

3. “No Canadian experience, no job.” Do you agree with that? 

Canadian experience is very important and increases your chances of getting into the labour market, but it’s not true that without it a candidate can't find a job. I’ve seen many of my clients successfully land a professional job without any Canadian experience. What’s more important is to match your skills with the job requirements. Employers prefer people who are positive and passionate about the job.

4. How can immigrants get Canadian experience if employers are not willing to hire them?

Employers have their own perspectives on the advantages and disadvantages of hiring newcomers. Some think it’s harder for immigrants to integrate. It’d be favorable for immigrants to obtain some practical experience as an intern or a volunteer. Workshops on Canadian workplace culture are also a great help in getting familiar, as is making networking connections. Our workshops, CBW and ECW, at CCIS have helped many clients get jobs in Canada. 

5. Do you think that Canadian experience preventing immigrants from getting jobs is a myth or fact?

I’ve seen many clients who successfully land a professional job without any Canadian education and Canadian experience. There are some differences in how businesses work in Canada, and these differences vary for different people and different reasons. As a newcomer, it’s your responsibility to find out how your work patterns may be different from Canadian ones. To get a job, you must assure the employer that your skills match with the job requirements and that you won't have any difficulties fitting into the company.  

I think these are all very useful tips. Volunteering is indeed a good way to get Canadian experience. I volunteered for a non-profit organization for several months and then got a job there. As a volunteer, I acquired and gained new skills which I apply to my current job.

Working in this great country can be fantastic. There are all sorts of challenges and rewards for immigrants. Getting started might not be easy, but it will be easier to find a job in Canada when you’re prepared to answer when an employer says: "Tell me about your Canadian experience."

To learn more about Canadian worklace integration, job search in Canada, and working with others, register for free online courses at http://www.arriveprepared.ca/.

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Saturday, 22 February 2020

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