Soft skills: The key to getting and staying employed

Illustration of a handshake with soft skills listed in bubbles: communication, local language, small talk, negotiation, presentation skills, flexibility, accepting criticism, business etiquette, and leadership.

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Canadian Experience = soft skills

  • Employers look for “Canadian Experience”.
  • “Canadian Experience” means having the soft skills for the job.
  • Soft skills predict if you will be a good a fit for the company.
  • They can show if you will stay for good.

What are soft skills?

  • Soft skills are the abilities of a person to interact with others.
  • They are used to adapt to the work and the environment.
  • They cannot be measured.
  • Includes traits such as patience, positive attitude, and dependability.
  • They range from communication skills to emotional intelligence.

What are hard skills?

  • Technical skills and credentials are hard skills.
  • They are important because they enable you to perform your job effectively.
  • In Canada soft skills are valued more than hard skills.
  • According to Nick Noorani, employers prioritize on soft skills because:

  • “A candidate with the right hard skills but poor soft skills won’t be able to learn the soft skills required quickly enough. But a person with the right soft skills has the potential to acquire any hard skills they may lack”.


What soft skills should you have?

  1. Communication skills
    • Know Canada’s official languages: English and/or French.
    • Have good listening, speaking, writing and reading skills.
    • Learn non-verbal cues.
      • These are accepted body language.
      • Example: Looking into a person’s eyes when you speak.


  2. Local language
    • This is business language and the unique language used in Canada.
    • Learn your profession’s jargon to help you understand and perform your job better.
    • Learn “Can-speak” to fit into the community.

  3. Presentation skills
    • Present well and speak to groups with confidence.
    • Good presenters are seen as leaders.

  4. Small talk
    • It is a common practice in Canadian workplaces.
    • It is light conversation with your co-workers including your boss.
    • It indicates that you want to belong.
    • People talk about the weather, sports, or current events.
    • Don’t talk about matters like religion, politics, finances or health.

  5. Leadership and initiative
    • Taking charge of your career.
    • Examples:
      • Leading a project
      • Suggesting ways to make work more efficient
    • Become a more assertive and effective team player.

  6. Conflict resolution and negotiation
    • This means:
      • being open minded
      • diplomatic
      • knowing how to negotiate

  7. Accepting constructive criticism
    • This means accepting feedback graciously.
    • It helps you become a better employee and a better person.
    • It is hard, but take it as a learning opportunity.

  8. Flexibility
    • This means being open to change and showing your willingness to adapt.
    • This means:
      • adapting to Canadian culture
      • adapting to changes in technology
      • adapting to business processes in your profession

  9. Business etiquette
    • Proper business etiquette is the key to making a good impression.
    • Examples:
      • a firm handshake
      • eye contact
      • smiling
      • greeting people
      • being open and enthusiastic
      • being polite.

9 Soft Skills No Immigrant Should be Without is adapted with the permission of the author Nick Noorani.

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Community Resources

Download Nick Noorani’s 9 Soft Skills No Immigrant Should be Without from the Prepare for Canada site.

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Soft skills: The key to getting and staying employed

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