What to do when you don’t have Canadian work experience

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One of the major challenges that most newcomers face is the lack of Canadian work experience in their resume. This can be frustrating because: How can you have Canadian experience when they won’t hire you because you don’t have Canadian experience? It’s a vicious cycle that can demotivate any professional looking for a job.

Here are several ways you can hurdle this barrier when you’re looking for work:

  1. Know what “Canadian experience” really means

    According to communication expert Nick Noorani, when employers look for “Canadian experience”, what they are really looking for are soft skills. Soft skills predict whether you will be a good a fit for the company. These skills can also gauge if you will stay in the company for good. Soft skills relate more to the abilities of a person to interact with others and how they adapt to their work environment. Examples are positive attitude, ability to work in teams, and dependability.

    When you’re asked about Canadian experience in a job interview, you can say that you have not earned any work experience in Canada yet but have extensive experience in your home country or elsewhere. You can then focus on specific situations in your career that highlight your soft skills (especially the ones they looking for) and how you used them to contribute positively to your previous job.

  2. Consider internship or volunteering positions

    An internship is a period of work experience offered by an organization for a limited period of time. Often, internships are offered to recent graduates of a degree, diploma, or certificate program to gain experience in their field.
    An internship is:

    • Normally, for a set time, and could be part-time or full-time.
    • About 3 – 6 months, and could be paid or unpaid.
    • A form of on-the-job training offered by employers to provide practical experience.

    Meanwhile, volunteering is offering your time and labour for community service for free. You can do this part-time or full time. Not only is it beneficial for getting Canadian job experience, it can also be valuable in strengthening your resume. Volunteering can help you build relevant skills for a prospective career. Other benefits include:

    • Building a network of potential contacts, references/referrals.
    • Providing a sense of accomplishment.
    • A pathway to getting a job or alternative career.
  3. Register for employment programs

    Employment programs are services offered for the unemployed or underemployed. They provide relevant skills training and other services for job-seekers. Most of them are government-funded programs that can help you find suitable training and work.

    Examples of employment programs:

    Some of these programs may offer paid positions after your training is done. If you do really well and you leave a good impression on the organization training you, they may remember you once an opportunity opens up.

  4. Consider going to recruitment agencies

    Getting a job is a top priority especially when you’re the breadwinner of your family. If it’s really urgent and you’re considering a part-time or survival job, a recruitment agency can help you. These agencies can:

    • Help you get an immediate and temporary job.
    • Link you with the hidden job market (jobs that are not posted on advertisements); they can connect or link you with various employers in Manitoba.
    • Offer a general labor job, which can be regular or non-regular.
    • Provide job opportunities that could make you secure employment with the organization you are assigned.

    Some staffing agencies in MB:

    Make sure to approach legitimate staffing or recruitment agencies. Be suspicious if an agency charges for processing or hiring fees. Staffing agencies in Canada do not charge applicants for services.

By Amen Loveth Otabor

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Sites to go to for internship, volunteer, and employment opportunities:

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