Newcomers have a wealth of international skills and experience that is highly valuable in the Canadian labour market. However, they often face a number of barriers in finding employment.

An effective approach to finding a job in Canada is to start preparing before arriving in the country. This helps make the job search and settlement process quicker and easier.

Here are several strategies to help you get started and overcome the top five challenges that newcomers face when looking for employment in Canada.

Prepare for your Arrival

Taking steps to become job ready before arriving in Canada can help to fast track the time it takes to find employment. Prepare for the Canadian job market by developing a plan, which includes enhancing your English language skills, reviewing your transferable work experience and skills and building professional networks.

Enhance Communication and English Language Skills

Most employers in Canada place a significant emphasis on the importance of strong communication skills. As a newcomer, English language fluency and an understanding of business communication in Canada is essential to be successful in job searching and in the workplace. Soft skills and communication skills are highly valued by employers in Canada and can sometimes even be more important than technical skills or experience.

An effective strategy to improve your English language skills is to practice them in a casual group conversation setting. ACCES Employment offers Talk English Café online, which can be joined before moving to Canada. Talk English Café sessions let you practice business conversation skills with an English language instructor online. This program is also available in person once you arrive in Canada. As well, in Canada, programs such as Language for Workplace Connections™ and other English as a Second Language supports exist through a number of organizations across the Toronto area.

Frame your Experience in a Canadian Context

Employers want to hire individuals who can quickly become strong contributors to their company. Although it is illegal for employers to specifically ask for Canadian experience (unless the role specifically requires it), many employers continue to be concerned about how a lack of Canadian experience may limit a person ability to effectively do the job.

Most employers are not familiar with academic institutions and education from other countries. To overcome this obstacle, prepare your resume with information that clearly demonstrates the transferability and relevance of your international experience and education. List your credential assessment and equivalents directly on your resume and provide a short description of companies that you have worked for to give your work experience context.

If possible, set up informational interviews with companies where you are interested in working. This is helpful to gain context about Canadian workplaces and to learn how best to present your experience. In-person informational interviews are also a great way to build relationships and learn more about companies of interest once you have moved to Canada.

Access the Hidden Job Market

Connecting to the labour market requires finding available job opportunities. This may sound like an easy task but only 20% of available jobs are actually advertised externally. This means that job opportunities are not posted or publicly advertised. This is often referred to as the hidden job market.

Opportunities in the hidden job market can be uncovered through networking. Expanding your network is one of the keys to navigating the job market. Through ACCES Employment, you can join Speed Mentoring® events to meet potential employers, learn about job opportunities, practice language skills and build your network.

In addition, it’s important to conduct preliminary research into the local job market before arriving in Canada. Toronto Workforce Innovation Group, Working In Canada and Career Cruising are all great websites that can help.

Build your Professional Network in Canada

Networking allows skilled newcomers to meet new people with similar professional interests and connections. Networking is a two-way process and a mutually beneficial exchange of information.

Before arriving in Canada, start building your network. A referral to a job through a direct connection generates 80% more results than a cold call. In other words, job leads from within your network are more effective than job leads through any other means. Build your networking by reaching out to professionals in your field, using LinkedIn, joining groups or associations and virtually meeting people in your field in Canada. When you arrive, continue to build your network by reaching out to personal contacts in your community and other professionals in your field.

ACCES Employment also offers the pre-arrival program, Canadian Employment Connections, to help you prepare for your Canadian job search before arriving in Canada.