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Job Search in Canada: About Canadian experience

Some thoughts for job seekers in Canada and new immigrants.

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
Mahatma Gandhi

January 9, 2021.

My 2020 was the year I was working as a Workforce Specialist a.k.a Job Developer.

My function was to be a connector between job seekers and employers of GTA. Basically, I was sort of a matchmaker, kind of like a recruiter but on salary.

Many people have reached out to me on LinkedIn with the following question:

“Can I get a job without Canadian experience?”

So today I want to share some thoughts, and I want to start with bringing forward some questions myself.

What the hell is Canadian experience?

Is Canada some magical country that endows its residents with some superhuman properties?

There’s something very important to understand for both job seekers and employers.

Skills are skills.

Either you have them or you don’t.

It doesn’t matter where in the world you have acquired them.

If you have done certain work before, you’ll surely be able to do it again.

Good employers understand — there is no such thing as a perfect candidate. He’s like a unicorn. Everyone wants him, but he simply doesn’t exist.

This is what they do in Talent Acquisition, when they understand that they cannot get a complete skill set in one hire, they construct that skill set by hiring several people who have the skills.

Anyway, back to the topic.

If you’re only planning to immigrate to Canada or if you are already here and you still have this preconception that no one will hire you without Canadian experience, flip your narrative right now.

The truth is, for most of the normal jobs, and by normal I mean the jobs that do not require truly specific knowledge of the Canadian environment, the Canadian experience is irrelevant.

If you speak decent English, have above average soft skills, and if you know your stuff, you have everything you need to find a job. Focus on how to optimize what you have, and most importantly learn how to sell it. Identify a unique selling point, polish your elevator pitch, start building your personal brand today.

Of course, no one denies the fact that for certain types of jobs Canadian experience is a requirement.

For example, I had an accountant-client who was applying for jobs that required knowledge of the Canadian tax law. So he had to bring himself up to speed. He took some classes, converted his CPA from another country to a Canadian CPA, and he was all set. You got a job within 2 months after his arrival. So did his wife, who was also an accounting professional.

Of course, all of this happened before the pandemic.

What is happening right now is unpleasant but predictable. It is my intuition that things should be better in January just because they are in normal circumstances. But as of now, we are very limited in our capacity to foresee the future.

The vaccine is not coming probably until summer, there are reports about the new COVID-19 variant, we probably entered 2021 with good energy and intent, but the truth is this year might look very much like the previous one.

So this is both good news and bad news.

The bad news is:

  • We’re stuck at home for God knows how long.
  • There’s a huge strain on the job market and economy.
  • It is not safe out there.

The good news is:

  • Remote opportunities will keep increasing.
  • We have a lot of time to invest in ourselves.
  • Everything non-essential about us will slowly die away.

Oh! There’s also some other good news.

The more the world is connected online, the more people will wake up to the fact that the very notion of the Canadian experience is nothing but nonsense.

The more we transition to virtual collaboration, the less it matters where we are positioned geographically.

With all the free time that you have, focus on your skills.

Your skills and your wealth of knowledge is something that will increase your problem-solving ability and hence your market value.

We might see COVID as adversity, but we can’t deny the fact that what it gave us is the opportunity to redefine what we are not just as professionals but as human beings.

Let’s use this opportunity. And we will reemerge on the other end victorious.

This is not the end. It’s just a part of the journey.

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