People living abroad who are hoping to establish a foothold in Canada are getting an opportunity to hunt for work and connect with potential employers before they even arrive, thanks to a virtual job fair being held in Ottawa.

Launched by the non-profit International Talent Acquisition Centre (In-TAC) with support from the federal government, the two-day fair allows Canadian citizens, permanent residents and foreigners with work permits to upload their resumés and chat online with representatives of 64 Canadian employers, large and small.

'It's just a like a job fair where you walk in and chat with the person at the booth.' - Ying Xie, In-TAC

"They are chatting with a real person. It's just a like a job fair where you walk in and chat with the person at the booth," said Ying Xie, senior manager of In-TAC.

As of Thursday morning's launch, more than 2,600 people from 85 countries had registered to vye for roughly 1,300 job openings.

The jobs range from professional positions to skilled trades to cleaning staff.

In addition to helping them secure a job before they arrive in Canada, Xie said In-TAC can help answer applicants' questions about schools and communities.

Ying Xie

Ying Xie, senior manager of In-TAC, said the virtual career fair is a good opportunity for smaller Canadian cities and towns to attract immigrants. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

"We want [people living abroad] to prepare before they depart from their home countries ... so that they have a smooth transition in both life and work, and we can save money for all taxpayers," Xie said.

Serge Cormier, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, was on hand for the launch of the virtual job fair.

"They make sure that [job seekers] know what the requirement is to come here," Cormier said. "We have different programs to make sure that these people can come here and contribute to our economy."

Smaller cities represented

Xie said another advantage of the virtual job fair is that it allows employers based in smaller towns and cities to search for qualified workers.

Among the 90 municipalities represented at the fair are Kingston, Thunder Bay, North Bay and Sudbury.

"All of them have their window to present to the world how great their local community is, and to showcase their needs," Xie said.

In-TAC's virtual career expo runs Thursday and Friday.