Finding your first job in Canada: A primer for new Canadians

The tools and tips for getting a solid start.

The tools and tips for getting a solid start

(Credit: Getty Images)

Exploring new job opportunities in Canada is an exciting endeavour, even though it can present certain challenges for new Canadians, like forging a professional network from scratch, transferring professional certifications, potential language barriers and navigating the nuances of professional etiquette and customs in a new place. Fortunately, digital resources make it easier than ever to explore the international job market and to start planning for this transition, and the next phase of one's career, well before the move is even made. Whatever phase of the move you're in, the Government of Canada and the Canadian banking institution you choose will offer the greatest insight into everything you'll need to settle into a new career and all other aspects of establishing yourself and your family.

If possible, it's best to start the job hunting process before you even select where to move to in Canada, as different regions and cities offer varying degrees of employment opportunities in certain fields. Scanning online job postings and reading business news related to your industry can help you determine that.

Then there are basic requirements, which include obtaining a Social Insurance Number and proof of your academic qualifications. If you're a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or a temporary resident, a Social Insurance Number (SIN) is issued to you by the Government of Canada and it allows you to work in Canada as well as to have access to government programs and benefits. Next, in order to verify your degrees, diplomas, certificates and other credentials, you need to gather the appropriate documentations to file for an Educational Credential Assessment. Now, onto the finer points of your job search strategy.

Start networking

Building a network of contacts doesn't just help you find and land the right job posting, it also gives you a community of people to reach out to for the mentorship and advice you'll need along the way and throughout your career in Canada. You can build that network both in person, by attending any public events, lectures and seminars being offered in your industry, as well as by using professional networking sites like LinkedIn to connect with people, find job listings and learn more about the culture and etiquette of the Canadian workplace. Don't be shy to reach out to people to ask simple questions. Other social platforms like Facebook and Twitter offer the opportunity to network professionally as well and it's important to know that many employers will visit these social media accounts when considering you for a job. As such, it's very important to ensure that all your public-facing online accounts project the image you want to present to an employer and show only the information you would want a potential employer to see.

Prepare your resumé

When you sign up for a site like LinkedIn, you'll be encouraged to prepare a general resumé for all work contacts in your network to see. CIBC offers some good advice and tools for building your resumé.

When you're applying for a specific job it's important to customize your your resumé for that role and write a custom cover letter. A good way to customize your documents for a specific job posting is to identify the keywords used in the job posting and address and reflect those in your submission. Look for the required skills for that job and prioritize those, then focus on the general work skills you can use in any job, like speaking French, followed by the adaptive skills, like being well organized. Once you have a draft of the customized resumé and cover letter you're about to submit for a specific job, the best thing you can do is ask a contact in your industry to review it for you and offer feedback.

Get to know workplace etiquette and customs

If you don't feel that your English and, if required, your French language skills are at a level that will allow you to excel at job interviews and in the workplace, the Government of Canada has good resources for improving your English and French, including a Language Portal to help with quick searches. Also consider language learning apps like Duolingo and HelloTalk. Finally, watching in-person or online lectures and reading articles by professionals in your field will help you brush up on the vocabulary and expressions used in your specific industry and the level of formality used in both verbal and written communications. Same goes for the custom of dress. And it never hurts to practice your interview skills with someone before going into your first job interviews.

When it comes to the big picture, your financial advisor will be a key contact who can help with everything from getting started banking to finding that first job to buying your first home and preparing your children for school. If you'd like to learn more about moving to Canada, getting settled in or if you've already moved here and would like to explore your financial opportunities, CIBC's Newcomers website — available in many languages —  is an excellent and extensive resource.

This is paid content produced on behalf of CIBC.