Start your career in Canada as a freelancer, says contract work expert

So, you are a recent immigrant and seeking employment. You have probably already heard all the right advice. Design a great resumé. Send out effective cover letters. Create a full online profile, and network, network, network. You are doing it all, but not getting the offers you want.

One way to turn things around is to consider freelancing.

Freelancing can be a short-term option or a long-term career choice. Indeed, more and more professionals are offering their services on a freelance basis and subscribing to the flexibility that freelancing offers. Today, graphic designers, writers, translators, web developers, bloggers, social media experts, SEO and SEM professionals and so forth are selling their skills by the hour or by the job. They are embracing an entrepreneurial lifestyle.

A good place for freelancing

Canada is one of the best places in the world to be self-employed as a freelancer.

Canada’s publicly funded health care system is one of the reasons freelancers have the ability to begin strong. Unlike the private health care systems in other countries where the self-employed struggle to pay large insurance premiums, access to coverage is not a roadblock to Canadian workers. In addition, there is also a lot of help from both the federal and provincial government in Canada to get a freelance business off the ground such as loans, subsidies and start-up funds. 

It’s a career-builder

One particular advantage of freelancing, that is specific to immigrants, is the ability to gain local references. It tends to be a lot easier to find a short-term freelance project or contract job than a permanent one. It is sometimes a test run for you and an employer, and often these short-term jobs turn into a permanent, full-time hire.

The employer can make sure that you fit in with their company culture and that you work well with those around them. On the flip side, it is a chance to see if you feel comfortable with the new employer and co-workers. Ultimately, it is an opportunity to show an employer what you have to offer them and get your foot in the door.

Local references

Regardless of the length of the employment, if you do a great job, you suddenly have a local company to add to your resumé. Being able to list a local reference and local experience on your resumé can give you the additional edge you need. You are essentially showing a potential employer that you already have an understanding of Canadian culture. This is especially important when working with others or in the service industry. Employers also are more inclined to call a local reference and feel more assured.

The option of freelancing, whether as a stepping stone to a more permanent position or the beginning of an entrepreneurial career, is a great way to build networks and acquire new skills. 

Vera Gavizon is co-founder of, a Canadian online platform that matches companies with freelance or part-time help.