6 things to put on your resumé if you don’t have Canadian experience

Credit to Author: Margaret Jetelina| Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2019 07:49:04 +0000

How to impress Canadian employers if you don’t yet have Canadian work experience

Picking up everything you can carry and moving to Canada takes a lot of effort, time and — frankly — guts. It is no small feat moving yourself and your family to a new country to start a new life.

However, when you arrive here you quickly notice that many job postings are asking for Canadian work experience. Now, how are you supposed to get that when you are still looking for your first job in Canada?

Well I say — fear not! There is a way around this.

What does ‘Canadian work experience’ really mean?

Let’s start by unpacking what employers really mean when they ask for “Canadian work experience” on their job postings.

Aside from the obvious, I believe they are also indirectly saying that they are looking for someone who understands the local skill requirements for the job, understands any regulatory body or licensing component that is connected to the position, and is familiar with Canadian workplace culture, including understanding soft skills.

Over several years of working with newcomers to Canada, I have found that my clients who had worked on reflecting these points on their resumé and later on during their interview, were able to more easily secure their first job in Canada.

6 things to put on your resumé

So here are six things employers will be impressed to see on your resumé, even if you do not yet have Canadian work experience.

  1. Demonstrating an understanding of the position’s in-demand skills

After looking at many local job postings, you will soon get an idea of what the skill requirements are. For example, if you are applying for an accounting clerk job and you see that the majority of the local job postings are asking for proficiency with QuickBooks, then you will want to indicate that you are proficient with this software on your resumé if you have this skill. Or if it’s not exactly the same software that you’ve used before moving to Canada, then you will want to explain that the software you used is similar to QuickBooks. Best yet, take a quick course in QuickBooks to ensure you have this in-demand skill.

  1. Showing familiarization or engagement with your occupation’s regulatory body and licensing process (if applicable)

If the job you are looking for requires a license or evaluation by a regulatory body for re-certification, you could work on this and mention it on your resumé. For example, lawyers need their credentials evaluated by the province’s law society; so, if you have already done that you could add a line on your resumé stating that your credentials are currently being evaluated. While you won’t be able to yet work as a lawyer until you’re licensed, of course, this would be beneficial if you’re applying for an entry-level position in a law firm, for example.

  1. Obtaining memberships with local industry associations

There are many industry-focused associations in Canada, some of them are even specifically to help immigrants. If you were an engineer before moving to Canada, then you may want to join a local association that supports newcomer engineers, for example, in British Columbia there is a non-profit society called the Society of Internationally Trained Engineers in BC (SITEBC). If you state that you are a member of this association on your resumé, this may help develop an image that you are working hard at understanding the skill and cultural needs of the Canadian workplace.

  1. Upgrading skills by taking courses

Another way to show employers that you understand the technical skill needs of local jobs is by taking courses. For example, if you were in the human resources field before moving to Canada and you have already registered to take a Canadian employment law course, then mentioning this on your resumé would be a good move. Even if you have not started the course, the fact that you are registered already shows the employer that you are dedicated to the field and will have the necessary knowledge soon.

  1. Volunteering in the community

Volunteering your time to help others is a very honourable activity. In Canada, it is very common for people to volunteer in the local community. It is also a great way for newcomers to learn about Canadian workplace culture. For example, if you worked in marketing before moving to Canada and decide to volunteer for a non-profit association to help them with their marketing efforts, this would look very impressive on your resumé. Volunteering is sometimes considered Canadian experience already by employers even though it is unpaid.

  1. Getting a mentor

There are many government-funded mentoring programs across Canada that match newcomers with local professionals. For example, in British Columbia the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IECBC) provides mentoring programs to help skilled immigrants build professional networks and understand the Canadian context of their profession. In Ontario, TRIEC’s Mentoring Partnership offers similar benefits. If you were able to obtain a mentor, not only would it help you better understand the local needs of the industry, it would look impressive on your resumé as well.

I hope that these tips will help you with your job search and in landing your first job in Canada!