From personal and professional experience, here are some of Eilidh Sligo’s most valuable tips for people considering making the same move.
1. Determine the best city for your industry
Just like the UK, different cities and provinces in Canada are home to different industries. Before you make your decision as to which city to move to, do some research to find out which location would provide you with the most opportunities within your industry. The Government of Canada provides industry statistics here.
2. Check if you are qualified to work in Canada
For certain professions – for example, physicians, nurses and lawyers – you will need to have your academic and/or professional credentials assessed before you are allowed to work in your field and may have to take further training. This takes time and varies by province and territory. Visit Service Canada to learn more.
3. Swap your CV for a Canadian résumé
In Canada, your CV needs to be adapted to the more concise style of a résumé. Canadian resumes are typically no more than 2 pages in length (with the exception of C-Suite executives) and use concise, targeted statements to showcase your skills and accomplishments to a specific employer. Check out our Résumé Samples to see this style.
4. Use Canadian English
If you are moving to a non-French speaking part of Canada, make sure that you use Canadian English when writing your resume, cover letter and any email communication to potential employers. Switch your spell-check to ‘English (Canada)’ and learn, through practice, the different words that are used.
5. Explain any UK specific information on your résumé
Remember that information that might be immediately recognizable in the UK, might need some explanation in your resume for Canada. For young professionals, you might think that all Canadian employers will know what ‘2.1’ means after your degree. However, Canadian universities do not award classifications, instead they use a GPA system. Similarly, it can be helpful to include a short description of the previous organizations that you have worked for (e.g. the industry and size of the organization).
6. Use a Canadian address
If you are applying for positions before you leave the UK, you will need to let an employer know that you can work in Canada. If you don’t yet have a Canadian address, consider adding “Relocating to Vancouver, BC.” next to your current address. You should explain in your cover letter when you are moving and confirm that you are legally allowed to work in Canada. Without this, there is a high risk that your résumé will go straight into the ‘no’ pile.
7. Join local professional associations
A great way to network is to join the local chapter of your industry association. In addition to meeting fellow industry professionals and learning about the local industry, you can include your membership on your resume to show that you are determined to become familiar with how things work in Canada. A directory of Canadian associations can be found here.
8. Network, network, network
Approximately 80% of jobs in Canada are hidden. They are not advertised but are instead filled through word of mouth referrals. Once you arrive in Canada, you will need to network to increase your chances of securing a job that matches your qualifications, experience and expertise. Get out and meet as many people as possible and, without directly asking for a job, let them know what you do. Informational Interviews are a useful, and perfectly normal, part of a Canadian job search. Do your best to source people who already work in your industry and might be willing to meet you for a chat about your profession.
9. Consider taking some additional training
Even if you are qualified, with plenty of good industry experience, it might take longer than you hope to find a suitable position. Consider using this time to complete some short courses to sharpen your current expertise or learn a new, industry-relevant, skill. Completing this at a Canadian institution will be a useful addition to your resume by proving to potential employers that you want to learn the Canadian way of doing things – it’s also another way to network!
10. Adapt to Canadian work culture
Once you secure a role, the organizational culture that you are working in will vary depending on the city and province you live in, your industry, and the organization that you work for. When you start working, observe how others interact with each other and mimic this behaviour. Treat everyone with respect, offer supportive advice, and be aware that Canadians typically communicate indirectly. Promotional decisions in Canada are often influenced by how you work with your colleagues, not just your performance; taking the time to ‘fit in’ is genuinely worth the effort.
Good luck with your move to Canada! If you would like some additional support from our professional resume writers, who can also help you to understand what it takes to succeed in a Canadian style job search, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.