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Build and navigate your career in Canada

To get your career moving, here are five steps to build your career in Canada. It takes effort to build your career in a new cultural environment, as it does in your own country. But, with focus and effort, you’ll show potential employers your strengths, skills, and the benefits you can offer.

1. Increase your self-awareness


Increase your self-awareness to achieve your full career potential and build your career. When you can clearly identify your skills, strengths, and work values, you’ll find the career that matches your:

  • Passions
  • Interests
  • Personality

Self-awareness will help you to:

  • Define what’s important to you
  • Identify jobs that best suit you
  • Create a career plan
  • Find the right career

Some important questions to ask yourself include:

  1. What projects did I complete that produced great results?

2. What skills and strengths did I use that contributed to a positive outcome (for example, interpersonal skills, analytical skills, technical skills)

3. What do I value most about work? (for example, challenging work; stability and structure; variety and a changing work pace).

4. What type of work gives me the most satisfaction?


2. Ask for feedback


Ask others who work with you for feedback on your work performance. It’s helpful to understand how others see you in the workplace. You can request feedback from your:

  • manager
  • peers
  • customers, clients, and vendors
  • subordinates (if people report to you).

Use this feedback to identify your strengths and to improve areas that are important to your job. Remember, feedback is a gift! With feedback, you can identify what you do well, or where there may be room to improve. In any case, you can use this information to build your career.

3. Know your strengths


When you know your strengths, you can build on them to achieve top performance on the job. But, do you know what your strengths are?

If you’ve ever completed a personality assessment, you can dig out those results. If you haven’t completed a personality assessment, you can complete the free Drake P3 assessment. This important career tool will help you discover your strengths related to your:

  • Communication style
  • Leadership style
  • Motivational needs


Take the free self-assessment today!

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This insight can help you to:

  • Develop your career plan
  • Prepare interview responses
  • Build your career

Canadian employers want to hire employees who are confident and optimistic. You have to sell yourself and show that you have the experience, skills, and strengths that match the job requirements. So, it’s no time to be humble in a Canadian interview.

Interviewers will commonly ask: “Tell me about your strengths?” Be prepared to discuss three to five strengths that directly relate to the job. You can draw your top strengths from your Drake P3 assessment report, along with other important information.

4. Know your career environment


It’s important to research the job market and understand the industry. This will show that you understand what’s happening in your field in Canada, and identify the required skills, knowledge, and experience. Some important questions to consider:

  • What industry trends are happening in Canada?
  • What trends are happening in my functional area (for example, IT, Human Resources, Marketing, Legal, Finance)

With this insight, you show employers that you’re informed about key issues in your industry. You can research industry and labour market trends on social media, LinkedIn, trade publications, and government publications.



5. Know what the job requires


It’s also important to understand what skills, experience, and education you require to perform the job.  Which skills do you currently have?  What skills do you need to develop?

One way to understand the job is to conduct informational interviews with people who are currently in the job. Some good questions to ask in an informational interview include:

  • What are the key responsibilities of the job?
  • How do you spend most of your time in a typical day and week?
  • What are some of the challenges of the job?
  • What skills and experience does the job require (interpersonal, analytical, technical, etc)?
  • Are my background and experience relevant to this role?


Can you step back?


You may find that Canadian employers are unfamiliar with the schools you attended, or your diplomas and certificates from your country of origin. And that can be frustrating. And, you may find that you need to gain new skills or develop existing skills based on your research. Or, you may have to consider other jobs, for example: are you willing to take a step back in your career? Accepting a lower level in your field can actually help you to build your career in Canada.

Starting at a lower level will allow you to:

  • become employed in your field
  • gain Canadian experience
  • learn about the Canadian work environment
  • work and excel in your desired industry.

Your high performance at a lower level role can help you progress to the next level over time. Remember, you’re building your career.


How stepping back helped an electronic engineer

Consider the following exchange from our Prepare for Canada WhatsApp group. A recent arrival to Canada asked:

“I need your advice. I’m a new immigrant in Canada and I’m trying to figure out other people’s journeys and how they navigated their careers in a foreign land. Can you provide some insight and guidance?”

An electronic engineer responded:

The biggest fear for a Canadian employer, regarding immigrants, is that the person is not able to adapt to the work environment. This is a valid concern, since our cultures and customs may be very different. And, Canada has plenty of non-spoken rules that may take some time to learn. That’s why we usually have to aim for starter positions at first, since the’re considered more “expendable” by employers. But, it doesn’t mean abandoning your career or area of expertise though.


As an electronic engineer, finding a job here had many obstacles (experience, degree validation, engineering licensing, etc.), so I opted to aim for a similar, but unregulated position: Technical Writer. I still get to work in an electronics/software company, deal with information on a high technical level, and build experience and a career path for myself. It’s the way I was able to get into the job market, in a position that will allow me to grow.

Related Posts:

Build your professional network before you arrive in Canada
How to start your job search before you arrive in Canada

With effort and focus, you’ll be well on your way to building your successful career in Canada.