Many human resources jobs require a university degree or college diploma in human resources management or a related field (i.e. business administration, industrial relations, commerce or psychology). As well, some employers may require you to hold a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) designation. Obtaining the CPHR designation can give you an advantage over other job candidates. Established in 1994, CPHR is the national voice of HR associations from across Canada. Human Resources is not a regulated profession in Canada
Before You Move to Canada
There are steps that you can take before you move to Canada to make it easier and faster to secure an HR job in Canada:
- Research the Canadian job market to learn what HR qualifications employers look for and how your international qualifications may be viewed.
- Learn more about the CPHR designation, the most sought-after mark for HR professionals in Canada.
- Check with provincial or territorial HR associations to find out what documents you need to bring and verify if they need to be translated. You may need to use a professional translation service in Canada.
- Understand how HR is practiced in Canada and familiarize yourself with HR legislation in the province where you plan to settle.
- Join relevant HR groups on LinkedIn to learn more about the industry in Canada. This is also a great way to make connections and build a professional network before you arrive.
- Prepare your professional documents such as official education, reference letters, testimonials and recommendations while in your home country.
- Assess your language skills by taking an online self-assessment on the Canadian Language Benchmarks website.
- Improve your language skills. Even if you speak fluent English or French, it’s helpful to improve your language skills. Enroll in language classes while you’re in your home country and continue them when you arrive in Canada.
- Know your job title in Canada (some HR jobs may be described differently in Canada) and make a list of potential employers.
- Check with the professional association governing your occupation in your home country and find out if they have any links with similar associations in Canada.
1. Understanding Human Resources Job Requirements
The National Occupational Classification (NOC) code for Human Resources Professional is NOC 11200. This NOC provides a standard definition of HR jobs in Canada and is used by various groups, including job seekers. Before searching for an HR job, it’s helpful to read the NOC description to ensure that you perform similar job duties in your home country. You can also find example job titles that HR professionals use in Canada. This will be helpful when you begin your job search.
Start Your Research
Other Human Resources job titles include:
- Human resources and recruitment officers (NOC 12101)
- Human resources managers (NOC 10011)
- Personnel Clerks (NOC 14102).
2. Employment for Human Resource Professionals in Canada
Job prospects vary in Canada for human resources professionals, so it’s important to carefully research national, provincial, and local job markets. Your research will allow you to match your skills and experience with labour market needs and continue your career in Canada.
Credentials Recognition in Canada
Credentials recognition is a process to verify and assess a person’s skills, competencies, and credentials in a fair and consistent manner.
Several agencies assess international education credentials to help newcomers to Canada access the education and employment they need. HR is a non-regulated profession in Canada. However, some employers do ask for your credentials to be evaluated. Mostly though, they will give you a project to test you and consider your professional references.
Some companies may request an education evaluation to assess your academic background. However, before you spend money, it’s best to find out if the company you are applying to requires it.
The same rule applies if you plan to attend a college or university program to upgrade your skills. Contact the school that you want to attend first to find out if you need an education evaluation and ask if they have a preferred provider.
Make sure to showcase your international education and skills. Try to build on your existing knowledge and skills and explore your options before you decide if you need further education. For example, your international credentials and experience may allow you to get advanced standing, transfer some of your credits or benefit from prior learning assessment options. This way you may be able to complete your program faster and without spending more money or repeating the education you already have.
Credentials Assessment Services
To find more organizations and agencies providing credential evaluation, assessment and qualification recognition services click here.
To learn about companies that hire recent immigrants, visit Canada’s Best Diversity Employers website. These employers offer interesting programs to help new Canadians transition to a new workplace, and a new life in Canada.
The median wage for an HR manager in Canada is $49.74/hour. Annual salaries can go above $100,000 especially if you work for a large company.
3. Upgrading Your Skills to Meet Human Resources Job Requirements
Canadian employers put a high emphasis on soft skills. These are best described as attributes that enhance your interactions, job performance and career prospects. Unlike your hard skills, you can apply your soft skills broadly.
Soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and collaboration are important for HR professionals. Identifying the soft skills that you may need to improve is crucial. If your hard skills get you an interview, most likely it’s your soft skills that will get you the job and allow you to succeed.
You can also take advantage of bridging programs or other courses and workshops to open up HR job opportunities.
Language Skills for Human Resources Jobs
You may have strong HR skills, but you may need more training or skills upgrading to achieve success in the workplace. This is especially relevant to your soft skills and language skills. Having strong skills in one or both of Canada’s official languages, English or French , is important to succeed in Canada. Whether you choose to learn or improve English or French will depend on which of the two languages most people speak in the area where you live.
You may be eligible for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. Otherwise, you can find other free or affordable classes in English as a Second Language (ESL) or French as a Second Language (FSL) classes through local school boards or settlement agencies.
There are even language courses to teach you professional terminology, such as job-specific language training and Occupation Specific Language Training (OSLT) in Ontario. And, if you already speak one of Canada’s two official languages at a high level, learning the other one is a good option, as it may offer you better job opportunities.
Many immigrants take further education after coming to Canada. Some even want to change careers or enhance their careers with a Ph.D. or MBA.
Click here for links to Canadian Universities and Colleges.
Bridging Programs and Human Resource Jobs
Bridging programs are a helpful way to transition your international experience and training to the Canadian workplace. In addition to the colleges, universities and immigrant-serving agencies that offer Human Resources bridging programs, many also offer HR programs and continuing education courses that you can enroll in to advance your career.
York University – Toronto
This program assists internationally educated human resource professionals (IEHRPs) to gain employment at a level that matches their skills and experience and in roles appropriate to their career path. The program includes comprehensive skills and experience assessment, access to a specialized curriculum, mentorship, internship and career coaching opportunities. It also helps IEHRPs earn their CHRP designation.
Accessible Community Counseling and Employment Services (ACCES) – Toronto and Brampton
This seven-week program helps internationally trained HR professionals find employment commensurate with their experience and education. Participants will have access to human resources professional networks, mentoring, guest speakers, as well as post-hire services to support workplace activities.
Bredin Centre for Learning
A no-cost program that helps internationally trained professionals understand and successfully move through the licensure and credential process in Canada. Those who are not part of a regulated profession can get up-to-date information about their profession.
4. Job Search Techniques for HR Professionals
The Canadian job market is competitive and sometimes the job search can be difficult. But, there are many ways that you can search for jobs in HR:
- Broaden your search and include alternative careers.
- Seek out a mentor, such as a retired HR professional who could give you valuable advice and introduce you to their professional network.
- Join HR job-finding or networking clubs through immigrant-serving agencies.
- Attend HR job fairs and conferences and regularly check job boards.
- Have a strong and active presence on social media channels such as LinkedIn. Join HR LinkedIn groups, where you can contribute content, ask questions, and build connections.
Immigrant Settlement Agencies
Most settlement agencies and other immigrant-serving organizations offer help to find job vacancies, update your resume, write cover letters, and prepare for interviews. Learn more about Services in Canada to Help Newcomers Settle.
Click the link to find immigrant services in your area.
Writing Your HR Resume
Ideally, your resume should reflect you as an HR professional with experience in several key areas. It should reflect your role as responsible for hiring good people, acting as a coach and providing direction to employees, imparting training, creating policies, dealing with employee relations, resolving disputes, etc.
What works best in HR is a functional resume, that clearly shows the years of HR experience and responsibilities. Consider these tips when writing your resume:
Highlight Your Achievements:
- Developing new HR policies or procedures that had a positive outcome
- Implementing HR recruitment and retention strategies
- Building organizational development initiatives
- Participating in leadership initiatives.
Use Power Verbs:
Include power verbs like advocated, addressed, demonstrated, hired, assigned, interacted, interfaced, litigated, terminated, recruited, screened, guided, scheduled, etc. These portray your active involvement along with describing job functions you carried out.
List Your Key HR Roles:
Use terms like HR, HR assistant, HR Manager, HR Specialist, Staffing manager, Recruiter, HRIS analyst, etc. and put the designation clearly. Also mention if you were responsible for any HR activities where you provided follow-up on company policies, procedures and documentation, procedural problems and inquiries.
Make Your Resume Stand Out:
Your resume must reflect your understanding of how HR policies impact the company’s overall business mission and goals. To make it stand out, go beyond job functions and state how your services made a difference to the organization. Also mention numbers: hires done, training taken, level of people trained, timelines in closing a hire etc. Clearly identify how your achievements align with the human resources job description and requirements.
Highlight any awards you may have won. It may feel awkward to show them off if this is not common in your home country. However, in Canada, you need to speak about your awards and achievements.
Interview Techniques for Human Resources Jobs
Once you have been invited for an interview, you will need to prepare for the interview. Use your self-inventory and your research about the employer to write out and think about how you are a perfect fit.
You need to be confident and calm in the interview, so practicing your answers is very important!
Within the HR sector, behavioural-based interviews are common and are geared to assess skills such as:
- Planning and Organizing
- Problem Solving
- Team Work
- Functional skills (HR policies and legislation).
For senior HR positions, questions can deal with your:
- Skills in managing a large department or team
- Ability to create HR strategy and policies
- Ability to design and deliver change management programs.
The following Below are sample questions that you may be asked during job interviews:
- It is important that you are up to date with all legislation, what do you know about the provincial Employment Standards?
- What is the reason for grievance procedures and tell us about your experience in handling grievances?
- Describe a time when you had to gather a large amount of data, analyze it objectively and make a decision or a recommendation based on the results.
An informational interview is a brief (20 – 30 minute) meeting that you schedule with someone currently working in HR. The purpose of the interview is to gather information and learn more about the profession in Canada.
Your goal should not be to get an HR job during an informational interview. Also, don’t bait and switch, by asking for an information interview and then requesting your contact to circulate your résumé to hiring managers. Also, be sure to ask meaningful questions. Avoid asking questions where you could easily find answers through a basic internet search (the annual sales of a publicly-held company, for example).
An information interview is also beneficial to get a professional’s first-hand HR experiences and impressions. The information interview typically should last no more than 30 minutes, so plan your time accordingly.
Effective networking can help you discover job leads, gather information about a company or the HR profession in Canada, and meet other HR professionals.
Good places to network include conferences, association luncheons, and chamber mixers for their convenience in meeting people, building relationships, and sharing information.
LinkedIn is a helpful online tool for networking. It is a great resource to connect with former colleagues and employers, search for jobs, and broaden your network. You can also connect with people who work in HR and join related groups and forums.
5. Human Resources Associations in Canada
The associations listed below provide additional information about the CPHR designation, professional development, education and networking opportunities.
Provincial HR Associations
Newfoundland and Labrador
HR Sector Councils
The following HR sector councils are partner organizations comprised of business, labour and educational stakeholders. They operate at arm’s length from the Government of Canada and are a platform for stakeholders to share ideas, concerns, and perspectives about HR skills and issues. Working collaboratively, they find HR solutions for their specific sector.
HR sector councils enable human resource development by industry.
Professional immigrant networks are associations or networks created by and for immigrant professionals that seek to:
- Create a forum to contribute to and enrich their respective communities, and
- Assist members to find meaningful employment and achieve their professional goals.
Activities that they offer include networking events, mentoring, information sessions, professional development, speaker events and training and connections to job opportunities.
The following professional immigrant networks mentioned do not exclusively serve the HR profession, but many HR professionals are members.
For information, tools, free webinars, and more visit our Finding a Job in Canada resource page. Get the help you need to achieve your career goals in Canada!