Canadian employers, who often do not know how to assess education and work experience from other countries, may require or prefer you to have experience working in Canada. Lack of local market experience can pose a challenge for newcomers, but there are ways to overcome some of these challenges.When an employer tells you that you have no “Canadian experience” often they mean that they’re not sure if you’re going to fit into their workplace. They are not sure that you are familiar with Canadian codes and standards of practice or that you have the communication skills, etiquette or inter-personal savvy to be an asset to their firm. Employers want friendly, assertive professionals with terrific communication skills who will fit right in and become natural leaders.
You can overcome this barrier and acquire a good understanding of how a Canadian workplace operates by volunteering, meeting people, having a mentor, getting an internship or job shadowing.
Volunteerism is an important part of Canadian society and lifestyle. It helps you settle in faster and make friends and even it might lead you to a job at the organization where you are volunteering or somewhere else. As well, volunteering experience is an important factor when considering a candidate for a position. When a potential employer sees your volunteering record, they will immediately know that you are willing to put time into something you consider worthy and that you are socially inclined. You might be able to find volunteer opportunities in the sales and marketing sector, or even paid opportunities when you might get hired on a temporary basis to cover for someone who is sick or on maternity leave. Identify 5-10 companies you wish to work for and research them in detail. Then approach them, explain that you are a newcomer and that you are looking for volunteer opportunities to get local experience.
In addition to corporations, you should consider volunteering for community agencies and other non-profits in your community, preferably in a marketing related role, as it is an important tool that can help you settle in faster and make friends. When looking for volunteer opportunities, look for work that keeps your sales and marketing skills and experience current.
Internships are an excellent way to gain Canadian experience. You can find different internship programs in Canada that can help you and also you can attempt to arrange your own by networking.
One of the most well-known internship programs is Career Bridge. It is an innovative program that allows you to apply for paid internships at Canada’s leading private, public or non-profit sector employers. The program offers paid internships of four, six, nine or 12 months for recent immigrants:
- with fluency in English
- with at least a Bachelor’s level education
- with a minimum of three years international work experience
The program is run by Career Edge Organization, a not-for-profit social enterprise that has managed over 9,200 paid internships across Canada since 1996.
It’s important to find someone who can coach or mentor you and share information about the sales and marketing sector in Canada. Many professional associations offer this type of “buddy” program, where a seasoned member guides a junior one.
As well, many immigrant-serving organizations, such as CAMP Networking, have such mentorship programs where they team up a newcomer with someone in their professional field.
The Mentoring Partnership brings together recent skilled immigrants and established professionals in the GTA in occupation-specific mentoring relationships. The program is managed by the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.
For similar programs in other Canadian cities, check the immigrant employment council in your area.
You can also look for mentoring opportunities online, by registering for sites such as MentorCity.
Not exactly a mentorship or a volunteer opportunity, job shadowing is an interesting way to get some inside information on the profession of teaching in Canada, know about how Canadian schools operate and possibly gain some good networking contacts.
In job shadowing you accompany a sales and marketing professional while they do their job. This can last anywhere from an hour to an entire day. Towards the end of an informational interview ask if it’s possible for you to job shadow the person, of course only if you feel that the interview has gone well.
As in volunteering, identify 5-10 companies you wish to work for and try to use your network to approach people who work at these companies. Approach them, explain that you are a newcomer and ask them if it’s possible to job shadow them for a week or a few days to get familiar with the local industry and work culture.
A job shadow is a great way to find out what an hour or a day on that job is like. Job shadowing is especially good for jobs that are highly active, such as teaching, nursing or research.