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Sideline

Finding a job in Canada, why is it so difficult?

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Tracey22

@Sideline - what industry are you in?

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Old Van

Not sure if this has been mentioned on this thread yet, but when applying for a position the cover letter is as important (if not more important) than the rèsumè.

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Sideline

@Sideline - what industry are you in?

Tracey,

HR dept head, so I do all these things I advise on for the organization worked at. Having screened many resumes I see the mistakes and problems often. I advise on HR matters, payroll, executive management and corporate stratergy and legal matters (SA lawyer for way to long) among other things.

Before anyone has a bright idea, no I can't help with jobs from outside Canada :) we don't do WP or relocation. You must be living in Canada (Alberta) PR, citizen etc ;)

Edited by Sideline

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Sideline

Not sure if this has been mentioned on this thread yet, but when applying for a position the cover letter is as important (if not more important) than the rèsumè.

Aah yes Old Van,

Tnx for the reminder. I need to put together a post on this subject :)

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Jules

Okay, i disagree with Sideline. Certainly in Toronto and in the financial services industry, Canadians KNOW what a CA(SA) is. they RESPECT the CA(SA), and chances are if you are looking for a job in a bank HQ, you may even be interviewed by a South African. funny thing, i was interviewed by 2 Saffers in the past 2 years! So DO NOT LEAVE OUT YOUR CA(SA).

(EXCUSE THE caps)

So, you can elaborate and say you are a Chartered Accountant in South Africa. In an interview, you can say that you are in the process of applying for a conversion. (as soon as you get here, start the process). Frankly, if the job description is looking for a financial degree or equivalent, and they do not know what a CA is, then that company is not for you!

Now NOC Codes: In my 4 years here, the only people I have ever heard discuss NOC codes are those people on this forum who are applying to come to Canada. NOC codes are important to the CIC, not to the world I work in. maybe other industries are different. If you start talking about NOC codes in your resume, and referring to them, the potential employer will probably look at you blankly - like WTF are you talking about.

As a People manager, when I interview potential candidates, i am interested in:

  • do they have the skills i am looking for
  • can they illustrate those skills and their successes in their resume
  • are their skills relevant to the position
  • have they had enough time in a position to be reflective of their successes. As an example, if you say you have led an implementation of a program, have you had enough time in that role, to design and implement the program, and had enough time to see its success. Has there been time for internal audit to review it and assess it. etc.

I tailor my resumes to the job I am applying for. i do not list all responsibilities in a given job if they do not apply to the specific job application. So what do I do:

  • I have my master South African Curriculum Vitae, which i keep updated with my Canadian experience. I use this for preparation for an interview, to remind me what I have done in the past. i also use it to cut from and paste into a resume.
  • I tailor resumes for the job I am applying for. For example, if I am looking at an Internal Adit position, i highlight responsibilities and work associated with IA, as well as those skills gathered elsewhere applicable to IA.
  • My resume is only 2 pages long. I place most emphasis on the recent work. having said that, i just submitted a resume to a pension fund administrator, and highlighted my SA experience in pension Funds from 12 years ago - the employer loved the SA experience
The CFO of the international division of the bank I work for is ex-SAn and so is the chief accountant of the entire group (these are very high positions in a bank that generates over $7 billion annual after tax profit). So yes the SAn CA designation must be well regarded.
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The Burts

Can anyone give some advice about a generic resume as per Raquel's post earlier. I have been told it is a good idea to just walk around, take your resume, introduce yourself and drop it off at various places. Obviously this will not be tailored to a specific advertised job description.

Thanks

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Jules

Can anyone give some advice about a generic resume as per Raquel's post earlier. I have been told it is a good idea to just walk around, take your resume, introduce yourself and drop it off at various places. Obviously this will not be tailored to a specific advertised job description.

Thanks

You can probably Google for a few samples but overall you will need to determine what your primary niche is (e.g. sales, service, project management etc) and then use verbs that demonstrate what you've done in that niche on page 1 (cover intro page) along with your contact details. Some people will disagree but I say avoid using big words. Use plain simple English - it makes you relatable and understood.

Page #2 lists job work history and education. Less is more so try to list work outcomes in 3 or 4 bullets per job. Use verbs like managed, led, improved, delivered, solved etc. specific examples are good.

Assuming your experience screams "immigrant" you want to let the employer know that you have work rights already so you should include that.

They don't want your age or gender.

Two pages in total. Less is more.

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Sideline

I forgot that a year ago I had actually put together some comments on cover letters etc. wow how time flies :)

http://www.sacanada.org/topic/18349-some-resume-and-cover-letter-tips/#entry145653

Rather than re type the whole thing here is a link to the post.

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anna-m

I understand networking and have a good network here in SA. But, we are landing in August 2015 - in a new country.....new town......no friends. So where do you start? I'm a BA specialising in the financial markets, so what would your suggestion be? Maybe join the IIBA (International Institute of BA's) and attend a seminar / meeting? I would appreciate any advice. Thanks

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Old Van

Networking works differently in Canada. Here's a completely foreign concept to us: The "Informational Interview". People will actually meet for these if you ask them. You can contact people in the industry you wish to work in, and request an informational interview, and they will actually oblige! In SA they will say "no man! jy mors nou my #$%&*$# tyd!" But here you can do this to network. It basically boils down to calling or sending email requesting an interview to learn more about their company and ask questions about the industry. It's a way of networking and getting a "foot in the door".

Other ways of networking is to go to a "Toastmasters" event (Just google it!). Join as many organisations as you can in your town. These will be things like industry associations/professional associations, board of trade/chamber of commerce (every town has them), Job and career fairs. Also consider volunteering. Have a good LinkIn account with lots of contacts and keep building it up.

Also Google "Networking in Vancouver/Toronto/Winterpeg :P (or whatever town you're living in). You'll be amazed at what is available.

Two more tips:

Dress the part. While your funky/unconventional or expressive/eccentric look may be cool to you and your buddies, it simply does NOT work for the most people looking to hire. Once you get the job you can blow them away with your individualistic style. :D

Prepare an "elevator speech", and refine it, "I am Mr so and so, and I have been a yada, yada working in the XYZ industry for X number of years. I studied at XYZ and my speciality is ABC as well as DEF. I'm passionate about the so and so industry, and enjoy this and that about it. I'm looking for an opportunity in..........."

Basically figure out how to say:

Your Name

Job

Academics

Skills (hard and soft)

Personality

What you're looking for

in a couple of sentences.

Sorry about the long post here, just sharing what I've learned so far! BUT there's a "hidden job market" out there. In other words, there are many (apparently 80%) jobs that aren't advertised, and people only find them through networking.

Edited by Old Van
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Amberdrake

I attended the African Utility Week yesterday. Now even tho the event is focused at africa and its power/water needs i figured its good practice to meet new people and network constructively. I might require a job after august still after all.

I spent the day attending some workshops and visiting various stalls. I managed to have some significant conversations with various people related to my field of work. Co incidentally I followed the exact path old van just mentioned.

I would inquire regarding their product/business after introducing myself with a handshake. The handshake makes a massive difference I attended the same event 2 years ago and at that time did not shake hands with anyone the amount of significant conversations or impacts I created surrounding myself was very low. I would then proceed to ask questions while explain where my knowledge base is derived so they can provide pointed information.

I work with Eskom so I had to first joke a bit about state of our company atm then proceed to explain where I fit in and specialize. Then I would follow one of two paths I explained that i am interested in mechanical equipment due to the fact that I studied a triple facet course that included predominantly mechanical. Otherwise i would follow with pointed questions regarding system and where the systems they provide fit finishing off with the opportunities they have available to employ either here in South Africa or abroad.

I think overall it went well and even if i don't get any job offers or opportunities I explored some new technologies and practiced my networking/Verbal communication.

I do think that walking around events alone provides a better opportunity to connect with company representatives. Previously we would attend as group from work/students creating a atmosphere of impatience and no direct interaction.

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anna-m

Thanks for the valuable advice! Old Van.....you're making me very nervous. Seems like the business culture is completely different from what we are use to. So, would you go as far as to say that sending CV's is almost a waste of time?

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Hennie vdB

I understand networking and have a good network here in SA. But, we are landing in August 2015 - in a new country.....new town......no friends. So where do you start?

Anna, yes, it certainly is daunting if you don't know anyone here. LinkedIn (LI) is used quite actively here in Calgary, so one thing you can do while still in SA, is dolly up your LinkedIn profile, and start connecting with as many friends and colleagues you can, even if they are in SA or Oz. Through LI you then connect with all your connections secondary connections, and you will be amazed how quickly you pick up a few that are in Canada. I started with a few SAffers, and through them got access to quite a few of their Canadian colleagues. You may also discover people you know in Canada, that you were unaware of (happened to me.)

Don't restrict yourself to people in your industry only - you never know who knows who. As example, the Project Management Director of one of the large companies here in Calgary, turned out to be the ex-SA project mananger I worked for at Sasol One in the eighties. And the recruiting companies also search for the "key words" on LI, so when the market is hot, like in 2013, I was approached by several recruiters who found me on LI.

And yes, we are three ex-SA Guys working at my company, and al three of us were roped in by reference before the positions were advertised, so can't vouch for the 80%, but I have seen many positions filled with ofice discussions "Do you know of a good project controls / contracts / mech eng / etc?"

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Hennie vdB

sending CV's is almost a waste of time?

Not totally, but nearly. You have to follow Sideline's advice - if the resume' contains the key words, it may survive the first filter. My wife had a standard CV and has sent out literally hundreds with zero response, except for the minimum-wage jobs, "retail" as it is called here. Working at Starbucks, or supermarkets or similar. If you are looking for a decent job, you simply have to make the effort as Sideline has described in this thread. It is disheartening, and a lot of work, I know, but many of us have gone through that. For most of us the second position comes much easier, as you then have Canadian experience, and references. These HR people always call your references, where I've never seen that prior to Canada.

Edited by Hennie vd Berg

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The Burts

Some people will disagree but I say avoid using big words. Use plain simple English - it makes you relatable and understood.

I have seen this simple English used a lot in samples and maybe this is another of my mistakes!

Edited by The Burts

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Jules

I have seen this simple English used a lot in samples and maybe this is another of my mistakes!

In my job I do a lot of documents for executives at the bank, so a big part of my job entails reviewing and editing documents with management (presentations, internal announcements, business cases etc). What I've noticed is how often these execs hate big fancy words and long winded writing. These are often the same people reviewing job applicants.

My advice: keep it short and simple.

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Laurenwallace

We landed in Edmonton in December, I worked on my resume and got it down to a 2 page document, sent it out daily just by answering the ads on the job sites here. It took me two solid months of sending out a resume and cover letter at least 20 times a day. I got a good job at a large mining company here within two months, with no 'connections' - so it is totally doable. Don't get disheartened, it just takes a lot of effort and consistency from your part. And yes, they contacted my references in SA. After I got the call that they were interested in meeting me, it took three interviews, before the job offer came through. Once I had accepted the job offer, I was then called in for a 'reverse interview' where I would be meeting the staff I was to work with, and I would have to interview THEM - this was the most daunting part of the entire process! My point is, you can get a good paying job, once you have landed (as this cuts out a lot of paperwork for the employer) if you put your head down and go for it. Of course, also keep in mind, posts on this thread come from a lot of different sectors, and each sector has their own culture, so everyone's experience will be different.

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Eloff's

Thanks guys, this made for interesting reading good tips.

Just not sure about dialling down the resume.

I have read a lot about tailoring you're experience for different

positions.

I have downloaded and had a look at a couple of resume examples the Canadian way.

Any good other good examples you guys would like to comment on?

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Guest

Great post Lauren! Agree with you, it takes persistence to land that first job in Canada. Once you get that "Canadian experience" it does get a little easier landing your second job. With regards the contacting of references; I required two for a construction company. They contacted both; one in France and the Australia.

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Tracey22

My tips:

  • Go to your immigration services office, and find out where you can sign up for a mentorship program. Many companies use their social responsibility time and budget on mentorship sessions. i used to mentor through the YMCA (through my company). there are a lot of useful immigration services offered by the CIC.
  • Pay for an upgraded linked in account. You can subscribe to a few job seeker content providers who all give excellent advice on your LinkedIn profile, resume and networking. This upgraded account also highlights you to recruitment officers
  • If you find a good recruitment firm, attend their cocktails for jobseekers, and other workshops.

Finding a job here is a full-time job!

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AndrewT

I have been very fortunate in that I am staying with a leadership and strategy consultant. That has allowed me to piggy-back off his network, which has led to a few interviews as well as some valuable advice. For example, a COO advised me to use a gmail account instead of my iafrica account, as applications have been known to be ignored on the basis of the e-mail domain alone!

I also found a software company which uses their own coding challenge (a moderate-sized data analysis project) to filter prospective candidates. That allowed me to compete in a much smaller market.

I did extremely well in the challenge (97th percentile, and a sign of goodwill that they would share this with me), had an interview and now they want to make an offer!

What I'm not sure about is how the negotiation process works here. The company would like to know my salary expectations, but I would like to know the details of their non-salary benefits first. Should I ask for those details before naming my salary expectation? Or is that not how the process works in Canada?

Edited by AndrewT
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Tracey22

You can ask. The salary they quote is the cash salary. Benefits can include Bonus (ask how it is calculated) , medical and dental insurance, RRSP and/or share ownership plan.

I find that here the companies only want to negotiate salary once they decide they want you. Also, find out about how many days leave you get. You can negotiate on that as well.

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AndrewT

You can ask. The salary they quote is the cash salary. Benefits can include Bonus (ask how it is calculated) , medical and dental insurance, RRSP and/or share ownership plan.

I find that here the companies only want to negotiate salary once they decide they want you. Also, find out about how many days leave you get. You can negotiate on that as well.

Thanks for the advice, Tracey. Much appreciated :)

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