- Plan your career
- Discover who I am
- Learn about your personality, interests, values, skills, and abilities; start to define your career goals; and begin to shortlist your options
- Explore my options
- Learn how to conduct occupational research, options for studying and working, and trends in the world of work
- Choose my direction
- Learn how to evaluate your options, make a decision, and take action
- Achieve my goals
- Learn how to define and reach your goals through goal setting exercises, work and volunteer opportunities, extracurricular involvement, networking, and professional development activities.
- Join the workforce
- Learn how to write a resume, develop your interview skills, network like a pro, and find the hidden (and not-so-hidden) job market
- Continue to develop
- Learn about re-careering, relocating, leaving a job, losing a job, and professional development
- Home page
- Go to the Plan My Career home page
The Canadian Job Search
The Canadian job search may be different from what you are accustomed to, so below we have included introductions to some important concepts such as job search documents, occupational research, interviewing, and many more.
Job Search Documents
A cover letter is a one page document that accompanies your resumé when you apply for a job. Your cover letter is placed ahead of your resumé and highlights the content of your resumé by sharing your experiences and accomplishments with potential employers. By tailoring your cover letter to each job you apply for, a company can get a good idea of why you want the position and how you would fit into their organization. A cover letter also demonstrates your writing and communication skills to a potential employer. To learn about how to write a cover letter and to view examples of them see the SECC Cover Letter Guide.
You may also benefit from attending a ResumeTalk session. These sessions are delivered in an informal group setting, in which you can ask questions about your job search documents. You will get immediate feedback from our staff on your documents. Check our schedule to see the available drop in times!
When you apply to a job, most organizations ask for you to submit a resumé. A resumé is an important tool for your job search. It is usually a two to three page document that highlights your skills, knowledge, and relevant experience. Your resumé is an important marketing tool that advertises the experience, education, skills and accomplishments you offer to potential employers. Your resumé should present information in a manner and sequence that best connects your background with the requirements of the position for which you are applying.
Creating your first resumé involves self-reflection and takes time. In order to make it easier, the SECC has several tools to help you create a resumé. These tools include a Resumé Guide, a Resumé Builder, and ResumeTalk drop-in sessions.
A curriculum vitae or C.V. is commonly used throughout the world when applying for jobs, though in Canada it is used primarily for academic, teaching, and medical positions. A C.V. can be several pages long and highlights an individual’s education, research, honours/awards, publications, and much more. A C.V. is used by students at the graduate and post-graduate level for academic, research or medical positions that they are applying to. To view examples of a C.V. and learn more about them see the SECC’s Curriculum Vitae (C.V.) Guide or come to a ResumeTalk drop-in session for feedback.
Some employers require you to fill out an employment application form in addition to submitting your cover letter and resumé. This form is often used by employers to pre-screen applicants, therefore it is important that you fill in all sections of the form. If a section does not apply to you, you should write in “N/A” (not applicable) rather than leaving any blanks. If you are planning to drop off your resumé in person, be sure to bring a pen along with you and write legibly if you are asked to complete an application form. If an employer cannot read your application form, you likely will not be considered for the job.
In many cases, application forms can be completed online. Be sure to use the spell-check function on your computer, consider using bullet points rather than dense paragraphs and fill in all sections with the details requested rather than writing “See Resumé”.
Occupational research refers to gathering information on educational requirements, typical duties, salary ranges, and the outlook for that occupation in the future. Many online resources are available for you to use when researching the Saskatchewan and Canadian labour markets. You may find the following websites useful to consult while doing your research:
Engaging in occupational research will help you to better understand how your chosen field of study is linked to specific occupations and career paths.
Interviewing is a common practice that follows a job application. The employer will schedule interviews with applicants whose resumés are of interest to them. The interview gives the employer the opportunity to learn more about your skills and abilities, and it gives you the opportunity to sell your experiences and ask questions. Interviews can take different forms, but generally they have a question and answer element to them.
In order to have a successful interview there are certain behaviours that are important to portray. In Arrival Survival Canada, Nick and Sabrina Noorani list five important behaviours for newcomers to Canada to display at an interview in order make a strong first impression:
- Dress professionally and appropriately for the job
- Demonstrate confidence and self-esteem
- Make small talk
- Thank the interviewer at the end
Familiarizing yourself with the expected behaviours at a job interview is important. Greeting the employer by shaking their hand is customary, as are making eye contact and smiling naturally throughout the interview. Make sure you are punctual by arriving a few minutes early for the interview.
The interview structure usually consists of an introduction by the employer which includes an overview of the interview process, a question and answer period, and a conclusion that allows you to ask any questions you have about the position or company and allows the employer to tell you about the hiring process and when decisions will be made. At the beginning of the interview there may be a few minutes of small talk where the interviewers get to know you better. Make sure that you are friendly and confident as you converse with them. For more information on interviewing please view the SECC Interview Guide.
After the interview an employer may ask to speak to your references in order to ask them questions about your past work experience. A reference is someone who knows you and who will speak highly of you, and is usually someone who has supervised you in a previous work experience, at school, or volunteering. A reference can also be a colleague, professor, peer, or mentor.
If you do not have any references from Canada, you may want to consider asking someone from your home country, such as a past teacher or volunteer colleague, to provide a character reference. A character reference letter (written in English) can be provided to employers in Canada when you are applying for work or volunteer opportunities.
References should be able to speak of your career accomplishments, educational achievements, work ethic, and interpersonal skills. It is very important to ask someone to be your reference and to get their permission to use them and their contact information before you apply for jobs. Providing your reference with a copy of your updated resumé and communicating with them about your job search is important. Make sure that your relationship to your reference is clear to the potential employer when you give them your list of references.
How to Find a Job in Canada 2 shares some tips on accepting job offers for newcomers to Canada. When a company has selected you as the successful candidate they will make an offer of employment. This is usually done in writing and should clearly indicate the following:
- Your salary
- Length of probation period (if included with the position)
- Starting date and length of employment
- Length of workday and work week
Although it may not be included on the job offer, before you accept an offer of employment you may want to ask about the following:
- Opportunities for growth
- Conditions for overtime, paid vacation, and holidays
- Staff regulations
- Any other questions you have about working for the company
Many international students or newcomers to Canada do not have work experience in Canada and look for ways to gain experience, to learn about the Canadian workplace, and to build important transferrable skills. Transferrable skills are skills that carry over to any job, such as communication, problem solving, and relationship building skills.
“Volunteer Work” is work for which a person does not receive any form of payment. Forms of payment can be an hourly wage, a salary, an honorarium or a gift certificate. For definitions of “work” and “volunteer work”, visit Citizenship and Immigration.
Volunteering is a very good way to build both social and work skills. Although the work is unpaid, you can gain valuable insight to workplace culture and practices, while building employable skills. You may also get a good reference from a volunteer supervisor.
Volunteering allows you to:
- Share your skills and experience
- Develop new skills (you can build your resumé through volunteering)
- Access new training opportunities
- Meet people in your field and expand your network
Volunteering looks good on your resumé as it shows an employer that you are committed, involved in the community, and have experience working in a Canadian environment. Volunteering also gives you the opportunity to test out different fields of work, make social connections, and start building your network! Visit Volunteer Saskatoon to find out more about available volunteer opportunities.
Summary of Resources
Print resources available at the SECC:
- Arrival Survival Canada
- Canadian Newcomer Series, How to Find a Job in Canada: Common Problems and Effective Solutions
- Canadian Immigrant
- Saskatchewan Immigration