Canada currently has a tough job market, and it has only been made tougher by the pandemic. Too many immigrants (roughly 1 in 2) in Canada are working in jobs below their experience and expertise level. To avoid this fate, you must be prepared to invest in your career development early and ongoing.
Career development is a process. This process can sometimes be long, tiresome, and even unsuccessful. Specific to international students, Rod Skinkle, Senior Advisor at Devant, comments, “We find that many students and alumni have not thought this [the planning stage] through. They may want to jump to the ‘action’ step before having worked through the planning and preparation phases sufficiently well.”
So how can you avoid wasting time, energy and resources and achieve job search success in Canada?
You start with a plan. By thinking through your job search and career aspirations you will set yourself up for success when you are ready for the action stage.
Here are 4 steps to kickstart your job search.
1. Determine your career goals
Without career goals, your job search will be difficult to navigate. It is an essential step to give you a big picture idea of your career journey. It answers questions about both where you are where you want to go. Make goals that are both short-term (part-time job, co-op, internship) and long-term (career-based) and work towards them.
For more information on how to develop effective goals, check out our previous post, Start with Great Career Goals, Here’s How.
2. Take inventory of your skills & experience
As an international student, you are equipped with unique experiences, skills and abilities. Knowingly or not, your Canadian journey as an international student has likely forced you to develop your soft skills, including communication, adaptability, and command of at least two languages.
Your education, work and volunteer experiences are valuable, but only if you can communicate your accomplishments well. If you learn how to leverage your past experiences and combine them with your current learning, you could become an employer’s ideal candidate. You will need to communicate what skills you developed and what lessons you learned along the way.
In a global economy, your global perspective is also considered an asset, if you can explain how it will contribute to the organization’s success. Start by compiling the following information:
- Past experiences (e.g., international and Canadian education, credentials, volunteerism, and employment)
- Soft skills – (e.g., adaptability, relocation, resilience, determination)
- Hard skills – (e.g., languages, specific training/skills)
3. Explore industries
Explore and build a list of industries where your skillset, and experience are required. Keep an open mind, as there may be opportunities and roles available in industries that you have never considered working in before. Also, consider locations across Canada: There may be more roles available in another city that won’t be listed in your current location.
If you are not sure where to start, consider a quick search on LinkedIn or reach out to our career coach to help you narrow your search by job, industry, and skills. You will find that the same skills are applicable across multiple industries and job categories. Build a list of priority industries by asking yourself what you find most interesting about the industry. Is it their mission, products and services, or global impact that is of interest? Think not only about job opportunities but also about job attractiveness. Which jobs sound interesting to you?
4. Do employer research
If industry is the ‘where’ then employer is the ‘who’.
Once you narrow down your priority industries, you will need to identify the specific employers that you are most interested in working for.
Research the connections and potential links within your current network and, importantly, build your connections with individuals in that industry. Your goal is to build a list of important skills as well as connections. You can start with the following research goals and identify individuals who:
- write about important subjects within that industry
- are involved with industry associations, conferences, blogs etc.
- work in HR and talent acquisition within those industries
In addition, give thought to skills and/or credentials that you could acquire to make yourself more valuable to employers in this sector. You will need to identify these for the employer if you apply to a role with them.
If all this seems like a lot of work – it is. This is among the most important research projects you will ever complete, in terms of your career success.
Next Steps: Begin your ‘Informed Networking Program’
Now that you are equipped with a better understanding of your career goals, target industries, employers, and knowledgeable industry insiders – you are informed and ready to begin an effective Networking Program.
Stay Tuned – Next month, Devant’s Head Career Coach, Sejal Ahir, describes how to conduct effective information interviews and build your network database.
Connect with a career coach
If you would like to get some help to assess where you are in your career development journey, you can always connect with our Career Counsellors for a personalized free assessment.