Immigrant Perspectives: Finding career opportunities as a newcomer in Canada

The first part of the Immigrant Perspectives: The Blog Series, talked about the thoughts, fears, and hopes that five bloggers experienced as they waited to board the flight from their respective home-cities in India and emigrate to Canada. In this blog, we will be focusing on one of the most widely discussed topics among newcomers — finding relevant career opportunities. 

For those moving to Canada soon as well as those who have recently arrived, one of the top priorities is to find a job; and not just any job but to find one in their field of choice, one that aligns with their experience and education. While everyone tries to put their best foot forward, some individuals see a quicker or higher success rate in landing interviews and job offers. This got me thinking about whether there are any common patterns that can be observed in their job search journeys.  

In Canada, networking and professional connections play a major role in ensuring you find a role in your desired field. Whether you’re looking to find your first job or considering switching careers, networking is very popular in both communities — job seekers and recruiters/hiring managers alike. Traditional forms of hiring still exist but tapping on the shoulders of trusted sources is often the go-to approach to fill any open positions. 

Saif Razvi, a professional copywriter says, “When it comes to recruitment or networking, coffee chats are definitely a big thing here. Hiring managers are often busy and most people follow a 9-to-5 schedule within which they aim to get work done. Including yourself in this schedule with a coffee chat or a quick catch-up is a great way to grow your network. In essence, you’re making it known that you respect the person’s time and it’s a great way to kick off a professional relationship.”

If you analyze my own experience of finding a job in Canada, three things stand out:

  1. I wasn’t looking out for a job but a potential employer found me through my blog and offered an opportunity
  2. We first connected over a coffee chat
  3. The role that I accepted the offer for and where I currently work, wasn’t advertised anywhere

I’ve said this in one of my blogs before and I write about it on the Arrive Blog often but just to reiterate: 

  • Think out of the box and explore unconventional ways to find employment, like writing blogs or volunteering (which, by the way, is also huge!).
  • Networking is crucial for your career in Canada so get out there and meet people, build meaningful relationships! 
  • The ‘hidden job market’ in Canada is very real! Reports suggest that about 65-85 percent of the jobs are not posted online so if you restrict yourself to online job applications, you’re only touching about 30 percent of the market. 
Here’s another example from freelance writer and content creator, Mrinalini Sunder. She says, “Networking and getting-to-know-your-people is the mantra in North America. Whether it’s coffee meets, dinner and drinks, or just social events, the chances of finding new opportunities in these situations are more than what you’ll find online. To share a real-life story, Bala, a data scientist who has been in Toronto for the past two years recently bagged the role of a social media manager at his boss’s personal firm. Bala and his senior manager always shared a good rapport. Once, while they were out for a couple of drinks, amidst all the conversation, they realized both of them had a shared interest in social media. After a couple of friendly meetings outside of work, Bala took up the social media opportunity with his manager and secured an alternate source of income.”

Like most metro cities, living in Toronto and Vancouver is very expensive. Hence, after finding their first job, many newcomers start to think of ways to increase their earnings — by taking up or starting a side gig, switching jobs or careers, getting certifications/licenses in their field of work which ensures a higher pay, pursuing further education, or getting promoted at their current organization.  

Back in India, promotions are mostly merit-based and they factor in time spent in a given role. However, in Canada, cultural aspects point to other factors being involved as well, like socializing with superiors outside of working hours. 

Shomik Roy, a marketing and sales professional, and a passionate blogger says, “I believe, yes, sometimes business decisions are taken outside of working hours and outside the office. Social events are a way of getting to know the team better outside of their roles and functions and many times it is a way of assessing soft skills for leadership roles. One of my friends was being assessed for a leadership role in a technology company and one of his assessment metrics was the way he engaged with his peers outside of work. I think this has more to do with a particular company’s culture than Canada in general.”

While socializing and rapport building with your manager/supervisor/colleagues outside of working hours is part of the cultural norm in Canada, it’s worthwhile to remember that your skills and experience hold equal weight too.

Ronak Gandhi, a risk management professional, sums up the key takeaways from this post very accurately when he says, “Social events may be important for some, however, I have not attended many. Going out on drinks with the supervisor/manager may be important for some, however, I have never done that. It may help some, but I’m okay with the results I get from doing it my way. That may boil down to the fact that I have a very strict Jain diet and that I do not drink. And my colleagues and supervisors are aware of my dietary limitations. Occasionally, my supervisors or colleagues reach out to me for a chat or a conversation and vice versa — that doesn’t need to be over food or drinks, it could be over tea or coffee, or in the office itself. For me, it is more about bonding with the person. I personally give importance to the cake more than the icing. I have come across people who go out for every drink opportunity or a social meet, however, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that it may not be long before the cards fall apart. I got my first job over an invitation for coffee but the coffee never happened, yet I got the job. I received raises in the four walls of a conference room while discussing my goals. I got my second gig from having discussions in Starbucks. Of course, it cannot happen without a considerate opposite person. To sum up my experience, I am not denying that social interactions are important, but they don’t always need to be over food or drinks. It could be bowling, golf, coffee, conference room, etc. My suggestion to all the newcomers is: you’ll find tons of stories of people who achieved small milestones over drinks or meals. Sure, do that if it floats your boat. However, don’t go on an overdrive if your personal beliefs or upbringing doesn’t permit you to do that. If you have what it takes for you to rise, you’ll rise without needing to rely on the effervescence (of a beer).”

If you’re an introvert like me, Ronak’s words provide much-needed solace and hope.

As a newcomer in Canada, do you have any interesting experiences to share on this topic? What are your thoughts? Comment below and let us know. 

Also, please look forward to the third and final blog in this series where we get candid about the highly rated quality of life in Canada. 

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3 thoughts on “Immigrant Perspectives: Finding career opportunities as a newcomer in Canada

  1. Well said. I am currently in this situation and all I keep hearing is networking and meeting people which I really don’t know how to go about


    1. Hi there! Thanks for taking the time to read the blog. Networking might seem like getting a little out of your comfort zone but sooner or later you have to do it. You can reach out to people on LinkedIn for a coffee chat, or check out Eventbrite for any networking events and attend those. There are many resources on to help you with how to go about networking. I recommend you check those out. All the best!


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