Category:Canadian Lifestyle

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Equivalency of qualifications

An early step that you should take during your relocation planning process is to establish whether or not your UK qualifications will be recognized in the Canadian province to which you intend to move.

Details are available at Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials.

Your qualifications may be accepted as they are, or you may be required to take some exams before you can practice in your field in Canada.


In many cases, four-year British university degrees are recognized in Canada. Three-year degrees from the UK enjoy varying levels of acceptance. A Canadian employer often is satisfied with a three-year degree, but a Canadian university may not accept it as a basis for entering a master's degree program.

Vocational training

Many of the UK's non-degree educational programs, such as NVQ, are not recognized in Canada.


An experienced tradesperson (electrician, plumber, mechanic, etc.) can take a challenge exam in the relevant Canadian province and become certified in that province. The best certification process to go through is Red Seal, because it is recognized across Canada.


There are some differences in British terminology and Canadian terminology. One difference that springs to mind is the interpretation of engineer. In Canada only a degreed engineer is referred to as an engineer. People who received their engineering qualifications at technical colleges are referred to as engineering technologists or engineering technicians. The one exception to this is a train driver. The Canadian term for train driver is engineer.


What is networking?

In the private sector, there is a huge "hidden job market." The size of the hidden job market -- that is, vacancies that are not advertised -- is estimated to be between 70% and 80% of the total job market. You hear about these opportunities through people you know, that is, your network.

Networking is the process whereby you market yourself. You need to mix with people so that you can find out where the opportunities are, and you need introductions to people who have the authority to hire you.

The public sector operates somewhat differently. There the employment process tends to be more transparent. Vacancies are posted on the relevant organization's website, advertised in the newspaper, and so on. This article primarily addresses job-hunting in the private sector.


To start getting some idea of which companies operate in which industry sector, in which region, and so on, you might start by looking at the Canadian government's website on Canadian Company Capabilities. This will familiarize you with the names of some of the main players.

Look at Canadian Newspaper "Help Wanted" Ads, Job Websites, Specialty Job Sites, and Placement Agencies (head hunters).

You may find your Canadian job through one of the above mentioned information sources, or you may not. However, the information that you can acquire from those websites will help you to feel more plugged into the Canadian system.

Networking from the UK

When you're still in the UK, it's difficult to network, because networking involves meeting people at functions, chatting with them on the phone, and so on. However, some posters on the British Expats forum have managed to pull off the feat of networking all the way from the UK. It helps if they have a qualification that is in high demand and if they are willing to go to a region that is crying out for people with specific skills. For example, some of the BE members who recently have moved to Alberta, which currently is enjoying an oil boom, fall into this category.

Recce trip

Doing a recce trip to Canada also helps. If you do a recce trip, it's ideal if you devote a substantial chunk of your time and energy focusing on relocation-related issues rather than simply holidaying. Seek out people who work in the field that you want to work in. Pick their brains about what it's like to work in that field.

Finding employment in Canada

It would be ideal to line up a job in Canada before you move. If you have not found a job before you arrive in Canada, you ought to have some savings to tide you over until you find employment.

Be aware that networking and job-hunting, on average, go more slowly in Canada than in the UK. Canada tends to be more laid back than the UK. If a Canadian says, "I'll get back to you," in many instances he/she will take longer to do that than you expect. You may be hoping to receive a response within a day or two, but it could be between a week and ten days (if ever).

In Canada you need to be proactive. You need to use the phone much more than you were used to doing in the UK. Even if your initial contact is in writing, you need to follow up with a phone call. Also, if someone promises to respond to you but doesn’t, you should phone. If you phone too soon, you may be viewed as pestering them. However, if you haven't heard back from them after a week or so, it would be a good idea to phone. Be friendly. Don't be aggressive or impatient. Say something like, "I'm wondering how things are going for you and how you're coming along with the position you want to fill."

An effective strategy is to ask people who work in your field to meet you for a cup of coffee so that you can pick their brains. This kind of informal meeting is known as an informational interview. You are not asking the person to consider you for a job. You are asking him/her to tell you what it's like to work in the field in which he/she works, to give you names of other people who work in that field and the names of companies that hire those kinds of people, and so on.

Whenever you can, find out the names of people who work in the departments of companies in which you would like to work. Say you're an accountant. Endeavour to find out names of people in a company's accounting department, and if possible the name of a senior person in that department. This is more useful than contacting a company's human resources department, although the HR department is alright as a fall-back position.

If you send your resume (Canadian version of CV) to someone and you're able to say in your cover letter, "So-And-So suggested I contact you," it makes a big difference. It gives you a better chance of being noticed than if you send a totally unsolicited resume.


It is extremely important to thank everyone who chats with you on the phone, who meets you, who gives you tips, etc. People who help you like to feel appreciated. They especially like to hear that the information they've given you has been put to good use. They like to hear that you've phoned So-And-So, whose name they gave you, and that that person, in turn, has given you a lead, agreed to meet you, or whatever.

Also invite constructive feedback. Tell people that you would welcome their observations about any gaps you may have -- flaws in your resume, weak spots in your qualifications that could be remedied by taking a course, etc. Listen sincerely. Don't be defensive. Thank people for their feedback.

Recognize that, unless you have very specific qualifications that are in high demand in Canada, you most likely will have to start at a more junior level than the one you had attained in the UK. Be grateful for an opportunity to learn how things are done in Canada. If you do well in that first job, you can move up the ladder.

Finding people in your field

A good way to meet people who work in your field is to attend functions of relevant professional organizations. Whether you're a lawyer or an engineer or an IT person or an administrative assistant, you can be sure there is an organization that provides opportunities for people in that field to meet each other, to keep up to date with developments in that field, etc.

Another constructive way to network is to do a course that's related to your field, even if it's just a single course. The lecturer and your classmates, all of whom work in your field or want to work in your field, become your fledgling network. In addition to that, if you're able to add a local qualification to your resume, it shows you in a positive light. It demonstrates that you are committed to making a go of things in Canada and that you are eager to learn how things are done in Canada.

Networking is forever

Your network is something that you should maintain even after you have found a job. You should devote at least some of your attention to the job that you'll have after this one. You may move jobs for what might be considered "positive" or "negative" reasons. Most people view a change that they themselves initiate as a positive one. They tend to think of a change that is forced on them as a negative one. But both the so called positive and so called negative changes provide you with opportunities to grow, to take your career in a more interesting direction, etc. In any event, you'll be in a much stronger position to manage your next move if you have maintained your network in the interim.

Resume (CV)

More info about resumes, cover letters, thank you letters, etc., will be added shortly.