Hiring Culture-Canada

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Cultural differences

Before you even start your job hunting process, it would help you to understand that you are venturing into a new world. Canada's hiring culture is different from that of the UK. As BE forum members get further into the job hunting process in Canada, they often remark on the following features:

Canadian employers rarely acknowledge receipt of a job application.

It is unusual for them to acknowledge receipt when the applicant is local, but even more unusual when the applicant has applied from abroad. If you do not hear back from prospective employers, do not take it personally. It is just the Canadian way. In fact many job advertisements say, "Only successful candidates will be contacted."

Canadian employers much prefer personal contact.

Canadian employers like to speak with job applicants. They like face-to-face meetings or, at a minimum, telephone converations. An unsolicited resume (CV) that arrives in the post means little to a Canadian employer. Instead of posting or e-mailing your resume to prospective Canadian employers, consider first picking up the phone and talking to them.

Cold contact

For cold calling, get addresses and contact names, print and mail resume to prospects or fax it. Unsolicited faxes tend to get looked at more than unsolicited e-mails. There are several people who have been at the hiring end of the equation in Canada who say that hard copy resumes, sent by mail, count for more than e-mailed resumes. You can always put your e-mail address and if they initiate contact by e-mail then so much the better.

You could also do this in person if visiting and then go around and hand out resumes to key individuals.

After sending out targeted resumes, follow up with a visit. Indicate in your cover letter you will be visiting from Europe between specific dates and would welcome the opportunity to meet with them. This goes further to show how serious you are about immigrating. Some cold calls during the visit would not be a bad idea either. If doing this, bring extra resumes and a copy on a memory stick. For more information about job hunting during a recce trip, see the Wiki article called Scouting Trip.

If you still are in the early stages of job hunting and are not yet in a position to visit Canada, at least follow up with a phone call. Give the prospective employer time to receive your correspondence, and then give them a week to peruse it. After that, phone them.

If you still are at the stage of finding out the names of employers in your area of interest, see the Wiki article called Finding Job Opportunities.

Responding to advertisements

When you respond to an advertisement, do exactly as the ad asks. If it asks for a resume to be sent by e-mail, send your resume by e-mail. If it asks for a resume to be sent by mail, send yours by mail. Follow all other instructions contained in the ad.

Posting on Monster

Do not post anonymous resumes on job websites such as Monster. If the prospective employer cannot easily see how to contact you, he/she will move on.

Canadian employers typically are slow in getting back to you after interviews.

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). If a week has elapsed since your interview and you still have not heard back from the prospective employer, phone them and, in a friendly manner, ask how they are coming along with their efforts to fill the position.

Canadian and British hiring cultures are opposites of each other.

There is an inverse relationship between how you are expected to present yourself on your resume/CV and how proactive business people in the two countries are.

Canadian business culture requires that you portray yourself as a go-getter on your resume. But in reality Canadian business culture is more laid back than the UK. For example, Canadians will take longer to return your phone calls than you are accustomed – if, indeed, they return them at all.

British business culture requires that you are more diffident in the presentation of yourself on your CV. But in reality British business culture is more responsive than its Canadian counterpart. British people are more prompt in returning calls, inviting you to interviews, and letting you know where you stand.

Your attitudes and behaviour

Be assertive.

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."

When not to phone

This article has attempted to convince you that the phone is your ally in your hunt for a Canadian job. Generally that is true. But you will tick off a prospective employer if you phone when they have specifically instructed candidates not to phone. If you encounter this situation it usually will be in an instance in which a company has advertised for a position. If you apply for a position like that when you're about to embark on a recce trip, your covering letter could say, "I would be available for a meeting between March 15th and March 30th, when I will be visiting Winnipeg."

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

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.

If you just remember this one tip about saying, "Thank you," it will take you a long way in your job search.

Be open to criticism.

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.

You may need to step down a rung or two.

Recognize that, unless you have very specific qualifications that are in high demand in Canada, you may need 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.

Your preparations

  • Keep the wolf from the door. 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.

Other job hunting articles

  • This is only one of a series of BE Wiki articles about job hunting in Canada.
  • To find links to the other articles in the series, please go to Job Hunting in Canada.