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Looking for work in Canada

Looking for work in another country requires more than just the obvious CV translation. You will be confronted with issues that probably didn't even cross your mind when you decided to go for an international career, but don't underestimate the big impact they can have on the outcome of your adventure! Think for example about the different rules and habits regarding immigration, job application procedures, the selection procedures and the management culture.

Expertise in Labour Mobility has prepared practical fact sheets to support you in your job hunting abroad. A thorough preparation will give you a head start in the country of your choice. Here is some info on Canada:

Work permits in Canada

  •     Always contact the Canadian embassy in your home country to find out more about obtaining work permits.
  •     EU and US citizens may enter Canada for up to three months without a visa.
  •     A personal interview, medical test and background check may be involved in your application for a residence permit.

The application procedure in Canada

  •     In the English-speaking areas of Canada, the application procedure is much like in the US. In the French speaking areas of the country, it is more formal and less direct.
  •     Realise the importance of language skills. Having a conversation in a social setting is very different from a business negotiation.
  •     Canada is a large country; it is best to check the vacancies in the regional paper of the province where you want to work.
  •     The application process in Canada is very commercial and you have to actively sell yourself.

Writing a resume in Canada

  •     Use the term 'resume' instead of CV.
  •     It is advisable to write a short profile of yourself, using concise and punchy sentences filled with action verbs and power words.
  •     The key focus of your resume should be to persuade the employer to invite you for an interview. Therefore your resume is a marketing tool, which should be adapted to the market in which you intend to use it.
  •     Your resume should be thematic; this allows you to highlight the qualities that are important for the vacancy.

The application letter in Canada

  • A Canadian application letter (or cover letter) has to be typed in a short and professional style.
  • You should always find out whom to address the letter to (NO 'Dear Sir' as opening address).
  • Demonstrate your knowledge of the industry or the company. Use the company's website as a resource.
  • Mention your telephone number in the last paragraph of your application letter.


  •     Use power words and action verbs in your application letter and resume. (eg. Accomplished, achieved, carried out, finalised, guided, handled, improved, negotiated, realised, represented, structured, succeeded in).
  •     Be very specific in Canada when describing experiences or qualities.
  •     Add references to your resume, this is important for foreigners especially.
  •     Ask if you don't understand the question.
  •     Provide examples to prove your achievements.
  •     Look interested - ask questions in an interview.


  •     Consider Canadians and Americans as one kind. Both nations do not appreciate this!
  •     Put anything besides the truth in your resume, your future boss will always find out the truth eventually.
  •     Go over the top - stay calm and stick to the facts.

Management culture in Canada

  •     Employees are always strongly motivated by their employers and there is little direct criticism in either direction.
  •     In meetings, formal introductions and ice-breaking sessions are short.
  •     Office hours are rather flexible. In general, offices are open from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm.
  •     Do not use professional titles to introduce yourself in Canada. However if you are introducing someone else, do use his or her title.
  •     Business cards are seen as a source of future information and Canadians tend to exchange cards easily.

This information is based on the Looking for work in Canada guide (ISBN 978-90-5896-064-1), written by Expertise in Labour Mobility.  and has been used with their kind permission. 

For more information please visit www.labourmobility.com

Expertise in Labour Mobility are a company who specialize in advice and guidance regarding international labour mobility.  Expertise in Labour Mobility assists organizations in their communication with their expatriate population, ranging from cultural management advice and job hunting information to writing complete expat policies and preparing expat tool kits for a wide range of clients.

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