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Navigating Employment Services in Canada

Friday | February 9, 2018 | by Jodi Tingling

Businessman in front of the Toronto cityscape

If you are interested in building your career, making connections in your field, or even gaining work experience, taking advantage of the many free employment services available in Canada is a great way to start your journey. Employment services are offered by non-profit organizations, settlement agencies, and universities/colleges and they are focused on helping you meet your career goals.

Start thinking about your employment goals and what you may need help with. For example, do you need help with marketing yourself including building your résumé and developing your interview skills? Do you need someone to help you understand your career path and the next steps you need to take? What about how to tackle building your experience to develop your skills, or opportunities to build professional connections? The following sections discuss some ways that employment services can help you.

Pre-Arrival Programs

If you have not yet arrived in Canada, you may be able to access services before you even get here. These services can help you understand the steps you can take even before arriving. They often provide information about how settle in Canada, how to re-license in your field, how to effectively market your skills, and they may connect you to employers before you arrive. You can start by looking up pre-arrival services that would be useful for you. Not only will they help you prepare for what to expect in Canada but they may also provide you with an opportunity to create new networks.

Marketing Your Skills and Finding a Job

Most employment services offer help with marketing your skill set. Whether you need help with preparing your résumé or cover letter, strengthening your interview skills, developing your elevator pitch, or networking with people in your field, employment services offer this kind of support. A great tool to find employment and settlement services near you is by exploring immigrant-serving organizations. These organizations offer free services to help you start your career journey in Canada.

Once you have had help marketing your skills, you can seek additional support with your job search. Whether it’s researching the labour market, engaging in the application process, or following-up with employers, in Canada, there are employment services equipped with employment counsellors and job developers to help you. An employment counsellor is someone who helps you develop a career plan and provides resources and tools to help you meet your goals. A job developer works closely with employers to help develop employment opportunities for job seekers. Talk to your employment counsellor or job developer about the kind of opportunities you are looking for. For example, are you looking for opportunities that are short-term, long-term, specific to your field? Job search support is a great way to help you understand employer expectations as well as your role in the job search process.

Language-Specific Employment Training

If you are in a specific occupation and need to upgrade your English or French language skills, consider programs such as Occupation-Specific Language Training (OSLT). These programs are available to those who are new to the country and are residing in the province of Ontario. They offer language training that is geared toward a specific occupation; some examples of these occupations may include business, health sciences, technology, automotive trades, construction, and human services. These programs provide career planning, practical workplace communication tasks, and connections to resources including mentors and local employers. Also, consider enrolling in general language programs to help improve your language skills as well as your workplace communication skills. Improved language skills will be an asset to employers.

Bridging Programs

These programs offer a chance for internationally trained professionals to engage in skills training to land a job within their desired field. Bridging programs are in partnerships with colleges, universities, regulatory bodies, employers, and community organizations to provide skills training that is targeted and specific. They often have a classroom and workplace component to help with language training for the profession, preparation for certification or re-licensing, addressing any barriers to getting employed and hands-on experience in the workplace. Start by exploring Bridge Training Programs by sector.

Finding a Mentor

When starting to network in your profession, seeking a mentor is a great way to learn about your field in Canada. Organizations that specialize in mentorships can align you with a mentor that provides insider knowledge of the field you want to get into as well as coaching, advice, and connections to other professionals during your job search. Below are some organizations that can connect you with mentors in your field:

Employment services can be general or specific to your profession. It is important to consider your unique employment needs when researching employment services available to you. These services can provide the extra support you need to be successful in preparing yourself for employment opportunities.

Related Reading

Top 5 Barriers Skilled Immigrants Face and How to Overcome Them

E-Guide: Professional Development Strategies

Jodi Tingling is a Program Manager at WES Global Talent Bridge Canada.