Finding a job in can be difficult in any country, but it can be even more challenging if you are an international student. However, by following the best job-searching tips, you can position yourself for successful employment opportunities. For starters, you want to ensure that you fully understand Canada’s specific work regulations. It is important to note that you must apply for a Social Insurance Number. With a Social Insurance Number, you can work a certain number of hours depending on your visa status. International students studying in Canada or online from abroad between November 15, 2022 and December 31, 2023 should inform themselves of temporary changes to off-campus work hour limits announced on October 7, 2022. You can receive a Post Graduate Work Permit for up to three years as an international student after receiving your degree, but the length of time you receive a Post Graduate Work Permit for will depend on how strictly you adhered to the criteria when you were a student. Visit the Post Graduate Work Permit Regulations for additional information.
Job Searching Strategies
Now that you know what you legally require to obtain a job in Canada and how many hours you are eligible to work, it is time to begin your career planning. A successful job or internship search involves using a combination of strategies. Here are some tips for international students:
Explore the Labor Market: Studying the current labour market is an excellent strategy for career planning, in other words, learning about job trends, the skills employers are seeking, which industries are hiring, where jobs are located, and the areas of job growth or decline. Ultimately, researching labour market trends and positioning yourself to fill gaps in the labour market is a way for those who hold post-graduate work permits or permanent resident status to contribute to the Canadian economy.
Identify Your Skills: Knowing your strengths is essential for creating an effective cover letter and resume and filling out application forms. This could persuade potential employers that you are the ideal candidate. Your skills can come from prior employment, volunteer work, education, and even activities in your personal life. Make sure to tailor your skills based on each job you apply for.
Research International-Employee-Friendly Employers: Hiring international employees is an advantage for many organizations. Researching which companies have hired international students in the past will help you narrow down your options.
Choose a Resume Style That Fits You Best: Make sure to choose and create an appropriate resume style and write a powerful cover letter before applying. Choosing the right resume style will ensure that you highlight your most important attributes whether it be experience, education, and/or skills. Seek advice and feedback from the Career Services team on how to highlight your international experience in your Canadian resume.
Network: An essential part of job searching is networking. Building your professional network allows you to access the hidden job market – referring to the 80 percent of vacant positions that are not published openly. You have an advantage if you learn about opportunities through your network. Networking involves using a variety of personal and professional connections to gain information about the profession or industry you are looking to enter. These individuals might be classmates, professionals, senior alumni, or an employer of interest.
For this reason, it is essential to participate in job fairs, volunteer, make the most of your LinkedIn page, and maintain connections with current and former students. Making these connections can lead to you receiving referrals in the future. It may not come easy to some people to have these kinds of conversations; therefore, the more you practice and speak with people, the more comfortable you will become. Try to arrange informational interviews to help you prepare for formal interactions – and learn about the labour market and employers, and make connections – in the meantime!
Another key to networking and finding employment is using websites specifically geared to international students. Here are a few, and there are many more out there!
- National Occupational Classification
- Canada Job Bank
- Student Application Form for Employment
- Moving 2 Canada
- Prepare for Canada
- Ways International Students get Hired
If you are an international student needing help with your career planning and job search, reach out to Career Services to request an appointment with one of our Career Advisors.
Congratulations! You got a job - but now what? Achieving employment after graduation is very exciting but can be stressful at the same time. Once you get a job, it is equally important to learn how you can keep your job and grow in your career through professional development and continuous learning. Many issues can affect you in the workplace, including safety matters, human rights concerns, bullying & harassment, etc. In addition, for newcomers and immigrants, a lack of knowledge of Canadian workplace cultures, expectations, and values can add more stress. It is important to learn some of the key aspects of job retention and your workplace rights and responsibilities, which will help you be successful in maintaining and growing your career.
Know Your Rights: As an employee, the first thing you need to know is your rights in Canada. You also need to know about the laws and regulations that will protect you in terms of your pay, hours of work, and safety at the workplace. In Canada, we have "The Employment Standards Act" (ESA) and it is governed by law:
“This Act provides the basic minimum standards that employers must follow in the workplace. Some companies may have policies that give employees more than the minimum entitlements by law; however, no one should be working for standards less than the ESA outlines. Each province has its own set of laws.”
Each province has its own ESA and the principles behind the standards are similar between provinces, with some minor differences. You can easily find this by doing an online search, for example, “The employment standards act of [your province]”.
Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA): As a worker in Canada, you also have the right to a safe work environment. We have a law called the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Each province has its own version of the Act and they contain similar details. For example, click on this link to learn about Ontario’s. The OHSA sets out the rights and duties of workers, supervisors, and employers in keeping workplaces safe and healthy in provincially regulated workplaces.
Your basic rights under the OHSA are:
- The right to know about hazards in the workplace
- The right to refuse unsafe work
- The right to participate in ensuring a safe work environment
Cultural Expectations and Norms: Besides knowing your rights and responsibilities, it is also important to understand the cultural expectations of your workplace. Remember, you may be a good fit based on your competencies and skills, but if you do not understand the cultural expectations in your workplace, this could make you less successful on the job. Understanding workplace culture helps you feel more satisfied with your job. Although it may vary based on the industry and workplace, here are some strategies to understand your workplace culture and build meaningful relationships with your coworkers:
- Ask Questions: Choose someone with whom you feel comfortable in your workplace, and who you can trust to ask questions. For example, your co-worker or supervisor would have insights into how the company works.
- Be Observant: There are many “unwritten rules” that exist in a company, so play the role of an observer in understanding the unwritten rules in your organization.
- Be Patient: Starting a new job is stressful, and it usually takes time to feel comfortable in a new environment, so be patient while you learn the workplace culture. If you are not sure about anything, be polite and ask questions in a way that is considerate of other people’s feelings.
Workability Attitudes: While it is important to understand the cultural expectations and norms at your workplace, developing workability attitudes and skills are paramount in order to be successful in maintaining your job. Workability attitudes are those attitudes that you show towards people or tasks, and workability skills are abilities that are essential to any job. According to Alberta Learning Information Service, the top job retention attitudes are:
- Reliability and Dependability: demonstrating to your employer that you are a reliable worker who works to the best of your ability.
- Positive Attitude: showing that you are confident and have a positive outlook towards work and life.
- Honesty and Integrity: acting in an ethical way and showing integrity in every aspect of your work.
- Concern for Quality: having a growth mindset and being determined to continuously improve through professional development.
- Independence and Initiative: taking initiative to solve problems and seeing what needs to be done. Also being responsible for the results.
- Commitment to Your Employer and Work: showing loyalty to your employer and commitment to your job.
- Adaptability: having an attitude that helps you deal with changes in your life and your work in order to reach your goals and succeed in the workplace.
- Managing Risks: recognizing risks that can occur and taking responsibility for managing your behavior and actions in acceptable ways.
- Courtesy: showing a basic level of caring and respect for those around you.
- Positive Attitude Towards Learning: a willingness to learn and keep on learning.
Career Development and Growth: Change is constant in today’s workplace. To grow in your career, you need to keep learning. Ongoing learning also makes it easier to land your next job, if you ever need to get a new job or decide to change careers. You need to stay current in terms of updating your skills and growing your knowledge to prepare for the future. Here are some strategies to remember:
- Plan your learning with your career path in mind
- Identify what you need to learn right away – in other words, your short-term learning goals
- Identify what you want to learn over time, i.e., setting long-term learning goals
- Adapt to a changing future
- Understand your learning style
- Find out about learning options
Strategies to Balance Your Lifestyle: Finally, it is important to balance your life and work. Today’s life is hectic, and change is constant. Sometimes life can be stressful with so many roles and responsibilities, and certainly work can add more stress to our lives. According to Alberta Learning Information Service, here are some strategies to create a sense of balance between work and life:
- Say “no” to job tasks outside of work hours that are not essential. Talk to your supervisor if you are not able to manage your workload and ask for additional support
- Make time for downtime. Stress management experts say, “taking time to relax is a necessity, not a luxury”.
- Get organized and prioritize using calendars.
- Use your time efficiently. Do the most important work during a time when you are more productive.
- Set realistic standards. For example, if you have a young family, aiming for a perfectly clean house all the time creates stress.
- Have an agreement with other household members about the standards you can reasonably maintain and share the household chores with other members of your family.
- Consider flexible work arrangements such as working part-time or working on a contract basis, based on your needs.
At Career Services, we recognize that international students face some unique challenges when it comes to finding work – whether it’s your first part-time job or your first professional job after graduation. For example,
- Most students are worried because they either have never had a job or have no work experience in Canada
- International students tend to be unaware of what kinds of jobs are available, plus
- You are likely inexperienced in job search – in other words, things like:
- Where to look for a job?
- What kind of job can you get?
- What are your rights as a worker in Canada?
- How do you make a resume?
- How should you talk to an employer in a job interview?
- What do you need to know about our workplace culture?
In addition, you are no doubt so busy with your studies and student life that you might find it hard to find time to learn all these new skills. All of this uncertainty and newness can create a lot of anxiety for students! But remember – we are here to help with all of this, and that’s why Yorkville subscribed to a website called Devant!
Devant is a career planning platform for international students, designed by career professionals who were once international students themselves. The platform supplements the services offered by the Career Services team and the great thing about it is that you can access it 24/7. If you are not yet in Canada, this will really help you overcome the difficulties of being in a different time zone. Plus, even students who are in Canada often want to meet with a Career Advisor in the evenings or on weekends – because that’s the only time you have available – and our staff are not available to meet during these times.
The site features:
- Synchronous and asynchronous events, e.g.,
- Virtual (national) job fairs – 3 per year, including at least 20 employers from top companies across Canada
- Expert panels representing various occupations and industries that you might be interested in working in one day
- Since you will have questions sometimes about your status, Devant’s immigration lawyer, Ziah Sumar, is available to answer students’ immigration questions during live immigration Q&A events
- Resume Building Tool where you can learn about the different sections of a resume and complete it one section at a time – and then the site produces a completed version for you!
- Comprehensive Job Search Masterclass, which includes several brief videos and quizzes – and after completing it, you get a certificate!
- Canadian Workplace Culture videos (you can earn a certificate upon completion)
- There is a Facebook group that you can join, where the members are other international students just like you – so you can share stories, tips, and make friends
- Bi-weekly newsletter
- Plus, there is a job board featuring special jobs posted by employers just for Devant, and the jobs we post on our Yorkville career portal can be found there too!
Of course, Career Services can support you in most of these areas as well. Some of the ways we can help you that are different from Devant include:
- Teaching you about possible careers in your field of study so that you can decide what kind of a job you want to do after graduation
- In addition to coaching you about resumes and job searching, we can conduct mock interviews with you for practice, before you attend a real interview
- Plus, we can show you some ways to make important career decisions when you might be feeling confused
- And finally, our Career Advisors can meet with you 1:1 to help you with your unique needs
If you are a Toronto Film School international student and you would like to register for Devant, contact Career Services here.