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Finding Your First Job in Toronto: Challenges Faced by Newcomers

Arriving in a new country like Canada marks a significant journey for many newcomers, and finding a job in your field is a crucial step to settling into your new life. However, the path to landing your first job in Toronto comes with its own set of challenges, especially for newcomers.

Understanding the Job Market in Toronto

Before diving into the job search process, it's essential to understand the dynamics of the job market in Toronto. The city offers a wide range of opportunities across various sectors, from technology and finance to healthcare and education. However, newcomers often face obstacles due to factors such as the demand for references, unfamiliarity with Canadian work culture, and preference for candidates with local experience.

Challenges Faced by Newcomers

Newcomers may encounter several obstacles in their job search in Toronto:

  • Lack of Canadian Work Experience: Many employers prefer candidates with at least some Canadian work experience (commonly referred to as "Canadian Experience"). This can be challenging for newcomers starting their careers in the country. One way to address this is to engage in Canadian English-speaking volunteer activities upon arrival to demonstrate your integration.

  • Difficulty with Resume Formatting: Canadian resumes (or "resumes" as they're called here) often have a very different format from those in your home country (action verbs, phrasing in "ed", etc.). Additionally, Canadian employers often use automated filtering software, making it crucial for newcomers to adapt their resumes to Canadian standards and incorporate relevant keywords (by examining LinkedIn profiles of Canadians with similar profiles to yours).

  • Consideration of Cultural Adaptation: Employers in Toronto value cultural fit in addition to technical skills, making it essential for newcomers to align with Canadian culture and even with the company culture during the interview process. This consideration for cultural adaptation is also reflected in interview formats that emphasize soft skills through questions such as "Tell me about a time when you had to stand up to your manager for what you believed was right." Be prepared for this type of question to avoid being caught off guard.

  • Job Title and Responsibilities: Your job title in your home country may not necessarily correspond to the same title in Canada. For example, a Buyer in France may be an employee responsible for negotiating contracts with suppliers. In Canada, this position would correspond to a Sourcing Manager. Conversely, the duties of positions may also be delineated differently in Canada and your home country. You may perform certain tasks that will be handled by other functions in Canada. Conversely, you may be asked in your role to manage tasks that you did not manage before. Newcomers must double their efforts to understand job titles and related responsibilities to avoid misunderstandings and disappointments.

  • Length of Stay: Canadian employers, like any other employer, seek stability. If you have a visa of limited duration, emphasize that you are here to settle permanently and that this visa is only a step. This could also turn out to be quite accurate because many people on temporary visas ultimately choose to settle permanently in Toronto or Canada :-)

  • Lack of Network: An internally recommended application will always receive more attention than others. This can even mitigate the "flaws" in your application. It is often said that 80% of job offers are not posted on job search sites. Being able to be recommended therefore requires the creation of a personal network: this can be linked to your nationality, your hobbies, your field of competence - anything is a pretext to create a community on which you can rely.

  • Accepting a Downgrade: Your experience in your home country probably won't be as well received as you would like. Don't hesitate to accept a position that is one or two levels below your last job. Don't worry, climbing the ladder happens faster than elsewhere when you have gained the trust of your employer.

  • Regulated Professions: Some professions are regulated in Canada (engineer, architect, nurse, doctor, etc.). This type of professional often needs to obtain equivalence before being able to practice their professions. I invite you to contact the Order concerning you to understand how to obtain this equivalence. Please note that the equivalence procedure often depends on the province where you wish to practice. It is often long and costly.

Some Additional Information Based on My Experience

The Illusion of Full Employment

Canada has almost no unemployment; we are at full employment but there are all kinds of jobs. Let me explain: many sectors recruit at minimum wage and on short-term contracts. Not all industries and types of functions have a desperate need for labor. If you are looking for a qualified job, you will need to prove yourself. Be prepared to restart a few steps below your current level.

Is My English Level Sufficient to Make Myself Understood Orally and in Writing?

If not, I strongly advise you to start with some English courses to get back on track. However, do not set the bar too high; being understood is essential, but you do not need to be completely bilingual.

LinkedIn is the King Network

If you don't already have a profile, start now. This social network is your showcase for your job search. Use it to highlight your profile and to study the profiles of people with comparable careers.

An important tip: when you contact someone who doesn't know you, introduce yourself and explain why you want to join their network.

Build Your Network Before Even Arriving in Toronto

Networking allows you to access unpublished ads and gives you an advantage in interviews. It can be done through your school contacts, your neighbors, your former colleagues, your sports association, parents of students, or conferences. Prepare your "elevator pitch" so that you can introduce yourself and indicate what you are looking for in one or two minutes.

An elevator pitch is an oral communication exercise that involves introducing yourself and showcasing your project to a listener [...] whose time is limited.

Be Patient

Looking for a job takes time, and every week without a job can seem like an eternity. In general, it takes between 2 and 6 months to find a job in your field in Toronto.

For further information, here are some sites where you can find information:


Simple Relocate is your relocation partner in Toronto. We can assist you in getting settled in Toronto, and provide a variety of other services to facilitate your move to Ontario.

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