While Canadians used to be more conservative than Americans in their approach to resumes and career management, today their habits are relatively interchangeable.
What people must adapt to the most when coming to Canada from other countries is how bombastic we can be in the way we sell ourselves. Here we are seen as a commodity. Recruiters and employers select based on performance – you continuously deliver, you surpass sales quotas, you drive the business, you’re innovative, etc.
Canadian resumes must tell stories that show how you achieve and deliver those accomplishments. I blend numerous metrics into the STAR resumes I write for clients (Situation, Task, Action, Result).
In North America, you’re in a street race and there’s only a trophy for #1. This is a huge distinction from the rest of the world, particularly Europe, where resumes are much more centered around job descriptions. They don’t tend to differentiate themselves as much as we do. In the UK and Ireland, on the other hand, the traditional CV format is evolving more into our style.
Finding work in Canada
In truth it can be very difficult for immigrants to secure jobs in Canada. Yes, they can secure a resume expert to write a Canadian version of their resume, and they can network tirelessly, but that is only part of the journey.
It’s the classic Catch-22: Canadian employers say they can’t hire you until you have Canadian work experience, but how do you get Canadian work experience if employers won’t hire you?
Often it means taking a job at a lower level than you had in your previous country. A vice-president may become a senior manager, and a senior manager may take a more junior or middle management position.
Be realistic with your goals, and patient with the process. Once you prove yourself, you can move up the ranks again. I’ve seen unbelievable cases of this happening very quickly.
To work in some professions such as medicine and engineering, newcomers require additional schooling and certification, and some simply aren’t willing to go through that. Instead, they take related jobs in other professions.
For example, I’ve known prominent medical professionals who’ve transitioned into academic research and hospital administration with much success. Was it their first choice? No, but they adapt.
The Government of Canada provides career resources for newcomers to Canada, and it would also be wise to engage the services of a career management professional who specializes in helping senior level executives.