7 Ways to Overcome the “Canadian Experience” Barrier

Congratulations! You’ve arrived in Canada. Now you’re probably excited and nervous about the new personal and professional opportunities open to you.

Your “Canadian resume” proudly highlights the extensive experience you bring with you from your home country. So it can be disheartening when some employers ask about your relevant “Canadian experience.”

What is Considered Canadian Experience?

While the Ontario Human Rights Commission implemented a new policy to remove the “Canadian experience” barrier, some employers may still ask for it, even if not explicitly.  What they want to know about is your overall knowledge and understanding of Canadian workplace culture. Specifically an employer wants to know about your ability to use soft skills, such as communication and conflict resolution, to see how you will fit in and adapt within the work environment. This means that the employer wants to know that you have an understanding of how to navigate social situations at work, such as chatting with colleagues, sending an Email or giving a presentation. 

Here are seven things you can do to gain relevant “Canadian Experience.”

  1. Connect with an Employment Service Provider. Get in touch with your local employment service provider, such as ACCES Employment, to get help navigating training and employment opportunities that align with your short and long term goals.
  2. Stay up to Date with Canada. Watch the news, read the paper and pay attention to what’s going on around you as all of this informs you about changes that may occur in your industry or career. 
  3. Update your Skills. Check in with your local library to join programs that can improve skills, such as language or computer literacy. Also consider taking a course in your area of expertise to get familiar with terminology, refresh your memory and have something relevant to put on your resume.
  4. Join Clubs and Groups. Find online or in-person community organizations or groups to join to meet new people, expand your network and gain confidence in your soft skills. Consider extracurricular activities or hobbies you enjoy, such as cooking or dance class, get on LinkedIn, try toastmasters to upgrade your presentation skills or seek out a cultural association.
  5. Get a Part-Time Job or an Entry-Level Position. Consider taking a part-time job to gain experience in Canada. Think strategically and find an entry-level position in your industry or another job that provides you with relevant industry skills and knowledge.
  6. Build your Network and get Connected Either in Person or Online. Grow your Canadian network both personally and professionally by conducting informational interviews, doing a mentorship program, getting LinkedIn, or job shadowing someone in your field of interest.
  7. Gain Volunteer Experience. Volunteer with organizations that you are interested in. Not only can it be an incredibly rewarding experience, it also gives you the opportunity to gain experience in Canadian work environments and assists you with networking or finding a mentor.
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