Step 7:  Find and Apply for a Job

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The job search process in Canada may seem standard to many. A job posting is created and distributed by word of mouth, internet or through a job fair etc. Resumes are collected, candidates are screened and interviews take place. A candidate is then selected, references are checked and an offer of employment is made.

However, the criteria used to evaluate candidate qualifications may be different in Canada than it is in other parts of the world. In many countries from which immigrants come to Canada, candidates are considered qualified when they meet the minimal educational requirement.  In Canada, people are qualified for the job because they have already had a job and/or they have Canadian experience.

To be competitive, you must prepare yourself for the job search.  You must write an effective resume and cover letter, and provide a strong list of references to help you get the job.

How do you prepare for the job search?
  • Know the job and the market: A key step to a successful job search is knowledge of the requirements for the job. Research the position and know the employers’ expectations so you will be more knowledgeable, decisive and confident when you apply. Learn about the job’s work environment, who you would work with, what types of hours you will be working, and the day to day tasks. When you understand the job market, you can make better decisions. Know where the jobs are, what skills are in demand, the entry route into the job and the value of your own qualifications and experience. Our Self Assessment Readiness Tools™ offer specific labour market information for each healthcare career.
  • Know yourself: Success in your job search depends greatly on your self- awareness. You will present yourself more effectively if you know your strengths and can articulate them. Take the time to examine your strengths and skills so you will know what to emphasize and what to minimize. This knowledge will give you greater confidence which you need to network, write your resume and interview successfully. Ask yourself questions and answer them honestly. What do you enjoy about your work? What can you do easily? What is difficult or challenging for you? Ask colleagues to help by answering questions about you. You may be surprised to learn a colleague thinks you have a skill that you never thought you had. Their honest opinions will help you. Take a personality test for an objective view and to better understand yourself and your motivations. Many accurate and insightful tests can be found online.
  • Build your online brand: Employers have stated that finding positive information on the internet has favorably influenced their decision to hire a candidate. Conversely, employers may disqualify candidates because of negative information found on the internet.  It is up to you to create an online brand that impacts your professional profile, positively. First conduct searches of you and remove anything that may be interpreted negatively by a potential employer. Then create a positive brand using various platforms on the internet. Use LinkedIn or Twitter or a personal website to profile your references, relevant projects, skills and a write short description of your experiences. You could include articles, industry trends, news about target companies, and thoughts and opinions about relevant professional items.
  • Schedule time for your job search: If you tend to postpone tasks, schedule regular times during the week to look for opportunities. Set aside a specific amount of time each week to devote to your job search.
How do you find jobs?
    • Research: Learn how your target employers seek potential candidates. Some organizations will seek candidates via word of mouth, some will put job postings on the internet, or some will hire recruiters.
    • Network: Keep in touch with your network at all times. The vast majority of jobs are never advertised and are secured via word of mouth.
    • Target employers directly: Direct contact with employers can be extremely effective whether employers have openings or not,. It may seem intimidating but those who have contacted employers report a high success rate. Research the organization thoroughly before approaching the employer and tailor your resume and cover letter to the job for maximum impact.
    • Search for jobs online: Accessing jobs posted on the internet is convenient and easy to do.  However, most opportunities are never posted on the Internet. Studies show that a tiny minority of users find jobs through big job board sites. Focus on niche websites or go to the company/organization  website when possible. Use key words to search for jobs, and gradually add more search criteria to narrow your results.
    • Attend career fairs: Career fairs are usually one day events set up to connect large groups of employers with job fair participants. Employers are there to recruit employees. Career fairs provide an opportunity to meet with employers in an informal setting. Prior to attending a fair, prepare a 30-second elevator pitch to engage recruiters.
How do you write an effective resume?

Resumes are a standard part of the formal job search process. A resume is a brief outline of your experience, education, accomplishments and skills of your career. Employers spend as little as 30 seconds scanning your resume and you will not be selected for an interview if you have not prepared a great resume.  Your most relevant and impressive experiences must catch their attention. Effective resumes focus on the specific position.  Education is listed near the end of a resume because you will not get the job solely based on your education.  Your resume should be a brief,  no more than one to two pages.  It must be well-organized, well-written and mistake free.

  • Assess your skills: Create an outline of the past three-to-five years highlighting your skills, interests and experiences.
  • Do some industry research: Include keywords found in job descriptions or employer requirements. If your resume includes industry keywords, it is more likely to be selected. The “word cloud” in this tool’s introduction may offer you some suggestions. Only list the terms that describe you and that you can speak to in an interview. Match your qualifications to employer requirements and decide what to highlight.
  • Write drafts: Be concise. Don’t use first-person pronouns.  A resume is not’t a personal letter. Your age, gender, religion, political affiliation, ethnicity, or marital status should not be included. Use an easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman or Arial in a 10 pt. and 12 pt. font size with standard margins.
  • Format it properly: Include your name and contact information at the top of the page.
  1. Your first paragraph should state your objective. This would include the specific position you are seeking and the skills you have for the job.
  2. This will be followed by a list of your job experiences, starting with the most recent. Include the title of the position, the name of the organization and location, the month and year in which you held the position and a description of responsibilities.
  3. Next, list your education.  Start with the most recent first, and include the name of the degree and the granting institution. Indicate your degree received, your major area of stud , graduation date or projected graduation date, or dates of attendance if a degree was not completed. Highlight any courses relevant to the position for which you are applying.
  4. You may add another list including any additional information like computer skills, languages, volunteer work, sports, awards, honours and interests.
  • Edit and critique: Review for content and check spelling and grammar errors. Have your resume critiqued by a career counselor and, if possible, others within the field.
  • Prepare an electronic version: Send your resume as an attached file and paste the text into the body of the email, too.  An employer will see your work readily if they are limited by time or cannot open your attachment. Include a cover letter in the body of the email too. When you email resume files, name them so the employer can easily identify them as your resume. Last name, followed by first name and the word “resume” is most helpful. View the many examples of resumes online. Even word processing programs such as Microsoft Word has resume templates to help you get started.
How do you write an effective cover letter?

A cover letter is a one page document that accompanies your resume. Its objective is to motivate the employer to invite you, the candidate, for an interview.  The look of the letter should be conservative and match the font and format of your resume.

  • Address your letter to the appropriate person.
  • Provide a brief introduction of yourself. Indicate why you are interested in the job and how you learned about the position. Describe why you are the best candidate for the job.
  • Describe your background and qualifications for the position. Include specific examples from your resume and experience to demonstrate your qualifications and show your knowledge of the organization.
  • Thank the reader for their consideration, and explain how you will follow up.  A follow up is important.  When you follow up, you improve your chance to be successful.  Develop a system to keep track of your follow up steps and the responses you receive.

Write clearly, concisely and use a positive tone. The letter gives the employer an opportunity to observe your attention to detail, spelling, grammar, and the overall quality of your written communication. Ask for feedback from friends or if possible, someone in the profession.

Prepare an electronic version. This version should be a shorter but detailed cover letter. Very briefly mention how you learned about the job, what position you are looking for, and what you have to offer. Compose your cover letter off-line. Just because it is a short letter, does not mean you should not take your time to ensure it is very well written.

How do you prepare an effective reference list?

Once you have your resume and cover letters ready, you will need to work on your references. This is a list of people who have agreed to speak with prospective employers about your professional strengths.

  • The list should match the font and format of your resume and cover letter, and should be kept on a separate page. Unless requested, job references are submitted later in the hiring process.
  • Always bring your reference list to job interviews. Your reference list should include a mix of former co-workers, professors and community leaders. Try to include more people than your prospective employer would likely contact, about three to five.
  • Include the name and contact information of each reference with their job title, employer and relation to you. List your strongest reference first and include people who know you very well and are able to speak about your qualifications for the job you are seeking. Try to not include any personal references, unless requested.
  • You should ask all your references for their permission to be contacted and keep them informed about when you will be interviewing. Send them an updated copy of your resume as well as the relevant job posting so they can speak to your skills and experiences.

Resources and links to employment and immigrant services to help you in your job search.