November 21st, 2017

Overcoming a lack of Canadian work experience

How to overcome lack of Canadian work experience and education credentials to land a job in financial services in Canada

Newcomers to Canada often arrive with many valuable skills and work experience from overseas.

But it can be daunting when breaking into the Canadian employment market. That’s because employers often look to potential new employees to have demonstrated their skills in a Canadian work setting. In other words, have Canadian work experience and Canadian references.

The question for newcomers is: how to leverage existing skills and gain relevant new experience to make Canadian employers stand up and take notice?

A lack of Canadian work experience is not insurmountable. If you are a newcomer to Canada, there are many ways you can use and highlight the valuable work experience you acquired outside of Canada, all while building valuable new knowledge and networks here in your adopted country. Here are some ideas:

Volunteering: Donating your time is a great way to help your community while contributing to a cause you care for. Volunteering doesn’t always have to occur in your industry. You can volunteer for a charity that matters to you – your local school or your place of worship, for example. These opportunities allow you to acquire new skill sets and hone existing areas of expertise while helping people along the way.

Volunteering is also a useful way to get character references. Having someone with established credentials vouch for you, especially if they can offer concrete examples of your accomplishments, can go a long way to establishing your own professional credibility.

Connect through networking groups: Sharing common interests is an excellent way to network and meet new friends, professional acquaintances and develop cross-cultural skills. Networking groups enable you to talk about common interests and learn about new opportunities in a tight-knit, collegial environment. Use networking groups to meet someone connected to the financial services industry or get general advice on your information search. By connecting with industry professionals, you may even be able to get a “foot in the door”, like a temporary contract or placement.

Join specialized organizations and networks: Outside of LinkedIn, there are many organizations that cater to specific groups. For example, the Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs) is a network run by and for skilled immigrants in the Greater Toronto Area. Their mandate is to encourage companies to connect with new Canadians with professional experience. Or you may want to consider joining an organization like Toastmasters that enables you to gain important public-speaking skills.

Take continuing education courses: Educational courses always offer an ideal chance to brush up on prior knowledge or learn new core and specialized skills. Companies are attracted to prospective employees who demonstrate a willingness to keep learning.

Be creative: Take the initiative and show potential employers that you are a self starter. Write a blog to demonstrate your knowledge. Start a side business to show your acumen and entrepreneurial spirit. Why not apply your knowledge and educate your friends and family about the importance of financial planning? Help them identify their needs like saving for a home, education or retirement. Show employers that you have an interest in helping people reach their goals.

As you can see, there are many ideas that can help you overcome a lack of Canadian work experience, gain a foothold in your new community, and get prospective employers to take notice.

There is no better time than today

You’ll also need to complete proficiency requirements in order to start working in the financial services industry. Start by taking one of our courses.