Canada: How and where to find a job

New arrivals will find a strong economy, but it's important to do your research before leaving

It’s the most crucial piece of the puzzle when moving abroad to start a new life, but unfortunately it is not always the easiest. New arrivals to Canada will find a different economy from that which would have greeted them even four years ago.
“We know the Canadian economy has stalled. Alberta in particular has suffered significantly since the oil shock of 2014. Previously there were thousands of jobs in the oil sands; this is no longer the case,” says Cathy Murphy of the Irish Canadian Immigration Centre in Toronto.
However, she adds that there are many areas in which immigrants can still find work. “Most of the tradespeople we see in Toronto are working steadily but construction here, like anywhere, can be precarious in terms of job security. There is still a crane on nearly every corner in Toronto. Canadian employers maintain there is a skilled trades shortage in certain parts of the country,” she says.
Beyond the obvious professions associated with construction, such as engineering, project management and quantity surveying, Alan Regan of Moving2Canada recruitment, which focuses on the construction and engineering sectors within western Canada, says the country needs IT workers and is still in need of doctors.
IT workers
“Canada is facing a huge shortage of IT workers in the next three years, and it’s expected the country will struggle to fill as many as 180,000 vacancies in the IT sector by 2019, including 50,000 in Toronto and 35,000 in Montreal. Analysts, consultants, programmers, developers, graphic designers and illustrators are all in demand.
“There is also a lack of available applicants for sales, management, and accounting jobs. And there’s still a demand for doctors in Canada, especially in British Columbia where there’s a real shortage of family GPs. This shortage is expected to worsen in the next five years, because the age profile of doctors means that many are nearing retirement.”
Given the scale of the country, it may make sense to target your search depending on what type of job you are looking for.
Saskatchewan has long been a popular location for Irish migrants and, according to Mark Cooper of the Saskatchewan Construction Association, it remains attractive, particularly for “those in the skilled trades”. This means that demand is strong for anything in the construction trades or in manufacturing.
“In particular, our province is short of equipment operators, equipment mechanics and machinists. Also there is great demand for supervisors, project managers and estimators,” he says.
Ontario is another province Irish migrants can target. Murphy says the city of Thunder Bay “boasts opportunities in trucking, medical specialisms, mining and skilled trades such as carpenters and millwrights”.
British Columbia is an area on the rise, according to Murphy. “ has a number of positions listed for engineers, millwrights, and electricians and the BC Construction Association states on its website: ‘Many of our [recruitment] events have been focused on Ireland due to an easy match between training/certification systems and language’,” she says.
One of the most popular destinations for Irish migrants is Toronto but job hunters should be aware the economy is “certainly not the strongest in the country”, she says.
However, Murphy says there are roles for those in IT and the skilled trades in particular. “I have yet to meet an electrician, carpenter, or plumber who [once licensed here] cannot get work. Those in finance will find the job market more challenging,” she says.
It can be difficult to secure a job from home and Ruairi Spillane from Moving2Canada warns that it can take from three to four months or more.
“Canadian employers tend to be very slow about hiring from abroad despite the labour shortage in western Canada. They place great emphasis on local Canadian experience and can be slow to acknowledge international experience,” he says.
Recruiters don’t seem to value foreign experience. Murphy says this is particularly an issue for those working in business. “New arrivals, particularly those in the corporate sector, need to mitigate expectations with respect to the time it takes to get employed in Canada.  Those in business (banking, accounting, marketing, sales etc) may need several months to land a career role.  Networking will be crucial.”
Spillane from Moving2Canada agrees that networking face to face can be “crucial” in securing a job. “We always encourage people to conduct informational interviews with locals to learn more about similar job roles in Canada before they approach employers. It’s crucial that they don’t make the mistake of assuming that things are done the same way as Ireland. Canadian employers tend to hire internationally for construction but it’s not overly common for other sectors,” he says.
Get out there and meet people before the interview stage. You may find out about openings through referrals or just meeting people for a coffee.
It is worth joining networking associations such as the Vancouver Irish Business & Enterprise association (Vibe). 
When it comes to how much you might earn, Spillane says salaries in general are comparable with those in Ireland. “Alberta offers the most competitive salaries and lower living costs due to low sales tax and low energy costs,” he says.
For more detailed information on salaries, check out which has a Canada Salary Calculator for every region listed under its immigration tools section.
Working in Canada: Finding the jobs, sorting the paperwork
Unless you have skills that are in demand in Canada or manage to secure a job at one of the recruitment fairs here, such as the Working Abroad Expo, it can be difficult to apply for jobs before leaving Ireland as employers usually want a Canadian address on an application. But there is still a lot of preparation jobseekers can do before moving.
Tradesmen need to take accreditation papers and graduates should have copies of academic transcripts. Applicants will be expected to have “Canadianised” their CV, which can also be done using the examples and templates here.
“Canadian employers are very particular about how a resumé is laid out and the typical Irish CV is nowhere near the standard they expect,” says Spillane. “Also, you are entering Canada as an immigrant, which means you need to work harder to impress employers as you are competing against candidates with local experience.”
Across all sectors, networking plays a much bigger role when it comes to finding a job in Canada than in Ireland. Spillane estimates that more than half of all vacancies are not advertised online, so making contacts is vital. “If an employer needs to hire someone, they will ask their employees if they can recommend someone first,” he says. “Irish people tend to waste their time applying for jobs on busy jobs’ boards but you’re competing with the rest of the herd. We have great personalities so networking is much easier.”
Jobseekers should have their resumé on LinkedIn, join industry groups online, go to conferences for their sector, and attend networking events. “Get comfortable telling people what you do and how they can help you. Your goal is to find a job, but don’t get lost in that. Your focus should be to build contacts and learn more about how you can improve your employability.”
The Ireland-Canada Chamber of Commerce, which has six branches, holds events to help the Irish community to connect. The Irish Canadian Immigration Centre (ICIC) website has a comprehensive list of Canadian job websites, while, also run by ICIC, has advertisements targeted at Irish workers, as well as a guide to applying for jobs.
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