Thoughts from our readers

When is a good time to land (and find a job) in Canada?

By Melanie Ferreira

Knowing that you land literally on your feet, at the first opportunity to start networking and taking definitive steps in finding a job, takes both effort and very careful planning.

With the world being on its head right now, the question could be more one of “will there ever be a good time to land in Canada?”. Timing is very different now than it ever was, or ever will be again. It will remain to be seen how the country adapts and how the economy will be affected. This will affect jobs, property and more. The way we look at finding jobs will certainly be different.

This article was written before COVID-19 and we had to adjust the content, but the message remains the same. Preparation is key.

With so many pearls of wisdom thrown around, it makes it difficult to know how to time it perfectly.  Here are some of the comments (and myths) that we’ve observed on social media:

  • Don’t come over summer holidays – no one works from July – September
  • December and January slows down and no one is in the office
  • Don’t come in the winter – everyone hibernates!

We’ve chatted with two recently landed Saffas who landed in Toronto and ask them their experience. I also shared a bit of our story. Remember, everyone’s journey is different, their expectations, family dynamic, financial background and aspirations will not be the same as yours. This is their experience, to tell you that it will all be ok, no matter what time you land!

Shannon’s and Shaun arrived in November

“A great positive about coming in November, everything is new and you do forget quite often that you have arrived in the thick of winter. Snow is exciting and once the season passes and all your admin is complete, you now have a Summer approaching to look forward to. I’m not sure how I would feel arriving in Summer knowing that I have a long winter approaching.

If I had to do this all over again, would I choose to come in November? We saved a huge amount of money over this period due to all the retail deals and worked out that we would have paid in total 50% more if it weren’t for the deal period. As a new immigrant, money is generally a constant concern. If you can land during a time when you are able to save significantly than the other difficult stuff is just part of the list of sacrifices you are making. Because after all, you have already sacrificed so much. What’s one more sacrifice?”

Read their full story here – it’s a good one, you will want to read it!

Richardt also arrived in November

“So I landed the end of November last year (2019). I had a lot of mixed feelings about this date, as it meant missing a lot of family holidays in South Africa. Initially, it was really difficult, but looking back now I would not have done it any other way. The festivities made everything so much easier, I stayed busy, distracting myself from what I am missing. I did notice that this time of year is a lot quieter work-wise than normal. 

But it was the perfect landing time as I used this time to sort out all of my admin (driver’s licence, bank accounts etc). I also joined newcomers’ services, which in turn referred me to an amazing employment agency that gave me a full crash course on how to do job hunting and networking the Canadian way.
To me, this was the perfect landing, I experienced my first winter immediately (so I know what to expect next winter), it was quiet enough for me to get a head start for the new year, sorted out all the administrative tasks and of course enjoyed the Christmas vibe.
I won’t really change anything the way it worked out. It’s been difficult, but its been real!

The Ferreiras arrived in August

“So we arrived on August 1st, it was hot, it was beautiful and it was busy! Everyone was out enjoying the spectacular weather and soaking up every moment of summer. The shops, churches and towns weren’t as busy as we thought they would be. We afterwards realized it was that all the locals were at their cottages and only return just about the day before school starts (the first week in September). Was it a good time to land? For us, it was yes. We have school-going children and it was great for them to be here a while before the new school year starts, understand and see a bit more of Canada. It was lonely for them though, as we were running around finding property and getting bank cards, sim cards and all the admin sorted. They knew no one so it was a struggle for them to be social. As typical South Africans, we did not let them out when we were not there (we could pop out without them), so they stayed in the house when we were out. Luckily my husband had a job and he started almost immediately as we landed. It left a lot of the admin and basic things for me to sort. Without a car, it was a bit of a challenge. What did we love about coming this time of year? We loved that it was warm and we experienced parts of Canada (such as Niagara Falls, Muskoka and Elora, my favourite place!), take time out and enjoy summer. What worked for us? We met up with other South Africans, which helped with us not feeling like we are all alone. We met our neighbours, who happened to be amazing people. We also saved up some money to do things that will make this place feel like home. Not just furniture, but experiences. We sent our kids for ice skating lessons and snowboarding lessons, booked ourselves a season’s pass to the local ski resort. At the time it was an exorbitant expense, but it made Canada feel like home. I would do the same again if I could. I don’t think the weather would make a difference to when I will land. I will try and connect with more people before the time and get to know the areas better. After we landed up in Milton (which was beautiful and relaxed, we landed up in The Beaches, smack bang in the city (and totally not where we thought we would land up!). We love being within walking distance to the beach, the small local eclectic little shops and the city vibe, so totally the opposite of what I had imagined! Keep an open mind, it will serve you well!

 

Everyone’s story will be different from yours

What is more important is the preparation you do before you arrive.  The value of this will show the success rate of your job searching journey. Some tips to help you with the preparation include:

Have you converted your cv into a Canadian formatted resume? You will be well prepared if your resume is ready to present to potential employees and will help you when you submit your resume to the various job sites such as LinkedIn.com, Indeed, Glassdoor.ca and many more. We would suggest you make use of a qualified professional to get your resume in the correct format.  It will save you time and money in the long run, as they will look at all factors related to your journey and can tailor make your resume to fit your perfect job.

Having a well written, customized cover letter for each application will make you stand out from the rest. We have recently chatted to Simeon, our resident resume specialist on why you need a cover letter, and how to write a cover letter to help you get noticed from the pile of applications.

Networking is huge in Canada and you will probably find that if you don’t build your network before you land, it is going to be a difficult road ahead. Not all the networking opportunities you explore will lead to success but start reaching out to other people and organizations. A good start would be to have a look at companies/industries along your line of expertise and see if your network on LinkedIn has any connections to any people in that company. You might find a connection that has a connection to a business where you would like to find out about opportunities.  Try and set up a coffee date in preparation for your landing. Another form of networking that has worked well for many Saffas is to attend networking sessions set up where people get to meet on a social basis. One great example is the SAGQ held by Petrus, they get together quarterly and meet likeminded individuals to help build your network. It is a challenge to build your network from scratch, something we forget and for most people, that does not come naturally. Reach out a bit and you will find that most people out there will gladly introduce and help you, you just need to take the first step.

Coffee Dates. So many articles have been written on this topic and it is well worth your time to do some research on this. Coffee dates can help you connect and understand the industry, the work ethic of a company and the structure. We have heard of many successful coffee dates where the person might not be able to help you, but they can reach out to other people in their networking team, thereby increasing your network further.

Your LinkedIn profile. This will be the most important piece of digital property that you own. Professionals use this to find out more about you and it is one of the most used platforms in Canada from a professional perspective.  Your profile needs to be updated, your information and networking on point. Do yourself a favour – don’t just send people a connection request.  You will most certainly be declined. Do the extra effort of sending them a private and personalized invitation, introducing yourself.  Read this article giving you tips on how to write a personalized invitation. Perhaps mention a common interest/person and the reason for wanting to connect to them.  Don’t mention that you want them to find you a job, they will ignore you.

 

Time will tell how this picture will play out post COVID-19. The economy will really dictate when will be a good time to land. The Canada Abroad team has also updated us all regularly regarding the borders and processes – keep looking on our site for updates as we share the content as it becomes available.

What can we learn from all of this? There is no good time and no bad time. Summer or winter, it does not really matter. What does matter is the preparation you do before the time, how well you network and how much homework you do before you land. Set up those coffee dates with people, have at least 2 or 3 set up before you land. Even if it is not with the intention of finding a job, but just to meet other people. It broadens your world and grounds you, it is good for your spirit to meet people and make friends. It might be an option to consider not renting immediately as you land, to let yourself ease into things and sort out admin first. Find temporary accommodation or an AirBnB for the first few weeks, to see where you find a job and then take it from there.

There is a lot to take in when you land and a million things to do. Be easy on yourself and do what you can cope with. You are in it for the long haul, good things take time.

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