If you’re a recent newcomer to Canada or are moving here permanently soon, your sights are likely firmly set on finding your first job in Canada. You’re probably already speaking to people you know in Canada for career advice or looking for job search resources online. And one thing all that advice will have in common is getting on LinkedIn.
In Canada, LinkedIn can be an excellent tool for professionals at all career stages, whether you’re just starting out or have several years of experience from your home country. So how can you use LinkedIn to get hired when you don’t have any Canadian work experience yet? This article provides tips specifically for newcomers to Canada like yourself so you can make the best use of LinkedIn to land your first job in Canada.
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What is LinkedIn?
Owned by Microsoft, LinkedIn is a social network for professionals to connect, learn, share, and find career opportunities. Unlike social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, where you post about your personal life, LinkedIn focuses on professional networking, making business connections, and sharing work-related experiences.
In 2022, LinkedIn had over 800 million users, making it the world’s largest professional network. Plus, a vast majority of recruiters use LinkedIn when looking for candidates. Having a LinkedIn profile is essential in the Canadian job market, especially if you’re a newcomer looking to start your career in Canada.
What is LinkedIn used for in Canada?
Don’t let the words “social network” confuse you. LinkedIn is about more than just connecting with a community of professionals (although that’s important too) and posting content. Here are some ways in which you can leverage LinkedIn for your career:
Networking is an important part of Canada’s work environment. Most job openings are filled through employers’ networks, without ever being posted publicly. Your connections can help you tap into this hidden job market, by providing referrals to jobs in their organizations. Newcomers are often at a disadvantage in Canada’s work environment because they don’t have an existing professional network. However, thanks to LinkedIn, you can start building connections remotely even before you arrive in Canada.
As a newcomer, you may be unfamiliar with how things work in your industry or within a particular company and, when used right, your network can help you gain valuable insights that will not only make it easier to land a job but also to succeed in your career.
LinkedIn also has a job portal, with employers across industries and locations posting job openings on the platform. Using the “Jobs” feature, you can search for available jobs by title, skill, company, or location. You can also sign up for job alert emails for job titles you’re interested in.
If you’re hoping to work with a particular employer in Canada, you can keep tabs on the jobs they post on their company page. Moreover, you can see if someone in your LinkedIn network works for a particular company and reach out to them for a coffee chat or informational interview. Once you’ve established a meaningful connection, you may even be able to request a referral.
Promoting your personal brand
When people come across your LinkedIn profile or the content you post, they make assumptions about who you are as a person. Carefully creating a personal brand allows you to project a positive image and highlight your strengths and skills. By using LinkedIn to promote your personal brand, you can increase your visibility, make a memorable impression on employers, and stand out as a potential candidate for job openings.
As someone who has studied and worked in a different country, you may not be well-versed with all the tools that are used in your field in Canada, or you may not possess all the skills that are in-demand in the Canadian market. In such cases, building new skills and upskilling is a great way to add to your resume and show recruiters that you’re an active learner.
LinkedIn can be a great skill-building tool. LinkedIn Learning is a subscription-based service that offers thousands of courses on various business, creative, and technology topics. When you complete a course, you can showcase the certificate on your LinkedIn profile to let employers know you’re skilled in that subject area.
LinkedIn also enables peer-to-peer learning, allowing you to draw on the experience of other professionals and even find a mentor for one-to-one knowledge sharing.
Staying connected with people you know professionally
Even though you’ve moved to Canada, people you’ve worked closely with, learnt from, or helped out previously in your home country are a valuable part of your network. You may be able to count on them for recommendations and honest feedback to help you improve. Some of your former classmates and co-workers with may even have moved to Canada and may be able to provide you with recommendations on LinkedIn or referrals to job openings.
As you progress in your career, staying in touch with your colleagues, professors, classmates, and managers can be difficult. LinkedIn can help you keep track of their professional journeys, engage with their posts, and stay connected. You can also share your career milestones to let your network know how you’re doing professionally.
Offering and asking for services
LinkedIn’s “Open to” feature allows people to showcase their services. If you’re looking for a mentor, you can leverage this feature to find professionals who can help you with career development or share their expertise on a particular topic. If you’re interested in starting a side hustle in Canada, you can also use the “Open to” feature to promote your services. You can list up to 10 services on your profile, choosing from a wide range that includes accounting, design, writing, photography, and more.
How to create or optimize your LinkedIn profile
Before you can use LinkedIn to get hired in Canada, you’ll need to create a profile. If you already have a LinkedIn profile, you may want to polish it to make it more effective and appealing. Here are seven tips to help you optimize your LinkedIn profile before you begin your job search in Canada:
- Use a professional headshot: A professional photograph can make all the difference to your LinkedIn profile. In fact, adding a photo to your profile can increase your chances of receiving connection requests nine-fold. So what makes a headshot professional? A plain, distraction-free background; a friendly, smiling expression; professional attire; and a frame that captures your face and shoulders.
- Write an engaging headline and summary: These sections are usually the first thing people see on your profile. Make sure your headline and summary sections capture your skills and what you bring to the table while staying true to your personal brand.
- Fill out all relevant sections: Your LinkedIn profile has sections on work experience, education, certifications, skills, and more. Make sure you fill out all the relevant sections and keep your profile updated.
- Request recommendations: A recommendation attests to your skills, showing potential employers that people you’ve worked, studied, or volunteered with think highly of you. Add value to your profile by asking former colleagues, managers or clients from your home country for Linkedin recommendations.
- Link your portfolio to your profile: You can also showcase samples of your past work on LinkedIn or add a link to your digital portfolio or blog. A visual representation of your work carries more weight than a mere description of your skills and education, and by promoting your best work, you may be able to catch a recruiter’s eye.
- Keep it professional: Assume that everything you put in your profile or post on LinkedIn will be seen by potential employers and recruiters. Put your best foot forward by staying professional, being respectful, and posting content that shows you in a positive light.
- Grow your connections: As a recent newcomer, your professional network in Canada likely won’t be very large. If you’re weren’t active on LinkedIn back home, you should put effort into growing your network. Employers can see how many connections you have until you reach the magic number of 500, and fewer connections may make them question your familiarity with the Canadian job market.
How to build your Canadian network on LinkedIn
There’s no doubt that networking is crucial for newcomers to Canada and LinkedIn is the ideal place to start. But how exactly does one build their professional network through LinkedIn? Here are some tips to help you get started:
Send connection requests to professionals
Start by connecting with professionals you already know in Canada. This could be former classmates, colleagues or managers who’ve moved to Canada or friends and family members who live here. You can then expand your network by connecting with alumni of your school, friends of friends, and professionals in your field.
Reach out to potential Canadian employers
Networking works best when you’re doing it in a strategic manner. Ideally, before you even start connecting with people in your industry, you want to have a list of target employers or companies you want to work with in mind. Your network should have a good mix of professionals at all levels, including recruiters, senior-level managers, and entry-level employees.
Many newcomers make the mistake of focusing their efforts on connecting with senior professionals only, but it might actually be easier to get a response from entry-level or mid-level professionals. Plus, if you intend to learn about a company or its hiring process, someone who recently joined the organization (perhaps even a newcomer) may be able to provide you with more recent and relevant information.
Ask for networking recommendations
As someone just entering the Canadian job market, it might not always be easy to identify the right people to connect with. But don’t worry, your network can help. When you start to build a connection with someone, ask them to recommend other professionals you can connect with.
Ask questions like “Do you know other digital marketing experts who I can learn from?” or “Are there any IT professionals in your network who are skilled at cloud computing?” If they know professionals with expertise in your area of interest, ask if they can make an introduction. An introduction helps you make a warm connection, gain trust, and lay the foundation for a stronger relationship.
Join industry groups on LinkedIn
Industry groups offer a wealth of information on what’s new in your field and can help you stay on top of the latest developments. Joining industry groups on LinkedIn also allows you to meet professionals with similar interests, learn from their experiences, and ask for advice. When you come across people who can guide you in your career journey, don’t hesitate to send them a connection request.
Keep the conversation going after introductions
Networking goes well beyond sending professionals a LinkedIn connection request message. Your objective is to make a meaningful connection that you can leverage for a referral or a job if, and when, needed.
After you add someone to your LinkedIn network, send a thank you message and initiate a conversation on common grounds, perhaps a mutual connection or shared interest. As your discussion progresses, ask about their industry, work, and interests.
Ask if they are open to a one-on-one coffee chat, either in-person or virtually, and use this opportunity to learn from their experiences. Always have a list of questions ready before your coffee chats so you can extract the most value out of the time your connection is giving you. Be interestED in them rather than trying to be interestING. If they have any challenges or pain points at work, offer help where you can and always follow through on your offer. Once they know you better and see the value you can bring, they’ll be more willing to help. You can then nurture your relationship by maintaining engagement over email, LinkedIn, or follow-up chats.
How to use LinkedIn to get a job in Canada
LinkedIn can be a powerful job search tool, not just because it has job postings. There are many ways in which LinkedIn makes it easier to find suitable jobs in Canada and increases your chances of getting hired.
Leverage your network to learn about jobs and companies in Canada
Nearly 65 to 80 per cent of available jobs in Canada are never publicly posted, and LinkedIn helps you tap into this hidden job market through your network.
When you establish a strong connection with someone, you can check if they know anyone hiring in your field or at a company where you want to work. LinkedIn also allows you to see your second-degree connections (connections of your connections) so you can identify if anyone in your network knows someone working at your target company.
Get referrals to jobs
Let’s say, employer A is hiring for a role you’re interested in. LinkedIn shows you if anyone in your network (or someone they are connected to) works with A, making it easier for you to reach out for information or referrals.
Ideally, you should start networking with professionals in your target companies before you arrive in Canada to learn about their hiring process, upcoming opportunities, culture, values, and more. This way, you will have made meaningful connections with professionals before asking for their help.
Sign up for LinkedIn Premium, if needed
LinkedIn Premium is a paid service that helps increase your visibility with recruiters and get your application to the top of the list. LinkedIn Premium also gives applicant insights based on how well your profile matches a particular job posting. Plus, you can send InMail messages to recruiters/employers for more information about the position or follow up after you apply.
Follow companies you’re interested in
You can keep track of job opportunities by following companies you’re interested in and recruiters in your industry. Following your target companies also helps you stay on top of pertinent news, company developments, special programs, and their long-term plans—information that will come in handy when you reach the interview stage.
Let employers know you’re open to work
Actively looking for roles? Let employers and recruiters know by putting an “open to work” tag on your profile. This makes it easier for recruiters to identify candidates who are readily available for immediate opportunities.
In Canada, recruiters are often trying to fill urgent vacancies and prefer to contact professionals who are openly looking for work, rather than those who are currently employed and may or may not be interested in switching. Plus, the “open to work” tag also serves as a gentle reminder to your close network to keep you in mind in case they come across a relevant open position.
Sign up for LinkedIn job alerts
You can sign up for personalized job alert emails on LinkedIn and choose how often you want to receive them. Customize your alerts by setting your preferences for job title, city, industry, seniority, part-time or full-time work, and in-person or remote jobs. When you’re actively searching for jobs as a newcomer, job alert emails can help you cut down the time you spend looking for suitable opportunities so you can focus on your applications.
Showcase your skills
LinkedIn Learning courses can help you bridge skill gaps and gather certifications to showcase on your profile. You can also complete assessments on LinkedIn to earn skill badges that prospective employers can see. Plus, you can list skills on your profile and people in your network can endorse you for them.
Find a mentor through LinkedIn
As a newcomer, a mentor can help you navigate the Canadian job market, build skills, craft a Canadian-style resume, prepare for interviews, and prepare to adapt to Canada’s work culture. You may be able to find a suitable mentor through your network or by searching for professionals on LinkedIn who are open to mentoring a newcomer to Canada.
How to apply for jobs through LinkedIn
Now that your LinkedIn profile is optimized to impress Canadian employers and you know how to leverage the platform for your job search, it’s time to start applying for jobs.
- Shortlist jobs that interest you: Use LinkedIn’s search feature to look for openings by job title or company. Carefully review the job description to identify relevant positions for which you are eligible. You don’t need to be a 100 per cent fit. Job postings often describe an ideal candidate, so don’t hesitate to apply even if your skills are a 75-80 per cent match.
- Customize your resume and cover letter: Tailor your resume to the role by including keywords from the job description. Most employers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to shortlist resumes that best match the job posting, so an ATS-friendly resume can significantly improve your chances of being selected. You should also include a cover letter even if the job posting doesn’t specifically ask for one. A well-written cover letter tells employers why you’re interested in that particular position and allows you to elaborate on skills and achievements that make you a strong candidate.
- Apply for jobs through LinkedIn: The Apply button on LinkedIn jobs usually takes you to the job posting on the company page, where you can fill out the application and attach your resume and cover letter. LinkedIn also gives you the option to share your profile with the job poster when you click apply. Some job posts have an Easy Apply option, which auto-fills a short questionnaire based on information on your profile and allows you to attach or upload your resume directly through LinkedIn.
|Tip: If you’re customizing your resume for each role, figure out a naming convention for different versions of your resume so you can quickly find and send the right one.
What should you post on LinkedIn?
Staying active on LinkedIn keeps you visible to professionals in your network and prospective employers looking for candidates. But what you post is even more important than how frequently you post. As a newcomer looking for your first job in Canada, here are some thought-starters on what you should be posting on LinkedIn:
- Professional ideas or insights: Do you have a solution to propose for a recurring challenge people in your field face or a better approach for a particular task? Perhaps the way you approached this problem was different in your home country, and your foreign experience may be valuable to professionals in your industry in Canada.
- Something you learnt or were inspired by: Read an autobiography or quote that resonated with you? Share it with your network to inspire them. (Don’t forget to attribute it to the original writer.)
- Updates on your professional life: Keep your network in the loop by sharing updates about what you’re up to professionally. If you recently completed a certification or landed a new job, share your achievement with your connections. This is also a great way to showcase new skills to employers in your network.
- Industry news and developments: You can also share informed opinions on industry news or your predictions about how a particular development will impact your sector.
- Opinions or insights on other people’s posts: Engage with other people’s posts to initiate or continue a conversation. Avoid posting uninformed or argumentative opinions. It is okay to disagree as long as you do so in a respectful manner, explaining why you think differently.
|Tip: Avoid posting personal updates irrelevant to your professional life or getting into arguments with trolls on LinkedIn. Adhere to basic Internet etiquette, be mindful of your language, avoid all caps (it’s the internet equivalent of screaming) and proofread your content to ensure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. Before you post anything, ask yourself whether it will reflect well on you if a potential employer were to see it. If the answer is yes, post away!
When you’re looking for employment in Canada, LinkedIn should be your constant companion. Whether you’re updating your LinkedIn profile, pursuing skill certifications, posting relevant content, or requesting recommendations from former managers, everything on your LinkedIn profile is visible to thousands of potential employers across Canada. LinkedIn is also an excellent networking platform and can help you building your professional network in Canada from scratch, so you can build meaningful connections over time, and leverage these for your career growth.