Canada: Recruitment

January 2015. Posted in Int. Skills, Recruiting

Canada: Recruitment


Introduction of Canada

Canada, fondly referred to by its residents as ‘The Great White North’, has a total of 9.98 million square kilometres and spans six primary time zones. Canada is located in the North of the continent of North-America, and consists of ten provinces and three territories. It is one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse countries in the world, characterized by large-scale immigration from many countries, with a population of more than 35 million in 2014. Canada’s largest ethnic majorities besides native Canadians are English, French, Scottish, Irish, and German. There are also many people of Italian, Ukrainian, and Dutch descent. In the province Quebec, as well as some parts of the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the business language is French, however in most provinces, Canadians primarily speak English.

Their solid economy relies mainly upon its plentiful natural resources such as minerals, metals, and wood. They also have many long-term and well-developed trading networks. The Canadian economy is one of the largest in the world. Canada has a long and solid relationship with the United States of America, which has had a significant impact on its economy and culture. While Canada’s overall economic growth remains solid, the energy-sector boom has widened regional dissimilarities and raised environmental challenges for the future.

One downside to living in Canada is the high taxes. However, the government does makes good use of the money they earn from these taxes. This is why Canada is known as one of the safest countries in the world. One should keep in mind the high taxes when negotiating salary during a job interview, although the cost of living in Canada is generally cheaper than in Europe.


Canadian business communication

Most of Canada communicates in English. However, a small part of Canada is French-speaking. In Canada, you will be greeted with a firm handshake when meeting someone for the first time. When speaking to a Canadian, it is most common to start with Mr., Mrs., or Miss, plus their title and surname. Furthermore, be friendly and open when talking to a Canadian, as this makes you appear confident and credible.
´I am glad to be part of Canada but there is a little bit of tension between the French speaking “and the rest”.


Making contacts

It is common for Canadians to do business with networks of people they have known for many years, so networking and exchanging business cards is common in Canada. In order to make new connections in businesses, making a phone call or sending a letter to a potential business partner, otherwise known as cold-calling, may help. It is important to keep in mind that Canadians do not like a lot of hype or hard-sell tactics. Take the time to get to know your Canadian partners, as they will usually want to know if they can get along with you before doing business. The Canadian style of making contacts and scheduling appointments is not unlike the practice of many other Western countries.

Important things to remember when making contacts in Canada:

  • Treat people of every age, rank, and status with politeness and respect 
  • Demonstrate understanding of sensitivity to regional, linguistic, ethnic, and cultural differences in Canada 
  • Be mindful when doing business in Quebec to always work in the French language. 


Employability on the Canadian Market

The Canadian application procedure

The application procedure in Canada is rather formal. Most applications move along a structured and pre-determined path. It is always best to know whether the location and company of the job you are applying for is French- or English-speaking, and to apply in this language. While most Canadian companies communicate in English, the province Quebec, as well as some parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia communicate mostly in French.
In order to communicate with the company and have a successful job application, it is very important to have personal contacts and a good social network. Networking is your most valuable skill when seeking a job in Canada. After sending your application, there will be a first interview. Generally, one interview is all it takes for the company to decide whether or not they want to hire you. This differs by company, however, as some companies require more than one interview, as well as supplemental assessments and tests. For example, in order to obtain a work permit in Canada, you have to apply at with Canadian government. Here, several rounds of interviews and documents are required in order to get a complete picture of the candidate before they are allowed to work in the country. It is important to note that an important aspect of your evaluation for a work permit is the effect on local employability; this means that a work permit in Canada is valid only for the job to which you are applying and is not a general permit to work anywhere in the country.

Letter of application guidelines

A Canadian letter of application, or a cover letter, is generally very similar to a western letter of application. The layout, main objectives, and purpose of the letter are all very similar to western letters of application.
Before starting to write this letter, it is important to check whether the company is French- or English-speaking. If the company’s main language is French, your letter of application and CV should be in French as well.

The cover letter can be divided into three subjects. The first subject is the introduction. This includes the applicant’s personal information, their current job position, and how the vacancy was found. In some job postings, a number or references are requested. If this is the case, you should refer to this in your letter of application.

After the introduction, there comes an overview of the experience and skills of the applicant. When writing this section, it is always important to refer to the qualifications that would benefit you at the job to which you are applying. Experiences and skills that will not help you at the job in question do not need to be mentioned here, however they can be mentioned in the CV or résumé as extra information.

Lastly, the conclusion of the letter is where you write about your desire for an interview. Do not act overly zealous, but explain about the experience and skills you will bring to the company. All content in this letter should be easy to read, relevant, and concise. Most managers and recruiters read many application letters, and they can generally tell if an applicant is not being genuine.

Recruiters will not always read every letter, especially when there are many applicants. Some recruiters will only screen the letters, while others recruiters will read every word. It depends on how much time the recruiter has, the number of applicants, and importance of the job whether the letter is fully read or not. You can increase the chance of your letter being read by having a perfect letter of application, presented on plain white paper.

CV guidelines

A curriculum vitae, or résumé, is an important document which tells a personal story about qualifications, education, and work experience. In Canada, it is most common to use the term CV when applying for an academic job. A résumé is slightly shorter, and tends to have a more of a personal tone. The main focus of a CV or résumé is on the applicant’s personal skills and competencies.

A CV should be easy to read, organized, clear, and consistent in formatting. You want this personal story to stand out among those of other candidates. Use, for example, bold headings with bullet points. The most important subjects to highlight in Canada are qualifications, personal experience, and education.

In general, a CV begins with personal details, which are followed by a personal career goal. The section ‘Personal Details’ contains information such as your name, address, date of birth, nationality, and contact information. It is not customary to include height, age, weight, social insurance number, or a photo.

Sometimes a candidate will choose to start with a personal career goal and a small summary of their experience and education. This is used to stand out from other applicants’ CVs. This career goal should be explained in more detail in the letter of application.

In the section ‘profile summary’, there should be a short summary of experience related to the job.

There are two types of CVs: chronological and functional.
The chronological CV is the most popular in Canada; it is structured based on the chronology of work experience. It shows the working experience, detailed with the positions and their responsibilities and the success stories, in reverse chronological order.

A functional CV is helpful if the applicant does not have any working experience and has just graduated. It focuses on skills, experiences, and education relevant to the job. Adding certificates or diplomas that are relevant to the job might be useful. This CV also includes computer or software courses and first aid or training that may be relevant to the job.
The CV should be a brief marketing tool, but must not become a whole book. The CVs of most young professionals in Canada with less experience are about 1 page in length, while more experienced applicants are recommended to have a CV that is a maximum of two pages.


Interviewing guidelines

When applying to a new job, there hopefully will come a time that you are invited to a job interview. These are different in every culture, so it is important to be well-prepared. When the interview takes place, it is extremely important to be on time, or even 5 to 10 minutes early. You should also bring a hard copy of your CV.

When greeting the interviewer, give a firm handshake. If the interviewer is a woman, you should wait for her to extend her hand.

In English-speaking areas, personal space is more important than in French-speaking areas, so do not stand too close to the interviewer when you are in an English-speaking area.

It is most likely that your interview will be with just one interviewer, but it is possible for there to be more than one interviewer. Whether your interview is with one or more interviewers, you should always make eye contact to the person who is speaking to you, as this shows your interest. Do not only answer questions during the interview, but also ask them of employer. This shows that you are truly interested in them, their organization, and the job.
When the interview is over, discuss the next steps with the interviewer. This is also the moment where you can reflect on your interview with the interviewer. Usually, this person will give you a date when they will contact you about whether or not you are hired. If you have not heard from them by this date, you can consider contacting this person yourself. After the interview is over, leave with another firm handshake.

One of the most important things in an interview is the way you are dressed. For both men and women, there are certain guidelines to follow, as well as things to avoid. The best outfit for men to wear to an interview is a dark suit with trousers. In case you would like to wear something else, a full suit with a necktie is your second best choice. You could also go for a button-down shirt with no tie. Complete your outfit with dark leather shoes. For women, it is recommended to wear a dark business suit with trousers.

It is not recommended to wear any flashy jewellery, to show any tattoos or piercings, or to wear jeans with sneakers.


Online job sites



Recruitment consultants  


Extra quotes

  • To get a local perspective of recruitment in Canada, an online questionnaire was distributed among over 50 local professionals. They have given their perspective and experiences with recruitment in their country.
  • First of all, the language most often used during the application process is usually English, but not always. One of the respondents explains:
  • “Depends on which province the job is being posted in and whether it is a federal job. If Quebec or Federal position, French is expected at least at a basic level. Other provinces only require English”.
  • The interview is almost always in English; however, Quebec is an exception to this, as French is generally the language of most interviews in this province.
  • Over 70% of the respondents also confirmed that a CV is rather short, about one or two pages, what confirms our findings in literature.
  • Hard-copy applications are generally accepted in Canada, however electronic applications are clearly preferred. As one of the respondent advises:
  • “An electronic application would be preferred, but a hard copy is acceptable. Applications for higher level functions are all electronic though”.
  • Several local professionals have suggested that you add any educational accomplishments to your CV. A reason for this may be Canada’s exceptionally high score on Geert Hofstede’s dimension individualism. He states that decisions about hiring are based on the evidence about what you can do, so educational accomplishments are important in order to have a successful application.