Canadian Job FAQs

Find answers to your many questions on the application process to work in Canada. Wendy Yu, International Student Advisor – Career Development at the International Services Centre, provides insights, tips and examples to assist you when applying for a job, whether that be your future career or a job while you study. 

Job Search

I am still in my first term. When do I start applying for internships, and how do I search for opportunities?

If you would like to explore internship opportunities, I suggest you contact your faculty first to explore the internship opportunities and the requirements. Many employers post internship opportunities on Campus Bridge, so check regularly to see if you would be interested in any. If you want to go abroad for work experience, you can check the Go Abroad website or contact a Go Abroad coordinator.

I am a first-year undergraduate international student at UofA; I wonder whether I can find a full-time job in the spring or summer with a study permit? How can I find that kind of job?

For your eligibility to work in spring/summer with a study permit, please contact our immigration advisor for detailed information. Here are some resources to find a summer job:

  • Career Centre hosts the Summer Job Fair in February. There are great opportunities to explore summer job opportunities and connect with employers. 
  • I-Work! Series offers a session on “How to Prepare for Summer Job Fair.”
  • International Student Work Experience Program (ISWEP) is an excellent way to gain valuable Canadian work experience in spring/summer. Please check the CampusBridge in late March for job postings.
Where can I get information for on-campus job opportunities?

If you want to look for opportunities at UAlberta, visit the careers page. Under “Support Staff Employment Opportunities,” part-time job opportunities are posted for students—positions such as program assistant, research assistant, event assistant, lab technician, etc. 

You can also check job opportunities on the Students’ Union webite. Positions such as InfoLink, Peer Advisor, house attendant, event staff, etc. 

Check Campus Bridge for on-campus job opportunities. Log in with your CCID and password. 

Talk to staff in your faculty, libraries and student services departments to see if they are hiring. If you are a graduate student, you can approach your professor for TA or RA opportunities. 

If you want to work in the retail or food industry, talk to the store manager and ask if they are hiring. Fill out the application form or simply drop off your resume. 

Where can I find off-campus job opportunities?

Campus Bridge is a great place to find job postings. You can also access the job board in your faculty, such as CareerConnect, PlacePro, SciWorks, etc. 

Search part-time employment on job search websites, such as: 

LinkedIn is a very powerful tool to connect with employers and search for job opportunities. Familiarize yourself with LinkedIn at the U of A Career Centre’s LinkedIn Profile Review session, or attend the LinkedIn session during I-Work, offered by International Student Services. 

What online resources can I use to find job opportunities or prepare myself for potential future employment.

Here some resources you can access online:

  • If you are looking for jobs off-campus,  visit Job Search Sites
  • Use LinkedIn to search for job opportunities. You can find free career development resources on LinkedIn Learning. Use your LinkedIn account to log in and access. 
  • Campus Bridge is a fantastic place to find job postings. You can access your faculty’s job posting board, such as CareerConnect, PlacePro, SciWorks, etc. 
  • Get a full occupational profile on the duties, work conditions, wage and salary, certification requirements, industry outlook, employment advancement, etc., on the ALIS website. This site can prepare you for your future job searching and employment. 
  • Visit Career Advisors on campus. Don’t forget you have access to consulting with career advisors on campus. You can contact Wendy Yu, International Student Advisor-Career Development, by email. You can also connect with Career Centre for advising or coaching appointments. 
Because of COVID-19, many companies laid-off employees and also implemented a hiring freeze. Where can I find job opportunities during this uncertain time?

Employers are still actively hiring, especially for essential service, including health, agricultural and horticultural, manufacturing and production, transportation and logistics, retail and wholesale, financial services, food services, vulnerable population services, information and telecommunications, public safety and law enforcement, and construction/maintenance/repair. 

Visit different online job boards and use social media to search for job opportunities: Job Bank, Indeed, LinkedIn, UAlberta Campus Bridge, Canadian COVID19 List of Hiring Companies, Alberta Job Postings, Alberta Public Service Jobs, Alberta Job Centre, Canada Youth Works, Glass Door, Monster, Workopolis

Are there limited job opportunities in your sector? Consider volunteering. Through volunteering, you can develop skills, make connections and build self-confidence. Find volunteer opportunities, both in-person and virtual, on Volunteer Connector

I’m looking for part-time job opportunities. I’ve applied for many jobs, but no response. What should I do?

First, review your resume and tailor your resume to match the job posting requirements. If you are looking for entry-level part-time jobs, we recommend a one-page resume. Here are some additional tips on drafting an effective resume:

  • Keep your heading simple; only include your full name, phone number and email address.
  • Briefly summarize your experience and skills that match the position in the “Highlights of Qualification” section. If you are looking for opportunities in the retail or food industries, focus on your customer service and sales experience. Demonstrate your key soft skills, including communication, problem-solving, teamwork and time management skills. 
  • Show your ability to follow the rules and safety/health regulations.
  • List your availability, such as “Weekdays from 8 am to 6 pm”; show your flexibility so employers can arrange plan shifts.
  • Use accomplishment statements to describe your experience instead of listing duties. For example, change “Served customers” to “Served over 30 customers in a 2-hour shift while providing courteous and prompt service.
  • If you don’t have any working experience, think about the projects you’ve done in schools, volunteer experience, activities/experience in student clubs, etc.

When your resume is ready, search for opportunities on a variety of job search websites. If you feel comfortable, you can also bring copies of your resume and apply in-store. Ask your contacts/ friends for referrals is always recommended.

Resume and Cover Letter

Even if your resume is well prepared, how do you make sure it stands out against thousands of other applicants?

Here’s how to make your resume stand out:

  • List as many keywords as you can. You can find the keywords on the job posting. The more keywords you have, the higher chance of being shortlisted. You can use the Jobcan website to compare your resume with the job posting. 
  • Do not use a generic statement. Use an accomplishment statement to describe your experience and skills. Accomplishments make you unique. For example, “Served customers” is your duty and does not demonstrate your qualifications. To stand out, try to be more descriptive, such as “Served over 30 customers in a 2-hour shift while providing courteous and prompt service”. See the difference?
I have drafted my resume. During COVID 19 pandemic, what contents should I add to my resume to make it stand out?

To make your resume stand out, always have accomplishment statements to showcase your competencies. Try using numbers/percentages/examples instead of generic statements. Also, consider using some of the following keywords:

  • Familiar with remote working tools
  • Your remote work experience, how you achieved beyond expectations
  • Ability to thrive in changing environment
  • Soft skills including time management, adaptability and written communication
  • Flexibility with schedules and work locations
  • Sense of health and safety; ability to follow guidelines
I’m confused about cover letters. Do I need a cover letter to apply for a job? If so, what are some key points I should include in the cover letter?

Yes, you need a cover letter to apply for a  job. Some job postings might not require a cover letter, but we recommend preparing this document when applying for jobs. Here are some tips:

  • Research, the company. Understand its mission, vision, core values, projects, markets, products and customers. Relate your qualification, experience and skills to these. Build a bridge to connect you with the company.
  • Do not repeat your experience from your resume. Pick 1-2 accomplishments that are most relevant to the position you are applying for, and provide brief examples to demonstrate how you fit this position. Try to quantify your examples by giving some numbers or percentages. 
  • Address the hiring manager personally. Do not address with “To Whom It May Concern” or “Hello.” If the job posting does not include a name, research or call the company’s main phone number to ask, or search on LinkedIn for the appropriate person. 
  • Use a testimonial or quote feedback from your previous supervisor/customer/team member. Positive feedback or comments on your work highlights your key strengths and skills. 
  • Carefully review the job posting and try to use keywords on your cover letter. Some employers use the Application Tracking System (ATS) to filter and screen applications. To successfully be shortlisted for interviews, you need to incorporate as many keywords in your cover letter as possible.
  • Have someone proofread your cover letter before sending it out. Send your cover letter along with the job posting to your career advisor, mentor, friend, or family member. After reviewing your cover letter, ask them if you convinced them that you are the best fit for the job. Ask for feedback or comments to polish your document to improve it. 
I understand that we usually need to submit our application documents online or via email when we apply for a job. What exactly should I write in the email, and can you provide tips on submitting a job application?

Yes, most employers request candidates to submit their applications online, via their application system, or by email. Here are some guidelines on how to submit your application appropriately and professionally.

  1. Always follow the instructions provided in the job posting. Instructions such as:
    • how to name your document (i.e. “Resume_Your Name” or “XX Job_Your Name,” etc.),
    • whether you need to include the job posting number if any,
    • if a cover letter is required,
    • the format and size of your document (i.e. pdf, Docx, etc.),
    • who you need to address and send your application to, etc.
  1.     If you apply for jobs online, read the instructions and follow all of the steps.
  2.     If you apply for jobs via email:
    • Subject Line: list your full name and the job title you are applying for; provide job posting number, if any. Example: Jennifer Edwards – Business Analyst Position (Job Number: 12345)
    • Recipient’s email address: find an actual person you want to address to, but add the recipient’s email address last to prevent you from clicking send before checking for mistakes.
    • Email body: keep your email short and direct.
      • Address a specific person such as “Dear xxx.” If the name is not available, write “Dear Hiring Manager.” Never use “To Whom It May Concern.”
      • In your first paragraph, mention the position you are applying for, where you saw the posting, or who referred you to apply for this position.
      • Second paragraph: highlight your most relevant qualification for the position; mention why you are a good fit and what you can offer. Don’t copy and paste the contents from your cover letter or resume.
      • Last paragraph: thank the recipient for spending time reading your email and reviewing your application. Mention that you have attached your cover letter and resume.
      • Professional close by using “Sincerely or Best Regards.” Do not use casual ending such as “Have a good day.”
      • Attachment: always remember to attach your document. Save your cover letter and resume to one document and attach it to your email. Attach your documents as a pdf if there are no other requirements listed on the job posting.

Interview

What are some interview tips and advice do you have to help ensure interview success?
  • Arrive no more than 5 mins early for your interview
    • When you arrive very early, the interviewers might not have their boardroom or meeting space ready for your interview. So you might be waiting (which might cause you to become more nervous!).
  • Dress professionally
    • Go on LinkedIn and see what the headshots of the people in the company look like. This will give you a general idea of what the office attire is usually like. You can always ask the recruiter when they contact you for an in-person interview.  
  • Do some research on the company and the position.
  • Know your resume
  • Be friendly, warm and confident.
    • A smile goes a long way to give that right first impression.
    • Speak up and provide good eye contact during the interview
  • Try to answer the questions by giving specific examples.
    • Practice some situational and behavioural questions
  • Practice some general interview questions with a friend or on your own
    • This will help you be more confident during the interview – Practice makes perfect!
I’ve applied for some summer jobs and just received an interview invitation. Can you provide tips on how to answer the question “tell me something about yourself”?

That’s a good question. Over 90% of job interviews will start with this question. Here are some tips:

  • Never start with your name and where you come from. Don’t take up too much time on your response. 1-2 minutes will be enough to highlight your qualifications.
  • Tailor it to the specific position. Don’t provide a generic statement or recite your experience that is already on your resume.  
  • Think about 1-2 qualities that make you an excellent fit for this position. Provide short examples to support your points. 
  • You can use the “Past + Present + Future” structure. “Past” focuses on “What you have done in the past that prepared you for this position.” “Present” focuses on “What you are currently doing and why you are interested in this position.” “Future” focuses on “What’s your career goal that is relevant to the position.”
  • Practice your answer, but never memorize or recite word by word. Book a mock interview session with career advisors or simply record it yourself and play it back.  
Behavioural Question Examples     List of Interview Questions

Networking/Career Fairs

I want information on how to prepare and engage myself in a Summer Job Fair or Career Fair. Can you help?

Career Fair is an excellent opportunity to connect with employers and build your network. The purpose of going to a career fair is not to apply for jobs; it’s about networking. Here are some steps and tips:

  • Research the companies you are interested in and make a list of companies you would like to talk to. 
  • Prepare your elevator pitch to introduce yourself. Ask yourself four questions, draft your answer and practice: who am I, why am I here, what can I offer, how do I wrap it up.
  • Ask questions to employers, but do not ask questions such as  “Are you hiring?” Ask questions that can connect you with the employers, such as “What are the skills you value most in your employees?” “What type of educational background do you look for in your employees?”
  • During the fair, take notes and ask for business cards/contact information.
  • After the fair, send thank you note and connect employers on LinkedIn.
I understand that networking is important. Since there are not many in-person networking events, how do I network online?

Before making new connections, reaching out to your existing network. Call or simply send a message to touch base. Let them know how you are doing and your updates. Ask for advice or if they could connect you with someone you want to meet. Then think about using online platforms for networking with new connections. Start with LinkedIn, but don’t limit yourself to only one social media. You can also use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit or Pinterest to engage with professionals in your field. You can also join some online groups and look for connections through discussions or posts. Some tips:

  • Don’t be pushy and aggressive. Avoid starting with “Hi, I’m Peter, and I’m looking for a job.” Your goal of online networking is to build strong, meaningful and long-lasting relationships, not a one-time request for a job offer. 
  • Keep your introduction message short. Don’t send your resume or list your qualifications upfront. Simply introduce who you are, who referred you, or how you found this person, or your mutual connections. State your interest in the field of work or project, and then connect. Once the conversation starts, you can ask questions or introduce yourself with more details. 
  • Ask for an in-person or online meeting. Request to meet over a coffee or even a 15-minute online meeting can help you make deeper relationships. 
  • Always follow-up. Stay in touch and always share information with your connections. This will help them remember you and keep your name on top of their mind. 

Some other resources you might want to use: 

I know LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool, but I don’t know how to use it. Where should I start?

First, create your LinkedIn account and an impressive profile:

  • Professional Headshot. Don’t take a selfie or use the photo from your other social media account. Wear professional attire, smile at the camera and make sure you look friendly and approachable. 
  • Background photo. Use a background photo to reflect your interest or occupation. 
  • A headline is a summary of your expertise. Avoid using phrases such as “student, seeking opportunities, jobseeker.”  Try to list your key competencies so viewers understand what you can offer without clicking on your profile details. For example:  
  • Contact details. Customize your URL to reflect your career. Don’t add too much personal information such as an address, date of birth, phone number, etc. For example: 
  • Summary. An overview of who you are and what you can bring to the table. List your accomplishments and try to quantify your experience and skills. 
  • Experience. It should be consistent with your resume. List all of your skills, whether in or outside of Canada. 
  • Skills and Endorsements. Do your research, list 10 - 12 key skills and let your connections endorse you. An endorsement is proof.
  • Education and Certificates. Degrees, diploma or any certificates that are relevant to your profession
  • Other. You can also include sections on Volunteer, Awards, Publication, Conferences, etc. 
I’m actively looking for job opportunities, and I know there will be many virtual hiring events and Career Fairs. I’ve attended Career Fairs before, but I have no experience with virtual ones. What should I prepare ahead of time? How should I speak to employers?

Yes, there will be many virtual hiring events and career fairs in the coming months. Careers Day, the University’s largest career event of the year, will be hosted on October 7 & 8, 2020. Here are some tips:

  • Research the platform and prepare your device.
  • Register on the software/platform before the career fair day; create a professional profile, and update your resume.
  • Do some research about the companies and make a list of companies you would like to talk to.
  • Prepare your elevator pitch to introduce yourself. Ask yourself four questions, draft your answer and practice: who am I, why am I here, what can I offer, how do I wrap it.
  • During the fair, put yourself into chat slots for specific employers. Please note how much time you have for each conversation. 
  • Ask questions to employers, but not questions such as “Are you hiring?” Ask open-ended questions that can connect you with employers, such as “What are the skills that you value most in your employees?” “What type of educational background do you look for in your employees?”. You can also ask questions such as “Is your office working remotely? What remote work software or platforms does your company use?”
  • During the fair, take notes and ask for contact information.
  • After the fair, send a  thank you note and connect to employers on LinkedIn.

Other Questions

I understand that we usually need to submit our application documents online or via email when we apply for a job. I would like to know what I should write in the email exactly, and could you provide tips on submitting a job application?

Yes, most employers request the candidates to submit their applications online via their system or email. There are some guidelines on how to submit your application appropriately and professionally. 

  1. Always follow the instructions provided in the job posting. Instructions include: how to name your document (i.e. “Resume_Your Name” or “XX Job_Your Name,” etc.), whether you need to include the job posting number, if any, if a cover letter is required, the format and size of your document (i.e. pdf, Docx, etc.), who you need to address and send your application to, etc. 
  2. If you apply for jobs online, read the instructions and follow the steps.
  3. If you apply for jobs via email:
    • Subject Line: list your full name and the job title you are applying for; provide job posting number, if any. Example: Jennifer Edwards – Business Analyst Position (Job Number: 12345)
    • Recipient’s email address: find an actual person you want to address, but add the recipient's email address last to prevent you from clicking send before checking for mistakes.
    • Email body: keep your email short and direct.
      • Address a specific person such as “Dear xxx.” If the name is not available, write “Dear Hiring Manager.” Never use “To Whom It May Concern.”
      • First paragraph: mention the position you are applying for, where you saw this posting, or who referred you to this position.
      • Second paragraph: highlight your most relevant qualification for the position; mention why you are a good fit and what you can offer. Don’t copy and paste the contents from your cover letter or resume. 
      • Last paragraph: thank the recipient for spending time reading your email and reviewing your application. Mention that you have attached your cover letter and resume. 
      • Professionals close by using “Sincerely or Best Regards.” Do not use casual ending such as “Have a good day.”
      • Attachment: always remember to attach your document. Save your cover letter and resume to one document and attach it to your email. a Pdf file is always recommended if no other requirements listed on the job posting. 
I heard that I could conduct an informational interview with employers to learn more about the position, but I don’t know how to prepare and what to ask. Can you give me some tips?

An informational interview is a way to connect with potential employers. You can learn more about the skills required for the position that you would like to apply for. The purpose is to get information, not the position. Here are some steps and tips:

  • Conduct research and find out the organization/company and the person you’ll be talking to, develop your script. 
  • Make initial contact (phone or email or Linkedin message), explain what you want and ask for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Conduct the interview, either over the phone or in person. Be on time, dress appropriately, take only as much time as you requested, thank the person at the end.
  • Follow up with a thank-you card or email. 
  • Sample Questions to ask in an informational interview
I went to some career fairs and also had an interview. I’ve heard that I need to send a follow-up note or a thank you note to employers or interviewers. What should I write in the thank you note? Can you provide some samples?

Following-up with employers is a really important step. Sending a thank-you note to interviewers shows your professionalism. Here are some tips:

  • Send a thank-you note to interviewers within 24 hours after your interview. 
  • Do not send a group email; send it to the individual. Email contents should be the same. 
  • Connect with employers through LinkedIn. Either send a thank you note through LinkedIn or an email as soon as possible.
  • The purpose of sending a thank you note is to show appreciation for their time meeting and talking with you. You can also use this chance to remind them of your qualification and emphasize what you can offer them.
  • Sample Thank You Note. 
I’m interested in the Career Centre’s Job Shadow program. Can you provide more details about this program and tips on filling the application form?

Job Shadow Week is an excellent opportunity for international students to explore career options in a low-risk environment. Job Shadow week is where you'll learn social conventions in the Canadian workplace, practice your written and oral communication skills, and consider how your skills can be used in a workplace setting. Learn more about an international student's experience with job shadowing.

Here are some tips for creating a strong application: 

  1. Applications are considered based on their quality and not on a first-come-first-serve. To learn what a quality application looks like, attend an information session. The Career Centre website lists the dates
  2. When browsing host profiles, choose a host based on the skills and knowledge you wish to gain. Instead of focusing on their job titles, read the host's profile entirely to learn how you can enhance your skills, knowledge, and professional connections.
  3. Choose more than one host. The application invites you to choose up to three hosts. The more hosts you pick, the better chance you have of getting matched. 
  4. In the application, you're invited to include information on your hobbies, interests, and goals. This helps the host make a personal connection with you once you arrive at the job shadow. 
Congratulations to all graduates! Before you leave our beautiful campus and move on to your next stage, review our checklist to prepare yourself for your new adventures:
  1. Update your resume, including your personal information, education, and your objective statement. 
  2. Contact your professors/supervisors, show your gratitude, and if possible, ask for reference letters. Even if you are still unsure whether you plan to continue your studies, look for jobs in Canada, or return to your home country. Contact your professors/supervisors now to draft reference letters while they still remember you and can highlight your accomplishments and skills. 
  3. Contact your classmates/colleagues, update contact information. You or they might not use UAlberta email in the future or will not be active on social media. Get their personal contact information. They are your NETWORK. 
  4. Self-reflect. Forget unpleasant experiences and failures, list your achievements and collect documents to add to your portfolio. Your portfolio will help you to prepare for your job search and interviews. 
  5. Clean up your social media account, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Check the privacy setting and Google yourself to see what pops up. As a student, you could comment on anything, but as a job or potential graduate school candidate, you want your social platforms to reflect your professionalism. Set up an impressive LinkedIn profile and start to build your network. 
  6. Very important: Be resilient and enjoy every stage of your life and your new adventures! 
I’m an international student. Because of the travel restrictions, I will be taking Fall term courses online in my home country. I would like to know how to access career services and resources online.

Welcome to UAlberta! Here are some resources for career services on campus. You can access all University services online. 

International Student Services 
  • Career advising session: career planning, resume and cover letter review, interview practice, networking and online profile. Contact International Student Advisor-Career Development to book a free career advising session!
  • I-Work! Series and Conference: workshops to improve your employability. 
  • International Student Work Experience Program (ISWEP): summer job opportunities for undergraduate students. 
  • Career Corner on Global Beat: career advice/upcoming career events
Career Centre
  • Advising
  • Job Postings and upcoming events on CampusBridge 
  • Career coaching and T2C
  • Rapid review and seminars
  • Employer information sessions
  • Career Exploration Interviews (CEI)
  • Mentoring Program
  • Career Fairs: Careers Day 2020 will be on Oct 7 and Oct 8, 2020
Faculties
Tips to Boost Your Career During Winter Break

Phew, another term is complete. Are you ready to celebrate? While many students relax and plan virtual gatherings, you might want to reflect and revamp your career strategies. Here are some tips:

  • Review and reflect on what you have accomplished, noted on your resume/LinkedIn profile. Give yourself a pat on the back, say, “Well Done.”
  • Reconnect with your contacts that you haven’t greeted for a while. It’s time to say “Happy Holidays” and continue your relationship. 
  • Send Holiday e-cards to your contacts or send a holiday greeting message via email or LinkedIn. Maintaining a long-lasting relationship with your connection is key to career success. 
  • Add one item to your New Year Resolution: your job searching plan. Don’t write, “I will get a job” — Make it more specific with a timeline, such as “I plan to reach out to five new connections every two weeks on LinkedIn.” 
 Book an appointment

Do you need help with planning your career in Canada?

Make an appointment with Wendy Yu, International Student Advisor- Career Development, today!

Make an appointment today!

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