May 14, 2021

Congratulations on entering the Canadian workforce! As a newcomer, it is a big step to complete the process from arriving as an immigrant or refugee to landing your first job! You’ve gone this far; now it’s time to make a great impression on the job. The best way to do this is by becoming accustomed to the Canadian workplace culture. Take the time and implement these tips when starting your new job.

1. Ask Questions

Being willing to ask questions is an important skill to develop. If you don’t know how to do something, ask. If you are unsure of the protocol, ask. You want to make sure that you are doing the best you can with the best information available. You may feel uncomfortable or self-conscious about putting yourself out there, but it is always better to ask and do it right than to remain silent and make a potentially costly mistake.

2. Practice Your Communication Skills

Being able to speak the language in the workplace is an essential skill to have. This will help you integrate with the other staff and your coworkers. Learning English or French can be difficult, and it takes practice to be able to communicate effectively if you are new to the language. This means practicing at home and on your off-hours. By being able to effectively exchange ideas and discuss with your managers and co-workers, you increase your chances of advancement and new opportunities at work.

3. Embrace the Non-Verbal and Subtle Cues

There are many resources available about the differences between Canadian culture and your home culture. It is crucial to grasp these differences so you can convey an approachable demeanor. You do this by learning and adopting the non-verbal and subtle cues of the Canadian workplace. This includes simple things like making eye contact, saying hello when passing someone in a hallway, and saying good morning and goodbye at the end of the workday. By doing these things, you will make your workday more enjoyable and productive.

4. Grow Your Soft Skills

In Canada, your soft skills are a critical part of your career advancement. These skills include the ability to work on a team, being flexible and open-minded, having a positive attitude, taking initiative, having good time management practices, etc. These skills in some aspects are even more important than your “hard skills”, which refers to your technical knowledge and skillset in a certain field. Soft skills speak to your managerial and advancement potential, which can be more important to your workplace than your other skillsets.

5. Don’t be Afraid to Take Initiative

When you arrived at the immigrant services desk, you probably spoke about taking initiative. Think of the initiative it took you to embark on the journey to come out to a new country! The Canadian workplace places a strong emphasis on the willingness of employees to take initiative in their roles.

6. Understand the Cultural Differences of the Workplace

This can be quite different from the culture in your home country. In many hierarchical type workplaces, initiative isn’t necessarily encouraged. Managers have a stronger presence and are more hands-on in the directing of staff. This may be the case at your new job, but it may not. Canadians have a more egalitarian type of workplace. The managers tend to encourage employees to suggest improvements and take their careers into their own hands. They may look for initiative as a determining factor for advancement. This is crucial to understand because you may work hard, but that may not equal a promotion.

7. Punctuality and Attendance

Canadian workplaces have policies around what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to punctuality and attendance. This can include how to arrange for a sick day or what to do if you will be late. There are also customs that may not be written but are expected to be followed. An expected standard has the same weight as a written standard in most workplaces. An example could be making sure that you are at work 15 minutes before your expected shift. This is when the staff may have an informal talk about the daily responsibilities. By understanding these customs, you can position yourself to advance in the company.

8. Commit to Personal Development

Personal development will grow the skills that help you not only adapt to the workplace culture, but excel in it. Committing to developing personally a little bit every day will teach you all the necessary skills to adapt and grow. Leadership skills, interpersonal skills, conflict resolution and empathetic listening skills will be some of the abilities you will develop by committing to personal growth. They will aid you in your work life as well as in the settlement process in a new country.

9. Be Open with Your Story

Your story is inspiring! Do not be afraid to share it with others. By explaining who you are and why you are here in Canada, you help people understand what your goals and aspirations are. This may lead to a mentoring relationship with a colleague. Even if it does not, you should be proud of your accomplishments thus far and be excited to accomplish more as you grow.

When you apply and use these tips, you will be able to effectively adapt to the Canadian workplace culture, giving yourself the best chance for success. If you are looking for immigrant services to help you successfully settle in Ontario, contact our Newcomer Information Centre today! If you are a newcomer who needs job search support, please get in touch with our Employment Ontario services.

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