Insights

Tips for Newcomers: How to Get Your First Supply Chain Job in Canada

April 30, 2019

Every day, we at Argentus hear from more newcomers seeking their first Supply Chain job in Canada. We hear from people from all over – India, China, Pakistan, Ireland, Nigeria, Brazil. Some have tons of international experience at global Fortune 500 companies. Others are fresh out of university. All are confronting something that can be a daunting, even discouraging task: finding that first great Supply Chain role to get their foot in the door of the Canadian market. 

Immigration is no easy task, and finding a position that matches your skills and experience can be one of the hardest parts.  It can take time, and patience, but it can be done (and, judging from the experiences of candidates we work with, regularly is). Some companies still require “Canadian Experience,” which represents a real, if unfair, barrier to entry.

But here’s the great news for newcomers: Canada is in a Supply Chain talent crisis. We’re experiencing a shortage of skilled candidates as the baby boomer generation retires, and the industry still isn’t doing enough to get young people interest in the field. The upshot: as we’ve blogged about before, skilled and experienced newcomers are one of the biggest sources of talent for Canada’s Supply Chain jobs market.

As a boutique recruitment firm specialized entirely within Supply Chain Management, Procurement and Logistics, it’s a part of Argentus’ mission to give advice to people in the field – and that includes the newcomers who are helping to become part of the Supply Chain economy. We’ve been recruiting in this industry for almost 20 years, and we’ve learned a few things.

So here are our biggest pieces of advice for newcomers seeking their first Supply Chain role in Canada (a caveat, this advice is for those who are looking for a role when they arrive, with enough of a financial cushion to be a bit patient.)

1. Situate Your Personal Branding in a Canadian Context.

You might commonly read that resumes in Canada are different from overseas. This is true to an extent. A Canadian CV should be about two pages, detailing only the last ten years, without personal information such as personal photos and salary information. You should update your LinkedIn profile to show your new city (Toronto, Vancouver, etc.), which is helpful for recruiters who tend to search via location. This link at Settlement.org gives some great non-Supply Chain-specific advice for how to format your resume for a Canadian context.

But beyond that, there are a few things you should do for a Supply Chain-specific resume. Employers in this field want to see resumes packed full of accomplishments, not just lists of “duties performed.”  (See our article about how to create an accomplishment-based resume). It’s also very helpful to give recruiters and employers as much context as possible about your overseas experience. If you haven’t worked for a universally-recognizable company, say a bit about what it does. Just because a company is big overseas doesn’t mean every Canadian employer has heard of it. If you’re in Procurement, detail exactly what category of goods and services you’ve bought in. (For more info, see our article about giving context for experience on a resume).

2. You might have to take a step down, but don’t sell yourself short.

According to a 2017 Maclean’s study, there’s still a 16% wage gap between first-generation immigrants and native-born Canadians, despite the fact that many immigrants are highly skilled. Judging by our recruitment experience, the level of Supply Chain-specific skills among newcomers is high. But any companies still require “Canadian experience,” which is often an unfair requirement in a world where many newcomers have experience with global Fortune 500 companies. Some employers have trouble evaluating overseas experience and education, and there’s still, unfortunately, some discrimination.

Most newcomers are aware of this, and recognize that they might have to take a bit of a step down from their level of seniority in their home country.

It’s a healthy approach to increase your flexibility to reflect the on-the-ground reality. It’s a smart strategy, and a fact of life. But our advice is to avoid selling yourself short. There are options that will allow you to avoid taking a “survival job” outside of Supply Chain or Procurement. Figure out how to communicate the depth and breadth of your foreign experience. Be as patient as circumstances allow, because, as we said above, Supply Chain skills are in high demand – it’s just a matter of finding the right opportunity. One is to consider contract work in the field (say a 6 or 12 month assignment) as a way to get Canadian experience and as an onramp to permanent employment. Having a top company on your resume, no matter if it’s contract or permanent, shows how well you’ve adapted to the Canadian context, and makes you more marketable afterward.

3. Canadian education is an excellent landing pad.

As we mentioned above, we wish it weren’t the case, but some companies have issues recognizing overseas education. That’s why many consider getting some Canadian education to be an excellent landing pad for newcomers in Supply Chain. It’s a great “bridge” to finding your first role. Many schools offer support for newcomers to Canada, you can show employers the proactive steps you’re taking for your career even if you aren’t employed, and you boost your skills in the process. You don’t need to do a whole new 4 year degree, but an MBA or designations as the SCMP or APICS are excellent ways to boost your skills and add some Canadian education to your profile without a life-changing time commitment. See our article exploring the best degrees for Supply Chain Management to see our thoughts on a few of the options.

4. Consider working with a Supply Chain recruiter.

Ahem: if you’ll allow us to trumpet ourselves for a moment, the representation of a specialist, reputable recruiter in your field can be tremendously valuable in getting your first role in Canada. If you don’t already have considerable Supply Chain or Procurement experience, we’re not going to be able to help, but if you do – especially if it’s at a multinational brand recognizable to Canadians – we can help get past the ATS systems behind job postings that often stand as a barrier. At Argentus, we work on a set of jobs that our clients need filled at any given time, so that means we can’t help absolutely everyone at all times. But we’ve worked with a considerable number of newcomers to get them situated in great opportunities within Canada.

This advice isn’t exhaustive, but it should hopefully provide a bit of Supply Chain-slanted info as you help situate yourself in Canada. Let us know in the comments if you have any more tips to add, and of course, if you’re looking for a new role in Supply Chain, Procurement and / or Logistics, reach out to Argentus today!

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