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Getting a Temporary Survival Job in Canada: A Guide to Success
Whether you are a highly qualified professional or a student in Canada, there are those times when one needs to turn to ‘Plan B’ as it were. If you have been unemployed for a while and need a job, or you need some extra cash, survival jobs are a great option to consider. These jobs provide you with enough money to get by while you get your ducks in a row. There is no shame in taking a temporary survival job, especially when the job market is tight and funds are needed to sustain yourself.
However, it may be easier said than done. Landing a temp job can be tricky given the level of competition that you might face, especially when the market is down. In this blog, we offer you seven tips on what you should and should not do when trying to find and secure jobs in this line of work.
1) Choose a Temporary Survival Job You Like
Before you get too far down the rabbit hole with your job search, consider which line of work will best suit you. If you are an extroverted person who enjoys conversation and music, then you might want to consider becoming a bartender. If you prefer a quieter setting, then maybe a tutor. Either way, just make sure it is something you can enjoy doing. Another benefit it serves is, if you choose a career you like, you drive up your chances of landing the job, given you show genuine enthusiasm.
2) Try to Stay in Your Niche
Before you take up a temporary survival job like tutoring, bartending or general labour, you might want to consider sticking to your field. Even if you have to take a job at a lower position, you retain the element of consistency. This is crucial when you are working towards the dream job you studied and worked for. However, if you do aim for a survival job outside your field, try and go for something that will give you time to search for your dream job.
3) Tone Down the Resume for a Temporary Survival Job
A long, verbose resume with big-wig job titles and experiences shouts ‘over-qualified’. That is something you want to avoid when hunting for a temporary survival job. Yes, you should be honest in your resume. However, it is okay to de-emphasize things that make you more relatable. Your resume should match the level of work you are aiming for. Consider highlighting your strengths and skills in relating to people, work ethic and other things that will allow you to perform the job better.
4) Stay Positive
A positive attitude has a massive impact on the outcome of the interview. let’s say for example, that you were laid off from a high-level job in the manufacturing industry and you have to take up a job as a barista. The interviewer will feel your disdain for serving customers drinks if you come at it as a step-down. Think of it as an opportunity to stay afloat, a life raft of sorts. A grateful and positive attitude will go a long way.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King Jr., American Minister
5) Be Open to Learning New Things from Temporary Survival Jobs
It’s good to be confident in your ability when attending an interview, but humility is also important. Remember, you are trying to land a survival job, for which you may not have any prior experience. Just because you were an expert in the IT department in your old job, doesn’t mean you have the skills to be a top-notch bartender yet. So, be open to learning new things, and communicate that to your interviewer. Let them know that you are very teachable and dependable.
6) Prepare for the Interview
When attending the interview for a temporary survival job, you need to keep three things in mind. The interviewer will be looking for very specific skills, yes, but they also want to know if you have the soft skills it takes to do the job. Specifically, are you a team player, will you cause any problems and are you open to learning on the job. If you can eliminate these concerns coming out the gate, you drive up the chances of landing that job. You can also quench any doubts regarding your over-qualifications by saying things like, “I have always been commended on my people skills.” or ” I know how to calm a situation down.” These statements demonstrate critical social skills that one might need.
7) Don't Get too Personal
Look, you wouldn’t be taking this job if it weren’t for the fact that you are falling on hard times. But, that is no reason to bring that up during the interview unless they ask. Even then just the bare minimum details will do most of the time. Desperation, however real, is not professional, and you should be approaching this job like any other interview. Keep things professional, polite and away from your personal life.
Survival Jobs in Canada: Weighing the Pros and Cons
Leaving your home country and moving to a new one to start a new job and a new life is a big undertaking for anyone. This is part of what makes the life of an immigrant so tough. The life of an immigrant in Canada is no different. Most of the people who move to Canada for new careers hope for some level of career progression. This may even be the primary reason that you move to the country. However, fortune isn’t always on your side and you have to keep your finances in check while you wait for things to take off. This is where Survival jobs in Canada come into play.
To survive in a new country, many immigrants often have to start working within the first few weeks or within the first month of setting foot in Canada. They also join these temporary jobs in Canada to gain some Canadian experience, gather some life savings or support themselves while working towards their primary goals.
In this article, we will introduce the concept of survival jobs, define it, outline the advantages and disadvantages. At the end of it, you should have a holistic understanding of survival jobs in Canada and make more informed decisions going forward. Without further delay, let’s get into it!
What are Survival Jobs in Canada?
As the name suggests, a survival job in Canada helps you survive by covering basic living costs. It allows you to pay the bills while still giving you enough time and room to pursue your primary goals. These types of jobs also have other benefits such as helping you gain experience locally, build up a network and strengthen your language skills. Since these are usually low-skilled jobs you wouldn’t need much professional experience.
Some common examples of survival jobs in Canada are factory or construction workers who take on roles like lab technician, general labour, shipper receivers, machine operators, and so on. It could also be in other industries which would include jobs like being a barista, a server or bartender, sales associate, cleaner, dog walker, and so on.
These jobs are also minimum wage jobs, generally speaking. This means most employers will pay you the minimum hourly or daily wages that they are legally expected to pay. The minimum wage rate in Canada can vary depending on the province or territory. Each province or territory has labour laws that dictate not only the minimum wage but other factors as well. These include working conditions, minimum working age, overtime rules, trade unions, and so on.
Types of Survival Jobs in Canada
There are generally three ways of classifying survival jobs in Canada. You can either do it as a temporary job, a part-time job or a full-time one. If it’s temporary it means you take it on for a fixed short-term duration like a few weeks or months. These are usually contractual. Part-time and full-time survival jobs are exactly what they sound like, with one notable difference. The time of work aside, with short-term jobs, you get more time to yourself and it’s generally more flexible. On the other hand, employees who undertake long-term survival jobs might be entitled to certain perks and benefits that might not be offered to part-time employees.
Advantages of Taking Up Survival Jobs in Canada
1) Pays the Bills – One of the main reasons that people take up survival jobs in Canada is that it pays the bills. It covers the basic expenses so you can focus on building your life. There are also other uses for it. For example, if you were renting an apartment and you need proof of income, this is a quick solution. As per the law, employers cannot pay you less than the minimum wages allocated by the province where you stay. Some jobs like being a waiter or a bartender might give you a little bit more cash in the form of tips, but that depends on where you work, the customers, and your people skills.
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.“ – Colin Powell, Former United States Secretary of State
2) Pick up Soft-Skills – Survival jobs are a great way of building up your professional foundation in Canada. It gives you a feel for the job market and teaches you valuable soft skills that employers look for. One of these skills is language skills, particularly English. What you need to understand is that many immigrants that come to Canada come from all walks of life, and different parts of the world. This means that not everyone speaks English as their first language. Survival jobs allow you to brush up on these skills. Not only that, but you might just pick up a few Canadian slangs along the way!
3) Networking Is a Great Option – Working a survival job, you will likely meet a lot of people along the way. From co-workers to bosses, customers, clients, vendors, and so on. This will serve you well as it can become the foundation of your professional network. Build relationships with people along the way and you can start working your way up the career ladder.
Disadvantages of Taking Up Survival Jobs
1) Low Pay – With any survival job in Canada, you will never make enough that it will allow you to live a luxurious lifestyle. These are minimum wage jobs at best. You will have enough money to pay your bills and not much else for the most part. What’s more, you might have to work overtime some days depending on the industry and the business you’re in.
2) Reduced Hours for Job Search – Look, the very nature of these minimum wage jobs is that you have a flexible schedule. That’s why students take them up all the time. However, if you keep in mind that you do have to put in certain hours and the occasional overtime, you will notice that it doesn’t leave as many hours in the day as you might like to apply to new jobs, network, build your resume and so on. There is flexibility and then there are minimized hours. Keep this in mind when applying for survival jobs in Canada.
3) Complacency – It’s a slippery slope when you consider the working nature of these jobs. As we have mentioned countless times by now, you get enough to get by with this line of work. Some might find that enough and get complacent. This is dangerous as it severely affects your future career prospects as you will not be looking for the work that you studied for. Several underlying issues can come with this, like job dissatisfaction, uncertain financial situations, familial issues, and so on. So, always keep in mind, these jobs are called temporary or survival jobs for a reason, even the long-term ones.
Top 10 Part-Time Jobs in Canada for Students
In recent years, Canada has been one of the most popular destinations for international students to travel to and study. It has great infrastructure, a strong economy, highly-regarded educational standards and so much more. While it does have a lot to offer, it may not always be the most affordable to students who have to fund their day-to-day lives out of their pocket. This is why many international students get part-time jobs to offset the cost of their studies.
As a foreign student, you might wonder if you can work while studying in Canada, as in, would it be viable? The answer to that is a resounding ‘yes’. While you do need a government permit or legal approval, it is doable. Certain part-time jobs in Canada might only require you to work weekends or evenings. Some might be even more flexible, allowing you to plan your schedule around them. In this blog, we explore 10 such part-time jobs in Canada for international students looking to support themselves.
1. Teacher’s Assistant
This is by far one of the most convenient part-time jobs to have when studying in Canada. Many schools and teachers hire teaching assistants to help them with various tasks throughout the term. Some of these duties might include tutoring, helping students, formulating lesson plans, administrative work and even grading student papers.
There are some requirements for the candidates who take up this role. Applicants should have completed at least a year of university or college. They should also have exceptional organizational skills and experience in a relevant course with which they will be assisting. What makes this job so convenient is that you don’t even have to leave campus frequently. There is a caveat though, you have to stay on top of your studies while helping others stay on top of theirs.
2. Server/ Bartender
If you’re a little more inclined towards the service industry and prefer to work in shifts or nights, then this might be more to your liking. Serving or bartending is usually done at night, be it weekdays or weekends. While the hourly wages of this job don’t quite keep pace with the other jobs on this list, it does give you more room to breathe in terms of time management. You get more time to focus on your studies with this part-time job, and hey, there are always those customers who tip well. At the end of the day, how much you earn depends on the establishment you work at, your customers and your people skills.
3. Uber or Lyft Driver
If you’re not much one for sitting behind a desk or waiting on customers, and if you much rather prefer a little movement in life, then this is a part-time job you should consider. This is a rather popular part-time job for students in Canada as they get to drive around, it’s more accessible and flexible as well. All you need is a driver’s license, be 21 years of age, a car and a phone. What’s great is you get to set your work timings with this job.
This is sort of in line with what we mentioned about the teacher’s assistant. Tutoring is a great part-time job for students who excel in certain areas of study. As long as you have the qualifications, knowledge and patience to teach others, you will succeed at this job.
Here we have yet another job that allows you to set your timetable. If you are someone who enjoys working from home or remotely, a freelance job like freelance writing, web designing, copywriting or even graphic designing can be good options for students in Canada. What’s more, often you can set your rates, have a diverse range of clients and have complete control over the quality of work that you produce. This is one of the better part-time jobs if you need more time on your hands.
“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.“ – Vidal Sassoon, British hairstylist
Many students often take up au pair work due to its flexible timings and generally easy-going nature of the job. If you enjoy working with children and have experience caring for them, then this is a good role for you. Many parents seek assistance taking care of their children, from picking them up at school to preparing meals, entertaining them or just simply babysitting. Typically, the hours are flexible and the added advantage here is that you can do your assignments while they sleep. You drive up your chances of landing jobs in this department if you have first-aid and CPR training.
Studying and caffeine go hand-in-hand most of the time. How can you say no to a job where you work with caffeine all day? It is generally very easy-going and enjoyable. Coffee shops love to hire students for their flexible schedules. However, if we are being honest, this is not one of the higher-paying part-time jobs on this list, but it has its upsides. For example, if you work for a big brand like Starbucks, then you get impressive benefits, perks and a decent day’s wage. Fair to say, it is a worthwhile part-time job to have.
This job is all about people skills. While nothing can be said for certain when it comes to working as a salesperson, there are benefits. There could be flexible timings and a decent income in it for you, but that all depends on where you work and the kind of role you take on. Some stores might offer you a commission-based salary or a general monthly income. So, choose wisely based on your schedule and studies.
“Studies serve for delight, for ornaments, and for ability.“ – Francis Bacon, Former Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
9. Dog Walker
If you’re an animal lover, this is one of the best part-time jobs you can have. Keep in mind that, while this job does sound relaxing, it is a little more time-consuming at times. Some dog walkers may be on-call so there is that to consider. You may also have to walk certain dogs, for a certain amount of time, and it varies. There is also the weather to consider, which may not always be ideal. All things considered though, it isn’t that time consuming compared to most jobs. What’s ideal about this is, you can charge higher prices depending on the services you offer and the number of dogs you walk. This could be turned into a free-lance job if you were so inclined. You could add on service offerings like dog-sitting and even grooming if you had the time and facilities.
If you are someone who speaks more than one language, you might be in luck! In Canada, the demand for translators is quite healthy. However, to be a translator, you need to be able to speak, read, and write the language fluently. You need these skills as you may be asked to work on documents, facilitate communication between two or more parties and so on. You could work with a company, or you could do it as an independent agent too. Either way, there is a good scope for this part-time job in Canada for students.
The Federal Skilled Trades Program: Everything You Need to Know
If you are a skilled worker looking to immigrate to Canada, then the Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program is just the thing for you. The Federal Skilled Trades program is one of three major federal immigration programs managed by the Express Entry System. Just like all the other Express Entry systems this one too ranks candidates’ eligibility for qualification with the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). This helps the program runners decide who is eligible and who can be granted a permanent residency visa.
Why Consider the Federal Skilled Trades Program?
According to the Canadian Immigration Law Firm (CANADIM), every year, over half of all the immigrants who enter Canada, are skilled workers. They came in through economic programs such as the Federal Skilled Trades program. If you are a qualified tradesperson with a good level of experience and knowledge, then this program can be a huge boon. It can fast-track your application to move, get you a permanent residency visa, and let you live and work in Canada faster than most other programs.
Do You Qualify?
To qualify for the FST program, you need to have at least two years of industry work experience under your belt. That or an equivalent of that if you worked part-time. This experience will only be taken into consideration if it was obtained within the last five years of you applying to the FST program. Additionally, it will only be considered work experience if you got it after being granted certification, license or equivalent, to practice the trade in your country.
“The beginning is the most important part of the work.“ – Plato, Athenian philosopher
Canada Employment Connection
Aside from work experience, you need to have a valid full-time offer of employment. This offer has to be for a position that is for a minimum of 12 months. Alternatively, you could have a certificate of qualification in your respective skilled trade. This should be issued by a Canadian provincial or territorial authority.
With Canada being a predominantly English and French-speaking country, you need a certain level of language proficiency to make it there. Therefore you need to reach a minimum of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 4 on an approved English or French language test.
If you are applying for the FST program, you need to make it clear that you intend to live outside of the province of Quebec.
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.“ – Seneca, Roman philosopher
Meeting Basic Admissibility Requirements
Given that you have met all the previously mentioned standards and passed, you would be eligible to submit an Express Entry profile for the Federal Skilled Trades program. However, it is still no guarantee that your application will be selected or even finalized. For that, you need to meet Canada’s basic admissibility requirement. This means that certain criminal offenses and/or medical conditions may make your application inadmissible to enter Canada this way.
What You Need to Know When Applying to the FST Program
As mentioned before, having the qualifications and the certification is no guarantee that you will get a permanent residency visa, and neither is having a submitted Express Entry application. Only after submitting it will you be assigned a CSR score, and only then will you be considered in future Express Entry draws for Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence.
When you are applying, you need to provide lots of documentation and details. For one, you need to provide results from your language test, taken within the last two years. Then there is all the proof of identification documents. Ideally, you and all your accompanying dependents need to have a valid passport to travel.
Another thing you need to watch out for is educational documents. While this isn’t necessary for the Federal Skilled Trades program, it does help bring up your CRS score.
At the end of the day, there are no guarantees when it comes to the Express Entry system or the Federal Trades. But for those who do qualify, this is a great way to go about getting your career started in Canada as a skilled trades worker.