Canada’s job market is different from that of the US and other countries, in ways that can make applying for CPA jobs difficult. The population is smaller and the workforce age is younger and more educated, resulting in a much more competitive atmosphere when it comes to the Canadian job market.
While it may be more difficult than other countries, it isn’t impossible to find jobs in Canada with a CPA certification or a CMA certification if that’s the route you decide to take. Try some of these suggestions to help you find a great job.
1) Prior Experience
For the most part, prior experience is only applicable to Canadian CPA jobs if the experience was based in Canada. This can serve as a Catch-22: You can’t get a job in Canada without prior experience, and you can’t get prior experience without a job in Canada.
However, working for one of the Big 4 companies can serve as an effective job experience, as these are well-known accounting firms with global influence.
These four accounting firms are Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and KPMG. Having job experience with any of these four companies, in whatever capacity, counts as viable work experience when applying to work at any other company in the world, and Canada is no exception.
2) Soft Skills
Part of the reason why so many jobs in Canada, even at the entry-level, require job experience in Canada is due to their reliance on candidates with soft skills. These are professional skills that are separate from a standard CPA skill set acquired from the certification process.
The specifics of these soft skills are vague, but they seem to rely mostly on communication abilities, such as knowledge of business jargon, small talk and the ability to defuse conflict and accept constructive criticism.
Showing proficiency in these areas is instrumental in getting past the interview stage of the job searching process, although it can be difficult to express these capabilities on your resume.
3) Additional Training
Even with CPA or CMA certification in the US or other countries, it is highly recommended that you pursue CPA certification in Canada when looking for Canadian accounting jobs. With such a competitive job market, local experience is king, and this even includes local experience in the certification process.
Many accountants from other countries that move to Canada looking for work will find jobs in other fields, such as retail or customer support while undergoing further study and certification on the side. This may seem superfluous if you have already been through several years of education in other countries, but this can serve as a terrific boost to your Canadian CPA job prospects as it will accustom you to some of the aforementioned soft skills Canadian businesses look out for, as well as providing the local experience.
This is the most important factor in determining your chances of success in finding a CPA job in Canada. You will need to fill plenty of applications and send out resumes to several different businesses before getting your first interview. Even once you get to the interview process, many employers will simply go cold, never following up with additional interviews or even a formal rejection.
The most effective skill you can have when it comes to finding a job in Canada is perseverance and patience. It means understanding that it can take around 60 or more applications before your first interview: in some cases, up to 100.
The ability to persist in the face of constant rejection is what will allow you to gain job opportunities others won’t have, due to their lack of patience causing them to pursue other career paths.
With such high barriers of entry, it may seem questionable as to whether or not it is actually worthwhile to pursue a CPA career in Canada. Rest assured, it is definitely worth the effort. Canadian job satisfaction is ridiculously high, mainly due to high job security and an excellent work/life balance.
With the right skills, experience, and motivation, you can definitely find an excellent long-lasting career in Canada with your CPA certification.