Starting a New Job in Canada: Guide in Navigating Your First Workday

Whether you’re a new or experienced worker, starting a new Canadian job could be intimidating. There is great pressure to perform well and expectations to achieve greater things. The nervousness and excitement of having a new environment, coworkers, and responsibilities present themselves on your first day. 

Here are some of the ways to successfully navigate your first day of work in Canada. Follow this guide to leave your managers and coworkers with a good lasting impression of you.

Table of Contents

BEFORE Your First Day of Work in Canada

1. Get to know your company (website, social media, and reviews)

When you first start working in Canada, it’s important to get to know your company. This includes familiarizing yourself with the company’s core values, mission, and vision. Reading up on what the company does and how it operates will help you better understand your role and the company’s work environment. You can view your new employer’s social media to get to know the products and services, read the company’s blogs to learn more about what they stand for, and check your new employer’s reviews (both human resource and products/services) to see a snapshot of who the organization is from the perspective of the workers and the customers.

A packet of information about your new company brings you some form of confidence. By taking the time to learn about your new company, you have already taken a step further in better contributing to its success.

2. Ready your documents, don’t forget to bring a pen!

Make sure you have all of your documents ready, including your passport, work permit (if applicable), and any other required documentation. You will also want to bring a pen with you so that you can fill out any paperwork that is given to you. Being prepared ahead of time will help make the process smoother and less stressful.

Here is the list of the documents you need to ready before beginning your first workday:

  • Certificate of Birth, Canadian Citizenship, or Registration of Birth Abroad
  • Work Permit, PR Card, or Permanent Resident Confirmation
  • Record and Verification of Landing
  • Copy of Resume/CV and Job Offer
  • Valid IDs and Social Security Card
  • School and Employment Records

3. Review your job description and write down questions

Now that you know tidbits about your new company, it’s important to read your job description and learn what is expected of you. A job description includes the outline of your tasks and responsibilities and it often includes the department and the managers who you will be working with. This will help you condition your mind about your new work. After reviewing, you may want to list down all of the questions related to your job such as:

  • Who (people or departments) are responsible for specific tasks?
  • When are the meetings and other organizational occasions held?
  • What are the Canadian holidays to watch out for project deadlines?
  • What are the common challenges departments face?
  • How are the tasks and activities done (i.e. standard operating procedures)?

4. Ready your clothes and plan your commute

Are you working on a virtual, physical, or hybrid setup? If you’re working on a virtual setup, you only need to worry about your shirts, lighting, virtual background, and the internet. But working in a physical or hybrid setting is different from a virtual setup. You will need to find suitable clothes to wear that help set the right first impression. You may want to reach out to HR and ask what type of clothes to wear before your first day (i.e. casual, uniform, suit and tie).

Planning your commute involves getting familiar with the streets of Canada. You have to learn the cost-efficient and cost-effective way to get from your Canadian home address to your workplace, and likewise. You could ask for advice from the human resource representatives at your new job. Alternatively, you may also utilize some of the widely known Canadian transportation apps until you get acquainted with Canada’s transit system.

Best Canadian Transit Tools for Local and Foreign Workers

5. Familiarize yourself with the Canadian work culture (the do’s and don’ts)

What is it like to work in a Canadian workplace? What are the differences between the Canadian and other countries’ work cultures? In Canada, is it alright to greet someone on a first name basis even if it’s your supervisor or is it better to say Ma’am or Sir? Do Canadians see overtime as a form of hard work or as a failure to manage your time well?

Before you start your first day make sure you are well-read about the working precepts in Canada. How Canadians work might be different from the country you came from. Learning about Canadian workplace values could help you avoid culture shock and could help you set the right foot.

Canadian Workplace Culture: Similarities and Differences with Other Countries

Honesty, Directness, and TransparencyCanadian Work Culture
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Canadians are open and honest in their communication. They say what they think in a courteous way. They are sensitive to the sentiments of their fellow workers.
Indirectness or Increased StraightforwardnessOther Countries’ Work Culture
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In Russia and other Eastern European countries, workers are forthright compared to Canadians. Instead of disrespect, directness is seen as a sign of admiration and honesty.

In many Asian countries, people avoid having their coworkers lose respect for themselves. They are diplomatic and prioritize other people's sentiments.

EqualityCanadian Work Culture
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In Canada, all workers are on an equal footing. Workplace status is observed in a less-obvious way.
Status or PositionOther Countries’ Work Culture
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In Russia and China, roles are defined by whether one individual is subordinate or superior to another.
Self-Direction or Auto-PilotCanadian Work Culture
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Employees are frequently assigned tasks and asked to figure out how to complete them. They must be willing to put in long hours and take initiative.
Hierarchy or Non-AutonomousOther Countries’ Work Culture
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Employees are given specific instructions on what to do and how to perform tasks. East Asian and South Asian cultures, for example, have a steep pyramid. The senior boss or chief issues explicit orders that staffs are expected to follow.
Welcoming to ChangesCanadian Work Culture
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New concepts are warmly welcomed. Organizations are constantly shifting and adapting to changes.
Traditionally InclinedOther Countries’ Work Culture
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Individuals in various Asian cultures are encouraged to honor their ancestors and to follow the rites, customs, and beliefs of their forefathers and mothers.
Time Passes QuicklyCanadian Work Culture
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In Canada, punctuality is critical. Employees must save time and stay organized. Many workers use schedules and time management skills.
Walking Through TimeOther Countries’ Work Culture
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Workers in South America and countries similar to Indonesia are relaxed and unhurried. They work fewer hours and believe that what isn't completed today will be completed tomorrow.
Short-Term Business OutlookCanadian Work Culture
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Canadian businesses are preoccupied with short-term objectives. They track their progress on a quarterly basis
Long-Term Business OutlookOther Countries’ Work Culture
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In countries such as Japan, short-term goals are often sacrificed to achieve long-term objectives. They care more about what the business will be in the long run.
Individualism and PrivacyCanadian Work Culture
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Workers do not share their salaries with other people. They value personal privacy and respect individual needs.
GroupOther Countries’ Work Culture
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People often consult other groups before making any form of decision. Salaries are public information like in the Chinese workplace culture.
Work Defines OneselfCanadian Work Culture
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Many people define themselves by their occupation. They work hard and prioritize their careers, even sacrificing personal time.
Work Doesn’t Define OneselfOther Countries’ Work Culture
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People are not defined by their occupations. It is permissible to ignore work. Family life is valued more highly than work.

6. Prepare your 15-seconds elevator pitch!

Imagine yourself going into an elevator to find a coworker who doesn’t know who you are and what you do for the company. You have only 15 seconds to introduce yourself and make the first impression… That’s your elevator pitch! Be ready when someone asks you who you are, what you love to do, or why you resigned from your previous company. Make it short and sweet, crisp but impactful!

Here are some good examples of a 15-seconds pitch:

“Hey there! I am John and I currently live in Building 1 in Alberta. I love to have coffee and do welding crafts during my free time. I hope to have a fruitful working bond with everyone.”

“Hi, I’m Eben! I am from the United States. I recently acquired my visa thanks to Company 1. This is my first day of work and I am excited to get to know everyone. My office is in the operations department, I hope to see you around!”

DURING Your First Day of Work in Canada

1. Get to know your team in Canada (tip: join others for lunch!)

Your team will be with you for the rest of your time in your new company. They are the ones whom you will be working with, except when your job entails cross-department communication. Having a good relationship with your team could help you navigate your work smoothly. Do a mental note of who is responsible for what and who to best reach out for what. You may also want to join them for lunch, it’s during snack time when their professional guards are down. Get to know the things they like and the things about your new company that you will only learn during lunch talks!

2. Observe, ask questions, observe…

It’s your first day, do not lay yourself completely bare so easily. Instead, observe and listen more than you talk. Asking questions could help you learn and digest more information about the company, the management, and the team. Remember, no company is perfect. Don’t get discouraged if some things don’t go your way or aren’t what you expected. Set your boundaries, and decide based on those realistic boundaries and personal values.

3. Read your onboarding materials carefully!

Onboarding and other materials are typically given either on your first day of work or before your working date. These materials typically include your goals for the first month or the entire quarter set by your direct reports. It outlines the basics of your job to get you started. Many Canadian businesses don’t usually tell you how to do your job. Often, you have the leeway to strategize how you want your tasks done as long as you communicate it clearly to the management and as long as you are achieving your goals. The management will tell you if they want things done a certain way. Alternatively, you may outrightly ask to avoid miscommunication and misalignment of goals. 

AFTER Your First Day of Work in Canada

1. Assess your first workday at your new job!

Get your notepad and take down all of what you have learned or probably review the notes that you have taken during your first day. Assess how you would position yourself in your new company – from the signing in and signing out of your work time stamp. Do not expect to know everything in one day, this is just the first out of many days in your new company. Enjoy the journey and take time to observe more and learn more!

2. Establish your “before, during, and after work” routine

Time management is a critical skill in Canada. Canadians value time more than any other country does. It’s important to set your alarm and schedule your routine activities as it is important to time in at work at exactly 9 AM. Decide on the date you will hang out with your family or friends as well as when to do your laundry and groceries so you could save your energy.

3. Plan and set your work and career goals in Canada

Now that you have a glimpse of experience in your new Canadian job, work on your career planning notebook and start journaling your plans for the next months and years to come. Most Canadians view jobs as something that defines who they are, you don’t have to follow this although, if you are someone who plans and visualizes your future, setting your goals and mind to achieving them are a good way to start right as an international (or local) worker in Canada.

Are you ready to achieve great things?

Your first workday in Canada can be a bit daunting, but if you follow these simple tips, it will be a breeze! Remember to dress for success, be on time and prepared, and take the time to get to know your colleagues. With a little preparation and effort, your first day will be off to a great start. We hope all the best for you on this new life step, get ready to do amazing things!

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