Employment History, References & Recommendations

A Canadian employer will almost always check a job applicant’s previous employment and references. This is a general practice among employers in Canada. They will not only go through the employment documents that you provide, but also contact your previous employers, schools and/or colleges to learn more about your job history or educational qualifications.

An employer will also contact references that you provide. References are people who know you well or people that you may have worked with, and who will share what they know about you with your prospective employer. You will need to provide 3-4 professional references (people that you have worked with, especially your direct supervisor) and 1-2 personal references.

Why do employers do reference checks? Because this helps the employer verify the information that  you have given. It also helps them get a second opinion on your capabilities.

Is this done only for newcomers? No, it is not. Reference checks are done for all job applicants.

What will they ask? They will want to know your employment period with your previous companies, why you left, position, responsibilities, performance, accomplishments, attitude, traits etc.

Before you come to Canada, you need to gather references from your previous employers

Gathering your employment documents takes time, so you will need to begin this about 2 months before you leave. You will need to do 3 things:

    1. Ensure that you have all your employment papers in order before you arrive in Canada. You need to have documents that clearly state your start and end date, along with your title while working at your current & previous companies. 

    2. Find out from your current & previous employers, which department/person is responsible to give information when a reference check is done. Ensure that you get that person’s/department’s e-mail and contact number. If a particular person is responsible for this activity, ensure that you also get the e-mail and contact number of a back-up. This should be done for each company that you have worked for.

    When a Canadian employer asks for your permission to check your references, you can provide this information to them so that they can go to the right person in your previous companies and get the information they need. This will make it easier, save them time and help them quickly make the final decision on your employment.  Also, this will help you know what your previous employers are going to say about you.

    3. Get permission from your current & previous supervisors/colleagues to be your references. Remember, the picture they portray of you may make or break your employment prospects in Canada. Therefore, choose your references carefully. If you are confident of them giving a positive response when asked about you, then you will need to get their e-mail and contact number at which they would like to be contacted.

    The people that agree to become your references may not be able to easily speak about your accomplishments, and you need to  be able to coach them on this. Especially when a manager has a lot of team members he/she is supervising. An effective way to do this is to try and get a recommendation letter from them. A recommendation letter clearly states how this person knows you and what are your accomplishments he/she remembers when working with you. Recommendation letters have 2 uses – firstly, you can submit them to your prospective employers in Canada. Secondly, when resent back to your supervisor just before he/she is contacted by an employer in Canada, it can help refresh his/her memory to help them speak to your benefit.

    Getting a recommendation letter is not the easiest thing and many people don’t even know how to write one. So when asking for a recommendation letter, make the first draft and share it with that person. Your reference can then choose to edit it as needed, and gives them a great starting point. Also, the resistance of making a recommendation letter will be much lesser as the person does not need to start from scratch, and you can subtly influence what they will say about you.

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