Whether you want to work as an electrician or an engineer in Vancouver, you may find that its hard to get a job without Canadian work experience.

Even if you have significant work experience in your home country, most local employers prefer Canadian work experience. In other words, overseas experience is better than no experience, but nothing beats having a Canadian job on your resume!

Canadian employers feel more confident hiring an immigrant who has already worked in the country, as he or she will be familiar with things like the local job market, workplace norms and etiquette for instance.

So you need to stand out from the competition, but how can you do that when you lack Canadian work experience?

We know it can be difficult, so here are six tips on getting some Canadian work experience so you can land a great job in BC:

- Get reference letters. Reference letters from your previous employers in your home country can be very helpful in convincing potential employers in Vancouver or BC that you are the perfect fit for the job. If you dont have previous employers to contact, get a letter from someone who knows you well and can vouch for your character - a neighbour or teacher, for example.

- Volunteer. No, you wont be able to pay your rent by volunteering, but think of it as networking! By putting in some time at a local organization, you can gain valuable skills and meet lots of new people. Try to get a volunteer position in your industry; for example, if you want to work in sales, join the marketing department of a local charitable organization.

- Join the professional association in Vancouver or BC for your industry. Most industries have a professional association you can become a part of. You may be able to attend interesting events, meet new contacts, or volunteer with the organization to gain work experience.

- Look for an internship. Internships are a type of on-the-job training for professionals. Internships may be unpaid or paid (frequently low-paying). However, youll be gaining excellent skills in your field and can walk away with work experience and a glowing reference letter. Search for internships on local job sites or through websites such as Vancouver Internships.

- Reach out for help. You are not on your own in your job search! There are agencies such as Immigrant Services Society of BC, MOSAIC, and the YMCA, which offer newcomers services in multiple languages at various locations in Greater Vancouver. 

- Hone your skills. While you are looking for a job, work on yourself! For example, if youre shy about public speaking, consider taking a course through Toastmasters Vancouver, where you can practice communication and leadership skills in a friendly, supportive environment. Employers are looking for people with good communication skills, who are assertive and confident in the workplace, so learning to communicate better will serve you well.

Remember, anything you can do to enhance your work experience, education, and personal skills will be a great asset in any workplace.