Many dream of leaving the UK behind and Canada is a tempting destination. Caroline Tolond advises on how to prepare for such a life-changing move

Many dream of leaving the UK behind and Canada is a tempting destination. Caroline Tolond advises on how to prepare for such a life-changing move


Caroline Toland is the RSC’s careers advisor

Q  My partner and I would like to relocate to Canada, but I’m unsure what the scientific job market is like out there. Postdocs and permanent positions are both options at this stage in my career, but do you have any advice on relocating? I’m keen to make this move work as we’re considering emigrating there in the long term. 

As with any major geographical move, doing your homework on the area is an essential part of the job search process. In an ideal world you would look for your ideal job but if you are fixed to an area sometimes you have to adjust your aims to find something that works on both a personal and professional level - compromise can be important. 

Canada is a country with skills shortages but it doesn’t mean that it won’t be a challenge to find a new role and adapt to the culture. A good place to start is the Canadian government’s website Going to Canada (see Related Links box). The site has a vast amount of information on it, with advice on moving, living and working in the country, including a link to an online self-assessment if you want to check your eligibility to become a permanent resident. For a different perspective it is also worth looking at the Graduate Prospects country profiles which have information on working and studying in over 50 countries, including Canada.

If you’re at the stage of deciding where in Canada to relocate to then remember that the country has two official languages, English and French, and it varies as to which language dominates in each province. It isn’t compulsory to speak both languages but it would provide you with flexibility on location. With this in mind, if needed you could consider taking language classes in preparation for making a more permanent move, or you could apply for the official Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) programme when you get there. 

Persistence pays off 

In terms of looking for a position, many job websites now operate globally so start by identifying and bookmarking appropriate sites. Be persistent and methodical about your approach. Going through your bookmarks once a week for an hour will be more productive than looking for hours at a time once a month. There are a handful of good quality job sites specific to Canada - the two I found were which advertises academic research positions and Workopolis, which seems to be one of the larger generic job websites for Canada and includes scientific positions. Alternatively, if you are looking for companies working in a specific discipline in a particular location then you can always use online business directories like the Canadian Yellow Pages to search for companies by type and then check their websites to see if they are recruiting or if they accept speculative applications.  

A lot of the advice on job seeking from the Canadian government parallels that of the advice I would suggest for anyone looking for work in the UK. In both countries networking is an important part of the process, so if you know people in Canada or have contacts with research groups you would like to work for, get in touch with them for advice on looking for jobs or to see if they know of any positions that might be coming up. The job market has many hidden opportunities! If you don’t have personal networks in Canada then identify online forums that might be useful and get involved with them;,,, as well as non-scientific networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook could all provide useful contacts and information. 

While moving country might provide a fresh challenge, some of the concerns about doing postdocs in the UK - such as the limited number of permanent academic and industrial positions to move on to - are also being discussed in North American postdoc communities. The National Postdoctoral Association website and blogs such as Don’t leave Canada behind (covering the science and technology policy scene in Canada) make for useful reading when planning a move and to support your career planning should you relocate. 

In summary, do your homework about living and working in Canada: start looking at job adverts for positions over there, initially to gauge the recruitment market and then to make applications, and build a network of contacts there before you leave.