“Young people lack the social skills for a successful job search.”

Have you ever heard this claim? Whether it is true or not, many employers do see a gap between how they expect new grads to behave when applying for a job, and what actually happens.

Whether you are new to Canada, or new to job searching, it is important to understand the expectations that employers have for you both during the application process and once you start working with them.

Business email etiquette

We all know how to email, but do you know how to email professionally? If you will be communicating with an organization’s clients, you have to demonstrate that you have the skills to maintain their professional image.

The emails that you send to an employer during the application process showcase your email communication style—they can be a sample work project to the potential employer. So eliminate typos, avoid being too informal and provide context to any email that you send. And don’t spam a potential employer!

Show initiative

Never underestimate the power of showing initiative in a workplace. Even if you are working in a support position, your manager does not expect, or want, to have to constantly be telling you what to do. Demonstrate your true value by showing initiative without being pushy. Don’t be afraid to offer your opinion on improving business processes—after all, you were hired for a reason.

Say yes

In a workplace, you don’t want to be known as the person who doesn’t help out, the one who picks and chooses what they do.

If your manager is looking for a volunteer to help out, say yes. Not only will you position yourself as a good worker, you will also have the opportunity to learn new skills. Remember, the indirect communication style used in many Canadian offices means that a request for help is not always optional—they expect you to say yes!

Fit in

How often have you heard that someone is—or is not—a good fit for an organization? In addition to having the technical skills, employers want to hire someone who fits in with their organizational culture—someone who won’t ‘rock the boat.’

Before you start in a new job, you should try to find out as much about their culture as possible to make sure that it appeals to you. You will be expected to adapt to their culture, not the other way around.


Respect for others is of the upmost importance in the majority of Canadian workplaces. Conflict-avoidance is the norm and you will be expected to be courteous to everyone that you work with, no matter what their level of seniority is. In turn, you should be respected by everyone that you work with and know where to go for help if anyone’s behaviour is making you uncomfortable.

Ok, now what?

If this seems like a lot to learn, don’t worry. On Tuesday, November 24, Eilidh Sligo from Career Services will be holding a free, lunchtime workshop focused on how you should behave during a job search and within a Canadian workplace.

Join Eilidh from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Library Building LB186. Register or drop-in. All Capilano University students and alumni are welcome.

Submitted by Eilidh Sligo, Career Services