How to find survival jobs in canada

By Remitbee - Feb 3, 2021

Survival jobs in Canada: Newcomer’s guide

Moving to Canada in search of new opportunities is a brave decision. Not everyone has the courage to do that.

No one moves to Canada because it’s the most affordable, but you believe in yourself enough to make the move anyway. You plan to land your dream job here one way or another. Though some people are lucky to find their dream job before their savings run out, most newcomers need another plan.

In recent years, it’s become more common to get a survival job while waiting to secure a dream job. And now you might be wondering if it’s a good idea for you. That’s why we’ve created this guide where we’ll cover exactly what survival jobs are, its pros and cons, and tips for finding a survival job that’ll still allow you to land your dream job.

Let’s jump into it.

What are survival jobs?

Survival jobs are jobs people get to afford basic things to survive, like food, shelter, and a decent social life, while pursuing their dream job. These types of jobs have traditionally been associated with aspiring actors and athletes, but now it’s becoming more common for all types of people.

Survival jobs are known for certain qualities such as being highly available and requiring little to no experience. Certain survival jobs, like being a sales rep, are known for having a high turnover meaning they are usually always hiring.

Some common examples of survival jobs include being a customer service rep, barista, bartender, sales rep, warehouse worker, rideshare driver, and server, to name only a few. Some people may think it’s embarrassing to pick up one of these jobs at an older age, but keep in mind many people who became successful later in life held one of these types of jobs until they reached their big break (e.g., Chris Rock, Nicki Minaj).

Depending on how you approach it, taking up a survival job can be something you look back on with positive memories.

Pros/Cons survival jobs

A key factor in making the most of your job search when looking for a survival job is adjusting your mindset around it. Survival jobs could be super beneficial to some people or a big mistake for others depending on the way they approach it. To help with your mindset when getting a survival job or to help you determine if survival jobs are right for you, we’ll go over some pros and cons.

First, let’s go over positives:

  • Networking opportunity: Survival jobs are a great way to meet people who could be important in landing your dream job. It’s like the old saying goes “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” They say up to 85% of jobs in Canada are never listed online and are learned about through connections.
  • Canadian experience: A lot of Canadian companies consider your Canadian experience when hiring. How well do you understand interpersonal communication within Canada? Traditions? Language? Do you have anyone within Canada that can provide a local reference and vouch for your work ethic? These are all things survival jobs can help you with that employers look for.
  • Money coming in: Some would argue that some income is better than no income. Watching your savings plummet might give you a lot of anxiety and this stress can negatively impact your career search.
  • Opportunity to get foot in the door: Some survival jobs give you an opportunity to work for a company before you get offered your dream position there. For example, if you want a career in marketing, you could possibly start off as a sales rep for a company with a marketing department. Then work really hard and impress the right people within the company.

And now, some possible negative factors include:

  • Complacency: A lot of people can get comfortable with a survival job and lose motivation to find their dream job. Sometimes survival jobs come with flexible hours and the ability to easily trade shifts last second, which allows newcomers the freedom to have a very active social life at the expense of their careers.
  • Tiredness: If you choose a survival job working long hours, you may be too tired to put your best foot forward towards your career search.
  • Less time: If you pick up a survival job, you will have less time to devote to your career job search.

You should take into account your tendencies and personality when considering if the negative factors are deal breakers. If you have a tendency to get complacent, picking up a survival job might not be the best plan if you really want to land your dream job. However, if you’re super goal-oriented and know you’ll stick to your plan, getting a survival job offers many benefits as listed.

How to find a job in Canada

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably determined that a survival job is right for you. Next let’s go over how to find one.

There are a variety of ways to find survival jobs in Canada including:

  • Online: Perhaps the most common option is looking online. Some popular sites in Canada include,,, Monster Canada, and LinkedIn.
  • In-person: It may be beneficial in certain jobs like hospitality or construction to walk around and hand in a resume or ask if they’re hiring in person.
  • Word of mouth: Sometimes making friends and asking around is a great way to learn about a vacancy. You could make friends through Facebook groups for expats near you, attend networking events or meetups, join a sports team, or simply make friends at hostels.

Other paths to find a survival job include seeking hostel job boards or using a recruitment agency which often has good connections in exchange for a reasonable fee.

Tips for maintaining a survival job while looking for dream job

The end-goal is eventually landing your dream job. And there are certainly some survival jobs that make it easier than others to continue your search. Next we’ll go over some tips to help you maintain a survival job while continuing your search.

Consider looking for a job that allows more flexible hours like a restaurant. Usually people are willing to pick up shifts last second if you land a dream job interview. Alternatively, consider choosing a job that allows you to work mostly nights, which won’t interfere with your job search as most career jobs close around 5pm.

Also, make use of resources available to you by the Canadian government. Start with this directory for services for newcomers to find services available near you. Some examples include Acces employment in Ontario and the YMCA.

Putting it all together

A survival job is what you make of it and there are a lot of positives to gain by being open-minded to its benefits. These types of jobs open up opportunities to meet many new people and gain valuable Canadian experience. Soon you’ll be on your way to landing your dream job if you approach getting a survival job with the right mindset.

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