Job-Hunting in Small Cities

By Al Parsai

The number of businesses and industries available in small towns is limited, the population is usually not as diverse as in larger cities, many people are family members or close friends. These factors make the job market in small cities different from the large ones, and it also affect the way you may find a job in such areas. Activities such as networking, finding jobs through friends and family, voluntary work, and “cold calls” play important roles in job hunting within small communities.

Other than referral by friends and family members, networking is probably the best method of finding employment opportunities. Networking is the art of friendship with those people who could help you advance your career, find a job, or start or expand your business. It plays an important role in smaller towns because people are in close relationships with each other. The number of people is limited and so is the number of places where they can socialize. People in small cities meet each other more often and therefore they feel closer to each other. It is not surprising if you join a club and find many key members of the community, such as business owners and managers of main industries, to be members of the same club. Join every local club or association that is related to your skills. Members of such clubs have the same interests as you do. They could be your future coworkers, supervisors, or managers. Attend club meetings regularly. Help your club with their activities. Show that you are a valuable member of the club.

If there are no professional clubs or associations in your area then consider joining other clubs that could be helpful to you. For example, join the nearest Toastmasters club. They help you enhance your public speaking abilities. At the same time you can improve your English conversational skills and find many professional friends who could help you get a good job. They may also be your references when you are applying for a position. The Rotary Club and your local Chamber of Commerce are two other organizations that you may consider for networking. Even if you are employed, do not neglect networking. It is essential to maintain your good relationship with those people for better opportunities or “rainy days”.

As a newcomer to Canada you must realize that voluntary work is a key feature of this country. Without volunteers many of the services could not exist or function properly. Volunteers help hospitals, nursing homes, and charities. People respect volunteers and help them find paid jobs. Voluntary work could help you gain Canadian work experience, give you a better understanding of the work environment, and enhance your skills. It is usually easier to do voluntary work in smaller cities as they are less populated.

Preferably volunteer for a “not-for-profit” organization that needs your professional skills. Sometimes the same organization hires you after a while. Some of the organizations that you may consider for voluntary work in small communities are your local hospital, United Way, organizations that offer settlement services to newcomers, thrift stores (such as Salvation Army and Value Village), and seniors homes.

One effective method of finding jobs in small cities is cold calling, which means approaching employers directly. Unlike in larger cities, there are not many employers in small towns. Therefore you may easily reach all those who potentially need your skills. Have several copies of your résumé handy. Walk into every office or business related to your abilities and drop off your résumé. Have a quick chat with the person at the front desk and ask if you could meet with the people who are in charge of hiring. This technique is especially useful when you are dealing with small businesses. As much as twenty percent of the employment happens through this method.

Other methods of job hunting, such as applying online and emailing or faxing résumés and cover letters, are very similar to large cities. The only difference is that in small cities résumés are usually reviewed by a person rather than being scanned by a machine. Therefore the design and layout of the résumé plays a more important role than the keywords you use. Consider this when you are creating your résumé.

Many small cities are built around one or more central businesses such as a paper mill, a manufacturing company, or a government service centre. These businesses hire people from other cities from time to time. If you are considering a job in such companies, do your homework. Make sure the job you are applying for is stable enough to keep you employed for a long period of time. You might need to look for a job outside that city if you lose your current employment.

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Al ParsaiAlireza (Al) Parsai is the Vice President – Board of Directors at the Cultural-Coalition of Chatham-Kent. Al landed in Canada in 2004 and lives with his family in Chatham, in southwest Ontario. He has written several articles about settling in Canada both on his blog Canadian Settler (www.aparsai.ca) and on many other websites and magazines. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.