The Quebec Employment Ladder: One Rung at a Time

The Quebec Employment Ladder: One Rung at a Time

For non-francophones making the decision to settle in Quebec province, regularly moving from job to job, getting (re) qualified, and biding time are just some of the things that must be accepted when trying to find a job here.

Regardless of how qualified you are, or how well suited you think you are to the job opening that you have spotted, most employers here, well certainly in the Quebec City region, when specifying ‘must be bilingual’ or ‘must have a knowledge of English and French’ actually mean that they’re looking for a francophone that happens to be able to speak at least a bit of English – and most definitely not the other way around.

Many non-francophones moving to Quebec do thrive and have a great life here, but usually only after accepting the situation as stated above.

But you CAN do it, the key is to NEVER give up, as Vida Delfin Verreault, an immigrant herself, explains here:

Job-Hopping – an all too familiar story of looking for work in Québec

Three weeks after I started my job as a “Retirement Processing Agent” (Agentes de rentes in French) in the government of Québec (La fonction publique), I can still feel the relief.

Two and a half years ago, when I arrived in Québec City, I was excited to get my first job. I started my research, prepared a list of possible employers and read all the job postings that I could find. Only to realize that I possessed a major handicap that is, not speaking French at all.

I felt deceived as my excitement was half-baked. This mislead inspired me a lot to learn the French language. I went to various schools as I do not like to have in between pauses. I took one French course after the other. Finally on my 6th month in this French-speaking city, I got a job as a Sales lady in one of the souvenir boutiques in Vieux Québec.

It was March, 2011 and I was receiving the minimum salary of $ 9.65. I was happy and the owner was happy to find someone who could speak English. I was in charge of operating the manual cashier and talking to customers which I remember doing way back in the Philippines 20 years ago, in the gift shop that my parents and I operated.

After 6 months, I realized I hated sweeping the floor every 9 PM before closing. On my 1st year anniversary in Québec, I found my 2nd job as a Receptionist in a Hotel Spa.

Here I experienced the unstructured and nippy training provided by small companies. With $11 dollars per hour, I was a bit more satisfied not having to sweep the floor this time but folding the bath robes before putting them in a specific locker.

As I was also studying full time, after 3 months, requirements were stronger on my MBA, so I decided to leave the job and concentrate on my schooling. Not long after, between January and May, 2012, my Professor at the University Laval hired me as a Research Assistant.

This time, I was happier to receive a higher salary than a normal university graduate would receive. At the same time, I had another part time job at the Ministry of Agriculture as an Evaluator to join an independent committee in selecting suppliers. For 5 months, I had 2 great part time jobs.

In June, 2012 I worked as part time Teleconference Agent in another Quebec City firm. Again, my English skill was an advantage. After 3 months, from August to September 2012, It was my pleasure to work Général des elections du Québec as an Office Clerk.

Here, I was working with real Québec people and was speaking French all the time. I got familiar with Québec places and its districts. I love working in French. Realizing that this is my 6th job, I felt more the urge to find a regular job. Why not? Two years now in Quebec City has improved my French language skills, I am more than halfway in my MBA program plus I have failed 9 exams to work in the Government of Québec.

Wait, 9 exams?

I almost fainted out of humiliation! I told myself to be more patient and not to be too hard on me. In September of 2012, I landed my first regular job as a Technical Support Agent in an English company. With complete benefits of vacation and free insurance, I could do this job longer this time, I said to myself. But how long can I afford to wake up at 5 AM every Sunday morning plus work normally during all public holidays? Hmmm…

Going back to the 9 exams which I failed, I suddenly received a letter telling me that finally, I succeeded at my 10th attempt! Without waiting any further, in March, 2013, I landed an ideal beginner’s job in Québec – in the government, where everything is in French.

Here, I will be able to improve my French skills, get to know the Québec working environment better and its culture, the way the Quebecois think and act and most of all, take advantage of the best working conditions in the whole of Québec. I think I can stay here a long time while enjoying weekends and holidays with my husband in our lovely home. But the saga continues. The fire never stops burning, I am and I will always be hungry to land a marketing job I always wanted. I will surely continue on with this great journey.

Categories: News, Opinion

About Author

Vida Delfin Verreault

Vida Delfin Verreault holds a degree in Communications and possesses more than 13 years of marketing and brand management experience from Manila, Philippines. Seven years of which as Marketing Manager in the Philippine office of an international brand of automotive parts. A marketing and communications specialist, she has travelled Europe and Asia extensively. Vida has been living in Québec City since August 2010, and is an MBA student at Université Laval. She has held various jobs in Québec and is presently working in a pharmaceutical call centre. She shares her home with her loving husband Éric and their adorable dog, Cappuccino. Together, they love to eat in restaurants and travel. Vida loves to write, read, sing, watch movies and learn about people and ideas.


  1. 1 April, 2013, 13:36

    The clear message to anyone moving here is LEARN FRENCH.

    Couldn’t agree more.

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