Career resources for students of colour


Searching for work and landing a job can be challenging. As a student of colour, you may be wondering how to navigate the job search process in ways that take into consideration existing racial inequities in the workplace and race-based structural barriers to employment. Leverage the resources in this guide as you seek to thrive, follow your dreams, and find meaningful employment.

Race intersects with other experiences and identities. Check out the career navigation resource guides for LGBTQ+ students and for students with disabilities for more resources.

Exploring employers' inclusivity

There are a few ways to determine if an employer is inclusive:

  • Do your research
    Has the employer been recognized for diversity and inclusion? Does the company deal quickly and effectively when concerns are raised by their staff?
  • Ask around
    Conduct informational interviews and ask your networks if the employer is inclusive and has a diverse employee base.
  • Check out profiles of employees on LinkedIn
    This can help determine if there is a diverse employee base.
  • Find out more.
    Does the employer have a talent program in place to attract and retain employees from diverse backgrounds? Does the employer have progressive hiring policies and practices?

Disclosure in applications

On some job application forms there may be an optional checkbox inviting applicants to indicate racial identifying information. Some individuals choose to disclose this information in the event that the request is part of an affirmative action program, meaning the employer is actively seeking to support diverse candidates and correct prior and existing systemic barriers to equality.

The employer may also be tracking statistics to ensure the organization is attracting diverse candidates to the job posting, in which case the checkbox is not part of the job application itself. You are under no obligation to disclose that you are part of a visible minority.

At other times, you may notice a statement about the company’s commitment to diversity in the job posting. This is typically an indication that the employer has an active Equal Employment Opportunity Policy. It is offered to help candidates learn more about the employer’s dedication to diversity.

Whether you choose to disclose this information or not you retain the right not to be discriminated against. If, after disclosing this information, you experience discrimination in the interview stage, you may have grounds to pursue this with a legal team. In this instance, discrimination may look like being asked questions at the interview that pertain to your disclosure and do not align with the job duties.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I have to put my legal name on my resume or in my application form?

Listing a preferred name on your resume is acceptable and quite common. Resumes and application forms are not legally binding documents. You may include your legal or preferred name on your resume, or a combination of the two (e.g., Xin “Michelle” Ma).

Consider the following as you make a decision:

  • Provide the name you feel most comfortable being called.
  • Be consistent throughout your application documents.
  • If your application is successful you will have to provide legal documentation that includes your legal name.

If you are concerned about this, reach out to a coach, advisor, mentor or peer to get help developing a strategy. 

Is it legal for employers to ask me about my ethnicity during an interview?

No. Under the Employment Standards Act of BC, it is illegal for employers to ask questions pertaining to age, race, ancestry, religion, colour, sex, gender identity, marital status, physical/mental disability, place of origin, political beliefs, family status, and sexual orientation.

How do I get hired as an international student in Canada?

There are rules governing employment for students and new grads who do not have Canadian citizenship. Please see if you meet the conditions to work in Canada.

What do I do if people in my workplace can’t pronounce my name?

Your name (whether you use your legal, birth, or preferred name), is a hallmark of your personal identity and it’s important to have people respect and use the correct pronunciation. Read more about how to professionally correct people who mispronounce your name.

How do I respond to questions about "where I'm really from" when I don't like the question?

Read more about the "where I'm really from" question, and decide what’s best for you.

Additional resources