If you do sex work and would like help with employment, please contact SWAN. We can provide personalized support or refer you to the most suitable employment resource.

1.Employment Resources
2.Resumes and Cover Letters
3.Canadian Experience
4.Transferable Skills
5.Interview Tips
6.Potential Issues Faced by Sex Workers

Employment Resources

Looking for a second job or looking for a change and would like to do something different?

In April 2012, the Government of British Columbia changed how it offers employment services and created new ‘one-stop shopping’ employment centers throughout the province. New WorkBC Employment Services Centres integrate all services that are offered through a single door which makes it easier to help people find work.

Unemployed British Columbians with a wide range of employment-related needs, skills, education, experience and circumstances are eligible to receive Employment Program of BC services. The first step in accessing the Employment Program of B.C.’s employment services and supports is to contact a WorkBC Employment Services Centre near you. SWAN can offer support when setting up, preparing for and/or attending an appointment at a WorkBC Employment Services Centre.

For locations, click here.

Employment assistance is also available at JobOptions BC. JobOptions BC offers up to 10 weeks of programming, short-term training and work experience that prepares participants for new employment or further training.

Skills Connect for Immigrants Program
You arrived in Canada with your dreams, skills and experience. But have you arrived at the job or career you are qualified for? Skills Connect helps immigrants who do not require completely new credentials or extensive language upgrading to quickly secure employment in areas relevant to their skills and experience.

Eligible program participants must have permanent resident status in Canada. It is preferred that you also meet the following criteria:

  • Have arrived in Canada within the last 5 years
  • Have at least intermediate English language skills
  • Are either unemployed and not receiving provincial or federal assistance, or are under employed and not working at a level that utilizes their pre-arrival skills, experience and knowledge.

Financial support is also available for skill upgrading activities such as course fees, membership fees, licensing fees, and certification fees!!!

You will work one to one with an employment counselor who will help you with:

  • Assessment and Individual Action Planning (assess your English, academic qualifications, technical skills and financial means)
  • Skill Enhancement Services (info about upgrading courses, BC Certification)
  • Workplace Orientation and Practice Services (pre-employment and job search support, resume writing)

Skilled Immigrant InfoCentre

The Skilled Immigrant InfoCentre is an online and in-person resource centre that helps newcomers to Canada find the information they need to get a job, explore careers or start a business. All of our services and resources are free and are created by staff at Vancouver Public Library.

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Resumes and Cover Letters

Resume Sample #1#2#3,and #4.

Cover Letter Sample

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Transferable Skills

Identifying Transferable Skills

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Interview Tips

Before the interview

Be sure to do some background research to become familiar with the organization. This might include researching any current events that might relate to the organization or industry, the organization’s goals and objectives, and the history of the company.
Here are some questions to help you with your research:
– What does the organization do?
– What’s involved in the position you’re applying for?
– What qualifications do you need for the position?
– What kind of skills is the employer looking for?
– Who are the customers or clients?
– What kind of reputation does the employer have?

Bring a folder or envelope to the interview that contains:

– A copy of your résumé for each interviewer.
– Copies of your reference list.
– Paper and a pen, so you can write down the interviewer’s name, the time of any future interview, or other information you might need later.
– Copies of letters of recommendation, if you have any.

Preparing for interview questions

One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to anticipate questions the interviewer may ask. This will allow you to give thoughtful and organized answers during your interview.

Here are some questions you should be comfortable answering: sample interview questions, common behavioural interview questions.

Here are some tips to help you strengthen your answers to potential interview questions:
– Review your experiences at work, at school, and in volunteer activities.
– Think of examples and situations that demonstrate your abilities or strengths (for example, a time you demonstrated good judgment, initiative, responsibility, or communication skills).
– Make a list of your accomplishments or achievements to reference during the interview.
– Think about challenges you’ve faced in the past, and be prepared to describe how you dealt with them and what you learned.
Preparing questions for the employer

At the end of an interview, you are typically asked if you have any questions about the organization or job you’re applying for.

By asking thoughtful and appropriate questions, you are showing the employer that you’re interested in being part of their organization.

Things you could ask the employer include:
– How is the organization structured, and how would my role contribute to the work of the organization?
– What is a typical day in the life of a person who works in this position?
– How would this position allow me to learn and grow?
– When do you anticipate making the decision about hiring for this position?

After the interview, write a letter to the interviewers: Thank the interviewers for taking the time to interview you. Restate your interest in the job and remind them of your qualifications. If possible, mail or e-mail the letter the same day as your interview.

Top-10 tips for a successful job interview

1. Dress for success. Professional business clothes are always appropriate, regardless of the type of job you are interviewing for. Proper hygiene and a tidy appearance are important. Iron your clothes if you can, and avoid strong perfumes or colognes.

2. Be there on time. Try to arrive 5 or 10 minutes early to be safe. Find out ahead of time where you’re going and how long it will take to get there. Drive or travel the route a day or two ahead, at the same time of day as you will on the day of the interview. Confirm how often the buses run. Have a back-up plan.

3. Let your personality shine. If you’re excited about the job, don’t be afraid to show it. Employers want passionate employees, so be yourself. Just remember to always keep it professional.

4. Be confident. Feeling nervous in an interview is perfectly normal; just don’t let your nerves overpower your interview. Eye contact and a calm, clear speaking voice are excellent ways to show your confidence.

5. Watch your body language. During your interview, relax and sit naturally, but don’t slouch in your chair or lean on the interviewer’s desk. Avoid chewing gum, or fidgeting with jewelry or your hair.

6. Be professional. This begins with a smile and a firm handshake. Remember, this is your first introduction to the organization, so be polite to everyone you meet and turn off your cell phone.

7. Listen and ask for clarification, if you need it. Remember to listen carefully to the interview questions so that you actually answer the question, and never interrupt. If you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.

8. Let them know what you have to offer. When answering the questions, let the employer see what you have to offer their organization. Talk about your past experiences and accomplishments without bragging, and tie those experiences to how they can help you contribute to their organization.

9. Think before you speak. Although you want to be open and honest in your interview, avoid talking about your personal or financial problems.

10. Don’t linger. Leave as soon as the interview is over, making sure you don’t linger. Shake the interviewer’s hand again, restate your interest in working for the organization, and thank them for the interview.

Click here for other interview tips.

The above information regarding resume, cover letters, Canadian experience, transferable skills, and interview tips are compiled from: The Skilled Immigrant Info Centre and The Government of Canada Employment Services for Youth.

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Potential Issues Faced by Sex Workers

Explaining Gaps in Work Experience/Resume

If there are years when you are doing sex work and do not have anything on your resume to explain those years, potential employers might ask questions about gaps in your employment history.

When employers ask this question, they want to know if your skills and qualifications from your previous jobs are still relevant and up to date. They want to see how you would react to this question, they want to know if you have a good reason for the gap, and they want to make sure you didn’t lie on your resume. They also want to know if the issue(s) that kept you out of the workforce will still affect your work later.

To address this question, think about what else you might have been doing in those years that would help explain the gap. For example, plenty of people take time off from work to go to school, travel, take care of kids, or look after relatives. What skills might you have gained from these activities? What new things might you have learned?

When focusing on other things you did during those years, mention the relevant skills you’ve gained and the knowledge you’ve learned in that period. Talk about how they made you an even better candidate for this position. Also assure the interviewer that the things you did (e.g.: traveling, care-taking) is no longer a problem and will not affect your work with new employers.

Fear of People Finding Out

Although the chance of someone outing you or finding out you do/did sex work is minimal, the anxiety about it is real. The fear and concern of being recognized or being found out is understandable.

However, it is unlikely that you will encounter someone who can out you in your job search. The chance of you encountering someone who is/was a client, has worked with you, or otherwise knows about your work situation is slim. In the extremely rare chance that it happens, it would likely be a one-time fluke that will not follow you from job search to job search or organization to organization. Even if these people you met from sex work know about your sex work experience, they often cannot out you to others without also revealing things about themselves and what they did, and they might not out you for the fear that you also know things about them.

We understand that even if you are already working at a mainstream job somewhere, you might still be worried someone will find out about your involvement in sex work. In this situation, have responses prepared for the very unlikely situation that someone does come forward with a rumour or question about being a sex worker. Think about how you would respond and what you might say. Your response will be situation-dependent: who is saying it? Why are they saying it? And who are they saying it to? You shouldn’t have to disclose anything about yourself that you don’t want to. People will be looking at your reaction and taking cues from how you react. So prepare your responses well. Think ahead about what you want to say and how you want to say it in the unlikely event that someone asks about it.

In addition, try to be current on your research about yourself. Frequently use search engines to find out if any of the emails, phone numbers and names you publicly use can be linked to the ones you use for sex work. Hopefully they are kept separate from each other, but if there are any search results you are concerned about, you can deal with it case by case. This might involve things such as contacting the website(s) to get the information removed, separating your identities, and using new phone numbers and emails.

Managing Time and Money

For many, there is a great wage gap between the money to be made in sex work and in mainstream jobs; the money earned in mainstream jobs tends to be much less than sex work. This is something to be considered if you are thinking of working at a mainstream job after sex work or working less in sex work to pick up a second/mainstream job. Some planning ahead is needed.

Some sex workers save money to help tide them over while they get settled in mainstream jobs. The exact amount you want to set aside will depend on your expenses and unique life or work situation. Some sex workers keep working part time in the sex industry while also working part time in another field. The income earned in sex work can be used to supplement your income while you gain new experiences, skill and networks in the second industry.

There are a few more things to consider if you are thinking of leaving sex work for another job or taking up a second non-sex work position.

Because the second job will be taking up a portion of your time, it’s likely that you’ll have less time to do sex work. Because you’ll have less time to dedicate to seeing clients, advertising, or grooming, the amount you make from sex work might be less than before too. Similarly, it would also be more difficult for you to arrange time with clients and coordinate your schedule between the two jobs. Likewise, coping with the change in income takes planning too. For some, there might be a need to reexamine expenses and look at what type of expenses could be lessened or eliminated. For others, budgeting and monitoring incoming funds and outgoing expenditures is also helpful.

Transferable Skills Gained Through Sex Work

We talked about transferable skills in a different section earlier, and you might be wondering how skills used in sex work could be relevant for your work or useful to your job search.

There are definitely transferable skills learned and practiced in sex work that could be helpful elsewhere, and the key is to highlight these skills for potential employers. You do not have to explain where exactly you gained these skills; they are often developed from many different areas of life. For example: over several jobs, through various life experiences, during formal education, and self-directed learning. Think of a few situations where you effectively exhibited those skills to give as examples during job interviews, because employers might ask for such examples to demonstrate how you’ve applied those skills. You do not have to reveal everything that happened during the situation, it just needs to be specific enough to outline the general situation, what you did to improve/resolve it (while using that particular skill), and what the results were.

Some experiences and skills you might have gained and demonstrated during sex work include: communication, people skills, customer service, handling difficult and dissatisfied customers, diffusing customer complaints, coordinating schedules, negotiation, handling cash, financial management, marketing and promotion, networking, conflict resolution, telephone etiquette, computer and web literacy. You have probably picked up many other skills along the way as well, so it might be helpful to brainstorm and think of scenarios you are comfortable giving out as examples.

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