Jobs in Vancouver4

So I finally found a job….it took a little while although I would not say I had devoted myself to it full time.

Here’s my story.

I’d been working in IT in the UK for 16 years and during that time, worked for three companies for periods of six years, three and a half years and five and a half years.  I also took some time off between my last two jobs.  I’ve never had to look that hard for work – most opportunities have presented themselves to me and I guess I naively thought an opportunity would land at my feet in Vancouver without much effort.

After arriving in Vancouver in November 2010 and taking the winter off to play in the snow, it was time to get my CV/resume up to scratch and start marketing myself.  I sought advice about how to create a Canadian style resume and was advised that it should be no longer than two pages in length.  So I took my five page resume and stripped out as much as I could whilst still retaining the key information which was no easy feat.  I have since been advised that for technical professions, you really should have a resume longer than two pages.  Mine is currently three pages in length but I am looking to add more detailed information to it.

I uploaded my resume to monster.ca and updated my profile on linked in and it wasn’t long before I was getting calls and emails from recruiters with roles that did seem to match my skills and experience.  I met with a number of recruiters and they all believed I would have no problem finding contract or permanent employment.  I do have to admit that I was being a little picky to start with and unless the role seemed perfect in every way, I would not put myself forward.  I would often hear about the same roles from many different recruiters –  make sure you’re not being put forward for the same role by more than one recruiter as this reflects badly on you.

So once you do start being put forward for roles or start applying directly to companies, don’t expect to hear that you have been unsuccessful.  The general rule of thumb is that no news is bad news.  You should keep applying for other roles as though it is the first and only one you have applied for.   Things do generally move fairly slowly in Vancouver so don’t be surprised if you do get invited to interview for a role that you’ve long forgotten about.

Several roles came along that seemed right and I was put forward for them.  I had a few telephone interviews and then face to face interviews.  They went fairly well although I did not receive any offers and very little feedback was given.  You will soon learn that some recruiters are in it for the long-haul and some will probably not contact you again unless they happen to come across your resume on monster again.  My advice is stick with a small set of recruiters – three is probably a good number.  Meet with them, form a relationship and check in regularly.

Summer can be quiet for recruiting so I decided to take a break and resume my efforts again in the fall.  However, around this time I managed to get a place on a project for new immigrants called the Ambassador Project.  It’s aimed at hooking up new immigrants with people in their profession to get them started with forming business networks.  The project is backed by the Burnaby Board of Trade and similar projects have proved successful in the past.  Remember, it’s all about networking here in Vancouver.  Although not aimed specifically at finding you a job, these connections may ultimately lead directly or indirectly to employment.

See the Networking section for more information but remember that only 10% of jobs are advertised in Vancouver (perhaps a little more for IT jobs).  The remaining 90% are in what is called the hidden job market.  My advise is to use Linked In to find people in similar jobs to you, find the company they’re working for and then try and find the name of the Manager, Hiring Manager or HR Manager.  Then start making telephone calls, tell them a little bit about yourself and ask if they have any advice or suggestions for places to look for work.  Vancouver is a small place and it won’t be long before one of your connections knows someone you’d like to know.

In late September/October, I resumed my job search and caught up with the core set of recruiters I was working with.  A few opportunities started coming my way and again, I was having telephone and face to face interviews.  No offers though and again, things were still moving fairly slowly.  I also had  calls from a couple of new recruiters about opportunities and met with them.

Initially, I was looking at contract only opportunities but decided it was time to expand my search to permanent options too.  Although I had been contracting in the UK for the last ten years, this was not because I liked to chop and change every six months or so, in fact, I had only two contracts during this time.  It just happened that the opportunities that came along were contract.

Looking at permanent jobs opened up a whole new set of opportunities and I started getting more interviews.  Employers might be more likely to take you on even if you don’t have exactly the right skills.  If they see potential and you have the right attitude and would fit it well with the team, they are more likely to invest in you.  Note that the interview process for permanent roles is likely to involve a lot more stages.

One permanent role involved  five phases of interviews and assessments over a period of ten days.  The day after the technical and HR interview, I was made an offer.  I did not hesitate in accepting as it was a great opportunity to get my career started in Vancouver.  I would have been a fool to turn it down – not just because it was the first and only offer that I had, but because everything felt right – the work, the team and the environment.  I’m really looking forward to starting work but know it’s going to be a real shock to the system after quite some time away from the office.

Incidentally, within days of accepting this offer, I  received invitations to interview for several other roles I had put myself forward for so things were definitely picking up.

I like to think that many of the roles I interviewed for did not result in offers because 1. I did not have exactly the right skills and 2. There were other candidates with a better skills match.  I have also been told that employers in Vancouver like to be able to pick up the phone and talk to someone local who can vouch for you.  If you do not have someone here, consider doing some voluntary work, an internship, or a temporary job to get some work experience even if it is not directly related to your profession.  Any reference is better than no reference.

The moral of the story?  As a new immigrant with no Canadian work experience, it is possible to secure employment  through recruitment agencies.  It just might take a little longer.  Don’t use this as your only method of job searching.  Start networking, make calls, try and arrange informational interviews and make use of the many resources that are available to new immigrants: see the Jobs in Vancouver 2 section for more details.

Good luck.

One comment

  • admin
    November 18, 2011 - 9:20 pm | Permalink

    One other thing Vancouver employers love to do is role play – especially relevant to more sales/business jobs. They just really enjoy themselves and abuse the local abundance of job seekers. Employers like to split you in pairs and get you to introduce your partner. Then you are evaluated on your presentation skills.

    Other role plays and team work assignments include mock-up interview or sales pitches, tests with 50 questions for 5 minutes, splitting in teams and getting you to nominate a speaker and present something… Or they will do a short presentation and then quiz you on what you remembered. Pretty much everything they wanted to do as children and they never got around to doing!

    A good aspect here is that while being interviewed, you can really see the team leads and feel the atmosphere. This will help you get motivated and stay or focus efforts elsewhere.

    Some of the folks which are being interviewed are very smart and motivated. Helps if you get some business cards and start thinking on forming your own team. Take the positive out of the often humiliating situations!