Having moved to Canada at the age of 20, I personally experienced spinning wheels in the "job search", feeling lost and hopeless. Fast forward 20 years later, there are thousands more jobs in the market but the challenges seem to remain the same. I am approached every day by IT professionals through LinkedIn who are planning to move to Canada. They consistently ask me for direction and advice so I thought I would capture my thoughts once and for all. Canada has been enjoying a steady growth in the tech sector, thanks in part to immigration policies that are driving U.S companies to expand theiroperations in Toronto and throughout Canada, according to an article by CIC News. The article states that between 2013 and 2018, there were 80,100 tech jobs created in Toronto, as well as 22,466 tech degrees issued. That means there were 57,634 more tech jobs than tech grads. The article references a CBRE report that says "Toronto and the San Francisco Bay Area stand out as strong tech talent job creators each adding at least 54,000 more tech talent jobs than graduates," the CBRE report says. This should surely mean that it would be easy to land an IT gig in Canada, right? Unfortunately, it's not quite that easy because "Canadian Experience" is a common requirement. Just ask thousands of IT professionals who immigrate to Canada in hopes of picking up where they left off and continuing their career in Technology in Canada. Here are a few tips to consider in landing your first IT job in Canada:
Don't Rely Too Much on IT Staffing Agencies
There are many IT specific staffing firms/recruitment agencies in Canada (over 330!). They operate by charging their clients (companies who are hiring) to find them top talent (IT professionals) within a very short timeline. Clients invest good money to have access to candidates with recent and relevant experience, ideally from a competitor across the street (i.e. Banks wants people from similar banks and phone companies want people who worked for their direct telecommunication competitors). This applies across the board for 95% of the agencies out there. They thrive on providing access to Just-In-Time talent. While you may be qualified and capable of doing these jobs, they are looking for more than someone whocan do the job, they also want someone who has done the job. Because of this, Agency Recruiters will rarely be helpful to you until you have your first local job or contract. At that point, you will want to start building a relationship with them and they will fast track your next step, guaranteed!
Apply to Jobs Directly, and Target Smaller Companies
In continuation of the previous point, apply directly to the companies you are targeting. Ideally, follow smaller companies. Applying to job postings from the agencies or large organizations means you will be playing the waiting game. Big companies/brands tend to have many openings, but they also must screen through hundreds if not thousands of applicants for their openings. And, they also tend to hire individuals with local experience and from their competitors. Since their applicant pools is so vast, they can afford to be picky. Small companies, on the other hand, typically do not have big recruitment budgets and they are looking for individuals who want to wear multiple hats. They are open to developing the right candidate, as it is win/win for both parties. Finally, regardless of where you apply, make sure to keep track of your resume/application. This way you can follow-up, and it will also save you from looking disorganized (.i.e. you won't be that candidate that applies to the same job multiple times).
Work with Career Coaches and Job Developers
There are many organizations who provide support in the job search world. Work with independent, government-backed entities such asDestination CEO. If you are in Toronto, connect with superstars such as Meena Dowlwani, who is doing some incredible work bridging skill and employment gaps. You might also check out agencies such as Costi, who offer various workshops that will keep your job hunt skills sharp!
This is my #1 piece of advice. I cannot stress enough the power and importance of Networking. If you are looking for a fulltime role, your personality, energy, vibe and communication is 90% of the deal. None of these traits shine through on your resume!
Your LinkedIn profile needs to be up-to-date. Once you make meaningful connections, it is key that you follow up on LinkedIn and also connect in platforms such as this one. There are way more backdoor references that happen through LinkedIn than you can imagine! To many IT recruiters, if you don't exist on LinkedIn, you do not exist!
Desperation is visible, so don't let it affect you! Be mindful of your attitude and approach your search with smile and energy! Keep this in mind, along with all the other tips and you're sure to be a step ahead in your new job search. Best of luck!