Getting your first Tech Job in Canada
Starting life in a new country can be a challenge but even more challenging is getting your first job. I came to Canada 23 years ago. I was a Software Developer and had worked in the Middle East and the UK. In anticipation to immigrate to Canada, I sent hundreds of resumes to companies in Canada using newspaper ads – the internet was just starting in 1994. LOL. I had close to 150 letters from employers in Canada (yes they used to send reject letters then), telling me I had to first come to Canada to get a job.
When I got here, it was a totally different story, everyone I spoke to loved my experience, but they gave me the usual statement, I don’t’ have “Canadian Experience”. So what did I do, I bought a list of all the software companies in Canada and I sent out my resume to a bunch of companies every night by Fax. Don’t laugh, there was no email then. Of course some fax numbers were wrong and some turned out to be personal numbers and I had people call and yell at me over the phone, telling me never to fax my resume to them in the middle of the night. On the flip side, people called to apologize to me (yeah, we Canadians love to apologize) that they had got my resume, and they were not really a company and could offer me nothing, some even offered me advice and provided names of companies they thought I should apply to. I thought that was a very kind gesture.
So fast forward 23 years and many new comers today, seem to face the same challenge. So here are some tips and tricks to overcome this challenge. First and foremost, get on LinkedIn – its free and setup your profile along with your experience and a nice picture of yourself. If you don’t know how to do this yourself, get on FIVERR (https://www.fiverr.com/) and search for “resume service”. Find someone with a 4.9 or 5.00 star rating who can do this for you. You can spend anything from $5 to $50 – spend, the $50 – it’s well worth it. They will also optimize your resume so it’s targeted towards the job you are looking for Once you are on LinkedIn – build your network, start with friends you already know in Canada.
Next, do a Google search for ‘Recruiters in Toronto’ – if you are in Toronto and if you are somewhere else in Canada, then use the city you are in. Once you have identified the recruiters, go to their sites, register yourself, sign up for job alerts and see if there are any jobs that meet your experience and apply for them. In most cases, there may be a contact name of the recruiter on the site. If there is, call them, even if you get their voicemail, leave a message stating your name and number and the job you applied for.
I emphasise this, because it works well most of the time, recruiters are sales people, that’s how they make money, and so if they think you have potential and they can place you, they will call you back. Give them a quick summary of yourself and your skills – don’t take too much of their time. You can write a little script – 3 minutes max, and practice before you call.
After a few calls, I am sure you will throw away your script. Once you have your contacts, try to connect with them on LinkedIn as part of your network. Unless you plan to work in your first job for the rest of your life, you are going to need them in the future to change jobs.
Look for the large job sites like Monster, Workopolis, Indeed and more, and register on them. You can register for their job alerts in your area of expertise and you will get a daily list of jobs which you can apply to. Use the internet to find smaller companies in your area of expertise. For example, because I am in software, I generally google ‘software companies in Toronto’ and go to their website, and look at their Careers page. This could be a very good way to find jobs in the hidden job market – where jobs have been put on the company’s website first. Again, following the steps I have outlined in this this article, make as many contact as you can. Network, network, network until you get your first job.
I hope this gives you some insight into how to go about your job search. I will end with how I got my first job. One afternoon – six months after my arrival in Canada, my fax had reached a kind gentleman, who invited me to his company for an interview…so thrilling.
When I got there, I was interviewed by several other technical folks. But before I left, I not only thanked him, but also told him, I was very good at what I do and would be an asset to his company. (And that, I also very badly needed the job…..just kidding… don’t beg.) Just sell yourself as being the best candidate and tell them why your past experience can help their company. Yes…I did get my first job and was able to launch a successful software career.
So don’t give up, keep dreaming – you made it to Canada, now make it in your Career. Good Luck.
By Alton Vandersay