Talent Development Centre

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The Talent Development Centre includes advice for independent contractors in IT from one of Canada’s top staffing and recruitment agencies. See all posts about immigration.

Landing Your First Job in the Tech Sector in Canada

Sam Rahbar By Sam Rahbar,
Director, Training & Corporate Recruitment at Eagle

 

Landing Your First Job in the Tech Sector in Canada

 

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 their operations 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 who can 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 as Destination 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!

Network

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!

Be Visible

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!

Stay Positive

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!

First-Hand Advice for New Immigrants to Find an IT Job in Canada

As one of Canada’s largest IT staffing agencies with a wide national presence, it’s no surprise that we hear from skilled technology professionals from around the world. The majority of Eagle’s clients require applicants that are already in Canada and legally able to work here, so unfortunately, there is little we can do for applicants that don’t to meet those requirements.

Coming to Canada from another country and finding work is no easy task. There are hundreds of details to get through, including completing paperwork, organizing your family, arranging living and, of course, the job search. A number of resources are in place to help get settled and find work in Canada, but perhaps one of the best strategies is learning from somebody who has already been through the experience.

Sim & Sid’s YouTube channel is only a few months old, but already contains over a dozen videos with valuable advice. Together, they share their experiences of coming to Canada and answer questions about common challenges. In this video, Sid shares his job search experience and provides first-hand advice for immigrants looking for an IT job in Canada.

US Immigration Policy May Help Canada’s Tech Sector

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice President, East Region & Government Services at Eagle

Canadian Maple LeafRecent events both South of the border and across Europe have brought immigration to the front pages as a hot button issue. Undoubtedly it has been a very polarizing social and often disturbing humanitarian issue. But what can we make of the economic and business ramifications for Canada in these changing times?

There is most definitely a labour problem in the entire Canadian economy and one that by all measure is about to get worse. The demographic headwind that we face is a potentially lethal combination of boomers retiring over the next 15 years and an overall aging population not supported by growing birth rates. Economic growth in Canada is inextricably linked to both labour growth and productivity, both of which can be addressed through strategic immigration.

This challenging future that could see more people leaving the workforce than entering in Canada and the structural problems that would entail can be alleviated to some degree by immigration. Canada is not alone in this; in fact, most major economies in the world are facing these kinds of issues. For example, Japan’s economy has stalled as the combination of a low birth rate and very low immigration intake resulted in one of the poorest GDP growth rates of the world’s largest economies.

Canada historically has and will likely always be a leader in helping the world’s most downtrodden and desperate refugees and for that most Canadians are proud. Additionally, how do we also compete to attract in our immigration policy the marketable skills, education and experience that will help boost an economy? These so called Economic immigrants have made up a larger proportion of the immigrant intake for the last decade or so in Canada and will likely remain a focus of immigration policy.

US Immigration Policy May Help Canada's Tech SectorToday, though, with changes in the US landscape as a result of the election of Donald Trump has perhaps led to a very real opportunity for Canada, especially in the Tech sector. Many Silicon Valley based Tech companies have been vocal in their very real concern that the change in US Immigration policy will be very detrimental to them and what they already contend has been a tough struggle for top talent. Foreign workers have been a crucial piece of the Silicon Valley tech skills gap puzzle and with the changes in policy, and perhaps even the heated atmosphere in the US as a result, many skilled tech workers will look to Canada as an option. There are mechanisms in place already such as Canada’s Global Skills Strategy that allow companies to quickly acquire the skills they need on an initial short term basis.

It has always been very tough for Canada’s high tech companies to compete with the allure and frankly other worldly perks and compensation of Silicon Valley but these days perhaps they now have a leg up.

No Canadian Work Experience, Now What?

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Branch Manager at Eagle

No Canadian Work Experience, Now What?Having worked in staffing for almost 20 years, and specifically in Professional Staffing, I’ve seen how our industry has adapted to myriad challenges thrown our way. One challenge that never seems to go away, however, is the challenge that new Canadians face when trying to enter the local job market.  Even in Information Technology, as culturally diverse an industry as there is, candidates often have to overcome employer preconceptions that might not give equal value to experience gained overseas. At Eagle, we practice the mantra of presenting to our clients the very best possible candidate(s) we have regardless of where that skill was acquired and the fact that we make every effort to meet and personally vet candidates means that we are able to make pretty good decisions around their level of ability and skill. But if you believe you are facing challenges because you don’t have Canadian work experience, here are some tips that can help:

  1. Don’t try to hide it: If you believe that you have to respond to your lack of Canadian experience by lowering your expectations, you are helping to feed into the practice of undervaluing the years of experience and academic struggles you’ve already been through. In an effort to hide this, I’ve even seen candidates doctor their resumes to show local experience that didn’t happen. My advice is, DON’T DO IT! If we are going to admit that you have challenges to overcome to be taken seriously as a candidate, it will not help if you commit fraud.
  2. Attitude is huge: I work with individuals daily who are struggling to find work or their next contract for any number of different reasons. While I would like to help everyone, I can’t. But those individuals who are positive and are taking steps to help themselves by taking courses or increasing their level of networking are way more likely to get my time and consideration. If the qualifications are solid and the attitude is great, I’m more than happy to sell your candidacy to my client.
  3. Work is Work: I’ve asked many friends who immigrated to Canada if the work experience here was so different from what they did previously in their home countries. The consistent response is “not really”. And if they did experience differences, it was often more a difference in process vs expectations. In other words, the same thing that can happen when you change jobs and join a new company. It was nothing that they weren’t able to quickly adapt to.
  4. Blend In: Do your research and make sure your resume works in your new job market. While most terminology might not be so different, do check online to ensure that you are using terms which are familiar to the local market. The same applies to resume format. Job or networking sites like Monster or LinkedIn are just a couple of resources you can tap into but a good recruiter can give you tips as well.
  5. Finally, work with agencies that see the value in your experience. If a recruiter attempts to negotiate your rate or salary below market values for your skillset and experience, they are just feeding into a system of discrimination. Instead work with agencies that speak only of your relevant knowledge and experience.

We live and work in an ever increasingly global marketplace. The experience you bring as a new Canadian has intrinsic value in that it helps prepare and lay the groundwork for Canada to compete globally. The struggles you may very well encounter are unfortunately well-documented but some of these challenges can be mitigated.