Vancouver & the Digital Job Market

As you may know, moving from the Middle East to Vancouver — Canada is stressful enough. But I had to add to it the pressure of finding (or not) a job that fits my career path. Apparently, Canada is not much “work friendly” unless you already have experience in North America or Europe.

A whole new world?

It wasn’t unexpected, but not this much. Moving to Vancouver was like moving to Mars. It’s like 5 years of experience in web design and development didn’t really count. At 29, I am back to being considered as a fresh graduate that hasn’t really been doing anything for the last 6 years, which is bad by itself and puts you in a disadvantage.

A bit of history

I moved to Vancouver 9 months ago, and so far, I am unsuccessful at finding a stable job in my field of expertise for many different reasons according to the feedback emails I get:
- “Overqualified”
- “Underqualified”
- “You don’t have enough academic answers to our questions”
- etc.

Some companies don’t even both to reply, or reply with a simple “No”.
This takes me to my next question: Am I doing something wrong? People advised me to go to WorkBC, which I did the week I landed in Vancouver. But I didn’t have the best of luck with my case manager who was (and still) absolutely useless to my case and provided almost no help.

What’s next?

Proving your skills on the job is one thing. Proving your skills in an interview is another thing. And proving your skills to the whole job market is nearly impossible. And Vancouver doesn’t really help.

I may not be the best Front End Developer (yes I DO lack exposure and/or experience in JavaScript), but how can someone learn and prove that he’s a fast learner in an ever evolving field if you don’t give him the chance? Ignoring or rejecting an application because someone doesn’t have exactly the experience you want but 80% close to it shows lack of strategy by whoever takes that decision.

Today it’s AngularJS or ReactJS or EmberJS. Tomorrow it will be a completely different thing!

Canada wants to compete with the USA in attracting technical talent, but fails in laying the ground for this talent to actually find a job in the field they were approved for. For example, my immigration process was based on coming to British Columbia (Vancouver) as a skilled Web Designer/Front End Developer. Yet in the last 9 months, I was able to land 1 job that proved to be not quite a fit. In addition, there’s a huge difference in salaries between Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal (3 biggest cities in Canada). Not to compare to the USA.

In the last 3 months, I noticed the following; For the same position X:
- Vancouver’s salary is Y.
- Montreal’s salary is 1.25*Y.
- Toronto’s salary is at least 1.75*Y, and sometimes more than 2.5*Y.

I understand that Toronto is Canada’s digital hub on the East Coast. But if Vancouver wants to be the digital hub of the West Coast, a lot of work needs to be done.

A large portion of the “technical” recruiters have absolutely no idea what they’re hiring for. Sometimes even in the company itself.

Salaries need to change: you can’t give a “Senior” a salary that barely covers the rent and food.

Strategy: if a candidate shows the potential to learn fast and is highly motivated, give him/her the chance. You’re in the digital industry: Design trends change almost every month! New frameworks/languages/methods come up every week!

Rejecting someone for have 4.5 years of experience in something you want instead of 5 is shortsighted. 3 years of AngluarJS for example went in the trash when AngularJS 2 was announced. 10 years of digital design experience went in the drain when Flat & Responsive design became the trend.

Vancouver’s digital job market need to understand the following: the world is constantly evolving. Being stuck in the present won’t give you the edge to compete for long. Change your strategy and start hiring people for what they can do, not for what they are currently doing.