The most Canadian GIF ever, by Odaus
Recently, as the itch to start something new has returned, I’ve found myself reflecting on my career as an entrepreneur. A couple of months ago, I came to the realization that one of the absolute joys of my near decade spent starting, building and growing technology companies has been employing immigrants. I didn’t specifically set about to hire them: it just so occurred that every now and then, the obvious best person for a job happened to not be in the same country as us. And perhaps because I’ve lived and worked in five cities in the last ten years, I’ve never really let borders get in the way in the way of who I’ve hired.
But I know it’s really hard for talented people to find good opportunities across borders. With this in mind, I’m excited to be working with some really talented, like-minded folks to start Pursuit. We’re an experiment for now, but our ambition is to build the common application for global mobility. If you follow me on Twitter or we’re connected over LinkedIn, you’ll hear a lot more about Pursuit over the next few months. However, today I just want to share a guide my friend and co-founder Josh Schachnow wrote to help software engineers (or anyone technical, really) find a great job and move to Canada. Josh is an immigration lawyer who started a whole practice dedicated to tech companies, so he knows what he’s talking about. And of course, if you fit the bill but are too lazy to read the guide, you could just head over to Pursuit and fill out a 60-second form instead. Take it away, Josh!
So you’re thinking of moving to Canada, eh? If you’re a skilled software engineer or developer looking for a new opportunity, it’s now easier than ever to find a job and move to the second best country in the world to live in.
But before making a big decision like that, it’s best to know what you’ll be getting yourself into before you invest a lot of time and energy. Here are the 7 steps to getting a great tech job and moving to Canada.
Step 1: Is Canada Right for You?
Moving to a different country is a big decision, so the first thing you should do is learn about what it’s like to actually live in Canada. While there are plenty of resources and blogs that cover this online, here is some general insight:
- Depending on where in Canada you live, it can get really cold. Some people love it, some not as much — either way, understand that a large part of Canada is snowy in the winter (November to March, depending on what city you’re in). If extreme cold isn’t for you, there are some warmer options like Vancouver — but either way, look into average temperatures of cities you are interested in if you have never experienced snow or long periods of cold weather.
- The standard of living is really good. Again, this will depend on what city you live in and where in the city you live (as almost every city will have a “bad area”), but overall Canada is a safe, clean country with promising work opportunities, good school systems for your children and healthcare for everyone. This is often the biggest convincing factor for foreign workers — for example, Rahil worked in Singapore and the United States before joining Influitive in Toronto. Recently, he co-founded UpFund.io and says he prefers Canada because “it’s a great culture to raise a family in, is a safe society in general and the education system is great.”
- The tech industry is on the rise. In fact, “[i]n 2015, the technology sector was directly responsible for $117 billion or 7.1 per cent of Canada’s economic output”. Especially in cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Waterloo, Ottawa and Montreal, the country continues to gain traction in the tech industry and is at the forefront of certain sectors, like Artificial Intelligence, Ed-tech and more.
- The culture is extremely diverse. Canada is known to be very welcoming, but most don’t realize how diverse it is. To put it into perspective, “[i]mmigration has contributed more to the growth of Canada’s population than births since the mid-1990s”. I can attest to this as my public high school was a true mix of different religions, ethnicities and backgrounds — and it was truly a unique experience to grow up in such a diverse environment.
Step 2: Make The Decision
Once you’ve read about what it would be like to live and work in Canada, you should take some time to consider whether it would be the right choice for you and your family. Keep in mind that moving to a different country may be one of the biggest decisions you make, so you should consider things like:
- Is this what I want?
- Can I see myself living in Canada?
- Will this be best in the long run?
- What is my situation now? Will moving to Canada improve upon it?
- Do I want to give my wife and kids a better life?
- What opportunities might I miss out on if I stay or if I go?
If you will be moving with a spouse and/or kids, make sure to consult them and keep their best interests in mind. If you’ll be moving alone, talk to friends or family that may be able to give you extra advice. Also, talk to people who have already made the move and see what they say about it — this will likely be the most accurate information you can rely on.
For example, Andres decided to move to Canada from Venezuela 6 years ago and he’s now a Canadian citizen. The main reason he chose Canada was because of how much easier the immigration process was compared to other countries like the U.S. Also, Andres knew that his skills as an engineer would be in high demand in Canada so finding a job wouldn’t be difficult.
Step 3: Understand the Process and Timeline
If you want to get a tech job and move to Canada, you need to be aware of two processes: immigration and recruitment.
If you’re looking to move to Canada without a job and have more time to wait for processing times, you can apply for permanent residency under the Express Entry system.
But if you’re looking to find a great tech job and get a work permit in as little as 3–4 weeks, the new Global Talent Stream is your best bet. This new pilot program was started by Immigration Canada in June of 2017 and aims to help growing Canadian companies bring in amazing tech talent without having to wait for months to get them a work permit.
Most importantly, you’ll need a job first before you can get your work permit through the Global Talent Stream. The easiest way to find Canadian jobs is on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed or Monster. The problem is that many Canadian companies won’t even interview a foreign applicant if you don’t have a work permit or permanent residency because they don’t want to go through the immigration process or they’re not aware of the new Global Talent Stream.
If you’re ready to take the plunge, consider Pursuit, a service that matches you with high growth Canadian companies that are willing to sponsor you for your work visa. You can find out more here (full disclosure: I’m part of the founding team at Pursuit).
The recruitment process will vary by company and can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years depending on your experience, education and how well you interview. Most Canadian companies will review your application materials thoroughly before deciding to interview you, which will likely take place over the phone or by video chat if you’re not in Canada.
Either way, the recruitment timeline will vary from person to person. If you are very skilled, have good experience and do well in your interviews, it can take as little as 2–3 weeks. If not, the sky’s the limit! One tip: make sure you’ve set up and updated online profiles that showcase your best work: LinkedIn, code repositories like GitHub or GitLab, etc. are all important. Your future employers will Google you!
At Pursuit, we compress the recruitment timeline by vetting candidates very quickly using our proprietary algorithms. Accepted candidates are then matched with the right job opportunities at Canadian companies and can choose the ones they’re most interested in continuing the process with. We also streamline the interview, offer and actual visa process using software.
If you are very qualified, apply online and everything goes smoothly, you could have a job offer in as little as 2–3 weeks. Immigration Canada then promises that 80% of Global Talent Stream applications/work permits will be processed in 3–4 weeks, so if everything goes well you could be set to move to Canada in a couple of months!
Pursuit’s primary goal is to bring transparency and joy to what has traditionally been a painful immigration process — join our beta here!
Step 4: Do Your Research
Before you apply for jobs, you’ll want to decide what kind of company you want to work for — how big of a company, which city it has offices in, whether there’s a particular industry you’re interested in, or any other considerations for your specific situation.
There are plenty of resources online to do some background research. For example, you can search for companies recruiting in specific industries or for certain experience levels on LinkedIn, you can filter jobs in almost any way on Indeed or look for startups with exciting opportunities on AngelList. Most of the companies will have their own websites where you can read more about them and try to understand what the work culture might be like.
Another way to get more info is to look up employees at certain companies and reach out. Some may be willing to share their experiences to you by email, on LinkedIn or over the phone.
Also, make note of the job descriptions and requirements. The technical side of job descriptions may seem generic, but look for the company expectations and tone of their messages — this can often give you a sense of what the company culture is like. For requirements, some companies might ask for a cover letter while some might not. You will need to keep this in mind for the next step!
Step 5: Update Your Documentation
In order to apply for almost any job in Canada, you’ll need to have your documentation up-to-date and looking its best. Remember that many companies get dozens of applications so you don’t want yours filled with misspelled words, poor grammar or messy formatting.
The 3 most important things to have updated are your resumé, cover letter and LinkedIn profile, because you’ll be required to include them in your application to most Canadian companies. Make sure they include all of your school/work experience and if they’re not in English, have them translated as accurately as possible.
Remember: it doesn’t matter how great of a developer you are if it isn’t accurately portrayed in your application, so make sure you include whatever is necessary!
Step 6: Touch Up Your Soft/Hard Skills
If a company is impressed by your application and offers you an interview, you’ll need to be prepared in a few other ways. The first is your soft skills that will help you on the phone or video call, such as how well you speak English, how good of a communicator you are in general, how well you answer their questions and what kind of vibe you give to the interviewer.
These are extremely important because if you aren’t good in your interview, it will be very hard to overcome. Most companies aren’t just looking for a great tech employee — they want someone who will fit well in their company for an extended period of time.
You will likely also be given an assignment to determine your hard skills, which is a test to determine how skilled you are in coding, problem solving, etc. To that end, you should brush up on any skills you have listed on your resumé to make sure they are as sharp as possible, and maybe review or practice in some areas that the job description focused on the most.
Making sure your soft and hard skills are as strong as possible will help you navigate the interview itself and hopefully give you a leg up on candidates that aren’t as skilled or practiced as you are.
Step 7: Apply!
Once you’ve done all the above, it’s time to apply! Based on your research, pick the companies and jobs that appeal to you and give you a good chance of success. Include your updated documentation and make sure any forms are filled out properly. Lastly, make sure they know where to contact you (you should always include your phone number and/or email on your resumé).
And the rest is history! Hopefully, you will be well on your way to getting a great tech job and moving to Canada. Thanks for reading and if you’d like to get started yourself, head over to Pursuit to get your Canadian job search started.