After a brief diversion, we’re back on track with helpful advice for those considering emigrating from the UK to Vancouver. At least, I hope it’s useful advice but with this post in particular, I am very aware that I may not be the best person for the job. Perhaps it’s best to just write what I know and let others supply the rest…
- When we moved here, I budgeted for 3 months out of work. It took 6 months. Everyone I have spoken to then and since has said “It always takes 6 months to land a job here.” Why? I don’t know.
- A Canadian resume is like a British CV, but there are subtle differences. I eventually landed a job going with a radical Functionality layout, rather than the traditional Chronological, but if you don’t want me to get all technical, just research on all the great web resources and get the resume right.
- I didn’t bother getting my qualifications converted because it’s an expensive business and I’m a generalist, but after 5 months unemployed, I was prepared to pay! I translated my qualifications on my resume, to give prospective employers some idea of the levels (GCSEs = High School Diploma etc). If you are a specialist, it pays to get the conversion documents.
- You will need an internet connection from the start. I used all the main search sites, and checked all the recruiting pages of the universities and colleges I wanted to work at. The local government sites are great, and a lot of companies use Craigslist.
- The job market seems different to me – it’s a highly unionized workforce, but personal recommendation is the way to go. Networking and forcing introductions pays dividends. The job hunt process is more personal too – follow up applications with a phone call, follow interviews immediately with a thank you email or card – things that felt pushy in the UK but are expected here. Now that I am doing the recruiting, I push good prospects to send me their resume and I network to spot the next great addition to my flock.
- The traditional view is that you will take a career and salary step down when you emigrate. You should expect this. Even with outstanding written and spoken English and great qualifications, even in the multicultural melting pot of Vancouver, employers are cautious of the unfamiliar. I couldn’t see how I could be unfamiliar – we were all speaking the same language, and using the same skills after all. That was until I started sending my first work emails, and receiving puzzled requests for translation – it’s amazing how many of our quaint old phrases haven’t made it across the pond. The advantage is that you can win over anyone with a carefully placed “Blimey.”
- I joined a couple of agencies to get some temping work, and was very disappointed. Perhaps my timing was wrong but I eventually got picked up by a local college for the general clerical pool. A far cry from the HR Manager position I was looking for, but 6 months is a long time for someone who has never been out of work in her life. I never got to work at the college because the next day I got a call to interview for a job I had forgotten I had applied for. It turned out they were looking for Mary Poppins to tidy up their messy lives, and the rest, as they say, is Supercalifragalisticexpealidocious.