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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Job Hunting in Canada

A lot of people say that it's easier to get a job when you have job. Therefore, having upped sticks and travelled halfway across the world with just a visa and a smile, technically I was probably at a slight disadvantage. At the same time, I had heard that the job market was relatively healthy in Canada. In all fairness, I had been advising people of that very same thing for 3 years while working at USIT so I hoped that what I had been telling people was as true as I proclaimed it to be!

Preliminary searches before I left Ireland indicated that there was plenty of jobs over there. I sent off a couple of applications (including my updated 'resume' that had been Canadianised) for various positions mainly along the line of the marketing/office style work I had been doing up to that point. Just before leaving, I decided that I would most likely end up working in a pub or restaurant and decided to complete the Smart Serve course so that I would be able to serve alcohol responsibly (I am a complete retard at 'knowing the one that's one too many'; as if I'd be able to make a decent decision regarding other people drinking responsibly). After 2 days, I realised that everyone I know here works office hours. Do I really want to work the complete opposite shifts to them?

I decided to put my focus back into the office side of things. I set up some meetings with recruitment agents and sent off roughly 30 resumes a day for various positions, including the following;
  • Communications/Social Media Coordinator for a charity
  • Production Team Member at Tim Hortons
  • Office Administrator in a lawyers office
  • Special Events Organiser at a college
  • Administrator for an Immigration firm that specialises in advising internationals who want to move to Canada and Canadians who wish to move abroad
  • Executive Director (aim high right?) for the Irish Canadian Immigration Centre. 
Anyone who knows what I've been doing for the last few years will immediately see that the last 2 jobs should have been mine in all fairness. How could they not want me? Waited for them to call, still sending off other applications but knowing that there could be no other positions as perfect for me as these two. Then the phone rang.....oh joy! It was.....Tim Hortons. Was I free for a quick chat about the position available? Fair enough, I'll play along for now. The usual questions follow; what's my availability, why did I come to Canada, why do I want to work for Tim Hortons, would I mind a bit of baking. I answered in my best possible phone voice and she invited me to come in the next day to meet the manager of the store. I turned up all suited and booted, ready to convince them that I 'really wanted to be part of the Tim Hortons team' (this was a phrase I did actually utter and immediately afterward wanted to punch myself in the face). The manager, God bless her, was 45 minutes late for my interview. I am not a particularly impatient woman but I must say, after 30 minutes and 3 free coffees, I did consider whether I was actually bothered to work there. 

I stuck it out obviously (desperation was taking hold at this stage that I would be unemployed forever) and the interview went quite well I thought. She asked me what my availability was, why did I come to Canada, why did I want to work for Tims, she didn't ask me about the baking though. I hadn't left the place an hour when she rang me and asked me to come back the next day to meet the owner. Good sign. The owner was not late, thankfully. First thing he says is 'I haven't read your resume. I want you to tell me about yourself.' Being the shy wallflower that I am, this was quite hard for me.....but I managed. Then he asked me my availability, why I had come to Canada and why I wanted to work for Tims (this was the point where I talked about the Tim Hortons team and how much I wanted to be a part of it. Loser) and said that he would let me know early the next week. I still haven't heard anything and that was 17 days ago. Deduce from that what you will. 

Then of course, dear Gillian, my shining light and saviour, came out to me last week and said that the hostel down the block was looking for front desk staff. I'd work in the hostel, meet new people, live the backpacker lifestyle. This could work! I emailed the name Gillian had given me and tried not to make my cover letter sound too desperate (this is very hard to do). I heard back within an hour to arrange an interview for a few days later. Not one to count my chickens, I made sure to keep applying for other jobs in the meantime. I was very nervous before the interview but the manager, Sally, seemed really nice, very friendly and was also from Cornwall so I knew she couldn't be a bad egg! I thought the interview went well but I was really weary to get my hopes up as I knew how much I wanted this job.

Obviously, I'm on my way to a job interview 2 days later when she emails me to offer me the position. I actually did a little jump in the middle of the street and laughed out loud with complete and utter delight. It was arranged that I wouldn't be starting until the following week, meaning that I would be free for the weekend while I had friends visiting from the homeland, it all seemed to be working out fairly well! Over the next few days, as I mentioned at the start of my little piece how much easier it was to get a job when you already have a job, I was contacted by 7 other employers that I had sent applications to in the 3 weeks since I'd arrived, all offering me interviews and seeing if I was still available to work. I did begin to wonder if maybe I should see what else was out there. I could tell somewhere in my gut though that this would be perfect for me.

Moral of the Story - while you should not always take the first thing that is offered to you, it usually pays off to follow your gut instincts. We'll see how it pays off in the long run though.....

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