Psychology of the job hunt

Psychology of the job hunt

The only things that stand between you and your Canadian dream is obtaining a work permit or permanent residence and finding a job. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? While Canada’s construction market is booming, the bad news is that the recruitment process in Canada can be painstakingly slow. You will need to be mentally prepared as you prepare for what can be quite an emotionally draining process in a new country.

The Canadian recruitment process

International candidates often assume that similar immigration and recruitment processes will apply in Canada as they do in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, or the Middle East. This is not the case. Canada’s immigration system is focused on welcoming long-term permanent residents, as opposed to short-term temporary foreign workers, and consequently Canadian employers tend to be far more conservative when it comes to international hiring. Even those workers who arrive in Canada as temporary foreign workers are encouraged to transition to permanent residence through government programs created for that very purpose.

In our Preparation for an Interview article, we wrote about the two main weaknesses of a typical international candidate:

  • Lack of local experience
  • Flight risk

A Canadian employer will usually hesitate over hiring a foreign worker due to doubts over their ability to adapt and whether they will stay in Canada long term. Other things being equal, employers will prefer a candidate with local experience who is settled in Canada, so be prepared for questioning, hesitation, and delays.

How long will it take to find me a role?

This is a broad question, and the answer can vary depending on:

  • whether you are in Canada (overseas job hunting usually takes longer);
  • Junior vs Senior roles; and/or
  • the urgency of the role.

The recruitment process in Canada can often take 3-5 weeks, or even longer. That’s right, it can take around a month to finalize a job offer once we have delivered your resume to an employer. Although there is a labour shortage in Canada, employers like to take their time and will move along at their own pace. The recruitment process is a roller-coaster, so you need to buckle up and be ready for it, otherwise it will test your sanity. Here are some of the common reasons why it can take so long:

  • Determining interest from hiring managers can be slow when they are distracted with projects and operations.
  • Scheduling interviews and gathering feedback.
  • Making an offer.

While 2-3 rounds of interviews and a job offer can be closed off in 1-2 weeks in most developed economies, the process typically takes much longer in Canada. Don’t take it personally, as it’s easy to do so when you have arrived in a new country and need to find employment. Waiting on employers can quickly take the excitement out of your arrival in Canada, so be prepared for the slump as progress stalls.

Candidates start with lots of energy, but after just a couple of weeks in Canada you may start to question everything.

  • Why am I not hearing from employers?
  • Why such a delay in scheduling the second interview?
  • Why have I been waiting for over a week for the job offer they promised me?

It’s not about you. Blame Canada and the slow recruitment process, but don’t blame yourself. The process will take the exact same amount of time whether you go with it or against it, so arrive prepared and armed with patience, and maintain your self-confidence. Self-doubt may creep in, but remember your job search should be about finding a role for 3-4 years or longer, so an additional 2-3 weeks is just a minor blip in the process.

What not to do

  • Do not lower your standards. When we meet with some candidates on arrival, they are brimming with confidence before suddenly, two weeks later, they are in panic mode despite being warned. Instead of reaching for the stars, the candidate is now applying for B-list roles that didn’t excite them two weeks previously. Big mistake, as when you start your B-list role, your A-list employer will come calling and now you are indebted to your B-list employer. Create a game plan and stick to it!
  • Do not give up on Canada. Yes, it happens. I have witnessed the Canadian recruitment process really question candidates’ emotions. “Why don’t they want me? How can it be taking so long if they are interested in hiring me?” Ride the emotion!

What do I do to preserve my sanity while waiting?

  • Be mature. If someone told you you could have your dream job if it took 2-3 weeks longer than you expect, what would you do? You would find a way to keep yourself busy and finance yourself. Find temporary work if finances are strained.
  • Be conscious that self doubt is part of the process of starting a new life in Canada.
  • Keep busy. Sitting at home waiting for emails to arrive will drive any human being mad, so attend networking events, go on adventures, and make new friends. Do anything within reason to keep your mind busy.
  • Arrange job interviews via Skype pre-arrival and then plan some trips when you get to Canada. With less vacation time to be expected once you land your A-list job (which you will, with the right attitude), this period of unemployment should be cherished. Take the time to get to know your surroundings.
  • Focus on the positives. If your only measurement is finding a job, then you will consider yourself a failure until you have one. Set realistic and achievable goals like arranging 2-3 interviews in your first two weeks in Canada.

Most of all, remain positive.