The Great Job Hunt

Two months into my big adventure and I’ve committed the cardinal sin of being so busy I barely have time to think about, let alone write, my blog posts.  The downside of this is that I have so much to share and tell that the topics keep building up and up, and sooner or later I’ll have missed the boat and the moment will have well and truly passed.  The upside of my current predicament is that my jam packed schedule is the result of finding a full-time, permanent job in a sector I love. Yessssssss!

When I arrived in Canada I brought with me low expectations packaged up in a worst case scenario.  My plan was to secure some sort of temporary work, ideally admin but retail would do, and volunteer in some high level roles to keep my skills up for my return to the UK in December 2011. Anything else would be considered a bonus. Despite this I decided to aim high and applied for some ‘proper’ jobs before I left the UK, receiving an invitation to my first telephone interview whilst sitting at Vancouver Airport waiting for my luggage to appear on the carousel. The next morning I found myself talking to a nice lady from HR from a payphone in a hostel, using a phone card, with a stinking cold, after no sleep, surrounded by Australians playing football over my head. The role had also been downgraded to part-time which was far from ideal. Needless to say I did not expect to hear back.

I will admit to not even looking in newspapers for jobs...

After the obligatory 14 day ‘holiday’ period I set myself a target of the end of February to find some sort of work, and started contacting recruitment agencies about undertaking some temping. Temping in Canada is much more competitive than in England, and I didn’t hold out much hope for getting an assignment any time soon after finding out that I’d have to interview for every half-day receptionist shift I was put forward for. Luck must have been looking favourably on me as a week after registering with my first agency I was offered a four week data entry placement at a charity in Vancouver (no interview necessary).

My propitious streak continued as three weeks after my disastrous telephone interview I was invited back for a panel interview.  A second interview soon followed, and six days later I was on my way to my first day at work as a Volunteer Engagement Coordinator for the Greater Vancouver Region of a very large and well known Canadian charity. The icing on the cake came when I received my official offer letter stating that the job had been reinstated to full-time, with a salary that far exceeded my UK equivalent. Best. Day. Ever.

I’ve been in my new role for just over a month, and I absolutely love it. It’s a challenging role with a lot to learn, but it’s a great career step and I’m working alongside a fantastic team. I think it’s safe to say that my prospects in Vancouver are looking better than I ever thought possible, so much so that I have applied for a second work permit to stay for 2012. Two months ago I was wondering whether I’d ever see the inside of an office again, and now I’m the newbie with the ‘cute accent’. I know, right?



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About MarmitetoMaple

I'm originally from the UK and have been working and living the dream in Vancouver, BC, since January 2011. I am a firm believer in travel, good cheese, volunteering and community engagement.

12 responses to “The Great Job Hunt”

  1. Dan B says :

    I found your blog through the BUNAC site. I’m coming to Vancouver in January on a working holiday visa, and I’m trying to somehow keep my fears at bay.

    My biggest fear: not getting a job. I’ve read that getting a job over there is a lot different to how it is in the UK. Any tips or suggestions? (I know BUNAC offers some job help service thingy, but I didn’t get my visa through them so I’m pretty much just jumping in at the deepend!)

    • marmitetomaple says :

      Hey Dan,

      Thanks for your comment, and congrats on sorting your visa, coming to Vancouver was the best thing I ever did and I’m sure you’ll feel the same! I had a LOT of fears when I came over, the main one being not getting a job. I arrived in January too, and although the job market was slow (compared to later in the year anyway), I secured a career job within a month and 90% of my friends from our BUNAC flight did the same working in retail/service. What kind of job are you looking for? There’s definitely things you can do in advance to prepare, like draft your resume and send speculative applications (depending on what kind of job you like), but you just need to be prepared to hand in your resume everywhere, follow up in person everywhere, and attend a lot of group interviews.

      Don’t worry, I came with BUNAC but didn’t end up using the SWAP services for job hunting. They do have job postings in the office but you can access them all via their Facebook group anyway, and I didn’t go back to the office after my initial orientation. The main thing they were useful for was printing resumes etc., but you can do all that just as cheap in a print centre.

      You’ll be fine, really truly and honestly! 🙂

      • Dan B says :

        Cheers for the quick reply.

        I’m thinking about an admin job when I get there. Not too sure how I’d cope with a retail / service job. Although I guess I can’t afford to be too picky! I’ll probably just sign up to some agencies and see what happens.

        I’m still not sure about whether I’ll live in Victoria or Vancouver. Any suggestions?

        I’ve read a few blogs from people doing the working holiday, and they all end up positive in the end, so I’m sure it’ll be fine…just a struggle at first maybe!

        Thanks again.

  2. marmitetomaple says :

    Signing up to some agencies is a great idea, I got temping work within two weeks of being here, I signed up to two agencies and they both offered me work. I had to do the Microsoft Office tests and go for interviews etc., but it was very straightforward and basically the same as temping in the UK.

    I personally would say Vancouver all the way…it’s the most amazing city I’ve ever been to and I never want to leave! Beaches and mountains…what more could you want?! It really is stunning. Victoria is lovely too, reminded me of Cornwall in some ways, a nice tourist destination but I personally wouldn’t want to live there, it’s tiny! I wrote a post about it here:

  3. Elaine Haig says :

    Hi Lizzie!!

    I’m coming over to Vancouver in 2 weeks today (eeek) to do a working holiday, I was just doing some research and came across your blog, it made me really excited! It looks like yu have an amazing job and have settled in really well :).I hope the same can be said of me.

    I was just wondering what the weather is like at the moment… (just wondering if i should stock up on lots of cardies etc). I also am not going over with any organisation like bunac do think that will cause problems for me with regards to finding jobs etc?

    Kind regards

    Elaine Haig

    • marmitetomaple says :

      Hi Elaine,

      Thanks for the comment, I’m so excited for you with only two weeks to go! I absolutely love it here (as you can tell) and a lot of that has to do with finding a job that I love. BUNAC/SWAP were very helpful with a lot of things, but job hunting wasn’t one of them so it won’t make any difference at all to your job hunt. Your average Canadian has no idea who SWAP are (BUNAC’s counterpart who provide all the support over here) let alone BUNAC, so you won’t have any problems.

      We had an amazing summer when it finally arrived but now it’s getting colder again, so a warm coat is a must! It’s also very, very wet. Everyone wears trendy ‘rain boots’ (wellies!) out here which I found quite strange, which means they can be expensive, so if you have the room in your luggage to bring a pair over I recommend it!

      Good luck with the move, I know you’ll love Vancouver! 🙂

  4. g says :

    the job post is really informative. so when you were applying from the UK, did you apply anywhere in Vancouver? as this is where i initially tend to stay when i come over for my work Canada with bunac.
    I gather alot of research needs to be done as to what area you want to live in and jobs around that are and also to look at a broader scale to get more of a chance of getting a job? as for agencies did you look them up before you went?

    • marmitetomaple says :

      Hi G, thanks for the comment!

      Yes I did apply for jobs in Vancouver from the UK, this was the only place I applied as I knew that’s where I would be living. As you can see from the post, I applied for my current job from home and went through the interview stage when I arrived. I definitely agree that finding somewhere to live is a priority above getting a job (staying in a hostel is very expensive) once you arrive, but if you’re hoping to live anywhere in Vancouver (from Kits/Dunbar right over to Commercial Drive) you’re highly likely to be within commuting distance. You can definitely be applying for jobs without knowing yet where you’re going to be living, but you will have to have a Canadian address to put at the top of your resume for an employer to consider your application. This could be your permanent address when you know it, or the address of a hostel or the SWAP office if you’re going through BUNAC.

      I did look up some temp/employment agencies before I arrived, but I waited until I was here and ready to start work before contacting them. Once you contact an agency, they will assess your resume and get in touch with you very quickly (usually within hours). If they think they’ll have some work for you, they will invite you in to an interview and competency tests (if necessary for admin work) within a couple of days. You may then need to follow up in person, so you’ll definitely need to be in a position where you have the time to do this.

      Good luck with your applications! 🙂

      • g says :

        that’s great advice thank you. yes i am definitely looking to stay in Vancouver haven’t decided whereabouts yet but def somewhere that i can commute from easily. i didn’t realize a hostel would work out more expensive. it is something i wouldn’t consider in long term having experienced living in a hostel before. i suppose getting a flat would be cheaper…another useful insight.

      • marmitetomaple says :

        Hi G, No problem at all – it’s always a surprise for others as well, but you’ll be looking at approx $30 a night at a hostel and $600 a month ($20 a night) for a shared room. A number of my friends ended up living in a hostel for 3-4 months and regretted not moving out sooner and saving the money! Good luck with your move 🙂

  5. g says :

    i am looking to apply when the visas open again for this year, so doing a lot of research., i know i want to live in Vancouver then its all the research from there on fixing up my resume and saving up. whats the job economy up there like at the moment? better than the UK i am guessing. would you recommend any best area to stay in Vancouver that is close by to commuting in and around the town.

    • marmitetomaple says :

      There are a few areas you’ll see coming up a lot on craigslist like Kitsilano, Dunbar, Commercial Drive and then the West End which is actually in Downtown Vancouver. The job economy isn’t amazing here, but it is definitely better than the UK. Just be prepared to work your way up and get out there and network – it’s definitely who you know here!

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