Starting strong in Canada’s Tech Industry: Insights from a tech co-founder

Tech workers in a coworking space in Canada.

In 2017, roughly 492,800 or 37% of the total ICT jobs in Canada were held by immigrants (ICTC).  Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

Canada’s tech sector is growing. The Information & Communications Technology Council’s (ICTC) Labour Market Outlook projects around 216,000 digital talent demand by 2021, highlighting that skilled immigrants are key in filling this labour gap.  However, the job market is competitive, and newcomers need to be well prepared to find meaningful employment in Canada.

 

Earlier this summer, FAST hosted a webinar on building successful tech careers for newcomers, and we were delighted to have startup co-founder Briana Sim as our resource speaker.

Briana is the  COO of Radical I/O Technology, a Vancouver-based tech company partnering with enterprises and other startups to create impactful programs and digital products for government, education, and non-profits.

Passionate about ensuring inclusiveness and belonging in the workplace, and  about championing women to pursue careers in technology, Briana shared some insights on how immigrants can start their job search in Canada’s ever-changing IT sector. Here are some excerpts from our webinar Q&A:

Q: How’s it like working in Canada’s technology sector?

Briana: Canada is big and diverse, so each province and city would have their specific needs and unique characteristics.  The BC tech sector is very vibrant, innovative, and fast-moving.  There are small IT companies and startups; and some large and more established ones, such as TELUS, Microsoft, etc. – so people’s experiences working in tech may be varied.

In this day and age, every company is becoming an IT company.  Nowadays, you can’t do business without having a strong online and software focus.  So, working in tech does not mean being exclusive to tech.  There are a lot of opportunities in large companies – in government, universities, and traditional businesses – that have IT or software innovation departments that need technical expertise and are hiring as well.

Q: What job search advice would you give newcomers who want to enter Canada’s growing IT industry?

Briana: It’s good to research what types of companies are hiring; what jobs are available; what companies are typically looking for.  Get a better understanding of what the company culture may be like, based on how they word their job description.

Reflect on these questions: What types of companies are you drawn to? Which roles resonate with your experiences? Are you looking for a place that’s informal or more traditional?

Start looking into sites such as Indeed.com, LinkedIn, BC JobConnect, BCjobs.ca for postings.

Another trick is to start chatting with technical recruiters. They have a lot of relationships with employers around town.  You can start getting a sense of how competitive your resume is, who’s hiring, and which jobs are in demand.

Q: What do employers typically look for in a resume or cover letter? How can newcomers stand out?

Briana: Employers want to see that you have relevant experience to what they’re posting.  If you don’t make the connection between what they’re looking for and your previous work, it will be hard to get their attention.   You must make it obvious that your skills and experience match what they are looking for.

Spend more time on your application, especially on your cover letter.  Personalize it for each job; talk about what excites you and how you see yourself contributing to the company’s vision and mission.

For smaller companies like mine, what’s exciting about searching us out is that we spend more time in reviewing resumes. We love seeing how you really could fit and add value, and what’s different and unique about you, instead of what’s missing.  We celebrate diversity.

 

FAST hosts online events to connect newcomers with Canada’s industry leaders and experts. Complete the FAST modules to participate in our next e-session. Learn more here.

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