Moving Your Career to Vancouver, Canada

Posted on Dec 6, 2016 | 0 comments

Moving Your Career to Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is known as one of the most livable cities in the world but Vancouver is not for everyone. The city has become a place for the wealthy as house prices have skyrocketed and continue to go up. Unfortunately, salaries have not kept up with the cost of living. Vancouver is much smaller compared to Toronto which boasts many company headquarters. Instead, most of the companies in Vancouver are small businesses, employing less than 200 people. Perhaps because of this, many people chose to become a consultant or start their own business.


British Columbia and Vancouver have become a very popular destination for expats and immigrants from Asia. However work permit and permanent residency application processes can be cumbersome and lengthy.


There are a few different ways of entering Canada.


  • International work experience (IWE) program. Check for which of the three programs under the IWE you may qualify for: Work Experience Program.
  • Most of time, employers need to prove that they were unable to find a Canadian and apply for a Labor Market Opinion if they wish to obtain a work permit for a foreign employee. You can find out more about that process here: Work Permit Application Process.
  • There are different programs that enable immigration into Canada such as the skilled worked program, foreign investors, provincial nominee programs, family sponsor program. Check which one you may qualify for by visiting the Immigration Programs page on the Government of Canada’s website.


Once you have obtained the required immigration status and have landed in British Columbia (BC), you will have access to job search programs and support to help you find a job. For instance, Work BC centers offer workshops and career counseling services. You can find your closest center at WorkBC Employment Services. Organizations such as the YWCA have been contracted by government to support specific groups such as immigrants. Specifics about these services can be found at YWCA Employment Services.


There are also non-profit organizations whose main objective is to help expats integrate into Canadian society. They support immigrants and refugees by offering them employment services and English classes. One larger and well known such organization is Mosaic Support.


There is ample of support for expats and immigrants who are interested in starting their own businesses. You can read all about these services at Small Business Resources.


As in many places around the world, it may take a while for a newcomer to find employment in BC due to a lack of connections and direct professional experience in Canada. Many hiring managers prefer to hire someone they know or some who has been referred by a trusted colleague. Local experience still matters although less so nowadays due to the globalization of the economy. It is very important to invest time in connecting with people through in-person and online networking events as well as volunteering. There are tons of in-person networking opportunities many of which can be found on the Networking in Vancouver website.


There are tons of interesting volunteer opportunities in Vancouver which provide a good opportunity to gain experience on the local market by contributing your spare time to a good cause while networking and developing your skills. For Volunteer Opportunities check out Charity Village.


As for networking, Canadians in general are happy to help someone by meeting up and telling about their backgrounds, as long as the person comes referred by someone they know. You can find connections through LinkedIn and referrals. The connection itself usually doesn’t lead to immediate job offers but it can give you a leg up when there is a job opening. In general, you still will have to go through an extensive interviewing process, often supplemented by assessments and always completed by reference checks.


It is very important to learn how to speak about job achievements without coming across as arrogant. This is a fine and sometimes difficult line to walk. In Canada’s subdued culture people are expected to be modest and not brag about their wealth and accomplishments. During job interviews the expectations change and one has to be prepared to speak about their accomplishments and be clear on how they can contribute to the company’s success.


Where does one find out about job openings in British Columbia?

  1. LinkedIn
  3. Glassdoor
  4. Job boards with Professional Associations


Be aware that often you will not receive a response to your job application. Your best bet to get a foot in the door is by finding connections at the company you’re targeting to see if one of your contacts can serve as a reference. Chances that your application will be picked up will significantly increase. Unfortunately many companies are understaffed in their recruitment function and do a poor job at getting back to candidates after they have interviewed you. Nonetheless, try to follow up and don’t be discouraged. The process is the same for non-Canadians and Canadians alike.


Marian Hazke, Global Career Expert



Passport Career provides more detailed career information and extensive resources as well as career training about networking, finding a job, internship, alternative career opportunities, job search using social media as well as information on writing CVs, cover letters and interviews. If your organization, embassy, university/college, library, or other institution would like access to our country portfolios (15,000+ pages of expert content for 80+ countries and 250+ cities) to share with your students, employees, spouses/partners, and others managing a national or international career transition, please click here to contact us (or send email to: regarding a free, live, online demo and details on how to obtain a license to access Passport Career.

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