Desperately seeking C#? Desperately seeking Prospects!

KBCafe recently posted an entry, "Desparately seeking C#."

I've gotta say, there's a desparate shortage of technical jobs in Toronto, let alone C# jobs.  Let's not forget about salaries -- the job market in Toronto pays a LOT less than jobs in the US.  Even taking into account crazy cost of living in some US cities.

In July of 2002, I graduated from the University of Toronto with a specialist (Hons. BSc.) in Computer Science.  I also took a major in Professional Writing, and was only 1.5 credits away from a minor in Math.  (1.5 credits is 30% of a semester's workload.)  I had a 16-month internship at General Electric under my belt, and felt well-prepared to compete with any other graduate for jobs.

I didn't have to worry about competing for any Canadian jobs, though.  There were none worth competing for.

I pursued job opportunities for companies that excited me -- both via outside sources, and the university's career centre.  The most telling statement about the Canadian technical industry was the scene I saw at the big career fair.

I went to the fair with a list of companies that I wanted to speak with.  I brought resumes tailored specifically to them, and prepared discussion points specifically for them.  As I approached most booths, they would drop their eyes and shuffle around when we started to talk.  After a short while, they would say something like, "I really enjoyed our conversation -- but to tell you the truth, we're not really accepting resumes.  We're mostly here to just keep a presence."  Or "Oh, you're looking for a full-time job?  Sorry, we're only accepting resumes for internships."

It was atrocious.

On the other hand, the Microsoft booth was staffed by 3 recruiters, with their hands full recruiting.  They were taking resumes on the spot, speaking briefly with students about them, annotating them, and putting serious thought into them.  The attendees of the career fair, finally sensing a glimmer of opportunity, literally swarmed the booth.  Respectfully, of course.  They packed a semi-circle 10 deep, all eager to speak with a company that provided them at least a distant prospect of a job.  This massive flow of interest stayed the same the entire time I was at the fair.  By the end of the day, the recruiter I spoke with had lost his voice from shouting over so many people.

Maybe there is a shortage of C# developers in Toronto.  Maybe that's because they're all being taken by the companies that are hiring.  Or, they're being taken by companies that realize smart developers can be rolling with "Shiny Technology X" before their first paycheck.  I was not taught a single programming language, technology, or operating system in school.  But I learned a hell of lot of them.  They were simply prerequisites that you had to teach yourself in order to complete your coursework.

Want some tips? 

  • Recruit at universities.
  • Make it clear that you are hiring.
  • Engage with those that provide you resumes.
  • Don't get stuck looking for Shiny Technology X.

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