One of the worst places in Canada to find a job? Hidden Job market? It’s all in who you know? Let’s Change it!
When I first heard about a February 2016 report that Kelowna, British Columbia was listed as one of the worst places in Canada to find work, I was surprised that things had taken a dive to those extremes. Yet at the same time, Kelowna has been known for not being the easiest place to find work.
I do agree with Kelowna’s Mayor that maybe we should stop and think about the “when” surrounding this statistic being thrown out to the masses: February.
Not necessarily the peak month in terms of employment when it comes to Canadian cities that have vibrant agro-tourism, hospitality and summer vacation markets that employ hundreds (if not thousands) in our traditional high season. Another major contributing factor to this low employment statistic is the low oil prices and the effect they have had locally on the FIFO (Fly In Fly Out) workforce that reside in Kelowna.
With all the city and region has to offer, it’s not a surprise that Kelowna attracts a lot of relocation interest - especially in people looking to escape the daily commutes from larger centres, where the cost of living is getting astronomical.
After having relocated to Kelowna myself from a much larger urban centre, I’d like to put a few things forward as potential advice for anyone looking at landing a career here.
To Do List:
Identify what you want to pursue before even getting to the job application stage.
Be prepared for competition.
What can you be doing to be as proactive as possible when it comes to acing those interviews if and when given the opportunity? What is your unfair advantage over the next 10 candidates who will be interviewing for the role you just interviewed for? Put yourself in the interviewer’s position and ask “What can I offer that no one else can do better?” Even if it’s a small detail, it’s key to identify your strengths prior to an interview so you can convey this to the hiring organization.
Do your homework on the hiring organization, follow them on twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram to make sure you’re keeping up with their latest news.
Targeted Approach. Make a target list of the companies that you actually want to work for and follow them… not a full-on stalking type of follow, but keep up to date on their news, tweets, job alerts, networking events, etc.
Don’t be afraid to drop a resume off in person (unless specifically instructed not to), or research and send an application for a future opportunity within that organization. Don’t wait for a job board to dictate what job you can apply for.
Kelowna does attract a lot of passive and active candidates and job seekers from both inside and outside the Okanagan valley. Be sure you’ve identified your “unfair” advantage - unique only to you - before you hit the pavement.
Keep your skills up to date and transferable. Ask yourself the following question: If you aren’t able to find your ideal job instantly in the Okanagan, are you willing to take a career step down if it could open the doors to future possibilities?
This happens more often than not, and as long as you’re keeping your career skillset transferable and relevant to your ideal career, it may be a more realistic approach to get your foot in the market. This way you can prove your value to an employer to give you the opportunity to showcase your skills.
Realistic Expectations: If you were earning $120,000/year in Toronto you may have to readjust your salary expectations accordingly to the local market. 120K/year may be the norm in a larger market but when you look at the whole package and costs associated with living in a major urban centre compared to a medium sized market, there will almost always be a trade off.
The sunshine tax (as it’s referred to locally) can sometimes be a vivid contrast between salaries associated with living in a larger centre and those in the central Okanagan. There are always exceptions to this but it’s good to have a head’s up that you may not be making the same remuneration as you were previously accustomed to if you’re relocating to the region.
Kelowna’s Hidden Job Market: It’s all in who you know in Kelowna, right?
There are many opportunities to get out and meet with various new connections tied into the Kelowna business community.
Here’s a list of just a few organizations and associations that may offer you that opportunity to get your own personal brand recognized.
Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission:http://www.investkelowna.com/
Accelerate Okanagan: https://www.accelerateokanagan.com/
Kelowna Chamber of Commerce: http://www.kelownachamber.org/
JCI, Kelowna Jaycees: http://www.kelownajaycees.com/
Uptown Rutland Business Association: http://www.ourrutland.ca/
Downtown Kelowna Association: http://www.downtownkelowna.com/
Volunteer with a local organization that may have some transferability in skills or in human connection that can assist you and increase your odds of finding your job here. You’re twice as likely to connect with someone new if you’re meeting new people.
Kelowna Community Resources (https://kcr.ca/) is a great way to find out about volunteer opportunities available in the Kelowna market.
Yes, admittedly Kelowna does have a reputation of being a difficult place to find a job.
It is easier to shift the blame to a city with an already established reputation than to hit the pavement and be relentlessly persistent in taking the steps to landing the job you ultimately want.