It all started on March 14, 2018. This was the day when I had my first conversation with Hafsa, who I spoke with via video conference from Lahore, Pakistan. I didn’t know it at the time, but this would be the first time in my career where I would successfully hire someone from outside of Canada. And it’s not because of lack of effort on my part, it was from lack of acceptance by other organizations.
Amidst all the anxiety of work visas, government regulations, forms and Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs), we fail to be mindful and empathetic to the person on the other side of the globe. Hasfa’s story is a reminder that you are not just taking a chance on the person, the person is also taking a big chance on you, your company, and your city.
For the past seven years I have been recruiting technical talent in Toronto and the market is becoming more and more competitive. As organizations are continuing on a path of digital transformation, more companies are scaling up their software development teams. It’s a job seeker’s market and once a software engineer decides they’re ready for a change, recruiters and hiring managers typically have less than a week to interview and present an offer. Offers can become bidding wars. Projects go on hold or are cancelled for lack of technical talent. Many organizations are forced to tolerate the toxic behavior of “rock star” developers, those who can wreak havoc on their company culture.
Companies have a tendency to act as if their ideal candidate exists and that the role of the recruiter is to find them. In this fictitious scenario, this person they want to hire has been doing exactly the same job at a similar organization but they want to change and do the same job for a different company for the same (or sometimes lower) salary. The role of a talent manager is to push back and help hiring managers understand that this is not the reality of our current tech environment; we need to help set realistic expectations that we should be open to candidates from other locations. To grow our ecosystem, we can’t continue exchanging the same people from one company to the next. We need to tap into a new, global talent pool and incorporate a diversity of experience, perspective and ways of thinking from outside our ecosystem.
When I joined TWG I was pleasantly surprised to learn they have been hiring folks from outside of Canada for years. To them, it just seemed completely natural to interview candidates who were applying from other countries. Previous to joining TWG I spent a lot of my career working in recruitment agencies. In this role, I would scour the market: job boards, LinkedIn, StackOverflow, databases, etc… to find the perfect candidate. In the past I have submitted candidates who were new to Canada and the response was always the same “Declined: lack of Canadian experience.” There’s a belief that these candidates are seen as high risk, possibly lacking an understanding of “how we do things here”, a concern that they won’t fit in, language barriers, immigration costs and additional paperwork.
This behaviour frustrated me. I would find the perfect candidate and qualify their experience to align with the requirements of the role, but they wouldn’t even get an interview, let alone an offer.
I hate to admit it, but from this constant response I started to develop a bias. We all have human brains that are subject to learned behaviors from our experiences and from this I actually started to believe that Canadian working experience was essential to be successful as a software engineer. But this is not the reality. Do we really believe software is only developed in Canada?
TWG’s philosophy on hiring is a prime example that not only disproves this assumption, it’s actually taking action to seek individuals who have different experiences. Diversity is not a cause, it’s an opportunity. Building a team with different backgrounds and cultures gives you the advantage of multiple perspectives on a given problem and a greater awareness of the increasingly global market we serve.
At TWG we’ve been hiring developers for 17 years and we have built and refined a hiring process that evaluates experience, aptitude, and ability to solve problems. We believe our hiring process evaluates talent and potential and that our main concern, not visas or geographic location. Over the past year and a half I have interviewed and hired folks from Toronto and abroad. We do not ask if you have authorization to work in Canada when you apply. We choose to have this as part of the conversation when you are interviewed so we can understand where you are in your journey.
So, you’re a software engineer who wants to come to Toronto and work for TWG? That’s fantastic, we’d love to talk to you. Have a look at our Careers page, and check out our talent acquisition partner Global Skills Hub, who connects us with great talent around the globe. If things work out, great! Let me know your flight details and I’ll meet you at the airport with a Welcome to TWG sign!