From an interview with Paula Prado.
Originally from Brazil, Paula Prado is a tech recruiter specializing in cybersecurity. In 2018, she and her husband came to Canada by way of the U.S. They had been to Canada on vacation and knew that Canadians were nice, friendly, and there seemed to be many opportunities. They considered Vancouver and Toronto, and based on employment opportunities, decided to come to Toronto. Having lived in Chicago, they were well-prepared for the cold weather. As a highly experienced recruiter looking for a job as a newcomer, Paula offers expert insights and advice from both sides of the table.
As a recruiter, I had an idea of what was going on, but things were different in Canada. In Brazil, it’s normal for someone in my role to be more of a generalist. You recruit for sales roles, for technical roles and customer services roles – you do everything. In Canada, it’s more focused: they want a technical recruiter, or a sales recruiter, or a product recruiter.
It wasn’t an easy search for me. I faced many of the challenges newcomers face. How do I prepare my resume? How do I answer the interview questions? What are they looking for? It took some time for me to understand and customize my resume for the Canadian market. If I were applying to a technical role, I would customize my resume for a technical or sales recruiting role because I had experience in both. I would customize my experience to fit the role. It was hard for me to adjust in the beginning, but that’s how the market works.
Another challenge is that you never really know exactly what the recruiter on the other side wants. You have an idea, but there’s always something that you don’t know. You may not be entirely sure of the company culture. So you try to read a little bit, to research and see how they are, but you never really know. What you are saying might be the opposite of what they are looking for, and you may not know. It took some time for me to really acclimate and understand how I should proceed, how to summarize my experience, how to best pitch my experience and adapt in this market. I needed to find a good company and a good job.
For example, I thought I wouldn’t accept a contract position, because in Brazil contract positions are not really nice, but here they are way more common. Once I figured out that a contract is a great way to get a foot in the door, I realized it could be an option for me to get my career in Canada started. It’s important to have the flexibility to change your mindset.
The do’s and don’ts of resumes and interviews in Canada
Do your research about the company you are applying to.
There is nothing more frustrating for a recruiter than asking a candidate what they know about the company and hearing, “Sorry, I didn’t have time to research it.” That happens on a regular basis. If you’re looking for a new job and you’re not working, you probably have time to research the company.
Not only will it enable you to answer any questions coming your way about the company, but you’ll also get a sense of the company. I often use Glassdoor. You can see how the company ranks, what kind of benefits they offer, how they treat their people, what they do well and what they don’t. It’s very informative from a candidate’s point of view. Do your research. It’s for your own good.
Don’t overload your resume: You have ten to fifteen seconds to catch the recruiter’s attention.
Recruiters may see hundreds of resumes during the course of a day. If you put a ten-page chronological resume in front of them, they just won’t have the time or attention for it. That means you need to make your resume attractive.
In Canada, your resume should have three pages maximum. I suggest you make a short summary of your employment experiences and make sure your titles match job titles used in the Canadian market. Recruiters are going to take ten to fifteen seconds to scan your resume. If there seems to be a potential fit, they’ll dig deeper and read through in more detail. But only if they see that you have what they’re looking for.
I can say from being a candidate myself that there is a lot of work involved in customizing your resume. As a recruiter, I strongly suggest you do it. Look at the job description carefully and see what the company is asking for and adjust your resume to match. If your resume aligns with the requirements of the position, there’s no way a recruiter is going to pass on it. I’m definitely going to give you a call. So if you can customize your experience for what the job description is asking for, that will really improve your chances of at least getting that first call.
Read: How to write a Canadian resume and cover letter for tips to adapt your resume to the Canadian job market, and advice on writing a compelling cover letter.
Keywords are key for standing out
Recruiters use ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and identify key words – these could be in education, experience, industry, roles and skills – as requirements for a position. With so many applicants for a position, you want to make sure that the main things that the company is asking for are in your resume. Read the job posting carefully for keywords. If the main keywords are not in your resume, the system may not pick you up in the search. For example, if I’m looking for a developer in Python and you don’t have Python in your resume, I may pass.
Don’t leave the recruiter hanging: Organize your calendar
There’s nothing worse than if a recruiter calls you at the time you’ve agreed to and you don’t answer the phone – you’re not there. We have work for you, and we would like to meet you, so if you are not there when we call, it feels like you didn’t show up for a meeting. That doesn’t look good.
It’s the first impression, and first impressions are important. So make sure that if you have any issues, if you are going to be late or even if you can’t make it, just send us a quick email to reschedule.
Do the necessary interview preparation: Be clear on expectations
You need to be prepared for your interview. Every interview is different, so understand what the recruiter is expecting from you. Pay attention to what the recruiter is asking you. If they ask you to tell them about yourself, highlight the points that are most relevant to the position versus just your general experience.
Start with a concise intro. You don’t want to get to an interview with a rehearsed pitch focusing on five experiences ago when the recruiter is asking you what you did in your most recent experience. Tell a very impactful but summarized version of your experience – this shouldn’t be more than five minutes. The recruiter will ask you the rest.
You may have only half an hour, so use your time very wisely. Tell a little bit about yourself and your career, and leave lots of time to answer the recruiter’s questions. Remember, the recruiter saw your resume before inviting you for the interview. You don’t need to go over it again. We know what’s there. That’s why you’re here.
Three questions you need to have good answers for
The interview questions you are asked will be different for every position and every company. I’m going to ask you questions about your experience and ask you questions about culture as well, but I will always ask these three questions to gauge your motivation. I want to know if you are really motivated by the position we are offering or if you’re just applying for everything out there.
Interviewing remotely: Positive posture pays off
Getting a job and joining a new company used to be based on in-person meetings. You could make your decision based on the people you met and seeing the office space. Now we do everything on video calls. The main difference is that it’s cold: interviewing by video doesn’t have the same warmth you have when you are talking to someone in person.
Do your best to make up for that lack of direct contact. Show up for your video interview with a warm smile and personality. Make sure you have a positive posture, that you are paying attention and looking into the camera. You’re trying to build a relationship based on trust from the beginning, so try to create a warm atmosphere with few distractions for you and the interviewer.
Find a place where you can focus
Make sure that you are in a place that you can really focus on your interview. I know that sometimes it’s hard. You have a family, you might have a kid running around, so it is hard to find some time to really focus, but this is a time for you to do it. As a newcomer, it can be difficult if you’re not a native English speaker, and you need to make an extra effort to sell yourself in English. So you need to be at your best.
Remote work environment means more jobs in cybersecurity
With everybody working remotely, the companies needed to make a shift, offering technical support to everybody remotely. They have had to ensure that these solutions are secured because they are supporting personal information, proprietary information, credit cards, healthcare information etc. That’s why cybersecurity is growing a lot.
The COVID situation slowed down growth a little in 2020 for the company I work for. But we are picking up again, and we’ll be hiring for Software Engineers, Security Consultants, Product Managers, Sales, DevOps Engineers and more. Candidates can check out available positions on our career page.
Technology is a really good space in Toronto. There’s a lot of government investments in technology, there are a lot of new companies coming into the market, and Silicon Valley companies are increasing their teams here. It’s like a Silicon Valley North, which is exciting for me because I don’t see myself outside of the tech industry. I’m glad that I was able to join a company that’s growing because that will amplify my chances of growth. If you have an opportunity to get into tech, I totally recommend it.
Remember you’ve got to be prepared. Read, research, and think like a recruiter to understand what recruiters are looking for. Be flexible enough to adapt and learn about Canada; learn how people do things here, meet people, build a network and build a new life for yourself.