The employer-job seeker mismatch that makes tech hiring in Canada even harder

The chief economist at job search engine Indeed says our tech talent woes aren’t as bad as elsewhere, but some firms (and cities) need to think carefully about hiring strategies

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When it comes to hiring IT talent in Canada, employers need to adjust their strategy based on their location.

According to a recent study by online job search engine Indeed, tech employees in Canada and abroad generally prefer living and working in large cities with robust technology communities. As such, those located outside of major urban tech hubs need to adjust their recruiting strategy to attract top talent, according to Tara Sinclair, the chief economist at Indeed and associate professor of economics and international affairs at The George Washington University.

“There is some mismatch between where job seekers are looking for jobs versus where the opportunities actually are,” she said. “There is a talent shortage out there, which is a great challenge for employers to fill these positions, but some of them are exacerbated because the areas of greatest interest from the job seeker perspective aren’t always the areas of greatest need from the employer perspective. There’s a mismatch.”

Across Indeed’s database, Canada has two cities that rank among the top 100 locations with the highest number of job postings that require Java skills, with Montreal in 42nd and Toronto in 49th.

“This is just the raw number of job postings looking for Java skills, so that’s a really strong showing for relatively small cities when you consider the number one city, London, has four times the population,” said Sinclair.

Canada Has Less of a Talent Shortage than the US

While there is undoubtedly a talent shortage in Canada, the problem is more pronounced south of the border. In her study Sinclair found that there is a tech talent shortage in almost every location Indeed serves, but the situation isn’t as bad in Canada.

“Globally, across all of our sites, we see in tech the ratio [of job seeker interest to job poster traffic] is less than 1:1, and Canada is actually doing fairly well in the sense that the share of job seeker interest, the ratio is about .7 to 1, so it’s better than the US for example, which is just over .5″

Consider Recruiting Internationally 

When it comes to bridging the talent gap, Sinclair suggests appealing to international employees. While Canadian tech employers pay less, on average, than American firms, especially when considering the Canadian dollar’s current value, there is broad international interested in a tech career in Canada.

“The U.S. does pay more, so that’s a continuing challenge for Canadian companies,” said Sinclair. “One of the way’s they’ve been able to compete is that it’s easier to get visas in Canada.”

While 5 per cent of Canadian-based employees look for careers outside of Canada, 10 per cent of Canadian tech job searches originate elsewhere, according to data compiled by Sinclair.

The countries whose tech talent is most interested in relocating to Canada are the U.S., India, the U.K., Brazil and France.

Recruiting Strategy Should be Based on Employer Location 

International tech talent is searching for jobs in Canada, but those searches are targeting specific locations. According to Sinclair, the most popular city in Canada for international employees is Toronto, followed by Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa, which is consistent with international trends showing a preference for larger urban hubs.

As such Sinclair believes that the smaller the city, the more beneficial it is to the employer to recruit remote workers.

“Thinking about the locational mismatch is a key area for trying to attract this talent, recognizing that if your company is located in a certain place you may benefit from that place being particularly appealing or suffer if it’s not,” she said. “Sometimes it’s somewhat in the employers control if they’re thinking about where to open a new office, but sometimes they have very little choice about where it is they are.”

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