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How I got three job offers while being outside Canada

axolotl

Star Member
Apr 17, 2017
179
238
I am now on parental leave for a second time (although it's about the same baby). A good moment for some reflections.

It was a great decision to move to Montreal from Toronto. Quality of life is much better here. I recently purchased a three-bedroom house for 336,000 dollars, on a 12,000-square-foot lot with many maple trees. It's 10 minutes (on foot) from a national park. A house like this would cost at least a million in GTA, in a much less attractive neighbourhood.

I decided to purchase this house after running through my financial model for rental properties. This one would not be a great rental property. However, since I plan to live there myself, costs are much lower (no management fees, no vacancy, no expenses to find the next tenant, etc.) The conclusion was that it would be NPV-neutral if I assume that a) I would be willing to pay 1,700 a month to rent a similar house, b) house price will increase by 2% per year, and c) I will keep it for at least five years. (Google 'NPV-neutral' if you don't know what it means.) The landlord of my current dwelling would raise the rent from 1,300 to 1,350 if I stayed. I was kind of okay with a net cost increase of 350 a month on housing, considering a) the environment will be much better (quiet neighbourhood with a lot of trees vs. proximity to a major road), and b) I can potentially make a profit if its property price goes up by more than 2% per year, which seems highly likely especially with the new liberal plan to "help home buyers". (Their plan is in my opinion beneficial to home owners of a certain segment and banks, instead of home buyers. But that's another topic.)

A downside of this house purchase is that it will limit my mobility for the next few years. I made a decision to delay my retirement by two years. (My employment income is about 310,000 a year pre-tax so the purchase price is about two years' net employment income.) Obviously I would not have made this decision if I hated my work. But I actually enjoy my work more than before because of the people aspect of it. As a lead, I try to understand the motivations of my team members and to figure out how I can help them achieve their goals. The reason why I am willing to spend time on this is simple. Given my time horizon for retirement, I do not see a lot of value building up my technical skills. (Also, I believe the ability to see real-world problems intuitively in mathematical terms is more important than any specific knowledge about a programming language or a machine learning library.) On the other hand, I have a child now and I would like to develop my coaching skills which I will be able to apply to my own child.

Enough for now. I'm getting back to my daily routines.
 
Last edited:

emamabd

Champion Member
Jun 22, 2012
1,795
425
A downside of this house purchase is that it will limit my mobility for the next few years.
Congrats, as usual you've share lots of good stuff and great to see things working out well for you!

I agree 100% that house purchase limits mobility, i've purchased a home in the east side of the GTA and every now and then i come across attractive job opportunities on the west end...but usually have second thoughts as i wouldn't want to increase my daily commute by an hour or more each way! Let alone consider another city or another province!!

Something to think about for all new comers out there, Mobility is definitely an important advantage when job searching - one must make sure he/she is settled in the "right job" first before purchasing a home and losing mobility!
 
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gailsc83

Full Member
Jan 12, 2019
24
0
I love this thread! The entries here are a delight to read - insightful and practical, not sugarcoated at all. Hope this thread is continually updated with experience and tips, especially topics that touches on finance and tax avoidance. :)
 
Nov 25, 2019
8
0
Hi,
I read your success story. That is amazing and inspirational for all new people like me who are planning for immigration. We don't have direct relative working or leaving in Canada.

Can you help me to follow that process followed by you in order to get valid job offer from India?
Hope you don't mind for my request.

If you are willing to connect me in order to help me and my husband then please reply so that I can share my Skype ID.

Thanks in advance.
--
The purpose of this post is two-fold. It tries to answer the following questions.
  • How to find a job while you are outside Canada?
  • What kind of salary can you realistically expect?
Context

Everything is based on my personal experience. Please decide for yourself whether anything applies to your own situation or not. For this purpose, I will first give some context so that you can compare your own situation to mine.
  • Education: Master in Computer Science from the Netherlands and Wharton MBA from the US.
  • Work experience: I had several jobs. I worked as a management consultant, a quant, and an equity analyst in the Netherlands, did my internship at Google during the MBA, and was hired fulltime as a Data Scientist at Twitter in San Francisco for one year, before moving to Singapore after H1B lottery non-selection in September 2016. The agreement back then between Twitter and me was for Twitter to apply for H1B again in 2017 and move me back to San Francisco after one year’s (or potentially a bit longer) working in Singapore.
  • On 6 January 2017, I learned from Twitter that they would not sponsor my H1B this year. I was pissed off as an L1 visa would be tied to Twitter and I would be screwed if I got laid off in the US.
  • On 8 January, I decided to apply for Canada PR after some investigation on Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. At that time, assuming my IELTS would fall under the highest band, I would have 443 for myself (by choosing to have my partner as non-accompanying) or 419 for my partner and me together. I considered two possibilities to raise my CRS: a) improving my French, which I could read pretty well already, and b) getting a job offer.
  • On 21 January, I took IELTS and got the results two weeks later. I had 9.0/8.5/9.0/8.5 for reading/writing/listening/speaking.
  • On 2 February, I had my first private lesson to improve my spoken French. (I had it twice a week and eventually it turned out that I did not need French as the CRS requirement went down.)
Motivation

My motivation of moving to Canada is as follows. (These were also the motivations that I gave during my job interviews.)
  • Singapore, or rather Asia in general, is not the right place for my partner and me to settle down. Same-sex relationships are not recognised and we plan to have children.
  • North America is in my opinion the best place for tech.
  • As a very pro-EU person, I am concerned about the rise of populism in Europe. I can always move back to Europe if the EU exists. On the other hand, I would not want to move back to Europe should the EU disintegrate eventually.
  • Donald Trump has made the US even less attractive for foreigners. (I am rather right-leaning on economic issues so I am not necessarily anti-Trump. But he seems too unpredictable.)
Job Hunting

I started sending my CV on websites like indeed.ca and tried to contact recruiters on LinkedIn. I thought it would be easy given my academic and professional background. But I got virtually no response. It seemed that Canadian companies did not want to waste time on me.

I changed my strategy and started contacting Wharton alumni working in Canada. On 31 January 2017, I talked to an alumnus who was active in the startup community in Toronto. He introduced me to another extremely well-connected Wharton alumnus, with whom I talked on 14 February. The second alumnus suggested that I should focus on my Computer Science or Data Science background rather than the MBA. He sent out emails directly to the founders/CEOs of more than 20 Toronto-based startups and VCs. The response rate to his introduction email was above 90%. My calendar was filled with Hangouts interviews between 21 February and 17 March. (I was focusing on startups because I was frankly fed up with the politics and bureaucracy at big firms. Also, financially I wouldn't worry much if I am out of job for the rest of my life.)

With most firms, both sides decided not proceed after the first interview. A few other companies were very interested in me but it was too early for them to hire a data scientist. Eventually I got three job offers from firms that would like to hire me immediately.
  • Company A: I had my first interview directly with the CEO on 4 March and got their official job offer on 17 March. The company had about 20 people and had just finished their seed funding. I would be reporting directly to the CEO. The job responsibilities were not clearly defined and would most likely be a mixture of data science, product, and business.
  • Company B: I had the first interview on 21 February and got an initial job offer orally on 27 March. (They sent me the official offer later.) The company had about 20 people and was pre-seed. My job would be more about software engineering than about data science.
  • Company C: I had the first interview on 22 February and got the official offer on 15 April. (The process took much longer because I took a two-week vacation back in Holland.) The company had been around for about 10 years and had about 200 people. It was still pre-IPO. The job was about machine learning and I would report to a data science manager in a team of about 10 people.
I eventually took the offer from Company A.

Compensation

My cash salary was 120,000 USD in San Francisco, was adjusted to 130,000 SGD when I moved to Singapore in September 2016, and raised to 145,000 SGD in April 2017. The three Canadian firms offered between 100,000 CAD and 130,000 CAD. I am not including any equity compensations here since they are difficult to value any way.

Financially Canada is rather disadvantageous compared to what I have in Singapore, where the income tax is about 10% instead of the 30% in Ontario. But as I explained earlier, Canada is for me also an insurance policy which will pay off if Europe goes to hell. I consider the loss of net income my insurance premium.

Conclusion

Below are the most important lessons that I learned.
  • Websites like indeed.ca or the Job Bank are useless, at least for someone like me who is currently outside Canda. In fact, some of the job postings are in some sense fake. For example, both Company A and Company B posted a vacancy to fulfil the LMIA requirement for me. They wrote the job description to fit me and had no immediate intention to hire someone else. (Eventually I no longer need an LMIA as the CRS requirement kept declining. But it will still be nice as it will waive the requirement of proof of funds.)
  • Use your personal network. If you can find someone who connects you directly to the CEO, the chance for you to get an offer will be very high.
  • Expect lower compensation if you are used to Silicon Valley salaries.