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Thread: Canadian employers: do they shun Americans?

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Canadian employers: do they shun Americans?

    Of the planning jobs I've applied for since my unemployment, about two-thirds have been north of the border in Canada. I'm applying for jobs in Canada because that's where the bulk of vacancies close to Buffalo happen to be located; there's very few jobs within an eight-hour drive of "home home" on the US side. American planners can work in Canada under a streamlined entry process.

    Unfortunately, I haven't heard a peep from any of the employers in Canada -- mostly close to home, in the GTA and Niagara Peninsula -- where I've applied. Nothing. I know a few American Cyburbians have landed jobs north of the border, but I seem to be struggling.

    In real world practice, do Canadian employers generally disregard or roundfile American applicants, even when they might be better qualified than any of the Canadian applicants?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Cyburbian andreplanner's avatar
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    Dan,

    I will tell you that it's happening on both ends. Because of the economy, there is some sort of protectionism and priority to employ their own citizens over internationals. A friend of mine who's been unemployed in LA for quite some time now had applied to a Canadian transit agency and never received a call, even though he is extremely qualified. I have applied to plenty of positions in the US with no phone call for an interview either. Luckily today I've been hired as a transit planner for the City of Edmonton.

    Just curious, have you applied for positions only in Southern Ontario or elsewhere in the province or the country?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    I've hired quite a few planners since I've worked here in Alberta (8 years and counting). I think when there are good candidates that are local, that most employers will interview them first, even if there is a more qualified individual in the States. Mostly because then you know that they understand the planning enabling legislation, local processes, geography, political dynamics, etc. Plus, the planning community is a pretty small fish bowl up here (compared to the States) and it's handy when someone knows all the different players in the area.

    On the flip side, when things are booming and there are no planners around, I've heard of munis going as far as South Africa to hire well-trained planners. And I mean the HR department will fly to South Africa and do interviews, not just accept an application of someone from South Africa.

    If you are applying in Ontario, then you are competing with a lot of out of work planners that know the area and the legislation really well (and Ontario has some really complex legislation). If you want to move north of the border, you are better off trying Alberta or Saskatchewan right now. The AACIP website has quite a few positions open: www.aacip.com.

    As far as I know, I'm the only Yank planner in the Edmonton region.

    Good luck!

  4. #4
    maudit anglais
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    I'll echo what others have said - it's not you in particular Dan, it's the job market in general.

    Quote Originally posted by andreplanner View post
    Luckily today I've been hired as a transit planner for the City of Edmonton.
    Hey - congrats, some good stuff going on at ETS!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian andreplanner's avatar
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    The Toronto market is too saturated with planners and you have to have the connections.

    Thanks. I guess next time I come back to Toronto, if at all, it will be on my terms. Hopefully engineers won't be running the show LOL

    Quote Originally posted by Tranplanner View post
    I'll echo what others have said - it's not you in particular Dan, it's the job market in general.



    Hey - congrats, some good stuff going on at ETS!

  6. #6
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Nerudite! Great to see ya' again, in a virtual way at least.

    Thanks for your answers. I'm disappointed to hear that Canadians are so leery of hiring Americans now. Do they see planners from Commonwealth countries in a more favo(u)rable light, or is it everybody that's not a Canadian citizen?

    It's not so much that I want to move to Canada, but rather that of all the jobs within an eight to ten hour drive of Buffalo that are a good fit for my skill set and experience, about 2/3 to 3/4 are in Ontario. South of the border, in the Northeast and Great Lakes region, is traditionally the driest region in the US for planning jobs, even during good times. I have to stay relatively close to Buffalo due to family issues; otherwise, I'd be looking at the many positions I see advertised in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

    Canadian planning agencies traveling to South Africa to recruit planners? Really? Never heard about them going to the States to do the same thing.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  7. #7
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Well....

    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Nerudite! Great to see ya' again, in a virtual way at least.

    Thanks for your answers. I'm disappointed to hear that Canadians are so leery of hiring Americans now. Do they see planners from Commonwealth countries in a more favo(u)rable light, or is it everybody that's not a Canadian citizen?

    It's not so much that I want to move to Canada, but rather that of all the jobs within an eight to ten hour drive of Buffalo that are a good fit for my skill set and experience, about 2/3 to 3/4 are in Ontario. South of the border, in the Northeast and Great Lakes region, is traditionally the driest region in the US for planning jobs, even during good times. I have to stay relatively close to Buffalo due to family issues; otherwise, I'd be looking at the many positions I see advertised in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

    Canadian planning agencies traveling to South Africa to recruit planners? Really? Never heard about them going to the States to do the same thing.

    Dan, whether you "want" to move to Canada or not, you better exude some serious interest in becomming a citizen or at least be overjoyed at the prospect of moving to Canada during phone interviews and visits. Having had several phone interviews and one near miss personal visit up there, this was my impression after visiting (Western Canada).
    Hey? Is that job in Yellowknife open again??
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  8. #8
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    I don't think it's necessarily that Canadians are leary of hiring Americans, I think there are just more similarities in law between commonwealth nations. Also, for quite a while the USD was much higher than the CAD, so there was quite a disparity between salaries when exchange rates are taken into account. South Africans were actively looking to get the hell out of dodge, and therefore those that move here would probably stay here. Not sure if that would be the case with many Americans. So it seemed like a good fit for employers at the time.

    I understand your constraints with family. That's always tough. But if that's the case, then you'll have to really tailor your cover letters to explain how much you understand Ontario and its crazy planning laws, and re-work your resume as well. When I was hired up here, I explained in my cover letter that I had my AICP and that under the reciprocity agreement it makes me eligible for my MCIP. This made a difference. Also, I was coming to a province with (probably) the most straight-forward planning legislation.

    I would suggest that if you want to work in Ontario, that you should probably start sending out resumes/cover letters to firms that do a lot of cross-border work. Your AICP would probably come in handy then, as well as your knowledge of the Buffalo area. Or if there is some particular niche that you know a lot about that is cutting edge for Canada (form-based zoning or pattern books as an example), try to explain how you provide something that a Canadian doesn't. Because years in the biz alone won't necessarily translate... but having hands on experience with something that we haven't seen much up here is a real asset.

  9. #9
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nerudite View post
    I would suggest that if you want to work in Ontario, that you should probably start sending out resumes/cover letters to firms that do a lot of cross-border work. Your AICP would probably come in handy then, as well as your knowledge of the Buffalo area. Or if there is some particular niche that you know a lot about that is cutting edge for Canada (form-based zoning or pattern books as an example), try to explain how you provide something that a Canadian doesn't. Because years in the biz alone won't necessarily translate... but having hands on experience with something that we haven't seen much up here is a real asset.
    You're reading my mind! My cover letters and resume mention my work with form-based zoning; working in and with communities that have comprehensive context-sensitive architectural, site design and signage requirements; and writing such codes myself. I always give a link to an electronic portfolio with online submittals in cover letters. I added a note about MCIP reciprocity to my resume's AICP line yesterday. Cover letters sent north of the border are "Canadianized" e.g Canadian English spelling, metric units.

    I am considering a foreign/overseas membership to the CIP. I wonder if they have an unemployed planner rate?

    I wonder how much my current residence and education in the Buffalo area hurts me. Many Torontonians don't think too kindly of "Barfalo", and I wonder if that colors their perceptions. "Buffalo's screwed up. We don't want that here, do we?"
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  10. #10
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    I wonder how much my current residence and education in the Buffalo area hurts me. Many Torontonians don't think too kindly of "Barfalo", and I wonder if that colors their perceptions. "Buffalo's screwed up. We don't want that here, do we?"
    I know of some people that have a P.O. box in the US that live in Canada, just so they can do a lot of the online ordering and then just go pick it up. Maybe you can do something similar? Not sure what the regs are.

    The other thing that you may want to do, is keep an eye on the cities that are a bit ahead of the curve for planning or are starting to do some really interesting work. Markham is a good example of a city that's been doing smart growth for years. And Mississauga is really pushing downtown redevelopment. So they may be more inclined to think outside the box already.

    I was recently working with a firm from Ontario on a downtown plan out here. It was called Urban Strategies. Also, you may want to try a big firm like Stantec (engineering) that does some planning, too. They are based in all the major cities, and they often have to ship up an associate from Massachussetts to do their form based zoning work.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    Anyone find any Canada love?

  12. #12
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    Hello Dan et al. Let me know if this counts as the undesirable kind of ancient thread resurrection. My name is Jamie by the way. I'll do an introduction thread one fine day. So. I live in a little known corner of Maine that we hoodwinked away from the Canadians (British) in the 1820's. We're North of Moncton and North of Quebec City. I'm applying for a job in Edmunston, NB and found this thread very helpful. Will let you know how it goes.

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