“I am in LOVE with the natural beauty here, but I can’t find work! The more time goes on, the more sad, lonely, desperate and lost I feel in this city.”

“Wow, this is really defeating. I mean, I am in LOVE with the natural beauty here, but I can’t find work! it’s ridiculous! I live in Surrey and the job market seems horrendous. I’ve applied for about five months straight, and nothing. nada. it’s like you’ve got to be super cut throat to find that you’ve competed with hundreds of other sorry applicants. forget having credentials. really? this is sad. I want to believe that it’s possible to find a way to stay here, but the more time goes on, the more sad, lonely, desperate and lost I feel in this city…which feels absolutely awful as I left Toronto feeling the same way. What the hell kind of life are we supposed to live where your next meal is being paid by the service industry job that you abhor and can’t wait until you find your next soul sucking job? where are the JOBS other than the oil loving alberta? what the hell is wrong with this country?”
Tova at VREAA 2 Feb 2013

59 responses to ““I am in LOVE with the natural beauty here, but I can’t find work! The more time goes on, the more sad, lonely, desperate and lost I feel in this city.”

  1. A desparate cry for help!
    Do you have measurable experience other than what seems to be low end food service ?
    Start by getting in at the bottom end of whatever sector you want work in. If you are truly gifted and talented it will be easy from there.

    • Loon, I think the essence of this post is that Tova can’t get any measurable experience from the sector they chose because the competion for entry level jobs is intense. Many young people are taking unpaid internships to get experience in the hope that an employer will see that they are truely gifted and talented and that their career path will be easy from there. Unfortunately the more gifted and talented people who are willing to work for free the less employers need to hire people for pay. Even these unpaid internships are hotly contested and difficult to get. The only people who can take these unpaid jobs are those who have some other source of income ie. rich parents. For those that don’t they have to take what they can get, so it’s back to the McJob. Tova didn’t sound to me like someone who is saying “If I can’t go straight into middle management I will work in McDonalds forever”

  2. I relate to this persons’ frustrations. Right now, I am supposed to be looking for a job but I came to the VREAA website instead. I can’t bear to write another fake cover letter for a job I know I’m not going to get and even if I did get it, I would discover the job is hell after the first week. I know what she means about going from one soul-sucking service job to the next. My last job was just so terrible–it was run by people who had no clue what they were doing. Going to work was like going to a monty python skit–but not at all in a good way. I have loads of education. I don’t want to be told that my university education is useless and I should have gone into trades. I learned a lot of valuable stuff in university but I can’t contribute what I’ve learned in university has made me into a contrarian, independent, critical thinker who sometimes espouses unpopular, politically incorrect views. I would tell policy makers that they’ve got everything wrong. But nobody wants to hear that. So I don’t have a job in my field. So I apply for low wage service jobs. The independent critical thinking contrarian streak in me makes it really hard to get past the HR lady in the interview. Some of my friends have even suggested I take my masters degree of my resume because it scares employers. They see masters degree and they think this person will fight for their rights. This person will insist on a half hour break if we deduct half hour from their pay for the break. This person will insist on being paid for stat holidays. This person will refuse to sign an averaging agreement and will insist on being paid overtime rates if they work overtime. Much better to hire someone who is less educated and more likely to let us walk all over them. It’s so terribly frustrating and demoralizing. I just want the real estate crash to be over and done with so we can move on with our lives and the economy can maybe start to grow again. Feel free to respond with tips, questions, criticism. But I may not respond to all responses because it’s pretty hard to take the criticism that I usually get when I pour my life out on a blog like this. I don’t want to hear how I need to take responsibility for where I am today and I don’t want to hear that I need to be willing to move and I should have been educated in trades or some vocation. I know all that and I do take responsibility and I do have a good work ethic. But after trying so hard for so many years and having nothing to show for it and begging for the next minimum wage service job, you just start losing your motivation to even look for work.

    • So you resort to complaining?? Who owes you a job in your choosen field at your preferred pay anyways? Employers? Government? Society? University? If you are as talented as you think you are, why don’t do you create your own job? Start your own business and you can hire however you feel likely? Instead of sucking up to HR who you think knows nothing, you can get rid of all that with your own business.

      And no I don’t think you should gone into trades, with your attitude, I would worry about quality of your work.

      • You are so wrong. I am willing to work for minimum wage in virtually any field. Everything I have ever produced is 100% quality.

      • “why don’t do you create your own job? Start your own business and you can hire however you feel likely?”

        Need money. It’s hard enough just coming up with the rent money.

      • You are very negative. That’s understandable, but it may be clouding your judgement. If what you do to get a good job isn’t working, try something else.

      • Naked Official #9000

        All I read from space888 was “work harder you entitled Canadian”

        And I thought I was a broken record


      • anonymous – I have been hiring people in technology companies for over 10 years, and have interviewed hundreds of applicants in that time. If you are looking for (hopefully) constructive criticism…

        – your general attitude and eagerness to go against the grain or be non-PC scream “unable to work in a team environment”. Employers like independence and people that question the status quo, but it also needs to be tempered with the ability to play nice with others and get things done in a positive way. I don’t care how smart someone is, if I don’t think they can be an effective part of a larger team, I don’t hire them.

        – Telling people they have it all wrong is fine, so long as you do it nicely, and have other suggestions/examples of how to do it right. Its probably not the message they don’t like, its the delivery.

        – your masters degree scares no one – it means you learned something in school, that is all. Your personal view of your degree and its potential power probably scares employers more (see point 1).

        Although you may not be in real life, your persona comes across as someone who thinks the world owes them something, does not believe in any system except their own, and will do what they can to disrupt the ship. That all comes across in interviews, and most companies are not looking to add that to their mix.

        My 5c, take if for what you think its worth…

      • Vancouver’s economy is the worst in Canada,
        low wages and companies like 1-800-got junk

  3. Vancouver has always had a limited job market. Once you get past the professions, many others are trying to make themselves enough of a living to be able to stay here. I would have to say we probably have the most highly educated Starbucks and Chapters employees in North America. If will only get worse if we have a significant housing correction as RE jobs take a hit..think trades, Realtors, Mortgage brokers, Decorators, renovators, movers etc etc.

    • You don’t hear much crying from hard science, engineering, IT, finance, accounting grads. These kids should have had better foresight than to pursue an arts/humanities related education in todays world. An education does not necessarily make one “smart” or provide useful skills valuable to employers.

  4. Sending resumes does not work (most of the time). The magic word is “networking”.

    • Naked Official #9000

      Yeah but who wants to hang out with Tova r anonymous? What a couple of sticks in the mud – go back to Ontario kids, more for this BC boy – err I mean naked official from the mainland.

      (any job with an HR lady is typically one you don’t want anyways – haven’t you learned yet to be fake, blow smoke up people’s asses and keep your opinions to yourself? No one really gives a shit what you think anyways – management always prefers potential subordinates over potential rivals)

      I’ve spent 15 years in soul sucking service jobs – most places these days are staffed by non locals. It’s what the businesses prefer. When I tell my co workers I am from here, I am treated like a dragon/griffon/unicorn/dodo bird. I always tell them it’s a big country and lots of opportunity elsewhere if you can stand the winters – more affordable and nicer people and cheaper homes – all in the hopes they will fuck off and leave us be. We’ve been invaded by Okies and RE carpet baggers (or their Canadian equivalents) all trying to make it big in Hollywood .. Err Vancouver.

      • Yeah I was kind of shocked at the post above (by anonymous) about how they were getting contrarian with the HR person?! 😐 I think I see the problem. It’s like a first date, it’s not the time to start espousing your “philosophies” about how we never landed on the moon, or how corporations are evil, or whatever the hell you believe so dearly behind your tightly clutched “contrarian” badge! Jesus. Way too intense.

      • Andrew, I think you are a very nasty person. You are twisting around what I said and I am not going to clarify because I don’t need to put any more details of my life out there for the entertainment of fools like you.

      • Naked Official #9000

        What about me? I am very nasty, too!

        Very, very nasty!

    • Kill all baby boomers

      This is precisely the problem with Vancouver’s economy. In any major metropolitan centre with a thriving economy, you wouldn’t have to rely upon nepotism to find a good job because such a market would be much more efficient. Vancouverites have to rely upon these stupid parlour tricks and dick sucking to find employment.

      • My initial reaction to networking was very negative too. However, over time, I realized that networking does not necessarily equal nepotism.
        Going to trade shows, user groups, meetups (or organizing them) is networking too. Writing a blog (or even tweeting) about your area of expertise, contacting other people who like to share their expertise, etc. There is a lot more…

      • If you are applying for a posted job you are doing it wrong. Networking finds you the opportunities before they are opened to the masses having you compete with a 1000 other applicants who are equally or better qualified (on paper). I landed my current position by cold calling/emailing department heads at a list of companies where I wanted to work and saw a good fit. It was hard tedious work, really a job in itself. It was my first position in 15 years that was not landed through connections/networking, but I was doing an industry shift and had limited connections in the targeted industry.

  5. For many years I did jobs at the lower end of the pay scale — service industry, construction labour (during the early 80s recession, think $6/hr), warehouse and delivery work, and police and fire dispatching in a small town. By the end of that period in my life, I’d also acquired plenty of education, including a graduate degree. But for a couple of different reasons I was bumping along the bottom economically and careerwise. I finally figured out (primarily because I was finally ready to figure it out) that I needed a specific training to augment the education. Training, certification, is the sharp stick that can puncture the tough hide of those HR departments. I took a couple of years to get the training, worked really hard to make sure I got the most out of the training, met people and heard about opportunities in the course of getting the training, and upon graduation went right into an entry-level job in my field. The field I’m still in almost 15 years later.

    My wife’s story is very similar. Education > low-paid jobs > specialized training > entry-level position in a much better paying career > subsequent career advancement.

    I’ve been involved in the hiring of a number of coworkers over the years, and when resumes come in that don’t have the required certification, they immediately get passed over. It’s that simple. The certification is required. And with good reason. Without it, the applicant will not likely be able to do the job and be of little use to us. That’s how HR departments and companies think: can this person help us, right now? Most companies don’t have the appetite or the resources to take on a project. They want to get something from the new hire very quickly. They’re hiring because they have an immediate need. They aren’t thinking about what the applicant’s needs are, they are thinking about their own needs. Match those needs well, and you’ve got a much better chance of being hired.

    The fewer hard skills a person has, the farther down the economic pecking order they land. And the farther down you are, the more you get treated like a commodity, an interchangeable part. Which, yes, is absolutely soul-sucking. The key is increasing your value to prospective employers.

    The trick for me was finding a type of training that meshed well with the education I already had, and that prepared me for a job I could tolerate, in which I would be seen as a specialist with some marketable skills. I don’t love my job, but I don’t hate it either. I find it challenging enough, and interesting enough, that I don’t grow bored. Will I move out of the field at some point? Probably. But for a decade and a half it’s been a reasonable enough existence that has allowed me to make some headway financially.

    • Kill all baby boomers

      That’s some great long term thinking. I almost exclusively with clients 45 and over in tech, yes, tech, and I used to think Clients would employ these dinosaurs because of their great overarching experience. Therein lies the contradiction. That older workers are more experienced. While it may be so with industries such as engineering, the ‘experience’ is worthless when technology changes wholesale in three year product refresh cycles.

      I’ve started to change my line of thinking because I have come across many older tech workers who are competent, passionate and hardworking, but who are certainly a minority. The vast majority are lazy idiots who are resistant to change and aspire only to collect a paycheque until they retire.

      I’m beginning to think that the real problem is that the people who hire these worthless dinosaurs are themselves dinosaurs. As such, they are resistant to change and are incapable visualizing a workforce that is younger and less ‘experienced’. Age is somehow considered equivalent to competence.

      Competence is gained either through study or experience however what most ‘managers’ need to realize is that productive members the workforce also need to be industrious. You aren’t likely to find that quality in some asshole who think they’re part of the greatest generation because they went to Woodstock.

    • Smart post Froogle. You have the HR department nailed down and I agree with an earlier poster that they are not interested in hearing about philosophical points of view during the interview. Forget impressing. Just show up with the creds and confidence you can carry through with what the employer wants. They are paying the tab, after all. They have the right to demand a specific skill set and trash all the other apps.

  6. One additional thought — be willing to move. Vancouver’s economy and job market are mediocre. Salaries are mediocre. Breaking in can be tough. A good strategy for getting ahead in Vancouver is to leave for a period of time, get your career started elsewhere, and then if you have a hankering to come back, come back with a much more marketable package of skills and experience.

    • Good advice, Froogle.

      That’s exactly what my husband and I have done- get the specialized training and bail for a while. The dearth of jobs and the gap high cost of everything else, paticularly housing, made it impossible to get ahead in Vancouver. Add in a couple of children, and the situation becomes that much harder.

      Specialize in your chosen career, as Froogle says, and move to a place with much cheaper housing and more job opportunities that will allow you to get ahead. Use those years to save, move up the professional ladder, and make some new friends. You will finally have enough money to invest in your retirement and your children’s education,and will like likely have enough to (gasp!) pay off your student loans AND take vacations every year.

      If at some point you still feel yourself pining for Vancouver, you will be able to move back with assets and awesome professional experience. Hopefully, housing will be cheaper, too. 🙂

    • Acquaintance of mine with a Poly-Sci degree spent three years searching for appropriate work to no avail. He ended up on welfare because he set his goals so high. Eventually he could not land work because his resume had a huge 3 year hole in it. Finally, the guy caved….took a job teaching English in rural China for 1,000 bucks monthly and got married to a local gal.

      He is actually happy now. Lives like a king. Beats welfare too.

      • Real Estate Tsunami

        Yeah, the old back-up plan. Teach English in rural Asia and marry a local gal and live like a king.
        But you’re right, it’s a big wide world out there.
        Carpe Diem! Catch the carp!

      • At least he is reproducing. Quite unlike the rest of his peers working for a fraction of what his foolish education advisor suggested he was worth in the brave new world. Buddies new wife is pregnant and he now has a standard of living that is quite substantially higher than the classmates he left behind who are grinding it out in marginal income jobs in a high rent and high cost part of Canada. Poor guy had to give up on the BPOE in order to enjoy free rent, a salary 10 times the local rate and a dirt cheap standard of living. Even I was surprised at how his thinking turned around. He loves the place….says he won’t come back….

        Yeah…he is the fool.

    • Vancouver = most educated workforce in the hospitality industry.
      University degree = super host.
      Graduate studies = super duper host.

  7. “what the hell is wrong with this country?”
    Too many taxes, weak property rights, privilege instead of merit.

  8. Welcome to Vancouver. This is the sad reality here.
    Unless you come from old money/new money/corrupt money, it will be tough times trying to make ends meet in this city.
    Don’t think for a minute that you can have a nice well-paid job/career here.
    I have many friends who have moved to the US and Calgary/Edmonton/Toronto because at the end of the day, pursuing their career and being financially secure is more important to them than living in a second-tier, though spectacularly beautiful, city.
    You’ll find a job eventually. It just won’t be a well-paid one.

    • Naked Official #9000

      Blah blah Vancouver is beautiful and everywhere else is shit. Jesus Christ Canada has 9 million mountains – pick a different set.

      • Mark this day on your calendar. It is the one where Naked Official slipped from “Loyal Cadre” commentary to finally expressing his true emotional reaction to the dystopia in our modern society and reveals he has no patience whatsoever for cry babies or spoiled educated brats. I am guessing he has secure work for them after the coming social revolution as waterboys, gardeners and (God forbid), Farmers!

  9. Canada is replete with natural beauty. Vancouver does not have a corner on that market. In fact, I’d argue that other than glimpses of the north shore mountains when the fog happens to lift, most places in Canada (particularly most other cities in BC) have way better access to the natural world.

    And, for crying out loud, “oil loving” Alberta is also beautiful. Get a job in Calgary. The pay will be better. Housing costs are high, but not stratospheric. Banff and Kananaskis are a very short drive away. Skiing is at least as accessible as Whistler is to Vancouver.

    Vancouver is great. But so is… everywhere else in Canada. Move.

  10. Real Estate Tsunami

    You can’t eat natural beauty.

  11. you have to know people to get jobs in Vancouver….what a sad useless city..
    it’s not like that in Toronto…there you just send out resume’s and you get jobs….
    why is Vancouver such a pitiful, souless, gut-less, disgrace of a city

  12. Anonymous,

    I honestly would like to help but I don’t understand your post. What do you mean you’re a contrarian non-pc thinker? That would make you a right winger! I doubt you are because universities only teach left and far-left of centre ideology. Post-modernism is watered-down and complexed-up Marxism and theory only gets more useless and boring from there. Add to that that the system teaches students that they’re special and unique from kindergarten onwards and you can see the problem. Your best choice here is to wake up and rethink what was done to you by an educational system that rather not evaluate students honestly because it means evaluating itself.

    Ask yourself how did I interpret what you learned as somehow the world had need for my unique thinking and views? That organizations needed to hear from me that I am better than their established BS? Didn’t you notice all your peers were being taught the same thing? You are young and have no experience. You have to start at the bottom and you must be enthusiastic about it. No fakery or hard-eaned cynicism here. You haven’t worked in your chosen field long enough to even think these thoughts for one second.

    The best thing you can do is what I had to do when I came of age in the recession of Mulroney’s 80s. Be bloody-minded about getting some hours in your field paid or not. Then your resume will probably have to be “enhanced” to make things sound better than they are in reality. That’s one thing you can say you learned from how the university system sold itself to you rather than the university itself! Make connections. Get references.

    Then, if you get a job interview, do everyone a favour and don’t treat the HR person to your… “tell policymakers that everyone’s got it wrong” schtick. In fact, don’t tell anyone they’re wrong–for a long time. We were all young, inexperienced know-it-alls in the beginning. But now, without the opportunity to get your foot in the door, you won’t be given a chance to be that idiot we all were. You’ll be judged beforehand by the HR department. The HR person is there to pick the best “fit”. S/he then sends on that selection of candidates to the department head to narrow candidates but they too will take a closer look at fit, if they are good managers.

    Ask yourself if the educational system has made you into what my generation sees as “entitled brats”. We don’t like those of you who are and will weed them out of the interview process in favour of someone who is humble, hardworking, authentically enthusiastic and open to learning. This is not new. I’m sorry that your teachers and educational system lied to you by telling you you’re special. It’s been a giant misallocation of praise and it’s been harmful to your generation. But you’ve got to wake up. No one needs you. You need your employer to train you and give you your first steps in your career.

  13. Not into trades huh ? You should really rethink your position. I started my apprenticeship less than 4 years ago after being frustrated with a dead end job in the tech sector. I am now done , have no debt , make well above the average wage for Canada , am in high demand now and in the future and give me 2 more years and one additional certification and I will be making close to what family doctor makes every year. Don’t think trades are a step down. Choose the right one and build on your skill set and you will be sought after. Forget finding employers , they find you ! That is where Canada’s education system is failing by not encouraging our youth to discover trades training. Who do you think maintains our societies basic necessities , a computer program ?a guy in a Jaguar on a Blackberry? It allows you to be your own island and go where you wish.

    • Out of interest what trade did take up?

      • Welders are in serious demand. Can be a 200K job. I work in industrial/corporate healthcare and constantly hear how welders are in such high demand in Alberta, Alaska, Australia and North Dakota. So much that they are making 200K+ a year and employers are bending over backwards to import welders from all over the world. This is obviously remote petro chemical and mining related work, but the Aussie’s have moved to fly-in/ fly-out models where guys live where the want and are flown in for 10-14 day shifts. 10 days on, two weeks off, not too bad. My Pops always said good, honest plumbers will always have well paid work. In health care physical therapists are in very high demand in the U.S.

  14. something triggered a match to tone of anecdota discords … http://tinyurl.com/dbfzhz

  15. You need hard work and ambition to get a job here… All else is secondary… Education, networking etc. doesn’t matter… Apply yourself 110 percent even to your shitty job and build on that…. If you sit on your butt tossing out a couple resumes a week for the job you want, you will get no where!

  16. Same old story..again. Just look at some of the old threads here. Everything come and goes in cycles. Although the housing prices seem to have pushed people out as well as a lack of opportunities. Even back in the 90’s I knew friends who went to UBC, could not find work, then went to BCIT to further upgrade. I have almost come to the conclusion that “Told you so” said earlier, to work elsewhere and afford a better house, make more money, enjoy a vacation or two each year and then have more money to retire in Vancouver. This is not just a Vancouver phenomenon as if you look at California, many people have left due to high taxes, high housing costs and lack of job opportunities.

  17. I empathise Anonymous… like others who have commented here, I do think your upbringing and educational environment have ill prepared you for post university life in a tough economy. Not your fault, but you need to find ways to be more practical, as others have also suggested. Your are in fact, very special… but so is everyone else! We all are!!
    You seem to be a very well motivated person and, if I could be so bold, would suggest you work on your “script” for selling yourself. Try to put yourself in prospective employers’ shoes — what would make me pick this person over others? You seem to have a strong sense of self (always a good thing, believe me) but you must cast that within the parameters of what is going to add value to the employer, to the existing team, etc. Prove to me you can think inside of our little box, before you have the opportunity (if asked!) to show me how good you are outside the box! Hiring entry level folks in, we need to know you can play ball, be loyal to the one that brought ya, spot the bullshitters and arseholes, but play possum with those folks for as long as it takes…. there are so many soft skills that must be learned when human beings (who sometimes perpetrate inhuman acts on their co-workers, customers, etc.) are involved.
    Most importantly though — continue to believe in yourself, and continue to be a good, well-motivated human being. You can never go wrong doing that, in my opinion.

  18. “Hiring entry level folks in, we need to know you can play ball, be loyal to the one that brought ya, spot the bullshitters and arseholes, but play possum with those folks for as long as it takes…. there are so many soft skills that must be learned when human beings (who sometimes perpetrate inhuman acts on their co-workers, customers, etc.) are involved.”

    I have all of that. I have soft people skills. I am a team player who doesn’t rock the boat. I’ve proved it time and time again but nobody seems to care. I think the problem is most people in management don’t have soft people skills and can’t see through bull shit.

  19. I’m hiring an account manager right now, good pay, job security, great company. The problem is that the territory is Calgary. I can’t find good quality applicants in Calgary for 120K so I opened up the search to Vancouver (commuting costs to Calgary every other week are not bad). The problem is that our company is global and we want to hire someone that will grow with the company and to grow they will have to spend some time at our other locations. I’ve got amazing applicants from Vancouver whose salary expectations are unbelievably low but….unwilling to relocate ever.

    This is the problem with Vancouver, folks will work for peanuts just to stay. I don’t get it. I was born in Van and its a nice place but not worth the sacrifice so many are willing to make just to live n Mould City

  20. Even the customer service jobs are getting whittled down…. see all the restaurants and retail stores closing lately? Look at Robson street vacancies.

    • Actually, Robson Street has always had too many vacancies. It has been that way since I was a kid. We commented on it back then too. The street has always been famous for having rents that were just a little too high so it suffered booms and busts along with the economy.

  21. There should be plenty of career opportunities soon in the debt-collection, bankruptcy and foreclosure businesses!

    • No joke…it is something to think about. In the states after the crash in the U.S. some transitions witnessed were (some through foresight, some through necessity):
      Finance / Accounting – peopled turned towards building expertise in restructuring, bankruptcy, forensics
      Law – same. Bankruptcy, restructuring. Lots of foreclosure prevention attorneys sprang up.
      Real Estate – smarts ones developed relationships with banks to manage foreclosure inventory and/or become REO or short sale experts
      Property Managers – someone needs to manage/maintain abandoned homes or homes bought by the rise of a new investor/landlord class
      Huge growth in A/R, debt collections, repossessions
      Low end consumer discretionary did well – Walmart, McDonalds, 99 cent stores. People still need stuff but it is gonna be cheap stuff.

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