After my internship at LinkedIn ended, I decided to look for full-time jobs in Canada to live closer with my girlfriend. In late December, I started reviewing C++, embedded development, software design, concurrency, and of course, algorithms. Sighhh, there were so many algorithm questions to practice, the vast majority of which would never be used in the workplace.
I initially thought that finding a full-time job would be easy and take no longer than 1 month. It actually took 3 months. In total, I submitted 80—100 applications, most of which were to companies in the GTA and Waterloo area, but a couple were also sent to companies in Vancouver, San Francisco, and New York. Only a few large companies still had new grad openings since most of them had already been filled during September-December 2018.
During my job search process, I noticed the stark differences between Canadian and American employment.
Another striking difference between companies located in Canada vs US is the compensation. The average new grad salary in the Bay Area is around $120k USD (IIRC, LinkedIn was offering $125k base, with $20k signing bonus and around $40k in equity) whereas the average salary near Toronto was $70-80k. Even considering costs of living, the disparity in wealth is unsettling (yeah, you know this is a first world problem when we’re complaining about making 80k/year). I find it both ironic and humbling that some of my friends would be earning almost double my salary, not necessarily because they have stronger technical skills, but simply by virtue of where their location. Under these circumstances, it’s understandable why many new grads seek full time jobs in the US.
One interviewer asked if I was interviewing with any other companies. I replied saying that I was also interviewing with some in the San Francisco area, to which he explicitly said the company can’t match the salary and there would be no purpose continuing with the interview.
Overall, the hiring conditions in Canada and the US are different. On top of that, finding a full-time job in 2019 was more challenging that I had expected. A couple companies that I applied to froze their hiring process mid-way. I suspect economic projections aren’t positive and a recession is likely coming. Looking for jobs while studying in school is really stressful: applying for jobs, preparing for interviews, skipping classes to do onsite, and anxiously waiting for results consume not just lots of time, but also lots of mental energy. These months were stressful and made me realize why so many students accept return offers rather than look for new jobs.
In the end, my competing offers were at a large company in Vancouver vs mid-size company in GTA. It was a tough choice and after a lot of deliberations and consultations with friends and family, I accepted the offer from the company in GTA. It is ironic that I had tried to land an internship in Vancouver for the past couple years but never succeeded; yet now that I have a full-time offer, I declined.
Salty stories: Getting Ghosted by Recruiters during Full-time Job Search
TLDR: Several entertaining stories of being ghosted by recruiters.
An emotionally draining part of the interview process is how often recruiters and employers ghost candidates. Sometimes, I wonder whether I was looking for a job or a date. If you’re ever hoping to join a shallow industry with the unofficial motto: “I’m going to be rude unless you’re useful to me. Why? Because I can!”, look no further than the recruitment industry. A close second is politics.
- At one US company that had several job openings, two recruiters independently asked for my availability for second-round and third-round interviews, but then ghosted me after I provided it to them. Numerous follow-ups were ignored, and it wasn’t until I contacted my to-be interviewer to inquire about the interview process did the recruiters finally respond…only to say that the company is no longer hiring anymore. It’s worth mentioning they got my name wrong.
- In a truly unusual twist, I applied to a Security Engineer position. To be clear, I have almost no experience with security but luckily, a recruiter asked if I would be interested in a different role…drumroll please……Senior Security Engineer. We set up a phone call and he told me to email him if I didn’t hear back from the hiring manager within a week. A week later, no response from the hiring manager. I emailed him…and was ghosted.
- In yet a stranger case, a recruiter rescinded a verbal without bothering to tell me! This was at a company in Kitchener. The onsite interview was great but unfortunately, the recruiter was late to our scheduled phone screen, would promise to follow-up only not to do it, and spoke with rude tones with negative words, eg. “Can’t you….” or “Don’t you have…”. Anyways, the fun began when she called to give a verbal offer and inquire about the start date. I preferred to start in September and it turned out the team wanted me to start in June. The recruiter said she would consult the team and call me back before the end of the day.
Well, a week passed and still no response so I emailed her. Her reply: “Hi [name], Can you please call me. [phone number]”. So I called and she said that the team would be looking for other candidates because our start dates didn’t match. My thoughts: if I hadn’t followed up, I wouldn’t even have known the offer was rescinded. You gave me an offer and promised to call back, you didn’t. Then you made me call you, only to tell me that the offer is no longer available! Could have just sent an email! Then the recruiter tells me to call back in June and they might have an opening available. I ask her if such an opening is guaranteed since that determines whether I should keep looking for other jobs. That question was dodged.
- Another strange experience: during an onsite at a Kitchener startup, the interviewer said they would be moving forwards with an offer and asked for my start date. I preferred September; the interviewer said he was looking for someone to start in June because he didn’t post a Summer intern position in WaterlooWorks. However, he could still do so since WaterlooWorks accepts employer postings any time of the hiring cycle. 10 seconds of awkward silence ensured before we changed subjects. Guess what happened after the onsite? Ghosted. Not even a rejection email. I followed up and was told that the June start date was posted on their job application. It wasn’t.
When an employer ghosts a candidate, it’s emotionally stressful for the candidate, diminishes trust, and damages a company’s brand. If I were the head of an organization, I would create a rule that recruiters must not ghost candidates; at the very least, send an automated rejection email. For those who are still looking for full-time jobs and are frustrated by how rude recruiters can be, I totally feel you! Good luck!