Quebec 102: Are there Jobs in Montreal?

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It’s a common enough complaint. “I can’t find a job.” The reasons given are varied but all too familiar: not enough skills, not enough education, not enough French, not enough English. Even if you manage to jump through all those hoops and find a job with the right fit of required skills, language, and education, very often the pay is embarrassingly bad and the hours too few (or too many).

The excuse I never hear: there are not enough jobs in Montreal. Of course, lack of employment may be a global phenomenon, with more people and more automation. But let’s just keep the focus on Montreal, because finding a job in Montreal is a make or break decisions about living here. I know many people who had to leave Montreal because they couldn’t find anyone who would hire them. Yet, after months of discouraging rejections here, all of them have a happily ever after elsewhere with a job in Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, or some other lovely place on planet earth. Perhaps they know something I don’t.

Of course, curious if my theory holds, I took a look online today to compare Montreal to other Canadian cities. I scanned a few major job search sites to compare the number of postings in each. For some, I looked at the number of jobs in the city as well as in the greater metropolitan area if the option was available. I used sites that came up in a Google search: Workopolis, Quebec’s Jobboom, Craigslist, Kijiji, Linked In, Eluta.ca, indeed.ca, and Government Careers for Canada. Monster proved to be very disappointing, so I stopped right away. I also tried to find postings for provincial governments, but this turned out to be rather complicated, so I gave up.

My unscientific effort is summarized in this chart:

Number of Job Postings on various search sites by Canadian City

Number of Job Postings on various search sites by Canadian City

What does this data indicate? Either I’m looking at the wrong job search sites, or Montreal’s job posting situation is pretty bad compared to other Canadian cities. Even though we have a population fairly close to Calgary, there are more jobs listed for Calgary. This would have been obvious without a search, but Toronto shames Montreal when it comes to job opportunities, and I didn’t see a single one for crack dealer to government officials. Even Vancouver and Ottawa punch well for their weight.

I also decided to try a second job search experiment. I wanted to see how many jobs existed in specific search terms in Montreal. I picked job titles that I, or friends have had, while in our late teens and early 20s. As you can see, I left out things that seemed impermanent, like baby sitter, tutor, dishwasher, call centre agent, and human lab rat.  I also left out some of the more obscure jobs that friends had, like acrobat and tarot card reader. Jobs were searched using both French and English terms, but there was little difference in the results. Usually employers are savvy enough to advertise in both languages. Many ads are repeats, so the numbers are probably inflated to reflect multiple attempts by a single employer to entice the right employee.

Number of jobs found using different search terms on different sites.

Number of jobs in Montreal found using different search terms on different sites.

One thing to note is that only certain types of employers advertise on big website agglomerators or public classified ads. Many places with jobs will only advertise on their own websites. For example, if you’re hoping to work at Concordia, McGill, UQAM, or a CEGEP, or the CBC, you have to go to the individual websites of these institutions. There are also a few other places with job search engines. YES, the nonprofit Youth Employment Service, provides English-language support services to help Quebecers find employment, start, and grow businesses. Their job search board lists internships and other jobs not found in other places.

What do we learn from all this?

  1. Toronto has a lot more jobs, so move there if you’re out of luck.
  2. Use the right search engine to maximize your options when seeking a job – some types of jobs appear more frequently on different search engines. For example, when it comes to sex work – stick to Craigslist. Chances are you already knew that.
  3. If you work in IT, Craigslist is still king (sorry Kijiji). But hey, how about that Eluta.ca! I’d never even heard of it before and it seemed to call up a lot of entries. Rumor has it that recruiters pester STEM people on Linked In so make sure to max out your contacts there.

Take all this data with a dose of reality. I didn’t examine how viable these advertised jobs are. I didn’t check pay or hours or even if the job required you to pick up and move your ass to the NW Territories.

Mainly, though, if you’re having a hard time finding a job in Montreal, there’s a good reason for it: the jobs aren’t there.

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About Rachel Levine

Rachel Levine is the big cheese around here. Contact: Website | More Posts