Competing with big tech for coveted workers, Canadian companies tout benefits of working for smaller firms

Posted In: News Date:Sep 10th, 2019

When Vancouver software developer Brent Benton started to look for a new job at the beginning of the year, he was in the fortunate position of having plenty of opportunities to explore.

"There was quite a few different things that I was able to look at, everything from a dizzying number of startups to obviously the largest companies in software development," said Benton, a tech industry veteran and project manager who has been working in software since 2000.

Among the options was a position at Amazon, which was expanding its presence in Canada. Last December, the online retailer announced plans to add 600 jobs to the 800 it already has in Toronto. And earlier in the year, it said Vancouver numbers would go from 2,000 to 5,000 by 2020.

Meanwhile, a proposal called Toronto Tomorrow by Sidewalk Labs, owned by another massive U.S. tech giant, Google's parent company, Alphabet, estimates it will eventually employ another 44,000 full-time people in Toronto on the eastern waterfront.

Hiring managers at Canadian tech companies say they're facing tough competition from companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook in the effort to hire, and retain, in-demand tech workers.

But while those homegrown companies may not be able to offer the same name recognition and long list of perks — free lunches and in-office massage therapy, for instance — they're finding success by selling candidates on the benefits of working for smaller companies.

During his search, Benton spent a day in interviews with Amazon. "I knew fairly quickly into that day that it wasn't a good cultural fit," he said.