Pride and Prejudice

Today I was fortunate enough to receive another job offer with the resume I have posted on Monster.ca. This is nothing new, as there are hundreds of employers looking for skilled workers, but I've noticed a distinct pattern with the companies that are offering me work.

None of them are within a 3500 km radius.

In the last year, I've had job offers from Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, the UK and even as far away as Sweden. These European jobs were offered because someone at that company knew me back in college, and knows that I've been interested in working for an organization where I can put optical recognition and artificial intelligence systems together.

In August of 2005 I was offered a position in the UK that would have been perfect for me. It was for the company that was (in November of 2005) awarded a contract with the European Space Agency to write the software that will be used on the next probe to Mars. Unfortunately, I had turned this position down because I was not ready at the time to leave Canada.

A few months later I was offered a position at a company in Waterloo, Ontario to write software with a talented group of people to control the next generation of assembly line robotics. I turned this down because I wasn't really prepared to move back to Ontario, and I was about to start on a great project with my current employer that would allow me to flex my mind in other directions.

In spring of 2006, I was approached by someone to write a web application here in BC, but couldn't devote myself as I was about to enjoy a vacation in Japan. The prospective employer didn't want to wait for my return, so decided to get someone fresh out of BCIT (the site looks really good, so I'm sure they got one of the better grads).

Now today I receive another offer, this time in Quebec. Employers in this province must be pretty desperate for software developers, but unaware of the value they can offer. At least once every few weeks someone from Quebec manages to send me an offer promising to help with moving expenses (which would be about $20, plus air fare for me), help me find a cheap apartment, and three weeks of vacation per year on top of the standard company holidays. On top of this, today's offer included a signing bonus of $1500, and an hourly wage of $9.44.

If it wasn't for that hourly wage being less than half of what I make in BC, it would almost be tempting.

Software developers in Quebec are paid about fifty cents more than people who work at McDonald's. It's an absolute joke in that province, which is probably why nobody has ever used software developed there. Programmers are underpaid to the point that they move to other parts of the country as soon as their education is complete.

In British Colombia, a programmer averages about $34K a year to start. In Alberta and Ontario, it's $30K. Other provinces range between $28K and $32K with a benefits package that's pretty complete. Quebec, however, seems to think that anyone and everyone can just sit down and write logical software. I admit that some developers want nothing more than a list of instructions where they can just plug away without any creativity to solve the problem at hand. Others want to have input and work with a team of talented individuals to produce the best software possible. But to get these people, you have to be willing to pay.

With an offer of $9.44 an hour, I'm surprised that anyone who's not still in school earning a degree is programming in Quebec. That province has suffered a severe brain drain since the mid-70's, and the influx of lawyers isn't helping matters, either.

It's not that I don't appreciate the offer to work, don't get me wrong. I just wish employers would do a little research before trying to court prospective employees from other provinces. At $9.44 an hour, I would never be able to afford anything outside of basic needs and the occasional coffee from Starbucks.