Your Tech Client’s Guide to Billion Dollar Narwhal Club


By Eilidh Sligo.

January 2016 saw the BC Government investing $100M into the fast-moving technology sector as part of the #BCTECH strategy and The Narwhal Club is at the forefront.

The industry currently employs over 84,000 professionals in over 9,000 organizations.  The majority of these are small businesses (over 80% have less than 10 employees) taking advantage of the tech start-up culture in Vancouver.  The tech industry includes key sectors such as cleantech, health and life sciences, gaming and digital media, wireless and mobile, and information and communications technology.

The current strategy of both the provincial and federal governments to drive growth and create jobs in this industry means that Career Professionals – both in BC and across the country –  become aware of the unique aspects of a tech job search.

What is The Narwhal Club?

The tech sector has a language of its own, and not just coding.  The Narwhal Club, based on the US Unicorn Club originating in Silicon Valley, includes Canadian start-ups with a valuation of $1 billion or more.  Three out of the four newest members of this exclusive club are based in Vancouver (Hootsuite, Avigilon and Slack), indicating the importance of the city to this desirable growth industry.

The Importance of Fit

The unique start-up culture that is prevalent in the tech industry has implications for job seekers.  As approximately 80% of tech firms have 10 or less employees, finding the ‘right’ hire is essential.  At a recent labour market conference, the CEO of spoke about the importance of hiring an individual who will fit in with their culture.  In a team of 4 or 5, one wrong hire can have a hugely negative impact on the whole organization.

With cultural fit being so important, your clients will need to take the time to meet as many people in the industry as possible.  Luckily, the Vancouver tech industry provides numerous opportunities for networking.  Conferences, open houses, and meet ups happen regularly in the city.  Encourage your clients to follow the organizations on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, and check out sites such as and (coincidentally, Picatic is a Vancouver tech start-up) for upcoming event information.

It’s not just Tech Jobs

The tech industry isn’t only for software developers.  Like all organizations, they need people in business functions such as HR, administration, marketing, business development, customer service, and accounting.  Just because your client can’t code doesn’t mean that they should rule these tech firms out of their job search.

Modernize the Job Search

It might be obvious, but if your client is applying for a young tech start-up, they need to present themselves as a current professional with modern job search tools.  The resume (if required) should be concise and catchy; an online presence is a must; regular online interaction is essential; and out-of-date software (such as a Hotmail email account) should be eliminated.  Why not Hotmail?  Basically, there are other software choices able to do a lot more.  If your client is using a Hotmail email account, many tech professionals will view them as being out-of-date with current industry trends.  Encourage your client to opt for a Gmail account instead.

Showcase IT Skills

Showcasing IT skills means doing more than simply indicating that your client can use MS Office and has a typing speed of 80 wpm!  A tech professional’s resume needs to showcase their relevant skills.  This can include experience with programming languages (HTML, Java, C/C++, C#, PHP, Python, Ruby, JavaScript), operating systems (e.g. iOS), and frameworks (i.e. NodeJS).  These skills should feature prominently on the resume instead of being hidden away at the bottom of the second page.  Ideally, they should be showcased in the top third of the first page.

Don’t Forget the Soft Skills

A poll by Workopolis in 2015 discovered that 47% of technology and digital media jobs required good communication skills.  Tech professionals are required to interact efficiently with clients and colleagues, and can no longer rely on having purely technical skills.  Ensure that interpersonal and communication skills are showcased throughout your client’s job search and application.

Don’t be Intimidated

If you’re not in the tech industry, the acronyms and language used can seem pretty daunting.  However, as is the case with many industries, you don’t need to be a tech expert to write a successful tech resume.  Increase your basic understanding by reading job descriptions (search for occupations such as Web Developer, Software Engineer, App Developer, Front End Developer, and UX Designer).  Check out the current openings with the organizations in the Narwhal Club (Hootsuite, AvigilonSlackShopify, BuildDirect etc.) and, practice what you preach by networking with industry professionals to increase your knowledge and understanding.

The tech industry is growing not only in BC, but in Ontario and Quebec as well. Career Professionals must be prepared to support clients within this sector.

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