4 tips for finding Design work in Vancouver

If you are reading this post it’s likely you’ll be in interested in 4 tips for finding design work in Vancouver. Thankfully I have been through the process not too long ago and have managed to transition from the UK to Canada – and so can you! There’s not many places in the world where you can work 9-5 and ski/snowboard in the evenings. Before coming to Vancouver I hadn’t had a single ski lesson. After a season pass at one of the local mountains I can now do greens and blue runs no problem. If this sounds like a life you’d want to live then you’re in the right place! Continue reading on to prep yourself as best possible for finding design work in Vancouver, AKA one of the world’s most liveable cities!

There are so many great agencies in Vancouver, however my experience here is mostly within in house design. It’s been so great chatting with colleagues who have been in an agency here since this is my background in the UK. This process is also used by locals; it really is who you know in a small city, like Vancouver.


Before moving to Vancouver, I had 3 years experience working in design and finding design work was… challenging. I wanted to create a post of things which have helped me in securing not only work, but work in my field, incase others are thinking about making the move.

Before arriving in Vancouver I made a lot of enquiries with design agencies, though I got next to no response from them without a Canadian phone number and address on my CV. I’m sure this isn’t the case with every company but from my experience, the efforts I had put in prior to arriving were unfortunately a waste.

Cost of Living

Cost of living in Vancouver is perceived as being quite high, especially in comparison to the rest of Canada, however coming from the South in England, I’d say the price of living is actually very comparable. If you are coming into Canada on the IEC visa, there are a list of T&C’s which include showing you have enough money to support yourself to enter the country. I’d mentally prepare to be looking for work for a good 3 months if your wanting to get straight into a design job. At least that way if it comes sooner than that it’ll be a win!

Below you’ll find some helpful steps to get you ready for design work in Vancouver.

Steps Involved:

1. Linked In

Update your profile to a high standard before applying for anything. I made sure everything on my CV was also on my profile, but went into more detail. Getting previous employers to give you recommendations this will be a huge advantage. Also if you have companies in mind that you’d like to work for, connect with the hiring manager and just give a brief intro about your future plans. Canadians are friendly and more than often go out their way to help, if you get a good response possibly ask a couple of short questions.

2. Portfolio & Website

Most companies in Vancouver don’t want to see a PDF of work, quite often if you fill out an application form you will purely be asked for your website URL. A lot of people will want to look at your work in depth before contacting you so make sure your website is on top form and cross your fingers. I made sure I still had a physical portfolio with printed materials, which was well received in an interview. Make sure the two reflect each other perfectly and that you have a strong cohesive brand.

3. Networking Events

Vancouver itself being a relatively small city in comparison to the likes of London, meaning that the Networking events are very tight knit in comparison. No matter your field, there is something for everyone. A few of them that I go to regularly include: Ladies wine and Design; this group was formed by Jessica Walsh and is aimed at female creatives from an agency background. Another frequent company is Local Talks, which is an umbrella of the fall for local market company. The company is proud to help and support local business, inviting local entrepreneurs to the panel and hosting talks around specific topics.

4. Coffee Meet Ups

People in Vancouver are some of the friendliest I’ve ever come across. Before coming here I followed and connected to lots of people on social media to get a feel for the community here. Having already built a relationship with a fair few people from Instagram in-particular it was great to get insight into what life looks like when you making such a big move. Being social on social media helps! It was natural to meet up with people after interacting for months before actually arriving, and also everyone seems to know someone at local companies so your bound to get some insight. Making use of Linked In again its a great tool to find design managers and creative directors of companies I hoped to one day work for and sent them a message, expressing my interest in the company. They didn’t all respond but two did and even though there weren’t positions at that time it was amazing to get feel for what type of projects they work on, but would also be a face to a name should a position come up in the future.

I hope these 4 tips for finding design work in Vancouver are somewhat helpful. Especially if you’ve always been interested in working abroad but still wanting to focus on your career. The two can definitely go hand in hand with a lot of persistence and patience! Travelling with intention is incredibly important to me. The key to exploring a new area to the fullest is to live in it! So please do get in touch if you have any questions. You can find out more about me here. I’m more than happy to chat to anyone that’s interested in making the move! It’s a great experience and something that education can’t teach. 

Love Chrissy xx

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