How playing curling landed me an amazing job in a new country like Canada

“Everybody is a genious. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

Exactly ten years ago me and my wife took one of our biggest bets to date; left our comfort zone, successful careers and social network back in Barcelona, and moved to Vancouver, Canada. No network, no visa, and ‘european’ English. 

A month later, I had a six-figure job offer in hand, sponsored working visa, and was ready to manage some of the most high-profile capital projects across the country. 

How did that happen? Many people asked me that same question over the last ten years. And the answer is not a simple one; it was a combination of preparation, timing, hard work and yes, luck. But one thing made all the difference: curling!

Soon after we landed, while exploring industry websites, I came across a networking event for industry professionals; a “Curling Tournament”. Believe me; being born in Spain, curling is one of those sports you didn’t even know it existed. The tournament was next day, so I called in, registered online, and got myself a copy of the book ‘Curling for Dummies’. If I was going to go play a tournament with a bunch of experienced Canadians, I’d better at least know the basics! Luckily for me, my wife was nice enough to join me on such a crazy initiative. 

Next day, we headed down to the curling venue. There were over 50 industry professionals from major companies. I introduced myself to everyone I could, gave my business cards, and explained I was job hunting and that I’d love to have a follow up chat with them. People I met were not only surprised, but amazed that a Spaniard would even dare to show up at such event. Not even play!

During the tournament, among many other people, I played with two individuals who happened to work at companies I already applied for jobs. One was amazed to see me face to face there standing when the interview was actually next day. The other even mentioned that he remembered having my resume on his desk! This company happened to be the one who contacted me as soon as I posted my resume online asking to apply for a job offer (I later learned that the process stalled when they learned that I didn’t have a working visa).

The event went quite well, and I enjoyed that new sport and networking with so many great people. To be honest, curling is a lot harder than it looks on tv! Surprisingly, my team beat the team of my future employer (yes, on sports I tend to be quite competitive). My wife even won the draft after the tournament was finished. Amazing…

A couple of days later, I got a call from the individual I’ve met playing curling asking me to drop by their office to meet the  potential future manager who happened to be in Vancouver that day. I prepped myself and headed there. I completed the interviews, and a week later I received a great job offer. Signed and prepared the working visa paperwork with the company. 

Months later, I was told that the single most important reason why I was hired was not because of my background or experience, but because of the incredible courage and willingness to go the extra mile I displayed by going to play curling, knowing very well that I could embarrass myself in front of the whole industry. I did something that simply no other candidate even thought of. And that made all the difference. 

These days, there’s an oversupply of highly skilled potential candidates out there. There might be a shortage in certain sectors, but overall most positions are filled within a few months. It’s an employer’s market, as they say in real state. So, if you want to get hired, go and do something different. Market yourself in a way no one else does. Doing the same as other 1,000s candidates won’t land you on your dream job. So if you really want it, be creative. Pick up the phone and call. Or maybe, even go and play curling. Who knows, you might get the job!

Do you have a story of being (or not hired) hired worth sharing? Please commend below!


David Oliver is an accomplished global professional that currently serves clients guiding strategic decisions on capital projects across Canada. If you’d like to get in touch, feel free to use the contact information on this page.