Q&A with Mark Atabor: How I Got a Job in My Field

Over the years we featured many stories where our clients share their immigration journey with us. We, at SOPA, feel very proud to be the ones sharing stories of our clients with you. We hope each of these stories will help you understand what to expect and see that each immigration journey is different and has its own challenges. Today Mark Atabor from Nigeria is kindly sharing how pre-arrival program and further referrals led him to a job in his field.

Hi Mark, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Mark Atabor and my country of origin is Nigeria. My family and I arrived in Canada in August 2020 and settled in Brandon, Manitoba. Before I left Nigeria, I was hoping to get a job in Marketing. I’m now working in Telemarketing Service Management, one of the largest telecommunication service provider in the province.

Can you please tell us about your employment journey?

I enrolled in the pre-arrival courses before arriving in Canada and I succeeded in my job hunt because of the help I received from SOPA. During this time, the intake and employment counsellors encouraged me to prepare my resume and immediately start applying for my desired jobs.

Although I couldn’t get any job interviews before arrival, the process prepared me for the job hunt upon arrival. I was fortunate to get a job within 5 weeks of arrival, after about 4 different interviews for other job openings. I carefully followed the suggestions I received from SOPA’s Job Search Strategies course. The course focused on identifying soft and hard skills, preparing resume, developing effective cover letters, how and where to search for jobs, and the 2 types of job markets in Canada. These topics helped me in my job search and eventual employment in a field related to my advertising career in Nigeria.

Did SOPA program change your approach to seeking employment in Canada?

I sought employment using a CV that detailed my career history and every single qualification I had. But SOPA enabled me to see that searching for a job in Canada in itself is a full-time job. One has to be prepared and target each resume, and cover letter based on the advertised job responsibilities SOPA also gave me a fore-gleam into the Canadian workplace culture; a key class of Canadian employers and the concerns they have regarding immigrants seeking employment

Tell us how did SOPA’s post-arrival settlement organization partner help prepare you for the job market and settlement in Canada?

My SOPA Intake Counsellor referred me to Westman Immigrant Services before arrival. Upon arrival to Canada, Westman Immigrant Services provided close guidance and support in finding a job and assisting my family and I settle into the city of Brandon. The Employment Project Officer reviewed my resume and constantly sent me vacancy notifications. One of those notifications led me to the job I am currently employed in. Additionally, Westman Immigrant Services had helped me and my family in preparing all the necessary application forms for our SIN, taxes, benefits, health cards, car insurance and driving license, and helped us with the school admission for our kids.

What strategies did you use to find a job in your field?

  • Attending online workshops organized by SOPA
  • Registering for SOPA pre-arrival courses
  • Effective use of the Canadian Job Bank (jobbank.gc.ca) and other job search websites
  • Developing a targeted resume and modifying it for each job application
  • Writing specific cover letters for each job application
  • Following-up; Calling the organization to confirm if they received my job application.

Describe any challenges you faced in your job search process and the steps you took to overcome these obstacles.

A major challenge I faced was having to present a one-page resume. I had 12+ years of quality experience from Nigeria, so having my resume on one page made me feel as if I was selling myself short. But I realized that the employers were looking for candidates that are willing to learn the ‘Canadian way’. A detailed and voluminous resume might give employers the impression that a candidate is either overqualified for a role or just wants the role as a stepping stone for a much better job elsewhere. I started getting called for interviews as soon as I simplified my resume to just one page.

Can you please share any tips for other newcomers?

I highly recommend to all approved immigrants who are still in their home countries or outside Canada to register for pre-arrival courses and complete them. Follow the recommendations and utilize the referral to the Canadian partner organizations upon arrival.


Interviewed by Milagros Dacwag, Intake Counsellor for SOPA Manitoba

Milagros is a Registered Social Worker with Manitoba College of Social Workers and a member of Canadian Association of Social Workers, Inc.  Previously Milagros worked in the Philippines and Singapore as a Social Worker working with the different sectors in the community. Today, she is focused on assisting pre-arrival immigrants bound to Manitoba as an Intake Counsellor for Settlement Online Pre-Arrival (SOPA)-Manitoba. She previously worked as a Settlement Worker at Salvation Army-Barbara Mitchel Resource Centre assisting newcomers on their settlement at the St. Vital area in Winnipeg. 


Immigrating to Canada?

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