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Immigrant Tales with Peter Ademu-Eteh: So You’ve Moved to Canada, Now Find a Job!

Peter Ademu-Eteh

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Immigrant Tales with Peter Ademu-EtehHey people!

It’s been over a year since I last posted anything. And that’s because I don’t like you people work has been so hectic, I’ve barely had time to breathe. I’ve also been working on a number of music projects and we spent the last year recording and shooting videos.

I’m switching the narrative from my funny experiences to something I think will be very useful to many readers out there. Since I last posted on BellaNaija, there’s been a huge surge in people applying to move to Canada. It’s really a good idea, if you’re prepared for life here. If you live in Nigeria, people make it sound like the moment you move abroad, people just hand you money, give you a house and car (and also stock your fridge for free). If you still believe in such fairytales, you really need to wake up.

Job Hunting in Toronto
In the Summer of 2015 I got bored with sitting around at home. I figured I could keep busy by picking up a part-time job. Or at least spice my resume with some Canadian experience.

It came as a shock to me that my Nigerian degree was basically useless because the jobs I wanted didn’t consider the fact I’m a trained lawyer. The jobs that would accept me didn’t care if I’d had any post-secondary education whatsoever. So I could be making exactly the same money as a 15 year old boy still in secondary school.

See my life!

I read an article that talked about how people often try up to 6 different career paths before settling in Canada. In my head I thought, at least I’ve tried Lawyer and Part-time Web Designer/Trouble-shooter/”the IT guy”. That article also said that most successful people in the corporate world had a background in sales.

I started looking for a job that:
(1) wouldn’t take me far from home,

(2) a job that gave me flexible hours so that even when school resumed I would be able to do a little work.

I applied for retail sales clerk positions in restaurants and grocery stores, but I also went for the big fish: managerial positions in small to medium-scale establishments (why can’t I dream?). The firms all seemed excited at my resume- you know, University Degree, Law School Degree and Masters Degree in progress. Also, that kinda turned out to be my undoing. In Canada, there really is such a thing as being “overqualified” for a job.

How I solved this problem
I read online that the solution to the “overqualified” and “under-experienced” quagmire is to get an entry-level job, preferably one that offers training and has opportunities to move round departments. That way, your experience can span a wide range and in future you could tailor your resume to reflect the relevant skills and experience. So, I applied to companies offering entry-level jobs. I found that most of them were either organizations that raised funds for charities; or companies that were simply looking for marketers.

Growing up in Nigeria made me hate the word “marketing”. It simply evokes images of people walking under the sun wearing branded T-shirts and hats and trying to convince pedestrians and even drivers to sample their products. Those same marketers that had no opportunities for advancement within their companies, were totally expendable and had base salaries of maybe 20,000 Naira per month ($60 CAD). I ignored the vacancies for marketing jobs and instead went for jobs that had customer relationship positions open.

None of the firms ever contacted me for a second interview. To be honest… I didn’t feel too bad. Looking back, I realize that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of attending job interviews without feeling the pressure of I-need-this-job-or-I’ll-die. I once went as far as Burlington (about 150 km from where I live) to interview for a job. I put on a sharp suit, ironed my trousers (pants, Americans. Pants) till the gators (creases, Canadians, creases) were sharp enough to slice bread. The address they gave me was so confusing that I spent 2 hours walking under the sun till I found the place. When I got there, they told that the position was to advertise car polish at gas stations. I almost left in anger. Not only had I wasted my time and money, my phone was dead and it would take me another four hours to get back home because of the traffic.

Scammers Thrive in Canada too
One experience that hurt me was the time when several companies called to hire and sounded really excited about me but I had to tell them I was looking for a part-time position only. They were offering good compensation, to be honest. Some were too good to be true, like a company called Onemobius Consulting.  I didn’t remember sending an application but they sent me an email offering me the post of operations manager, ready to start in two weeks, working full-time (8 am to 6 pm) for a basic salary of $50,000 per year; with medical, dental and transportation benefits. I was suspicious, because it seemed TOO easy.

Why I got suspicious
How would a company that had never met me in the flesh be willing to hire me without an interview? Or even a phone call? Why was their professional website so vague? (they said they offered financial services but never said exactly what they did). I started an email conversation with their head of HR and by the time they explained what the job was all about, I was convinced it was either a scam or a money laundering operation.

Essentially, my job would have been to deposit a large cheque in my account from my boss or a client, and then withdraw cash, then pay into other bank accounts. I was quite surprised because sending money in Canada is literally as easy as just emailing someone. I started asking questions- is this company registered under provincial (State) or Federal law? What’s the registered office? When can I come and see the physical location of the place?

My diligence saved my butt
Not surprisingly, the website disappeared a day or two after I started asking serious questions. I used web tools to check out the age of the website- curiously it wasn’t listed. It was registered by a person in the Czech Republic. The phone numbers given in the email simply responded with a “does not exist” prompt when I called. The phone number on the website turned was actually a number reported by thousands of people in the USA as a scam number. I felt lucky to have escaped this scam oh!

There was this call-center called Ememtel Solutions (Not real names). Their profile said they raised funds for some big-name cancer research companies and they wanted me to work for them. I immediately jumped at the opportunity. Big Mistake 🙂

I can tell you all about it NOW but I want you to come back another day to read my stories 😀

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

My name is Peter. I am a professional talkative. I talk for money during the day (I’m a Lawyer) and a ninja musician at night. I live in Toronto where I work in the hope that one day I will become stupidly rich :-D I blog at http://ohpeter.com IG/Twitter @PeterPentecost

46 Comments

  1. Meee

    October 17, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    Lol, job hunting in Canada is not easy at alllllll. Infact you need to know people to get a reasonable job here. I was lucky to get a three month contract job, since then I have not received ONE response to the over one hundred CV’s I have been sending ) :

    • Rynyx

      October 18, 2018 at 2:56 am

      You don’t necessarily have to know people. You must be realistic in your expectations and prepare for when the opportunities show up. I didn’t know anybody and I got a full-time permanent position with the University of Saskatchewan. When I tell people, they ask me how I did it. It can be discouraging when you don’t get the calls but if you don’t give up, it will work out in the end.

    • iammims

      October 18, 2018 at 10:06 am

      RinaforRynx, na you be this abi ? I just knew when I saw University of Saskatwan 🙂

    • Rynyx

      October 18, 2018 at 11:32 pm

      I have been found. Hey bebe

    • Rampage

      October 18, 2018 at 7:35 pm

      Let’s be realistic, Meee is absolutely correct. You do have to know people to get a good job in Canada. Congratulations on getting your position with the UofS but your case is part of the exception not the norm.

    • Waterchild

      October 18, 2018 at 11:02 pm

      No you don’t have to know people. I was in Saskatoon when I got a job offer in Toronto at CAMH. I knew ABSOLUTELY no one. She isn’t an exception, I know many others like this. You must have realistic expectations and position yourself properly with the creation of your cv/resume and cover letter (Google resumes about your position). You must also not hesirate to use all available avenues e.g job Bank, and other job sites like indeed.

    • Rynyx

      October 18, 2018 at 11:39 pm

      I am not disputing the place of favour. It will shock you to know how many Nigerians still apply for jobs with resumes that carry things like LGA, gender and religion. The reason why nobody is calling back may just be those unnecessary information that cannot be interpreted. I know other people who have changed jobs a number of times under a space of two years. I still do not agree that you need to know people to get a job. People may tell you about existing openings, but your experience and what you bring to the interview is what gets you the job. I speak for myself and a number of other people I know who got good deals without knowing anyone.

  2. Mrs chidukane

    October 17, 2018 at 10:36 pm

    Don’t leave us hanging jare. Tell us more.

  3. Canadian

    October 17, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    I moved to Canada in August 2018, been job hunting since I landed a and it’s frustrating. I had a job in Nigieria came over here to live with my spouse. However, I have learnt that resilience counts and connections too. Got a part time job at a place my spouse worked and getting something better very soon. It’s frustrating but keep up, you will not fail. Tailor your resume to be relevant to the job applied for and state your job achievements not necessarily your job responsibilities

    • Peter Ademu-Eteh

      Peter Ademu-Eteh

      October 18, 2018 at 2:30 pm

      It’s not really about connections. Sure, people can tell you when there’s an opening. I think it’s more about being SEEN by whoever is hiring. In the next post I’ll talk about some strategies to get you noticed.

      I hope you find something good soon!

    • Rynyx

      October 18, 2018 at 6:23 pm

      I can imagine how it must feel and you haven’t experienced Winter yet. Where do you live? the intensity of the weather varies across the provinces. You may also want to consider taking a short course. The Canadian employers almost only understand Canadian education and experience. I had to go back to take a diploma with high school grads, was frustrating but it paid off. I graduated with the second best result in the entire school and the school offered me a job for 12 months and before the term was over, I got another offer from the University of Saskatchewan. I am still getting calls and emails asking if i am interested in switching careers. You need determination and a plan and it will work out well. I can send you my email address if you need to talk or just need some encouragement. Hugs.

  4. Emeka Chuky

    October 17, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    Bia bia nwoke don’t allow me send you electronic blow now oo. Kai I totally thought that you had changed from your previous ways. Well till next week sha.

    • Peter Ademu-Eteh

      Peter Ademu-Eteh

      October 18, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      I serve a God that changeth not, how will I now change? Tenkyu very much sah 😀

  5. Mary Jane

    October 18, 2018 at 12:12 am

    Lool I remember you! Always loved your stories! This is a great read. Your sense of humour reminds me of my ex’s. He was my true love…sigh.

    • Peter Ademu-Eteh

      Peter Ademu-Eteh

      October 18, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      MJ I know that feeling and I think I’m still recovering from that :(. There’s usually at least that ONE irreplaceable person we can’t have. Nobody will ever be them!

      I’d like to hear your story, DM me on instagram/twitter, let’s talk about this over a hot chocolate!

    • Kamer sista

      October 18, 2018 at 10:27 pm

      Hum… NEXT we will read about Y’ALL upcoming weeding on here à I??? I mean. I can’t blame you haha

    • Peter Ademu-Eteh

      Peter Ademu-Eteh

      October 19, 2018 at 2:32 am

      Abeegi, me I won’t complain oh, if this how the Lord wants to do it 😀

  6. AHausaChickInToronto

    October 18, 2018 at 1:25 am

    This your write up was so apt, and yes oh the scammers here are real. The best way to be taken seriously in this country is to do a course from a Canadian institution and go to job fairs so you could meet people in person that may potentially want to help you but make sure you come off as humble, speak as clearly as possible (trust me they know when you’re faking an accent) ……..We Nigerians may sometimes appear intimidating when we try to let people know how smart we are, DON’T DO THAT, Canadians don’t like it.

    • Peter Ademu-Eteh

      Peter Ademu-Eteh

      October 18, 2018 at 2:04 pm

      Yoooo!!! I’m dying to meet a Hausa chick in this city. We’re too few! Okay technically I’m not actually hausa, but nobody needs to know 😀 (DM if you get this)

  7. Didi

    October 18, 2018 at 1:47 am

    I totally relate to your story but my story isn’t as bad as yours…lol. I have been living in Canada for almost 7 years. I came into Canada with a study visa for my LLM degree. I was blessed to secure two years full scholarship. I never had to work. At that point, I had more than enough. In between preparing for my thesis, I was able to write all my four core courses(at the time, it was 4) to practice Law in Canada, all at a sitting. As soon as I defended my thesis, I was so eager to work and I started sending out applications to law firms. At some point, I stopped sending in applications and I decided to do some walk-ins. I remember working with Sephora for 6 weeks. My first day in Sephora as a skin care specialist was hell. I stood for almost 8 hours with a 1-hour break in between. Thanks to my wonderful roommate who would always help massage my feet after every shift. Mehn!! it was hard. I have never stood for 6 hours straight up before on my feet straight up before. Thankfully, I got a Legal Assistant job outside of my city and that was how I started my legal journey. Today, I am a Lawyer and God has been so good to me. My point is job hunting can be so hard especially if you are coming in as a Professional (Doctors, Dentists, and Lawyers). I remember the first time I applied for a job and I got a response saying ” I was not qualified” . I felt slighted and i am like “shey these people know that I am a lawyer sha”. Imagine receiving a rejection letter from someone who barely graduated from high school. My point is Canadian employers are big on Canadian expericence. Even if it’s a certificate course you are able to do, please go for it. With at least a certificate course, you have your foot at the door and you can progress as you want- again, it depends on what you want. It is going to be hard, it is probably going to be tough but I know you can pull through if you are determined. I had it good, but in all, there is always a silver lining at the end of the tunnel. Do walk-ins or cold call if you have to. Ask to speak with the Partner to Manager or someone. Often times, most employers don’t know what you are bringing to the table so you need to put yourself out there. If you have to downplay your resume to fit into the job description, do it. Not like I worked as a Legal Assistant, I am a Lawyer but I had to downplay my role to fit into the job I was applying for. For some jobs, I did’t even add my LLM Degree. I had just my grade 12.. Imagine that!! lolTo all the new immigrants, I wish you guys the best.

    • Peter Ademu-Eteh

      Peter Ademu-Eteh

      October 18, 2018 at 2:07 pm

      Hey Didi, don’t give it all away now! Allow us to sell market too 😀

      You’re right, I’m going to do other pieces on settling down here, If you’d like to contribute, kindly DM on instagram (or send me an email.) Let’s do this!

    • Didi

      October 18, 2018 at 10:27 pm

      Hahaha. I really enjoyed reading your piece. Good job!!

  8. Anonymous

    October 18, 2018 at 7:26 am

    Beware of jobs that ask you for money in exchange for a job, or ask you to deposit money into your account as part of the job. We have been here for over 2 decades. My son who was a college student thought he got a job till they used his account for fraud. The bank, the second largest in the country,closed his account immediately. If not for the fact that the vp in charge of our branch knew my entire family and we had banked and opened all the children’s accounts and bought a house with them, he would have been blacklisted and never be able to open any checking account with any major bank.

    He was forgiven as he didn’t know and at 18years old, having grown up in a sheltered home in the suburbs, he had no idea that was even possible. Thank God they cleaned it up and opened a new account. Today he laughs at the inexperience as a finance guy with prospects in a fortune 100 company. Beware. America and Canada have their own 419 and yahoo yahoo folks!

    • Peter Ademu-Eteh

      Peter Ademu-Eteh

      October 18, 2018 at 2:13 pm

      Yes sir! When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Most Fraudulent schemes have a giveaway, We just need to be attentive. Good thing you had a prior relationship with the bank!

  9. AceOfSpades

    October 18, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    Canada and USA isn’t really different. I got a job at a medical device company for $14/hr with all my education from naija. That money sounds big but when you pay rent and bills, you are left with almost nothing! I did serving jobs and bartending before I got my permit and did some proper courses and got a 120k per annum job. It was not easy. Standing up 12hrs a day is crazy!

    I look at people who come with student visa to USA and always want to beg them not to leave school. Please finish that school pls pls pls because you’d get frustrated with life if you choose to go your way after entering with students visa

  10. Akara Pancake

    October 18, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    Brilliant article. I cant say much for the Canadian job market, as I am more familiar with the US and UK, but I will add the following generally applicable pointers:

    1. Update your Linkedin Profile, and put your availability to “on”. Lots of recruiters use Linkedin for posting jobs and to search for viable candidates. Use a decent photograph – you in a business outfit or smart casual, and not displaying the typical Nigerian “I no send” or “resting bitch” face. You should look approachable.

    2. Recruiters abroad are big on experience, especially experience in their country. You could be smart about this. If for example you worked in an international company in Nigeria, like Shell, Mobil, PWC etc, there is no need to add that it was in Nigeria on your resume. Leave that part out, for only to be disclosed once you get to the interview stage and you are specifically asked. Shell is Shell wherever it is. If you worked in Union Bank in Nigeria, you could put ” formerly Barclay’s Bank” in a bracket. If you worked at Econet, use Airtel instead. Always make your resume look as international as possible.

    3. I am not a fan of this next piece of advice, but unfortunately it has been shown to work. Abbreviate and “anglicize” your first name on your resume, and Linkedin Profile if it is too long. I am not saying you should be ashamed of your identity. Nah, you have to be strategic so that you get a job. So if your name is Chukwudumebi – use Chuck. If your name is Kehinde – use Kenny. If your name is Oluwasanmi – use Sammy If your name is Agwoturumbe, good luck to you?

    4. Use all tools available for job searches, not just the major ones. Indeed.com is a good resource, but so are Glassdoor, Rigzone and Linkedin. Register with job agencies as well, and look on Craigslist in the job section – I got my first job that way.

    5. Try to do a graduate certificate course in your field (dependent on what it is), so you have an international “qualification”. These are not as expensive as a Masters degree and they are for shorter (usually 3-4 months), and can be done online. Many top Universities offer them, plus they also offer a career service for graduates.

    6. Lose your sense of entitlement and whatever happened in Nigeria. This is a new slate, and nobody in your new country cares that you had 10 drivers and 20 househelps in Nigeria, or that you were a Director or CEO. Come to equity with clean hands, and a good attitude.

    Good luck

    • Grace

      October 18, 2018 at 11:43 pm

      Yh very very true. Even those weekend courses for some weeks can be very useful.
      Also your personality: be friendly, approachable and open minded.
      Find a community of people with similar beliefs. This can be so useful when you feel like giving up.
      And above all pray.

    • Peter Ademu-Eteh

      Peter Ademu-Eteh

      October 19, 2018 at 2:41 am

      This advice is completely applicable! If you would kindly email me, I’ll feature your advice on my personal blog!

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      October 19, 2018 at 3:08 am

      Agwoturumbe shall become “Tutu”. Or “Rumi”. There are many ways to skin a tortoise.

  11. Someonecute

    October 18, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    Oh where have you been? I’ve missed your write ups! O Canada This brings back memories too. It was so frustrating then, and i had to redesign and tailor my resume for each company I was applying., Canada is not for the faint-hearted o. I refreshed my emails and suspected every single call that came in through my phone. Its been 3 years now since I last job hunted.

    • Peter Ademu-Eteh

      Peter Ademu-Eteh

      October 19, 2018 at 2:35 am

      I had to be away for work, school, music and all that. Sometimes I think I’ll write about those, but maybe I’ll post those on my blog

  12. Adaora

    October 18, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    I totally loved this. It kept me laughing. My favourite part: “Growing up in Nigeria made me hate the word “marketing”. It simply evokes images of people walking under the sun wearing branded T-shirts and hats and trying to convince pedestrians and even drivers to sample their products”. Wallahi you’re not serious. Please write the next part quickly!! We are following closely!

    • Peter Ademu-Eteh

      Peter Ademu-Eteh

      October 19, 2018 at 2:39 am

      Ada baby <3

      I'm already writing the next one for you : P

  13. lacey

    October 18, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    You guys should continue your journeys into voluntary slavery! Canadian immigration has a target for revenue from hungry immigrants yearly , so their own is to collect their revenue, whether you guys become cleaners, cab drivers or security officers with your law dyegree is none of their business!
    It’s better to have the quality education and bring it back to Nigeria, not all this merry go round! Excellent write up!

    • Peter Ademu-Eteh

      Peter Ademu-Eteh

      October 19, 2018 at 2:37 am

      Okaay so the picture is not as bleary as you paint it. Everyone benefits in this arrangement. They get their processing fees, you get a chance to live in a democratic society where the government actually works. I don’t see how this amounts to slavery at all 😀

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      October 19, 2018 at 3:12 am

      And as for the unpaid slavery (with compulsory hard labor) currently happening to the larger percentage of the available workforce in Nigeria…. how’s that working out for you?

    • Someonecute

      October 19, 2018 at 2:22 pm

      Hehehe lacey it’s funny how people like you follow the bandwagon of, ‘if you’re abroad you’re a cleaner or cab driver’ lol. I am financial supervisor within a public organisation, I just hired a white girl a month ago I know people who’ve come here and risen to the top in 2 years. Ok fine I had to start as a receptionist at CTV (not related to finance, but a good start) while I was there, I was still applying and that was where it got frustrating I almost wanted to change my career to receptionist) due to my command of English, some of them actually thought I was born there. So yes if you’re smart and intelligent like someone said up there in the comments, you can grab something good enough for the start.
      In naija if you’re getting a job or working for someone, it’s like they are doing you a favour, over here, you are adding value, so yes let them see me as bringing value for revenue or whatever. I have worked in naija before and i tell you it’s annoying how the employer makes you feel like they own your destiny, heck i am bringing value to you, respect that. When I had my baby here, it was a naija doctor that was calling the shots and ordering all the nurses and medical students in the room to do this and do that, they were all white, so please take your slavery mentality away from here, people have moved from that thinking long time ago, there are naija bosses in Canada
      And by the way, there is dignity of labour here, A cab driver/security personnel is offering you a service isn’t he? I respect people’s career no matter what it is and never look down on anybody, I pray Nigeria gets to that point where no one is looked down on because of what they do or what they need to do temporarily due to their circumstances.

    • Anonymous

      October 19, 2018 at 6:45 pm

      Our Nigerian sandy ground pride is why it’s going backwards. Pride. What’s wrong in doing ANY honest job to feed your family? Oh he should have stayed behind and bought human skull to do ritual to jazz his state to dumbness and steal their commonwealth for his family? I don’t get our people. It’s even hard to reason with some old friends nowadays because our thinking is so pedestrian and unprogressive. The other day a friend was arguing with me that there is now constant electricity in Nigeria and I should not offend God? (the looters haven’t offended hm?) by saying there isn’t. What makes us think this way? It’s like the naked emperor story. The whole of Lagos state does not have the electricity powering downtown Los Angeles 24/7. Notice I said 24/7. Those lights are on even if you drive at 2.00am. When towns are generating electricity by nuclear power. What’s our pride?

    • Anonymous

      October 19, 2018 at 6:53 pm

      Before the usual Nigerian style conclusion, I’m a professional with my own practice employing Americans of all races but I respect my house cleaner. She is my friend. She collects $120 per visit, just a few hours visit. She makes in a few hours more than the minimum wage of some of our arrogant Nigerians, cleaning a place that is not even obviously dirty! Pride is what feeds corruption and the reckless looting of Nigeria. “ I cannot be a cleaner”. My husband jokes with her that he would like to see her account. She is not complaining. Enough of sandy ground pride built on nothing but cronyism. Who knows who. Not hard work and merit

  14. Ajala & Foodie

    October 18, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    I have to show my husband this when he gets home. That finance company deal. A friend of his in Nigeria, who is supposedly a Pastor had asked him to do this. Exactly how the author described it is what he described to him. My hubby honestly believed it could not be 419 because he knows this dude personally. I knew it was too good to be true and just convinced hubby that he was too busy for all of that. That was after he insisted dude could not be yahoo yahoo. That was the last time we heard from him. Ah!!! So my instincts were right.

    • Peter Ademu-Eteh

      Peter Ademu-Eteh

      October 19, 2018 at 2:38 am

      Please oh, It’s a scam. When the trouble comes, they won’t care who gave you the cheque. All they know is who deposited the money!

  15. o

    October 19, 2018 at 5:44 am

    Well my brother just moved with his family. Exactly two months after he landed, he got a temporary job with Ernst & Young, without knowing anyone and without Canadian education experience. It is possible, just keep at it

    • Anonymous

      October 19, 2018 at 6:35 pm

      Congrats to him? Please tell him not to get a false sense of security. He should still get their certification otherwise in hard times they are the first to get laid off. That’s also why they hired him as “temp”. I’m not trying to rain on his parade but I’ve been in the USA in excess of 2 decades and I’ve seen it happen over and over.

    • o

      October 23, 2018 at 5:30 pm

      Will definitely do. Thanks

  16. Agahb

    October 20, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    You know I always enjoy reading your piece..nice one P. Oya tell us more so when we come over, we know how to get those jobs

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