The adventure of coming to Canada from another country and breaking into a professional field is not easy. It takes a good deal of patience, hard work, creativity and lots of networking.
A networking opportunity is what I was looking for a few weeks ago when I attended an event at the offices of Procter & Gamble. The event was organized by a group called CAMP – Communications, Advertising and Marketing Professionals.
“CAMP is celebrating three years of existence in May this year. Our main purpose is to help newcomers from the communications, advertising and marketing fields to integrate quickly into their field in Canada,” says Najia Alavi, co-chair of CAMP. “The way we do this is by providing our members networking opportunities and information about the industry through our guest speakers.”
At CAMP’s monthly meetings, leaders in the marketing and communications fields share their knowledge of the Canadian marketplace, business culture, trends and, particularly, how newcomers can overcome the challenge to break into their field in Canada.
At this particular meeting that I went to, the guest speakers were the president of the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS), Lawrence J. Stevenson, and the national recruitment manager of Manpower Services, Noorani Khan.
Stevenson stressed professionalism and ethics in public relations. “In today’s world, perception and public opinion are powerful tools to sell new ideas and to solve communication crises,” he said.
Stevenson went on to advise CAMP members on the kind of skills that professionalism in public relations implies: an extensive education in a specialized field; a published body of theoretical knowledge; plus the act of self regulation or the testing of competence. Noorani Khan, the other guest speaker brought a practical recruiters’ perspective to looking for jobs in Toronto. “The economy and technology are changing; unemployment rates are rising; the demand for skilled workers is increasing; people looking for jobs are older and more diverse,” Khan said, explaining some of the current trends in the job market.
“Better strategies in job search are necessary to succeed,” she emphasized. “It is an employers’ market, so employers can pick and choose. For every 200 résumés you send you get one interview.” She advised, “Several techniques and strategies are necessary to carry on an appropriate job search: the right résumés, cover letters, follow up and thank you letters.”
In the Q&A and mingling after the session, several CAMP members remarked on how disheartening it is applying to so many organizations and not hearing back from them.
“That is why it is so important to network and to gain more information about your field in Canada because if you make the time to get to know some people in the field and come across as knowledgeable, opportunities will come to you instead of you applying to them. Try it. Networking, if done right, will open doors for you,” stresses Najia Alavi.
After the meeting, I definitely felt more “networked” plus I got some great information and tips. And CAMP has plans to give more to its members.
“As we continue to grow, we are constantly adding to the services we provide to our members. We have a job board on our website (www.campnetworking.ca) and our relationship with Skills International, which is a web-enabled, searchable database of candidate profiles provides members an added opportunity to highlight their skills to the right employers,” says Deepak Tuteja, the other co-chair of CAMP.
“Diversity is our Strength” is the slogan of this enthusiastic group of newcomers, who are building pathways for themselves and their members to break into the professional marketing field in Canada.