Job seeking blues…

I wake up, the sun in my face, my alarm already rang three times , but I postpone getting up. I finally get up and start my coffee machine, open my newspaper and turn on the TV to get some news. Sitting in front of my Mac, I check if I received some good news in my gmail account. This is the moment that will set the tone for the rest of my day. Will I get an answer from a job that I applied for? Will the interviewer at company X drop me a line to let me know that I have passed on to the next round of interviews?

This is the job seeker blues…You don’t really realize until you live it. It can be painful but also very constructive.

When you walk down the street to run your errands and you bump into one of your ex-coworkers in the middle of the day on a Tuesday, you realize that you are not the only one facing these difficult challenges.

Earlier in the decade, the problem was quite the opposite. There were too many jobs offered to recent graduates. People were switching from job to job at the same rate as they changed their clothes. Today because of this economic crisis, having a job doesn’t mean the same thing. The value of getting a job has grown. This change in values is reflective of the Great Depression of the 1930s. It may be for the best. Perhaps now the employees will devote more of their energy and will engage more of their work to the company that they work for.

However, my situation is not quite as bad. There are many other Torontonians in situations far worse than mine.

I have many friends who don’t necessarily work in the particular field in which they studied. Also, some of them need to work two or three jobs in order to pay rent downtown. And now with the Ontario Government’s addition of the new HST tax, students and new workers will now have to adjust their budgets accordingly.

Each day is a struggle between self-confidence and the reality of job seeking.

It’s hard to constantly look for a job while not having stability in your life. In the end, this struggle will prepare us to face the realities of life. We will be grateful for our jobs and we will have a better understanding of the value of our salaries. The competition is heavy and it makes us have to work two and three times harder.

I thought that with my bachelor degree everything would be easy and that I would just have to be passionate about my work…but still, we need to find this job. Finding a good fit between a company and a potential employee is not an easy feat. The Human Resources departments have a lot of work to do.

Last week, I spoke with a woman who worked for a large Canadian marketing and communication firm. She gave me advice about the industry and how to get involved in it. She also made me notice a big problem that we, the new graduates, and employees have to face. The university taught us theories and practices that will be useful for work and they also push us to believe in the impossible – which is good. This makes us believe that if we work hard, we can expect to get the best – the job of our dreams. But the real problem is the reality gap that exists between school and real life experience.

We arrived in the job market with an elitist attitude that we adopted from the schools that made us believe that we deserved more than anyone else. We had a mind set that we were the cream of the crop and that we deserved better salaries than any of our peers. It was a shock for me when I realized that finding a job was not easy even if I had one of the best grade point averages in my graduating class. According to my discussion with the woman, even the Human Resources departments are now coached to deal with this new generation of students that have a gap between their expectations and the entry-level job duties/salary.

So what’s the solution? In my case, I believe that I will be just fine. I have a lot of things happening and several upcoming interviews. But it’s not the point. The universities need to prepare their graduating students for the realities of the job market. They need to let them know that not everything comes easily and that they still have much to learn once they start work. Their challenges begin once they graduate. They have to climb each step like everyone did before them.Each day is a struggle between self-confidence and the reality of job seeking.

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Toronto VS Montréal

A friend of my friend of my friend of mine gave me the chance to meet the Managing Director at Ogilvy Healtworld on a friday morning. For people who doesn’t know, Ogilvy & Mather  is one of the top 5 international advertising/marketing/public relations agencies  in Toronto. ‘Healtworld’ is one of his subsidiaries specialized in pharmaceutical.

I felt privileged that he took one hour to review with me my resume and gave me some advice.

Quantify your resume

We are surrounded by the competition, so the company who will hire you need to see more than just your personality. They can’t just trust their instinct. They need to receive some concrete proves that you are THE candidate, especially in Toronto. One trick is to present some numbers on your resume. For example, Mr. Cully suggested me to write how many people I was reaching referring to my job as a presenter in a radio station.

Quantifying your resume demonstrates the direct impact of your implication at work. In that case, the HR people will be more confident about your capacity to realize successful projects.

Plus, there is also a rumour that Torontonians are more rational and more business mind than Québécois people. I did some research on it, but I did not find any scientific-anthropologic results on it. On the other hand, it’s not a total absurdity because I have read some blogs about it and experimented myself this gap of how people differently do things. The best quote that I have heard to express this difference is from my English teacher : ‘People in Toronto lives their life – People in Québec enjoys their life.’ In the same mind-thinking, I believe that where I am from, people are more sensitive, emotional and it’s probably why Québec is internationally recognized for his creativity.

Big time! It is a part of my adaptation I guess: I need to communication more rationally. Having a good connection with the person who interviews me is not enough anymore. I need to show proves of my work capacity to increase my credibility.

How to stay on the edge?

After analyzing my pedigree point by point, I asked Mr.Cully to help me find some marketing and communication references in Toronto to stay connected with the industry. Is there an equivalence of the Infopresse magazine? Is there an association like the A.A.P.Q. (Association des agences de publicité du Québec)? How does we stay on the edge in the big city?

The two magazines of predilection is Marketing magazine and Strategy magazine. I read the both. The first paper was interesting for covering all the success stories of people who just enthroned the 2010 Marketing Hall of legends like Jean Coutu (Jean Coutu) and Chip Wilson (Lululemon Athletica). On the other hand, the second magazine rated the Canadian advertising agencies by the most creative one, the best copywriters, etc… Ok! Ok! I will always still loyal to my lovely Infopresse for its good columns who engaged me, but those two Canadian business magazines give a good overview of what’s happening across the country. 

That’s another reality that shows how Québec is so unique and different from the rest of the Canada. Québec does his own magazine comparing to Toronto which is talking about all the country.

Finally, the closest equivalence that Mr. Cully gave me for the A.A.P.Q. is the I.C.A. (Institute of Communication agency). Founded in 1905, it represents the Canada’s communication and advertising agencies. This institute covers all Canada coast-to-coast. On their website, we can find a section reserved for helping people with their professional development (workshops, certificate, MBA, etc…) Actually, for people interested, they just launched a new master certificate in Brand Communications.

Montreal VS Toronto

By the way, I know that I brought on table a lot of comparisons between the two cities and I want to make something clear: I like the both sides and sincerly think that we should be grateful to have a country with two distinct personalities like that. We have the best of each world and parties should take advantage of it.

Québec, Montréal, will always stay my roots, where I am from, but I have to admit that Toronto has been also pretty generous with me since I moved.  People that I met took the time, like Terry Cully, to make me discover the industry with new perspectives and a new taste: a Canadian anglophone taste. I am fortunate to experiment those two completely different cultures.

Nimy is a boy…

Just before going to Florida for the holidays I did some research on Linked In to see how copywrtiers in Toronto had learned their trade . I found out that two copywriters at Taxi and one at Cossette have studied at Humber. Before subscribing at the Creative Advertising Practices certificate, I tried to reach one of those copywriters to get some feedback from them. I finally contacted Nimy Leshinski on Facebook: long life to social

media! After several weeks of postponing our rendezvous, I was finally at Cossette, waiting in the hall for her. I was really surprised  when I realized that she, he was a boy. No doubt! Maybe the idea that he was a girl came to me because I have never heard this name before? On the other hand, who am I to think that? Remember? My name is not more common.

Anyway, we went out for a Pizzaiolo snack. Between two bites of Primavera pizza, we talked about the way he finally get to this amazing ad agency! In his early twenties, Nimy dreamed to be an actor. He tried hard, but like a lot of people in the show-business industry, it can be painful and really heavy to live of his craft. He decided to reoriented his career and went back to school at Humber for one year post-Grad program to know  how to adapt his creativity to a commercial environment – how to be a copywriter?

He learned different skills related to the agency dynamic and how to present a good portfolio to an Art director. But don’t get him wrong, the road he took, like the majority of people in this industry, has been rough. He told me “Humber teach you everything you need to know in order to get a job in advertising, but it won’t hand you a career. If you’re willing to bust your ass, you’ll do fine. ”

Even when he get his diploma, he had to apply to A LOT of places. He said that he actually apply to every advertising agencies in Toronto, the biggest to the smallest. Plus, he went to 15 interviews before he finally get an internship at Cossette. Today, he has the chance (not really a chance because he deserved it) to dedicated full-time his passion to Cossette since two years. Oh…and for people who are interested, they are presently looking for an Art director to work with him.

The first week that he put his feet in the door, he told me that he was impressed by how copywriters were fast and good. They were able to ingest the brief, brainstorm, edit and produce a pitch for clients in two hours. During the same period of time, he would have been able to just create one good headline! It’s normal, he said. Copywriting is like a sport : you have to train your brain as an athlete trains his muscles.

Nimy explained me that quantity was the key to successful writing. More you do, more you improve yourself. He also gave me different exercises that could help people developing their writing skills:

1) Don’t stop and follow the flow :

Start with a brief or a simple idea and write 5 pages or more non stop about everything that’s comes up to your head. When you shrink your brain of all your creative juice, take a pause, and reread what you just put on paper. After, you can filter ideas that are more relevant that the others, but at least you will get a burst of new ideas.

2) A…B…C :

Write about your brief or an idea with using the alphabet. Write a word or expression related to your subject for every letters A,B,C, and try hard till Z! It’s another way to use your brand with a different angle of thinking.

Creativity it’s all about that: thinking in a different way that you are used to.

I also had a university teacher who gave me the assignment  to go in the city and try to find details that I’ve never seen before even if I was walking on that street every single days. To find those details, he proposed me to walk backwards or just to look upper that I was used to. Try it and you will see. The magic will operate by itself.

Lesson #1: You think that you had worked hard and you deserve to get a job and a chance in the industry…Don’t stop. If you do, someone will work more than you during that time, and he’s gonna get the chance that he deserves…90% of work, 9% of chance, 1% of talent!

Who and Why?

First post…I should begin with the beginning : who I am and the reason of my presence in the blogosphere!

May 2009 : I am one of the first two graduates of the Marketing Communication program at University of Quebec in Montreal (UQÀM). I got an interview with Pierre Savard, the director of SSB Communication, an advertising agency located in the Montreal’s old port. He is really interested…the interview goes well…but I have my conditions: I deeply want to do the Route 66, as I never got the chance to travel since I was young, and I am projecting to go to Toronto to improve my English skills. Well…he didn’t hire me. Fair enough! Without regrets, I had the best trip ever and I moved to Toronto! Here I am since mid September 2009!

Can you believe that I had never been in the big city before? I am starting this blog to essentially practice my writing. My dream? Finding a job in the communication and marketing industry! But I need you : bloggers, twitters, facebookers, followers, or whoever you are. If you find mistakes, you absolutely have to correct me!

I will do my best to make this blog interesting. The good thing is that I am a bit quirky and creative. I will probably talk about my experience in Toronto…how people act differently than in Montreal. I am also addicted to music so I will help you discover some nice gigs! I am currently taking a class about the music Industry! That’s actually one of my other dreams : to work in a music label’s marketing department. Let’s see!

What else? One of my favourite brands is Dolly Parton. I always wear my cowboy boots. When I am not in a good mood, I watch Rent the musical, and I am fine! One of my biggest fears is to not to know everything….mmm, generally speaking this is who I am, but you will discover more of me very soon.

Oh…one last important thing: I am really honest and my values are really important to me. I never go against them. Ask my friends. It’s hard to manage that in our world, but I’ve realized that respecting who you are is the only way to do things proudly and be at peace with yourself in life.

Yes, my thoughts can go deep.