Sharon Graham & CPC’s Founder – Career Club Spotlight
by Marian Bernard, CPS, CPRW, JCTC, CEIP
The Regency Group …www.resumeexpert.ca
Marian Bernard’s note: Inspired by similar articles appearing in Career Masters Institute’s monthly newsletter, I thought it would be interesting for CPC members to learn a little more about one another; i.e., how we apply our unique business models to best serve our clients.
I love what I do for a living, in large part because I am so empowered by some of the movers and shakers in our industry. For that reason, I thought it fitting to launch this column by interviewing Sharon Graham – CPC’s founder and (in her words) “our number one fan.”
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WHEN DID CPC LAUNCH, AND WHAT IS ITS MODE OF OPERATION?
CPC (Career Professionals of Canada) is a labour of love for me (Sharon), our founding members, and all our volunteers who have generously given back to our “Career Community.”
I guess that I should start by explaining that getting to CPC was quite a journey for me. I started my career as one-person, home-based resume writer; now, my first business – Graham Management Group – has grown to be the largest exclusively-executive resume firm in Canada.
CPC started in August 2004, and we’ve been able to grow tremendously in Canada. The organization launched, based on a desire to carve out a home for people who serve the careers industry that include – but are not limited to – resume writers, interview coaches, career counsellors, employment consultants, job developers, and organizational development experts.
WHO IS CPC’s TARGET MARKET AND MARKET NICHE?
CPC appeals to a wide range of sectors and regions across Canada. Our members are a diverse group. They are career practitioners working in government organizations, not-for-profit services, academic centres, and private businesses. Anyone who has an interest in career development and our Canadian labour market are included.
WHAT MEMBER BENEFITS DOES CPC OFFER?
Membership with Career Professionals of Canada is an investment in your career and business.
There is such a wide range of benefits that it is hard to pick just a few, so here are my top six:
Career Club and Networking Opportunities (FREE)
Members can sign up and participate in our Career Club. It is hugely popular. Members share information, make relationships, give business leads, and discuss issues that are important to them.
Member Search Feature (FREE)
Members can put their contact information in our Professional Member Search Directory. The members’ name, contact details, area of expertise, profile, and picture can be included too. The site provides links to our members’ your website and e-mail address so that potential clients can contact them directly.
Awards of Excellence (FREE)
Members can be nominated and be distinguished as the recipient of one of five key Awards of Excellence.
• Outstanding Canadian Career Leader
• Outstanding Volunteer Contributor to the Community
• Outstanding Volunteer Contributor to the Organization
• Outstanding Canadian Resume Contributor
• Outstanding New Canadian Career Professional
Job Posting Board (FREE)
Members can take advantage of posting positions on our job board. Our site is geared towards driving job seekers to view and take advantage of appropriate opportunities.
Career, Business, and Organizational Development Conferences (SPECIAL RATE FOR MEMBERS)
Members are invited to attend our professional development events at a discounted rate. We enjoy meeting and putting faces to names at the annual STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS Professional Development Event!
Professional Certification Program (ONLY MEMBERS CAN APPLY)
You can achieve our uniquely Canadian career industry’s certifications, which are quickly gaining popularity:
• Certified Resume Strategist (CRS)
• Certified Interview Strategist (CIS)
• Certified Career Strategist (CCS)
WHAT CHANGES HAVE TAKEN PLACE IN OUR INDUSTRY? HOW HAVE THEY AFFECTED CPC?
This is a very exciting time for CPC, career practitioners in Canada, and people in the Canadian labour market. Why? Through CPC, we have developed new ways of interacting as career practitioners in helping each other to raise the professionalism and the capabilities of practitioners working in our industry.
As well, technology has played a crucial role in better supporting clients. Some of our members have capitalized on technology to remain home-based while effectively serving a worldwide clientele. In effect, technology has raised the level of services that we can provide.
As a community, we have become more savvy in career development needs, benefits, and strategies; as a result, we can leverage this in the form of higher-calibre services for our clients.
WHAT CHANGES MIGHT CPC SEE ON THE HORIZON FOR OUR INDUSTRY?
Coincidentally, I am authoring some pieces on this very topic for the Globe and Mail right now!
First and foremost, as career professionals, we all need to keep vigilant and focused on our future and that of our colleagues and clients. Moreover, if we want to deliver, we must become unsurpassed careerpreneurs.
From a career marketing standpoint, technology is slated to play a far greater role in the form of web resumes, web portfolios, and career blogs.
From a document design perspective, our clients’ career documents need to become far more creative and eye-appealing so they act more like marketing brochures than resumes.
Behaviour and competency-based interviewing theories will expand further. The perspective and significance of “past behaviours” will remain, but future-focused thinking will become much more important.
WHAT HAS BEEN CPC TOUGHEST CHALLENGE? HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME IT?
As the “new kid on the block”, it was initially a challenge to get our name out there when the organization formed in August 2004.
Our members have taken the ball, and they have run with it! As a result, CPC has dramatically surpassed its own growth expectations in just over 2 short years!
I am so grateful that the members have made exponential in-roads into the Canadian careers sector. Ultimately, clients better understand the need to connect with highly-qualified career professionals.
WHAT HAS IT TAKEN FOR CPC TO BE SO SUCCESSFUL?
Nobody can do it alone. CPC’s members have been instrumental in our success.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED AS CPC’S FOUNDER?
Our profession is truly giving in that members are focused on helping other members and Canadians in the labour market – far more than wanting to receive something in return. We are indeed a giving community.
WHAT HELPS YOU STAY FOCUSED? AND … DRIVEN?
Anyone who knows me (Sharon) knows that I am exceptionally focused and driven. However, this has not always been the case.
In my early career, I spent many years performing different jobs and trying to find my place. I learned that when you find what you love, it is easy to stay focused and driven.
I can truly say that with CPC and Graham Management Group, I have found that home.
As long as I can, I will continue to envision and innovate new ideas for our Canadian career community.