Talent consultant and Paragon One program manager Rashida Geddes shares three key pieces of advice that every young job hunter should take to heart, as they look to build impactful and fulfilling careers.
Rashida Geddes plays multiple roles, through her work as a Program Manager, Career Coach, Talent Recruiter & Keynote Speaker.
Years ago, she realized her job in banking wasn’t allowing her to have the impact she wanted in her career and life. Today, Geddes mentors students as they pursue remote work projects with companies like Facebook, HP Ventures and RallyCry, via Paragon One’s platform, and imparts learnings from her own career development journey.
She believes that externships in different industries, such as those offered by Paragon One, give students valuable insight into career paths they might not have been exposed to through their education. They’re also a great way for students to work on real projects for top employers and gain experiences that they can leverage during the recruitment process.
Geddes notes that many students haven’t been taught how to leverage the theoretical knowledge they learned during their education into the transferable skills they need to succeed in the corporate world.
It often comes as a big surprise to students that the tools that got them ahead in school like “putting their head down, doing good work and getting straight A’s” don't translate seamlessly into the workplace.
“It’s so important to help provide valuable insights and guidance to students navigating their first work experience,” she says. “As a mentor, I see it as an opportunity to share my own experiences and open students’ eyes to how they need to be communicating their skills to recruiters and hiring managers. I’ve distilled my advice into three key tips…”
An important thing to remember in the recruitment process is that people hire people. When you get the chance to have a conversation with someone from the industry you’re interested in, see it as an opportunity for you to share who you are beyond your resume. Your ability to make a genuine connection could be instrumental in them being able to advocate and recommend you for a job.
Given the number of candidates recruiters and hiring managers meet, if you’re not building relationships with people in the business you’re interested in, it’s easy to get lost because there is so much competition and your profile may never make it onto the right person’s radar.
Remember that building your network before you need it is key! That way, when a job comes up, people remember you. And every time you have a conversation with someone, connect with them on LinkedIn. Stay engaged with their work, post about yours, comment and engage. And always, always ask, “Is there someone in your network you think I should connect with?”
Candidates think the job application process is cut and dry - someone sees their resume, assesses it, and makes a final decision. But in many cases there are hundreds of candidates that apply for a job, so it is very easy for your resume to get lost in a large, general pool. It’s not a personal decision, it’s a question of numbers. Your resume needs to be tailored to the job you’re applying to and should include key words for that industry to ensure your resume is picked up in any applicant tracking system. You need to tailor your job search to roles that best match with your interests and experiences.
That’s why it is so important to clearly understand what career and industry interests you and the experiences you are looking to have in your first career opportunity.
Once you’ve started networking, use the knowledge you’re building from conversations with people at the companies you want to work for, to create and share your own career story. LinkedIn is a powerful tool, and with the right research you can use your profile to boost your visibility and ability to get hired!
I made the jump from banking to talent acquisition by taking calculated and strategic risks that got me outside my comfort zone, gave me more visibility and connected me with the right people in the spaces I was interested in. I was ultimately able to show how my transferable skills could add value to the recruitment team.
Someone, who has become a trusted mentor and friend, noticed the actions I was taking outside my role within the company and reached out saying ‘we have a position that your skills and passions would be a great fit for!’ The opportunity presented itself because I was willing to invest in myself before anyone else would and create a personal brand that extended beyond my role and title.
Your personal brand in today’s world is the single most important asset you have that you control. If you’re not creating the narrative of who you are in the marketplace, you leave room for others to create that narrative for you, based on your resume.
When you’re at the start of your career, or looking to move into a different area that your education doesn’t lend to, building your personal brand is key to showing an employer you have skills that make up for your lack of experience.
Be genuine when networking and interviewing - show the recruiter, manager and hiring team who you are as a person so they know you and can advocate for you.
Be authentic in sharing your experiences online. It’s a great way to get noticed and on the radar of people you might never have had the opportunity to connect with. Something I tell students all the time is that sharing their thought leadership and cultivating their own voices online can be the game changer that opens doors that were once closed.
“Simply applying to hundreds of jobs online isn’t going to get you the ‘yes’ you want," Geddes says.
“Years ago when I was just applying to jobs, I felt like I was failing miserably. I received more rejections than I could count and began to feel like they were a rejection of me personally. Today, I see a lot of young people making those same mistakes."
"They feel the system is against them - that their skills, background and experiences aren’t good enough. When you realize it isn’t personal it’s business, stop going down that rabbit hole and instead think about how you can apply to jobs more strategically, that’s when things start to shift and you set yourself on the road to achieving your own version of career success!”