My Career Journey – Podcast with the MasterCard Foundation

I am so excited to share with you all the podcast interview I did with the Mastercard Foundation’s Baobab. Throughout this episode, I share my long-winded journey to working in tech with a non-tech academic background. Along the way, I discovered that I could not rely on opportunities being handed to me because I was ‘deserving’ but instead, I hd to aggressively pursue what I wanted.

In the words of the host, Halle: “Like many of us, Melissa checked all the right boxes and, in her own words, expected that the right opportunities would find her because she was deserving. That didn’t happen. Melissa has had to be bold and aggressive – and that energy radiates throughout this episode.”

You can listen on Spotify here:

Or you can listen to the episode (without needing to sign up) here:

#Fireside Dreaming with @tanagambura: Dr. Tinashe Mushakavanhu. Baobab Platform Podcasts

Imagine a warm summer evening. Two voices gather around fire, maybe share a meal or drink, and engage in a moment of dreaming. Listen to this ‘fireside chat’, a conversation between Baobab Community Engagement Associate Tanatsei Gambura and Dr. Tinashe Mushakavanhu. In it, they share, memories of home and childhood, offer a reading from “Imagination Library” and discuss the real meaning of building community and infrastructure. This is an invitation to be present and to allow ourselves to be surprised by the poetry of life surrounding us.*****Tinashe Mushakavanhu is a writer, editor and scholar from Zimbabwe working at the intersection of art, design and technology. He holds a PhD in English from the University of Kent. He has co-edited three books: Some Writers Can Give You Two Heartbeats (2019); Visa Stories: Experiences Between Law and Migration (2013) and State of the Nation: Contemporary Zimbabwean Poetry (2013). He is co-creator and lead researcher on readingzimbabwe.com a digital archive collecting, cataloguing, digitizing information on books about Zimbabwe from the 1950s to the present. He is also co-founder of a boutique creative agency, Black Chalk & Co, which brings together writers, artists, designers, academics, and technologists, engendering a new culture and new forms of publishing and creative production. Share your comments on Baobab!
  1. #Fireside Dreaming with @tanagambura: Dr. Tinashe Mushakavanhu.
  2. #TheHustle: Sandra Kimokoti – Senior Project Manager @Dalberg Advisors
  3. #TheHustle: Carryl Masibo – Advisory Associate @KPMG East Africa
  4. #TheHustle: Zaina Otieno – Investment Associate, East Africa @Camco Clean Energy
  5. #TheHustle: Maryanne Masibo – Senior Investment Banking Analyst @Goldman Sachs & Veronica Munyiva – Business Analyst @Morgan Stanley

I would love to hear your thoughts & reflections so please feel free to share them with me either in the comments or via direct messages on Instagram

3 Ways you are Turning Recruiters OFF

The recruitment process is a fragile one where one wrong move can cost you a gamechanging opportunity. Having relevant experience and a well-formatted resume is not enough to land a competitive job. I have personally witnessed strong candidates being sacked because they sent a rude email to HR or because they weren’t able to schedule an interview.

The job market is a battlefield and only the strong survive! In order to stand out you need to go above and beyond the average candidate.

To help you do that, I’ve listed 3 common pitfalls candidates often fall into when going through the recruitment process. Notably, these pitfalls don’t only apply when seeking a job, they apply when going through the process for any opportunity.

1. You’re messing up the details 

I had heard of the importance of paying attention to detail long before I started giving career advice but I didn’t really get it the way I get it now. I used to think that while it’s not ideal for someone to have a typo in their resume, it shouldn’t be a big deal. Right? 

Wrong. Oh so very wrong. Here’s how I came to really get it: 

Last year, I offered to mentor a few graduates who were having a hard time securing a job. I was excited at the prospect of working with someone to achieve a goal that was of such high importance to them. I was excited to give them hope and learn from them as I helped them. 

I keenly opened an email from one of my new mentees. I wanted to enjoy the email and be further invigorated. As I read the email, however, I couldn’t help but be put off by the bad grammar and typos.

That’s when it all made sense to me. 

When a recruiter sees your resume or receives an email from you, this is essentially them meeting you for the first time. Similarly to in-person interactions, virtual interactions also evoke first impressions. Now, if a recruiter is slapped in the face with bad grammar and typos, this will likely taint their first impression of you. It may make them perceive you as careless or worse, incompetent. It may even make them question whether you respect the opportunity. 

Not a great first impression. And as I learned from my experience, not so easy to look passed. 

While they may still move forward with your application, that tainted first impression may cause them to judge you more harshly when you make other mistakes throughout the process. It increases the likelihood of confirmation bias. If a recruiter has a suspicion that a candidate is careless then they later forget to include a requested document in an email, they will be more inclined to think “Hm! This person really is careless” as opposed to “Oh, probably a innocent mistake”. 

2. Your motives are questionable

Recruiters want to hire candidates who are particularly interested in and passionate about the specific job. A candidate who seems like they simply want any job and perhaps a big brand name is major turn off. That is to say that if your recruiter is unsure of whether your reasons for wanting the job are rooted in passion and an alignment of values, skills and vision then you’re in trouble. 

This turn off can be evident in your resume, cover letter and interviews. 

Resumes 

I’ve mentioned before that it is of utmost importance to customise your resume for each role you apply for and the reason is simple: relevance. Not all your experiences and skills are relevant to all jobs. If your resume gives the recruiter the impression that your passions, interests and skill don’t align with the job you are applying for, that could be a red flag. 

For example, when I was applying for a marketing & sales role, though I had limited direct experience, I reworked some of my job description bullet points to highlight my ability to communicate, craft stories and understand consumers needs. When I later was applying for an entrepreneurship program, I altered my resume such that it highlighted my self-starter nature and drive. Read more about how I create killer resumes here.

Cover Letters

Cover letters serve as a unique opportunity for candidates to share their stories. From what inspired you to apply to the company to what past experience you have and how it uniquely positions you for the role.

If your cover letter includes generic statements which could apply to a variety of companies and roles, its likely to leave the recruiter uninspired. Cover letters which lack displays of passion, proof of understanding of the job description, identification of transferable skills and show no understanding of the company are bound to turn recruiters off.

Interviews 

A common question that is asked when a company is interviewing an international candidate for a role is why they are interested in relocating to that country. For firms who originate from said country, a candidate’s answer is of even more importance. 

When I was interviewing for a role in Tokyo, I was asked why I was interested in Japan and my answer which detailed what intrigued me about the country and what I hoped to learn left the hiring manager smiling. I ended up getting an offer.

In contrast, one of my friends was rejected by an international company because they said his reasons for wanting to relocate to that specific country were questionable. 

Notably, different recruiters value different motives differently. However, in general, it’s important to have an authentic, purpose-driven reason for applying for an opportunity and then ensure that that comes across in your resume, cover letter and interviews. 

3. You’re not being proactive 

What some candidates fail to realise is that the interview begins from the first interaction between the recruiter and the candidate. Everything a candidate does thereafter can and usually is used to determine how they would perform on the job. Some of the key skills you can portray during the recruitment process are attention to detail (as explained in point 1), passion, personality, communication and lastly, proactivity. Proactivity is essentially the ability to take control of a situation rather than just respond to it. 

For example, you have an interview scheduled for 10am. It’s now 10:10am and you haven’t heard from the interviewer. A proactive approach would be to message the interviewer, let them know that you are ready to have the call or happy to reschedule if this is no longer an ideal time. 

What I usually do is let the interviewer know on the hour that I am ready for the call when they are. This shows my commitment to punctuality but also let’s them know that I am happy to wait until they are ready. 

Another simple example is if the recruiter said she would reach out on Monday and it is now Friday. Instead of silently wondering what is going on and making scenarios up in your head, simply send a polite email that gently follows up while recognising that the recruiter may be busy.

The key to effective proactivity is being polite and considerate of what the other party may be dealing with. 

These might seem like small things but the risk of not being proactive is coming across as uninterested or indifferent. Furthermore, given the fast-paced, busy nature of the workplace, proactivity is a highly valued skill and one that’s personally helped me stand out. 

There you have it- 3 simple pitfalls which could cause you to unknowingly turn a recruiter off. To maximise your chances of landing that dream job, make it a habit to avoid them.

Thanks for reading! 😀 Let me know if you have any further questions and use #moredetails if you’d like me to elaborate on something.