A social enterprise I created for job-seeking Millennials in Latin America and the Philippines.
THE LANDSCAPE: "Top Talent" is a buzzword for great technology companies today, as recruiters and managers are looking away from the traditional resume and towards raw potential, intelligence, and creativity. “Under-appreciated Talent” is the newest iteration of the people management revolution, where companies look to catch budding talent early and mentor and groom the individual for internal success. The technology industry has helped even the playing field for the talent pool, as coding and programing education become more accessible worldwide, and traditional--and often exclusive-- degrees become less relevant for success. And these same multinational tech companies are providing competitive wages, comprehensive benefits, career mobility, and continued learning opportunities, making their positions some of the highest quality jobs in the market.
THE GAP: Gaps in social capital prevent many qualified young people from gaining access to these jobs in the booming economies of Latin America and the Philippines. The older economic models in these areas of the world have primarily catered to the elite-- those who went to the top universities, with prestigious last names, with a well connected family. Non-profits sought to close some of these holes by investing in education for marginalized populations, but few had the ability to support the initiatives with continued job placement programs. And while free resources on building job skills like how to ace an interview, create a compelling resume, network with companies online, and write a cover letter are abundant online, most are in English written for North Americans.
How might we bring a new group of Underappreciated Talent into the conversation, by showing them how to join?
How might we empower emerging-marking job seekers by opening doors for opportunity?
INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEWS: I sat down with young job seekers of diverse backgrounds in San José, Costa Rica and Tijuana, Mexico to understand their experiences of applying for work in multinational companies. I also surveyed a group of developers in Cebu, Philippines regarding their job searches. Through mentoring several acquaintances through the application, interview and placement phases, I was also able to intimately empathize with the processes they went through.
EXPERT INTERVIEWS: I interviewed global leaders in the educational non-profit space, local (Costa Rican and Filipino) recruiters for multinational corporations, tech managers, higher education teachers and professors (both North American expats who worked in Costa Rica and the Philippines, and natives), successful career coaches in the US, and Filipino social entrepreneurship mentors.
IN-CONTEXT IMMERSION: I sat in on job interviews between a multinational tech company and local candidates, candidates preparing resumes, and resume writing workshops in Costa Rica.
USER PERSONAS: Through my research, I was able to create generalized user personas for the budding Talent Ninjas, highlighting background, education experience, and future dreams, to help design a curriculum for specifics individuals and their specific needs.
JOURNEY MAPPING: We looked at the full chronological job application process, from finding the job, to submitting a resume, to the interviews. Then we highlighted the times and transitions with the best opportunities to address pain points to help move the candidates successfully through the entire job search process.
YouTube is the most accessible, relatable way to connect with the end user: In places like Costa Rica and the Philippines, internet usage on cellphones is the main connecting point for many young people who do not have personal computers or Internet at home. Cellphone data is commonly paid for in app bundles, and YouTube is an incredibly popular choice for Millennials. Popular YouTube starts in these countries use humor, quick takes, and informal language to connect with their audience for incredible reach and impact. So, I decided to create the scalable, broad-reaching educational portion of Talent Ninja as YouTube videos in a similar silly style.
Learning a new language: Many candidates had little exposure to business jargon, self-promotion language, or industry-relevant trends. Becoming a viable and attractive candidate means learning to navigate a new, political system of soft culture. This requires practice, awareness, and self-confidence.
Mentorship is critical: Candidates saw better results in their job search when they had a trustworthy advisor working alongside them during the process.
Through group workshops and presentations, YouTube content, and one-on-one coaching, Talent Ninja has helped secure over 30 job advancements and placements to our students. I and my small group of expert advisors are in the process of creating prototypes for the core curriculum and building a business model to scale Talent Ninja's impact and sustainability.