(Special thanks to Ms. Borre for her time and insight)
Over the past ten years, the Chicago technology scene has grown and the need for qualified candidates has also expanded. During that time, there was a lack of diversity (including women) working in the tech scene. Although there has been great growth in the tech field (through conferences like Tech Inclusion and initiatives like App Camp for Girls), much of that growth is also driven by individuals willing to build professional and personal networks that allow them to leverage resources. One great Chicago-based example is Rona Borre of Instant Alliance.
As the founder and CEO of Instant Alliance, Rona Borre has earned the reputation of being "Chicago Tech Connector". Under her leadership, Instant Alliance has grown from being a small operation run out of her second bedroom condo into a trusted resource for talent by companies like Walgreen's, McDonald's, and Allstate. Known for her strong work ethic, Rona Barre has a passion for human capital and notes her willingness to know why people are successful that informs her work for Instant Alliance. (With its 97% return rate, Instant Alliance boasts an extremely client-centric approach to technology staffing based on Rona Borre's philosophy).
As Rona Borre explained to me in a recent conversation, much of her success as a recruiter is due to a passion for professional networking and getting to know individuals. One strength of the Chicago tech scene that Ms. Borre noted was that "(Chicago) people are willing to help", especially in the tech field. With recent trends encouraging women to pursue careers in data/analytics, digital marketing, and other related tech fields, Rona Borre found herself leveraging and meeting hiring trends through mobilizing her network. Approaching the technology market as a way to educate her on those trends was another key factor in the growth of Instant Alliance.
Another factor which Rona Borre cited was that building and leveraging professional and personal networks allowed her greater exposure to her colleagues and professional clients. Networking allowed Rona Borre to build her profile and attending targeted networking events allowed her to start building and cultivating professional relationships. (One of the things that Ms. Borre cited was the need to cultivate and nurture those relationships; networking is not a "quick fix" but requires consistent follow-up).
But what lessons can job seekers and potential candidates glean from a recruiter? When I asked as part of our conversation, Rona Borre had the following suggestions:
- Always Follow Up - This is not just important upon first meeting a potential employer, but also important in relationships. Making yourself available for work is one thing, but maintaining a consistent relationship is important (especially in working with recruiters)
- Networking is Strategic and Targeted - With a plethora of networking events in Chicago, it is often easy to overlook smaller, more targeted events in a given industry where it is more likely to find a potential hire. With many events making claims about total attendee numbers (e.g., "More than 250 people will attend"), navigating smaller events may be easier, less stressful, and more productive.
- Know Your Target Market - Candidates who move through the hiring process are often better prepared than other candidates; this means that they have done research on their target companies (including those that are interviewing them), have insight into a company's successes, and also have prepared thoroughly for their interview.
As a freelance digital marketing consultant and copywriter, I often find myself challenged to practice these principles in a consistent manner. But one of the great things about my recent conversation with Rona Borre is that not only do I find these even more relevant than ever...but now I find myself challenged to practice them consistently. I am grateful for the opportunity to talk with Rona Borre of Instant Alliance, and I am grateful for her time and insight.
What do you think? Please feel free to leave your comments below. Please join the conversation via this blog's Facebook page, and please contact me directly via e-mail if you wish to speak one-on-one.
And as always, thanks for reading!