Tomi Ibirogba is a seasoned HR specialist who puts the “ human” in human resources. She has always had a passion for helping people and companies alike. She founded @mycareercounch to empower black immigrants and professionals in diaspora with the skills they need to land a job and advance their careers abroad. Her digital platform has helped millennials around the world secure their dream job. She earned a law degree from the University of Southampton and a Masters degree in International Employment Relations and Human Resources Management from The London School of Economics.
My Career Couch has been helping millennials around the world find jobs during the pandemic! What inspired you to start it?
YES! My Career Couch has helped lots of early career professionals land career defining roles and many more interviews in leading multinationals such as Goldman Sachs, Deliveroo, Universal Music Group, Cross Boundary, JP Morgan, Vodafone, Shell, BP and many more.
I started this platform because I experienced first-hand the struggles of professionals abroad trying to break into the job market of a new country. Raised in Lagos, Nigeria, I moved to the UK permanently in 2018 and struggled to secure any job opportunities for over 5/6 months. I would say this was due to the subtle cultural differences, lack of a solid network and lack of confidence being in a new country. After teaching myself how to network, build a personal brand, stand out in job applications and adapt to my new environment, I felt compelled that with the number of black immigrants coming into the UK annually (especially Africans like me), there should be a safe, non judgemental space where they could learn about the job market, build confidence, and learn to stand out in job applications. I’m being the person I didn’t have when I first moved here.
What advice do you have for young adults who are trying to navigate their careers or embark on a career switch? ( especially in a pandemic)
On navigating your career, my first and most important tip is to always be crystal clear on what you want. I have a lot of people contact me to help with job searching, my first question always is well what do you want? Do you know the tasks you want to be involved in? responsibilities you want to be saddled with? Projects? Impact? Company Culture?…only when you define what you’re looking for at any stage can you then find these opportunities, align what you have with what is needed and find advocates to support you. This does not necessarily mean you have to have it all figured out in the early stages -No! Clarity means, even if you’re unsure, decide on a few possible outcomes and see them through.On making a career change, I actually have a great video about this on my instagram page. But one of my biggest tips here is prioritise connecting with people. Build rapport by putting your own inner circle on notice of what you’re looking for, and then get to know passionate peopleworking in your new field of interest. The advantage of connecting with people is that you get to market your whole self – your knowledge, skills, abilities, personality – the real you that will not always come across on a CV, especially if you lack the experience. In the end, people hire people they know, like and trust.
What’s the first thing you look for when you’re sourcing for young talent?
Proactivity. I understand that young talent is often caught in the Catch 22 of “I need experience to get a job but I also need a job to get experience,” however what steps have you taken to proactively gain this experience beyond just applying? I share some real examples here of how young talent can proactively show a genuine interest and desire for a particular role. People are getting extremely creative these days and using social media to develop a brand and portfolio. Employers will always value these sorts of self investments.
What advice do you have for young women who want to pursue a career in Human resources?
For anyone trying to pursue a career in HR, I would say you need to understand what the role, industry and even your target company really requires. You need to be able to answer certain questions like:
– What are the daily tasks, responsibilities & projects that occur in this role? HR is very broad, you can be a generalist or a specialist. What area of HR are you really interested in?
– Do I really understand what problem HR is there to solve? The actual role of an HR professional in the company & how they strategically contribute to the bottom line?
– If you’re coming from a different field or background, what unique experiences are you bringing with you and how are they relevant in HR?
– Is there a skills or experience gap that you need to consider? For example the CIPD qualification or employment law experience may be vital.
– Do you have or know of a network of HR professionals that I can join? This way you can have access to first-hand information about events, job vacancies, courses etc. Referrals take you much further than any application ever could. Facts
These are some of the basic questions I encourage people to think around when they tell me they’re interested in a career in HR.