Breaking Barriers for Success
By Lisha Rajput and Visaal Ieeman
There is often an information gap that needs filling between underrepresented communities and the job market. Schools often fail to address and put into practice the importance of professionalism and the art of marketing oneself. Since many low-income middle school students have no real knowledge of professional etiquette they often fall short of their potential during interviews, resume presentation and networking. The notion that one’s capabilities and potential are defined by their socio-economic background and other demographics has perpetuated for too long because of the late exposure to professionalism. It is simply a domino effect. Students do not have the knowledge of professional etiquette, hence it is not presented to recruiters or interviewers and their potential becomes overlooked. The 2012 “Professionalism in the Workplace” study shows that 96% of employers believe that an applicant’s professionalism affects the likelihood of being hired and as a result, so many opportunities & experiences that can benefit, educate and encourage character development are robbed.
The Link Scholars is here to introduce students to the very ingredients that create professional etiquette, which include: resume building, public speaking, professional culture, and presentation. The earlier these students are familiarized with the etiquettes of professionalism the more comfortable they are to apply them in their career building exchanges. With this, we easily break the barriers that stand between a student’s potential and opportunities that cater to him or her. So many of these students subject themselves to chronic self-doubt that often overrides feelings of confidence and success, this is known as the imposter syndrome. In fact, 23% of interviewees lack the confidence and public speaking skills to put forth their intelligence and talents. In order to instill that confidence and natural professionalism, early intervention and exposure needs to start now. So to start, it is important to recognize how the aforementioned components of professionalism affect these students now.
One of the most crucial steps taken while on a job hunt is having an eye-catching resume. This step should never be undermined because first impressions matter and while applying for a job, a resume is the first impression a prospective employer will have of a candidate. A resume is a huge stepping stone to an interview that can land one a job. A presentable resume coupled with proper professional etiquette can carry the candidate to opportunities that go beyond an interview, which require the same professionalism. Proper etiquettes are inevitably applied to emails, phone calls, meetings, and even simple daily life exchanges. Each of these interactions is a form of networking. Networking is referred to the exchange of information or dialogue that develops professional and social contacts. These contacts can be solidified anywhere. For example, some high schools have Career Day, and chances are that if there is a student who carries themselves in a professional manner he or she will stick out more than the others. This can land this individual for an internship or maybe even a job which only benefits his or her career in the future, a future that depends on today. Professionalism is by no doubt a pillar for personal career success but beyond that, it can transform itself into a personality trait that awards an individual with personal growth. Professional etiquette has a uniform foundation to it but inevitably it becomes personalized and for that reason, it cannot be taught but is adopted. There is no linear progression to it but in order to have the most organic and natural fruition of professional etiquette early practice and intervention becomes crucial, so start today and prosper tomorrow.