Five ways to turn your expertise into career progression and success
Career · 12 May 2022, 11:48

Navigating the global tech marketplace can be difficult and overwhelming, especially in the data field, a new and growing domain in Africa. As an aspiring data professional, there are some simple ways to leverage your expertise. Read on to learn some approaches used by top professionals in the space, and see how Zindi could help you ignite your career rocket.

1. Networking

Spending time with like-minded people will set you up for success, and it doesn’t have to be a chore if you find the right community, club or event. We invest a lot of time, both academically and professionally to gain useful and marketable skills. These skills and experiences are an asset beyond the workplace through - sharing your knowledge both online (through blogs, forums, webinars or video tutorials) and at in-person events (conferences, workshops, and hackathons) will help you continue to learn, and open doors that you may not even realise were there.

Zindi has a widespread community of data enthusiasts like you all over Africa and around the world. This can be one of the ways your network and increase your skillset - try working through one of our competitions in a team, or sharing some skills and tips on the discussion boards.

2. Leveraging your professional experience

You need to find ways to show the value of the expertise you can bring to an organisation. Every new skill you master, whether theoretical or practical, adds value to your professional portfolio and your employability. This can be shown off to potential employers through participating and sharing your Zindi competition solutions and creating a Github repository to showcase your expertise.

In the real estate market, every renovation or added extension to the infrastructure increases the market value of the property thus it is more sellable.

Pro-tip: Companies find data talent on Zindi, so use your Zindi profile as a way to showcase your skills and experience. Check out the My Career tab when editing your profile, and make sure you upload your CV! You can also download a Certificate of Achievement that highlights your performance on Zindi competitions (find it under the Competitions tab of your profile).

3. Keeping a professional journal or ‘brag document’

Often we engage in projects and assume responsibilities without including them on our CV. The journal is a diary that keeps us accountable and keeps track of our progress. Documenting every milestone, no matter how small will help you become a better professional. Some people call this a ‘brag document’.

Record all notable achievements - you can do this through repositories on Github, Google Collab notebooks, and updating your profiles on professional networks like LinkedIn or Zindi. Adding your achievements can demonstrate valued attributes to your future employer and play a deciding role in the recruitment process.

Don’t wait to be job hunting before noting down your learning experiences, responsibilities, and achievements. You won’t get a chance to show an employer your capabilities if your CV and professional profiles do not reflect your experience, and you will have set yourself up to fail before you’ve even begun.

4. Strategic positioning

This can be achieved by nurturing the right relationships in the workplace, getting to know professionals who work in the same industry and intentionally building mutually beneficial relationships. This could be a message to check up on them from time to time, sending them a birthday wish or congratulations on a new role or sharing some information that would be beneficial to them. For example, Zindi has a career fair where different industry stakeholders meet and interact with eligible Zindians.

It is essential to maximise every opportunity that presents itself, but these relationships work best when you also consider the benefit of others. Use your knowledge to enable those around you to achieve their aspirations. This is priceless as you are developing yourself as an expert while helping others do the same.

As a Zindian, you can become an ambassador in your country and community, and create awareness and social involvement at the grassroots level. If you’re interested in this opportunity, please email zindi@zindi.africa with the subject line “Ambassador Query” and we’ll get back to you about how to apply.

5. Being the go-to person

Be a strategic absorber; this is a person who blends in, is always available and naturally develops relationships. The strategic absorber makes themselves available to assist their managers, colleagues, and anyone who needs an extra pair of hands - they become everyone’s strongest ally, and assume the role of the “go-to person”. Using this to their advantage, they package this experience into their CV, use their network and present themselves as an integral asset to any organisation.

Final thoughts

The workplace and the economy that affects market trends are constantly evolving. To remain relevant, you must forecast and move two steps ahead of it. The strategy you implement now to form allies and develop your professional profile will be the beginning of a diverse portfolio that can get you the job you want, over and over again.

About the author

Jennifer Oyelade is an International Talent Acquisition Director, employability specialist, author, speaker, and recruiter for Zindi. You can find her on Linkedin.