On Episode 3: Navigating a Competitive Job Market, Mary spoke with Jana Rich on what it takes to effectively launch a job search, especially during difficult economic and social times. In the story below, Jana shares with us what led her to found Rich Talent Group, a boutique executive search firm that diversifies and builds transformative teams that help change the world.
How did you get started in your career?
There were two key junctures that led me into recruiting. I started my career in Public Relations, and thought I was on a path to be a Chief Marketing Officer one day. But then a fellow Vassar alum, whom I met through volunteering, took a leap by hiring me at Coopers and Lybrand. That’s where I got a taste of my first entrepreneurial experience. Even though it was within a large organization, I was tasked with building something entirely from scratch—recruiting 400 MBA students to launch Coopers’ management consulting practice.
The second key moment was during business school. I was doing a summer internship at a management consulting firm, which offered me a position after graduation. It was a great opportunity, but I explained that my passions were elsewhere. I wanted to be part of the consumer internet world, and though I had no idea I wanted to be a recruiter, they introduced me to Korn Ferry, where I spent the next six years of my career in recruiting.
In a moment like this, you might feel like you’re going to offend someone by turning down an offer or expressing other interests, but when you’re honest and sincere about what you want, you may be surprised to find that people are often willing to help you get there.
To what do you credit your success from your background, work, or life experiences?
A recipe for success is focusing on areas where you have a lot of intellectual curiosity and personal passion. I’ve always been very curious about entrepreneurs building businesses in technology, and my passion is around diversity and inclusion. My career sits at that intersection. Do things that engage your mind and your heart, and your odds of success will be high.
What are you so glad you did or took advantage of that served you well?
I’m glad that I took the risk to be out early in my career. I was out when I applied to business school, which felt a little risky back then. But it was important to me to be honest about who I was, and it ended up making all the difference in how it enabled me to be an advocate for diverse communities. In fact, it really defined my career. It showed me the value of not hiding the things that make you feel like a minority and highlighting those differences instead.
What have been some career highlights and why?
The best part of my career has been having the opportunity to follow my passion of being an entrepreneur and to focus on building diverse and inclusive teams. I launched my executive recruiting firm, Rich Talent Group, six years ago. And after planning and plotting for so long, it has been an absolute highlight to work with a team and set of companies that share an important mission and passion.