In this interview series, we caught up with Biron Clark from Career Sidekick who shares her expertise and insights about job search, career change,etc.in today’s marketplace.
Tell us a little bit about your company
CareerSidekick is a job search advice website read by 900,000 people per month.
How did you get started?
I found my first job as a Recruiter on craigslist, believe it or not. From there, I founded my job search blog, CareerSidekick, shortly after.
How did you get started in this path? Is this something you decided early on in your career?
This is not something I decided on early in my career. I studied Finance at the University of Massachusetts but couldn’t find a job in Finance. I felt like school hadn’t really prepared me to job hunt.
It’s ironic that a couple years later, I was working as a Recruiter and helping other people navigate their job hunt successfully.
What is the most exciting part of working in this industry?
The best part for me is the emails and comments I get from job seekers who I’ve helped. It makes my day (or week, honestly) when someone emails me telling me they just accepted a new job offer after using the advice I provided.
What is the best Career Advice you’ve ever received?
Sir Richard Branson has a great quote on the topic: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
How do to stay abreast of the industry as an expert?
I speak with colleagues frequently on the phone or via video chats, I read books and articles, I collaborate with other industry experts to co-author articles quite frequently.
I also frequently talk to my readers to ask what they’re struggling with, what’s working best, and what’s not working, so I can make sure the advice I offer is up-to-date and 100% current.
What are some of the things that you see job seekers struggle with the most?
I see job seekers struggle to understand what employers really look for when deciding who to interview and hire.
I also see job seekers putting too much importance on formal education and not realizing that the #1 thing employers want in most cases in direct, real-world experience.
(For example, I see job seekers finish their Bachelor’s degree, struggle to find a job, and think a Master’s degree is the solution, when it’s probably the slowest and most expensive solution they could pick – without even being guaranteed to work).
What are the common mistakes that you see them do?
I see job seekers relying too much on job boards, or trying to cut corners in their job search (not bothering to “tailor” their resume, for example).
I’d recommend applying to half as many jobs, but doing it twice as well.
Put in twice the effort, and you’ll get more interviews than someone who is applying quickly for as many jobs as possible.
How should job seekers approach job search today?
Networking and applying directly to companies that interest you is what’s working best right now (after researching employers and really thinking about what you want to do in your career).
Don’t spend too much time on job boards and job websites, and don’t get caught up in focusing on volume of job applications.
It’s about quality, not quantity. Sending out 100 applications is meaningless if it doesn’t get you any interviews. Focus on results, and figure out which actions are driving actual results in your job search. Then you’ll know what to do more of.
How should job seekers get the most out of LinkedIn?
Unemployment is at the lowest levels, why do you think that is?
Many people don’t realize but when someone gives up out of frustration and drops out of the job market, they’re no longer counted as part of the unemployment statistics.
That’s not the only reason – I think job growth is really occurring, which is great. But that’s one factor. Some people are becoming frustrated and giving up, which is a shame.
What is the biggest trend(s) you see that job seekers will face in the next 2-3 years?
I think fewer top companies will require a Bachelor’s degree.
I believe Google, Apple and other top tech firms recently decided they no longer require it, and I expect other forward-thinking companies to follow this trend over the next couple of years.
What is one advice you would give someone just out of college today?
Find an industry you’re excited about, and then look for a job with a great manager/boss.
Your direct supervisor is one of the most important factors in whether you’ll enjoy and succeed in a job, or hate it and leave.
A great boss can serve as a mentor and launch your career forward; a bad boss will frustrate you and maybe even hold you back from growing!
What is one advice you would give someone who is switching careers?
Look for ways to make your past experience seem as relevant as possible to employers you want to work for next.
Find the “overlaps” and highlight them on your resume and in the interview. That’s how to change careers without having to “start over” or take a big step backward.
What is the biggest trend(s) you see that hiring managers will face in the next 2-3 years?
I think finding the right person for a job is difficult for hiring managers, and that trend will continue.
I’ve spoken to hiring managers who review 20 resumes and can’t find one that’s tailored to the job and really shows the relevant skills that the hiring manager is looking for.
So as a job seeker, if you focus on sending a couple of really high-quality applications per day to jobs you’re really a great fit for, you should get better results than sending out a high volume of low-quality applications to all sorts of jobs.
Biron, what are your currently working on?
I’m working on releasing an in-depth job search course with 7+ hours of video.
I’m also working on turning my website, CareerSidekick, into far more than just a career advice blog. It should look a lot different one year from now.
What are the best resources you recommend to job seekers?
LinkedIn Learning is great. It’s an online platform offering 10,000+ courses for a single monthly subscription. I’m also a big fan of books because they’re such an affordable way to learn from experts.
Many books on Amazon are $5-10 and walk you step-by-step through learning a new skill (like writing your resume, networking to get more interviews, etc.).
I recently put together a list of the top job search books I recommend.
What is the best way for our audience to reach you?
I’m always open to connecting on LinkedIn.
Connect with Biron Clark on Social Media:
Biron Clark and Career Sidekick have also been featured in our recent compilation of the most resourceful career experts and career blogs – Top Career Advice Websites.