In this interview series, we caught up with Emily Kapit from Refresh Your Step who shares her expertise and insights about job search, career change, etc. in today’s marketplace.
Tell us a little bit about your company
ReFresh Your Step LLC, is a boutique career advisory firm with a team of highly certified resume writers and career strategists.
We work with clients from every level and sector, both throughout the US and all over the world.
How did you get started in this path?
My earlier work included working in the broadcast industry up in NBC/ABC in Manhattan following college. I transitioned to doing PR for a global investment bank and later moved into a recruiting role for the same bank.
I was so intrigued by the number of people who disliked their roles – at all levels of the firm and also within other organizations – that I decided to be part the solution for partnering with people on making a smart, strategic move towards fulfilling roles.
I went back to grad school to get a Masters in Educational Psychology (this forms the academic backbone of my own career advisory work) and then launched ReFresh Your Step in the fall of 2008. In the 10+ years since establishing the business, I have become a 3X Certified Master Resume Writer (the youngest globally when I achieved that!), grown the business to include a fabulous team of highly certified writers, and – most importantly – partnered with thousands of clients on their career success.
Is this something you decided early on in your career?
See above for the path but I was around my mid-20s when I recognized a major need to provide not just career advisory for unhappy professionals but to do so as part of a holistic perspective focused on multiple, intertwining aspects of one’s career.
My early career work in journalism, PR, and recruiting absolutely helped me to develop key skills and a foundation for the work I do now and growing a company have all gone hand-in-hand with my own professional growth.
What is the Best Career Advice You’ve ever received?
Do not expect to love your job every single day; aim for a more reasonable 80%.
I run my own company, have a lot of flexibility, and am fulfilled by my work but there are days when even I am exasperated with work – this is NORMAL and I share it to reiterate the point.
You will not love every single day of even the most amazing roles but if you are realistic about finding a job that you are happy to go to 80% of the time, you are doing great.
Is this advice about how to land a job or grow a career? Indirectly, yes.
Keeping this realistic number in mind will help keep you in a more rational mindset throughout the job search and as you advance in your career. Also, if you find the role that you love 100% of the time, please let me know what it is – I would assume it is chocolate or ice cream-flavor testing!
What is the most exciting part of working in this industry?
Hands down, pulling back the curtain on how one can approach their careers and growth from a different, more empowered place, partner with clients on making key changes (to their professional documents and job search strategies), and seeing the ultimate success of getting that dream job offer.
How do to stay abreast of the industry as an expert?
Constantly reading, talking, and absorbing the news, development, and impact from global affairs on various aspects of my industry and clients’ industries.
What are some of the things that you see job seekers struggle with the most?
What I hear almost daily from clients are their struggles with being able to see past their own challenging situations as well as identifying the value they consistently bring to the table.
We find it is essential to take a step back, change the view, and identify high-level goals as a first step.
Recognizing the importance of seeing their own accomplishments to-date is also vital!
In a connected way, it can be very difficult to see clearly through the muck of one’s own career path and goals to clearly identify next steps forward, how to present one’s self, how to deal with technology-driven job search (and how to work around tech!), as well as how to make it all a MUCH easier process.
Again, talking about this objectively, arming one’s self with support and answers, and having a team of players on one’s team to move forward makes a huge difference.
What are the common mistakes that you see them do?
I honestly hear clients constantly talking about how all they do is apply to roles but never hear back – of course they do not hear back!
Applicant Tracking Systems are the bane of a job seeker’s existence but knowing how to work around them is powerful.
Additionally, copying a so-so resume into LinkedIn and not really learning how to utilize this incredible platform – I cannot even express how major of a mistake this is!
Note: even if you have an incredibly strong resume, never copy and paste that content in to your LinkedIn profile. Not only is that ensuring the content is completely redundant but will work against LinkedIn’s algorithms.
Write for the algorithms and break through on LinkedIn!
Also, I commonly see clients spending hours crafting resumes and cover letters for similar roles.
Make it easy on yourself and craft versions of each that you can generally use 95% of the time and then tweak the last bit per role.
Not only will you will save yourself a TON of time but free yourself up to do more important things like make real connections in your targeted industry and learn how to leverage the various aspects of LinkedIn!
How should job seekers approach job search today?
I think it is absolutely key that job seekers look at their strategies from a shifted perspective. Rather than applying to 50 jobs per day, look at your job search less quantitative and more qualitative.
Said a different way, the goal is to move away from feeling like one needs to get out a certain number of applications per day and focus more on growing a network, building relationships with targeted people, having informational interviews, and generally being in front of people.
Additionally, ensuring that one’s professional documents are achievement-based is also key!
What is the biggest trend(s) you see that job seekers will face in the next 2-3 years?
In the short-term, I think it will be more AI-based first-round interviews; we have been seeing more and more of these happening now as a way for companies to cut through candidates faster without the hassles of scheduling in early-round interviews.
However, I also think that candidates are generally reporting disliking this trend and companies are paying attention so I expect this trend to eventually decline.
What is one advice you would give someone just out of college today?
Take your first job seriously – be on time, respect your team members/senior leaders, work your butt off, and remain humble.
College life is not the real world but the real world is often a lot more fun, so long as you remain professional and keep your priorities in check.
What is one advice you would give someone who is switching careers?
Network like it is your JOB (and it really should be as part of getting a new job in a different industry)!
Talk to people in that space – those whom you already know as well as identifying those who can make connections for you.
Ask for informational conversations to learn more about the industry, companies in it, the trends people see in that space, their experiences so far in the sector, etc. Learn from people, build relationships, and use that info to determine if you really do want to switch and if it makes sense for you.
Bonus piece of advice: If you do decide to make a switch, make sure your professional documents (resume/cover letter, LinkedIn, etc.) show transferable elements and a pattern of excellence as part of making the case for your move!
How should job seekers get the most out of LinkedIn?
Know how to leverage the entire LinkedIn platform!
Yes, you should have a strong profile that fits in with LinkedIn’s algorithms (side advice: get familiar with those!) but remember that LinkedIn extends beyond the profile itself.
Learn how to effectively network with people, best practices for researching and applying for jobs via LinkedIn, how to use the posting feature to your advantage, and more.
LinkedIn is a very powerful platform and it all starts with learning how to use and then embracing all aspects of it!
Unemployment is at the lowest levels, why do you think that is?
That is one big question that has a myriad of interplaying factors!
One of the biggest ones that I will speak to here is in terms of our (US) economy.
In this regard, think we are in a bit of a bubble that will likely burst but is providing lower levels of unemployment, based on a number of perspectives.
I also think that people are turning to consulting opportunities or finding a few different roles to pay the bills / fund their lifestyles so you have lower levels of reported unemployment but that does not mean people are employed in the traditional employer/employee sense.
What is the biggest trend(s) you see that hiring managers will face in the next 2-3 years?
Unless there is a massive economic downturn coming this way (which is a significant possibility), I foresee managers having to work harder to keep their team members happy and stop them from jumping ship.
I also think hiring managers are going to continue realizing that specific sub-groups are going to continue leaving en masse unless they are provided flexible work schedules (moms of young kid, I feel you there and I think this is a trend that will grow in your favor).
Emily, what are you currently working on?
We are working on packaging our process in a really awesome, accessible way to reach more clients and provide more support for those looking to evolve their career growth in targeted ways.
Email me for more info or keep checking our website.
What are the best resources you recommend to job seekers?
Keep your skills sharp and continue adding to them within the professional development sections of your resume and LinkedIn.
Why? Because it will continue to make you more marketable and diversify your skill set in ways that will further engage not just recruiters/hiring managers but also get you past ATSs.