Interview Series - Career Experts - Emily Liou - Cultivitae | CareerMetis.com

In this interview series, we caught up with Emily Liou from Cultivitae who shares her expertise and insights about job search, career change, etc. in today’s marketplace.


Tell us a little bit about your company

CultiVitae stands for cultivate your life. Our mission is to help corporate professionals of all ages, stages, and industries wake up happy again on Mondays.

We do this by offering holistic career coaching support. We focus on practical, fresh strategies but also help candidates and employees tackle the internal struggles (i.e. – fear of failure, rejection, change, unknown; lack of motivation or clarity; and imposter syndrome and self-doubt).

Because with both a resilient mindset and the best strategies from inside an HR/Recruiter’s perspective, you can make unbelievable career moves.


How did you get started?

After recruiting and being an HR professional inside Fortune 500 companies, Silicon Valley startups, and law firms, I wanted to coach the 99% of people getting rejected or passed up on promotions to become the top 1% of hires.

I had a deep desire to give honest feedback to people and teach them job search and career growth hacks we haven’t been equipped with.

Starting off as a job search consultant, I was approached by The Muse to ask if I would like to be a career coach. After coaching hundreds of people, I pursued my coaching certification as I started to recognize it’s not a shiny resume or cover letter that’s holding you back from getting what you want. It’s often your internal beliefs and programmed thoughts.

As I obsessed over what successful people did vs. unsuccessful people, I started a career blog which has been ranked as one of the best career blogs and my advice has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, and Inc. I’m very grateful to be able to share what I wish I knew when navigating my corporate career.


Is this something you decided early on in your career?

No, in fact, I didn’t even know what a career coach was 3 years ago! But life has a funny way of opening up new opportunities if you are curious enough to follow the open paths.

I actually wrote a resume one day for a client. That client was working with a career coach who didn’t write resumes and LinkedIn profiles. This coach loved the resume I wrote and said she wants to refer all of her clients who need a new resume to me. I was scratching my head and wondering, “If you’re a career coach and you don’t write resumes… what the heck do you do?”

I’m so grateful for that conversation because I learned about what a true coach does in terms of helping you overcome the obstacles that are preventing you from achieving your dreams.

I immediately enrolled into a coaching certification program that weekend and I am now able to help clients achieve the wildest things such as doubling their salaries, getting offers from jobs they have 0 experience or background in, become more confident in their value to achieve promotions, get speaking engagements, and more!


What is the Best Career Advice You’ve ever received?

“If you’re not making any mistakes, you’re not doing enough.” My former boss shared this with me when I made an error on a client’s case. I felt so anxious because I am a bit of a perfectionist. But my supportive manager and mentor shared a great point. Mistakes are inevitable if you are putting yourself out there and moving into action.

Of course if you’re playing small and doing the same thing within your comfort zone you won’t make any mistakes.

So now I embrace “mistakes” and “failures”. I try to fail at least 3 times a month. It means I’m growing and along the way I will reap big rewards and yeses just because I’m simply putting myself out there to try new things.


What is the most exciting part of working in this industry?

I am obsessed with business and careers. I truly believe companies are only as good as the talent they hire and retain.

Employment satisfaction is at an all-time low. Surveys show that more than 63% of people want to leave their current employer. I am always looking for ways to help my clients align themselves with the right company and position that allows them to thrive and enjoy the place they spend more than a third of their waking hours in.

Also, job search strategies are constantly evolving. I’m always testing new methods and strategies of helping my clients become visible and hired instead of frustrated and lost within the job search process.


How do to stay abreast of the industry as an expert?

I read. A lot. I’m always looking for new survey reports, analyzing articles, and assessing what leaders are publishing. I believe the more I know, the more helpful I can be to my clients.

I also dig into what my clients of all stages, ages, and industries are experiencing. This has helped me improve my craft as I know exactly what professionals are facing and have developed customized and targeted solutions to help people shift into transformational results quicker.


What are some of the things that you see job seekers struggle with the most?

There are so many challenges I see.

First, most job seekers don’t have clarity on what it is they want, and if they do, they don’t know how to effectively market and position themselves. The majority of job seekers will apply online, occasionally tap into their network and ask if they know of anything, and passively wait for responses. This is the old way of job searching.

With today’s advanced technology and competitive market of 300+ professionals who want that ONE job, candidates need to be proactive and savvy. They must learn how to market themselves, how to position themselves, how to break into the 85% hidden job market, and make sure that they are always visible to employers who are looking for their background and skills.


What are the common mistakes that you see them do?

So many job seekers make the mistake of starting their job search only when they need a job. They also don’t invest in themselves and their growth. They are willing to take out student loans for a master’s degree, yet they aren’t willing to invest in skills such as getting career clarity, personal branding, relationship building, interviewing, and negotiating.

They also start to settle for jobs as their job search goes on, instead of focusing on the value they have to offer.


How should job seekers approach job search today?

Job seekers must think of themselves as an entrepreneur.

Essentially, if you are a valuable service, what are you providing and how do you market that appropriately? Job seekers need to get into the minds of their future bosses to know what they should be highlighting on paper, online, and in person.

So many job seekers feel defeated and disappointed with the silence or rejections. But top candidates know how to communicate and articulate their value to open up interview doors for themselves. Job seekers need to stop writing resumes and cover letters. They need to build connections, relationships, and add value.


How can Job seekers get the most out of LinkedIn?

Jobseekers at a minimum should have an optimized LinkedIn profile to help them show up 40x more in search results. I always tell people LinkedIn is a search engine.

Just like on Yelp, if you’re typing in best Italian restaurant in your radius search, you’ll get over 300 results, but you’ll only click on the first page!

LinkedIn functions the same way. If I’m looking for your skills in my area, are you making sure you’re showing up as page 1 and conveying what you can do? LinkedIn rewards people with complete profiles and have strong messaging!

Also important is for job seekers to demonstrate their thought leadership. How can you showcase you’re really passionate about something vs. just saying you are. Job seekers can leverage this social media platform and get social by sharing value and connecting with others.


Unemployment is at the lowest levels, why do you think that is?

We are definitely in a thriving economy. As companies continue to boost revenue and sales, they are looking for top candidates who can keep up with the scalability. New positions are opening up to keep up with demand and to help companies be competitive.

Every growing company has a desire to find the best candidates to solve their skills gaps. Even as technology advances, there are many positions that will never be replaced by AI or automation. It’s important to build skills that cannot be outsourced or replaced.


What is the biggest trend(s) you see that job seekers will face in the next 2-3 years?

I believe job seekers will be facing even more advanced screening systems online. Resumes may not even be read as technology perfect picking out the best matches.

I believe job seekers must also get used to video interviewing as a pre-screening tool. Many companies are already implementing this and I can only see it growing more popular.

I also believe job seekers need to control their online portfolio and brand as social media recruiting grows.

Finally, I believe online portfolios will become the norm. If you’re up against another candidate who shows they’ve gone the extra mile, why would your dream company pick you over them?


What is one advice you would give someone just out of college today?

Hire a career coach.

Unfortunately, a lot of university’s career centers are just not cutting it. They aren’t helping students identify what their calling is and helping them map out the short-term and long-term possibilities that align with their values. They help them craft a resume, but really, that is not the needle mover in landing dream jobs.


What is one advice you would give someone who is switching careers?

Try it on before you commit to it. Something might look or sound nice but until you’re actually in it, you might not know if you love or hate it. It’s just like online shopping – sometimes those pair of jeans look perfect until they arrive at your front door and you realize you can’t breathe in them.

Get hands on experience before you decide to invest significant time, energy, and effort into making a career transition happen.


What is the biggest trend(s) you see that hiring managers will face in the next 2-3 years?

Hiring manager are always looking to hire the best of the best. I believe hiring managers will need to start making recruitment a part of their job description. They should always be attending events and networking to find people who would be a wonderful asset to their team.

Right now many hiring managers leave the recruitment up to the recruiting department, but as recruiters are sifting through hundreds of resumes of unqualified applicants, they are missing out on great talent because they simply don’t have the resources to go to specific niche events and organizations to recruit on behalf of every department.


What are the best resources you recommend to job seekers?

I’ve spent years perfecting my signature ecourse program, Happily Hired Formula, that guides jobseekers in the most comprehensive way to take out all of the guesswork in their job search.

It’s a proven, step-by-step system filled with the best templates, email scripts, and trainings to teach you effective job searching skills.

Other than that, I love reading Harvard Business Review articles as I find them to be backed with great stats and surveys to support their claims.


Emily, what are your currently working on?

I am currently supporting job seekers through my 1:1 coaching, group coaching, and Happily Hired Formula ecourse programs.

What’s next for me is to build out a program to help corporate professionals become more confident, assertive, set better boundaries, navigate office politics, and build up communication skills to ensure they can thrive in their careers and set themselves up for success.


What is the best way for our audience to reach you?

My website is CultiVitae and if anyone wants to schedule a free 45-minute dream job assessment call with me to see if I’m the right career coach for them, they can pick a time on my calendar!

On social media, I’m pretty much CultiVitae everywhere.



Connect with or Follow Emily Liou on Social Media:



Emily Liou and Cultivitae have also been featured in our recent compilation of the most resourceful career experts and career blogs –  Top Career Advice Websites.     

Written By
Nissar Ahamed is the Founder & CEO of CareerMetis.com. He is also the host of The Career Insider Podcast and the co-host of The C.A.R.E. Podcast

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