In this interview series, we caught up with Mark Babbitt from YouTern who shares her expertise and insights about job search, career change,etc.in today’s marketplace.
Tell us a little bit about your company
At YouTern, we help college students, recent graduates, and young professionals land their first or next gig in a culture where they will learn, grow, and become a valued contributor.
How did you get started in this path?
I jumped into the world of careers and workplace culture when it became obvious that job boards had taken all the “human” out of human resources.
The world of work, to put it simply, had come down to clicking an “Apply Now” button instead of mastering soft skills, mentoring others, and building mutually-beneficial relationships. I knew there was a better way to carve out a fulfilling career.
Is this something you decided early on in your career?
Not at all! My career path has taken me from the military, to an engineering position in Silicon Valley, to law enforcement, to the start-up world. Nothing in my career was “decided,” I was just lucky enough to follow the right path for me.
What is the Best Career Advice You’ve ever received?
I received the best career advice ever at a very young age. While working at a warehouse as a second income to my Air Force pay, my boss, Hank Bera, knew I was restless. I had chosen engineering as a military job, but wasn’t exactly feeling fulfilled in the work.
He said, “Stop worrying. In three years, you’ll find another career. And another three to five more years after that. And another after that. A career choice is not a life sentence… a career should be chosen to help you enjoy life.”
Sure enough, I’m on about my eighth different career.
What is the most exciting part of working in this industry?
The mentorship angle appeals most to me, and to my team.
By serving others, by helping them find their unique path, we know we’re using our experience for good.
How do to stay abreast of the industry as an expert?
It’s a cliche, but it comes down to continuous learning combined with a relentless desire to learn from the success of others. What is working today? What is not?
What are some of the things that you see job seekers struggle with the most?
Demonstrating social proof of their qualifications and soft skills.
Job seekers can’t just say they are “hard workers” and “proven leaders.” They must show proof, in the form of quantified storytelling and digital evidence, that they have mastered the skills employers covet most.
What are the common mistakes that you see them do?
Relying far too heavily on what amount to anonymous digital applications through job boards and company career sites.
The fact is that sending a resume blind, without having a champion for your candidacy already within the company ready to support your efforts, is a tremendous waste of valuable time and energy.
How should job seekers approach job search today?
The most successful job seekers in today’s marketplace focus first on building mutually-beneficial relationships. In other words, they focus on “people” not “companies.”
What is the biggest trend(s) you see that job seekers will face in the next 2-3 years?
Knowing enough about Artificial Intelligence, both existing and upcoming, to get past the digital gatekeepers and get noticed by a human being that recognizes their potential to contribute.
We simply must learn how to get past the filters companies are deliberately placing between themselves and job seekers in the name of “automation.”
What is one advice you would give someone just out of college today?
At YouTern, we tell our community members they must be ready to answer two questions:
What am I really, REALLY good at?
Who will pay me to do that?
On the surface, these questions seem very simple.
The fact is, however, that not many of us – regardless of age or level of work experience – can articulate what makes us marketable in the workplace and to whom.
Instead, we resort to spouting titles and citing our education: “I’m a digital media specialist with a degree from Southwest Louisiana State in marketing.” The trouble with this old-school elevator-pitch approach to attracting the right employer or customer?
No specifics. No impact statement. Little or no contagious enthusiasm.
Instead, be ready to emphatically answer the two questions above!
For example: “I leverage the power of digital and social media to bring brands, and the people behind those brands, to life. My niche is helping start-ups get the attention they deserve from angel investors, VCs, and the customers they need to impress during a single Google search.”
What is one advice you would give someone who is switching careers?
Be ready to sell your transferable skills!
What about your previous work history and experiences will make you an amazing contributor in the next stage of your career?
How can Job Seekers get the most out of LinkedIn?
For job seekers on LinkedIn, there is nothing more important than showing social proof of your achievements and ambitions.
So next time you win an award, post the acceptance pic on your profile.
Next time you’re walking around an industry conference, or meet a well-known influencer willing to stop for a mini-interview, post the video.
Nothing says “instant credibility” like actual proof of your been-there-done-that experiences!
Unemployment is at the lowest levels, why do you think that is?
Unemployment figures are designed to quantify the relative strength of our economy.
However, they don’t take into account those humans who are not yet living up to their potential; those perhaps underemployed or unfulfilled.
For that reason, we don’t focus on unemployment at a national or even local level, but in helping one person at a time find the right career for them.
What is the biggest trend(s) you see that hiring managers will face in the next 2-3 years?
Understanding how to place the right people in the workplace culture the company wants to be known for in three years versus the current company culture.
In other words, hiring for the “ideal” versus “current” workplace environment.
Mark, what are you currently working on?
We’re working on a new digital home for YouTern, and we couldn’t be more excited!
What are the best resources you recommend to job seekers?
Despite the many challenges they’ve faced over the past few years, I remain a huge fan of LinkedIn.
We tell our community members all the time: “If there is something you need to learn about building a great career, or someone you would like to meet, start and end on LinkedIn.”
What is the best way for our audience to reach you?