When it comes to the job market, things have changed. Whether it’s for the better or the worst, things aren’t the same as they were even a couple of years ago, which can serve as a pretty overwhelming factor for millennials. While most of us are getting more creative by the day as we try to stand out to potential employers in competitive industries, and even start our own businesses, sometimes it seems like even our most intense efforts are still not enough.
I got to speak with Julia Rock, a proud Black female millennial, who has mastered the balance of heading a department of a Fortune 500 company and rocking her own business, Rock Career Development. Thanks to Rock using her expertise in negotiating salaries and the reality of the job hunt as clients land their dream jobs, Rock Career Development is known as the Christian Louboutin of career and entrepreneur services. Rock certainly dropped more than a few nuggets for the seven questions I asked her. Check it out!
1. aspire.TV: What Inspired You To Start A Business To Help Others Get The Job They’ve Always Dreamed About?
Rock: It started out as a hobby! I learned how to write resumes and studied interview techniques while in college, and then I used that knowledge to start helping friends and family members for free, and I truly became passionate about it.Fast forward to early 2013, I coached one of my good friends to his first 6-figure paying job. When he got his offer, he called to thank me. He also urged me to start a business and stop giving away the game for free.
Around the same time, I had begun attending career fairs with my current employer, and I noticed the stark difference in the polish, professionalism, and presentation of minority candidates (candidates of color, black candidates, whatever you think is the most appropriate phrasing) and their non-minority counterparts. It was uncomfortable for me to watch, and I felt compelled to do something to level the playing field and help minority candidates be more competitive in the job market.
2. aspire.tv: What are the most common mistakes you see others make when looking for a job.
Rock: Just using job boards or Indeed to find job opportunities. You can find jobs on LinkedIn and on other social media platforms (I see people finding jobs on Twitter almost every day). You can also attend networking events.
Not targeting your job search. You have to approach your job search with purpose and have specific targets. What kind of positions are you most interested in? What industry do you want to work in? What company characteristics/values are important to you?
Using the same resume and cover letter for every job application. Required skills and expertise vary from job to job, and therefore your resume should be tailored to the particular type of job you’re applying for.
Not adequately preparing for interviews. You should have a solid understanding of the job, company, and industry before walking into the interview room. Not that you want to sound overly rehearsed, but your answers should appear to be thoughtful and measured.
Undershooting / Overshooting Job Applications. You don’t have to have EVERYTHING on the qualifications or requirements list for a job posting before you apply. I believe that if you have 50% or more of the stated requirements you should apply. But on the other hand, you shouldn’t apply for positions where your skills are in no way aligned with the job requirements.
Not following up after job interviews. If you want your interviewer to remember you and also give yourself a little bit of an edge over the competition, be sure to send a thank-you note. Incorporate a specific part of the interview to jog the interview’s memory and reconnect them to your conversation.
3. aspire.tv: What advice do you have for millennials on the job hunt?
Rock: LinkedIn! It is such a powerful tool. But your profile alone won’t do it. Be sure to start connecting with other professionals and recruiters in your field. Utilize other social media platforms to your advantage as well. Many users will share openings at their companies and ask for resumes to pass along. Join professional associations. These allow you to continue expanding your network, which should the primary goal of joining. But these associations can provide you access to positions/job roles not yet made available to the general public. Maintain professionalism for interviews. I know it’s 2019, but the rule of thumb is always opt to wear a suit/business attire unless you have gotten clear guidance to the contrary or the norms for that industry don’t require it. Plan the work, work the plan. Narrow your online search to focus just on the types of roles you want (no wide net strategy). Customize your resume and cover letter to ensure it effectively conveys the relevant expertise for the jobs you apply for. Tap your professional and personal network to see if you have any immediate connections that can help you in securing your dream job at the companies on your list. Set up informational interviews when possible to gain some additional insight into the companies and the job roles available. Don’t get discouraged – If you create a good plan, maintain consistency in your job search efforts, and continue building your network, the right opportunity WILL present itself.
4. aspire.tv: What are some of the most important steps in negotiating a salary whether for a new job or in a current role?
Rock: KNOW YOUR NUMBERS – Do your research and know the following numbers:
- The average market rate for your position and the associated range
- The exact number you want – Don’t round it to $75,000. Have a specific figure in mind, i.e. $75,650. This will indicate to the employer that you have done research and have evaluated your experience before providing a number.
- Your rock-bottom “I would still take this, but no less” number
New job: Allow the recruiter/hiring manager to introduce compensation (if not stated in the job posting).
Remember, whoever talks money first loses leverage. Also, avoid giving your current salary information, if possible.
Prepare a compelling argument and practice!
- Current Job: Be sure that you pull together your major accomplishments and the tangible value that you have added to the organization.
- New job: The salary requirement you give should be based on data and the results you can deliver.
Start with the average market rate for someone of your experience level. Then add to the number based on your unique expertise, and the proven results you have been able to consistently deliver.
Be flexible – If you really want to secure (or keep) the position, be open to non-salary perks.
5. aspire.tv: How would you describe the current state of the workforce?
Rock: II think there’s a disconnect between the needs of companies in the marketplace and the skills that are actually available. With technology reshaping how companies function and run their operations, job seekers have to keep up in order to remain marketable. Just having Microsoft Office as your technical expertise may have cut it 10-15 years ago, but in today’s digital age, many companies are looking for you to have additional software knowledge.
6. aspire.tv: What types of trends do you see for those branching out and creating their own businesses?
Rock: I’m actually seeing two different trends. On the one hand, you’ve got people who are dumping corporate America in favor of pursuing their passion and seeing their dreams come alive. They’ve identified specific problems in society and are starting businesses to implement solutions.
On the other hand, we have this “boss” culture that has seemingly taken over, and now many people are starting businesses because they’re almost being shamed into it. They’re just starting a business because a meme told them to or they watched a Diddy clip on Instagram. Entrepreneurship is not a fad. It’s wonderful, I love it. BUT it is not for everyone.
7. aspire.tv: You’ve shared life-changing information. Thank you so much! How can we connect with you for more?
Rock: You can find me everywhere @rockcareer! Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the handle’s the same! You can also visit my website www.rockcareer.com