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Ketan Anjaria is the a winner of the Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch room, hosted on Clubhouse. In the pitch room, entrepreneurs pitch their businesses and are evaluated on the strength of their pitches for the chance to win a feature on Entrepreneur.com.
Ketan Anjaria is all too familiar with the pain and stress that comes with unemployment. Six months before becoming the founder of career coaching company HireClub in 2011, Anjaria lost his job after working a startup. He didn’t want anyone else going through the stress of the job search alone, so he decided to create HireClub as a Facebook group to help others during a vulnerable time. But within a week of creating HireClub, he found that his group provided more than words of encouragement. Thanks to the group, someone was able to land a job.
Through invites of friends and friends of friends, the group grew gradually until 2017, when entrepreneurial show Meet The Drapers featured HireClub. From that point the business’s success skyrocketed, as Anjaria raised $50,000 in capital from the show’s viewers and the HireClub community. He reinvested the money to build the business further and in 2018, he launched HireClub as a subscription-based product that charged a monthly fee for career coaching sessions. To date, the company has over 30,000 community members and has helped raise salaries for clients by a collective $3.6 million.
Undoubtedly, times have changed since the group’s launch a decade ago. In an interview with Entrepreneur, Anjaria discusses how his company and its users are navigating a job market unlike any other.
You began coaching when you realized that there was a discrepancy between people and the skills needed to get a job. Do you think those skills in getting a job have changed over the years?
I think now more than ever, personal branding and writing are super important skills, especially since the pandemic, when most of our communication is through writing. Resumes are essentially a personal branding and writing project. You’re describing who you are, what your accomplishments are in a way that people will be able to share and understand it really clearly and really quickly.
I think also as companies get bigger, specialization becomes even more important. I often tell clients, ‘You should play up one particular skill set rather than trying to be a generalist because as companies grow, generalists aren’t who usually get hired.’
Obviously the big one is networking. 70% of jobs are still found through networking. Only 15% of jobs happen through job boards. People want to hire people who they trust. There’s a thing called weak connections — it’s not the friend you know, it’s often their friend’s friend that often is really useful in these kinds of situations.
Why do you think people were attracted to Facebook group? What do you think resonated with people?
Imagine a job post in 2021 and a job posts in 2000 — what’s changed? There was no social aspect to it. No way to communicate. There’s no way to vouch for your friends that’s listed publicly. So by doing that through Facebook, we really made jobs with a social element. Having that socialized aspect of job posts really drew people in to start. What they stay for is the community that gives feedback.
As you can imagine, finding a job, most people do it alone. With HireClub, you don’t have to do it alone. Sometimes a person will say, ‘I’m going to interview,’ then they’ll post a selfie of themselves. And literally 300 people will comment and say, ‘You got this!’, ‘Good luck,’ ‘I believe in you.’ Can you imagine that kind of energy going into the interview?
For so long, I think people were ashamed of the fact that they were unemployed or that they were going through the checkout process. But I think what makes people stay is that they have other people. Many members have gone on to join friendships and hang out with each other.
Are there any misconceptions about career coaching and what that means?
Everyone can benefit from peer coaching.
Just like personal training, therapy was something that not a lot people talked about 10 years ago. It’s pretty common now. And I think coaching is going to be very similar in the sense that in the future, everyone should have a coach.
You often have a coach in high school or career counselor in college, and then you go into work and then you have nobody for the next 40 years. Where do you go for support? It used to be that people work for companies for 10, 15 years, and you had a mentor at work or someone at work that could advocate for you. Now the average tenure of job is less than four years. So you don’t have the ability to get support when you need it.
I really think in the future, you’re going to have a coach from the time you graduate college to the time you retire, because careers are getting harder and harder, and you want to stand out to increase your salary.
How has the pandemic affected HireClub and the type of coaching that people have needed?
The thing we learned is how people feel at work and remote work, how that’s handled in terms of onboarding people, supporting people, continuously coaching people through remote work became really important. As we all saw, anxiety, depression, and stress skyrocketed during the pandemic.
So now not only do we have people looking for jobs or people working at jobs, but they’re doing with things like, ‘I have two kids at home now who are constantly home because they can’t go to school’ or potentially dealing with Covid in the family.
We had to think a lot about mindfulness. We have to talk a lot about gratitude, we have to think a lot about what exercises you can do to have different viewpoints on what’s happening. Sometimes there have been situations where we said, ‘Therapy might be something you need to look into,’ because coaching sometimes is not always the answer. I’m happy to do that because I want people to have full, complete work health and mental health.
I think the pandemic showed us that there’s still a lot of innovation to happen. There’s still a lot of ways to try new things. And that’s what we want to do at HireClub — discovering new ways of doing things.