Biron Clark is a job search advisor and former executive recruiter. His website, Career Sidekick, is read by more than one million people per month and has been mentioned in INC, Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC, Yahoo Finance, and more. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive jobs in less time.
What Is The Book (Or Books) You’ve Given Most As A Gift, And Why?
One of my favorite books that I’ve received as a gift (and now give as a gift ) is The Four Work Workweek. It opened my eyes to what’s possible in the world of entrepreneurship and freelancing, when I had previously only worked full-time, permanent positions and felt that was my only way forward. I’m now self-employed and doing what I love, and this book was a big influence on my decision-making to get here. Another fantastic book is The Power of Habit, which breaks down how habits form and behave in the brain, which helped me build better habits and “delete” the bad ones (the book explains that it’s actually better to replace a habit with something new and better, whereas simply trying to stop doing something without any replacement is quite hard). The book was very insightful and actionable at the same time.
What Purchase Of $100 Or Less Has Most Positively Impacted Your Life In The Last Six Months?
My favorite purchase this year has been a YouTube premium membership, so that I can watch more videos and never see ads. I use YouTube a lot for online learning. I’ve found it to be great for learning modern business topics like digital marketing, SEO, etc. And while watching an ad here or there might not seem like a big deal, I’ve really enjoyed the experience of not having any ads play while I learn! I also think books have been some of my best investments over the past year.
When You Feel Overwhelmed Or Unfocused, Or Have Lost Your Focus Temporarily, What Do You Do?
The first thing I do is shut my computer and go outside to think. I’ve found I do my best thinking while outdoors. Think I focus on the big picture first. What are my long term goals? What do I hope to have achieved at the end of this year, or two years from now? Then, it becomes a lot easier to audit all of the smaller tasks I’m doing and ask myself, “Is this task helping me move closer to my goals? If not, why am I doing it?” It’s easy to forget about the big picture when you’ve got a lot of short-term work on your plate, whether it’s been given to you by a boss or whether you’re self-employed. I think it’s crucial to take time to strategize in your career and think about the big picture, though. This is time that is separate from your day-to-day work and regular tasks, but can have a big impact on your long-term career success.
What Are Bad Recommendations You Hear In Your Profession Or Area Of Expertise?
I dislike advice that starts with “always” or “never”. As a career advisor and former recruiter, I’ve found that everyone’s situation is a bit different and the answer to many questions is, “it depends.” For example, sometimes it might not be worth sending a cover letter, yet plenty of career advisors tell you to always do it. A cover letter can be very beneficial and there are some situations where you should absolutely send one, but there’s also a trade-off between the benefit and the time required, and it’s not always needed. This is just one example of why I feel advice starting with “always” or “never” isn’t always accurate.
In The Last Five Years, What New Belief, Behavior, Or Habit Has Most Improved Your Life?
In the past five years, I’ve become better at focusing only on what I control and not complaining about the factors outside of my control. While that may seem like a small mindset shift, it’s had a big impact on my actions, my outlook on life, and my success. I’ve become very optimistic and started believing that my actions do matter, and if I persist, they will be rewarded. This doesn’t always happen quickly. For me, it took years. But I’ve found it to be true.
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
Investing in myself! I think the best investments I’ve made have been courses, books, and other information to help me produce better results. In the beginning stages of your career, I don’t think there’s any better investment you can make.
If You Could Have A Gigantic Billboard Anywhere With Anything On It — What Would It Say And Why?
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” – Henry Ford
How Has A Failure, Or Apparent Failure, Set You Up For Later Success?
I’ve been rejected for a number of jobs early in my career that I’m now thankful I didn’t get! Sometimes a rejection just means it wasn’t the right fit, or there’s something better out there for you! The key is to not let it stop you from continuing to push forward and try.
Take risks, don't be afraid to try new things, don't be afraid to be different than everyone else.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”?
Take risks, don’t be afraid to try new things, don’t be afraid to be different than everyone else. And failure is a part of success, not the opposite of success. The biggest career mistake I see is trying to avoid failures at all costs. You’ll get further (and earn more) if you challenge yourself and accept that sometimes this means you’ll fail or make a mistake.
What Careers Advice Would You Give To Your 21-Year Old Self?
Aim for what you really want and put 100% of your effort into that. Don’t settle.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I enjoy teaching, so I’d love to be a university professor.
Where do you see your industry in the next 5 years?
I think the staffing & recruiting industry will do more online interviewing (which we’re already seeing), and hopefully make the process smoother and easier for candidates.
Tell us about someone you admire and why you admire them?
I admire Elon Musk for chasing goals that other people have called unrealistic, and for not letting that put doubt into his mind.
What is currently wrong with the recruitment process today?
One thing that I absolutely hate is employers not giving feedback to candidates. If a candidate spent time going on an interview, they deserve a response. How else can a candidate improve and continue learning? It’s a shame that so many employers don’t take the time to do this, and it reflects poorly on those employer, in my opinion.
What is the most common mistake you see people make when applying for a job?
Rushing and focusing on quantity of applications rather than quality. It’s better to apply for a few jobs with a customized resume, and/or by finding a unique way to approach the employer, than to mass-apply for jobs with a generic resume online.
What is a 'hack' you have for careers or interviews that most people don't know about?
My best interview hack: Think of it as a two-way conversation to determine if it’s a good fit for both sides. That’s all it is; a business conversation for both sides to learn about each other and see if it’s a good match. So ask great questions. And decide what you’re looking for ahead of time and make it clear that you’re not just looking for the first job you can find. If you go in and have a genuine conversation like this, you’ll be a lot more impressive to employers.
What is a useful skill someone could learn in one minute?
How to ask open-ended questions to overcome obstacles in a conversation or negotiation (questions like, “What’s your concern?”)
Can you give us your most important formatting tips?
I like to keep resume formatting simple. I think it should look modern and up-to-date, but the reader’s focus should be on your content and experience! The resume design should simply draw their attention to the content. There’s a saying in sports that if the referee did a good job, nobody talks about the referee. I think resume design is the same. If your resume design is good, then nobody’s talking about your resume design; they’re focused on the words.
How does your resume advice change from a 20 year old to a 50 year old?
A 20 year old needs to look for each piece of relevant info they can possibly include, whereas a 50 year old needs to think critically about what to leave off and where to begin their career story to be relevant to the job they’re applying for now.
Are Resume's Dead?
Absolutely not! When you apply for the majority of positions in the majority of industries, the resume is still the main document an employer will require.
Top things to AVOID putting on a resume?
“References available upon request”. This is outdated and goes without saying. Don’t put your actual references, either. The most in-demand candidates wait until they know they’re interested in a position to provide references, and this is how you should carry yourself, too!