How do you set yourself apart from your competition in the job market?
When you are job hunting, you want to be at the top of your game. From creating a current, top of the stack resume to projecting the perfect image as the ideal candidate, the process can be daunting.
Ryan and Kellie Shirley, brother and sister business partners, have taken much of the guess work out of job hunting. Out of a desire to help people prepare for their dream jobs, they created Pursuit & Tie as a side gig. They are not an employment agency. Their focus is on resume building, image optimization, network growth, and interview training. They want to make the search more productive, and perhaps even, fun! And expecting a little fun would be understandable if you knew that Ryan is also a stand-up comedian!
Recently, I had the pleasure of talking with this dynamic, creative duo.
Describe how it feels to work with your brother/sister.
(Kellie) Great! I have loved not only getting closer to my brother in a personal sense, but also, professionally. Plus, it never feels like work. We always meet up during the week to go over issues/future plans and it always turns into a fun time catching up on each other’s lives and work weeks. Besides, who is better to work with than your own family? Beats me.
(Ryan) Truly a pleasure! Enjoying each second and it is very rewarding to share the ups and downs of business with your own kin. Kellie has always had a knack for organization and watching the bottom line, so it cool to see those traits come to fruition.
Siblings have been known to disagree. How do you resolve inevitable differences of opinion?
We both want this business to be as successful as it can be, so we have been great at talking out any conflicts and resolving them in a timely manner. It’s more like challenging each other to grow.
Are you all in with Pursuit & Tie now or do you have other jobs or side gigs for the time being?
Ryan works at a technology consulting firm and Kellie is a fitness trainer in addition to running Pursuit & Tie. We both love what we do, so until P&T is our main focus, we both plan to stick with our other jobs as well. Never hurts to have more than one income stream! As Uber says, “Get your side hustle on.” In the ‘you’ economy of 2017, an extra source of cash is no longer a plus but a must.
You are both super creative. Does each of you have strengths that offset any weaknesses that the other may have? Definitely! Both of us have similar strengths in terms of our outgoing personalities and motivation to be successful. However, separately, Kellie carries more of the organizational/management skills where Ryan definitely has the greater mind for creativity and into on fresh, up-to-date ideas that keep us always thinking ahead.
Do you still recommend a suit and tie for men/skirt and heels for women during most interviews? Are jeans ever appropriate? Our Dad says, “Definitely dress to impress. You never know who you’re going to run into.” Appropriate dress is always the first (and sometimes the only) in-person impression you can make on the employer. Wouldn’t you only want to leave having given it your best? Besides, the generation interviewing you is typically the one where suit and tie was always the way to go, so they would never sense wearing one to be “inappropriate.” It’s as simple as communicating the importance of the event through what you wear. Dress for what means the most to you.
Knowing the two of you as I do, I can imagine that you have created a fun, dynamic culture. How do you communicate this to your clients? We have taken a more fun and charismatic approach to our product, and have tried to incorporate that aspect through our website, client meetings as well as weekly social media posts. We want to ensure that clients feel comfortable approaching us and know that we will make the job process not only fun for them but also rewarding without the feeling of being judged for where they are in life or what they’re striving for. Our culture is truly seeking to be, in a word, consultative. We want our clients to feel like they are being helped versus being sold to.
Without giving away your secret sauce, how do you get resumes to the top every time? Our process is not simply something we cooked up because it sounded good. The process (and each offering therein) is based on a combination of our own candidacy experiences, past jobs (Ryan’s as a recruiter, for example) and consistent research into the best practices around, resumes, networking and the like. In the over-saturation-of-information-age, finding the right stuff gets harder and harder. We eliminate the need for candidate guesswork.
Do you advise on salary negotiation? The ‘offer’ is just that; an offer. Companies expect some form of negotiation from a candidate. It shows they are familiar with the dance and communicates confidence any employer would seek. Is this rule true 100% of the time? Of course not – but as a whole, employers want to see if you’ll stick up for yourself and the offer letter is a great start.
How are you staying current on techniques and strategies as well as what it is working in various industries? In our spare time, we make sure to read plenty of online blogs, watch YouTube videos and reach out to colleges/companies to ensure that we stay as up-to-date with the industry as we can. We never stop learning! Ryan was fortunate to have some great coaching in his recruitment days that remains true today, yet isn’t found on any shelves.
Do you work with candidates of all ages or millennials only? All ages! We cater mostly to millennials only because of that being the generation we can relate to the most, but we are open to helping anyone of any age. It’s never too late to turn your career path around and have the end result you always wanted.
It seems that you are creating your own sub-niche within the employment industry. Is there anyone else in your space? Not any direct competition, no, which is truly where our value lies. People don’t feel comfortable being hounded by staffing companies or corporate recruiters and often feel pressured into being submitted for a role. Here, we have no dog in the fight. We are not compensated by placing you in any specific role, so our motives much be much more transparent.
What is your 5 year vision? 10 years? Are you creating to scale? We would definitely like to have contracts with multiple universities that would allow us to help with their Spring and Fall graduates, and even possibly, have a deal with Shark Tank to help expand our products and services across the country. Slowly but Shirley making progress! We want become a trusted advisor, and foresee P&T training becoming a requirement for applicants , much like a college degree. We are going to scale as need demands. Our costs remain nearly fixed as volume grows, so the immediate needs for scale would be additional coaches like ourselves. At that point, we will have Mark Cuban BEGGING to invest.
Great slide deck idea (see http://www.pursuitandtie.com). Are these being designed for use by your clients in other ways expect for their reference? Interview-facing situations, for instance? The deck will be in PDF format. They won’t be editable but can certainly be externally facing for all interviews. In fact, that’s the point! We wanted to leave our clients with a deliverable that shows our commitment to them in the future, not only when they purchase services, and we fell the slide deck is a good start to that initiative.
What is trending in the job application process?
- Having a thoroughly LinkedIn profile to properly highlight your experience
- Not only listing past employment on a resume with simple daily tasks but also how you provided value to each and every one (statistics, etc.)
- Not only applying through job portals but also following up and reaching out to certain contacts
- Ensuring your resume is eye-catching and is catered to the specific desired position etc
- Video submission with resumes continues to grow
- Keywords continue to develop as HR becomes more digital. There is a balance in using them, however, that people seem to misunderstand.
How is technology changing the interview process and what might we expect to see in the future? Truthfully, we see the video integrations posing a lot of authenticity questions. For example, numerous coding jobs require tests. Many applicants outsource these tests to other developers and even some do their for them via a remote server. While the ‘wow’ factor is certainly there for video, and we encourage it as a way to differentiate, face-to-face remains the ultimate test…and we like that.
What are your favorite interview questions today?
- Why should we hire you?
- What should you do more of or less of in your professional life?
- Tell me what made you valuable at X job?
- What do you care about?
- Tell us your biggest professional failure and the lessons retained?
What is your mission statement?
To build better professionals by empowering our clients to take charge of their career and to find the right fit
Tell me your biggest success story to date
Simply executing the company. People talk all day about “starting their own business,” “wanting to be their own boss,” but never actually act upon it and end up wasting 20+ years of their life doing something that they don’t want to do. We are happy and proud of how it is evolving, and excited to have found a way to make a secondary income out of this passion. Coming from a very entrepreneurial family, we have had immense support and guidance into getting P&T up and running. Although it has been a lot of additional time and stress (at times), we are simply proud of knowing that we did it. For two kids in their early 20s having accomplished that, we would say that that’s a success.
What general advice would you give to job candidates now regarding preparation, social media presence, etc? Never think for a second that an employer won’t creep on you or won’t make a hiring call based off of your interview skills, social media presence or resume. Never put something on social media that you wouldn’t be proud to show your mom. Be prepared, do your research, ask questions. Never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and ensure you’re an employer’s first thought.
What are the biggest mistakes that candidates seem to be making? It’s not that the candidate is making a mistake necessarily. They simply just don’t know. Some have simply never been given the proper guidance or etiquette on how to best market themselves to an employer or how to properly draft a resume…which is exactly why we are here to help! We want to make sure that the candidate not only receives the best services from us, but also the appropriate knowledge on how to continue their professional image, even after working with us has been completed. Candidates love to tell an employer what they did in a previous role. Example: “As a baker, I bake things.” THEY KNOW THAT. Instead, applicants need to show value versus simply function. Why were you the BEST baker?
Is it ok to say y’all in an interview? 🙂 When words like this are part of who you are, do you recommend swiping them from the interview? There is a line between being unprofessional and simply being yourself. We would never want to encourage a candidate to leave an interview having felt like they weren’t fully themselves, and if ‘y’all’ is a part of they the are, then so be it. Besides, in our opinion, if that was a deciding factor between an employer hiring or not hiring someone, then we would never want to encourage the candidate to work for them anyway. Plus, we encourage efficiency here at P&T, and nobody can deny that ‘y’all’ is faster than ‘ you all.’
Shirley, we would agree!
LPL is not affiliated with Pursuit & Tie