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A Business Built on a Foundation of Value and Trust

Season 1: Episode 26


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Sometimes as a business owner, you’re involved in a very pivotal moment in a consumer’s life. They come to you in a time of need and trust that you’re going to help them through to the other side. Tim Lo, co-founder of career counseling service Your Next Jump finds himself in that position daily. He knows that developing trust, right off the bat, is essential, and his entire business is built on that foundation—something this week’s Yelp reviewer, Heather C. knows well.

On the Yelp Blog: Learn from Tim’s experience how to build a reputation based on trust and provide excellent service throughout the customer journey.

HEATHER: It was very easy to establish that connection. I was actually very surprised about my ability to jump in directly with somebody who was basically the owner of the company. Even with small businesses, sometimes you really don’t get a lot of personal interaction with the people who are at the center of the business. I was able to very quickly book through the initial engagement a quick sensing session with Tim Lo the owner. And that was a really fantastic engagement. He prepped me a little bit ahead of time, got a copy of my resume, so he was familiar with my background and my expertise. In that first call, Tim laid out what the expectations are, what their process involves, and what services they provide.

When you’re looking for help with your resume, it’s probably because you’re at a crossroads in your life. And you’re at a place where you feel a little lost and you need some guidance. This was definitely a unique experience and one that was very helpful for me and feeling like I could get up the nerve to make this transition at all, to be honest with you.

EMILY: That’s Heather. She’s been a federal employee for the past 20 years and was recently looking to transition into the private sector. While trying to navigate the career switch, she got introduced to Your Next Jump, a career counselling and business consulting service based in Washington D.C. She had an introductory call with the owner and decided to sign on and work with the team after that first conversation. Let’s hear Heather’s review.

HEATHER: As a career civil servant considering a move to the private sector, I had no idea where to start. My resume and job-hunting skills have always been tailored to the federal hiring process, which is fairly divergent (or so I’ve learned with help from YNJ’s experts) from the norms in the commercial sector. I came across YNJ in a search for a firm that could help me make my “next jump.”  I had a 15 minute consult with Tim, the business owner, to kick off the process. In just 15 minute, Tim gave me confidence and hope that I could successfully make this very scary transition.

Tim then linked me up with his staff of resume writers, who took my federal resume and in a couple rounds of editing, turned it into a modern, polished, hard-hitting product tailor-made for cutting through today’s HR screening processes. The YNJ staff kept me involved every step of the way and guided me to gather the right info necessary to create a relevant product. I also appreciate the promptude with which the team operated and the fact that they politely request the same from their clients—when searching for a job, time is critical and these folks do not let the process languish. They keep the editing process moving crisply along so you can get your resume fast and start applying.

I’m glad I found Tim Lo and his team. I’m excited and hopeful for my future career and YNJ has been a big part of this move. The service they offer is a great value.

EMILY: Your Next Jump provides clients like Heather with ample support to land their next jump in their career journey. Let’s hear from Tim Lo, co-founder of YNJ, about how the business idea of offering career guidance came to be.

TIM: My business partner Tony and I both started this company back in 2015, but we actually were doing a lot of this work well before then. We started the company because we were helping friends and friends of friends at our church or different social groups that we were a part of. Honestly, we were pretty tired of just seeing a lot of our friends being passed up for positions that they were definitely qualified for.

His background is in financial services and my background is in management consulting, both here in the Washington D.C. area. We’ve done a lot of hiring ourselves, and Tony used to volunteer a lot with immigrant groups and just coming over and helping them with getting jobs, job placement, and how to market themselves. I worked with a lot of new grads—that was my thing. This is actually my third company, so I’ve been a bit of an entrepreneur. I have always enjoyed starting things. This is actually the longest running company that I’ve had and we’ve just had a lot of fun doing it.

EMILY: Finding a job can be an extremely stressful and challenging experience. For a lot of people, even including Tim. As someone who struggled with navigating the uncertainty of job searching, he understands the roller coaster of emotions his clients are going through and strives to equip them not only with strong resumes but also the confidence and motivation that they need to actively participate in the process.

No matter what industry you’re in, it’s important to be mindful where your customers are at when they engage with your business. Do they all share an experience? If so, uncover that shared experience and leverage it to create a deeper connection, like Tim does with his clients.

TIM: It was hard to be in that position. I had a lot of really good family friends and friends of my parents—every weekend we’d see them and they say, “Hey, Tim, how’s your job search going?” That’s one of the most frustrating questions you can ask somebody while they’re going through a job search, because how do you answer that unless you actually have a job offer? You have no idea how your job search is going. You have no idea if the things that you’re doing are the right things.

That was seared in my mind and just remembering what that feeling was, that anxiety and just not knowing a lot of things. I had really wished that somebody was there alongside me to help me through that process, but also to give me some confidence knowing, “Hey, I don’t know when this is going to end, but that this is going to end at some point, and you are going to be able to start a career. You are going to be able to find a job outside of being quote unquote unemployed or however you want to describe it. And here are some things that you can do to leverage the things that you have to really maximize your opportunities.” So I always go into the conversation knowing where people are, trying to put myself in their shoes, and understanding their mindset.

Obviously we sell beautiful resumes. We help them market themselves. We figure out ways to leverage how to stand out in a really crowded market. That’s what we want to help people figure out how to do and really give them the tools to do that. But ultimately in all of that, if we can summarize it, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to sell them a level of confidence.

You’re not just finding someone a job. You’re helping people in all aspects of their life. You’re helping their spouses. You’re helping their loved ones and their children. When they are employed, they feel a level of security. So it’s not just that one person, but it really helps that entire family or that community they’re a part of.

EMILY: Right after her first talk with Tim, Heather instantly felt hopeful. Because she knew the team could give her a solid game plan to move forward. Having and maintaining an open line of communication with every client is crucial to YNJ as they understand the urgency of their client’s job search process and the investment clients make when deciding to work with them. Let’s hear Tim talk about how he and the team engage clients from start to finish, making the experience as personalized as possible.

TIM: One thing that is really important for us—we have some phenomenal writers that can write really nice resumes, if we have the right information, if we ask the right questions, we get the right answers, and we can create a really nice marketing document for somebody as they apply for jobs.

However, if they don’t feel confident speaking to it, then it does them no good. This is why we invest 10, 15, or 20 minutes in the beginning to really explain to them why we do the things that we do. We’ll talk about resume strategy during the call. I’ll give them feedback on their resumes. I’ll talk a little bit about LinkedIn. I’ll definitely walk through our service and our process so they have clear expectations as we move on. We reiterate this throughout the whole process in all the emails and the texts, we have a lot of things that are automated, or we can say, “Hey, you can expect this when, and if you have any questions, you can always reach back out to us.”

We always have an open line of communication and that’s really important, because like I said, in one sense for a lot of folks, it’s a really delicate time. They’re very nervous. They’re trying to figure out, “Am I doing the right things?” They probably have tried a lot of things before they’ve reached out to us. They’re shelling out a good amount of money and for some of them, they might not even be employed. This is a significant investment. So being able to show value and guiding them through that process and almost holding their hand a little bit.

When we have 50, 60, or 100 clients a month, it’s hard to do it in a very personal level, but we try to make it as personal as possible. We want to really make sure that they understand why we do the things that we do. For example, one of the things that we do whenever someone initiates service with us, before they even get the first draft, we have a video that we send them. It’s about 10-12 minutes long. I always apologize that it’s my face, my voice, so they get to see me again and hear me again. We walk through some sample resumes and we show them visually what to expect. So when they usually get that first draft back, there’s going to be a lot of comments and a lot of questions. Sometimes we’ll schedule a call if they need that, but we want to make sure that they understand why we’re asking what we’re asking. That’s really important for us.

Resume writing really is more of an art than a science. That’s why it’s important for us to explain to our clients, “Look, it’s not just an archive of everything you’ve ever done. What a resume really is, it’s like a TV commercial. You got 30 seconds to sell that bottle of Coca-Cola. You got 30 seconds to market yourself and how do you capture the reader’s attention in that short amount of time.”

EMILY: Setting clear expectations and continuously communicating the steps in the process is what Tim and his team do to proactively keep their customers informed. What does your business do to communicate with clients about expectations for working with your brand or spending money with your business? Ensuring you’re clear and concise is important in spreading the word about what you do and connecting with customers.

EMILY: Let’s take a minute to talk about value. Pricing plays an important role in a customer’s perceived value, but as a few previous entrepreneurs on the show have mentioned, the value you provide to your customers doesn’t have to be solely the good or service they pay for. In the case of Your Next Jump, value is added before you even decide to sign the contract and after your paid for service is met!

HEATHER: I instantly knew I need a sherpa to get me over this mountain. And these are the people that I need to help me. And I didn’t even really bother to look anymore at that point. I felt like the value that they offered was what I thought was a reasonable rate. One of the principles that I live by is sometimes you need to spend money to save time.

When you’re up against pressure to find a job, I don’t feel like I had the time for trial and error. I felt like I needed to just pull the trigger, spend the money, and get somebody who could help me maximize my time. So the time that I would’ve spent fiddling around trying to apply for jobs by trial and error and trying to navigate the job searching process and private industry.

This helped me cut through a lot of that and start getting results. As a result I’ve applied for about 12 jobs and I’ve already had one interview and two callbacks. It feels like great progress. And the Your Next Jump folks made me feel like I could reach out at any point for more guidance. And I haven’t availed myself of that opportunity, but I always felt like, it wasn’t well, you’re done with us, you’re out. In fact, that was one of the things I wanted to add was you get more than just what you buy for the advertised service. So after I’d finished my resume I continued to get invites for free webinars. And it’s not like a mass webinar where you watch some recorded thing. It’s a limited amount of people that can sign up and it’s an interactive learning experience. And then they offer it afterwards so that you can watch it on your own time.

Those things were offered free as a customer of theirs. Even after the initial engagement was over, they continued to add value downstream. So that to me was another reason that I thought I’m really glad I stumbled across these guys.  They’ve been a huge help to me.

EMILY: Your Next Jump looks for opportunities to add value beyond contractual obligations, making their customers feel validated in their investment. As an expert in your industry, think about how you can pass that expertise along customers or future clients—outside of the transactional experience. And, to be clear, I’m not suggesting you give everything away for free, but think about how you can build trust by showing them your knowledge. And use that thinking to help make your business the obvious choice.

TIM: We offer webinars that are ongoing to previous clients and to even people that have just reached out to us, but never initiated service. I think right now it’s really timely because so many people are thinking about their careers. SHRM just put out an article, talking about a tsunami of transition, 50% of all workers are going to be making some type of transition either coming from being laid off, to coming on, or even just fully employed people that are looking for new work.

It’s a really great time to brush up on those things. We’d like to put that out there. For us, there’s no sales pitch on any of our webinars, there’s no secret sauce, but we do want to give out our best practices, and if they decide that it’s helpful in the end they want to come to us, we’re ready to help them.

EMILY: Tim and his team also extend their expertise to support veterans, as well as incarcerated individuals.

TIM: One of the things that I was involved with in one of my last businesses is, I worked with inmates in federal prison. So most people don’t know this, in every federal prison in the country there’s, I don’t know, a 100 or 112 of them. It varies depending on which ones they close and stuff. But, there’s a program called UNICOR, which is federal prison industries. And so there is a factory actually built that all of these different institutions all around the country and Eleanor Roosevelt was the person who started this program and it was to give job training to inmates.

And so when they come out of prison they have used their time in a way to develop skills that are marketable outside. So it’s very near and dear to my heart, and is the sort of second chance movement. A friend and I along with my business partner, we started a nonprofit called Your Next Story. So we’re milking the name, Your Next Jump, to Your Next Story. So if you go to your, we are a 501C nonprofit.

We have the skills to help people find employment. We wanted to apply this to a certain segment of the population. And again, it’s not just helping inmates or ex-incarcerated, but it’s really helping their families. It’s really helping their children and the recidivism rates for people who do not find employment when they come out is just extraordinarily high.

That’s a real problem, especially with over-incarceration in our country wherever you stand on the drug laws and things like that, there are just a lot of people in prison, and there’s probably a lot of people that shouldn’t be in prison. So you’re really at a disadvantage when you come out. And that story of redemption is really important to me. Just knowing that I’ve been redeemed and I’ve had second chances, and third chances, and however many chances. And so I think people deserve that. And so we started that organization to give people second chances and to give them hope, in a way.

EMILY: I’m continuously amazed at the philanthropy and community initiatives that entrepreneurs around the country are starting and supporting. Stepping beyond serving a customer and serving a community is so valuable. Let’s transition to talk about reviews. Here’s Heather sharing a bit of her thoughts on why reviews are important and what motivates her to share her experiences.

HEATHER:  I use reviews a lot to make informed decisions about the products and the services that I choose to procure. I am by nature a researcher. It’s important to me to know that I’m choosing a good or a service that’s going to provide the maximum amount of value for me. I don’t want to spend money on something where I’m not going to get my money’s worth. Because I use reviews heavily to help guide my search for a product or a service, I feel like I owe it to pay it forward to other control enthusiasts like myself to provide those reviews also.

For me, if I get good service or I receive a product that adds value to my life, I always try to leave a review and emphasize what added value to me to help other people make informed decisions. In this case with Your Next Jump, it was important to me to leave a review because of the value I feel like I got for the service.

Especially if I have a positive engagement with a newer business, it’s always important to me to try to leave those little breadcrumbs out there for other people who are searching, to help push those things up to the top of the list and give those organizations or companies a chance to compete with some other companies that maybe have more reviews or are more established. To help guide people to those things that are out there that are new. So that was part of my motivation. Honestly, I just felt like I got good value and good service. I really felt like I was treated with a lot of respect and dignity. That was important to me to be able to recognize the value of that interaction and the way then to recognize the way that I was treated, positively by this organization.

EMILY: As a business owner, Tim understands reviews can be a double edged sword. And most of all, the importance of feedback in building the company’s reputation. Especially within the service industry.

TIM: One of the things that was really important to us when we started the business is we wanted to make sure that our branding was growing in a positive direction.

Reviews are very important for us. And so reviews are our reputation to the world. To people who don’t know who we are, who are looking for services, seeing our reviews is for most people, it’s the point of decision, right? You know why would I choose this company over another company? And so for us going 110 or 150% above and beyond for our clients is really important. That’s something that’s really important for us to preserve. And that’s something that we continue to reiterate to all of our staff.

EMILY: What about when a client isn’t satisfied with the service? Tim admitted that sometimes, the client wouldn’t agree with the team’s approach and left feeling unhappy. But that’s why it’s important to reiterate the reasons behind the process.

TIM: There’s times where things feel unjust. There are times when we went out of our way and for whatever reason, the client still isn’t happy or they wanted it done a certain way. And we’re trying to tell them, “Hey, the reason why you reached out to us is it wasn’t working that way. We’re here to help you, but they may still insist. No, this is the way that I want it to be done. Just do it the way that I say.” We take great effort to also explain, right? Because it does them no good if we can just do exactly what they say, even though we know it’s wrong and then they walk away again and they’re just going to be unhappy. So that’s why the education part of it, it’s really important.

Again, part of the branding, we want our clients to walk away, not just happy, but they have to feel like they’ve been equipped to do the things that they’ve hired us to do. They’ve hired us to give them confidence, the tools to market themselves well, and a clear strategy going forward as they’re looking for their job, especially in this really kind of anxious period.

EMILY: When asked about what he thinks has made YNJ successful, Tim circled back to the team’s dedication to using their expertise to deliver a personalized experience. At the end of the day, the team hopes to be able to help equip its clients with the right tools and mindset to take their next career jump.

TIM: There’s no secret sauce to what we do. You can probably Google and look at a lot of best practices, but we put it together and we personalize it for that person. There’s just a lot of information out there, almost too much information, but what are the things that we know that work? What are the things that you can immediately leverage? And that’s what we want to focus on.

Everyone can learn how to drive from their parents but why do you hire a driving school? Sometimes it’s just different hearing it from somebody else. So we have an objective view of it. We’re not their parents, we’re not their spouse. Everybody has an opinion. Our opinion is based on having worked with so many different clients. Our background and our interest is to help these people achieve, essentially we want to help them achieve career happiness, whether it’s moving from one job to another, finding a job, or coming out of school and finding employment. That’s what we really want to focus on.

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