As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mir Garvy of Job Market Solutions.
In the career services world, Mir Garvy is a leading job search strategist, writer, and speaker. An authority on resume writing, LinkedIn design and development, and job search strategy, Mir delivers engaging, fun, insightful keynotes and corporate events. Mir is the owner and founder of Job Market Solutions, a resume writing firm providing resumes, LinkedIn makeovers, and career guidance to job seekers across the nation. The business is 10+ years strong and counting, has five-star reviews across many social media channels, produces award-winning resumes, and has helped clients land jobs with companies like Google, Tesla, Salesforce, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Disney, Airbnb, Adobe, Spotify, and more. She is a Master Resume Writer (MRW) and Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW). Job Market Solutions has been writing job-winning packages since 2009. Today, owner and founder Mir Garvy directs a team of expert resume writers who have each been personally trained and mentored in Mir’s specific style and methodology of resume writing. In early 2020, Garvy launched a new website, GetResumeHelp.com, specifically for young professionals and recent graduates.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I had been self-employed for six years as a freelance writer when the financial crisis of 2008 hit. Early that year, companies who’d been paying me to write marketing content hunkered down from a spending perspective. My pipeline of work dried up dramatically. It was at that point I said to myself, “You’re a content writer. What kind of content do people need right now?” Unemployment was up and I’d written a handful of resumes for friends and family in the past. Resume writing seemed like an idea worth exploring.
If I was going to start writing resumes, though, I needed to get really good at it. And I wanted to have a style of my own. I educated myself about my new industry, read everything I could find about resume writing, and studied up on job search and interview strategies. I spent a few months developing custom resume designs that were unique and eye-catching. I built a website. I reached out to my professional, personal, and grad school connections to let them know about my new business. And I wrote free resumes for friends so I could have some resume samples and testimonials on my new website.
When I started this business, I didn’t have a business plan to grow the company to a certain size by a certain date. I was writing resumes while running after two children under the age of six, working in the early mornings and around their nap times and playdates. The year my youngest went to kindergarten was the same year I went through a divorce. As a newly single mother with full custody of two boys, it was time for me to put my business to the test: if I gave it my all, could resume writing support my children and me? That was eight years ago and I’m happy to say, through my dedication to my clients’ success, hiring the right people at the right time, my own hard work, and the ultra-lean business model I adopted from the very beginning, my business is stronger than ever.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I like to say I’m always building my airplane as I’m flying it. In grad school and when I worked in the usability field, I learned about the concept of rapid application development; this model is something I apply personally and with my business. I don’t think in terms of avoiding mistakes. I think in terms of responding to a new business challenge with a prototype solution, testing that idea or method or tool, and then course correcting from there.
I read once that most entrepreneurs are hard-wired optimists. Otherwise, why would we think we had an idea that was novel, or a product that would help people, or a service that could make a difference? We don’t start a business thinking it will fail! We’re sure it’ll be successful.
Being optimistic is a wonderful trait but it can also mean you have blind spots. Optimists may think every employee will be honest, they can make every client happy, and every project will end well — but that’s not always the case. Over the years, I’ve learned to delegate and outsource judiciously, to check behind people (because even honest people sometimes make mistakes), and to have signed contracts with every person with whom I do business.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
Some of my favorite books include, The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, The One Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, and Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis.
The common theme (that I see) in these books is about being strategic, being intentional. Gerber talks about working on the business, not in the business. Keller and Papasan say, “What one thing can I do today — or this week, this month, this year — such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” Brown’s book challenges us to be intentional about developing resilience, being brave, and adopting a mindset of abundance. Johnson’s fable about the mice and the cheese is, among other things, a lesson about anticipating change and strategically pivoting before it’s too late. And Hollis, in her fun and feisty way, urges us, first, to set audacious goals and, next, to create a practical game-plan for achieving them.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
My purpose when I started my company was to support my children, pay my bills, and save for the future. It was that simple.
Now, after more than 10 years in business, I still need the work I do to support my family but the business’s purpose has evolved in its own right. It’s purpose now is three-fold: to write world-class career documents for our clients; to provide steady work and a supportive culture for my fully remote team of four; and to be continually improving upon what we do and the way we do it.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Yes, and it’s a mix of risk and resilience that I’m struggling to articulate. On my desk, I have two quotes. The first is from comedian Amy Poehler: “Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it.” And the second is from aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart: “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” Also, when I worked through the book, The Artist’s Way, this quote from author Julia Cameron resonated with me: “In order to do something well we must first be willing to do it badly.”
I suppose I find these quotes inspiring because when you own your own company, you have to be your own cheerleader. It’s important to believe in your ideas, in yourself, and in your ability to bounce back from setbacks, your own errors in judgment, and circumstances outside of your control. To remind myself that this doesn’t come naturally, I surround myself with the words of strong women, women who weren’t afraid to take risks, women who learned how to develop resilience.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
My older son is getting ready to start his senior year of high school, a time that should be both academically challenging and socially active. Just today, in fact, I took him to have his senior portrait taken and he joked about whether or not he’d have to wear a mask in his photo. On faith, he’s still applying for scholarships and studying for the SAT, but who knows how the college experience will change for kids his age. There’s a part of me that is grieving what he’s lost — much of which he may not yet even fully realize.
My youngest son is on the autism spectrum. Before COVID-19, he was attending public school in a self-contained special education classroom. For many individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), changes in routine can be very dysregulating. For my son, sheltering in place, staying home from school, and doing school work at home have all been especially hard — for all of us. We limped through the end of last school year with the help of a college senior majoring in early childhood education who worked with him for four hours a day.
This is a very strange time to be a parent and, as an organized person who likes to have a Plan A (and a Plan B!) in place, this type of uncertainty is challenging. I’m fortunate in that my job has always been fully remote/work-from-home. Now I just need to figure out how to fold the learning needs of my children into the mix because, at this point, it looks like the 2020–2021 school year is going to be half, if not fully, remote.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Right now, we are extremely busy writing resumes and LinkedIn makeovers, which is a good thing both in terms of business continuity and also in terms of our ability to support people whose jobs have been impacted by COVID-19. Because each member of our team has always worked remotely from their home, when the quarantine started, we already had the project management, communication, and collaboration tools in place to keep working without disruption.
Three of the four women on my team have school-aged children at home. The biggest challenge we face, as a business and as individuals, will center on how to juggle work, parenting, and schooling. When your child is very young or has special needs, you aren’t just checking in to make sure they’re doing the assignments the teacher has assigned, you’re actually teaching the material in a hands-on way. So far, that hasn’t been easy — at least, it hasn’t been easy for me.
What I know about the women on my team, myself included, is we are incredibly resourceful, hard-working, and dedicated. I have 100% confidence that we will figure it out.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
When it comes to helping support people who are struggling with anxiety right now, the sphere of influence I have is with job seekers. Every day, I’m on the phone with potential clients who sought out my firm because they want help with their resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and cover letters. Some of these people have been laid off, furloughed, or are unemployed as a result of the coronavirus. Others suspect they may be included in a future downsize and want to be prepared, just in case. We’ve also had many, many former clients coming back for a resume refresh for these same reasons.
During any job search, but especially now when everyone’s anxieties are heightened due to the coronavirus pandemic, we need to be practicing all the things we know we should be doing to help us reduce and manage our stress: get some light movement or exercise, build and rely on our support system of people who love us, get good sleep, eat well, and stay hydrated. Experts agree that looking for and starting a new job can be one of the top 10 most stressful life events. Self-care at this time is very important.
Beyond that, the three things I suggest specifically to help manage job search stress are: (1) expectation management, (2) adequate preparation, and (3) a positive mindset. As for managing your expectations, the job search is a marathon, not a sprint. An average job search can take five months or longer, and I think we can expect to see it taking even longer in light of COVID-19. With regard to preparation, working with a professional resume writer boosts your confidence and makes you a more informed, more prepared job seeker. Your preparation could also include researching companies, networking, practicing your answers to interview questions, preparing questions you want to ask during interviews, and using video conferencing software. Lastly, keep a positive mindset. The high highs and low lows of a job search can be grueling. It can be tempting to let negative self-talk or defeatist thinking creep in, but try to stay positive and focused on self-affirming truths about your strengths, skills, and abilities.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
I’m seeing that many people are using this time to pivot professionally — sometimes by necessity, but also sometimes by choice. In the last few months, we’ve seen an uptick in the resumes we write for people who are changing job function, industry, or both. Sometimes these changes require a step “backward” in terms of job title, or pay, or both, which can be difficult to swallow.
In my experience, those with the ability to redefine their work identity without undermining their self-identity are more successful in making these types of transitions. Of course, it helps if you have the economic stability to make a professional transition at your own pace; not everyone has the luxury of going without a paycheck while they explore potential next steps.
If there’s good news in any of this, it’s that employers will less harshly judge the gap on your resume during this time and will be more accepting of your career switch if you changed jobs in 2020 — even if that pivot was dramatic. If you were working in a pre-COVID job you disliked, if the pandemic has led you to reevaluate your life choices, or if you were in an industry that was particularly hard hit by the coronavirus, this may be a welcome turning point in your professional life. We have definitely seen resume clients in all three of these situations who have chosen to embrace this chapter as an opportunity to do something new and exciting.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
There will be many lasting changes — from the way our children learn and how we do our jobs to the way we socialize, relax, and worship. It’s actually quite overwhelming to consider what the future looks like; we just can’t know that yet. A strategy I use when I’m feeling overwhelmed is to focus on specific things I can do to improve my situation. As a resume and job search expert, I try to share this strategy with my clients as a way to encourage and empower them. I suggest (1) having an organized system to keep track of job applications and networking efforts, (2) working on developing new skills or taking courses or getting certifications, (3) researching companies and practicing for interviews, and (4) getting really comfortable with video conferencing technology, since interviews will be happening virtually for the foreseeable future.
The “Great Work-from-Home Experiment of 2020” has been widely discussed on social media and written about in publications like Forbes, Bloomberg, and Fast Company. I’m very interested in how working remotely will continue to evolve and how single and/or working parents of school-aged children will pull off this coming school year.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
Before COVID-19, I regularly gave half-day and full-day workshops to downsizing companies for their employees impacted by a layoff or reorganization. The workshop is very active and hands-on, involves breakout sessions to put learning into practice, and even includes dedicated one-on-one coaching time with me. I’ve now reformatted that program to be delivered by video conference in a way that does justice to the material and is just as informational and practical as the in-person version. Similarly, we offer bulk pricing on our resume service for companies who would like to provide outplacement support for their exiting employees and/or executives.
Companies who would like to resource their affected employees — either with my online workshop or with our resume service — can contact me for details.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I like the Chinese proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” The beauty of this quote is that its wisdom applies to every area of life. It’s true of our financial situation, it’s true of our relationships, of the thought patterns that hold us back, of our physical health and wellness, our personal development, and even our professional goals. It takes time for the metaphorical “trees” we plant to bear fruit. That’s why we can’t delay any longer starting that project, apologizing to that person, contributing to that 401(k), or lacing up those running shoes.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Follow us on social @jobmarketsolutions or connect with me on LinkedIn.
For information about my virtual workshops for employees affected by a layoff, go to MirGarvy.com.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!