When it comes to job hunting, too often people take a job they wouldn’t necessarily have accepted if they had more insight into what they wanted to do, says Rich Milgram, CEO of Beyond.com, a website that matches job openings with the most ideal candidates.
But rather than just looking for a job, he says, people should focus on career management. Companies shouldn’t hire just to fill seats and individuals shouldn’t take jobs just to make money. Both should go into their search with enough knowledge about their positions and goals that they can make the right decisions at the right times.
“Career management is certainly an important aspect of being happy,” Milgram adds. “A lot of your day is spent on your career and for many people our careers help define who we are, so if someone asked you if you want to be happy, wouldn’t you say yes?”
We recently checked in with Milgrim to learn what sets Beyond.com apart from other job boards and how the site can help individuals manage their careers. Here’s what he had to say:
What can you tell us about you and your background?
I’m Rich Milgram, founder and CEO of Beyond.com. Growing up with a technical background and fascination with computers, I went to school for engineering. After graduating I went to GE Aero Space as a Systems Engineer. There I learned more about business than I did about engineering, which I was happy about, but I wanted to get more involved in small business solutions and not as much with the large government contracts.
I ended up starting my own consulting company and building my own technology software; I worked for Comcast and a number of other clients. I was trying to grow my technology consulting business and I wanted to do it through the Internet and I thought the best way to do that was through matchmaking — between people that needed consulting assignments and the companies that needed to hire.
So I started this concept, which only really existed at Monster.com at the time. With my love and passion for the Internet and my growing interest in HR, that really became the combination that worked best for me. Since 1998 that’s what I’ve been doing– trying to have this great matchmaking of people looking to grow in their career and companies that need to hire great people.
Tell us a little bit more about Beyond.com. Who should be visiting your site?
Beyond.com is a landing spot for anyone who’s trying to grow their career. Anyone who needs help navigating the professional world can find the help they need on Beyond.com. We’re always striving to bring qualified job seekers and employers together to ensure the continued success of organizations and individuals.
What sets Beyond.com apart from the competition?
I think a large part of what sets Beyond.com apart is our people and our philosophy. It is challenging to run a successful business for 15 years. There are so many companies that have come and gone and I think Beyond.com has stuck around because we’ve been able to help people focus on growing their careers instead of just finding a job.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced running an online career network?
My job is full of challenges. There’s always something new and interesting that will pop up, but it’s important to know when to focus on the fad and when to stay the course and focus on what is going to be important in the long run for our members. Realistically, having that long-term philosophy of helping people is always a factor when deciding if we want to do things in the short-term that may delay our long-term growth strategy, or should we remain consistent and push forward?
What are some of your success stories?
There are internal and external success stories. Internally, our 125 employees are success stories and I think that they would have a lot of nice things to say about working at Beyond.com. Our philosophy has always been, “If we can’t run a successful business from an HR perspective then how can we educate others to do the same?” It is certainly a focus of mine to assure that we can do that.
The company started with no members and now it has more than 40 million. Each year there are thousands of people who have been helped in their careers because they’ve used Beyond.com to find a job or negotiate their salary. The fact that we’ve been helping so many people and growing rapidly over the past several years is certainly a success story.
What do you think are some common mistakes your competition makes when it comes to helping job recruiters link up with the best candidates? How does Beyond.com do this differently?
I think there are so many more factors that should be considered when individuals are matched to jobs and vice versa. Having the right skillset is important, but other factors for the applicants should be taken into account, like commute time and whether or not the individual’s career path is aligned with the goals of the organization. These things are really important and haven’t been factored into the matchmaking of recruiting yet. That’s really why we talk about career management and not job hunting; and the more we can do that, the better off we’ll be.
Beyond.com does that differently and we constantly ask ourselves how we can start educating each side because finding a job or a candidate is more than just matching an individual to a job based on skill set.
What advice can you give job recruiters when it comes to posting on Beyond.com? What are some best practices for job listings?
You want to cast a wide net and be able to have the opportunity to assess a wide variety of candidates. I know a lot of people talk about how they want to find that one perfect candidate that matches exactly, but a lot of times that’s not the case. Often that mentality reduces the likelihood of finding that perfect candidate.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a job description that was so specific because that’s what the management team gave the recruiter and it made it impossible to fill the job. There were certainly quality people out there that the company would have been happy with but those quality people didn’t apply because the demands were absurdly specific. Especially in this day and age when people want to read quickly and assess if the job is for them — if there’s a job with a description that’s too long, has too many requirements and nuances people aren’t going to evaluate the job and say, “Yes, I match.”
What predictions can you make about the future of online career sites like yours? What innovations do you expect in the coming years?
There’s been a lot of talk about will it be social media? Or job boards? Or social recruiting? What is the next big thing? I think it’s really a combination of all of it.
What do you do to promote and market Beyond.com?
We implement that concept of casting a wide net with our marketing tactics. We are looking for tech savvy individuals who are online and engaging with content about their careers, so we do a lot of search engine marketing, search engine optimization, referrals/word of mouth and social networking rather than a lot of traditional media.