Jenny Foss first decided she had to become an entrepreneur after witnessing a board room fight over, no joke, coupons at a former employer. Made worse? The skirmish was on 9-11. She got the official kick-in-the-pants to take the leap a few years ago, when she became a single mother and needed more greenbacks and flexibility than Corporate America was providing. She had about enough cash saved to survive six months, at best. So far, she’s made it five years.
Today, Jenny runs a nationally recognized independent recruiting agency, Ladder Recruiting Group, LLC and recently launched JobJenny.com, a site that provides job seekers, entrepreneurs and dreamers the career tips, resume and cover letter guidance and plain old tough love they need and deserve. Jenny believes in the premise that the last thing frazzled job seekers want is preachy, dry, boring advice.
So she presents the scoop on JobJenny.com in a more lighthearted, you-really-can-do-this, get your buns moving kind of way that, thus far, seems to be appreciated.
What are you working on right now?
Aye, yay. Very thankfully, a lot. OK, let’s see. Just launched the Ridiculously Awesome Resume service on JobJenny.com, which is exploding. I guess you could say that people seem to like getting a Ridiculously Awesome Resume for a Ridiculously Awesome price.
Next up, I’m crafting my first e-book, which aims to help the freaked out, overwhelmed job seeker get their heads screwed on straight, create a job search strategy that will actually WORK in today’s crappy economy and then execute that strategy successfully.
I’m shooting for late 2010 on that project. I’m also planning my wedding (and, turns out, I’m remarkably bad at wedding planning), learning how to run a household that now includes THREE little kids and working on a couple of decent sized recruiting projects.
3 Trends that excite you?
Ooh, there are so many that excite me right now, let’s see:
1. The way in which food truck and food cart businesses are leveraging social media (mostly Twitter and Facebook) to instantly report on their location, specials and other up-to-the-minute information. I live in Portland, which is arguably the food cart capital of the U.S., and it’s astoundingly impressive to see how some of these micro-businesses are just slamming it by harnessing the power of social media. We hunted down the Koi Fusion truck the other night using Twitter and were amazed by how many people were flooded around the truck. So, so cool.
2. How the economic downturn has made minimizing and living simply cool. I hear some great stories from job seekers with whom I work. They may not think they’re that compelling, because often they’re quite stressed out about the economics of being unemployed or underemployed. But to hear the ways in which people are extracting the excess from their lives and to have it be not only accepted, but cool? It’s really a breath of fresh air during an otherwise really tough stretch here.
3. Location independent careers and lives. I’m personally happy about this trend, as it allowed me to move from Detroit to Portland last year without even a blip to my business or income. I’m a huge, huge advocate of designing your career around this concept. Thank you, Internet!
How do you bring ideas to life?
Honestly? Probably a little “recklessly” by stuffy B-school standards. I typically rough out a “game plan” as opposed to torturing myself for months and months on a flawless, formal business plan. Then I run trials (all the while, keeping other revenue streams alive, which is very important), and if that idea flies? I go with it. I think a lot of people who dream of becoming entrepreneurs get hung up on the notion that you’ve got to have this pristine, voluminous, massively researched business plan before taking any kind of leap. While I’m certainly not an advocate of recklessness, I hate to think that a whole bunch of dreamers and potentially successful entrepreneurs get just frozen in the planning process.
What is one mistake that you’ve made that our readers can learn from?
No matter what size your business is, and how good of friends you are with a potential business partner, lay out the relationship and expectations in writing. Have a contract. It’s not paranoia. It’s sound business. And it greatly reduces the potential for misunderstandings, arguments, and even worse, tribulations down the road.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
The book is easy, Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It! While it pains me to see all that GaryVee drones online, just copycatting EVERYTHING he suggests? This guy is truly an inspiration for those looking to take a leap and monetize their passions.
The tool? I love Dave Navarro’s TheLaunchCoach.com. I’ve digested lots of Dave’s information about how to best develop and market new business ideas.
What is one idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
This one is silly, but I’m convinced there’s a business here: A company that goes around and collects everyone’s Yellow Pages (before the person takes it directly from their doorstep to the recycle bin) and repurposes them into cool things that people actually want, need and appreciate. I’d so buy a sweet ottoman or end table made from unwanted Yellow Pages directories.
What one thing should every job seeker know before they start their next search?
You’ve got to start with a plan. The job market and the way in which you need to search for a new position are very different than they were just a few years ago. We all used to just sit down and apply for stuff online, surf Monster, call a recruiter or two, and voila. We’d have a job.
Today, using those passive tactics alone is just a recipe for a long, frustrating job search. Today’s job search has got to involve full-on networking, creativity and leveraging social media tools. But that can be super overwhelming for someone out of practice and/or with limited Internet skills. Thus, do yourself a huge, huge favor on the front end of the search process.
Craft an actual job search plan with action items for each day and week. For instance, today from 2 to 5 p.m., I’m going to learn how to use LinkedIn for my job search.
Tomorrow from 1 to 3 p.m., I will figure out how people are finding jobs through Twitter.
Next week on Tuesday, I will research these three companies and find out these specific pieces of information.
Have a plan. Your job is now your job search. Treat it accordingly.
What’s the scariest, most fulfilling thing you’ve done?
Last year, I packed up my young daughter and moved 2,800 miles away from our hometown (Detroit) to Portland, Ore. I didn’t have a definitive idea on how it would all unfold. And I’ve always been a relatively conservative person with family decisions. But things lined up in a way that made it too good to pass up, so we went for it. Flash forward to today? I’m elated to live in the Pacific Northwest, the business is going really well, my daughter LOVES the mountains and the beach, and I’m marrying a fabulous native Portlander in a few weeks. The lesson? Change is scary as heck. Trust your gut.