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An Interview with Susan Joyce of Job Hunt

by Patricia Frame on January 19, 2012

Vet turned corporate turned entrepreneur – with change comes opportunity.

Susan Joyce is the force, literally and figuratively, behind the mega-job-resource board  known as Job Hunt.

Today’s interview focuses on what she has learned which may offer you ideas for your own career transitions and choices. Because, yes, most of us have multiple transitions.

Tell me about your history – when did you start your business, how did you come to it, and why did you decide to go into business for yourself?  Do you have employees or outsource work or some combo or care you a solopreneur?

“I started my web development company in 1994, after I was laid off from Digital Equipment (DEC). DEC was the second largest computer company in the world at the time – with over 100,000 employees – and a Fortune 50 company, but completely gone by 1998.”

“The web was new and very few businesses had websites.” My company, Netability, helped companies get onto the web. I ran it as a solopreneur and developed a cadre of sub-contractors to support my clients’ needs.”

In 1998, she bought Job-Hunt. “It was a large, popular site receiving more traffic than any of my clients; so whenever it ran into problems, what I learned could help my clients avoid them.”

In 2008, Susan sold off her web development work with other clients to focus on Job-Hunt. This was a difficult decision. She had been running it in her ‘spare time’ – read that as nights and every weekend for years!

But she realized she really had her ‘heart’ there. “The DEC layoffs made a big impression on me — that’s really why I do what I do now. The impact on the people and economy were incredible. A few people, when they were laid off, left the office with their personal items in a box, went home, and ended their lives. The suicides continued for years.”

So I do what I do – running Job-Hunt.org – to try to help people see they have options when career changes occur.

Share some more details about your business – what do you do, specifically? Who do you end up working with most of the time?

“I run a uniquely 21st Century business. We provide people with the best advice and resources to help with current job search techniques and career management needs. My most important clients are the job seekers, but they do not pay for the service. My revenue comes from the site’s sponsors, visible on each page. My ‘customers’; however, also include search engine spiders, which tell the world about Job-Hunt. So I am always balancing three ‘customers’ needs and wants.”

It is a pretty simple business model. Focus on the visitors – what do they need and want? Understand the search engines – what do they need to understand and appropriately digest our content?

“No visitors; no advertisers. No advertisers; no revenue.”

During the past three years Job-Hunt has been ‘my only business, my only product.’

“When Google made a major shift in 2011 (aka Panda), I realized that was not smart.” External forces could change the whole landscape without notice or recourse. “I knew that vulnerability existed but had not believed it was critical. I assumed good content would always be rewarded.”

So what is ahead for Job-Hunt?

“Moving more to embrace mobile technologies; expanding social media activities; looking at conference sponsorships and marketing for added visibility.”

What can you learn from Susan’s experiences?

 

  • “Most important mistake was ignoring the ‘big picture’ of the business and planning. I got too bogged down in daily actions and my ‘to-do’ list.”
  • “I really need a current business plan and I need to use it, to review and update it regularly. Technology changes, market changes – these come fast.”
  • “Marketing is very helpful, not an after-thought or for others. I know – DUH.”
  • “That I cannot learn everything from the Internet. Just not true now!”

What’s in the future?

  • Job-Hunt will continue and grow. “That is a personal passion based on my own experiences.”
  • “I am writing a book and working with a co-author to expand my realm.”
  • “A second website acquisition is pending.”
  • “Attending professional conferences to enhance my network and my knowledge.”

“These activities will provide greater stability than having everything in Job-Hunt.org. They also mean its back to hiring and managing again.”

Susan and I attended VWISE Baltimore in September – a great program for entrepreneurial women veterans. I have recommended Job-Hunt.org to job seekers for years, so it was terrific to connect with its owner and discover some common bonds. And, full disclosure, now I write a column for her too.

For further reading

Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, speaker, and executive with expertise in human capital, and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. She helps small to mid-size organizations achieve their goals through more effective human capital strategy and management.

She can be reached through her website SHRinsight.com, where archives for her ongoing management series can be found.

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