We chat to Australian entrepreneur, Lisa Mahar from Meritude Career Services, on helping people navigate their careers and create their own success.
Hello! What’s your background, and what is your business?
Let’s see. I had a pretty transient childhood. Born in QLD, as a family we lived on the outskirts of Brisbane until I was 7. From there it was Canberra, country Victoria and Perth. I started out my career as a Dental Nurse and over the years worked in numerous professions. From grassroots all the way up to executive level, small business to corporate, government and Franchisee. Within multiple industries.
I never knew what I wanted to do (career-wise). The only thing I knew was that I wanted to own my own business. So, in hindsight, Meritude Career Services was conceptually founded when I was teen.
Excelling at communication with English my strongest subject at school. I’ve been able to change careers the way I have due to my ability to write a successful resume and deliver an outstanding interview.
The business in its present form, helps professionals navigate the hiring process, speed up their job search and land their target position. We do that through resume writing and job search coaching.
What motivated you to get started with Meritude Career Services?
In 2015, I was made redundant again (second time in 2-years). The last position I’d held was training job seekers with manageable disabilities navigate the job market, re-enter the workforce after time away and execute major career changes.
I loved it. While it was a low paying role it was really satisfying. So, I decided to continue what I was doing, only with professionals.
Who is the ideal customer for Meritude Career Services? Why would they benefit?
Uni graduates, professionals, managers and candidates in transition. They are willing to invest their time and funds, in career marketing tools and advice to enhance their job search.
The benefit is two-fold. A job campaign can be very time consuming and if you don’t do it efficiently and effectively it can be costly. The longer a job search takes and the less savvy you are at negotiating your salary the more money you are leaving on the table.
Learn from someone who has a business that you desire.
Looking back, how has your business evolved from initial idea to now?
Initially, I incorporated all career-related services and didn’t have a target market. I also tried having differently priced resumes for students, professionals, managers, execs etc. Over time I took notice of what customers came to me for and got real with myself about who I could help the most.
I also wanted a business that was efficient and leveraged technology. So, I created packages, focused on resumes as the initial offering with other services built into the back-end. I put in a shopping cart, automated emails and embedded an online calendar booking system for client calls.
The business has continued to progress, with purpose-built client questionnaires for hundreds of industries and professions to gather relevant information and streamline the management of all client projects through online software.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Learn from someone who has a business that you desire, making the money you want to make, the way you want to make it, being who you want to be. This is the path of least resistance.
How do you market Meritude Career Services to attract new customers?
AdWords, marketing to my existing client base and referrals from key partnerships. I write articles frequently on LinkedIn, several publications and online blogs. This year I also delivered a virtual presentation to a professional association.
What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner and how have you met that challenge?
I have two. It took me several years to find an online piece of software that could manage my client projects efficiently both for the user (me) and talk to my CRM.
The second one, which is ongoing, is finding quality resume writers. This one is trial and error for the moment. I work closely with associations that offer certifications to find good writers but it’s not easy.
What trends have you noticed in your industry, and how are you evolving to meet them?
There are a few trends in my industry. Authentic personal brands, the growing importance of social branding incorporating professional images and video, the need for a tech-savvy and modern resume and the rise of blind hiring (altering or striping a resume of identifying information).
The U.S is ahead of Australia when it comes to career-related services. So Meritude evolves and stays at the forefront through membership with career associations (particularly in the U.S). Having insight into what’s coming around the corner and feedback from clients helps us alter how we write, services, products and coaching we offer.
Have you had any mentors or role models that have influenced you? How have they helped?
Yes. The first mentor is Alex Pirouz from Linkfluencer. Alex has been integral in helping my business build a solid brand profile, offerings and systems. We still work together.
The second mentor (not that she knows it) is Melissa Ingold from Coach Glue. I mentioned a quote above on one piece of advice to someone starting out. She is that person for me and I continually strive to toward her methodology.