This edition is an extremely special (and personal) one for me to publish…
In 2010, I sat in my kitchen, looked at my second-hand camera (that I’d bought on eBay for £10), pressed record and filmed the first episode of Careercake. The topic was on how to write a cover letter. My cat made an appearance. So did the empty dishes.
I didn’t know what was going to happen after I uploaded that episode to YouTube, but that didn’t really matter. All I cared about was filming something to lift the confidence of the person I had spoken to that day who’d just lost their job. I was a recruiter at Robert Half at the time and I was sick of feeling useless when talented people came into our offices (often in tears) because they’d lost their job. We had no jobs to offer them due to the credit crunch and it broke my heart.
After this, I went on to create a few more videos. Each tailored to individuals who I met in our offices, and I’d slip them a link to my new YouTube channel. The aim? They could learn the skills to handle themselves and thus increase their chances of employment.
Yes, there were hundreds of resources available, and the world didn’t need ‘another career coach’. But as a recruiter, I felt there was a real gap for a more human approach, one that spoke to the people in the way they wanted to be spoken to, about the things that were important to them.
One year later, nearly 1 million people had watched my videos. I’d clearly found a niche within the careers space.
Fast forward to 2016, and Careercake was a company that has raised investment, both VC and Angel, across two continents. For someone who spent most of her teenage years in and out of foster homes constantly being told that I wouldn’t achieve much in life, that still makes me smile.
It was at this time the talented Lucy Heskins joined the founding team and helped put the pieces in place to set us up as a viable, scalable business. She moved to Cardiff to be closer to the business, and like me – was driven by the mission of helping people. I still remember the late-night call we had the night before she was due to resign from her job and join me on this start-up journey ‘Aimee, can we do this?’ she asked. ‘Yes, trust me’ I replied as my hand (holding a big glass of wine!) trembled with nerves.
We’ve always been in dialogue with our community. As my team grew, we would get messages every week from people telling us how they’re getting on and what their challenges were. That first time you miss out on the promotion and then have to show your face in the office. That first time you feel the need to (professionally) criticise your boss. That first time you come out as LGBT in the workplace. That first time you pluck up the courage to talk to your manager about your mental health.
To deliver this, we partnered up with 32 of the most amazing human beings: We called them our Careercake experts.
We’d carefully chosen them because we were fans. We’d seen them speak, read their books, or listened to their podcasts. Their values were aligned to ours. They were part of our tribe and many have become personal friends over the years.
The thing is you can’t fake authenticity. The average millennial consumes approx. 15 meters of content on their phone every day and most of that content is video. Our viewers are incredibly intelligent and for our advice to resonate with them, experts needed to have experienced the topic they were talking about. They literally had done it and got the T-shirt.
Over the next few years, over 10 million learners from 42 countries watched our career courses, driven largely at first by our partnership with LinkedIn Learning.
Of course, it wasn’t always plain sailing. Some days were tough. Really tough. But what kept us going was the mission. We never fell out of love with the mission. I always think it’s important to work with people you like and respect, but that shouldn’t be the driving force. People change from day to day. You will have differences of opinions – that’s normal and to be expected. But if you love the ‘thing’ that you are doing together, if you also care about the problem you are solving and the purpose of the organisation, then those hard days are easier to cope with.
The award win that changed it all.
Winning Best Employability Careers Platform at the National Online Recruitment Awards (NORAs) was the turning point for us and led to the events that I’m pleased to share.
That night, we beat brands including GlassDoor, Monster, and the National Career Service. But we also caught the attention of two amazing founders, Johnny and Vincent, co-founders of SocialTalent.
This week, I am pleased to share that SocialTalent, the world’s leading e-learning platform dedicated to hiring and talent management, has acquired Careercake
SocialTalent share our values and (most importantly) they are genuinely good people, which makes it so much easier to walk away from something that has been my life for 12 years.
There are a lot of people to thank.
At the foremost is the Careercake community. Every time you told us you felt confident enough to go for that interview, turn down that counteroffer or challenge your boss, we cheered you and high fived each other in our office…you couldn’t see us, but we did it!
We couldn’t have done it without our awesome suppliers and clients who recognised that their students, employees, and stakeholders needed a different type of development content and partnered with us.
Was it the hardest thing I’ve ever done? Yes, absolutely. The night terrors were very real at times.
But we’ve played a small part in helping over 10 million people feel seen, heard, and valued in their careers. Not bad for something that started off as an idea, a £10 second-hand camera, and a little YouTube channel, eh?
I always wanted this outcome. I built this company truly believing I’d sell it one day and myself and my amazing team never lost faith…even when (many) people told us it would be unlikely.
So, my final thoughts, before I proudly take off my ‘Careercake hat’ is that BIG things have small beginnings. Surround yourself with good people, ignore the haters and whatever you are striving for, stay focused on the loooong game.
Until next time, take care of yourself and keep in touch