A refreshingly human-centered approach to help you OWN this job-finding thing

I'm Jolly Zhou, a career-launching expert. Through my company, A+ Interviews, I train students from around the world on how to get a real advantage in today's crazy-competitive job market.

I've helped people earn offers in top firms such as Apple, SAP, Eaton and Uber. I've lived and worked in the US, UK and Australia for 15+ years. In a previous life, I was a Vice President at J.P. Morgan before successfully changing careers into design. I hold a degree in Marketing and International Business from New York University.

I do things a little differently. My human-centered approach helps students develop a) life-changing confidence and b) the ability to stand out (in a good way, not an annoying way) I've also learned some behind-the-scenes secrets about how the system really works -- which you may not hear from any recruiter or blog. My style - you may have noticed - is a no-BS style. And I only share stuff that I know works, based on my own personal experiences and/or rooted in real science.

Basically, I share lessons I wish I knew when I was still studying. Learn from my success and mistakes. (Spoiler alert: learning the hard way sucks!)

My specialty: helping people turn cultural, emotional intelligence and communication skills into real job offers, even if they have zero work experience, have no idea where to start, or are international candidates trying to enter a Western job market.

My personal story

Born in China, I grew up in the U.S. and attended to a nationally-ranked high school in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

Coming from a Asian family, I focused mostly on academics: studying, doing homework and testing well (perfect scores, etc.).

Now I realize this was a BIG mistake. 

In high school, I started to interview for colleges. My first college interview ever was a DISASTER. The alumnus interviewing me didn't give me any hard questions, yet I managed to sound very nervous and was not prepared at all.

So, despite my wonderful academic and testing scores, I did not get into this university. I was crushed.

I quickly began to see that in the real world, academic success is not enough. It may open doors, but it doesn't leave them open. Social skills and cultural fluency were not just important, they were critical. So much depended on how a) you present yourself and b) communicate with others. And guess what? No one had taught me this -- not parents, not teachers, and I learned the hard way. Thankfully, it was still early in life when I realized this.

Later, I studied as an Honors student at New York University's business school. But out of all the classes I took, the one I truly believe contributed the most to my earning power later was NOT finance, accounting or marketing.

Nope.

It was a class called Organization Communications (we called it "org com") -- literally it was about how to speak, present, listen and write well in business. (Thanks Professor Schenkler!)

To this day, I still refer back to this class as the single most important class for my career.

After several internships, I started my full-time career in J.P. Morgan’s New York office where I worked directly with bankers, HR/recruiting, communications and marketing teams. At J.P. Morgan, I was promoted twice within 7 years, and my last role there was Vice President in marketing for the corporate bank. I had a global role and worked from London.

In 2013 I changed careers into UX (user experience) design and started my own consulting business for international tech startups based in Berlin, London and New York. I didn't have a lot of industry knowledge, but I had other skills. Namely: soft skills.

But isn't it funny that "soft skills" are those that bring in HARD cash? Hmm...

Anyway, at that time, I had very little work experience in UX, but how I marketed myself often made me more attractive to clients than people with more experience on their resumes. Using my human-centered ways, I landed multiple clients over just a few months, and I barely submitted a portfolio even once.

Today, my home is in Sydney, where I work (yes, I have a job too - so you know my stuff is actually REAL-WORLD and up-to-date!) as a senior experience manager for Woolworth's (a major retail group in Australia and New Zealand). Before that, I was working at AMP in an award-winning design team transforming their financial advisor business. During this time, I managed to negotiate my salary up 20% in less than a year whilst getting myself the opportunity to work only 3 days a week.

My personal, real-life lessons on how the system works led to founding A+ Interviews.

I know from first-hand experience that emotional intelligence and communication skills at work contributes 100% to your earning potential and simply gives you more options in life. More fulfilling jobs, better salaries, stronger relationships, better lifestyle, you name it.

When a friend whom I had coached received her latest job offer from a major tech company (with a nice salary bump), she suggested I do this for more people. I decided it was a great idea, and that’s how A+ Interviews was born and continues to grow every day.

 
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