After Covid hit the country, Rajasthan-based Prashant Bhansali was quick to notice a lot of posts (on LinkedIn) on job offers being revoked or friends being fired. A recent graduate from IIM, Bhansali wanted to use his knowledge from his business school classes to help out friends. Together with his friend Vijay (who uses only the first name) they started mentoring job-seekers online.
“Knowing something and communicating is very different. And that is where many of us fall behind while looking for a job with a competitive salary. Our lives changed because of the guidance we got in college. But that might not be accessible or even affordable to all,” points out Bhansali, 31. Their idea to build a scalable model for the same learnings led them to set up ThinkSage.in — a social media channel helping professionals use their skillsets to get a better job or pay.
Bhansali isn’t the only one sharing tips and tricks online. There are many with followers in lakhs. ThinkSage.in itself has 140K followers on Instagram though they started off with YouTube first. Another page, YourGrowthDiet, has amassed 130K followers on Instagram in less than a year. But for the person behind the account—Priya Yadav—it took more than just a one-off thought to start creating content.
“I had a personal account too but decided to start a new page because I was too worried about what friends and family will think of me. On the new page, the first thing I did was block every single person I could think of and find on IG. It made me feel like it was a safe space now without any sort of negativity and talk. I was not camera shy or shy of speaking to an audience, I was just shy of the people who knew me,” she explains, adding that this meant starting with zero followers and building it up.
The content Priya makes usually revolves around career growth — from how to answer common interview questions to CV design. Initially, it took her months to identify the area or niche where she could create content while adding value. “Over the course of my professional journey, I have worked with and known hundreds of professionals and many of them used to reach out to me as a mentor, to solve their problems with their bosses or teams. I never had a mentor when I started out, someone who could guide me through things, none of my family members or relatives ever had a corporate job so it was quite difficult to navigate through everything all by myself,” adds Priya, who continues to work in a corporate as a product manager.
But some, unlike Priya, have made this their sole job. Hyderabad-based Taskeen Fatima Basha started with making fitness videos on her YouTube channel, Urban Fight, in 2016. But even after two years she didn’t have enough subscribers, till she pivoted to career related content. According to Basha, the differentiating factor is the research she and her husband put in, including having guests on the show.
“We often collaborate with experts on topics we don’t have a full grasp on. For example, we had an expert on project management answering the most asked questions on the topic. We have never been in a rush to make these videos and often take two weeks or more to upload a new one,” says Basha, 34. She is quick to add though that unlike what she feared, it wasn’t the negative comments but the “unsticky-ness” that got her down at first. “No matter how hard we tried, we could hardly get subscribers for the first few years. It is not as easy as it sounds to make your own space on YouTube’s ‘recommended’ section”.
But this is where most content creators get ‘discovered’, and then gets shared. Durga Prasanna Polina was looing to rejoin the IT industry after a gap of eight years. While looking online for interview tips, Polina came across the Urban Fight channel and started going through it.
“I had watched many of these videos and they all seemed to share similar tips. But what I liked about Urban Fight was that she was talking about the concerns I had as someone re-entering the job market. Will it be difficult to get back, will I be able to handle the pace, where I will be in the industry while my old peers would have moved ahead. This helped me prepare my expectations,” says Polina, adding that she has often shared many of these videos to other friends who are looking for professional growth.
Finding the right type of content to make can be the key. Priya started with looking at important questions freshers might have, and regularly goes over the comments on her videos for her next topic. But she also adds topics she personally feels strongly about, even if not many followers have asked about it. But she admits that content creation requires one to be creative all the time and this can be exhausting.
“Content creation is a full-time job in itself and that on top of another full-time job can be very challenging at times. I am constantly juggling both. I am super grateful but sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming. I’m good at identifying the onset of that overwhelm so I take that much-needed break right away and that helps a great deal,” she adds.
The challenges for each may be different. But Aakash Kadam, co-founder of YouTube’s Skillopedia channel, finds competing with short reels the biggest worry.
“In today’s environment where we are competing with addictive reels, it is very challenging to retain a person. Even if he watches a video for five minutes out of the 20, that is valuable,” says Kadam, AGE. He is quick to add that with a plethora of content creators often, the original content on his channel gets picked up and recreated by someone else. “If someone copies it but tweaks it, then there is no way to catch them. But if somebody takes out chunks of it and uses it as their own, then YouTube’s sonic search automatically puts it on the original channel. But it is still difficult to be ahead in the content game”.
Kadam’s own understanding is that content on job interviews had seen a decline during the onset of the pandemic, but has picked up and is probably at its peak right now. Other professional skill-based content has been growing as well. With what experts have been calling ‘the great resignation’ upon us, these content platforms are likely to see more growth as professionals turn to their phones for guidance and tips.