Jermaine L. Murray didn’t crown himself “The Jobfather,” but the HR recruiter and DEI advocate says it’s a title he was more than happy to accept.
Known for the often-viral advice he gives across social media about job hunting, the Toronto-based job influencer is the founder of JupiterHR(Opens in a new tab), a company that does career coaching, helps clients with their resumes, and more.
Recently, Murray has been known for publicly declaring that he’s on a mission to help 500 Black people land a job in the tech industry.
The mission likely garnered attention not just because of Murray’s growing profile – he has more than 73,000 followers on LinkedIn(Opens in a new tab) and nearly 51,000 on Twitter(Opens in a new tab) – but also because of the staggering diversity statistics in tech.
According to a report from the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC)(Opens in a new tab) on diversity in the “high tech sector,” only a small percentage of employees in this industry are Black. Black people make up only 7.4 percent of the workforce, according to the report.
With this in mind, Mashable spoke with Murray about what motivated him to work as an HR recruiter, how he navigates giving job advice online, and where he is with his goal to help increase diversity in tech.
How did you get into HR/recruiting?
I actually didn’t have a linear path. Originally, I went to school for broadcasting. I was trying to be the Black Larry King. I couldn’t get in, and in a last-ditch effort of desperation, I paid someone several hundred dollars to do a resume for me.
It cataloged six months of experience, and they gave me a six-page resume. I was so desperate at the time that my dad was like, “We used to take our resumes and hand them in to the people — you should do that.” The person I handed my resume to basically ripped me apart telling me how ugly my resume was. She walked me through and asked me, if I was a hiring manager that had a hundred things to do, would I want to sit and go through a six-page resume?
For months I studied what made a good resume, and I started getting jobs and interviews. My friends started to ask me to help them out with their resumes. I did, and they started getting interviews.
A side hustle was formed. At that point, I started helping people connect with employers as well. I went on Playstation’s [job board] and saw a job for a recruiter, and I realized it was everything I already did informally. I went and got my first recruitment job at an agency. I’ve been doing it ever since.
When you say you were connecting your friends with jobs, where were these connections coming from?
I’m a loud mouth. I grew up in a part of Toronto called Brampton, which is one of our suburbs. And it’s a big city, but everybody kind of knows everybody. My dad had a lot of friends in the business communities who had their own small businesses and were looking for people. I did a resume for one of his friends’ daughters. He liked the resume, and he was like, “If this wasn’t my daughter, I’d hire her.” He was like, “Do you know anyone else?” It became a word-around-town type of thing.
You’re pretty popular on LinkedIn. How did you get the following, and what inspires some of your posts that have gotten significant engagement?
It all comes down to intention for me. My intention is to help Black people get jobs. Tech is the priority, but helping Black people empower themselves through their employment options has always been my mission. It was damn near impossible for me to figure out how to get a job in my chosen field that I went to school for and paid full tuition. There was no one that seemed to be able to help me and no one that even looked like me to help me. My intention is to tell it like it is from our perspective so people know what’s good and how to navigate it.
Credit: Akim Burke
How do you navigate the varying opinions about the advice you give online?
People can come at me for over-representing Black people but, yo, we represented [only 2.6 percent] of the workforce in tech in Canada(Opens in a new tab), less than [7.5 percent] of the workforce in America. And both populations of Black people in those countries are more than [that]. You cannot over-represent for an underrepresented group.
What’s the one piece of advice you’ve given about a resume or what you should be doing in the job hunt that got a lot of attention and surprised you?
I tell people [that in] 99 percent of the situations that you face in life, it is corny to name drop. Your resume is the one percent where it’s not corny to name drop. If you worked with a big-ass client or well-known entity, you need to be willing to talk and brag about that. I’m always surprised at how much energy people have to own their fuck-ups, but not for their achievements.
You have an initiative to get more Black people into tech roles. Tell me more about that.
Going into 2019 I was like, I want to help 100 Black people get jobs in tech in this year. I ended up doing 67 in the first year. In 2020, we did 85. In 2021, we did 126. In 2022, we helped 77 Black people. I want to get us to 500. When we add up all the salaries of people we’ve helped, it’s over $28 million.
The way we help people is we take a by-any-means-necessary approach. We put content out on our social platforms, [including] advice and templates. If anyone gets a job off of that, we count it. If someone books a coaching call with us and we coach them through an interview, or how to strategize or approach their career, we count it. If we do a resume for somebody and the resume gets them the interview that gets them a job, we count it. If we directly introduce somebody to a hiring manager, or a company hires us to do recruitment, and we hire a Black person, we count it.
I believe that tech careers are essential to closing the wealth gap because of how high the salaries can be and the relatively low barrier of entry to high-paying, six-figure jobs. I don’t know many industries where people who are self-taught can achieve a $100K salary within 5-7 years. Tech is one of those few industries.
What kind of jobs are you seeing these people get in tech? What roles are primed for entry-level people?
It depends on what the person’s technical acumen is. For a technical role, software developers are always the lowest barrier of entry. From a non-technical side, we’ve helped them get in either on the marketing end, or on the product end or on the sales end, like a customer success manager, or [as] a sales engineer.
Whether it’s breaking into the industry, moving into a different position or company, or getting back on your feet after a layoff, we can help identify opportunities and provide the tools to achieve those goals. When we say “tech,” we don’t mean technical roles. We mean any job that you find at a tech company.