In this episode, Mike Gardon chats with Manoj Jonna. Manoj Jonna is the Co-Founder & CEO of Ramped, a skills-based hiring platform that is revolutionizing the job search. Prior to Ramped, Manoj served as Chief Strategy Officer of Reservations.com and as Vice President and Founding Team member at YayPay. Before YayPay, he worked as an investment banker at Deloitte Corporate Finance where he focused on mergers & acquisitions. Manoj holds a JD from Georgetown Law School.
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL LEARN:
- Manoj’s background
- Learning how to learn - one of the biggest skills Manoj has perfected
- Keys to making a career change/uprooting your career
- Cutting out the noise and keep an open mind
- Be radically accountable for upskilling
- Put yourself out there and get comfortable promoting yourself
- Manoj’s thoughts on linear career paths
- Who they are, what they do, who they work with
- How they use skills as currency to exchange value
HELP US OUT!
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BOOKS AND RESOURCES:
- Learn skills on Ramped
- Interview prep resources on Ramped
- Connect with Manoj on the Ramped website, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.
Mike Gardon: (00:00)
Hello. Hello, welcome to another episode of CareerCloud Radio. I'm your host Michael Gardon. Today's guest is Manoj Jonna, the CEO and co-founder of Ramped, a skills-based hiring platform, that is revolutionizing the job search process prior to Ramped. Manoj served as a chief strategy officer of reservations.com and as vice president and founding team member of YayPay. Before YayPay, he worked as an investment banker at Deloitte corporate finance, where he focused on mergers and acquisitions, and he holds a JD from Georgetown law school. This guy is the definition of a career breaker just like us. So I just had to talk to him. In this episode, we dig into his journey from immigrant to CPA, to a health insurance company, to law school, to investment banking, to FinTech, startup, and founder. We talk about the influence he had as an immigrant and how he believes careers don't have to be linear. And of course, we catch up on all the progress that Ramped is making to connect job seekers with great jobs via their skills-based hiring platform. I'm a total fan of this approach. So I'm very glad Manoj gave us some time today. I'll be following the man's journey via the content that he posts on LinkedIn, which just has some gems. And I hope you, and you all follow along as well. So without further ado, here's my conversation with Manoj Jonna.
Mike Gardon: (01:19)
Manoj, welcome to the podcast. How are you?
Manoj Jonna: (01:22)
I'm doing well. Mike, excited to speak to you and, uh, share a little bit about myself and, you know, maybe I'll learn a thing or two from you also
Mike Gardon: (01:29)
Yeah. Perfect. I was telling you this right before we started recording. We're connected through Danny Leonard who is on your team and, uh, is a co-founder of Ramped. I believe previous to that, I was introduced to him through my friend, Patrick Claus at MSV ventures in my conversation with Patrick, I said, what's the most underrated skill out there in Silicon Valley? And he surprisingly said sales. And that's how I got sort of, he introduced me to Ramped. And all of the things that you guys are doing in terms of real skill-building skills-based hiring, which is something I feel like is sorely needed in terms of everyone all figuring out what we want to do for my listeners. Manoj and I have conversed a little bit on LinkedIn and other social platforms and he wrote something that just completely resonated with me about a sort of non-linear career path.
Mike Gardon: (02:24)
And my listeners know that is exactly me. I've been all over the map. So I wanna read this LinkedIn post and I wanna start just kind of with your story. So here it is, it says, this is about two weeks ago. I think there's something I wish I knew before I was in my thirties. Careers don't have to be linear the same applies to life as well. My journey immigrant, the CPA, the health insurance company, the loss, cool to investment banking, to FinTech startup, the mid-size company, the founder, all over the map ends at random roles. I stopped trying to spin a story about how cohesive everything is. It's not, that's the truth and there's no need to stress out about it. Do what you're good at and what brings you joy. Everything else will fall in place. So I wanted to read that and I wanna start at the beginning. I want men's stories. I want your career story. So start at immigrant for me.
Manoj Jonna: (03:17)
Yeah. I was fortunate enough to, you know, grow up in two different countries. I spent the first, um, you know, I'd say the first 18 years of my life, my formative years in India. And even when I was in India, I got to travel a little bit. And then I moved to the US in 2006 where I was a bit of an adult. I, I kind of had an identity, but I still had a lot of learning and going to do. And, you know, looking back, it gives me an interesting perspective. Being able to grow up in wildly different places, try to get accustomed to the way things work, the way people speak ideas, and mindsets. And I think in some ways it's shaped who I am today and that's the classic immigrant story. Right? And with being an immigrant, there are also a lot of things that are common that you'll see as patterns with, with a lot of immigrants, right?
Manoj Jonna: (04:05)
Folks, especially when they move to the US, they come here seeking access to better education. They come here seeking access to upward economic mobility, job opportunities, whatever it is. Right. And so with that also comes a, a ton of stereotypes, which is, it's kind of put your head down, you work, you take whatever job you can find so that you can move up the ladder. All of that is true. And there's a reason why folks are the way they are. But what, that also comes a bit of like grit, resilience, and, and a sense of adventure, uh, right. And I don't think a lot of folks immediately ascribe to immigrants, the sense of adventure, wanting to test and experiment. Cause it does take a little bit off that to kinda uproot and put yourself in a completely new country. And so that's how I would, I would, I would sum myself up. I subscribe to a lot of the standard immigrant stereotypes to some extent, a bit of them are true, but I also have this natural curiosity and the sense of adventure that's led me through, you know, whole different types of jobs and career paths.
Mike Gardon: (05:06)
So what prompted the move from India when you were 18 years old?
Manoj Jonna: (05:10)
My parents were here. My dad had always worked, uh, across the world and they moved here first and they wanted my sister and me to have access to again, better education, and good job opportunities. And man, it takes so much courage to move. Like they did a lot older in their life, uh, to uproot from friends and family and everything that they were used to so that they could provide for their kids. Right. And I think that's a very noble thing to do. I give them a lot of credit. And so that prompted the move. They moved here first and they wanted my sister and me to come here and, and study and get good jobs and, and build, build a life for ourselves. And they're here now. They live in Phoenix, Arizona. I spend quite a bit of time with them. I'm actually spending a week with them now, but that was what precipitated the move to the US.
Mike Gardon: (05:53)
How long were you separated from them? How long were they in the states before you and your sister moved?
Manoj Jonna: (05:59)
Yeah, so my sister moved with them about a year or so, where we were briefly separated. I, I was with my grandparents. I've been having the time of my life. They were not very strict. My grandparents loved me and, uh, I very much enjoyed that, although I missed my parents. And so there's a, there's a year of separation. And then, uh, then I joined them right after.
Mike Gardon: (06:17)
Okay. Interesting. All right. So you kind of touched on a little bit of the stereotype stuff and I have a number, not a lot, a number of friends whose parents immigrated or they are the first generations, you know, a lot of careers where the path is set lawyers, doctors, things like that. Right. And I think you kind of touched on why that is maybe a little bit already. So you ended up becoming a CPA. How was that decision sort of made as a starting point for your career? Was that okay? That's a path towards upward mobility and that was driven maybe by parents or family, or was there another thought process going into your love of numbers?
Manoj Jonna: (07:01)
yeah, no. I mean, listen, I, I love numbers, but, but not so much. I, I last with CPA for, for, for, for about two years, here's something that'll set the context, right? The reality is that when you look at it, and again, I might be generalizing a little bit, but at least this has been my experience when folks seek to move to a different country. And when folks seek some type of upward mobility, you have to understand that it comes from a place and an intention of de-risking, right? The idea is right. You want certainty. You want to de-risk as much as possible and for good reason, or for bad, certain career paths or a defined linear structure has a notion of stability with it a notion of certainty with it. And that's the reason why you see a lot of folks, especially immigrants take that path.
Manoj Jonna: (07:45)
Because the last thing that folks want to do is step into more uncertainty. It's already UNC enough to move from one country, move to a completely new place. You don't want to add any more uncertainty to it than you were already facing and dealing with. And that's the reason why at least I have been conditioned growing up to take on a certain type of career because you know that, Hey, listen, if you're a lower middle class, you go to school, you go to grad school, you become an engineer or lawyer or a doctor. You work at the same company for 15 to 20 years, you buy a car, you buy an apartment, you have kids, you send them to school and you die. It's great. It's not a bad life whatsoever. There's some certainty to it. People have done it before I would call it the median career path.
Manoj Jonna: (08:27)
Right? And so there's so much conditioning and programming that happens when you're younger, cuz that's what you hear. That's what you read. That's what you see. And the reason is that folks are, you know, well-intentioned, people are trying to avoid exposing you to any more uncertainty than you already are facing. And you'll see folks that don't come from any type of an economic disadvantage or a cultural disadvantage, oftentimes taking on more risks. It's because their lives have not been exposed to as much uncertainty and as much instability. And so they were able to take on those risks in their careers, take on those risks professionally, go pursue something else where there's not as much money, but it may be fueling their passion. So that's kind of the underlying reason. And so when I graduated, I graduated in 2008 and things were looking shaky already by then the economy was starting to look a little bit rough and I went to school, I got a business degree and it was a small state school, right?
Manoj Jonna: (09:22)
40 miles west of Western Massachusetts was, was not Harvard. I did really well and graduated with pretty much a perfect GPA. And yet I had some difficulty finding jobs. The only jobs that were available at that point with my degree were I could either become an actuary or become a CPA. Again, DUS career paths folks were hiring. You knew that if you were a CPA, then great like you could somehow live your life and, and make ends meet. And I said, screw it I'll do it. I honestly didn't have much of an interest or a passion for it. I knew that it would lead me to a career path. And so like most folks that are looking for some structure, a bit, a lot of uncertainty, I said, sign me up.
Mike Gardon: (10:00)
Yeah. It seems like I've heard this over and over again. Immigrants have a much greater appreciation for the general uncertainty of life in reality that which is, which is, I think really interesting. And I think a lot of maybe my contemporaries who have grown up in, in the United States and maybe are of my similar vintage underestimate the risks that are just baked into life. Right. I think you see that like kind of in a lot of stats like around, let's say people who make over a hundred thousand dollars are still living paycheck to paycheck, you know, that type of thing. And so I think that's like a really interesting sort of dichotomy and maybe one of the things that I think, and I don't wanna put words in your mouth, but I think you may be understood at least about the CPA career path was that path may be linear, but those skills are highly transferable. You know you can use that skillset in a number of ways and maybe that's kind of fuel a little bit of your divergent career path
Manoj Jonna: (11:00)
To some extent. I mean, this is all hindsight, right? One of the things that I have learned doing different jobs in different career paths is that I am able to learn how to learn. I think that's the biggest skill that I've learned from doing all of these random jobs and random industries that have nothing to do with each other. It's less about the functional kind of job or role-specific skills. It's more about if I'm presented with new material and new information, and I'm asked to do a new thing. When I was younger in my career, I didn't have the confidence or the experience to say, okay, I know how to do it, but having done these different jobs and different roles in different industries, what I now know is, Hey, listen, if I can be a CPA and then I can go to law school and then I can go sell FinTech software in the early stage company, they're all completely different things, but at least I have some evidence and some history that I know how to solve a problem. Right. And I think that's the biggest takeaway, at least for me. And that in and of itself is a skill.
Mike Gardon: (12:06)
It seems like, and I've had my own startup experiences. I was number five at a startup based outta Seattle, especially in the early stage. So a founder, right? Like you have to wear a lot of different hats. You have to have like a wide sort of range of skills. And so I definitely have seen people who have a divergent path and have mastered a number of different things later in their life. A lot of times they're they succeed in the startup realm because they're sort of just able to context, switch and wear those multiple hats. And I think like from what I've seen, like hiring in a very early stage, like we're looking for people like that, we were always looking for people that could give 'em a problem and they're gonna figure it out. It doesn't mean that they are an expert in that. And then as you get to a later stage when you have really specific roles, a lot of times you're hiring for more narrow expertise.
Manoj Jonna: (13:00)
Yeah. I think there's definitely some truth to it. The world could use more generalists. I think that there's certainly some value to it. I also wonder how many folks are stuck in careers that they might not necessarily enjoy doing. I wonder if more people believed that they could take on a variety of roles and didn't hold themselves back. I wonder if they would be better placed and better situated to, to do things that they're, they'll actually enjoy doing and, and do a good job at I've personally have friends who, you know, are in there, I'd say kind of, you know, the early thirties, mid-thirties, now they've done the same job for about 12 years. They feel stuck. They're like, well, where can I go now? I'm mid-career I don't want to go take an entry-level job. I'm not senior enough. I feel like if I sit here and grind it out for another eight or nine years, I'll get that VP-level position, whatever that means. And then my life is all set. I think that there's this, there's some loss there with folks not given the opportunity or not believing that they can do other things outside of whatever it is that they started doing when they were younger.
Mike Gardon: (14:03)
What do you think? Maybe some of the keys and this can just be off the cuff. Some of the keys to making that type of change are I think about this a lot. I actually like my, my newsletter is called the break and it's dedicated to like breaking your concept of work basically. Right? Like breaking out of a rut and uprooting your career to try to do something different. I'm with you. I think there's a lot of people, if we can get people to do something different, we can probably unlock a heck of a lot of talent in the economy.
Manoj Jonna: (14:33)
Yeah, absolutely. A couple of things. Again, these are things that I wish I did when I was younger, right? One is just cutting out the noise, right? There's so much noise out there on what you can do and what you cannot do and how you need to raise up the ranks in any one different career path. As a general rule of thumb, this tuning that noise out gives you a good starting point, right? Because you haven't written yourself out at the very beginning. You wanna give yourself a meaningful shot to see whether there are other things that you'll enjoy doing. If you subscribe to the noise and you start out by saying, oh, that's what I'm hearing. And I can't do it, you know, game over. Right. And so that's the first thing that I do is just cut out the noise challenge.
Manoj Jonna: (15:15)
The status quo, start from an open, keep an open mind and start there. The second thing is being radically accountable for upskilling. That's a central hypothesis, right? It's because at the end of the day today, what are the resources and tools that are out there with digital education, with social media, and how many folks are willing to reach out and talk to you about what they do and let you shadow them at work? There are many different ways where you can be accountable for your own trial run for your own trial period. Right? And so I tell this to you, folks that are looking to switch careers, they're like, well, I was a teacher, I was an educator for 10 years. I want to get into software sales. What do I need to do? Right. What you shouldn't be doing is applying to jobs randomly and saying, Hey, I was a teacher, I have some skills.
Manoj Jonna: (16:00)
I, I can do it. I'm a human being. I'm breathing. I have a pulse, give me a shot. Right? There are other things you could do. You can take a lot of accountability over learning what that job entails, whether it's through online courses, shadowing somebody, spending your weekends, learning from, uh, an experienced sales rep, there are things that you could do, right? In a very safe space outside of a job setting. And it'll give you a good idea as to whether that's something you'll enjoy doing in a very practical, meaningful way. And so I do think that folks should take a little bit more accountability, especially when you have some time, it would be beneficial for you to learn those sets of skills. And the last thing is, is also putting yourself out there. I think folks should get more comfortable with promoting themselves. There's nothing wrong with that.
Manoj Jonna: (16:44)
And I've seen this happen time and over again, where the most successful people are, the ones that are shameless, self-promoters, and there's absolutely nothing wrong again today we have the tools and resources to do it. So if you are looking to switch careers, Hey, tune out the noise B you put in the effort to upscale three, just do it loudly and do it publicly. So you'll get recognized. You'll be surrounded by like-minded people. And before, you know, that will become your reality. You almost manifest your own reality. One of the best things about building publicly is that you'll start believing in yourself just by doing it. That's why I write these posts online. That's why I talk about building rap, because how else will it become real for, for me, or for Danny, or for Mitch? Our co-founders our team, especially when you're, you know, starting from zero, there's definitely some value in doing it publicly, cuz it makes it real. So you do these three things and I wished I did these three things when I was younger. I probably would've gotten to where I'd want to get a few years faster or a few years sooner. No regrets. If I could go back in time, these are the three things I'd do.
Mike Gardon: (17:44)
That's really, really interesting advice. Like I, I feel like I am not good at promoting myself and I'm trying to get better. It's something that I am trying to get better at. Cuz I have a podcast and I, you know, I have a company and I've never been the out-front person before. I've always been the behind-the-scenes guy. And so I've had, I'm like the sort of forced to do that a little bit and it's, it's interesting. But I think like what you're saying is about talking about it in public is just sharing your journey. I mean, just like there's an element of fear of failure. What are people gonna think of me when I put this out there about what I'm doing? But like that's the easiest thing to sort of write about and the document is what you're actually doing. You don't need to make anything up. Just what are you doing? What are the steps? And if you're okay with being kind of raw and a little vulnerable about that, like that's, I think what you're advocating.
Manoj Jonna: (18:39)
Oh, absolutely. And that's what I mean by promoting your journey and building publicly, right? Share with the world. Talk about what's working. Talk about what is not working. There might be others who are similarly situated, who might just need to read that message who might want to hear about what you're doing, who might find some comfort in what you have to say. And there's a dual benefit. As I said, it'll become real by talking about it and building it publicly. It goes from its in my head to, I have already made an open and public commitment to the world that this is what I'm doing. This is going to keep me accountable. You'll have folks that'll support you. I've rarely seen, you know, people criticize what you're doing and if they do that's on them, it's never on you. I think the fear of failure is very real.
Manoj Jonna: (19:22)
I have it too. Fear of criticism is very real. I have it too. But at the end of the day, more people support folks that build publicly than not. And if they're not, they're not the kind of people that you wanna hang out with anyways. And so, and the other thing is you don't have to be some seasoned executive in order to build something publicly, you could be 20 and outta college and you have the same right. To do it. You have a good set of experiences yourself. You are not any less than anybody else. And so don't wait until you consider yourself accomplished whatever that even means. Just put yourself out there.
Mike Gardon: (19:56)
Yeah, it's cool. And then you have like by doing that, you sort of have this. I mean, those are the best moments in life, right? When you're trying to do something new and you overcome it and you do it and you're successful at it. And then you realize from that mountaintop, you realize that like all of the trials and tribulations that you went through, that's actually the gold. And by doing it publicly, you sort of have this record of that journey, which is really, really interesting and powerful. When did you start to talk about like, what have I done with my life? You know, like when you get into your forties and you have kids and you're like, wow, you know, I'm on the back half of that or whatever mm-hmm, like, you can kind of look back and say, man, I, I did this, I built it. And here's that public record, which is pretty cool.
Manoj Jonna: (20:41)
I mean, you and I wouldn't be having this conversation if yeah. I wasn't sharing publicly about the Ramped and we, you know, we're still figuring stuff out. We're still early in our journey. There are a lot of things that are going great. And there are days where I wake up and I ask myself, holy crap, what the heck did I get myself into? that's okay. That's how you meet interesting folks. And that's how you learn a thing or two,
Mike Gardon: (21:02)
I wanna get to Ramped, but I wanna first, I wanna, I need to go back to your journey, your career journey for a couple of follow-up questions. So you were a CPA, you did that for about two years. You said you went to a health insurance company, you did law school, you did investment banking and FinTech startup. So that's a lot to cover. I don't need to cover all of it. I'm interested in maybe when along that journey, you sort of realize that having this linear path or this cohesive narrative around, you know when I talk to somebody, how do I piece all this together? And I'm anxious about that? Like when did you sort of realize that didn't matter in that process or was there a particular moment or, or any difficulties around that?
Manoj Jonna: (21:41)
Yeah, I did. It was actually one very particular moment. So I, I did this think investment banking at worked at these bigger brand companies and I'd been an advisor, you know, and I've always kind of looked at stuff outside in and then I decided to join. Yay, pay very, very small startup was two co-founders I joined as the first employee. And when a company is that early, there are only two things that you can do to be helpful. You should either build or you should sell. If you're not doing one or the other, you're basically worthless. What exactly? What value are you adding that early on in the game as a company gets larger, there's a lot of specialized functions and all, all that is great? And so I started selling, I never sold anything formally, right? And I got kicked in the teeth because nobody cared who I was, or where I went to school.
Manoj Jonna: (22:24)
What my background was, what certifications that I had, nobody cared and your customers don't care. I don't even care. They just want you to understand what problems they have and they want you to guide them through a set of solutions and they want you to be generally helpful to them. So for the first time in my life, I realized that all of the stuff that I had done doesn't quite matter in the way it presents itself from a linear perspective, it doesn't. Did I pick up a set of skills going to law school? Yes. Did I pick up a set of skills in CPA? Yes. But did it actually matter when it comes to building a business, does it actually matter when it comes to creating value? It doesn't and I kind of had a light bulb moment at that point. Cause I asked myself, could I be doing the same job that I'm doing today without going through all of those, you know, years of experience I had and without going through all of that education that I had and I came to realize, yeah, I could, I should have taken a slightly different path didn't matter.
Manoj Jonna: (23:20)
But the reality is I could. And then it made sense to be in that you don't necessarily have to do a, B and C in order to get to D as long as you understand what doing D means. And you are able to, in some settings, get the baseline level of skills that you need to get in order to do D well and you just simply start doing it. You'll be, be fine. You don't have to go to school for any particular thing unless you wanna be a cardiac surgeon. I think I do think that there are some skilled traits where it does make sense to have a linear career path. I will also challenge whether that even applies to the law. I don't think so, but that's a conversation from another day. It's probably the very small set of skills where you need that type of education or training, but it hit me at that point that, you know, I didn't have to do all of these things to work at a startup.
Manoj Jonna: (24:11)
I really didn't my co-founder today. Mitch did the same job that I was doing. And he had just graduated from college, graduated from UNC 21 outta college. Fresh, never had a full-time job a day in his life, Mitch and I were making dials doing the same job. And, you know, he was actually better at it than I was. And I quickly realized it doesn't matter. And that planted a seed in my mind because the next thing that I had to do was to build a customer success function from scratch. I didn't know anything about customer success. I didn't even know what that meant. And I was responsible for building a function from the ground up, hiring people, figuring stuff out. And again, I was like, well, okay, I'm gonna, I'm gonna give this a go. I had to do a bit of fundraising. I gave that a go.
Manoj Jonna: (24:50)
For the next company that I joined, I had to learn how to scale it directly to consumer business. Right? I didn't know anything about marketing. I had to learn what S SCM was, and what SEO was. I didn't know any of that, figure that stuff out. And I think it just kind of built on it and you know, that's my belief today is careers. Don't have to be linear there are different jobs out there. As long as you're again, willing job skill, cut the noise and do it publicly. You have a good shot. Just as much as you are the person next to you.
Mike Gardon: (25:18)
Do you think that works equally well for, let's say established corporate jobs? I'm on board with everything you said, but I think a lot of it to me, at least a lot of it is a little bit skewed towards like kind of startup entrepreneurship, solo, entrepreneurship, create your own type stuff in that when I see how corporates hire, right. , mm-hmm, there are a lot of hurdles and check boxes that you have to check, right? There's a resume, which somebody's gonna look at for seven seconds. And man, if it looks like it's scattered it's out, cause this guy could be a flake or yep. There's a particular path that they have in their head in their mind do you have an MBA? Did you go to business school, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah? That makes it difficult at least in terms of the established gateways to those positions, what do you think?
Manoj Jonna: (26:09)
Yeah, I think there is some truth to it. Not all of it, the job that I got out of law school was an investment banking job. I was the only JD everybody else that they had hired were MBAs. Right. And I still got the job. Is it a little harder? Yes. Is it harder because it's not possible for someone like me to do the job or is it harder because an employer has asked for backward hiring practices. I think it's because the employer has asked for backward hiring practices. OK. Now when that said, yeah, with that said you'd have to work a little bit harder to make the case and you'd have to get a little bit creative to make the case. And again, the way I approached it was how I would approach any other problem that I had. Right. Which is how do I figure this out?
Manoj Jonna: (26:48)
Here's an employer that has a standard hiring practice. They look for someone that has an MBA. Why does the Y give you the answer? They look for someone that has an MBA it's because the past seven classes of bankers that they've hired all had MBAs and they had a history of performance. And so it was a de-risk thing for them. Why would they go outta their way to hire someone from law school? Okay. Now I know why it's because they don't know whether I can do the job. And they're worried that if they stray from established practice, it might be the, but so that one, that much I knew for a fact, then my job was to derisk. Both of those risks were to show them that I could do the job just as much, or just as well as an MBA would do, which is why I did a training program.
Manoj Jonna: (27:30)
It was an online, you know, wall street program that taught me fundamentals. So financial modeling, so on and so forth, I took a bunch of practice, GMA tests, and I sent them my scores and I said, Hey, listen, here's the standardized test that I know all of your MBAs take. Here's my score. It the better than all the MBAs that you hire. Anyways, take a look at that. And third I talked about, I showed them how I understood what the job was, and what I was expected to do. And so I de-risked in their minds. Yeah. If I just submitted a resume, like every other MBA. Absolutely. I agree with you. It would've gone to the dumpster. Can I blame them? Okay. Maybe, but not really. They do it because it works for them. Right. And so, while I agree with you, and while I do think that it is difficult, I do not think it's impossible.
Manoj Jonna: (28:14)
Especially if you want a career switch. Right. Especially if you're curious about doing something else, you have to put in the work, there's no alternative for that. But the same thing happen, even at da pay, I'd never worked at a startup. Why would this founder hire me? Right. And so I had to show the founder that I understood what product or service they were selling. I built a deck for him even before I showed up to have a phone conversation with him. So all of this requires extra work. I mean, I know I make it sound easy and I say, anything is possible for everyone. Yes. Do you have to do some work to get there? Yes.
Mike Gardon: (28:47)
Yeah. I think what you're saying, I love it because I think what you outlined is the path to a career switch. It is hard. You're right. It is extra work. Nobody's saying that it isn't, but it's about more relationship building and showing somebody your progress, the line instead of a dot, right? Then one meeting is a dot, but when you're showing them the line and trajectory that you're on, you're, you're giving a person multiple touch points, right? Like, hi, I'm Mike mm-hmm hi. I understand the risk that you think there is for hiring me. Here's how you get over both of those. I've also learned X, Y, or Z. And like mm-hmm, it's not just those points. It's the connection. Because through that, because somebody is seeing and waking up to the fact
Manoj Jonna: (29:37)
Mike Gardon: (29:38)
That holy crap, like you, are putting in this work, you're doing way more work than anybody that fits this job description has done because what have they done? They've submitted the resume and a cover letter and I've randomly picked the top free or whatever, you know, like, so, and I think it, it's your whole point about building online too. It's that is how relationships get created these days. Right? It is about showing up, showing somebody you're continuously learning or figuring something out, or going the extra mile. That's a success. Actually, I would say it's the same. Like, even if you're going after a, I would argue that even if you're going after a, a job that you are imminently qualified for you're on your linear career path, still going through all of those steps and articulating that back to somebody and being creative and standing out and being memorable. Like that's the path you're right. It is more work, but like it's the quality over quantity type thing.
Manoj Jonna: (30:38)
Yes. And then, then you'll, you'll figure out whether you actually want the, for your path or not. Right? Because at the end of the day, if you realize you're unwilling to do all of this work, then ask yourself, is this really something I actually want to do? Cause if you do, you'll double down, but if you don't good, you've saved yourself a few years. To pursue something else that will give you a lot more freedom and a lot more joy. And so, and on your question about these, these large corporates, I think it's changing. It's going to take some time and change has to come from both ends, right? You can't blame corporates. The reason why they've resorted to these hiring practices is because of the way candidates and employers find each other, right? Because you post a job online going to get three, four, or 5,000 applications.
Manoj Jonna: (31:18)
There's no way that anyone sitting there can reasonably review all of these applications. Resumes. Don't tell a great story. And so we just have a flawed system of connection today. And so that's driving some of the high rate practices. It's changing, it's changing slowly, right? One of the things that, but we're trying to do at Ramped is this notion of candidate career fit without looking at resumes. Like how do you use skills as their common currency that both job seekers and employers use to exchange value? Cause if you change the combination, the skills and not resumes, you'll avoid some of these challenges that the world is facing today.
Mike Gardon: (31:55)
That's a good transition to Ramped. I think it's skills, but also like how you indicate your sort of general passion, excitement, whatever you wanna call it for the topic too. Right? And you can do that online. Like if you're on LinkedIn talking about your particular area of job or expertise or what's going on in it, and you've got two years of history of doing that. And all of a sudden, a hiring manager looks at your resume, looks at your LinkedIn page. That's a win because 99% of other people are not doing that. Mm-hmm. So talk to me about, what's been going on with Ramped, where you're at, what's the mission that you're on, and let's get into a little bit of like the last call it 12 months of what's happening and where you guys are going.
Manoj Jonna: (32:39)
The purpose behind the Ramped is very simple. We want to truly democratize access to jobs, which means that folks should have a meaningful shot at jobs, not a job link where someone hits an apply button and feel like they have a meaningful shot. Cause the reality is you don't, your resume's gonna go into a pool with a million other resumes and not, not going to make progress. And so we asked ourselves, what is the one thing that we know that would give people a meaningful shot at jobs? How can someone get from zero, which is not having a job somehow getting a job, especially if you don't have, you know, access to a lot of resources or your just starting out your career, which is 50, 60 million Americans every year? Right? And education's the answer at the end of the day. That's the way that you can go from, I don't know whether I have the interest, the ability, the aptitude to do this job.
Manoj Jonna: (33:34)
I know for a fact because I've learned these job skills that I have, the interest, the ability, and the aptitude to do your job, forget about my resume for a second. What exactly is my resume gonna tell me if you're an early career professional, a career switcher who cares two-year degree, a four-year degree, or some college club here working in retail? Yeah. All of that experience is good, but that's what 15,000 other people are saying. And so what we're trying to do is use education as this is the catalyst that takes people from being unskilled or not quite skilled, to being fully skilled, which is Ramped and then using that to unlock jobs. And that's what we built. Like we built a learning and skilling platform where anybody can come in, and explore different career paths. They find something they like, they can go build down a little bit more.
Manoj Jonna: (34:16)
They can use our content or assessments or simulations, and psychometrics at no cost to them. All they have to do is spend time. And when they're done with everything, they can then monetize everything that they've learned through full-time and part-time job opportunities at 130 companies that have all partnered with Ramped because they think, this is a better way of hiring where they don't have to look at a resume and write people off. Instead, they can focus only on folks that are demonstrating that that's a job that they actually want to do. And they've skilled enough that they can come in and make an impact from day one.
Mike Gardon: (34:48)
What types of jobs are you guys focused on? I think I know early on, at least it was sales. I don't know if it's exclusive sales. What are the types of jobs you're looking at?
Manoj Jonna: (34:56)
Yeah. So we are focusing today on early career jobs, right? And by early career, I mean not jobs that you have to do when you're 21, but it's the first job in any given career path. So we started with sales. So what's the first job that you do? If you want a career in tech sales, you come in, you're a sales development rep or business development rep, right? And so that's the first career pathway that we built. Uh, we've since added two more career pathways, we have a career path for financial advisors. And then we also have a career path for folks that want to get into talent acquisition. So those are the three paths that we have in life today. Uh, and every few months we keep adding additional career pathways. And the reason we want to do this is that we want folks to have a choice, right?
Manoj Jonna: (35:34)
No one is born thinking that they're going to be, be a talent acquisition professional, or, or a sales professional. And you don't want to start a job Mike and suffer through two years and then realize that that job is not for you. That's a colossal waste of time, energy, and effort in 2022. What we want to do is give people an online platform where they can come in, and explore career paths. And then by actually doing some of what is expected of them in those jobs, through our virtual skilling platform, get comfortable with the career path of their choice and then actually go and find jobs in that career path and then ignore everything else. You realize that talent acquisition is the path for you. Forget about sales jobs. It's okay. You don't have to do that. You don't have to apply for thousands of jobs there, start there and crush it. That's the smart, intelligent way to go.
Mike Gardon: (36:19)
How is the skilling part of it work? Is that you and your team creating the programming? Is that coming from, you know, directly from some of the partner companies, how does that work?
Manoj Jonna: (36:30)
Yeah, it's a combination. So we have our own knowledge base, right? That applies across a variety of different organizations for each career path. We also give the freedom and flexibility to companies that work with us to supplement it with anything else that they feel is important for their role. And that's how we work. But at the end of the day, what we're not trying to do is become a university, right? That's trying to shove meaningless education down on them folks. These days, they don't have a long attention span. Like that's the reality, right? We live in a TikTok Instagram, and it's not a bad thing. Cause when I was in so I had to sit and suffer through a two-hour lecture, my attention span's 20, 25 minutes after that, it's like, you know, in one year out the other. And so one of the things that we're really focusing and disciplined on is how do we take functional job-specific content and how do we distill it and bite-size materials in ways that the generation of today and tomorrow can actually consume and learn and how do we cut out all the noise, all of the unnecessary stuff, right?
Manoj Jonna: (37:27)
All the rhetoric we don't need that. That's not why Ramped exists. It exists to teach you exactly what you need to know in the quickest way possible. Cause that's the right thing to do.
Mike Gardon: (37:36)
Okay. So focused on the first kind of first-level job in these different pathways, are you getting like a lot of college students actually using the platform while they're in college? Like I'm really kind of curious as to the overlap that could be happening here.
Manoj Jonna: (37:52)
Yeah. There are a couple of groups of folks, uh, that find value in rank. So the first group of folks is recent grads. Folks that have just graduated from college or they might be a year out or two years out. They fall in that bucket and they find a lot of value in the Ramped. The other group of folks are career switchers, right? And these are folks that have done something for five or six years and have realized that that's not the pathway for them. People that have, you know, worked in retail or they worked in the gig economy or they had a job in customer service, they wanna make more money. And we have those also as a group of folks that are trying to switch careers. And of course, anytime you switch careers, the first job that you get is obviously going to be the first job in any one career path, even though it might mean a lot more money for these folks, right?
Manoj Jonna: (38:35)
Cause a lot of folks in retail, you know, you make anywhere from 30 to $40,000 a year, max. Whereas if you wanna switch to tech sales, you can be making 70,000 a year, one, right 90 years, two and a hundred years three. There's no path to that retail. So that's the second category of people. The third and more interesting category of people that gets me a lot more excited these days is we are seeing folks that are close to retirement or retiring that are upskilling and finding jobs. We are ourselves hired a retired public school history teacher. That was a learner on the job platform to come sell software at the Ramped. And that's a reality that's possible today. It's a group of people like that have been written off. Cause a lot of employers are ages and they want to work. They can work out of the comfort of their homes.
Manoj Jonna: (39:19)
COVID in some ways has been a blessing. It's opened up remote work for everybody. And there's a class of folks in the us that if they want to work for four hours a day, five hours a day, six hours a day, they're willing and able to do it. They're upskilled. Let them do it. Why not? If it gives the meaning net Ramped be, uh, a platform that helps them bridge that gap. Because at the end of the day, how would someone that taught high school history? How, how would they know what software sales are all about? Why would an employer even look at them? But I know what's gonna happen when they apply to a job look at, and they'll say, well, two senior, two experience things that typically employers will say is, ah, I don't know if they, uh, culture fit or I don't think they have the hustle.
Manoj Jonna: (39:57)
It's all bullshit. I mean, Kathleen's crushing it, right? She's probably one of the best sales reps that I've ever worked with. And I'm so glad that we have the opportunity to work with someone like that. I'm even happier that they found value in a grant. And so that's the third group of folks. And as we look into the next five, 10 years and we ask ourselves, what's going to happen when entire categories of jobs are going to disappear, I've already started seeing fully autonomous cars pick up people and drop people off. So what's gonna happen to every Uber driver and Lyft driver that's out there? I've already seen robots deliver food. When I was walking in LA I saw a robot delivering food. What's going to happen to every door dash driver, that's out there, right? What are these people going to do? We need some platform to quickly re-skill them. And then route them to jobs that will be jobs for the future. And I know that a two and four-year college degree isn't going to do that. And these folks need a paycheck. They, the last thing they want to do is go to school for four years. And so if we are able to be that platform that quickly re-skills people and routes them into career paths of the future, that would be a big win for us. So those are the three groups of people that find value in rev.
Mike Gardon: (41:02)
I love that story. You know, I think that we're gonna hear more part-time retirement or whatever. Somebody needs to coin a phrase around that because like, I think that's the future for sure. I, as I'm 41 right now I don't feel like I'll ever retire because I always wanna be doing something. So I love that story. And I think like one other group that you might wanna look at is, um, moms coming back into the workforce, like, man, I have worked with some amazing moms who are just hyper-efficient looking for part-time work or maybe getting back into full time and, and they're ready to go. And they're, they're really, really good. So that might be another spot for you to look at.
Manoj Jonna: (41:41)
I, uh, I smile because our, the other sales hire is a mom who took a 10-year career break, also learned on Ram also a sales hire. So the two full-time salespeople that we had higher one and higher two are these folks. Right? And again, I know the challenges that they'll have trying to get back into a career path because you know, folks will point their fingers and say, Hey, uh, 10-year career break. How do I know you actually interested in tech sales, tech sales in rocket science? That's what you have at Ramped. You come in and you learn the set of skills and you find a job.
Mike Gardon: (42:09)
That's fantastic. I love it. I wanna be conscious of your time, but I do have one more question, actually, two once really quick though, I wanna read one more thing that you wrote recently that I loved, which is things that scared me earlier in my career that do as much anymore. One is wrong, two, is not being liked, and three is breaking norms and conventions. Did you get anything else to add there?
Manoj Jonna: (42:31)
No, I mean, listen, I, I would say just try and fail, fail hard, and fail often. I feel like we should celebrate failures as much as we celebrate successes, it should be okay to fail. Cause that's where a lot of my growth has come from. And you should all be doing a better job at creating a space for folks to fail and start pointing fingers and saying, you didn't do a good job or you're not smart. You're not talented. You know, man, acknowledge the courage it takes to try something new. I mean, anything that's worth living for today. Every innovation that we're all benefiting from and enjoying has come from someone taking a leap of faith and someone failing. Right? And so especially, you know, folks that are early in their careers, you could just fail, keep failing. Anytime I get too comfortable, I know that I'm not doing something right. And so my goal is to always have a better discomfort, a bit of on these cause that's where most of the growth comes from.
Mike Gardon: (43:23)
Very good. I think what stands out most to me in, in light of our conversation today is number three, breaking norms, and conventions. When I think about our conversation around career switching and how to get hired, right? Like you have to be willing to break some of those norms and conventions. You can't be constrained by the regular resume application process. Right? You gotta figure out how to be okay. Breaking that and promoting yourself right in that, in that process. So that's what stands out to me. I love it. I hope you keep posting all this stuff cuz I'm, I'm loving all of it. All right. Well, I really appreciate you being here. My last question is I've gotten a lot of value out of following you on the internet. I want you to tell people where they can find out more about you and Ramped.
Manoj Jonna: (44:05)
Yeah. My DMS is always open I'm on LinkedIn all the time. So hit me up. I'm happy to help anyone. That's looking to, you know, find a new job. It's something that I'm personally, you know, super invested in and my inbox is always opened. Uh, and for those that are interested in Ramped, check out our website, www dot Rampedcareers.com. We're open for business. And if you're looking for a job, you want a job in sales or recruiting or you know, financial advising and we'll add more career paths, hit us up. We're here to help.
Mike Gardon: (44:32)
Excellent. We'll have links to all that in our show notes so everybody can, can find you and hopefully follow you. Cuz again, I've learned a lot and I hope you just keep building in public. Manoj thanks so much for being here.
Manoj Jonna: (44:46)
Thank you, Mike.
Mike Gardon: (44:47)
All right. We'll talk. Soon.
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