Tapping Her Inner Muse

In 2010, Kathryn Minshew, a young business analyst at McKinsey & Company, was ready to move on. She began searching for a job on a number of online job search sites—and was appalled.

“I was floored by how little the user experience had changed in the previous 5 or 10 years,” says Minshew, now 28. “I remember searching for business strategy jobs and being told that I should consider a job as an assistant store manager at a 7-11 in Secaucus, New Jersey. And most of the jobs listed were just a title, a logo, and a description of responsibilities. It didn’t feel like it matched up with the current state of the market, which is a load of very talented people who have a lot of options.”

A switch was flipped, and Minshew became determined to launch a career search site that reflected the reality of both the business landscape and the user experience of young, skilled, tech-savvy job seekers.

In 2011, in partnership with Alexandra Cavoulacos, Minshew founded The Muse. The Muse distinguishes itself from other job sites in its personalization—think OkCupid for job searches. It uses profiles, social media, photos, and even videos to match prospective job seekers with compatible employers. The interface is intuitive and nonintimidating—it almost makes the odious task of job hunting fun.

“The classic job search product was highly transactional and almost sterile in its design. It might get you from A to B, but there was no sense of why and of what other options were on the table,” says Minshew.

The Muse has struck a chord, and the site is growing rapidly. “We had 20,000 people visit the site when we launched in September 2011, 26,000 the next month, 70,000 the third, and now we reach over 1 million people every month.”
She has become an evangelist not only for her company but also for navigating the corporate hiring maze. Minshew has appeared on Today, on CNN, and has spoken at the Harvard Business School and MIT.

When asked what advice she frequently gives to aspiring entrepreneurs, Minshew advocates persistence.

“I tell people no does not mean no. It means wait, understand why I said no, and try again after an appropriate amount of time has passed. If you accept no the first time, it’s going to be really hard getting far building a company. That said, I don’t think it’s appropriate to be pushy or overly insistent, but I think great entrepreneurs work hard to find that balance.”

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