Spouse’s Role in a Job Search, and under 5% Unemployment Rate

February 5th, 2016

I just got pinged from a blog post, which included a link to one of my most favorite blog posts.  Joyce is a photographer in Houston, and wrote about her husband’s layoff.  Please read this. For all of the politicians celebrating the terrific under 5% unemployment rate, this is the reality of today’s world, when a layoff happens:

Curve Ball

In her post, Joyce links to a post I wrote six years ago, titled The Spouse’s Role In Your Job Search.  I have 13 points there… please read that, too, and share it with people who need to read it.

In my comment to Joyce, I wrote:

I just read about the super low unemployment rate that everyone in the U.S. should be celebrating… just like had 10 years ago when I was in transition. It felt like everyone was happy about how great the economy was, but in my house, the unemployment rate was 100%

A low unemployment rate when I was unemployed meant that there was something wrong with me.  Nothing made sense in that logic, but it didn’t help my thinking or attitude.

This is why I do what I do.  Because there are real families and relationships and lives impacted.

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Income Security Amid Layoffs

February 4th, 2016

Tis the season to get laid off. And you thought this time of the year was the best time to get a job!

Well, sure, it is a great time to get a job.  But layoffs are still happening.  And they will, forever. Autodesk lays off 925 people, BP will lay off 7,000 people after a “damaging fourth quarter”, and  Yahoo will recorrect with a sayonara to 1,700 people, to “revive company growth.”

Those are just some of the big ones.  There are gobs of little layoffs.

As I talk to job seekers and JibberJobber users I realize that many of them have the same feeling that I had in my job search: why work so hard just to land a job that you might not like, at a company that might have a crummy culture, working for a boss who really should be your employee, and having the promise of job security that is as solid as vapor.

Let’s reconsider what a job is.  A job is simply one revenue/income stream.  We really should have multiple income streams.  When you have, say, three income streams, and you lose one, it hurts, but it doesn’t hurt as much as much as losing one income stream… if you only have one!

When I was hitting rock bottom during my job search, I came to terms with this idea. I figured what I really needed was money to pay my bills.  I didn’t care if that mean I got a paycheck every other week, or once every 10 years… as long as it was legal, moral and ethical, I was open to it.

Realizing this helped me realize that any future jobs I would have would mean I had another revenue stream… but that that didn’t have to be my sole revenue stream.

See where I’m going with all of this?

HOW CAN YOU CREATE OTHER REVENUE STREAMS?  I guarantee you that the people who have multiple revenue streams have different feelings, and are further ahead, than people who don’t have other income streams, when the layoffs come.

I’m not talking about job security, which to a large degree is out of our control. I’m talking about income security.

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How Long Does It Take To Apply Online?

February 3rd, 2016

Ah, this brings back memories (click the image to see the animation at giphy.com (embedding here made my blog/server choke!)):

jibberjobber_blog_monkey_ats

And worse than this was when you actually did entered all the stuff, and then all the stuff again, hit submit, and it threw an error…..

ARRRRRGH!!!

hat tip: About Job Search‘s facebook page

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Creative Problem Solving: The Boulder Analogy

February 1st, 2016

Many years ago, I heard a story about a builder who wanted to put a house in the perfect place, but there was one problem: a boulder.  This boulder was so big that the builder just couldn’t make it budge.  Pushing it, pulling it… nothing seemed to get it to move.

As the story unfolded it was clear that there was no good option, except maybe to build around the bolder.  Until one day, the builder figured out a terrific solution.  There was one direction he hadn’t previously thought about moving this boulder: down.  Instead of pushing or pulling, he simply dug a really deep hole, almost directly under the boulder, and the boulder eventually was coerced to drop down.  Problem solved.

Let’s ignore any problems you have with the engineering of this solution and just accept that it was a brilliant, indeed a creative, solution, to a seemingly impossible problem

Like the seemingly impossible problem of finding a job.  When you feel like you got kicked in the teeth by the rat race.  When you know what you need to do, but just don’t want to go through the motions because WHY?  Why do the stuff when you might not like the job, or the boss… or you might get laid off in a year or two and be back at square one?

That is an unmovable rock that I understand.  I lived it, exactly 10 years ago today.  Ten years and a couple of weeks ago, though, I figured out what it meant to stop pushing, and stop pulling, and just dig a hole the rock could drop into.  And that I have done, over the last ten years… dug, dropped the rock, and brushed dirt over the hole.

I imagine we all have boulders that are in our way.  They are debilitating, they are intimidating.  But they are not unconquerable.

My friends, push and pull if it’s the right thing to do to your boulders, but be open to different solutions.  Creativity is not just for artists.  You, as a problem solver, are entitled to coming up with creative solutions to your problems.  Just realize that sometimes creative sounds brilliant, sometimes it sounds nuts.  If it sounds nuts, you might need an extra dose of courage to follow-through with your idea.

 

 

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The Only Skill That Really Matters

January 29th, 2016

I bet if you thought about this long enough, you could come up with the same idea.  But instead of asking you to guess, I’ll just tell you what Matt Charney suggests it is.  In his post, “The Only Skill That Really Matters for Recruiting and Sourcing,” Matt suggests the skill is “learning agility.”

Read his post to get the gist of his message.

I have been immersed over my adult life with “learning.”  In the olden days, learning has meant you go to school and get some quantification (like a degree) that you learned. When I started my career in information technology, there was a lot of buzz about the uselessness of IT certifications. I heard more than once that someone had a certification, because they went to an intense week-long certification boot camp, but they didn’t even know how to turn a server on. Book learning, and classroom learning, didn’t prepare them to actually do the job.

I have my MBA from Idaho State University, but I don’t credit hardly any part of my career “success” to (1) having an MBA (2) from ISU.  The best thing about having an MBA is that I don’t have to wonder if I’d be a better entrepreneur or businessman if I were to have an MBA.  I can check that off the list, and move on.  That was a very expensive (with regard to time and money) checkmark.

I’m not saying that classroom, or school, learning is completely useless. I’ll let smarter pontificators talk about that.  I’d like to argue, like Matt, that there is a skill that we can, that we should, have, that can impact our success in many areas of our life.

Agility is defined as the ability to be “quick and graceful” with regard to learning new things. Or, to learn things “quickly and easily.”

Can that happen only in school?

NO, of course not.  It can happen from reading magazines, books, blogs, etc.  It can happen by talking to people who have expertise in an area that you don’t.  It can happen by hanging out with people who are smarter than you are. It can happen by exercising your curiosity muscle, self-discipline, and being more creative.

Learning is a life-long skill that we need to embrace.

Many years ago, before I was settled on a major, a friend of mine said I should go into programming, or IT, because I would “get to learn new things every day.” I was not excited about that because it mean if I wasn’t learning new things, I would fall behind.  My plan, at that point, was to major in business and Spanish, two things that didn’t change a whole lot (at least, not every single day).  Fate happened, and I majored in Computer Information Systems, and got a job as a web developer. The rest, as they say, is history.

And here I am, learning new things every single day. I have my favorite magazines, I fit in a few classics each year (I’m finishing Tale of Two Cities, by Dickens), and I read blogs and such with a voracious appetite.

I think when when Matt is talking about learning agility, he’s specifically referring to learning certain things quickly and easily, but I think that being curious and hungry for information, or for truth (one of Pluralsight’s three pillars is that they are “truth seekers”), involves any learning. As we learn how to learn, we can apply learning techniques to what our day job, or career, is. It’s a life skill that can help us adjust as the world, the market, and our day job adjusts, evolves and changes.

That’s one reason why I spend time with Pluralsight (and you can too).  This, in my mind, is the new learning. It’s one reason why I muscle my way through some of the classics that don’t grab me, and don’t seem interesting.  I once picked up a classic that I put down, in disgust, after 185 pages. I only had about 1,200 more pages to finish the book, but I just couldn’t read another page.  Three months later, I picked it up again, and loved the rest of the book.  I remember the part in the unabridged version of Les Mis, going through the sewers, thinking “do we really need this many pages of walking through the sewer? SERIOUSLY?”

But something happens when you read, and learn, and discipline yourself.  Something magical.

When you finish those books you can say “I DID IT.”  I can read Dickens. I can read Hugo. I can read Shakespeare.  So when I get a new project at work, and I have to do something, by golly, I CAN DO IT.  Figuring out my current project at work is not as hard as figuring out why a Shakespeare play is important, classic, or even what the plot is.

This, my friends, is exercising your learning muscles.  This is how you become an agile learner.  Quick and easy, quick a graceful… as you want to learn, and you practice learning, you’ll improve your ability to be an agile learner.  And this might be the most important skill that will serve you through the rest of your career.

Don’t you agree?

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Nonverbal Mistakes Made in a Job Interview

January 28th, 2016

Check out the craziness from the infographic below (I don’t remember where it came from, and there’s not source info on the infographic).

So, craziness includes:

- 21% play with their hair?  Too distracting for some bosses.

- 47% don’t know about the company?  tsk tsk!  Do your research, people!

- 67% don’t make eye contact?  Practice this… show confidence!

- 38% don’t smile?  Look, if you don’t seem happy to be hear, I might worry about putting you in front of a customer, or depressing your coworkers.

- 26% have a weak handshake? This is a personal pet peeve… practice shaking hands with a salesperson, or someone who does business with others.

- 65% of bosses said clothing would be the deciding factor between two similar candidates?  Might seem shallow, but how you dress is a statement about you, your EQ, etc.

I don’t mean to add more stress to your job search, but please be aware of the messages you are sending before you even open your mouth.

 

nonverbal-mistakes-job-interview

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Hack.Summit() – A Conference for YOU

January 27th, 2016

Have you heard of Hack.Summit()? I doubt it. I hadn’t heard of it until recently.

But I want you to know about it… this is a virtual event (think: series of webinars) for technical people.  OR, for people who want to become technical.  If you are a developer, this is a MUST ATTEND event.

Did I mention it is free? When you register you can “donate,” or you can tweet or share on facebook.  They say “if you are not in a financial position to donate, then you can get a free ticket if you share on Twitter or Facebook…”

I registered yesterday, which only took a few minutes to do.

What if you are not a developer?

No problem.  In the FAQs, it says:

“No specific knowledge of any given technology or coding language is required, but a general understanding of programming is very helpful, as some of the talks
will be technical.”

If you are interested in working in the high tech world, this might be a great introduction to what you think you are going to get into.

What if you can’t make it to any session between February 22 and February 25?

No problem, the sessions are RECORDED.  So sign up, and watch when you can. Here’s the link: https://hacksummit.org

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Nutrition for a Job Interview (StandOutCV Infograph)

January 26th, 2016

I remember an interview I went to where I was exhausted. I’m sure the interviewers picked up on that.  My body and brain were not ready to be “on stage.”  I did not get the job :(

In my time management and productivity course on Pluralsight (watch if free, following these instructions), I have a video titled “hacking your body and brain to be more productive.” I’ve been thinking about how our physical environment, body, nutrition, exercise, etc. affects our ability to focus, work, be productive, etc.  Shortly after the course went live, I found this post, titled “What to eat before a job interview.” Here’s the infographic.  How are you doing with your nutrition?

What should you eat before an interview

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How To Make The Presentation Of Your Life!

January 25th, 2016

My 27th Pluralsight course was published last night: Presenting to the Boss(es).  This is a course designed to help you prepare for, perform, and follow-up on, the most important presentation of your life.

This might be a presentation where you are pitching something to a prospect, informing your board of directors, showing your product to your product manager, demo’ing concepts on stage in front of a huge audience, or simply asking for a raise.  The outcome of your presentation could be that your career takes off, accelerates, that your project gets more funding, or that you buy your team more time and resources to get the project finished.  Or, if the presentation goes poorly, you might get fired, all of your team loses their jobs, the company dies, you lose customers, you miss market opportunities, etc.

This is The Performance Of Your Life. And this course helps you know how to do a great job before, during and after.  The three modules are:

  1. Preparing for an Outstanding Presentation (42 minutes)
  2. Optimizing the Presentation (52 minutes)
  3. Debriefing and Follow-up After the Presentation (30 minutes)

You can get free access to this course by following these instructions: not only will you be watching this course within a couple of minutes, but you’ll also earn another seven day upgrade: Pluralsight 30 day pass and free JibberJobber upgrade instructions

If you watch this, or any, course, please rank it (unless you didn’t like it :p) and leave a comment!

presenting-to-the-bosses-course

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What Good Is A Log Entry in JibberJobber?

January 22nd, 2016

Remember in the olden days, watching TV and you would see the test of the emergency broadcast system?  You might remember the TV to show this:

jj-blog-emergency-broadcast-system

I had that in mind as I saw this email come from one of my users, who was testing the Email2Log.  See, I invite people to test the Email2Log by sending me an email, using Email2Log to see if (a) a new Contact record was created (with my info), and (b) the Log Entry was created properly.

And it’s is FUN for me to get emails from users :)

Anyway, here’s the message from a new user, Lorne:

“This a test. If this was a real log I’m not sure what I would do with it.”

Thanks Lorne, for the laugh :)  As a friend of mine said last night, one of my problems is that I’ve been “in the forest for so long” that I will not see JibberJobber, and it’s complexities, the way a new user would.

So let me share some thoughts on what you “do with” a Log Entry.

To put it into perspective, a Log Entry is like a note that you have jotted down that you don’t want to lose. Perhaps you’ll refer to it later. And that, my friends, is the most simple way to describe a Log Entry.

What is the source of these “notes?”  It could be a thought I had about you. It could be a conversation that we’ve had. It could be information, details, facts, words said, intentions, or actions. This week I logged the payment of some bills, as well as conversations, into JibberJobber.

In my pre-JibberJobber life, I would have notes jotted down all over the place… some in my email inbox, some in my car, some in a notebook, some on my desk, some on or in my night stand, etc.  Now, with JibberJobber, I capture notes and ideas and conversations that I might want to refer to later in JibberJobber.

Back to Lorne’s question: what do you do with a Log Entry?

Usually, I do nothing.  Sounds weird, huh?  Why even jot it down if I do nothing with it?

I find myself with an active mind, with lots of things buzzing around. The less I have jotted down, the more I try to juggle in my mind.  That is no fun.  That causes sleep problems, and I find myself forgetting to do things because my mind is juggling too many things.  I’m no psychologist but that’s my self-diagnosis.  When I jot it down I give myself permission to forget about it, and mentally move on. I can focus on tasks at hand, and not worry about trying to remember a bunch of different things.

More important than that, though, is that I’ll sometimes want to refer to something I noted down later. A day later, a week or month later, and in the case of a reconnection with someone last week, 5 years later.

Last week I reconnected with a colleague.  This was a voice from the past, and honestly, I couldn’t remember what conversations we’ve had over the last five years.  Fortunately, I had logged those conversations (they were all through email, and I used Email2Log to easily capture them all). Instead of lingering on “who are you? Have we met?” it was easy to look this person up and look at the Log Entries and see how our relationship has evolved over time.

I continually hear from recruiters who talk to job seekers who don’t remember who they are, or that they had applied for the job the recruiter is calling about.  The recruiters tell me that when a job seeker doesn’t remember, and can’t find notes to jog their memory, they think the job seeker is not interested. This is the wrong message to send to someone who thinks that you might be the right person.

Over the years I have disciplined myself to add more details to Log Entries.  ”We had lunch” is an almost useless Log Entry (but, it’s better than nothing).  ”We had lunch at Red Lobster, I paid, we talked about X, Y, and Z, and I need to follow-up with Jill on Monday about A, B, and C” is a much better Log Entry.  Why?  Because two years later, reading “we had lunch” isn’t helpful… but reading what you talked about might help you pick up the conversation, and relationship, at the right place.

So there you go.  Over time you’ll get a feeling for what, and how much, to log.  Email2Log makes this really easy. I’ve always found that adding more is better than adding less, but just start where you are, and create your own system that works for you.

 

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