Job Search Tools: The Ax vs. The Chainsaw

April 21st, 2015

Last week in Utah there was a crazy wind storm… it caused all kinds of accidents, and blew people’s stuff around their backyards.  And, of course, it caused a few Globe Willows to fall down.  Globe Willows are called “garbage trees” because of the amount of branches that fall from them… they grow very, very fast, but are also susceptible to having big branches fall in a storm.  Last week a friend posted a picture on Facebook of his tree that had fallen towards his house.

I had only had one occasion to use a chainsaw before, and it was pretty fun, so I jumped on the chance to do it again.  On Facebook he said he would chop it up best he could… he said he didn’t have a chainsaw, but he had an ax.  I’m sure he was joking about using an ax… have you ever used an ax? It’s very hard work, especially on a job like this.

A chainsaw is the tool that can make this a job to do in less than an hour.  Using an ax would be a full day of frustrating and tiring work.  It is NOT the right tool for this job.

I took my kids over and we had a fun time with two chainsaws.  My 14 year old did a lot of the work, and two of my girls got a chance to use the chainsaw… their first experience.  We are all more experienced now… and on the way home we got some ice cream cones, and unloaded a van full of firewood.

If we used an ax, we would not have finished even half of the tree, it would have been a lot messier, and I would have been completely worn out.  None of that was the case… because we had the right tool.

In your job search, JibberJobber is the chainsaw.  Your spreadsheet is the ax.

Yes, the spreadsheet can do the job. But it will require more time, and be more tedious, and take more mental energy, leaving you drained.

Put your effort into networking, not into forcing your tools to work.  

The night before we did this job, we went to a friend’s house to borrow his chainsaw.  He said “most people want to push down on the branch they are cutting.  Don’t do that… let the chainsaw do the work.”

If you are muscling through a spreadsheet, you will have to “push down” and do a lot of work.  You’ll get tired, and wear yourself out.  Or, more realistically in a job search, you’ll become less organized, and spend too much time making the tool work.

It’s your choice.  You can even use a steak knife or garden shears to do this job…. but in a job search you don’t have to go for the wrong tool.  Simply get an account on JibberJobber. It’s like a free chainsaw.

Before picture:

jibberjobber_right_tool_1

After picture:

jibberjobber_right_tool_2

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

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Marginal Improvements In Your Job Search

April 20th, 2015

Last week I was asked what profound idea or inspiration I had in the last year.  It took a while to think through things… not because I had a lot but because it’s easy to underestimate the power of the thoughts we have, and realize that they are profound.

Finally, I thought about where my head has been the last 6+ months.  We have been making marginal improvements to JibberJobber.  Not just in the last six months, but for the last almost-nine-years, since we launched.

If you add up those marginal, seemingly small changes, over the years, you get something pretty great.  Or, on the road to great.

For me, marginal improvements means something that is better, but it doesn’t have to be tons better.  We’re not talking about a full make-over… for example, you don’t have to get rid of all of your clothes and buy all new ones.  But maybe you buy new socks, or new shoes, or a new tie, or a new blouse.  That is a small, bite-sized, manageable, affordable improvement.

Maybe a marginal improvement is that today you work on smiling more, even though you will not see anyone.  Smile while you are on the phone. Smile while you write that email.  Heck, I just smiled while writing this line, and THINGS CHANGED in my brain!  My attitude changed a little bit.  It sounds crazy, and I have no science or links to back it up, but what if you smiled more.  An affordable improvement that is so small, but it might just take you down a better path.

A business mentor I’ve had for years, Mark LeBlanc, sent me a card that I have in front of me… on the front it says “consistency trumps commitment.”   The power of consistent actions, and consistent improvements, no matter how small, has played a big part in my business, and the fact that we’re still around even while a half-dozen competitors have come and gone over the years.

I invite you to think about marginal improvements you can make in your job search, or personal life.  Move forward without becoming overwhelmed by the idea that you can’t improve because improvement costs too much, either in time or money.  Make the tiny, doable, bite-sized changes that you can, and let those accumulate over the days, weeks and months.

This is something you can do!

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

Sign Up Now! »

Seeking New Opportunities: The Email You Write

April 15th, 2015

I recently got an email from a friend who just got laid off… and thought I would share how I would coach this person to write it differently. I know this person, trust this person, and would help this person as much as I can… which is a little different than those out-of-the-blue, cold-contact from strangers emails you get from LinkedIn. I’m sure you’ve either sent something similar, or you’ve gotten something like this. First, the email:

(1) Jason,

(2) I hope you and your family are doing well. (3) I am currently seeking new opportunities. (4) I have been let go from my previous employer after a restructuring. (5) If you hear of any opportunities (6)  for someone of my skill-set, I would greatly appreciate any recommendation you can give me. (7) Thanks dude.

(8) Best wishes,
[name]

(9)

I was delighted to get this email since it was from a friend I hadn’t heard from in at least a couple of years, probably more.  The email was good, but it was definitely lacking.  Here’s what I recommend:

(1) Keep my first name there just like you have it (and don’t put “dear”). This makes it personal and I know I’m not on a bulk email, althought if I were on a bulk email from this person, it would be okay (because of our past relationship and trust).

(2) Keep the first sentence, which puts it at the friend-level, before anything else.

(3) I’m glad to cut to the chase and hear that you are looking for a new gig (or, opportunities).  Immediately my attention is gotten and kept.  Good.

(4) The sentence that you got let go, and keeping it from sounding bitter, is perfect.  Nothing more to say.  Don’t lay blame, don’t assume blame, don’t sound jaded… just state that much and let’s move on to the purpose of this communication.

(5) Good… let me know how I can help you… is essentially tapping into the hidden job market.

(6) Okay… now this is where you lost me.  You see… I don’t know what your current skill-set is. It has been a long time since we worked together.  But honestly, even if we worked together yesterday, I think you should explicitly state what your skill-set is.  I don’t know if you want me to focus on your software skills, or your customer skills, or your product management skills, or your project management skills, or your management skills. Or, you could be interested in some other skill-set that I don’t associate with you, but others might.  I need you to explicitely spell this out, and I would do it concisely (not all of your skills, but the ones you are most interested in) in another paragraph (just to keep a good amount of white space in this email).

Here’s what I would include in this email, which I think will immensely help others help you (which is what you want to do, right?):

I’m specifically looking for a role at a company in the x, y, or z industries.  Something like CompanyA, CompanyB, or CompanyC would be awesome, but those aren’t the only companies I’m looking for.  My title might be software developer, programmer, senior program, or something similar.  Do you know any9one at those companies, or do you know anyone with those titles, that you could introduce me to so I could have a short conversation with them?  Do you know of other companies or people I should talk to?

The first part of this short paragraph expands their vision of where I want to end up, and what I want to do.  The last two questions are yes/no questions… easy for them to answer.

(7) I was a little on the fence about this, but this totally fits this guy’s personality.

(8)Get ending… but….

(9) I would LOVE to get a link to your LinkedIn Profile, at a minimum, and perhaps a personal website or blog where I can read up on you, your projects, etc.  Give me some meat so I can “stalk” you for a few minutes, and perhaps jog my memory of all of your professional coolness so I feel confident in recommending you.

So that’s about it… a real world email from someone looking for help, and two main things I would add.

I have some video courses you can watch to bring you up to speed on some of these things. Remember, watch a full course, at no cost, and you get an additional 7 days of premium on JibberJobber.  Video explaining this here.

Pluralsight courses I recommend related to this post:

  • Informational Interviews (once you get introductions, this is your next step)
  • Effective Email Communication
  • Designing a Killer Job Search Strategy
  • Developing a Killer Personal Brand
  • LinkedIn Strategy: Optimize Your Profile
  • LinkedIn: Proactive Strategies
  • Resumes and Self-marketing for Software Developers
  • Career Management 2.0

To watch these for free, and get 7 days JibberJobber premium for each course you watch, watch this video:

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

Sign Up Now! »

New Course: Resumes and Self-marketing (for Software Developers)

April 14th, 2015

Last week my newest Pluralsight course went live: Resumes and Self-marketing for Software Developers

This is a course on what to do with your resume… how to use it to self-market, and basic understanding of the resume as a marketing tool.

Remember, for any Jason Alba course you watch on Pluralsight, and as many times as you watch it, you can get an additional 7 days of JibberJobber Premium… no limit! Follow these steps (or scroll down and watch the new video below the image to see exactly how to watch this for free, and get additional Premium on JibberJobber!).

Here’s Pluralsight’s announcement on Facebook:

 

pluralsight_course_resume_facebook

 

Not sure if I’ve had anything on Facebook associated to me with that many likes!

Here’s the video on exactly how to do this:

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

Sign Up Now! »

New On The Job? How To Announce Yourself To Customers

April 13th, 2015

I got this email from a sales professional last week:

“I manage a large territory for my company and I am fairly new here and have a lot of customers.

I have probably only met or talked with 20% of them which are the ones that purchase regularly. The other 80% have purchased in the past and it is very possible they could purchase more or have upcoming projects but they don’t know me or forgot about our company.

Should I send an email blast introducing myself?

This is different than a marketing blast, rather, it is a way for me to reach out to a lot of people but it takes away the personal touch.

Do I do that or take the time to address each one in a separate email with a generic this is who I am and what my company offers and contact me if you have questions, need help, etc.

My initial response was, YES, definitely do this.

I’ve been marketing myself, as a job seeker, and then my business, for 9+ years.  What I’ve learned is that if you do not put yourself in front of people, they forget about you.  You are responsible for getting and staying in front of your audience.

I’ve also learned that the initial contact is just barely breaking the ice.  They key is to get in front of them regularly, as appropriate.  That is one reason why you have CRM systems.  If your company doesn’t provide a CRM system to you, then use JibberJobber.  If your company does provide a CRM to you, but you are making great friendships and professional contacts that you want to take to your next job, then use JibberJobber :)

Here are my specific thoughts and reactions to this person’s questions:

Is this going to be okay with your company/boss?  I can’t imagine a sales professional getting into trouble for sending this type of email, but you might want to check with your boss.  They might know something about a customer they fired (that you shouldn’t get in touch with), or they might point you to some tools or queries to make what you want to do easier.

Should it be one bulk email (BCC, of course!) or multiple individual emails? Pros and cons of both.  I would say it depends on a few things… where are you sending it from?  If you send from a Gmail or Verizon or a personal account (which I wouldn’t recommend), they have daily sending limits.  Going over those limits might get you in trouble (ie, getting locked out of sending email for 24 hours). If you bulk send from your work account, and your email server is on blacklists, count on maybe 5% of your emails getting through (I don’t know the percentage, but just assume hardly any get through).  The idea of doing one bulk email is nice because it’s faster, but I’m not convinced it’s that reliable.

Sending individual emails is more reliable, I think, and you might do 20 – 50 each day. This will even help you manage the responses, over days, instead of all in the first day or two.  But it will obviously take more time. The real question is how many emails are you sending?  If it’s 10,000, do bulk and go from there.  If it’s just a few hundred, send a few dozen each day until you finish.

About the “personal touch,” you can easily do that with individual emails… but you can also do it in bulk.  There are programs you can use (like mailchimp, and even outlook) that can merge names with a general body of text…

What information should the email have?  The number one purpose of this email is to introduce yourself.  In doing that, you’ll reinforce the branding of your company (in other words, remind the customer that your company exists and has stuff for them). You should give them contact information… work and cell # (that’s how salespeople roll, right?).  Keep the email short… don’t go into new products, etc.  I would let them know I’m the new rep, I’m excited to be there, and I’m easy to reach (and I’m responsive).  I want them to know that I’m their partner and want to help their projects be successful.   I will include a one-liner about my company, like “we manufacture the best widgets for the _______.” so people can remember where I fit into their life.  And, as overwhelming as this might sound, I invite them to call me in the next week (or two) and tell me what projects they are working on, what they have coming up, any issues from past projects with our stuff, etc.

I want this email to start the relationship, and invite them to let us take it to the next level.  That might be a emails, it might be a phone call, it might be a face-to-face… but let me introduce you to me and let’s start a relationship.

How often should I follow-up?  What should the follow-up have?  Make sure this first email is not the last email.  As a customer I know I need multiple communications before I trust you, and I need you to hit me at or around the right time (or, when I’m in the market to buy your stuff).  I suggest doing a blast, en bulk, each month.  This can be short, it can talk about new products, or it can talk about case studies where your products/services helped other customers.  The last thing would be the most interesting read for me.  It keeps me engaged (because it’s fun to read), and shows me that you understand that my success is important to me, and it’s also important to you.  I’m not just a customer to help you meet your quota, but you really care. The key?  MONTHLY.

How do I justify future follow-ups?  What if I have nothing new to say or report?  Then create something.  Talk to your customers and ask them if they could share some of their wins with your list.  If you don’t get those stories, then create information that will help others… suggestions, tips, best practices, industry news, etc.  Don’t write too much – we all suffer from information overload, and you don’t want to be that email that I’m sure to delete.

Is that it?  Will I be successful with this strategy?  I don’t think so. I think you need to have an integrated sales/marketing approach… that is, pick up the phone. Meet customers in person.  Don’t just rely on email.  But you already knew that.

Now, get your email constructed, proof it for type-os and grammar, and make sure the messaging is exactly what your customers should understand, and then send it.  

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

Sign Up Now! »

How To: Use the Pluralsight Course Tracker

April 11th, 2015

I have some images on this but I think this 4 minute video will be a better tutorial… check it out!  This is how you self-report on courses you have watched:

If you have any questions, please ask :)

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

Sign Up Now! »

Announcing: The Getting Started in JibberJobber Video Series!

April 10th, 2015

I’m excited to finally get this project to a point where I can announce it – I’ve been thinking about it for way too long, and this week I finally made it a priority!  This should help a lot of people “get started” on JibberJobber.  If you recommend JibberJobber to friends, family, job clubs, etc., point them here!  You get here by clicking on Videos, and then it’s right up at the top.

Since October of last year the Focus Friday calls have been structured so that they were in order for someone new to get off on the right foot.  I’ve taken those videos and removed the Q&A, and reduced the time to considerably less than what is in the Focus Friday series… and put them in the right order.

When you come to the Getting Started page you’ll see them numbered so it’s easy to keep track of where you left off. You can also see which videos you have seen.

Confused about what to do next in JibberJobber?  Start watching the short videos, in order.

Want help on specific functionality in JibberJobber?  Scroll through the list of topics and pick the one that will help you get unstuck.

As of right now, the videos are (each week we should add another topic):

  • Getting Started: Introduction (1)
  • Getting Started: Overwhelmed? Watch this! (1.5)
  • Getting Started: Homepage & Widgets (2)
  • Getting Started: Setting Up Tags (3)
  • Getting Started: Log Entries and Action Items (6)
  • Getting Started: Verifying Action Items and Log Entries Got In (7)
  • Getting Started: Log Entries and Action Item List Panel (8)
  • Getting Started: Optimizing the List Panel (9)
  • Getting Started: Managing Duplicates (10)
  • Getting Started: Exporting from LinkedIn (11)
  • Getting Started: Importing from a CSV File (12)
  • Getting Started: Recurring Action Items (13)
  • Getting Started: Calendar Views (14)
  • Getting Started: Interview Prep (15)
  • Getting Started: Job Description Analysis (16)
  • Getting Started: Events on Jobs (17)
  • Getting Started: The Job Journal (18)

The “viewed” shows whether you have watched it or not:

jibberjobber-getting-started_homepage

Do you have requests for other topics? Let me know!

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

Sign Up Now! »

Overwhelmed by JibberJobber? Watch This Video on the Core Values!

April 9th, 2015

I’m really, really excited about this video!

Why?

Because I’ve heard that JibberJobber is too confusing, and there are too many things you can do.  I’ve tried to figure out how to create a visualization of the what and why, and a few nights ago I finally figured it out.  Without further ado, check it out:

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

Sign Up Now! »

Saving a Closed Job in JibberJobber (instead of deleting)

April 9th, 2015

Last week two people asked how to save a Job that is “closed,” instead of just deleting it.  This is actually pretty important… sometimes a closed Job has a job description you don’t want to lose, or you don’t want to lose the Log Entries (aka, history) and communications you had as you worked on that Job.  BUT, you also don’t want to see it on the Jobs List Panel.

First, you can change the STATUS of a Job from the Detail Page or the List Panel.  Below is a picture of doing it from the List Panel (mouse over the cell, and when it turns gray, double click on it to edit the value).  Notice that you can change it from Open to Closed, Cancelled, or Held.  Use the icon at #1 if you don’t see the Status field… you’ll be able to show that field on your List Panel.

jj-jobs-closed

 

You can easily filter which jobs show up on the List Panel, by Status, by changing the drop-down on the left side of the screen:

jibberjobber_jobs_opened_jobs

One thing you don’t want to do is work really hard, collect great information (aka intelligence), and then lose because, for example, a Job was closed.  You don’t have to – keep it all for future reference!

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

Sign Up Now! »

New Updates/Release in JibberJobber

April 8th, 2015

Monday night we released some of the projects our team has been working on.  They barely took a breath to release it while continuing on some other things… here are some of the things we pushed out on Monday night:

1. We continue to tweak the interface for Pluralsight videos… We put a help icon in the white box right under the menu, and if you turned that off, you can still get to Pluralsight stuff by mousing over Tools, and then find Pluralsight Videos.  This takes you to all of the pages you would want to see (list of videos, your private code, the Tracker, etc.).  The whole idea is to make this easier for you to get access to the videos, and report what you have watched so you get an additional week of JibberJobber per course watched.

2. We cleaned up the Tree View… including:

  1. We cleaned up this line… took out 1/2 of the words.
  2. We cleaned up this line… took out about 1/2 of the words.
  3. We changed the icon from a paper looking thing that was hard to see/read to this easy-to-read circle.
  4. We highlight the name of the person that you clicked on the tree from, so it’s easy to see where that person falls.
  5. We moved some of the links to the far right, so it cleans up the left side of the screen.

See a theme?  CLEANER :)

jibberjobber_tree_view_new

3. Along those lines, we cleaned up the Interview Prep main page, which was just too busy.  Not going to highlight every change, but each arrow represents where we cleaned up (I even forgot an arrow right under the title)… the idea is to reduce clutter and not make you feel like you have too read a bunch of stuff before you do something in JibberJobber!

jibberjobber_interview_prep_cleaner_april_2015

4. We made the page numbers on the bottom of the general search cleaner, and easier to read.  Basically all of the numbers are bigger, and the page you are on is much bigger (and not a link).  This will make navigating through the search results easier.  CLEANER!

jibberjobber_general_search_cleanup_april2015

5. We updated the About Us page so people wouldn’t hate so much.  Really, someone emailed a while back angry that the About Us page was written wrong.  Angry.  Seriously.  Well, of course, it’s not a bad idea to make changes… and so I finally spent some time rewriting the page…. you can now see information about JibberJobber, and a bit of our history.  And this rewrite cleans up some of the cobwebs that frankly needed to be removed from that page.  CLEAN-UP :)

jibberjobber_about_us_april_2015

We also did some new admin, behind-the scenes stuff that you won’t see or notice, but that will have an impact on how we work… so yeah!  We are deep into two big projects right now, but will continue to try and clean JibberJobber to make your experience more delightful and intuitive.

 

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

Sign Up Now! »

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