In my job search I found myself at a workshop, and later, weekly networking meetings, with a kind soul named Sterling. Sterling had been a sales professional and instead of sitting in a Lay-Z-Boy and watching TV, he gave many hours of service to help people find a new job.
One of the things I remember learning from Sterling was what a “step job” is. Many people who met Sterling were looking for their dream job. The stat at the time was that for every $10,000 you needed to make, you should plan on one month of looking. So, if you wanted to make $60,000 a year, your job search should take about six months. Of course, there are way too many factors that play into that, but it was a good way of saying “you are going to be in a job search for a LONG TIME!”
So what do you do during this long time? Of course you don’t go to McGreasy’s and flip burgers… that would be below your dignity, right?
Worse than being below your dignity, the problem with a minimum wage job is that it’s too expensive for a job seeker who is looking for a career-level job. Minimum wage jobs typically have inflexible, bad schedules, and they will only pay a portion of your bills. But I think the dignity issue is the thing that keeps professional-level people out of those jobs in a job search.
But what do you do for money for the six+ months?
That’s where the step job comes in. A step job is not a minimum wage job (unless the numbers work (that is, you can pay your bills with that)), rather a job that is a fraction of what you would have made at your dream job. So, perhaps you take a $40,000 year job in your field, or in a field you have experience in, while you continue your job search.
That might be really hard to do, financially, and it might feel like you are setting yourself back, or “settling,” but there is merit in taking a step job. The most important one, I think, is this:
It’s (supposedly) easier to find a new job while you have a job (rather than being unemployed).
There is a stigma that anyone looking for a job faces. It is that they are broken, lazy, problematic, unqualified, offensive, not productive, dumb… the list goes on. whatever it is, it is multiplied when you are completely unemployed.
Even recruiters, the people we think are tasked with finding real talent, tend to be biased against those who are completely unemployed (sorry recruiters, for the generalization, I know there are some of you who don’t think that way).
The step job helps you identify with the unbroken people – those who have jobs. Sure, you are unemployed, but this is temporary. And during this temporary time, you get an income, you get to be around people, you have a purpose each day (your job), you get to network (if you take advantage of the opportunity)…
What you need to do, unless you are going to settle for your step job and give up hope on a dream job, is work really, really hard in your job search.
Yes, I know it’s hard to do this while working full-time.
But your step job is a step to your next job. Use that step to move forward. You’ll be exhausted, but if you work SMART, you should get closer to the job you want, deserve, and need.
Quick, what are the first stereotypes that come to mind for these five labels:
Republican business owner
Democrat who volunteers time
Person with bad spelling on her resume
What are the five things that came to mind? Perhaps it was:
nerdy, not good with social skills, sometimes rude
cat lover who puts cats, trees and stuff like that in front of human needs
unqualified and not smart or caring enough to deserve this job
Now, I’m not saying that the people from the first list always, exactly, or ever match the descriptors in the second list. But….
You see, our world is rife with generalizations, titles, categories, stereotypes. We like to take something complex and simplify it… and have a name for it. We like to say “he is ______” and then everyone can say “ooooooh, that explains everything. I get it now.”
It’s like when I was talking to a recruiter and he asked me about my education. I said I got a CIS degree and an MBA, and he said “oh, I know everything about you. People like you are a dime a dozen.”
Yep, he said that.
Externally I’m sure I just looked at him… internally I was really quite bothered (furious would be too strong of a word).
I had been stereotyped, categories, generalized.
I thought “I’m so much more than that!” Let me talk with you for a while, whether that’s five minutes of five hours, and you’ll learn that I’m not the dime-a-dozen CIS/MBA kid!
The world is full of quick-thinking categorizers (as a blogger, I’m entitled to make up words. Wait, did I just generalize all bloggers as pompous word creators?).
I know YOU are a categorizer (which is a lot softer than saying you are biased, a stereotyper, or the very harsh word: a racist).
We all make these quick judgement categorizations in our head. We meet someone and based on what we take in (see, smell, touch (strength of handshake), etc.) we generalize.
We learn about where they are from and make generalizations.
We hear their job title, or where they went to school, or even what state they live in or are from, and make generalizations.
I LOOK AT YOUR BUMPER STICKERS ON YOUR CAR AND I MAKE GENERALIZATIONS!
Our brains are just wired to think this way. It’s not necessarily right, it’s not necessarily fair, but it’s the way we all think.
So, how do you fight being stereotyped while you are in a job search? Because we all know that job seekers are, for one reason or another, pathetic, right? We know that if you were really “that good” then you wouldn’t have lost your job in the first place… right?
Oops, there I go generalizing again.
Okay, here are my thoughts on fighting the stereotypes:
Accept that people will, and do, stereotype. The biggest bias I hear about in my travels and at my presentations is that of age discrimination. Here’s what I’ve learned: if you are “older,” it starts around 35 or 40. If you are “younger” in the professional world, it will last until you are about 30. But trust me, even those who are between 30 and 40 will have age-based bias and discrimination. IT JUST HAPPENS.
Understand that you can break out of the stereotype. Sometimes this is easy, but sometimes you will be fighting stereotypes in someone’s mind that are impossible to fight. It might just take sitting over lunch with someone, while they get to know you, and having the right conversation. Once they know you as a dynamic human, instead of a prejudged (fill in the blank), then you are breaking out of the stereotype. However, some will not be broken. Like the woman who said “I will never hire a women in childbearing years.” Illegal, for sure. But something had happened to bias her against hiring someone who might have a kid. Fighting that stereotype with that person is a losing battle.
Breaking out of the stereotype takes consistent work and use of tools. Tools like a blog, where you can wax eloquent about your virtues, your experience, your value add, etc. Tools like a strong and appropriate LinkedIn Profile. Tools like a tagline or value statement. Tools like a catchy or effective business card. Tools like your choice of clothes, or how you do your hair or makeup. Word choice, etc. How you present yourself should be aligned with what your brand is. Don’t assume that your resume is your (only) branding tool.
You can control what your brand is. Did you see how we shifted from “stereotypes” to “branding?” They are pretty much the same thing. You either have an unintentional brand, usually based on stereotypes and generalizations, or you have an intentional brand, which is how you want others to perceive you. You need to think about how you want others to perceive you, and then actively work on your messaging, and help them perceive you that way.
These are four ideas to get you pointed in the right direction with taking control of how others perceive you. I know this can be a lot of work, but it should be who you are. In other words, once you understand this stuff, it shouldn’t feel like it’s a lot of work. It’s just how you act, what you do.
Once you have broken out of the stereotypes, and your brand is louder than those generalizations, you will have an easier time with all-things-career, including networking, interviewing, switching jobs, etc.
I’m regularly asked what tags people should use in JibberJobber, for Contacts, Companies, and Jobs.
That, really, is up to you. I have things like family, friends, recruiters, prospects, and things that make sense for me. I even have a tag for “service_providers” which I’ll use for my garage door guy, small appliance repair guy, accountant, etc. You know, all of the people I don’t necessarily want to have to call (because calling them usually mean paying money I didn’t plan on paying), but it’s nice to have their numbers at my fingertips.
Last night we did a release that mostly new users will see, but it’s something that everyone can get value out of, even old-timers!
This is a new widget on the homepage which you can easily turn on… simply click on the Manage Widgets icon right under the main menu of the home page:
Once there, click the checkmark next to the Getting Started widget, and then click-and-drag the box to the top, like this:
Then, you’ll see this on your homepage:
Most of these will be crossed out if you have already been using JibberJobber for a while, because we automatically detect whether you have done those things or not. Note that each line is a hyperlink, and it will take you to the page to do the thing, or a page with instructions.
These were the top 11 things we could think of to help you feel better about using JibberJobber, and get more comfortable with it as a tool for your career management!
There was something I meant to mention to this executive, but I forgot. I’ll share that with you right now.
During the consultation, I got a feeling of being overwhelmed with everything that he had to do. While his Profile was pretty good, there was plenty of room for improvement. I suggested he do a little here, a little there, but not even attempt to do it all in one day or week. This was the other thing I was going to tell him:
“The process of enhancing your Profile will better prepare you for networking conversations and interviews. It will help you have a better website, resume, and cover letters.”
Critically thinking through the things he need to go through would take him to a place that he needed to go to have better marketing communication (written, like a resume, and verbal, like an interview or a network meeting). This process would bring clarity on what parts of your history become the parts you bring out, as your brand.
You could wing it, like many people do, but going through this process should benefit you in your future communications.
And what you gain from that, I think, is more valuable than the hour we spent on the phone together.
Note: I am not opposed to hiring a professional to write your Profile for you. I do feel strongly that if you go through the process, even perhaps with the professional writer (many times they do it with you, or they give you forms to fill out), you’ll be better for it.
If you want to get better at LinkedIn, you could buy my LinkedIn course for $50, or you could watch two courses I created on Pluralsight for free. The courses are:
Two very short questions that can have very long answers!
I’ve written a bunch on blogging, back in the olden days (2006, 2007, 2008). I think that blogging is a terrific tool to help people understand your personal brand. And, there are many ways to do this – there’s not necessarily a “right” way, and what might be right today could change tomorrow.
For example, some people might get value out of blogging regularly, like I do (almost daily). Other people might be able to throw up a few pages, and a few blog posts (note: posts and pages have different purposes, theoretically), and be good. Some people want a lot of readers, other people will be fine if NO ONE reads their blog (except a hiring manager!).
Here are a few thoughts, although this is not a complete response. That could take pages and pages or hours of discussion.
First, how do you start a blog?
Well, you just start blogging I would get a free account on a site like wordpress.com. There are a bunch of wordpress competitors… and many are fine. I recommend wordpress because I know and trust the company enough, and apparently, so do a bunch of people on the internet.
If you want to look a lost more sophisticated, you could spend a nominal amount of money and (1) get your own domain name (usually your own name, like JaneDoe.com), and (2) have that domain point to your blog. This could be your wordpress blog, or you could get a bluehost account and have your own virtual server.. and with a few clicks turn on a more robust version of wordpress. If you know what I’m talking about, consider that. If you don’t, just go to wordpress.com.
Once you get your blog up, you have the “honor” of writing your first blog post. It’s a weird one, for sure. It might be an introduction to who you are, or your good intentions and plans for the blog… or it might not be introductory at all, it might get right into the meat of your content. But write the first post. And the second post… and keep going. In about two years your writing will have improved to a point where it’s actually pretty good. I thought I was a good writer back in 2006, but I look back at those posts and realize just how poor my writing skills were (or, to be more positive about it, how much I’ve improved in the last nine years!).
Second, what do I blog about?
This is a great question. Better than that, this is the right question to ask.
You can blog about anything… but you shouldn’t blog about anything. I would suggest that you blog about things that will help people understand your professional breadth and depth. The blog is a unique environment where, unlike a resume, you can expand and expand again on your breadth (for example, different skillsets) and your depth (for example, experiences with those skillsets that will exemplify how expert you are at a particular thing, or in a particular field).
Think about how you want others to perceive you. Let’s say you are a senior level product manager. You should brainstorm what the breadth is for a senior level project manager, which might include:
working with highly technical people who are expert in their area (engineers, developers, etc.)
Those are a few of the things that might be your breadth, and these might be the categories of your blog!
Essentially, you have a kind of an outline that you can now work from. Can you write three posts about one of those topics (like negotiating)?
I recommend you brainstorm stories and examples, words of wisdom and things you’ve learned over the years, about any of those areas… and just start writing. You don’t have to do things in groupings, or in order. You can have series of related posts, of course, but you can intersperse non-related posts in-between.
I have other advice, like don’t write very long posts (this is getting long). Instead, break it into two posts. And, I personally think it’s more important to write consistently (1 to 3 to 5 times a week) than to write a really long post once every six months.
Imagine that today you get the pink slip. This might come in the format of an email, a phone call, a face-to-face meeting, a closed-door session with the HR manager, your company doors are locked, whatever it is, it’s time to find a new job.
Or, maybe you pink-slip yourself! You are bored, or you are tired of a toxic boss or work environment, or it’s just time to move to the next level… and it’s time to look for a new job.
The job search is largely a mind game. The actual tactics that go into a job search are not hard, physically (how hard is it to pick up phone and dial a number?).
You can read other articles and posts on steps… but here’s the bottom line:
To do a job search you talk to people. Email, phone, face-to-face. You have the right (read: non-whiny) conversations. You do this again, and again, and again, until you are getting the right introductions to the right people, and you eventually get introductions into the right companies for you (your target companies, or even companies you hadn’t heard of).
That’s how it’s done.
Easy to read about. The “do it” factor, and consistency, are keys.
I have finally finished putting in the last two videos in this series: Getting Started with JibberJobber. You can find the entire video series here. Below are the videos in the series. You don’t have to watch these in order – just watch what you need.
Overwhelmed? Watch this! (1.5)
Homepage & Widgets (2)
Setting Up Tags (3)
Email2Log Setup (4)
Email2Log Advanced (5)
Log Entries and Action Items (6)
Verifying Action Items and Log Entries Got In (7)
Log Entries and Action Item List Panel (8)
Optimizing the List Panel (9)
Managing Duplicates (10)
Exporting from LinkedIn (11)
Importing from a CSV File (12)
Recurring Action Items (13)
Calendar Views (14)
Interview Prep (15)
Job Description Analysis (16)
Events on Jobs (17)
The Job Journal (18)
Account and Preferences (19)
This should help you understand how to use JibberJobber more – enjoy!
In a recent Forbes article that recommended JibberJobber, there is a line about the limit of 500 Contacts and 500 Companies in JibberJobber on the free side. Let me explain what you should know about this limit. You can see the small list of reasons to upgrade here. It’s a small list because EVERYTHING ELSE is in the free version… that means the free version is super cool, super powerful.
When you upgrade, or when you are on the free upgrade (14 days from when you sign up, or 7 additional days each time you watch the Orientation, or 7 additional days every time you watch one of my Pluralsight courses… seriously, you could be on a free upgrade forever!), you can add or import more than 500 Contacts and 500 Companies.
For example, let’s say I sign up today, starting my 14 days of Premium trial… I can import my hundreds or thousands of LinkedIn contacts. Or I can import from my Outlook contact book, or any other address book I’ve used (as long as it exports to a csv file), even though it is over the 500 limit.
When you are on a Premium “trial,” you have a full Premium account. That’s why you can go over the 500 limit.
Let’s say you get to the end of the trial and have decided to not upgrade. Note: the upgrade is $9.95 a month, or $60 for a year (which comes out to $5/month). If you go to the regular level, we DO NOT hide your Contacts, or impede you from accessing them, including them in reports, editing or associating them, creating Log Entries and Action Items… in other words, once they are in, they are in.
If you are a “regular” user (which means you haven’t upgraded), you cannot add any more Contacts if you are over the 500 limit. It’s as simple as that. You can’t import more (you won’t have access to the import page, since importing is one of the four reasons to upgrade), and you can’t add any more Contacts manually…
It’s as simple as that.
What this means is that JibberJobber is a very robust tool for you whether you have upgraded or not. If you have more than 500 Contacts you want to track, then put them all in in the first 14 days. If you want to import again, but not pay the $5 or $10/month, then just watch one of my Pluralsight courses, or come to the JibberJobber orientation, and earn free Premium.
I should clarify that once you go to the regular/free level, you always have access to most of the features (except the four listed on the Why Upgrade page), and all of your data. We never lock you out of your data. You put it in, it’s yours to access and use forever.
JibberJobber is a long-term career management and relationship management tool… not a temporary bandaid for the job search.
I hope that helps clarify the 500 Contacts / 500 Companies question
Part of the Getting Started instructions includes setting up your Email2Log email address, and then sending an email to see if and how it works. In this email we’ll walk through the steps to do this. This should take less than a few minutes of setup, then about one second each time you send emails.
First, make sure you have set up your ultra-secretive Email2Log email address. From the main menu, under Logs, click on Email2Log. If you see a green bar, with a bold-green email address, then you have set it up. If it’s still red/pink, then just fill out the form, and click the button at the bottom. You can see that mine is set up and ready to use:
Next, copy that email address, so you can paste it into an email. This might be trickier than you think, depending on your browser. You should be able to copy/paste, or right-click and “copy email address.” When I do that with Chrome, it works like a charm. However, if I use Internet Explorer, there is no “copy email address” option, so I choose “copy shortcut.” If you copy the shortcut you get this:
Note that you DO NOT want the mailto: in the email address! If you paste that, it won’t work. All you have to do is take out the mailto: and you are good to go.
Next, open up a new email message… one that you are going to compose. I recommend you send to yourself, a close friend/relative, or to me (jason@JibberJobber.com). Here’s what you do:
(a) put the email address of who you are sending to in the To field. Note that you could put in multiple recipients, and you could also put people in the CC field.
(b) put the Email2Log address in the BCC field. You could put it in the To or CC field, but get into the habit of using BCC for this function.
Write a test message… if you send to me, put something clever
Then send the email! If you did everything the right way, then two things should happen:
1. The recipients should get their email… and,
2. JibberJobber should have gotten the email, and done it’s magic (created new Contacts, or found existing Contacts, and added the email as a Log Entry).
If you want to verify this worked, there are a few things you can do:
Click on Logs from the main menu, and see if the Log Entry is there. Note: I make sure I’ve ordered that data by “Date Created,” to see the most recent Log Entries at the top.
Or, you can search for the person’s name (if you sent me an email, search for JibberJobber or Alba, if you put my name in the email address), and you should see this record, with the email you just sent as a Log Entry.
Or, you could go to the homepage, make sure the Log Entries widget is showing, and then see if the Log Entry from that Email2Log is in there yet.
If it didn’t work, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We don’t want you to be frustrated trying to set this up… once you set it up you won’t need to revisit it.