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Thea Kelley on Informational Interviews

September 2nd, 2014

thea_kelleyI love informational interviews.

Maybe you didn’t get that:

I LOVE INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS!

If there is any shortcut in a job search, it is doing informational interviews well.  If you are looking for a “silver bullet,” look no further.  This is it.

Thea Kelley is a savvy career services professional and friend.  She recently wrote this post: Informational Interviews: 10 Tips for Success.  Her model for an informational interview is more formal than mine is, and I say never, ever do number 3 on her list… but everything else is pretty solid.

Come up with your own system, and your own rules, but DO these!  It’s fun, it can be immensely productive, and it can really help you get closer to someone who will have a big impact in your job search.

One thing she is missing, and it’s one of the most important parts of the interview, is asking for introductions to others.  ”Do you know anyone else in this company (or, this industry) that I should talk to?”  Or, “Can you introduce me to any (insert job title here) here (at this company)?”  Or, ask for introductions within the industry….

You go to build trust, which is her #1, and with that trust you should get to a point where they feel comfortable saying “sure, I’ll introduce you to one of my coworkers,” or someone they met at the association luncheon, or someone they know online, or someone at one of your target companies.

And then do it again, with that person.

Have real conversations… it’s not all about getting introductions, but that’s a big reason you are there.

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Being Prepared and Being Lucky: Vazquez Sounds

September 1st, 2014

I am a fan of Vazquez Sounds, out of Mexico.  This is a group of two brothers and their little sister, all talented musicians with a music producer dad.  They put up a video on Youtube and, well, the rest is history.  They seem really, really cool, and I like their music.  Here’s a really cool video worth your eight minutes. I didn’t plan on sharing this with you until I got to 6:55, when one of the brothers was talking about being surprised by their success.  He says they weren’t expecting any success, but it came.  His advice?

“… you have to be prepared… because you never know when the boom may come…”

The boom = success

You have to be prepared because you never know when the recruiter will call.

You have to be prepared because you never know when your contact will be ready to make an introduction.

You have to be prepared because you never know when you will have that critical lunch appointment.

You have to be prepared because you never know when you’ll have a chance to interview.

You have to be prepared because you never know when you’ll have a chance to interview.

Are you prepared?  Or are you wallowing in misery and self-defeating thoughts?

Watch this video – and see the parallels of your journey to a fulfilling and successful career:

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Don’t Count Your Job Offers Before They Hatch

August 29th, 2014

I was sitting at my computer wondering when I would start my new job. I was really excited, and the night before I even dreamed about my first day on the job. I was going to be a project manager at a really cool, bleeding edge high tech company that was recently funded. My new boss had worked managing project managers at Microsoft. I think he left there relatively wealthy, but he couldn’t not work. He would be the perfect mentor: structured, experienced, etc.  The technologists at the company were senior scientists of the like I had never seen or worked with before.

As I was sure I was going to start soon, I pretty much stopped doing everything else in my job search.  I sent an email to my future boss asking where we were at, expecting him to say “come in on Monday!  Let’s do this thing!”

Instead, I got a reply back that said something like “we have decided to go with someone else.  Sorry, and good luck.”

I stared at the screen.

This was the lowest point of my job search.

I was sure that the job was mine.  I was excited about this new chapter in my life. I was ready to move into a more structured project management environment, and get great training from this new boss.

I had ignored the yellow flags because I was so hopeful.  Turns out the ex-MS guy had all of the characteristics of a narcissist and would surely have been a horrible boss.  The two other project managers that interviewed me didn’t even know there was a job opening (the were surprised to even be interviewing me).  There really wasn’t an opening at that company, and I’m not sure why I was allowed to interview.

Within a year the company had closed down.  Good riddance.  Karma.  I wasn’t sad one bit.

But that morning, reading the rejection email, my already frail world had shattered.  I remember going into a trance. I got on the treadmill and just walked and walked and walked.  I had been neglecting my physical self as I focused on my job search.  It had become my “center.”  In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey warns us about choosing our centers.  He says that we have to be careful because if we choose a center (like a job, family, school, church, etc.), and that center fails us, then what happens?  We are left without grounding, direction, etc.

I walked on the treadmill, trying to make sense of the rejection.  It had to be a mistake.  He had to have lied from day one.  Nothing was true anymore.  I couldn’t trust my own judgement.

But I must figure this out.  No one else is going to get this money situation solved for me.  I had to do it.  I had to pull myself together.

Job search experts say that even though you have interviews, keep networking.  Even if you have job offers, keep interviewing.  Even when you have a job, keep looking for a job!

And the rest of the world would say “don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

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What do you do with all the business cards?

August 26th, 2014

jennifer_armitstead_headshotI got a link to this post from Jennifer Armitstead’s daily newsletter with job search tips: What do I do after a networking event?

In her post, Jennifer suggests four steps (my comments after the bold):

1. Have a system for dealing with the business cards ASAP.  I think “system” means process…. whether you have technology (like JibberJobber) or not, you need to have a process.  My old process was to put a rubber band around the stack of business cards and put them in my desk…. not to be disturbed for months (when I coudln’t make heads or tails of any card).  I even had a CRM, but it wasn’t a part of my business card process.  What is your “system?”  I suggest it isn’t “hide them in a dark, cold place right away!”

2. Connect with each person on LinkedIn.  I’m on the fence on this one.  Typically, I say that you should be very careful of this being your “first” contact with them.  Obviously, to have gotten the card, you’ve already had a at least one communication. I think when you reach out after the event, though, you are almost starting over.  You should remind them who you are, and maybe what you talked about.  I think you can group your cards into two categories: (1) I don’t really care about this person, but I’m interested in connecting just to see who else I can meet through them, and (2) I really should nurture a relationship with this person.  I encourage you to focus your time on getting cards and having conversations with the #2 people!  Don’t waste too much time on #1 people!  Anyway, as long as you recognize that getting a LinkedIn connection is not the ultimate goal, go ahead and connect with people.  Too often, though, it becomes the final communication. Don’t let that happen.

3. Arrange follow-up meetings, where applicable.  Going back to my #1 person or #2 person, you should hope to have a lot of people you want to follow-up with.  For some this will be a phone call, for others it will be an email, or face-to-face… but start to stay in touch.  The concept of “nurturing a relationship” is that there are multiple touch-points… which means that your follow-up will not be a one-time thing in your relationship.  Start somewhere, and let it grow from there.  Even if you feel uncomfortable making that first phone call (we all do).

4. Add these contacts to your tickler system.  Tickler System must be Jennifer’s hidden code phrase for JibberJobber.  Add these people to JibberJobber.  JibberJobber is your tickler system.  I find it interesting that she says to add them to LinkedIn, which a lot of people think is their contact system, and then says to add them to your tickler system. This is because LinkedIn is NOT your tickler system.  It is a social network that has pros and cons.  A “tickler system” is your roladex… it has private information and notes that you enter and track.  When I was at the FBI they talked about “tickler” files.  This was something that would somehow remind you of something you needed to do later.  It “tickles” you.  I’m not going to beat a dead horse here, but you need to put enough contact info (first name, last name, email, perhaps company) into JibberJobber, and create an Action Item to follow-up with them next week, or each quarter, or whatever, so you can nurture the relationship.

Great tips from Jennifer – are you doing any of them?  Are you purposefully networking?

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Job Security and Career Management: Will This Ever End???

August 25th, 2014

Last week I shared an article on LinkedIn written by Mike Ballard titled Search Strategy – the landscape has changed for job seekers.  On the Job-Hunt group Bonnie made an interesting and appropriate comment:

Jason, it is sad because the process has no end. If one follows even a fraction of the job search advice and recommendations, it is truly a full time job with overtime.

It’s true – if you are in a transition, and are not working right now, then your job search should be a full-time job.  I got beat up on a radio show once by someone saying the average time a person spends on a job search, per week, is 10 hours.  If you have responsibilities (bills, spouse, kids, etc.) then 10 hours a week is not enough.  Especially if you are looking for a job that pays a lot (because it typically takes a long time to land those).

Bonnie continues, listing the things we’re “supposed” to do:

  • Get active on LI.
  • Participate in groups.
  • Research companies and people.
  • Follow leaders on social media.
  • Study about and write personalized resumes and cover letters.
  • Go to networking events.
  • Watch webinars.
  • Read and write blogs.
  • Get an About me page.
  • Google everything.

She listed things that I’ve heard over the last 8+ years… the “experts” will indeed claim you “have to” do these things.  That’s one of the problems with so many “experts.”  You’ll get advice that’s all over the place, and many of them say “you HAVE TO do this(, OR ELSE)!”

But we only have so much time.  Each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses.  Some of us will gravitate towards research (quiet, peaceful, stressless) while a very small group of others will actually pick up the phone and network.  The extroverts will be fine to go to network meetings, others would rather stay in their pajamas, stay home and read and write blog posts.  What’s the answer?  What’s the best strategy?

I don’t know – I think it depends on YOU, your market, what you are looking for, etc.  There are too many variables to say that everyone must do the same things… you need to figure out what your job search strategy should look like, and determine what from “the list” from experts, you keep, and what you throw away.

For example, I would put a Twitter strategy at the bottom of the list of tactics for most people (unless you are in marketing, and even then it’s questionable).

I would suggest you don’t spend too much time reading blog posts, because that can take a lot of time, and get too comfortable.  Most people aren’t ready to start writing blog posts… they need to do a lot of other stuff first, before they write blog posts.

Just because an “expert” said you MUST do it doesn’t mean that you should spend time on it.  Figure out what is best for you to do, and what will get closer to landing a job, and spend your time there.

I wasted a LOT of time in my job search doing the wrong things.  Eventually I pulled back, evaluated tactics and paybacks, and regrouped.  Here’s a blog post outlining what I did wrong, and what I should have done: Job Search Tips: What I Should Have Done In The First 30 Days

Should you do it all?  NO!  Figure out your job search strategy, throw enough “me time” stuff in there to keep sane (like exercise, meditation, etc.), and take this step-by-step.  And quickly stop doing things that are a waste of time (or, that don’t get you closer to landing the job you want/need).

I know it’s overwhelming.  At some point, you have to turn the experts off and just start doing the right things to land your job.

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JibberJobber Enhancements: Last Night’s Release and Updates

August 22nd, 2014

Last night my team did a release, which means they updated JibberJobber with new and improved “stuff.”  I’ve been talking about this release for a long time, but it got stuck in the QA process as my QA team has been intent on releases without bugs.

Just minutes after the release an outplacement firm in Australia emailed me and said “Nice work – looks great!”  This is just minutes after the release… it was pretty cool that someone noticed that quick! I asked him what he noticed, and it is exactly what I want to blog about today.  Below this list of enhancements that will impact you is a list from my QA team, reporting what has been fixed/released.

Thing One: Action Item Notifier (on top-left of every screen)

This is an enhancement that really enriches your experience with JibberJobber.  Now, on every page, you’ll be able to see how many Action Items you have pending in the next two weeks.  This makes JibberJobber more of a follow-up tool.  I talk about “follow-up” and “nurturing relationships” a lot… and we’ve provided tools and reports for you to see what you have coming up, but this is the most blatant, in-your-face enhancement to show you exactly what you have so things don’t slip through the cracks.  You’ve probably already noticed this, when you login, on the top-left:

jibberjobber_action_item_notifier

The “6″ means that I have six Action Items coming up in the next two weeks.  Click on that little icon and you will see those six Action Items in this view:

jibberjobber_action_item_notifier_2

Here are some things to help you get more value out of this widget:

#1 – this allows you to click and drag to resize this view.

#2 – this closes (or, hides) the widget.

#3 – notices each Action Item is listed with a checkbox to the left… that way you can close multiple Action Items at once, or you can print one report with all that you have checked. (NOTE: You can close or edit each one… when you mouse over an Action Item, icons will appear on the right to close or edit)

#4 – these are the actions you can take for each of the checked Action Items. For example, click on three of them, then click the close icon (the clock), and those three will be closed.  Easy.

This enhancement should make your JibberJobber experience much richer!

Thing Two: The Log Entry and Action Item screen is cleaned up. 

We removed some of the superfluous wording and white space, and made it more compact.  This should make it easier to add a Log Entry.  This was a small, marginal change, but I think the impact will be big, and make it easier for you to create Log Entries and Action Items.

Notice we moved much of the “stuff” (create an Action Item, associate this to other Contacts, Companies and Jobs, etc.) to the bottom.  It works pretty much the same, but it’s just cleaner.

jibberjobber_log_entry_action_item_window

To create a Log Entry, simply put in a date, the title, and the details/comments.  To create an Action Item, or associate Contacts, Companies and/or Jobs, simply click on the icons on the bottom.  Cleaner, more intuitive, easier.

Thing Three: more use of the width of your monitor

This is the first of a few changes to use more of your monitor.  A while back we did a UI “enhancement” which left, for some wide monitors, a few inches of white space on each side.  I hated that… JibberJobber needs space!  So we opened up the List Panels and then extend from one end to another, without inches of wasted white space.  There is still more to do here, and we’re working on it.  This was just the first step.

Other Things: This is the list from my QA team. It might not make sense to you, but it’s all important stuff.

  • Import contacts (bug with companies): there was an issue when you imported Contacts, with Companies, but the Companies didn’t import and associate right.  This should be fixed.
  • Bug of custom fields on Jobs (reported by Chris R)
  • Bug on IE uploading images: apparently Internet Explorer was having issues with the super cool way we bring in images on a Contact or Company.
  • Bug on email2log (when was adding the secret email as other contact): Sometimes when you used the Email2Log feature, JibberJobber would create a new record for your own ultra-secretive email address… which was not supposed to happen.  This is now resolved.
  • Bug on email2log (about formatting): In a prior release we kind of goofed up… some of your Log Entries created by the Email2Log feature stripped spaces between paragraphs.  This made the Log Entry look all bunched up.  This is now fixed.
  • Change of wording to Coach Dashboard: We are going to change a lot of the functionality here, but for now we needed to change this from My Coach Landing Page to Coach Dashboard.  Very small change but will make it more intuitive. This is for anyone who coaches others, or is an accountability partner.
  • “Log Entries and Action Items Report” To remember the session variables: when you customize the Log Entries and Action Item report, we didn’t save your preferences… we are now.
  • Allow edit on Log Entry view in the shadow box: when you opened a Log Entry to “view,” there wasn’t much more you could do than view or print.  Now you can easily edit it from right there.
  • Pre-populate fields correctly when I add a Contact after a search: on my weekly webinars I noticed that if I did a search for a Contact that doesn’t exist, like searching for “Fiiiiiirst Naaaaame,” I would click “add Contact” and then it would enter it in all lower-case.  This was a pain because I’d have to change the first letter to upper-chase each time.  Bleh.  This is now fixed.  Another really small enhancement, but you can see the level of detail we’re going for.
  • New interface on import contacts from file: We spent a lot of time cleaning this up and making it more intuitive.  It’s still not the most intuitive thing in the world, but it’s getting closer.  
  • Bug with payments of one year with Paypal: we had a problem with people who upgraded for one year on Paypal… the system wasn’t recognizing the upgrade and they sometimes emailed us (before we could manually upgrade them) asking “WHAT THE HECK?”  This was an issue of trust… if you pay us money, and you don’t get upgraded, what else won’t work??  Fixing this non-high-profile bug allows you to trust us more.
  • Minor wordings and change of tool tips throughout the system: when you mouse over things, we cleaned up the little messages you see.
This release represents “about 25-30 work orders,” and I’m sure we came up with another 50 things to fix, clean, or change since we started this last project :)

Have things you would like to see?  Let us know!

 

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Want a Job? Build Your Portfolio!

August 21st, 2014

In my email signature I have a link to the new Video Game Design and Entrepreneur class I’m starting in a couple of weeks.  It’s going to be awesome, and a lot of fun.  (by the way, the youngest student is 7, the oldest is in his 60s… it might be just the class for you, too)

Today I was on a call with a business associate who noticed the line in my signature.  Her son will be in college soon and is looking at graphic arts programs…. she asked for any advise I had on breaking into the video game world (not programming, but with graphics).  This is actually a great question, and we had a fun conversation.

The gist of the conversation was this: to get into that space, or any space, really, you should build a portfolio.

How powerful would it be to go to a potential employer and have the same credentials as the other people on the shortlist: a degree, a portfolio from school, etc., but also have a portfolio of video games that are on the market and available for download?  If you want to get into a video game design firm, and you have at least one game that you have designed, and people have downloaded it (and even rated it), isn’t that a great way to show your passion and skill level?

She mentioned that he didn’t want to do programming, his passion was in design.  I suggested that going through the course would give him an additional breadth that would help him break down walls with programmers.  I know a lot of programmers who don’t like working with graphics artists because of the way the two roles work.

Think about this with your own career and job search.   What have you done so that a company you are interested in can understand your skills and professional passion?

Artists have known this for years… having a portfolio is just the way it is.

Can accountants (who are in transition) have a portfolio?

How can you substantiate, or allow others to visualize, your skill set?  What do you got that is more impressive than a list of credentials?

(I think I know the answer for any profession, but what do you think?)

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Organize Your Job Search: Action Item vs Log Entry

August 20th, 2014

This morning on the weekly user webinar we talked about the difference between Log Entries and Action Items.  It might seem obvious to you, but I’ve been asked about this a lot lately.  So here’s how we see the two:

A Log Entry might be notes on a conversation I had with someone.  For example, let’s say that you call me and we talk for thirty minutes… I’m going to create a Log Entry and store any information that I might want later.  I might say how long we talked (there’s a big difference between a three minute call and a thirty minute call), what we talked about, and what I learned from our call.  I might record specific questions I asked, if I did a good job asking questions.  I might record what your demeanor was, and if you seem to be someone I want to continue a relationship with.

That’s about it… just recording information.

If I found an article about you, or your company, I might create a Log Entry with the link to the article, and maybe even the full text of the article (you never know when things disappear). If I have a thought about you, which turns out to be something I need to record, I might create a Log Entry… even though we didn’t talk or communicate!

I create an Action Item when I need to do something, like “follow-up on the resume I sent in,” or “email John and see how he is doing,” etc.  An Action Item is something I need to do, and I want a reminder of it.  In a job search and in networking it’s easy to list things, whether they are just informational or something to do later, but if we aren’t prompted to do them, we can really fail in our activities.

The way I create an Action Item is to create a Log Entry, and then put a “due date” on it.  For example, I talked to John about xyz (that is the Log Entry), and I need to call him next Friday (that is the Action Item).  Once a Log Entry has an Action Item due date, I have a reminder to follow-up on it.

jj_action_item_new

My favorite way to create Log Entries is the Email2Log feature, which allows me to create a Log Entry just by BCC’ing an email to the server.  Watch the video on this Email2Log blog post to learn more.

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Follow-Up Requires Organization: JibberJobber, the Job Search Organizer

August 19th, 2014

In my Career Management 2.0 presentation I have a slide that prompts me to quote Keith Ferrazzi, saying that “if you want to be better than 95% of [your competition], all you need to do is follow-up.”

He says that 95% of people don’t follow-up.  You can really stand out if you are part of the five out of hundred people who do.

In yesterday’s post (on how to get networking introductions), Hunter Walk’s point #4 is to make sure you follow-up with the person who made the introduction.  In point #5 he says that you should continually follow-up with the people who give you introductions.

Why do 95 out of 100 not do this?

Because we are not organized…..!

You know how it is: we get too many business cards, we try to manage inbox zero (while having 2,000 messages in our inbox), we find out about new people all the time, we go to conferences, we see cool people on LinkedIn that we really want to have a chat with… after a while we are drowning in information overload, where it has accumulates to a point where it’s hard to remember who is who, and why anyone is important.

You think your email inbox is going to manage it all, but finding anything in Outlook will cause great intellectual and emotional distress.  Searching for conversation information, contact information, and information to put the relationship into context will require that you look through 50 emails and try and piece it all together.  It’s really simply undoable.  Even with Gmail, the king of search.  It’s really a matter of using the right tool for the job at hand, and an email client is not a relationship manager.

Unorganized, lost, drowning, we don’t follow-up.  It’s too hard to figure out.

Even job seekers, who are hypersensitive to following-up, and really want to do this relationship thing right, get confused.  It’s embarrassing when you can’t remember who someone is, especially if they totally remember you.  It’s unprofessional to not know what people (especially recruiters) are calling you for. You sound disinterested, and probably like the wrong candidate.

JibberJobber is a job search organizer and a relationship manager for YOU. It is one more piece of the puzzle.  It might be a fundamental piece, and definitely has been the missing piece.  When I think of where JibberJobber fits in, it’s at the center of all of your other tools: job boards, email systems, networking meetings, phone calls, introductions, etc.  All relationships, contacts, and many communications can come back to this central point – like a hub in your networking wheel.

What are you waiting for?  Get organized, follow-up better and more, and get your career management under control with JibberJobber!  To learn how, jump on a user webinar.

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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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How To Get a Networking Introduction (insight from Hunter Walk)

August 18th, 2014

One of the bigger problems I see with job seekers is that they don’t know how to get networking introductions.

hunter_walk_investor

On LinkedIn, Hunter Walk wrote this article: Why Most VCs Won’t Intro You To Other VCs (Unless You Follow These Steps). He wrote it for entrepreneurs looking for money from VCs, but every single point he makes is something a job seeker should understand and internalize. In my own words (read his post here):

  1. Do your work upfront!  Too many job seekers have very vague requests for help. Most vague requests are about as helpful as this: “I’m looking for a job.”  Geesh!  Can you tell me ANYTHING about you, what you’re looking for, what you want to do, etc.?  I can’t help you if I don’t know if you want to be a lifeguard at the local rec center, or a CEO of a multi-national company!  When you do your homework, you’ll know how I might be able to help you… and you’ll be able to have a better conversation.    Ignore this at your own peril (or, extended job search).
  2. DO NOT name drop… without permission.  Hunter is kind of a big deal… and I’m sure has this happen all the time.  If someone didn’t say “tell them I sent you,” then DON’T TELL THEM THEY SENT YOU!  You can say “oh yeah, I know Jason…. I just read his blog post and ….”  But don’t say “Jason sent you.”  You will ruin your credibility and likely come across as a liar, perhaps ruining two relationships with one unfortunate white lie.
  3. Don’t ask your contact for too much.  If you want an introduction, make it super-easy for your contact to facilitate the introduction. This means you write something they could forward… why the introduction is happening, etc.  Make it easy for them to forward something without thinking too much.
  4. Follow-up with the person who made the introduction for you.  It’s critical that you do this, if you want to improve relationships and get more introductions.  When someone follows-up with me, no matter how good the meeting went (even if it didn’t happen), I can trust that the person I’m introducing will respect my contacts.  I want to help more.  If I don’t know what you are doing with my introductions, I am not inclined to give you more.
  5. Keep the person posted about what’s going on.  If you trust someone enough to ask for an introduction, and they trust you enough to do the introduction, why not keep them abreast of what’s going on, even outside of that introduction?  Keep them posted perhaps monthly or quarterly…. stay on their radar.  I wrote about this using a job seeker newsletter, which is a monthly email that I personally think every job seeker should have.

Too many people want to finish the job search and never, ever do it again.  But the truth is, we will do it again… regularly.  We need to figure out how to make this type of stuff be part of our DNA… how we work, how we communicate, etc.  Whether you are looking for a job, funding, or customers, this is basic communication and networking stuff we need to internalize.

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city, state or zip jobs by job search

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