Optimizing Your Email Signature

May 28th, 2015

When I speak, I talk about a “personal branding secret weapon,” which is your email signature.  It’s a secret because even though we all can have an email signature, many of us don’t, or we mess it up.  And, it’s a secret because even though people see our signature all the time (or, every time they read our emails), they don’t think “oh, that’s a personal branding ploy!”

I’ve talked and blogged about this a lot over the last few years.  You can see some great links below.  In this post, I want to boil my thoughts down to help you optimize your email signature.  I could critique email signatures and go into more depth, but these are the four things I want you to know.  Note that I go into this in my Developing a Killer Personal Brand course on Pluralsight, which you can get for free (and if you watch it, you can get free premium upgrade on JibberJobber).  See the short video at the bottom to see how that works.

First, have a clean, clear, usable name.  If your name is Robert, but NO ONE calls you Robert, then put Bob.  Or Bobby.  Or Rob.  But if no one calls you Robert, don’t put Robert!  Also, unless you have a good reason to do otherwise, don’t put your middle initial.  Your email signature is not a government contract… put what you want people to call you!  Nothing more, nothing less.

Second, have what you might call a tagline, or a value statement.  This is a jargon-free, cliche-free line that says what you do, or what value you bring to the table.  A job title is not typically the right thing to put here, unless you are comfortable assuming (or, taking upon yourself) that every stereotype that is associated with that title, then you should not use the title.  Instead of Product Manager (which can probably be interpreted ten different ways), how about something more simple and to the point, like “I help companies take something from idea to product, and share it with the world.”  Okay, that’s kind of lame, but it’s different than a title.  Realize that coming up with a short, impactful tagline could take a lot more time than you think… but it’s time well-spent!

Third, have a link, or a call to action.  I have at least six websites I *could* point you to. But there is only one I want to point you to, which is JibberJobber.com.  This is my business.  This is what I do for a living.  This is my passion.  Every once in a while, I might point you to another site, but it depends on who you are (the audience) and the purpose of the message.  Combined with your tagline, this link or call to action invites the reader to take the next step, learn more, etc.

Fourth, consider not having anything else.  Every single character or pixel beyond that has the potential to distract from your brand messaging.  Don’t put fax numbers or street addresses… don’t put a quote from some smart person from 100 years ago, don’t muddy up your signature with a cute drawing of a turkey, or rainbow colors.  Yes, I’ve seen all of these things, and they are all distracting.  More is not more.  More can discourage people from reading any of your signature.

Here are some links that you might like:

Want to watch the Developing a Killer Personal Brand course for free? Watch this video to see how to get access to this, and many more courses.  No credit card required.

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

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Understanding the Step Job

May 27th, 2015

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.

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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Fighting Stereotypes In The Job Search

May 20th, 2015

Quick, what are the first stereotypes that come to mind for these five labels:

  1. Software programmer
  2. Republican business owner
  3. Democrat who volunteers time
  4. Person with bad spelling on her resume
  5. Female driver

What are the five things that came to mind?  Perhaps it was:

  1. nerdy, not good with social skills, sometimes rude
  2. greedy capitalist
  3. cat lover who puts cats, trees and stuff like that in front of human needs
  4. unqualified and not smart or caring enough to deserve this job
  5. distracted, aloof

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

 

 

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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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How To: Set Up Tags in JibberJobber

May 19th, 2015

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.

What are the best tags for you?I don’t know.  But at the beginning of the Getting Started on JibberJobber series I have a video titled Getting Started: Setting Up Tags.  You can watch it below, or see all of the getting started videos here.

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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JibberJobber Getting Started Widget!

May 15th, 2015

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:

jibberjobber_manage_widgets

Once there, click the checkmark next to the Getting Started widget, and then click-and-drag the box to the top, like this:

jibberjobber_widgets_getting_started

Then, you’ll see this on your homepage:

jibberjobber_widgets_getting_started_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!

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! »

Why You Should Work On Your LinkedIn Profile

May 14th, 2015

Today I had a one hour consultation with an executive on his LinkedIn Profile. This is not my $49 profile critique (where I record my critique and send you a link to watch)… this is a $100 one-on-one, about an hour consultation. (if you buy one of these, please put what you are buying in the description!)

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.”

Why?

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:

Here’s how you access these courses, for free (and get JibberJobber upgrade credit for every Jason Alba course you watch):

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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Job Search Question: How to start a blog, and what to write?

May 13th, 2015

I got this question from Laura:

Do you have suggestions on how to start a blog… and what to blog about?

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.)
  • working with business/CEO/board level people
  • working with contractors
  • marketing considerations (sales, pricing, competitive analysis, etc.)
  • product launch
  • negotiating
  • working with vendors
  • working with channel distribution partners
  • etc., etc., 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.

But that should be enough to get you started.

Does that help?

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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How do I do a Job Search?

May 12th, 2015

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.

Where do you start?

First, read this post: What I Should Have Done In The First 30 Days

Then, do those things!

You should also read these two posts (if they are applicable):

The Spouse’s Role In Your Job Search

Religion’s Role In A Job Search

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.

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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Announcing: JibberJobber Getting Started Videos (or, JibberJobber Tutorials)

May 9th, 2015

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.

  • Introduction (1)
  • 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!

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! »

JibberJobber Limits: 500 Contacts and 500 Companies… What Does This Mean?

May 7th, 2015

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 :)

 

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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