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Ryan Smith’s Blog Sucks (but it’s getting better)

July 31st, 2007

Ryan Smith - an alternative method for my job searchDisclaimer: I found Ryan Smith’s blog via a Google Alert. I checked out his first (and only post, at the time) and right away thought “Man, I gotta share this with my readers!” This is the first of three posts, today is the introduction, tomorrow is what I don’t like about his blog, and Thursday is what I recommend for his blog strategy. We’ve exchanged a number of e-mails, he is okay with me writing about this, and he has already incorporated some ideas. He’s a self-confessed newbie and I really respect that he jumped in head first. I just think it could have been done differently.

Note: if you know of any opportunities in Michigan for a dependable guy with a degree in Marketing/Management, please let him know (the best way is to go to his blog, find the “My Resume” box on the left, click on Web, and then click on the Contact tab. Or just click here).

Meet Ryan Smith. He’s about my age (Gen X). He lives in Michigan and has had his degree since 1999. He is looking for work and decided to start a blog:

Ryan Smith - Job Seeker

Ryan’s first blog post was kind of a “hey world! I’m here! Come see me and know that I’m in a job search!” I liked the tenacity. But everything I saw and read was contrary to what my You Get It award winners are doing! In fact, over the last 15 months I’ve seen a few of these types of blogs. There has only been one example that I actually liked, all of the rest I found to be the wrong solution (with potentially bad long-term results):

I came across Clint James through a buddy. I LOVED his job search blog as he was chronicling his experience in a very thoughtful, mature way. Clint was not blogging as a “me against the employers,” rather I could read his ability to think critically and apply lessons and principles to the task at hand. I have not found another job seeker blog like this. Here’s the bonus: he has continued to blog about his job … and in a way that would make me proud, if I were his boss. I wish this was the best example out there, but I’m sad to say it’s the ONLY example out there) (of what I’d recommend).

Ryan’s style is much more common, especially amongst the GenY crowd. And I wanted to see if he would be open to constructive criticism. Not only was he open, he was cool about me blogging about it. Good for you Ryan… and please take all of this in the same spirit that I offer it.

To get started, here are the questions that I posed to him in our first e-mail:

  • Do you foresee any issues with employers that might have a problem with your transparency during this search? Do you have some kind of guideline or unwritten policy that you use to ensure you don’t mention anything confidential, or something like that?
  • Have you looked at Emurse? This is something that you could/should do, and then either put a widget on your blog or at least link back to it – the formatting is much better than your introductory post.
  • Are you doing any blog marketing? Leaving comments on other people’s blogs, leaving your blog addy?
  • Aside from asking for Digg votes, are you doing any other promotional stuff (stumbleupon, etc.)?
  • Have you looked at other templates?
  • Tell me about your total online presence strategy – LinkedIn, Facebook, Myspace, etc.

More tomorrow.

What do you think? Is Ryan on the right track (remember, when we communicated he only had one post up)? See anything right off the bat that you would change or recommend? I’d love to have this be a group project with other people chiming in :)

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I Can’t Kill The Weeds.

July 30th, 2007

Morning GloryI moved to Idaho about 12 years ago (we moved away more than 3 years ago). When I moved there I frequently visited my new bride’s grandma who, amongst other things, was great at gardening. One of the major pains in her life was a weed called Morning Glory, aka Field Bindweed. It is pretty stuff, but it takes over your yard, wraps around other plants, and spreads kind of like strawberry plants (where a shoot travels above ground and then roots somewhere else). It’s actually pretty nasty.

Grandma would call this, I think, Satan’s star. She really, really hated this weed.

She told me that you just can’t get rid of it. There is no poison, no strategy. Makes sense, considering the roots are known to grow more then six feet underground. Heck, what do I know about weeds? I’ll trust a gardener who has been doing this more decades than I could imagine.

Fast forward about 10 years, I’m now in Utah and working on my own weed control strategy. Morning Glory is prevalent in my yard and garden, as I haven’t been quite sure how to get rid of it. I also have a dandelion problem, and I found some good spray that doesn’t affect the grass but really does kill the dandelions. As I sprayed them one afternoon I thought “I’m going to spray this Morning Glory vine and see what happens.”

It died a few days later.

For over 10 years I had this expert voice in my head telling me that it was impossible, and just on a whim I proved it wrong. It made me think about other things that I have been told, and how that has shaped my decisions.

A job search takes one month for every 10,000 that you need to make. In other words, if I want to make $80,000, it will take eight months to find my next job. Of course this is not true! I think this is probably a good rule of thumb for financial planning, and will be affected by the state of your relationships (aka, networking).

College is critical, masters is becoming critical. I do not regret my decision to get a CIS degree, and an MBA. And, I’m a huge proponent of furthering your education. However, please don’t think that getting degrees, even in hot fields, is going to minimize any pain or problems in a job search or your career management. The same goes for degrees from these online MBA rankings. Even with my CIS degree, my MBA and a job seeker’s market I could hardly get an interview.

Don’t waste time or money on cookie cutter professional help (namely, resume writers and career coaches). I’m a DIY (do it yourself) kind of guy. When I was let go the idea of hiring someone to write my resume or give me career coaching was crazy. Shoot, aside from all of my schooling I was smart and achieved – job titles included IT Manager, VP and general manager. I’m sure that if I had professional help with my resume and my job search strategy I would have landed a fulfilling position much earlier (of course, JibberJobber would have been a fleeting thought, so it’s good I didn’t get help – but I strongly recommend getting professional help).

“That Life” is for other people, not me. I grew up middle class, so that life would be the poor folks or the rich people. Guess what? I can be rich too. I’m not sure how it is going to happen, but I’d like to try a life of no financial worries. On the flip side, I can be one of the poor folk. I didn’t expect to, after all of my education and accomplishments, but unemployment has a funny way of draining your bank account and landing you right in the middle of the “poor” category. While it’s been a good experience for me, I don’t recommend it.

Job boards are useless. Well, that’s a message that I took away from a two day career management class. I misunderstood the real message at first but now realize that job boards are not necessarily the best way to find a job to apply to… but they are an excellent source to collect information for networking (or a job search, obviously) and do competitive intelligence research. And to top it all of, it’s cool that they actually do work. I know plenty of people who have found their current job on a job board.

Entrepreneurialism is for that crazy uncle who’s on his 12th multilevel company, or for someone like Bill Gates or Steven Covey or someone like that (but certainly not for me). Here’s another huge extreme … it’s for the nutty guy who has never, and will never be successful. Or it’s for the uber-successful person who has already done that and is now worth billions of dollars (and somehow made it look easy). I fall right in the middle, I think that everyone should create some kind of side business, or additional income stream, so that we aren’t all dependent on one employer and one income (which is rather fickle).

The bolded statements above are not my beliefs, they are just some old business wives’ tales. I don’t subscribe to them, they are too superficial and outdated.

What are some old business wives’ tales that you think need to be eliminated?


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Jason Alba… The Award Winner

July 27th, 2007

Personal Branding Award to Jason AlbaI’m really not going to get all flowery about myself – it goes against the whole Brag! thing but hey, you already know me and don’t need to read my own words about how great I am…! So you can read about the award here, and now let me turn it around and talk about Dan.

Personal Branding blogger Dan SchawbelDan Schawbel is the author of the Personal Branding Blog and is making quite a splash in the personal branding space. While he has a full-time job he is working on becoming a thought-leader in the personal branding space. There are a few things that he is doing that I really like:

  • Personal Branding TV - Why not? He puts video on YouTube and then puts that into his blog. This is not common, as far as I can tell, and think that it’s going to appeal to a different crowd (read: genY) that others might not be appealing to as well. The latest episode is on students resume… get this, he has a real, live student in the video :)
  • Personal Branding MagazineThe first issue is yet to come out, and it will be interesting to see how this compares with what I’m seeing online and in newsletters, but I gotta give it to him, it’s creative (a magazine, creative? In my world it is, who would have thought??).
  • Blog marketing – I follow a lot of blogs and have been amazed to see Dan’s comments pretty much everywhere I go.
  • Blog techniques – Dan is no fool when it comes to blogging… I shared my secrets earlier this month but can tell that he has some of his own. I think one of the most important things he is doing is using blogging to increase his network, aside from that, in his blog he is giving others their own two minutes of fame with interviews, linking out to others (through the roundups), bragging of his own (which gives him more credibility), obviously the awards, most recently a Brand Autopsy contest/game, and even a fair amount of link baiting.

Clearly Dan is one to watch, he’s coming into this space stronger than others that I’ve seen, and it will be interesting to see what else he has in store for us.


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When I Endorse Things On My Blog…

July 26th, 2007

get rich while blogging?Warning: This is not about career management, rather, it’s a little transparency on whether I make money by pimping stuff on this blog. I hope I don’t bore you :)

A couple of weeks ago one of my best friends from high school came for a visit. He is the guy responsible for coming up with the name “JibberJobber,” getting me into computer stuff (I was just studying Spanish at the time), one of the first lifetime premium JibberJobber purchasers, a reader of this blog and much more. We have a really cool, open relationship.

So we were working in my office before going out to tour the city, he was doing e-mail stuff and I was doing my daily blog post. He asked a question that I know has been on the mind of many of my blog readers:

When you write about things… books, services, etc. Do you get paid for that?

The answer is, not really. I do have some affiliate relationships, which I’m going to put into an affiliate page, and some of my partners offer commissions if someone uses their services. But this hasn’t been a big deal in the past, and I do not blog on someone/something just because I might get $15 out of it. In fact, I won’t blog on something just because I might get $200 out of it.

I write my blog posts with the fire and passion that I got last year, when I was laid off for a dumb reason, out on the street, with no respect, not finding a job, having no luck. Working very hard, but very frustrated. I will never forget how I felt. I will never forget the stress on my family. I will never forget how lonely and depressing it can be.

Wendy Piersall - eMomAtHomeOne of my missions as a blogger is to share ideas, best practices and resources that can help people that are either in that situation, or might be in that situation soon. I’m not blogging for bucks, I’m blogging to share. I didn’t quite realize this until eMom blogger Wendy Piersall gave a presentation about her real missionit hit me right between the eyes and it gave me goosebumps. And I understood that my message is bigger than my blog, bigger than me.

Sounds kind of PollyAnna, right? Here’s the rest of the story.

  • I started blogging as a marketing complement… and it has turned out to be one of the best marketing things I’ve ever done. Yes, I do want people to know about JibberJobber, sign up for it, use it, promote it, etc. That’s no secret.
  • I have blogged about a number of books that I’ve read. I think it would be cool to make some money from promoting those books but I have not, even though I know many of you have bought some of them. I still think that every single person should read Never Eat Alone, Brag! and Career Distinction. I always promote those because they each helped me immensely – but here’s my dirty little secret – I rarely buy books… my local library is just too good and I read too many books to be able to afford them.
  • I personally think the Amazon affiliate program is lame, since I would only get something like 4% kickback on the books that you buy from them. I kind of signed up with them but am not pursuing it, and if I link to a book I like it’s usually to the author’s main page, or to their affiliate link. Yep, I’m leaving some money on the table.
  • I have signed up for a few other affiliate programs, and will eventually roll them out. I just want to do it “right,” I don’t want to jeopardize the quality and feel of this blog, and it hasn’t been the highest priority for me.
  • I used to have GoogleAds on the blog and in JibberJobber. But I never really liked their terms. And apparently they didn’t like me, I was kicked out of their system for something I had no control over.
  • Penelope Trunk is the Brazen CareeristI will begin to look for sponsors for this blog and the website. But right now I have other fish to fry… so I’m not ready to spend time there yet. When I do get sponsors I’m going to take the Penelope Trunk route and still keep my own flavor, AND not plaster the site with sponsorship ads. My blog and site are cluttered enough… and no one needs another website with a ton of ads all over the place.
  • I do get paid sometimes, when I include a small ad at the end of a post (like today’s post). I can choose what I put there, and usually it has nothing to do with the post. I only do it if I don’t think it’s a distraction. It has been sporadic and unconsequential, as far as money goes, and I haven’t even tallied up the totals. I think I do it more as an ego-trip so that I can think of myself as a paid blogger :p.
  • I have partners who are in a special relationship with JibberJobber. I promote their services more than usual, but I have no problem promoting them because I’ve met each of them, spent time on the phone, have continued relationships with them, and am indeed a believer of what they offer. However, there are non-partners that I have great relationships with and won’t hesitate to promote them either.

The bottom line is, I write to who I was a year ago… and won’t compromise on the quality of the message. I might take advantage of some monetizing opportunities but will never do it unless I can feel comfortable about the actual endorsement. In other words, if I don’t believe in the thing, I won’t endorse it. So here are two questions:

What do you think about this? Do you believe it (or are you skeptical about my intentions)? Is it honorable, or should I consider a different tactic? If I’m getting a kickback for a mention, do I need to mention that in the post?

If you are a blogger, how is this different from what you do?


Visit DiversityJobs.com for articles, news, and advice on Diversity recruiting.

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How To: Associate People To A Company

July 25th, 2007

This was just enhanced… we’re working to make the user experience better for you. Got ideas? Let us know!

When you add a company you can either add a new person and tie them to that company, or pick people out of your existing network and associate them with the company. Here’s how it works:

I have had Franklin Covey as a target company for a while. I finally got a contact there, since her name and e-mail was in a help wanted ad in the newspaper (yes, it’s worth it to spend some time looking in the newspaper … I got her name and e-mail, didn’t I?). I go into the Franklin Covey record, in the edit mode, and see the Add a Contact button at the bottom of the screen:

add a contact to my target company

When I click Add a Contact a new window opens where I can enter all of the contact information. What’s new? Before we weren’t allowing you to add certain fields… now you can add all of the same information that you would if they were a network contact.

Note that leaving the Category as “choose one” means this person WILL NOT be added to your network! Some people, like HR folks, aren’t necessarily network contacts… right? You can add them to your network if you want, but we wanted to give you the option of not cluttering your network views with people that don’t really belong there.

do not put this person in my network

Now, let’s say that I just found out that one of my network contacts (already in my network) just got hired at Franlin Covey. I would click on Associate Existing Contact (it’s #2 above), which opens a “shadow box” that has a list of all my network contacts:

associate an existing contact to a company

Note that if I hold the control key down I can select multiple contacts… again, only premium users can associate multiple contacts to a company.

Thanks to David at BounceBase.com and Thubten Comerford for the suggestions!

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Freakin’ Cool Networking Opportunities

July 25th, 2007

scared to network?There are three networking opportunities that I imposed on others in the last few months. As I’ve thought about the dynamics of what happened it really made me think how cool it was that I was so imposing :)

  1. A blogger got a comment on a thread that I had commented on. I asked the blogger to introduce me to the other commenter (who left a name but not way to contact him).
  2. I asked a buddy that I networked into last year for a perspective that could only come from someone within his company (but not him).
  3. I asked a friend for information about company sponsorships… he is not a decision-maker with regard to sponsorships but surely would know who was.

In each case I was asking for my network contacts to hook me up. Here’s the interesting thing: in every case they did not know the person that I needed to talk to.

This presents an interesting decision. Do they say “sorry Jason, I don’t really know that person… I can’t help you.” Or do they say, “I’m not sure what I can do but I’ll try and get you a connection… give me a few days.

I realize there are various factors to make this decision… the biggest two are (a) how well do they know (and trust in) me, and (b) how comfortable are they in meeting new people? So the blanket answer to this really is it depends.

But here is what I would do. I would take the opportunity to grow my own network and try and make the connection. Why? It’s easier to go to someone that you don’t know with a purpose:

“I know a guy that would really like to talk with someone about xyz stuff – I immediately thought of you. Can I put you in touch with him?”

This puts you on their radar and if the meeting that you facilitate goes well (in other words, if I impress him, or in some way add value to his job or network) then you just got some relationship goodwill out of your role.

You can become a power connector.

No, it’s not always easy… it can be scary. Sometimes you will be very uncomfortable as you try and develop richer, deeper relationships. But … I bet it’s worth it.

I will continue to impose like this because I need my network to grow and I realize it’s a great opportunity for others to nurture relationships. This, imho, is a freakin’ cool networking opportunity for everyone involved :)

Have you had to get to know someone better before, at the request of one of your network contacts? Was it a good thing?

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July You Get It Winner: Katie Konrath

July 24th, 2007

You Get It Personal Branding awardThis month the prestigious You Get It award goes to Katie Konrath, author of the Get Fresh Minds blog! I’ve been watching Katie for a little while now and each time she pops up I’m really impressed with what I see. I’ve even introduced you to her formally… so you should be familiar with her. Here are some things that I LOVE on/about her blog:

  • Katie’s blog is about innovation and creativity, right? Her title/subtitle make it very clear, and her category names totally reinforce it. You can tell that everything she writes is aligned with the ideas/creativity/innovation track.
  • In just 3 months of blogging she has somehow managed to find a bunch of people that read and comment on her blog. Check out her “recent comments” section (on the left) and you’ll see that most comments are made on different posts by different people – this is NOT easy to do, but her content is so fresh and rich that she generates excellent discussion!
  • I like how she renamed “Blogroll” to “Fresh Blogs,” which is aligned with her brand (or, her blog title)… this reinforcement is icing on the cake.
  • Katie has a nice, easy, engaging style of writing. It doesn’t hurt my simple mind to read it and follow what she’s talking about. Including videos helps me, as a reader, get her message more and gives me more of an emotional attachment (I’ll never forget that she is studying German. Why? Because I saw this hilarious video that she put into a post about how hard it is to learn foreign languages).
  • Aside from her style, she breaks up the reading with font, bullets, pictures, etc. She is making it easy for ME to read — critical!
  • Katie does good blog marketing. She has left comments here and on some other blogs that I frequent. Does it work? Heck ya, she has been blogged about (or, her posts have spawned new posts on someone else’s blog) and she got on my radar. It’s a tactic to get your blog out there, and she does it really well.

Katie Konrath - innovation, creativity, fresh ideasKatie has done an excellent job in just a few months. I’m looking forward to more great ideas (make that, fresh ideas!), and watching her personal brand online grow!

Congratulations Katie! – You join a special group of professionals and have earned a coveted link from my monthly winner’s blogroll area (on the left), six months of premium JibberJobber (you can transfer/award this to someone else :) ), and a cyber-high five! Feel free to post the You Get It award on your blog!

Here are the past winners:

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I’m Bigger Than My Business Card

July 23rd, 2007

Financial Aid Podcast owner, Chris PennI think everyone should have a business card. And of course, your business card should communicate what it needs to concisely and effectively.

But a business card can also be a teaser. After all, I’m a lot more interesting than the few square inches, and perhaps 5 clever words. I want YOU to get to know ME, and what you see on my business card is an early-stage introduction. What if a business card could convey more?

It can’t, but it can take you to the next stage – what about the Virtual Business Card? It’s nothing more than a website to let others learn more about you. Check out what Chris (Christopher) Penn is doing. I love it… and I’ll pick it apart here:

1. First thing that jumps out at me is the mug shot that Chris put up. Don’t you hate getting dozens of business cards and then trying to remember WHO is WHO??

Chris Penn - nice guy :)

2. The introductory paragraph explains what this page is all about, puts in the personality, and let’s you know that there is a lot more interesting about Chris than you got on his business card.

Intro Paragraph to Virtual Business Card

3. The next section has titles with LINKS… Chris makes it uber-easy to learn about him because you just have to click to learn more.

employment history with links

4. The next section has a bunch of contact options. I don’t know how accessible Chris really is, but at least he feels accessible.

Contacting Chris Penn

5. The last section has all the links that he thinks is important so you can learn about what he does. It’s a lot… so I’m glad that he didn’t put any descriptions or anything… it would make this page, imho, a little too busy.

Websites that Chris operates or is involved in

One reasons I love this is because he takes me exactly where he wants me to go, instead of leaving it up to Google to define his personal brand… smart, eh?

Excellent Chris – thanks for the example! (thanks to Dan Johnson for pointing me to this)

Want more on business cards? Penelope Trunk recently wrote What to write to make your business card sing, and points us to a ton of artistic examples at Daily Poetics – “Art of the Business Card” (very cool stuff).

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Communicating With An Interviewer After You Are Rejected

July 20th, 2007

Maggie - Corporate RockstarMaggie, an interviewer, asks this interesting question (I’d love to know what you think about it):

I am wondering if folks that interviewed and subsequently got denied due to the choosing of another candidate should ask for feedback about what they might or might not have been able to improve in an interview. It’s one of those touchy subjects where as an interviewer I’d like to help the candidates for their next opportunity by giving it but some state that it’s not appropriate and it obviously can steer you down a legally touchy path. Any thoughts on that or something your readers might be able to shed some light on?

This is a good question, I’ll throw my two cents in from both sides (interviewer and interviewee) but would LOVE to hear what you think.

As an interviewee, I have asked for feedback, and gotten no response. This was after multiple conversations before the “we really like you but we chose someone else.” It kind of miffs me because we seem to get along great before the devastating e-mail, and then communication completely ends.

It’s really annoying to, once again as a job seeker, get the cold shoulder. Especially when you are convinced that you are an absolute fit for the job!

However, as an interviewer, I remember how busy I was during this process. Really, it’s a pain to have to interview a dozen or more candidates, figure out who the best is, make offers, and all that stuff. And this, on top of my normal day job!

If a candidate did come back to me (this happened very rarely) to ask what they might have improved, I would totally want to help them out. Shoot, I like helping people and would love the opportunity to coach one of these folks, especially after they show initiative and interest in improving.

But. There is always a but. As a company representative, I would be concerned about some kind of lawsuit. I would probably share maybe 10% of what I really wanted to share, and not say the other 90%. Just to be safe, and keep the company safe. It’s really a shame, but that’s the mentallity that I have… I’m sure HR trained me on that somewhere along the line.

So, do you help and offer advice? As an interviewee, do you ask for feedback after you are rejected?

P.S. This is one of the reasons why a networking or job club is so critical. You are able to network with others in a similar situation, and the information flows freely – you’ll get plenty of advice on your interview techniques (and more!). Hopefully you can find something like Austin’s Launch Pad Job Club, Houston’s Between Jobs Ministry, or the Scottsdale Job Network.

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The Power Of A Brand: Jessica Alba vs. JibberJobber

July 19th, 2007

Jessica Alba, Fantastic 4, against JibberJobber brandI was chatting with a friend a few weeks ago and almost fell right out of my chair as the conversation progressed:

Vincent: By the way: As much as I’m proud of you and your extraordinary work with JibberJobber, I do have a bit of a bone to pick with you…

me: ok

what’s up?

Vincent: You know Jessica Alba, right?

me: yes of course (know “of”)

Vincent: You know she’s been promoting her new movie all over the television, right?

In one room here, I leave the television on.

When Jessica comes on, I run to the room where the television is

When I run to the room where Jessica is,

I see her

me: ok

Vincent: And think about JIBBERJOBBER!!!

me: NO kidding????

Vincent: hahahaha

me: that’s freaking awesome – it’s what I call “branding” !!

Vincent: Well, since you made the allusion to knowing her

That’s TOO MUCH BRANDING, Jason! hahahaha

I guarantee that as you build your personal brand, people will think about you more and more as they associate your sticking points (positive or negative) and are exposed to things throughout their day.

For example, if your brand is one of putting questionable pictures online, then the next time they read in the Wall Street Journal about funky pictures on MySpace, you’ll be the first to come to mind.

Or, if they are in a meeting and hear an announcement about an opening for a marketing superstar, they’ll think about … hopefully you! (or whatever your brand is supposed to convey – ninja programmer, rainmaker, etc.).

It’s. Very. Powerful.

And with this post, I hope that you all think of JibberJobber the next time you see Jessica Alba!

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