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My Picture Sucks

August 31st, 2007

Jason Alba in Goth?Since I started JibberJobber I have been getting various criticisms. It’s actually really good because most people don’t criticize my and my projects (or at least, then won’t tell me what they really think). Only when someone says “Jason, do you realize that xyz sucks?” that I come down to earth a little and think about changing something that I thought was brilliant.

Such is the case with my professional head shot. I had never considered getting a professional head shot until Peter Clayton asked for one. So I called the two photographers that I knew (I tend to do business with people I know and like :) ) and was able to schedule a short-notice photo shoot with one. We spent a couple of hours shooting various poses, with different shirts and suit coats and ties. For some reason the picture on the right is the one that I liked the most.

Right after the interview with Peter Clayton I was asked for a professional photo for some articles that would be posted in a job board network across the country, and I was grateful to have it ready. Shoot, I really like the picture on the right! But not everyone does – here’s two comments I’ve received in the last few weeks:

Quoted from an e-mail: [On] the subject [of] personal branding. It’s time for … you … to get better photos. … yours is too darn dark and gloomy. Was it a Goth phase you were in? You want to brighten people’s days, be the knight in shining armor for their job search… . Your creative and innovative (don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone). Your photo needs to reflect that.

And, from someone else: And, get a better picture. I think the shirt is too dark. Look at Kent B’s picture. If I looked like that I’d be a big exec. When you shrink the pic it looks even worse darker as a thumbnail. (this is from John Reinke, sent after I put my picture on an e-mail newsletter)

The first was a great e-mail because I have a strong relationship with the person who told me, and he said that he needed to change his picture also. I was amused by the way he told me to make it more professional (Goth???), at the same time cringing that I’d have to pay to fix something that I didn’t think was entirely broken (or, that bad).

Oh well. My book publisher said the picture is TOO SMALL, and I can’t find the disk with the originals. So I’m headed out this morning to meet the other photographer and get some non-goth pictures. Wish me luck.

And now, about you. Do you have a professional headshot? I had no idea I would need one… but having one has been quite handy. If you are interested in your personal brand it seems this is something that should be on your list of things to do!

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Hello Chicagoland! WJJG-AM 1530 Listeners…

August 30th, 2007

WJJG-AM 1530

This is a post for listeners of WJJG (I’ll be on at 4:35 pm CST – in about 90 minutes!), so I don’t have to spell out various URLs on the air. I’m not sure what we’ll be talking about but here are my guesses:

JibberJobber – how it got started, why, what it is, etc. Get a free account here.

JibberJobber blog – you are on it… in the upper right corner there is a box to put your e-mail in and subscribe, which means you’ll get an e-mail each day that I post (usually just Monday – Friday).

I’m on LinkedIn – Now What??? – this is my new book, you can pre-order it now at the publisher’s website.

Personal Branding – I almost always talk about the You Get It award, you can see past winners here.

Military Special – if you have been deployed (or, are currently deployed), I will give you 12 months of free premium from the time you get back. Here’s how it works: Sign up for a free account and e-mail me saying that you are deployed (even if you are still gone). Have one other person e-mail me to vouch for you. I bump your account up to premium for 30 months, because I’m assuming you will be gone for 18 months. You let me know when the 12 months are up – it’s all honor system for now. While you are gone your loved one (mom, dad, spouse, kid, whatever) can put in target companies and network contacts to help you in a job search when you get back – how cool is that? There is no time limit to this offer (in other words, it doesn’t expire).

I wonder what else we’ll talk about??

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HireVue – Something Smart For HR

August 30th, 2007

Hirevue - taking the interview higherI’m obviously a proponent of you, as a career manager (you are managing your own career, aren’t you?). I’m also quite interested in this entire broken process of landing a job, from all angles. There are problems with recruiters, there are problems with HR, there are problems with job boards, etc. When I hear new ideas that remedy any of those problems I get pretty excited, with some bleak hope that the idea of supply and demand of talent will be an enjoyable, pleasant thing :)

Excited is how I felt when I learned about HireVue. The concept was designed by a hiring manager at HP who couldn’t believe all the inefficiencies in interviewing people – specifically when these people were flying in from all over the place. Compound that with trying to coordinate hiring manager schedules and travel, … it can be a real mess.

Also, doesn’t it suck that we get a few minutes to impress the interviewers but they really don’t have anything to go back to, to see how brilliant our answers really were, or how cool and sophisticated we were in the interview? There are, of course, other problems.

That’s where HireVue enters the picture… and as a candidate (that’s what they call us “job seekers”) I got pretty excited. HireVue contracts with the company, for example, HP, works with hiring managers (or HR) to get the interview questions set up, and then sends out cameras to each of the interviewees. The interviewee then sits at home (or school, or somewhere with a high speed connection) and does an interview online. They do it when it is convenient for them.

Once the interview is done the hiring managers and HR get to watch, comment on, share thoughts about, and compare each of the interviewees. From there they can decide which interviewees to take to the next level (probably an on-site interview).

I can see pros and cons to this process. For me (as a candidate and hiring manager) the pros far outweigh the cons.

I would REALLY like to see more companies move forward with something like this – I think it makes them look more hip and cool, and definitely more efficient. It plays well to the YouTube generation, although I can see techno-phobia people worried – but you can get coached on how to do an excellent video interview.

I think HR is sleeping on the job for not picking up on this more. Doesn’t it make sense for recruiters and outplacement to fit this in also?

Oh, one more thing I know the founder (Ryan Money) and his partner (Mark Newman (mnewman @ hirevue.com)). Ryan just stepped into a Chairman position and Mark is now the CEO. Mark is very, very sharp – I look forward to watching their progress under his command!

What do you think about this type of stuff? Have you done an interview like this (a phone interview is quite different, by the way)? Would you be impressed or intimidated by an interview like this?

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Robb Hecht Gets Personal Branding – and the Twelfth You Get It Award!

August 29th, 2007

You Get It personal branding awardCongratulations (and surprise) to Robb Hecht for wrapping up the first year of You Get It award winners! I have been eyeing Robb as a You Get It winner for about three months now. Before I get onto my comments about Robb’s blog I want to make one point:

YOU CAN DO THIS, TOO!

I’m not even going to pretend to talk you into blogging… it gets tiresome. Blogging is hard work and it’s a commitment. But the rewards are really greater than anything I could have guessed a year ago! I have staked my claim on the Internet in a way that will benefit me for many years to come, just because of how I’ve used my own blog to develop a personal brand (Jason Alba) and a company brand (JibberJobber). Not to mention the amazing relationships I’ve developed over the last year… these are two awesome benefits I’ve received from blogging – and I know that you can receive awesome benefits, too!

This is Robb Hecht!Back to my “one point” … I look for You Get It winners that aren’t intimidating. I’m not going to put A-list bloggers as award winners for various reasons… I’m looking for people that are real, touchable, and doing what you should and can do! I hope you can sift through these last twelve winners and think “I can start that!”

Here’s what I like about Robb’s blog:

  • the URL: I’m not a fan of blogspot :p but he got a great subdomain – PR Machine. It sums it up right there: http://prmachine.blogspot.com
  • The title and subtitle are on purpose: “Media 2.0″ is also very clear – I get what he specializes in. “robb hecht’s brandhacker trend report” helps with SEO on his name, and for some reason brandhacker piques my curiosity and I want to learn more.
  • The posts are somewhat sporadic but not too infrequent: It looks like he writes when something inspires him, which is frequent enough to keep me interested. I follow blogs like this via e-mail, and would recommend he bumps the e-mail subscribe up more :)
  • The posts are smart: Take the post on how the 4 Hour Workweek blog and book moved forward – there is some really cool information there from PR persective on how Tim Ferris made such progress, coming out of nowhere! Further, many of Robb’s posts contain substance (statistics, references, etc.) that add credibility to his message and brand.
  • His blog style is great: he uses bullets, bold, images, and a lot of linking out – these are all things that make it easier for the reader to digest, and get more value from links that he things are relevant.
  • He uses Google Adwords well: ONLY IN ONE SPOT!! At the top… not peppered throughout the rest of the site… this is showing, imho, lots of respect for his readers.
  • … I kind of like all the widgets and stuff on the right, as many of them are things that I haven’t seen before, but it’s too cluttered for my taste.

Here are some non-blog proofs that Robb gets it:

  • Google Robb HechtGoogle his name, without quotes. He owns the first page – his blog, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts, and articles. If I was looking to hire Robb (as an employee or vendor) this would be impressive. And, look on the right, he actually has a sponsored link with his website AND phone number. Easy to find him!
  • Robb has a really strong public profile on LinkedIn with a number of things that I suggest in my book (like putting the full name and abbreviation for companies – you never know how people are going to search for your talent!)
  • On his company website he makes it clear that he’s credible by putting the “as read about” section front and center. Amongst other places you can see that he’s been in the Wall Street Journal as well as the Entrepreneur magazine. You may not have a company but you can get quoted in magazines and newspapers!
  • Robb’s e-mail signature is simple yet very informative – this is low hanging fruit that a lot of people miss out on, and getting one e-mail from him allows you to learn A LOT about him from his profiles or his blog (and heck, if you are old fashioned, you even get his phone number :p):

Robb Hecht e-mail signature

Congratulations Robb! – 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 (this represents the first year of winners):

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Looking When You Have a Job (aka, the planned transition)

August 28th, 2007

making career transitionsThis last month I’ve sat down with three different people who are currently employed but going to make a major career transition soon. This is very different than what I went through last year, where I had a piddly six week severance (I know, many people don’t even get that).

It’s so exciting to see people take their own careers into their own hands! In each case, the person wasn’t looking for more money, they were looking for something they could be passionate about. Take the guy from my post When Cool People Announce They Are In A Job Search (note the awesome comments by Daniel, Bengt, Chuck, Adam, Kellyd, Pete, Darlene, Krystyna, Maggie and Adrian). He makes plenty of money, owns his own business, has all the perks that he could enjoy, but knows that he would be happier in a different type of organization (like the organizations that he used to lead before he went out on his own).

So, follow your passion, that’s the key. But what about the tactics?

If you have the luxury of looking for your next gig with time to spare (lucky you!), here is what I would recommend you do:

  1. Network. Hate that word? Pick up Never Eat Alone and get a new perspective on what relationships are all about. Then pick up Some Assembly Required to get a ton of networking techniques that you can use right now. The bottom line is to begin to improve relationships with everyone that you can, old friends, new friends, etc. If you haven’t been investing in your relationships start now – see how you can help and give and give and help! (need help figuring out how to manage all of these relationships? Sign up on JibberJobber :) )
  2. Strengthen your personal brand. I heard of a career leader yesterday that thinks personal branding is bunk, that perhaps it’s a fad. The only way that personal branding is going away is if Google goes away. Until then people will be looking for information about you, and they will find that (a) you don’t exist (gasp!), (b) you are a party animal, or at least use bad discretion on what you want others to know about you, (c) you are an accomplished professional that cares about what others find out about you… etc. You get the point. If you are going to be starting something new in the next six to twelve months, start building your brand right now, when you start your new gig you will have a solid brand that others can see and understand!

That’s my advice. You can through other stuff in there like read books, get certifications, etc. But I think that those two things, networking and working on your personal brand, should consume the time you have to work on your transition.

What do you think? Am I a broken-record-player simpleton? Am I missing something? What exactly would YOU do if you had six to twelve months to make a transition?

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Unemployment Insurance – Dancing with the Devil

August 27th, 2007

getting unemployment insurance... is it worth it?  I have a lot of opinions on unemployment insurance (UI). I went through the process from start to finish while looking for my job. I worried that the state would cut off my UI, or after-the-fact would do an investigation and want me to pay some of it back. I wasn’t doing anything wrong but, hello, we’re dealing with a system that is broken, and many people abuse it, and I think there is little fairness or recourse for state misconduct. It’s scary. It’s humiliating and humbling. For me and my family, it was necessary to carry us through.

A long-time reader has recently lost their job after just a couple of months (and before that, a long bout with unemployment). Here’s a question from her:

I was let go (fired) because of “unsatisfactory work performance” according to the employer. I am trying to fill out the unemployment form asking my side of why I was let go. I am wondering what I can put on the form that is the truth, but will help me get unemployment.

When I was hired my boss told me I might need to work a few extra hours a few days a month. I was there 55-60 hr every week and still couldn’t get everything done that they wanted. The expectations were too high. The company went in and fired everyone in another location and sent us boxes of stuff that was far from organized.

They expected us to figure everything out in a few days, which is very hard since this other branch did things their way and didn’t have organized files. I was told when I started that it takes 3-5 months to figure out what you are doing and they let me go after 2 1/2 months.

I am a hard worker and willing to put in overtime, but this definitely wasn’t a good fit.

What do I write on the unemployment form, so that I can get some money for a few months until I can land another job?

I’ll have my biased thoughts on UI later – how would YOU handle this problem?

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Who Coaches Jason Alba?

August 24th, 2007

Kent Blumberg - leadership, management, executive coachAs promised in an earlier post this week (I Hate My Coach) I’m going to out my coach today. I can’t really do a drum roll because the picture gives it away.

I came across Kent Blumberg back in September when I read Louise Fletcher’s post about Kent’s blogging, and how he was a great example of personal branding. I reached out to him and we’ve had a really neat relationship since then. Kent was knee-deep in an executive job search, and had recently started blogging – so we had both of those things in common. His job search was going to be a long one, just like mine was. He very quickly saw the value of JibberJobber and I found myself the recipient of his e-mails and ideas.

A month after I found him I awarded him the You Get It prize for October, 2006. I remember calling him the morning I posted (our first call) and I said “hey, I have this award I’m giving to you, I just wanted to know if you are in a job search, and could I say that?” That was our first call, and we’ve had a number of them since then.

When I went to Houston over Christmas he found out about some days I scheduled for business and offered to meet me. Pretty cool, huh? Here’s what blew me away – Kent had to drive about six hours to meet me. He came early (our first meeting was at 7am in a restaurant), stayed in a hotel with his wife, and spent most of the day with me in my meetings. Of course, he had many excellent contacts in Houston so I think he got other stuff done on that trip but for me it was extremely flattering that he’d make that effort to hook up with me and spend that much time with me.

A few months ago he told me he had something big he was working on but wouldn’t tell me what it was (you have to be careful what you tell bloggers, you know!). When he was ready I learned that he decided to become a coach. He would coach people in their career (management or executive) or executives in transition. He asked if I’d be interested in a free coaching session to see how it goes.

It was kind of weird because I have about 20 partners who pay money to be my partner, and many of them are coaches! But of course it was free, and it would help Kent as he was working on his certification, and I had immense respect for him as a business leader and executive. I had longed for a real mentor at my old job where I was the general manager and got nothing. So to get a chance to have a real coach or mentor of Kent’s caliber was really, really enticing.

We’ve since had about seven sessions and, as I alluded to in my earlier post this week, they are not really that easy. I don’t want to lose Kent’s respect, so I put effort into the sessions, I keep it real (honest), and we have some pretty deep discussions. I feel bad about not doing all of the “homework,” but hey, I’ve got a business to run. Last week I told him that I feel bad about missing two homework assignments and he said “you know, maybe these assignments just don’t work for you.” Man, they don’t! It’s cool that he has the wisdom/maturity to recognize what I really need and not make me fit into the ideal candidate.

So anyway, that’s how it happened. It’s been hard but it’s been good – I feel like I’m more grounded, that I’m doing the urgent/important things and not the emergency things (Covey’s quadrants). Kent’s background and career were a huge part in the decision to pick him as a coach, and the fact that he’s getting trained and certified were critical.

A couple of months ago he said that his goal is to have 100 coaching sessions in 100 days. I’m not sure where he is at but I’m sure he would love to give you a complementary coaching session – I know I have many readers who are in management or business ownership that would be perfect for this type of discussion. If you have never done it before I encourage you to shoot Kent an e-mail.

Tell me about your coaching experiences, who your coach is, etc!

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Meet Jason (or, “a break from the normal stuff”)

August 23rd, 2007

snake headI’m swamped with book marketing and my brain is kind of mush today… so I thought I’d take a break and join a meme. Here are eight random facts about me :)

  1. I almost always ask for just ice while on a plane. This is so (a) I don’t spill liquid on my laptop, and (b) it doesn’t go straight through me and make me use that tiny, eensie-weensie bathroom on the plane.
  2. I’m rather shy. I’m not the guy at the party (or networking event) or whatever that is hopping around introducing myself to everyone. At the same time I’m not really happy being a wall flower so if I’m not chatting with someone I try and find someone to talk with.
  3. I don’t really like… um, computers. Many of you may think I’m a geek or nerd, but trust me, I’m not. I used to manage geeks and nerds, and pretty much all they could do was talk ones and zeros. I have never built my own machine, installed an OS, or anything like that (I used to be a programmer, and I was “good” but I wasn’t excellent).
  4. I LOVE to read. I just finished the last Harry Potter book (loved it), I love John Grisham, Michael Crichton, but had a hard time getting into Tom Clancy. I have a subscription to Inc and Fast Company, will usually read every page of a newspaper (not ads and not comics (anymore)), etc.
  5. I’m not a morning person. By any measure. Its true that I’ve been getting up around 6am (give or take an hour) but it’s not my choice.
  6. I have four kids. The oldest is almost ten, the youngest just turned one. I have a favorite son… since he’s the only son, and I tell him he’s my favorite son every night. I kiss all my kids goodnight each night, and cherish our relationships (I have to now, while they still like me, right?).
  7. I think snakes are the best pets around. I used to love all animals but now that I’m old and cranky I don’t want anything that will shed or “shed” (sic) in my house. You can ignore snakes and they don’t care. You can feed them once a month. They are cool, scary and creepy all at the same time. I take my kids snake hunting in the summer and they love it (and their friends think I’m very cool).
  8. I am kind of afraid of heights. Nothing that needs counseling. But when I was a kid I fell through a roof. You know, that sturdy thing that you shouldn’t fall through? Ever since then I hate being on the roof (adios Christmas lights).

The rules are here, on Andrew’s blog. I’ve been tagged by others… sorry for taking so long to get this up.

I’d like to tag YOU – leave at least ONE random fact about yourself as a comment – I’d love to get to know you better (yes, even you, blog lurker!) :)

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Career Information Technology: There’s Something Wrong Here, Folks!

August 22nd, 2007

Why is my toolbox empty? http://www.firstclasstools.co.uk/images/VS2113%20OPEN%20&%20EMPTY.jpgA few weeks ago I got an e-mail from Megan Fitzgerald, Career, business and personal branding coach, with the following:

Wow – you are really taking CIT (Career Information Technology – my term I use) to the next level!

I LOVE that term! Career Information Technology… that sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?

But wait a minute. I shouldn’t be taking it to the next level. Career issues have been around since Adam and Eve – why is something as simple as JibberJobber taking it to the next level, and why is it only happening in the last year?

When I was doing research on who was doing anything close to JibberJobber I searched on “career toolbox.” Know what I got? Not much (although my good friend Dan Sweet’s site, Fracat.com/blog, comes up in the first few results).

Guess what I come up with when I search on “career information technology?” Not much – just a lot of information on careers in information technology.

Want to know why there aren’t technologies out there to help with your career? Because that isn’t where the money is.

How come there are 40,000+ traditional job boards? Because that is where the money is.

Please, prove me wrong. Here’s my running list of things in “career information technology” … note that I want to identify things that are FOR THE JOB SEEKER or CAREER-ORIENTED. I’m not talking about a recruiter’s applicant tracking system (ATS), or a job board that makes it’s money by selling ads and job postings… I’m talking about technology for YOU to manage your career. Here’s my list:

  1. JibberJobber.com – of course I list it first – it’s my website :) :)
  2. …. I’m at a loss … what else?

Hopefully you can help me flesh out this list – what would you consider to be a part of Career Information Technology?

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I Hate My Coach

August 21st, 2007

I don't really hate my coach :)I’ve been really big on coaches since I really started to learn about them last year. As a job seeker we were told to “get a coach, not your spouse!” It was during the time when I was just figuring out the job search and career management thing, and as I learned more about coaches I kind of came up with my own thing – you can read the three things that a coach must have in order to really be effective here.

I partner with coaches, which is really quite fun. I’m not sure if it’s their personality, or that they are just “in the zone,” but usually when we are on the phone talking about their business and JibberJobber they’ll start coaching me. This happens about 30 minutes into the call and I’m not sure if they realize they do it, but it really is interesting to have these impromptu coaching sessions.
I announced that I had engaged in a coaching relationship about a month ago. And today I want to give an update:

  • I do not look forward to my coaching sessions.
  • We have weekly sessions. I have not had a week off since we started.
  • I have homework.
  • I’m supposed to recap our sessions… AND write an e-mail before our session recapping my week.
  • He asks really simple questions that, deep down inside, I already know the answer to.
  • He asks some questions that I know I should be asking myself but have been purposefully ignoring.
  • He tries really hard to not give me the answers, rather, pulls them out of me in a sometimes painful dialog.
  • While our discussions are generally low-key, I know that I’m not going to “get away” with anything.

Our coaching relationship is built on trust and mutual respect. I have immense respect for him as a leader and manager. He trusts that I’m being honest with him.

Probably more important, he trusts that I’m being honest with myself.

Has it been beneficial? No doubt.

Is it fun? …. it’s rewarding, but it’s a growth process, so it’s more painful than fun.

Do we go over common-sense stuff? Yes… I have a business degree, an MBA, and years of management and strategic experience. But I find myself not being able to see the trees through the forest (or however that goes). So I need to be grounded regularly.

What’s the most beneficial thing I get out of our coaching relationship? I can’t decide between (a) having a smarter, wiser person to help me solve current problems with or (b) the regular accountability (I’m not one that “needs” accountability, but this takes it to another level).

Do I really hate my coach? No, of course not. But this is something that makes me grow, and growing is hard an uncomfortable. I’m fortunate to have a coach that is helping me through, even pushing me through this period in my life and business.

Who is my coach? I’m going to “out” him this week – stay tuned.

Are you a coach? Did you know your clients go through this? Have you had a coach? Does this ring true?

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