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See Ya Next Year!

December 31st, 2008

I wanted to write about my favorite posts from this year.

I wanted to write a post about the sad state of affairs we saw introduced this year, or what I’m guessing will happen next year.

I wanted to write about me and what I’m doing in 2009, and why it will be different than 2008.

I wanted to write a post to thank all of the people who have been my cheerleaders, evengelists and mentors, and people I’ve learned from.

I wanted to write and thank those who read this crazy blog, or those who leave comments.

I wanted to write, encourage, remember… but I don’t know how to do all that in one post.

So I’ll do none of it and remember 12/31/2008 as the day that I wanted to do so much but did nothing.

As Director Tom would say, “IT’S A WRAP!”

Next year will be ______________________________________________.

(see you January 2nd :) )

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Personal Branding Winner of the Month – Warren Sukernek

December 30th, 2008

I missed November!  Doh!  That’s okay, here’s a great example of someone taking personal branding online to a higher level.  I’ve known of Warren for a while, and think he’s a great way to end 2009′s Personal Branding winners.  Here’s why…

Warren Sukernek is in the position you want to be in when you get canned.

Warren has a strong network, understands relationships, and has been living giver’s gain for a long time.  And people know it.  They “know” him, and they trust him.

Warren has been digging a well long before he was thirsty… perhaps not realizing that he would need to tap into it during a job search.  His online presence is enough to make me feel overwhelmed, but I think the key is he didn’t do it all overnight, and everything he has done (or at last parts of it) can be lessons for YOU to do the same.

Warren has a blog. Actually he has a number of blogs… so I should say he has a blog strategy.  Look, I beat this dead horse over and over, but let me share one idea – if companies are moving away from “brochureware,” which is a static website, and moving to a conversational place to build community and listen and interact, why can’t you?  He is developing conversation around Twitter, setting himself apart as an authority on Twitter.  Authority = thought leader – subject matter expert.

Warren is on Twitter. Of course.  You can see his Twitter account here.  Note he has over 2,000 followers and has tweeted over 5,000 times.  When he writes “RT” he is sharing information with his followers… he is providing some kind of value (and if they don’t think so, they can stop following him).  This is the audience he turned to when he got laid-off, and they have been responsive!  Click here to see some screenshots of how people reacted to his news on Twitter.

Warren participates in discussions. Check out his participation in the Society for Word of Mouth Ning social network: Warren has a history of participating in conversations over 30 times there.  Think people there know who he is, or of him?  Absolutely.  His PEERS know who he is, and they have formed opinions of him based on the brand he has built there.  And when he let them know he was available, they responded!

Warren has a nice picture. Seems trivial, does it?  With all the places you can post your “avatar” or picture online, I seriously encourage you to get a nice headshot.  Warren’s is nice and looks professional.  It makes him seem approachable.  It is not offensive, and it is one of the little things that makes his strategy seem more “on purpose.”

I predict Warren either (a) won’t be out of work for long, or (b) will start his own consulting gig (which I think is a pretty viable option considering the hiring economy right now).

Congratulations Warren! 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! And, a new addition to the prize list is the two hour (!!) recording of Blog Marketing 201 – 501 (part of the CEO Training for Me, Inc. – listed at $49.95 (but much more valuable than that!).

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I Listed My Revenue Streams, Have You?

December 29th, 2008

About 10 days ago I had a few hours of quiet time with no kids, and a laptop with no internet connection. I was kind of trapped in a room, not able to leave.  I decided to tackle a project I’ve been somewhat neglecting for a while - listing out my revenue streams for 2009.

I have repeatedly blogged/talked about multiple streams of income, and have told people that I have 5 main revenue streams.  So I decided to write them down, define them, project income from each stream for 2009, and then go out to 2010.

It was a fascinating activity.  I felt like my head was going to explode (coincidentally, I googled “head explode” on images.google.com and found a bunch of… well, exploding heads… this image is the only one I could find that wasn’t offensive!).

I’d like to share my revenue streams with you, although I won’t in this post.  I don’t want to sway or influence you as you brainstorm your own revenue streams.  I’m really excited to share some of my 2009 goals with you, which I plan on writing about this week.

I do want you to define your revenue streams.  What are they?  How much are they worth?  How are you going to accomplish your income security (and, income diversification)?

For me a significant part of success will be helping others succeed, which I’m really excited about.  So do me a favor and list your revenue streams for 2009.  Whether it’s $5k/month or $1k/month or $100/month, write it down.  One of my revenue streams is quite insignificant in 2009 but the largest one in 2010.

Feel free to list some in the comments, or email me privately … I’d love to hear what you are thinking, and I know my other readers would love to know what you are doing to achieve income security.

If you are interested in daily actionable nudges to move your career forward (like this post), consider the JibberJobber One Thing.  You can visit the blog to see what you’re getting into, or subscribe at the Yahoo Group.
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Senior Citizen Seeking Employment?

December 26th, 2008

It may not be on the front pages of the papers just now, but it’s a hard reality that the average retirement age in the United States has been creeping higher and higher, to the point where it’s now closer to 67 than 65 – long past the days of summer job searches, and into the phase of life when college savings plans are set up for grandchildren, not children.

Whether you’re exactly 65, or a bit older or younger, there are many reasons to consider remaining in – or rejoining – the workplace:

  • Company loyalty. Studies have shown that older workers feel stronger connections to their companies they work for, and genuinely enjoy interacting with both customers and colleagues, but hearsay says that customers also appreciate dealing with mature employees.
  • Having a job keeps you connected to the world, and gives you motivation. In the words of Kathi Brown, a knowledge-management specialist with AARP, going to work gives you, “…a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”
  • Finances. Staying in the workforce certainly keeps money flowing, whether you need the cash to live or just want extra cash to spoil your spouse, take trips, or help a child pay off their direct student loans.
  • Connection. By keeping a job, you stay connected to the goings-on in your community.

With all the benefits of keeping or finding a job as a mature adult, there are still challenges that must be faced:

  • Many employers are resistant to flexible scheduling or job-sharing – two strategies that are ideal for older workers.
  • Retail can be physically taxing, for those who aren’t accustomed to being on their feet for long periods of time.
  • Age discrimination is still a problem – there’s a very low percentage of workers aged 65 and over who have been in their current job for less than two years.

If you are a person of a certain age, and looking for work, what can you do? There are several options. If money isn’t an issue, and you just want to get out of the house and keep your mind moving, consider volunteering at a library or museum, if money is an object, there are job-search sites that offer great help to people of all ages, from the ability to post resumes, to managing the contacts you already have and helping you build broader networks – it’s never too late to expand your circles, after all.

As well, organizations like AARP offer special programs for mature adults seeking career changes. One such program is their Senior Community Service Employment Program, which works with staffing services to place adjunct faculty and substitute teachers in much of the United States, and they also have a program in partnership with Home Depot, which values the experience older workers can bring.

Finding a new job is more difficult when you’re at or over the traditional retirement age, but not impossible if you take advantage of the services that exist to help.

This is a guest post by Jon Davidson.
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Merry Christmas

December 25th, 2008

I usually take holidays off, but I decided to write this in advance.  For those who are Christmas folks, I hope today is a beautiful day of reflection and happy family traditions and memories!

Last week on the JibberJobber One Thing I asked people to give money away.  I was really blown away by the response I got, in the comments and in email.  I must be more bah-humbug than I thought, as I didn’t expect the outpouring of “giving” that I saw.

I hope that we can carry this spirit of giving with us throughout all of next year.  There are people who need something, anything, and we really can give.  Things like:

  • A smile and a sincere “how are you?”  Sometimes people just need someone to talk to - more than asking them how they are doing in the hallway at church or work, but in an environment where they can really tell you, and you can really listen.
  • Taking someone to lunch. It was so good for me to see my wife’s girlfriends ask her out to lunch during our unemployment.  She needed to get pampered a little, have some girl-time, etc.  I didn’t have the few bucks to take us both out to lunch, and I didn’t have the right mood to make it healthy for us.
  • Giving someone $20. That is just one bill for you, perhaps, but it is so very significant for the family who doesn’t have any income, but continues to have expenses.  Stretch a little and give $100.  Anonymous or not, it will be so appreciated.
  • A network contact. When I was in my job search I wanted to help, and give, but I felt I had NOTHING.  I realized that I did have something… and that was the network contacts I was nurturing.  You can’t imagine how helped we feel when you make an introduction that just might be what we needed.

There are more things you can give, and I know you want to – don’t let anything hold you back – resolve to give!

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Letter From The Boss – Happy Holidays (pack your things)!

December 24th, 2008

Here’s a letter I wrote last year, updated just a tad:

Dear Employee # 3352899238,

What a terrific year we’ve had at Acme Widget Company! The team has really pulled together and we expect it to be the best year yet! Here are some of our accomplishments:

  • We successfully installed our new accounting system – thanks to IT, Finance and Accounting, who worked extra overtime for six months to make this a seamless transition! You will each receive an extra turkey with your customary Christmas ham.
  • We finally updated our Policy and Procedure manual – this significant overhaul brings us up to date and current with industry standards, and compliant with federal regulations. Not the most exciting accomplishment of the year, but we recognize the thousands of hours that went into this project, and we wish to express a hearty “thank you” to all of our administrative team who greatly contributed (sorry, no extra turkey for you since this did not have an impact on our profit).
  • We closed deals with four new customers, which guarantees next year’s revenue and profit growth to exceed 60% of our targets – thank you to our sales team who went above and beyond (and sorry to Joe, who’s wife left him due to the strenuous work conditions)
  • We maintained 94% customer retention, in spite of The Great Product Glitch last spring – our customer service team really saved our hides after we realized problems with some vendors. Their quick thinking and excellent response to customer issues kept us out of legal hot water and helped us keep almost all of our contracts intact – we’ll have an end-of-year party in the cafeteria just for you next Thursday (it’s potluck).
  • We finally established our offshore office, and will begin operations on January 1 – this will result in saving millions of dollars, again, contributing to a very strong 2009!

We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to you as we realize you made a significant impact during 2008.

Unfortunately, due to circumstances that we cannot control, and our new strategy to move professional positions to lower-wage countries, we are terminating your position. This is not a reflection on your performance and we hope that in the future you would consider re-employment with Acme – after all, we are a family company, and you are part of our family!

Happy new year!

Sincerely,

Your management team, where “open door” is our #1 policy!

P.S. We will be unavailable through January 7th, as we will be in Hawaii for our Executive Retreat (luckily we get to take our families with us this year!). Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays!

This tongue-in-cheek post is brought to you by JibberJobber.  I bet you get a letter like this one day, but if you start using JibberJobber to organize, manage and track your personal relationships you just might be more prepared to land your next gig than the next guy, who is completely ignoring his career management.  You aren’t ignoring your career management, right?
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Lifehacker Readers Choose “Five Best Online Job Search Sites” and FAIL

December 22nd, 2008

Unbelievable.  Lifehacker, the uber-popular blog who has god-like status amongst bloggers, just put out a list of 5 (make that 6) “best” online job search sites.  In my opinion, the list is a utter failure, providing nothing of the usual high-value content that Lifehackers are used to getting on that blog.

Alas, it wasn’t their own bloggers writing it, they asked their readers what the best online job search sites are.  Either their readers (or those who contributed) are complete nincompoops, or they just chose the easiest, best-branded sites they could think of without really considering whether they are really valuable or not.  Here are the 6 sites chosen as “best online job search sites,” in their order:

  1. Monster.com
  2. LinkedIn.com
  3. CareerBuilder.com
  4. HotJobs.com
  5. Craigslist.org
  6. Indeed.com

What???

50% of the top 6 are basically the same thing: top three job boards.  Can you tell me the difference between Monster, CareerBuilder and HotJobs? I can’t tell you the difference.  For many job seekers, I think they are just commodities… the same things found on different sites.

I’m definitely glad to see LinkedIn there as a job search tool.  And of course Craigslist is something that is actually legit as a job search tool (you can get a free ebook on “using Craigslist to find a job” from Job-Hunt.org here).  I’m also glad to see Indeed there, which is a job board aggregator, with the idea that you don’t need to go to any job boards except Indeed.  Many argue that SimplyHired.com is the same thing as Indeed… they are both aggregators, and they both lead the space.

The first comment on Lifehacker’s post sums up my thoughts – in part it reads:

If those are the best job search sites then I’m seriously screwed or I’m living in the wrong area (New England).

I went to school for video and audio production. So far I’ve used Yahoo! Hot Jobs, Career Builder, and Craigslist. I have searched extensively on each of those sites. There’s almost nothing there for my region on any of those sites.

My returns either come up as scam / spam companies, the search results don’t match what I’m looking for, or there’s a million postings by temp agencies looking to fish for resumes.

But aren’t there other online job search sites????  At the risk of getting spammed by every new job search site out there, I’ll ask, what site do you recommend as a job search tool?  If you write in representing your company please don’t look like a spammer (put your name in the comment box, etc.).

Are you stuck? In career pain, career limbo or career depression?
You don’t have to stay that way.
Linsey Levine of Career Counsel is a Career Counselor, Career Coach and Resume Writer with a passion for helping people create conscious career choices and connections that are aligned with their values, talents, interests, and unique strengths. She helps clients get unstuck; get clear, get focused, and get moving – toward successful career and life management goals. www.4careercounsel.com

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Why Networking Sucks In The Job Search (aka, Why Networking Isn’t Working)

December 19th, 2008

Many people “network” into their next job, right?

That’s what we’re told.

And we believe it.  It sounds good.  It feels good.  Everyone says it. It must be true.

Then WHY isn’t networking into your next job WORKING??

I’ll give you two reasons why networking might not be working in your job search:

1. Networking takes a long time.

Think about planting a tomato. When do you plant the seed?  What do you have to do before you can get the harvest?

It’s a long process of watching hardly any progress.  It takes time, and care.  Sometimes, you have to go out in the evening and cover your poor little tomato plants or else an overnight freeze will make all of your efforts go to waste.

People who plant tomatoes know what they are getting into, and they have a vision of what they’ll get when it’s all done.  They take the time to do what needs to be done.

I think we, as networkers, DON’T know what we are getting into, and our visions are unrealistic because we don’t know what needs to be done.

We want to be “microwave networkers,” where we push a few buttons and 30 seconds later we have what we want… you can’t expect to simply go to ONE network meeting and get your dream job.  You can’t expect to do some searches on LinkedIn and magically get into the CEO’s office.  You can’t expect to shoot off a few emails to meet people and expect to have them gush all over you as the next best hire.

You need to NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS.  This is slow.  And we are impatient. And that is why networking sucks in a job search.  Because it doesn’t necessarily produce overnight results.

2. Networking is misunderstood.

It’s not just about having a slick business card and going to job search meetings.  It definitely is not about arriving late and leaving early (like I did, because I didn’t want to network with losers).

Networking is not about adding a ton of people to your “list.”  Whether it’s adding more people to LinkedIn or JibberJobber, it’s not just about getting more names and phone numbers.

Networking is not about that proverbial “we should do lunch sometime,” … that “sometime” that never happens.

Networking is about nurturing “intimate relationships.”  When I realized this (as I read Never Eat Alone), EVERYTHING changed.  Everything.  It was still a nurturing process, but EVERYTHING changed.  Networking was more fun, and definitely more rewarding.  I focused on helping others, and was able to give, and serve, and get fulfillment as I developed intimated relationships instead of focusing on “is this person going to be able to help me, or am I wasting my time?”

Many people I meet in the job search just don’t get it.  They do not understand what networking is.  It’s like planting a tomato in the wrong soil, or not watering it, or not giving it appropriate sunlight… if you don’t know what you are doing with a tomato plant you probably won’t get tomatoes.

If you don’t know how to nurture intimate relationships you probably won’t find your job through networking.

Both situations will leave you asking “but what did I do wrong?”

I’m sorry that you drank the “networking kool-aid” and thought networking was going to be your quick-fix, and are now very discouraged because you see no results.  Perhaps you understood networking to be something different?

If so, go to your library TODAY and get Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi.  This book completely changed my job search.

While you are there, get Some Assembly Required by Thom Singer.  It is a great companion to Never Eat Alone, and has tons of tactical tips and ideas.

Does networking suck for you?  Why?

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Okay, I’m Sold On Twitter

December 18th, 2008

I got on Twitter a while back and chose to go for it and see what it was all about.

Since then, I’ve been super-impressed.

Not with the technology.  For crying out loud, it only really does one thing, and for so long it couldn’t even do that (google “fail whale” and you’ll wonder how a company can survive that).

In my social media/marketing/job-search presentations I talk about social tools, and “why” I participate in them.  Specifically, I share three reasons:

  1. To grow your network. Not because you are out to be the biggest networker in the world, or because you want to brag about the thousands of (meaningless) connections you have, but for other reasons.  In LinkedIn, the bigger your network is the richer your search results could be.  In Facebook, the more Friends you have the more chances of benefiting from the viral goodness of using Facebook.
  2. To nurture relationships. I want to learn about people, and figure out how I can help them, and I want the same from them.  We need to go beyond 30 second pitches and tag lines and get to know people at a more intimate level (“intimate relationships” comes from Never Eat Alone – required reading).  I don’t build intimate relationships by viewing LinkedIn profiles… I need more social interaction or functionality.
  3. To ________ my (personal) brand. I still don’t know what word best fills in the blank… share, enhance, grow, etc.  But the more you can learn about me, assuming my message is on-brand, the more you understand my brand.  This applies to my personal brand AND my corporate brand.

I participate in various online environments, although not as much as you might think.  And I have to say, Twitter hits each of these three purposes spot-on.

The benefits I’ve seen from Twitter are huge, and my involvement has been so rewarding.  I’ll post more about that later, but for now, here are two things you can do:

  1. Read Guy Kawasaki’s post on Twitter, written from a business/entrepreneur perspective. This post is the best post I’ve read on Twitter, and why it can help you.  I agree with most everything that Guy says in this post.
  2. Follow me on Twitter. Ugh, I feel a little dirty even saying that, and have never wanted to even solicit connections on LinkedIn, or Friends on Facebook, etc.  But here’s why I finally am inviting you to follow me on Twitter.  First, if you aren’t using Twitter, you can simply go to my page without logging in or doing anything and get a feel for WHAT I tweet… just to see how it works.  Second, I tweet about 5ish times a day… news about my new baby and personal stuff like that, industry news, interesting finds online that I think are worth sharing, JibberJobber news, etc.  Stuff that helps you get to know me better, peak inside my head, and begin to understand me enough to help you develop an “intimate relationship.”

Okay, that did feel a little dirty… if you don’t follow me, there are others to follow, and learn from.  Go find someone interesting and see how they are using Twitter.

If you want to follow me, login to your account, then go to this page: http://twitter.com/jasonalba, then click the “follow” button right under my picture.

Oh yeah, one quick warning… if you get on Twitter today, you’ll probably think it’s the lamest thing in the world and leave it after a few days… I’ve seen this time after time.  And then, 4 – 6 months later, the person comes back.  It’s weird, and I can’t explain it… but Twitter is powerful!

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If You Don’t Have A Personal Brand…

December 17th, 2008

This last year I’ve enjoyed speaking about 60 times (when I wrote my book I had no intention of becoming a speaker, but I love it).  Frequently I ask the audience “who here has a personal brand.”

About 3 people raise their hands (no matter how big the audience is).

So what about the others?  They don’t have a personal brand?  I would argue they do have a personal brand… perhaps it’s that they are really good (or bad) at what they do, that they are a wall-flower (just there, not really contributing too much or too little), that they are on time or late, etc.

Everyone has some kind of branding, and I bet people will be able to sum you up in a few words… like “John is a really nice guy,” or “John is the best _____,” or something like that.

But let’s say you are nothing more than a name on a resume?  As a hiring manager I’m going to pull whatever information I have access to and try and figure out what you are bringing to the table.

In Washington I was speaking at a college and said that if you haven’t defined or developed your brand, you’d likely be stereotyped along with all of the other Gen Y applicants.  Want your brand to be defined by stereotypes (if so, you’ll be like that (fake) cow in the picture, getting a brand applied to you)?

Me neither.

Get working on your personal brand!

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