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Joe Biden to Job Seekers: Suck it up!

January 31st, 2011

Okay, so he didn’t say it in those words.  He said “hang in there.”  He indicated there are lots of companies who say they are going to hire more this year, so just hang in there, be patient and maybe you’ll land one of those jobs.

Phewy, I say.

Oh, while you are hanging in there, make sure you don’t drain the country with your bad health habits.  The Huffington Post reports he says:

“Don’t smoke, eat healthy, do not consume junk foods,” he said. “I know that sounds silly, but it’s very practical in terms of your own health and well-being, and also on the impact of the cost of maintaining the health care system in the United States.”

Double phewy.

I agree that maintaining healthy habits is a great idea.  I’m surprised, though, that Biden didn’t talk about the options a job seeker has.

Like any of the state or federal programs available for job seekers. Does he not believe in them?

Like looking at starting their own business. How many of the major (and minor) employers today were started by someone who took a risk?  Does he not believe America is a great place to provide this opportunity?

Like improving your education, if that is an issue, so you can either compete on a level playing field, or improve your chances of getting noticed?  Is it better to “hang in there” than to do something to sharpen our saw?

Hang in there sounds incredibly ignorant… it sounds like “hang out until it gets better.

I have some advice for Biden, and anyone in the government who is involved in the jobs stats.  Stay tuned for my post tomorrow. (any ideas for them?)

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Favorite Friday: Job Search vs. Career Management

January 28th, 2011

March 26th, 2007. I had been blogging for less than 10 months.

As I networked with job seekers I came across a disturbing theme that had a tone of “when I land my job I don’t have to do any of this lame networking stuff anymore.”

Getting a “job” was the end-goal, and a lasting reward.

I was concerned that people were using a band-aid, quick-fix approach to a much bigger problem.

What happens if you put a band-aid on a wound that requires much more?  The wound doesn’t heal correctly. You might mask some immediate symptoms but your overall progress is not happening.

That’s when I had the idea to write Job Search vs. Career Management.  Here’s a snippet:

Job Search: I will start to look when I need to (unemployed, completely fed up, can see the writing on the wall, etc.)
Career Management: I am always in career management mode – I regularly do things that I need to in order to navigate quickly (and be in control of) future job transitions.

Job Search: I network to find immediate job opportunities, and hope that my network isn’t too stale (or… “what network??”).
Career Management: I have a very strong set of relationships and continually strive to add value to people that are in different circles than I am in.

Job Search: I find networking to be frustrating and non-beneficial to my search (and it takes too much time).
Career Management: As I nurture various relationships I find great satisfaction in watching my contacts succeed, congratulating them when I can and offering to help as appropriate.

There are more. The image I chose for that post says “Days since last paradigm shift: 5″

I think we really need to change how we think about what a “job search” is, and take responsibility for “career management.”

This was a favorite post for a lot of reasons.  One was because it triggered an email from Alison Doyle, Job Search Expert at About.com, who asked if she could share it with her readers.  It was the first email like that from Alison, which lead to a phone call, which led to a couple of lunches, and a rewarding friendship :)

Enjoy Job Search vs. Career Management!

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Should You Pay To Have Lunch With Me (Part II)

January 27th, 2011

I am amazed at the comments from yesteday’s post.  If you get this in email or on RSS I encourage you to click over to the post and check out the comments… some of them where from people who are in the same situation as me and they’ve agreed with the basis of my approach (even though they would be more tactful in how they communicate it).

Others have come out quite offended and suggested that I’m a nobody and I shouldn’t charge people to meet with me.

I can only image people who have that position either:

Don’t value themselves enough, so they couldn’t imagine they would be worth an hourly fee,

OR

Don’t get invitations to lunches, at least not often enough to where it’s been an issue.

I can’t care.

What perplexes me is the people who seem so offended at my post and suggest how I should do business.

Is there more than one way to skin this cat? Sure!  And I picked my way… why can’t they be okay with that?

Frustrating.

I tell you what – you come pay my bills and then you can tell me how to run my business, mkay?

Another thought that came up in the comments was a thought about networking vs. consulting.

If I am a good networker I should be giving, paying it forward, all that jazz, right?

Of course.

The post is not about networking, though.  It’s about consulting.

The problem is, some people give away consulting in the name of networking.

I’m trying to draw my boundaries for my business… and I know others have this issue.

Anyway, my point of today’s post is this: READ THE COMMENTS FROM YESTERDAY’S POST!

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Should You Have To Pay To Have Lunch With ME?

January 26th, 2011

This post is going to sound overly arrogant.

Significantly arrogant.

After all, I’m “all about networking,” right?  I talk about “nurturing the relationship,” right?

<start arrogance here>

Recently I got an email from someone saying they knew me through so-and-so and they wanted to have lunch with me.  It was more than a “get to know you chat,” it was a “you’ve done this and that and I want to learn from you.”

I get this type of free lunch invitation regularly.  All the time.

In the past I have taken the opportunity to do it.  I meet with the person, they buy me lunch, I get excited and share all kinds of ideas, and they walk away energized and thankful.

And then I never hear from them again.

For me, a lunch usually means three hours out of the office, IF you meet me at a restaurant close to my office.

After those three hours I don’t hear from you, ever.  Until the next time you want to buy me a free lunch.

When I got one of the last requests I replied that I’d be happy to meet with the person, for $250/hour.

That is my hourly rate.

Why did I do this?  Is it good “networking?”

NOPE. It isn’t good networking.  But I’m running a business, and I have to manage my time.

I could probably swing a free lunch every day for a month. I bet I could.

Let’s say that is 20 days.  I will get about $250 of free lunches.  To get that I’ll spend 20 days * 3 hours = 60 hours, in ONE MONTH, on helping people.

That’s nice … helping people for 60 hours.

But it is not sustainable.  It usually doesn’t help my business.  I miss 60 hours of work.  And my shirt fits tighter around the waist :p

Is it wrong for me to say “give me $250 and I’ll meet with you?”

Maybe it is for a lot of people.  But I have to do it.

Peter Shankman, a guy who has had an amazingly successful career (<– that is an understatement) wrote a similar post last year based on a tweet:

I know this sounds grossly arrogant, but there is a real issue here.  It might be about respect.  It might be about valuing the information.  It might be about supply/demand (my time, your needs).  I’m not sure what the issue is, but there is an issue.

</end arrogance>

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m missing out on a lot of networking opportunities, and the chance to meet a lot of cool people.

I’ll take the loss, because I have a business I’m running.  You wouldn’t give your product, or service, or time, away, all the time, would you?

I can’t either.

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Do Your Goals Match The Hiring Company’s (or Hiring Manager’s) Goals

January 25th, 2011

Recently I watched two organizations start a project that was very exciting.

Both organizations were excited and dropped a lot of obligations to make this one project move forward quickly.

Shortly into the project, however, there was an interesting discussion.

Organization A wanted to take the project in one direction.

Organization B wanted to take the project in a completely different direction.

Both directions could have been okay, for different reasons, but the directions were dramatically different.

What started out as very exciting and “drop everything else” turned out to be a long series of emails and phone calls about the objectives, and the path to get there.

Unfortunately, the project died.  And no one won.  Time was spent on the bureaucratic nausea instead of the exciting project, simply because neither organization was clear about, or maybe even understood, what the final objectives were when they started.

Worse, when they started to understand the objectives, they were not aligned.

I’ve thought about this and how it applies to a traditional “job,” and job interview.

Some of my objectives in a job are to:

  • Reasonably give all that I can to the job to be successful for the company.  This means I’ll work long and late, but not all the time.  I need to have balance with other parts of my life, but when I’m there, I’m THERE.
  • Excel professionally.  Become more expert in my trade.  Grow.  Advance.
  • Network with other leaders in the industry.
  • Be a part of something big and exciting.
  • Make a difference to individuals, touching their life.

As a hiring manager, my objective in finding the right person for the job is to:

  • find someone who will do the job right, the first time, and not require rework or add overhead to my system.
  • Find someone who is high-speed, low-drag.
  • Find someone who has enough expertise that they don’t need me to handhold them to do their job.
  • Find someone who is a quick learner so they can jump in and get going, instead of me spending months with them training and retraining them.
  • Find a team-worker who wants to contribute to making my team a massive success (and make me look good).
  • Find someone who is not offensive, who is ethical, who has a strong work ethic, who is honest and is proud of doing a good job.
  • Find someone who has a balanced life, and gives their job/work 100%.

Maybe there are other things in either lists… here’s my thought: What can YOU do, or how can YOU position yourself, so when you interview you can communicate that you are aligned with a hiring manager’s objectives?

If you don’t have the same goals/objectives, either (a) your workplace will be miserable or (b) you won’t last.

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Underemployment & Job Hopping

January 24th, 2011

Friday I read an interesting article in local newspaper titled Should you look for a job even if you already have a good one? (disclaimer: I know both the reporter (in person) and the person he interviewed (by email)).

One snippet:

It used to be that staying with one company for your entire career was looked upon as a sign of strength and loyalty. These days, most companies look at it as a bad thing.

What?  Why??

Because “most companies” are idiots.

Seriously, can’t “most companies make up their minds about this?  Is it okay, or not okay, to have multiple jobs??

Maybe they are catching up with the times and realizing that in today’s world people tend to have a varied work history (as opposed to, say, 50 years ago!).

I want to pull more out of the article, and what Hilbig is saying (he’s just the messenger), but I am to fired up (annoyed) at his conclusion and I’ll just sound like a big whiner/ranter.  You can read his thoughts here.

Here are the three takeaways from the article:

Don’t overdo it. Hilbig says the best period to stay in one place is 5 to 7 years.  (he’s been in his current role for 16ish years :p). That sounds nice, if you can plan it that way, but what about people who work at companies that have major issues and a transition is forced upon them (aka layoffs)?  I know people who have worked at a new company every year… they take a risk on a company that turns out to fail, or downsize an entire department… it’s not a personal thing anymore, it’s how companies operate.

You have to socialize. This is called “networking.”  I’m not sure if “socialize” was Paul’s word or Dave’s word but personally I think there is a significant difference between networking and socializing.  Socializing, to me, is like hanging out.  It’s casual and should be fun, or a time to unwind.  Networking has more of a purpose and a strategy.  It doesn’t just happen to me, I have to prepare for it and follow-up from it.

Don’t burn a bridge. Dave says:

… there are still some bosses that will take it personally if you leave their company. Those few will likely never consider hiring you back. Hilbig says you will have to judge for yourself what kind of temperament your current boss has.

A few thoughts here.  First, if the boss is that petty then you probably won’t want to work for them anyway.  This is not 6th grade!

Another thought, though, as a boss/employer/owner, is that I’m emotionally involved in this, putting 200% into my business, and if you walk away on me I take it personally.  It’s an emotional breakup and you are essentially dumping me.  So of course there are going to be feelings.  (I’m not saying that totally reflects me but I am saying there are feelings about this breakup, and there might be a good way and a bad way to break up!).

Here’s my question:

If you are doing things wrong (like “job hopping” too often), HOW CAN YOU COMMUNICATE THAT ON A RESUME OR IN AN INTERVIEW?  There has to be a good way!

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LinkedIn Certification for Career Professionals

January 21st, 2011

I am excited to announce I’m starting a LinkedIn Certification for career professionals (resume writers, coaches, counselors, college career centers, outplacement people, etc.).

The first certification program starts next Friday, January 28, and goes for 6 weeks.

I’ve wanted to do this for a long time but the sun, moon and stars have finally aligned and this is going to be done right (as opposed to me throwing something together without knowing what I’m doing).  I’ve partnered with Susan Whitcomb of The Academies to put this program together and deliver it in the most professional way possible.

I have designed, and will be teaching, the 6 week course and it will be offered by The Academies, which as offered a number of other certifications and trainings for career coaches.

If you are a career coach, resume writer, etc., learn more about this LinkedIn Certification here.

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Why We Don’t Meet Our Goals (and, does it matter?)

January 17th, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about not hitting my 2010 walking goal of 500 miles.  One of the comments was really profound (read the post and this comment will make more sense). Tom J says:

First of all, congratulations on the achievement. You may not have reached the goal, but you made tremendous improvement.

That said, there can certainly be some *process* lessons drawn from this that can be applied everywhere, including to a job search.

First, you allowed great initial progress to distract you. You shopped looking at whatever you were using to measure your mileage when you got ahead of the pace. How many of us do that when networking or looking for opportunities or otherwise doing “grunt work” behind an important endeavor?

Then, when thrown off track by a setback, you didn’t come back to the goal. How many of us do that when (for instance), the first great opportunity doesn’t pan out?

Finally, the tried and true … the tortoise and hare fable. You behaved like the classic hare in your pursuit of the goal .. you started quickly, became confident, and before you knew it had lost. We have all done that in one form or another.

Good luck on the goal this year .. I suspect you get there! Thanks for the reminder to me about how to approach my resolutions. Exercise is among them!

I think this is great analysis of my failure, regardless of my rationalization.

Initial progress distracted me? Yes, I think so.  Not until about April or May, though… but my strong start was something that distracted me and let me think it might be okay to miss a day here, trim a mile there.

When thrown off, I didn’t come back to the goal? I think I did, but not with the same enthusiasm as I did earlier in the year (like 6 miles – although I was worried that pushing it might cause re-injury).

Strong start creates confidence that creates sloppiness? Yeah, kind of, although I do think that twisting my ankle and feeling stress on the calf that was ripped the year before didn’t help.

I agree with what Tom J writes… one comment later Shane Smith wrote “Great job with 3,400% increase!

I didn’t meet my goal of 500 miles, but as far as I’m concerned I gained a lot and actually didn’t fail.  The process was awesome, and 2011 will continue to be awesome :)

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1825 Days Ago

January 14th, 2011

1825 days = 5 years and one day.

I missed writing yesterday because I was tied up.

I missed my 5 year anniversary of when I was laid off (I celebrated it, just not on the blog).

1825 days ago I drove away from my company office for the last time because I had been laid off.

I felt betrayed.

I was scared.

I was excited for new opportunities, and was sure I would find or make them.

A few weeks later fear, doubt and depression started to set in as I began to realize just how hard it could be to “find or make… new opportunities.”

I missed being the boss, with a paycheck and benefits.

I missed having a title, and people around me who would laugh at my jokes.

I missed feeling important because I had a title, and did monthly board meetings, and could pull my team together on a whim for an important meeting.

My professional/career identity was gone, and I felt part of my life was eroding into who-knows-what.

The next few months would be filled with all kinds of emotions, and have very low lows and very high highs.

I would learn more about me than I wanted to know. Some fears would be justified (I wasn’t as good as I thought I was) and some dreams might be realized (I could own my own business and chart my own destiny).

The last five years have been an amazing ride.  Where once I thought I wanted a corporate job back I’ve come to realize that’s not what I want.

I’ve realized I could be an author (even a best selling author for my publisher).

I’ve realized I could start a business and sell valuable stuff, get clients, and fans.

I’ve realized I could excel as a professional.

I’ve realized I could set my own hours and work towards my own priorities, instead of dancing around lame corporate policy and answering to lame corporate managers.

Why do I share this with you?

Because I want you to know that no matter how bad it hurt, no matter how bad it seems, that you can pick up the pieces and move on.

What you develop can be better.  Maybe it won’t be as much money, but it might be more fulfilling.  It might be better for your health (decreased stress anyone?).  It might be a better fit for your personality.  It might be much better for your financially.

I don’t know what it will be, but I know it can be much, much better than what you left.

Mine was.

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Today’s Online Job Search & the Internet Coma

January 11th, 2011

I got an email from Carol, in Maryland, that said “What I feel Like after working on my laptop looking for a job!”

She linked it to the Urban Dictionary definition for internet coma:

When you are sitting on your couch, feet up on the coffee table, laptop on your lap. 4-10 hours later you are in an entirely prone position with your legs off the edge of the coffee table and your head on the seat cushion. You become completely unresponsive to your surroundings.

Loss of peripheral vision, amnesia, severely reduced motor function ability, and drooling with one eye closed are common symptoms.

I got online this morning to check my email and mess around on facebook for a bit. Next thing I know it’s 7pm, my legs are totally numb, and I have this nasty trail of dried drool down my chin. That internet coma completely ruined my day!

Pretty funny!  Hopefully I don’t have too many readers of this blog who spend enough time in an online job search to get to an internet coma!  (hint: get away from the computer and network offline!)

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