JibberJobber: When to Use Log Entries vs. Tags

June 23rd, 2016

tracy_haas_corporate_trainer_atlantaHere’s a great question from Tracy Haas, a professional corporate trainer in Atlanta:

I am in the process of adding targeted companies and want to keep track of the requests to connect in LinkedIn so I don’t request it again, and to show what I action I have taken with that company. I was thinking of putting it in as a Log Entry… should I just do one and include all the names, or is it better to do a separate one for each individual (hope not as that would be extremely time consuming). Or is this even necessary in your opinion?

Also once I have connected with them, what is the easiest way to record my LinkedIn messages to them?

I’m going to share what I would do… you can determine if this is too much (or too little) for your needs.  Let’s go into each of the questions she has:

>> “and want to keep track of the requests to connect in LinkedIn (at each of her target companies)”  

This is a great idea… the fast and easy way to do this would be to create a Log Entry under the Company, and say who you invited to connected (or had any interaction with). Once you make contact with someone, though, with someone you think you will network with, I would create a new Contact record for that person.  Just make sure you associate that Contact with the Company (super easy to do).

For example, let’s say I invite Jane and John to connect on LinkedIn.  Both are from Acme Widgets. I would create a Log Entry under Acme Widgets saying “I invited John Doe and Jane Doe to connect on LinkedIn…. here was my message: __________________”.

John accepts my invitation to connect, but Jane doesn’t. I meet John in person… and start a professional relationship.  I’ll create a new Contact record for John, but no need to do that with Jane yet… until we start our relationship.  I could, but I have too many things happening to capture everything… and right now I’m okay to let Jane slide.

The reason I would do the Company Log Entry is because you said you want to “how what I action I have taken with that company.”

Note that most of my records are Contact records, not Company records… it’s probably 20 to 1, or more.

>> “should I just do one and include all the names, or is it better to do a separate one for each individual?” 

Do one Log Entry on the Company record… if you get to the point where it makes sense to do a separate one for each person, then just create a new Contact record for them.

>> “once I have connected with them, what is the easiest way to record my LinkedIn messages to them?”

First, my recommendation is to get OUT of LinkedIn messaging as soon as you can. I hate LinkedIn messaging for various reasons… it just doesn’t do the job, and it is one more place that I have to monitor. So, as soon as I can, I transfer the conversation to email or on the phone.

Having said that, if there is a relevant conversation in LinkedIn messaging that you want to capture, I would suggest you copy-and-paste to a Log Entry under the Contact. It’s kind of a pain… which is one reason I get to email (so I can use JibberJobber’s Email2Log feature).

So there you go … it sounds like Log Entries will take care of you.

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

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Onboarding New JibberJobber User On Your Team

April 20th, 2016

There are a few organizations that have multiple people using JibberJobber as a CRM.  We weren’t designed to be multi-user, but if you are okay with a handful of people sharing one account in a company, then we’re a pretty okay solution.  Here’s a (modified) question from Jane Roqueplot, who’s career (resumes, coaching, assessments) company uses JibberJobber as their CRM:

We have a new assistant on staff. I want her to learn JibberJobber, but I don’t want her to learn with our existing records. I want her to self-study and watch your videos, etc. I’m thinking she could access a temporary JibberJobber account so she can learn it. What do you think?

Very smart to have her get familiar with JibberJobber without going into your live data. Here was my edited response to her, which might help you if you are in a multi-user environment:

I just brought on a new developer and the first thing I had her do was the most important: watch the orientation (90ish minutes), and then the getting started videos (120ish minutes).  She needed to watch the orientation to get an idea of what I was excited about, and watch both sets of videos to understand the breadth and depth of JibberJobber.

If I were to hire an admin, I would have them watch one or the other, and maybe both, and definitely let them know about both. For training, have her get her own account, which she then would have forever. Give her a list of tags to use [Note: Jane’s setup is optimized to get value out of tags].  She could enter kids, nephews, cousins, neighbors, etc. Going through that process, and maybe a few exercises you create that your team does (like getting certain reports), would do a lot to bring her up to speed.

In a nutshell:

  1. Watch training videos – these are broken down to 10 minutes (more or less) so you don’t have to carve out 2+ hours just to watch them all.
  2. Start up your own account.
  3. Put information in about people you know, including personal contacts…. and just play around.

The learning + doing model should help you get up to speed on using, and getting value out of, JibberJobber.

Good luck!

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

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

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What is an Action Item #JibberJobber

April 15th, 2016
Related post: What is a Log Entry #JibberJobber.

Today, let’s power up the Log Entry and make it a lot more important. When we create a Log Entry, we are usually creating an opportunity to follow-up.

When you create a Log Entry, you can make it an Action Item by simply adding a due date.  That is, put a date that you will take action on, or follow-up on, the Log Entry.  From yesterday’s example, in The Good Log Entry, we put these two lines:

He will follow-up with an email introduction, Said that if I don’t hear back from him by Monday then call him.

and

He also said he would introduce me to some contacts at the Product Management Association chapter that I really need to talk to. Didn’t have names, but follow-up on week of 4/18.

The Good Log Entry was definitely good.  But what if we just log stuff, and never do anything with it?

That’s where Action Items come in. A few years ago I was talking with a user who said “JibberJobber is my follow-up tool.”  YES! That’s exactly where the value of JibberJobber is!  It’s not just organizing and tracking.  It’s not a file cabinet to just put stuff in and never do anything with the stuff.  The value is that we have stuff, and we act on the right things at the right times!

The next step, on creating that Good Log Entry, is to simply put a Due Date.  Let’s say it’s for 4/18.  Then, you can get reminders at various places. Premium users can get reminders in their email, and in some countries, their text messaging.  Otherwise, on JibberJobber you’ll see a few reports or widgets where you can see your Action Items.

We want JibberJobber to be your follow-up tool. Anyone who has been an active job seeker for more than a couple of weeks knows how crazy hard it can be to keep up on everything you are doing… and almost everything could use some TLC in the form of a follow-up.

That’s where JibberJobber comes in.

Can you create an Action Item with Email2Log? Yes! Just put a line like this anywhere in the body of the email:

startdate:___________

The ____ can have a date, like 4/18/2016, or something like this: +4 days.

 

 

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What is a Log Entry #JibberJobber

April 14th, 2016
Related post: What is an Action Item #JibberJobber.

We say that JibberJobber helps you “organize and track….”

What are we organizing, and what are we tracking?

Various things, including contact information, company information, etc.  One of the most important things we are tracking is lumped into what we call Log Entries.  Imagine any of the following scenarios:

  • You have an important phone call with someone and talk about amazing things.
  • You called someone and left a voice mail.
  • You had lunch with someone for the fourth time, and your conversation has gone deeper this time.
  • You applied for a job by sending an email to someone with version of a specific resume.

Each of these are what I would call [networking] touch points.  You did something with someone, and in every case, something happened that you might want to refer back to later.

Imagine doing these types of things multiple times each day. That is what an active job seeker does.  Passive job seekers don’t have things much easier, though. They might not do these types of things as often, but trying to remember what you did three weeks ago, while you have been busy at your day job, can be a mess.

In JibberJobber, you track the data surrounding each of these touch points in a Log Entry.  The most basic components of a Log Entry are:

  • The date (when it happened). I like to know the exact day, and most of the time don’t care about the time, but I can track the time, too.
  • What the touch point was. You put this in the Log Entry title.
  • Details about the touch point. Trust me on this: the more you log, the more grateful you’ll be in a month, or a year, or six years.

Contrast these two Log Entries:

Bad Log Entry

Date: 4/14/2016

Title: Had lunch with Bob.

Details: Went to Sizzler with Bob. We talked about the job he is hiring for. He said I was overqualified, but that I should talk to his colleague who he will introduce me to.

Good Log Entry

Date: 4/14/2016

Title: Had lunch with Bob (Home Depot Corporate)

Details: Went to Sizzler. I paid for both. Talked about the Product Manager job (ID: 25342345). He said I was more suited for a different role, and this was not the right fit for me. Suggested I talk to Sally Smith, who he works with. He will follow-up with an email introduction, Said that if I don’t hear back from him by Monday then call him.  Of note, I learned that he has 2 kids, one in college, one getting married this summer. He went to the Naval Academy, and has been at Home Depot for 6 years. Said the culture is awesome, and there is lots of opportunity to make a difference, and for personal growth.  He also said he would introduce me to some contacts at the Product Management Association chapter that I really need to talk to. Didn’t have names, but follow-up on week of 4/18.

See the difference? Tomorrow you will not have forgotten the highlights of the lunch, but in two months from now, if you are like me, you will have forgotten that you even had lunch with a guy named Bob!

Log Entries are in place to help you “organize and track.” They take this to a level beyond what you typically do with your phone or Outlook (name, email address, phone, employer) and… get this: PUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP INTO PERSPECTIVE.

That is, instead of having just a name and number, you can know how often you have communicated with someone, what those communications were, where opportunities lie (or, what you said you would follow-up on), etc.

Bob + phone number is much different than Bob + phone number + 10 Log Entries giving you a map of your relationship, from when it started to where you are now.

That is the power of Log Entries. The power comes from you adding Log Entries, and adding more (rather than less) details.

How do you create a Log Entry? There are a bunch of places to do it: from any page (Logs, Add Log Entry), from the Contact, Company, or Job Detail Page, from any of those List Panels, and my favorite, from YOUR EMAIL (using Email2Log).

What more should I know? I want you to know about associations. That is, when you create the Log Entry about Bob, you can associate the company (Home Depot) to the Log Entry. You can even associate the specific Job record to that Log Entry.  From one Log Entry you can associate multiple Contacts (let’s say his colleague was at lunch too), multiple Companies (in this case, perhaps Home Depot and the recruiting agency who introduced you), and multiple Jobs.

What about follow-up? I’ll blog about that tomorrow!

Anything else?  There is always more… here are some past blog posts:

What Good Is A Log Entry in JibberJobber?
Organize Your Job Search: Action Item vs Log Entry
How To: New Log Entries and Action Items Report (or, getting Log Entries out of the system)
How to create a log entry without going into JibberJobber (video)
Email to Log Entry Just Got BETTER!!

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

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JibberJobber Email2Log Tip Sheet

March 8th, 2016

This is a list of tips and tricks to use Email2Log to it’s full capacity.

Setup

Under Logs, click on Email2Log. There are 3 fields:

  1. Keyword: this is to create your unique, private Email2Log email address that others generally won’t see.  Your keyword provides a bit of security so that others can’t guess your Email2Log email address, or use it. Do not put a password or anything private here.  My keyword is simply “log”.
  2. From Emails: These are the emails that are authorized to use your Email2Log email address. Put in any email that you would use, as well as any emails from people using JibberJobber with you (spouse, admin, etc.). I have the three emails that I have used over the years, as well as the email address of my admin.  If an Email2Log is received with the right address, from any of those 4 senders, then JibberJobber will accept and process the email.
  3. Log End Line: This is a string of characters that tells the server to ignore anything below it. For example, mine is “~!~!~!~!~” … in an email I send to Email2Log, everything above that line is put into the Log Entry. Everything below it is ignored.  That way you don’t create Log Entries that are too long. I recommend you create a Log End Line with a string that people won’t normally put into regular emails. Notice, people would likely not freehand type what I put in, since it’s hard to do, but they might regularly put in something like —— or _______ (so, those would be bad Log End Lines).

OOPS!

What if you forget to put your ultra-secretive Email2Log email address in the BCC when you send an email to someone?  There are really three options:

  1. Copy the email and paste it into a Log Entry in JibberJobber.  This is what people on the free account do, and it works fine, but it’s much faster and easier to do either of the next two options.
  2. Reply to your email, sending to the same people, and add more information… so you are sending a second email with a “Oh yeah, I forgot to mention….”  When you do this, you’ll put the entire email thread into one Log Entry (remember to remove the Log End Line). This will make sense sometimes.
  3. Forward the email to the JibberJobber server. Instead of putting the Email2Log email in the BCC field, just put it in the TO: field, and send ONLY to the server.  You’ll need to make sure you change a bit of the body, so that the server knows what to do with it (see special lines, Contact:____ line).  I do this 99% of the time.

Special Lines

There are special lines, anywhere in the body of an email, that mean something specific to the Email2Log logic… These would each go on their own line.

[LogEndLine]

For me, this is “~!~!~!~!~”… yours might be different, depending on how you set it up. This truncates the email and only puts what’s above the Log End Line into the Log Entry. See above, in Setup, #3 for more info.

startdate:[date]

This is used to create a due date for an action item. If I put startdate:+1 week in an email, on it’s own line, then the email will become a Log Entry, with a due date, or Action Item, one week from when I sent it. That example is a “relative” start date, or one week from today. You can also do “absolute” start dates, like startdate:4/1/2016 or startdate: April 1, 2016.

contacts:[contact_info]

Typically I put an email address in, like Jason@JibberJobber.com. The system will look for any Contact records with that email address and put the email into a Log Entry under that/those records.

You can put in multiple contacts, separated by commas.

If that email is not in one of your Contacts, it will create a new Contact (you can merge later, if it’s a duplicate). If I know I’m sending to someone who does not have a Contact record in JibberJobber, I will do something like this: “Jason Alba” <Jason@JibberJobber.com> and that will create a new Contact record with the first name, last name, and email address.

NOTE: from the OOPS! section above… if I am forwarding an email to the server, because I forgot to put the Email2Log email address in the BCC when I sent the email, I will go into the body of the email and find the line that shows the TO information (name, email), and simply edit that line so it now looks like this: contacts:“Jason Alba” <jason@jibberjobber.com>

companies:[company name]

Works the same as contacts… if the exact company name is the name of a Company record, it will find it and put the Log Entry under that record. If not, it will create a new Company record.

You can put in multiple company names, separated by commas.

jobs:[job_title]

Works the same as contacts… if the exact company name is the name of a Company record, it will find it and put the Log Entry under that record. If not, it will create a new Company record.

You can put in multiple job titles, separated by commas.

In the Getting Started video series, you can see all of this in action in videos #4 and #5.

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

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

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JibberJobber Orientation, Free Week Upgrade

February 16th, 2016

If you have watched the nine JibberJobber Orientation videos, you know you get a week upgrade just for watching them.  Each time you watch them.  While you can watch them once a week, let me recommend watching the Pluralsight courses, for variety :)  Anyway, how do you get the free upgrade?

Of course, you can reach out to us through the Contact form and let us know you watched them, and we’ll upgrade you.  But if you like self-service, simply follow the instructions to get a Pluralsight account, turn the Tracker on, and then you can self-report on the Tracker page.  Instructions are here.

As a bonus, once you have done that, you are simply a click away from watching any Pluralsight course at no cost to you… including any Jason Alba course which will earn you additional 7-day upgrades.  Click the link to learn more, and get started today :)

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

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

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What Good Is A Log Entry in JibberJobber?

January 22nd, 2016

Remember in the olden days, watching TV and you would see the test of the emergency broadcast system?  You might remember the TV to show this:

jj-blog-emergency-broadcast-system

I had that in mind as I saw this email come from one of my users, who was testing the Email2Log.  See, I invite people to test the Email2Log by sending me an email, using Email2Log to see if (a) a new Contact record was created (with my info), and (b) the Log Entry was created properly.

And it’s is FUN for me to get emails from users :)

Anyway, here’s the message from a new user, Lorne:

“This a test. If this was a real log I’m not sure what I would do with it.”

Thanks Lorne, for the laugh :)  As a friend of mine said last night, one of my problems is that I’ve been “in the forest for so long” that I will not see JibberJobber, and it’s complexities, the way a new user would.

So let me share some thoughts on what you “do with” a Log Entry.

To put it into perspective, a Log Entry is like a note that you have jotted down that you don’t want to lose. Perhaps you’ll refer to it later. And that, my friends, is the most simple way to describe a Log Entry.

What is the source of these “notes?”  It could be a thought I had about you. It could be a conversation that we’ve had. It could be information, details, facts, words said, intentions, or actions. This week I logged the payment of some bills, as well as conversations, into JibberJobber.

In my pre-JibberJobber life, I would have notes jotted down all over the place… some in my email inbox, some in my car, some in a notebook, some on my desk, some on or in my night stand, etc.  Now, with JibberJobber, I capture notes and ideas and conversations that I might want to refer to later in JibberJobber.

Back to Lorne’s question: what do you do with a Log Entry?

Usually, I do nothing.  Sounds weird, huh?  Why even jot it down if I do nothing with it?

I find myself with an active mind, with lots of things buzzing around. The less I have jotted down, the more I try to juggle in my mind.  That is no fun.  That causes sleep problems, and I find myself forgetting to do things because my mind is juggling too many things.  I’m no psychologist but that’s my self-diagnosis.  When I jot it down I give myself permission to forget about it, and mentally move on. I can focus on tasks at hand, and not worry about trying to remember a bunch of different things.

More important than that, though, is that I’ll sometimes want to refer to something I noted down later. A day later, a week or month later, and in the case of a reconnection with someone last week, 5 years later.

Last week I reconnected with a colleague.  This was a voice from the past, and honestly, I couldn’t remember what conversations we’ve had over the last five years.  Fortunately, I had logged those conversations (they were all through email, and I used Email2Log to easily capture them all). Instead of lingering on “who are you? Have we met?” it was easy to look this person up and look at the Log Entries and see how our relationship has evolved over time.

I continually hear from recruiters who talk to job seekers who don’t remember who they are, or that they had applied for the job the recruiter is calling about.  The recruiters tell me that when a job seeker doesn’t remember, and can’t find notes to jog their memory, they think the job seeker is not interested. This is the wrong message to send to someone who thinks that you might be the right person.

Over the years I have disciplined myself to add more details to Log Entries.  “We had lunch” is an almost useless Log Entry (but, it’s better than nothing).  “We had lunch at Red Lobster, I paid, we talked about X, Y, and Z, and I need to follow-up with Jill on Monday about A, B, and C” is a much better Log Entry.  Why?  Because two years later, reading “we had lunch” isn’t helpful… but reading what you talked about might help you pick up the conversation, and relationship, at the right place.

So there you go.  Over time you’ll get a feeling for what, and how much, to log.  Email2Log makes this really easy. I’ve always found that adding more is better than adding less, but just start where you are, and create your own system that works for you.

 

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

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

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Emails You Receive… How to Log Them Into JibberJobber?

December 16th, 2015

I got this question from Leigh:

“How do you use Email2Log to add emails you receive into JibberJobber?”

This is a great question. There are a few ways to get an email into JibberJobber… let me review them:

Email2Log: when sending an email to a person

Anytime you send an email to someone, and you want to log that email into JibberJobber, use Email2Log like you normally would. This is a premium feature, but it’s easy to get Premium (you can watch my videos on Pluralsight, and for each course you watch (which you would otherwise pay $50 for from JibberJobber), you can get another 7 day upgrade). There is no limit on how many weeks you get – just be honest about how many times you watch my courses. Here’s how you do this.

Email2Log: when NOT sending an email to a person

Let’s say that you have an email in your inbox and you want that email to end up in JibberJobber, but you DO NOT want to send a reply to the person who sent it to you. You can simply FORWARD the email to JibberJobber… it’s super easy, but there is a little bit of trickery to ensure you have the control you want (for example, let’s say that the email was sent to 10 people… but you only want it to be associated to one person… the trickery I speak of let’s you have control over that). Simply reference this post from 2012, titled What to do if you forget to BCC to JibberJobber?

How can you do it without using Email2Log?

Okay, no Email2Log. You want to go old school. Simply go into your email, copy the text you want in the Log Entry, and then go into JibberJobber and create the Log Entry (with the proper associations), and paste that text there. Simple.  Just takes longer than the Email2Log option.

So there you go… it’s pretty easy to do this stuff.  If you want help with Email2Logs, or Log Entries, or anything, first check out the videos in the Getting Started section, here.

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

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Getting Started on JibberJobber? Orientation Videos vs. Getting Started Videos (the difference)

November 30th, 2015

Last week I got this question from someone new to JibberJobber:

“Can you please explain the difference between the approx 20 Getting Started Videos and the 9 Orientation video series. Combined, it is over 5 hours of material – kind of daunting to learn a tool that should simplify my job search.”

Great question… we have had the Orientation videos for so long, and only added the Getting Started videos recently enough that I didn’t think about differentiating them.  Here’s what they are (you can find both of these on the menu at the Videos page):

The JibberJobber Orientation is a recording of one webinar, which was split into 9 clips that are around 10 minutes each. This is the “welcome to JibberJobber” introduction, including a history of JibberJobber, and my linear idea of what you would want to know/do to get started.  I expect that after going through this orientation, you would have an excellent idea of what JibberJobber is, and how it could be a great tool for you.

The Getting Started videos are recordings from 10ish minute live webinars I used to do on Friday mornings, called Focus Fridays.  I would pick one topic and try to completely explain in about 10 minutes.  We wouldn’t go into any other topics.  After I did a bunch of these, I decided to figure out what order to put these in so a new user would get the most value out of them, and then they could watch any of them they wanted.  While the Orientation (above) is a 90 minute “welcome to JibberJobber!”, the Getting Started is a buffet of topics that you can pick and choose from.  Want to go deeper on Topic X, but not ready for Topic Y?  Just browse through the videos on the Getting Started page and watch the topic that is most relevant to where you are at right now.

If I were just getting started on JibberJobber today, here’s what I would do:

Start to watch the Orientation, go put JibberJobber into perspective, and get an understanding of what it can do.  I find the questions I commonly answer about List Panels (how to filter search results, how to add, remove, or reorder columns) are covered in the Orientation videos.

I would then just cherry-pick topics from the Getting Started list, based on what I’m ready to do in JibberJobber.

I hope this helps explain the difference.  I don’t intend for anyone to watch hours and hours of videos before they get started… most people get it enough to get started, and then come back to the Getting Started as a reference tool.  Here are the topics in Getting Started… which interests you the most? (click here to find these videos)

  • Getting Started: Introduction (1)
  • Getting Started: Overwhelmed? Watch this! (1.5)
  • Getting Started: Homepage & Widgets (2)
  • Getting Started: Setting Up Tags (3)
  • Getting Started: Email2Log Setup (4)
  • Getting Started: Email2Log Advanced (5)
  • Getting Started: Log Entries and Action Items (6)
  • Getting Started: Verifying Action Items and Log Entries Got In (7)
  • Getting Started: Log Entries and Action Item List Panel (8)
  • Getting Started: Optimizing the List Panel (9)
  • Getting Started: Managing Duplicates (10)
  • Getting Started: Exporting from LinkedIn (11)
  • Getting Started: Importing from a CSV File (12) (entirely new design as of November 25, 2015)
  • Getting Started: Recurring Action Items (13)
  • Getting Started: Calendar Views (14)
  • Getting Started: Interview Prep (15)
  • Getting Started: Job Description Analysis (16)
  • Getting Started: Events on Jobs (17)
  • Getting Started: The Job Journal (18)
  • Getting Started: Account and Preferences (19)

You can ALWAYS just reach out to us and ask us for help on anything you are stuck on… don’t feel like you have to watch any of these videos (although, many times we’ll reference videos or blog posts when we reply)

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

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

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Reducing Friction (In Your Job Search, and in JibberJobber)

November 19th, 2015

A couple of years ago I started to think about the little things that “rub people the wrong way.” The “friction” in the JibberJobber user experience.

Very quickly I started to think about friction in my own relationships… what did I do that seemed abrasive to others?

And that led me to think about JibberJobber users, who every day have opportunities to communicate with others. Have you introduced friction in your communication? For example, type-os or lack of clarity in your resumes, or saying weird things in networking situations or job interviews? Is their friction because of what you wear, or how you say things?

Friction can be good, of course.  If it weren’t for friction, cars wouldn’t stop (or go, the way they are currently designed). But in our relationships and experiences with others, I wonder when friction is good.  And if it is good, it’s probably the exception, not the rule.

Let me give you a concrete example of friction that we found in JibberJobber. It didn’t take to much effort to find this friction… we even had help from users who emailed us things like “uuuuugh!” and “yuuuuuuck!” and “heeeeelp!”  I’m specifically talking about the experience you have when you click on the Import/Export link, under Contacts.  Most of the time people click this link to import their contacts from LinkedIn (or Outlook, or wherever). This is what they say, after clicking the link:

jibberjobber_friction_import_export_old_UI

Can you tell what you are supposed to do? The main problem I see when I put on my UI/UX goggles is that there are too many things to choose from.  You have the main menu (10 or 11 options), gray tabs (11 options), the link on the right, the icons on the bottom…  you have  LOT to look at.  Some people ignore all that and find the Choose File button, and go from there. Honestly, it’s not that hard to do… but there is too much FRICTION.  Too many choices.  Distractions.

Just like our communication, when we are unclear.  We give people too many choices (when we want them to do only one thing, like call us, or go to lunch with us), and we insert too many distractions.  It seems like it’s human nature to distract the person we’re trying to communicate with.  STOP DOING THIS.

Okay, back to JibberJobber… we’ve been working on redoing the import experience… and here is the new page (which you should see in the next few days):

jibberjobber_friction_import_export_new_UI

Of course we still have the main menu (blue bar), but most of the superfluous stuff was moved to a collapsible box on the right.  Note the little arrow icon on the top-right of that box – click that and the box collapses, reducing all that noise.

It’s clear where you are at in the process… you are on step 1.  It’s also clear what Step 2 is all about, and what Step 3 is all about. The friction has been reduced.

This seemingly simply project took hours of design time (to analyze, come up with alternative ideas,  weigh pros and cons of ideas, and prepare communication to the dev team, and then many more hours (weeks, really) for the dev team to clean things up, reengineer the process, etc.

Don’t think that a very, very clean web design (or any design) is the result of a whimsical thought and a few minutes of effort and work.  Of course, sometimes that can happen.  But think about the difference between Yahoo’s homepage and Google’s homepage.  I remember sitting in a computer lab in college, and going to the page I always started with: Yahoo.  It was THE de facto landing page. It had news, weather… all kinds of things that you should want when you fire up the internet.  Then, someone said “you should start at Google.com.”  Goo-what?  What is that?  So I went there. And all I saw was one search box and one button.

How could one search box and one button replace the ultra-useful information that Yahoo offered?  Who came up with this too-simple idea?  Apparently it was Marissa Mayer… she was the brains behind the simple page at google.  What did she do?  She identified why people came (to find something) and reduced EVERYTHING ELSE.  No friction. The page was fast to load, and delivered exactly what you wanted: the ability to type something in and get results.  No distractions. No noise.  Simple, and delivering exactly what the inherent promise was.  (It’s funny to note that she was responsible for that brilliant move away from what Yahoo had set up, defining what our internet experience should be… and now she is the CEO of Yahoo :p).

By now you probably get the idea of simplifying, reducing noise and friction.  You are bought in.  The thing I want you to realize is that the process of getting to a good, clean place is not as simple as you might think.  Put thought and effort into it.  When you come up with a simplified message, you can help many more people understand you, and how to help you.  And that effort is worth it.

mark_twainLet’s end with some quotes attributed to Mark Twain:

“To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself…Anybody can have ideas–the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.” (reference)

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” (reference)

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”(reference)

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