In a Wall Street Journal blog post (For Job Seekers, the Black Hole Persists), there’s disappointing and perhaps disgusting proof that the resume black hole is there. Like anyone in a job search needs to read an article to know it’s there.
But for the rest of the world… there’s no question.
Thanks to Mark Mehler and team at CareerXroads, who put together a fake resume each year and send apply for jobs at companies listed on Fortune’s “best companies to work for” list, we can see how these best companies treat applicants.
If this is how the best companies treat applicants, how do the worst companies treat applicants?
To be fair, the list is of the best companies to work for, not companies who have the best, most respectful hiring process.
Employers (should) know that if you are rude and disrespectful to a job seeker during any part of the hiring process, they remember your company and form new opinions about your products and services that run deep and stay for a long time.
Here are some highlights from the blog post:
“… his CV was loaded with the keywords needed to float to the top of today’s automated job-applicant software.” So in this test, they are playing to the ATS algorithms. Note this is not about networking in, talking to the hiring manager, etc. It’s all about the resume strategy, and, optimizing the resume. Yes, do that, but also network into the company!!!
“He was also not a real person, a fact noted at the bottom of his one-page resume.” Later in the blog post you learn that only 2 out of 100 companies spotted that. Of course an ATS isn’t going to look for some statement that this is a fake resume, but from this might we deduct that 98% of companies have no human involvement for much of the process? Mark Mehler, founder of CareerXroads, suggests that “recruiters [only] read the first three paragraphs of a resume.” Lesson? Make those first three paragraphs awesome and engaging!
“…64 never sent Stein any notification that he was not being considered for the job for which he had applied.” This has bothered me for a long time. Companies, please give me ANY notification of a status update!!! I know you have legal and HR breathing down your necks to say nothing, but for goodness sake, be humane!
There’s still a lot of work to do. I’m not talking about automated technology. I’m talking about basic, respectful communication, and managing expectations.
Until that gets figured out, folks, please do not solely rely on the spray-and-pray resume blasting strategy. No JibberJobber user should ever say “I’ve sent out 1,000 resumes and I got nothing… no leads.” Maybe you will send out 1,000 resumes, but JibberJobber users should use a networking strategy that far outweighs any time spent sending emails and applying to jobs online. I know it seems harder, but this is how you’ll get closer to getting your next dream job! Make me proud!
I started JibberJobber as a frustrated job seeker. While other people use JibberJobber, including entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, people who don’t work (but want to manage their network), I regularly go back to my roots as a frustrated job seeker.
I wanted to organize my job search with a spreadsheet, but that didn’t work out. It was a mess. A rat’s nest. What if you just give up, and wing it? Impossible. Once you get deep enough in your job search, you have to stay organized, or else too many opportunities get lost. I’m not talking about job offerings, I’m talking about opportunities to follow-up with people.
Using Excel is a great option, for about two weeks. Then the amount and complexity of data, and what you are trying to track, get’s too messy. And you’ll be tempted to create more and more columns and sheets, only muddying things up worse.
Using a paper-based system (spiral notebook, sticky notes, day planner, writing on your arm, etc.) is an okay system, until you can’t read your writing, and can’t follow anything.
Both of those systems, though, are not long-term solutions. I bet a month after you find your dream job (the one that will end in two to five years), you’ll not be able to decipher what you wrote. It will become garbage, encoded to the point where no one can make heads or tails of it.
When we designed JibberJobber, we were looking for something that would be:
Fairly easy to use: This is a significant challenge because of the complexity of the task. We try and hide as much complexity behind the scenes, but simplifying the UI is always on the top of our list.
Long term: I wanted something that you could use after you land your job, and in five years, and between job searches, and when you got freelance gigs, and even after you retired.
Actionable: collecting and organizing data is one thing… reminding you to act on something is another thing. I missed a key call with a hiring manager because my spreadsheet was messed up (hard to read), and it didn’t say “CALL THIS PERSON TODAY AT 10!!” Instead, I missed the call. I wanted JibberJobber to put those reminders right in front of you.
I learned from recruiters that they hate calling a candidate, asking about their interest in a job they had applied to, and the candidate not knowing what they were talking about. I get that – it’s hard to remember everything, and sometimes we are trying to remember if we had sent a resume, or which resume we sent… or maybe we just mowed the lawn and our brain was somewhere else. But the message we send to the recruiter is that we don’t care. That we’ve forgotten and our interest level was low to begin with.
Why have an organized job search? So you can talk to people, even recruiters, and know what you are doing! So you can sound interested!
JibberJobber helps you stay organized by allowing you to keep track of:
Interactions you have with any of those (aka, Log Entries)
Follow-up you need to do (aka, Action items)
You can even use your email to add new records (email2log).
Look, I know this can be overwhelming… here’s a video that will help you put all of this into perspective:
Nick Corcodilos, Ask the Headhunter, shared 6 Secrets of the New Interview from his book, The New Interview (an instruction book), on this blog post.
Here are his six, with my commentary:
1. Insiders have the best shot at the job. They also have the best shot at recommending outsiders for the job. Are you networking with people at your target companies so that you could be recommended by an insider? This, my friends, is what I would call working the hidden job market. How do you keep track of all of your networking touch points, and follow-up conversations? Using JibberJobber, of course.
2. The real matchmaking is done before the interview. Nick says “a headhunter never sends a candidate to an interview unless the headhunter already knows the candidate can do the job.” How do you keep track of which recruiters know what about you? Use JibberJobber to keep a profile on your recruiters, and when you send them what information, and who you have referred them to.
3. The interview is an invitation to do the job. Nick says the interview is not an interrogation (even thought it might feel like one, since the stakes for you are so high!). In JibberJobber there’s a section called Interview Prep, to help you prepare for your interviews.
4. The employer wants to hire you, and he will help you win the interview. Combine the idea of interviewing well and having insiders network you in and refer you, and you’ll be ahead more than if you didn’t do those two things! As noted above, JibberJobber helps with both.
5. The boss wants one thing from you: He wants you to solve a problem. Same as #4 – can you, in the interview, prove you can solve the problem? And, do you have insiders that influence the boss vouching for you? JibberJobber helps organize and track this.
6. You will win the job by doing it. That is, not talking about it, but somehow assuring them that you know how to do the job, without any doubt. This, I think, comes down to your personal brand, and how well you have communicated your abilities and success to your contacts. You can use JibberJobber to keep track of which contacts need to know what about you, and whether you have told them the right stories or not.
In Nick’s post he shares a link to the interview flow chart… this is a complex process, and I can see how JibberJobber could add value to almost every step in the flowchart.
My overall take? LinkedIn Skills is poo poo. I only write it this way because I’m trying to be nice.
I believe that LinkedIn created Skills and Endorsements to get more traffic to LinkedIn, so they could tell their investors: “Look! We have more people coming to our site! Aren’t we great?” Here’s how this works: You get an email that says “John Doe has just endorsed you for this skill!” At first, it wouldn’t say who endorsed you, so you had to click on a link, which brought traffic to LinkedIn. Then you would spend a few minutes trying to figure out what the heck it was, what it meant, and if you should care. But hey, you were now a visitor, and you spent “a few minutes” on the site! Score one for LinkedIn, who now increased their traffic and “time on site” without increasing the value to anyone. Investors like metrics.
Skills are, well, skills. Like programming, training, speaking, dog walking. It’s just a list of things you are supposedly good at.
Endorsements are a count of how many times people say “Yep, she’s a good dog walker!”
You can add Skills to your own Profile. But others can add skills to your Profile, too. I have a bunch of skills that people have added that are inaccurate, meaningless, or not aligned with my personal brand. For example, others have added these skills to my profile, which I would have never added myself: Human Resources, Publishing, Time Management (ha! That is laughable), Lead Generation, Business Process Improvement, Search… and more. Of course, I’ve dabbled here and there in many of these areas, but I would not say I’m skilled at, or expert in, any of them. I’m not even moderately interested in some of them. I’d rather find an expert to help me with those things.
So, a problem with Skills and Endorsements is that people can add things to my Profile that are irrelevant and even misleading. What qualifies them to know that I’m expert in, interested in, or want to showcase one of those skills? Maybe I am a master dog walker, but really, that’s not something I care to have on my Profile. Why does someone else have the power to add a new skill to my Profile? (Yes, I know I can accept, reject, and reorder, but who has time for that? I just ignore this section.)
I used to not be super hot on Recommendations, which is the paragraph that you would write about someone saying how great they were. People said that they would skim those, but they were all flowery and positive, which kind of took away the overall impact. But once LinkedIn polluted the Profile with Skills, Recommendations seemed to be a lot more substantive.
I don’t think that LinkedIn cares much about skills, as far as adding value to the users. Why? Because I can’t find an easy way to search for skills. There is not a skills box in the advanced search options (not even in the advanced search, but I think the recruiter account can search for skills). I used to be able to easily find a skills page, which talked about what a skill was, and showed people in my network who had that. This link has an image of what it used to look like, but it looks like they retired it – none of the skills links work anymore.
In order to look for people with certain skills, you can try this hack that almost works good. First, go to someone’s Profile, then scroll to their Skills section. Then, click on a skill… this brings up a search of that skill. Unfortunately, it’s not a true search of users with that skill… it’s a more general search. But you can replace what you clicked on with what you want to look for… which is the section in yellow, below. It’s a hack that I’d say will work well 25% of the time. That is code for don’t even waste your time trying to search on skills.
My recommendation with Skills has been to drag the section as far down to the bottom of your Profile as you can. It’s a waste of space. It’s useless. Worse, it tends to distract you from doing what you should really be doing to get value out of LinkedIn. Don’t spend another second on it.
Ask me how I really feel
I could go on and on, but this is really enough time spent on this topic. I will share just one final thought, that could negate everything I’ve written about here: when there is proof that the skills you have, and the number of endorsements you have, impact how you show up in search results, then skills will be a game-changer. It will be time to game the system, which is what thousands of people will do, to show up higher in search results. It will make this mess even messier. I really hope LinkedIn doesn’t muddy up the integrity of their system by doing that, but I wouldn’t put it past them.
Back when this came out I emailed a few of my favorite recruiters for their opinions, and meant to write a blog post with their reactions. I can’t find those emails right now, but the general reaction was that they could see right through skills. Recruiters aren’t dumb… they’ve seen enough Profiles and resumes to know what is high value and real, and what is meaningless. No recruiter I talked to was impressed.
This week I was on a call with JibberJobber user Cary who said that when he recommends JibberJobber to his colleagues, they say “I’m already on LinkedIn, so I don’t need that.”
I’ve written about this before: JibberJobber + LinkedInin 2013 and JibberJobber vs. LinkedIn in 2009. In Joshua Waldman’s best selling book Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies, he recommends JibberJobber as a “tool to organize your job search via social media” (reference). He does not include LinkedIn as a tool to “organize your job search.”
Because LinkedIn is not a tool to organize your job search.
LinkedIn is not a CRM.
LinkedIn is barely a roladex replacement.
Let me jump into an analogy. Let’s say that you are going build a house (which, for some people, feels as complex as managing a job search). What single tool is the most important tool to use to build a house?
Is the hammer more important than the saw? Is the plumb bob more important than the level? Is the heavy machinery (caterpillar tractors) more important than the drill, more important than the measuring tape, more important than the wet/dry vacuum, more important than the nail gun?
To think of building a house with one tool is crazy. It’s probably impossible.
That’s the difference between JibberJobber and LinkedIn. They are both tools, and they each have different purposes.
I use LinkedIn to find and research prospects. What do they say about themselves? Where did they go to school and work? What are their specialties? Where do they live? Should I get on the phone with them?
I use JibberJobber to keep track of my relationships with people. Not what necessarily what jobs they have had over the last 10 years, although you could easily track that. I’m talking about keeping track of where I’m at with a person. Have we talked? About what? What number did I call them at? Was I supposed to follow-up? About what, and when? Who introduced me to that person? How strong is my relationship with that person? Did I talk with them, and others, at the same time (like in a panel interview)?
Of course, LinkedIn does other things, like allows me to communicate with people who supposedly have something in common (with LinkedIn Groups), and share my brand statements through Articles and status updates.
And, of course, JibberJobber does other things, like helps me track which jobs I’ve applied to, which versions of which resumes I used, when I sent them, to whom, and whether I’ve interviewed at any jobs and when I should follow-up.
Can you see the difference between these tools? One is a hammer, which is very, very useful for certain jobs, and the other is a power drill, which is very, very useful for other jobs. Apples to oranges. Or, as Cary said, “chalk and cheese” (a delightful British phrase).
Would you ever need to use JibberJobber, if you are using LinkedIn?
The question is, really, “is it okay to use the right tools for different jobs?”
I think it’s a pretty obvious yes.
If you think about it, using multiple tools to build a house is the only way to get the job done.
Now, figure out how to actually get value out of LinkedIn (more than just being on it), and combine that with the power of the organizing and tracking features in JibberJobber. Your job search will change.
I used a spreadsheet in my job search. It simply wasn’t enough. That’s one big reason I started JibberJobber, which is the best alternative to a job search spreadsheet you’ll find.
I’ve seen job search spreadsheets in the last nine years, some are very colorful, some are cool with filters… you can download some for free, or pay someone a few bucks for the one they made.
But the job search spreadsheet didn’t solve some important issues I had, as a job search:
The job search spreadsheet doesn’t ping me when I need to follow-up with someone. A web-based system, like JibberJobber, should.
The job search spreadsheet requires a lot of data entry. When I talked to a recruiter about a job at a company, I had to leave notes about our call on the recruiter, job and company records. That was a lot of duplicate data entry. JibberJobber allows you to create one Log Entry, and associate it with multiple records.
The job search spreadsheet does not interface with my email. Job seekers find it easier to send an email than pick up the phone. If I’m sending emails, I don’t want to have to turn around and copy and paste to my spreadsheet. You can guess that JibberJobber does this nicely.
The job search spreadsheet doesn’t make it easy for multiple (lots of) follow-up. Most spreadsheets have a first contact date, and a follow-up date… but what if you communicate with someone 3 times? Or, 30 times? That’s why we have Log Entries in JibberJobber… to have umpteen+ relevant records of communication. Sure you could do this in Excel, but who wants 30 extra columns of data?
The job search spreadsheet is a band-aid. When I was using mine, and tweaking it, I realized that it was getting messy, and if I had to come back to it in two to five years, I wasn’t sure if I would understand any of it. I wanted something that would provide value to me years later… which is what JibberJobber can do. I’ve had many users who come back for a second, third, or fourth job search, and pick up right where they left off. But with cooler features, since we are continually enhancing it
Is there an ultimate job search spreadsheet? If you are looking for a band-aid with limited functionality and not much room for growth, about anything will do. It will work great for the first week or two, but as you network more, and apply to more companies, you’ll probably get more frustrated.
Why not forgo the frustration? Just sign up on JibberJobber. The free side allows you to pretty much everything. The premium side, which is $9.95 a month (or get 50% off if you buy a year for $60) is pretty amazing (here’s what you get on the premium side – yes, everything else is really on the free side).
Then, if you really want spreadsheets, just export your data in a multitude of ways to a spreadsheet :p
I think that it’s a good idea to be active on LinkedIn, although I don’t agree with what the article says. In my experience, the main thing you should do is improve your LinkedIn Profile. I have never seen a Profile that is awesome (or, that couldn’t use some help). If I were to grade Profiles, most of them would get a C-. IMO it’s more important to fix your Profile than put up weekly status updates. You can get access to my LinkedIn Profile course (titled LinkedIn Strategy: Optimize Your Profile) for free on Pluralsight, just login through JibberJobber, and watch the video below to see how to access it (and get free JibberJobber upgrades).
I am writing this post because I don’t want you to think that if you are not putting in status updates, you’re using LinkedIn wrong. Trust me, recruiters are smart enough to figure out your skills and competencies, even if you aren’t posting an update weekly.
I’ve been an advocate of LinkedIn Groups for a while, especially since they took away Answers.
This week I saw a message on Facebook that surprised me. Michael Stelzner is one of the smartest entrepreneurs I’ve met, very savvy with social media, very likable, creative, and he’s been successful with his business ventures. This message, from him, surprised me:
42,000 members in a LinkedIn Group… that’s pretty sizable. I think the only reason to shut it down is that it’s not bringing value to his business. I’m guessing this is because:
As a Group Admin, when he sends out “announcements,” no one is acting on his call to action. Note: Announcements are so powerful, if you own a Group and are not sending out Announcements, you are missing the main value of owning a LinkedIn Group.
There is too much spam. This is a problem on many LinkedIn Groups, and something that people have complained about since the beginning. In his comments to that Facebook post he adds: “Actually we have staff dedicated to moderating our LinkedIn group and this is not a knock on LI, just the groups. In fact we have one of the cleanest groups out there as far as spam, but we have to remove 100s of comments a week that are self serving.”
On a semi-related note, LinkedIn has taken steps to reduce spam, kind of, but the implementation of the Site Wide Account Management (SWAM) is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. It allows one Group admin to say you are a spammer, and then you cannot post on any group. To give one Group Manager that much power is nothing short of stupid.
Anyway, the idea that someone like Michael pulled the plug on a Group that big makes me question who is getting value out of their Groups. Is it too hard to manage (taking too many resources)? Is there no return value?