Before JibberJobber, I worked at a company (Varsity Contractors) that did over $200M in building maintenance (janitorial, taking care of big buildings, etc.). I was the first IT Manager, and did things like web development (internet and extranet), networking management, user support, buying computers, upgrading the server room, etc. I was a jack of all trades.
Before I got there, the CFO managed about five contractors who did all of the IT stuff. Taking that over was a blast, and I learned and grew a lot. I am forever thankful for that chapter in my career, where I learned a lot. One thing that I’ll never forget is the power of a company culture. Varsity had a rich history, and great contracts. But the margins were super-thin, and we all know janitors don’t make a lot of money. But I entered a world where culture was highly touted, and one of the most critical things in the organization. And the fruits of having a strong culture would be hard to believe, had I not witnessed them myself.
One thing that stands out: watching people do ANYTHING (legal, ethical, etc.) for the company. Not to the point of giving up their family or integrity, but managers would really do anything for the interest of the company. They would do it gladly. It was as if they had ownership in a big machine, and they were immensely proud of this machine. I witnessed this for years, and was in awe at how powerful the culture was.
Why? How? That is for another post. In this post I want to just talk about the idea of culture… it is real, and it is powerful.
I share this with you because of three blog posts I recently read:
Company Culture Is A Myth, by Laurie Ruettimann. I’ve followed Laurie for years, and love her thinking. But I don’t agree with her post. Many of her commentors, who are in HR or recruiting, don’t agree either. Read the comments, and note the big difference between “culture” and “fit.”
Does your job search plan address company culture? by Martin Buckland. I also love how Martin thinks… he’s an executive job search coach in Canada, and puts out great stuff. This question reminds me of someone I know who transitioned careers and chose to go into a company that paid well (for a while… then they did a bait-and-switch… snakes!), but had a demoralizing, soul-crushing culture. This was a first-hand example that proved that money isn’t everything, and that money can’t compensate for certain horrible things. Go after money, and disregard culture, at your own peril.
Why Am I Here? By Kylie Hunt, a new Pluralsight author. Kylie is in Australia and in this inaugural blog post, she talks about why she left the company she has been at for over 10 years. Specifically, the leadership and the culture pushed her away, to a point of being unhappy, and she had to leave. Is it any surprise that her first course in Pluralsight is titled Boost Productivity Through Employee Happiness? Note: I can give you free access to her course, and to all of mine… just watch the short how-to video on this page. Bonus: watch any of my courses, and you get an additional 7 day upgrade on JibberJobber.
You can poo-poo the concept of culture, but having been there, and hearing from hundreds or thousands of job seekers over the years, I know, and cannot deny, the existence and power of company culture. That could be at the meta level, or within a small team, or anywhere inbetween.
What are your experiences, positive or negative, with culture within a company?
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:
Have you ever heard of these? Let me put this into perspective:
If I was in a job search right now, I would spend about 80% of my time trying to get, and doing, informational interviews. I could only do that because I would use JibberJobber to manage the administration of who I meet, when to follow-up, etc. Otherwise I’d spend about 60% of my time doing that, and the 20% difference monkeying around with the spreadsheet trying to keep track of it all.
This is the single most important tactic I can think of, for job seekers.
I agree with everything Barb wrote. I would like to suggest this additional tidbit:
Do not come across as a job seeker. When you go into these meetings, you want to be a peer or colleague of the person you are meeting with. Job seeker usually means “needy.” Worse, the way you start your relationship is they have power, you need help. If you are a peer/colleague, you are equal.
Something I learned many years ago is that even though we are in a job search, we are still professionals. Not professional job seekers, mind you, but professional marketers, or executives, or whatever our last title(s) were. Job seeker is a temporary status, not who we are.
Let me cut this blog post short, right here, so you can read Barb’s article, and then email some people to ask for these meetings. It’s that important.
I didn’t hire a resume writer when I was in a job search. Why? Because I couldn’t afford it.
And, because I was smart enough to write my own resume. Heck, I had worked my way through a CIS degree, and an MBA, and by that point, had had a great career. SELF MADE. I was smart, motivated, etc.
Why should I hire someone, for hundreds of dollars, to write a one or two page resume?
One or two pages. Bleh. I had written papers in college that were many times that length.
So I wrote my own resume, and I spun my wheels in a depressing job search, when the economy was strong. I got nowhere. And I didn’t understand why.
I didn’t understand that an experienced resume writer would have been able to help me understand why.
What I’ve come to learn is that a “resume writer,” many times, is much more than a resume writer. Let me rewrite that: A resume writer is much more than a typist.
When you hire a resume writer, you are hiring someone who is in your corner, rooting for you, cheering you on, and sometimes, coaching you. I’m not saying they are a coach, but if you email them and say “I am not getting anywhere… what am I doing wrong?”, they might put on their coaching hat and say something like “my other clients are doing this thing, have you tried that?”
If I had hired a resume writer, I know that writer would have said “Jason, you are doing this thing wrong… fix it!”
Resume writers are in the trenches with you. And they have been in the trenches hundreds, maybe thousands, of times. They have seen many successes, and many failures. They learn from job seekers that have gone before you. Many have seen the cycles of great economy/cruddy economy. They have an understanding of the past, and a vision of the future, and can be your lighthouse helping you navigate a seemingly hopeless and dangerous journey.
Resume writers get a thrill when you email them and say you landed a job. They share that huge win with their Facebook friends (I’m friends with many on Facebook, and see these messages shared regularly). It’s a second payday for them. Sure, they charge money, and they should. This is not charity work. They are experts at what they do. More important, they bring value to you…. and they should be rewarded for that. Their first payday is when you pay them money. Their second payday is when you say “I landed!!” Honestly, I’m not sure which is worth more to a resume writer. In many cases, the second payday is more meaningful.
Think I’m blowing smoke yet? I’m not. I know these people. I’ve been to conferences with them. I email them. I have broken bread with them. They genuinely care about your success, as much as they care about being experts in their field. They want to bring their best game to you, so you can move forward in your career.
Recently I saw a Facebook message from my friend in Wisconsin, Julie Walraven. This message shows her passion and excitement, and level of concern that she puts into her client relationship. This message could just have easily been shared by Charlotte Weeks in Chicago, or Adrian Kelly in Australia, or Dawn Bugni in North Carolina or Shahrzad Arasteh in Maryland or Kelly McClelland in Florida or Robyn Feldberg in Texas or Ann Brody in Chicago or Carrie Luber in New York or… the list could go on and on. These career professionals are not mere typists (although they do that very well). Here’s Julie’s Facebook post:
Find the right resume writer, career coach, or career counselor, and I guarantee they will echo this same enthusiasm and commitment to your success.
You have to understand, Pamela Slim is a rockstar. She has authored multiple books on careers… she lists her customers as Google, Dell, Harvard, etc. and she is a TED speaker. On Pam’s speaking page there is a section at the bottom titled Crafting the Story of Your Personal Brand. In that section she has these two bullet points:
Creating a full-color, full-contact communication plan
Sharing your story with the world in a way that gets results
Why am I sharing this with you? Because there is a fact that is often-times overlooked: developing your personal brand message is HARD. Even experts, people who live and breath this stuff, find it hard!
Did you know that for 2 years I could not give you a one-liner about JibberJobber? It probably took another year before I could give you a one-liner about myself!
The same reason it is hard for you:
You don’t want to mess this up.
What if you say too much? What if you say too little? We are so complex, how could we possibly put all of our awesomeness in one line??
Sometimes we come up with something really cute, clever, or catchy. That usually has cliche or jargon, which does nothing more than confuse our brand.
Sometimes we get into analysis paralysis, and don’t come up with anything (which is another way to mess up our brand).
As important, you need to understand that our brand statements can and should be FLUID. I’m sure that Pam has half a dozen taglines that she has used over the years…. but “bumbling through” this conference, with this type of audience, at this stage in her company and career, made her rethink each of those taglines she has used.
It’s okay to change your tagline. It’s okay to let your tagline grow with you.
If it’s hard, that means you are thinking about it. Keep thinking… keep trying. If someone like Pamela Slim needs to rework her personal branding statements, and she gets stuck and confused, then please know that this is hard stuff.
Keep working on it, and come up with something that is true to you, and easy for others to understand and communicate!
Diane Darling’s open letter to LinkedIn about this issue is here. She said she hit her quota in 8 days, and then asked LinkedIn to please consider the sensitive budgets that career offices have. I think the only answer for LinkedIn is to remove these limits, and make LinkedIn usable again. This is one of the most disrespectful things that LinkedIn has ever done to their users. I think Diane is right asking for a break, but instead of just representing the career offices, I think she should represent the job seekers, who will undoubtedly get up against these limits too early.
Diane’s workarounds, and my comments:
>> “Google vs. LinkedIn - I’m now suggesting people download their LinkedIn connections so they can use Google to search instead of LinkedIn.”
Actually, there are two suggestions here.
The first is Google vs. LinkedIn, which I address in my post on the work-around. That is, use Google to search on LinkedIn’s database, and not use up any of the quota.
The other thing Diane is suggestion is completely different: download your first degree contacts…! I recommend you do this at least once a year, simply to have a backup of your first degree contacts! You then have the name, title, company name, and email address of each of your contacts as a backup. This can come in handy in a variety of scenarios (like, you get booted out of LinkedIn, or worse, your employer steals your account and the connections).
>> CRM vs. LinkedIn - I’m also teaching people to import Linked Inconnections to a CRM (I suggest Insightly) so they don’t have to go to LinkedIn to look up people (I teach ways to use LinkedIn as a CRM but will have to change that.)
I have been a long-time proponent of having your own CRM, and not using LinkedIn as a CRM. I think that using LinkedIn as a CRM is a bad, bad move. Aside from my observation that it just isn’t a CRM (even though they acquired a CRM startup a few years back), the policies that a social network have to have and enforce are different than the policies needed for a CRM. For example, if you do something against their Terms of Service, like put your email address in your name field (yes, even though people do it, it’s against the rules), would you want your access to LinkedIn (social network + CRM??) to be taken away? Yes, I’ve had people contact me because their LinkedIn account has been disabled for this violation, or other super minor violations, or for things they had no idea were violations.
In other words, if you use LinkedIn as a CRM, be prepared to have problems that have to do with their policy issues.
Furthermore, what if they take away features (like LinkedIn Answers and Events)? Or if they decide to move certain CRM features behind the paywall (like the search limit)? Do you trust LinkedIn enough with your CRM data and functionality that you’ll hope and bet that they won’t disrespect you, as a user?
I certainly recommend you use a different CRM for CRM stuff, and use LinkedIn as a social network (to find others, and to be found by others). I think they are two very different tools with different value propositions.
You might not know, but JibberJobber is technically a CRM. CRM historically stands for Customer Relationship Manager. I like to think of JiberJobber as a Career Relationship Manager. Instead of focusing on sales, we focus on relationships. We focus on helping you network into companies and opportunities.
Because most of our users start when they are in transition, we’ve priced it so that it’s very affordable. You can use the free account forever (meaning, we don’t delete your account or data if you don’t pay), and there is an optional upgrade level that comes out to $5/month when you pay by the year (otherwise, it is $9.95/month). A couple of years ago we even moved most of the Premium features to the free level… it’s all about making these tools accessible to you, whether you are on the free account or have invested $5/month in your career.
If you haven’t checked it out, look at the youtube video on the homepage of JibberJobber.com (a bit dated… we’ve changed the UI a few times since we posted that video), or join one of our orientation webinars.
Still use LinkedIn to find and be found, but definitely use a CRM to keep track of and organize the what and how of your networking!
This is important stuff. Since we can’t rely on the old fashioned “job security” anymore, we need to be more vigilant in our career management!
You know, when you are in a job interview, the question the interviewer asks might not really be the question they want you to answer. Or, to put it another way, they might ask a question just to see if you have… issues.
Here’s a great youtube video where Ford Myers addresses the why’s and how to answer specific questions in a job search interview: