In the U.S. we celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s a time when families and friends get together, gratitude is shared, and food is consumed.
I want to share my gratitude for YOU today. Almost nine years ago I was kicked in the teeth, aka laid off. I went through a pitiful, depressing job search. I went from the top of the world to the bottom of the barrel.
Then one day, I got the idea for what would eventually become JibberJobber. It was risky and scary, but it gave me a purpose and hope. It changed my demeanor, my attitude and my outlook.
Since 2006 we’ve helped a few people in their job search. We’ve been recommended by coaches and career experts. I’ve spoken across the U.S. (and in Turkey, which makes me an “international speaker”). JibberJobber has been recommended or endorsed by big news and tiny bloggers.
Here we are, almost nine years later, still making progress, still helping a few people. And we appreciate every single one of you.
Recently, I was chatting with my developer about an issue a user was having. I said that this user was important to me (“a big deal”), and he said:
“Oh dude… C’mon… They are ALL a big deal to you…”
I loved that. In fact, you are a big deal to me. No matter how new or old you are, whether you are on the free or the upgrade side, you are all a big deal to me. You are all a big deal to all of us at JibberJobber.
I was delighted that my developer, without any prompting, replied that way. This is the culture that I have always wanted to create in my company. It’s about people. Customers (you), my team, etc.
People matter. You matter. And I’m grateful for you. Now, I’m off to eat some turkey
Thom Allen was one of the earliest friends I met when I moved to Utah. I’ve networked with Thom over the years and we’ve consistently had a funny conversation: “Thom, explain to me again exactly what you do?”
Thom would always tell me something cool.. but the more I learned about Thom, the contracts he had, his professional passions, the less I understood about him. I guarantee that some of you, reading this blog post, have the same issues communicating your personal brand. Let’s take Thom’s blog post and talk about some of it:
Speaking of the first person Thom met at a particular networking event, he says: “In the software development world, Alistair is the rock star God of the agile methodology.” I love that Thom writes it that way. He makes it clear that Alistair doesn’t have a branding problem, unless of course Alistair doesn’t want to be known as the “rock star God of the agile method” in the entire software dev world. That’s a powerful statement and observation, and something that some of us want to shoot for: a very high level of clarity and accuracy of how others talk about us.
Thom writes, “At the end [of my conversation with Alistair], he started to ask me what I did. First sign the night was going to be rocky.”
Uh-oh. If you are going to a networking event, and you aren’t prepared to answer the most common question you’ll hear, multiple times, during that meeting, you got a problem. It’s definitely going to be rocky.
Thom says that he shook hands with various guests, “many who I knew,” and Thom writes “Most asked me again, what I did. I wondered where these people had been. Why don’t they remember?”
Thom continues with his networking story, and says he was surprised that he was introduced to a small group of networkers as he was “connected to everyone.” He writes “it feels unnatural when someone says that about me.” He later asked that same friend “why do I have such a hard time getting people to remember what I do?” The friend’s response was awesome:
“Because no one really knows what you do! Most people think you do everything, but no one knows what you do. You’re always vague.”
Thom talks about having an elevator pitch, which is something that he says he told others to do, but he hadn’t taken his own advice.
Look, I think most elevator pitches stink. When I present, I say 99.999% of elevator pitches I hear stink. BUT, not having a pitch allows others to misinterpret who you are. Why didn’t Thom do that? The same reason many of us don’t. He writes:
“I guess my failure to successfully convey what I do stems from years of not wanting to be defined by my work. So I kept it vague. But as a business owner I can’t do that anymore. I need to clearly define what I do. There’s no way I can network without being able to convey what I do. It’s not the part I want to be, but it’s the part that I need to be.”
YOU need to get here! You need to have enough frustration that you choose to finally narrow your brand messaging down so people (including yourself!) understand it, and can even easily communicate it to others. Yes, you can have a breadth of passions and interests. But at some point you also have to help people understand what they should understand about you.
I’m a sucker for a good job search story. Enter a LinkedIn article by Liz Ryan, where she shares an awesome, inspiring letter from one of her job seeker clients, and then her reply. Please read the entire thing – it’s kind of long but if you are in a job search, this will give you a boost that you just can’t get enough of!
Doug’s story is our story… your story, my story. We think that if we do a great job, we’ll have security (“I thought I was going to retire from that job.”). We think that we can send out hundreds of resumes, because it’s a “numbers game,” and eventually someone is going to interview us and hire us. We are absolutely appalled at the resume black hole and the salt-in-the-wound auto-responders. Finally, when something comes along that gives us a semblance of control, we gravitate towards that. We thirst for control, since we feel like we’ve been thrust into this dark fantasy world where we have NO control. Doug talks about “Pain Letters” and a “consulting business card.” It’s a great letter – read it here.
Liz responds with two awesome follow-up assignments that EVERY job seeker should do. The first is to get on LinkedIn, and get a good profile. The second assignment is awesome:
This is such a powerful assignment. I don’t even want to call it a recommendation because I think that devalues it. It’s not a suggestion… this is a must-do assignment.
I have heard from hundreds of coaches and career professionals that they all say something like this: “when you land your next job, you need to continue networking!”
And the job seekers says “Yes, of course, I’ll never let my network get stagnant again!” You feel repentant, you are humbled, and even though you don’t like networking, you swear you won’t fall behind on your relationships again.
BUT YOU DO. You get busy onboarding yourself at your next job. You can take a breather and release the stress of being unemployed. You get to play a bit, and of course you don’t have to go to any networking events. Whatever resolution you had gets swept away in the new routines.
YOu aren’t bad… you just need some ideas on how to network moving forward. And Liz’s assignment, to reach out to every person you met in your job search (and the people you knew before that, who you were in touch with during your job search), is THE TACTIC that you need to pursue.
Awesome stuff. Click the image to read the whole thing:
I’ve been thinking about doing a certification like this for many years. It’s time to finally buckle down and put it together.
I’ll start the first course the week of January 12th. It will be four to eight weeks long, depending on the curriculum that I put together. While I don’t have that ironed out, if you’ve been on my webinars, you know I fret about over-delivering, and this is no exception.
Every career professional knows the world doesn’t need another certification to take (or pay for), but no one is doing a certification on JibberJobber, or on using this type of technology to organize and track and manage a job search. I used to do the LinkedIn Certification for The Academies… why not do a JibberJobber certification?
The list price of $397 is discounted to $97 for students of the first group of students. You can pay here. This will include the courses and the assessments. It will include a verification process so that job seekers can verify that you are really, truly certified by JibberJobber. The class will be live webinar with recordings, so if you can’t make the webinar, listen to the recordings at your own pace.
Fun factoid: certified, defined, is:
“Officially recognize someone as possessing certain qualifications or meeting certain standards.
On the same page, it is also defined as:
“Officially declare insane.”
The purpose of this certification is to bring career professionals up to speed on the processes and systems of organizing and tracking a job search. We will recognize those who go through the course successfully as professionals who “possess certain qualifications,” and who “meet certain standards.” We will not officially declare anyone insane…
When I see stuff like this it reminds me of when I first learned about it, when I was a job seeker, thinking how unfair it was that I had my stupid Excel spreadsheet to track my job search, and the people I was sending my resume to and interviewing with had sophisticated software. No more! Now the playing field is leveled, since you can use JibberJobber…. !
Want to see what an ATS is/does/looks like? I found this company while poking around the internet and started digging around. I went to the Tour link and saw this 1:30 video. If you are wondering what HR and recruiters might be using to figure out if you are worthy of an interview. Here’s the video:
Remember, this does not apply to every company you apply to. Some will use an ATS, some will not (even if they have it). My recommendation is still to network into the company before you play the “resume black hole” game. That’s not a fun game.
My team is very proud of the breadth and depth of what they have developed!
Let me share a bit more of what we do.
The article says:
2. Use JibberJobber to Keep Track of Information You Collect During Your Job Search.
This is a great observation, even though it’s something I don’t talk about enough. But here’s how it works. If you find information about a target company, contact, job opportunity, etc., and it might come in handy later, while you network or interview, you should collect the information. Store it in JibberJobber, obviously.
Here are the other two from the list of ten:
8. Use Insightly to Manage and Organize Business Cards You Collect.
This function is usually referred to as “customer relationship management” (or, CRM). This is what I normally talk about… and how most people describe JibberJobber: as a CRM! So, I don’t want to talk anything away from Insightly, but I will suggest that JibberJobber is a great CRM designed especially for job seekers. The job search process, networking into target companies, etc. is what we are all about. Our free version is highly functional and quite awesome. For a small optional fee you could have everything we have to offer. (quick note on Insightly: their free version has 2,500 records, which is NOT the same as 2,500 contacts and/or companies. Every note, email, etc. (stuff we would call Log Entries) counts as a record… which will add up). I’m sure they have an awesome system, but my point is, we now hit two of the ten points of the Time article.
9. Use Contactually to Create an Automatic Follow-up System
Ah, the brilliance of a follow-up system! I remember the phone call when I was talking to a user and he said “JibberJobber is my follow-up system!” Ever since then I’ve thought about that… he didn’t refer to it as his organizational system, or tracking system, or CRM… but a follow-up system. BRILLIANT.
I had been talking about the power of follow-up in my presentations, but never referred to JibberJobber as a follow-up system. But I do now. Keith Ferrazzi said “if you want to be more successful than 95% of your competition, all you need to do is follow-up.” I didn’t match that concept with JibberJobber until my user said it was his follow-up system. That is why we have introduced some of the features we have recently: to help you follow-up. Time recommends Contactually, which is actually another CRM… it has some special tools to help you reconnect with people, or prompt you to reconnect with people. JibberJobber will move into that realm, but the reason why my dev team said we do this is because of our “Recurring Action Items,” which is basically scheduling an Action Item to recur multiple times (like, “email Jason once a quarter.”) We’ll have more functionality like what Contactually does down the road. (you’ll find that all CRM systems leap-frog each other with features… one day you are ahead, the next day you are behind… )
As a job seeker, you won’t want to get THREE CRM tools. Pick one. More importantly, USE IT! Picking “the best” CRM, but not using it is really a waste of time and energy.
Get it? USE JibberJobber! Don’t just sign up, but actually use it. Your entire career could depend on it.
Let’s dig into the post from yesterday, and dissect some of Louise Kursmark’s advice. It’s a short article, but there’s simple stuff that every job seeker needs to be doing. Lines from her post are in bold, my comments are not bold, and indented.
>> I think that obsession(with gaming the ATS systems) is a distraction from the real work of job search.
Again, you are hiding from the job search. There is no silver bullet. ATS is one tiny aspect of the job search, don’t become obsessed with gaming it.
>> Even if your resume is a perfect match for the job posting, you have a very small chance of being chosen for an interview.
Why? Because statistically, jobs posted online are not real jobs that are begging real people to apply. Some (probably those from big companies) have already been filled with internal candidates, but are posted just to satisfy regulations or policy. Others are, unfortunately, and without integrity, fake jobs that are luring people in just to collect names and numbers. Sometimes they are just feeling out the market, and seeing what’s out there. But for the real ones… have you heard how many people apply to openings? It’s way to many, really. And those that are getting through are not necessarily the right candidates. Many right candidates are getting weeded out through errors in the logic of the automated system. They don’t call it the “resume black hole” for nothing.
>> … it’s easy to spend a lot of fruitless time trying to rise to the top of a very large pool.
Lots and lots of people are playing this losing game. Why throw your hat into a system that is proven to be so ineffective and discouraging, and really, one that doesn’t really work? Especially when there are more effective ways to land a job.
>> My advice: Have a keyword-rich, simply formatted resume that stands a reasonable chance of making it through the ATS.
And here is the simple truth about what you need for a resume. Keyword rich and simple format. That’s it. Do that, then MOVE ON to the next part of your job search strategy!
>> Then, spend less time applying to posted openings and more time getting referrals into the companies you’re interested in.
Get out of the resume black hole and go compete in a different space… the competition is much easier, and nicer, because too many people are afraid to network, or are doing it entirely wrong. Be the person who learns to love it (you don’t have to be an extrovert to love networking), and do it RIGHT! Also, to Louise’s points, do this purposefully and strategically, not haphazardly.
>> Use your network to find a connection, ask for an introduction, and start a dialogue.
This, my friends, is networking. This is more effective than going to network meetings, being nervous or shy, and then going home thinking “I networked!” You may have, but what Louise is suggesting is to do it right, and go deeper, and be relationship-focused.
>> Rather than applying for a job, have a conversation about the company’s needs and how someone with your background might be able to help.
>> Become a real person rather than a piece of paper or collection of keywords.
You do this by focusing on conversations, relationships and real networking, rather than throwing your resume into the black hole…
>> Even if you don’t (get interviews), you’ve built another strand in your web of connections that will ultimately lead you to your next job.
Building these strands, or let’s go further and say this fabric, is what I call career management. It is having strong relationships over time, not just during this hard transition, and it is helping people understand who you are (and how they can help you)… it is long-term. It is the new “job security,” and it’s all in your control. It’s why I say you need to use JibberJobber, forever! (yes, a little fanatical there, but I get to do that on my own blog )
>> And isn’t it more satisfying to have a colleague-to-colleague business discussion than to be judged (and rejected) based on a mysterious set of keyword qualifications?
You know who has control over the keywords? NOT YOU! You have control over, which means influence on, your relationships and communication, but not on the arbitrary keywords that someone chose. And you don’t have control over who else applies, or how their resumes compare to yours in the ATS black box logic. Work on what you can control… !
I love Louise’s no-nonsense advice… thanks again for letting me share it!
For a few years the new buzz word in training for resume writers is how to write a resume to get through the ATS system.
ATS is “applicant tracking system,” which is kind of like JibberJobber for the recruiter. They aren’t tracking a relationship with YOU as much as they are tracking specific job openings, who applies, and who gets to have an interview with a human.
I guess that is tracking you, kind of. But only as far as that specific opportunity goes. There is no relationship nurturing going on… it’s all about filling open jobs, and weeding out the high percentage of people who shouldn’t have applied in the first place.
You can imagine how resume writers want to write a resume that will get through the ATS, and eventually get to the live person. I haven’t completely wrapped my brain around the technology, but I’ve understood that most jobs people are hired for are with companies that are smaller, and might not even know what ATS means. I’ve focused my advice more on networking into a job than on monkeying around with your resume to get it better (which I call “hiding from your job search,” since you can do that for days and weeks and not really get any closer to getting an interview).
But I keep my ears open to what the experts are saying, and am always looking for any information I can share with you. When I saw this article on LinkedIn from Louise Kursmark, I knew it would have important information. I think this is a super-important perspective because she is a well-known resume writer who has trained hundreds, maybe thousands, of resume writers. Louise gave me permission to repost her article here (original post)… I hope this helps you with your job search strategy today!
ATS: I Couldn’t Care Less
ATS – Applicant Tracking Systems – cause a lot of twitter and chatter among job seekers and resume writers. I might even call it an obsession about finding the keywords, mimicking the job posting, and designing the document to get through the automated screener.
Personally, I think that obsession is a distraction from the real work of job search.
Even if your resume is a perfect match for the job posting, you have a very small chance of being chosen for an interview. That’s because your resume is one of dozens or even hundreds competing for just a handful of top slots. It’s likely at least a few other candidates will have qualifications that are slightly stronger or a background that’s just a bit closer to the ideal specified by the recruiter or employer.
So it’s easy to spend a lot of fruitless time trying to rise to the top of a very large pool. And when you don’t, you feel frustrated, discouraged, maybe even depressed and angry.
My advice: Have a keyword-rich, simply formatted resume that stands a reasonable chance of making it through the ATS. Then, spend less time applying to posted openings and more time getting referrals into the companies you’re interested in.
Use your network to find a connection, ask for an introduction, and start a dialogue. Rather than applying for a job, have a conversation about the company’s needs and how someone with your background might be able to help. Become a real person rather than a piece of paper or collection of keywords.
Chances are very good that you’ll be able to parlay many of those conversations into actual interviews for real jobs. Even if you don’t, you’ve built another strand in your web of connections that will ultimately lead you to your next job.
And isn’t it more satisfying to have a colleague-to-colleague business discussion than to be judged (and rejected) based on a mysterious set of keyword qualifications?
Thank you, Louise, for a real perspective and great advice! There really is no way around doing some of the hard work in the job search!
The monthly Ask The Experts calls were some of the funnest interviews I’ve done since I started JibberJobber. Below is a list of past interviews – I know there is an overabundance of information coming your way, but I strongly suggest you add these recordings to your schedule. There are a ton of great ideas, suggestions and perspectives that can help you in job search and career management.
My question to you is: WHO do you think I should interview next?
It’s time to start up the next round… and I want to hear from YOU who I should invite to be on the show. Leave a comment with names and the “why,” or shoot me an email (which is on the Contact Us page (or just use the Contact Us form)) with suggestions.
I’m reading David Bradford’s book Up Your Game, and on page 41 he talks about using a contact manager.
David is the consummate networker who has also had a terrific career. He’s a grandpa living in Utah and just recently was the CEO of HireVue, and before that, CEO of the amazing Fusion-IO. He is active on social media and has a big, giving heart.
Back to the “contact manager” concept. In the olden days (well, actually, even today) most people had not heard of a “contact manager.” Everyone had heard of a Roladex, which is an old-fashioned device that sat on your desk, and allowed you to quickly flip through cards that had your contacts’ information on them so you could find their phone number and call them. Here’s a modern-looking roladex (image courtesy wikipedia):
According to what I’ve found online, ACT! was the first digital contact manager – that is, a contact manager on a computer. It was 1986 (where were YOU in 1986??) and ACT! would be the first of hundreds. There were a few others that you probably haven’t heard of, the one I briefly used was Goldmine. Today you have likely heard of the massive $5B/annual company Salesforce.com. Perhaps there are thousands of CRM systems now.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management… and this software has mostly been designed for sales professionals. Some of them LOVE the software, and live-and-die on CRM, and others abhor CRM (because they are people people, and not software nerds).
The Roladex, and the little black book of contacts, were for anyone trying to keep track of their friend/family, etc.
CRM was really mostly for salespeople. Who else would pay that much for software that was that hard to use, when all you really wanted was a place to write down a phone number?
When David wrote about using a “contact manager” in his book, I got excited. He is not using it as a sales professional, he’s using it as a real contact manager! He’s using it to keep track of who is is meeting, what their important phone information is, when he communicates with them, and when he needs to follow-up.
Let me break that down, and make this a “how to” post. This is more of a “how to get value out of a contact manager” than how to use any bells and whistles. And just for fun, I’m going to use “JibberJobber” instead of “contact manager.”
First, store your contacts in JibberJobber.
You can store all of them, but you don’t need to. Don’t get stressed that one system (perhaps your email contact list) has contacts that are not in JibberJobber, or that LinkedIn doesn’t have all of the same contacts as you have in JibberJobber. Recognize that these are different systems with different purposes. The purpose of your contact manager (JibberJobber) is not to have the contacts everwhere else, but to serve as a central repository of IMPORTANT contacts that you are, can or want to nurture. If someone comes into your life through LinkedIn, eventually they’ll probably end up in JibberJobber.
Second, record information about those contacts.
When you first enter a contact, you likely won’t have all of the information you could put in about them. I usually start with just the first name, last name, and email address. As my relationship progresses, or as we exchange more and more emails, I will find out other information, like a work address or phone number, which might be in their official work email. Just collect this information as you get it, and gradually enter it into JibberJobber. Don’t stress about not having it to begin with…
Third, record important communication as “log entries.”
When you reach out to someone, or respond to them, log it into JibberJobber. I don’t do this all the time, but as I’m starting a relationship I’ll log any communication just to put a timeframe around how fast or slow our relationship is forming. Once I have a strong relationship with someone, I find myself logging communications less, but the quality of what I’m logging increases. For example, we meet at a networking event and I send you an email. I’ll log that email, even though it’s not going to have anything more substantial than “nice to meet you – let’s get on a call next week.” A few years later I’m not going to log every email we exchange, but if there is something big, or important, then I’ll log that. Don’t beat yourself up for not logging everything… you’ll get used to what you really want to track and what you don’t need to.
Fourth, indicate when you need to follow-up with your contacts.
This might be one of the hardest things to do, and track, for people who are starting to get serious about networking. Why? Because the more you network, the more follow-up you can do! And it feels rotten to meet people, start a relationship, and then forget when to follow-up, or who they were, or why you should follow-up, etc. In JibberJobber, you’ll create “action items,” which is basically a due date on a log entry. You can even create recurring action items, which means you can say “Ping Johnny every quarter,” to help you nurture relationships over the long-term.
Keith Ferrazzi says that if you want to be better than 95% of your competition, all you have to do is follow-up. We know this, but there’s a reason why 95 out of 100 people don’t do it: it’s hard to manage!
Let JibberJobber be your contact manager and your follow-up tool.
The focus is not on sales, rather on relationships.
Are you ready to get serious about this yet? Jump on a User Orientation webinar, and let’s start by taking baby steps together.