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Fred Coon: Ask The Expert, April 22

April 10th, 2014

On April 22, we’ll have Fred Coon as our Ask The Expert guest.  Fred owns Stewart, Cooper, Coon, an outplacement firm based out of Arizona, with clients world-wide.

Over the years I’ve chatted with Fred at conferences, over meals, on a bus, and on the phone.  Fred is a great thinker, very astute, and continually looking for strategies and tactics that work.  Just as important, he puts all of these things together to create plans for his job seeking clients and tracks their progress, and overall success, so he can further refine his systems and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t work.

In this Ask The Expert we’ll drill down into some of his systems, ideas, strategies, and experience, to learn from someone who not only has been doing this for a long time, but is always looking out on the horizon to make sure what he is doing is the best.

Register here: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/938296386

fred_coon_largeHeres’ a link to one of Fred’s books, Ready… Aim… Hired!

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Finding Humor in Your Depressing Job Search (or the bad economy, or whatever)

April 9th, 2014

Here’s some fallout from my 2014 April Fools prank (where I laid myself off, even though I’m the sole owner of JibberJobber)…. on my LinkedIn Group I got this message:

Sorry– I do not see the humor; if the economy and employment levels were decent…well maybe. But not when so many people are in real pain and suffering after 7 years of this “great recession.”

My reply to her, and the group:

Karen, sorry. This was my story (kind of) 8 years ago, and it turned out to be a massive blessing. I talk to unemployed people (usually JibberJobber users) daily, and I know the pain and hurt and suffering… both because I lived it and because I hear it every day. I choose to use humor in my life to help me get through hard times…. nobody has to, but I’m not going to sit around and mope and be somber, essentially empowering the suffering.

No one has to educate me on the real pain and suffering of job seekers.  You see, I was there, but that was during an awesome economy.  During a crappy economy (like that of the last seven (give or take) years, if you can’t get a job you can at least blame the economy.  People might say “when the economy picks up…”  But when you are out of work during a great economy, and can’t hardly land an interview or an offer, there is seemingly nothing to blame but you.  That means a lot of self-finger-pointing, wondering how messed up you really are… which leads to unnecessary and unhelpful pain and suffering in abundance.

The bigger issue, for me, is coping with challenges and trials.  How do you do it?  I tend to gravitate towards humor.  Not always, of course… but I’ve been doing this long enough (8+ years, since I got laid off in January of 2006), to know that there will indeed be an end to unemployment.  That might be because you get a dream job, or you get a “step job” (that is a job that is a stepping stone as you continue to look for your dream job), or you start your own business, or you adjust your expenses and simply retire.  I’ve seen this happen many times over the last few years.

I’m convinced that dealing with our temporary situation in a healthy way is critical to getting out of our healthy situation.  Let me give you two examples:

Coping Strategy 1Let’s say that I cope with stress by eating crap.  So, I’m unemployed and stressed, and I eat at McDonald’s three times a day.  Sodas, fries, high-fructose-corn-everything.  I’m coping with my pain and suffering, and while I plop stuff in my mouth, I feel better, for a second or two.  Between meals I throw down some chips, and have a big cup of soda by me at all times.  I indulge, and it’s good to have no rules on my eating.  I think about going on a walk around the block, but my ankles and knees hurt too much… so I’ll do that “later.”What will that do to me?  From personal experience I know that I’ll physically feel like crap, I’ll probably be more moody, and my clothes will get tighter… this only makes me feel moodier and more depressed.  That’s okay, I’ll cope by eating more crap.

Guess how my next face-to-face networking event is going to go?

I will want to be invisible.  And I’ll probably be jaded enough that I’m not going to have the right conversations which could lead to introductions.  People will smell blood.

Coping Strategy 2

Contrast that with eating much healthier, and exercising. Let’s say I have healthy food around me, in abundance (this doesn’t mean I have to have money or a paycheck, I simply make better choices when buying food).  I eat at least one green smoothie a day (the way I make them, they look green but taste like a fruit smoothie), I drink lots of water, and eat things like soaked almonds, brown rice, etc.  Instead of feeling like I can “cheat” to “cope,” I am now addressing a physical/mental/emotional issue by feeding my cells (nutrition) instead of focusing on feeding my belly (satisfaction).

I feel great, physically.  I take time to exercise, whether it is walk around the block or walk a few miles, do yoga, squats, pushups (even against the wall or stairs), etc. My clothes fit better, I sleep better at night, I feel fit and I have more energy. I can think clearer and have more fun networking.  People want to be around me, they even gravitate towards me (or at least I don’t feel like they are trying to get away from me).

Coping Strategy 1: eating what my tongue wants me to eat, without boundaries, and my stomach feeling satisfied a lot.

Coping Strategy 2: eating to provide nutrition to my cells, as abundantly as I want, with the right foods.

The question: what are the fruits of either strategy?  Which strategy is better for the short-term, and which is better for the long-term?

So let’s go back to my humor thing.  For me, I gravitate towards humor.  Finding humor in things helps me put things in a different perspective that is, many times, easier to understand.  It helps people I work with find perspective, also.  When I’m in front of 100 job seekers, you better believe there is a lot of laughing.  Probably some tears, too, because I get very raw and real.  But there is humor throughout the presentation.  We don’t get enough laughing when we are in a job search, and no one wants to touch our delicate situation with a ten foot pole… but I do.  Because even after eight years, I still consider myself a job seeker.  I am you. I am with you.  And I know there is a time to let your frustrations out, and I’ll be a shoulder you can cry on, or an ear you can vent to, but I’m not going to go in front of my audience and start crying and venting for the entire time.

Laughing releases good brain chemicals (practically natural narcotics).  Why not let job seekers laugh?

Maybe my coping strategy (laughing and humor) is different than your coping strategy (medication, nutrition, hobbies, reading and movies (escapism), soduko, doing the dishes, lifting weights, running, etc.).  I’m not going to list them and say which are better than others, but I will say this: LOOK AT THE FRUIT.  What are the results of your coping strategy?

Does it put you in a worse place, or does it prepare you to do the hard things that you need to do in your job search?

 

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Favorite Friday: Chicken List Is Out – Now Put Away The Honey-Do List!

April 4th, 2014

By March of 2007 I had gotten an idea of this so-called chicken list, which still scares me, and had been consumed by the idea of wasting time in a job search.  Here’s a post I wrote in March of 2007 about making sure your honey-do list doesn’t take time away from what you should be doing in a job search:

Where's Your Honey Do List?  I know you have one...Last week I encouraged you to get your Chicken List out and make “that” call – the call that has been scaring you.

That encouragement does not transfer over to your Honey-Do list.

A job search is more than a full-time job. You almost have to create the wheel, and reach deep inside yourself to do stuff you haven’t had to do for a long time (create a resume, create elevator pitches, etc.). Its hard to change your mindset from “sell my company’s product” to “sell myself.” And then on top of all of this, you are the one that has to execute the strategy! Its a HUGE job!

So why do you think that you can knock things off the honey-do list? I know, you are now “working from home.” And you “have time.” And you “need a break” from the job search.

I know you have a hole in the wall. I know your toilet needs some work. I know you should really paint, or weed, or change wallpaper, or shampoo the carpets so you can have a better work environment.

But none of those things are really going to get you closer to getting your next job. Or next client.

So put the Honey-Do list away until the weekend. Pretend that your new job (that is, the job of finding a job) has you tied up from early in the morning until dinner time – and stop fooling yourself that doing honey-do’s right now is a good use of your time.

It isn’t.

Disclaimer: I’m not trying to be sexist, or offensive. This post is not intended just for those in a job search. You know you have some kind of list that distracts you from doing important stuff. If you don’t have a “honey,” I bet you still have your own “to do” list. Same thing.

And finally, this is not a ticket to not do anything that needs to be done. I’m just saying that there are some things that are not as high a priority as working on your job search (or career management, or small business development, or your job – even if you are underemployed!).

Reading that post now makes me wince a little.  That is some harsh advice.  You can tell where my mind was at.  The message is important.  You can see Deb Dib’s insightful comment here.

Leave your own comment below….

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Defining Your Vision, Path, and What You Want

April 2nd, 2014

Laura de Jong wrote an awesome post titled It Starts with a Vision.  In this post she tells the story of a job seeker she was working with who had a vision of what kind of company she wanted to work for.  Laura listened to this vision and thought of a perfect company, but it was on the other side of the country.

A few days later, the job seeker described her vision to someone else, and said “you need to talk about to this company in Boston!”

A few days later the job seeker talked with an executive recruiter who was commissioned to fill the Chief Sales Officer role for that very company, and get this, the person could be based anywhere in the US!

She had a vision of the idea country, defined that vision (not as easy as it sounds), shared the vision with others… and through what might seem like a miracle, she eventually got a CxO role at the very company that matched her vision – even though they were three thousand miles away!

Having a vision, and communicating it, is much, much, much more effective than being open to anything.  Be focused and it’s easier for people to understand what you want and think of ways they can help you!

 

 

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Favorite Friday: Stop hiding and actually start your job search.

March 28th, 2014

Here’s another favorite I wrote in May of 2012.  I’m surprised it didn’t become a Favorite Friday before now: Stop hiding and actually start your job search.

Many years ago I worked as a clerk at the FBI.  I was bored beyond description.  There really wasn’t anything to do, as our department was overstaffed.  Some of my colleagues picked up projects from the analysts, but I was too low on the totem pole to do anything like that.

So I found myself organizing, and then re-organizing, and then re-organizing my file folder drawer.

You have to understand, as a clerk, I really didn’t have anything important in my file folder drawer.  The exercise was about as useful as sorting, and resorting, and resorting the garbage.  It didn’t help anyone or anything… it just burned time.

Do we, as job seekers, do this?  I know I did.  Here’s my ode to this wasteful, rut of a practice:

This post is for anyone in a job search, no matter how long you have been at it.

Looking back at my job search I found I did activities that were safe and comfortable, but of very little value to my job search.

I refer to this as HIDING from the job search.

Some people hide, in the name of being busy in a job search, by doing things that are seemingly good:

  • going to networking clubs/groups/meetings, but just to go, not to actually network.  And if they do “network,” they aren’t following up, they are just collecting business cards,
  • applying to jobs online, as if it were they most important thing to do in a job search,
  • researching companies, industries, trends, or current events (um, that’s called reading the newspaper… reading the newspaper doesn’t necessarily land you a job),
  • going to one-on-one networking meetings (coffee, lunch, breakfast, etc.) without a real purpose or strategy that is directly tied to getting a job,
  • ______________ (what are YOU doing that is not leading towards your job?)

I was HIDING from my job search with these fake, non-productive activities for three reasons:

  1. These activities are comfortable. We  gravitate towards comfortable, don’t we?  Heaven forbid I got outside of my comfort zone, even if it meant I was doing a something that could produce real results.
  2. I didn’t know any better. I *thought* I was a smart guy, and I could figure it out on my own.  I didn’t want to read books, articles, blogs, etc. about how to do a job search.  I was better than that advice written for “most people.”  I wasn’t “most people.”  I was unique (just like you think you are unique).
  3. Doing those activities are socially acceptable, and at the end of the day you can “feel good” about how hard you worked. When someone asked how it was going, you could tell them how many jobs you applied to, or how many network meetings you went to, or some other metric.  Metrics seem meaty, but those metrics were the wrong things to focus on.

I should have been more consistent at picking up the phone and calling people.  I should have realized (or learned) how to identify target companies, network into those companies, and do real informational interviews.

If I would have spent time on other (high value) activities my job search would have been completely different.

Do you want YOUR job search to be different?  Where are you spending your time?  On activities with potential for high return, or HIDING from the hard stuff?

Leave a comment below…

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How Long Does a Professional Resume Writer Take to Write a Resume?

March 27th, 2014

Julie Walraven of Design Resumes has a great post titled The Chief Cause Of Many Poor Hiring Decisions.  She starts off with CareerBuilder’s new stat about how long hiring managers spend reviewing resumes…as we know, it’s pathetically low.

But then Julie takes her post in an unexpected direction: how long SHE, as a professional resume writer (she is certified and has been doing this, afaik, for over two decades): she will easily spend six hours creating a resume.  Usually that is for an entry-level person.  It’s not unusual for her to spend ten or more hours designing a resume.

Julie is an “expert,”having investing more than 10,000 hours in her trade to claim expertise.  When I lost my job I spent a couple of weeks fumbling around trying to piece together my own resume.  I had no expertise, experience or training… just an attitude that if I could put myself through two degrees, I could certainly write a one or two page document!

Right??

I didn’t understand that a resume was not simply a list with work history, dates and some “cool” action verbs.  I thought I could easily put that document together… but what I didn’t realize was what a great resume really is.

A great, even an excellent resume, is a marketing document. Coincidentally, a sucky resume is also a marketing document – it just screams: don’t hire me!

A resume is not a standard business document for filing away in a three ring binder, simply to be forgotten.  Your resume has a very specific purpose.  What’s more, the “judge” of your resume is going to take your days, weeks, and for some of you, months of work and give it a cursory 30 or 120 seconds… it’s almost an atrocity!

But really, spending less than two minutes really is NOT an atrocity.

You see, it’s not about YOU.  It’s not about the amount of work you put in.  It’s not about how amazing you are, how clever you are, or how dumb the viewer is for not “getting” how brilliant you are.

This is all about THEM. Pursuing you will reflect on them and could have an impact on their career. Are they capable of hiring the RIGHT person?  Can they hire the BEST person?  Or will they hire a dud, or a lemon?  This could cost them their job!  Hiring the wrong person could sink the entire company!

If an expert, like Julie Walraven, spends six hours to develop the most basic of resumes, which she can only do because she has over ten thousand+ hours of writing resumes, what makes you think that you, or I, without this expertise, can “throw something together” in a few hours, and have it be good enough (much less great!)?

The mistakes I would make would undoubtedly cause my resume to be in the “under-ten-seconds-and-then-throw-away” pile.  Whether that is a typo or a grammar mistake, or not using the best word(s) to put us in the right light, it will cost me.

I know there are people out there, including one of my favorite recruiters (Steve Levy… read his blog!) who say that we must write our own resumes, and hiring a resume writer is as good as hiring a charlatan (those are my words, but that’s the message I hear from him).  I agree that we should do a lot of work to help get the resume done.  We should put our hearts into it.  We should spend time going through our past, listing our accomplishments, and doing the very hard work of self- and career-evaluation.

But I still think we should run it past a real resume writer who will polish our final marketing document so that it gets more time, and more respect, from the person evaluating whether they should bring you in for an interview or not. (professional resume writers are not merely polishers.  They are experts in creating perhaps the most improtant marketing document at this point in your career)

Convinced you need resume help? I suggest considering either of these two options:

First Option: look for someone who’s experience matches exactly what you need and who you are.  There are resume professionals like Liz Handlin (Ultimate Resumes) who are so focused on executives, especially finance executives, that you should NOT consider using someone who doesn’t do finance executive resumes before talking to someone like her.  There are resume experts that specialize in IT executives, CEOs, entry level (recent college graduates), and everywhere inbetween.  When you are looking for the right match, don’t disrespect these professionals and tell them how the process works.  See if they are a right fit, and then humbly work with them within their system.  Otherwise, you might hear a very kind “I’m not sure I’m the right person for you – let me recommend you to one of my colleagues.”  That really means “I wouldn’t choose to work with you for double the money – I can tell you are going to be a massive pain to work with.

Second Option: if you are looking for a low-cost just-get-me-to-the-next-level and clean up what I already have, consider JibberJobber’s new partnership with JC Resumes (we have negotiated discount bundle available to you to get you what you need).  I have been hesitant to do a partnership like this for YEARS.  But I have talked to the owners of this service and I always come back to “is this high quality?  I don’t want to recommend a resume mill that just pumps them out like typists.”  I have asked them about their writing and quality process, and I’m really quite impressed.  I personally should have spent the money to do this instead of wasting a week or two trying to write my own… get it done, have something you can be proud of, and if you find out it’s not good enough, then go back to the first option above.  But I doubt it will be money wasted. Here’s the page to get started.

We’re working on creating an list of specialized resume writers that you can reach out to on your own… stay tuned :)

The point is, make sure that you are putting enough time and resources into getting this marketing document put together the right way.

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Managing Multiple Personal Brands

March 26th, 2014

I wrote a guest post for the Pluralsight blog titled How do you manage more than one personal brand?

I actually hear this question a lot when I’m on the road, speaking to audiences of people in transition.  What I’ve found is that people are okay with their day job (if they have one), but they have some really interesting passion that they also want others to know about.  Or, that they think will become a significant revenue stream down the road.

In the post I give you two scenarios, one where you have a main brand (like, your day job) and the other is mostly a strong passion…. the other scenario is where your other brand is at least as important as your main brand, especially when you aren’t at work.

Check out the post and leave a comment over there – If you do, I’ll answer your questions on the Pluralsight post.

 

 

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User Question: Tracking a Recruiter and an Unknown Target Company

March 25th, 2014

A user from Europe asks some questions (slightly reworded), which I will answer below:

At my level and with my expertise, I usually go through a headhunter to get hired. How does the system handle this?

He gets more specific below, but just to clarify, if you only work with recruiters, I would use JibberJobber to track the recruiter (as a Contact), the recruiter’s company (as a Company – and only if it is not a one-person-company), and each job (as a Job) I learn about from the recruiter.  More below…

How do I enter a job opportunity that is being proposed by a headhunter, and where I have both the headhunter contact as well as company contacts?

And here is where it gets really COOL, although I’m a little embarrassed to write this now, because we should have designed this in 8 years ago.  Soon, really soon (I’m told this week) we are going to do a release to JibberJobber where we add a few more features.  One of the features is the long-overdue ability to have multiple contacts and multiple companies associated to each job record.  This reflects the real-world scenario of pursuing a job with a recruiter, then getting introduced to three people at a panel interview… you will be able to associate that job with all four of those people.

It gets better… see my answer to the next question…

Sometimes the headhunter does not disclose the company name or company contact. How do I handle this in the system?

This is the same issue, with a different record.  We will also be able to associate multiple companies to the job.  So, associate the recruiter’s company, and then when you find out what the hiring company is, add it and associate it to the job.  You will even be able to prioritize the contacts and companies.

So, to let the cat out of the bag, we are doing this thing for contacts, companies and jobs, which means:

On a Company record: associate multiple Contacts and Jobs (you can already do this, but you’ll soon be able to reorder/reprioritize them)

On a Contact record: associate multiple Companies (which allows you to create more of a work history, as well as track people with more than one current company) and multiple Jobs (if you are working with that person for more than one job).

On a Job record: associate multiple Contacts (like the recruiter, and people at the company that you meet) and multiple Companies (like the recruiter company and the name of the company with the opening).

This is a great enhancement, and should make your data make a lot more sense.

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How to Double Your Job Leads Using LinkedIn

March 20th, 2014

lisa_rangel_headshot2Lisa Rangel is a career coach who I’ve met, had conversations with, exchanged emails, and trained in my webinars. I trust her. One week from today she is hosting this free webinar titled How to Double, And Even Triple Your Job Leads Using LinkedIn. You have nothing to lose, and hopefully will pick up some great ideas. Here’s her list of things she says you can learn:

  • Why the profile you currently have is costing you thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, and what you need to do to fix it.
  • 4 little known and often misunderstood ways to find leads and opportunity using LinkedIn.
  • 9 proven techniques for making your LinkedIn profile attract the exact type of job you want.
  • 7 actions you must take if you want to be found by your target audience/hiring manager.
  • How to create your own custom target list of the exact people you want to hire you.
  • The one feature of LinkedIn everyone should use to manage their career, but hardly anyone knows about.

Sign up here for this fast paced, packed webinar.

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Self-Control leads to Self-Confidence

March 19th, 2014

A phrase that has been floating around my house for the last few months is so profound:

Self-control leads to self-confidence.

I’m not sure where my wife picked it up, but we’ve used it a fair amount.

Who doesn’t struggle with self-confidence issues?

Let me rephrase that:

What job seeker could use more self-confidence?

Here’s a simple formula: have more self-control.  Perhaps you will:

Bite your tongue more.

Be kinder.

Do your three high value activities each day (even if you have to make them easier to do, or, lessen the scope of them).

Pick up the phone and call someone from your chicken list.

Finally clean up that little paper pile on your desk.

Go on a walk and take care of your body.

Put down the junk food and eat a green smoothie.

Spend less time on distracting or time-wasting websites.

Spend more, and better quality time with those you love.

Clean up one part of your LinkedIn Profile.

What is it you have been neglecting?  I know, as a job seeker, we tend to neglect everything that won’t lead to a job offer.  But that is so unhealthy on so many levels.

When I wrote Water Damage Is Expensive – Don’t Neglect Your House, I was writing about the results of neglecting things like family and your health.

I didn’t realize at the time that NOT neglecting… that is, having the self-control and discipline to take care of things, would lead to self-confidence.

Again, we all need more self-confidence.  I challenge you to practice self-control for a while and see if you have more self-confidence.

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