Been there, done that. Some of these might seem like great things to do as a job seeker, but I can tell you, you can waste a considerable amount of time doing each of these things. Not really in any particular order:
LinkedIn. Not so duh… but if you are poking around, reading articles, reading influencers, sifting through Group Discussions, with no purpose, just to veg or take a break, you are probably wasting time. Looking people up? Then what do you do with them? If you are just making lists that you aren’t going to reach out to, then STOP.
Sudoko. I know, you deserve it. It’s just one game. It’s just 15 minutes. It’s to clear your mind. Two hours later….
Breakfasts and lunches with friends. Unless you are purposeful and strategic, and watch your time, you are just chilling, chewing the fat, and resting. A friend of mine once had 5 lunch meetings… in one day. Each one was purposeful and strategic.
Twitter. Unless you are using tactics to quickly find your next contact, or info about that contact so you can have a meaningful conversation, it’s probably better to stay away.
Huffington Post, Blaze, your local news site, etc. Yeah, sure you are just getting caught up on today’s news that might impact what you will talk about, or you are just taking a few minutes to rest from the job search. This will rarely result in anything important or helpful, and will more often lead you to waste a few more minutes, which will add up.
TMZ, People, etc. Stop taking a break to see what the privileged people get to wear, do, eat, drive, etc.
Tweaking your resume. Yes, make necessary changes. But if you are spending hours each day/week/month making changes, you are probably hiding behind the comfort of your screen rather than send that email or make that phone call.
Tweaking your job search spreadsheet. Same as tweaking your resume. What’s more important, having a good conversation or adding a new column to track some random thing? Stop hiding! And yeah, this is one reason we made JibberJobber.
Driving. Sure you have to go here and there, and there and here. But if you spend too much time behind the windshield, just to make these face-t0-face connections that don’t go anywhere, don’t you think you might spend your time better from your home-base?
Phone calls, when unprepared. Do you know what you are calling for? What constitutes a successful call (or voicemail)? If you don’t know, then pause, figure out your objectives, and then figure out what successful calls look like. THEN DO THAT.
Information Interviews, almost all the time. Unless you know what you are doing, you are probably going in with a resume, as a needy job seeker, and putting yourself in an awkward and unfortunate situation. It’s a waste of time for you and them, and you won’t get what you need. You can watch my course on Informational Interviews once you login to JibberJobber, then click the Pluralsight link in the white box. Free.
Pouting. I know, it sucks. You were wronged. I was wronged. I worked too hard in my career, and in school, to be unemployed. But guess what? This is your story! You get to create and live your own hero story. That means things are hard, but in the end you win. Don’t spend too much time feeling sorry for yourself… it’s time to get to work.
Cleaning your “office.” Whatever your office is… mine was a wobbly card table and La-Z-Boy, with a laptop, in a corner of my bedroom. I could spend a few minutes here and a few minutes there cleaning, tidying, dejunking… and realize that an hour later I was indeed avoiding my job search because throwing away papers is a lot easier than calling someone who might reject me.
Knocking one more thing off the Honey Do List. Yes, things still need to get done. But there is a time to do it, just like when you had a job. It’s not time to repaint your bedroom, or put in a garden. Do this after hours, like you would have done if you had a job.
Job boards. Stop the madness. I spent way too much time on job boards, looking, hoping… I should have been working my network, and finding jobs that weren’t advertised yet. The “hidden job market,” they call it.
Reading books relevant to your job search or job/career. Maybe 10 or 15 minutes a day during prime time, if you need a break, otherwise save this self-study for later. Right now you need to send that email, or pick up the phone.
Ready, fire, aim! In other words, doing without knowing what you are doing. When I started my job search I assumed that I knew how to do a job search, I just needed to muscle my way through it. I spent the next 8 weeks living on job boards, sure that the next job posted would be right for me. I wish I would have paused, listened to the experts, and re-calibrated my strategy.
Multi-tasking. Turn off netflix, the TV, or any other distractions that are causing you to not be 100% mentally present. A couple of weeks ago I was sick and needed to sleep, so I put on a nature show to fall asleep to. The problem was it was so interesting that I couldn’t let myself fall asleep… I had to turn it off and put on something I had seen a few times… something boring.
Doing it alone. Get an accountability partner who will help you be accountable for what you should do and where you spend your time. I didn’t have an accountability partner to help me get my MBA, why would I need one for the job search? Because for many of us, this is uncharted territory and we’ll make mistakes in tactics, and we’ll waste time on things from this list. Just knowing that someone is looking over our shoulder, or will ask you questions once a week, should help you stay on track and do the right things.
Avoiding weekly job search clubs. I was chicken. I still get nervous when I go to these things. I get that. But this is where I learned that (a) I was okay, and normal, and I didn’t need to internalize the blame for being unemployed, and (b) I was doing all the wrong things in the job search, and how to do the right things, and (c) I was not alone, and there were many others in my boat who would help me (or who needed my help). I swear by job clubs… just realize, sometimes you go to GET, and sometimes you go to GIVE. Don’t just go to get.
A few thoughts:
There is time to do any of all of this stuff… but it’s not during the prime time of your job search.
Being busy does not equal being effective. Re-evaluate where you spend your time, and face your fears (which is usually the phone).
You can learn about a principle-based job search, and specific strategies and tactics, from my premium job search and career videos on Pluralsight – no cost to you. Here’s the step-by-step of how you do it (and get 7 days of JibberJobber premium for each course you watch!).
Nine years ago I was on the phone with one of my competitors for our first (and only) phone call. As soon as he started talking, my heart stopped and my stomach dropped. I knew it was going to be a hard, long battle to compete with this guy and his company.
You see, he had a British accent. I knew, from watching too many Disney movies, that British accents trump American accents. Not only did I not have a British accent but I had lived in Idaho for almost 10 years, where I adopted an Idaho farmer accent. My choice of words, pronunciation, and speed of talking was clearly inferior to his slick, refined British accent.
The truth is, over the last nine years we’ve worked on JibberJobber functionality a lot. We’ve done awesome, amazing things. And you have noticed. In the last year we’ve had more annual upgrades than ever, and our users are more engaged and serious about using JibberJobber during and even after their job search. We know this is because of the time and effort we’ve spent designing and developing, and working with customers to get and implement suggestions.
But the presentation we’ve put in front of customers, with my U.S. accent, is clearly holding us back.
Today I am announcing that we are officially on the hunt to translate the entire site, written and audio, to an accented version of English.
Will you please leave a comment and give us your preference of any of the following accents that we should consider translating JibberJobber to? Remember, this is for anything written as well as all radio, podcast and video productions. It will be a big job, but I know that with the right accent we will gain more users, and have more upgrades, and help many more people. We’re just being held back right now.
Here are the top accents we are considering (in no particular order):
Southern U.S., y’all
Other accents that we’ve been encouraged to consider include:
Cholo, or Mexican-American, vato (I am Mexican-American)
Here are accents we’ve decided accounts:
Hawaiian Pidgin English
English with a heavy German accent
So, what do you think? I’ll make a decision in the next 30 days, and move forward with a firm that will help me translate and re-record everything into one of the above. Which do you vote for?
And, if you want to be the new voice for JibberJobber, please submit an audio demo so we can see if your accent is the right one to take JibberJobber to the next level!
I remember going to an interview, after a two day training for job seekers, and thinking “did the interviewer prepare in any way for this interview?” It was horrible. It was embarrassing (for the interviewer). It was a waste of time.
I remember the interviewer reading questions from a printout (thanks Google, five minutes before our interview!), and not really listening to the answers. No eye contact, just reading the next question, then the next question.
An interview is not a checklist task to just get through the questions… it should be an engaging time to figure out if the person can do the job and will fit nicely into the culture of the company/team. But somehow we haven’t figured this out very well.
We let things… discrimination and stereotyping… get in the way of the job search interview. Sometimes how a person looks, or what they where, or how charming their smile is, will trump how anyone responds. I’ve seen this in real life.
Jon proposes that the format of a programmer’s interview is scrapped, and they are tested with real situations to solve… kind of like puzzles, from the work environment. I read Jon’s proposal and think “wow, that sounds intense….!” But here’s the line that really caught me:
“Now, this does require one huge prerequisite: every candidate must have a side project that they wrote, all by themselves, to serve as their calling card.”
A side project… their calling card. In the creative world this might be considered your portfolio.
Whatever you call it, I totally agree with Jon. What can you point to that you have done/accomplished/figured out?
This becomes part of your personal brand messaging. Swap spots at the interview table for a minute and image that you have 10 final resumes in front of you… and they all look kind of the same. They all have similar education, similar years of experience, similar titles at similarly impressive companies… they all look great, but none really stand out.
The one who has had a side project, and talks about it. Perhaps there is a website or blog where you can learn more about this person or their side project. Where the other 9 resumes are just names on resumes, with nothing else to distinguish them, this person’s resume stands out because you read a few blog posts, and saw pictures, and got caught up in the stories. You read about their project and realized that they have skills and experience that didn’t quite come across in the resume.
You learned about their portfolio because they had one.
Jon has a lot of great points, but this one stuck out the most.
What’s in your portfolio? What are your side projects that you can point to?
When I took my internship programming internal web stuff on the intranet for Simplot, a billion dollar private company, I worked a lot with and for HR. It was exciting to learn some of the ins and outs of HR, and what made a company run.
Fast forward a few years and I was in a situation where I wanted to talk to HR because I believed I was in a hostile work environment. I was frustrated, my health was suffering, and I felt wronged.
But I had been in enough meetings to know that HR was not there to protect or coddle me. The #1 role of HR, as I understood it, was to protect the company. Sure, they were nice people, but they weren’t there to help or protect me before they protected the company from lawsuits, harm, financial loss, etc.
What does this mean? Well, it doesn’t mean they are the enemy. It simply means they are not your work BFF… understanding where they fit and what their objectives are will help you understand how and why you would work/interface with them.
One of my old bosses used to say “you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.” This was a guy who was always pleasant, even in some very tense meetings. He knew how to hold it together, and it didn’t seem hard for him. When you were around him you felt like you mattered, as an individual.
This advice is excellent, and I think of it regularly. Too often, my first inclination is to be defensive, on-guard, or somehow protect myself. Maybe this is because of the fair amount of teasing we did as kids (4 boys, close in age)… of course, it was all in love or whatever, and I never really felt unsafe, but perhaps that has kept me on my toes. Who knows, maybe it has nothing to do with my brothers and all to do with my personality. Anyway, my first inclination is to be vinegar, not honey.
I’ve learned over the years that Vinegar Networking is not good. No one likes to be around vinegar, and the vinegar person usually ends up bouncing from conversation to conversation, or alone.
Take this idea and transfer it to online communication, whether it’s a “private” email or a very public social posting… what happens is that you start to develop a brand. People think “oh boy, this person is posting again… I better watch out!” Or, I better protect myself. Or I can’t believe what they are going to say, or how they are going to say it.
You don’t need to muddy up your brand with vinegar. You are doing a good enough job muddying up your brand with confusing taglines and messaging
Recently I got a blog comment that I decided to approve… but I had to edit out almost a half dozen offensive words.
Folks, if you need to do that, do it in a closet, or scream into your pillow. If you are here to help others, or get help from others, try some honey. You don’t have to be that lame professor in college who “never gives A’s”… we don’t all need to be critics, or critical.
You’ve heard that before, right? The message is “we don’t hate you… it’s not about you or your personality or your skills… it’s just bottom line dollars and the health of the company. And, by laying you off, we can still have a company where we employ others… so while this is hard, at least we aren’t causing everyone to lose their jobs.”
I get, and in general, agree with, that message.
However, there’s an interesting side-effect of the layoffs that seem to be unprecedented…. or at least different than what happened in the 60′s and 70′s, when (I’m guessing) the notion of job security was really made part of the thread of the idea of careers.
Check out the first line from this article from Bay Today (a newspaper):
“A young man who just bought a house, and whose wife just gave birth to a child is among 21 more layoffs announced today at Ontario Northland.”
Does Ontario Northland have any obligation to protect someone who “just bought a house”? Or someone who “just gave birth to a child”?
Usually those factors are not decision-makers/breakers on whether someone should keep their job or not… but is a company somehow responsible for their soon-to-be past employees, and the life-changing decisions they have made?
Initially, my response is “no.” I think of the board meetings I’ve been in where I know the board members would have sympathy/empathy, but they would be clear that the company is not responsible for helping you make your house payments. After all, that was a personal choice… probably not dictated by the company.
After my initial response wore off, I remembered when I got my first real, out-of-college, career job. I bought a house and a newer car, and was immediately burdened with a debt load that I wasn’t used to. We could handle it, with my new salary, but it was a lot of money going out the door! If I lost my job then I would have been in a world of hurt.
It would have been my fault, but, as I’m writing this my impression is that when a company hires us, they give us a life-changing event. Usually it’s a step up, financially and professionally. There are expectations of us bringing our best to the job, and them “taking care of” us. There is an idea that they’ll pay us enough to do our job so that we don’t have to sleep on the streets, or worry about how we are going to pay our bills.
But if companies don’t take their role seriously, and have more loyalty towards employees, and they continue to dispatch employees like they are simple pawns, people will have a harder time making other life-changing decisions, like purchasing a home, settling into a community, getting married, having kids, etc.
Maybe I’m off my rocker on this one, but this morning as I read this line about the young man who just bought his first house, and his wife who just gave birth, I wonder how different things would be if there were a different kind of loyalty towards employees so making life-changing decisions was less stressful. Like I think it was just a few decades ago.
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!
I don’t think this is just a millennial thing…. people texting someone while you are talking to them, or spending too much time on Facebook while neglecting family and friends… this is our new normal. The disrespect we have for others because we got beeped or buzzed, and heaven forbid we ignore a call or text or facebook message or whatever… even while we blatantly ignore the person we are spending time with, is unfortunate.
It goes further than disregard for others. In the article they talk about how we’ve become bad at inter-personal relationships because we spend so much time on technology that we aren’t skilled at interacting with real people, face-to-face.
So, I’ll let you read the article if you really want to get into that, and I have an invitation for you. It is not to go on a media fast, or a social media fast, or to turn your phone off at a certain time, or stop checking emails after hours, or any of those things. Instead of those things that you already know to do, and expect someone like me to challenge you to do, here’s my invitation:
Go to an in-person networking meeting once a week this year.
It could be the same group of people, or it could be different meetings… but each week dress up, get out of the house, leave your phone in your pocket, and MEET and TALK WITH other people! Look in their eyes! Shake hands, laugh, and have real conversations!
Magic can happen when you get away from your technology… I challenge you to do this. Imagine how much better you’ll be at in-person interviews if you haven’t spent the last 500 hours behind technology, barely LOL-ing in real life, with other people!
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: