Who Do You Blame In The Job Search?

June 3rd, 2016

This is a fascinating read: Are You Blaming Self for Being Unemployed?

Here’s my comment to Alex, on LinkedIn where he posted a link to his blog:

I talked to Ofer, and have heard a lot about him from Susan P Joyce. Great guy. I definitely blamed myself for more than I should have during my job search…. what helped was going to job clubs meeting people who were better (more qualified) than I was, and learning about their story. I figured out that it wasn’t me… it was circumstance. No one is immune.

I’m not suggesting you should blame one or the other, but I know that many of you are blaming yourself. Sometimes that blame is well-placed.  But we need to move past the blame and get to a point where we can be functional job seekers.

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Change is inevitable (Update on “The Dress”)

June 2nd, 2016

“JibberJobber is like a beautiful woman in an ugly dress.” – some investor, a few years ago.

When JibberJobber launched, 10 years ago, the world was different.  Users were different.  They kind of took what they could.  Over the years I got comments like “I don’t trust JibberJobber with my credit card because the site looks old.”

So, we started the hunt for someone who could help us with our design.  Back then I was looking for someone who specialized in UI, or “user interface.”  This should mean many things, but in my mind, today, it just means look and feel.

In 2012 we invested in a UI guy, and he made huge improvements (see images below). I was pretty happy with him, although I had a few reservations on color and some design stuff.  But overall, it was a great change, and we were moving in the right direction.

The day after we released his new design, I got an email from someone saying “your site looks too outdated.” What?? One day after all of our UI changes, I still got complaints?

Ugh.

I realized this is something I could not win. Meanwhile, I had some new competitors (over the last 10 years there have been about 20 competitors, most of them are gone now) who launched with BEAUTIFUL design. Seriously beautiful. But, (a) their users came over to JibberJobber because, even though we weren’t as beautiful, we had functional breadth and depth, and some of those sites were only beautiful, but not functional enough (hey, when you are doing personal CRM, you really need functional!), and (b) yeah, those sites didn’t all last.  What can I say.  I’ll be the tortoise to their hare.

I knew that instead of focusing my limited resources on trying to hit this moving target of “make it prettier,” I needed to continue to focus on functionality.  JibberJobber has A LOT of functionality… stuff we’ve been developing over a 10 year period.

However, there was still an issue… and that is that people would sign up, get confused, and delete their account out of frustration. This was not a UI issue, it was what we call a UX issue.  UX stands for “user experience.”  Instead of focusing on colors and curves and aesthetics, we needed to answer this question:

How can we help the person who signs up figure out what to do next?

Instead of logging in and then staring at the screen in utter frustration, how could we help them know what next steps they could or should do?

That is more about the user EXPERIENCE (hence, UX).  And for that, I finally, after 10 years, found the right person to help me put this together.  His name is Udie Chima, and he has been awesome.  In our conversations, he focuses on what our objectives are (which include getting more signups, and helping those signups become “users,” and eventually enticing users to actually upgrade).  Instead of focusing on a color or a curve, he focuses on THE EXPERIENCE.

All this to say, we have changes coming.  You might have already noticed one of them. Let me run through the history a bit, just for fun.

VERSION 2 (I don’t know if I have images of Version 1)

When we first launched, two people had “designed” JibberJobber. My first programmer, still with JibberJobber, and me.  Neither of us are designers. We are good at functional, but not aesthetic. Hence, we got a lot of comments like “it looks like this was designed by programmers.”  Because, well, it was.  Here’s what JibberJobber used to look like, about 10 years ago:

JJ_ux_2010

Notice the top (1) has an ad for my LinkedIn book.  The menu (2) is dark blue/purple, and rounded corners… and the footer (3) is, well, as important as a footer should be.  Not bad for 2006, I guess.  Again, the focus was on functionality.

Version 3

This was “the new dress.”

JJ_ux_2015_top

This is a cleaner look… moving the search box from the right side to the top-right… and less “heavy.”  Good changes, which we’ve had for a while.

JJ_ux_2015_bottom

This footer is cleaner, and emphasizes things because they are in three columns… I LOVE the app icons (because they are relatively new). The left is the policy and help stuff… the middle is social and other (mobile), and the right is upgrade and contact us and content value-add.

Version 4

 

JJ_ux_2016_top

This is Udie’s design. There are many things going on here… but most visibly, we are shifting the menu to the very top, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and many other sites do.  This is just “how it’s done” now, and it’s clean and easy, and people expect it.  The top, in blue, is the top level menu. Much of it is the same as what we have had, but we cleaned some stuff up. Notably, we added a home icon (before you had to figure out to click the icon)… notice, also, the help link on the right, and the settings icon on the far right.

The second level menu has the most important “calls to action” for new users. Instead of “what do I do now,” I would expect them to see that here, in JibberJobber, you can (drum roll) add a Contact, add a Company, add a Job, and add a Log Entry.  This is really the core of the value to JibberJobber users, so why not show them how to do these tasks easily?  And, because we are not allergic to money, or paying our bills, we want the idea of upgrading to be a little more obvious… The invitation to upgrade, and unlock the very cool premium features, was somewhat hidden in the past. No longer…. we’re happy to finance JibberJobber through making users happy :)

This second level menu is the difference between UI (“oooh, pretty!”) and UX (“oh, now I know what to do!!”).

JJ_ux_2016_bottom

This footer is still vertically compact. and what were the three columns are now broken down and easier to see.  The four columns on the right are even strategically grouped.

So… there you go, we changed THE DRESS again.  More to come!

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When Friends Critique Your Resume…

June 1st, 2016

Julie Walraven is a friend and professional resume writer. On Facebook she wrote:

“Just wrote this note to one of my top level resume clients who is getting too much advice from the wrong people – ‘I just have seen this happen too many times when well meaning friends try to tell you how to “fix” your resume even after it is professionally written.’

Julie wrote more, which is at the end of this blog post (it is advice on how to move forward in your job search, if things aren’t going well).  But I don’t want to focus on that… I want to focus on what she wrote above.  Specifically, the idea of trusted people reviewing your resume.

When I was in my Job search, I put a resume together and sent it to family and friends, with the hope that (a) they might catch any errors I missed, and perhaps (b) know of leads they could turn me on to. If they saw how awesome my resume was, they would surely recommend me… right?

My friends and family all had the same feedback: The resume was awesome, and I would be hired in no time.

The problem was, I was not hired in no time. I started my search in January, and officially gave it up that September.

Why the discrepancy between “you’ll be hired in no time” and “you are the worst job seeker ever?”  If my resume was good enough to impress them, why wasn’t any hiring manager impressed? Why was I not getting networking introductions?  They told me my resume was awesome… so what was the problem?

The problem with my approach was that the people I was asking were NOT qualified to give me real advice on my resume. They were not trained in resume writing, resume critiquing, or current job search techniques. The people who told me my resume was awesome had not done a job search in many years, and in some cases, decades. What I found was that some read for typos while others read for titles.  No one read asking “what is the purpose of this resume and how will it be used?”  Seems like a silly question, right?  It wasn’t. It was the unasked question that led to a very long, depressing job search.

The problem with my resume, which might NOT be the problem with your resume, is a problem that a trained eye, like Julie or the hundreds of other qualified resume writers, should have spotted.  That is, my resume was an honest resume, listing all of my jobs I’ve had. The last titles were, in this order: General Manager, VP/CIO, General Manager, and then Programmer.  Pretty cool, huh?  Helped with my ego… but the problem was that the titles I was applying for were business analyst, project manager, and product manager. So when I applied for a project manager job, they would look at it and say “why is this GM/VP/CIO applying for a job that is below them???”  There was a significant mismatch between what my resume said I was and what I was applying for.  Again, I’m not saying this is your problem, I’m just saying that a person trained in this would have helped me figure that out.  I’m no dummy (I guess that is debatable), but I was doing so many things, including managing the wacky job search emotions, that this issue eluded me.

Do you have to get a resume professionally written? NO. Do you have to pay the big bucks to hire someone who has years and even decades of experience helping job seekers? NO, you don’t have to. If you can, find the right person and engage with them. They might help you shave days, weeks, even months from a job search. But that is not the point of this post.  The point is to be careful what advice and feedback you get from your friends and family on your resume.  It will always come with good intentions. But it might not be right, accurate, or good.

Furthermore, my resume wasn’t necessarily The Thing holding me back in my job search.  It was more complex than that…. it had to do with my networking, my communication, my branding, and just my daily tactics and strategies.  But for sure my resume had a part to play in my job search failure.

Here is the rest of Julie’s facebook post, which is advice for a successful job search:

“When you aren’t getting enough traction in a job search, there are multiple variables. The most common one is that you aren’t being proactive enough in using your network or finding new connections to get you to your goal.

Self confidence is another big player because if you have not been on the job market for a long time, it is scary to be out there. You just have to become the sales person representing you.

Work hard, connect and reach out. It takes time, especially if you are in the upper salary level.”

Julie actually wrote her own blog post, seeded by the Facebook conversation we had on this very topic. Read it here: What Happens When Friends Critique Your Resume.

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What do you think about money?

May 31st, 2016

Last night I was with friends and we were talking about money and jobs.

As the conversation progressed, I kept thinking about how I (and others) think about money.  Having a healthy perspective of, and relationship with, money, is key to living in today’s society.

Many of us want to do altruistic things… things that will help and bless others. Usually, this either takes money to do the things we have identified, or it takes money to pay our bills (house, food, utilities, etc.) while we do those things. You just can’t escape the idea that we need money to enable us to help/bless others.

Some of us don’t care about that stuff, but we want to experience some of the luxuries of life. That obviously takes money.

Some of us can’t even think about luxuries, we are just trying to figure out how to not lose our home.  We feel like we are drowning… like all is hopeless, and we are out of control.  We just want money to pay our bills and be okay again.

Our financial problems are multiplied when we have an unhealthy perspective of money. I attribute much of the unhealthy perspective with one of these two things:

(a) The misquote: Money is the root of all evil, supposedly from The Bible.  Actually, the verse reads the LOVE of money  is the root of all evil.  Money isn’t evil, but if we LOVE money (more than God, ourselves, and others) then we do things to get or keep money without consideration for others.  Please don’t perpetuate the myth/lie that MONEY is the root of all evil.

(b) Not having enough money. Not having enough money is like not having enough oxygen. It’s necessary to have… Money is how we function in, and as a, society. If we don’t have enough, we cut corners, which can cause serious health problems (illness, etc.).  Not having enough money causes us to think about money in an unhealthy way.

Two contrasting phrases come to mind when I think about money: scarcity mentality and abundance mentality.  Do you believe that there is enough to go around, and that you can somehow, ethically and morally, have enough, or more, money?  If you do, you have an abundance mentality (with regard to money).

Do you believe that having too much money is evil, wasteful?  If so, why?  What is the root of your belief?

I worked with a guy who wanted to save the world, especially helping people in third world countries. From where I sat, his problem was that he didn’t have any money to do what he wanted. If he were better at his job, he could have changed his financial situation and been much more empowered to help others. Having a bad understanding of how to make money, and probably an unhealthy perspective of money in general, made it so that he could NOT change the world in the way he wanted to.

I can go on and on, but my main question for you is this: DO YOU have a healthy perspective of money?

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New Course: Building and Managing Your Career Plan

May 26th, 2016

This is my 29th Pluralsight course: Building and Managing Your Career Plan.

This course is a good complement to Career Management 2.0, which I did in 2013. The Career Plan course is all about figuring out where you want to go, and creating and working a plan to get there. Career Management is more about rethinking job security and your role in your career path.

This new course is only 95 minutes long. Every time you watch it you can get 2 weeks of premium JibberJobber (that is, DOUBLE upgrade!), through June 2016. Just turn on the course tracker in JibberJobber and let us know you’ve watched it there.

Not a Pluralsight user?  That’s okay… I can hook you up with a 30 day unlimited trial. Each time you watch a Jason Alba (that’s me!) course, you can self-report and get a 7 day upgrade.  Watch a course, get a JibberJobber upgrade… again, and again, and again.

Pluralsight is an awesome library of learning content, mostly for IT professionals (developers, server admins, SQL pros, graphics designers, etc.).  There are over 100 soft skills and professional development courses in the library,  and almost 30 of them were done by me :)

Get started in just a minute or two with these instructions, and then self-report for JibberJobber upgrades.

ps_building-managing-career-plan

 

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“Listen More, Speak Less” – Rosie Cavero

May 25th, 2016

Today I was on a call with Rosie Cavero, a marketing and business strategist in Chicago.  In the course of our conversation we were talking about sales and she said:

“Listen more, speak less!”

We were talking about sales, but this applies to job search, business consulting, and sales… even parenting and personal relationships!

You’ve heard the phrase “you have two ears and one mouth,” meaning listen twice as often as you talk.

There are many benefits to listening more and speaking less. In a sales situation, the more you let the prospect talk the more you learn about their real needs and challenges. And, once the sale is made, the less you talk, the less likely you are to talk yourself out of a sale.

This is true in a job search, interview, networking, etc.

My objective is not to suppress your need to communicate… rather, it’s to help you be more effective by communicating through listening.

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Defining the Chicken List

May 24th, 2016

The chicken list is the list of people you are too chicken to call or email.

Everyone has a chicken list.

People on our chicken list really don’t need to be there. They are there because we think we are going to get value out of reaching out to them (they have something to offer us), and we also think the likelihood of having a good conversation is fairly low.

In other words, there is more to lose if we don’t do it right.

We are too chicken to reach out to them, because we might mess it up. And we don’t take them off our list because they might offer significant value to us.

EVERYONE has a chicken list. Successful salespeople, high level CEOs, even the people on your list have their own chicken list!

The best way to move forward is to actually reach out to the person. Sometimes this takes hours of research (are they still at the same company? What can you learn about them online?). Sometimes it takes hours of editing your message (write, and then delete some, add more, delete some, repeat.  Is your message addressing the real reason you are reaching out to them, or is it full of distractions?).  Most of the time it takes an attitude of “oh well, I’m just going to hit send,” which can take hours to build up.

Whether it takes you a few minutes “Hi Jason, I would like to reconnect this week. Do you have time for a 20 minute call?” or all day, let me encourage you to work through those communications and get this mental clutter out of your job search so you can move on!

 

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Are you READY?

May 23rd, 2016

A few years ago, there was a fire on the hillside near our home. This post, which I wrote from a hotel instead of my house, has more information…

herriman_fire

It’s interesting to read that post from a few years ago. We evacuated, and then I left to speak in SLC and then jumped on a plane for more speaking, leaving my wife to take care of getting the family moved back in. It was really no big deal, and she was capable… but it was weird to have family and work responsibilities, and not be around to be the dad/husband.

Anyway, that’s not what this post is about… I want to share something that I didn’t write about in that post.

When it was time to go, we drove away with hastily packed bags (including my speaking clothes and stuff for my meetings that week). It would have made the most sense if we drove our van and our car, so that my wife would have a vehicle and I could drive myself to my presentation the next day, and then the airport.

But, we couldn’t drive the car.

Simply because it was about out of gas.

We were not ready.

Shortly after this incident, I heard someone say that they always have at least a half tank of gas, at all times.  If we had a half tank of gas in our car before this evacuation, we would have easily left in two cars.  But we weren’t ready.

When I got laid off, I wasn’t ready. I knew it was coming, just as much as I could see the fire coming over the hill towards my neighborhood. But, I still didn’t do stuff to get prepared.

What should I have done?

I wish I would have:

Started understanding personal branding. They say “it’s not who you know, but who knows you, and what they know about you.” This means we need to (a) understand who knows us, and (b) figure out what they know about us, or better, how they would describe us.  Then, we would figure out who should know us, and how they should perceive us, and do things to help the right people know the right things (about me).

Figured out networking. Networking was a dirty word when I first started my job search. A necessary evil. But man, I WISH I would have understood what networking really was, and started to grow my network.  Wider (meet more people) and deeper (nurture relationships).  Networking is not a bandaid solution for job seekers… it is a lifestyle for career managers (that is YOU and ME).

Set up a workable schedule. They say that “finding a job is your full time job.”  I took this to heart… I spent about ten hours a day from Monday through Saturday working on my job search.  Unfortunately for me, I was not good at a job search. Luckily, though, I was bad enough that I didn’t find a job and had to start JibberJobber instead :p The key to this third point is to set up a schedule, and ensure that your schedule is realistic and something you can and will do.

These are my “fill the gas tank” things I should have done, before the fire came.  NOTE: if you didn’t do any of these things, it’s not too late to work on them now (and forever)!!

But I didn’t do any of them. Partially because of ignorance, partially because I didn’t want to “cheat on” my company.  How could I network or work on my brand when I was the general manager of a company?  Ah, if I was only wise enough back then to take care of myself!

Will you fill your gas tank?

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Glassdoor Opportunities in Chicago

May 20th, 2016

Check out this post on CareerCloud: Glassdoor plans to hire in Chicago, IL. (here’s Glassdoor’s post)

They signed a 13 year lease, and will move in mid to late 2017.  Looking for 400 new hires… WOW.

If you are in Chicago, I am guessing this could be an exciting career move for you!

glassdoor_chicago

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Career Management #amen

May 19th, 2016

From Melissa Cooley (hat tip Julie Walraven):

melissa_cooley_facebook_quote

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