In my job search I went to a weekly meeting where they would ask if we did certain things (or, hit certain metrics) for the previous week. One of the metrics was to have 2 “interviews” each day.
I thought this was kind of ridiculous, because I really didn’t have that much control over whether I was going to get a chance to have and interview or not. But then, they explained that it could be an “informational interview,” which is something that I did have control over.
Over the years I’ve thought about the types of interviews that a job seeker could have. Here are the three interviews that every job seeker should know about:
The Formal Job Interview
This is the one that everyone thinks of… a company has an opening, they bring you in, and ask you questions that they just pulled off of google. Whether this is effective or not is questionable, but it’s part of the process. Sometimes they are checking to see if you are competent, other times they want to meet you in person so they can judge whether you will fit into their organization or not. Much has been written about succeeding in a formal job interview.
The Informational Interview
This is one of my favorite topics, and a super high-value activity that every job seeker should incorporate into their strategy. The basic idea is that you ask for 20 to 30 minutes of someone’s time so you can have a conversation with them. You don’t ask for an “informational interview,” and you don’t give them your resume or ask about openings at their company. The information interview is really networking on steroids… it is very purposeful and tactical, and by doing them correctly, you should see great strides in your job search results. That is, if you do enough informational interviews well, you should start to see more formal job interviews, and learn about real leads, and get introductions to hiring managers who have openings that are right for you. Sound unreasonable? I dare you to make informational interviews the bulk of your time.
You can learn how to do effective informational interviews in this course, which you can access for FREE (see how here).
The Informal Interview
The informal interview is what happens every minute of your waking hours. When you walk in a room, I interview (aka, judge) you. When you talk to me, I interview (aka, judge) you. When we are at a restaurant together, I watch how you treat the server. If you treat the server with respect and dignity, I make a mental note of that. If you treat the server with disrespect, I judge you and think that you’ll treat others on my team or at my company with disrespect. When you follow-up with me, I judge you. If you don’t follow-up with me, I judge you.
See how I changed from “I interview you” to “I judge you”? I did that on purpose.
I’m not hiring anyone right now. But I’m always looking for people to be on my team.
Does that make sense? I don’t have any openings, but if the right person comes along, with the right skills and the right attitude and the right work ethic, I might find a way to get them on my team. I will move budgets around to get the right person “on the bus,” as Jim Collins wrote in Good to Great.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about… whether this happened or not, it’s highly believable (sorry for the insinuation of potty language, but it’s in context):
Karma – the guy who pushed past me on the tube and then suggested I go F myself just arrived for his interview…with me…
The thing is, you don’t have to be so blatantly rude, or off your game, for me to make a decision about you, and whether I want you on my team or not. It really could be something as simple as being at a network meeting or conference, and judging the quality of your question to the presenter. Or how you spend your time. Or what you chose to wear.
I don’t want to sound that shallow, but this is reality. People are constantly judging us. Some wonder “would I hire this person?” Others wonder “Would I want to work with this person on my team?”
Here’s the clincher: some of the people “interviewing” us are not in a hiring capacity at all. That church lady who offers to help us… she’ll wonder if she could make an introduction for us, to her friend. If she judges us to be in a bad place (or rude, or not good enough, etc.), then she might not make the introduction.
So there you go: three interviews that every job seeker should know about. Now, what are you doing about any of these three?
What does that mean? It means that we, who sometimes feel like pawns in the big picture, must work within a broken system. And that, I think, is okay.
How do we work within this broken system?
First, we must understand that it is broken, and understand some of the broken components.
We don’t have to understand all of the broken components… but it’s good to know what we are up against. In the classic The Art of War, Tsu writes “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” I don’t think any job seeker needs to read up on the broken parts of a job search… they’ll learn about many of them in the first month or two. But just accepting that things are broken might help you know that (a) you are not broken, and (b) doing the right principle-based things are wrong.
Next, we must ensure that we are doing current best practices, based on principles, not some advice from someone who hasn’t looked for a job in twenty years.
I had well-intentioned people tell me what to do, give me advice, print off pages of job postings… but hardly any of these people encouraged me to network, helped me understand how to network, or work on my brand (or, reputation management). I spent most of my time spinning wheels, doing things that a career coach (or someone in-the-know) knows I should not have done. Where are you spending your time? What tactics and techniques are you banking on? If they aren’t principle-based, then you better do some reading. Or go to a career center (university, state-based, in a church basement, whatever) and talk to someone who is current!
Next, we must focus on consistent work.
This is one of the hardest things. It’s easy to do hard stuff for a few hours, or a few days. But as time goes on, and bills pile up, and rejection after rejection reinforces a message, it gets harder and harder to consistently do the right things. You lose HOPE (“Why try?”). Mark Leblanc sent me a postcard that says “consistency trumps commitment.” A big part of his awesome system is that you do three things that move you closer to your objectives EVERY SINGLE DAY. These three things can be small, but they must be things that move you closer.
I’ve had days where I do my three things before 8 am. Want to know what happens? I have a way more productive day. I typically do more during the day. I don’t have nagging feelings of “I need to do those things!” I get them done, bite by bite, early in the morning, day after day, month after month.
Consistency is they key, doing the right things each day. I’ve tried it both ways: doing small things consistently or doing something big every once in a while. Doing small things consistently is much better.
Next, we must become accountable to someone.
This might be the most important thing to do. I thought I was accountable to myself, my bank statements, my mortgage and other creditors, and my wife. An accountability partner (or coach, or whatever you want to call this person) will help you understand what’s broken, and what to ignore and what to focus on (see the first point above). The coach will help you focus on consistently doing principle-based best practices that are current (see the other to points).
Perhaps most important thing with an appropriate accountability partner is that you are reporting to this person each and every week. You are honest with yourself and your coach. Just knowing that there’s someone who is going to ask if you really did that thing, and what you are going to do next week, and did you call that person you have been too afraid to call… this is someone offering you moral support, telling you that YES you can do it, and YES you are on the right track… that is invaluable!
Look, you aren’t going to fix the broken system. I’m not going to fix the broken system. But that doesn’t mean we can’t figure out how to work within the system. Let’s work with what we got and dictate our results, instead of sitting back waiting for things to get better.
So here’s the deal: Facebook is different than LinkedIn, which is different than Twitter, which is different than your resume, which is different than…
Imagine going to a network meeting and, when you get hte chance to stand up, you say:
“My name is Jason Alba. I’m a ______ and I’m looking for a job in _______. I’m especially looking for introductions to ______ or ______ and ______.”
Would that be appropriate?
Well, if it’s a job club, then YES, it would probably be appropriate. But if it’s a home and garden show, and you are just mingling with vendors, it would probably seem really out of place.
The idea is context. Who is your audience, and what types of messaging or communication or conversation seems right for the meeting?
Take this concept online, and consider what message you are sending out on LinkedIn (“here are my professional competencies”) and Twitter (“I’m hungry, where’s the taco truck?”) and Facebook.
What kind of message is appropriate on Facebook?
Let’s first consider who you are connected to on Facebook. Typically friends, and some associates, and maybe some professional acquaintances. What kind of message is “appropriate” to put in front of them? I have a little different approach than what I’ve heard from others (which is, LinkedIn is for professional, Facebook is for personal (only)). Consider this: do your Facebook Friends have any ability to help you find a new job? I’m not talking about looking up openings, I’m talking about knowing someone who might know someone (aka, help you network).
I’ve seen this numerous times over the last few years: someone posts that they are now out of work, and looking for a new job.
It’s a casual mention, not going into detail, but the comments on that one post start to pile up.
Comments come from family and friends who seem like they wouldn’t be able to help. Some of them are out of the workforce (retirement or homemakers), others are in completely different fields, and some are just teenagers who surely wouldn’t know anyone.
But every grandma on there has a daughter or son who might know someone (or, be that someone!). Every teen has parents and/or aunts or uncles, or other adults they have a relationship with that might be able to help.
See what we are doing?
We’re bypassing the idea of “you are in my target company, thus, you are the ‘right’ person,” and going straight for the heart of what networking is.
Reconsider your messaging so that, instead of saying “does anyone have a job for me,” you simply say “I need help… here’s what I’m looking for, here’s how you can help me.”
And the “here’s what I’m looking for” is usually not “a job in xyz industry.” Usually it’s an introduction to someone who does this type of thing.
Most people are not going to know about a particular opening in xyz industry, but a lot of people will think “I wonder if I know anyone who can help this person?”
Bottom line: Facebook can be an excellent place to do a job search. You just have to rethink what your question is, and how you get that in front of your Facebook Friends.
(oh yeah, this is not a one-time post… keep this in front of your connections!)
A few years ago I was invited to speak at an event in Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte was beyond charming, and I loved every minute of it there. The people were over-the-top nice.
On the morning of my presentation, my ride picked me up and we drove towards the event center. She explained that Charlotte was a huge financial/banking hub, and if I remember correctly, second in importance to Wall Street. I didn’t realize how big and important this “little” town was.
We drove through the downtown area, surrounded by majestic buildings that were more beautiful than overwhelming (like New York or Chicago or San Francisco), and something stood out: the people looked grumpy.
Maybe they looked grumpy because of how early it was in the day. Maybe they just had their game face on, and were thinking about all of the things they were going to do.
Whatever the reason was, I was struck by the contrast between these well-dressed, job-ful people, and the hundred or so unemployed professionals I would be meeting in a few minutes.
Speaking of contrast… when I walked into the event center I was greeted by loud talking, laughing, smiles, and apparently happy people. Of course, I know that many of those people were in the midst of their own battles, and the unwritten rule of going to job clubs was that you had to bring a smiley face and a cheerful attitude, but at no point did I feel that any of their smiles or laughing was not authentic.
Contrast. Grumpy unhappy people with jobs vs. happy, smiling people who wanted jobs.
Why is that?
When I was in my own job search, it was a time of self-reflection and recalibration. I’m not saying I was happier unemployed, but I was able to get grounded, instead of running a thousand miles an hour for someone else. I’m not saying that people who are unemployed don’t worry about paying their rent, mortgage or grocery bills… but perhaps there’s something that happens when you get some time FOR YOURSELF, think about who you are, and what really matters.
When you get to (or, are forced to) start over, and you can now pick a career path, do you go after more money, even if it means going into a high stress situation that you don’t like, working with people you don’t like, for a boss you don’t like? Or do you start to think “Hm… maybe we change our lifestyle a bit, and I can do something with purpose… maybe even something that will impact people’s lives?”
I know that in a job search you feel like you are drowning, and it’s unfair to suggest that this is a good or special time.
What I saw in Charlotte, though, was people who were able to see beyond the drowning, and love and enjoy and live, instead of the employed people probably making six figures, who looked like they would have rather been in the event center where I was, with a bunch of happy people.
I sent this to the JibberJobber LinkedIn Group yesterday:
Hey all, this message clarifies some things about Pluralsight courses and JibberJobber upgrades.
JibberJobber is owned by me. Pluralsight is not. That shapes what we are able to offer to you Please share this with others – there are many people who could benefit from what I share below.
You have a free-for-life account on JibberJobber. There is an optional upgrade. Most people upgrade for the killer app: Email2Log. This integrates your email activities with your JibberJobber database. It’s super duper cool.
Pluralsight has given us access codes that we can give to each of you so you get 30 days of unlimited content viewing on Pluralsight.com. There are over 4,000 courses, most of them technical (programming, design, etc.).I have about 20 courses that are related to your career (informational interviews, LinkedIn, job search, career management, branding, etc.).
Each time you watch one of my courses on Pluralsight.com you can report it on JibberJobber and get an additional week of JibberJobber Premium. For example, you watch the Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile course, you can go into JibberJobber and say you watched it and get 7 more days. If you watch it again, get another 7 days. If you watch it 5 times, you get 35 days! There is not limit to this. You don’t pay for JibberJobber, but you get weeks and weeks and months and months of free upgrades. You don’t pay for Pluralsight, either… you don’t even put in a credit card number!
After 30 days, you will have the option to continue your Pluralsight account. If you are in a technical field (IT, programming, project management, product management, etc.) I think it makes a lot of sense. The price is $30/month. However, if you only went there for the Jason Alba videos, there’s no obligation to pay after 30 days. They don’t even send you a bunch of harassing emails to try to get you to upgrade.
I can’t extend your 30 days for you, on Pluralsight. I don’t have the authority or power to do that. If you get past your 30 days, you can pay $30 for another 30 days. That’s actually pretty inexpensive for what you get.
My advice is to take advantage of every minute you have during the 30 days. Watch all of my videos. Watch them 3 times each. Get your fill. Take notes. Watch them again. If you do that, you will have “sharpened your saw” (Covey’s 7th habit), and you will be ready to move forward. If you choose to pay for an account on your own, make learning a scheduled part of your day so you get the full benefit of your Pluralsight account.
Again, please share this with others, as there are many people who could use either the online courses and training, or the awesome JibberJobber organizational functionality. Or, both.
Finally, you should know that if you watch any of my videos on Pluralsight, I get a very small kickback (even if you never pay them). I get compensated because I have provided them content, and I have introduced you to their platform. It’s a win-win for all of us.
A few years ago I found myself jet-setting around the U.S., speaking at job clubs, universities, non-profits, etc. I thought my message was sharing (a) strategies and (b) tactics to help you take control of your career.
Susan Joyce (brilliant owner of Job-Hunt.org) was at a a presentation in Massachusetts and said “your next book should be titled On Purpose Branding” (or perhaps Purposeful Branding), since that was a big part of my presentation.
I love hearing what others think my message is, because it helps me clarify what I want my message to be. After Susan gave me this feedback I found myself using on purpose and purposeful a lot more. I find myself thinking about doing things on purpose, instead of letting them happen to me.
Going to college, without any idea why, and choosing an easy major, might be a good example of letting things just happen to you.
Getting a job that is comfortable, but doesn’t provide you with a career path, or even a good income, is an example of letting things just happen to you.
Doing a job search without a smart strategy for 2015, but spending more time on job boards and reading blogs and playing online sudoku, is an example of not being purposeful.
Fake networking, the kind that is painful and doesn’t get you anywhere, just to turn in metrics at the end of the day or week (“I talked to three people today!”), is an example of letting things happen to you.
Purposeful, on the other hand, is knowing what you are after, and doing what it takes to OWN the results.
Instead of “there are too many things out of my control, so there’s really nothing I can do,” you say to yourself “Today I’m going to do A, B, and C, and that will help me get what I need to get! I can do this!”
Purposeful actions show that you still hope. You hope there is a better future, you hope that what you do will have an impact, and you hope that you can make a difference in the world, or at least get back to paying all of your bills and having some fun money at the end of the month.
If your job search lacks hope, or is not purposeful, you better talk to someone. Mine lacked both, and all I did was spun my wheels and got deeper and deeper into a bad place.
I hear this from career coaches and outplacement companies. It’s what their clients have told them. So the clients go back to their spreadsheets, plunking away at a temporary fix, hoping that they will be out of the dreaded class of unemployed people within months.
Yes, JibberJobber can be a bit overwhelming. We take full responsibility for that, and over the last two years have focused on identifying things in JibberJobber that we can make more simple and more intuitive. It’s a big job because, after over nine years of building, there are a lot of nooks and crannies to go into. This is our task, and we’re up to the challenge.
The hardest part of designing JibberJobber was figuring out how to balance the immense complexity that a job seeker needs to manage with the ability to look at a page and immediately intuit what to do. We, as developers, have the age-old problem of knowing what we mean, and assuming that the stuff we make will be obvious to you. But that’s a fallacy. In our meetings discussing features we’ve constantly battled the “this will be really cool, and solve so many problems” with “how do we make it simpler, so people can actually get and use it?”
I created a short video to help people wrap their brain around JibberJobber, which you can see at the bottom of this post.
In addition to the message in that video, which is to simply take baby steps and use the features you need, and the rest will come at the right time, here are some other things I wish the coaches and outplacement companies would know and share:
JibberJobber is a long-term tool. Your spreadsheet will likely not make sense in your next, or next next job search. But JibberJobber is designed so that you can step away from it for years (while you have a job, for example), and when you are in your next job search, login and all of your information will be there waiting for you. You don’t even need to worry about losing your spreadsheet in a computer crash, or when you upgrade your computer, since JibberJobber is web-based.
JibberJobber is easy to use, once you start using it. Adding new Contacts, new “Log Entries,” new reminders (aka, Action Items), tracking how an interview went, etc. is pretty easy. There are about nine different ways to add a new Contact, for example, which is all about convenience. The easiest, most powerful tool in JibberJobber, is the Email2Log tool, which allows you to send an email to someone, BCC the JibberJobber server, and have that email get parsed by the server and have things created. Things can include new Contacts, Log Entries, Action Items, and more.
JibberJobber is about your productivity, not your confusion. One of the ideas behind JibberJobber is to give you a system that works right now, instead of you spending hours and hours creating and tweaking a spreadsheet that does about 1/2 of what you really need. Yes, we know you do that. We did it too.
There is no “right time” to start using JibberJobber. Already have a spreadsheet? Been in a job search for six months? Neither of those matter. You can start using JibberJobber today. You can quit the spreadsheet cold turkey, or import it into JibberJobber, or use both for a month or so… we’ve seen it all. But don’t think that just because you have a few hundred lines in a spreadsheet somewhere that you are married to it. Switch over (we’ll even help you make the switch) and you should see immediate gains in productivity and time so that you can do what you need to, instead of tweaking technology.
I was reading an interview on TheJobInnerview.com with Lou Adler. Lou is well-known in the recruiting space. You can read his interview at the link… but here’s a snippet that caught my eye:
Okay, three things that are common in people that Lou, a hiring expert, hires:
Don’t mislead or fabricate
Good asker of solid and insightful questions.
Seriously, of all of the attributes of successful hires, 1/3 of them is stating that the people DON’T LIE?
I get the other two… be confident, be smart… hm, maybe there were other things, like able to communicate their expertise, good hygiene, heck, even if he said they were all college-educated I wouldn’t be surprised.
But the fact that Lou felt like adding such a negative, horrible thing makes me wonder how prevalent this issue of lying (aka, misleading or fabricating) really is!
Seriously, if that is what we are coming to, we have issues.
Checklist for doing well in today’s interview:
__ Act confident (but not overly confident
__ Try really hard to not lie or embellish
__ Ask smart questions at the end
As Homer Simpson would say: “Doh!!”
All I know is I hope Lou’s experience, and response, isn’t influenced by anyone who uses JibberJobber! We’re smarter than that!