New Course: Resumes and Self-marketing (for Software Developers)

April 14th, 2015

Last week my newest Pluralsight course went live: Resumes and Self-marketing for Software Developers

This is a course on what to do with your resume… how to use it to self-market, and basic understanding of the resume as a marketing tool.

Remember, for any Jason Alba course you watch on Pluralsight, and as many times as you watch it, you can get an additional 7 days of JibberJobber Premium… no limit! Follow these steps (or scroll down and watch the new video below the image to see exactly how to watch this for free, and get additional Premium on JibberJobber!).

Here’s Pluralsight’s announcement on Facebook:

 

pluralsight_course_resume_facebook

 

Not sure if I’ve had anything on Facebook associated to me with that many likes!

Here’s the video on exactly how to do this:

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New On The Job? How To Announce Yourself To Customers

April 13th, 2015

I got this email from a sales professional last week:

“I manage a large territory for my company and I am fairly new here and have a lot of customers.

I have probably only met or talked with 20% of them which are the ones that purchase regularly. The other 80% have purchased in the past and it is very possible they could purchase more or have upcoming projects but they don’t know me or forgot about our company.

Should I send an email blast introducing myself?

This is different than a marketing blast, rather, it is a way for me to reach out to a lot of people but it takes away the personal touch.

Do I do that or take the time to address each one in a separate email with a generic this is who I am and what my company offers and contact me if you have questions, need help, etc.

My initial response was, YES, definitely do this.

I’ve been marketing myself, as a job seeker, and then my business, for 9+ years.  What I’ve learned is that if you do not put yourself in front of people, they forget about you.  You are responsible for getting and staying in front of your audience.

I’ve also learned that the initial contact is just barely breaking the ice.  They key is to get in front of them regularly, as appropriate.  That is one reason why you have CRM systems.  If your company doesn’t provide a CRM system to you, then use JibberJobber.  If your company does provide a CRM to you, but you are making great friendships and professional contacts that you want to take to your next job, then use JibberJobber :)

Here are my specific thoughts and reactions to this person’s questions:

Is this going to be okay with your company/boss?  I can’t imagine a sales professional getting into trouble for sending this type of email, but you might want to check with your boss.  They might know something about a customer they fired (that you shouldn’t get in touch with), or they might point you to some tools or queries to make what you want to do easier.

Should it be one bulk email (BCC, of course!) or multiple individual emails? Pros and cons of both.  I would say it depends on a few things… where are you sending it from?  If you send from a Gmail or Verizon or a personal account (which I wouldn’t recommend), they have daily sending limits.  Going over those limits might get you in trouble (ie, getting locked out of sending email for 24 hours). If you bulk send from your work account, and your email server is on blacklists, count on maybe 5% of your emails getting through (I don’t know the percentage, but just assume hardly any get through).  The idea of doing one bulk email is nice because it’s faster, but I’m not convinced it’s that reliable.

Sending individual emails is more reliable, I think, and you might do 20 – 50 each day. This will even help you manage the responses, over days, instead of all in the first day or two.  But it will obviously take more time. The real question is how many emails are you sending?  If it’s 10,000, do bulk and go from there.  If it’s just a few hundred, send a few dozen each day until you finish.

About the “personal touch,” you can easily do that with individual emails… but you can also do it in bulk.  There are programs you can use (like mailchimp, and even outlook) that can merge names with a general body of text…

What information should the email have?  The number one purpose of this email is to introduce yourself.  In doing that, you’ll reinforce the branding of your company (in other words, remind the customer that your company exists and has stuff for them). You should give them contact information… work and cell # (that’s how salespeople roll, right?).  Keep the email short… don’t go into new products, etc.  I would let them know I’m the new rep, I’m excited to be there, and I’m easy to reach (and I’m responsive).  I want them to know that I’m their partner and want to help their projects be successful.   I will include a one-liner about my company, like “we manufacture the best widgets for the _______.” so people can remember where I fit into their life.  And, as overwhelming as this might sound, I invite them to call me in the next week (or two) and tell me what projects they are working on, what they have coming up, any issues from past projects with our stuff, etc.

I want this email to start the relationship, and invite them to let us take it to the next level.  That might be a emails, it might be a phone call, it might be a face-to-face… but let me introduce you to me and let’s start a relationship.

How often should I follow-up?  What should the follow-up have?  Make sure this first email is not the last email.  As a customer I know I need multiple communications before I trust you, and I need you to hit me at or around the right time (or, when I’m in the market to buy your stuff).  I suggest doing a blast, en bulk, each month.  This can be short, it can talk about new products, or it can talk about case studies where your products/services helped other customers.  The last thing would be the most interesting read for me.  It keeps me engaged (because it’s fun to read), and shows me that you understand that my success is important to me, and it’s also important to you.  I’m not just a customer to help you meet your quota, but you really care. The key?  MONTHLY.

How do I justify future follow-ups?  What if I have nothing new to say or report?  Then create something.  Talk to your customers and ask them if they could share some of their wins with your list.  If you don’t get those stories, then create information that will help others… suggestions, tips, best practices, industry news, etc.  Don’t write too much – we all suffer from information overload, and you don’t want to be that email that I’m sure to delete.

Is that it?  Will I be successful with this strategy?  I don’t think so. I think you need to have an integrated sales/marketing approach… that is, pick up the phone. Meet customers in person.  Don’t just rely on email.  But you already knew that.

Now, get your email constructed, proof it for type-os and grammar, and make sure the messaging is exactly what your customers should understand, and then send it.  

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Even Experts Have a Hard Time With Personal Branding

March 23rd, 2015

I saw this post from my Arizona friend Pamela Slim (Escape from Cubicle Nation):

pamela_slim_facebook_post

 

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!

Why?

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!

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When Is The “Right Time” To Network?

March 6th, 2015

A few weeks ago I asked my daughter to take the car she drives all over town to get the tires rotated.  This is a simple procedure, and helpful to lengthen the life of tires… and I’m now bought into the idea that we need to do this.  I’m also bought into the idea that she should do it, and learn about vehicle maintenance by doing it.

So, she comes back to me and says that the tire tech said the two front tires needed to be changed, and that they they were running thin… I was kind of ticked (not at her) because these are less than a year old.  Even though they have a warranty that should cover them for years, I’m sure the tire people would say “well, sorry, but the alignment is off, and you haven’t rotated them lately… so it’s really all on you.”

I was not excited about spending a couple hundred dollars to get new tires. I was not excited about the time it would take to do this (I didn’t trust the salespeople with my daughter, who has never bought tires before). And frankly, I just wasn’t finding the time to get this task done.  The car doesn’t spend much time in the garage, and I have been very busy lately.

Last week my wife called me from school, where she was mentoring a class, and my daughter had come for a class… she said that the front tire was leaking air pretty bad.  I knew the time had finally come, and I had to table what I was doing and get the front tires replaced.

The thing is, this was admittedly stupid.

I should have taken care of this before… my daughter drives on the highway every evening to go to stuff, and if she had problems on the highway, it would have likely been a blow-out.  My mechanic told me that too many accidents are a result of bald tires that blow-out.  And the anguish and cost could be much worse than $200.

Long story short, I left work, took care of the tires while they were in school, and we’re all good.

Driving home I was thinking about how I didn’t make the time to fix the tires… there really was just not a good time to do it for me.  Just like when we have a job, and we put of career management stuff because we are too busy working, or resting from our work.  We neglect it.  The timing just doesn’t seem good enough.

And then, if you are like me, you are told that there is no more job, and all you have is time.  And then you wish that you would have addressed it earlier… but you were “too busy.”

Let me invite you to rethink what job security is.  It might have been a degree and a work ethic back in the 1990′s, but today it is the strength of your network (which is not how big your LinkedIn network is), and what people understand about you.

You can work on that, right now.  Today.  And tomorrow.  And the next day.  A little bit every day, whether you are in transition or not.

We were lucky to have avoided a blow-out on the highway.  Work on your network and brand, and you might avoid a blow-out in your career.

 

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Bogus: LinkedIn search limits

February 13th, 2015

From the Office of Face Palms at LinkedIn comes another ridiculous move to make you upgrade.  Have you heard about this?  You will only be able to search a certain amount of times, or see a certain number of search results, and then you are cut off.  Here’s my message, right in line with the search results of a name:

linkedin_limit

Are you kidding me?  

Here’s what I did: I did a search for a name on Google… and then clicked on the LinkedIn result that would show me all of the people with that first and last name.  I scroll down and bit and see that in fact I have been penalized for clicking on that link.

I do this regularly.

This is seriously dumb.  Unless you are at LinkedIn, and want to force people to upgrade, but with the alternatives that are coming out, and the change in direction and value that LinkedIn has, I think this is one more thing that will drive usage and value down.

I was on a call with some career center directors today from a school that everyone’s heard of and we spent too much time talking about how LinkedIn has decreased in value for people who want to network.

WHAT?

That’s what they were set up for in the first place! To help people network!

Things have changed.  Networking is harder on LinkedIn.  And people have noticed, and they are tired of it.

This limit is one more thing that makes me think “okay, if I can’t find it on LinkedIn, I’m going to go somewhere else.”  Which is exactly what I’ve been hearing from recruiters… they are going somewhere else.

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The Job Search Silver Bullet (Informational Interviews)

February 12th, 2015

Sunday night I did a presentation to a group of people interested in what they could do to manage their own careers.  I talked about a lot of cool ideas, like a mindset that I wish I would have had to network more effectively when I was in my job search.

One thing i didn’t talk about was the silver bullet of the job search.  I’ve written about the silver bullet for job seekers before… I really don’t believe there is one.  I mean, there is not one single thing that you can do right now, and then land your dream job (or, any job).  The job search takes work, and there are many parts of this complex beast to finally land a job.

But if anything comes close, it is the informational interview.  I remember talking to a career professional who said that if her clients did informational interviews all day long, they would likely land within 30 days.

Informational interviews should be fun.  Doing them should be exhilarating, even if you are an introvert.  You should get leads from most interviews you go to.  You should strengthen the relationship with each person you talk to… sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. You should get great practice in saying who you are (the 30 second commercial), to the point where it sounds natural, and you sound confident.

Informational interviews get you away from your computer and in front of real people.  They make you dress up nicer than pajamas.  They put you in professional settings.  They prepare you for real job interviews.  They help you learn more about industries, positions, players in your area, opportunities.  They put you in a position of knowing more about those things than most people.

There are no silver bullets, but if you can implement a good informational interview strategy, your job search might do a 180, and you might find you have a number of solid opportunities that you are chasing (or, that are chasing you!).

What are you waiting for?

Here are some other posts about informational interviews.

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Don’t Hire Hotmail Users… what? #JobSearch

January 14th, 2015

Ruslan Kogan has a LinkedIn Post (article) titled Don’t hire Hotmail users & other tips to save your company culture.  He says that his company created a “good company culture” by doing a number of things, #1 is: DON’T HIRE SOMEONE WITH A HOTMAIL ACCOUNT.

Ouch, says all the hotmail users out there.

He says that they look at the email accounts and use them to “filter the applicants … in a way that ensures someone is the right fit for our organization.”    He says “if you have a @hotmail.com account then you’re out.”

Double OUCH.

Note that the comments are not very positive or supporting… here’s the point.  Whatever you think about hotmail doesn’t matter.  What matters is discrimination and judgement, based on certain variables… and obviously, what tools you use can categorize you as competent or not.

I wrote about this in 2006 here: jason@DontHireMe.com – does it matter?

I also wrote about this last year here: Your Email Address Might Be The Reason You Aren’t Getting Interviews

And here: Email Addresses: The Unintended Personal Branding Message

What email address are YOU using? Is it an email address that is screening you out of your next opportunity?

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Career Management Defined

December 22nd, 2014

Over the last few years I’ve given hundreds of presentations titled Career Management 2.0.  I’ve done webinars which people from around the world have tapped into, to listen to Career Management 2.0.

I’ve thought about this for years.  Career Management replaces “job security.”  I’m sure career experts can give you a five, seven, or even twenty-one point list of what  Career Management means… if I had to, I could come up with long list, too.

But here’s the bottom line: I’ve boiled Career Management down to two things:

  1. Networking, which includes growing your network and nurturing individual relationships, and
  2. Personal Branding, which is simply how others would define you (or, whatever elegant definition you want to give).

I can (and do) talk for hours about this stuff.  I’m passionate about it.  When I lost my job in January of 2006 I still believed in job security.  I didn’t think that a guy like me would have a problem finding a new job. I did “all the right things,” and so somehow, someone owed job security to me.

Of course I was wrong.  And along my journey, I finally realized that the power I was looking for was only that which I would create. Where I needed to start is listed above… and it’s the exact same two things I still focus on today.

As we close the year out, take some time to let this settle in.  What have you done to strengthen your network this year?  What will you do next year?

What have you done to strengthen your brand this year?  What will you do next year?

If this is top-of-mind, you’ll have a fun career.  Transitions will come and go, but they’ll be much less painful, and shorter, if you internalize Career Management.

 

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Is “What Do You Do?” a Question That Haunts You?

November 26th, 2014

thom_allen_headshot_linkedinThom Allen was one of the earliest friends I met when I moved to Utah.  I’ve networked with Thom over the years and we’ve consistently had a funny conversation: “Thom, explain to me again exactly what you do?”

This blog post was inspired by Thom’s 2009 blog post: A Question That Haunts Me Wherever I Go

Thom would always tell me something cool.. but the more I learned about Thom, the contracts he had, his professional passions, the less I understood about him.  I guarantee that some of you, reading this blog post, have the same issues communicating your personal brand.  Let’s take Thom’s blog post and talk about some of it:

Speaking of the first person Thom met at a particular networking event, he says: “In the software development world, Alistair is the rock star God of the agile methodology.”  I love that Thom writes it that way.  He makes it clear that Alistair doesn’t have a branding problem, unless of course Alistair doesn’t want to be known as the “rock star God of the agile method” in the entire software dev world.  That’s a powerful statement and observation, and something that some of us want to shoot for: a very high level of clarity and accuracy of how others talk about us.

Thom writes, “At the end [of my conversation with Alistair], he started to ask me what I did. First sign the night was going to be rocky.

Uh-oh.  If you are going to a networking event, and you aren’t prepared to answer the most common question you’ll hear, multiple times, during that meeting, you got a problem.  It’s definitely going to be rocky.

Thom says that he shook hands with various guests, “many who I knew,” and Thom writes “Most asked me again, what I did. I wondered where these people had been. Why don’t they remember?

Does this sound familiar to you?  I hear this frequently. It’s why I wrote the post Why Tell Your Network What You Do When They Already Know What You Do?

Thom continues with his networking story, and says he was surprised that he was introduced to a small group of networkers as he was “connected to everyone.”  He writes “it feels unnatural when someone says that about me.” He later asked that same friend “why do I have such a hard time getting people to remember what I do? The friend’s response was awesome:

“Because no one really knows what you do! Most people think you do everything, but no one knows what you do. You’re always vague.”

Thom talks about having an elevator pitch, which is something that he says he told others to do, but he hadn’t taken his own advice.

Look, I think most elevator pitches stink.  When I present, I say 99.999% of elevator pitches I hear stink.  BUT, not having a pitch allows others to misinterpret who you are.  Why didn’t Thom do that?  The same reason many of us don’t. He writes:

“I guess my failure to successfully convey what I do stems from years of not wanting to be defined by my work. So I kept it vague. But as a business owner I can’t do that anymore. I need to clearly define what I do. There’s no way I can network without being able to convey what I do. It’s not the part I want to be, but it’s the part that I need to  be.”

YOU need to get here! You need to have enough frustration that you choose to finally narrow your brand messaging down so people (including yourself!) understand it, and can even easily communicate it to others.  Yes, you can have a breadth of passions and interests.  But at some point you also have to help people understand what they should understand about you.

Are you ready yet?

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A Systematic, Process-Oriented Job Search #LizRyan

November 25th, 2014

I’m a sucker for a good job search story.  Enter a LinkedIn article by Liz Ryan, where she shares an awesome, inspiring letter from one of her job seeker clients, and then her reply.  Please read the entire thing – it’s kind of long but if you are in a job search, this will give you a boost that you just can’t get enough of!

How Doug Got Hired After Two Years of Searching

Doug’s story is our story… your story, my story.  We think that if we do a great job, we’ll have security (“I thought I was going to retire from that job.”).  We think that we can send out hundreds of resumes, because it’s a “numbers game,” and eventually someone is going to interview us and hire us.  We are absolutely appalled at the resume black hole and the salt-in-the-wound auto-responders.  Finally, when something comes along that gives us a semblance of control, we gravitate towards that.  We thirst for control, since we feel like we’ve been thrust into this dark fantasy world where we have NO control.  Doug talks about “Pain Letters” and a “consulting business card.”  It’s a great letter – read it here.

Liz responds with two awesome follow-up assignments that EVERY job seeker should do. The first is to get on LinkedIn, and get a good profile.  The second assignment is awesome:

“The second assignment is to write to everyone you met in your job search, and thank them. Tell them where you landed and thank them for their support, even if they didn’t really do anything.

That’s okay. Tell them that you appreciate having them in your network. Maybe your note will be the spark that grows their mojo just enough to do something nice for the next person they meet, or to take a step for themselves”

This is such a powerful assignment. I don’t even want to call it a recommendation because I think that devalues it. It’s not a suggestion… this is a must-do assignment.

I have heard from hundreds of coaches and career professionals that they all say something like this: “when you land your next job, you need to continue networking!

And the job seekers says “Yes, of course, I’ll never let my network get stagnant again!”  You feel repentant, you are humbled, and even though you don’t like networking, you swear you won’t fall behind on your relationships again.

BUT YOU DO.  You get busy onboarding yourself at your next job.  You can take a breather and release the stress of being unemployed.  You get to play a bit, and of course you don’t have to go to any networking events.  Whatever resolution you had gets swept away in the new routines.

YOu aren’t bad… you just need some ideas on how to network moving forward.  And Liz’s assignment, to reach out to every person you met in your job search (and the people you knew before that, who you were in touch with during your job search), is THE TACTIC that you need to pursue.

Awesome stuff. Click the image to read the whole thing:

jibberjobber_liz_ryan_linkedin_article_doug

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