The comments are pretty lame, however. It’s sad what people say when they are anonymous. Here’s the first comment, from “anonymousl_66″):
This is a brilliant assumption. I had the same assumption assumption when I was in my job search. If someone “knows me,” then why in the world would I have to tell them who I am, or what I do, or what I’m looking for, or how they can help me?
If they care about me, they’ll definitely know the answers to all of those things, right?
Okay, maybe *some* of your friends will know what you do, but do they really know what that means? If someone is talking to them about a problem they are having, will they know enough to say “oh, my good buddy Dippy_66 does exactly what you are talking about! He says he’s a product manager, but I know he specializes in all the stuff you are talking about!”
I bet less than 5% of your “friends” know enough breadth and depth about you, what you have done, and what direction you want to go, to really help like this.
The other 95%?
They want to help, but they might not know what you do, or what you want to do.
You see, product manager, as well as most other job titles, can be ambiguous and misleading. They might not know that you are a master of getting a product from idea to completion, or taking it to market in a big way. They might not know that you specialize in B2C… or wait, is it B2B? And what do those things really mean, anyway?? You can summarize “product manager” as easily as you can summarize “HR” — they are just too broad.
It’s easy to “assume” that our contacts “know” what we do, but sometimes we don’t even understand the full breadth and depth of what we do!
Further, perhaps someone knows us from five or ten+ years ago. Back when we were an Accounts Payable manager… they don’t know that since then we’ve finished school, got an MBA, and have been working as a finance executive. They might remember that we were really fun to work with. We did a good job, but in the downtime we had fun hanging out, playing pranks at the office, etc. What are they going to tell people – that we were the funnest person in the office? While that might be a cool distinction, it’s not necessarily going to help you in your job search.
Is that what you want them to communicate about you?
Even further, what if they knew us to be that AP manager, and they heard we were going to go to school to pursue a career as a finance executive. What they might not have known is that when we went to school we realized we hated all-things-finance, and went on to work in the non-profit space… they won’t know that we’re looking for opportunities in that field.
Or what if we did have a great career in finance (and they knew that), but now we want to change careers and do something completely different?
Assuming our network knows what we do, or want to do, is a gamble.
When I was in my job search my wife of 11ish years asked “what do you do?”She seriously asked me what I did for a living, and what I was looking for. She was asking because her friends were asking her, and she didn’t know how to communicate it. She needed me to share, in my own words, what I was looking for, so she could empower her friends (aka, contacts) to help us. She had been there during the degrees, the job promotions, etc., and I thought she “knew” me well. She should have known the answer to her own question. But she couldn’t communicate it right, or even well.
Anonymous_66, take that gamble if you want, but I have learned there is a simple fix to not lose everything. That is: communicate effectively, and empower your network to work with and for you! This is one reason I’m SO BIG on recommending that job seekers send a monthly newsletter.
One last story. When I started speaking professionally, I would be asked “how do you want us to introduce you?,” or “do you have a bio we can read?”
I wanted the introduction to be casual, informal, and not read like a robot, so I ignored the professional speakers advice and responded with something like “you know me well enough – I’m sure you’ll do a good introduction. Just don’t make it too long.”
That’s my style – casual, friendly, and let’s get to the main event. But I didn’t realize what people would actually say about me. I wanted them to focus on X, and was pretty sure they would. But no one focused on X… they all focused on A, B, C, or Y, Z… anything but X. It was frustrating listening to these introductions, and I finally broke down and wrote introductions for each presentation.
The same thing is happening with your network. They don’t know about your X… but they might remember A, B, or C. Or they might assume Y or Z.
This is exactly why job seekers need to continually clarify who they are, and what they are looking for… even (especially) to their besties, even (especially) to their spouse, and to anyone who is willing to help them in their job search and networking.
Stephen is a very smart user who has emailed my team with a number of ideas enhancement requests. Stephen said that he uses JibberJobber to track jobs that he applies to, but also to track jobs he doesn’t apply to. I thought this was interesting.
Why would you track jobs that you aren’t going to apply to?
To gain insight into other needs of the company, departments, systems, etc.
To perhaps identify issues the company has (like high turnover)
I would add:
To understand what the market is currently looking for, with key words and phrases I could use in my marketing (networking, cover letters, resumes, interviews, etc.)
When I was in my job search I learned about a job title that I really hadn’t understood or thought about while I was looking for openings. There is great information in job descriptions… are you tapping into that information?
When you find a word, phrase, or idea to enhance your knowledge or marketing message, keep track of it!
To do this in JibberJobber, I would simply tag each job I am not applying to as “reference” (or some other tag that makes more sense for you). Then, you could filter the Jobs List Panel like this:
This would give you a list of all of the job descriptions/postings for your research.
In addition, I would make Log Entries (or Notes) on WHY I saved the job.
Remember, putting a job posting into JibberJobber will save it there forever, but if you just save a link, the link might be dead in a few months. Jobs don’t stay on job boards for long.
Last week I was doing a LinkedIn consultation with a professional who had taken time (a couple of years?) off to care for her father. She has had a fantastic, awesome career, but didn’t know how to explain her years off. She asked me how to explain this, and I reached out to career professionals in the Career Directors LinkedIn Group for advice. The experience these professionals have is broad and deep, which is why I like getting input from different professionals. Below is what I learned. I hope this can help you if you are in this situation:
Hi Jason – I would also use a sabbatical statement such as the ones Don provided. I also might just insert a statement such as:
“Took two-year leave to serve as caretaker for parent. Stayed current on industry trends and learning to remain fully prepared for next corporate challenge.”
Employers want to know that your knowledge is up-to-date as far as their needs, and that your skills aren’t rusty. There are plenty of free online courses to help even those very immersed in their caretaker roles.
Jason — I don’t think it requires a big explanation. I would either put “Family sabbatical,” “Personal Sabbatical” or “Professional Sabbatical” without adding anything else in either resume or cover letter. It just accounts for the time. And I only use years, not months/years.
There are millions and millions of Baby Boomers taking care of parents (myself included). And over the past several years I have worked with many people who have relocated, quit their jobs or took part-time work to handle what their parents need.
It is very common now and nothing your client should be nervous about. You never know that maybe the person reading would have given their eye teeth to be able to take time off work rather than feeling guilty that their job was keeping them from doing it..
I moved my mother with Alzheimer’s into assisted living in January. I was at part-time work until about the end of July because none of her affairs were in order. And I’m still dealing with two attorneys, etc. even though I’m close to full time work now. I would have had to quit a corporate job.
But in the first half of the year there was absolutely no way I could have been doing anything related to my work for keeping up with my industry or anything else. I was up to 3 am, 5 am and more trying to sell my mother’s home and everything else. I would not have been able to even think about online coursework because it frankly was not my top priority and I was exhausted.
And I wouldn’t include “fully resolved” because I think it then puts the reader in a slightly awkward position of assuming that mom or dad actually died.
Jason, I try to be as straightforward as possible, composing a quote based on the client’s circumstance. Also, I usually refer to it as a “professional leave” or “career break” because I feel the word “sabbatical” has some nuances that don’t necessarily apply to every situation.
I place the quote under the Professional Experience heading.
2012 to Oct. 2014: “I took a professional leave to attend to my terminally ill brother; following his passing, I engaged in a variety of professional development opportunities to maintain credentials and volunteer roles to keep abreast of industry trends.”
You get the gist. It may be wordy and it may be slightly shocking, but on the other hand, it leaves nothing to the imagination of the reader. Plus, the dates will (ideally) be captured by ATS.
Thanks to Don, Mary, Irene and Christine for sharing their thoughts – if you have a different idea, please share it in the comments below!
I get David Safeer’s newsletters, and this was had an idea that was too good to not share. David is a management and leadership consultant – read about him on the front page of his site. He’s done a very nice job communicating who he is and why he is relevant to his right audience.
In his most recent newsletter he shares his “business principles,” which are business principles “to achieve outstanding performance.” It made me wonder, what are my business (or life, or marriage, or father, or entrepreneur, or CEO, or product manager, etc.) principles?
He says he wrote these almost ten years ago, and that reviewing them now, there are NO changes to make. To me that indicates they are indeed principles instead of tactics, which can and usually should change over time. Go check out his list – it really reads like a short book on how to do better in business.
As I read his list I had three thoughts:
His list is about people and relationships, not about numbers. He says: “I am convinced that people are THE key to a successful organization, so my thoughts about business principles turn often to the people side of things.” Where do your thoughts about your principles turn?
Can you create your own list of principles? This could be like a personal business plan, or map, that helps you make decisions and be true to yourself. What would be on your list?
Once you have a list, this is a great way for you to stay relevant. How? Read on…
Being relevant is an interesting concept. When I started JibberJobber I thought people would talk about me and JibberJobber for a long time. I got interest and buzz at first, but then things died down, and I found I had to continually put something interesting and/or new in front of people. I wrote a book on LinkedIn, and that did it (for a while). But then 40 other people wrote books on LinkedIn, and I wasn’t THE expert anymore. I was losing relevance. I had to do other things, which I did. I still do other things to stay in front of people and try to stay relevant.
Why do you think LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook make so many changes to their systems? Some are good and needed, others are simply to get press.
Think about this for YOU. What can you do to remain relevant with your audience?
Don’t get me wrong, this is not just a branding/networking thing. I think having guiding principles is AWESOME. I encourage you to work on your own. And, use what you come up with as a reason to get back in front of your network contacts and create a bit of buzz or conversation.
I get Liz Handlin’s newsletter. She gave me permission to post this from her newsletter… I thought it was interesting. Liz says these are her questions and his answers over coffee (learn more about Jeff Browning here):
Liz says “Jeff may see more resumes than any other recruiter in Texas so his perspective on what a resume should say and how it should look is crucial information for job seekers.”
In this eight-year-old blog post, I give my opinion (read: OPINION) about what your email provider says about you. I talk about gmail, juno, aol, hotmail, mac, your employer, and your own private domain name.
1. What do you use?
2. What do you think? Are people really judging others based on the email address – the part after the @ symbol – and perhaps discounting you as someone who is obviously behind-the-times?
In my email signature I have a link to the new Video Game Design and Entrepreneur class I’m starting in a couple of weeks. It’s going to be awesome, and a lot of fun. (by the way, the youngest student is 7, the oldest is in his 60s… it might be just the class for you, too)
Today I was on a call with a business associate who noticed the line in my signature. Her son will be in college soon and is looking at graphic arts programs…. she asked for any advise I had on breaking into the video game world (not programming, but with graphics). This is actually a great question, and we had a fun conversation.
The gist of the conversation was this: to get into that space, or any space, really, you should build a portfolio.
How powerful would it be to go to a potential employer and have the same credentials as the other people on the shortlist: a degree, a portfolio from school, etc., but also have a portfolio of video games that are on the market and available for download? If you want to get into a video game design firm, and you have at least one game that you have designed, and people have downloaded it (and even rated it), isn’t that a great way to show your passion and skill level?
She mentioned that he didn’t want to do programming, his passion was in design. I suggested that going through the course would give him an additional breadth that would help him break down walls with programmers. I know a lot of programmers who don’t like working with graphics artists because of the way the two roles work.
Think about this with your own career and job search. What have you done so that a company you are interested in can understand your skills and professional passion?
Artists have known this for years… having a portfolio is just the way it is.
Can accountants (who are in transition) have a portfolio?
How can you substantiate, or allow others to visualize, your skill set? What do you got that is more impressive than a list of credentials?
(I think I know the answer for any profession, but what do you think?)
Valerie Gonyea is one of my favorite people… she recently posted this on Facebook:
In the comment thread, she continued:
The hidden job market has been defined as job opportunities that exist but aren’t posted for the public to know about them. In other words, once it’s online, or on a job board, it is not “hidden.” In this example, this opporunity came when “the CEO and the CFO had just started to come to the conclusion that they needed some help.” Who knew about it? NO ONE. It was “hidden.” No one could have known about it because the to CxOs had just started to come to the conclusion… this was far from being posted online, and far away from them going to a recruiter to find talent.
Valerie “tapped into the hidden job market” (which is what we all want to do) by, as she said, working it. She reached out, and I’m sure she let the two people she reached out to know who she was (what kind of work she does) and what she was looking for. She did it in a clear enough way that they could communicate that to their network… and it worked.
Will you talk to only and exactly two people? Probably not… some people talk to two hundred plus people…. but talking is where it is at. Valerie probably had NO competition in the decision-making phase… contrast that with the idea of being one of hundreds of resumes submitted online.
Think differently about where you spend your time. This concept would have changed the way my job search went entirely.