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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JibberJobber to Organize a Job Search AND to Help Entrepreneurs Launch a Business!

November 7th, 2014

Here is a great question from A.A.:

I am a job seeker and I am developing a business. My business is very different from the job I am doing. I want to use jibberjobber to track both but I am not sure if it is possible to separate them within one profile. Can you advise?

The short answer is, yes, definitely use one JibberJobber account to track both of these endeavors.

Technically, I would use tags to help you keep the two separated.  So, when you add a new contact, tag them as job_search or business.  Or, you can tag them as both job_search and business.

I’ve found, over the years, that many of my personal and professional relationships are not constrained to just one bucket.  For example, this last week I reached out to two long-term friends to ask for professional, business-related introductions.

Also, I did not tag either of these friends as friends, personal, business, referral, or anything like that. Perhaps I should, but for now I simply have just created a Log Entry for each of the requests, and their responses.

When their contacts reach out to me, I simply use the Referred By field to keep track of who introduced me to who… that has proved to be invaluable over the years.

In addition to that scenario, I track personal things in JibberJobber, such as who I call when I need an appliance fixed, or when my garage door breaks.  I don’t like having to track those types of people, but I do like having one place to store names and numbers, and even track when they service my stuff, and how much I pay them.

JibberJobber has become my central information hub… it started out as a job search tool, and for me very quickly evolved to a small business CRM and a personal business tracker.

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Break Down Expert Job Search Advice (say NO to the ATS!)

November 5th, 2014

louise_kursmark_headshotLet’s dig into the post from yesterday, and dissect some of Louise Kursmark’s advice.  It’s a short article, but there’s simple stuff that every job seeker needs to be doing. Lines from her post are in bold, my comments are not bold, and indented.

>> I think that obsession(with gaming the ATS systems) is a distraction from the real work of job search.

Again, you are hiding from the job search.  There is no silver bullet.  ATS is one tiny aspect of the job search, don’t become obsessed with gaming it.

>> Even if your resume is a perfect match for the job posting, you have a very small chance of being chosen for an interview. 

Why? Because statistically, jobs posted online are not real jobs that are begging real people to apply. Some (probably those from big companies) have already been filled with internal candidates, but are posted just to satisfy regulations or policy.  Others are, unfortunately, and without integrity, fake jobs that are luring people in just to collect names and numbers.  Sometimes they are just feeling out the market, and seeing what’s out there.  But for the real ones… have you heard how many people apply to openings?  It’s way to many, really.  And those that are getting through are not necessarily the right candidates.  Many right candidates are getting weeded out through errors in the logic of the automated system.  They don’t call it the “resume black hole” for nothing.

>> … it’s easy to spend a lot of fruitless time trying to rise to the top of a very large pool.

Lots and lots of people are playing this losing game.  Why throw your hat into a system that is proven to be so ineffective and discouraging, and really, one that doesn’t really work?  Especially when there are more effective ways to land a job.

>> My advice: Have a keyword-rich, simply formatted resume that stands a reasonable chance of making it through the ATS.

And here is the simple truth about what you need for a resume.  Keyword rich and simple format.  That’s it.  Do that, then MOVE ON to the next part of your job search strategy!

>> Then, spend less time applying to posted openings and more time getting referrals into the companies you’re interested in.

Get out of the resume black hole and go compete in a different space… the competition is much easier, and nicer, because too many people are afraid to network, or are doing it entirely wrong.  Be the person who learns to love it (you don’t have to be an extrovert to love networking), and do it RIGHT!  Also, to Louise’s points, do this purposefully and strategically, not haphazardly.

>> Use your network to find a connection, ask for an introduction, and start a dialogue.

This, my friends, is networking.  This is more effective than going to network meetings, being nervous or shy, and then going home thinking “I networked!”  You may have, but what Louise is suggesting is to do it right, and go deeper, and be relationship-focused.

>> Rather than applying for a job, have a conversation about the company’s needs and how someone with your background might be able to help.

Again, this is networking.  And this hints to informational interviews as well!

>> Become a real person rather than a piece of paper or collection of keywords.

You do this by focusing on conversations, relationships and real networking, rather than throwing your resume into the black hole…

>> Even if you don’t (get interviews), you’ve built another strand in your web of connections that will ultimately lead you to your next job.

Building these strands, or let’s go further and say this fabric, is what I call career management. It is having strong relationships over time, not just during this hard transition, and it is helping people understand who you are (and how they can help you)… it is long-term.  It is the new “job security,” and it’s all in your control.  It’s why I say you need to use JibberJobber, forever! (yes, a little fanatical there, but I get to do that on my own blog :) )

>> And isn’t it more satisfying to have a colleague-to-colleague business discussion than to be judged (and rejected) based on a mysterious set of keyword qualifications?

You know who has control over the keywords?  NOT YOU!  You have control over, which means influence on, your relationships and communication, but not on the arbitrary keywords that someone chose. And you don’t have control over who else applies, or how their resumes compare to yours in the ATS black box logic.  Work on what you can control… !

I love Louise’s no-nonsense advice… thanks again for letting me share it!

 

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What Are Your Guiding Principles?

October 3rd, 2014

david_safeer_headshotI 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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.

When David put his guiding principles in front of me, he shot back up to “relevant.”

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.

 

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New JibberJobber User Orientation Videos Are Up

October 2nd, 2014

I just updated the JibberJobber User Orientation Videos in the Video Library - click here to watch them.

Remember, to make the videos full-screen, scroll to the bottom and right of the box the video is in and then click the full-screen icon (the middle arrow is pointing to it):

jj_videos_full_size

If you want to catch a live orientation, or get on the Focus Friday’s calls, sign up from this page.

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How To Get a Networking Introduction (insight from Hunter Walk)

August 18th, 2014

One of the bigger problems I see with job seekers is that they don’t know how to get networking introductions.

hunter_walk_investor

On LinkedIn, Hunter Walk wrote this article: Why Most VCs Won’t Intro You To Other VCs (Unless You Follow These Steps). He wrote it for entrepreneurs looking for money from VCs, but every single point he makes is something a job seeker should understand and internalize. In my own words (read his post here):

  1. Do your work upfront!  Too many job seekers have very vague requests for help. Most vague requests are about as helpful as this: “I’m looking for a job.”  Geesh!  Can you tell me ANYTHING about you, what you’re looking for, what you want to do, etc.?  I can’t help you if I don’t know if you want to be a lifeguard at the local rec center, or a CEO of a multi-national company!  When you do your homework, you’ll know how I might be able to help you… and you’ll be able to have a better conversation.    Ignore this at your own peril (or, extended job search).
  2. DO NOT name drop… without permission.  Hunter is kind of a big deal… and I’m sure has this happen all the time.  If someone didn’t say “tell them I sent you,” then DON’T TELL THEM THEY SENT YOU!  You can say “oh yeah, I know Jason…. I just read his blog post and ….”  But don’t say “Jason sent you.”  You will ruin your credibility and likely come across as a liar, perhaps ruining two relationships with one unfortunate white lie.
  3. Don’t ask your contact for too much.  If you want an introduction, make it super-easy for your contact to facilitate the introduction. This means you write something they could forward… why the introduction is happening, etc.  Make it easy for them to forward something without thinking too much.
  4. Follow-up with the person who made the introduction for you.  It’s critical that you do this, if you want to improve relationships and get more introductions.  When someone follows-up with me, no matter how good the meeting went (even if it didn’t happen), I can trust that the person I’m introducing will respect my contacts.  I want to help more.  If I don’t know what you are doing with my introductions, I am not inclined to give you more.
  5. Keep the person posted about what’s going on.  If you trust someone enough to ask for an introduction, and they trust you enough to do the introduction, why not keep them abreast of what’s going on, even outside of that introduction?  Keep them posted perhaps monthly or quarterly…. stay on their radar.  I wrote about this using a job seeker newsletter, which is a monthly email that I personally think every job seeker should have.

Too many people want to finish the job search and never, ever do it again.  But the truth is, we will do it again… regularly.  We need to figure out how to make this type of stuff be part of our DNA… how we work, how we communicate, etc.  Whether you are looking for a job, funding, or customers, this is basic communication and networking stuff we need to internalize.

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Ask The Expert: Fred Coon, Outplacement and Job Search Expert

April 25th, 2014

My call with Fred Coon was awesome.  There were a lot of gems throughout this call.  I have two regrets:

  1. We didn’t have more time.  It seems like Fred just skimmed the surface on an 8-step plan… I think we could have talked for hours more.  BUT, what he was able to share in 90 minutes was a great foundation for anyone.
  2. I asked Fred, impromptu, to provide a little banjo music in the back while I wrapped it up.   He did, I wrapped up, and I mistakenly stopped the recording when I was done instead of when he was done.  I’ve never been banjo’d before… it was very cool :)

Below is our conversation.  I encourage you to take notes, and if you want, let us know what impacted you most, and the minute mark of that impactful moment, so we can get to it easier.

Enjoy!  (vimeo provides a full screen option comes on after you click play, but there is no visual… you can put this on while you do something else (like take notes?))

See past Ask The Expert recordings here.

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Don’t ask people to connect on LinkedIn until…

April 21st, 2014

If I can, I like to connect people.  It makes me feel good, and some of my contacts simply must connect with one another – they are that cool or complementary!

I recently made a connection between two people, and I suggested to one of them to NOT invite the person to connect until they actually had a conversation, and started a relationship.

Why?

Too often I see people who will take an introduction, ask the person to connect on LinkedIn, and then… nothing.

Folks, connecting on LinkedIn IS NOT NETWORKING!

Focus on the relationship!

Can you help that person?  Can they help you?  Is there a reason to have a relationship?  Can you nurture the relationship?  Can you get and give value through the years because of a relationship?

Have a conversation.  Then, in a month, or next quarter, have another conversation (or send an email).  And do that regularly.  Over time. Take the relationship from nowhere to somewhere.

The problem with starting out with a LinkedIn invitation is that too often, many times, I see this:

  1. Invitation is extended.
  2. Invitation is accepted.
  3. Relationship doesn’t go anywhere.

The LinkedIn connection is not a relationship, and it is not networking.  It gets in the way.

So, first work on establishing the relationship, and the LinkedIn invitation/connection is something for later. Don’t let it take the place of the relationship.

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Finding Humor in Your Depressing Job Search (or the bad economy, or whatever)

April 9th, 2014

Here’s some fallout from my 2014 April Fools prank (where I laid myself off, even though I’m the sole owner of JibberJobber)…. on my LinkedIn Group I got this message:

Sorry– I do not see the humor; if the economy and employment levels were decent…well maybe. But not when so many people are in real pain and suffering after 7 years of this “great recession.”

My reply to her, and the group:

Karen, sorry. This was my story (kind of) 8 years ago, and it turned out to be a massive blessing. I talk to unemployed people (usually JibberJobber users) daily, and I know the pain and hurt and suffering… both because I lived it and because I hear it every day. I choose to use humor in my life to help me get through hard times…. nobody has to, but I’m not going to sit around and mope and be somber, essentially empowering the suffering.

No one has to educate me on the real pain and suffering of job seekers.  You see, I was there, but that was during an awesome economy.  During a crappy economy (like that of the last seven (give or take) years, if you can’t get a job you can at least blame the economy.  People might say “when the economy picks up…”  But when you are out of work during a great economy, and can’t hardly land an interview or an offer, there is seemingly nothing to blame but you.  That means a lot of self-finger-pointing, wondering how messed up you really are… which leads to unnecessary and unhelpful pain and suffering in abundance.

The bigger issue, for me, is coping with challenges and trials.  How do you do it?  I tend to gravitate towards humor.  Not always, of course… but I’ve been doing this long enough (8+ years, since I got laid off in January of 2006), to know that there will indeed be an end to unemployment.  That might be because you get a dream job, or you get a “step job” (that is a job that is a stepping stone as you continue to look for your dream job), or you start your own business, or you adjust your expenses and simply retire.  I’ve seen this happen many times over the last few years.

I’m convinced that dealing with our temporary situation in a healthy way is critical to getting out of our healthy situation.  Let me give you two examples:

Coping Strategy 1Let’s say that I cope with stress by eating crap.  So, I’m unemployed and stressed, and I eat at McDonald’s three times a day.  Sodas, fries, high-fructose-corn-everything.  I’m coping with my pain and suffering, and while I plop stuff in my mouth, I feel better, for a second or two.  Between meals I throw down some chips, and have a big cup of soda by me at all times.  I indulge, and it’s good to have no rules on my eating.  I think about going on a walk around the block, but my ankles and knees hurt too much… so I’ll do that “later.”What will that do to me?  From personal experience I know that I’ll physically feel like crap, I’ll probably be more moody, and my clothes will get tighter… this only makes me feel moodier and more depressed.  That’s okay, I’ll cope by eating more crap.

Guess how my next face-to-face networking event is going to go?

I will want to be invisible.  And I’ll probably be jaded enough that I’m not going to have the right conversations which could lead to introductions.  People will smell blood.

Coping Strategy 2

Contrast that with eating much healthier, and exercising. Let’s say I have healthy food around me, in abundance (this doesn’t mean I have to have money or a paycheck, I simply make better choices when buying food).  I eat at least one green smoothie a day (the way I make them, they look green but taste like a fruit smoothie), I drink lots of water, and eat things like soaked almonds, brown rice, etc.  Instead of feeling like I can “cheat” to “cope,” I am now addressing a physical/mental/emotional issue by feeding my cells (nutrition) instead of focusing on feeding my belly (satisfaction).

I feel great, physically.  I take time to exercise, whether it is walk around the block or walk a few miles, do yoga, squats, pushups (even against the wall or stairs), etc. My clothes fit better, I sleep better at night, I feel fit and I have more energy. I can think clearer and have more fun networking.  People want to be around me, they even gravitate towards me (or at least I don’t feel like they are trying to get away from me).

Coping Strategy 1: eating what my tongue wants me to eat, without boundaries, and my stomach feeling satisfied a lot.

Coping Strategy 2: eating to provide nutrition to my cells, as abundantly as I want, with the right foods.

The question: what are the fruits of either strategy?  Which strategy is better for the short-term, and which is better for the long-term?

So let’s go back to my humor thing.  For me, I gravitate towards humor.  Finding humor in things helps me put things in a different perspective that is, many times, easier to understand.  It helps people I work with find perspective, also.  When I’m in front of 100 job seekers, you better believe there is a lot of laughing.  Probably some tears, too, because I get very raw and real.  But there is humor throughout the presentation.  We don’t get enough laughing when we are in a job search, and no one wants to touch our delicate situation with a ten foot pole… but I do.  Because even after eight years, I still consider myself a job seeker.  I am you. I am with you.  And I know there is a time to let your frustrations out, and I’ll be a shoulder you can cry on, or an ear you can vent to, but I’m not going to go in front of my audience and start crying and venting for the entire time.

Laughing releases good brain chemicals (practically natural narcotics).  Why not let job seekers laugh?

Maybe my coping strategy (laughing and humor) is different than your coping strategy (medication, nutrition, hobbies, reading and movies (escapism), soduko, doing the dishes, lifting weights, running, etc.).  I’m not going to list them and say which are better than others, but I will say this: LOOK AT THE FRUIT.  What are the results of your coping strategy?

Does it put you in a worse place, or does it prepare you to do the hard things that you need to do in your job search?

 

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The Chicken List Smackdown Video: Just Place The Call

February 27th, 2014

I saw a link to this website from my business mentor Mark LeBlanc: Just Place The Call!

I’ve written about calling, and the Chicken List (that list of people you are too scared to call) plenty of times… here and here and here and here and here.  I get it, I really do. I’m afraid of the phone, too.  Sometimes I wonder if the person will punch me through the receiver, or take away my first-born, or some other horrific thing.  The phone tends to paralyze job seekers. I’ve heard “the phone weighs five hundred pounds!” or “my tongue weighs a thousand pounds!” I get it all.  I live it, just like you do.

But there is something special about the phone. I challenge you to get good at it.  Instead of envying others who seem to do it well, instead of blaming your personality profile and saying if you had a different personality you would do it, JUST PLACE THE CALL.

A mentor in my job search, John, is the one who introduced the Chicken List phrase to me.  His advice was priceless: start calls with the hardest person on your Chicken List.  Get the hard people CROSSED OFF.  Get through those.  Let me add, if you are still alive after those calls, then calling other people will be a breeze!

Check out the Just Place The Call video, and after taking the two minutes and twenty three seconds to watch it, PLACE THE CALL! :)  I haven’t downloaded the 501 Telephone tips from that page but if you do it, and like it, let me know! (apparently, this is their blog, with lots of cool looking blog posts about improving your phone skills)

 

what where
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