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.
I have gotten thousands of invitations to connect over the years. Mainly this is because I have a pretty public persona, from starting JibberJobber, and then writing the book on LinkedIn. I have spoken across the US and have done many webinars to global audiences. So people send me invitations… which I don’t have a problem with.
What I do have a problem with is the idea that getting a connection on LinkedIn seems to be the end goal.
In my LinkedIn trainings I’ve suggested that once you start a relationship with someone, you DO NOT ask them to connect with you on LinkedIn – yet. Why? Because connecting on LinkedIn, many times, means “we’re done communicating.” It’s the end. I have reached my goal, I have won.
Think about it – how many times have you connected with someone on LinkedIn, and then you never hear from them again? How many times have you had a good conversation with someone, then invited them to LinkedIn, and then stopped communicating with them?
I’ve seen this too many times. So my suggestion is to build the relationship more, and eventually connect… but make it clear that you are interested in the relationship a lot more than a somewhat meaningless connection on social media.
Towards the end I wrote “amazing things happen when you follow-up.” I also wrote “see what happens” when you follow-up, to your networking, attitude, morale, and job search efforts.
I share this from personal experience of a horrible networker. Playing Monday Morning Quarterback, I now realize that I was focusing on my own image, and I was focusing on numbers (how many new people I meet), but I most definitely was not focusing on real relationships.
I somehow thought that “networking” meant you meet more of the right people… but I didn’t realize that I should have been developing a relationship with them. The relationship you have when you first meet someone is what I would consider “superficial.” That is, you don’t really know them, they don’t really know you… and if you leave it that way, you are left in a position of not really being able to help one another.
I realized later that a main goal of my networking efforts should have been to go beyond superficial, and really start to get to know the other person. As that happened, they would start to get to know me. As we nurtured our relationship, we would be in a position where we could, and wanted to, really help one another. We could trust the other person with our introductions, and they would trust us. Our professional relationship would go beyond this job search… because this was not a relationship just because I was in need, looking for a job.
This is done with what I call multiple “touch points.” That is, all of the different times that you communicate with, or are in front of, that person. Send an email? That’s a touch point. Text, call, meet for lunch, see at a networking event and say hi? Those are all touch points. When you go out of your way to say hi, or when you send an email that is obviously personalized, that is an effective touch point. Contrast that to forwarding junk or chain letters (NEVER DO THAT!!), or sending too many impersonal emails without ever sending something personalized…
A big part of our career management (which has taken the place of the 1900′s term: job security) is nurturing individual relationships. Don’t make the same mistake I made and think that just adding more people to your list, meeting more people at a conference, constitutes “networking.”
Have you noticed one of the categories of this blog (to the left) is “UNsocial Networking?” It’s towards the bottom of the list of categories. But what in the world does that mean?
I created that tag with a chuckle…. after all how, how can you be unsocial and network at the same time?
Indeed, I’m not suggesting that you should be unsocial. I wanted to make a distinction between old-fashioned, non-technology-based networking, and “social networking.”
While computer-based social networking is not going away, I think that we’ve gotten away from basic principles of relationships, hiding behind screens and canned messages and false relationships. Sure, a lot of good does and can happen online… I’m even an advocate of using any tools at our disposal to accomplish what we need to (see my post on Career Management from yesterday).
I did, however, single out UNsocial networking because I want to focus on those principle-based strategies and tactics. Let’s really focus on relationships, nurturing relationships, helping others, etc. Pick up some old books, whether it is How to Win Friends and Influence People or any of Harvey Mackay’s networking books. Learn about relationships beyond being Friends on Facebook or Connections on LinkedIn. Don’t let those become the goal… lest you find your network is nothing but a house of cards.
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:
Networking, which includes growing your network and nurturing individual relationships, and
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.
On this morning’s Focus Friday webinar I was astounded to read a comment from Paul in Minnesota about how many levels of connections he reached before he landed his job.
Some context: on many of my webinars, I’ve repeated one of the greatest things I learned in my own job search, which is that you find your job leads from your third and fourth degree contacts, not from your first and second degree contacts. This is such a profound concept…. the idea that as we develop relationships with people, we continually ask for introductions. More often than not, you won’t have your first or second degree contact. Unfortunately, the way LinkedIn works, they mess up how we track this. But in JibberJobber we can track down to the nth degree.
Anyway, Paul wrote this comment on our webinar today, in response to talking about the free vs. premium levels of JibberJobber (note that we were talking about the email2log feature… which is premium, but the tracking to of referrals is in the free level):
I’ve heard this type of gratitude for JibberJobber before… and I love hearing it (especially on a Friday, what a great way to end my work week ). But what floored my was what Paul was doing: 22 Levels?
That is so awesome! That is how an effective job search is done! Talk to people, ask for referrals, do informational interviews….!
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!
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:
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:
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.
Let’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.
>> 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!