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)

 

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job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

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10 Tips to Getting the Most out of a JibberJobber Upgrade

February 13th, 2014

I have recently spent hours interviewing JibberJobber users across the world, as well as career coaches and resume writers.  I am very interested in hearing what they think about JibberJobber, and what they would like to see… I’m also completely intrigued at what their experience in the job search is like, and what frustrates them.

These calls are exhilarating and exhausting at the same time.

One thing I’ve learned is that people use JibberJobber quite differently.  Based on the input, I wanted to share tips on how to really get the best out of using the premium JibberJobber level.  (we just lowered the upgrade by 40% from $99 a year to $60 a year… tell me that isn’t awesome. See what you get in the upgrade here)

Tip 1:  Create Contacts and Log Entries using the way-cool Email2Log feature. I was amazed to talk to people who upgraded only because they needed more room for Contacts or Companies.  If you aren’t adding Contacts using Email2Log, you are spending a lot more time than you need to.  There is a blog post and video on how to do it here.  Do you realize you could cut out anywhere from 2 – 10 minutes on adding each Contact with this awesome feature?  Not to mention the emails becoming a Log Entry… all in under a second.  Amazing, and super valuable to anyone.

Tip 2: Enter as many Contacts and Companies as you want.  The free level gives you room for up to 500 Contacts and 500 Companies… and it will take you A LONG TIME to actually meet and talk with that many people.  If you only used JibberJobber to store information and conversations on people you talk to, I bet you don’t need that many records.  But some people like “having everything in one place,” and using JibberJobber as a backup to your other contact systems (like LinkedIn, Gmail Contacts, your iCloud, etc.).  On the premium side you have as much room as you want… some people have loaded more than 100,000 contacts.  I don’t really like that, but so far we aren’t stopping anyone from doing it.

Tip 3: Import, import, import!  There are no tariffs here, folks!  Bulk importing is your friend.  It should be obvious that you can import from a csv or vcard (the two most common formats we hear about).  Most people will import once or twice a year (usually when just starting), but let me recommend that if you go to a networking meeting and get a handful of business cards, you simply type those into a spreadsheet, save it as a csv file, and then do one quick import.  If I have 5 or 10, I might do them by hand, but if I have more I’ll make a csv and import… it is much quicker to do data entry on a spreadsheet than on any webpage…

Tip 4: Schedule follow-up reminders to come to your email and/or your phone (text/sms).  My job search spreadsheet did a pitiful job of helping me remember my todo’s, follow-ups, tasks and action items (which are all the same thing in JibberJobber).  When you create an Action Item, you can see it on the front page of JibberJobber (like all users, free or premium).  As a premium user, you can also schedule these to come to your email or phone (via text/sms).

Guess what – those are all the reasons anyone would upgrade!  We moved the other features to the free side… which means if you don’t upgrade you get a ton of value for free…!

But, upgraded users are still not getting all the value they could… I know, because I talk to them on the phone!  Here are six more tips for anyone who uses JibberJobber, whether you are on the upgraded account or not!

Tip 5: Get REPORTS to help you be accountable.  Whether you are showing the unemployment office that you did in fact make contact with three companies the first week of January, or you have a court-ordered obligation to prove you are in an aggressive job search, you can pull reports to help show what you have been doing.  My favorite way of doing this is in the Log Entries and Action Items report, where you can

Tip 6: See pending Action Items. There are various ways to see Action Items, including the homepage, in your email/phone, on a Company/Contact/Jobs page… but you can also go to the Log Entries and Action Items page and show ONLY pending or open Action Items.

Tip 7:  Keep up with contacts regularly.  One of the newer COOLEST features we added is the ability to create RECURRING (or repeat) Action Items.  I know you can do this on your calendaring system, but the ability to do it on a Contact, Company or Job is priceless.  For example, you meet someone at a networking event and know you want to keep in touch with them monthly or quarterly, or maybe just once a year. Simply create an Action Item and make it recurring monthly, quarterly or annually (or whatever makes sense).  This is really a powerful addition to JibberJobber.  It wasn’t easy to add, but it will add a lot of value to you.

Tip 8: Find relevant job postings and enhance your search.  Not necessarily to apply to (works for some, not all)… but these postings could have a wealth of information for you.  Some people are skeptical that applying online will get you anywhere. What I’m saying is to find relevant postings so you can do research.  Here’s a high level example of what I’m talking about: open ten similar postings side-by-side, and compare them.  Pull out key words and key phrases that you might not have thought about and consider whether you should add those to your marketing (aka, your cover letters, resumes, mini-stories, etc.).  You can do a very cool analysis of keywords and keyphrases with our new analysis tool on the Job Detail page.

Tip 9: Do quick research on Google and LinkedIn.  I was talking to a premium user who was doing a lot of research on LinkedIn before he made contact with people, and he was simply going to LinkedIn, typing the person’s name in the search box, and seeing what he could find.  In JibberJobber there are LinkedIn search icons throughout the system that allows you to do that with one-click.  They are usually by the Google search icon to allow you to search and research on Google.

Tip 10: Access JibberJobber from your phone.  Go to m.JibberJobber.com from any phone and you’ll see a smaller version of JibberJobber.  We will be redoing this in the next few months, so if you have any suggestions or requests, please let us know!

A user recently said there is a lot of magic in JibberJobber.  I wish I could simplify it and say “we do this, and we do it well!”  But it is hard to define the “this” because JibberJobber’s breadth and depth have expanded over the last almost-eight years.  Now we are suffering from what I call Excel Syndrome.  I argue that most people use 5% of Excel’s amazing features, and that is really enough. BUT, there is so much more that they could use.

In talking with my users I’ve realized some of the things I depend on and love are unknown, almost hidden features for them.  That’s why I encourage you to jump on any of the weekly user webinars… otherwise, use the Contact form and give us feedback and ask us questions.  We are just as committed to making JibberJobber more valuable to you as we have been every day since we launched in 2006.

 

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job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

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“You’ve been lied to, suckers. Social media won’t help you find a job.” Laurie Ruettimann, and my response

February 4th, 2014

I love Laurie Reuttimann’s blog, The Cynical Girl. She tells it like it is, no holds barred. I’ve quoted or referenced her over the years. After seeing the title of a recent post I was really interested in seeing what she had to say. In this post I want to share my thoughts/responses with my users and job seekers. Her post is excellent, you can read the whole thing here.  Most of the quotes below are not from her, but HR people.

“You are being lied to by the internet. There is nothing here for you, especially a job.”

I agree with the “you are being lied to,” but I think the bigger issue is that people are looking for the silver bullet, and this new-fangled Internet thingy seems shiny and bullet-y.  So yeah!!  Actually… no :(  The internet is a tool, websites are a tool, and none of this replaces the need to find and nurture real relationships (aka, networking).  Maybe you’ll get a job, or the next few jobs, just by being online, but I’m all about long-term career management, and using the same diluted, saturated tool that everyone else is using, and using it the same way they are using it, is not a good long-term strategy, imo.

“One HR professional told me, ‘If you have time to be on Facebook, you are not fully engaged at your job. I don’t want you.’ “

I can’t agree with this, partially because of the comment below about Facebook.  I don’t spend much time on Facebook anymore, except as a quick way to see what’s going on with my friends and family.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time unfriending a lot of people, even quote-unquote-friends.  This comment from the HR professional makes him/her sound like an old-fashioned, out-of-touch, stodgy person who has no friends or family worth staying in touch with.  But I know some people love to get updates and are fulfilled by staying in touch through Facebook.  Some people rely on Facebook messaging as much, or more, as they rely on their email.  I’m not talking about frilly stuff, I’m talking about scheduling piano and dance lessons, kid get-togethers, etc. Who’s the stodgy HR pro to tell anyone they can’t communicate on Facebook?  This generalized statement sounds a bit too much to me.

“Don’t have a personal brand. ‘If you have a personal brand, you aren’t dedicated to the company brand.’ ” 

This statement sounds like it comes from an HR pro that hears the phrase “personal branding” with a lot of bias, and hype.  First of all, I teach that everyone has a brand (including the stodgy HR person from the last comment).  EVERYONE has a brand. Your brand is either intentional or unintentional, but you have a brand.  I agree that if you work for a company, whether you are an employee or a contractor, that you need to make it clear that you are dedicated to the company brand, to some degree.  However, to aborb the company’s brand and have it be yours can suck pretty bad when some HR person calls you into a dimly lit room to lay you off… and you now you are stuck having neglected your own personal career management because you were “dedicated to the company brand.”  When the company is not dedicated to YOU, how can you be dedicated to it to the point of neglecting your career?  Ask the 15,000-ish Dell employees you just got laid off how they feel about that.

“Don’t believe in the false promise of a social network. ‘I like to hire people I know. After that, people who are recommended to me. I want to know you or know someone who knows you. That’s how I hold people accountable for hires.’ ”

I agree with this statement, however, the HR person hires other HR people.  You need to read more into this statement and generalize it so that you understand that you must develop a relationship, not with the HR person, but with the hiring manager!  So how do you get to know the hiring manager?  Meet them!  Do an “informational interview” (but never call it that), or go to the network meetings they go to, or volunteer where they volunteer, etc.  And how do you get recommended to the hiring manager?  You meet people they work with, and you have a brand (that is, you make it easy for people to understand who you are, and perceive you the right way!).  You can accomplish some of this, even much of this, through social networks.  Yes, I do believe that.  But don’t use your social strategy to get out of real, face-to-face, human interactions. Use it as a tool to do what it’s good for and to facilitate finding those meetings that you go to.

“Don’t use Facebook to connect. ‘I’m there to watch my kids.’ ”

I agree with this.  Like I said, I have loved unfriending people on Facebook because my posts and family’s posts are really part of a life that I don’t need broadcast to professional acquaintances.  Here’s an example… would you go to the hiring manager’s house to talk to them?  Would you go to their church to talk to them?  Would you go to the same vacation place to talk to them? I’m sure some people would, but my point is there are some places that are appropriate for prospecting and business meetings, and other places (especially those that are a lot more personal), are inappropriate. Respect those boundaries (which will be different for different people).

“Don’t depend on LinkedIn to connect. ‘I go in there about once a month to clean it out.’ ”

I love this statement because it backs up what I’ve been following for years – look at what Compete.com says about LinkedIn, and how often people go there.  Not that often!  I’m not here to rain on anyone’s parade… like someone who wrote a book on LinkedIn, or does training on LinkedIn… because I still think LinkedIn is a great tool.  But “depending on LinkedIn to connect” (or “to” anything else) is like depending on a hammer to build a house.  Perhaps you can, if you have enough time and are stubborn enough, but it is a lot easier to build a house with all the right tools instead of just one tool that is optimized for a few tasks.  Use LinkedIn as a tool, and figure out what other tools you should use!  And, the HR pro who goes into LinkedIn about once a month shows what a horrible networker he/she is.  I’m guessing that once this person is in transition, he or she will be beefing up their LinkedIn profile, presence, groups and network.

“Skip Twitter. ‘I am the world’s biggest Kai Ryssdal fan. Can I listen to NPR on Twitter?’ ”

I have fallen out of love with Twitter over the years.  When it got more mainstream it seemed to have gotten more sleazy.  It’s just not a place I spend time.  The issue, though, is this: is your target audience spending time there?  Are people who might refer you to their boss spending time there?  Can you “brand” yourself there, to help those people understand what your expertise and interests are?   Just because HR people don’t hang out on Twitter doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.  I’m not saying that you should, I’m saying to determine who is there and see if it is the right place for you to spend time and effort.

“This (social media) is the future….. But the future is not here.” 

I LOVE this quote from Laurie.  I don’t agree with it because it has been around for years (Facebook is ten years old, have ya heard?).  If you were trying to network into HR for your next job, perhaps I would agree with the statement (although there are HR people who like and spend time on social networks for professional reason).  But most of you are not trying to network into HR, you are trying to avoid HR as you get in front of a hiring manager, or someone who will recommend you to a hiring manager.  Ignore social tools at your own risk.  I bet your competition is not.

“Most people still find jobs through career websites, employee referrals and job boards.” 

This statement is too generalized for me.  I know it is true for some levels (minimum wage vs. $100+k salary), and for some industries (fast food vs. hard sciences) and some professions (entry level front desk admin vs product manager), but I am not sure I believe that “most people” find a job though any particular thing.  I remember a few years ago, after I got on the high horse of social media, I met with a guy who got a great job at a great company.  ”How did you land this killer job?” I asked, knowing it was through networking, branding and LinkedIn.  ”I applied to an opening on Monster.com,” he said.  Touché. Monster still works.

“So if you’re spending more than an hour/day on the internet with your job search, you are doing it wrong.”

 I can’t agree with this, either.  Some people only have an hour a day, others spend ten hours a day on their job search.  Some days you’ll spend hours just doing legitimate research. Some days you’ll spend an hour just applying to an opening through the horrid (usually broken) application system, because you talked to the manager and things are going well but they still said “oh, please apply online so you are in the system.”  And, “the internet” has a lot more useful tools than just Twitter… you might spend an hour on JibberJobber, or reviewing a dozen job postings to prepare for an interview you have coming up, etc.

“Get up. Get out. Get off the internet. Get yourself back to work!”

I totally agree.  In contrast to my thought in the last comment, I see too many people who hide behind the internet (email, social, soduko) and try to not do real job search stuff.  You need to know when it’s time to step away from the computer and do other things.  Again, use all the right tools for all the right reasons, don’t just keeping hammering when you need a saw or screwdriver.

One thought that keeps coming back to me, with all of these comments, is the advice that you hear at job clubs and from career counselors/coaches: GET AROUND HR!  Take their advice for what it is worth, but you also need to understand who is doing the hiring.  If HR has a small part in the hiring process, find out who has a big part.  And, I’ve worked with HR people before.  None of them were involved in hiring… they were involved in benefits, legal, etc.  But if they say “I’m an HR pro” and they are not involved in hiring, you might not give their advice as much credibility as someone who actually does hiring.

 

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job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

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Critical Job Search & Social Media Thoughts from a Recruiter (Steve Levy)

January 30th, 2014

Since before I started JibberJobber there was this blogger/recruiter out there named Steve Levy.  I became friends with Steve online, then we roomed together at a conference, and we’ve had phone calls thoughout the years.

I recently asked him for some input on a project I’m working on and he replied back with a link to a blog post that really answered all my questions. It had been a while since I had read Steve’s stuff and I found myself looking through a bunch of his blog posts.  I LOVED this one since it really summed up a lot of high-value tips for job seekers with regard to social media:

Random Social Media Thoughts for #Jobseekers

He really sums it up. If you are new to this stuff, read it and use most of it as your roadmap.  If this is “old hat,” read it and compare what he says with what you are doing.

I don’t want to spoil anything but his last line is absolutely critical to understand:

Job search – like recruiting – is a contact sport. For all the press given social media, in recruiting we like to say that the two most important social media tools are the telephone and the handshake.

Awesome stuff.

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Favorite Friday: The Power of Your Network To Your Company/Employer

December 20th, 2013

One of my favorite concepts, which I was recently reminded of, comes from Phil801 who wrote a blog post back in 2006 titled Social Networks and Corporations.  I wrote a post with my thoughts about it here, on July 5, 2006: What’s your value-add? (Robert Merrill write a follow-up post here, from a recruiter’s perspective)

Here’s the idea: if you have a network, can you bring value to a company or employer (or project or client) by bringing your network in?  Imagine these two scenarios:

Scenario 1:  Your company has a problem which is perplexing everyone on the team.  Everyone has been so busy working for the company that they don’t have any contacts they can comfortably tap into, and they keep trying to solve the problem without getting outside help.

Scenario 2: Same problem but your team has been trained to expand their network and nurture relationships with their contacts.  This is a part of the culture at your organization, and no one (read: bosses, management) feels threatened that you are spending time with others in the industry outside of your company.

Here’s my proposition for you: DO NOT WAIT FOR AN EMPLOYER TO MAKE IT OKAY TO HAVE A STRONG, NURTURED NETWORK!!

Maybe your employer doesn’t “get” networking.  Maybe they are threatened by you having industry contacts.  In my case, I think I didn’t network when I had a job because it seemed wrong (like I was cheating on my employer).  I think it would have been fine, but I had a lot of hangups and assumptions.

I wish, oh how I wish, I would have gotten past my misunderstandings and issues and networked.  Real relationships would have helped me in my last company, through my job search, and in my current role as business owner.

Career Management 2.0 is the new reality, and networking and relationships is a HUGE part of it.  Even if your company doesn’t “let you” do it on company time, do it on your own time, and bring value to your company!

#FavoriteFriday: What’s your value-add?

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Social Networking vs. UnSocial Networking

December 19th, 2013

Many years ago, when I was setting up the categories for this blog, I created a category called “UNsocial Networking.”  I’m sure I giggled when I put it into the list of categories, because really, how can you network in an unsocial way?  Networking IS social!

But the term “social networking” has been hijacked by websites that facilitate networking online.  For example, when someone says social networking they are clearly talking about Facebook or LinkedIn or something like that.

If someone simply says “networking” they are talking about something that scares the pants off of most people, right?  We’re still quite intimidated by the concept of networking, especially if we think of it as a certain thing that we need to do to make sales, find a job, etc.

I would like to define unsocial networking (surely a phrase that will not catch on outside of this blog) as the natural, unscary part of networking.

Developing real relationships.  Having real conversations.  Emailing people.  Following-up with people.

I’m not talking about the used-car-salesman schmoozing.  I’m referring to the simple human interactions that we already do.  I’m not even necessarily talking about a purposeful, strategic and planned networking activity, tactic or strategy. I’m talking about simply talking to someone.

Unsocial networking isn’t scary (unless you have social anxiety, and even then, one-on-ones can be comfortable and not scary).  It is what we as humans do.

Check out the UNsocial Networking category for posts related to regular, natural networking :)

And now, step away from the computer and go do some unsocial networking!

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job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

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What can a poor job seeker give?

December 10th, 2013

When I was in transition (the classy way of saying I was out of work) I felt like my hands were tied.  The experts talked about giving to our network, not receiving, but I didn’t know what I could give.

I couldn’t really take anyone to lunch… how could I justify the expense of me eating out AND paying for someone else?  That was money I didn’t feel like I had, when there were other expenses at home that needed to be taken care of.

I couldn’t really do anything I wanted to do, as far as giving.

I felt like a big mooch.  It was like the “giving” part of networking was only for those who had enough money to really give.  That wasn’t me.

After my networking epiphany, when it all started to make sense, I realized I had the only thing a job seeker would die to get.  It wasn’t the comfort food and false sense of normalcy that going to a restaurant would provide.  It was introductions.

By this time I had started to “get” networking. I was enjoying it.  I was even seeing success, which I wasn’t seeing from my previous pathetic networking attempts.

Because of this, my network was growing and strengthening.  And I finally realized the job seekers I was networking with would appreciate introductions to my contacts.  Introducing contacts to one another put me in an interesting position, and my relationships strengthened… the more I met, the more I introduced, the more I grew.  I started to see success, and I was helping other people. I became, as Keith Ferrazzi dubbed, a “power connector.”  It was win-win-win.

And it didn’t cost me anything.

If you are holding back because you don’t have enough money, I encourage you to think about giving introductions to your contacts.

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job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

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I triple-dog dare you to pick up the phone TODAY

December 4th, 2013

aris_take_phone

I somehow got turned on to Ari’s Take, an awesome blog of Ari Herstand.  Ari is a musician who blogs about how to make money as an indie musician. I’ve been reading a number of his blog posts – they are awesome.  Pretty much everything he writes about is the same stuff I’ve been writing about.  Get the correlation between a job seeker and a musician trying to get on the map?   Too many similarities to list.  I’m sure the parents of a musician probably think they are unemployed.

The post I want to share is Ari’s DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE PHONE. I thought it was going to be a simple “pick up the phone, you chicken!” post, like I’ve written before (February 2007, July 2012, September 2013), … and it has that.  But there is so much more!  This post is rich!

Read the post, get inspired to call someone today… but also study his email strategy.  He talks about one, two, three… even seven or eight emails!  And check out the format, content, and message of his emails.  Check out the email signatures (awesome, awesome!).

aris_take_headshotFolks, I’ve blogged about all this before.  Now I’m sharing Ari’s post because I want to show you that improving your communication (email, phone, etc.) is something you need not just for this job search but for the rest of your career.  Embrace this idea, don’t run from it!  Get better at it NOW, consider your job search a time for personal training and improvement, and it will help you be better for the rest of your life!

Here’s a video of one of his songs, and here is his youtube page. Check him out!

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job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

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Four more weeks until Jan 2. What are you doing to prepare?

December 2nd, 2013

I’ve run JibberJobber since 2006 and have found that January through March or April is the time when most people are (finally!) really serious about their own career management.

December feels like a month when you can’t really do anything… people complain that it’s a horrible month for the job search.  Employees are out of the office, on vacation, and hiring decisions are left until the new year… so why try?

When I was in my job search I didn’t care what holiday it might have been, or whether it was a weekend or 3 am.  I had anxiety, and I felt a great sense of urgency to do something to end my unemployment!  I wasn’t doing the right things, but I certainly wasn’t going to celebrate anything (like a national holiday) simply because everyone else was.  It’s hard to feel festive when you feel like an incompetent.

What’s more, many job search coaches say the holidays are definitely a time to do job search stuff, even if you employ different tactics.  But let’s say you doing believe any of that stuff… what COULD/SHOULD you do between now and January 2nd?

Whether in a job search or not, smart, astute, “self-driven” professionals are going do something.  It might be as baby-step simple as listing 10 – 20 people they need to talk to, or 10 – 20 companies they want to network into come January.

It might be something as in-depth and time-consuming as writing a book (even if it is a small ebook) with the purpose of establishing and enhancing their personal brand.

That “something might be seriously considering, or starting, a side business, to create an alternative/multiple revenue stream and maybe even start down the path of 100% self-employment.

Depending on what your year (or last quarter) looked like, you might simply take this month off to do “nothing” – like read some books or articles you’ve been meaning to catch up on, take a real vacation and mentally, spiritually and physically recharge, to be ready for the next year.

Whatever you do, please don’t give up on December.  Whether it is a strategic and very tactical job search to hopefully get some interviews or offers lined up in January, or a more long-term career management strategy, take the time to do something on purpose to finish out this year.

I can’t tell you what it should be – so you tell me… what will it be?

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job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

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Never again say: “I lost my job.” Instead, say this:

November 25th, 2013

A few years ago I was inspired to write a post suggesting we don’t talk about or refer to “job security.”  The idea was that there is no such thing as job security… of course.  I proposed that we replace the phrase with INCOME security.  That is, I am working on securing my income, which might come from multiple sources (not a single employer), might come sporadically (when I make a sale, or through quarterly royalties, or monthly rent payments, etc.).

Doesn’t that make sense?  Shouldn’t we be working towards securing our INCOME, instead of chasing the 1900′s romantic idea of JOB security?

I thought it was brilliant, and wished I could come up with more of those ideas.

Last week I did.  I was thinking of a friend of mine who lost his job as a programmer.  My wife was concerned for him and his family (the sting of our unemployment can come right back when a loved-one starts their journey) but I told her I wasn’t worried about him at all.  As a programmer of some hot languages, I was sure his job search would be very quick and easy.  And it was.  He has since landed and really has nothing to worry about.

As I was thinking about him, and his very short journey, I was thinking about the scariness, and stigma, of being unemployed. Or, of losing your job.  Especially now, with the holidays near, where we’ll “have to” spend time with family and loved ones, and we all talk about what’s going on in our life… no one wants to be that one person who is unemployed.  The token loser.  Something must be wrong with you.  Right?  I know how it feels.  I was there, for many months.

I was thinking, what if we go away from those stigmas (and assumptions) of “I lost my job,” and shift the mindset (or, have a “paradigm shift”)?  What phrase would change the meaning and take away the sting?  I came up with this:

“My contract ended.”

Think about it… a lot of people have contracts that end.  And when the contract ends, you move on to the next contract.  It’s not a horrible surprise (contracts are meant to end, whereas in some fantasy universe we tend to think that jobs aren’t supposed to end).  Okay, sometimes the contract ends early, but not contractor believes their contracts will end when they are ready to retire.

Contractors should always prepare for the ending.  They do this with:

  • fiscal responsibility (spend less than you make, save money for the bouts between contracts, etc.)
  • filling the pipeline (networking, putting bids out, etc.)
  • marketing themselves (know how to talk about your products/services, know when to talk about them, know who you want to talk to about them, etc.)

An employed person, though, who fears losing their job, doesn’t do these things the same way a contractor does.  The employed person fears losing, the contractor prepares for the loss.

This phrase, when said out loud, changes the course of the conversation.  Instead of “oh, you poor person who must have caused too much friction at work!”, it is more of a “Oh, sorry to hear that, what’s your next contract?”

Right?

This phrase, when you INTERNALIZE it, empowers you to be more in control of your career.  You really do become the CEO of Me, Inc.  You are no longer a victim of a bad boss, of HR, of the market, etc.  You are empowered to prepare for the end of the contract.

Isn’t this awesome?

Many years ago I started working at a janitorial firm.  In the first month or so of that job we lost a $5M contract.  I went to work the next day a little nervous, wondering what kinds of cuts they might make at the corporate office.  The CFO seemed happier than usual, and I somehow remember him whistling in the hallways as he went about his duties.  Later I asked him to explain how they could lose such a big contract and still be happy, or not be overly worried.

He replied that the company had been in business for a long time, and that they had won and lost many contracts.  It was no big deal, and there would be more contracts they would win.  And in fact, they did win many more, and the company grew a lot while I was there.

That mentality is the same mentality that we, as CEO of Me, Inc., need to have.

What do you think?

 

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