My last post was on the 6th. Not too good for a guy who has said he has “blogged every day” since we launched.
Where have I been the last 13 days?
Well, we (my wife and I) decided to move. Sell our house and move to another house. There is a bit of crazy, a bit of urgency, and surprisingly, a whole lot of peace. We’re actually moving in with my in-laws, who are also selling their house. This year they have needed a bit more care than they have before, which means my wife has been with them and I haven’t worked as much as I would have liked. Living together will change that, and I’ll be able to focus more on work.
I know that living with family is unconventional, but hey… I’m an entrepreneur. Since when do we do things the conventional way?
Anyway, since we decided to put our house on the market now instead of “maybe next July,” I’ve been working from about 6am to 11pm getting the house ready for people to look at it. This mean finishing the finish work (doors/baseboard, etc.) in the basement, putting in carpet in the basement, painting 5 (kind of 6) rooms, and attacking about 100 small to medium jobs around the house. It also meant getting boxes and packing tape an filling my garage with boxes filled with stuff we normally use in our daily lives so that my house is more appealing to people who walk through. All of this is stuff our realtor encouraged us to do. Show more floor and more wall space. That means pack, dejunk, patch and paint holes… and then the house will appeal to others.
This very quick decision and weeks of work was not something I was planning on. But it consumed me. Luckily I have a team that has carried the ball for JibberJobber… all projects we’re working on have continued to make progress. We have enough systems in place where the progress of the company doesn’t depend on my being here every minute, which is nice.
So… there’s my ‘splaining. If you have reached out to me and have not gotten a response, now you know why.
More importantly, let me draw this back to you. When you got laid off, where you planning for it? Had you prepared for it? We took 12 years of living in this house, and raising a family (which means beating up the house a bit), and tried to fix all of that in 2 weeks. That was what I did with my career…. I took years and years of work in my career, or, better said, neglecting my career management, and tried to fix what I had neglected in just a few weeks of my job search.
I didn’t know what I was doing, I decided to do it alone, and I failed miserably. To the point of depression. I worked about 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, but instead of working on the right things, the right way, I spun my wheels mostly looking for jobs on job boards, and applying online. What a misuse of my time.
When we decided to put our house on the market, we got a realtor, and he recommended a handyman to help with our huge list. The handyman even did things that I could have tried my hand at… but to have him work on his list while I worked on my list was awesome. Not only did we get more done, I didn’t have to learn the what and how that he had learned over many years. A job that took me two hours to do was something he was able to do in literally two minutes.
The correlation here is that the realtor is like a coach, who has been down this path before, and knows what I should do and how I should do it. The coach is also the handyman, or knows who the right handymen are, and can get me the help I need (or can outsource) so that I can focus on the things that only I could or should do. Like, figure out what exactly to pack, and what I need to leave unpacked.
I tried a DIY job search with me and my spreadsheet. It was a long, depressing mess. If finding a job… even The Job, is your goal, you really should get the right help, which will allow you to focus on the right things while you outsource the things that you really shouldn’t spend time on.
The last few weeks have been really exciting on the development side of JibberJobber. One of my developers is rolling out a major enhancement to the job postings which should add considerable value to each user. Another developer is working on a very cool enhancement to the video library which, of course, should add considerable value to each user. Another developer is fixing and tweaking little things here and there to make JibberJobber more intuitive, flow better, etc. Why? To add considerable value to each user, of course!
While they are working hard, and our users are working hard on their job search, we’ve had some unplanned and unfortunate downtime that has been beyond frustrating. Let me share with you what happens, and the why of the last few weeks, and what we are going to do about it.
When JibberJobber goes down at least four people, including me, QA, the developers, and the server admin team, get an email alert, immediately. Shortly thereafter, I (and Liz) start to get emails from our users… some are very kind, some written out of sheer frustration. Bottom line, we know it’s happening… we’re just not sure why it’s happening. But we jump in and work on figuring that out. There have recently been three reasons why JibberJobber has gone down, which I share below. Note that we haven’t had any data breaches that we are aware of, and no user has lost any data. If there were a data issue, we’d revert to our backups, which run at least once every 24 hours.
Server software incompatibilities. There is a certain software on our server that provides a necessary function. However, we’re pretty sure that this software, which I won’t name, has caused our server to crash multiple times over the last few years. This is kind of the worst scenario because the resolution is that you have to physically touch the server (which means, if it’s after hours, someone has to get out of bed, drive down to the server farm, and sit there and get it to reboot), and has sometimes taken hours to get back up. We should be switched off of the software this week or next week, and have this issue behind us. I really, really hope that this is the problem, and that the solution will give us long-term peace of mind (which we haven’t had for too long).
Bad guy users. Well, I’m not sure I would call them users. Maybe losers is a better word. These are people who get a free account, and then, as a “user,” abuse the system. The latest, last week, which took our server down for 10 minutes (kudos to my developer who identified the problem immediately and resolved it) was posting multiple job postings per second. It was too much activity and took the server down. The resolution is to find things like that, and remove the ability for a user to abuse. In this case, only allow someone to post X number of job postings every Y minutes, or something like that. The immediate solution in this case was to terminate the user and block their IP address.
Horrible, horrible, people. The most frequent issue we’ve had lately has been hackers or spammers. They haven’t gotten JibberJobber accounts, they just set up servers from multiple places to attack our server. We have had this kind of activity coming from about 15 different countries, and have worked on blocking them when we see them… there are some automated server-side solutions that look promising, to handle this 24×7, without us looking and blocking all the time (which is exhausting, and very distracting). We have applied one as a band-aid solution and so far it’s doing a pretty good job (although we have had some issues with regular users who were blocked). Once we get the server software incompatibilities fixed, we’ll move to a more long-term solution for this issue.
The bottom lines:
I’m hopeful that our strategy moving forward will make JibberJobber more reliable for you. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
This week I wrote How much money do you need to start your new business? In the comments, Kim write that it was a liberating post that helped free her mind of the layers of reasons why she couldn’t start her own consulting business.
This morning I had another thought… kind of like a “and another thing!” that just came to me. It’s a simple concept but very, very powerful. Imagine two scenarios:
Scenario 1: Get $100,000 of funding. For whatever reason, you need a lot of money to get started. This could be for equipment, tools, clothes, staff, rent, salary, etc.
Scenario 2: Fund-as-you-go, or funding through sales. You can start today, looking for a consulting customer, and you have everything you need (your brain, a phone, an email account, and… that’s it).
Here’s the thought I had this morning: Stopping a business that you have funded, with your own money or someone else’s, is kind of hard. Well, stopping it isn’t hard, but what do you do about the $100,000 that you borrowed? You could sell the stuff you bought, but you might not get dollar for dollar. What if you have a basement full of stuff (like a heat press machine for making custom designed shirts and hats and stuff), with a payment on them, or an investor that is expecting you to find customers and make sales… that is hard to end.
If you are funded through sales, then it’s easy to “stop.” You have no outbound financial obligations… you just stop working. Take a few days off. Take a few months off. Perhaps pick it up next year… no big deal. And what’s great about this? It’s just as easy to start it up again as it is to stop it again. I’m not saying to be fickle, but when we are taking about freeing and liberating, having a business that doesn’t start out with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt is more flexible…
Pretty cool, huh?
What does loyalty mean to you?
A few years ago I was talking to an HR person who said, with disgust, that there is no more loyalty from employees to the employer.
Anyone want to comment on that?
I’m a pretty loyal guy. I left my last company at least a year after I should have left, only because they laid me off. I was too loyal… and somehow expected the loyalty to be reciprocated.
Every week I hear stories from people who were let go. They gave their companies everything, and many times, went above and beyond. These were people who had cut costs, increased revenue, where a good cultural fit, etc. etc. They were even loyal to their companies.
There is no (or, reduced) loyalty because companies aren’t as loyal as they used to be. No one feels secure in their job. Everyone knows that they could be gone next year, and likely will be gone in five years. It’s always in the back of people’s minds.
This is why “career management” is so critical. Keep your eyes open, strengthen and make new professional networking connections, and pay attention to what your brand is. All three of these strategies/tactics will come in handy that day you get your pink slip.
I’m not talking about buying a McDonald franchise… or staring a manufacturing business… I’m talking about how much money do you need to start a services business.
I have a friend who wants to start a marketing and PR business. He is talking about getting funding to get up and running.
What he could do is approach angel investors (VCs would have no reason to talk to him), and get money to have a location, a staff, and pay for marketing material, memberships, his own salary and health benefits, and other stuff he needs to get started… OR, he could just put on his nicest clothes, hit the street, and find his first client who pays him money.
I call this option funding through sales. While it seems contrary to what the Silicon Valley trend has been, which is to get as much funding as you possibly could, I think funding through sales is a brilliant way to start your own business.
Now, taking off the rose-colored glasses, I’ll be the first to tell you that funding through sales is not necessarily the easiest, or fastest, way to success (and feeling peace of mind), and even paying your bills. In other words, it can be really hard to fund your business through sales.
In the early days of JibberJobber, I decided to not spend the six to twelve months looking for investors, and spent those six to twelve months working on my business, and working to increase revenue. It was very hard, but I was also working on a product model, not a services (like consulting) model.
My message, though, is that business is really quite simple. You have a service, which might be your time + your knowledge, and you find someone or some company who wants to pay you for that. Then, you spend your time, and share your knowledge, and they give you money. More succinctly, you provide supply to meet their demand. You don’t need to get a fancy car, or buy a new wardrobe, or even have any glossies printed out… you just need your time and your knowledge. And they just need to pay you.
When I started JibberJobber I had a friend who I met at the local job search club. He started a consulting business the same week I started JibberJobber. His income, within weeks, was over $10k/month. Mine was inching it’s way up to about $100/month. Again, mine was a product, his was consulting. Many times I wondered if I should have done some consulting just to float my company for a while. It would not have been a bad decision.
Want to start your own business? Don’t think you need to get a secretary and office space… you might have everything you need to get your first, and tenth, customer.
Let me share the message I get from a lot of job seekers, almost to the word:
“I am looking for a new job… do you know of anything?”
Or, just as bad:
“Do you know any recruiters I should talk to?”
Here’s another lame attempt:
“Will you check out my resume?”
I get these questions regularly… and they make me cringe.
I don’t know you, or what you do, where you want to work, what title(s) you have had, or what titles you want to have. I don’t know what kind of recruiter to introduce you to, and honestly, I don’t want to introduce you to any of my recruiter contacts because if you came at me with such ambiguity, you’ll probably just send a generic resume to my recruiter introductions, which I bet will go to their deleted folder.
Please reevaluate your communication to people, when you ask for help, and see how close to those vague inquiries your requests are.
What is better than that? Simply let people know exactly who you want to be introduced to. For example:
“I’d like an introduction to someone who works in the XYZ industry. Do you know anyone you could introduce me to?”
“I’m looking for project managers in the area… do you know any project managers here?”
The first part of this is exactly who you are looking for.
The second part is a simple yes/no question, asking if they know someone. The next step would be to ask for the introduction, of course.
People want to help you… but they can’t if they don’t know how. I realize that one of the most important things we can do, as job seekers, is to help people help us… and to do that, they need the right information, and an invitation to help. Are you giving both of those?
Let me share what apparently is a secret to most people: the secret to making (or getting) people to want to help you in your job search.
I say this is apparently a secret because in the 10+ years I’ve been intimately involved in helping people in their job search, it seems that very few people actually know about this tactic. Here’s an example scenario:
Scenario 1 (what happens 99% of the time)
You: Jason, can you help me? I’d like an introduction to John Doe…
Me: Sure… let me make that introduction.
Then, I make the introduction, and I never hear back from you. I wonder what happened… I wonder if you even reached out to my contact, and if you did, how did it go.
Scenario 2 (what should always happen, but I hardly experience it)
You: Jason, can you help me? I’d like an introduction to John Doe…
Me: Sure… let me make that introduction.
[shortly after I make the introduction…]
You: Jason, thanks for that introduction. I just reached out to John Doe and have a lunch set up for this week. I really appreciate your willingness to connect us, and that you trusted me with your friend.
I don’t wonder, because you followed-up… I know that you respected the introduction, and so far, feel good about this new connection. I hope that lunch this week goes well, and honestly, would like to know how it goes (which means, another follow-up).
Now, the point of this post is to get more people to want to help you more. When I experience Scenario 2… that is, when the person circles back and tells me that (a) they acted on the introduction I sent, and (b) what they did, I find myself thinking “who else should I introduce to this person?”
I’ve been on the phone with people while they tell me what they did after the introduction, and as we are talking I’m thinking of other names I’ll send an introduction to as soon as the call is over.
I trust that the person will treat my contacts right.
You may hesitate a little to “bug” the person who sent you an introduction, but let me tell you, it’s much better to “bug” them with a short follow-up message, reporting back, than to not talk about it again (where they’ll just wonder if you did anything).
Try it – today, circle back, follow-up, with the people who have given you introductions… even if you are just saying “Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I just emailed this person and hope to have a conversation this week…”
That simple gesture shows you respect and appreciate their trust in you. And they’ll want to help you with more.
One thing I’ve learned from the last ten years of being an entrepreneur is that I need to continually reinvent and evolve.
Ten years ago I thought my business was going to go down a certain path, and I could see “the end” of that path.
Very quickly, within a few months, I started to realize that the path was going to be really windy… not straight at all. I had no idea I’d write a book, and then another, and then another… I had zero clue I would do thirty courses for Pluralsight, or that I would write blog posts for resume writers, or white papers for thousands of dollars. I had no idea I would get on planes and travel the US (and to Istanbul) as a “professional speaker,” or that I would even speak at chapter meetings for the National Speaker’s Association, or that I would have a DVD on how to use LinkedIn, and create a library of how-to videos for job seekers.
I just thought I’d make JibberJobber better and better, and make a bunch of money from people who appreciated it and decided to upgrade.
What I’ve learned over the years, though, includes:
There is more I’ve learned, but I want to focus more on what this means for job seekers than for me, as an entrepreneur.
I know the job search is uncomfortable. Many times, it sucks. But realize that this is your time to reinvent, evolve, realize your loyalties and define your core, reassess your focus, figure out personal marketing (which you’ll use the rest of your life/career), and understand yourself more.
Take advantage of this time… once you land your next job you might find yourself back in a rut with no time, too focused on work, and continuing to ignore yourself and the health of your career.
The professional headline on LinkedIn is the line that shows up directly below your name. For example, here’s mine:
One of the most common questions I get about the professional headline, from people who are looking for a new job, is: what do I put here? Do I put the title I used to have, or do I put that I’m open to new opportunities (or any of the dozen other ways to say that)?
For a while, my answer was to focus on your value. What do you bring to the table? That is what you should put there. The reason I said this is because the professional headline is one of the first branding impressions that someone can get about you, and in some cases, it’s the ONLY branding impression they might see of you on LinkedIn. Don’t be too generic or vague… have a solid branding statement that accurately depicts your strengths now, and where you are headed.
Then, I heard about a friend’s husband who changed his professional headline to show that he was a consultant (I think that is what he did). He immediately had a very interesting reaction: people congratulated him for this big step in his career. He did this so that he could “fill a gap on his resume.” This is why a lot of job seekers become quote-consultants-unquote. The unintended impact of changing from “looking for work” to “consultant” is that his friends essentially said “great job, now you have landed, and I don’t have to worry about helping you anymore :)” He quickly realized what he did and changed his professional headline back.
The argument for putting “I’m looking” is that it let’s people know you are open, and could even use some help (networking introductions, referrals, etc.). It also tells recruiters and hiring managers that you are available immediately, and don’t have to tie up the same loose ends that someone in a job would have to tie up.
The argument for NOT putting “I’m looking” is that it might make you look like used material, and worse, that recruiters and decision-makers might discriminate against you because you are not employed. This is a real thing, but I think that since 2006, it’s gotten a lot better (since so many people were out of work). My argument, especially in the early days, has been to focus on what you bring to the table (your skills, passions, etc.), not on your employment status.
Note: Do not put your past title… unless (a) it is the exact same title that you are looking for next, and (b) really, and simply, communicates what your brand is.
So, those are the two sides…. what do you think? What should someone put in their professional headline, if they are unemployed, or looking for a new job?