A few years ago I went to lunch with some people from my last company. It was a joyous event of asking about this old friend and that old friend, this boss and that boss. It was cool to see my buddies again, and hear the normal old gossip from a place I had so many good memories from.
I remember driving away from the restaurant feeling sad. The feelings of getting laid off years earlier were right on the surface again, and I longed for those good ol’ days, where life was simple, paychecks were secure, I had health insurance, and I wasn’t worried about money all the freaking time.
While it was good to reconnect, it was also depressing, because I was the one who was voted off the island. I was the one who they didn’t trust to do the job.
Recently, I’ve talked to people from three different companies… these are people who have been where they are for years… they have the simple life, secure paychecks, health insurance, and friends at work. They are in leadership or management positions where they can even impact the culture of their office.
They. Have. Problems.
Problems to the point where they are saying “yeah, I’m looking at other options.” Or, “I’m getting ready to look for another job.” Or, “I’m working on my own business on the side.”
Early in my job search I was jealous of people who were working, but I didn’t have to dig too far to find out they were miserable. Dead-end job, bored, bad bosses, dying industry, rumors of layoffs and downsizing, lack of passion for what they do, etc.
I looked at my abnormal career path of being an entrepreneur, and how hard this is in many ways, and longed for the way things were.
But recently, I found out that they way things are, in organizations I used to be involved in, are not what I would want anymore. Even with the quote-security-unquote, the culture, the limits, the problems, are absolutely NOT what I want.
Folks, a layoff can be a time of career cleansing. It can hurt, and it can be embarrassing, and it can change your life, but it can be a great opportunity to reset your career.
Where you on the wrong path?
Where you working with toxic people (but too tied to the paycheck/benefits/retirement to leave)?
Where you simply just not happy (even if you were in denial)?
Getting laid off is a great time to reset, rebuild, reevaluate.
I invite you to take some time to let this happen. Let yourself be open to the idea that that job is in the past, move on, and see what direction you are going to go in the future. This is YOUR future. You are a FREE AGENT. The choice is YOURS.
When I see stuff like this it reminds me of when I first learned about it, when I was a job seeker, thinking how unfair it was that I had my stupid Excel spreadsheet to track my job search, and the people I was sending my resume to and interviewing with had sophisticated software. No more! Now the playing field is leveled, since you can use JibberJobber…. !
Want to see what an ATS is/does/looks like? I found this company while poking around the internet and started digging around. I went to the Tour link and saw this 1:30 video. If you are wondering what HR and recruiters might be using to figure out if you are worthy of an interview. Here’s the video:
Remember, this does not apply to every company you apply to. Some will use an ATS, some will not (even if they have it). My recommendation is still to network into the company before you play the “resume black hole” game. That’s not a fun game.
Many of you know I was “the first” to write a LinkedIn book (now in the fourth edition). In fact, one person wrote his before me, so I was “the second.” I’m cool with that.
What you might not know is that I’m a nerd for communicating on our Profiles. While I have a bit of “cobbler’s kids” syndrome (that is, he made shoes but his kids were barefoot), I do love picking apart other people’s Profiles and seeing where there is opportunity for improvement.
I focus on (1) being found, which is usually about the search engine and showing up on the front page, and (2) being readable in an engaging, interesting way. What I didn’t say in the newsletter: I also focus on giving you actionable advice…. stuff you can actually do.
I loathe jargon and cliche, and I love helping you stand out in a way that not many do.
If this sounds interesting to you, you can pay at the link below and then send me your profile information. I’ll do a recording of my critique, which might be from 12 minutes to 20+ minutes (depending on how much you have to critique, usually), and then I send you a video file you can watch as often as you want.
I have done this for executives, professionals, entry-level, solopreneurs, career coaches, resume writers, branding specialists, outplacement pros (and their candidates (actually, for outplacement firms I offer a higher level, one-on-one service for their candidates))… it’s been a fun opportunity to help so many people.
A few months ago I did a critique for Tom, who I’ve known for years as someone who is very strategic about his career management, networking and branding. He already had a very good profile. After he watched the critique, these are some of the things he wrote to me:
“WOW! You’ve provided a great deal of excellent advise.”
“Fortunately I’m not in transition but I want to be ready for my next move no matter who’s choice it is…”
“EXCELLENT point about the professional headline. I definitely need to add …”
“Yet more excellent feedback about my volunteer work for… “
“You have provided a wealth of information and I thank you for that. It certainly is hard to be objective about myself so you’ve really helped me see many areas that I can improve my profile to help recruiters get to know me not just my skills and experience.”
I don’t normally get depth of feedback from people, but like I said, Tom is purposeful, and there is a reason he has weathered career transitions so well.
I want my JibberJobber users to have short, less painful transitions. Building our brands and nurturing our network is a big part of that. Shall we do this together? Click on the link above and I’ll do my part…
On LinkedIn there is an article proposing the ultimate interview question. I don’t agree with the author.
Spoiler alert: he says the ultimate interview question is “What did you learn last week?” The author makes a case for this being the ultimate question… but I’m guessing he is someone who really values learning and curiousity… both great things. My experience, though, is that most interviewers aren’t even close to ready to ask that question, much less understand great answers to the question.
If I were to interview someone right now, I would ask questions about their skillset (we are a technical company and I need to know you have the breadth/depth of skills for the job) and experience and results (if it’s a sales role, I need to know you’ve been a rainmaker). My series of questions, and their answers and attitudes, will hopefully help me understand if this person has integrity, will fit into my culture, and of course able to do the job.
But none of the questions I ask would be the ultimate interview question. Most of these questions will sound run-of-the-mill and boring.
The ultimate interview question, I think, will be the one that the job seeker asks.
You see, I’ve got my list of questions I’m going to ask the final 10, or 5, or 2 candidates… and after a while all the answers will sound the same. Once I get it down to the best of my list, you will all be admirable. Each of you will have your own strengths, and some weaknesses, but overall, any of you might be the right hire.
If you really want to knock my socks off, and show me that you CARE, and WANT this job, then don’t wait for me to ask the ultimate interview question. You should bring your own question. Show me that you’ve done your research. Show me that you understand my company, customers, competition, challenges, etc. Show me, with your question(s), that you are a smart thinker, and anxious to attack some problems.
I want to hire someone who is, as my college programming professor said, “high speed, low drag.” That means they aren’t going to sit around waiting for me to give them direction. Show me that you are ready to take initiative, and you don’t need me to hand feed you your tasks.
Having laid that foundation, what are some great questions you could ask in an interview? I’m not sure there is one question that will show all of those things… it will depend on the company, industry, culture, and how the interview is going (and how interested/engaged the interviewers are)… but what are some ideas of questions you might ask to position yourself as the right person to hire?
This weekend I had an interesting dialog on the Execunet LinkedIn Group about what you can or can’t say to job seekers. At one point in the dialog this comment was made:
I’m not going to go into any of the conversation, but this line struck me as interesting. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say most guys don’t color their hair. So, when they are at “that age,” and in a job search, and the hair is going to give it away… doesn’t it make sense to color the hair?
So, this is not a blog post where I’m going to tell you what to do. I think YOU need to make your own decision. Here are two of my opinions, and then I want to hear what you think in the comments.
Jason Alba Opinion 1: Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it, unless you have always wanted to do it, or if you are doing it for reasons other than the impression during a job search. In other words, if you are doing it to hide your age, usually in preparation for an interview, then do not do it. I think it’s like when you look at someone’s LinkedIn Profile, then when you meet them they are twenty years older… there’s just something weird there.
Jason Alba Opinion 2: If you choose to color your hair, for whatever reason, have it done professionally. Especially if you’ve never done it before. It’s really easy to do this wrong, and have it look horrible.
So… that’s my opinion. I’m keeping it short because I want YOU to add your comments.
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.
My team is very proud of the breadth and depth of what they have developed!
Let me share a bit more of what we do.
The article says:
2. Use JibberJobber to Keep Track of Information You Collect During Your Job Search.
This is a great observation, even though it’s something I don’t talk about enough. But here’s how it works. If you find information about a target company, contact, job opportunity, etc., and it might come in handy later, while you network or interview, you should collect the information. Store it in JibberJobber, obviously.
Here are the other two from the list of ten:
8. Use Insightly to Manage and Organize Business Cards You Collect.
This function is usually referred to as “customer relationship management” (or, CRM). This is what I normally talk about… and how most people describe JibberJobber: as a CRM! So, I don’t want to talk anything away from Insightly, but I will suggest that JibberJobber is a great CRM designed especially for job seekers. The job search process, networking into target companies, etc. is what we are all about. Our free version is highly functional and quite awesome. For a small optional fee you could have everything we have to offer. (quick note on Insightly: their free version has 2,500 records, which is NOT the same as 2,500 contacts and/or companies. Every note, email, etc. (stuff we would call Log Entries) counts as a record… which will add up). I’m sure they have an awesome system, but my point is, we now hit two of the ten points of the Time article.
9. Use Contactually to Create an Automatic Follow-up System
Ah, the brilliance of a follow-up system! I remember the phone call when I was talking to a user and he said “JibberJobber is my follow-up system!” Ever since then I’ve thought about that… he didn’t refer to it as his organizational system, or tracking system, or CRM… but a follow-up system. BRILLIANT.
I had been talking about the power of follow-up in my presentations, but never referred to JibberJobber as a follow-up system. But I do now. Keith Ferrazzi said “if you want to be more successful than 95% of your competition, all you need to do is follow-up.” I didn’t match that concept with JibberJobber until my user said it was his follow-up system. That is why we have introduced some of the features we have recently: to help you follow-up. Time recommends Contactually, which is actually another CRM… it has some special tools to help you reconnect with people, or prompt you to reconnect with people. JibberJobber will move into that realm, but the reason why my dev team said we do this is because of our “Recurring Action Items,” which is basically scheduling an Action Item to recur multiple times (like, “email Jason once a quarter.”) We’ll have more functionality like what Contactually does down the road. (you’ll find that all CRM systems leap-frog each other with features… one day you are ahead, the next day you are behind… )
As a job seeker, you won’t want to get THREE CRM tools. Pick one. More importantly, USE IT! Picking “the best” CRM, but not using it is really a waste of time and energy.
Get it? USE JibberJobber! Don’t just sign up, but actually use it. Your entire career could depend on it.
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!
For a few years the new buzz word in training for resume writers is how to write a resume to get through the ATS system.
ATS is “applicant tracking system,” which is kind of like JibberJobber for the recruiter. They aren’t tracking a relationship with YOU as much as they are tracking specific job openings, who applies, and who gets to have an interview with a human.
I guess that is tracking you, kind of. But only as far as that specific opportunity goes. There is no relationship nurturing going on… it’s all about filling open jobs, and weeding out the high percentage of people who shouldn’t have applied in the first place.
You can imagine how resume writers want to write a resume that will get through the ATS, and eventually get to the live person. I haven’t completely wrapped my brain around the technology, but I’ve understood that most jobs people are hired for are with companies that are smaller, and might not even know what ATS means. I’ve focused my advice more on networking into a job than on monkeying around with your resume to get it better (which I call “hiding from your job search,” since you can do that for days and weeks and not really get any closer to getting an interview).
But I keep my ears open to what the experts are saying, and am always looking for any information I can share with you. When I saw this article on LinkedIn from Louise Kursmark, I knew it would have important information. I think this is a super-important perspective because she is a well-known resume writer who has trained hundreds, maybe thousands, of resume writers. Louise gave me permission to repost her article here (original post)… I hope this helps you with your job search strategy today!
ATS: I Couldn’t Care Less
ATS – Applicant Tracking Systems – cause a lot of twitter and chatter among job seekers and resume writers. I might even call it an obsession about finding the keywords, mimicking the job posting, and designing the document to get through the automated screener.
Personally, I think that obsession is a distraction from the real work of job search.
Even if your resume is a perfect match for the job posting, you have a very small chance of being chosen for an interview. That’s because your resume is one of dozens or even hundreds competing for just a handful of top slots. It’s likely at least a few other candidates will have qualifications that are slightly stronger or a background that’s just a bit closer to the ideal specified by the recruiter or employer.
So it’s easy to spend a lot of fruitless time trying to rise to the top of a very large pool. And when you don’t, you feel frustrated, discouraged, maybe even depressed and angry.
My advice: Have a keyword-rich, simply formatted resume that stands a reasonable chance of making it through the ATS. Then, spend less time applying to posted openings and more time getting referrals into the companies you’re interested in.
Use your network to find a connection, ask for an introduction, and start a dialogue. 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.
Chances are very good that you’ll be able to parlay many of those conversations into actual interviews for real jobs. Even if you don’t, you’ve built another strand in your web of connections that will ultimately lead you to your next job.
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?
Thank you, Louise, for a real perspective and great advice! There really is no way around doing some of the hard work in the job search!
This post is to document the power and importance of the “Log End Line” when using the Email2Log. You don’t *have to* use the Log End Line, but a few scenarios came up recently where I really understood how (1) powerful it is and how (2) important it is.
This blog post is kind of long, but it’s a lot of pictures, and it’s meant to be comprehensive coverage of the Log End Line.
Note that the Log End Line is optional (you don’t have to use it), but I hope that after you go through this post you’ll know why you should use it (at least sometimes).
What is the Log End Line and Where do I set it up?
The Log End Line is one of the three fields you fill out in order to activate the Email2Log feature (remember, this is a premium feature). Mouse over Logs, then click on Email2Log:
Then, you’ll see the form, where the third field is for the Log End Line:
You can put anything you want as the Log End Line. I do not recommend putting anything that any normal human being might put in an email, like —————–, ____________________, ==================, *****************, or other such characters. Those might be normal separators that anyone could type in, and it would effectively mess up what you are trying to do with the Email2Log.
Our example (see the red dotted line in the image above) is a series of characters that most people aren’t ever going to type… it’s kind of hard to type that string. That’s what I’ve been using for years. You can simply copy and paste that into the Log End Line textbox, if you want.
How and when do I use the Log End Line?
I include my Log End Line in every email that I send. My email signature looks like this:
Every email client I know of allows you to create an email signature. This way you don’t have to retype it every time you send an email. (As a side-note, I’m really big on signatures and think they are powerful personal branding tools!)
I never delete this, as it simply looks like a natural line separator between the body (which goes above) and the rest of the email signature. So it doesn’t detract or distract.
The main idea behind, and most common use of, the Log End Line is that anything after the Log End Line IS NOT included in a Log Entry created when you use Email2Log. To say it in a more technical way, the Log Entry created will be truncated after the Log End Line. More on that in the next section.
Tip: some advanced users will put the Log End Line under their email signature, and then change the font to white, so it isn’t seen by email recipients. I don’t do that, but I think it’s kind of clever
What does the Log End Line do? (Part 1: Power)
The power of the Log End Line is that it truncates your email so you aren’t creating long Log Entries with a bunch of unwanted text. Use the Log End Line to smartly cut the Log Entry so that you only have what you want, and not all the superfluous stuff. For example, in this image you can see I have NOT edited my Log End Line, which means that ONLY my reply will be in the Log Entry created by Email2Log.
However, the original message is really something I want to include in my Log Entry (it gives my reply context, and it includes a phone number and location for this contact – that’s good stuff). Therefore, with this email I would actually delete two characters (I do two simply because it keeps the Log End Line symmetric… I could delete just one and it would have the same effect). Here’s what the new one looks like, less two characters.. note that this ENTIRE email is going to go into the Log Entry:
Is it hard to see the difference between the two? That subtlety is exactly what I want … I don’t want you to think “oh, something is different… WHY?”
Tip: If I want to include some stuff below my email signature, but not EVERYTHING below my email signature, I will copy the entire Log End Line and paste it where I want to truncate (for example, after your name or your email signature, in the case that there is stuff your email signature (like a disclosure, or more of the email thread), and then I will go to my original Log End Line, above my signature, and then delete two characters.
This ability to truncate your Log Entry, simply by putting a string of characters (aka, the Log End Line) in your email, is POWERFUL!
What does the Log End Line do? (Part 2: Importance)
Did you know you could put some special lines into your email and multiple the power of your Email2Log Log Entry? For example, with a few lines in the email I could make the Log Entry an Action Item, and I could associate it to other Contacts, Companies and Jobs. This is really cool. My email might include these special lines:
Some important information about each of these lines (which are all optional):
This creates an Action Item. You can put in a date, like 12/12/2014 or you can put in something like + 1 week or + 3 months, etc. Sometimes you’ll know the date for the Action Items, sometimes the date doesn’t matter (“ah, remind me in a few months”).
contacts: (or, contact:)
You need to have at least one email address. You can have more, separated by commas. If you put in either of the examples below, it will (a) associate this Log Entry to an existing Contact with the same email address, or if it can’t find that email address on any of your Contacts, it will create a new Contact record. The key is that it is looking for and matching based on an email address, not on a name. Examples of what this line might look like:
contacts:firstname.lastname@example.org <– no FirstName or LastName required – I’m assuming this is an existing Contact in my system, and it’s only going to associate the Log Entry, not create a new Contact record. If it doesn’t find the record, though, it will create a new Contact record and the FirstName will be the email address (so put the name!)
contacts:”Jason Alba” <email@example.com> <– this is FirstName LastName (no comma)
contacts:”Alba, Jason” <firstname.lastname@example.org> <– this is LastName, First Name (the comma makes all the difference!)
contacts:”Jason Alba” <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org <– this has more than one contact, separated by comma (note, whether I put in one or multiple contacts, I always use contacts instead of contact… just my habit)
companies: (or, company)
Separate Companies by commas (which means, if you have any commas in your Company records, you should remove them, or this feature gets mixed up). Like Contacts, JibberJobber will try to find an existing Company record and associate the Log Entry to that record, but if it can’t, it will create a new Company record. (yes, this is new, this week! Before this week it would not create a new Company record.)
jobs: (or, job)
Like Contacts and Companies, JibberJobber will try to find an existing Job record and associate the Log Entry to that record. If it can’t find a match, it will create a new Job record. This is also new, as of this week! Before this week it would not create a new Job record.)
Commas are powerful! Just like companies:, you can add multiple jobs on this line (you rarely will, but you might), and separate them with commas. If you have commas in your Job records, remove them or this feature gets mixed up).
NOTE: if you have 10 jobs with the same name, the Log Entry will be associated with all of them. This is a nut we need to crack, but for now I would recommend that you have different names for each job, if you want to use this feature. You might do this: Project Manager 1, Project Manager 2, etc. or this: Project Manager – ebay 1, Project Manager – ebay 2, etc. Sorry about this, and hopefully we’ll figure out a more elegant solution.
That is advanced Email2Log stuff… what does it have to do with the Log End Line?
If you put those special lines (to create an Action Item, or associate the Log Entry to Contacts, Companies or Jobs), you HAVE TO put it after the Log End Line.
So, this isn’t going to work, because there is no Log End Line:
This will work, because there is a Log End Line:
So, the Log End Line becomes important because it allows you to insert these other special commands in your email. Essentially, when JibberJobber gets the email, it says everything before the Log End Line can become the Log Entry, and everything after the Log End Line (1) won’t, but if there are any special lines (like you see in yellow, above), it WILL create an Action Item date, and associate the Log Entry to other Contacts, Companies and Jobs.
When would you do this?
Scenario 1: If I have a panel interview at my target company, I’m going to send a follow-up email to the people on the panel, and use the Email2Log feature to log it. I’m not going to include my recruiter in the To or CC, but I might want to associate the Log Entry to her record… so I’ll put the contacts:____ with her email address. I’ll also put the Companies and Jobs lines in so that the Log Entry will also be associated to the target company, and the job I just interviewed at.
Scenario 2: If I send an email to you, but then I forget to do the Email2Log, I can forward the sent email to JibberJobber, and put contacts:______ in the body, below the Log End Line. For example, this will create a Log Entry, but it isn’t going to be associated to anything (because the contacts line is NOT below a Log End Line):
This one, however, WILL create the Log Entry and associate it to the right Contact because the contacts: line is after the Log End Line:
Whew… I know this is a long blog post, but I wanted to get this all documented in one place.
Do you have any questions or suggestions? Feel free to leave them in the Comments below, or use the Contact Us form or email us directly