Today I’m presenting twice at POAC. POAC is forward-thinking state sponsored outplacement services for professional level Maryland residents (that is my description). Very cool and smart people offering great services… at no cost for Maryland residents.
I can’t remember how many times I’ve spoken here over the years, but it’s one of my favorite places to speak. The audience will be different than those in Madison (WI) and Cincinnati (OH) and in Rochester (NY). More government and contractor types, helping federal agendas and big D.C. organizations. In reality, the needs of the audience are the same: Principle-based job search and career management advice, tips, and tactics. Much like what I talked about in Madison.
Looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new friends today!
I arrived in Madison, Wisconsin last night about an hour after dinner closed at our hotel. Drove through a torrential rain which kind of felt like driving through a waterfall for the last hour or so. It was crazy stressful/fun.
Why hasn’t anyone ever told me about Madison, Wisconsin? This place is BEAUTIFUL! The green landscape is overwhelming (I’ve lived in a desert for the last 22 years, from northern Mexico to Idaho to Utah, I’ve missed all of the green, trees, and oxygen).
Apparently, there are thirteen beaches in Madison. The capital building is the second largest in the country, second only to the White House. The people are delightfully nice. You are right that Wisconsin knows and likes its cheese, but did you know that Wisconsin is a huge paper producer? According to the Wisconsin Paper Council, Wisconsin “is the #1 papermaking state in the U.S.” Utah doesn’t even have a “paper council.”
Anyway, I’ll have more on my speaking tour later. You can see where I’ll be over the next month here. I am not “getting my head in the game.” Tonight I speak to a bunch of people interested in their career. They had to close registration because the room is at capacity. And there might be people who didn’t register but just show up. Like in Minneapolis, one year when I presented at Right Management… people where all along the walls, and even in the halls. I know it was uncomfortable.
I’m not sharing this because I’m awesome. I’m sharing this because people want to know.
They want to know there are options. They want to know what to do. They want to know that what they are going through is okay. They want to know that they’ll get through this. They want to know there is hope.
A few years ago I was at lunch with Dick Bolles and his wife, after a presentation in Danville, CA, and he said “Jason, your message and my message are the same.” I was honored and intrigued. I was curious to know what he thought my message was (he was at my presentation only an hour earlier). He elaborated: “Ours is a message of hope.” Read my immediate thoughts on it in this 2010 blog post.
Do you want to know what I’m talking about in a few hours? I’m talking about hope. And options. And your career. It’s a message I have shared in Boston, and San Francisco, and Tampa and Seattle, in Albuquerque and Houston, and Twin Cities and San Diego, in Salt Lake City and Phoenix. And tonight, I share it in Madison, Wisconsin.
In my job search I had lost hope. And it was miserable, and I was ineffective. I want YOU to have hope, and get out of misery, and get results. That is my message.
In a Wall Street Journal blog post (For Job Seekers, the Black Hole Persists), there’s disappointing and perhaps disgusting proof that the resume black hole is there. Like anyone in a job search needs to read an article to know it’s there.
But for the rest of the world… there’s no question.
Thanks to Mark Mehler and team at CareerXroads, who put together a fake resume each year and send apply for jobs at companies listed on Fortune’s “best companies to work for” list, we can see how these best companies treat applicants.
If this is how the best companies treat applicants, how do the worst companies treat applicants?
To be fair, the list is of the best companies to work for, not companies who have the best, most respectful hiring process.
Employers (should) know that if you are rude and disrespectful to a job seeker during any part of the hiring process, they remember your company and form new opinions about your products and services that run deep and stay for a long time.
Here are some highlights from the blog post:
“… his CV was loaded with the keywords needed to float to the top of today’s automated job-applicant software.” So in this test, they are playing to the ATS algorithms. Note this is not about networking in, talking to the hiring manager, etc. It’s all about the resume strategy, and, optimizing the resume. Yes, do that, but also network into the company!!!
“He was also not a real person, a fact noted at the bottom of his one-page resume.” Later in the blog post you learn that only 2 out of 100 companies spotted that. Of course an ATS isn’t going to look for some statement that this is a fake resume, but from this might we deduct that 98% of companies have no human involvement for much of the process? Mark Mehler, founder of CareerXroads, suggests that “recruiters [only] read the first three paragraphs of a resume.” Lesson? Make those first three paragraphs awesome and engaging!
“…64 never sent Stein any notification that he was not being considered for the job for which he had applied.” This has bothered me for a long time. Companies, please give me ANY notification of a status update!!! I know you have legal and HR breathing down your necks to say nothing, but for goodness sake, be humane!
There’s still a lot of work to do. I’m not talking about automated technology. I’m talking about basic, respectful communication, and managing expectations.
Until that gets figured out, folks, please do not solely rely on the spray-and-pray resume blasting strategy. No JibberJobber user should ever say “I’ve sent out 1,000 resumes and I got nothing… no leads.” Maybe you will send out 1,000 resumes, but JibberJobber users should use a networking strategy that far outweighs any time spent sending emails and applying to jobs online. I know it seems harder, but this is how you’ll get closer to getting your next dream job! Make me proud!
I started JibberJobber as a frustrated job seeker. While other people use JibberJobber, including entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, people who don’t work (but want to manage their network), I regularly go back to my roots as a frustrated job seeker.
I wanted to organize my job search with a spreadsheet, but that didn’t work out. It was a mess. A rat’s nest. What if you just give up, and wing it? Impossible. Once you get deep enough in your job search, you have to stay organized, or else too many opportunities get lost. I’m not talking about job offerings, I’m talking about opportunities to follow-up with people.
Using Excel is a great option, for about two weeks. Then the amount and complexity of data, and what you are trying to track, get’s too messy. And you’ll be tempted to create more and more columns and sheets, only muddying things up worse.
Using a paper-based system (spiral notebook, sticky notes, day planner, writing on your arm, etc.) is an okay system, until you can’t read your writing, and can’t follow anything.
Both of those systems, though, are not long-term solutions. I bet a month after you find your dream job (the one that will end in two to five years), you’ll not be able to decipher what you wrote. It will become garbage, encoded to the point where no one can make heads or tails of it.
When we designed JibberJobber, we were looking for something that would be:
Fairly easy to use: This is a significant challenge because of the complexity of the task. We try and hide as much complexity behind the scenes, but simplifying the UI is always on the top of our list.
Long term: I wanted something that you could use after you land your job, and in five years, and between job searches, and when you got freelance gigs, and even after you retired.
Actionable: collecting and organizing data is one thing… reminding you to act on something is another thing. I missed a key call with a hiring manager because my spreadsheet was messed up (hard to read), and it didn’t say “CALL THIS PERSON TODAY AT 10!!” Instead, I missed the call. I wanted JibberJobber to put those reminders right in front of you.
I learned from recruiters that they hate calling a candidate, asking about their interest in a job they had applied to, and the candidate not knowing what they were talking about. I get that – it’s hard to remember everything, and sometimes we are trying to remember if we had sent a resume, or which resume we sent… or maybe we just mowed the lawn and our brain was somewhere else. But the message we send to the recruiter is that we don’t care. That we’ve forgotten and our interest level was low to begin with.
Why have an organized job search? So you can talk to people, even recruiters, and know what you are doing! So you can sound interested!
JibberJobber helps you stay organized by allowing you to keep track of:
Interactions you have with any of those (aka, Log Entries)
Follow-up you need to do (aka, Action items)
You can even use your email to add new records (email2log).
Look, I know this can be overwhelming… here’s a video that will help you put all of this into perspective:
One of the biggest challenges I’ve seen in the last nine years since I’ve lost my job and communicated with thousands of job seekers is a misunderstanding of who they are. Too often people think “I’m unemployed,” and that label needs to be their brand. For example, when I had a job, my introduction was:
“I’m Jason Alba, the General Manager of this company.”
Then, when I lost my job, it changed to:
“I’m Jason Alba, and I’m…. uh… uh… In transition? Unemployed?”
However you say that new thing, let me suggest that it is said WRONG!!! I know we are used to having a title, and a professional identity, but this new thing is not our title and it is not our professional identity!
Here’s a simple analogy to show you why: Let’s say your neighbor is a master carpenter. You’ve seen his work, and he is amazing. You can say: “My neighbor is a carpenter.”
But, what if your neighbor has all of his tools stolen, and he can’t work until he buys new tools? Is he still a carpenter?
Or, what if your neighbor gets chicken pox or cooties, and can’t work for at least a week. Is he still a carpenter?
YES, he is still a carpenter!!!
His status is “not working,” for the moment. I actually call this his temporary status. But “not working” is not his brand**.
Some people think that when they are in transition they are unemployed. They don’t understand that is a temporary status, and they begin to believe the lie that they are “professionally unemployed.”
Please realize the difference between your brand (including skills, competencies, etc.) and your temporary status.
With this information, you should network differently. Are you an out of work product manager? Break that down to status (out of work) and brand (product manager). You don’t have to wear the out of work like it’s a badge of honor or a badge of shame. It’s simply a temporary status.
Now, go out and communicate better, and more accurately, with your network!
** I use the word brand loosely here, since I don’t think a job title is a good way to brand… but for the purpose of this article, it’s good enough.
Here’s a rough map of my road trip this summer. The yellow asterisks are where I’ll be speaking (some areas will have multiple presentations). This is a trip from Utah to Utah… with a bunch of states in-between Below the image you’ll see details of my presentations… Please come if you can, and let your contacts know about these presentations!
Tuesday June 30 from 5:00 to 6:30 - Madison, Wisconsin
Nick Corcodilos, Ask the Headhunter, shared 6 Secrets of the New Interview from his book, The New Interview (an instruction book), on this blog post.
Here are his six, with my commentary:
1. Insiders have the best shot at the job. They also have the best shot at recommending outsiders for the job. Are you networking with people at your target companies so that you could be recommended by an insider? This, my friends, is what I would call working the hidden job market. How do you keep track of all of your networking touch points, and follow-up conversations? Using JibberJobber, of course.
2. The real matchmaking is done before the interview. Nick says “a headhunter never sends a candidate to an interview unless the headhunter already knows the candidate can do the job.” How do you keep track of which recruiters know what about you? Use JibberJobber to keep a profile on your recruiters, and when you send them what information, and who you have referred them to.
3. The interview is an invitation to do the job. Nick says the interview is not an interrogation (even thought it might feel like one, since the stakes for you are so high!). In JibberJobber there’s a section called Interview Prep, to help you prepare for your interviews.
4. The employer wants to hire you, and he will help you win the interview. Combine the idea of interviewing well and having insiders network you in and refer you, and you’ll be ahead more than if you didn’t do those two things! As noted above, JibberJobber helps with both.
5. The boss wants one thing from you: He wants you to solve a problem. Same as #4 – can you, in the interview, prove you can solve the problem? And, do you have insiders that influence the boss vouching for you? JibberJobber helps organize and track this.
6. You will win the job by doing it. That is, not talking about it, but somehow assuring them that you know how to do the job, without any doubt. This, I think, comes down to your personal brand, and how well you have communicated your abilities and success to your contacts. You can use JibberJobber to keep track of which contacts need to know what about you, and whether you have told them the right stories or not.
In Nick’s post he shares a link to the interview flow chart… this is a complex process, and I can see how JibberJobber could add value to almost every step in the flowchart.
My overall take? LinkedIn Skills is poo poo. I only write it this way because I’m trying to be nice.
I believe that LinkedIn created Skills and Endorsements to get more traffic to LinkedIn, so they could tell their investors: “Look! We have more people coming to our site! Aren’t we great?” Here’s how this works: You get an email that says “John Doe has just endorsed you for this skill!” At first, it wouldn’t say who endorsed you, so you had to click on a link, which brought traffic to LinkedIn. Then you would spend a few minutes trying to figure out what the heck it was, what it meant, and if you should care. But hey, you were now a visitor, and you spent “a few minutes” on the site! Score one for LinkedIn, who now increased their traffic and “time on site” without increasing the value to anyone. Investors like metrics.
Skills are, well, skills. Like programming, training, speaking, dog walking. It’s just a list of things you are supposedly good at.
Endorsements are a count of how many times people say “Yep, she’s a good dog walker!”
You can add Skills to your own Profile. But others can add skills to your Profile, too. I have a bunch of skills that people have added that are inaccurate, meaningless, or not aligned with my personal brand. For example, others have added these skills to my profile, which I would have never added myself: Human Resources, Publishing, Time Management (ha! That is laughable), Lead Generation, Business Process Improvement, Search… and more. Of course, I’ve dabbled here and there in many of these areas, but I would not say I’m skilled at, or expert in, any of them. I’m not even moderately interested in some of them. I’d rather find an expert to help me with those things.
So, a problem with Skills and Endorsements is that people can add things to my Profile that are irrelevant and even misleading. What qualifies them to know that I’m expert in, interested in, or want to showcase one of those skills? Maybe I am a master dog walker, but really, that’s not something I care to have on my Profile. Why does someone else have the power to add a new skill to my Profile? (Yes, I know I can accept, reject, and reorder, but who has time for that? I just ignore this section.)
I used to not be super hot on Recommendations, which is the paragraph that you would write about someone saying how great they were. People said that they would skim those, but they were all flowery and positive, which kind of took away the overall impact. But once LinkedIn polluted the Profile with Skills, Recommendations seemed to be a lot more substantive.
I don’t think that LinkedIn cares much about skills, as far as adding value to the users. Why? Because I can’t find an easy way to search for skills. There is not a skills box in the advanced search options (not even in the advanced search, but I think the recruiter account can search for skills). I used to be able to easily find a skills page, which talked about what a skill was, and showed people in my network who had that. This link has an image of what it used to look like, but it looks like they retired it – none of the skills links work anymore.
In order to look for people with certain skills, you can try this hack that almost works good. First, go to someone’s Profile, then scroll to their Skills section. Then, click on a skill… this brings up a search of that skill. Unfortunately, it’s not a true search of users with that skill… it’s a more general search. But you can replace what you clicked on with what you want to look for… which is the section in yellow, below. It’s a hack that I’d say will work well 25% of the time. That is code for don’t even waste your time trying to search on skills.
My recommendation with Skills has been to drag the section as far down to the bottom of your Profile as you can. It’s a waste of space. It’s useless. Worse, it tends to distract you from doing what you should really be doing to get value out of LinkedIn. Don’t spend another second on it.
Ask me how I really feel
I could go on and on, but this is really enough time spent on this topic. I will share just one final thought, that could negate everything I’ve written about here: when there is proof that the skills you have, and the number of endorsements you have, impact how you show up in search results, then skills will be a game-changer. It will be time to game the system, which is what thousands of people will do, to show up higher in search results. It will make this mess even messier. I really hope LinkedIn doesn’t muddy up the integrity of their system by doing that, but I wouldn’t put it past them.
Back when this came out I emailed a few of my favorite recruiters for their opinions, and meant to write a blog post with their reactions. I can’t find those emails right now, but the general reaction was that they could see right through skills. Recruiters aren’t dumb… they’ve seen enough Profiles and resumes to know what is high value and real, and what is meaningless. No recruiter I talked to was impressed.