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Interview Follow-up Checklist (Mary Elizabeth Bradford)

September 15th, 2014
career coach, resume expert

career coach, resume expert

Here’s an article on the Careerealism site by my friend Mary Elizabeth Bradford: The Best Interview Follow Up Checklist

Her points (read the article because she has more details):

  1. Find Out The Next Step
  2. Don’t Think The Worst
  3. Use Your Common Sense
  4. Leave A Great Follow Up Voicemail
  5. Send A Thank You Letter
  6. Include A ‘P.S.’ In Your Follow Up Letter
  7. Send A Follow Up List Of Short Testimonials

Note three opportunities to FOLLOW-UP! As you follow-up, focus on potential long-term relationships, not just on a yes/no answer. Of course you want a yes/no answer, but if you change your mentality from “it’s a numbers game,” you’ll leave less casualties on your job search journey and strengthen your network size and depth (of relationships).

Attitude is so powerful, isn’t it?  Just going through the motions without the right attitude will be detrimental (trust me, I did that).

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Why Veterans Aren’t Getting Hired

September 12th, 2014

sultan_camp_headshotI saw this blog post somewhere… I thought it was going to be a junky, unqualified article written by an entry level writer or someone who was writing nine points for SEO… but then I noticed it was written by Sultan Camp. Sultan works with veterans and helps them land their next gig. He’s a military recruiter.  He’s definitely qualified to make these observations, and I know that he shares them in the spirit of helping you NOT make the mistakes he lists.

Congratulations on Your Military Service… Now Here Are 9 Reasons Why I Won’t Hire You

Below are his 9 points – read the article here so you can get all the details.

  1. You Can’t (or Won’t) Accept That You’re Starting Over
  2. You Believe You’re Unique (Just Like Every Other Transitioning Person That Day)
  3. Your Resume Is Longer Than the CEO of Our Company’s (or Shorter Than a Recent College Graduate’s)
  4. You Didn’t Proofread Your Resume
  5. You Don’t Have a LinkedIn Profile (Or, Even Worse, It’s Not Complete)
  6. You Think Social Media Is For Kids or Sharing War Stories
  7. You Didn’t Prepare For The Interview
  8. You Wrote a Thank You Note (But Only to Say Thank You)
  9. You Don’t Know What You Want to Do

What do you think? Don’t comment based on this list – you have to read his post to see what he’s talking about. And then leave a comment on his post, which already has over 100 comments.

NOTE: JibberJobber gives one year of free premium to veterans.  Just get an account and then use the Contact link to let us know you are a veteran!

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How To: See What I’ve Done This Week (New Homepage Widget)

September 9th, 2014

On a webinar recently someone asked for an easy way to see what I’ve done.  There is the awesome Log Entry and Action Item Report, which allows you to get a bunch of different reports, including “what I’ve done during this period of time.”

But I was thinking of something more simple… actually, something that we have already pretty much done.  Well, we’ve done probably 90% of the work.  This suggestion from the webinar was a nudge to help us understand we needed something else… please welcome a new Homepage Widget called “Log Entries.”  This is basically a report to show me what I’ve done this week.

First, notice that my Homepage has no widgets except one: the Action Item widget:

jibberjobber_widgets

I click on the Manage Widgets link (see arrow, above), and I can see this new widget in the list:

jibberjobber_widgets_log_entries

I click on the checkbox, then click on save, and I am now showing this widget, which shows me what I have put in, this week, as a Log Entry, on the homepage!

jibberjobber_widgets_log_entries_homepage

Remember, I can drag those widgets around and reorder them, either on the homepage or on that manage widgets box.  For me, these are the two widgets I’ll have up all the time.

Pretty cool, huh?

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I Judge Based On Your Appearance

September 8th, 2014

jason_alba_beardYesterday I shaved.  It wasn’t a normal shave, it was an EPIC shave.

You see, for the first time in my life, I grew a beard.  It was a five or six month beard.  I’ve never gone longer than two weeks before.

But this time I did it for a youth educational simulation where I played a role, back in early June.  And then, what the heck, I might as well save it for the youth simulation in early September, right?

I’m not really a beard guy. I won’t lie and say I “enjoyed it,” but it was for a good cause, and I could handle it for a few months.

Yesterday morning, less than 12 hours after we got home from our Saturday event where I played “wicked King Jason” with about 230 boys and over 200 adult volunteers, in a two-day training program, I shaved the whole thing.  I shaved in stages, first with lamb chops and various styles of goatees, all the way down to a tiny ridiculous-looking mustache.  My wife, a cosmetologist, helped me, and took pictures until she couldn’t hold the camera anymore (she was laughing/crying too hard to take a good picture by the end), made a very interesting comment:

“Stereotypes are really powerful!”

She said this around the time I had lamb chops and mustache that kind of dripped down my chin (imagine a goatee without the middle part).  This has never been my style.  My wife’s unspoken message was that I looked [ridiculous, scary, stupid, uneducated]… you fill in the blank here.

She knows me, and my heart.  But that facial hair stuff gets in the way T the stereotypes that comes along with that style gets in the way of 20+ years of knowing one another.

There are things we choose to do that stereotype us – from our dress to our language to how we move our body.  We don’t think it’s fair that people look at our ‘stache, and judge us for living how we want to live.  Why don’t they just judge us by our hearts, intentions, and who we really are?

Are people really that shallow?

Yes.  They are.  We are.  We all are.

We have all judged people by an outward appearance.  It might be something that person chose, like their color coordination, or something they didn’t choose, like their skin color or accent.

But we judge.  It isn’t right.

I wonder if it’s our fault for how we choose to express ourselves, or is it our fault for how we care so much about how others are, really, not like us?

Either way, discrimination is bad, wrong and ugly.

So where do we go from here?

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Glassdoor: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

September 3rd, 2014

Nick_corcodilosNick Corcodilos (Ask The Headhunter) wrote this post: Can I trust Glassdoor reviews?  It has been travelling around the internet quite a bit since he posted it yesterday.  Nick’s answer is awesome, so I’ll let you spend most of your time reading his answer (and the comments there).  The comments I’ve seen from recruiters is that they aren’t buying the value of advertising on Glassdoor (although I’m sure plenty of companies/recruiters are).  They are talking about the difference between a user-generated feedback and review site, which can be valuable, and the old-fashioned, cliche job board model… and the disconnect between the two.

So here’s my good, bad and ugly:

The Good: 

I think it’s awesome that people can come and leave reviews on companies that I’m interested in.  The information you can learn from the reviews can go broad and deep.

The Bad: 

People will lie.  We see it on all of the review sites.  Giving someone the ability to leave something anonymously, without accountability, will empower the honest people to write the truth… but not everyone has honest and integrity. Some people will be vindictive, or exaggerate (for better or worse).

The Ugly: 

Apparently, some company employees are misrepresenting their companies with too much positive, to try and squash a negative.  Blatant lying that companies do, just to have a more positive company or a better rating in Glassdoor is not just bad, it’s ugly.  It’s gaming the system, and I’m sure Glassdoor programmers have thought long and hard about how to give freedom but control the lies.

So that’s it from me.  Check out what Nick and his commentors have to say: Can I trust Glassdoor reviews?

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Thea Kelley on Informational Interviews

September 2nd, 2014

thea_kelleyI love informational interviews.

Maybe you didn’t get that:

I LOVE INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS!

If there is any shortcut in a job search, it is doing informational interviews well.  If you are looking for a “silver bullet,” look no further.  This is it.

Thea Kelley is a savvy career services professional and friend.  She recently wrote this post: Informational Interviews: 10 Tips for Success.  Her model for an informational interview is more formal than mine is, and I say never, ever do number 3 on her list… but everything else is pretty solid.

Come up with your own system, and your own rules, but DO these!  It’s fun, it can be immensely productive, and it can really help you get closer to someone who will have a big impact in your job search.

One thing she is missing, and it’s one of the most important parts of the interview, is asking for introductions to others.  ”Do you know anyone else in this company (or, this industry) that I should talk to?”  Or, “Can you introduce me to any (insert job title here) here (at this company)?”  Or, ask for introductions within the industry….

You go to build trust, which is her #1, and with that trust you should get to a point where they feel comfortable saying “sure, I’ll introduce you to one of my coworkers,” or someone they met at the association luncheon, or someone they know online, or someone at one of your target companies.

And then do it again, with that person.

Have real conversations… it’s not all about getting introductions, but that’s a big reason you are there.

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Being Prepared and Being Lucky: Vazquez Sounds

September 1st, 2014

I am a fan of Vazquez Sounds, out of Mexico.  This is a group of two brothers and their little sister, all talented musicians with a music producer dad.  They put up a video on Youtube and, well, the rest is history.  They seem really, really cool, and I like their music.  Here’s a really cool video worth your eight minutes. I didn’t plan on sharing this with you until I got to 6:55, when one of the brothers was talking about being surprised by their success.  He says they weren’t expecting any success, but it came.  His advice?

“… you have to be prepared… because you never know when the boom may come…”

The boom = success

You have to be prepared because you never know when the recruiter will call.

You have to be prepared because you never know when your contact will be ready to make an introduction.

You have to be prepared because you never know when you will have that critical lunch appointment.

You have to be prepared because you never know when you’ll have a chance to interview.

You have to be prepared because you never know when you’ll have a chance to interview.

Are you prepared?  Or are you wallowing in misery and self-defeating thoughts?

Watch this video – and see the parallels of your journey to a fulfilling and successful career:

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Don’t Count Your Job Offers Before They Hatch

August 29th, 2014

I was sitting at my computer wondering when I would start my new job. I was really excited, and the night before I even dreamed about my first day on the job. I was going to be a project manager at a really cool, bleeding edge high tech company that was recently funded. My new boss had worked managing project managers at Microsoft. I think he left there relatively wealthy, but he couldn’t not work. He would be the perfect mentor: structured, experienced, etc.  The technologists at the company were senior scientists of the like I had never seen or worked with before.

As I was sure I was going to start soon, I pretty much stopped doing everything else in my job search.  I sent an email to my future boss asking where we were at, expecting him to say “come in on Monday!  Let’s do this thing!”

Instead, I got a reply back that said something like “we have decided to go with someone else.  Sorry, and good luck.”

I stared at the screen.

This was the lowest point of my job search.

I was sure that the job was mine.  I was excited about this new chapter in my life. I was ready to move into a more structured project management environment, and get great training from this new boss.

I had ignored the yellow flags because I was so hopeful.  Turns out the ex-MS guy had all of the characteristics of a narcissist and would surely have been a horrible boss.  The two other project managers that interviewed me didn’t even know there was a job opening (the were surprised to even be interviewing me).  There really wasn’t an opening at that company, and I’m not sure why I was allowed to interview.

Within a year the company had closed down.  Good riddance.  Karma.  I wasn’t sad one bit.

But that morning, reading the rejection email, my already frail world had shattered.  I remember going into a trance. I got on the treadmill and just walked and walked and walked.  I had been neglecting my physical self as I focused on my job search.  It had become my “center.”  In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey warns us about choosing our centers.  He says that we have to be careful because if we choose a center (like a job, family, school, church, etc.), and that center fails us, then what happens?  We are left without grounding, direction, etc.

I walked on the treadmill, trying to make sense of the rejection.  It had to be a mistake.  He had to have lied from day one.  Nothing was true anymore.  I couldn’t trust my own judgement.

But I must figure this out.  No one else is going to get this money situation solved for me.  I had to do it.  I had to pull myself together.

Job search experts say that even though you have interviews, keep networking.  Even if you have job offers, keep interviewing.  Even when you have a job, keep looking for a job!

And the rest of the world would say “don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

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What do you do with all the business cards?

August 26th, 2014

jennifer_armitstead_headshotI got a link to this post from Jennifer Armitstead’s daily newsletter with job search tips: What do I do after a networking event?

In her post, Jennifer suggests four steps (my comments after the bold):

1. Have a system for dealing with the business cards ASAP.  I think “system” means process…. whether you have technology (like JibberJobber) or not, you need to have a process.  My old process was to put a rubber band around the stack of business cards and put them in my desk…. not to be disturbed for months (when I coudln’t make heads or tails of any card).  I even had a CRM, but it wasn’t a part of my business card process.  What is your “system?”  I suggest it isn’t “hide them in a dark, cold place right away!”

2. Connect with each person on LinkedIn.  I’m on the fence on this one.  Typically, I say that you should be very careful of this being your “first” contact with them.  Obviously, to have gotten the card, you’ve already had a at least one communication. I think when you reach out after the event, though, you are almost starting over.  You should remind them who you are, and maybe what you talked about.  I think you can group your cards into two categories: (1) I don’t really care about this person, but I’m interested in connecting just to see who else I can meet through them, and (2) I really should nurture a relationship with this person.  I encourage you to focus your time on getting cards and having conversations with the #2 people!  Don’t waste too much time on #1 people!  Anyway, as long as you recognize that getting a LinkedIn connection is not the ultimate goal, go ahead and connect with people.  Too often, though, it becomes the final communication. Don’t let that happen.

3. Arrange follow-up meetings, where applicable.  Going back to my #1 person or #2 person, you should hope to have a lot of people you want to follow-up with.  For some this will be a phone call, for others it will be an email, or face-to-face… but start to stay in touch.  The concept of “nurturing a relationship” is that there are multiple touch-points… which means that your follow-up will not be a one-time thing in your relationship.  Start somewhere, and let it grow from there.  Even if you feel uncomfortable making that first phone call (we all do).

4. Add these contacts to your tickler system.  Tickler System must be Jennifer’s hidden code phrase for JibberJobber.  Add these people to JibberJobber.  JibberJobber is your tickler system.  I find it interesting that she says to add them to LinkedIn, which a lot of people think is their contact system, and then says to add them to your tickler system. This is because LinkedIn is NOT your tickler system.  It is a social network that has pros and cons.  A “tickler system” is your roladex… it has private information and notes that you enter and track.  When I was at the FBI they talked about “tickler” files.  This was something that would somehow remind you of something you needed to do later.  It “tickles” you.  I’m not going to beat a dead horse here, but you need to put enough contact info (first name, last name, email, perhaps company) into JibberJobber, and create an Action Item to follow-up with them next week, or each quarter, or whatever, so you can nurture the relationship.

Great tips from Jennifer – are you doing any of them?  Are you purposefully networking?

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Job Security and Career Management: Will This Ever End???

August 25th, 2014

Last week I shared an article on LinkedIn written by Mike Ballard titled Search Strategy – the landscape has changed for job seekers.  On the Job-Hunt group Bonnie made an interesting and appropriate comment:

Jason, it is sad because the process has no end. If one follows even a fraction of the job search advice and recommendations, it is truly a full time job with overtime.

It’s true – if you are in a transition, and are not working right now, then your job search should be a full-time job.  I got beat up on a radio show once by someone saying the average time a person spends on a job search, per week, is 10 hours.  If you have responsibilities (bills, spouse, kids, etc.) then 10 hours a week is not enough.  Especially if you are looking for a job that pays a lot (because it typically takes a long time to land those).

Bonnie continues, listing the things we’re “supposed” to do:

  • Get active on LI.
  • Participate in groups.
  • Research companies and people.
  • Follow leaders on social media.
  • Study about and write personalized resumes and cover letters.
  • Go to networking events.
  • Watch webinars.
  • Read and write blogs.
  • Get an About me page.
  • Google everything.

She listed things that I’ve heard over the last 8+ years… the “experts” will indeed claim you “have to” do these things.  That’s one of the problems with so many “experts.”  You’ll get advice that’s all over the place, and many of them say “you HAVE TO do this(, OR ELSE)!”

But we only have so much time.  Each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses.  Some of us will gravitate towards research (quiet, peaceful, stressless) while a very small group of others will actually pick up the phone and network.  The extroverts will be fine to go to network meetings, others would rather stay in their pajamas, stay home and read and write blog posts.  What’s the answer?  What’s the best strategy?

I don’t know – I think it depends on YOU, your market, what you are looking for, etc.  There are too many variables to say that everyone must do the same things… you need to figure out what your job search strategy should look like, and determine what from “the list” from experts, you keep, and what you throw away.

For example, I would put a Twitter strategy at the bottom of the list of tactics for most people (unless you are in marketing, and even then it’s questionable).

I would suggest you don’t spend too much time reading blog posts, because that can take a lot of time, and get too comfortable.  Most people aren’t ready to start writing blog posts… they need to do a lot of other stuff first, before they write blog posts.

Just because an “expert” said you MUST do it doesn’t mean that you should spend time on it.  Figure out what is best for you to do, and what will get closer to landing a job, and spend your time there.

I wasted a LOT of time in my job search doing the wrong things.  Eventually I pulled back, evaluated tactics and paybacks, and regrouped.  Here’s a blog post outlining what I did wrong, and what I should have done: Job Search Tips: What I Should Have Done In The First 30 Days

Should you do it all?  NO!  Figure out your job search strategy, throw enough “me time” stuff in there to keep sane (like exercise, meditation, etc.), and take this step-by-step.  And quickly stop doing things that are a waste of time (or, that don’t get you closer to landing the job you want/need).

I know it’s overwhelming.  At some point, you have to turn the experts off and just start doing the right things to land your job.

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