Fridays, slow days and holidays… oh my!

June 30th, 2006

What do you do on a weekday, holiday, or slow day? You know, the days when no one seems to be around? Even the automated e-mail replies aren’t coming back to you? You know what I mean – this is the wierd part of the job search. It definitely is tempting to “play hookie”, take some time off or “call in sick” on your job search.

Actually, it is quite easy to do this. But if you are serious about your job search you have to keep at it. If nothing else, having some personal daily goals will be helpful here. Here are some example goals – note that the number is based on your personal situation (seriously looking vs. “just keeping your ear to the ground”):

– I will make 10 new contacts a day (put them in your network in JibberJobber)
– I will do 1 informational interview a day (could be at a target company, as you network in with different people)
– I will make contact with 1 new company each day
– etc.
Note that you can have a goal of submitting x resumes per week but you must ensure that you are not after crazy numbers on resume submissions (like to all the jobs on monster) – it has to be reasonably balanced with other parts of your job search. Yes, submit to real job postings, but don’t have a goal of 70 per week just to have 70 per week. This will lead you to an artificial feelings of successful work. Get the point?

Here is what I think would be good for a slow day, especially a Friday:

  1. Make sure to meet your daily goals (as per above).
  2. Take some time (enough to do this exercise justice, but don’t dwell on this too much!) to recap the last week and see how your daily and weekly goals went. Were they realistic? Do you see any positive results from what you’ve done?
  3. Plan your next week. Take the goals that you have and figure out your game plan – how are you going to make 10 new contacts on Monday? Or each day of the week? Who specifically will you call, at what time, and what will he ask him/her?
  4. … did you meet your daily goals (see #1 above)….
  5. If you have any loose papers take care of them. All those little notes with names and numbers and dates – put them into JibberJobber once and for all.
  6. Take some time to make sure that you are taking care of yourself physically (get out of the chair and go on a walk – even if you don’t feel that you deserve to) and your loved ones (if you have kids, spend some time with them).

It is hard to gain a proper balance since you should be looking for a job, and you have a sense of urgency to do so, but you also have to maintain your sanity.

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Do Job Boards Work?

June 29th, 2006

Job boards are fun, frustrating and mysterious. We all know that some postings aren’t real (or so they say). And who likes applying to a job posting and not getting a reply – ever?? It is way different than meeting someone is person or having some other connection. Its funny how the experts will coach a job seeker on etiquette during the entire job search but some managers, HR staff and recruiters won’t reply to e-mails, or phone calls, or have a real conversation with a job seeker. Isn’t there some kind of etiquette/respect training for HR about how to communicate to people that don’t work for them yet?


I’ve gone to some workshops and other educational forums talking about effective job search techniques. Typically the outcome is something like this:

1. The most effective use of your time is networking and directly contacting potential employers, and
2. The least effective use of your time is job boards and classified ads.

So the numbers come down to 4% effectiveness of job boards and about 13% effectiveness of classified ads – or somewhere around there. One point in presenting this number is “if it is only 4% effective, then spend only 4% of your time with job boards.”

Here are some thoughts on these statistics. You have to know, one of my favorite books is “how to lie with statistics.”

1. how current is the info?

I had a chat with the owner of a job board who also has other products and services for job seekers. He is in-touch with the job search process and has come up with some cool technology to help the job seeker. When I said that job boards were only 4% effective he noted that this statistic is outdated – I think from around 2000 or 2002. We talked about this a little and he mentioned that in the earlier days of job boards where not used properly, but a lot has changed in the last few years. He has a great article that he wrote on how to use a job board effectively – check out It really is worth your time to read as it comes from an “insider” and subject matter expert.

2. what is your job search “marketing strategy”?

Let’s assume it really is 4% effective. If you were running a 100 million dollar business would you neglect 4% of your income? No, you wouldn’t. As a matter of fact 4% of your income might represent 50%-100% of your profit! I totally agree with the experts that you should not spend a whole lot of time on job boards (I spent at least 4 – 7 hours a day on job boards during my first few weeks of unemployment) – but you must understand what your job search strategy is, how much time you will (or need to) spend on job boards, and then make a plan to execute that strategy.

I found that a terrific way to cut down on the time spent on a job board, yet still capture the value of the current postings, was to set up an “agent”. this is what eBay and other sites call it – it is the thing that allows you to put in your preferences (or what you are looking for) and it will e-mail you all of the matches each day or week. This is a great way to participate in the job board world without getting sucked in and browsing and browsing and browsing through the jobs.

3. are these numbers applicable for all types of job seekers?

I don’t think that the percentage of effectiveness is true across the board – perhaps it is an average of a very broad sample. I’m sure some industries rely more on job boards where others are more tight-knit. If you open the classified you find a lot more low-paying jobs, probably with higher turn-over. I’m guessing that the percentage of truck driver jobs found online and through classified ads is higher than these stats state. Maybe there are certain regions that the numbers vary, or conditions of the economy, etc. My point is, I think the numbers are a good starting point, and cause for thought, but there’s more to it than accepting them at face value.

4. are all job boards equal?

Absolutely not! Last count I heard was about 40,000. There are the big boards (you know who they are), the regional boards (like those from your newspaper), the affiliate boards (based on religion, industry, interests, etc.), the company boards (Intel, eBay, American Express, etc.)… the list goes on. So where do you start? Where do you stop? I have no idea. Perhaps there will be a library article on that later, from someone that knows more than I do. I imagine that recruiters, coaches and other experts will have varying input on this question.

My conclusion is that job boards should be used – the right way – and within an overall strategy. Don’t make the mistake I made and spend hours upon hours in the early part of your job search on the boards. Yes you should use them, but you want to use them to your advantage and effectively.

More on that later…

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Who Cares About You?

June 28th, 2006

Weird experiences in the last few months. As I’ve worked to let people know about JibberJobber since April, I’ve gotten very interesting responses. It has really helped me understand what resources the job seeker can have access to, at least according to the sponsoring agency.

Of course, everything that I’ll write will have a pro-JibberJobber slant… a big slant 😉 But that is because I have seen how helpful this tool is for people to help themselves. I personally think that there are thousands and thousands of people out there that are looking for something like JibberJobber to help them in their job search – and to prepare for a job search. So there’s my bias.

I’ve loved calling people (career counselors, and those that work with job seekers) and showing them the system – the response is always positive. I love it when I talk with someone and they say “I want my brother/son/boyfriend” to use this – this is perfect for them!” What an endorsement.

But I’ve been somewhat surprised by some other responses… mostly from government.

One common response comes from government agencies – state and federal. They love it! But, they say they can’t put a link on their website, or put flyers in their offices because it is “endorsing” a private entity. Hm. I’m confused… for a couple of reasons.

First, isn’t employment a huge issue everywhere? Even when the unemployment rate is low (like now) it still costs tons of money. They say they can’t endorse something by… an… um… American citizen. Interesting. I like our government – but there are some weird, unfortunate things going on here.

I thought that the government was here to help us, and be fiscally responsible (I know, I can hear you snicker as you read this). Do you know who is funding America’s Job Bank? Why in the world does the gov’t feel that they need to spend money to create and maintain one of the 40,000 job boards available? And why, if they find out about a great services/tool for the citizens, can’t they tell the citizens??

So, let me sum this up, without sounding like a dunce. As a job seeker I expect that resources that I pay for (taxes) to help me in any way that I can. I am disappointed that state and federal org’s are not more helpful, sharing really good resources. Instead, they focus on spending money on things that I can get elsewhere (so they are competing with the private industry…), and keep resources like JibberJobber a secret.

In all fairness, there is one exception – the state of Maryland has a great resource page to help people find jobs, and have links to helpful non-gov’t resources.

Go figure.

P.S. – any exception to gov’t sites will be big news in this blog – just let me know.

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Are you cheating on your employer?

June 27th, 2006

I’ve read a few things on doing a job search at your office – that is, at your employers office, with their computer, internet connection, etc. I was surprised to read one article talk about how to do it – make sure your boss knew, make sure you knew what the HR policies are, etc. That may be good and true, but even if it is within the policies at your office, you really are opening yourself to your employer (you know, the “internet cops”). I realize that this is a little different in a contracting environment.

But here is the problem. In my last job, I was the General Manager of what was essentially a start-up IT firm. I felt that if I would do things that everyone should be doing (networking, having an updated resume, etc.) I was essentially *cheating* on my company. Actually, I felt worse about *cheating* on my employees. How does it look if your boss, the guy that is trying to instill a strong culture and work ethic, is spending his spare time working on the “safety net”… especially at a small firm? Not too good. I spent a lot of time with these guys talking about where we were headed and building momentum that was exciting – and made it exciting to work there.

… and then I was laid off. Really, I should have been working on that safety net. Here is what I wish I would have been doing:

  1. Keeping an updated resume
  2. Maintaining relationships with recruiters
  3. Keeping tabs on the job market – I had been in small business for so long that I wasn’t up to speed on certain common job titles, roles, responsibilities, what skills are considered current, etc.
  4. Have at least 2 interviews a year – sure you aren’t looking, but this is a great way of networking, and seeing how other companies do things
  5. Go to network meetings – rotary or alumni sponsored or local interest (within or close to your specialty), etc.
  6. Written more articles to be published in my arena – this builds credibility and gets my name out (in other words, builds/reinforces my personal brand)
  7. Tried to get at least one speaking engagement a year – whether at a university, association, etc. Again, build/reinforce your personal brand – you should establish yourself as an SEO in something
  8. Network
  9. Network
  10. Network… and network some more

I think one of the hassles of networking is keeping track of the relationships, contact info, etc. using JibberJobber helps you keep track of all of this information – you should focus on the relationship, not on a tracking spreadsheet that you are constantly tweaking. Of course, I’m preaching to the choir, right?

So, go ahead and cheat on your employer. Create expertise, build your brand. In reality, doing this adds value to your employer – I think that’s what people refer to as a win-win!



JibberJobber updates

June 26th, 2006

This is the first of a weekly communication on what was updated in the last week.  In the last few months there have been a number of new, cool updates, and we just kind of snuck them in.  From now on you can read about these updates on a weekly basis.


This last week saw more little polishing, based on user input.  In addition to little changes here and there, there are two that merit more of a spotlight (both are Premium features):

1. Network Goals (see description below)
2. custom order of the output when you export to CSV.  We found that some programs (especially Palm Desktop) are a pain to use when importing other files, especially if the order of the fields does not match what they want.  So we allow you to determine the exact order of fields, so that the import into those programs is easier.

The COOLEST update that is in the system is the Networking Goals.  Here is how it works:

Let’s say you have 50 people in your network.  Let’s say that 2 are 5-star, 5 are 4-star, 7 are 3-star, 1 is 2-star and the rest are 1-star.  Well, aside from creating a network, you need to continually improve your relationship with people in your network!  This new feature in JibberJobber allows you to say something like:

My goal is to improve 1/3rd of my relationships for all of my network in the next 30 days – in other words, move 33% of my network contacts from whatever ranking they are in to at least the next level.

The cool thing is that you can have various goals – all at the same time.  So, you can choose to improve:
40% of the relationships that are 1-star,
10% of the relationships that are 3 star,

The goals are all confined within a timeframe that you set, and there are cool reports that show you how you are doing on your goal, who you have upgraded, who you haven’t upgraded, etc.

Quite cool.

What’s to come?  Still more improvements based on user input – this is stuff to make the system easier to use, more intuitive, more powerful.  And of course, building on the recruiter relationship to enrich *your* relationship with others that are helping you in your job search.

More update news next week :)

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Already have a job? Don’t need to look?

June 23rd, 2006

I went to a networking meeting where a CxO came and spoke to us, with the idea to give us encouragement and ideas in our personal job search. It was interesting to learn about his company, his perspective of the local economy, etc. But I found one of his comments to be very interesting. He said “… if I were in your situation I would …” Wow. What a powerful statement. I would have thought the same thing about six months ago. But things have changed – my paradigm has shifted.


One simple reason: I’ve met too many mid and high level managers who were entrenched in their companies, with an immense amount of knowledge, that have been let go. These are folks with advanced degrees, great customer relationships, and “indespensible”. Sound familiar? Is this you?

The funny thing about the presenter is that in his speech, when he said “if I were in your situation” it sounded as if he was saying “I would never be in your situation because I’m too valuable to my company, but if I were…”. And sitting in the room was at least a dozen former executives that were “too indespensible”.

Lesson learned: you are always eligible for termination. It really doesn’t matter who you are, or where you work. So what are you doing to prepare for it?

When I had my last job I wasn’t preparing for a job search. I thought that if I networked I’d be cheating on my company. I didn’t even have a resume ready – it took a week to get it ready enough to send out! I thought if I worked on it (all I had was a company computer), word would get out… and that would be bad. I learned a big lesson – I hope that you – no matter how *secure* you are in your job right now – are preparing for a job search.

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Its Blog Time

June 22nd, 2006

I’m just a normal guy that has had a normal experience, and I have a desire to share what I’ve learned (and what I learn every day) with people that are still in the rat race.

First, a little about me. My name is Jason Alba, and I have been professionally involved in information technology for about 9 years. I got my start as a web intranet programmer at Simplot in Pocatello, Idaho. It was a trememdous experience for me, as I learned a lot about new technologies and their use in business settings. I later went on to work as an IT Manager, CIO, VP and finally General Manager (not at Simplot). During that time I earned a BBA in Computer Information Systems and and MBA from Idaho State University.

After 6 years at the “same company”, I was let go in a strategic downsizing. I thought that my biggest problem would be that I would have to *choose* between four (or more) different job offers – what a dilema that would be! What I found was that, even though it was a “job seeker’s market”, and my state had a terrific 3.5% unemployment rate, getting my next job was not that easy.

I spent hours and hours doing the wrong things. Even though I had friends and family review my resume, I found it still had some issues that were precluding me from getting any call-backs. I thought that my education, job titles and experience would get me where I needed to go, and finally realized that what a job seeker needs to do is different than the credentials that a job seeker has.

In short, I have learned a lot about being a job seeker, what works, what doesn’t, and everything that goes with it. This blog is my little corner to share my observations with you – it is my hope that your job search will be personally rewarding.