DIY Job Search – Part II

July 31st, 2006

Let me match the five things I listed on Friday to five things I should have done – each of these points coincide with the point below (in other words, “first” here matches “first” on Friday’s post, etc.):

First – my resume was bad. While I had some people check it out, these were not people trained in resume development. I didn’t want to get professional help because I knew how to navigate Microsoft Word and I am a smart guy – I could figure it out on my own – gosh, I’ve read enough articles on how to do it! What I didn’t realize was that a resume expert does more than cool formatting. If I had professional resume help early on I would have had a set of resumes and cover letters from the beginning that would have got me into more interviews. I was never getting to the interview stage because my resume sucked.

Second – my job board strategy was incomplete. There were certain criteria in my profiles that I may have not completed (for privacy reasons) – and hiring managers and recruiters were looking me over. I should have spent more time assessing those questions and answering them completely. I now realize that recruiters and HR search on candidates by what their profiles are, and then go look at the resume. I thought my resume would get me the interview, but no one was even getting that far.

Third – I put too much trust in the recruiters. One huge recruiting firm had me believing I’d have a job by the time I got back to my car – sign this paper, here are the benefits you’ll be getting, etc. When I called back the next week the recruiter didn’t even remember my name! As I’ve mentioned before, my favorite recruiter said “you’ll find a job for yourself before I find one for you.” It was then that I began to understand the nature of my relationship with recruiters. Even though I reached out to 29 recruiters I had not one looking for a job for me. My background was too general, while they were looking to fill very specific roles. It is critical to understand how valuable you are to a recruiter – if you are not valuable then don’t spend too much time chasing them!

Fourth – I relied completely on their internal systems and ignored the idea of networking into the back door. I’ve heard that you can’t get around their formal posting process. Cool – post your resume. But, find someone that works there and network your way in. Getting an internal endorsement to accompany your application will go a long ways! Even if it doesn’t work for a particular application, you will now have contacts in that company that may play out later.

Fifth – My metrics for success were flawed. I was measuring the wrong thing – number of jobs I applied to. According to the “what color is your parachute” book, I’d need to send out almost 1,500 resumes before I got a job. There is a better way!

So that’s what I did wrong. My advice in a nutshell:

1. learn to network and do it at least 60% of your job search time. If you want a quick 20 minute primer listen to this podcast interview: Never Eat Alone Author Keith Ferrazi
2. Get professional help. You can get it for free or you can pay for it – depending on your needs and urgency.

I hope this gives you an idea of how NOT to go about you job search – even if you do like to Do It Yourself.

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DIY Job Search – Part I

July 28th, 2006

(DIY -> Do It Yourself)

When I first got laid off I knew exactly what to do.  So do you.  So just get down to it and within a short period of time you’ll start to get interviews lined up.  Here’s what I did:

First, I got my resume ready.  I spent about a week creating my resume from scratch.  I got my brother’s resume so I didn’t have to play with the format and adjusted the information.  Unfortunately I had to spend some time chasing facts – like my calls to the university to ask “what date did I get my CIS degree, what is the exact name of the degree I got, what was my GPA… ” stuff like that.  And I had a few friends and family check it out to see if it was ready for production! Alas, 5 days later I had a resume that was ready to post on job boards.  (note: 5 days isn’t much time… unless you are unemployed)!

Second (during that 5 days of resume creation), I got accounts on CareerBuilder, Monster and Dice.  The local job boards just didn’t have enough postings yet and so I didn’t spend much time on those.  I created little “agents” or whatever they are called so that I could get specific opportunities e-mailed to me each morning.  Oh yeah, has a cool name so I got an account there also.

Third, I looked up and met with some headhunters and recruiters.  Actually, I had to do some research on the issue – it seems a few years ago I heard there were different types of headhunters and I wanted to make sure I got the best one.  My research taught me that indeed there were different types of headhunters – that research ended up not helping because the headhunters I met with all seemed to be the same type.

Fourth, I identified some local companies that I was interested in – the big ones like American Express, eBay, Franklin Covey and others.  I found their job postings (some were not too easy to find – hidden somewhere on their websites) and spent a few hours creating accounts.  By this time I was wishing that all the job boards would have some consistent technology to them – at least let me upload my resume, parse out the data, and then I could just verify that they imported it correctly.  That’s okay, it only took about an hour or so on each on.  Well, except Intel’s site – they were having technical difficulties at the time and I spent about 8 hours there, since I would get most of the way through and then it would delete my entry.  Try again.  But I was sure that Intel may have held the pot at the end of the rainbow.

Fifth, I started applying to jobs.  Got a good cover letter and had a good resume, and I was off!  It felt good to have accomplished so much in so little time.

I should mention that I got input and advice from family – but I didn’t need input and advice from a counselor.  I didn’t have time for that.

And I was off.  I sent out resume after resume, and it was awesome.  Each week I sent out dozens of resumes.  Even though I was down on my luck I knew that I was doing my best, doing the right thing, and that if I got enough resumes sent out I’d eventually land a job.

But it wasn’t working!!! I only got 2 interviews in the first 2 months.  No one was calling back.  What was wrong?  What was the problem with my tactics?  My DIY tactics were not working.

Well, for the sake of not writing a novel, I’ll save my analysis for next week.  Have a great weekend!



Sense of Urgency

July 27th, 2006

I had a cool topic that I was going to blog on today but I just got an e-mail that totally changed that. This topic has been in the back of my mind for a while…

The e-mail was from Company X. You know them – I’m sure you’ve applied there too. Here’s the all-too-common story:

I applied to a sr. analyst position about 2 months ago. I went through their typical online procedure (fill out a resume online, even though I just sent them their resume – you’d think that some of these companies would spend a little bit of money and buy some software to take your resume and dump it in their system – but no – you have to fill out their usually buggy forms).

I get an automated e-mail right away that says something like “Thanks for applying. Don’t contact us. We’ll contact you if we are interested.” (Don’t you love how personal these e-mails are?)

So… two months later I get this e-mail saying “we’ve already hired someone else. Thanks a lot for applying.” Yawn.

What does this have to do with sense of urgency?

My sense of urgency was a 10 out of 10. I wanted to get a job FAST.

They say they are anxious to hire someone, get the position filled, etc. You’d think that every day they don’t have the person in place they are losing money (there is value in having someone do that job – that is why they are willing to pay someone to do it!). They say their sense of urgency is high (lets say 8 ) but they take 2 months to get back?? Sounds like a low sense of urgency to me — like a 2 or 3.

Here is my point.

If you are in a position to be “between jobs”, or if you are thinking about switching, you MUST understand this sense of urgency issue.

Salespeople understand the issue – in sales it is called SALES CYCLE. They find a hot prospect and know that it might be 6 – 12 – 18 months before they close a deal. 18 months is a long time! And the salesperson doesn’t go spend the commission check until the sale is made.

You need to understand that your sense of urgency is going to be DIFFERENT than the company’s sense of urgency. It is not bad – it is just a factmake sure you plan for it. Understanding it will help keep your emotions in check.

Oh yeah – one more thing – if they profess to have a high sense of urgency (ie, they want to fill this position quickly) this might be true, but again, not the same as what you understand it to be. Check out these different perspectives:

Me (high sense of urgency): I want a job FAST. Today. This week! Now!

The Company I Apply To (high sense of urgency): I want to fill this position FAST. This quarter. This fiscal year!

Fast does not equal Fast.

Anyway, just a sanity check. Add this to your job-seeker-mentality.



Am I LinkedOut?

July 26th, 2006

Late last night I was e-mailing back and forth with a job seeker in San Francisco that heard the podcast interview and signed up on JibberJobber. He gets the value of JibberJobber as a tool for his current job search as well as others that he will inevitably have. In his words:

“I am employed but then again, based on everything I’ve heard and seen, that’s the best time to plan ahead and build career change resources.”

So that other tool â?? LinkedIn. It is growing on me (yep, I’m a slow adopter). I remember my first few weeks on LinkedIn – it was a social Siberia. I was lonely. I had no links. It was embarrassing to link to anyone because they’d only be one of … well, 2 connections :)

Now I have so many I can count them all on one hand! I honestly haven’t been soliciting LinkedIn connections, but I never turn a request down (yep, all 5 requests). So I don’t write this as an expert, rather an observer 😉 And yes, I believe that a social networking site like LinkedIn fits in nicely with JibberJobber.

If you don’t have an account with LinkedIn – no matter your status in a job search (even you guys that aren’t looking) here is what I recommend:

Get an account – its free and easy.

Find 10 to 15 people to try and hook up with – this way when someone wants to link to you they’ll see that you have more than, say, someone like me :) Find people from your work, previous jobs, neighbors, other people in your network, coaches/counselors, friends, etc.

Regularly get a new link to someone – this can be a daily goal, a weekly goal, or a monthly goal. The point is, continue to build your online social network. The more links you create the more value you bring to people.

Reach out to a second degree person – every once in a while try and meet someone new through your network. Thatâ??s what it is for, isnâ??t it?

Import the LinkedIn contacts into JibberJobber – take advantage of the ranking as well as the logs that JibberJobber has – so you can really focus on ensuring that the relationships with those contacts increase (if you can measure it, you can improve it).

If you are a newbie at linked in, that is enough to get you started. Donâ??t worry about the super-users in LinkedIn â?? with thousands of connections. Develop your network with consistency and work on those relationships!

If you want to add me, and get me over the hump of only having 5 first degree connections, just search on “Jason Alba”! Iâ??d be happy to be one of your first connections.

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Total Picture Radio Interview … featuring me :)

July 25th, 2006

I am frequently asked why I started JibberJobber, how I started it and stuff like that.  Yesterday I spent about 40 minutes on the phone with Peter Clayton for an interview that you can listen to.  This answers a whole bunch of questions like those above, where did the name JibberJobber come from and a whole lot more.  Of course there are things I wish I would have said, or said differently, but hey, it was my first one :)  Peter is a skilled interviewer and we both got pretty excited about certain topics.  I hope you enjoy it!

One thing that I love about having been interviewed by Peter is that he interviews very high profile people, most noteably the CEO of Jobster as well as the author of “Never Eat Alone”… what an honor to be on the same website as those guys!

 Oh btw, if you ever wanted to know what I look like, my picture is up there too.  Thank goodness for photoshop!

Total Picture Radio Interview


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Exciting Feature Added…

July 24th, 2006

I’ve been anticipating this new upgrade for a quite some time, and I know there are others that have been anticipating it more than I have! I’m really excited about this new functionality.

The newest release news, released last night at about 3am is all about an interface for your COACH. Whether you have a formal paid coach, a mentor, or a career counselor, it is a great help to have another set of eyeballs checking out what you are doing.

This update gives YOU, the Job Seeker, the ability to set up and manage your Coach(es). Here’s a scenario (names may be real – does that spice it up a little? :) )

John is a seasoned executive who is aggressively looking for a job right now. John has immersed himself in best-practices in a job search and has been quite effective. He is also increasing his professional network by leaps and bounds as he spends a significant amount of time in targeted networking.

John arranged to have a professional career counselor, Ron, as his Coach. Ron has weekly accountability calls with John to go over the last week (did you meet your goals, have the meetings been effective, etc.) and talk about the next week (do you need to adjust the goals, what specifically are you going to do to ensure that you can meet the goals?) Having a Coach gives John a persective that really hold him accountable – without the negative emotions that can weigh us job seekers down.

With this new feature John can say “add Ron as my Coach“. Ron will then have a dashboard-like view and see WHAT John has been up to. There are various reports that Ron can pull with regard to companies and network contacts. He can see the log entries that John puts in in real-time. And of course he’ll be able to see general stuff like profile info as well as search on all of this data.

Note that Ron is a Coach for other people, and he will also be able to view their data (if they let him!) – so Ron will have one screen to help him see what’s going on with all of his people. He can narrow down the view to just one person. He can set up a weekly report for John’s search but perhaps he is coaching someone that he wants to review closer – so he can set up a daily report for them.

The implications of this are very cool and powerful. I know that Ron isn’t going to micromanage John’s job search, but just having the ability to see this data whenever he wants is so powerful. He can send an “attaboy” anytime he wants based on the data that he reviews (even if it is on a day when he isn’t scheduled to communicate with John. This is powerful because the job search can be hard and depressing, and getting an e-mail from Ron saying “hey, I just say that you …. Great Job!” can be just the boost that John needs.

In addition, Ron can go and pull the reports right before the meeting with John – so John doesn’t have to spend time preparing the reports, and Ron can go into the acountability session more prepared!
Note that you can be a job seeker with a Coach AND coach someone at the same time! This is a realistic scenerio where you need someone else’s help at the same time that you help others. You know accountants have their own accountants, right?

If you want to get a coach (you have to know who that person is) just go to TOOLS, and you’ll see the coach link in the drop-down. If you want to be a coach just go to My Account, and in the Coach tab you’ll see the checkbox to make yourself a coach. Your landing page will then be in that TOOLS drop-down. If you don’t know have any idea on how to get a coach, consider a professional – I’ll have some listed on my website, or you can go to the Library and look in the articles or links for coaches.
This is just the beginning of the coach interface – I’m sure that I’ll get some great feedback over the next few weeks and design enhancements to this interface.

If you are in a serious job search, find someone that can be your coach and then set them up in JibberJobber as your coach. The ability to share this information is powerful and helpful in your job search.

Aside from this update there are, as usual, some polishing touches that went in in the last two weeks. Just more stuff to make your experience richer…

The next update is going to be big also, I promise – you’ll love it. It might be a couple of weeks out but it will be worth the wait 😉

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JibberJobber for the troops

July 21st, 2006

I have my own opinions about the war in Iraq. I also have very strong opinions about the troops that are fighting over there, whether they are U.S. troops or fighting alongside U.S. troops. I doubt I’ll ever go to war but I have always that perhaps I could help in some small way. Up until now that small way was to work in the free enterprise system and strengthen one of the greatest things about America – for strengthening our system contributes significantly to the health of a country.

But I figured I could do more. I have a cousin that recently returned from Iraq, and I know several others that are serving or have come back home. We’ve all seen the 20/20’s or the 60 minutes on the stresses of returning home, and we all know about troops coming back home to nothing. I’m get sick when I hear about the soldiers who have their families back home on foodstamps – I think that is a disgrace. But they are out doing a job FOR US. And I can give a little more.
Thus, this special offer to troops serving in war right now – the following went out this morning:

Salt Lake City, UT (PRWEB) July 21, 2006 — Effective immediately, is extending a special offer to servicemen to help alleviate the transition back into a new job or career by formally offering free access to the Premium subscription. This offer will allow servicemen all of the best-practice tools during the entire time that they are stationed overseas as well as twelve months after they return home. JibberJobber is used in conjunction with other tools (like job boards) and resources (like counselors and recruiters).

JibberJobber allows job seekers to track the companies that they are interested in, recruiters they work with and job boards they post on. It also allows job seekers to keep track of job applications and the status of each one, as well as important network contacts. There are various worksheets for preparing for an interview as well as a library where job seekers can share their own ideas, tips, advice and stories.

JibberJobber is used throughout the world by job seekers that are frustrated trying to keep track of where they apply, who their contacts are and all of the other information gathered in a job search. Extending this free access is a show of support to returning troops. They already have enough to worry about coming back home – hopefully using all of JibberJobber’s features will ease the transition.

While many features of JibberJobber are free forever, there are many conveniences that are only found in the Premium subscription. These are conveniences that career experts preach and teach, and they make a job search more efficient and effective. This special offer allows our veterans to use these high-end tools and conveniences to more effectively manage their job search.

With this special offer, war veterans will have access to auto-emailed reminders so they don’t miss important follow-up, expense tracker to keep track of possible tax deductions, importing and exporting of their data to interface with Outlook, a PDA and other programs, and many more features.

This offer is available to any serviceman or servicewoman that is overseas and is concerned about career or job issues when they return. Wives or others that are involved in helping these military personnel transition back can actively participate in helping find a job and use JibberJobber along with the serviceman they are helping.

For more information on how to get the free premium account, visit




July 20th, 2006

When I lost my job a few months ago I thought the job search consisted of posting my resume on some boards, calling a few recruiters, and checking my target companies websites frequently to be the first to apply to a new job.

I kept getting bugged to go to a free 2-day workshop for professionals that were looking for a new job.  But I couldn’t go – I was too busy looking for a job on Monster!  This distraction would just be “noise” in my job search.

After month I conceded and went to the workshop.  I learned that I had spent about 95% of my job search time doing what is supposedly about 4% – 17% effective – quite a mismatch.  Even if the figures are outdated, I was still spending way too much time on a very unbalanced job search strategy.

Since then I’ve been sensitive to learning about a good strategy mix.  I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of the amount of time you should spend on different activities.  But I still get this nagging pull from the techno world – and it is alluring!  What of these cool job seeker sites constitutes noise?

With the amazing success that Jobster has been having (most notably their new funding, bringing their total funding to about $50M), and MySpace’s announcement that they are getting into the job search arena, MyJobby and Emurse (I LOVE that name – it jumbles up “resume” and job seekers feel that they are immersed in this process) – oh and you can’t forget LinkedIN – and that is barely the tip of the tip of the iceberg.  What is a job seeker to do?

You can spend a lot of time getting (and maintaining) accounts on MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and everything else.  Don’t forget to get a blog account somewhere… it is free – but are you going to post with regularity and quality stuff – not lame cliche gripes.  Imagine how cool your personal business card will be: 18 ways to get in touch with you and all of these social networking sites to read more about you!

Here’s my nutshell on LinkedIn.  I’ll talk about others later.  This is just me – I’m sure others have had amazing success using these mediums.

LinkedIn – … is a lonely place if you don’t have any invites.  The job search can be depressing enough (you get more rejections or no-replies than a loser trying to get a date) – do you really want to set up an account and have one connection?  Then, anyone that looks at your profile can see that you have one connection.  Nice.  Also, I wonder what percentage of a person’s network is really in their LinkedIn account.

For example, I’ve forged some very important relationships with some big movers and shakers – industry experts, tech hot shots, investors, etc. and I DO NOT want to make them available to the rest of my LinkedIn account.  These relationships might be very early-stage, or sensitive, and I don’t want to blow my chance with these folks by posting their e-mail to a semi-public domain.

On the other hand, linked in is cool, functional, useful, and lots of people find value out of it.  I have enjoyed getting hooked up with people that have other connections, and I have reached out to some of those people that I would have never had a chance to hook up with.

But you can’t walk into it thinking that it is going to be your silver bullet.  It may just be a part of your strategy.

Noise or not?

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Why are there 40,000 job boards?

July 19th, 2006

As a job seeker it is so frustrating knowing that you have to check into a bunch of different job boards on a regular basis just to see if there is anything new posted. I thought I’d get an account on Monster and be done with it. But alas, I had to get an account on CareerBuilder, and of course Dice (that is the biggest board for techies, which is where I was looking). And then I found that some larger companies had their own boards that I had to check because they didn’t post on any of the 3 I already mentioned. Oh yeah, I regularly checked at least one local job board…

And then I heard there are about 40,000 boards. Blah! How do you manage them, and what should you know about the 40,000?

As a job seeker I don’t want to miss opportunities. I recommend that you identify the boards that are most applicable to you based on what they have to offer. So, Monster is more of a general, all-purpose one-stop shop for job postings. But I think that employers don’t necessarily want to put certain jobs on monster because they don’t want everyone and their mother applying or specialized jobs.

Knowing what jobs/industries you want and what geography you are interested in should help in selecting the handful of boards that you use. There are many local job boards (see for a map of one network of local boards) that might provide exclusive opportunities. Also, there are various niche boards such as (not a very pretty site but this is pretty specialized) and (see how pretty that is? I think I see a trend in niche boards ;))

There are also industry specific boards such as (marketing) and (artists). And if you are an alumnus of a university, check the on-line alumni community as many times other alumni will post jobs on their because they want to hire people that have come from that school – and you can’t access these jobs unless you login to that on-line community.

I can’t tell you what what boards you should be on but you should find out if there are any niche boards that you may have overlooked.

Here are two things that I’ve found that make job boards more valuable to me:

1. Agents – many boards (including the smaller ones) have “agents” where you can save your search preferences (like location of company, favorite companies, job titles, etc.) and then they are e-mailed to you. What a huge timesaver!! Not only does it save you time from going and browsing through the job board, but for me it eliminated the time that I spent just “poking around” the board out of curiousity – I won’t deny that I’ve spent quite a bit of time just poking around looking at job postings that didn’t apply to me, but my curiousity kept me clicking :)

2. Board aggregators – is probably the most popular aggregator right now – was a few years ago (Monster bought FlipDog and it has been offline for quite a while, although I’ve read that there have been changes on the landing page and people think that Monster is close to releasing something in its place). Anyway, instead of searching on a bunch of different boards each day or week, you can go to which will query all of the boards and companies at once, which cuts down on your search time quite a bit. I’m not convinced that it works perfectly – I’m not qualified to say – but as a desperate job seeker you never want to miss anything!

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Formal Networking Opportunities

July 18th, 2006

I had an interview today by a local newspaper about my take on unemployment, JibberJobber, networking and various other things.  I can only hope that the article that comes out of it will make me look half-way intelligent :)  I imagine any that has ever been in front of the press has that concern!

Anyway, one of the questions that the reporter posed to me was “where do I network?”  It was an interesting question and I’ve been thinking about it all day – where do people network?  How do you get started if you have no idea WHERE to go?

Of course you can network anywhere, anytime – because you are just trying to establish relationships.  But I have been thinking about some more formal venues in which you could network.  Here are some thoughts I’ve had today:

. Look up some university alumni chapters.  These are geared towards networking and job search help, and I’ve found that many of them will welcome you to their meetings even if you are not an alumnus.  One that I’ve been interested in is the local chapter for Thunderbird – the International MBA school.

. Call your local chamber of commerce.  They typically hold some kind of monthly meeting, maybe various monthly meetings, and it is a great place to meet other people that may be valuable in your network.

. There are a number of networking groups that are kind of exclusive/inclusive (yes, I made that up all by myself) – perhaps you’ve heard of them.  These are groups that want to find ONE dry cleaner, ONE web design shop, ONE marketer, ONE etc. for each group – and they actively share business leads with one another.  Once they get enough people in their group, they may start another group, and begin the process all over again.  So, exclusive in that they only allow one type of “vendor” in each of their groups, but inclusive in that they want to grow and create more groups.  You may not be a vendor, but these are active businesses that like to network, and letting them know who you are and what your skills are may be beneficial.

. Find out from your local church groups what networking opportunities they may have, or know about.  Lots of times people in a church organization, whether congrations members or church leaders, will know about opportunities that you should get involved in, maybe even church sponsered.

. Find out from some folks that already work in professions that you are interested in what associations they belong to, and if there are regular monthly meetings (usually luncheons) that you can attend.  For example, if you are interested in marketing, there are all kinds of marketing associations that you might be able to tap into.  You’ll get to know a number of great contacts in your area in that profession.

One thing I love about networking is the ability to cross-pollinate.  Going to one networking meeting is great – it is a step in the right direction.  I recommend going to various types of networking meetings (in other words, sponsered by various interests – university, local government, industry/trade, church, etc.) AND to different cities.  I’ve found that the different meetings that I go to in a 75 mile stretch on the highway has very different types of people (connections, job leads, professions) in each city.

Where do you network formally?  Are you there yet?  Do you have time for it?

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