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Blog For Your Personal Brand

August 16th, 2006

Blogging.  It is a weird thing.  There are currently plenty of articles on how to keep your on-line nose clean – don’t post drunk pictures on FaceBook.com, don’t post silly stuff on MySpace.com, etc.  Prospective employers google their name and then find out they have a wild and crazy side, and question attitudes, work ethics and cultural fit.  That’s what the CareerBuilders and CareerJournals are reporting, anyway.

How can you, as a professional, utilize a blog in a good way?

Well, you need to have a simple understanding of blogging 101 for professionals.  As you sit down and think about your blog, what is its purpose?  This will drive everything that you do, and can reinforce your personal brand.

Let me give you a scenario (real guy, real story):

A buddy of mine named Steve claims to be a Marketing and Communications (MarCom) expert.  If I put myself in an interviewer’s seat, I judge his initial impression, personality, sense of humor, cleverness, etc.  He scores a perfect 10.  Based on his resume I’d say he is a pretty hot commodity.  He is a sharp guy and I’d love to have him on my team.

But hiring someone for a creative position is a little scary.  Steve is in the advertising business – and how do I really get to know how good he really is?  Its like a graphics artist sending me a list of 20 websites or brochures that she has worked on – the biggest question I have is “how many of these were your ideas and your execution?”  With Steve, I’m sure he has worked on some great projects (as per his resume) but what was his capacity?  Was he just the grunt?

In comes the blog.  I think this recommendation is very powerful, and it is applicable to more than just Steve.  I recommended this to a statistician (with 20 years experience), a marketing executive, and I would recommend this to anyone that is currently employed.

Before I explain further, remember what you are trying to do.  You are reinforcing your personal brand.  In a job search you get a first impression, then the second impression (during the rest of the interview process), and your resume.  Reference calls will usually produce “oh yeah, he is great, I wish I could hire him” so I don’t put much value in those (unless there is any hint of negative feedback).  But as an interviewer I don’t really get a chance to see who you are over a period of time.

Unless I can read your professional blog.

In Steve’s case I recommended that he take his expertise and consistently quantify it through a blog.  Of course I don’t want to hear what he ate for breakfast, or how great or horrible his vacation was.  Unless he can tie it directly to his brand reinforcement strategy (and a MarCom guy should be able to do that)!  Here’s what I recommended:

1.  Create an identity to drive every single post.  Steve’s is “MarCom Expert.”  This means that anything with marketing communication, messages, advertising, copy (the words in an ad, article, website, etc.) are fair game.  Every post – every sentence – everything needs to be aligned with this identity.

2.  Find an advertisement that he can pick apart and analyze each week.  He can either criticize it or point out the positive aspects of it.  He should do both over time (so he isn’t known as the constant praiser, which will begin to seem artificial).  If he can criticize these without getting a reputation as a horrible, never-able-to-please guy, it is more likely that he will get more attention.  I would recommend that he does this at least once a week – perhaps twice if he has time (and it should take some time to do this well).

It is imperative that once he starts this he continues it.  He is building a personal brand, and he needs to have consistency and longevity.

Doesn’t it make sense that, in a world where we have a job change every 2.8 years, we develop a personal brand?  Or, you could do what I did: sit around and do nothing, and when you get laid off wish that you had been more prepared for a real job search.

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Must be the money? Whatever!!

August 15th, 2006

An article in my e-mail this morning immediately caught my eye, based on yesterday’s blog post.  It is from Utah Business, and based on a survey by Robert Half’s new company focused on financial recruiting.

The article title is “Must be the money… and job security“.  It showed a poll taken by over 1,000 CFOs asking them what they believe drives job seekers to make a decision. 

In short, here are the figures:

27% – Salary
24% – Stability of company
22% – work environment/corporate culture
17% – career advancement opportunities (down 4 points)
4%  – Equity incentives
3%  – Other
3%  – Don’t know

Hm – interesting.  Here’s my beef:

First, I’m dissappointed by the name of the title of the article, which obviously doesn’t take into consideration what a statistician would consider “significant.”  When reading just the title I’d guess that money and job security would both be significantly higher than anything else (like, 75%).  But I’d say that work environment is right there, and advancement opps is close enough.  Right on with what my post was talking about yesterday – or close enough for me anyway :)

Second, what kind of job offers are we talking about here?  You know how excited someone making $7/hour gets over a 10 cent raise – compare that with someone making $90,000/year!  A ten cent raise at that level is a slap in the face!  I’d like to know if these CFO’s appreciate the difference – I’m guessing they forgot long ago what a real raise is like. 

Third, um, they asked CFO’s.  Of course they are going to put $ first.  If they asked CIO’s, who work with IT folks, they may have ranked other stuff higher because salary is somewhat a given (that it will be “higher than average”) but lots of IT folks are very sensitive to company stability, types of projects, company culture, etc.  Ask big CEO’s and they would have ranked culture higher (because that is what the buzz has been in recent years in their cool business books).

Fourth, instead of asking a third party with an obvious bias their opinion, get better data and identifiy things like age level, profession, current job status (an unemployed guy will go for Salary pretty quick – just to get out of his situation!) and stuff like that.

Finally, I’m guessing that the reality is that Salary is higher than 27% – even though it shouldn’t be.  But I was definitely pleased to see the numbers stack up the way they did, even if I think they are all flawed :)


Get the latest on diversity issues in the workplace at Diversity Jobs.

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How to HATE your job

August 14th, 2006

I love it. Here’s a critical line in Ian’s Get Bold blog: “Ultimately, it comes down to the offer and your decision.” This blog post is about worklife balance.

A close friend asked my advice about a career change a few years ago. I had outgrown the “it’s all about the money” and realized that company culture had a huge role in my job satisfaction – and that’s what we discussed. This person negated every aspect of company culture, and the things that Ian talks about in his blog post, and went for the money. With miserable results. It came down to the offer and his decision. You know the funny thing, the job is (he’s still there) worse than he ever imagined.

A job offer is more than “will you work for us for $70,000?” It is more “will you work in this environment, with these people, and within the boundaries of our company culture, treating customers the way we believe they should be treated, and we’ll pay you $70,000?” By the end of the day even people that make gobs of money hate there jobs – and its not because they don’t make enough money.

No one is forcing you into a job. And if you feel forced into a job, consider it to be a short-term gig that will keep you afloat until you can get what you really want. And you better actively look for what you really want!

Good post, Ian. It is timely as more people are understanding that the loyalty from an employer is day-to-day.

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How To… Create An Action Item

August 11th, 2006

Updated with images and better explanation on February 7, 2007.

How do I… add and track an Action Item?

Action Items are reminders. Outlook calls them Tasks. You might call them a “to do.” JibberJobber calls them Action Items :) make sure there is something in your system - otherwise, add it!Here is how you create one (note that you can follow these steps for a company or a network contact):

First Make sure you have added a company or the network contact – you can tell if you have one of these on the front page in the QuickView Stats panel.

Second You need to create a log entry on the company or the network contact. There are two different places that have a “create log entry” link/icon.

On the List Panel page, this is the Action Item iconOn the right side of the List Panel (You get to the List Panel by clicking Network or Companies from the main menu) there are “add log” icons. If you click on one of these icons it will create a log entry FOR THAT RECORD.

Or, if you are on the Detail Page for a company or a contact (this is the page that shows you the details), you’ll see the log entries at the very bottom. The beginning of the Log Entries section has an “Add Entry” link.From the detail page, click on this link...

Either way gets you to the same window – to add a new log entry.

Check this box to create an Action Item!Third On the Log Entry screen you’ll see the checkbox that says “Create Action Item” – if you check this then the date box below will open up so you can enter a date.

Its that easy! You have now created an Action Item!

Bonus Premium users can get Action Items e-mailed to them. So if you are a premium user, when you click on the box you’ll see a special little box appear that asks when you want it e-mailed to you. Note that you can set a default value in your Preferences – and every Action Item would be sent according to that default value – but you can change this for each Action Item!

Send me an e-mail to remind me!

This results in… an Action Item. You can see this:

1. On the landing page, there is an Action Items panel (top right),
2. In your e-mail, if you choose to get an e-mail reminder (premium feature),
3. In the Action Item report (premium feature)

Import/Export

Premium users can also import Action Items from Outlook (which makes all of the above steps obsolete). And of course, you can export them to a CSV file, which Outlook will then easily import.

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Why JibberJobber, and where are we headed?

August 10th, 2006

I thought I’d take a break from the typical job seeker postings today and answer a few questions about JibberJobber:

Why did create JibberJobber?

Partly out of frustration, and partly out of opportunity. In my own job search after getting laid off I thought I knew what a job search was all about, and after about 5 weeks of spinning wheels I learned that I was wrong. I starting figuring some things out (based on input and advice from career counselors and experts) and reorganized my job search. Underlying themes included “make sure you don’t forget to do anything” and “keep track of where you apply” and “build your network” and stuff like that. The best anyone could offer was “buy a spiral notebook and write it all in there”. For such an advanced industry (universities have had career counselors forever) I was amazed that no one had free software for Joe Jobseeker.

My previous jobs included developing software similar to this so I had the experience to put this together – I just needed to develop a strong team and help lead it – and that’s how it all started. If you want to hear me talk about this for 40 minutes you can check out this free podcost by interview master Peter Clayton (yes, this was a blast to do)!

How (successful) has it been so far?

Well, I won’t give up specific numbers – sorry :) But I’ll say that I have signups from over 10 countries, I have a healthy average number of signups per day, I have regular visitors from all over the U.S., I have a number of people that use JibberJobber daily, my traffic has been building steadily, and I’m fairly pleased. How’s that?

I say “fairly pleased” because I’m a rather impatient person – I hoped for about 500,000 sign-ups by now 😉 But looking back on that last 10 weeks I really can’t complain about where we’ve come from and the trend that we are continuing.

What does it do?

JibberJobber obviously helps a job seeker organize their job search. But it does a whole lot more.  It helps a professional organize their network in a way that Outlook, Goldmine and LinkedIn don’t. It is made to complement other services, not compete with them. It allows you to have a “coach” who can peek into your numbers and help make sure you are on the right track. It has a recruiter interface to allow your recruiter to see where you have or have not applied so they can help you better). There’s a place to track job-related expenses and then (if you are premium) get an e-mail on February 1 of the potential tax deductions for your annual filings. Lots of stuff, too little room to write.  Go signup and poke around!
Who is it for?

Job seekers. Unhappily employed. Anyone that might get laid off. Anyone that understands that they might be in a job search before they retire. Anyone that wants to manage their network. Anyone that wants to be prepared for the unexpected at work (as a direct result of political crap). Gosh, who isn’t it for??

When should you use it?

All the time. Not as much as e-mail, but if you find out something about a new company that you are interested in, log their info (contact names, phone numbers, website address, etc.) If you meet someone that you want to keep in touch with, and they might be valuable in your network, put them in. Even if you are not in a job search now, you should be building this information up. I have a buddy who is a sales exec who SHOULD NOT BE LOOKING but he said “hey, if you know of any sales exec positions in your area, let me know”. I was floored when he told me that. But why not? As Ferrazzi says – an employer offers very loyalty (ya right – in my experience try NO loyalty) and an employee offers very little loyalty (I’ve found too many people offer too much loyalty – right up until they get booted).

Where is JibberJobber headed?

10 weeks ago when we released JibberJobber we did so with a bare-minimum set of features. Since its release we have had multiple updates including a printable phone directory that is super customizable, the import/export tools and a bunch of other things. We have an exciting feature coming out in the next 7 days which I’m jazzed about. I have a list of ideas that I get from users that is long enough to last me a while. These are cool interfaces, features, user-interface enhancements, etc.

So there is the core functionality of the system – and lots of cool enhancements coming. I’ll announce anything new on my blog – so stay tuned. And if you have any ideas on making it easier to use, more useful or anything, just use the contact us form!

It has been an exciting 10 weeks – mostly exciting because of all the job seekers that I’ve met and worked with. I love this cause and I’ll be around for a long, long time! At least until the “cradle-to-grave” jobs come back, with pensions and all!

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Is Homeshoring for you?

August 9th, 2006

Ok, so new word for me today: Homeshoring. Homeshoring is a twist on Offshoring, which is basically outsourcing to someone that is outside of the US. Offshoring is a funny thing, and an interesting topic considering most folks that read my blog are doing so because their job got offshored! But more on that later, in a different post.

Homeshoring then is the idea of outsourcing to someone that is not outside the U.S. – so someone inside the U.S. I think that it also includes Americans that are overseas, for example, military spouses.

So why talk about this? Well, this ties into my previous post about your multiple streams of income. I came across a company over a month ago that specializes in finding legitimate “work at home” opportunities. They actually have a team of people that look for them (through various methods, including special google searches) and have some way to verify that they are real.

These guys have a blog, here’s a short blog post you should read about homeshoring. And here’s their website. It is NOT a free service, but you can check it out and if you want try it for three months (this page is hard to find but has their pricing).

I’ve been getting their weekly e-mails for a while and LOVE what they have. It sure beats wondering about those crazy signs at the corner of busy intersections “seeking apprentice – earn 15k per month” – stuff like that.

If you are thinking about creating another stream of income, and are looking for an at-home opportunity, I recommend signing up for 3 months just to see the current things they are finding and see if it makes sense for you. There are sample downloads to see what they posted previously.

Like I said, I have been on this service for over a month. I have only one beef – which is their presentation. I wish I could have access to a database. Instead of getting a Word document with pages and pages of opportunities I would like to have a login to a website where I could search through current opportunities, sort them, filter, group, etc. Perhaps they might read this and work towards that – it would make their service way more useful!

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Tick off your recruiter!

August 8th, 2006

Or… don’t. Here’s a post from a tech recruiter buddy on how to work with recruiters. He actually e-mailed most of this to me and then said: “Whpew — I had to get that off my chest!”

The number-one thing I recommend people to add to their resume is clear/concise language in the body of their email to me telling me why I should care.

I get a constant, deep and steady flow of resumes that say nothing but “attached” in the body of the email, with a dangling (possibly virus-laden) word-document hanging there with a title like “bills_resume_revision19.doc”.

Or, the emails say, trying to sound personalized (but end up sounding spammy): “I noticed the job you posted and I am a perfect match for it… or any other positions you have.”

That don’t help me worth nuthin’

The point is (speaking to job-seekers and would-be resume-blasters), help me to help you. Tell me what work you want to do, no what work you’ll merely accept. Now, tell me why you want to do that kind of work.

Tell me what fires you up about life and gets you out of bed in the morning!!!

…In 100 words or less, please (this is not your dissertation, it’s a teaser–a lead)… and do not, whatever you do, say simply “attached” and hope that I am bored enough to be interested in clicking your resume just for kicks–all of us are too busy for that. You wouldn’t respect an email like that if I sent it to you. (Plus, would you click a word document willy-nilly in our virus-laden Internet community?)

Oh, and, lay off the “picnic” and “summertime” stationeries for the background of your email, please. I thought you wanted a job, and your email is screaming “vacation!”

One thing to remember, in my experience – your recruiter IS NOT your buddy. You need to make the same impression and work towards the same relationship with them as you would a hiring manager. They do not want to recommend you for a job and then have you be a screw up. Their credibility will diminish – so they won’t recommend you unless they feel really good about you!

The one major difference I see between them and a hiring manager is the fact that you should have a different long-term relationship with them. In other words, they can help you through your job transitions in a way that a hiring manager can’t. Both will be valuable as network contacts but developing a strong relationship with a recruiter should pay off in a different way.


Search entry level jobs at College Recruiter.com.

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jason@DontHireMe.com – does it matter?

August 7th, 2006

Here is a great question that I want to weigh in on. Lot’s of experts have talked about how e-mail addresses can impact the possibility of getting weeded out. But most of them talk about your name – such as “johndoe@email.com” vs. “joejobseeker@email.com” vs. “bighotdaddy@email.com”. This question addresses the other part of the e-mail address… read on…

Question: “I use AOL.com as my Internet provider, and I use it for the e-mail that I send to companies. I use Juno as my permanent address. I heard from someone that a lot of the [prospective employers] have these auto sorters to weed out resumes. I heard at one of the networking meetings that some of these companies weed out some e-mail applications because they have one of the free servers like Juno and Hotmail and the like. Have you ever heard of such a thing? That I why I stayed with AOL. Is there any truth to any of this?”

Jason’s answer (I’d love to hear what others think about this – I know I’ll get responses to my e-mail address):

Great question – but nothing new. Check out this blog post from 3 years ago addressing this issue.

I’m more inclined to think this is an urban legend – although I don’ t put anything past hiring managers or HR. They are dumb enough to send us a sterile automated reply and never ever follow-up with us, even when the position is filled – and think that we’ll think highly of their company. Why wouldn’t they be dumb enough to judge the worthiness of a job candidate based on their e-mail address without looking at other criteria? Gosh, I hope it is an urban legend!

But I, as a former IT manager and somewhat experienced on the internet, do judge people by their e-mail addresses (or – the domains they send e-mail from). You only get a split second to make a first impression, right?  Like the guy that wears white socks with dress pants, or a bow-tie?  Nothing “wrong” with that, but definitely sends a message. 

In fact, when I was a hiring manager I would look at the e-mail addy’s and have preconceived thoughts. Here is a sampling of stereotypes that I harbored. Note that I come from a technical background, so some of these comments might not apply to your field.

your_name@gmail.com – most techies or “up to speed, hip folks” have a gmail account. It is cool, modern, etc. And you have to have an invitation to get one, so almost somewhat exclusive. I honestly don’t know about the tools that all the other providers offer, but gmail is full of cool tools and functionality – and a ton of storage!
your_name@juno.com – probably someone that has been online for a long time, but hasn’t changed – there have been lots of new advancements and this dude is probably still on dial-up – why hasn’t he gone to comcast or something broadband?

your_name@aol.com – gives me a bad feeling – I associate this with people that are somewhat early adopters but can’t change to another system – even though there is way better stuff out there. My old boss has an AOL account and for the life of me, could not get rid of it – so I associate this with old, non-flexible, etc. Oh by the way, haven’t you read about AOL as company? Dumb decisions – etc. I’m not impressed, and don’t know any techie that uses AOL for e-mail.

your_name@hotmail.com – no comment either way – not bad because you probably us Instant Messaging to chat (which is way better than Google Talk) – you are not outdated, have probably been online for a while… but I wonder why you aren’t using Gmail? I don’t care for the interface with hotmail, so I’m guessing you aren’t too demanding on your e-mail management.
your_name@(your personal domain.com) – lots of folks have their own domain – like Jason@Alba.com (that really isn’t mine – I wish!) – which shows that you are smart enough to know that you can have your own e-mail, figure out how/where to host it, etc. It doesn’t mean you are a techie but it does mean you are serious about e-mail as a communication medium. And you understand the idea of getting a personal brand. Just make sure that if you use that e-mail address, your homepage doesn’t suck – because people will go check it out.

your_name@mac.com – I’m not a mac user although I almost bought one recently. My judgement on anyone that sends me an e-mail from a mac account is that they are intelligent, likely graphically or video inclined, a sharp cookie, creative, etc. This person is okay to go against the grain to get the best technology for them. From what I hear, once you go mac you don’t go back 😉

How about your_name@your_current_employer.com? Um. Duh. Don’t even think of it. Job searching on your bosses time is one thing – maybe it is okay where you work. But once you get canned, or laid off or whatever, they aren’t going to let you access the old work account! Get your own, personal, permanent e-mail address!

This is just my take. You hear that a hiring manager takes just a few seconds to review a resume – one thing I happen to glance at is the e-mail addy – just because it is right at the top. I’m sure some experts will slam my assumptions while others will agree. My advice to anyone is to get a Gmail account, or your own personal domain. Always have an acceptable handle (the part to the left of the “@” symbol). In the end I have a really hard time believing that it really matters.

Chime in :)

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My unemployed hand

August 4th, 2006

I didn’t expect to get any e-mail asking about my hand – but I’ve gotten more e-mail on that post than any other blog post I’ve put up!

I’ve had people chime in on the issue – which is, what does an unemployed chump like me do when faced with a potential medical emergency?  Definition of emergency to me now is anything that drains a few hundred dollars out of the bank account.

Here are some things I’ve learned from the feedback:

1.  Lot’s of people don’t have insurance – that is “just the way it is.”  One writer starts a new job and Monday and is super excited to get health insurance — after about a year without!

2.  I already knew this, but I forgot (it has been about 6 months since I had to think about it): COBRA is a joke.  Before I was laid off I always knew about this “safety net” called COBRA.  What I didn’t know is that it would require that I pay out the nose (more than before, I think it was what I already paid PLUS what my employer had paid) for the same crappy coverage I got when I was employed.  There are many other options available – in fact, knowing what I know now, I should have dumped my company health insurance long ago and gone with a local broker.  I know these local brokers are all over the place – be wise, prudent and make sure you find a good one, but I would have saved about $100 – $200 a month and had much better coverage if I would have found a broker before.

Also, my wife was a few months pregnant when we lost our job (actually, we are supposed to go in and have a baby girl on Monday… just 3 days from today!)  I learned that NO ONE would insure her.  In fact, even if I got a new job, she would not be eligible for insurance until after the baby was born!  How’s that for being between a rock and a hard spot!  I’d like to advice anyone to not get laid off when there is a pregnancy but… well, I guess that advice is a little impracticle 😉

And, since everyone is asking, here is an update on my hand.  I had been putting on lots of neosporin (the generic brand of course – when you don’t have money coming in everything is generic).  I looked up “cut & superglue” on google and found that, in general, it is common practice.  I applied it and found out that IT STINGS!!

But each application only lasts for about 3 – 6 hours.  You see, the cut is right in a seam so anytime I moved my hand wrong it would come apart a little.  Sometimes it was covered really nice, but sometimes I would see the wound exposed.

Yesterday morning it was tender and I thought it started to get infected – so I pulled out a check and hiked to my family doctor.  I’ve never been the patient but he knows me from when I took my son in a few months ago.  I sheepishly told him I used superglue, ready to get lectured – but he said that is an EXCELLENT solution.  He said “no infection, looks great, should heal just fine in 2 – 3 days”.  And he sent me on his way – no charge.

I did not ask for any special favors.  I didn’t even talk about not being employed (he brought it up half way through – he must have remembered from a few months ago, or read it on my paper I had to fill out).  Thank you “Doctor P.”  I’ve been amazed at how kind and generous people have been when they find out I’m out of work.  I certainly don’t solicit it, but people just find out and want to help.  I vow to not be as stingy as I was before I lost my job – thanks to the great examples that we’ve received from others.

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Go to this conference

August 3rd, 2006

A post I put up a few days ago talked about your multiple streams of income. Here is something that you should consider – if you are in Utah check it out and sign-up (it is only one day, if you need to take off work), if you are outside of Utah then find out if there is something like this close to you that you can attend.

[This is a terrific networking venue. Networking is about more than exchanging business cards and standing around in small-talk. Before you go, pick up “Never Eat Alone” or something like that — learn how to make the most of networking before you walk through the doors to a conference like this. And when you get back, make sure to put them in JibberJobber and rank them, and track the relationship with them.]

I think that lots of folks outside of Utah don’t realize how much start-up and entrepreneur buzz there is in Utah. I’ve lived here for 2 years and only recently have been able to get a pulse on the business arena here – it is quite vibrant and exciting.

In October I’m headed to my first conference directly related to this space – the U Tech Internet Marketing Conference for Businesses. I’m pretty excited about the line-up of speakers including the founder of MyFamily.com – Paul Allen (or Paul Allen the Lesser as per his website). MyFamily is the biggest, or one of the biggest subscription-based ASP offerings on the internet, and has been for years. I have a lot of respect for MyFamily (even though I don’t use it) and was fortunate to spend some time with the other founder, Curt Allen when I was starting JibberJobber.

Another speaker that I’m jazzed about is Judd Bagley who is a new VP at PRWeb. I thought it was pretty cool that his start-up got acquired (or whatever) by PRWeb. Congrats to Judd and team, I look forward to meeting him.

The other speakers are fast moving execs who are attuned to on-line marketing – I’m sure it will be a day full of great information.

So there you have it. Find opportunities like this to learn from folks that are doing it. If you are in Utah on Wednesday, October 18, go check it out. Its $150 before Sept. 18th – and should be a great investment in your future. (I’m guessing I’ll learn more on that day than in my MBA marketing class. Actually, I’m sure of it.)

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