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I LOVE what I do!

September 20th, 2006

will I ever be in Fortune?Can you say the same? I remember when I worked at my first real job after college (I was the IT manager) the owner made it clear to everyone that if they didn’t love what they did then to stop wasting his time and theirs and go get a job they would love. I really appreciated that perspective from a guy who could have said “I don’t care what you think about your job, just make me more money!”

I love working on JibberJobber. I love being involved in cool technology, and I feel that this is leading edge – not leading edge technology but leading edge application of technology to empower people in their careers like never before. I love the relationships that I’ve developed over the last few months with leaders in this space, and appreciate what they do to change the hiring processes and offerings to job seekers. I love blogging about what I’m learning and I especially love hearing from my users!

I thought you might be interested in knowing how things got started, and where I’ve been since I got laid off in January. Of course, I did look for a job… I looked very very hard. But I got an epiphany one day, and JibberJobber was born. Over time it was nurtured, and hopefully one day the rest will make some cool front-page article on a magazine like Fortune 😉 For now, perhaps these three interviews can suffice. Enjoy!

My first interview by CM Russell of Secrets of the Job Hunt. This was a simple “who are you” five question interview that introduced me to this space. Thank you CM for the intro early on! I’ve come to develop an fun e-mail relationship with him and have gained a lot of respect for him – he is clearly a leader and expert in this space with a book behind him as well as owner of multiple local job boards and the premier job search site: Chimby.com.

Second, a podcast interview by Peter Clayton. I didn’t know who Peter was, hadn’t heard of LandedFM.com and didn’t know about TotalPicture.com. But since the interview I have learned from many in the space that I lucked out to get on his radar, and to get a spot on his “show.” What an amazing experience, it was totally fun and if you have the time, download the interview (it was 40 minutes). I think from here you’ll get a lot of “my story” – more than in any other interview so far. Thank you Peter! (and like Chris, I’ve developed a relationship that I really appreciate with Peter, and check in on his website regular to see who else he interviews (everyone with way more clout than I have!)

Third, and most recent, was another e-mail interview by Jim Durbin that was on the front page of Recruiting.com (owned by Jobster). Jim is an expert blogger with what I think is his most famous blog being STLrecruiter.com. I’m not sure how many others know about Jim’s experience with blogging but he helps a lot of other bloggers get more out of their blogs (whether it be by redesigning it), and contributing to a number of blogs. Jim is also one of the heavies at Recruiting.com, and he sent me some questions for the audience there. It was interseting to read his questions because he was asking about some recruiter-specific issues, which I don’t have any experience with (at least not from their side of the fence). You can read (vote on and comment) this interview here.

So enough about ME ME ME. I think this is a fun little read to see some of my history, but lets get back to you. If these are things that I’ve been able to do to help establish the JibberJobber brand, what are YOU doing to establish YOUR brand? After all, companies come and go, and you may change jobs 10 times in your career – but your “brand” should be lasting during those changes! And whatever you do, work on getting into jobs (or a career path) that you can say I LOVE WHAT I DO!


Accountant Careers.co.uk provides accounting jobs in the UK via its Web site.

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Sharing your contacts SELECTIVELY

September 19th, 2006

I had lunch with a JibberJobber fan today to discuss some of the things he likes/dislikes about JibberJobber, and I ended up with a list of things to add to the development road map. Great stuff, and considering he also loves “Never Eat Alone” and is applying many of the ideas to the rest of his career management, we had tons in common.

One of the things that came up was “I wish that I could send someone’s contact info to someone else.” Well, good news, you can!

Understand that JibberJobber is more of a CLOSED, transparent system than something like LinkedIn. You’ll see some of the philosophical differences betwee JibberJobber and LinkedIn in yesterday’s post. But even though it is CLOSED, you can still share contact info with others – at your discretion :)

First, go to My Network and you’ll notice a checkbox to the left of each network contact. Click on as many as you want to share, and then click on the icon below the List Panel, so it will be something like this:

you've checked the box, and now click on this icon to share with someone else
On the next screen you choose who to send the contact info to. (1) allows you to click on people in your network that are also JibberJobber users, so you can just click on their name (which I’ve grayed out) and quickly send to them. (2) allows you to put a JibberJobber username or e-mail address in to send to someone that uses JibberJobber but isn’t in your network yet. And (3) is the send button… that’s about it! Note that you are not sending them your ranking, or log notes or anything personal to your JibberJobber system.

share contact info with these users!
Of course, no system would be complete if the recipient couldn’t accept these changes. So, when the user logs in to JibberJobber they’ll see a place in their Action Items panel where they can accept or reject this, like this, one by one:

recipient can decide to accept or reject!

So there you go. I am going to clean this up a little bit but it works for now :) Remember, most of networking is “giving” to others and not expecting to “get” all the time.

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unemployment the NORM, not the exception

September 19th, 2006

Ford Restucture?So, in this “great economy” with record lows on unemployment, layoffs are still coming. Here is one that we all should have seen coming – Ford. (ya, this is a few days old, and there have been new things in the news – like numbers of layoffs!)

So, if you know anyone in HR at Ford, have them shoot me an e-mail. I can either hook them up with a super-cool outplacement firm that I have a lot of respect for, or I can maybe squeeze out a deal for all of their thousands of users that they are about to displace!

Welcome to unemployment guys!

Oh, and this got me rolling on the floor… from a friend of mine that launched a cool on-line experiment, check out this image that he tried to put on his t-shirts:

Intel Clever...!

If you have any geek in you, or someone you know (wouldn’t this be a great present?) go check out his site: http://www.MilitantGeek.com

The point is, you need to understand that this thing called layoffs, and the idea of being “between jobs” is not an exception, it doesn’t only happen to incompetents, it is not just for losers, and is not only for struggling companies – this is the norm! Remember, the average time between jobs is 2.8 years! It will happen to everyone. What are people doing to prepare for this time? What can or should they do? What are you doing? If you want to get started right now then go into JibberJobber and put your network together, and begin to list companies you would want to work at.

Hint: if your answer is that they should be sure to get the right education and background, as I thought 9 months ago when I got laid off (geez, its been that long!), and their time unemployed will be shorter, you may be wrong. Just having credentials doesn’t make them employable! Go back and read some of my blog posts…

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Intro to UNsocial Networking

September 18th, 2006

So much buzz around this new-fangled thing called Social Networking – which everyone seems to know refers to cool sites like LinkedIn (where the world can be a lonely place if you don’t have any connections) and MySpace (which was bought for hundreds of millions but its hard to find something more than a 13 year old cussing and talking trash).

I’ve been thinking about this phenomenon quite a bit lately as design ideas spin through my mind, and as I talk with others about networking. An online buddy recently wrote me an e-mail about JibberJobber’s networking components and said:

“Another networking site? How do you see that fitting in with LinkedIn? I looked at Ryze and Orkut, but it seemed pointless to pursue the same network-building activity in more than one venue, so I focused on LI. How is this different, besides the graphic depiction of the network?”

When I get a question like this my response is 5% “You Don’t Get It!” and 95% “I must stink at communicating it!!”

So here are some thoughts on JibberJobber’s networking functionality, which I’ll brand as UNsocial Networking, and all of the other social networking sites.

First, a must-read is Wikipedia’s write-up on social networking. Here are some interesting “facts” from this page:

  • Social Networking was apparently coined in 1954. For all of those that are younger than 14 years old, that means that the Internet was not around when the idea of Social Networking came out.
  • Note that this study talks about a maximum size of a social network being 150 relationships. How does that fit in with those LinkedIn users that have over 3,000 connections?
  • I hope this doesn’t burst anyone’s bubble but LinkedIn was not the first (nor is it the biggest) social network. Classmates.com apparently was the first on-line social network!
  • As of the Widipedia writing, there were about 200 social networking sites. Plus a number of others that were incorporated into corporate ERP systems, so youcouldn’t be a part of them unless you were part of that company. Oh yeah, what about the on-line communities sponsered by universities – that has to take the number of social networks to “thousands.”
  • And an Alba-fact, not from Widipedia, is that the value of a social network is directly proportional to the number of people in the entire network. It is “better” to joined LinkedIn because of its 6million members than it would be to join AlbaSocialNetwork.com with its 3 members.

So a social network is made up of relationships (from “casual acquaintance to close familial bonds”), and historic study shows that the maximum number in your network would be 150. And an “online social network” is any of those 200+ websites that provide a medium for you to find those relationships. Let’s get back to my UNsocial Network.

When I started JibberJobber I knew that I could not go head-to-head with a giant like LinkedIn. It would be a short-lived battle as they have tons of power (millions of $, millions of users, and amazing power-users), and I had… well, nothing :) But there were some aspects of putting together my personal network, tracking it and managing it that I couldn’t find in LinkedIn. Furthermore, JibberJobber’s purpose is to empower the working professional (whether you are a professional sanitation person or accountant or high-level limo-riding executive) with tools (not just articles) that no one else has provided, to help manage transitions in jobs and increase your employability.

So, where LinkedIn’s value comes from the number (and quality) of other users in the network, JibberJobber’s value to you is… just using the system. Let me give you an example.

Yesterday I was talking with a good buddy about all kinds of stuff. Part of the conversation went like this:

Jason: “Chad, you really should put your network in JibberJobber.”

Chad: “why should I, I already have a job.”

Jason: “If you get laid off tomorrow, what are you going to do? Doesn’t it make sense that you have a list of your key relationships that you could call on to help you?” (Chad happens to be a salesman and knows a ton of people, from powerful gatekeepers to business owners and presidents).

Chad: “yeah, I guess that’s right.”

Jason: cringing, because as I mentioned above, I carry 95% of the blame for not being able to communicate this well “how do you keep track of all of your contacts right now?”

Chad: laughing “I have a big pile of business cards”

Jason: “there you go. Enter them into JibberJobber, rank the relationships, put notes on them, and when the time comes you’ll know exactly where you are at with each person, how you can help them, and how they can help you.” I didn’t say it so well yesterday 😉 but if I could this is how I would have said it!

JibberJobber isn’t a place to come to FIND people, heck, you are already finding people offline! If I sat down with you right now I bet we could list 50 people to put in your network including vendors, customers, peers, bosses, THE GATEKEEPER at your office, etc. The idea of not knowing anyone is a simple mix-up with “I don’t know anyone that I think could help me” which is unfortunate – because eveyone, in some way, can add value to you!

And just what’s wrong with that stack of business cards? Here’s an e-mail I got from my buddy George, who is an expert in this arena!

In the last 10 years I have gone through “surges” of networking. Each time, several months later, I look through a stack of business cards. And I have to toss 2/3 of them — who is this guy? When did I meet him? I saved his card — did I have a good reason to?

I’ve been there too! I saved stacks of cards from conferences and after a year go back and wonder why in the world I grabbed that certain person’s card… just to be nice, or because I wanted to develop a relationship??

JibberJobber allows you to track this information. How did you meet this person? Who referred you (and it has a nifty way of tracking this, and the new graphical depiction of it shows you the relations as well as how wide and deep your network really is). Would you like to categorize and tag (label) this person? When you want to follow-up with someone (“call me next quarter”) put it into JibberJobber and it will set up an action item to remind you! When you have an interesting conversation or thought with that person, put it in as a log entry and keep track of it (date, idea, etc.). This is all stuff that everyone, whether you are a job seeker or not, should be doing.

So, unlike LinkedIn and the others, JibberJobber is not an online social networking tool. It is much more like a customer relationship management tool that allows you to forge your own relationships (no matter where they come from), manage and monitor them over time.

I like LinkedIn – I think it is a cool, powerful tool that is growing in value, especially as the Mendoza’s and Merrill’s of the world use it more and more to find job candidates. But as a working professional I don’t want to have to worry about the proprietariness of a tool (like Nathan’s question: LinkedIn vs. Ryze vs. Orkut), the geography of a tool (in Spain they have their own tool: neurona.com), or the amount of value that others place in the tool (if recruiters all the sudden switched everything to Spoke.com, where does that leave the job seekers on LinkedIn? Not likely to happen, but it is an interesting question as Spoke has about 5 times the number of users in their system!)

But if I do use LinkedIn, Spoke and MySpace, it will be in the right perspective. I’ll always have JibberJobber to manage my real relationships, the ones I’m cultivating, and the ones with data I want complete control.

Thus, networking is never not “social” but to differentiate JibberJobber from all of the other online social network sites, perhaps it should be called the only UNsocial Networking tool for you. Its easy and free, just go here to signup.

Does JibberJobber have the potential to contribute to the changing arena in employment by empowering the job seeker, networker and professional like never before?

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Use LinkedIn

September 15th, 2006

LinkedIn is a powerful social networking tool that allows you to hook up with other folks and communicate valuable profile information. You can put your profile up, which looks an awful lot like a resume, so that others can see how cool and valuable you are (or have been). And you can see your contact’s profiles, as well as the profiles of their contacts.

You really look a lot better if you have a bunch of contacts… but I think there is a happy place to be. I imagine that having over 30 contacts makes it look like you know what you are doing (I only have 11, so I guess I don’t know what I’m doing), but having too many makes it look like (at least to me) you are really good at sending out invites to connect, but how in the world can you have real relationships with over 1,000 people? Give me a break. Of course, some professions require this type of approach – for example, recruiters will have a ton. But I consider them to be an exception.

Realize that if you hook up with someone, and they have 30 contacts, that is not the extent of their network! They surely have relationships with others that aren’t showing because (a) those other folks don’t have a LinkedIn account, so you’ll never see them anyway, or (b) the person doesn’t want to let everyone else know that they have a relationship with someone else. For example, I met a super-hot VC that a bunch of people want to get in front of. I’m not going to show a LinkedIn relationship for two reasons:

  1. Our relationship is just developing, and I don’t want to jeapordize it by looking like we have been buddies for a long time… I have that relationship for a purpose (to get lots of money from him as an investor) and not to add him as one more contact on my list to make me look better, and
  2. I DO NOT want someone else to contact Mr. VC and say “hey, we both know Jason and we should get together…” in other words, don’t drop my name to someone that I am nurturing a relationship with. It would be very likely that the VC says “Jason who? Huh?” My relationship may be too fragile to have that early.

So of course, the 11 people in my LinkedIn account is not reflective of my real network. My JibberJobber network contact count is way higher than that 😉

I designed JibberJobber to work hand-in-hand with LinkedIn. Just export your contacts from LinkedIn and import them into JibberJobber where you can do some relationship management. I login to JibberJobber way more than I log into LinkeIn (I mostly login to LinkedIn when someone invites me, which is infrequent enough that I usually have to use the password reminder to reset my password!).

My recommendation? Get your name out there, do social networking, try and take advantage of some of its strengths. But don’t think that its the silver bullet of networking or job search. It is just one more tool that you should add to your toolbox. I guess the big question is, is it a big huge critical tool or is it one of those little tools for very special circumstances?

I know there are some real LinkedIn lovers out there, but there are others that are networking in restaurants and other places. How about you? How much value do you place in LinkedIn as a tool?


Search for jobs and careers at JobCentral.

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JibberJobber is Network Management!

September 14th, 2006

JibberJobber is for NETWORKING!JibberJobber started out as a job search tool to help organize and manage a job search. But there were a few interesting things that kind of tugged at the design, even from early on. First, the idea that you will change your job every 2.8 years (or whatever, I don’t care what the figure is but the point is that it may be a regular occurance). Second, that more than 2/3rds of jobs are found from people that you know, or meet. That’s why I’m so big on networking, because it is supposedly THE WAY that most jobs are found.

So, I’ve had a focus on networking from early on. And the idea that JibberJobber brings value to you throughout your career, even between job transitions, is critical. This is a career management toolset, not just a job search tool. With that in mind I have a few networking ideas that we’ve been working on, and I’m just giddy to announce a new feature. Actually, it is a new view – and it has already proved to be super-helpful to me! Note: I’d love to know what those of you who have over a hundred network contacts think about these views.

So, first, you’ll notice that under the My Network menu there are two additional options: Tree View and Relationship Diagram. The Tree View is simple – it looks like the Windows Explorer but with the tree hierarchy of YOUR network.

View your network in its DoS hierarchy!

A few things to point out:

– you can get a printable view of this, to carry around with you,

– the numbers represent the Degrees of Separation – so now all of those “referred by’s” that you put in can be seen in a graphical format,

– each of these names is a link, which takes you to their detail page.

When I was reviewing this last night after it went live I found some names and thought, “who is that?”, went to the detail page and saw the log of past communication. And I shot off a couple e-mails to people that I had … er, kind of forgotten about! It was very helpful to see my entire network in this view, without any extra details or noise!

The other view is the Relationship Diagram. This is like a pedigree chart, or a geneology chart, in that it allows you to see the relationships in boxes (again, based on the Degrees of Separation, or who referred them to you).

network relationship diagram view

This is a tre-cool view in just a little different format. The print option is here but if you have more than 5 or 10 contacts it is going to be off the page, and I don’t think that most people have access to plotters! So don’t ask me to fix it – you either have take people out of your network (BAD IDEA!) or just print from the tree view.

One thing on this view that we could do is add more detailed info (see the Show Details checkbox?). Unfortunately right now the e-mail address is getting chomped unless the box is long enough, but it is enough to give you good information! Here’s how it looks with data in it:

Network Relationhip Diagram with extra info

Man, is this cool or what?? I’ve been anxious to get this out and it finally made it up to the top of the development list! I know that this is something that will help me manage my network better throughout my career!

Go login to your own account and look at these views to see what your network looks like!

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Is there anything more to it?

September 13th, 2006

Is this the top 10?Today I logged on to my MSN Messenger account so I can chat with the whole world (I feel like I suffocate without this cool little communication outlet) and, as usual, check out the news and articles for the day. And, as usual, there was one from CareerBuilder.com on how to “land a job.”
Hm, how can I phrase my thoughts on the content of this article (I’m trying to be nicer, cleaner, etc.)…. ok, how about insulting?

Maybe its just me, and I’ve been in this mode since January, but most of this is just a summary of the obvious. Where is the beef (ok, sorry, that was too close to yesterday’s post), er, meat?? What really are the 10 things that I should do to help me land that job?

Here’s my try, not in any particular order (I do like some of hers, but it certainly doesn’t read like a top 10 list):

  1. Network. Have networked. Starting a long time ago. Ever hear of the book “Dig Your Well BEFORE You’re Thirsty”? This title sums it all up.
  2. Build your brand. Got a website? Got a blog … make that, a professional blog? You don’t have to have one, of course, but if you can create yourself as a Subject Matter Expert it may really make you stand out.
  3. Use JibberJobber. Of course I had to put that in, but hey, I’m a believer. I’ve heard too many stories and talked with too many people, where JibberJobber has made a real difference.
  4. Shift your paradigm. This includes understanding that you *may be* looking for a new job every 2.8 years.
  5. Understand “who you are”… if you are selling something for a company you should know the ins-and-outs of the product. When I was in my job search it was a week or two before I realized that one job title that I should have been looking at was “product manager.” But I had been so busy doing my job that I never really understood that I was doing more “product management” than anything else – and that is what I really enjoyed!
  6. Keep up on current employment trends. If you are going to be changing jobs with frequency (that is, more than every 40 years) shouldn’t you understand the job search space? I’d keep up with certain blogs (see my blogroll) to get daily rants and raves… two of the best and most current are CM Russell’s and George’s job seeker blog, or Joel Cheesman’s for overall industry stuff.
  7. Help others in their job search. I think that staying in a helping frame of mind is great, and understanding other people’s issues will help you keep up with tactics and techniques.
  8. Volunteer. It is a great way to get to know other people (aka network), to get known (aka network), and to perhaps find or develop other passions or skills. And service is always good, right?
  9. Have your own elevator speech ready. Whether you are employed or not, when you first meet someone, be able to concisely get their attention with a great “me in 30 seconds” or something like that. Of course you don’t have to leave it at that, but impress them with your ability to communicate. This comes in handy every day for all kinds of folks.
  10. Ok… go ahead and read Laura’s article on msn.careerbuilder.com. I’m not sure what the real link is (this might work)… but it does have stuff to consider.

Hm, how’s that? I didn’t get paid to write this, and actually just did it in a few minutes – but I wish I would have heard this 8 months ago (before I got laid off), and it would have been more helpful than the MSN list of 10 things.

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Grow your own beef.

September 12th, 2006

When I got laid off I went through the mourning process. I had the emotions relationed to loss (sad, mad, etc.) and, like many who have lost their jobs, wondered what I did wrong (or could have done better). As I began my journey, first as a super-aggressive job seeker (the first 6 weeks I spent about 10 hours a day, 6 days a week in the job search), then thinking about and designing JibberJobber, I began to have one of those – what’s it called? – paradigm shifts.

It was helpful to me to network with other high-level exectutives that had lost their jobs, and were finding that getting a new job that met their needs was not an overnight process. As I found that this was more the rule than the exception, I began to pick apart what was happening. It is summarized in C.M. Russell’s blog, which is taken from a page or two out of Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters. I recommend you read this short blog post by C.M., as it is the beginning of a paradigm shift – which is put quite nice in the last six lines.

So what does this mean? Well, we’ve all heard that there are no more “cradle-to-grave” jobs anymore. I remember when the FBI even dumped their pension plan and moved to a 401k-like program. Luckily my dad was grandfathered into the pension plan, but any new agent would not get a pension (that is one reason that I wasn’t interested in going into the FBI – there were many ;)) I have one friend my age that worked for a company (Dupont, I think) that offered a pension. The rest offer 401k with matching.

In those last six lines that you just read my favorite is “Jobs are temporary in the new economy – henceforth you always need to be looking for the next opportunity.” This was a huge part of my shift. Back in Steven Covey’s first book he talks about job security, or economic security, and how it does not come from your employer, rather from your employability. How do you have employability? Can you create employability? Yes, but creating employability is, for me, different than what I thought it was 7 months ago. Here’s what I think the formula is:
First, have beef! Have substance. Everyone knows someone that was all talk and no action, or no results, or whatever. Develop your skills, become a SME – subject matter expert. Good looks and charming personality may get you past an interview, but you need to be deeper in your job performance than you may have been in your interview (I hired a guy that was sparkly and awesome in the interview only to later discover that he had very little substance – oops!).

Second, have credentials! This may come in the form of degrees (I’ve got two – an undergrad and a masters) or job titles (mine were pretty sweet – from programmer to IT Manager to CIO to VP to General Manager) or results (I worked on an e-commerce project where we increased revenue by 500%, which was sustained even after the dot-com crash!). These are things that would go on your resume, or create the basis of your answers in an interview. Don’t live in the past but be able to summarize what you were able to do, which should lead the interviewer to the idea that you’ll be able to do great things for them!

… and this, I thought, was the ticket to my employability. I thought this when I first read Covey’s book (note that this was the only paragraph that really stuck out in my pre-college brain). Having the right degrees and the right background (job titles) was going to be my ticket. That was back in 1991 and I thought it worked out quite nicely… until I got laid off.

Many of you who have been following my blog know that I thought my time unemployed was going to last just a few weeks – and it really turned into many months. What was wrong with my formula (I-could-do-the-job + I-had-2-degrees + I-had-cool-job-titles = highly-desireable!)??

In my job search I grossly underestimated the power of who you know. I had always hated this concept because I never really knew many folks – I had moved around my whole life as an FBI kid, and was always a newcomer. But, alas, it is true. Who you know is a significant part of this formula, and a part that I had neglected… thus…

Third, get to know people. As Ferrazzi mentions, it is all about intimate relationships. I can’t even say enough about this (good thing I have a blog, so I can pepper it in all the time!), but if you hate networking, you aren’t doing it right! If you don’t know anyone, you don’t understand networking! If you are getting overwhelmed with managing your network, you aren’t using JibberJobber! If you think that networking is getting LinkedIn, you’re going to be in a tough situation when it comes to a real job search (why do you think I say this? Because I don’t like LinkedIn? Nope – because having relationships on LinkedIn is NOT having intimate relationships.).

So what is your formula for creating employability? Is it good enough for this new paradigm?

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Very Cool Job Search Strategy

September 11th, 2006

I came across this write-up by William Henderson, who graduated from Berkley in ’95. William “spent several years as a project manager for a leading consulting firm” and put together a serious action plan for his job search – which lasted 9 weeks (3 weeks shorter than what he thought was “the average”).

William put together an excellent formula and, with “persistence,” was able to get the job done. What did he do? In a nutshell his plan was:

  1. Develop a 12 week project plan,
  2. Organize a job search committee,
  3. Attend at least 5 networking events each week,
  4. Focused search (in his case, to seven potential employer organizations that he needed to network his way into)
  5. Develop relationships with several recommended executive recruiters,
  6. Sent thank-you notes and follow-up announcements to his network.

You really have to read his article – it is a nice 8-minute read. What is your plan? If you are serious, and don’t have a plan yet, I recommend you *borrow* his!

Very cool William!

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Are Recruiters Worth Your Time?

September 8th, 2006

(I’m sure the recruiters reading this post are saying “are certain candidates worth MY time?”)

Within 30 days of getting my own personal pink slip I had 30 recruiters in “my network.” Ok, let me rephrase that – I had 30 recruiters on my Excel Spreadsheet (why wasn’t JibberJobber around when I needed it!), with dates of when I had sent my resumes to them.

I had even met with two of them in their offices. One turned out to be one of my favorites because he was so honest with me – he said “Jason, you’ll find a job for yourself before I find a job for you.” I took that as a quasi-compliment and I was a little bumbed at the same time because I thought that finding the right recruiter was like finding the silver bullet. Dave’s comment started me thinking about what the real recruiter/candidate relationship is like. Oh yeah, the other recruiter that I met with in person – oh boy. There’s a lame story. You can read about it here.

So, with my 30 recruiters that I had sent resumes to, I had a number that NEVER responded. Not even with an e-mail saying “I got it, thanks.” I called to follow-up and got somewhat brushed off. I didn’t understand what was going on – I just couldn’t understand this relationship at all. So I have a list of what I would consider LAME recruiters – that is, those that heavily advertise to job seekers but can’t seem to find their phone or keyboard to get back with you. I know all recruiters are very busy doing important things but it really was shocking to go from General Manager and everyone returns my calls to job seeker and no one, not even the guys that are supposed to be helping me, returns my calls!

So after the post on my favorite recruiters I got this e-mail from Dave about WHY recruiters don’t return calls. In the recruiter blogsphere this is becoming something of a tired subject (all those recruiters know why they don’t return calls) but I think as a job seeker it is critical to understand what your resources are, and how to work with them. That includes what drives them, etc. Here is the unadulterated from Dave (ok, the bolds are my additions – check out the last lines!!):

To net it out… A good recruiter with a great pipeline can fill 2-3 positions a month or about 25-30 year. That is it. So there are 25-30 people that think we are great because we got them a great job with better pay etc. However, simultaneously over the course of that same year, we will receive several hundred, if not thousands of resumes of people that are looking. It is impossible to remember them all. Because our pay check comes from the company and not from the candidates, there is only so much we can do. If I have 3 positions for Oracle DBAs, I am going to be talking to as many DBAs as I can to find that are qualified, interested, realistic candidates. If you are not an Oracle DBA, and it is going to take me 2-3 months to fill those positions, no one else is going to be hearing from me during that time. etc. So sadly, many people register with us or send us a resume and don’t hear back from us often enough. Maybe I have 500 Oracle DBAs on file but never have a company willing to use my services to find a DBA then what? They don’t hear from me. I would suggest too that many employed technical people get sick and tired of hearing from recruiters. They get called all the time because their skill set is in such high demand, that we are forever checking in with them to see if the ‘timing is right yet’.

It is a tough balancing act but at the end of my day, I have to be focused on my client companies needs. I have to find qualified candidates for whatever positions I am currenlty recruiting on. If your skills fit, you will hear from us, if they don’t you won’t. If your skills are too common, we may only have to call 15-20 people to find 5-6 that are interested. If we do, we are not going to call the other 300 that have the same skills. The key for the candidates is to have a relationship with the recruiter so that YOU are one of the first 5-10 people they call first, when they have an opening.

So, my answer to “are recruiters worth your time” is ABSOLUTELY. But realize what they are all about (here’s one example – an important read, here’s another one)! Unless you are one of the 25 that Dave mentions, they aren’t going to be your silver bullet. They aren’t going to get you a job in a week (well, sometimes it might work out that way). I suggest you develop relationships with them to stay on the top of their list. And that includes figuring out how you can provide value to them when you aren’t looking (i.e., take their calls, and refer them to your buddies). It’s all about the relationships, or as Keith Ferrazzi says, the intimate relationships (plural => get more than one recruiter to work with)!

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