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JibberJobber Rocks (right?)

July 15th, 2010

I don’t often get emails like this… the kind that make my entire week.  Unsolicited, from Crystal in California:

Dear JibberJobber folks, I want to thank you for giving me (and everyone) two extra Premium months**! I’m jobless (duh) and every penny counts. Thank you for your generosity.

I have found JibberJobber to be an invaluable tool in keeping track of my job search. It certainly beats my makeshift Excel spreadsheet all hollow. JJ makes it so much easier to see where I’ve applied, and when, and to whom.

Kudos to JibberJobber, making my job hunt easier! (now if only the economy would spring back)

Thank you Crystal – how kind it was for you to take a few minutes and send that message :)

** the extra two months was part of our last anniversary celebration.  You can see current specials/bundles here.

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Resume Massacre, Job Search Advice, Ignore

July 14th, 2010

I read a really interesting post yesterday that evoked a number of thoughts/emotions.  Pretty ranty today :p

Kimba Green is a project manager who is in transition.  She writes that 8 months into her job search she…

had the good fortune to be “made over” by some of the leading experts. I was over the moon!

The makeover, however, wasn’t a makeover, it was a critique.  You can read her reaction and thoughts on her post: I survived a resume massacre!

I’m reminded by a friend who went to a job interview and came out completely deflated.  The fourth-generation owner of the company lectured, insulted and bullied my buddy to the point where he questioned his ability to do anything.

As a job seeker I’ve been in positions where people say things, give advice, give feedback, that is really quite hurtful.

Now, I haven’t listened to the resume critique show (you can hear it here), but I’m going to stick up for the critiquers for just a minute.  I’m asked all the time for advice.  For some reason, perhaps I just have no tact, I’m quite honest and direct with my advice.  Today’s post on my LinkedIn blog is a great chance for me to open-mouth-insert-foot and do this very thing.

I don’t do it to hurt, I do it to help.  But I don’t dance around the issue, especially since I’m usually not paid for the advice and I don’t want to spend an hour making sure you understand that you are okay.

Perhaps these critiquers  thought they had limited time (which they did) and wanted to be sure they communicated the problems with Kimba’s resume (as they saw them… which Kimba appropriately contends towards the bottom of her blog post).

Perhaps they understood their role differently than what Kimba understood (she thought she was getting a MAKEOVER, with SOLUTIONS, not just “here’s all the reasons why it sucks”).

Having said that, let me switch over to her side.

EIGHT MONTHS is a long time to go through a job search.  Mine didn’t last that long only because I gave up (and decided to do my own thing).  But the time I spent there SUCKED.  Getting rejections from temp HR employees making minimum wage was very discouraging.

And then, getting outdated, out-of-touch advice from neighbors, friends, family, people at church, and unfortunately, even volunteer staff at career centers and networking events, was very, very discouraging.

Reading those little “DO these Four Things Right Now and You’ll Land Your Dream Job” articles were a punch in the face. I envisioned some salaried person who had never been in a job search in their life writing that crappy fiction.  None of it applied to me but I saw it all over the main websites.

As job seekers we know that most of what we hear doesn’t apply to us (it didn’t to me).  Much of what is written is for the $11/hour worker… not to sound elitist but when you have to make $60k or $90k or $120k (for various reasons, including prior financial commitments), that low-level, common advice JUST DOESN’T WORK.

When a volunteer career center person gives me a list of job postings and says “here are some jobs to apply to,” without any regard to the age-old, principle-based concept of “go out and network,” I want to throw up.  Are they that out of touch with current job search tactics?

Job seekers think they are unique… some are.  Much of the advice doesn’t apply (much of the principle-based advice DOES apply!).

Don’t let it deflate you.  Don’t let the critiques wear you down.  Don’t let this stuff affect you to the point where you are “injured,” because that will have a negative impact on all that you do (from time management to networking and interviewing).  I wrote a popular post on this titled I Smell Blood!

Ignore much of the crappy advice.  Understand the principle-based advice.  And move on.  People are well-intentioned but might not have the best communication.

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Getting Help From Your Career Center

July 13th, 2010

Yesterday I spoke at a conference for alumni career services professionals.  Some of the people in the audience have a strong career services offering while others were learning how to put one together.

Everyone at the conference was very interested in learning how they could help you, their alumnus, in career management.  One comment I heard was that they have received more in-bound contact from alumni in the last six months than they had in the last 6 years!

This economy is driving people nuts, I know.  Check out your school’s career services office – you can call the career services office of the school or contact your alumni house to see what direction they point you in.

I didn’t do this until about two months into my job search because I didn’t think about it.

I know there is a lot of talk about the value a career center provides… I think it’s across the board, for various reasons.  Here’s a post on the Personal Branding Blog titled Maximizing your career center experience, written by Joe Bucher, who works at the San Jose State University career center.

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Improve Your Interviews by 1,000,000%

July 9th, 2010

So I came up with this arbitrary percentage… I don’t know if you’ll improve by 100% or a gazillion percent… but I bet you will improve SIGNIFICANTLY (that’s a term we used in the MBA program that meant “enough to care about”).

How?  Should you:

  • Study common questions and prepare answers ahead of time?
  • Make sure you dress right and floss your teeth?
  • Have a strong first impression (great handshake, flashy smile, etc.)?
  • Tell stories?
  • Relate to the interviewers?

Perhaps all of those, and more, will help you improve your job search interviews.  Here’s my one piece of advice to help you improve your interviews a ton:

Record yourself in a mock interview.

It is wierd.  You might feel silly and uncomfortable.  But when you review the recording, with some peers, you will uncover a lot of things and find yourself saying “wow, I didn’t know I did that with my hands,” or “why do I keep looking around the room, I look too nervous,” or “why can’t I just give my response smoothly,” or “I didn’t realize I said UM 40 times in that one response,” etc.

I don’t care how good you think you are…. record yourself, and have some others record themselves in a mock interview, and then sit down and critique the recordings.

You will find big and small things you can improve on.

I double-dog-dare you to do this.

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Email Signature: Make It Count!

July 8th, 2010

I am a HUGE fan of crafting an email signature that helps communicate your brand (or value prop, or whatever).  Help people understand who you are and what you do and how they can help you by crafting a sharp email signature!

I recently mentioned this on a webinar and I had an attendee (Kim) email me asking for my advice on her signature… and I gave it to her!

I told her to “take it with a grain of salt” because I am responding based on my initial reaction, but I know I come across as cranky and “my way or the highway.”  Really, YOU know your situation best, so perhaps something I recommend might not be what you should do.  Kim was very kind, though, and said I could blog my response to her.  Here’s her old email signature:

email_signature_kim

What do you think?  Do you like it?  Here was my critique (my comments in yellow):

Kim Bilawchuk, MBA, MEd your creds do nothing for me… not sure if it adds value for others… unless you have a scrutinizing clientele of business people who want to know you are business savvy… but I’d rather read about your wisdom and see your advice on your blog than see the MBA (I also have an MBA but I don’t put it anywhere, I don’t think my audience cares – might be diff for you)
Career Coach, MBTI Certified Practitioner (what is MBTI?? I think this just confuses people and distracts them from your value prop… it is noise, imo)
kim@—————
www.kimbilawchuk.com
Cell: 781.696.0926
Feeling “stuck”? Not sure what’s next? Contact me today for a free career coaching consultation. shouldn’t the punctuation be INSIDE the quotes?? Otherwise, I like the invitation… makes it clear what you do…
Exploration of career goals – career assessment – resume writing – interview preparation – networking – negotiation skills very nice list to again, clarify what you do….

One thing I didn’t mention is that she signs off with her name (Kim) right above her email signature (with the first word being… Kim)…

Anyway, thanks to Kim for letting me blog the critique… now, how is YOUR email signature?

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1,000 Blog Posts!

July 7th, 2010

999_blog_postsI started blogging in June of 2006.  This is my 1,000th blog post (that image shows 999 from before today).  How cool is that?

I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I started blogging.  But I was sold early on, and there’s NO looking back.

Thank you, to each of you who have ever read a post, passed something to a friend or group, left a comment (joined the conversation!), or otherwise supported me.

I don’t really get paid to blog, but it supports my business objectives, and has helped me think through many issues in a critical way.  It has helped me develop my corporate brand and my personal brand.  It has shown my strengths and my weaknesses, and made me think about who I am and how I communicate.

Blogging has helped me develop myself as a professional and prepared me to become an author (2 books published, more coming).  It has given me a place to whine and a place to celebrate.  It has helped me know that, even though I work from home, I’m not alone, and that I can touch many, many lives.

Blogging has been empowering and in a weird way, addicting :p

Here’s to another 1,000 posts!

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Career Managers: Will You Walk With Me Tomorrow?

July 6th, 2010

You may have heard my calf news last year… I ripped my calf muscle on a beautiful Monday afternoon playing out on a field.  A week of limping and hobbling followed, then, in a desparate attempt to help one of my kids get something hot out of the microwave, I jumped and RIPPED it again, much worse.

The doctor guessed that I might have ripped it more than 60%.  YUCK (and OUCH).

I spent 6 weeks on the couch, which was like being in jail.  For the previous 3+ years I had not done much physical stuff… and my body was not doing so well.  Crutches hurt worse than I thought they could, my joints hurt, etc.

Sometime around December of last year I decided I wanted to walk 500 miles this year.  Walk, not run.  I figured that would be about 498 miles more than I walked in 2009.  500 seemed like a good goal – more than a mile a day but nothing too crazy.

I started January 2nd and walked 3.1 miles.  In the last 6 months I’ve continued to walk.  I took about 40 days off a few weeks ago because (a) the weather turned cold again, and I thought I was done walking in the cold/snow, and (b) I got sick, and wanted to get my health back.  It was hard to get back into it… hence, the 40 days :p

Tomorrow, though, I will hit the 1/2 way milestone: 250 miles.  I’m 2.9 miles shy of it and I’ll do it tomorrow morning.

I’d like to invite you to walk “with” me.  If you want to come to my house and do it, that’s cool!  But many of you can’t do that on such short notice 😉  Just make your own 3 mile loop and walk it “with” me.

As I get older I realize the importance of taking care of my body, which requires a lifestyle change.  I don’t think I’ll ever run (not really any interest), but I’ve seen amazing results in how I feel, my joints, even my waistline, from simply walking a few miles every week.

Is it inconvenient?  Yeah, a lot of times it is.

But the alternative is NO FUN.  I’ve been there, done that.

Tomorrow, 7am… three miles.  “See” ya there!

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Unusual Requests and Rants with JibberJobber

July 5th, 2010

Every once in a while I get a heated (HEATED!) email from someone about some crazy thing we’re doing to them because they signed up on JibberJobber. Here’s a recent “I’m deleting my account because” message:

“Because you guys gave me the upgrade when i didn’t want it! I do not want to pay almost 10 dollars a month for this job website.”

There are two points here:

  1. We gave her an upgrade, even though she didn’t want it. When you sign up for JibberJobber and LOGIN FOR THE FIRST TIME we award you 14 days of premium.  For people who DON’T WANT IT, let me apologize now for giving you this free 14 days.  For everyone else who appreciates it, let me encourage you to use that time to import your contacts from Outlook, Gmail Contacts, LinkedIn, etc.  And if you really don’t want it, just pretend you have the free level… no harm, no foul, right?
  2. She doesn’t want to pay almost 10 bucks a month for this. Really?  Well guess what… NO PROBLEM.  JibberJobber was designed to give you what you NEED for free.  Forever.  We don’t force you or strong arm you into paying anything, ever.  You upgrade when you want, downgrade when you want.  But the irony of this beef is this: how are we going to charge you? At this point you haven’t given us any payment information, or authority to charge you?  It is not possible for us to charge you unless you give a credit card, ya know?  We’re not scammers.

About a year ago I got an extremely heated, ALL UPPER CASE email from someone who was LIVID that we gave him the premium upgrade and the 14 day clock started ticking from when he first logged in.

I’m amazed that some people have great ideas while others offer no solution or suggestion, just very heated, passionate, disrespectful yuckiness.

Even though I have an official, legal company, I am not out to cheat anyone. I want to provide high value, and hope that some people will pay for it.  It’s the old underpromise/overdeliver thing.  I’m out to please, not hurt.  Unfortunately, some people think companies are out to hurt and cheat them.  That’s not me.

How does this apply to your job search?

Read this post: Are You Bleeding?

Do your communications with people, whether at a networking event, in the anonymous online world, in email, on the phone, or on your thank you letters, show your blood all over?

I would never, ever recommend or want to communicate with someone who craps all over me (they might crap all over the person I introduce them to, right?).

If you aren’t getting anywhere in your so-called-networking efforts, perhaps you are bleeding too much…

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Favorite Friday: LinkedIn Recommendation from Benjamin Franklin

July 2nd, 2010

When I do LinkedIn webinars I always get a question about LinkedIn Recommendations.  A common question is: what do you do with the LinkedIn Recommendation request from someone who you don’t know?

How utterly lame it is for someone to ask for a LinkedIn Recommendation if you don’t know them…. a LinkedIn Recommendation is essentially a professional endorsement.  Can you professionally endorse someone you don’t know, or haven’t worked with?

On my LinkedIn blog I wrote Model of a Letter of Recommendation of a Person You Are Unacquainted With (Benjamin Franklin).  Franklin’s writings are so fun to read.  Here’s most of the post:

benjamin franklin - LinkedIn RecommendationsMy answer is to [these types of LinkedIn Recommendation requests is to] ignore (archive) [them].  Don’t even respond.

Here’s a humorous recommendation from Benjamin Franklin… you can find it on Google Books in Memoirs of the life and writings of Benjamin Franklin as well as inLittle masterpieces of American Wit and humor.

“Sir:  The bearer of this, who is going to America, presses me to give him a letter of recommendation, though I know nothing of him, not even his name  This may seem extraordinary, but I assure you it is not uncommon here.  Sometimes, indeed, one unknown person brings another equally unknown, to recommend him; and sometimes they recommend one another!  As to this gentleman, I must refer you to himself for his character and merits, with which he is certainly better acquainted than I can possibly be.  I recommend him, however, to those civilities which every stranger, of whom one knows no harm, has a right to; and I request you will do him all the favor that, on further acquaintance, you shall find him to deserve.  I have the onor to be, etc.”

Hilarious!

Happy Fourth of July folks!  Think of your liberty and freedom and what you can do to keep it :)

This post was brought to you buy Jason Alba’s 3 hour LinkedIn for Job Seekers DVD.  This LinkedIn DVD is … awesome.  Yes, I’m biased… you can check it out here.  Bundle it with JibberJobber here.

LinkedIn for Job Seekers - DVD

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