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What is the Job Journal (under Tools)?

February 10th, 2014

jibberjobber-job-journalLast week a user emailed to ask what the Job Journal is.  On our last Wednesday webinar we spent more time than usual on the Job Journal (some weeks I don’t have time to go into it).

The Job Journal is outside of the idea of tracking contacts, companies, and jobs in your job search, so some people kind of ignore it.  It also suffers from the Pill vs. Vitamin syndrome (this is a critical concept to understand… click here to see my thoughts on it), so it’s easy to think “I’ll do that later, when I’m not working so urgently on landing my next job.”

But let me suggest that working through the Job Journal idea is critical.

It became important to me for a couple of reasons.  First, in my depression and discouragement in my job search, I lost a clear perspective of who I was.  It’s easy to do. If you can’t see yourself clearly, you think you aren’t good enough to land the job you are fully qualified to do.  I got to the point where I doubted my ability to flip burgers at a restaurant… and I’m the guy who put myself through most of my undergraduate and MBA programs!  Determined, driven, motivated… but lost my confidence.

Going through the exercise of brainstorming your accomplishments for the Job Journal helps you regain a clear vision of who you are and what you bring to the table.

Additionally, going through the exercise helps you craft stories that help paint your picture.  As you list your accomplishments you’ll have stories about your ability to solve problems, think analytically, work in teams, lead people, be led by people, be creative, etc.  All those things you say you are… the stories make your claims much more substantial.

Compare this:

I am creative.

vs.

I am creative.  For example, I was invited to work on a project that _________.  It was clear the problem was _____________.  After realizing this, I __________________.  As a result, the project _____________.

You might recognize that mini-story has a Problem/Action/Result format.  When you start thinking about talking about yourself with mini-stories to back-up what you have done, and put some real meat behind your claims, you will come across as a much stronger candidate.

I love, love, love what this can do for you. You can believe in yourself again, even though you have gone through months of “rejection,” and you can present yourself much stronger (through mini-stories).

How can this not be a critical part of your short-term and long-term career management?  It is worth the time to get away from technology and distractions and brainstorm your accomplishments… and then come back to JibberJobber to enter them in.  I can’t make you do it, I can only beg you to do it.  But if you do it, you will be much better off.

I should mention that all of this is on the FREE side of JibberJobbber…

If you are ready to learn more, check out these three blog posts:

The Job Journal – this is an introduction to the tool where I announced it back in September of 2007.

Job Journal Revisited – Included in Free Level – this is the announcement we made in October 2009 where we moved every aspect of it over to the free side.

Your Success Stories and a Job Journal – I took a quote from executive and professional coach Beverly Harvey’s blog post about the stories, which she calls critical components, and said, YES, and use the Job Journal to track these stories!

Beverly Harvey isn’t the only career professional talking about this.  Liz Handlin, who I wrote about last week, wrote a post in January 2007 titled Keep A Job Diary.  Read that for further validation of the concept.

One thing I love about the job journal, or job diary, or whatever you want to call it, is that it is a component of your long-term career management strategy.

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When do you do your best work?

February 7th, 2014

I do my best writing in the morning.  I like to get at least one blog post cranked out early… if I do it in the morning I think the quality of the post is better.  I have less distractions then, than later.

I have come to cherish the mornings as a time to get my best and most important work done.

About a year ago I realized there was other important stuff I needed to do, which typically took too long to do.  I was saving it until after my “best time.”  The immediate result was prolonging the project, and all the the gunk you get with procrastination.

So I decided to use my best time, the morning, for those projects.  Guess what happened?  They got done quickly, and well!

I’m definitely not a night owl… I am out of mental energy by the evening, and if I have to work late I pay for it the next couple of days.  But if you are a night owl, and you do your best work at night, then capitalize on that time!

The lesson for me, and the message to you, is to recognize when you are the sharpest and most efficient, and do the most important tasks then. Don’t use this time for low-value tasks, or busy-work tasks.  Use this optimal time to accomplish the most important things you have on your list!

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Bad Examples From Real Job Seekers

February 6th, 2014

liz_handlin_ultimate_resumesI follow my Austin buddy Liz Handlin, owner of Ultimate Resumes, on Facebook and am entertained by her experiences with job seekers. Here’s something she shared on Facebook recently…. see my comments below the box. (I [edited] some of this to try to protect anyone who needs protecting, although I imagine this plays out dozens of times each month)

Stupid things that people do when interviewing for a job #4,000:

[Someone] called to tell me about a guy she interviewed for a job at her company yesterday. She … never would have chosen to interview him because he had a 1 page resume with a colorful timeline in the middle of his resume and little useful information.

Interviewer: I see that you have a 1 page resume. There isn’t much information on here so it’s hard for me to assess your accomplishments.

Candidate: Well I am really trying to push people to look at my LinkedIn page and not my resume. That is where you can see the bulk of my experience.

Interviewer: (looks at resume and notices that his LinkedIn address is NOT EVEN ON THE RESUME) Hmmm.

Two main problems (these are Liz’s observations and advice):

  1. if you want interviewers to see your LinkedIn profile put the address on your resume, and
  2. your resume should be comprehensive enough that an interviewer doesn’t have to go anywhere else to get a good sense for your accomplishments. Don’t create more work for interviewers.

Folks, seriously. The MAIN issue here is that the job seeker (aka, the marketer, or person marketing their services) made it HARD for the decision-maker (buyer) to make a decision. What’s worse, they intentionally made it harder!

I get that you want people to get to your LinkedIn profile, but consider your audience, and the situation.  If you are in an interview, the interviewer usually has their resume in front of you (so they don’t mix you up with the fifty other people they are interviewing/considering).    If your resume doesn’t have any meat, what are they to do?  Remember how awesome your LinkedIn profile is?

NO!

Give them the information they need when they need it, which is on the resume.

I know you want your LinkedIn profile to be your resume, but for now, until people catch up to your vision, you need to play the game.  They expect a marketing document from you that has sufficient information (aka, your resume), and they use this marketing document to compare you with your competition, who has a similarly formatted marketing document (aka, resume).  If your formatting is not close enough to the rest, you might be discarded.  If your information is not deep or broad enough, and the others are, you might be discarded.

This is called “the game.”  For now, the rules are established, and they have been for decades.  You can try to make a statement and change the rules, and it might work with some companies and some people, but you risk losing out to others who know the rules of the game.

I don’t need to talk about the one-page thing, or the graphic in the middle thing, but I do want to address the “go to my Profile” issue.

On my webinars I tell people that they need to understand the concept of channel and destination.  This job seeker was using his resume as a channel to get to the destination (the LinkedIn profile).  He did it poorly, by not putting a link, but still, that was his intention.

Are you sure you really want to send someone to your LinkedIn profile as the destination?  Or, are you hoping the LinkedIn profile is one more step in the channel to get to the destination? I can’t answer that for you, but for me:

MY LINKEDIN PROFILE IS NOT THE DESTINATION I WANT YOU TO GET AT.

When I was finishing my basement the heating and air guys came in.  We talked about where we wanted vents, and they said every time you put a bend in the duct work it decreases efficiency (after they bend) by some crazy amount, like 25% or 33%.  In other words, every time the air has to bend (usually at 90 degrees), you lose efficiency.  Put a bunch of bends in one line and you won’t get much air out of the vent.

This is the same for the channel/destination concept.  Each time you give someone something with the hope that they will go somewhere else, you lose a part of their interest.  Just send them to where you want to send them first, without having them jump through hoops, go around bends, and ultimately get distracted!

 

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50 Google Searches to See If The Writing Is On the Wall

February 5th, 2014

It was cool to see my friend on the Huffington Post.  Looks like this was her third article there: 50 Google Searches to Avoid a Layoff or Bad Employer

susan_joyce_huffingtonpost

As you look through Susan’s 50 suggestions, it looks kind of dooms-dayish and depressing. You are looking for bad news or dirt on a company.

Before I was laid off I saw and read the proverbial “writing on the wall.”  But I just didn’t believe it.  It wasn’t believable until the moment I heard, over the phone, that I was being laid off.

It just seemed surreal.  It seemed like a bad dream.  “It couldn’t happen to me,” I thought.

But it could, and it did.  The writing was there, real, and true.

If you think you see writing on the wall you might have it confirmed by a few of Susan’s 50 search suggestions.  (But if you don’t get any results from those search queries, it doesn’t mean that your gut instinct is wrong)

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“You’ve been lied to, suckers. Social media won’t help you find a job.” Laurie Ruettimann, and my response

February 4th, 2014

I love Laurie Reuttimann’s blog, The Cynical Girl. She tells it like it is, no holds barred. I’ve quoted or referenced her over the years. After seeing the title of a recent post I was really interested in seeing what she had to say. In this post I want to share my thoughts/responses with my users and job seekers. Her post is excellent, you can read the whole thing here.  Most of the quotes below are not from her, but HR people.

“You are being lied to by the internet. There is nothing here for you, especially a job.”

I agree with the “you are being lied to,” but I think the bigger issue is that people are looking for the silver bullet, and this new-fangled Internet thingy seems shiny and bullet-y.  So yeah!!  Actually… no :(  The internet is a tool, websites are a tool, and none of this replaces the need to find and nurture real relationships (aka, networking).  Maybe you’ll get a job, or the next few jobs, just by being online, but I’m all about long-term career management, and using the same diluted, saturated tool that everyone else is using, and using it the same way they are using it, is not a good long-term strategy, imo.

“One HR professional told me, ‘If you have time to be on Facebook, you are not fully engaged at your job. I don’t want you.’ “

I can’t agree with this, partially because of the comment below about Facebook.  I don’t spend much time on Facebook anymore, except as a quick way to see what’s going on with my friends and family.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time unfriending a lot of people, even quote-unquote-friends.  This comment from the HR professional makes him/her sound like an old-fashioned, out-of-touch, stodgy person who has no friends or family worth staying in touch with.  But I know some people love to get updates and are fulfilled by staying in touch through Facebook.  Some people rely on Facebook messaging as much, or more, as they rely on their email.  I’m not talking about frilly stuff, I’m talking about scheduling piano and dance lessons, kid get-togethers, etc. Who’s the stodgy HR pro to tell anyone they can’t communicate on Facebook?  This generalized statement sounds a bit too much to me.

“Don’t have a personal brand. ‘If you have a personal brand, you aren’t dedicated to the company brand.’ ” 

This statement sounds like it comes from an HR pro that hears the phrase “personal branding” with a lot of bias, and hype.  First of all, I teach that everyone has a brand (including the stodgy HR person from the last comment).  EVERYONE has a brand. Your brand is either intentional or unintentional, but you have a brand.  I agree that if you work for a company, whether you are an employee or a contractor, that you need to make it clear that you are dedicated to the company brand, to some degree.  However, to aborb the company’s brand and have it be yours can suck pretty bad when some HR person calls you into a dimly lit room to lay you off… and you now you are stuck having neglected your own personal career management because you were “dedicated to the company brand.”  When the company is not dedicated to YOU, how can you be dedicated to it to the point of neglecting your career?  Ask the 15,000-ish Dell employees you just got laid off how they feel about that.

“Don’t believe in the false promise of a social network. ‘I like to hire people I know. After that, people who are recommended to me. I want to know you or know someone who knows you. That’s how I hold people accountable for hires.’ ”

I agree with this statement, however, the HR person hires other HR people.  You need to read more into this statement and generalize it so that you understand that you must develop a relationship, not with the HR person, but with the hiring manager!  So how do you get to know the hiring manager?  Meet them!  Do an “informational interview” (but never call it that), or go to the network meetings they go to, or volunteer where they volunteer, etc.  And how do you get recommended to the hiring manager?  You meet people they work with, and you have a brand (that is, you make it easy for people to understand who you are, and perceive you the right way!).  You can accomplish some of this, even much of this, through social networks.  Yes, I do believe that.  But don’t use your social strategy to get out of real, face-to-face, human interactions. Use it as a tool to do what it’s good for and to facilitate finding those meetings that you go to.

“Don’t use Facebook to connect. ‘I’m there to watch my kids.’ ”

I agree with this.  Like I said, I have loved unfriending people on Facebook because my posts and family’s posts are really part of a life that I don’t need broadcast to professional acquaintances.  Here’s an example… would you go to the hiring manager’s house to talk to them?  Would you go to their church to talk to them?  Would you go to the same vacation place to talk to them? I’m sure some people would, but my point is there are some places that are appropriate for prospecting and business meetings, and other places (especially those that are a lot more personal), are inappropriate. Respect those boundaries (which will be different for different people).

“Don’t depend on LinkedIn to connect. ‘I go in there about once a month to clean it out.’ ”

I love this statement because it backs up what I’ve been following for years – look at what Compete.com says about LinkedIn, and how often people go there.  Not that often!  I’m not here to rain on anyone’s parade… like someone who wrote a book on LinkedIn, or does training on LinkedIn… because I still think LinkedIn is a great tool.  But “depending on LinkedIn to connect” (or “to” anything else) is like depending on a hammer to build a house.  Perhaps you can, if you have enough time and are stubborn enough, but it is a lot easier to build a house with all the right tools instead of just one tool that is optimized for a few tasks.  Use LinkedIn as a tool, and figure out what other tools you should use!  And, the HR pro who goes into LinkedIn about once a month shows what a horrible networker he/she is.  I’m guessing that once this person is in transition, he or she will be beefing up their LinkedIn profile, presence, groups and network.

“Skip Twitter. ‘I am the world’s biggest Kai Ryssdal fan. Can I listen to NPR on Twitter?’ ”

I have fallen out of love with Twitter over the years.  When it got more mainstream it seemed to have gotten more sleazy.  It’s just not a place I spend time.  The issue, though, is this: is your target audience spending time there?  Are people who might refer you to their boss spending time there?  Can you “brand” yourself there, to help those people understand what your expertise and interests are?   Just because HR people don’t hang out on Twitter doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.  I’m not saying that you should, I’m saying to determine who is there and see if it is the right place for you to spend time and effort.

“This (social media) is the future….. But the future is not here.” 

I LOVE this quote from Laurie.  I don’t agree with it because it has been around for years (Facebook is ten years old, have ya heard?).  If you were trying to network into HR for your next job, perhaps I would agree with the statement (although there are HR people who like and spend time on social networks for professional reason).  But most of you are not trying to network into HR, you are trying to avoid HR as you get in front of a hiring manager, or someone who will recommend you to a hiring manager.  Ignore social tools at your own risk.  I bet your competition is not.

“Most people still find jobs through career websites, employee referrals and job boards.” 

This statement is too generalized for me.  I know it is true for some levels (minimum wage vs. $100+k salary), and for some industries (fast food vs. hard sciences) and some professions (entry level front desk admin vs product manager), but I am not sure I believe that “most people” find a job though any particular thing.  I remember a few years ago, after I got on the high horse of social media, I met with a guy who got a great job at a great company.  “How did you land this killer job?” I asked, knowing it was through networking, branding and LinkedIn.  “I applied to an opening on Monster.com,” he said.  Touché. Monster still works.

“So if you’re spending more than an hour/day on the internet with your job search, you are doing it wrong.”

 I can’t agree with this, either.  Some people only have an hour a day, others spend ten hours a day on their job search.  Some days you’ll spend hours just doing legitimate research. Some days you’ll spend an hour just applying to an opening through the horrid (usually broken) application system, because you talked to the manager and things are going well but they still said “oh, please apply online so you are in the system.”  And, “the internet” has a lot more useful tools than just Twitter… you might spend an hour on JibberJobber, or reviewing a dozen job postings to prepare for an interview you have coming up, etc.

“Get up. Get out. Get off the internet. Get yourself back to work!”

I totally agree.  In contrast to my thought in the last comment, I see too many people who hide behind the internet (email, social, soduko) and try to not do real job search stuff.  You need to know when it’s time to step away from the computer and do other things.  Again, use all the right tools for all the right reasons, don’t just keeping hammering when you need a saw or screwdriver.

One thought that keeps coming back to me, with all of these comments, is the advice that you hear at job clubs and from career counselors/coaches: GET AROUND HR!  Take their advice for what it is worth, but you also need to understand who is doing the hiring.  If HR has a small part in the hiring process, find out who has a big part.  And, I’ve worked with HR people before.  None of them were involved in hiring… they were involved in benefits, legal, etc.  But if they say “I’m an HR pro” and they are not involved in hiring, you might not give their advice as much credibility as someone who actually does hiring.

 

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Dave Perry on How Much To Tell A Recruiter (and background checks)

February 3rd, 2014

Last August I did an Ask The Expert call with Dave Perry… it was awesome.  You can access it (and others) for free here.  In a blog post announcing his interview I got a comment with a great question… and Dave answered it.  Here is the complete question/answer.  If you think Dave is great, you have to devour his book and check out his other stuff.

Bruce’s question is about disclosure to a recruiter:

My wife is in a quandry.While working in a full-time job, she began the application process for a new job on December 15th. The new firm has an extensive process with a number of tests, interviews, etc.

On January 10, her company let her go.

The new company looks ready to make an offer, but the firm’s recruiter announced that they’ll be doing background and employment checks.

Should she inform the recruiter that she was let go two weeks ago?

It is now January 31.

What to do????

Dave Perry’s response is:

Bruce, here are the only three things she needs to do right now:a. Tell the recruiter the truth – that she was let go, and why,
b. Hand the recruiter a list of references – whom she’s already spoken to and can talk on job success — at the same time she tells the recruiter (yes get in the car Monday and drive over to the company and talk to the recruiter in person)
c. Make a list of all the other companies she wants to work for and get resumes out to them because she wants to create competition for her skills in case the company’s process ‘drags’ a while.

Why?

a. The recruiter is going to find out — unless they are stupid, AND they’d have to really be dumb to not pick up on it during a reference call. Preempting their discovery takes the sting out of it – if indeed there is any sting in it! AND most importantly it shows you are honest AND may light a fire under the recruiters posterior to grab you before you start looking elsewhere,
b. Giving them the reference check saves the recruiter hours of work trying to find the info themselves, and you somewhat guide them to the people they should be talking to.
c. A little competition is good for the ego and keeps employers honest!

The future is in your hands.

David Perry

I love Dave Perry… don’t you?

dave_perry_guerrilla_marketing_job_hunters

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