The Madison Job Search Presentation

June 30th, 2015

I arrived in Madison, Wisconsin last night about an hour after dinner closed at our hotel.  Drove through a torrential rain which kind of felt like driving through a waterfall for the last hour or so.  It was crazy stressful/fun.

Why hasn’t anyone ever told me about Madison, Wisconsin?  This place is BEAUTIFUL!  The green landscape is overwhelming (I’ve lived in a desert for the last 22 years, from northern Mexico to Idaho to Utah, I’ve missed all of the green, trees, and oxygen).

Apparently, there are thirteen beaches in Madison.  The capital building is the second largest in the country, second only to the White House.  The people are delightfully nice.  You are right that Wisconsin knows and likes its cheese, but did you know that Wisconsin is a huge paper producer?  According to the Wisconsin Paper Council, Wisconsin “is the #1 papermaking state in the U.S.”  Utah doesn’t even have a “paper council.”

Anyway, I’ll have more on my speaking tour later.  You can see where I’ll be over the next month here. I am not “getting my head in the game.”  Tonight I speak to a bunch of people interested in their career.  They had to close registration because the room is at capacity.  And there might be people who didn’t register but just show up.  Like in Minneapolis, one year when I presented at Right Management… people where all along the walls, and even in the halls. I know it was uncomfortable.

I’m not sharing this because I’m awesome.  I’m sharing this because people want to know.

They want to know there are options.  They want to know what to do.  They want to know that what they are going through is okay.  They want to know that they’ll get through this.  They want to know there is hope.

A few years ago I was at lunch with Dick Bolles and his wife, after a presentation in Danville, CA, and he said “Jason, your message and my message are the same.” I was honored and intrigued. I was curious to know what he thought my message was (he was at my presentation only an hour earlier).  He elaborated: “Ours is a message of hope.” Read my immediate thoughts on it in this 2010 blog post.

Do you want to know what I’m talking about in a few hours?  I’m talking about hope. And options.  And your career.  It’s a message I have shared in Boston, and San Francisco, and Tampa and Seattle, in Albuquerque and Houston, and Twin Cities and San Diego, in Salt Lake City and Phoenix.  And tonight, I share it in Madison, Wisconsin.

In my job search I had lost hope.  And it was miserable, and I was ineffective.  I want YOU to have hope, and get out of misery, and get results.  That is my message.



The Resume Black Hole: Disappointing Proof from CareerXroads

June 26th, 2015

In a Wall Street Journal blog post (For Job Seekers, the Black Hole Persists), there’s disappointing and perhaps disgusting proof that the resume black hole is there.  Like anyone in a job search needs to read an article to know it’s there.

But for the rest of the world… there’s no question.

Thanks to Mark Mehler and team at CareerXroads, who put together a fake resume each year and send apply for jobs at companies listed on Fortune’s “best companies to work for” list, we can see how these best companies treat applicants.

If this is how the best companies treat applicants, how do the worst companies treat applicants?

To be fair, the list is of the best companies to work for, not companies who have the best, most respectful hiring process.

Employers (should) know that if you are rude and disrespectful to a job seeker during any part of the hiring process, they remember your company and form new opinions about your products and services that run deep and stay for a long time.

Here are some highlights from the blog post:

“… his CV was loaded with the keywords needed to float to the top of today’s automated job-applicant software.” So in this test, they are playing to the ATS algorithms.  Note this is not about networking in, talking to the hiring manager, etc.  It’s all about the resume strategy, and, optimizing the resume.  Yes, do that, but also network into the company!!!

“He was also not a real person, a fact noted at the bottom of his one-page resume.”  Later in the blog post you learn that only 2 out of 100 companies spotted that.  Of course an ATS isn’t going to look for some statement that this is a fake resume, but from this might we deduct that 98% of companies have no human involvement for much of the process? Mark Mehler, founder of CareerXroads, suggests that “recruiters [only] read the first three paragraphs of a resume.”  Lesson?  Make those first three paragraphs awesome and engaging!

“…64 never sent Stein any notification that he was not being considered for the job for which he had applied.” This has bothered me for a long time.  Companies, please  give me ANY notification of a status update!!!  I know you have legal and HR breathing down your necks to say nothing, but for goodness sake, be humane!

There’s still a lot of work to do. I’m not talking about automated technology.  I’m talking about basic, respectful communication, and managing expectations.

Until that gets figured out, folks, please do not solely rely on the spray-and-pray resume blasting strategy.  No JibberJobber user should ever say “I’ve sent out 1,000 resumes and I got nothing… no leads.”  Maybe you will send out 1,000 resumes, but JibberJobber users should use a networking strategy that far outweighs any time spent sending emails and applying to jobs online.  I know it seems harder, but this is how you’ll get closer to getting your next dream job!  Make me proud!


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Why Organize Your Job Search?

June 25th, 2015

I started JibberJobber as a frustrated job seeker.  While other people use JibberJobber, including entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, people who don’t work (but want to manage their network), I regularly go back to my roots as a frustrated job seeker.

I wanted to organize my job search with a spreadsheet, but that didn’t work out.  It was a mess.  A rat’s nest.  What if you just give up, and wing it?  Impossible. Once you get deep enough in your job search, you have to stay organized, or else too many opportunities get lost. I’m not talking about job offerings, I’m talking about opportunities to follow-up with people.

Using Excel is a great option, for about two weeks.  Then the amount and complexity of data, and what you are trying to track, get’s too messy. And you’ll be tempted to create more and more columns and sheets, only muddying things up worse.

Using a paper-based system (spiral notebook, sticky notes, day planner, writing on your arm, etc.) is an okay system, until you can’t read your writing, and can’t follow anything.

Both of those systems, though, are not long-term solutions.  I bet a month after you find your dream job (the one that will end in two to five years), you’ll not be able to decipher what you wrote.  It will become garbage, encoded to the point where no one can make heads or tails of it.

When we designed JibberJobber, we were looking for something that would be:

  • Fairly easy to use: This is a significant challenge because of the complexity of the task.  We try and hide as much complexity behind the scenes, but simplifying the UI is always on the top of our list.
  • Long term: I wanted something that you could use after you land your job, and in five years, and between job searches, and when you got freelance gigs, and even after you retired.
  • Actionable: collecting and organizing data is one thing… reminding you to act on something is another thing. I missed a key call with a hiring manager because my spreadsheet was messed up (hard to read), and it didn’t say “CALL THIS PERSON TODAY AT 10!!”  Instead, I missed the call.  I wanted JibberJobber to put those reminders right in front of you.

I learned from recruiters that they hate calling a candidate, asking about their interest in a job they had applied to, and the candidate not knowing what they were talking about.  I get that – it’s hard to remember everything, and sometimes we are trying to remember if we had sent a resume, or which resume we sent… or maybe we just mowed the lawn and our brain was somewhere else. But the message we send to the recruiter is that we don’t care.  That we’ve forgotten and our interest level was low to begin with.

Why have an organized job search?  So you can talk to people, even recruiters, and know what you are doing!  So you can sound interested!

JibberJobber helps you stay organized by allowing you to keep track of:

  • Contacts
  • Companies
  • Jobs
  • Interactions you have with any of those (aka, Log Entries)
  • Follow-up you need to do (aka, Action items)

You can even use your email to add new records (email2log).

Look, I know this can be overwhelming… here’s a video that will help you put all of this into perspective:

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Job Seekers MUST Understand the Difference Between Status and Brand

June 24th, 2015

One of the biggest challenges I’ve seen in the last nine years since I’ve lost my job and communicated with thousands of job seekers is a misunderstanding of who they are.  Too often people think “I’m unemployed,” and that label needs to be their brand.  For example, when I had a job, my introduction was:

“I’m Jason Alba, the General Manager of this company.”

Then, when I lost my job, it changed to:

“I’m Jason Alba, and I’m…. uh… uh… In transition?  Unemployed?”

However you say that new thing, let me suggest that it is said WRONG!!!  I know we are used to having a title, and a professional identity, but this new thing is not our title and it is not our professional identity!

Here’s a simple analogy to show you why: Let’s say your neighbor is a master carpenter. You’ve seen his work, and he is amazing.  You can say: “My neighbor is a carpenter.”

But, what if your neighbor has all of his tools stolen, and he can’t work until he buys new tools?  Is he still a carpenter?

Or, what if your neighbor gets chicken pox or cooties, and can’t work for at least a week.  Is he still a carpenter?

YES, he is still a carpenter!!!

His status is “not working,” for the moment.  I actually call this his temporary status.  But “not working” is not his brand**.

Some people think that when they are in transition they are unemployed.  They don’t understand that is a temporary status, and they begin to believe the lie that they are “professionally unemployed.”

Please realize the difference between your brand (including skills, competencies, etc.) and your temporary status.

With this information, you should network differently.  Are you an out of work product manager?  Break that down to status (out of work) and brand (product manager).  You don’t have to wear the out of work like it’s a badge of honor or a badge of shame.  It’s simply a temporary status.

Now, go out and communicate better, and more accurately, with your network!

** I use the word brand loosely here, since I don’t think a job title is a good way to brand… but for the purpose of this article, it’s good enough.

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Speaking Tour 2015

June 23rd, 2015

Here’s a rough map of my road trip this summer. The yellow asterisks are where I’ll be speaking (some areas will have multiple presentations). This is a trip from Utah to Utah… with a bunch of states in-between :)  Below the image you’ll see details of my presentations… Please come if you can, and let your contacts know about these presentations!


Tuesday June 30 from 5:00 to 6:30 – Madison, Wisconsin

Career Management 2.0 (more info)

21 North Park Street, Madison, WI

RSVP here

 Tuesday July 7 from 10:00 to 11:00 Job Search Focus Group – Cincinnati, OH

Career Management 2.0 (more info)

Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church

1345 Grace Avenue (corner of Grace and Observatory Avenue), Cincinnati, OH 45208

Wednesday July 8 from 9:30 – 11:00 The August Group – Rochester, NY

Career Management 2.0 (more info)

(location coming soon)

Wednesday July 8 from 2:00 – 4:00 RochesterWorks! – Rochester, NY

Career Management 2.0 (more info)

255 North Goodman, Rochester, NY

Wednesday July 8 from 6:00 – 7:30 Fairport Library (note, different address!) – Rochester, NY

Career Management 2.0 (more info)

(location coming soon)

Thursday July 9 from 9:00 to noon RochesterWorks! – Waterloo, NY

Career Management   (extended version)

 1 DiPronio Drive, Waterloo, NY  13165

Thursday July 9 from 2:00 to 4:00 RochesterWorks! – Rochester, NY

Getting More Out of LinkedIn (more info)

255 North Goodman, Rochester, NY

Monday July 13 from 11:00 to 1:30 POAC – Columbia, MD

Career Management 2.0  (extended version) (more info)

(You have to register through POAC)

Monday July 13 from 3:00 to 5:30 POAC – Columbia, MD

Career Management 2.0  (extended version) (more info)

(You have to register through POAC)

Tuesday July 14 from 6:30 pm to 10:00 Career Network Ministry / McLean Bible Church (Tysons) – Vienna, VA

LinkedIn for Job Seekers + Career Management 2.0

8925 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA

Tuesday July 21 from 9am to 11:30 Beyond Networking  STL Saint Louis,MO

Career Management 2.0  (more info)

1200 S Lindbergh Blvd, St Louis, MO 63131 (Salem United Methodist Church)

Thursday July 23 from 4:00 to 6:00 Jewish Family Services – Kansas City, MO

LinkedIn for Job Seekers + Career Management 2.0

(location coming soon)

This trip is going to be AWESOME!!!



6 Secrets of The New Interview + JibberJobber and Job Search Organizing

June 22nd, 2015

Nick Corcodilos, Ask the Headhunter, shared 6 Secrets of the New Interview from his book, The New Interview (an instruction book), on this blog post.

Here are his six, with my commentary:

1. Insiders have the best shot at the job.  They also have the best shot at recommending outsiders for the job.  Are you networking with people at your target companies so that you could be recommended by an insider?  This, my friends, is what I would call working the hidden job market.  How do you keep track of all of your networking touch points, and follow-up conversations?  Using JibberJobber, of course.

2. The real matchmaking is done before the interview.  Nick says “a headhunter never sends a candidate to an interview unless the headhunter already knows the candidate can do the job.”  How do you keep track of which recruiters know what about you?  Use JibberJobber to keep a profile on your recruiters, and when you send them what information, and who you have referred them to.

3. The interview is an invitation to do the job.  Nick says the interview is not an interrogation (even thought it might feel like one, since the stakes for you are so high!). In JibberJobber there’s a section called Interview Prep, to help you prepare for your interviews.

4. The employer wants to hire you, and he will help you win the interview. Combine the idea of interviewing well and having insiders network you in and refer you, and you’ll be ahead more than if you didn’t do those two things!  As noted above, JibberJobber helps with both.

5. The boss wants one thing from you: He wants you to solve a problem.  Same as #4 – can you, in the interview, prove you can solve the problem?  And, do you have insiders that influence the boss vouching for you?  JibberJobber helps organize and track this.

6. You will win the job by doing it. That is, not talking about it, but somehow assuring them that you know how to do the job, without any doubt.  This, I think, comes down to your personal brand, and how well you have communicated your abilities and success to your contacts.  You can use JibberJobber to keep track of which contacts need to know what about you, and whether you have told them the right stories or not.

In Nick’s post he shares a link to the interview flow chart… this is a complex process, and I can see how JibberJobber could add value to almost every step in the flowchart.

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LinkedIn Decreases Value for Users… Again

June 19th, 2015

Chris Russell shared new rules for messaging other members of LinkedIn Groups on this blog post: Linkedin Sets New Limits on Messaging Group Members

Basically, you now are limited to messaging only 15 times to other members of all (not each) LinkedIn Groups you are a member of.

I’ve never messaged more than 15 people in a month, but I know job seekers who are very good at reaching out to people… and this hampers their networking.  Read more at the link above.

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The Value of Skills and Endorsements on LinkedIn?

June 18th, 2015

Kathy sent me this question:

Could [you] comment on the value of the “Skills & Endorsements” feature? In my experience, “Endorsements” have been thrown around liberally and as a result do not have value. People have endorsed me for skills that they would have no idea whether I have or not.

I wrote about this in September 2012: LinkedIn Endorsements.

Here’s a much more favorable writeup I did in March of 2012: LinkedIn Skills: One Year Old (more or less)

My overall take? LinkedIn Skills is poo poo. I only write it this way because I’m trying to be nice.

I believe that LinkedIn created Skills and Endorsements to get more traffic to LinkedIn, so they could tell their investors: “Look!  We have more people coming to our site!  Aren’t we great?”  Here’s how this works: You get an email that says “John Doe has just endorsed you for this skill!”  At first, it wouldn’t say who endorsed you, so you had to click on a link, which brought traffic to LinkedIn.  Then you would spend a few minutes trying to figure out what the heck it was, what it meant, and if you should care.  But hey, you were now a visitor, and you spent “a few minutes” on the site!  Score one for LinkedIn, who now increased their traffic and “time on site” without increasing the value to anyone.  Investors like metrics.

Skills are, well, skills.  Like programming, training, speaking, dog walking.  It’s just a list of things you are supposedly good at.

Endorsements are a count of how many times people say “Yep, she’s a good dog walker!”

You can add Skills to your own Profile.  But others can add skills to your Profile, too.  I have a bunch of skills that people have added that are inaccurate, meaningless, or not aligned with my personal brand. For example, others have added these skills to my profile, which I would have never added myself: Human Resources, Publishing, Time Management (ha! That is laughable), Lead Generation, Business Process Improvement, Search… and more.  Of course, I’ve dabbled here and there in many of these areas, but I would not say I’m skilled at, or expert in, any of them.  I’m not even moderately interested in some of them.  I’d rather find an expert to help me with those things.

So, a problem with Skills and Endorsements is that people can add things to my Profile that are irrelevant and even misleading. What qualifies them to know that I’m expert in, interested in, or want to showcase one of those skills?  Maybe I am a master dog walker, but really, that’s not something I care to have on my Profile.  Why does someone else have the power to add a new skill to my Profile?  (Yes, I know I can accept, reject, and reorder, but who has time for that?  I just ignore this section.)

I used to not be super hot on Recommendations, which is the paragraph that you would write about someone saying how great they were.  People said that they would skim those, but they were all flowery and positive, which kind of took away the overall impact.  But once LinkedIn polluted the Profile with Skills, Recommendations seemed to be a lot more substantive.

I don’t think that LinkedIn cares much about skills, as far as adding value to the users.  Why?  Because I can’t find an easy way to search for skills.  There is not a skills box in the advanced search options (not even in the advanced search, but I think the recruiter account can search for skills). I used to be able to easily find a skills page, which talked about what a skill was, and showed people in my network who had that.  This link has an image of what it used to look like, but it looks like they retired it – none of the skills links work anymore.

In order to look for people with certain skills, you can try this hack that almost works good.  First, go to someone’s Profile, then scroll to their Skills section. Then, click on a skill… this brings up a search of that skill. Unfortunately, it’s not a true search of users with that skill… it’s a more general search.  But you can replace what you clicked on with what you want to look for… which is the section in yellow, below.  It’s a hack that I’d say will work well 25% of the time. That is code for don’t even waste your time trying to search on skills.



My recommendation with Skills has been to drag the section as far down to the bottom of your Profile as you can.  It’s a waste of space.  It’s useless.  Worse, it tends to distract you from doing what you should really be doing to get value out of LinkedIn. Don’t spend another second on it.

Ask me how I really feel :)

I could go on and on, but this is really enough time spent on this topic.  I will share just one final thought, that could negate everything I’ve written about here: when there is proof that the skills you have, and the number of endorsements you have, impact how you show up in search results, then skills will be a game-changer.  It will be time to game the system, which is what thousands of people will do, to show up higher in search results.  It will make this mess even messier. I really hope LinkedIn doesn’t muddy up the integrity of their system by doing that, but I wouldn’t put it past them.

Back when this came out I emailed a few of my favorite recruiters for their opinions, and meant to write a blog post with their reactions.  I can’t find those emails right now, but the general reaction was that they could see right through skills. Recruiters aren’t dumb… they’ve seen enough Profiles and resumes to know what is high value and real, and what is meaningless.  No recruiter I talked to was impressed.

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Nick Corcodilos, Ask the Headhunter, on JibberJobber

June 18th, 2015

Here’s an oldie but goodie from Nick Corcodilos.  Nick calls it like he sees it, and has no problem calling foul on junk.  Because of that, it was very flattering to see this PBS article from Nick titled Ask The Headhunter: Two Job Hunting Resources I Don’t Hate.

It starts off saying “Nick isn’t down on all online job-hunting resources,” but I can tell you from reading his stuff, he is down on a lot of them.

The article is a fun and a funny read.  And we’re honored to be on Nick’s good stuff list! Read it here.


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LinkedIn vs. JibberJobber (or, LinkedIn AND JibberJobber?)

June 17th, 2015

This week I was on a call with JibberJobber user Cary who said that when he recommends JibberJobber to his colleagues, they say “I’m already on LinkedIn, so I don’t need that.”

I’ve written about this before: JibberJobber + LinkedIn in 2013 and JibberJobber vs. LinkedIn in 2009. In Joshua Waldman’s best selling book Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies, he recommends JibberJobber as a “tool to organize your job search via social media” (reference).  He does not include LinkedIn as a tool to “organize your job search.”


Because LinkedIn is not a tool to organize your job search.

LinkedIn is not a CRM.

LinkedIn is barely a roladex replacement.

Let me jump into an analogy.  Let’s say that you are going build a house (which, for some people, feels as complex as managing a job search).  What single tool is the most important tool to use to build a house?

Is the hammer more important than the saw?  Is the plumb bob more important than the level?  Is the heavy machinery (caterpillar tractors) more important than the drill, more important than the measuring tape, more important than the wet/dry vacuum, more important than the nail gun?

To think of building a house with one tool is crazy.  It’s probably impossible.

That’s the difference between JibberJobber and LinkedIn.  They are both tools, and they each have different purposes.

I use LinkedIn to find and research prospects.  What do they say about themselves?  Where did they go to school and work?  What are their specialties?  Where do they live?  Should I get on the phone with them?

I use JibberJobber to keep track of my relationships with people.  Not what necessarily what jobs they have had over the last 10 years, although you could easily track that.  I’m talking about keeping track of where I’m at with a person.  Have we talked?  About what?  What number did I call them at?  Was I supposed to follow-up?  About what, and when?  Who introduced me to that person?  How strong is my relationship with that person?  Did I talk with them, and others, at the same time (like in a panel interview)?

Of course, LinkedIn does other things, like allows me to communicate with people who supposedly have something in common (with LinkedIn Groups), and share my brand statements through Articles and status updates.

And, of course, JibberJobber does other things, like helps me track which jobs I’ve applied to, which versions of which resumes I used, when I sent them, to whom, and whether I’ve interviewed at any jobs and when I should follow-up.

Can you see the difference between these tools?  One is a hammer, which is very, very useful for certain jobs, and the other is a power drill, which is very, very useful for other jobs.  Apples to oranges. Or, as Cary said, “chalk and cheese” (a delightful British phrase).

Would you ever need to use JibberJobber, if you are using LinkedIn?

The question is, really, “is it okay to use the right tools for different jobs?”

I think it’s a pretty obvious yes.

If you think about it, using multiple tools to build a house is the only way to get the job done.

Now, figure out how to actually get value out of LinkedIn (more than just being on it), and combine that with the power of the organizing and tracking features in JibberJobber.  Your job search will change.


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