I Lost My Job. Where Can I Get Free Job Search Help?

September 30th, 2015

Nine and a half years ago I lost my job. The emotions are so intense that I can recall them as if it were just yesterday.  Some things are hard to forget.

I was fairly new in this town, not knowing many people, and feeling quite lost and unsupported.  Other people had either grown up around here and had friends from high school who were now in a position to help them network… I didn’t have that.  And some people had professional services that their ex-company bought for them, commonly known as “outplacement.”  My company would never, ever have paid for outplacement.

So, where do you turn for help, when it seems there is not help for an out of work person with no money to spend? Here are some ideas:

Job Clubs and Job Ministries

Have you ever heard of job clubs, or job ministries?  This is one of the greatest secrets in our local communities that should be our first stop. Many (not all) communities have them. If yours doesn’t, look for the nearest one. It might make sense to drive an hour or two to go to one.  The value you get out of attending a job club or job ministry goes beyond just sitting in a chair and learning for a speaker. Networking with other job seekers was one of the most important things I did in my job search. Partly because job seekers are well-networked, and partly because I learned that (a) I wasn’t the only one in this pathetic situation, and (b) there were people more qualified and awesome than I was, and they were in transition too (which means, I could stop thinking I was broken, or at fault).  Also, at these job clubs, you’ll find volunteers who have been there for years, sometimes decades, who are well-versed in all-things-job-search, and they can help you avoid the inevitable pitfalls you would otherwise fall into.

I have spoken to groups at job clubs over the years and job clubs will always hold a special place in my heart.

 Check the state resources

When I went to my local workforce services office, I knew it wasn’t for me. I walked in, they didn’t quite know what to do with someone with my education and skills, and looking for the level of job I was looking for… they sat me down at an old computer from the 1800’s, with a 14 inch monitor that was almost impossible to use, and asked me to do something (I can’t remember… work on a resume, fill out a form… whatever it was, it was a useless cookie-cutter exercise). The services seemed to be geared at entry-level positions, and the staff was accustomed to working with people who were chronically unemployed, hoping they could get an entry level job.  Classes on grooming, showing up on time, etc. were not what I needed.  I hope that has changed in my state…

But what I’ve seen in other states is mind-boggling.  In California the EDD is amazing. I’ve spoken at various EDD events and they are well-attended by higher level professionals who are anxious to network and help others. In Minnesota the state money went to private parties that created environments that reminded me of outplacement offices in Class A facilities (that is, expensive buildings).  They were clearly geared towards executives and professionals in transition. In Maryland the state’s Professional Outplacement Assistance Center is amazing, offering excellent job search training and help that you would expect from any for-profit outplacement company… all for free to state residents.

Give your state offices a chance… you might be surprised to know they have services that fit your needs (better than they fit mine, almost 10 years ago).

University career center

One of my programming professors would tell us to never go to the career center.  They were a waste of time, not effective, and didn’t even know how to help people going into the IT. Unfortunately, that colored how I would think of career centers.  When I lost my job they weren’t even on my radar.  Finally, though, someone suggested I reach out to them. Unfortunately, they weren’t really designed to help someone like me who had been in a professional capacity for a while. HOWEVER, I’ve spoken at a few universities since then, working with career services, and I’ve seen some great programs and counselors and directors who are awesome.

Not all schools have resources that will or can help you, and sometimes they charge a small fee for alumni who have been gone from the school for a certain period, but it’s worth a phone call to see if they can be a resource to you.

If they can’t help you, call your alma mater’s alumni office… sometimes they offer career services that the career center doesn’t know about (because a lot of career centers focus on helping their undergrads and new grads).

Find one person who can be your accountability partner

Of utmost importance to any job seeker is a weekly accountability partner. This is someone, typically NOT YOUR SPOUSE, who you will meet with once a week and report on what you have done, and what you will do the following week. I can’t emphasize how important this is, even for self-motivated individuals!  Just knowing that you’ll have to sit down with someone, look them in the eye, and say “no, um, I didn’t do all those things… I got caught up finishing a game of Sudoku on Tuesday that went a couple of hours longer than it should have…” or “I haven’t called that person yet” thinking (I’m too afraid – they might say… NO! to me). An accountability coach should help you (a) do what you think you should do, and just as important (b) make sure you aren’t implementing ineffective job search tactics (which is what I spent way too much time doing in my job search).

Who can do this?  Perhaps someone you met at a job club. Perhaps someone you met at church. Perhaps someone who lives by you.  Maybe it’s a brother, cousin, nephew, or a current or past mentor.  You are simply looking for someone who will spend 20 to 30 minutes with you once a week (it can even be on the phone), who will ask you the hard questions (“WHY DIDN’T YOU DO THAT THING?”), and help keep you on task.  INVALUABLE.

Get some money from family or friends to hire a coach and a resume writer

Finally, even if you don’t have any money, don’t discount the idea of hiring someone to help you, even if it means you borrow money from family or friends. There are some very affordable, very good coaches and resume writers who can make sure you are doing the right things.  The reason I love good coaches and resume writers is because they are in the trenches with their clients, and they have been-there, done-that, and know how to best help you make progress.  If I would have found a thousand bucks to find a good coach and a resume writer I would have been pointed in the right direction, not wasted months and months poking around trying to make up my own systems, etc.  I know a thousand bucks seems like a lot of money when you don’t know how you’ll pay rent in three months from now… but a coach could make the difference between having a job within those three months, or continuing to spin your wheels and growing more and more hopeless.

What do you think?  Good ideas?  Have you exhausted them?  What other resources have I missed?


Comments Off on I Lost My Job. Where Can I Get Free Job Search Help?


Managing Your Finances

September 29th, 2015

Lately I’ve been on a bit of a Dave Ramsey kick.  I’ll pick up my kids from play practice (they are doing Peter Pan) around the same time Dave’s radio show comes on. Because of my own experience as a speaker, author, etc. I listen to him from two angles: First, as a business person, in awe of how he runs his business and interacts with his guests who call in.  Second, for questions he gets, and the financial advice he dishes out.

I had heard about him for years… but only recently have I started to get into his material. As I think about what he talks about, I think about YOU…

I realize that most of us are on JibberJobber to make money, or make more money.

What if we had a better handle on how we spend money?  Is how we spend money any less important than how we make money?

I’m reminded of a guy I had lunch with after a speaking engagement… he was in a nice house, had a very nice car… and was in transition.  He made the comment that most people in the job club I spoke to had not managed their finances (living paycheck-to-paycheck), and their level of stress was off the charts.  He, however, had managed his very carefully, and he wasn’t stressed at all.

Imagine this scenario: you lose your job, but you are not weeks or months away from being completely broke!

What a cool concept.

This would happen if we kept our expenses in check, and had the right savings.  These are elements of Dave Ramsey’s teachings.

What are YOU doing to manage your finances?  What financial advice do/would you give to others?


Comments Off on Managing Your Finances


Can You Help? Feedback on 30 Days to up and Running JibberJobber Guide

September 28th, 2015

We have been working on a new feature in JibberJobber to help YOU feel more confident about JibberJobber, and use the right features to help you accomplish your goals.


Because too many people login to JibberJobber with a hope that we can help them, but they get to the front page and think “uh-oh… I don’t know were to start! This looks too complicated?”

And then they go back to their 1900’s solution of a very ineffective spreadsheet, thinking that the sophistication of JibberJobber is reserved for people who are smarter than they are.

Over the years we’ve been introducing various things to help you get up running on JibberJobber, and feel like this is YOUR system, and it WILL work for you.  The latest thing we’re rolling out is a 30 day email series to help YOU.

The technology is in place.  The emails have been written.  We’ve tested it internally and are ready to have you give us your feedback.

Whether you have logged in 3,000 times, or you haven’t ever signed up on JibberJobber, would you please sign up on this email series, and then let us know how it goes?

We want any and all feedback, including:

The Technical

  • Are you getting the emails in your inbox (or, are they going to your spam folder?)
  • Does the formatting in the email look okay, or does it look messed up? (in other words, is it clean?)
  • Do you feel you are getting the emails are weird times of the day?

The Human

  • Are the messages too short? (our goal is to have SHORT messages that you can act on each day, and not feel like it’s too much to (a) read or (b) do)
  • Are the messages written well? Are there any typos, grammar issues, etc.?
  • Do the daily tasks seem like they are too much?  Or too little?
  • Do you think this would help someone who is trying to make heads or tails of getting started and getting value out of JibberJobber?

Anything else?

We hope to roll this out to the masses soon, but I would love to get some candid feedback from you before we do… Please send any feedback to me ( or through the Contact Us system.

Here’s how you do it (this will be more automated, and less hidden, once we are ready to roll it out to everyone):

  1. Login to JibberJobber
  2. Click on Account from the main menu
  3. Click on the tab “Mailing Lists”
  4. Click on the only one on that page: New User: First 30 Days Jumpstart
  5. Click the blue Save button.

You should get the first email the day you sign up, and then each morning for the next 29 days you should get the next one in the series.

Thank you!

Comments Off on Can You Help? Feedback on 30 Days to up and Running JibberJobber Guide


How to make job postings 1,000 times more valuable

September 25th, 2015

I don’t know when this changed, but when it did, it made a job posting lose most of it’s value:

Compensation: Commensurate with experience

Are you kidding?

Based on the title, and the region, you can guess a certain job would pay between $80k and $105k.

But then you go through the interview process and finally do the salary dance, and learn that the company wants to pay someone $45k for the job.

You just wasted time, mental energy, and perhaps money, to find out that the job’s compenation was 1/2 of what you thought it would.

This is why job seekers feel disrespected.

I know you don’t put the salary range for a myriad of reasons…. but doing this is akin to blind dating.  It would be really, really nice to know what kind of salary you are budgeting for a job before we get to invested in the process!

I doubt this will come back, but if it did, we could waste far less time in the job search process.

Comments Off on How to make job postings 1,000 times more valuable


The Absolutely Best Response for “What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses?”

September 23rd, 2015

You are in an interview.  You’ve successfully made it past the “tell us about yourself” chat.  You hit it out of the park on a few other questions.  And then, some variation of this question:

“Tell us about your greatest weaknesses?”

The normal advice is take a strength, frame it as a weakness, and then bring it back to a strength again.  Like this:

“Well, I’ve been known to work too hard on my projects to ensure they come in on-time and on-budget. I can’t stand to miss a deadline that I’ve committed to, especially if it would impact the company revenue.  The good news is that I’ve never missed a deadline!”

Bam! Out of the park, right?

Let me suggest a much better, more appropriate response to that question:

“That is the dumbest question you can ask me.  I know you are fishing for some reason I might fit here, and we both know that everyone is supposed to do the strength-weakness-strength response. But seriously, that is just tacky.  How about if we spend time on what I would do in the first 90 days at this job to fit in and make a difference?  I’d much rather talk about that.


Okay, I’m sure you aren’t going to respond that way (at least, not out loud).  However, if you do, feel free to say “well, Jason Alba, of JibberJobber, said to say this….”

But seriously, here’s the deal: the interview is not a time for you to sit there and answer 15 dumb top interview questions that the interviewer just printed out.

It might take some practice, but you can actually have a bigger influence on the interview.  Or,  maybe we should call it the conversation.

I know that sounds presumptuous, and it kind of is. But you will melt in with the other wall-flowers if all you do is answer the ill-prepared questions, and not have a real conversation, which is two-way.

How do you do this?

Find someone you can do mock interviews with.  This might be an interview coach, or someone at a free resource like a church or state-based job center.  Maybe you do it with your mentor, or someone in your industry who is in a lot of interviews.  Practice with others, practice on camera (and watch how you did), practice in front of the mirror.

Have YOUR OWN questions ready, and bring them up at the appropriate times.

I’m not suggesting you disrespect the interviewer, and hijack the questions.  But you might be able to figure out a way to drive the interview, be way more memorable, give the right impression, and even get information about the role or decision-making process that other interviewees don’t get.

Or, you can just do the cliche strength-weakness-strength thing, like everyone else.

What’s your preference?


See Comments / Leave a Comment »


How to Get Your Next Promotion (or job): New Pluralsight Course

September 22nd, 2015

My newest Pluralsight course is live, and you can get access to it for free (if you watch it, you’ll get another week of JibberJobber premium added to your account – see the video at the bottom of this post to learn how to get free access).

How to Get Your Next Promotion is designed to help individuals be more proactive about their careers. As a hiring manager, and a manager of developers, I would love for my employees to take this course.  Why?  Because this course encourages them to be more serious about improving themselves so they are promotable. That self-improvement will only help my team be more successful.

Obviously, this course is totally applicable for job seekers as well as those who are currently employed.

Here’s the link:

Description and modules: This course is designed to help you whether you are interviewing for your next promotion this week, or you are planning on a promotion in the next year or two. The modules are:

  • Your Career: Where You Are and Where You Want to Go (31 mins)
  • The Plan: How to Get There (28 mins)
  • Soft Skills: How to Prepare for Your Next Role (28 mins)
  • Hard Skills: How to Prepare for Your Next Role (20 mins)
  • Where Do We Go from Here? (17 mins)

Want access to this, and my 20 other courses?  Want to get a week of JibberJobber premium every time you watch any of my courses?  Check this video out:

Comments Off on How to Get Your Next Promotion (or job): New Pluralsight Course


Advice for Hiring Managers, Recruiters, Companies, etc.

September 21st, 2015

Last month I shared this on LinkedIn (it was a blog post here, too): Why the Job Market and Job Search Is Broken. My friend, Robert Merrill, is one of the smartest and coolest recruiters I know.  He responded to my article with this (open the comments):

What would you (anyone reading this) tell a company they should do in order to treat candidates more fairly without losing the humanity while still controlling for biases?

There are actually some very good ideas and suggestions in the comments.  I’ll share my very short response below… you should read the great ideas in the comments on the LinkedIn post.

My thoughts are simple: treat “candidates” with respect and dignity.  Communicate with them.  Be honest.  I think those things sum it up. Let me drill down a little:

Respect and dignity.  You are dealing with human beings. We hae to put on a good face for the interview, but in many situations, we’re totally stressed out.  Sure, we think we can do the job, or learn to do the job, but we’ve just jumped through a bunch of hoops that we aren’t used to jumping through. Whether we specialize in software development, customer service, manufacturing or whatever, we are not specialists in the job search. For most of us, this is out of our comfort zone.  Your systems are frustrating (for example, “upload your resume… and now fill out this form for 40 minutes so you can tell us what is in your resume”).  What is going to be a business decision to you could be life-altering to us.  Did you know that I have three months of savings left until I can’t pay my rent or mortgage?  Did you know I’ve borrowed all I can from family and friends, and I really have nowhere else to go?  I’m on the edge, and the way you are treating me makes it clear that this interview means an awful lot more to me than it does to you.  Oh yeah, did I mention I’m married with kids, and that adds a whole level of complexity to my situation?

I’m not saying you need to coddle me, and I’m not looking for a pity party, but please respect me as a human being, not just another candidate.

Communication.  You know what kind of communication I want?  Frequent or timely communication that is not vague! What if job seekers could get honest feedback on why they weren’t hired?  I know we never will, because of the lawyers.  There’s just no way around that one.  I get that.  But it sucks to feel like I absolutely won the interview, and I’m the right person for the job (I remember after one interview, I dreamed about what I would do my first week on the job – only to learn the position was fake and there was no job to be had), and then get a “we chose someone else.”  WHY?  What could I have done to have been the someone else?  If I did something bad, or annoying, let me know so I can work on it for next time, because really, no one else is letting me know right now.

I also want to know where we are at in the whole process.  Am I still a contender? Do I have a chance? Because typically what happens is I apply and hear nothing (until I get invited to the interview).  Or, we interview and I follow-up, but I hear nothing for weeks.  That is days and days of self-doubt, wondering, anxiety, etc. If I email you, will you please treat me like a human and reply, at least acknowledging that you got my email?

Honesty. This is a double-edged sword.  I want honest information (“the job is still open,” or “you didn’t get it because…”). I know you have to hold back some information because of confidentiality in the process, but can I know ANYTHING??  Holding back information can’t help me…. but I definitely acknowledge that giving it might hurt my feelings.  Kind of like how Simon Cowell hurts people’s feelings on American Idol.

I know, I sound like a crackpot that is high maintenance, and that I have my own issues I need to deal with.

I’m just honestly being the voice of the job seeker… the person I have met in St. Louis and Boston and Atlanta and Orlando and Seattle and Salt Lake and Silicon Valley and San Diego and Madison and Los Angeles… I’ve heard this plenty of times from others.  And I’ve experienced it myself.


Comments Off on Advice for Hiring Managers, Recruiters, Companies, etc.


How To: Add a Contact in JibberJobber

September 18th, 2015

In this blog post I dissect the page to add a new Contact, manually, in JibberJobber.  I find myself adding Contacts more using Email2Log, but I do come into here regularly.  Here’s what you need to know:


At the very top you’ll see the three most important fields… when I create a new Contact I always want to have a first and last name, and an email address.  Having an email address allows me to use the Email2Log feature later, without creating duplicate Contacts. Note that you can create multiple email addresses for each Contact, which comes in handy.


Add the image of the person by uploading a file from your computer or from a URL.  The way I do this from a URL is to right-click on the image and then choose the option to get the URL of the image.  You’ll paste that into a box on JibberJobber, and we’ll go out and grab the image from the website (that’s pretty cool!).

The Referred By allows you to indicate who introduced you to this new Contact.  This allows you to build the “Tree View” which is really cool!


Categories and Tags allow you to group your Contacts so you can later say “show me all of my friends,” or “show me all of the hiring managers” or something similar.  We tend to favor Tags around here, since you can have multiple tags on each Contact.



Rank Contacts to know how strong the relationship is with each person in your network.  This comes straight out of Never Eat Alone (Keith Ferrazzi), where Keith says you should know how strong the relationships are with each person.


Most of these fields are intuitive.  Note that you can add a Company or Job and if it’s already in your account in JibberJobber, we will associate this Contact to that record.  You can also have multiple Jobs and Companies associated to a Company.  If the Job or Company records don’t exist, type it in and then click either button to add those records (which will also associate the Contact to that/those records).


The Initial Contact is when you first met the person. I find myself clicking the Today button more than I thought I would, but you can back-date this easily.

The Source field allows you to put where you met this person (online, on LinkedIn, at a networking event, through an email introduction, etc.). It’s basically a help to put this Contact record into context, to remind you who this person is.

If you put the day and month of the birthday in, you can get email reminders of your Contacts when they have birthdays coming up.


Notes is where you put general information about the Contact, but NOT Log Entry stuff.  The differnce is this: Graduated from UCLA vs. We had lunch and talked about A, B, and C.

If you are looking for more fields, then just add your own.  That’s what the Custom Fields are for… you can add as many as you want (although after 9+ years, I don’t have a whole lot that I actually use).

Comments Off on How To: Add a Contact in JibberJobber


How To: Lose A Job Offer

September 18th, 2015

Alison Doyle has a great post on About Careers titled 10 Tips for Keeping It Professional When Job Searching. Keeping it professional is, in my mind, translated to not messing things up.  Here are her tips – go to this page to see what she says about each of them, and then make sure you are not messing things up!

  1. Avoid TMI
  2. Don’t be a creep!
  3. Use proper grammar, not acronyms
  4. Compose professional emails
  5. Develop a personal rapport, but don’t go to far
  6. Mind your social media presence
  7. Use appropriate channels of communication
  8. Act appropriately at a cafe, bar, or restaurant interview
  9. Don’t make jokes on your cover letter or resume
  10. Don’t be a slob

All common sense stuff, right?  There’s a reason why this is an important article!

If that was helpful, check out her article on building rapport during a job interview.

Comments Off on How To: Lose A Job Offer


Welcome UK and Beepjob Users!

September 17th, 2015

Beepjob is a search engine originating in France, and offering services to UK users.  Yesterday they wrote a post titled 5 online tools for a successful job search. Here are the 5 tools listed (more explanation at the link).

  1. Google (including Google Maps and Google alerts)
  2. LinkedIn
  3. Glassdoor
  4. National Career Website (which is a government service)
  5. JibberJobber!!!

There you go – five great tools to help you in your job search!


Comments Off on Welcome UK and Beepjob Users!

« Previous Entries