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When Employer Branding Becomes More Than a Buzzword

December 14th, 2015

Or, I guess, buzz phrase. You get the point.

What is employer branding? It’s been a hot topic for a few years, and I think it will only continue to be hot.

My first taste of employer branding, as it relates to job seekers, was when I went to a network meeting and someone was telling about a bad experience they had with a target company they interviewed at. Demoralizing.  Yucky.  Someone else shared a similar experience.  In that room, about 30 professionals who were in transition were making a decision to not buy products or services from that company again. And you can bet that none of them would keep that company on their target list.  The company’s brand had been tainted because of one job seeker who shared a negative experience.

Digest this image:

vw_van

Talk about employer or company branding. I bet this van has lost sales for VW.  The message is clear.

I have a friend who was recently let go buy his employer for one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. In my mind, it really boiled down to horrible management and leadership.  Guess who isn’t going to be shopping at that chain anymore?  Me.

What I find interesting is how much talk there is about employers, and the experience job seekers have, at the job clubs.  This is where real employer branding happens. Job seekers are a passionate bunch, and they talk.

What employers and companies have you had bad or good experiences with?

 

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Top 4 Ways Recruiters Will Find Talent in 2016: Jennifer McClure

December 11th, 2015

This weel Jennifer McClure posted an article about the top 4 ways recruiters will find talent next year. The first thing she listed was job postings. (read her post to see the other three)

Does that surprise you? In Jennifer’s own words:

“Despite the neverending parade of new and shiny tools that vie for our attention, the reality is that posting jobs online is still one of the most effective strategies in a recruiter’s arsenal.”

The reason that is interesting to me is because from personal experience, and from what I’ve heard from JibberJobber users, and people in my audiences across the U.S., job boards are super, duper innefective. Want some numbers on this? If you want to get depressed about the ineffectiveness of job boards, check out this 2012 post: Job Board Statistics Revealed and Untangled by Nick Corcodilos (Ask the Headhunter)

But, that doesn’t stop companies from posting to job boards, and job seekers from using them. I recently read that employers pay $5,000,000,000 a year (that is, $5B) to post jobs on job boards. That’s a massive amount of money that has a 3% impact on hiring (number is debatable, read the link above, with Nick).

Jennifer later says that from job postings you get “lots of applications, but only a few qualified candidates.” I was talking with a recruiter recently who said his company gets about 10,000 applicants each month, and easily 80% of them are NOT QUALIFIED.

I’m not talking about not a good fit for the company, but simply NOT QUALIFIED.  Not able to do the stuff mentioned in the job description.  That is 8,000 applications that are discarded right off the bat.

Bottom line? Lots of money will still be spent on job boards.

And, the job search process is still broken, and job postings plays a big part in the brokenness.

The gazillion dollar question is, what is the solution?  I’ve heard a lot of entrepreneurs come up with ideas to fix this problem, but almost every single one of them have been too small, too focused on one part of the problem, or too fragmented.  I don’t see a good solution for a long, long time.  But I know there are some really smart people out there working on cool ideas.

 

 

 

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Watching out for Numero Uno When You Are (Too) Loyal to Your Company

December 10th, 2015

Tuesday I wrote Windows of Opportunity to help you rethink how losing something is really the beginning of something new. Wednesday I wrote The Writing on the Wall, to help you trust your gut, and encourage you to NOT ignore the writing on the wall, but to use it to help you prepare for the future. This post is for those of us who are sometimes too loyal to a company, and give too much to the company, even though the company would walk away from you at the drop of a hat.

Some of you have come to me (in person, email, etc.) and asked what’s going on, and what changes are coming up.  It’s true that I have some changes planned for all of 2016, and I’m excited for the day when I can start to share some of those changes with you.  What’s awesome is that instead of being forced into these changes, I have had years to create the opportunities that we are about to embark upon. I’m scared, for sure, but I’m also really excited about what the future could hold.

So, on to today’s topic: Numero Uno. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, Numero Uno means YOU.  What are YOUR interests?  Who cares about your interests?

A few decades ago, even for a good part of the 1900’s, your employer watched out for Numero Uno as much as you did. You could go home after work and not worry about losing your job as much as you do today. Today it is different.

That reminds me of a conversation I had with an employer a few years ago. Not my employer, mind you… I was already doing JibberJobber.  This person complained that “employees just don’t have loyalty to their employers anymore!”

Uh… no, they certainly don’t. It’s probably because of how quick an employee will get terminated. A friend of mine was recently terminated from a great, long-term job (I know you don’t think those exist, but in some industries or professions, they certainly do), for the most petty of petty things. It was policy-related, and his boss was spineless to the point of letting this great employee go.

No loyalty to employers?  If they are whining about it, they better look in the mirror first.

So we are at this really weird intersection of watching out for Numero Uno (yourself) while also doing our job.  To do our job right we will have, to some degree, bought into the vision and culture of the company, right?  If we are in management or leadership we will have likely created part of the vision or culture, and we are MORE bought into it.  At this level, any unloyalty we have seems like we are cheating on our company (I’ve been there, done that).

The more loyalty we have towards our company, the more we tend to drift away from being loyal to Numero Uno. And then, almost without warning, we are given a severance or a handshake (or a box and the walk of shame), and we are left alone with Numero Uno and without an income.

What just happened?

I’ve talked to plenty of people who have gone through this and they have found that being loyal to a company is not the right choice. They sound cynical and jaded, even anti-company. They have learned that Numero Uno is numero uno, and companies come and go, lie and change. Don’t get me wrong, they do their job, but they are ready for a change, and they know a change is coming.

Is this a generational thing?  A cultural thing?  Are we ever going to be able to be comfortable at work again, not worrying about some fickle thing that can impact our job “security?”

I don’t know.

For me, I continue to find myself too loyal to organizations and companies. I buy into their vision and culture.  But here’s what I’ve learned, as I’ve matured in my career: change will happen, and when it happens, it’s better to find something else and move on than to wallow in pity and other bad feelings.  I’ve wallowed too long before. I have JibberJobber users who still wallow. Maybe give yourself a few hours to wallow, but more than that, it’s only hurting Numero Uno.

The point of all of this is that there is a balance.  You can’t watch out for Numero Uno too much, and you can’t disavow the company you work for. You have to know what the right mix is.

If you get off-balance, and give too much to one or too much to the other, the changes that will come can be very, very difficult to navigate.

What do you think?  Where are you at on your loyalty to company vs. loyalty to Numero Uno?

 

 

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The Writing on the Wall

December 9th, 2015

Since yesterday’s blog post title was cliche (Windows of Opportunity), why not today’s?

Ten years ago I was the general manager of a small software and networking services company. My path there was interesting… I was an IT manager for a bigger company, and we acquired this little tiny software company, and then we acquired another tiny networking company.  For various reasons, things weren’t working out. Looking back on it, the intentions and plan were great, but it was a perfect-storm environment where we didn’t have the right support, financing, leadership, talent, etc. to really make it work.  What could have been a very cool, nationwide company, was a floundering, stressful mess.

I wasn’t qualified to do what I was doing, but neither were two others, who were about 20 years older than I was. What we were trying to pull off was tricky, and the board was much more of a heavy-handed “why isn’t this working” partner than a “let’s make this work, here are the right introductions” partner. They totally could have been the latter, but they were the wrong partners, really. Everyone was stressed, from the top to the bottom, and our customers were feeling it. Even though I wasn’t qualified, I was up to the challenge to learn, figure it out, put in the work, etc.

Not fun.

I remember when one of my key guys decided to leave the company. I was crushed.  Not too long after that, another key guy decided to leave. I didn’t have very many key guys, and this was making a bad situation worse.

So there we were, ten years ago, and it was clear that changes were going to happen. I was not happy, and the stress was taking a toll on my physical well-being as well as my family relationships. I needed to get out, and my wife and I both talked about how to get out of that company, but I was a very loyal guy. I also had a steady paycheck and “benefits” (I use that word loosely). I found it hard to walk away from my team, and the vision I had been nurturing. We were on a good path, I thought.

And then, it happened. I didn’t have to wallow in the choice making anymore, because others made the choice for me. What happened to me was no different than what happened to hundreds of thousands of others. Politics. Bad chemistry. Someone spending time fighting for that job, regardless of who would be hurt. Regardless of what was best for the company. Regardless of anything sane. In the end, politics won out.  Those who were easily swayed by a salesman who could sell ice to eskimos, as they say, were swayed.

I’ve learned that they have regretted, but have had to live with, that decision since then. That’s the bed they made though.

I was free. Weight was lifted, and my health was on a path to be restored. I was also scared to death. I had never been forced into a transition before. I had never been in a real job search before. I didn’t like not knowing where money would come from to pay my bills. We had bills to pay, and a baby on the way.  Having feelings of fear and uncertainty and elation and freedom, all at the same time, was new and weird.

The interesting thing was that I knew this was coming. I knew what our financials were, I knew what we had in the pipeline, I knew where our products where, I knew where our customers were, and I even knew, to a small extent, how much politicking was going on (only later would I learn the extent of politicking that was really happening). But I knew enough, and I could “see the writing on the wall.”  Like a big brick wall, with big, graffitied letters. The messages were clear.

BUT, I didn’t trust the messages. I didn’t trust my gut. I ignored the writing on the wall. I thought “that’s what happens to others, not people like me.”

Indeed, the writing was right. My gut was wrong.

And that’s why I’m writing this post, because I want to share a message with you: TRUST YOUR GUT.

I’m not saying be paranoid, but I’m saying to take in the information around you, read the writing on the wall, and trust your gut. Don’t think that you are above the horrible things that you don’t think will happen to you.  Your gut might be wrong, but the more you fine tune this skill, and trust yourself, you’ll be more prepared for things that happen that are out of your control.  But you will be prepared to handle those things by doing things that are in your control.

This is a key element of career management.

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Windows of Opportunity

December 8th, 2015

I don’t like change. My personality likes to know what’s coming up, likes to plan for things, and if I’ve invested in something, I want to know it’s going to be around for at least as long as I thought it would.

That means getting laid off is no fun.

I remember the first time the concept of “windows of opportunity” had real meaning for me.  It was when the window closed.

Window closings are change, the type that kind of overloads my system.

The thing is, when the window abruptly closed, other windows were open, or opening. It was hard to see then, but looking back on it now, it’s obvious.

Here’s a window I never thought I’d see close: professional speaking on the road (for money).

I wrote I’m on LinkedIn – Now What??? in 2008, and in 2009 I was doing my first $5,000 speaking gig. It was amazing. I thought I had arrived. The presentation, for various reasons, wasn’t as good as it should have been, but I was now a “professional speaker.”  I was blessed to have opportunities to speak in many different places in the U.S., and once in Istanbul (Turkey).  The money was ridiculous, and flying around made me feel successful.

Then, the window started to close.  This is what it sounded like when a window closes:

Me: “I charge five thousand dollars plus expenses….”

Them: “Um, we were hoping you would get yourself out here and speak… and we would feed you lunch.”

Me: “As much as I would like to do that, I can’t afford to fly out, get a car, and a hotel, to speak at your luncheon that people are paying money to come to.”

Them: “oh… darn. I’ll talk to my brother-in-law. He said he would do it for the free lunch.”

The brother in law.  At some point, in the U.S., every town had a brother-in-law that was a LinkedIn “expert.”  Well, expert is too strong of a word.  But they would stand up at the meeting and talk about LinkedIn, for exactly $5,000 less than I charged.

The LinkedIn speaking window was closing.

That’s okay, it wasn’t my main income stream, and it wasn’t the focus of my business. There are plenty of other qualified people who do this, and honestly, power to them. I was okay to focus more on my main thing (JibberJobber).

For the past few months I’ve been feeling a disturbance in the force.  That’s a geeky Star Wars reference… which I would apologize for, but he, EPISODE 7!!! In all seriousness, I’ve been feeling like my windows (I have multiple revenue streams) are changing. I recently realized that, different from the time I got laid off, these windows are closing slowly. And I have been trained, as an entrepreneur, to look for opening windows all the time.  And I see them.

What this means is that things are changing. Not in a bad way for you. JibberJobber, for job seekers, is always at the core of my projects and revenue streams. But I’m likely going to shift my time from some projects that are ending to new ones.  In fact, two of them, which I’ll spend most of my time on next year, will be really fun, and frankly, exciting.  It will be new territory for JibberJobber, and I hope it will provide opportunities for many, many people.

Sorry to not go into more detail, but the point of this post isn’t that things are changing for me…. it is that things are always changing for all of us.

When your windows close, look around for the other windows that are wide open, and still have some life.  Or for windows that are opening, or that are waiting for you to open them.  They are there.  Even in my darker hours, when I was wallowing in pity, obsessed by the unfairness and poor timing of a window recently closed, other windows were waiting for me to look up.

That is the story of JibberJobber, in one sentence. I lost my job, wallowed, and a few short months later was announcing the birth of JibberJobber.  This was 9 years and 11 months ago, almost to this day.

I know some of you have recently had windows close. You might even feel like your fingers (and hopes) got crushed in the closing windows. I’m here to tell you that there are other windows, and that in today’s world, we need to get good at recognizing the opportunities. That’s your job – identify those opening windows.

Are you up to the challenge?

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Making The Job Search Two-Sided

December 4th, 2015

I really could point to Nick Corcodilos’ stuff all year long, and just not write my own blog.  Seriously.

Check out his post Get the manager’s resume before you interview for the job.

Nick is basically saying that the hiring process is one-sided.  The employer has all this info about us, but we really don’t have an accurate description of what the job entails (he suggests a resume for the job, which is definitely different than a job description).  And, since we’re going to bet our career on this opportunity, shouldn’t we have a resume for the boss, and maybe even the people we’d be working with?

I think this is a luxury that people who are not in a hurry can afford. They already get this type of information. How?  They network and have a lot of conversations.  Instead of being super rushed, because of a sense of urgency, they can take their time and make sure they get all of the right information, instead of just say YES YES HIRE ME! and assume that you’ll be doing something that is the right fit for you with people who you really want to work with.

You don’t have to be not-in-a-hurry.  Check out the team’s LinkedIn profile… not too hard to find.  Do google searches on them.  Talk to people in the industry.  This should be a big part of your job search: researching all of this stuff.  Don’t expect to get all of this information in an interview, be proactive and find it yourself.

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This Is What Job Descriptions Should Look Like

December 3rd, 2015

I’ve been on the phone with recruiters lately, and one of them really made me think differently about job descriptions.

Actually, I have already thought differently about job descriptions (my thoughts: they stink)… he helped me understand what they should be.  And then I read this post from 2010 on Ask The Headhunter, by Nick Corcodilos: Now THIS is a job description.

HOLY MOLEY. This is what Nick is talking about. I read the whole post… well, except for the link out to the real, technical, sanitized job description.

You know what? It’s not a job description. I don’t get a detailed idea of what I’d do in that job. But I do get a great idea of what it would like to be to work there, and with that team, and by the end of what Nick was talking about I’m thinking I HAVE TO WORK HERE!

Not really, because I’m busy running JibberJobber, but I seriously was thinking how freaking cool it would be to work there.

My head is in job descriptions, and how to make them better for job seekers, which should make the hiring process just a little smoother for everyone.  We’ll see if anyone out there trying to do this gets traction.  Nick’s post is 5 years old… and I haven’t seen anyone do anything as cool as Joey’s.

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How to layoff-proof your job

December 2nd, 2015

Check out this article/video: How to layoff-proof your job

Here’s my answer: no matter what anyone tells you, YOU CANNOT LAYOFF PROOF YOUR JOB.

You simply can’t. It’s out of your control.

I have traveled around the U.S. talking to groups of unemployed people.  Thousands of them. I am always amazed at their skills, abilities and accomplishments. And for some reason, they ended up in a job club, unemployed, and sometimes losing hope.

They didn’t lose their job because they weren’t smart, or even wise.  Many lost their job because of things like the economy.  How do you layoff proof the economy? You can’t.

Some lost their jobs because they had managers or leaders who were frankly unqualified to be there, and made bad choices.  Territorialism. Jealousy. Incompetence. Fear. Not all managers deserve to be where they are.  Have you ever heard of a bad manager?  You can’t layoff-proof yourself if your manager/boss/CEO falls into this category.

Ever heard of Enron?  It was a massive company.  You know who got laid off from Enron at the end? EVERYONE. Everyone who had a personal brand, and a network.  Everyone who did their job right. Every single employee of the month, and employee of the year.  Even the rainmakers, who brought in millions and billions of revenue, got laid-off.  EVERYONE.

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade.  In that article they say you should do things like work on the big projects, or cross-train and learn other jobs, or bring in money, or save money, or other stuff. I think those are all great things to do for you career… they can help you have “career security,” or what I call “income security.”  But job security? No.  You can do things to maybe help you stay around a bit longer, but in today’s economy, no one expects you to stay at a job for decades.  It’s expected you won’t.

That means that it is OUR responsibility to manage our careers. Jobs will come and go. Our new security will be in who we know, who knows us, what they know about us, in addition to all the old stuff (can we do the job, are we great at it, etc.).

Here’s to the tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of people who will get laid off this month.  Just another December of right-sizing.

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Pluralsight 40% Discount Through Dec 6th (Monday)

December 1st, 2015

I’ve introduced Pluralsight to a lot of people over the last couple of years.  Online, in my presentations, etc.  Many of you have taken advantage of the 30 day pass I’ve given you through JibberJobber. You should have watched my courses on job search, soft skills, and professional development (and each time you watch a Jason Alba course you qualify for free days of JibberJobber upgrades).

If you want to take advantage of Pluralsight for more than the 30 days, check out this killer 40% off sale on a one year subscription:

pluralsight_40_off

This is a discount from $299/year to $179.40, which comes out to about $15/month.  You have until next Monday to think about it.

So get this… pay for the one year upgrade, then watch all of the Jason Alba videos you want over the next 12 months (even multiple times), and you can easily earn months and months of free JibberJobber Premium.  That is a sweet deal!

My courses are on job search and soft skills.  There are tons of courses at all levels to learn programming, graphic arts, mobile development, UI/UX, and more. I don’t know when they’ll have another killer deal like this…. if you can, take advantage of it!

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