The Only Skill That Really Matters

January 29th, 2016

I bet if you thought about this long enough, you could come up with the same idea.  But instead of asking you to guess, I’ll just tell you what Matt Charney suggests it is.  In his post, “The Only Skill That Really Matters for Recruiting and Sourcing,” Matt suggests the skill is “learning agility.”

Read his post to get the gist of his message.

I have been immersed over my adult life with “learning.”  In the olden days, learning has meant you go to school and get some quantification (like a degree) that you learned. When I started my career in information technology, there was a lot of buzz about the uselessness of IT certifications. I heard more than once that someone had a certification, because they went to an intense week-long certification boot camp, but they didn’t even know how to turn a server on. Book learning, and classroom learning, didn’t prepare them to actually do the job.

I have my MBA from Idaho State University, but I don’t credit hardly any part of my career “success” to (1) having an MBA (2) from ISU.  The best thing about having an MBA is that I don’t have to wonder if I’d be a better entrepreneur or businessman if I were to have an MBA.  I can check that off the list, and move on.  That was a very expensive (with regard to time and money) checkmark.

I’m not saying that classroom, or school, learning is completely useless. I’ll let smarter pontificators talk about that.  I’d like to argue, like Matt, that there is a skill that we can, that we should, have, that can impact our success in many areas of our life.

Agility is defined as the ability to be “quick and graceful” with regard to learning new things. Or, to learn things “quickly and easily.”

Can that happen only in school?

NO, of course not.  It can happen from reading magazines, books, blogs, etc.  It can happen by talking to people who have expertise in an area that you don’t.  It can happen by hanging out with people who are smarter than you are. It can happen by exercising your curiosity muscle, self-discipline, and being more creative.

Learning is a life-long skill that we need to embrace.

Many years ago, before I was settled on a major, a friend of mine said I should go into programming, or IT, because I would “get to learn new things every day.” I was not excited about that because it mean if I wasn’t learning new things, I would fall behind.  My plan, at that point, was to major in business and Spanish, two things that didn’t change a whole lot (at least, not every single day).  Fate happened, and I majored in Computer Information Systems, and got a job as a web developer. The rest, as they say, is history.

And here I am, learning new things every single day. I have my favorite magazines, I fit in a few classics each year (I’m finishing Tale of Two Cities, by Dickens), and I read blogs and such with a voracious appetite.

I think when when Matt is talking about learning agility, he’s specifically referring to learning certain things quickly and easily, but I think that being curious and hungry for information, or for truth (one of Pluralsight’s three pillars is that they are “truth seekers”), involves any learning. As we learn how to learn, we can apply learning techniques to what our day job, or career, is. It’s a life skill that can help us adjust as the world, the market, and our day job adjusts, evolves and changes.

That’s one reason why I spend time with Pluralsight (and you can too).  This, in my mind, is the new learning. It’s one reason why I muscle my way through some of the classics that don’t grab me, and don’t seem interesting.  I once picked up a classic that I put down, in disgust, after 185 pages. I only had about 1,200 more pages to finish the book, but I just couldn’t read another page.  Three months later, I picked it up again, and loved the rest of the book.  I remember the part in the unabridged version of Les Mis, going through the sewers, thinking “do we really need this many pages of walking through the sewer? SERIOUSLY?”

But something happens when you read, and learn, and discipline yourself.  Something magical.

When you finish those books you can say “I DID IT.”  I can read Dickens. I can read Hugo. I can read Shakespeare.  So when I get a new project at work, and I have to do something, by golly, I CAN DO IT.  Figuring out my current project at work is not as hard as figuring out why a Shakespeare play is important, classic, or even what the plot is.

This, my friends, is exercising your learning muscles.  This is how you become an agile learner.  Quick and easy, quick a graceful… as you want to learn, and you practice learning, you’ll improve your ability to be an agile learner.  And this might be the most important skill that will serve you through the rest of your career.

Don’t you agree?

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Nonverbal Mistakes Made in a Job Interview

January 28th, 2016

Check out the craziness from the infographic below (I don’t remember where it came from, and there’s not source info on the infographic).

So, craziness includes:

– 21% play with their hair?  Too distracting for some bosses.

– 47% don’t know about the company?  tsk tsk!  Do your research, people!

– 67% don’t make eye contact?  Practice this… show confidence!

– 38% don’t smile?  Look, if you don’t seem happy to be hear, I might worry about putting you in front of a customer, or depressing your coworkers.

– 26% have a weak handshake? This is a personal pet peeve… practice shaking hands with a salesperson, or someone who does business with others.

– 65% of bosses said clothing would be the deciding factor between two similar candidates?  Might seem shallow, but how you dress is a statement about you, your EQ, etc.

I don’t mean to add more stress to your job search, but please be aware of the messages you are sending before you even open your mouth.

 

nonverbal-mistakes-job-interview

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Hack.Summit() – A Conference for YOU

January 27th, 2016

Have you heard of Hack.Summit()? I doubt it. I hadn’t heard of it until recently.

But I want you to know about it… this is a virtual event (think: series of webinars) for technical people.  OR, for people who want to become technical.  If you are a developer, this is a MUST ATTEND event.

Did I mention it is free? When you register you can “donate,” or you can tweet or share on facebook.  They say “if you are not in a financial position to donate, then you can get a free ticket if you share on Twitter or Facebook…”

I registered yesterday, which only took a few minutes to do.

What if you are not a developer?

No problem.  In the FAQs, it says:

“No specific knowledge of any given technology or coding language is required, but a general understanding of programming is very helpful, as some of the talks
will be technical.”

If you are interested in working in the high tech world, this might be a great introduction to what you think you are going to get into.

What if you can’t make it to any session between February 22 and February 25?

No problem, the sessions are RECORDED.  So sign up, and watch when you can. Here’s the link: https://hacksummit.org

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Nutrition for a Job Interview (StandOutCV Infograph)

January 26th, 2016

I remember an interview I went to where I was exhausted. I’m sure the interviewers picked up on that.  My body and brain were not ready to be “on stage.”  I did not get the job :(

In my time management and productivity course on Pluralsight (watch if free, following these instructions), I have a video titled “hacking your body and brain to be more productive.” I’ve been thinking about how our physical environment, body, nutrition, exercise, etc. affects our ability to focus, work, be productive, etc.  Shortly after the course went live, I found this post, titled “What to eat before a job interview.” Here’s the infographic.  How are you doing with your nutrition?

What should you eat before an interview

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How To Make The Presentation Of Your Life!

January 25th, 2016

My 27th Pluralsight course was published last night: Presenting to the Boss(es).  This is a course designed to help you prepare for, perform, and follow-up on, the most important presentation of your life.

This might be a presentation where you are pitching something to a prospect, informing your board of directors, showing your product to your product manager, demo’ing concepts on stage in front of a huge audience, or simply asking for a raise.  The outcome of your presentation could be that your career takes off, accelerates, that your project gets more funding, or that you buy your team more time and resources to get the project finished.  Or, if the presentation goes poorly, you might get fired, all of your team loses their jobs, the company dies, you lose customers, you miss market opportunities, etc.

This is The Performance Of Your Life. And this course helps you know how to do a great job before, during and after.  The three modules are:

  1. Preparing for an Outstanding Presentation (42 minutes)
  2. Optimizing the Presentation (52 minutes)
  3. Debriefing and Follow-up After the Presentation (30 minutes)

You can get free access to this course by following these instructions: not only will you be watching this course within a couple of minutes, but you’ll also earn another seven day upgrade: Pluralsight 30 day pass and free JibberJobber upgrade instructions

If you watch this, or any, course, please rank it (unless you didn’t like it :p) and leave a comment!

presenting-to-the-bosses-course

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What Good Is A Log Entry in JibberJobber?

January 22nd, 2016

Remember in the olden days, watching TV and you would see the test of the emergency broadcast system?  You might remember the TV to show this:

jj-blog-emergency-broadcast-system

I had that in mind as I saw this email come from one of my users, who was testing the Email2Log.  See, I invite people to test the Email2Log by sending me an email, using Email2Log to see if (a) a new Contact record was created (with my info), and (b) the Log Entry was created properly.

And it’s is FUN for me to get emails from users :)

Anyway, here’s the message from a new user, Lorne:

“This a test. If this was a real log I’m not sure what I would do with it.”

Thanks Lorne, for the laugh :)  As a friend of mine said last night, one of my problems is that I’ve been “in the forest for so long” that I will not see JibberJobber, and it’s complexities, the way a new user would.

So let me share some thoughts on what you “do with” a Log Entry.

To put it into perspective, a Log Entry is like a note that you have jotted down that you don’t want to lose. Perhaps you’ll refer to it later. And that, my friends, is the most simple way to describe a Log Entry.

What is the source of these “notes?”  It could be a thought I had about you. It could be a conversation that we’ve had. It could be information, details, facts, words said, intentions, or actions. This week I logged the payment of some bills, as well as conversations, into JibberJobber.

In my pre-JibberJobber life, I would have notes jotted down all over the place… some in my email inbox, some in my car, some in a notebook, some on my desk, some on or in my night stand, etc.  Now, with JibberJobber, I capture notes and ideas and conversations that I might want to refer to later in JibberJobber.

Back to Lorne’s question: what do you do with a Log Entry?

Usually, I do nothing.  Sounds weird, huh?  Why even jot it down if I do nothing with it?

I find myself with an active mind, with lots of things buzzing around. The less I have jotted down, the more I try to juggle in my mind.  That is no fun.  That causes sleep problems, and I find myself forgetting to do things because my mind is juggling too many things.  I’m no psychologist but that’s my self-diagnosis.  When I jot it down I give myself permission to forget about it, and mentally move on. I can focus on tasks at hand, and not worry about trying to remember a bunch of different things.

More important than that, though, is that I’ll sometimes want to refer to something I noted down later. A day later, a week or month later, and in the case of a reconnection with someone last week, 5 years later.

Last week I reconnected with a colleague.  This was a voice from the past, and honestly, I couldn’t remember what conversations we’ve had over the last five years.  Fortunately, I had logged those conversations (they were all through email, and I used Email2Log to easily capture them all). Instead of lingering on “who are you? Have we met?” it was easy to look this person up and look at the Log Entries and see how our relationship has evolved over time.

I continually hear from recruiters who talk to job seekers who don’t remember who they are, or that they had applied for the job the recruiter is calling about.  The recruiters tell me that when a job seeker doesn’t remember, and can’t find notes to jog their memory, they think the job seeker is not interested. This is the wrong message to send to someone who thinks that you might be the right person.

Over the years I have disciplined myself to add more details to Log Entries.  “We had lunch” is an almost useless Log Entry (but, it’s better than nothing).  “We had lunch at Red Lobster, I paid, we talked about X, Y, and Z, and I need to follow-up with Jill on Monday about A, B, and C” is a much better Log Entry.  Why?  Because two years later, reading “we had lunch” isn’t helpful… but reading what you talked about might help you pick up the conversation, and relationship, at the right place.

So there you go.  Over time you’ll get a feeling for what, and how much, to log.  Email2Log makes this really easy. I’ve always found that adding more is better than adding less, but just start where you are, and create your own system that works for you.

 

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JibberJobber: One of the Best Job Search Websites for 2016

January 20th, 2016

jibberjobber-best-job-search-website-logoThis is a list worth being on… JibberJobber has been on many lists over the last 10 years, but some of those lists that say they are “here are the best” are really “here are all of the sites we could find”… being on a list made up by someone who is just trying to list everything out there was not flattering.

This list is different.  Hannah Morgan, The Career Sherpa, put together 43 Best Job Search Websites 2016, and included JibberJobber.  Hannah is a career practitioner, subject matter expert, and a thought leader.  To have her vet and include JibberJobber is meaningful.

Check out the other 42 recommendations:

jibberjobber-best-job-search-website

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JibberJobber Mobile: Getting Closer

January 18th, 2016

Some of you know that we have been working on a native mobile application… it’s been in testing since the end of December and my QA team is doing a great job of finding issues before we release it.  Undoubtedly, you’ll find some issues once we release it, but we’re doing the best we can to minimize that.

This is Phase I of the mobile app, and I expect to make upgrades to it all year.

So there you go – a quick update :) You can still navigate on a web browser to m.JibberJobber.com and see the web-optimized mobile interface.

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Are You a Confident Job Seeker?

January 15th, 2016

In my job search my confidence level started out pretty high. With time, though, that changed.

While being in a job search can be exciting, because there are so many directions you can pursue, it’s easy for self-doubt to creep in.

Should I really pursue that industry? I’m not sure I’m qualified. I’m not sure I’m good enough. I’m not sure I’d be able to do that job.

Should I go to that networking meeting? What if no one likes me? What if no one talks to me? What if I say something stupid?

Should I apply to that job? I’m probably too late, and there are hundreds of others who have already applied.

Should I send that email? What if they think I’m dumb? What if they don’t see it? What if they feel like I’m spamming them?

Should I get out of bed today? What if today is like yesterday: completely useless? What if I try things, like applying online and emailing people, and it continues to be useless?

The list can go on and on and on.

You might start out strong, but as you get rejected, or see non-responses from people, your confidence levels decrease.  As the months go on, your confidence level vaporizes. The questions change from what you read above to statements that have these words:

“I can’t….”

“if only”

“nobody wants me”

“I won’t be able to…”

“I don’t provide any value”

“I can’t learn…”

That nasty list goes on and on, too.  The self-talk is self-destructive, and this is evident in the way you act around others, treat others, treat yourself, and what you are motivated to do.

I, too, could go on and on about the negative thoughts and negative self-talk.  But instead, I want to share a phrase I read somewhere:

Self-control builds self-confidence.

These three (or five, depending on how you count them) words had, and still have, a PROFOUND impact on how I thought and think and I act and acted.

We can change, or build, our self-confidence by having and practicing self-control?  How does that work?

Self-confidence is a funny thing. It can change on a dime, and it can increase or decrease because of what others might consider to be superficial. Consider the emotional 14 year old boy or girl, trying to get a date or catch the attention of a potential flame.  Their self-confidence hinges on a look, a smile, a kind word or response, or what they perceive to be the other person ignoring them.  In fact, the other person might not notice them at all, might have gas, or might have had a bad day. Or maybe that other person is emotionally unstable, or just as worried about how you look at them!  How is it that self-confidence can be so fickle, and controlled by things that are so insignificant and out of our control, even whimsical and superficial?  Why can’t we be more in control of our self-confidence?

I suspect that even the most confident person’s self-confidence can be influenced by superficial, meaningless things, and take a hit.

The formula, above, though, tells us how we can build, even strengthen, our self-confidence.  It is through our self-control. For me, this has meant going on my three mile walks, even when the temperature is about 15 degrees (about 10 degrees Celsius). The good news is that you have the sidewalk to yourself, since no one else is loco enough to be out there walking around town!

It has also meant doing the hard things on my list that I’d rather roll over to next week, or the week after. It means apologizing to some people, forgiving others. It means biting my tongue, or disciplining myself to do that really hard project.

Instead of ignoring my list of to-do and must-do items, it means going through them, one by one, making progress, crossing things off.  I’m feeling more confident as I write this… just the idea of having the self-control to work through my tasks is building my self-confidence a tiny bit!

I CAN DO THIS

That’s the new mantra. Instead of all of the negative self-talk from above, my “I can’t” becomes “I can.”  The “I’m not good enough” becomes “I AM the right person to do this.” The “I’m not smart enough” becomes “I can learn this!

When you do things… when you practice self-control (or, when you put self-control into practice), your self-confidence is built.

When you DON’T do certain things (like refrain from wasting four hours playing games online, when you have a host of other things to do, or saying unkind things about others, etc.), your self-confidence builds.

It’s important to note that I’m not saying “doing things builds self-confidence.”  Rather, practicing self-control, which might mean doing some things and not doing other things, can build self-confidence.

If you need to, talk to someone, even a therapist, or go to the book store and peruse the self-help section.  There’s tons more to read about this stuff.  But for me, that simple three word phrase has had a significant impact on my thinking, and my actions, and ultimately, my self-confidence.

I hope it can have that kind of impact on yours, too.

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Time Management and Productivity: Pluralsight Course

January 14th, 2016

My most recent Pluralsight course came out two weeks ago (Dec 31), it’s titled: Prioritizing Tasks and Managing Time for Greater Productivity

You can get free access to this course by following these instructions… not only will you be watching this course within a couple of minutes, but you’ll also earn another seven day upgrade: Pluralsight 30 day pass and free JibberJobber upgrade instructions

Job seekers qualified to work in the U.S. can also qualify for a year pass to 50 courses, including 5 of mine, courtesy Pluralsight: White House TechHire program

If you watch this, or any, course, please rank it (unless you didn’t like it :p) and leave a comment!

jasonalba-ps-time-management

 

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