Rookie Job Search Mistakes #BarbaraSafani

May 12th, 2016

Barbara Safani wrote a great article on Forbes that really could have been seven articles: Seven Mistakes For Rookie Job Seekers To Avoid.

Normally when I see a list like this it has some really no-duh, obvious, fluffy things.  But I’ll tell you, having been in this business for ten years now, this list is SPOT ON.  Do not skip over any of the seven things that Barbara writes about… they are all super important to know about and beware of.


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Timing, Listening and Talking Over #LessonsFromASpeaker

May 11th, 2016

michael_webb_headshotMany years ago I was speaking at a job club in East Bay (east of San Francisco) and had a delightful time. A new friend (Michael Webb) in the audience gave me invaluable feedback afterwards, which was something like this:

“Jason, you are very funny… and you know you are funny.  Let me give you a tip that I learned while doing improv, to improve my own speaking…”

He went on to tell me that instead of letting the audience laugh at the funny things, I continued to talk, essentially talking over the audience. Instead of letting the energy build, I essentially diffused the potential energy and took away from my ability to impact lives.

His tip? Give the audience time to react.

Recently my wife directed a Shakespeare play with 12 and 13 year old kids. It was fantastic, of course… but one thing I noticed was that these young actors didn’t quite understand how to let the audience relish in the humor. They would say or do something funny, and then as soon as the audience erupted into laughter (or applause), they would say their next line.

The laughter (or applause) brings energy to the whole room, energizing the actors to be better and the audience to be more involved… and they were “crushing it” (not in a good way).

I recently heard about a salesperson who… okay, get ready to cringe… wouldn’t let the prospect talk.  The salesperson always brought the conversation back to himself… his issues, his thoughts, his experiences… YUCK. That tactic is not in any sales training, book, manual, etc.

how does this apply to you?

When you network, you have an “audience.”  When you interview you have an “audience.”  When you are on the phone you have an “audience.”

Are you talking over yourself, or the other person?  Are you allowing time, during the discussion, to make a point?

This powerful tip learned from an improv session, and passed to me by Michael Webb, is a life and communication skill that I’ll continue to work on, and share whenever it’s appropriate.


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Work, Vision, and Lots of Stage Time #LessonsFromASpeaker

May 10th, 2016

jason_hewlett_headshotI saw an ad on Facebook from a guy that I am probably destined to know: the speaker/entertainer Jason Hewlett. I say I’m probably destined to know him because (a) we have a mutual friend who talks about him a lot, and (b) I hear he has been active at SLC National Speakers Association chapter meetings, which I used to go to every month (and someday might go back to).

Here’s the first part of his Facebook ad (here’s his video that explains what the ad is about):

“In the past week I have received 5 urgent messages from speakers and entertainers asking how I’ve had such success in this business. The questions are all the same and people are shocked when I reply that it takes work, vision, and lots of stage time.”

This struck me because I’ve been writing about job search for almost 10 years now, and the questions seem to be about the same, and the answers seem to be about the same. I even got to the point, a few years ago, where I wrote “well, there’s nothing else to write about this stuff… it’s all been written.”

Jason’s reply has three parts, and they absolutely applicable to you:

Work: There really is no way around this… work has to be done. Sure, you could get lucky… but what you want (more money, a better job, owning your own gig, selling your own creation, that next promotion, etc.) will most likely require a lot of work. it could be manual labor, it could be deep thinking, it could be working through bureaucracy (aka, playing the game), it could be working on yourself (which is really hard work!) or helping others work on themselves… instead of having “work” be a scary “four letter word,” let’s embrace work, and appreciate the opportunity we have to work. Let’s make the fact that we have to work something that is okay!

Vision: If we don’t have a vision, then what are we working for?  “I want to be a….”, “I want to have….”, “I want to help…” are all statements that will help us know WHY we do what we do. Having a vision is especially helpful when we are faced with a hard task, or troubling times.  Vision strongly correlates with hope… and if we do not have hope, then why in the world do the hard things?  Do not let your vision (or hope) die… you’ll come to rely on it many, many times.

Lots of stage time: So you are a hard worker… and you have a great vision. You are doing great!  Whether you want to be on stage as a professional speaker or not, you need to be in front of your audience. For introverted software developers that might mean participation in online forums… for marketing professionals that might mean a blog on marketing from your perspective, for wannabe executives, that might mean hobnobbing with executives. Whatever “stage time” means to you, let me share two important points: First, Jason says to get LOTS of it. This doesn’t just happen… you have to (a) actively seek it out, and (b) when opportunities come your way, you say YES.  You want LOTS of stage time. Second, YOU WILL FAIL. I have presented hundreds of times, and some of you might know I’ve failed more than once. Once I failed so bad I seriously considered just not speaking anymore.  It was an embarrassing failure. I did take a few weeks off, but I knew that I needed to get back on the (speaking) horse. I did… and later on, I failed again, and again, and … then I found myself failing less frequently. I got BETTER. I learned from my mistakes. But I wouldn’t have learned from my mistakes if I hasn’t made them. Get LOTS of stage time so you can learn to be better.

Thanks for these three suggestions, Jason! This is a great path for an aspiring speaker, and it’s definitely a great path for you and your career!



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The Power of Job Clubs and Job Ministries

May 6th, 2016

This week I shared this with my two LinkedIn Groups (Job Search Career Network and the JibberJobber Career Management Group):

When I go back to the church where I went to my weekly job club (aka career ministry), ten years ago, my knees still get weak. I get nervous about sharing my 30 second pitch, and “networking.” You see, I’m an introvert, and walking into a room full of job seekers is not my idea of a “good time.”

But this job club was perhaps one of the most important things I had done as a job seeker. I went from doing this job search thing alone, in my house, to talking to others and really figuring out what I could do better, and as important, realizing that I wasn’t alone in this seemingly horrible journey. I got support and training, and I’ve been an advocate of job clubs ever since.

Humbling myself, going regularly, and even participating, defined the pivotal point in my job search. Even though I chose to start JibberJobber, instead of pursue a job, the time I spent with others, serving and getting served, brought me out of my depression and hopelessness.

My question to you is this: what job clubs are in your area that you go to, or would recommend? Let’s get a list of these resources, participate where we can, and encourage others to go. Leave a comment or email me and let me know about job clubs local to you.

Here’s a blog post I wrote about this back in 2008: Check out the comments, which as usual, are more valuable than the post.

In those posts, the groups people talked about include:

  • Sacrament, CA: Bayside’s Career Coaching
  • D.C. area: McLean Bible Church (I’ve spoken there multiple times)
  • San Diego area: NC3 Career Transitions
  • Madison, AL: St. Joseph the Worker Job Networking Club
  • Hoffman Estates, IL: St. Hubert Catholic Church

What are job clubs or ministries that you recommend, or know about?



The Writing On The Wall: When You Are About To Lose Your Job

May 4th, 2016

When I was on the phone, on a board conference call, I knew that I was going to get laid off.  The principal who was in the room with me (there were two people in my room, me and the other guy, and three people in another city) had already told me before our call that I was going to get let go.

How kind of him to prepare me.

Of course, I had already seen plenty of “writing on the wall” regarding the inevitable elimination of me, as the general manager.  I ignored the writing on the wall.  I downplayed and minimized what it meant. I delayed thinking about it.  If only I could get more results, or clean up certain things, or fix other things… if only I could do the job I was hired to do, and have an intense focus, maybe those things that were written on the wall would simply disappear.

The gut says “this is real” but the brain tries the logic and rationalization tricks to say “um, maybe not *that* real… we got more time….”

We got more time.  Famous last words.

Let me share two truths with you about the writing on the wall:

  1. Ignoring it won’t make it, the message, or the reality of what’s to come go away.
  2. There is writing on the wall for all of us. If you want a discouraging (or perhaps a full-of-opportunity) read, research the gig economy.

The bottom line is what I’ve been preaching for 10 years: YOU MUST own, control, and manage your own career management.

Here are some symptoms that you might get let go (I’m not sharing these so you can be paranoid, rather so you can be prepared):

  • Layoffs are announced, or you hear people talking about them. No owner or boss wants this rumor to get started… so if you are hearing about it from someone reliable, especially a manager, then it’s time to open your eyes and prepare.
  • You learn that the company/organization is having financial problems.  Yes, sometimes financial problems are solved by creative measures, like dumping inventory, or moving out of an expensive building, or simply increasing sales. Just realize that sometimes the creative measure might be decreasing head count.
  • You aren’t performing and your boss regularly makes comments about it. I had a sales guy who was opening a new area… but wasn’t making any progress. I was hearing about it from my colleagues (at my level), but the reality is this sales guy knew how things were going, and had no progress to report. There is a fine line between being optimistic that something great will happen, and being realistic about nothing at all happening. Make sure that you are communicating as much as you should during this time, though, especially if you are building something out of nothing… the metrics will look different at an early stage, and sometimes you might have to walk your boss through this (multiple times).
  • You aren’t getting phone calls and emails replied to. It’s weird to go from people responding quickly (or at all) to getting NOTHING. There was a time I was doing business (with JibberJobber) with another company, talking about a very cool relationship.  Then, all of the sudden, my contact wouldn’t communicate with me at all for two or three months.  Later I learned that her company was acquired, and she wasn’t sure what her role would be (if there was one).  We went from very serious to on hold, without her telling me we were on hold.  It’s confusing for sure, but it’s a big sign that there is an issue, either with your career, their career, or the company.
  • People get real (or unusually) serious when talking to you, or won’t look you in the eye. Have you had a relationship with someone at work where you could always access them and have a friendly conversation… but now you sense something in the relationship has changed?  That is what I’d call “writing on the wall.”  Or, maybe they have indigestion, or their own problems… it’s not always writing on the wall. But if it’s long-term, and from more than one person, I’d look into it.
  • You ask if your job is in jeopardy, and you don’t get a straight answer.  Let me give you a straight answer: YES. Your job is always in jeopardy. You should always be ready to give someone an updated resume, and you should always have warm networking relationships (instead of ignoring your “network” until you need something from them).

I could go on and on… here’s a google search with lists and lists of signs.

I don’t want to discourage you, or to make you more paranoid than you should be. I want to give you permission to think differently about your career, and your role at ta company.

I give you permission to network, even while you are employed.

I give you permission to have an updated resume, even though you are happy at your job.

I give you permission to interview at other companies, even though you aren’t necessarily looking.

I give you permission to take control of your career back from those you gave it to (professors, mentors, your boss, HR, the company owner), and watch out for Numero Uno (translated: YOU).

I give you permission to actually enjoy this a little bit. I know it’s frustrating to think about changing jobs, and dealing with strife at work, and disruption a-la-who-moved-my-cheese.

For now, this is the new normal… and if that’s the case, I challenge you (because you are smart, and you can figure out challenges) to figure this out.  What can you do right now, next week, this year, next year, to have more control over your own career.  I’m not asking you to look for job security (that is so nineteen hundreds!!), I’m asking you to do things to manage your career.

One of them is to stop ignoring the writing on the wall, and preparing yourself for when that writing becomes reality.



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