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Who Do You Blame In The Job Search?

June 3rd, 2016

This is a fascinating read: Are You Blaming Self for Being Unemployed?

Here’s my comment to Alex, on LinkedIn where he posted a link to his blog:

I talked to Ofer, and have heard a lot about him from Susan P Joyce. Great guy. I definitely blamed myself for more than I should have during my job search…. what helped was going to job clubs meeting people who were better (more qualified) than I was, and learning about their story. I figured out that it wasn’t me… it was circumstance. No one is immune.

I’m not suggesting you should blame one or the other, but I know that many of you are blaming yourself. Sometimes that blame is well-placed.  But we need to move past the blame and get to a point where we can be functional job seekers.

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Change is inevitable (Update on “The Dress”)

June 2nd, 2016

“JibberJobber is like a beautiful woman in an ugly dress.” – some investor, a few years ago.

When JibberJobber launched, 10 years ago, the world was different.  Users were different.  They kind of took what they could.  Over the years I got comments like “I don’t trust JibberJobber with my credit card because the site looks old.”

So, we started the hunt for someone who could help us with our design.  Back then I was looking for someone who specialized in UI, or “user interface.”  This should mean many things, but in my mind, today, it just means look and feel.

In 2012 we invested in a UI guy, and he made huge improvements (see images below). I was pretty happy with him, although I had a few reservations on color and some design stuff.  But overall, it was a great change, and we were moving in the right direction.

The day after we released his new design, I got an email from someone saying “your site looks too outdated.” What?? One day after all of our UI changes, I still got complaints?

Ugh.

I realized this is something I could not win. Meanwhile, I had some new competitors (over the last 10 years there have been about 20 competitors, most of them are gone now) who launched with BEAUTIFUL design. Seriously beautiful. But, (a) their users came over to JibberJobber because, even though we weren’t as beautiful, we had functional breadth and depth, and some of those sites were only beautiful, but not functional enough (hey, when you are doing personal CRM, you really need functional!), and (b) yeah, those sites didn’t all last.  What can I say.  I’ll be the tortoise to their hare.

I knew that instead of focusing my limited resources on trying to hit this moving target of “make it prettier,” I needed to continue to focus on functionality.  JibberJobber has A LOT of functionality… stuff we’ve been developing over a 10 year period.

However, there was still an issue… and that is that people would sign up, get confused, and delete their account out of frustration. This was not a UI issue, it was what we call a UX issue.  UX stands for “user experience.”  Instead of focusing on colors and curves and aesthetics, we needed to answer this question:

How can we help the person who signs up figure out what to do next?

Instead of logging in and then staring at the screen in utter frustration, how could we help them know what next steps they could or should do?

That is more about the user EXPERIENCE (hence, UX).  And for that, I finally, after 10 years, found the right person to help me put this together.  His name is Udie Chima, and he has been awesome.  In our conversations, he focuses on what our objectives are (which include getting more signups, and helping those signups become “users,” and eventually enticing users to actually upgrade).  Instead of focusing on a color or a curve, he focuses on THE EXPERIENCE.

All this to say, we have changes coming.  You might have already noticed one of them. Let me run through the history a bit, just for fun.

VERSION 2 (I don’t know if I have images of Version 1)

When we first launched, two people had “designed” JibberJobber. My first programmer, still with JibberJobber, and me.  Neither of us are designers. We are good at functional, but not aesthetic. Hence, we got a lot of comments like “it looks like this was designed by programmers.”  Because, well, it was.  Here’s what JibberJobber used to look like, about 10 years ago:

JJ_ux_2010

Notice the top (1) has an ad for my LinkedIn book.  The menu (2) is dark blue/purple, and rounded corners… and the footer (3) is, well, as important as a footer should be.  Not bad for 2006, I guess.  Again, the focus was on functionality.

Version 3

This was “the new dress.”

JJ_ux_2015_top

This is a cleaner look… moving the search box from the right side to the top-right… and less “heavy.”  Good changes, which we’ve had for a while.

JJ_ux_2015_bottom

This footer is cleaner, and emphasizes things because they are in three columns… I LOVE the app icons (because they are relatively new). The left is the policy and help stuff… the middle is social and other (mobile), and the right is upgrade and contact us and content value-add.

Version 4

 

JJ_ux_2016_top

This is Udie’s design. There are many things going on here… but most visibly, we are shifting the menu to the very top, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and many other sites do.  This is just “how it’s done” now, and it’s clean and easy, and people expect it.  The top, in blue, is the top level menu. Much of it is the same as what we have had, but we cleaned some stuff up. Notably, we added a home icon (before you had to figure out to click the icon)… notice, also, the help link on the right, and the settings icon on the far right.

The second level menu has the most important “calls to action” for new users. Instead of “what do I do now,” I would expect them to see that here, in JibberJobber, you can (drum roll) add a Contact, add a Company, add a Job, and add a Log Entry.  This is really the core of the value to JibberJobber users, so why not show them how to do these tasks easily?  And, because we are not allergic to money, or paying our bills, we want the idea of upgrading to be a little more obvious… The invitation to upgrade, and unlock the very cool premium features, was somewhat hidden in the past. No longer…. we’re happy to finance JibberJobber through making users happy :)

This second level menu is the difference between UI (“oooh, pretty!”) and UX (“oh, now I know what to do!!”).

JJ_ux_2016_bottom

This footer is still vertically compact. and what were the three columns are now broken down and easier to see.  The four columns on the right are even strategically grouped.

So… there you go, we changed THE DRESS again.  More to come!

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When Friends Critique Your Resume…

June 1st, 2016

Julie Walraven is a friend and professional resume writer. On Facebook she wrote:

“Just wrote this note to one of my top level resume clients who is getting too much advice from the wrong people – ‘I just have seen this happen too many times when well meaning friends try to tell you how to “fix” your resume even after it is professionally written.’

Julie wrote more, which is at the end of this blog post (it is advice on how to move forward in your job search, if things aren’t going well).  But I don’t want to focus on that… I want to focus on what she wrote above.  Specifically, the idea of trusted people reviewing your resume.

When I was in my Job search, I put a resume together and sent it to family and friends, with the hope that (a) they might catch any errors I missed, and perhaps (b) know of leads they could turn me on to. If they saw how awesome my resume was, they would surely recommend me… right?

My friends and family all had the same feedback: The resume was awesome, and I would be hired in no time.

The problem was, I was not hired in no time. I started my search in January, and officially gave it up that September.

Why the discrepancy between “you’ll be hired in no time” and “you are the worst job seeker ever?”  If my resume was good enough to impress them, why wasn’t any hiring manager impressed? Why was I not getting networking introductions?  They told me my resume was awesome… so what was the problem?

The problem with my approach was that the people I was asking were NOT qualified to give me real advice on my resume. They were not trained in resume writing, resume critiquing, or current job search techniques. The people who told me my resume was awesome had not done a job search in many years, and in some cases, decades. What I found was that some read for typos while others read for titles.  No one read asking “what is the purpose of this resume and how will it be used?”  Seems like a silly question, right?  It wasn’t. It was the unasked question that led to a very long, depressing job search.

The problem with my resume, which might NOT be the problem with your resume, is a problem that a trained eye, like Julie or the hundreds of other qualified resume writers, should have spotted.  That is, my resume was an honest resume, listing all of my jobs I’ve had. The last titles were, in this order: General Manager, VP/CIO, General Manager, and then Programmer.  Pretty cool, huh?  Helped with my ego… but the problem was that the titles I was applying for were business analyst, project manager, and product manager. So when I applied for a project manager job, they would look at it and say “why is this GM/VP/CIO applying for a job that is below them???”  There was a significant mismatch between what my resume said I was and what I was applying for.  Again, I’m not saying this is your problem, I’m just saying that a person trained in this would have helped me figure that out.  I’m no dummy (I guess that is debatable), but I was doing so many things, including managing the wacky job search emotions, that this issue eluded me.

Do you have to get a resume professionally written? NO. Do you have to pay the big bucks to hire someone who has years and even decades of experience helping job seekers? NO, you don’t have to. If you can, find the right person and engage with them. They might help you shave days, weeks, even months from a job search. But that is not the point of this post.  The point is to be careful what advice and feedback you get from your friends and family on your resume.  It will always come with good intentions. But it might not be right, accurate, or good.

Furthermore, my resume wasn’t necessarily The Thing holding me back in my job search.  It was more complex than that…. it had to do with my networking, my communication, my branding, and just my daily tactics and strategies.  But for sure my resume had a part to play in my job search failure.

Here is the rest of Julie’s facebook post, which is advice for a successful job search:

“When you aren’t getting enough traction in a job search, there are multiple variables. The most common one is that you aren’t being proactive enough in using your network or finding new connections to get you to your goal.

Self confidence is another big player because if you have not been on the job market for a long time, it is scary to be out there. You just have to become the sales person representing you.

Work hard, connect and reach out. It takes time, especially if you are in the upper salary level.”

Julie actually wrote her own blog post, seeded by the Facebook conversation we had on this very topic. Read it here: What Happens When Friends Critique Your Resume.

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