I’m Convinced…

November 30th, 2016

that you could do a better job branding yourself.

I’m not talking about some buzzword… I’m talking about how you communicate your value proposition.  How others perceive you.  How others talk about you.

When an opportunity comes up, do others think of you and your strengths and skills?  Or are you not even a thought…?

I’ve been talking about branding for 10+ years.  It’s not going anywhere.  In the olden days it used to be called reputation (and, reputation management).

Let’s get smarter about the messaging we’re giving.  If you want help, leave a comment with your brand (statement, tagline, etc.) and we’ll beat it up with you :)

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I am a Product Manager. What are you?

November 29th, 2016

When I first started my job search I was looking for a replacement to what I was: General Manager.  However, I soon realized that I didn’t have the experience in years, size of company, size of team, scope of product(s), etc. to compete with other people who had the general manager title.  So, I went back to where I was more comfortable: business analyst or project manager.

I had a degree in Computer Information Systems, and an MBA, and had been a general manager for almost two years, but everything I learned was self-taught, with no mentors and no system in place.  I figured it would be a good idea to get what I’ll call institutionalized experience – not from a university but from the systems within a functioning business.

If you asked me then, like now, I would have told you I was passionate about the intersection of technology and business.  How to solve business problems with technology solutions. Because of my early work programming Simplot’s intranet (which was a lot of fun), I was most passionate about web technologies.  And, I have always been interested in a role within a company that had strategy and vision as part of it’s functions.

When I was searching for business analyst and project management roles, I came across a title that was new to me: product manager.  It turns out that a product manager is like a mini CEO… this is the person who owns a product and is responsible for the vision, strategy, execution, marketing, and profitability of a product.

Wow… you mean I could do all the stuff I wanted to do, even without being the company’s CEO? Don’t get me wrong… CEO is where I wanted to go, but I didn’t think that I could be one anytime soon… I’d have to get more “gray hairs.”  But this product manager opportunity… wow!

As you probably know, I never landed a job as a product manager. Instead, I launched The Worst Job Search Ever, and eventually started JibberJobber.  Fast forward to today… it’s almost been eleven years since I got laid off and started this journey.  If any of you have ever been an entrepreneur, you’ll know that as the years go by, you really question the value that you bring to a corporate environment. As an entrepreneur, you do so many things that you are not sure what you specialize at.

A few months ago, I was chatting with a recruiter friend of mine and said “you know, if I wanted to get a job, I have no idea what title I would even look for.  You know me… what do you think?”

To my surprise (because I had kind of forgotten about it) and delight, he said “You should look for a job as a product manager.

Awesome!

A recruiter, trained to see what roles people could fill in a company, saw me as a product manager!

Over the last few weeks I’ve done some searches on product manager jobs in my area, and have been making a list of functions that product managers do.  This compilation is a list that is helping me restructure my role and job and duties at JibberJobber.  I’m virtually rewriting my job and duties, and those job descriptions are helping me.

I wonder, how many of you would benefit from this type of exercise?  Discovering the right job title for your (a) capabilities and (b) passions and interests, and then drilling down and defining what you actually do in that role, and what the value to the organization is.  This is what I would consider part of a career recalibration… a reality check.

It’s taken me a long time to get to a point where I’ve figured I was indeed hireable again, and going through this tactical exercise is helping me understand my value in the market.  For a lot of the people I meet at my presentations, I’d suggest this is an important exercise to really understand that you still do offer value, and you still can have fun in your career… and that you are not a has-been.  I know that the longer a job search goes, the more you feel that way… so do what I’ve been doing and start drilling down on the role(s) you would really excel at!

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The Guy In the Theater Who Could Have Gone To Jail

November 23rd, 2016

Last night my wife and I were watching Fantastic Beasts at the theater.  With about 30 minutes left, some guy yelled “TURN OFF YOUR PHONE!”  I chuckled a bit and looked around… I saw The Phone Guy was on the far left, right by the door.  And he didn’t turn his phone off… he was looking at it (not talking on it).

About four or five minutes later The Yeller, who looked like a bear, squeezed past about six people and gruffly grunted down the few steps to where The Phone Offender was (still on his phone) and, from what I could tell, got directly in his face and yelled again. I think he even laid his hands on The Phone Offender, or at least touched his phone.

The Phone Offender stood up and got in The Yeller’s face… neither of these men were small.  It was a little scary for a minute… and then finally The Phone Offender walked out.

Where did he go?  Was he going to get a gun?  His manhood had been challenged in front of hundreds of people.  I’m no lawyer, but from where I was sitting, it was assault and battery.

I have a problem with what happened.  Not even mentioning the fact that there were plenty of kids in the theater to witness this ridiculous behavior, let’s go to two worst-case situations:

Immediate reaction by a concealed weapon permit holder: What if The Phone Offender had a concealed weapon?  Based on what I’ve read, he could have felt threatened to the point where he needed to protect himself.  The huge Yeller was, I’m sure, very physically intimidating, growling and yelling and really, really close to The Offender. And if he did indeed touch The Offender, or his phone, then there’s the start of “battery” (I think).  The thing is, you don’t have to go to law school to be qualified to know if it’s right to pull your gun and shoot someone “in self defense,” or “to prevent a forcible felony.”  All it takes is someone who is scared to pull his gun, pull the trigger, and then deal with the legal stuff later.  Whether he was justified or not, The Yeller could have lost his life (or his health) just because he was playing Phone Vigilante.

Delayed reaction by crazy guy affecting everyone: What if The Offender left to his truck to get guns, and came back and shot up the theater? We were pretty much sitting in the line of fire from the door to The Yeller, and right behind us (in the line of fire) was a cute little family with three young kids.  What a horrid situation that really could have happened, just because The Yeller decided to be a cinema hero.

Okay, maybe that’s pretty dramatic, but I don’t put either scenario past the realm of possibilities. I don’t like either scenario, but I don’t trust human judgement enough to be naive to the point of thinking “oh, that wouldn’t happen.”

Fortunately, neither happened.  About ten or fifteen minutes after The Offender left, he returned with a police officer. The Offender accused the wrong guy of being The Yeller, at which point The Yeller stood up (finally, a wise choice on his part) and walked out with the cop.

What happened after that? I’m not sure.  But he certainly could have gone to jail. While it’s not as severe as the two worst-case scenarios above, it’s not the way he planned to spend the evening, just over his impatience and anxiety.

Perhaps you relate to the impatience and anxiety… and you’ve done, or wanted to do, the same thing to Phone Offenders.

Let’s switch gears to our job search.  Lots of bad and stupid and neglectful things happen. And, we’re in an unusually emotional state.  That can be a bad combination… and if we act on that, we can get into trouble.

Perhaps not fatal or life-threatening trouble, but what if your overreaction to something burns bridges?  What if someone who would have introduced you to a hiring manager at your target company now doesn’t trust your judgement or discretion?

What if you decide to “spout off,” either in a job club or just to one person, about how you were treated in or after an interview?

Sure, interviews can be demoralizing, and the interviewer is typically untrained and can act unprofessional (ie., doesn’t follow up with you at all).  But is that a reason to publicly react?

Sure, you might be justified… but what are you going to ruin along the way?

The Yeller didn’t get to watch the end of the movie, and might have had to figure out how to get his family home… and perhaps had to to stuff with the cops that no one wants to do.

You, The Job Seeker, might be justified in spouting off, but you might tag yourself as someone who is unstable, and dangerous (as far as professional networking goes).

Look, what are you after?  Social justice, or a job?

Please beware, and be aware, of what you do and say, and how it could impact what you are ultimately after.  The consequences of your choices might be much graver than you ever wanted, and sidetrack you to the point where you have many setbacks.

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You will do better in your job search if you are…

November 21st, 2016

Relaxed.

I know, I know. There’s a lot of anxiety built up in a job seeker. There is so much at stake.  So much to win, so much to lose.  We’re generally not trained to be job seekers… we’re trained to do whatever it is that we do, but not be competitive, effective job seekers.

In most of my interviews I was anxious. I felt prepared, sure. I felt competent, and qualified, sure.  But the risk was just so heavy, and I didn’t want to lose. I was focusing on winning or losing.

My last interview I was really quite relaxed. Of course, I wanted the interview, but I had gotten to a point where the interview was just a business meeting between peers and colleagues. I’m not naive to the point where I didn’t realize what was on the line, but I was mature enough to not have that drive my contribution to the conversation.

I can’t tell you to chill out… to relax.  But I can tell you that if you practice the skill of being and acting relaxed, you’ll do better in your interviews.  And your networking. And your branding and messaging.

The opposite of relaxed, for a job seeker, can be summed up in this post, from 2007: Are You Bleeding?

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How To Remove A Contact From Gmail (So Useful)

November 10th, 2016

Have you ever sent someone an email to the wrong address?  That is, to an address they used to use, but they don’t use anymore?

Note: This is not a JibberJobber tutorial. It’s a how-to-get-more-out-of-your-email-client tutorial.

I do this more often than I want. It’s because a year ago they used a certain email address, but then they switched. I can’t remember what email address they use now… all I know is that when I start typing their name in my email client (I use Gmail, but what I’m about to share will apply to most email clients), a short list of the email addresses that I might want show up… and I simply choose one.

Sometimes, the email address I choose is one they don’t look at anymore.

The best thing to do is to remove that address from the list that pops up. That way, now and forever, you won’t even see the bad email in the list.

How do you do this?

It’s simple…

(1) You go to Contacts.

In Gmail, right above the Compose button, you’ll see Gmail with a down arrow/triangle. Click that and you’ll see an option for Contacts.  Didn’t know that was there?  I bet most people never go in there!

(2) Then, search for the bad/wrong email address.

The search box converts from searching your email to searching your contacts. Paste the bad email in the search box, and click search.

(3) Then, click the checkbox of the bad email address.

This selects the bad email address.

(4) Then, click the MORE button, and the first option is to delete the contact.

You can test to see if this worked by going back to mail or Gmail, and typing in the person’s name.  You should now only see the good email address, and not the bad email address.

And your life is simplified :)

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Trump Wins: Now What? CareersEdition

November 9th, 2016

Lots of talk this morning about Trump winning.

My questions are:

What does this win mean for the economy (of the U.S. and the world)?

What does it mean for jobs?

What does it mean for YOUR JOB?

What are YOU going to do moving forward, with regard to your own career management (networking, personal branding, income streams, etc.)?

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Can I Use JibberJobber With, And To Help, A Family Member Or Friend?

November 5th, 2016

Here’s a question I get every once in a while… I got this last week:

“I’m a dad trying to help my son who is in college to get started on gathering data on industries and companies he has an interest in pursuing upon graduation. My quick question is can we share the use of the tool. I’d like to get it started by populating it with some data and work together with him to continue to advance his use of the tool.”

The short answer is yes, of course.

Over 10 years ago, when I had the idea for JibberJobber, I part of my vision was exactly this.  Parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, whatever, helping someone who was just entering the workforce. Whether it is your kid in college, getting ready to interview for their first big job, or your brother deployed to Iraq, having to look for a new job when they got home, the idea was, and is, that multiple people (Seth Godin has called this your “tribe”) can and will help you.

You would simply create ONE JibberJobber account, which both (or multiple) people would login to.  It’s that simple.

Then, anyone can add information about potential network contacts, target companies, job postings, industry research, or anything else relevant to networking, the job search, and career management.

Since you are using one login, we can’t know which of you logged in and put in certain data, so you might adopt a system to say who put in what.  For example, if you put in a target company, perhaps in the notes you put your initials, like this: -ja.  This will simply let everyone know that YOU put that company in. I would recommend you also put in why that is a good target company, and even some background. Looking at the company later, you might find yourself wondering why you added the company. But if you put something like this:

“I met John, who works there, and he said they are doing some amazing things, especially in the mobile marketing space.  This seems to be a perfect fit.”

then you have some context. Trust me on this one, and do it as often as you can. As time goes on, and as you add a lot more data, it’s easy to wonder “why in the world is this here?” This applies to companies, contacts, log entries, etc. The more context, the better!

Here are two Jason Alba tips, if you want to help someone by adding data to their JibberJobber account:

First, set up your own account, enter the data (jobs, companies, etc.) there, and then “share” those to the other account.  Sharing data is easy…

Second, in the other person’s account, add your email as an approved Email2Log sender.  You can check out the Getting Started videos on Email2Log (videos #4 and #5). Basically, any email address that is added to the sending list can add data (Contacts, Companies, Jobs, Log Entries, and Action Items) to that account.  It’s very powerful, and convenient. What this really means is that you can add the information this dad is talking about without (a) logging into JibberJobber, and (b) learning the JibberJobber interface. He can simply do it by forwarding emails to JibberJobber…. very convenient!

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