Job Search Strategy: Research (2)

March 17th, 2017
This is a seven post series describing what a job search strategy looks like.

  1. What a Job Search Strategy Looks Like
  2. Job Search Strategy: Assessment (1)
  3. Job Search Strategy: Research (2)
  4. Job Search Strategy: Presenting Yourself (3)
  5. Job Search Strategy: Project Management (4)
  6. Job Search Strategy: Interview Strategies (5)
  7. Job Search Strategy: Project Update (6)

The second step of Hannah Morgan’s six step job search strategy is Research. Check the image below for reference.  We’ve gone through the Assessment stage, and we have a better grasp on who we are and what would be ideal for us.  We’ve spent some introspective time and we’ve been real honest with ourselves.  Now it’s time to take that information and figure out what opportunities align with what we just came up with.

Research Industries and Trends: What’s going on in the world? What industries are changing (automotive –> electric cars; energy –> sustainable; technology –> cloud solutions; commerce –> online, healthcare –> ???, etc.) and what opportunities can we identify?  This would be a perfect time to do a SWOT Analysis and/or a Porter’s Five Forces Analysis (google those, I learned about them in my MBA classes).

Research Alternative Job Titles: Before my job search I had been a General Manager, but my environment changed drastically and I started looking for jobs as a Business Analyst or a Project Manager.  That is what I knew. As I found those jobs on job boards, I learned about a role I hadn’t heard of before, but it was a perfect fit for me: Product Manager.  This is a time to expand your vision a little and be open to other titles that you would enjoy, or excel at, or be able to grow into.

Research Target Company (Identification): Now that we’ve narrowed down the industries and positions, let’s find some companies that match those. Who is hiring, growing, who has a need, who has a great culture and can provide the lifestyle and projects and opportunities?  Talk to people at those companies and get an idea of what it was like there. Think: Information Interviews.  Remember, a job search is not a one-sided affair, where the company has all the power. You decide if you want to spend most of your waking hours at this company… keep your eyes wide open as you do company research.

Research Key People to Know: Now we have the companies picked out… how are you going to “network in?”  This concept implies who have a target inside… we’ll usually start with a department or a title. Using LinkedIn and what we learn from our informational interviews, we should easily be able to identify key people, learn about them, and even get introductions to them. Doesn’t this feel like a focused, targeted job search, instead of the “spray and pray” method that just leads to frustration and depression?

This (and the previous) step remind me of the legend about the lumber jack (or Abe Lincoln, depending on where you got your story) being asked about cutting down trees.  Something along the lines of “If I had seven hours to cut down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax.”  In Steven Covey’s 7 Habits book, he saved the “sharpen your saw” for Habit #7… but notice in practice, we’re putting it up front.

The result of this step is that we will have a focused list of companies and contacts that we’ll work on approaching, networking with, etc.  When another industry or company (or person) comes along, we can quickly determine if they should be on our list and proceed appropriately, instead of being distracted by every thing that comes our way and feeling like we need to give equal attention to everything.  This focus helps us know where to spend our time and effort, the conversations we should have and pursue, and and really know that we are moving in the right direction (even when we are unsure of ourselves).





Job Search Strategy: Assessment (1)

March 16th, 2017
This is a seven post series describing what a job search strategy looks like.

  1. What a Job Search Strategy Looks Like
  2. Job Search Strategy: Assessment (1)
  3. Job Search Strategy: Research (2)
  4. Job Search Strategy: Presenting Yourself (3)
  5. Job Search Strategy: Project Management (4)
  6. Job Search Strategy: Interview Strategies (5)
  7. Job Search Strategy: Project Update (6)

Let’s dig into the first step of Hannah Morgan’s six step job search strategy: Assessment.  In the image below you can see that this step has various components… remember, you should not skip this step. I skipped it in my job search, and in it’s place I put wrong assumptions.  This is a great time… it’s the right time, to pause and really think through this “who are you, what do you want to be when you grow up” phase.  DON’T SKIP THIS SEEMINGLY SIMPLE STEP.

Skills, Knowledge, Passions: Or, whatever acronym you want (in the federal government, this might be KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities)). You might have done an assessment five months ago, or five years ago, but now things are different.  You now have a great opportunity to assess your SKPs without any presumption of a job you are in, or a career path that you were on. It’s a blank slate, and it’s time to be honest about what you are really good at and what you really want to do.

STAR Development: This stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result, and is similar to PAR, CAR, OAR, etc.  What you come up with is what I call a “mini story” and can be used in interviews, on your LinkedIn Profile, etc.  Creating these is a super… SUPER personal branding exercise.

Job, Occupation, Industry: What kind job do you want to work in, doing what, and in what industry?  Are you suited or trained for that, or do you need training?

Company Culture, Management Style: What kind of culture do you want to work in? What kind of boss(es) (and team) do you want to have?  What would really delight you?

You might look at all of those and think “I already know this… let’s get my resume ready!”  But this is the Ready and Aim part of ready-aim-fire! Write this down, sleep on it, revisit it the next day.  Be honest with yourself, and make sure that you are pointing in the right direction before you start working hard on your job search.

The result of this step is having a better grasp on who you are, what you want to offer, what would make you happier and put in you in a more successful environment.





What a Job Search Strategy Looks Like

March 15th, 2017
This is a seven post series describing what a job search strategy looks like.

  1. What a Job Search Strategy Looks Like
  2. Job Search Strategy: Assessment (1)
  3. Job Search Strategy: Research (2)
  4. Job Search Strategy: Presenting Yourself (3)
  5. Job Search Strategy: Project Management (4)
  6. Job Search Strategy: Interview Strategies (5)
  7. Job Search Strategy: Project Update (6)

When I’m on the road (and in my JibberJobber Video Library) I talk about lot about purposeful and strategic.  For example, “make sure your personal branding is purposeful,” and “to have a strategic job search…”

hannah_morgan_careersherpa_headshotRecently Hannah Morgan, aka the Career Sherpa, included me in her “how to use the best job sites” post (again).  Thank you, Hannah, for including JibberJobber! When I heard about this, I went to the page listing the best job sites and checked to see where JibberJobber was, and what the other websites were (I like to see what kind of company I keep in these lists :p).  I made a big mistake by skimming through the page and looking for JibberJobber…. I totally missed a terrific, important part of her post, right at the top.

Below is the image I glanced over.  I saw it as just one more infographic that had too much information… but I was mistaken. Yesterday I spent time going through it and realized… THIS IS A STRATEGIC JOB SEARCH! Now, when people ask “what does a job search strategy look like?” I can point them to this image.  It is brilliant. You might think it’s simple, or common sense / obvious, but I think it’s brilliant.

The reason it’s in her post is because it should frame, or put into context, all of the tools.  Instead of just another list of a whole bunch of job sites, that seem to be duplicates of one another, Hannah put sites in here that fill a purpose… each site should address at least one box or section in this strategy:



I want to break down each of these, but for now let’s talk about her six steps.

Assessment: who are you? What do you have to offer? What should your brand messaging be? Preliminary thinking on companies and industries… this stage is fundamental (I skipped over it in my job search, which might be a big reason why I failed to find a job).

Research: The last stage was an exercise in introspection and honesty, this stage is will take you through Google, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and more. Here we are looking for evidence, reported facts, etc.

Presenting Yourself: By this stage, you have thought about you, and what good matches would be… now it’s time to figure out how to position yourself.  Up to this point, we have done things that most job seekers do mentally (and erroneously) in about three minutes.

Project Management: It’s go-time. This is what most people think a job search looks like.

Interview Strategies: This whole step will help you own the interview. That doesn’t mean you take it over. You’ll win some and lose some, and you’ll figure out that you don’t want to work at some companies, or for some people (because of the work you did in the first two steps).

Project Update: I don’t know what Hannah has in mind here, but this could apply to an active job search as well after you land… a weekly check-up to proactively manage your career (which will help you be prepared for your next job search).

I love these six steps. You might have some tweaking to do for yourself, but at least you have a great template to work from.

Like I said, I skipped most of the foundational steps and went straight to job search action.  Don’t make that same mistake.

I have seen many people land their jobs and ignore the check-ins after… don’t make that mistake!



Updating the LinkedIn for Job Seekers Video Series

March 14th, 2017

I have finally recorded all of the LinkedIn for Job Seekers videos. It was sad to compare this edition to last time, when I had training on certain features that are no longer in LinkedIn (but provided tremendous value).

In this new series you’ll learn about optimizing the LinkedIn Profile, even with all of the weird… er, interesting… changes… such as only showing the first 2 lines of your summary, and not showing any info about previous jobs (only one current job).  I also talk about Groups, communications, messaging, recommendations (how to effectively ask for them, what to do when you get them, and how to give them in a way to help your networking and branding), and more.

I’ve done this four times before this edition… my goal is to help you get value out of LinkedIn.  I know you are busy, and I doubt you want to become a LinkedIn expert… so we focus on what to do (tactics) to get value.

This is included in the JibberJobber Video Library, and includes access to all of the other courses and insider information interviews… for the low price of $9.95 a month (cancel anytime) or $60 for a year of access.

Ready to take your career, job search, networking, or small business to the next level?  Invest $60 for a year of access… it will be well-worth it!  You can see the video library here.

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JibberJobber News and Updated

March 13th, 2017

So many things on my mind… today I want to share what we are working on. You should expect to this stuff roll out over the next few weeks.

One developer has been working on updating all of the calendar widgets in JibberJobber.  He’s streamlining them to all use the same calendar, and the same code, but there are enough places where we have to touch and test this a lot.  The result should be a sleeker interface that is faster.  Faster is always good.

Speaking of faster, he has updated the Log Entry form so that is is also sleeker and FASTER.  While in there he identified a few other enhancements he will make, but the first one you’ll notice is the speed of the Log Entry input.

Notice similarities between the two projects? Make things look better AND make things faster.  We’re not stopping on those… there are more similiar enhancements to come.

Other projects our dev team is working on:

Fixing some issues with recurring action items… reported from a user in Singapore (thanks Amit!).

Cleaning up the upgrade page and process and making it more intuitive, and showing the value of the upgrade.

Creating a purchase history so you can see your past billing, and even get receipts of all purchases.

I have been working on… something I’ll tell you about tomorrow :)

We have a bunch of work orders that we’ll work on in the next few months that should have an impact on your experience… making things more simple, more streamlined, faster, etc.



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How Much Should You Pay for a Resume?

March 9th, 2017

bridget_brooksI recently saw Bridget Brooks’ blog post about this.  If you are considering paying for a resume writer, and are confused about the range of prices you are getting quoted, you really need to read her article:

“How much does a resume cost?”

Before you pay $5 for a resume (yes, really), understand what you are buying, and what you should pay.

If you are getting ready to cut a check for a few thousand dollars, make sure you are hiring the right resume writer.

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Insider Information Interview: Russell Lookadoo, HR Expert

March 8th, 2017

russell_lookadoo_jibberjobber_insider_information_interviewsRussell Lookadoo has quite the background in HR. He has had executive roles at a couple of banks, and for the last twelve years has been consulting with small businesses that need HR help.  He has helped build large teams and has been responsible for letting many, many people go (as the messenger, of course).

I got to interview him a few months ago for the Insider Information Interview series, which is a series of interviews where I ask hiring managers, HR, and recruiters how they really hire, and what they really look at and for… and I was NOT disappointed!

I have known Russell for many years, but it wasn’t until last year that we were both in a video production together that I really came to understand that he has some amazing expertise in HR, and a great way of sharing his thoughts for job seekers.  He was one of the first people that I asked to interview for this series.

Below are notes I took as I was QA’ing the video yesterday, as we get it ready to add it to the library.  Note that some of these are questions that are asked all the time, but getting a senior HR expert’s response was really quite insightful.

  • Is there a right way (or a wrong way) to greet someone?
  • How to make a great first impression
  • What do you say to someone in an interview when you first greet them?
  • You are always watched, even when you don’t know you are (regarding in interviews)
  • How to set yourself apart when answering “tell me about yourself”
  • Is it bad to have scripted or coached answers in an interview? How do you make it okay?
  • What’s the first thing to do when preparing for an interview?
  • How do you have an outstanding interview?
  • How and why to rephrase an interview question before you answer it
  • Is it okay for a job seeker to be assertive in an interview? How and when?
  • Is any of this advice different for executives? How? (very interesting insight here)
  • What are great websites to use to do company research?
  • What are some interview questions you ask that have an underlying question? What are you really looking for?
  • What are transferable skills, and how do you communicate them?
  • When do I follow up after an interview? Especially when it’s past the time I expected to hear from you?
  • How do I follow up after an interview?
  • What if I have bad handwriting… should I still snail-mail a thank you note?
  • How do you respond to a job offer? (think: negotiation)
  • What do I need to know about sexual harassment in an interview?
  • How do you end an uncomfortable/creepy interview early? (think: personal safety)
  • What is the role of HR in the hiring process? How powerful is HR? We’re told to avoid HR as a job seeker!
  • Should I report a hiring manager who asks a bad question, etc.?
  • What is an ATS, and what do I need to know about an ATS?
  • How do I prepare my resume to get “through” an ATS?
  • Conversation on salary and salary negotiation
  • What are you (HR) telling hiring managers on how to negotiate salaries?
  • What is the hidden job market?
  • Are HR people good people to network with?
  • I’m your best friend… what is your advice to me on starting a job search?
  • Conversation about his resume tips
  • I’m your best friend, and I’ve been in a job search for more than 18 months… what is your advice to me now?
  • What if I want to become a consultant? Pricing for consultants

I can’t believe we covered so much ground in just over an hour.  Russell had great answers and I know this will help job seekers are they move forward in their interviews, networking, job search, and career management!

This interview should go live next week (I hope… depends on the video editor).

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2017 Theme: Healing

March 6th, 2017

I know, I know, the timing, right?

If you’ve followed my blog these last couple of months, you know that two months and one day ago I kicked a kickbag (aka, heavy bag, aka cinder block wall) the wrong way and broke a bone in my ankle.  I didn’t know that you could kick a kickbag wrong. I certainly didn’t know that you could do it wrong enough to break a bone.

Alas, I did (kick it wrong) and it is (broken).  Today, two months later, I can “bear weight,” which means put some pressure on it. It’s still in a splint (which is smaller and lighter than a boot). I still walk with a walker (the kind you don’t think you’ll use until you are 90… but so much better than crutches).  I’ve been enduring a very long healing process, and know that I have months to go before I can walk normal.  All because of a little bone fracture.

Frankly, I’m an impatient person. In my mind I was supposed to be walking mid-January.

This is like, in my job search, I was sure that I would be employed in four to six weeks.

In some of my close relationships, where healing needed to be done, sometimes the healing has been going on for years.

In each of these cases, healing did not happen fast.  And, in every case, there was pain.

What I want to focus on this year is allowing the healing to happen.  Imagine you have a nasty, deep gash on your arm, and it is bandaged.  You can’t take the bandage off every few hours to see if it’s done healing, or if it’s made a lot of progress since last time.  That can be harmful, and demoralizing (aka, depressing).

If you are in a job search there’s a good chance that you need to heal. I certainly did. I had strong emotions of anger and bitterness, and during my job search I struggled with feelings of inadequacy and depression.  Those were just a few of the things I had to heal from.

So here’s to 2017, a year we focus on healing ourselves.  That will mean different things to different people, but let’s heal.


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JibberJobber Theme for 2017 (Pre-announcement)

March 3rd, 2017

I like to do this in early January, so this is a little late. But in early January I was nursing a broken ankle (didn’t know it at the time) and was otherwise preoccupied. Even though we are in March, this theme is still relevant. Maybe it’s even more relevant now.

Monday I’ll announce this the JibberJobber Theme for 2017. I haven’t been perfect at defining an annual theme, but here are some of the past themes (click each title to read the theme):

2012 THEME: Job Search is 99% Communication

I’m convinced that we, as human beings, have a lot of potential to communicate better… more effectively.  We, as people who care about our career (aka, career managers), should be keenly focused on communicating more effectively, verbally, written, body language, etc.

2011 THEME: The Job Search Rabbit Hole

This theme comes from the concept that perhaps we are working really, really hard, and are very, very focused, on the wrong things. It is about rethinking what our focus is, and making sure we are focused on the right things.

2013 THEME: Consistency Wins

This theme is inspired by Mark LeBlanc, who right now is in Spain walking El Camino (again). He says “consistency trumps commitment.” I’m completely convinced that for anything that is a long-game, like a job search, and career management (and owning a business), that is 1,000% true.  Let’s focus on moving closer and closer to our goal, with consistency, every single day, and not do any flash-in-the-pan efforts and then burn out.

2015 THEME: The Year of the Cookie

The idea of the cookie is usually communicated in a phrase like “you have the cookie,” or “I have the cookie!”  It is all about who has the power.  When someone else has the power/cookie (like, in an interview), the control everything. But when you have the power/cookie (perhaps because you are, hands down, the best person for the job). This theme was about recognizing power, and working to ensure you had the power you need.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this year’s theme, and I’ve struggled with it because it’s not as optimistic or positive when you first hear the word (it’s kind of painful), but it’s crucial.

Watch for it on Monday.

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Ahem… for the record… #aws

March 1st, 2017

Recently we announced that we moved our hosting from an in-house server to Amazon Web Services. This is exciting for many reasons, and in general it went well. Immediately we got emails saying JibberJobber was simply faster… something we noticed, too.

Why did it take so long?

Partially because back in 2006, when we launched, AWS was new enough that they were still experiencing issues…. like something going down.  And when part of AWS goes down, it can take down tens of thousands of websites.  Literally tens of thousands.  Back then I chose to keep JibberJobber on our own server to have more control, even though there are plenty of things that could have (and some that did) go wrong.

Over the years I got plenty of emails saying “why not move to Amazon,” or AWS, as people call it.  The Amazon Cloud.

I just wasn’t ready yet.  Until a few months ago, when the sun, moon, and stars had aligned, and it was time.

We moved, it was good, and I’m excited!

However, the move isn’t without potential hiccups… AWS problems are not strictly a thing of the past. Just yesterday the AWS Northern Virginia site had issues, and took down a bunch of sites for about 4 hours.

Why am I posting this? Well, just as a point-of-reference documentation in case JibberJobber goes down again, to remind myself that AWS offers us loads of benefits, but it’s not 100% failsafe. There are always risks.

Alas, we take the bad with the good, and work to have a great solution for you, long term.  There’s a lot that goes into making JibberJobber a tool for job seekers around the world!


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