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My Life Is Impostor Syndrome

May 29th, 2019

JibberJobber Impostor SyndromeLast year I worked for about nine months at BambooHR. For the first three months solid I experienced full-on impostor syndrome. This was weird because I thought I was pretty hot stuff (an abundance of self-confidence is a theme in my life), but I found myself questioning what I was doing there, why I was there, why in the world did they hire me, was I adequate enough, and would they somehow figure out I wasn’t the right hire and let me go.

It was stressful.

Here I am, on the other side (of having a job), and I don’t have imposter syndrome anymore. I am back in my comfort zone, where I definitely fit. I was in Belgium last week speaking at a tech conference with 1,800 attendees… and I didn’t feel like an imposter. Instead, I felt like an expert. I have authored three books, thirty three Pluralsight courses, and years of blog posts and articles. I was in my comfort zone.

I’ve also been immersed in JibberJobber design and product management, which I love. I don’t feel like an imposter here. Having been here for now 13+ years, I know what needs to be done, I know where I can add value, and I am working my way through my long list of stuff to do.

I have also done three more soft skill courses at Pluralsight since I got let go from BambooHR. One was on having difficult conversations, one was on creating innovative teams, and one was on how to be a leader when you don’t have a leadership title. I don’t feel like an impostor there.

Why did I feel like an imposter at BambooHR?

I have a friend who is excellent at what she does. She excels in so many areas, but her real specialty is in software quality assurance. She has a masters degree in software QA!  She’s about to change jobs and told me that she is nervous about the new job. Will she do well? Will she deliver value? Listening to her talk about her concerns is funny because she is awesome, and will do well. But she is already dealing with impostor syndrome. I have no doubt she will do exceptionally well, but she does.

This impostor syndrome thing is weird. It is like a mental wedge that causes us to doubt ourselves, and to question what we know we should do.

Perhaps it has more to do with working on a new team and being in a new role and in a new industry than it does with what our expertise is. Perhaps we don’t understand that maybe there are others that could do the job as well as we could, maybe better, but we were chosen for a reason. Maybe we are a better cultural fit, maybe we have proven we have the right values, or a certain technical ability… we are more of the whole package than someone we are comparing ourselves to. Maybe, just maybe, we were lucky. We were in the right place at the right time and said “yes” while someone better wasn’t available.

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be in the role.

This whole life is about progress and learning and growing. Allow yourself, in your role where you feel like an impostor, to grow into the role. That takes time and practice and showing up. And eventually, you won’t feel like an impostor anymore. When that happens, look for the new people, and figure out how you can help them feel like they fit, too.

Impostor syndrome is more real than I realized, but you need to work through the self-doubt and get to work. You were chosen for a reason… do your job, do your best, and grow. One day you’ll have the epiphany that indeed, you are not an impostor. You are exactly where you should be.

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How To Really Help a Job Seeker

May 22nd, 2019

JibberJobber: How to really help a job seekerDo you know someone who is looking for a job? Have you recently asked someone “how is your job search going?”

When I was a job seeker I was the only job seeker in my circles of influence. The only one in my neighborhood and my church and my friend group. People knew I was looking for a job, and they frequently asked how my job search was going. One lady would bring me printouts of openings every Sunday. Coincidentally I had spent so much time on the job boards that every posting she brought me seemed too familiar. And none of them matched what I was looking for.

It wasn’t their fault that I couldn’t count any of them as helpful. Willing, yes, but not helpful. No one knew how to really help me in my job search. I didn’t know how to help them help me. Heck, I didn’t even know how to help myself!

Fast forward a few years, I had written a very successful book (the first book on LinkedIn that wasn’t for recruiters), launched JibberJobber (the CRM for job seekers), written a dud of a book, and was a professional (read:paid) speaker flown around the U.S. to speak. When I got on the road to speak I had the beautiful opportunity to meet job seekers and learn their stories and their struggles. I learned that across the country people were struggling with things I struggled with: loneliness, depression, and lack of knowledge about job search strategies and tactics. I also learned that people had friends and family and even acquaintances who all wanted to help them, but they didn’t know how… and the job seeker didn’t know how to help them help them.

It was on one of these trips that I figured out how I could help job seekers help their friends help them (I know, that’s a lot of helps). I came up with this almost a decade ago, and I’ve shared it on stage and in articles and on the radio and on podcasts many times. But I’ve never shared it with non-job seekers.

First, let me share what I tell job seekers. Then I’ll restate it, but to you, who isn’t in a job search.

To job seekers I say that they have to believe that people want to help them. When people say “How is your job search going?” they really want to know if there is any way they can help you in your job search. But we, as job seekers, respond to that question with a “good” or a “it’s going okay” or sometimes we tell them the truth about how it’s not going well at all. None of these answers help others help us.

I tell them they can say “good” or “okay,” but they need to follow up with this:

“I’m looking for introductions to people who work at my target companies. Do you know anyone who works at Company A, Company B, or Company C?”

So you are answering their direct question, and you are asking them a simple yes or no question. If they know someone who works at any of those companies, you would follow-up with “Would you introduce me to that person?”

And that simple but brilliant response is how you help others help you in your job search.  Networking introductions, especially to people in one of your target companies, could be more valuable than even paying their rent or mortgage for the month!

Now, with that as a foundation, let me tell you how you can help job seekers that you know. Same concept, but instead of you waiting for them to respond that way (most people will never have heard that response before… so they’ll just answer “good” to your “how is your job search going” question), I want you to think about inserting these responses to their “good”:

“Cool. What are some of your target companies? I might know someone who works at one of them.”

“What roles are you applying to? I might know someone who you can talk to.”

“If you are interested in networking with any of my contacts, I’d be happy to make an introduction. What are the companies you are most interested in working in?”

Instead of waiting for them to ask you if you know anyone at their target company, you offer it. I suggest this because sometimes the job seeker is too heads-down applying online, or they don’t think anyone would make introductions to them, or they really don’t know how to do a job search.

Because of the lack of proper job search training, I would follow-up with this:

“I can introduce you to a friend of mine who works at Company A, but I’d like to know how it goes. I’d like you to do an informational interview with her, where you ask her about the organization, their needs, industry insight, as well as ask her for introductions to people in the department where you want to work. Have you done any of these informational interviews in your job search?”

You see, another epiphany I had while on the road was that informational interviews are the most important tactic that a job seeker should invest in. Here’s what I’ve said from stage:

“If I were in a job search right now, I’d spend 90% of my time on informational interviews.”

I’ve written and talked a lot about informational interviews… just search JibberJobber Informational Interview and you’ll find plenty of information on that.

As a job seeker I thought I didn’t have anything to offer other job seekers. I didn’t know how to help them. But one day I realized I had something more valuable than gold… I had contacts. And I could make introductions. When you do this, you are really helping your friends in their job search.

Good luck, and share this message far and wide. We need a lot more people actually helping in the job search, and this is how we can do it.

 

 

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Techorama in Belgium #SoftSkills

May 21st, 2019

Two years ago I was in Antwerpen, Belgium, speaking at Techorama. I couldn’t go last year because of my job, but this year I’m back!  I miss my travel buddies, and I’m not staying 4.5 weeks this time, but I am staying long enough to hopefully acclimate to the time change. I was once in Istanbul speaking, and I flew in, spoke 8 hours, then flew out. It was horrible.  I’m here for a full week this time.

The Techorama conferences is one of the very best conferences I’ve seen. It is at a movie theater, which accomodates over 1,500 high tech attendees. The speakers they bring in are best in class… and the vibe is exciting. I appreciate the Techorama team letting me come back this year!

If you are in Europe and want to go to an awesome IT conference, check them out. October will be in Amsterdam… they have now expanded to two conferences a year!

Techorama Belgium 2019

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When JibberJobber Becomes a Small Business CRM #GigEconomy

May 20th, 2019

JibberJobber Dog Walk Side HustleA hundred years ago…. well, make that 13 years ago, when I was starting JibberJobber, I had a vision that this would NOT be a tool for your right-now job search, but that you would use it for the rest of your career.

When we launched the tagline said something about job search, but within a week we changed it to reflect that it was a career management tool. I was a firm believer that no one would land a dream job and keep it for the rest of their career… unless, of course, the rest of their career was two years away.

Then, as I got further and further down the entrepreneur (rabbit) hole, and I became enamored with creating multiple income streams, and I saw my users getting frustrated with switching jobs every 2 to 5 years, I realized that JibberJobber could serve them well not just in a job search, but in all of their income stream endeavors.

Of course. Because having multiple income streams is career management.

But when you are working in your dream job you don’t think that anything will happen… until it does. You don’t worry that you will have zero income, until it happens. And then you start thinking “You know, I should monetize my hobby.” Or, “I should start consulting,” or a catering business, or a photography business, or start selling real estate, or walking dogs, or whatever it is that you think of that you would like, and could do, to generate a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on the side.

Because one day “the side” might be “the main income.” That happened to me last year. I was making six figures at a salaried job and because of stuff outside of my control I got the boot. Nothing personal, of course, merely a business decision. The depth of that impersonal business decision would have been devastating if it weren’t for my side gigs.

That was the “job security” I had been writing about since 2006. And as bleak as my job search was in 2006, my 2018 was okay, even after losing a six figure job.

Here’s where JibberJobber kicks in: you might have thought of it as a job search tool… something you ignore after you land your job. But it’s more than that. It truly is your career management tool. It is the tool that can become more important than LinkedIn (good for leads) and Facebook (good for entertainment). For example:

Once you land your job, you continue to use JibberJobber as you network, meet new colleagues, etc.

At any time you use JibberJobber to organize your prospects and clients and past clients for your “side hustle,” whether that is car detailing, photography, art, baking, consulting… or a mix of side hustles.

I don’t want to sound like all I’m focused on is jobs and careers. But it’s like oxygen. We need to figure out how we are going to make a living. And if the employment landscape continues to change, and as the gig economy (aka side hustle) becomes more important to our financial security, we need to be more serious about our career management. No longer can we sit back and think “If I just do a good job, I’ll have a good job.” No. Things don’t work like that anymore. I’ve tried it more than once, both times it stung me.

Use JibberJobber for career management. Be serious about your future. Maintain the power, which lies in your network and networking skills, instead of passively giving control over 100% of your income to your boss. That gamble is too risky.

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JibberJobber Anniversary: JibberJobber, the Awkward Teen

May 17th, 2019

JibberJobber Awkward TeenThirteen.

We made it.

And now things get awkward.

Braces. A body that is growing and not quite there yet. The voice that breaks, not because of emotion but because of hormonal changes. Weird humor, and coming into ourselves.

That is who we are this year.

Not really… more than ever I feel like we are cleaner, faster, and better. More intuitive, and more feature-rich.

And I have grand plans for the future.

Oh wait, all of that aspiration is the same a 13 year old has. Ignoring the awkward, looking forward to the future with a drivers license, relationships, maybe even a job!!

Well, here we are. Thanks for being a part of the journey. And I hope the song lyrics are right: The best is yet to come!

 

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Have You Lost Hope #JobSearch

May 16th, 2019

Hope in the job searchYears ago, in 2006, I was in my own job search. It was horrible and pathetic at the same time.

I lost hope. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I was hopeless that I’d find the right job… a job I’d enjoy, that would pay what I needed, and that could last.

A year or so ago I wrote facebook post that said:

I didn’t understand hope until I lost all hope.

I didn’t understand the power of hope, and the debilitating nature of losing hope. A pivotal moment in my understanding of hope was in 2010, in Danville, California, when Dick Bolles, after watching one of my keynotes, said that his and my messages were they same: they were a message of hope. Dick said something like “We show people they have options. And options provides hope.”

I have thought about that since he said it.

Today I’m wondering what options we need.

We have options of how to make money. Imagine you are coming out of a company/job that you hated. Do you really want to work hard to find another job that is just as bad? I know people who have a major career change. Sometimes they make more money and are in a more fulfilling job. Other times they make less money but are much happier. You definitely have options one how you’ll make money. If you are looking for options on ways to make money, you can check out my book 51 Alternatives to a Real Job.

We have options on what we do in the job search. I was hopeless in part because my tactics weren’t producing any results. This was the bulk of my presentation: ideas and tactics that were different than what you were already doing.  I have spoken for hours on this. You can find options on my blog, and in my Pluralsight courses.

If you feel hopeless, let me suggest you start to list your options. If you feel like you have limited options, or your options are not effective or realistic, then talk to someone… perhaps someone at a job club or job ministry, a friend, another job seeker… if you need to, reach out to me. I’d love to look at your options.

 

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Network Because of the Hidden Job Market

May 14th, 2019

Hidden Job MarketThis is a true story. It happened to me just within the last two days. But, it has been happening with others every single day.

There’s this unicorny mythical concept called “the hidden job market.” It’s the Narnia of job search. If you are lucky enough, if you are chosen, then you get to be the protagonist and find this hidden job market. It’s probably something out of a Skittles commercial… lots of bright colors and sugary sweet goodness.

Wait. It’s not unicorny, nor is it mythical, and you don’t have to be special to find it. Here’s the story:

Sunday I was chatting with a family friend who is exceptionally talented and, while figuring out his next step, has been working at as a janitor at the local university. We were talking about his talents and skills and where he is heading, and I thought “this guy would be perfect at XYZ Company, and they would totally love him and his skills.” I mentioned this and said he should reach out to me, and I’d make an introduction.

So, he actually follows-up. Amazing, right? For every 10 people I say to send me an email or reminder or something, I probably get two people who actually do it.

As soon as he emails me (on Monday, so within 24 hours) I chat with an old colleague I have’t talked to for months who works in the department that this guy should work in. He happens to mention that yes, they actually will be looking for someone soon because of some changes coming up. Have this person, he says, send him and his boss (the department head) his resume.

I thought the team was fully staffed, having been kind of big and having recently brought some people on… but I just learned something that perhaps no one else in the company new. There was no posting or official opening… I doubt HR or the recruiting team even new about this opening. This is the epitome, the very definition, of the hidden job market. And the way to access it is through someone who knows about it.

This is why job coaches talk about networking so much.

If your network doesn’t know what you are looking for, or where you are looking, or that you are even looking, how in the world could they help you get into the hidden job market?

Here are some elements that made this story successful, so far:

  1. Even though this guy and I aren’t besties, we had the right conversation about his career and direction. Don’t think that you have to have a certain kind of relationship to have the right conversation that can lead to the next right conversation.
  2. When we had the conversation, he was vulnerable enough to let me know where he was at and what he was looking for. He could have just said he was good, and not anything more… but I learned enough to be able to help him.
  3. He sent me an email and text within 24 hours. This is called follow-up, and instead of second guessing himself and wondering if he really should do it, he just did it.
  4. He sent me some links to his stuff (his portfolio, if you will). He had branded and branding material that I was able to look at and have more confidence that he indeed had the right skills.
  5. I reached out to my network contact, at the right company, in the exact department, to a person who was in a position of authority. I guarantee that you know someone (who knows someone) who knows the right contact, at the right company, in the right department, with the right authority to make a hiring decision. But until you talk to people with the right message, you’ll never know.

The story is still unfolding. But I wanted to share this with you because too often we don’t have those conversations. Our messaging is off, or we second-guess whether we should even talk to another person, or we think we should apply to one more job posting online instead of getting out and talking to people… but the power of the hidden job market is that instead of being one of a hundred applications, this guy will be one of one applicants because no one else knows to even apply.

You want to be one of one, not one of a hundred. And that is the unicorny, skittley goodness of the hidden job market.

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The Job Search Feels Lonely

May 7th, 2019

Lonely Job SearchImagine walking to your mailbox right after the mailman comes. You are the first person in the neighborhood to get your mail. You are actually the only person around. All of the streets are empty. No kids, no dogs, no joggers. Just you.

The jobless loser.

That is an image burned in my mind from 2006, when I went out to get my mail. I looked around, and there was nothing. It was like a deserted town. Everyone was off doing meaningful things. Everyone had a purpose.

All I had was a dreary list of things to do, like go back to my laptop and look for openings. And email people, again, who weren’t returning my email. I could look over my target company list for the umpteenth time, trying to figure out how to crack into any company, all of which felt like Fort Knox.

Granted, I wasn’t doing the right things in my job search. I thought I was, but I later learned I was doing things that were “less effective.” Working on unimportant things, alone, was drudgery. It was discouraging. It led to depression.

I was lonely.

When I did get around people I found they had purpose. They had titles, income, they could pay their bills by themselves. I was not alone, but I was lonely.

When I was speaking a lot a few years back, right after my first book came out, I would go to job clubs around the US and see the loneliness in people’s eyes. They put on a smile the same way they put on nice clothes that morning: out of obligation. But most people at a job club are not what I’d be happy to be there.

They would have been much happier to be at an industry network meeting, with a business card that showed their title and company. Not at a job club, with a bunch of other people who for some reason didn’t have a job (but wanted one).

The smile masked the loneliness.

I KNOW.

I know what it is like. I knew for a lot longer than I thought I would, because my job search was long, drawn out.

The job search doesn’t have to be lonely. It really doesn’t.

I went to lunch with a guy who had at least three lunches a day. He wasn’t gluttonous. That was just how he networked. He wasn’t lonely. He was having the time of his life. He got to meet people and dig deep and really get to know them. He learned about them, their careers, companies they worked at, opportunities, and people they knew that he should get to know. He got introductions and expanded his network, all the while making real and meaningful connections.

He wasn’t as lonely as I was. He also wasn’t spending the time I spent on job boards, looking, hoping, waiting, and being ready.

I’m here to tell you, there are things that you can do to help you feel less lonely.

There are also things I can do to help you feel less lonely.

I’m working on something right now to help job seekers in a way that I haven’t since I started JibberJobber. I’m super excited about it, and will be dedicating the next few weeks to get it designed and built. I’ll talk more about it later, but if you have any questions, or suggestions about helping take the lonely out of the job search, let me know. I’m all ears.

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How Hard Is It To Put a Suit On?

May 6th, 2019

Wearing a suit (not me)Last week I had to wear a suit somewhere. I don’t remember where, but my 12 year old daughter was pretty impressed that it only took a few minutes to go from yard work clothes to a suit. Her comment gave me pause. She said: “Wow, dad, you are really good at putting a suit on.”

I’ve been mulling that comment over since she said it. At first I was like “well, I’ve been getting dressed by myself for most of my life.” And, “I’ve been wearing a suit (or dress clothes) for as long as I can remember.”

One of my thoughts was that a suit isn’t that much different from normal clothes. You put pants on. You put a belt on. You put a shirt on (buttoning a shirt isn’t that much harder than putting a t-shirt on). You put on socks and shoes, and a jacket (not hard to put a jacket on). Oh yeah, you put a tie on, but I’ve been tying my own tie for over 30 years. No big deal.

Nonetheless, she was impressed. It was either because I did it all in less than five minutes (and my hair is very short, so there wasn’t any grooming to do), or because I did it that fast and it looked good.

If I asked her to put on a suit it would take longer. She has worn a suit, I think, for a play she was in. Aside from that, I don’t think she has ever worn a suit. The steps, the attention to detail, are foreign to her.

When I talk to someone who has been in the job search for a few months I can talk about things like networking, “coffees,” informational interviews, follow-up, etc. and it’s not a big deal. Okay, most people aren’t doing, and don’t know how to do, informational interviews. But the rest of that stuff is stuff they know how to do. They’ve practiced it. They know what’s hard, what’s easy, what needs more planning and prep time and what they could wing. They are comfortable with those tasks, and they can do them relatively easily.

If I talk to someone who is just starting the job search and talk about anything job-search related, I would get more of the deer in the headlights look. Talk to people? About what??? Go to a networking meeting? Why??? Information interviews? I have no idea how to do that!!!

Here’s my point. The more you do it, the more you “practice” it, the better you’ll get. The easier it will be. The better your results will be.

One day, a noob job seeker will say to you, in awe, “wow, you do that so well/easily/fast! You are so good at that!”

You’ll get there. Just practice, every day, at this job search thing. It will get easier, and better, and then you’ll land a job.

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Leadership For Those Who Don’t Have The Title

May 3rd, 2019

Pluralsight Course: Leadership for Non-managersI just released my 33rd Pluralsight course (my course count is 32 because one of my courses was retired/replaced). This course, titled Leadership for Non-managers, is on one of my favorite topics: personal development, specifically with leadership. I believe that everyone could and should develop leadership qualities. I think you should get ready for opportunities that will come your way. Now is the time to start, not when you get the opportunity.

In this very short (1 hour and five minutes) course I talk about what leadership really is, and discuss an epiphany that I had that helped me rethink and reframe leadership. The epiphany helped me better understand the answer to “what makes a great leader?” I talk about leadership styles, which helps you understand why different leaders seem different, and I give solid examples of leadership characteristics.

My favorite module is the last one. It is only 14 minutes long but I have what I think is my best “how do I actually implement these ideas? How do I make progress?” discussions. I give a seven step plan that you can implement to become a leader, regardless of your current title.

JibberJobber users can get double the JibberJobber upgrade when they self-report for watching this course. Just click the button twice for every one time you watch it.

Enjoy!

 

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