Comment

How To: Hiding Reserved Lines When using Email2Log

July 30th, 2020

I’ve had a couple people ask me recently how to hide the “reserved lines” when they send an email to someone and use the amazing Email2Log feature in JibberJobber.

Email2WHUT?

When you use Email2Log, you send an email to someone and bcc the JibberJobber server. JibberJobber takes the email and will create a Log Entry for every recipient of the email. For example, when you email a recruiter a follow-up and use Email2Log, it will find that recruiter’s record and make a Log Entry out of your email.

If the recruiter isn’t in your database, we add the new contact and then create the Log Entry. You can imagine this saves tons of time.

A more advanced scenario: You want to create a Log Entry on the target company. We allow you to put a “reserved line” anywhwere in the email, such as this:

Company:eBay

When we get the email, we find that line and then make a Log Entry under your eBay company record. Don’t have one? We’ll create it, then add the Log Entry.

Problem?

The question I’ve fielded recently is: how do I keep the reserved lines from showing on the email? No one wants to send an email and have weird reserved lines showing up. So, here are some things you can do…

How?

The three ideas below are not JibberJobber-specific. They are just ways you can hide text in an email:
  1. Change the font size to super small… whatever the smallest would be. Doesn’t hide it but draws much less attention.
  2. Change the font color to white. This will hide it except from some printers, and in the case where the recipient selects the text (in which case it would show as white, where the background (when you select) is blue.
  3. Put it below the signature, or at the bottom of the thread. I think in an email people rarely read below the signature, and hardly go to the bottom of the thread.
BONUS: There is another way… you could actually NOT include the reserved lines (and don’t use Email2Log) when you send the email. Then, after you send it, forward the email to your Email2Log address with the reserved lines. That way we take the email, and create the records and Log Entries you are hoping to see in JibberJobber, and the recipient never sees it.

Leave a Comment »

Comment

Project Hope: The Job Search Program #InformationalInterviews

July 29th, 2020

In 2006 I lost my job. It was a devastating experience for me and my family. It drilled into the core of who I was, and how I valued myself. I was afraid of not being able to provide for my family. The stress had long-term impacts on how I think about money, the future, “job security,” etc.

Now, 14 years later, I have created a tool for job seekers to help them organize their job search. It is a great tool that I’ve invested 14 years and gobs of money into. Last year, though, I came out with what I think will be my biggest value to those in job search. It is a six-week program focused on helping job seekers get into interviews. You can learn more here: https://www.jibberjobber.com/hope

We called it, internally, Project Hope. As a job seeker I had lost hope. I was in a dark place. The discouragement was heavy. In Project Hope (aka, the Job Search Program) I tap into the brilliance of Mark LeBlanc’s decades of study and systems to help small businesses get more clients. With his permission I adapted some of his systems and teachings for job seekers. I created a six-week program that walks you through simple but important tasks to work on every day for 6 weeks. The program is simple, and forgiving, but there is work to do.

If you know someone who is in a job search, please share this with them. Proper actions can overpower despair. Results can bring someone out of hopelessness. Traction can lead them to their next role. The “introductory” price right now is $197. The feedback has been very favorable. And getting a “thank you” from people who have used this program and landed a job has been so rewarding. Here’s the link to share: https://www.jibberjobber.com/hope

 

Leave a Comment »

Comment

How To Get More Out Of Online Courses

July 15th, 2020

I was going to write how to get the MOST out of online courses, but I think that will mean different things to different people. More important, I want this post to start a conversation, and to start ideas, about how you can get any more value out of a course you watch, subscribe to, bought, etc.

Caveat: I am a Pluralsight author. I have over 35 courses in Pluralsight. Before Pluralsight I did 9 courses for JibberJobber (the company I own). And I’ve done hundreds of webinars + hundreds of on-stage presentations. I am biased towards Pluralsight, the leading course library for techies. Having said that, I don’t care if you are watching a course on LinkedIn Learning (formerly known as Lynda), Coursera, Udemy, Thinkster.io, Youtube, your company’s LMS, Udacity, General Assembly, etc. etc. etc. There are literally thousands of options. I’m not here to say what is best for you… you have to figure that out on your own.

Let’s talk about getting MORE out of online courses.

Actually watch the course you paid for (or have access to)

Why is it that we buy books and never read them? Oh, you thought it was just you? Nope. There’s even a Japanese word for this: Tsunkodu (doku = reading; tsun = to pile up).

I’m not saying you always have to be learning. I’m not even saying I won’t allow you downtime, or depending on life circumstances or stage of life that you can’t just take a break. If you need to take a break then take a break.

But at one point in your life you decided it would be a good idea to learn something. Whether it was cooking or coding you wanted to learn a new skills or fact or thought process, or just see what the “experts” are saying.

A quick google translate shows that “course” is kōsu in Japanese. So let’s not accumulate courses, not ever watch them, and then have the word tsunkōsu (to pile up courses) apply to us! (I totally made that up, hope it’s not some offensive word!)

Make the time to actually make watch your course. You owe it to yourself. Maybe that means you stop buying new stuff until you go through what you already have.

Turn off distractions

In my listening course I invite people to, right now, turn off all distractions. Other windows, browsers, their email, their Slack and Teams, and even their phone. Let’s just be honest with ourselves… if we allow these distractions to stay up we might… no, we will miss stuff. If you are going to “invest” the time in yourself and watch a course, really do it right the first time.

Personally, if I leave my distractions up during a course, and I switch my attention even for a nanosecond, I get lost in the course. I miss something, I get behind, etc. I know it is against our super power to “multitask,” but please, turn off your distractions and give the course your full attention.

Take notes

I don’t care if you take them on your computer, on paper, or with a chisel on a rock tablet… take notes. Here’s the weird thing: I take lots of notes… but I hardly ever refer back to them. Even when I was in school I would not… for some reason I didn’t understand, I could not go back into my notes. But just writing things down seemed to help my retention. I heard retention is better when you hand write things instead of type things… but I don’g care how you take notes. Just take notes.

You might even look up some note-taking tips online. I’m not talking about learning shorthand, but there are things you can do to really bring out certain parts of your notes. For me, I use an empty box (square) to designate a “do this later” task. It is one of the most important tactics I use when taking notes. Later, I can easily scan through my notes and look for boxes, then see what I need to follow-up on. When I do the thing, I cross it out or put a check in the empty box.

Practice what you learn

Your notes should include actionable tasks to put into practice things from the course. Whether it is cutting code or cutting onions, practicing something artistic, speaking (on stage or on a webinar), listening, or using a new phrase to be more assertive, practice it.

In some of my Pluralsight courses I end my modules with “if you’ve been taking notes you might have written down some of these things to do….” and then I tell you five or six actionable things to practice. Every time you watch any part of a course you should walk away with your own list of “I’m going to try this thing.” If you are watching a technical course it might be easy to pause the course and try the thing they are showing you. If you watch my “Becoming a Better Listener” course you’ll have to figure out when you could practice active listening, or any of the tactics I share there.

But really practice the tactics. There’s this idea that we retain or really understand things based on doing different things (poorly written I know, but hang with me). There are models you can find on google images that show the difference in learning from passive to active listening tactics. If you just watch a lecture you learn or retain 5% of the stuff (numbers vary, I’m sure, based on who did the model). If you read you retain 10%. If you hear and see (audio-visual) you retain 20%. That is 4x more than just being in a lecture (although I don’t know what that means… a lecture has both audio and visual). Anyway, if you see a demonstration you retain 30% (that is why we love the science teachers who light things on fire in the classroom). Discussion increases to 50% (wasn’t he case with me in school… I was more aloof). Practice raised it to 75%. I think if you practice multiple times, over time, you can work your way to a mastery level.

Teach what you learn

In the model I talked about in the last paragraph the last step was to teach others. The retention rate is supposedly 90%. I know when I have to get to teach others I might spend hours and hours and hours reading, researching, thinking of questions, thinking about my audience and how to best present, and learn a ton more than I get to actually talk about. I heard someone say that in corporate training it takes 40 hours of prep time to do a one hour presentation. Yuck, I thought, I’m never going into that field.

And yet here I am.

I love spending the 40 hours learning. Thinking. Creatively devising ways to communicate concepts that will make an impact. My only regret is that once I’m done with my 1 hour presentation I feel like there is so much more to learn and do, and I couldn’t communicate it all. But maybe, just maybe, I was able to inspire the audience to want to learn more.

Teaching others gives you the opportunity to dig way deeper than just consuming content (from a lecture, supposedly at 5% retention effectiveness). How can you do this? Invite a group of people to a brown bag lunch and share what you learned in 30 to 45 minutes. Don’t stress about YOU, and how good you are, and about how this is out of your comfort zone. Once you send the invite, and you are not obligated, I bet you go through the course again with more focus and intention, thinking about what and how you will teach. It’s an awesome experience.

Debrief the course with someone else

Debriefing was a foreign concept to me until about 10 or so years ago when I was involved in youth government and leadership simulations. We spent four days running around a building simulating government relations, negotiations, etc. It was very intense and heated, and most everyone got really involved in the simulation. Then, on the last day, we’d wrap up with a “debrief” that could last two or three hours.

I thought it was a little weird and maybe a waste of time… until I did my first one. The debrief became my favorite part of simulations. Debriefing is where we were able to step aside from the simulation, back into the real world, and talk about what we had learned. Why we made decisions, why we followed certain people, why alliances were (or weren’t) formed. We learned what happened from different perspectives, and got time to analyze what the heck just happened. There were a lot of aha moments as people shared their insights and perspectives.

When I create my courses I hope, in my wildest dreams, that a group of people watch the course individually and then come together in a room and beat up my talking points. Not to prove or disprove my points, but to talk about them as a team. To come to a higher truth for that team, and figure out how they could apply the points and principles individually and as a team. I love to get feedback, and to know that teams have taken my course to a much higher level by talking about it. Figuring out what things they could/should implement in their organization and what things didn’t apply to them. And, because of that conversation, they could figure out their own tactics and techniques that I didn’t even talk about, and become stronger.

This might not happen at a team level but you could certainly talk to someone over lunch. “Hey, I just watched this really interesting course and I want to talk about some of the ideas with you. Can we get together for lunch?” Or, on a webinar. Or, with a group of people who have watched the course, even if they are from different departments. It’s like a book club, where you learn from others, see what stuck out to them, understand how they are thinking about implementing some of the ideas.

I think this conversation that happens in a debrief increases the value of a course exponentially. So don’t just one-and-done watch a course… talk about it with someone!

Here are some ideas from Twitter

I like this idea from Eliud… watch other courses on the same topic to get different perspectives.


Jeremy talks about really budget the right amount of time… this is smart because if you think it will take an hour but you keep pausing it you might think “I’m never going to finish this long course.” But you need to respect how you learn.

Jeremy and John both recommend breaking the course into parts, instead of spending a lot of time just to plow through:

Winnie emphasizes scheduling time out… actually block it out on your calendar! And if you have the list of KSAs you might understand more of the context of the course.

Rachel says (in my own words) to respect yourself, and the time you are investing into the course:

Leo is talking to course creators, but let me flip the coin on this and say that YOU (the learner) can put reminders in your calendar to either pick up where you left off, or to practice certain things, etc. Putting reminders in your calendar shows you really want to learn/master the material, and improve.

Dave’s four-point list is great, and reinforces everything in this post:

I think Colyn is talking to course creators or platforms, but if you agree you can see that debriefing and practicing after watching a course are just critical:

Alright, your turn… what do YOU do to get more out of online courses?

2 Comments »

Comment

What Is JibberJobber (in videos)? A Job Search CRM…

July 13th, 2020

I was recently asked for some video explainers for JibberJobber, prior to doing a presentation to a job club. This is what I sent:

This 4 minute overview explains what JibberJobber is and how to not be overwhelmed (or, to focus on the most important parts of JibberJobber):

The one minute video on the homepage gives a conceptual overview:

This 4 minute introduction video gives a quick overview of JibberJobber, and emphasizes the Getting Started videos:

If nothing else, go through the Getting Started Videos table of content page to see what topics you might be interested in

Leave a Comment »

Comment

Bad News About the LinkedIn Export (email addresses)

July 10th, 2020

Recently I’ve had a few people ask about downloading their contact info from LinkedIn but not seeing email addresses. I guess I’ve been living under a rock since November 2018… obviously I hadn’t played around with this since then.

Years ago I wrote a post on how to export your Contacts from LinkedIn. They have moved links and reworded things, making it hard to do, so I got to update that post every once in a while. I figured since I was getting these questions I’d update it again. Here’s the post: How To: Import Contacts From LinkedIn (Step One is most applicable although Step Two should be interesting to avoid GIGO).

So, I’m a little embarrassed to say I wasn’t up on the news that they cut off the emails back in 2018. Like I say in that post, it’s their sandbox, and we are just guests. They get to make all the rules and take away toys.

Many people who start using JibberJobber like to import their contacts from LinkedIn. It feels better to start with hundreds or thousands of contacts in JibberJobber than to start from scratch and build one by one. It’s like a little security blanket.

I propose, however, that you don’t do that.

I wrote about my thought process here: JibberJobber: The Case To Import Or Not.

I think importing hundreds or thousands of contacts gives you a false sense of security or accomplishment, specifically when it comes to the job search.

So what, then, would I do?

Simple: I would network with people, and make contact with them. This will almost always involve an email. I’ll email them to say “Hey, remember me? I want to talk,” or I’ll email them to say “Thanks for the great chat we had this morning!” Either way, they’ll get an email.

I’ll get their email address from their LinkedIn profile… that’s easy enough to do (one by one… not in bulk). But really, there aren’t shortcuts in one-on-one networking. And if I’m going to send an email as I network I might as well add the contact to JibberJobber then. I’ll use the Email2Log feature which allows me to put a special email address in the BCC field, at which time their name, email address, and the email content all go into JibberJobber.

One at a time, but I’m assured that the people I put in JibberJobber are relevant to me and my networking and my job search right now.

Will I go through my contacts in LinkedIn? Yes, absolutely. Will I use LinkedIn as I research? Of course. I’ll find their email address and hopefully, if they’ve updated their profile, see their most current title/company. But when I start to actually have conversations with them is when they’ll end up in JibberJobber.

Remember, you (as a job seeker) are doing strategic, purposeful networking. This is with people who might help introduce you to the right person as well as with people who can help you networking into a company.

Focus more on this type of networking, and informational interviews, than on worrying about automating and sending out mass messages.

I wish I had better news for you but these are their policies. Our task, as job seekers, is to work with what we have to accomplish what we need to… and we are still doing pretty well!

Leave a Comment »

Comment

“Daddy, are you going to lose your job?”

July 9th, 2020

I finally got around to watching Moneyball. I’m only half way through so no spoilers…!

There’s a scene in the first half were things are not going well for Billy Beane, the main character played by Brad Pitt. Beane took a leap of faith on the econ nerd from Yale and constructed a team of what were apparently considered misfits. Against common sense and the advice of his scouts, they went forward and lost a lot of games. Things were bad and of course the internet was not kind.

Billy Beane’s daughter, Casey Beane, was chatting at her dad’s house one night while he was serving her ice cream and asked,

“Daddy are you going to lose your job?”

It is hard to feel sorry for someone who makes a ton of money, and will likely be fine financially, and since he became a main character of a movie played by Brad Freaking Pitt, well, I didn’t feel sorry for him.

Okay, maybe a little.

Alright, honestly, when Casey asked the question I got all the feels. My kids never asked me if I was going to lose my job because they wouldn’t have known about all the crap going on at work. But to hear that 12 year old girl as, with genuine concern, if her daddy (and their family) was going to be alright, it hit me.

JibberJobber Afraid Lose Job

From my perspective it hit me because losing a job can be so devastating. It should be life changing. It feels derailing.

From the kids perspective you take all of your sense of normalcy and throw it out the window. Forget about dance classes and violin lessons… the entire ecosystem of whatever-your-normal is is about to change big time. Even if it doesn’t change, there is a huge dark cloud of unknown that is uncomfortable for everyone and tangible enough for even the kids to feel.

Losing your job is one of the top five most stressful things to go through, according to studies.

I submit that it doesn’t have to be.

I think it is so stressful because in the 1900’s there were ways to not lose your job. When companies had more loyalty towards their employees, and bosses tended to stick with employees, and pensions to encourage staying at one job, losing a job was indeed a life changing event that could have long lasting repercussions.

Today, though, I’m going to say that losing your job is NORMAL.

It happens all the time.

It happened to tens of thousands of people one day when the Enron fantasy died.

It happened in the recession of 2008, and again in the Covid quarantine.

It happens in cities where plants shut down. Losing jobs just happens, and it happens with more frequency now than what we are used to.

Because of that I think we need to rethink what a job loss means. Heck, I think we need to rethink what a job is!

I came to realize a job is simply a revenue stream. You can have more than one. If you lose one, and the others are healthy, then losing that one is not as bad. You can also find new revenue streams. Lose one, find one. Lose two, find three. There’s no law that says you can’t find a new one. Just mental barriers.

We need to release the stigma associated with job loss. I don’t think we’ll do that as a society (although gaps on resumes and changing jobs every few years is not as taboo as it used to be, thank goodness!), but you can certainly do it for yourself.

Stop thinking you are broken.

Stop thinking you are a loser.

Stop thinking you are hopeless, or that you are in a hopeless situation.

I had to be around other accomplished professionals who were out of work to learn that no, I was not a loser or broken. I was just in a situation that plenty of people find themselves in.

This is not a time to doubt yourself because you need confidence to be successful in your job search.

Daddy, or mommy, may have lost their job, but that isn’t the end of the world. It’s just a step on this weird path we call our career. Stigma free.

 

 

See Comments / Leave a Comment »

Comment

The Job Search: Steak or Bacon?

July 8th, 2020

I love cooking.

When I was young I wanted to be a professional chef. Not because I knew what that mean, only because I loved creating things in the kitchen. My mom instilled a love of cooking in me. I wasn’t much a baking aficionado, I was interested in doing entrees and stuff like that. I have fond memories of watching Wok with Yan back in the 80’s, laughing at this super hilarious guy. We’d make a list of ingredients, shop for them, and then cook up some marvels.

Those were the (simple) days!

Today I still love getting into a kitchen and creating. I will print off five or so different recipes for the same dish, then pick and choose my favorite ideas from each recipe. I love experimenting. My latest is a pretty simple attempt at making jalapeno poppers, which don’t last even a few minutes at my house.

I loved learning how to cook steak. I have done it on a grill, on a smoker, in a broiler, and on a pan. I choose a different method depending on the time I have and what I have going on. If I’m pretty busy I can through them on a smoker… if I want the amazing crisp outside I’ll pan fry or broil.

JibberJobber Steak

I remember learning that the best way to cook a steak (I like medium rare) was with really high heat. Especially at the beginning, you should sear the sides of the steak to keep the juices in. I’m not much of a BBQ or roast person but I love a good seared steak!

I thought I knew how to cook bacon. I love crispy bacon… not burned, but not soggy. My wife turned me on to the BEST way to cook bacon: in the oven.

I thought that was blasphemous. Bacon should be pan fried, shouldn’t it? How else do you get just the right crisp than to cook it in hot pan in its own fat?

Okay, now I’m hungry.

I learned, though, that if you cook bacon in an oven you can get PERFECT bacon every single time without babysitting it. I line bacon on a cookie sheet, then put it a non-pre-heated oven. That is important! Then, I turn the oven to 425 and set the timer for 20 to 25 minutes (depending on how thick the cut is). Once you figure out your time you will get perfect bacon and your life will be changed forever.

Sometimes I don’t want to do a full pan of bacon, so I pan fry. Just depends on my mood, I guess. I learned the best way to pan fry bacon is (a) starting from a not-hot pan, and (b) cook on very low. This goes against everything I would have guessed. It still takes a while, but that’s okay, as long as I plan ahead. In about 25 minutes I can have perfect, crispy bacon.

JibberJobber Bacon

YUM.

Steak: Super high heat. Some say the hotter the better.

Bacon: start cold and keep low.

Let’s transition to the job search. I have heard 65% of jobs are found through networking. Something like that… the number changes depending on who you talk to.

I had lunch with a guy who landed an amazing job. I asked him how he got it… for sure through networking, right? Nope. He found it online, applied, and landed it. Contrary to all of the stats and best-practices advice, he didn’t network in.

How do you get a burger flipping or taco filling job? Differently than you get an executive or board role!

How do you get a job as a programmer or a marketer or manager? Differently than a laborer or data entry clerk or front desk receptionist.

Sure, you could network into any of those roles. But try and look for a burger flipper entry level job on a job board. You’ll have as much luck there as you will finding the board of director roles.

JibberJobber Burger

You get a burger job by walking into the restaurant and asking for an application.

You get a board role by having other board members or owners know who you are, which can happen because of your network, or the press on you, or your past company exits.

Steak vs. bacon. One isn’t better than the other… but they are different approaches.

When I was in My Big Job Search (the failed one) I read a lot of articles about job search. Many came across as one-size-fits-all. None, I thought, were 100% applicable to me. I needed to learn a little from this one and a little from that one and then put together my own eclectic strategy.

When you get job search advice and just know it isn’t your cup of tea, learn what you can and move on. Tuck away the good stuff to include in your own strategy. If something works wonders for one person, don’t assume it will work wonders for you.

You have to create your own strategy. 

Having said that, in both the bacon and steak example we need heat. There are some constants for everyone. You should be presentable, and be able to communicate enough to get through an interview. You should be able to do the job (see my post about hard skills and soft skills).

There is not one single silver bullet, or one solution for everyone. The job search is complicated because we are dealing with different industries, and humans making decisions, and different levels and expectations and regions and _________. There are a lot of fickle variables. So learn what you can from multiple sources, create your own system that works for your situation, and continually improve as you learn more.

You can do this. 

Leave a Comment »

Comment

Almost Everything Comes and Goes

July 7th, 2020

Jobs come and go.

Great bosses come and go.

Crappy bosses come and go.

Companies come and go

Economic swings come and go.

Health comes and goes.

Relationships come and go.

Self esteem comes and goes.

Just about everything comes and goes.

When good things come I tend to settle into comfortable. When bad things come I tend to panic.

JibberJobber Change Come and Go

Stephen

My thinking about how much I control things have shifted since I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book. I think I read it in 1991 and was shocked at what I was learning. Focus on what you can… what is in your circle of influence. #profound

One of the most fascinating parts of the book was when Stephen talked about your “center.” You may not know that Stephen Covey died at 79 after a bicycle/car accident. He lived a very full life and impacted probably tens of millions of people. I was one of them.

Stephen was a religious man who valued his family. I never met him, although in 1991 he was one of the very few people I would have loved to meet and talk with. I did, however, stay a few nights with his personal secretary. She was the mom of a friend. I didn’t know it until the very last hour I was with them. If I had known who she was I would have begged for time on his calendar. Oh well.

Anyway, when Stephen talked about what your center is he offered up some ideas that many people have at their center. Their religion, their family, their spouse, their job title. I’ve seen people put their kids, their politics, their status in the community, their smarts, their wallet, and other such things as their center.

See the problem?

Money can come and go. Smarts can come and go. Status can come and go. What your political leaning represents can come and go (or shift). Your relationship with your kids can come and go. Things can change with your spouse or your religion or … the list goes on.

When I was in high school I had great hair (although I didn’t like it). Now I’m balding in ways that suck. My hair came and it went.

If my hair were my center I would have been top of the world as a teen, and bottom of the world as an adult.

Devastation

I know how devastating a job loss can be. I lived through it. It was the longest low period in my life. My ability to be a breadwinner was part of my center. My job title was my identity. My team provided me confidence. My wins at work gave me validation.

When “a room full of chickens**” made the decision to let me go I lost it all. I lost salary (which was too low anyway) and benefits (which were pretty weak). I lost my identity, confidence and validation.

I did not lose my wife or kids. I did not lose my soul or my core beliefs. Because of parents who were in a position to help I did not lose my home or car.

Losing parts of my centers caused me to flounder. But over time I recovered. I got HOPE back in my life. I refigured out why I was on earth, why I was alive, and how I could best use what I had to find a purpose.

Please think about this concept of centers. A job loss is a great, jarring time to really think about WHO you are and WHY you are and WHAT you can and should do. It’s not fun at all, but it’s a valuable experience to work through.

P.S.

** The room full of chickens remark comes from my idea that not one person would have decided to lay me off, but all together, in group think, they set aside logic and what they knew to be right and were persuaded to make a stupid decision. I have on good authority that that decision ended up costing the organization easily six, maybe seven figures. Karma, baby, karma.

Leave a Comment »

Comment

Understanding Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills #careers

July 2nd, 2020

When I’ve hired, or evaluated candidates, in the past, I consider hard skills and soft skills. There’s lots of talk about soft skills and how important they are. At a point they supposedly become more important than hard skills. I want to share some important thoughts to help you put the two into perspective.

I recognize that some people don’t like the phrases “hard skills” and “soft skills.” I’ll let them debate that… for the purpose of this post it doesn’t matter what we call them… just imagine whatever favorite phrases you want :p

HARD SKILLS

Hard skills are the skills you need to do the job. If you are a widget maker and need to run machinery, can you run the machinery? Have you had training? Do you have certificates or licenses?

If you need to pull levers, how many times have you pulled levers? How many levers have you pulled in your life? Have the levers been different colors, or different sizes?

If you program, which languages do you know, and how proficient are you at those languages?

If you write (ie, a marketer), how much have you written? Do you write blog posts, or ebooks, or copy for websites, or manuals?

If you train people, what methodologies do you use? What size is your idea group, etc.

Hard skills can usually be trained in a classroom and on the job. You likely can learn hard skills for the rest of your career. I had some plumbing work done recently and the licensed journeyman plumber was stuck… he called in his mentor, a master plumber. They were both licensed but the master plumber had 30 years on the job and had seen a lot more than the younger journeyman. I appreciated that the journeyman plumber was wise enough to recognize he had reached his limits and wanted to consult with someone more expert.

JibberJobber Hard Skills

Hard skills can be hard to define. Usually we say things like intermediate or expert to describe our hard skills, but those descriptors can be meaningless. I know a programmer who said he was intermediate at a certain language but I would have said he was expert. There is too much subjectivity from the person self-assessing and too much interpretation from the person on the receiving end.

Tangent: This is why Pluralsight Skills IQ is so awesome for techies. Instead of arbitrarilly guessing your proficiency you can essentially rank yourself against thousands of peers and come up with a number that tells you what percentile you fall in. It’s way less subjective. If you can find something like that, to assess yourself against others, DO IT. Pluralsight Skill IQ is free, btw.

When Hard Skills Are Important

As a hiring manager I *might* ask you about your hard skills in an interview. If I do, it’s usually in the first interview, and less with each interview that follows.

I say might because I might have already looked you up and done a bunch of research on you before you come in. This is a critical concept… before you get an invitation to the interview I will have already answered this question:

Can this candidate do the job?

This is 100% a hard skills question. My invitation to you is this: communicate the answer to this BEFORE you even get to the interview.

How do you do that? There are a few elegant ways:

  1. Have a portfolio. A portfolio is not just for artists. You should be able to create some kind of documentation or collection of projects or thoughts or writing to showcase your work. If you can’t showcase your work because of confidentiality then here’s a simple suggestion: write some articles on LinkedIn or Medium or your own blog. The articles should showcase your professional breadth and depth and passion and experience. When I see your portfolio I should say “yep, this person can obviously do the job. The experience and passion and thoughtfulness is here.”
  2. Have testimonials. You can tell me you are qualified, but what if you had peers, colleagues, bosses, and customers tell me how good you are? There are many ways to collect testimonials… I usually recommend LinkedIn Recommendations. This is something you can’t fabricate or falsify, and they are pretty easy to get. I talk about how to do this in one of my LinkedIn courses on Pluralsight (one or two, I can’t remember which). Here’s a quick tip: too often recommendations are too generic and weak. I suggest you ask for a recommendation and say “It might read something like this” … and then hit the main points you want to hit (bringing out specific hard skills). I cover this in my course, but #AMA.
  3. Have ministories. In my personal branding course on Pluralsight I talk about crafting ministories… I think I talk about it in the LinkedIn profile course as well. These are SO powerful to (a) claim you have a skill, or can do a thing, and then (b) substantiate and quantify your claim using a simple story. These should be used on your LinkedIn profile, other online places where you market yourself, in social media interactions (like a post on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn), when you network with others face to face, and definitely in interviews.

Make those three things easy to find and understand.

The most important thing I want to communicate about hard skills is that they help you get into the interview. I do not ask you to an interview to see if you can do the job. By the time I have you in the room I assume you can do the job, but I might ask some qualifying questions to dig deeper into your hard skills.

BONUS: if you can quantify the value of your hard skills, all the better. When you show me you can do a certain job with a certain proficiency and you understand you bring value, I LIKE THAT.

SOFT SKILLS

Soft skills is the funny-named cousin to hard skills. This is the one I hear people saying “we need to rename that!” I don’t care what it is called but society calls it soft skills and I doubt we’ll see that change anytime soon.

JibberJobber Soft Skills

Soft skills are harder to quantify. “I’m a really good presenter” is very subjective. Too subjective. I once interviewed someone who was an excellent presenter… until this person did a presentation. I learned they thought they were excellent but I was cringing a lot.

It’s a lot easier to quantify proficiency in hard skills because we have tests and assessments, but there isn’t really a test or assessment for presenting. A presentation received very well by one person might have been received horrible by another person.

A lot of times soft skills are just kind of … felt. Perceived. Gut reaction. You might tell me you are a great listener but when we actually talk you do all of the talking, talk over me, and don’t give me a chance to talk at all. I’ve been there. It can be equally funny and frustrating.

Soft skills have to do with cultural fit. Is your communication style and demeanor a good fit for our team or our culture? I hired someone once who I thought was a fantastic fit… turned out they were a horrible worker. I have passed over people who had soft skills that were just not a good fit… either too quiet or too loud. This wasn’t anything I could read on a resume or LinkedIn profile… this is something I had to experience myself.

My courses on Pluralsight are all about soft skills… 36 courses and counting. How to communicate outbound (in writing, presenting, talking, etc.) and how to communicate inbound (becoming a better listener is one of my most popular courses)… there are probably a couple hundred soft skills courses on Pluralsight to choose from. If you want a 30 day pass hit me up and I’ll see if I can get you one.

When Soft Skills Are Important

A few months ago I was chatting with my fifteen year old who was asking what I do for Pluralsight. I told her I create soft skills courses…. courses on communicating, listening, working with different personalities, emotional intelligence, and job search and career management. She said “oh, most of Pluralsight’s courses teach people how to do the job and your courses help them get jobs and promotions!”

YES!

I wish I had written down word-for-word what she said because it was better than what I just wrote, but that’s the idea.

Soft skills help you get the job.

Soft skills help you get promotions.

When I bring you in for an interview I want to know if you will be a good addition to our team. I want to know if you’ll be as “cultural fit.” That doesn’t mean I want to hire you if you will fit in… maybe I’m looking for someone to shake things up and bring us up a few notches. But I definitely want to know about your likability or coolness factor. I’m not looking for the most popular or likable person, but I certainly want to know if I’ll like working with you.

My team and culture are different than where you just left. I don’t want to go backwards on our team environment, for sure. The only way I can really assess that is by bringing you in and chatting with you. Behavioral questions give me an insight into your soft skills and communication. Listening and watching how you think, react, respond, and treat others gives me insight into your soft skills.

By the end of the first interview I usually know whether you can do the job or not (see hard skills, above). I will have an idea of your soft skills, and whether I think I’d like to work with you or not. If I think you can do the job and you might be a good fit, and I might like working with you, you make hte cut and might come in for another interview. Usually this is with a panel, or with other people. Of course they’ll ask about hard skills because they haven’t done the same level of research on you as I have, and they’ll want to know “can this person do the job?” But when we all circle back and talk about the candidates I think most people will come back with their gut feel. By that stage everyone should be qualified to do the job, so hard skills isn’t much of the conversation… we tend to focus on who we “like.”

How does someone “like” you in an interview when they know you can do the job? It comes down to your soft skills. Your emotional intelligence. Your likability.

The Great Thing About Hard Skills and Soft Skills

I think the great thing, and a hopeful message, is that you can learn and improve your hard skills.

And, you can work on and improve your soft skills.

Improvement in either area will take time and practice and intention. But you can definitely improve.

And that is why I hope to continue creating courses for you.

 

Leave a Comment »

Comment

If I Were In A Job Search Today…

July 1st, 2020

A friend called me asking for advice for a friend who has been out of work for the last two months. I told him I’d write a post with my recommendations for a job seeker in today’s environment.

Stay organized in your job search

In 2006 I conceptualized JibberJobber as a CRM for job seekers. Today, people use JibberJobber as a job search spreadsheet replacement. If you are networking at all, and are applying to jobs and interviewing, a spreadsheet gets too cluttered. JibberJobber works similar to the software a salesperson uses to keep track of target companies, prospects, meetings, follow-up, etc. The cost is $60/year.

Learn how to job search

I have created almost three dozen soft skills and career courses for Pluralsight, a leading online continuing education organization. I have courses on personal branding, informational interviews, communicating with different personalities (a critical concept for job seekers), listening skills (super critical as you network and interview), creating a better LinkedIn profile, and having a proactive strategy on LinkedIn. Those are just 6 of 36 courses… if you are interested in my courses (or anything on Pluralsight) hit me up and I might have a 30 day pass available for you.

BONUS: When you watch any Jason Alba course on Pluralsight you can self-report on JibberJobber and we’ll give you free JibberJobber upgrades. If you watch a course a day for the duration of the 30 day pass you can earn 90 days of premium on JibberJobber… making both Pluralsight and JibberJobber free to you!

Focus on networking and informational interviews

“If I had to start a job search today I would spend 90% of my time in informational interviews.” I remember saying that on stage years ago, and it shocked me. But I stand by it, even now, having thought about it for years. Informational interviews is probably the closest silver bullet secret weapon you’ll find in job searching. It is all about networking the right way.

While I love courses, I think this is a very powerful program. Basically, for six weeks I give you three things to do every day. I was talking to someone who just landed a job, while using JibberJobber and the 6 week Job Search Program, and he told me that having the three tasks per day helped him stay on track with the basics. This program is the culmination of 14 years of learning about how to help people get jobs. It is one of the best things I’ve come up with. The program is $197 for now (normally $497) and includes a year of JibberJobber. Click here to learn more.

Do research (BUT NETWORK)

Use job boards. Really. Experts say they aren’t the most effective way to land a job and I agree. In my job search I was obsessed with finding and applying to jobs online. I sat on my computer searching and refreshing and hoping and wanting to be the first to apply. Out of a ten hour day of job search (which I did Monday through Saturday) I spent most of my time on job boards. It was an utter waste of time… with one exception: I learned a lot about what was going on.

I learned which companies were hiring, I learned some names of hiring managers and recruiters I should have reached out to, and I learned what roles were in demand. I also learned, from job descriptions, what I needed to brush up on and be able to talk about. If I were in a job search today I would scour job boards and learn, but not waste time applying. Sure I would apply here and there, but not obsessively like I did before. Use job boards as the tool they are, and then NETWORK. Have smarter conversations and smarter interviews because you are current.

Understand what is happening

They say the job search is a numbers game. I say the job search is a head game. I didn’t get that until I started going to job search network meetings (I know, that was so pre-Corona!). I thought I was broken. I thought I was a loser. I secluded myself, which was bad, and I invested all of my time applying to jobs online, not getting any positive results, which was super bad. I was in a bad place, mentally. When I went to a job club and was listening to the other 30 second elevator pitches I finally realized I was neither broken nor a loser. I was simply in a weird situation that plenty of other qualified unbroken people were in.

Not having the right perspective put me in a bad place. It wasn’t truth… is was misperception. You need to have the right perspective and understanding of what is going on or it will mess with you.

I realize today’s economy is not ideal. It is horrid. It is scary. But companies are hiring. Recruiters still have jobs to fill. Executives need help. It is a different job search than it was a few months ago, but it is not impossible.

Reach out to me if I can help… 

 

Leave a Comment »