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Of Camping and Careers

June 16th, 2021

Two weekends ago all the girls at my house left for a girls weekend, so I grabbed my youngest son and we went camping. It was an epic weekend of exploring some beautiful nature that is close to our house, wondering why we never went to any of these places. I came home and rested, excited to get back to work. Then, I had the opportunity to be a chaperone at a youth camp with my son and his friends, and once again took an extended weekend.

The first weekend of camping my son and I spent hours packing, planning, and shopping. We were well-prepared for our adventures (except the tent we took didn’t have tent poles… oops!). But the next weekend was different. I spent Monday through Wednesday night trying to get a full week of work in, catching up on projects, etc., and then had just a few hours scheduled for prepping for the chaperoning campout. I thought I had everything planned and, for the boys, I did. They had more food than they needed, we had all of our equipment, and it was a great time.

Except… well, in all my planning and prepping for the group campout, I neglected packing for me.

I’m an experienced camper. I’ve been camping since I was young. I pride myself on minimalist camping, where I don’t have to pack a ton of stuff that I never use. So, in my rush to get out the door I grabbed my toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and an extra t-shirt.

Seriously, that’s all I packed for me.  I was so focused on getting the whole camp ready that I neglected packing for me.

No big deal. It was a very hot weekend… and I’d be fine. So I thought.

That night was COLD. I was sitting on a chair chatting and shivering. I wished I had brought a sweatshirt. Instead, I was regretful.

This ties directly into my career experience around 2006. If you are a new reader you might not know that January 2006 was the epic point in my life where I lost my job, had a miserable, failed job search, and eventually came up with the idea for JibberJobber.

You see, I had neglected myself in my career. I took care of my companies, my teams, my products, my projects… I took care of all of those things just fine. But I didn’t pack my sweatshirt for myself. I completely neglected my network and my personal brand.

Just as I sat around chatting with my camp that evening, shivering and regretful, I sat around during my job search wondering why I wasn’t making any progress. It was because I had neglected me.

Look, I love it when job seekers come to JibberJobber, ready to organize and track and follow up.

I love it more when people who are preparing for an imminent job search come, putting in the work before they desperately need it.

My invitation to you is to get serious about your personal brand and your professional network. You can take care of everyone else, but do not neglect taking care of yourself. We’re here for that, and for you.

Let us know how we can help.

camping-june-2021-price-canyon

And just for fun, here’s a picture of some rope swings we explored … hard to find this stuff in the desert!

Mona rope swings

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Internet Job Search Do’s and Don’ts

June 3rd, 2021

Back in the 1900’s you found a job with the help of a newspaper. I lost my job in 2006 and guess what I did? I went to look for a newspaper, to see the classified section! I wanted to compare it to what I would find online.

I only bought one, and quickly realized the small list of jobs posted there were not a fit for me. I switched over to an internet job search, as had the rest of the world. The internet job search can be quite confusing. You have job board aggregators, like Indeed, which somehow compete with regular job boards like Monster. You have sites for salary comparison and sites to give you a peek into what it is really like to work there (like Glassdoor). You have networking sites like LinkedIn, and of course, sites to track your job search activities, like JibberJobber. All the tools and all the advice can get quite overwhelming, which I think is why people find themselves going back to the basics. In this post I will share five do’s and five don’ts of todays internet job search.

Which of the following is an Internet job search “do”?

Do #1: Get your LinkedIn Profile in order. 

This is probably the first, and one of the easiest, things to do. I’ve done tons of LinkedIn consultations over the years and I think I’ve seen one or two where I said, “This is pretty good! You don’t really need to update anything!” Every other profile had some easy-to-fix stuff. I want you to do this first because everything else you do in your job search, from the first networking conversation or applying to a job to the final interview, will likely circle back to your profile. I’ve been in interview rooms (on both sides of the table) where the interviewers have a printed copy of the resume and the top of the LinkedIn profile. I created a course on updating your LinkedIn profile on Pluralsight.

Do #2: FOLLOW UP! 

It’s easy to email multiple someones and apply to dozens of job postings, and then do it again and again. What’s not as easy is to follow up and show people you are actually, really, genuinely interested in whatever your first contact was about. I’ve found that I am busy. If you message me once your email (or call, or voice mail) might get lost in the next five things I’ve got to get to today. Figure out the right amount of follow up before you move on, but I’ll tell you: one contact is usually not enough.

Do #3: Use job boards for research. 

Yes, yes, of course you’ll use job boards to apply for jobs. It’s so easy and enticing to apply to jobs on job boards. Of course, I want you to try to network into those companies and opportunities, too. But this point is about another use for job boards: research. Looking at job postings should give you an excellent idea of where companies are looking to invest. Research through job boards can give you insight into industry trends, company needs, and changes in actual roles. Before you go to an interview, pull five or ten job descriptions for the title you are interviewing for and do a side-by-side comparison. That should give you a better range of vocabulary, expectations, etc. than you’ll get from one job description.

Do #4: Write better emails.

A big part of an online job search is electronic correspondence. This could be emails, text, chat, etc. There are definitely things you could do to communicate better online. A few things that come to mind are, first, be timely. I’m currently communicating with a service professional who is horrible at corresponding. When I send a message and get no reply I think “they don’t really care about my business.” As a job seeker that is definitely not the message you want to communicate. Also, learn to be concise in your communications… say what needs to be said and edit out superfluous stuff. Have a great subject line, and make sure you have a clear call to action.  I talk about all of this in my Effective Email Communication course on Pluralsight.

Do #5: Complement online with offline. 

I did a 100% online job search and it was a failure. There is no single silver bullet in the job search. You need to email, apply, research, network, talk to people one-on-one, follow-up, etc. Much of this can be done online but there’s no good replacement to develop a trusting relationship than phone calls and in-person meetings. Don’t be afraid to meet and talk to others. I know it doesn’t seem efficient but if you could get someone to actually like and trust you, which happens over various touchpoints (or, communications), you can have someone helping you in your job search, giving you referrals and introductions. That can be much more effective than applying for yet another job (and hearing nothing back). I’m guessing a 100% online job search strategy will be lonely, long, and disappointing.

Which of the following is an Internet job search “don’t”?

Don’t #1: Don’t rely exclusively on job boards.

This was easily my greatest mistake. I spent almost all of my time on job boards, looking and applying. A job board strategy has never been the #1 on any “how to find a job” list. Job boards have a place, for sure, but they should not be the bulk of your strategy. Instead of spending more time searching on job boards, figure out who you should network with, then pick up the phone and make some calls until you get to talk to those people. I know this is way scarier than sending emails, but being unemployed for a long time is scarier than picking up the phone.

Don’t #2: Don’t focus on just a few companies, or just one title. 

When I started my job search I had about three or four companies I knew I’d like to work in, and one or two job titles. It wasn’t until two or three weeks later I’d find a title that was new to me, and I was in love. I had been looking for the wrong thing the whole time. It’s hard to know what to look for if you’ve never heard of the title before, of course. I want you to keep your eyes open as you spend time online looking at and for jobs, and have an open mind as you come across titles that you might not have thought about.

Don’t #3: Don’t believe everything you read online.

I’m not talking about the news… I’m talking about jobs. If you were to look for openings at one of your target companies and see none, does that mean there are no opportunities? Most definitely not. Maybe they don’t post jobs online. Maybe they have a few openings but are asking their team who they would recommend. Just because you don’t find something doesn’t mean you should give up. Network into the organization, ask questions, find out what their needs are, and prepare yourself to have the best conversation with decision makers.

Don’t #4: Don’t stop, even if you hear nothing.

The job search can feel lonely, and you might be anxious to hear from people who could and should help you. One of my great disappointments was learning my sense of urgency was very high while the people I talked to had a lot of other things going on. For example, I could have used a job right away, which meant today or tomorrow, while some people I talked with thought right away meant next quarter. You need to keep working, keep trying, even if no one responds. Perhaps learn why people are not responding and change your tactics, but keep working it. You are bound to eventually talk to the right people.

Don’t #5: Don’t think you can throw all of your new skills away when you get your job. 

Once you land you will be tempted to stop networking, stop thinking about and working on your personal brand. I beg you to not do that. My invitation to you is to learn how to really be CEO of Me, Inc. This is your opportunity… to get serious about your relationships, your brand, your tactics, and do them even when you are employed. Help others, give to others, keep your ear to the ground, and pay attention to industry trends. Instead of acting like a job transition is a huge surprise, embrace it. It will be easier to embrace if you have been doing the work that goes into a successful job search. But please don’t stop everything related to career management.

So there you go… 10 ideas to have a better internet job search!

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Step Away from Your Job Search

June 1st, 2021

I recently wrote a tweet about “stepping away.” This is based on a project I was working on, and getting stuck. I could stare at the screen for minutes… er, hours, and make no progress. Or, I could walk away.

I chose to walk away and address it the following day, which inspired this tweet (I’m also including Jacqui’s response/forward):

I am reminded of my Big Fat Failed Job Search, from early 2006. The economy was great, talent was getting picked up quickly, and I was there all alone not even getting replies to emails or applications. I spent hour after hour getting nowhere. It was frustrating and depressing.

I later found myself on a podcast talking to some recruiters. One of them said the average job seeker spent something like ten hours a week on their job search. I said that didn’t sound right to me… the people I met at job clubs were definitely spending more than ten hours a week. I said I spent about ten hours a day, Monday through Saturday (that is 60 hours a week) on my job search. The guy yelled at me, insinuating that I wasn’t being honest, and saying that I was an anomaly.

I left that podcast in disbelief that people in my situation, hungry, desperate, and in need of a new job (and income) would only work on it ten hours a week.

I’m certainly not promoting 60 hours a week. It was exhausting, especially since I wasn’t making any progress. Of course, 60 hours a week of good tactics that were producing results would have been different. I’ve always known I should have done a job search differently… not spent nearly as much time on job boards and done some REAL networking and follow up (which is why I created the Job Search Program system). But one thing I wish I would have done back then was to STEP AWAY.

60 hours of unproductive, depressing work was not helpful.

If I could counsel my younger job seeker self I would say to step away, every day.

Figure out the most important things I needed to do each day, and do them early in the day. Then, instead of restlessly tinkering on job boards, hoping to find something, I’d say go out and do something productive.

Ideally it would be some networking thing… whether that is with a neighbor or on a call with someone I met at a networking event. Call someone, talk to someone, practice your branding pitches, ask how you could help them, develop and nurture a relationship, ask for introductions, learn about titles, roles, companies, opportunities, networking events, etc.

I spent about 100% of my time on my computer and about 0% of my time doing stuff from that last paragraph. Which is why 2006 was the year of my Big Fat Failed Job Search.

Step away and get your other stuff done. I’m sure you have laundry, dishes, maintenance, exercise, reading, etc. that you should do. Somewhere in the back of your brain you have something nagging at you. It sounds like “I really should do this… but…”

My “but” was that I felt I needed to do my job search until I got a job, and then I could get to those other things. Guess what? Neglect will catch up with you. Neglecting a drip could turn into thousands of dollars of water or mold damage. Neglecting pest control could turn into a multi-thousand dollar infestation problem. Neglecting relationships, neglecting your physical health, neglecting your mental health… all of these things come at a cost. Some costs are bearable. Other costs can be overwhelming.

I was in that situation because I had neglected my network and my personal brand. And I paid dearly for it.

I know how emotionally draining a job search is. I know how much anxiety there is. I know.

I also know how important it is to get your work done, and then STEP AWAY.

It’s hard to relax, and to enjoy… but you have to do that. You need to maintain some healthy balance in your life. You will be a better communicator and networker if you have this balance. Read, clean, fix, work, rest, relax, fish, hike… whatever you need to do to get that healthy balance.

Whenever I thought of any of this during my Big Fat Failed Job Search I had one thought:

If I spend time on anything other than landing my next job I am cheating on my family. I’m cheating on my future. 

That was unhealthy, untrue self-talk. If I had a coach, they would have told me to get off the computer. Ten hours a day of fiddling was not good. I’d much rather do one hour a day of very strategic techniques than 10 hours a day of fiddling. That’s the gist of the Job Search Program. And this is my formal invitation to you:

STEP AWAY!

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