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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What Will 2015 Hold For You? 2015 Theme: The Year of the Cookie

January 2nd, 2015

December was really interesting – we had a lot more signups and upgrades than what we normally saw in the last few Decembers.  I can tell that people are getting more serious about their personal career management.

I invite you to make 2015 a very purposeful year for personal and professional satisfaction.  This means that instead of letting things just happen to and around you, you empower yourself.

In a recent post on this blog, and an article on LinkedIn, I said that if you are working with a boss who drives you crazy (or, is an idiot), you could:

“Be Prepared.  The old Boy Scout motto is splendid.  Let’s say that you are unprepared to get laid off today.  If so, you are probably afraid of getting laid off, losing the paycheck, etc.  Where would you go??  However, let’s say you are prepared… and you get laid off.  You might be thankful that you got laid off!  Sure, you lost your job, but you are prepared (strong network, established brand, etc.).  If you want to change how you feel about being in a crummy situation, work on career management, which can give you a glimmer of hope, and help you feel less trapped.”

On LinkedIn, Pamela left this comment (see her comment on this page):

Yes! That’s what I did recently and have done several times over the long years of my career. When in a dysfunctional relationship/organization, one can become very demoralized. It’s important to review one’s achievements, goals, skills and desires. When I remind myself of what I have to offer, it makes it easier for me to do the work of finding other opportunities. The more I explore, the more empowered I become. Leaving is always hard, but when I am moving towards my goals, I am re-invigorated.

Pamela is doing on-purpose career management!

When you do on-purpose career management, the power shifts.  If you are at the will and mercy of your company (which can happen if they pay you enough, or have excellent benefits, or have somehow scared you into not leaving), they have the power.

When you do career-management things, you shift the power from the company to yourself.  A popular term I like to think of to make this more visual is “who has the cookie?”  When your employer has the power, or the cookie, you are subject to them.

Let’s make 2015 the year when we take the cookie back.

This is the year when we develop more, and deeper relationships.

This is the year when we really work on our personal brand.  Maybe we start a blog, or write a post on LinkedIn, or leave a comment on a discussion in a group you are in.

This is the year you really get into JibberJobber to manage and nurture relationships.  More than just gathering names, numbers and email addresses, let’s really focus on the relationships.

This is the year that we take the cookie back!



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Friction and Communication in the Job Search

January 7th, 2014

I’ve been working with a young graphics artist to clean up JibberJobber.  We’ve been working on “cleaning up” JibberJobber for the last almost-eight years, since we went live.

The problem we have at JibberJobber is the same problem I see on LinkedIn profiles, and company websites.  It’s what I call distraction, or noise.  I have said that every single word, even every character, either adds to or takes away from the message.

Can you imagine if Nike made a mistake and spelled their name Nikee on a few pieces of marketing material?

That would be a huge distraction.  Of course, Nike is well-branded and we are going to forgive them.  We already know who they are, and we trust them (to make shoes that are pretty good). They’ll probably get some awesome PR (like they really need it… not).

You, my friend, are probably NOT well-enough branded to get the same goodness that a spelling error like that gives to a company like that.  I’m not well-enough branded, and neither is JibberJobber.  Distractions and noise for regular people and small companies cause what I call friction.

Marketing friction causes discomfort, confusion and pain right away. The trust level plummets.  The thought is “if they can’t spell a word right, can I trust them with my information, especially my credit card?”  One little typo, or a grammar mistake, can cause this friction.

You’ve heard that your resume should have no spelling errors, right?  Any little spelling error can make an OCD reviewer gag and want to switch careers.  They can’t fathom anyone being so classless as to have an error on their resume. They take that one little error and disqualify you. The more OCD reviewers might disqualify you for life :p.  Regular, kind and even forgiving people might not disqualify you right away.  They might be able to read past a typo or two and understand what your career has been, and what they might get from you if they hire you.

I wouldn’t gamble my future on which type of reviewer is going to see my resume.

The resume error is one example of creating friction in our communication.  Friction also comes from the way we look, the way we dress, our accent, our punctuality, our body language, the grammar or words we choose, etc.  Friction can also come from anything the person we’re talking to might use to discriminate – race, age, religion, etc.

I’m not saying you have to become a vanilla, boring, mainstream person.  What I’m saying is that mistakes in communication can be “the problem.”

I used to work with a software developer who is brilliant.  He was the go-to guy that all of the other developers would get help from when they were stuck.  He understood computer stuff, whether it was hardware, software, networking, PCs, servers, etc. like no one else I have known.  But the guy couldn’t spell very well.  If he didn’t have someone proof his resume I’m sure it would have ended up in the trash bin, because there would be multiple spelling errors.

Isn’t it sad that people can’t get past certain criteria to see the brilliance of who we are? It’s the world we live in.

Here is the take-away from this post: What can YOU do to decrease the friction you may be introducing in your communication with others?




Communication: What I want you to learn from yesterday’s post

April 3rd, 2013

Yesterday I announced that we simplified JibberJobber.

Yes, it is ironic that the blog post to announce it was one of the more complex posts I’ve written.

But something I want you, as a job seeker, to get out of yesterday’s message is SIMPLIFICATION.

You might have heard me use the word “concise,” when talking about your communication, written or verbal.

To me, concise means short and to the point.

In yesteday’s post I explained that we are simplifying some things in JibberJobber.  My hope is that it’s easier to understand things.

Are your messages too complex?

Let me give you an example of a too-complex message.  Yesterday I wrote an email to someone asking them if we could get on a phone call. My original message looked something like this:

Can we get on a phone call?  And if not, you can jump on my user webinar anytime:

Do you see a problem?

I gave the person an OUT.

I distracted them from my original message/question.

That second sentence can be short and to the point, but it can be distracting.  It wiped out the first sentence.

When I talk about simplifying I’m not saying you have to have LESS (although you will have less).  I’m saying to not distract your message by throwing stuff in that shouldn’t be there.

Before I sent the message I took out the second sentence so it simply read:

Can we get on a phone call?

Now you don’t have an OUT.  You respond with yes or no, but you don’t think “maybe I’ll just get on a webinar… ”

Here’s a similar example:

Can we get on a phone call?  Or you can just look at my LinkedIn Profile and tell me what you think.

WHAT???  Talk about giving an OUT!

I see this type of message TOO OFTEN.

Folks, read through your emails you send and look for those OUTs.  There’s an awesome little key on your keyboard that takes care of OUTs:

Delete the distractions.  Stay on topic, and keep the messages to a minimum (that means, don’t try and say ten things in an email where you really need to say just one thing).

Go back and read yesterday’s post. Hopefully you’ll see that’s exactly what we are doing.  And you should, too.

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Communication: How (mechanics) vs Why (objectives)

March 14th, 2013

I recently was listening to a technical presentation and as I was listening I had a profound thought.  I hope I communicate it well below.  Note: the person who did the presentation did a great job, but the way my mind works is it takes a concept and then thinks about how my readers can apply it to their job search, career management and networking :)

Technology presentations can be very technical and mechanical.  They can talk in acronyms and jargon which excites people who get it and confuses the rest.

When talking about the HOW of technology we (programmers/technologists, even project managers) can get so excited about the cloud, SSL, javascript, client-side this and server-side that, the UI and the GUI and Apache and markup languages and use cases…

That is the HOW… that is the mechanics.  To the right audience this is the right message.

But many times our audience doesn’t want, and can’t handle, the HOW.  They need the WHY.

If the audience wants the WHY, they need to understand the big picture, the reason behind the project, the objectives, and probably most important, the WIIFM.

Have you heard of WIIFM?

Say that out loud. Shout it.  It’s fun to yell… it sounds something like this: whiffem!

The WIFFM is the What’s In It For Me.

When you present you must think about your audience.  If your audience will get lost in technology or jargon, don’t use it.  They might not CARE about the HOW and only care about the WHY, or the WIIFM.

There’s another way to say all this.  Have you ever heard you need to communicate the benefit, not the features?  That is a common phrase/concept amongst salespeople, who really get excited about features but lose the customer who wants to know about the benefits.

This applies to every one of you.  I know you are proud of your features, but many times that is the HOW.  Think about your audience (networking, interviewing, friends/family who can be your evangelists) and think about the WIIFM, and the WHY.


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2013 THEME: Consistency Wins

January 11th, 2013

I have a card from my business coach Mark Leblanc sitting right in front of me. I see it every day.  On the card is a picture of Mark speaking (he is a professional speaker), and at the bottom it says “Consistency Trumps Commitment.”

I get it.

I’m committed to things, including my business and business growth (Mark is a business growth coach, and was actually part of the inspiration for the 2012 theme).

But magic (or success) happens when I consistently do the right things.

I can be committed to doing the right things, but until I actually do them I don’t see success.

And doing them is one thing… but I can’t do them one day a week, or one day a month, I need to consistently do the right things.

Consistency trumps commitment.

Commitment + consistency is amazing.

This year we’ll talk about consistency.  That’s the theme.  I’ve been working on that for a few years, since I met Mark, and I can testify that it is one of the most powerful parts of my business growth.

It will be a powerful part of your career management.  Let’s make 2013 AWESOME!

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Personal Branding: Are you Obnoxious or Pleasant?

October 24th, 2012

In the last month I’ve received many messages from people.  Most of them are very pleasant, kind, thankful, excited, etc.

A small handful of them are impatient, obnoxious, blaming, mad, finger-pointing, entitled, etc.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I am ALWAYS judging you, wondering if you would make a great fit for my company, or for an introduction to one of my contacts.

I’ll let you in on another little secret: Everyone else is always judging you, too.

You are being judged.  Stereotyped, if you will.

If you are obnoxious (or any of those bad correlations), the people judging you (interviewing you, meeting you at a network event, seeing your writings online, etc.) will not want to do anything with you.  They’ll be hard-pressed to help you.

You haven’t sold them on YOU yet.

However, if you are pleasant (or any of those nice correlations), people will want to be around you.  They will be open to introducing you, referring you, helping you, etc.

I know the job search sucks.  I know, from personal experience, that toxic attitudes can seep in by surprise, and can sour your effectiveness.  Read how I learned the hard way: I Smell Blood

Please, develop the skill of being less obnoxious and more pleasant.  It will be a skill that will help you the rest of your life.

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The Media (and other distribution channels) are liers and are for sale – how that affects your job search

July 31st, 2012

I have learned, over the years, that media is a distribution channel that is easily persuaded.

PR companies make gazillions from companies and people who want us, the stupid public, to believe things.

“I saw it on the news!”

That means it must be right. Someone at the news agency must have validated the truthfulness of the information, right?

And we take it, hook, line and sinker.

We believe it.

Even though it might come because a PR professional, or someone with a big enough name (celebrity, politician, etc.) said something.

We are suckers. And the media is simply a tool, being used as much as we are.

How does this affect job seekers?

Check out this cool list of ten entrepreneur tips by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman. Let’s talk about #8:

Rule #8: Having a great product is important but having great product distribution is more important.

Have you ever noticed that you are the best candidate for the job, but you continually get passed over?

You know some of the competition, you might know the person who got the offer, and you KNOW you are better than them.

Why would a company choose someone less qualified for the role?  It’s confusing, isn’t it?

There are a few reasons.  But one issue I continually see is that people who “distribute themselves” better are more likely to get offers.

People who don’t, even though they might be far superior, just remain superior… and unemployed.

Same with companies… great press doesn’t mean a great product… distribution is the key.

Branding, networking, relationships… could all this be MORE important than the actual product?

Apply that to your own job search.  Regardless of how great you think you are, perhaps your distribution (branding, networking and relationships) is keeping you back.

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Job Search Communication, Emailing Many People, Mass Emails, Spamming

July 25th, 2012

Great post by Kara Stringer on Recruiting Blogs titled Mass Mailing and Spam.  Job seekers should write monthly newsletters to their friends and family (and professional acquaintances) letting them know what they are up to in their job search. I wrote two posts on how to write a job search newsletter… in this post I wanted to talk about what Kara brings up.

Kara talks about some stuff you don’t hear about often.  In my “Effective Email Communication” video series I talk about a number of these things, and more (focusing on a human reader). Kara talks about the nasty world of email spam.

I used to be an email administrator, many years ago.  I’ll tell you a few things:

  1. We aren’t going to win the war against spam, no matter what we do.  The more we block, the more “false positives” are going to get blocked.
  2. If you email people, especially a lot of people, you will somehow get flagged as a spammer.
  3. Even people who agree to get your emails will flag you as a spammer.  I’ve had this happen with JibberJobber users.
  4. Email server admins, whether they are people or just the server rules, are quite unforgiving.
  5. Spam blacklist owners are very, very powerful, many times just one person who does it part-time, and can be either slow to fix their error (whitelist you), or completely unforgiving, tagging you as a spammer for a long time.

What do you do to prevent being flagged as a spammer?

Write better emails.

And follow some of Kara’s guidelines. If you are interested in writing BETTER emails that have a better chance of being read and responded to, check out my series called Effective Email Communication.

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