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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Job Search Communication, Email Signature Critique

July 24th, 2012

Nathan Adams is a resume writer out of Charlotte, NC.  We recently exchanged some emails and after looking at his email signature about three times I was struck with something that I didn’t like.  I didn’t catch “it” the first two times, but he said something in an email that made me more critically think about what I didn’t like…

When I speak across the country to job seekers I talk about your brand messaging, and how “every character either supports, or detracts from, your brand.” EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER.

Nathan wants people to go to the most important place, if they are interested in a resume critique or rewrite.

Which of the links on his signature would YOU say is the most important place? Is it 1, 2 or 3?

Nathan wants you to look at his resume writer (and career coaching) services.

The first link, #1, does that.  It sends you to his website, First Impressions Count.

The second link, #2, kind of does that.  It sends you to his LinkedIn Profile. That’s okay, but my hangup with that is the formatting and ads on the Profile that he has no control over.  I just clicked there and the add on the right is actually a video that is visually distracting. I recommended he keep this because he does LinkedIn Profile rewrites, and he needs to show he gets LinkedIn, so it’s fine.  For most people, who don’t have another website, I think it’s fine.  But if you aren’t in the career space, or your clients are job seekers, I would think twice about putting your LinkedIn Profile on your signature.  My Profile URL is not on my signature.

The third link, #3, … does nothing for me.  In fact, it is worse than nothing.  This is message-distracting. Click here to see Vizibility’s formatting, and the information you get from that link.  Is that going to help you understand Nathan’s service?  If nothing else, it points you to a page where you have to choose from five or so other links, and you aren’t likely to get to a page that helps you become a customer. From a branding perspective, this is not neutral, it is negative.

To take the links to the next step, I recommended he did one more thing… send people to a special landing page that isn’t his home page.  This would be a page that said something like “Hey, you got here from clicking on the link in my email signature.  Welcome!  Here’s what I want you to know….”  Something similar to what I have on my business card… the only link goes to this special landing page:

This might seem like harsh advice, but you have to consider how many options you are giving people, and what the message is that they get.

Are you doing your email signature on purpose, for personal branding?  I hope so.

More email signature thoughts here.



Job Search Communication: Tag Clouds in your email Signature? COOL!

July 10th, 2012

Last year I got an email from Linda Bidlack, and “Organization Development and Talent Management Consultant.”  Linda does “Career Assessment, Job Search, and Coaching.”

I got all that from her signature.

I got something else from her signature…. check this out:

At the top is all the stuff I expect to see.  She did a pretty good job on it (two lines for “tag line” or value proposition… I like it!).  I left her email and her phone in because you can find it on her Contact Us page.

What’s different and cool is the tag cloud.  What words pop out at you?

What message is she giving, through this top cloud?

I think this can be worked with a bit – I like the small words there because it makes the big words pop out more.

If you are a job seeker,… wait, scratch that!  If you are a professional, what 10 words would you want to pop out to your audience?  I’m not talking about cliche words… but words you can back up.

Then, take what she did one step further.  She has a landing page that you go to if you click on any of the links (I linked the image to it, so just click on the image).    Here’s what I’d recommend: On that landing page, take your 10 words that pop, and TELL THE STORY.  Use P-A-R Statements to tell the story.

Can you imagine if someone clicks on one of your words/links and then goes to a page where they can read substantiated stories about how you really are, or personify, that word?


Linda, thanks for the example.

If you want to know how to do it, ask Linda :)

This post supports the 2012 JibberJobber theme of COMMUNICATION.  More here.



Brilliant Idea: Take a FAST from Job Boards during July

June 27th, 2012

Here’s an idea I came up with a few days ago.  I think it’s brilliant.  I think it will revolutionize your job search.  I think Monster will hate me for suggesting it:

Take a 31 day fast from job boards during the month of July.

That is, from July 1 through July 31 DO NOT use job boards.

I know this sounds weird and uncomfortable.  WHAT IF there is that perfect job waiting there for me?  WHAT IF I miss out on opportunities, and someone else gets a job that has my name written all over it?

Your family will think you are crazy, and that you are a lazy job seeker, because you can’t show all the jobs you’ve applied to.

Here’s why I think this is brilliant: if you are working hard on a job search, and you take out that element (which is easy, and can tend to take up gobs of time), you will essentially force yourself to do other things.

Maybe hard things.

Maybe things you’ve been afraid to do.

Maybe things that will force you to refine your communication.

Go ahead, I dare you.  No job boards in July.  Think you are brave enough?



What’s Wrong with “Here’s My Resume. Help?”

May 3rd, 2012

I get a lot of people asking me for help in their job search and oh by the way here’s my resume.

The problem is, I don’t like to read resumes.  I think they are long and too detailed for my mind.  My mind shuts down, so I can’t get the message and know how to help you.

If you were to NOT send me your resume, but help me know how I could help you, that would be better.  Much better.

I recently wrote an email to a buddy who sent me his resume.  I know a bit about him, professionally, but I still thought this advice would be helpful. If you’ve sent your resume to friends/family for them to “check out,” please take this to heart:

Can you identify 3 – 4 ideal companies/roles? If you can, in short paragraphs, paint that picture for me, with those 3 or 4 ideal companies, I can get a much better idea of how to help you, who to introduce you to, etc.

Instead of saying: “here, read this long, detailed document with jargon and buzzwords,” you could say “I would work best in a company like ______ doing ___________.  The title might be ___ or ____.  My typical day might consist of _____ or _____ or ______.”

Do that a few times, help me understand you better, and then let me digest that.

What do you think?


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