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Recruiters (and others) Smell the Blood of Job Seekers

November 16th, 2018

I had a fascinating conversation with a an HR friend of mine back in 2006, the year I lost my job and started JibberJobber. In this conversation he said “HR can smell blood from a mile away.”

It was as if the world stopped turning because he called me out, and I had a huge epiphany. You can read the original post here: I Smell Blood!

A year later I wrote Are You Bleeding? because by that time I had talked to a ton of job seekers and a common theme was that they were all proactively bleeding. The things they were saying, the way they were saying them, was bloody. It should an immense amount of hurt and grief.

I’m not one to take that away from you, for sure. I went through my own period(s) where I had hurt and grief. But I had to learn that spewing this hurt and grief was keeping me out of networking opportunities, and keeping my friends and contacts from referring me into the right people.

You don’t recommend someone who has fresh wounds that are impacting their thinking into an important networking opportunity. It was like these people were bleeding, and not realizing they were stalling their job search.

It was a hard realization for me, but a super important one. I hoe these two posts help you.

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Sanity in a Job Loss

November 9th, 2018

I recently wrote the post Job Loss Grief Stages. While doing so I was looking for old posts I had written about this topic and found this post from 2012:

Dumb Little Man: How to Keep Your Sanity After Losing Your Job

Dumb Little Man, btw, is a blog with “tips for life.” Anyway, in this post the author (Lesley Knowles) shares six IMPORTANT points to keep your sanity while you are also going through the mourning/loss stages.

Depression in the job search is real. In fact, a post by me (a guy) on depression in the job search is my most popular post, with over 500 comments. My issue was that I was used to being very logical and linear, and depression was clouding my thinking. Check it out here: Depression Clouds Everything.

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“Jobs are temporary in the new economy” (Grow Your Own Beef)

November 2nd, 2018

This is part of the Favorite Friday serious that I started years ago. One of the benefits of having blogged regularly for almost 13 years is that I have a lot of great posts from over the years. My writing style has evolved, but the ideas and principles have not.

In this post, Grow your own beef, I talk about a “three part formula” for either getting a job or having career stability (in a world where it seems like no one has career stability). The three parts are:

  1. Have real subject matter expertise that the market currently cares about,
  2. Have the right credentials, if they matter.
  3. Have the right network, and nurture it.

Read my original post, where I flesh these ideas out, here.

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21 Surprising Ways To Waste Time In Your Job Search #FavoriteFriday

March 25th, 2016

Almost a year ago I wrote 21 Surprising Ways To Waste Time In Your Job Search.  As I look over the list, each point is as relevant today as it was then.

Don’t cheat your job search.  Don’t rationalize that you need to veg, chill, or recharge, when you are really just avoiding the hard work that needs to get done.

Check out the list (it’s a quick read), and then get on to the work that you really need to do today!

 

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Favorite Friday: Are you in a job search, or are you managing your career?

September 19th, 2014

One is short-term, one is long-term.

For one you need a band-aid, because it is temporary problem, and for the other you need smart diet and exercise, for long-term strength and results.

I wrote about this first in March of 2007, when JibberJobber wasn’t even a year old.  Then I shared it again in 2009.  It’s time to share it again.

Job Search vs. Career Management

What are you doing?  Are you acting like a job seeker, or are you investing in your long-term career? I know it can get tricky to do long-term stuff when you really just need to get your paycheck back, but I challenge you to think of everything you do in today’s job search as a part of your long-term career management strategy.

Don’t make the rookie mistake of throwing everything away once you land your job.  You’ll need it all – contacts, strategies, etc. – in all future job searches.

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Favorite Friday: LinkedIn Professional Headline: Yours probably sucks

April 11th, 2014

This is from July 2010, on my LinkedIn blog.  It is a really short post about that uber-important branding statement next to your picture on your LinkedIn Profile.

The post took a life of it’s own when people started asking for feedback on their headlines.  Fortunately, Peter Osborne jumped in to respond to people… I finally had to close the comments before it became a full-time job!

Here’s the post – click here to read the excellent comments:

So many times I see LinkedIn Professional Headlines that … well, suck.Yours probably sucks (unless you got my LinkedIn book or my LinkedIn DVD, as I talk about this quite a bit in those).

Here’s a quick test:

(a) Does your LinkedIn Professional Headline have your TITLE?

(b) Does your LinkedIn Professional Headline have the name of your company?

If it has either of these you have a great chance of having a sucky professional headline.

Why do I say this?

  1. The title doesn’t tell me a whole lot. If it’s a big title in a small company I’m not impressed. If it’s a regular title in a company or industry I’m not familiar with, I might not really know WHAT YOU DO.
  2. Beyond that, though, your title doesn’t tell me WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?). I don’t care that you are a CEO, or analyst, or any of that other stuff. If I SHOULD care, I can find that in the rest of your LinkedIn Profile, right?
  3. Use your Professional headline as a change to educate me on why I should care about you. Title/company doesn’t do it.
  4. With regard to the company, most companies I see out there have cute names… that mean nothing to me. They are not branded enough to tell me anything. Thus, putting the name of a no-name company in your headline does not help me understand your value proposition… IT ONLY TAKES UP SPACE.

How’s your LinkedIn Professional Headline?

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Favorite Friday: Chicken List Is Out – Now Put Away The Honey-Do List!

April 4th, 2014

By March of 2007 I had gotten an idea of this so-called chicken list, which still scares me, and had been consumed by the idea of wasting time in a job search.  Here’s a post I wrote in March of 2007 about making sure your honey-do list doesn’t take time away from what you should be doing in a job search:

Where's Your Honey Do List?  I know you have one...Last week I encouraged you to get your Chicken List out and make “that” call – the call that has been scaring you.

That encouragement does not transfer over to your Honey-Do list.

A job search is more than a full-time job. You almost have to create the wheel, and reach deep inside yourself to do stuff you haven’t had to do for a long time (create a resume, create elevator pitches, etc.). Its hard to change your mindset from “sell my company’s product” to “sell myself.” And then on top of all of this, you are the one that has to execute the strategy! Its a HUGE job!

So why do you think that you can knock things off the honey-do list? I know, you are now “working from home.” And you “have time.” And you “need a break” from the job search.

I know you have a hole in the wall. I know your toilet needs some work. I know you should really paint, or weed, or change wallpaper, or shampoo the carpets so you can have a better work environment.

But none of those things are really going to get you closer to getting your next job. Or next client.

So put the Honey-Do list away until the weekend. Pretend that your new job (that is, the job of finding a job) has you tied up from early in the morning until dinner time – and stop fooling yourself that doing honey-do’s right now is a good use of your time.

It isn’t.

Disclaimer: I’m not trying to be sexist, or offensive. This post is not intended just for those in a job search. You know you have some kind of list that distracts you from doing important stuff. If you don’t have a “honey,” I bet you still have your own “to do” list. Same thing.

And finally, this is not a ticket to not do anything that needs to be done. I’m just saying that there are some things that are not as high a priority as working on your job search (or career management, or small business development, or your job – even if you are underemployed!).

Reading that post now makes me wince a little.  That is some harsh advice.  You can tell where my mind was at.  The message is important.  You can see Deb Dib’s insightful comment here.

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Favorite Friday: Stop hiding and actually start your job search.

March 28th, 2014

Here’s another favorite I wrote in May of 2012.  I’m surprised it didn’t become a Favorite Friday before now: Stop hiding and actually start your job search.

Many years ago I worked as a clerk at the FBI.  I was bored beyond description.  There really wasn’t anything to do, as our department was overstaffed.  Some of my colleagues picked up projects from the analysts, but I was too low on the totem pole to do anything like that.

So I found myself organizing, and then re-organizing, and then re-organizing my file folder drawer.

You have to understand, as a clerk, I really didn’t have anything important in my file folder drawer.  The exercise was about as useful as sorting, and resorting, and resorting the garbage.  It didn’t help anyone or anything… it just burned time.

Do we, as job seekers, do this?  I know I did.  Here’s my ode to this wasteful, rut of a practice:

This post is for anyone in a job search, no matter how long you have been at it.

Looking back at my job search I found I did activities that were safe and comfortable, but of very little value to my job search.

I refer to this as HIDING from the job search.

Some people hide, in the name of being busy in a job search, by doing things that are seemingly good:

  • going to networking clubs/groups/meetings, but just to go, not to actually network.  And if they do “network,” they aren’t following up, they are just collecting business cards,
  • applying to jobs online, as if it were they most important thing to do in a job search,
  • researching companies, industries, trends, or current events (um, that’s called reading the newspaper… reading the newspaper doesn’t necessarily land you a job),
  • going to one-on-one networking meetings (coffee, lunch, breakfast, etc.) without a real purpose or strategy that is directly tied to getting a job,
  • ______________ (what are YOU doing that is not leading towards your job?)

I was HIDING from my job search with these fake, non-productive activities for three reasons:

  1. These activities are comfortable. We  gravitate towards comfortable, don’t we?  Heaven forbid I got outside of my comfort zone, even if it meant I was doing a something that could produce real results.
  2. I didn’t know any better. I *thought* I was a smart guy, and I could figure it out on my own.  I didn’t want to read books, articles, blogs, etc. about how to do a job search.  I was better than that advice written for “most people.”  I wasn’t “most people.”  I was unique (just like you think you are unique).
  3. Doing those activities are socially acceptable, and at the end of the day you can “feel good” about how hard you worked. When someone asked how it was going, you could tell them how many jobs you applied to, or how many network meetings you went to, or some other metric.  Metrics seem meaty, but those metrics were the wrong things to focus on.

I should have been more consistent at picking up the phone and calling people.  I should have realized (or learned) how to identify target companies, network into those companies, and do real informational interviews.

If I would have spent time on other (high value) activities my job search would have been completely different.

Do you want YOUR job search to be different?  Where are you spending your time?  On activities with potential for high return, or HIDING from the hard stuff?

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Favorite Friday: Water Damage Is Expensive – Don’t Neglect Your “House”

March 21st, 2014

I loved this post. It was like the post I hated my lawnmower, which was about a stupid problem I had for a long time, until I figured out the fix was quick and free.

In our job search we might have problems that are really resolved quite easily, quickly, and at no cost.

The water damage post was more about long-term neglect of a little problem that could get out of control and have huge consequences.  I’m including the text here (with some edits and reformatting), but be sure to go to the original post to read the comments.  Then leave your own comment on this post, or the one from 2007 .

I work in my basement. Periodically there has been a weird leak from the ceiling in my office closet – and I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. The pipe in question is the main water pipe that delivers water to my entire house (sounding expensive yet?). After about a year of trying to figure it the problem, it finally hit me. The cold water pipe is in the same run between joists as the dryer exhaust. When we turn the dryer on that area gets hot, and water condenses on the pipe. Lots of water – and it drips quite a bit.

Whew! We don’t have to have a plumber come fix anything! I just need to put some insulation on the pipe and it should be good!

I could have continued to ignore this, but water is so damaging. It can create the perfect environment for mold, it can make things rot, it can mess up a foundation… water problems can be really dangerous and expensive to ignore. They should not be neglected.

Last year when I got laid off I neglected a number of things. Below is a short, incomplete list of things that I regret neglecting. I still stand by my March 8th (2007) post Chicken List Is Out – Now Put Away The Honey-Do List! where I talk about not hiding behind home improvement projects while you ignore things you need to do in your job search. That post was about non-essential projects – this post is about things that, if neglected, will have profound consequences.

  1. Do not neglect your family. My wife and I are a team. I often take that for granted. About a month into unemployment someone asked her “How’s Jason doing?” Her reply was “I don’t know – we don’t talk much anymore.” You see, I was trying to be strong and positive for her and the kids. And she was trying to be strong a supportive for me. And during all of this time of being strong, we were neglecting our relationship. Remedy: I should have had a weekly date night with my wife, and at least one date with each kid. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it can simply be a trip to the park for some quality “how ya doin’?” talk. But it needs to be regular, not rushed, and one-on-one.
  2. Do not neglect your physical health. I remember my “office” in the early days of my job search: it was the reclining chair in my bedroom. I would sit there for about 10 hours each day as I looked for postings to apply to, tweaked my resume, wrote custom cover letters, did company research, etc. 10 hours of sitting is not uncommon but when I had a job I’d go on 3-mile walks during lunch. Now I was basically rolling from bed-to-chair and back again at night. I didn’t even go up and down the basement stairs. I skipped meals (somehow the money could stretch if I didn’t eat, right?). I neglected my health and even now I am paying the price for a non-active lifestyle for so long. Remedy: I should have started each day with a 20 minute walk, and done crunches and push-ups and all those free things you can do without a gym membership. I should have eaten breakfast each day (oatmeal is cheap and very healthy), and watched what I ate during the day.
  3. Do not neglect your mental health. This is such an emotional time. My severance was running out quickly and the prospects didn’t seem good. I did not get the mental and emotional nurturing that I needed. This nurturing would have better prepared me for the interviews that I had. It would have helped me maintain a big-picture perspective. Remedy: I should have picked one book or learning project that I could dig into to “sharpen my saw,” but kept it in check with my job search schedule. I really should have sought out friends that I could learn from, or share ideas with. That is one of the reasons networking is so powerful in a job search. But for 2 months I did not network at all. Not good.
  4. Do not neglect “outside” things. The water leaks. The bills. The other obligations that you must take care of.  I’m not saying you have permission to do all the around-the-house projects you’ve been wanting to do, but if there is something that is critical then address it before it becomes a very expensive and complex problem.Remedy: I should have taken time with my wife to create a list of the urgent things that I/we needed to address. I can’t remember what those might have been last year, but being on the same page would prevent problems and reduce stress in our relationship.

It’s been 15 months since I was laid off. I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about neglecting my wife (see #1). It was a personal experience for me, and I’m ashamed of it. But it happened. Hopefully reading this list will help you make sure your priorities are in order better than mine were.

Finally, this advice/warning applies whether you are in a job search or not. What are you neglecting? How are you going to remedy that?

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Favorite Friday: The Power of Your Network To Your Company/Employer

December 20th, 2013

One of my favorite concepts, which I was recently reminded of, comes from Phil801 who wrote a blog post back in 2006 titled Social Networks and Corporations.  I wrote a post with my thoughts about it here, on July 5, 2006: What’s your value-add? (Robert Merrill write a follow-up post here, from a recruiter’s perspective)

Here’s the idea: if you have a network, can you bring value to a company or employer (or project or client) by bringing your network in?  Imagine these two scenarios:

Scenario 1:  Your company has a problem which is perplexing everyone on the team.  Everyone has been so busy working for the company that they don’t have any contacts they can comfortably tap into, and they keep trying to solve the problem without getting outside help.

Scenario 2: Same problem but your team has been trained to expand their network and nurture relationships with their contacts.  This is a part of the culture at your organization, and no one (read: bosses, management) feels threatened that you are spending time with others in the industry outside of your company.

Here’s my proposition for you: DO NOT WAIT FOR AN EMPLOYER TO MAKE IT OKAY TO HAVE A STRONG, NURTURED NETWORK!!

Maybe your employer doesn’t “get” networking.  Maybe they are threatened by you having industry contacts.  In my case, I think I didn’t network when I had a job because it seemed wrong (like I was cheating on my employer).  I think it would have been fine, but I had a lot of hangups and assumptions.

I wish, oh how I wish, I would have gotten past my misunderstandings and issues and networked.  Real relationships would have helped me in my last company, through my job search, and in my current role as business owner.

Career Management 2.0 is the new reality, and networking and relationships is a HUGE part of it.  Even if your company doesn’t “let you” do it on company time, do it on your own time, and bring value to your company!

#FavoriteFriday: What’s your value-add?

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