The Job Search and Career Seminar Series

June 22nd, 2020

Last week I finished my three week six session series on job search and career stuff, sponsored by Pluralsight. I posted the entire series here… you can watch each of the six sessions as well as download the slides (nothing special there) and see what Pluralsight courses and other resources I talked about.

Feel free to share this… lots of people should be needing this stuff pretty soon…

Pluralsight Free Seminar Series: Job Search and Career Sessions

Here are the individual YouTube videos:

The Interview Process

Personal Branding While in Transition

Job Search Processes and Systems

Networking with Humans

Onboarding Yourself in Your Next Job

Personal Finances for Job Seekers

Enjoy, and share!

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Podcast: Jason Alba and Valerie Sokolosky

December 16th, 2019

I met Valerie Sokolosky years ago through the Reach personal branding training. A few weeks ago I was honored to be her guest on her podcast series talking about my story. Our conversation includes job search (of course, that was the beginning), networking, branding, multiple income streams… you know, all of the stuff I like to talk about :)

Check it out here on Youtube:

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It’s Official Because It’s On LinkedIn!

May 2nd, 2018

Yesterday I sent an email out to a bunch of BambooHR customers who are interested in what we are doing in Thought Leadership… and one of them wanted to connect on LinkedIn.

The only problem is, my LinkedIn Profile didn’t have anything about BambooHR… it was very JibberJobber-heavy!

I’ve been avoiding putting it on LinkedIn because I wasn’t too keen on sharing what we are doing (still in the works!), and because I didn’t want to start getting messages from recruiters who were looking to poach BambooHR employees. Part of me was probably a little nervous about this not really being real… how weird is that?

But, it was officially time to update my Profile.  I didn’t spend too much time on it… here’s what I came up with (because the email I sent out went to quite a few people, I had to have something to show that I really was with BambooHR):


Part II

My good friend, who I’ve had a lot of lunches with and we talk a lot about our businesses, wrote this on Facebook:

Based on this post, we are convening a committee to drum you out of the entrepreneurial corps. It was a good run, but ultimately your true intentions, that is to find a job, finally won out.

Here was my reply:

If you reread my posts from the last 12 years, you’ll pick out the idea of “multiple streams of income.” A job is an income stream. For most, it’s the main stream. It was time for me to get a job for various reasons. One of the big benefits is that I’m in the marketing team, and marketing has always been a weakness of mine… so I’m in meetings and rubbing shoulders with people who are helping me get marketing better. Also, one of the reason I was brought on is because of my entrepreneurial background… I think they wanted someone to be a bit of an intrapreneur. This job is unlike anything I’ve seen before, and the entrepreneur spirit, drive, and thinking is a critical part to the job. (I know you get all this, but I wanted to respond for people who don’t know me as well and really did think I was giving up on JibberJobber, which is still alive and well.)

Getting a job was a really hard decision, and my wife and I talked about it a lot and we put a lot of thought into it. In addition to money, I needed to change the scenery a bit… I have been doing JibberJobber for 12 years. It’s been a super run, and we are still running (thanks to my awesome team), but I needed a change. I had no idea that the change could be so good. And yes, adding another revenue stream was great. When Pluralsight slowed down (read: stopped) for me, I had a lot of excess time and mental capacity, and needed to put it somewhere. And the impossible happened: Jason got a job.

Should I be drummed out? I don’t think my independent and entrepreneurial thinking will ever get drummed out. I sure hope not.



How I Found A Job (11/20): Waiting, Waiting, Waiting…

April 17th, 2018

Waiting stinks. Especially for someone with my personality.

How do I wait while not doing the job? How do I not become too emotionally invested in this, only to be let down and have to move on?

Bury myself in any work. Transitioning my duties to Liz, finishing up some projects, chatting with the team about the possible changes, looking at other jobs…

Ugh. Something switched. No other job, no other company, was interesting. I couldn’t imagine myself doing what I was looking for (product management) anymore. I couldn’t image myself working at any of the companies I had targeted anymore. Even the two companies that were really close to my house had no appeal. If I had to work at them I would, of course. But, the idea of not working at BambooHR was becoming unthinkable.

I was getting hooked. Hook, line, and sinker.

Not a good place to be, if you want to negotiate. Or, if you don’t get the offer.

I knew it, but I didn’t know how to not go there.

It felt like it was right, and it was going to happen. But what if it didn’t?

I wouldn’t be prepared for that. More prepared than 12 years ago, but it would still be a hit.

What could I do?

Not much. Wait. Try to keep busy. But with a mind that was mush it was hard to do anything but hope, and wonder, and try to keep self-doubt away.

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How I Found A Job (10/20): The Second Interview and the $300 Suit

April 16th, 2018

I have one real suit.” That is how I started the post about the first interview.

My first interview was on a Monday morning. I got up early, got on the road for a 22 mile commute, and had a fun meeting with Rusty, the guy who would eventually hire me. He said he’d get back with me to come in for second interviews on Wednesday and have me come in and interview with the COO and CMO on Thursday… so I got to wait, and start wrapping up some loose ends (and finishing some JibberJobber projects). I wanted this job. It was made for me.

But I knew I couldn’t get too emotionally attached to this, like I did 12 years earlier. That didn’t end well.

The problem is, how do you move forward in a job search without getting emotionally attached? I think it’s impossible. You are making decisions that can have a dramatic impact on the rest of your life… how can you not get excited and nervous and anxious and _____ about that? How can you not think about what kind of work you are going to do, and who you are going to work with, and what this might become in a few years?


So I tried to keep myself busy. Figure out how and what to transition to Liz (who has done wonderful over the last 2+ months), and my go-to: continue the job search. This is my advice to people who are interviewing and have a chance: keep doing the job search. When you have more in your pipeline you can feel more in control, have more power, and feel like you “have the cookie.” That puts you in a much better place, emotionally and for negotiation, than if you don’t have other opportunities.

So I tried to do that. But I was so mentally and emotionally distracted that it was hard to concentrate.

Man, the job search is such an emotional journey!!

I didn’t hear from Rusty by Wednesday, and I thought I was supposed to interview that afternoon. Ugh… does this mean they like someone else? Someone better than me?  I hated not knowing anything, but having to be cheerful and ready. Self-doubt is real, and it’s discouraging.  That morning I sent a “hey, I have some ideas and questions, can we get on a call” email… and it went unanswered until about 4:45 that day. Rusty said their schedules are too tight, could I come in Monday? Sure, I said, of course. I’ll come in anytime.

Bright idea: why not get a new suit? I had already exhausted my other interview wardrobe (consisting of one suit)… so I went down to the local suit store and got a suit. It has been almost 15 years since I had a new suit, so maybe it was time? I didn’t have $300 bucks for a suit, but I did have $300 bucks to invest in a new job. And, now that the interview was moved to Monday, I had time to get the suit and have it altered.

A few hours later I walked out of the suit shop a few hundred dollars poorer, but excited to have some new threads.

I got home and opened my email… Rusty emailed and said hey, can you come in tomorrow?!

Uh… YES, of course!  And I just had to laugh. My $300 suit would go unused for the interview because it wouldn’t be ready by tomorrow.

I go in and meet with the COO and then the CMO. We has super conversations, and I thought I did well. I followed up for a few minutes with Rusty, and before I knew it I was on the road, driving home.

To wait.

I love waiting.

Which is okay because I love waiting. Actually, no, I don’t love waiting. I am really bad at waiting. But, I need to get better. So I wait. And apply to a job or two, just to feel like I’m stacking my pipeline.

I hate waiting.

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“Struggling with trying to network with professionals”

March 13th, 2018

We got an email from user “L” last week with two issues… I want to address one today. He says:

“I am struggling with trying to network with professionals.”

Not a whole lot of information in the email… what kind of struggling? They aren’t responding to your calls or emails? Or, you don’t know how to approach them in the first place? Or, you actually get to have meetings with them but then nothing happens from there?

When I started my job search 12 years ago I learned that networking was the way to go and applying online was a waste of time. So, I tried to figure out how to network. The problem was that, as an introvert and a technologist, I’d much rather sit at home and “do my job search” efficiently than take hours and hours out of my day and routine to go to a network event, or meet someone at a restaurant. The “hours and hours” came from drive time, getting ready time, and arriving early and/or staying late.

Did I mention introvert? The whole process could be exhausting, with a healthy dose of concern about whether this would be a fruitful meeting or if people would just think I was an idiot (second guessing myself has been one of my top skills).

Sitting in front of a computer was much easier, much more comfortable, and seemed a lot more productive.

But everyone knew, and said, that you had to network. What if it just wasn’t working?

Maybe, I figured, it wasn’t that networking wasn’t working, but that I wasn’t understanding it and doing it right.

The turning point in my networking journey came when I read Never Eat Alone. I can’t recommend that book enough. This was THE book that changed my mindset on networking. It wasn’t something to do so I could benefit, rather it was something to do so everyone could benefit. I went into networking opportunities with a completely different attitude and goals. It had now become fun and exciting. Instead of getting to network events late and skipping out early, I was anxious to be one of the first ones there and one of the last to leave.

What because of this?

I remember one conversation where I pretty much had a job offer in the bag, and at a networking event told this guy about it and said he should interview, because he was definitely a better candidate than I was. He got the job, and I got immense satisfaction knowing that I had a small part in that.

Seriously, it was thrilling to give that away to him.

That was a manifestation of my change in attitude. I wasn’t in it for ME, I was in it for WE. I helped and I gave. I went from “What can I get” to “what can I give you,” which was great. But the next transition was huge. It was: “Hey, I heard you mention this… you need to talk to so-and-so. I’ll send you an introduction today.”

Here’s what that looks like:

  1. I started at: What can I get? I’m in this for me… and this is why a lot of networking feels sleezy.
  2. Then, I transitioned to: What can I give you? This is a question you’ll hear from networkers, and it shows they are helpful, and ready to invest some capital into the networking bank… maybe hoping to draw on it later. Nothing wrong with being here.
  3. But then, something magical happened when I didn’t ask that question, and didn’t wait for them to know what they wanted (heck, I didn’t know what I… why expect everyone else to know?): “I heard you say this… you need to talk to my friend, I’ll do the introduction today.” This goes into really listening and caring, and then opening up your network (risking, to a degree, your own reputation) and proactively making an introduction.

#3 is why I was so excited to go to network meetings. I couldn’t wait to connect people, and really, really help them. This went way beyond the superficial smile and handshake and “we should do lunch” (the lunch that never happens). This was meaningful, and it was fun.

Along the way my relationships with individuals grew and strengthened, my reach expanded, and I was fulfilled. It was AWESOME.

In summary, to a very vague question I give you two suggestions: First, get Never Eat Alone. I hope you absorb it the way I did. Second, transition from a “what can I get” goal/attitude to a “I’m going to give something to you today… not sure what, but I’m listening for where I can add value, and will give it” attitude. This gamifies networking, makes it fun, and puts you in a much different position.

Have a more specific networking question? I’m all ears. Leave a comment or email me.



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How I Found A Job (9/20): The First Interview

March 9th, 2018

I have one real suit. I know this is a casual company, but my personal policy is you dress a little nicer than the company, and I didn’t think a suit was out of line. I scoured the company pictures and videos and saw at least one where a guy was in a white shirt and tie… okay, suit should be fine.

BUT, is my suit outdated?

I am not a fashionista, something my kids point out almost daily (those shoes, dad??? That shirt with those pants??). They all have really nice style and I seem to be style-blind with clothes.

Would I walk in and my suit might fit just a little off, or the suit color be to 1900s, or the shoes and suit and tie and belt not look good?

Sometimes this actually does matter. Probably not as often as we think, though. But it was something on my mind. It was mental junk that could impact my “performance” at the interview.

I drove to BambooHR, planning to get there about 20 minutes early. If there was traffic or a car accident this would have been a problem… 12 years ago I would have left to be there about 45 minutes early. But I figured 20 minutes would be good. I had watched every BambooHR video I could, read more blog than I could count, and scoured their site and Instagram and Youtube for any information that would help. I also had the job posting practically memorized.

I felt ready, and this took my nerves down a bit.

Getting a new job is such a life changing event. Do everything you can to land the right job for you. Take it very seriously and realize that you have but a few minutes to impress everyone, from the front desk person to the people in the parking lot to the person you interview with.

When I was a speaker I had a routine I’d run through before getting on stage… one of the things I would do is mentally chant LEAVE IT ALL ON THE FIELD! I would be done in an hour, and do everything I could to make it the most memorable, impactful experience for attendees. I took this same approach for my interview: leave it all on the field.

By the time I got there I was kind of exhausted. I had prepared very well, but I hadn’t slept well. But I was going to do the best I could in the few minutes I got.

I went to check-in met one of the company founders (and got him mixed up with the other one, thank goodness I didn’t mention his name), and then Rusty came down to meet me. With a smile as big as his personality, we exchanged pleasantries and went to his office.  For the next hour or so we had an indepth conversation about my background, history, experience, and things I had done.  He put a lot of our conversation on the white board, which I thought was cool and interesting. It was insightful to see what he captured from what I said, and if he wrote something that I felt might be incomplete later I was able to drill down on that.

It was fun, honestly, and going through my accomplishments over the past 12 years (and a little pre-JibberJobber), I felt like YEAH, I am pretty accomplished! How in the world did I do 3 books, create a professional speaking business, run a startup, and do 30 Pluralsight courses?  And a few other things here and there… wow, I wasn’t as incompetent as maybe I had thought.

Before I knew it I was headed back to my car. It went well. Actually, it went REALLY WELL. I can’t imagine having done it any better.

I left the office knowing that I would likely come in on Thursday to meet with two more people, and hopefully soon after that I’d hear, if they liked me, about an offer.

Time to wait. And as I mentioned earlier, time to apply to other places, because if I didn’t get this perfect opportunity I’d be crushed. So I was already starting to put guards in place to deal with that.




How I Found A Job (8/20): The Interview Process

March 8th, 2018

When Rusty and I got on our first phone call he said he’d like to have me come in and interview with him directly. This was a very important role and he wanted to get going as soon as he could.  Could I accommodate his quick-turn around schedule? DEFINITELY. This is RIGHT, and I’ll do what I can to make it easy and smooth for him.

Normally, I think, I would have had a phone screen with a recruiter, and maybe a Hirevue interview… but could I come in on Monday morning?

I’ll be there.

The speed this was happening was another sign that this was serious, and he looked at me as a good fit. It was exciting… but the problem was it was more information to help me fall more in love with this company.

The last company I fell in love with (12 years ago), after the interview, I started to mentally do the work.

This time I fell in the same trap. I couldn’t sleep at night, and was waking up at 4pm. My mind was going.

Please let this happen. Please let this work.

By this time, as I learned more about the company, I had already mentally discarded all of the product manager jobs I was applying for (and hadn’t gotten any positive response from).

Nothing was interesting to me anymore, except being on this team, in this company, to change the world.

Please, let it happen.

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How I Found A Job (7/20): Responding to Their First Outreach

March 7th, 2018

The first communication I had from anyone at BambooHR for this job was shocking.

It was a personal LinkedIn message from the hiring manager that was not cold or off-putting, not impersonal or prescribed.  It was also flattering, and showed that he had looked at my LinkedIn Profile and saw that I might be a perfect match.

I was blown away. I was flattered.

After all of the cold communication or non-communication I had from the other companies I had applied for, I was in shock. I showed my wife who said “he probably says that to everyone who has applied.”

Maybe.  Maybe he just had that personality, but I didn’t think so.  The question he asked is why I was interested in that role? Me… the CEO of JibberJobber, someone who had pushed out 30 Pluralsight courses… why in the world would I be interested in that role?

I responded thusly:


It took me a while to write that. I am a prolific writer, they say, and I wanted to write a novel. HIRE ME! PUT ME IN, COACH!  Alas, a lot of writing and backspacing, and that is what I came up with.

This was a bit nerve-wracking, because by this point I found the perfect role at the perfect company. I could make a difference in a company that was making a difference in the world. They had almost ten years of purpose and I would add value, based on my eclectic experience that others couldn’t understand.

But Rusty understood. And he reached out to me and treated me with dignity. I don’t need my ego stroked, but every job seeker knows that being treated with dignity, as a human, is rare.

If there’s anything you can take away from this (today’s post), it is this: Treat your communication as very special, and spend time writing and cleaning your messages. Make sure you know what you want to say, what you don’t need to say (and would only be a weird distraction), and send THE RIGHT message.

But then, stop second guessing yourself and hit send.

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How I Found A Job (6/20): Is BambooHR Really A Target Company? And Applying Online

March 6th, 2018

Yesterday was the day at my new job at BambooHR where I could state my tenure in months instead of weeks. I’m on Month Two.

In the last post I talked about finding this job, Program Manager, at BambooHR. But I had to go through some mental wrestling to come to terms with this. The companies I had been looking at were more familiar to me (I heard about them a lot from friends, and drove by them all the time). The commutes would have been awesome, as I mentioned. And it would have put me into the product manager network locally, a group I found a little hard to network into. Remember, being an entrepreneur is not looked at as a benefit by a lot of corporate people.

I had to ask myself, was BambooHR really a target company for me?  Back in 2017 they included this very blog as one of their top 25 HR blogs. I was a lot more familiar with their industry and customer and user (and the issues HR faces) than a high interest rate lending company or a contact lense company. I’m sure I would have settled in and done a great job, and enjoyed those… but there would be a few learning curves.

That’s part of career management, though: learning, adapting, etc.

BambooHR was perfect, with one little exception: the commute.

Going from a down-the-hall commute to a twenty something mile commute would mean changes. I’d be in traffic… rush hour! Bleh!

We have the exact right number of vehicles for our family… as long as I don’t need a car :)  That means a $5,000+ expense so we don’t have to double up… plus the cost of insurance, gas, etc. to add a new car. Double bleh.

When I put everything on paper, though, BambooHR was definitely a great option. In fact, something weird happened: As soon as I applied to BambooHR, every other company and opportunity because completely uninteresting to me. When I read the posting again and again, and slept on it and then read it again, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, anywhere else.

This was made for me, and meant to be!

So I applied. Online. You know, that thing some experts say to avoid at all costs? What if my resume got overlooked like it had from other companies? What if it got lost? What if, what if, what if…

All I knew was that I had now pretty much invested all of my hope in this one company and one job.

Because of what happened 12 years ago, when I was sure I had found the right job at the right company, and then I got the horrible, cold email saying they chose someone else, I knew that I couldn’t trust that this was the one. I had to keep doing things … the right things, in my job search. So, as hard as it was, I kept looking, and kept up my job search.

This was good because I needed to do something while I waited. And keeping my job search going helped me feel like I was doing something right, especially if this fell through.

I should mention, the application process on BambooHR was pretty sweet, which is good, because it was their software that they sell to others for applications :p Don’t you hate all of the online application pages that feel like they suck the soul out of you? That’s not the experience I had applying online.

I hit send or submit, and then crossed fingers… hoping.. waiting…

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