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How To Start A Job Search

March 12th, 2019

7 steps to start a job searchI started my first real job search in 2006. Even way, way back then, going to the “want ads” from newspapers was an outdated strategy. Now, no one talks about using newspapers. But there is still plenty of confusion on how to start a job search. Below are the steps I suggest to anyone who is ready to start their job search

7 Steps to Start a Job Search

1. Stop, calm down, take a moment.

One of the worst things you can do is react to panic and fear. I know unemployment can be one of the scariest and most emotional situations of your life. Let me encourage you to really take a pause, calm down, get in the proper state of mind for what could be a complex but doable process. But please, go into this with the right mindset.

2. List job titles you want to pursue

It is critical that you know what your target is, and specific job titles is part of your target. In my 2006 job search I listed two roles I wanted, and in the course of my job search I added a third (more exciting) title. Your list can change with time, so don’t worry about committing to any particular title, but you should have a list of titles to pursue. Eventually, this list should be whittled down to something manageable (instead of including every job title that you are qualified for).

3. List companies you want to work for

You must have a list of target companies where you want to work. This will help you in various ways, including focusing your networking efforts and search on the right companies. Also, when people ask how they can help you in your job search, you could say that you are looking for introductions to specific target companies (I suggest you name three or four specific companies).

4. Make a list of network contacts

This is one of the harder lists to make because we tend to second-guess whether people should actually be on the list or not. You think of someone, then before you write them down talk yourself out of listing them for one reason or another. Let me encourage you to skip the second-guessing, and just list EVERYONE that you can think of on your network contacts list. You might not communicate with all of them, but as your job search goes on and on, it might make sense to reach out to people who you had earlier passed over.

5. Create and refine your job search marketing material

I could make an entire list of your job search marketing material, the most obvious of which is your resume. In addition to your resume (and at least one general cover letter), you need to have some basic statements down. These include your Me In 30 Seconds (aka Elevator Pitch) statements (you could have various statements for different audiences) as well as a response to “tell me about yourself?”. Expect to use these statements regularly and refine them almost every time you use them.

6. Figure out your job search organization system

No doubt I recommend JibberJobber (I’m the creator of JibberJobber) instead of job search spreadsheet. Whatever you use, know that this organizational system is a central part of your successful job search. I quickly outgrew my spreadsheet in about two weeks, as do many job seekers, because as a job search goes on you add more contacts, companies, and jobs, and you want to log interactions between any of those records. Again, I could write a great deal on this, but suffice it to say you’ll need some system to stay organized.

7. Reach out to contacts with purposeful requests

This is one of the hardest parts of the job search for many people because this is where we start to communicate with people. We generally like to help people, not ask for help from people. But we need to work through those feelings and ask our contacts for help. Please, do not ask them to “review your resume.” Imagine you get ONE request from each friend. Do you want to use your one request for a review of your typing? NO. Purposeful requests include meeting (in person or on the phone) or asking for introductions to people who have your target titles or work at your target companies. Each purposeful request changes based on who you are making the request of, but please don’t waste your first (and maybe your only) request with something trivial.

These are my seven steps to start your job search. Did you notice that I didn’t include networking with recruiters? Perhaps you should network with recruiters, but in my experience, it is generally a waste of time. Focus on the steps above, iterating and going through each of them as you get closer and closer to your dream job.

My goal would eventually be to have as many informational interviews as I could get, which is a very powerful job search strategy. Each of the steps above can lead up to a great informational interview strategy.

 

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Creativity: The Most Important Leadership Quality (?)

February 19th, 2019

jibberjobber_creativityBack in 2010 Fast Company had an article titled “The Most Important Leadership Quality for CEOs? Creativity”  Of course, I heard this during my workout yesterday, while listening to a Ted talk :p

The soundbite that stuck out was that about 60% of CEOs cited creativity as the most important leadership quality.

This stood out to me for two reasons. First, I recently finished creating a Pluralsight course on how leaders can boost innovation in their teams. Really, this is a big fat course on how to be and think more creatively. Whether you are a leader of many or a leader of one (yourself), creativity is important. Even back in 2010 it was important.

By the way, the article has a bunch of interesting nuggets… what they thought about “integrity”, what they thought about global business, etc. Check it out.

The second why the article stuck out was because for years my two favorite “c” words are creativity and curiosity. I wrote a blog post about this, but I can’t find it right now. However, here’s some quotes from me on Forbes where I talk about creativity and curiosity, again from 2010: The Seven Most Universal Job Skills.

I never, ever thought I was creative. I couldn’t draw well, I wasn’t very good at artsy stuff… One day I was talking to some career coaches and I said this to them and they got pretty excited. “You aren’t creative? Jason, you created JibberJobber! You wrote two books! How can you think you aren’t creative?”

It was then that I learned that creativity doesn’t mean being an artist. I learned that we can all create, and that we can all think creatively.

Furthermore, I’ve thought a lot over the years about how much we create vs. how much we consume. I am concerned that we live in a society that is hyper-focused on consumption, which takes the time that we could otherwise produce (or create). I’m not saying we can’t relax, and we have to always create… but I think we are here on this third rock from the sun for a bigger purpose than to just binge watch Netflix and Hulu our entire life.

What can you create?

How can you make creativity a part of your brand?

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When you rely on recruiters for your next job…

February 4th, 2019

You are setting yourself up for a longer, depressing, hard job search.

This is absolutely not bashing on recruiters. Ask many of them and they’ll tell you the same thing. If they even tell you anything at all.

We want to think that finding a job through a recruiter is like buying a car through a car salesman.  Here are our assumptions of how these things happen:

Buying a car: We come to them, we tell them what kind of car we want, they try to match the car that is closest to what we want and what we can pay for, we pay money, they get a commission, and then they go off trying to sell another car.

Getting a job: We send our resume to recruiters, we hope they figure out what we should do and how they can match us to a company they work with or the current openings they know about, they get excited because we are freaking awesome and a perfect candidate, they coach us through the entire process, we get the job, they help us negotiate the salary, and it is a win (for us), a win (for the recruiter, who gets a commission for bringing us to the table) and a win for the company (who gets a freaking awesome hire!).

When we buy a car, the salesman kind of acts as our agent. Yes, they represent the company, but a good car salesman wants to understand what is best for us, and then cater to that. They want to make a great match. From great matches come repeat customers and referrals. They really care about us.

However, when we are looking for a job, I’m sorry to say that there is no agent for us. Okay, I’ve met a small handful of people who are agents for job seekers, but just like with a real estate agent (when you sell your house) you have to pay the agent. For the most part, there aren’t hardly any agents out there.

And recruiters are most definitely NOT agents for job seekers.

It took me months to figure out that I was not a gift to recruiters. That my resume wasn’t going to change their lives. That in fact, they really didn’t care about me, and adding me to their database was about as good as having my resume thrown in the garbage can.

For months I tried to network with recruiters… over thirty of them. It’s what I thought you should do. I heard talk of this at job clubs and read it on blogs. “Find a recruiter in your space,” they would say. Someone who specializes in your title or industry. Then, network with them. Give to them. Open your network for them. They’ll appreciate you, and they’ll reciprocate with opportunities.

Nope, nope, and nope.

At least for me, it was a big fat nope. It was a waste of time. Thank goodness a recruiter finally told me that I’d find me a job a lot faster than he’d find me a job. That’s when I started to rethink the recruiter/seeker relationship. That’s when I stopped networking with recruiters for my job search.

Again, I’m not here to bash on recruiters. I just want you, the job seeker, to understand the nature of the relationship between you and them.

Having a recruiter-only strategy might be as effective as asking every car salesman you know for leads. Now that I think about it, perhaps asking every car salesperson you come across might be more effective than going through recruiters.

In Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi talks about “power networkers.” These are people who inherently network. Because of the work they do, they know lots and lots of people, and have some kind of connection or relationship with them. If I remember right, he talks about lawyers and accountants as power networkers. Recruiters should be power networkers. But I’ve found that if you are a job seeker, and don’t fit any of their openings, they are very, very busy and don’t have time to talk to, or help, you.

Bottom line: please don’t have a recruiter-centric strategy for your job search. It will likely be disappointing and drawn-out.

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2019 Career Resolutions for 2019 for Technologists

December 20th, 2018

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by a dice.com writer, asking what my recommendations for career resolutions could be for technologists. I had three things I shared that I thought were pretty darn good. You can see her article here: Career Resolutions Every Tech Pro Needs to Make for 2019

First, and I think the most important bit of advice, is to work on your soft skills. 

I was not the only one surprised by the results of Google’s study of what made their top workers so successful, where the FIRST seven of ten things were soft skills.

Isn’t that mind-boggling? The top seven most important characteristics of successful Google employees do not include technology skills!  I’m still shocked.

But I’m not surprised. Soft skills are so critical in today’s world, especially where there is a certain assumption of technical abilities.

I have 30 (and counting) Pluralsight courses that you can access that will help you with soft skills. You can see my soft skills courses on Pluralsight here.

While the primary audience of Pluralsight has been programmers, my soft skill courses are applicable to anyone. Want to become a better listener? Want to learn about leadership, management, even career management (of course)? I have that, and more.

I can offer you a 30 day pass on Pluralsight. Just get a JibberJobber account and then use the contact us to ask for more information.

Pluralsight costs around $300 a year, which is a steal considering what it would take to, for example, go to school or sign up for a boot camp. Many professionals around the world use Pluralsight to keep their skills up-to-date.  Sometimes they have special offers…

My main point is, for your career growth, work on your soft skills!

Second, help others.

When you help others, whether you need help as a desperate job seeker or you are totally comfortable in your day job, you are creating great value in your network.

I told the author of the dice article about an opportunity that I had… what would have been a sure job offer through the brother of a close friend. It would have been awesome. I was at a networking event a few days earlier and met someone who would have been the perfect hire. In my conversation with the hiring manager I said that I’d be happy to pursue this, but they really should have the other guy come in, too.

Long story short: the other guy was offered the job. And I felt awesome, for the small part I had in his success.

Helping others can be as dramatic as that, or it can be as simple as saying “yes, I would be happy to meet with you for 30 minutes.” Helping others means you make introductions, or make calls on behalf of the other person. It means you remember someone’s name, or just greet someone kindly. It means you speak kindly of others. There are hundreds of ways you can help others…. I hope that this can be a career goal for you in 2019 and for years to come.

Third, do The Thing you know you need to do.

When the writer of that article asked me (in an email) what every technology professional should have as a career resolution in 2019, the first and second things mentioned above came to mind first. As we were talking, I had another idea. It’s hard to say “all technologists should do this.” We’re talking about tens of millions, hundreds of millions of people.

My idea was the one at the bottom of the article, the one where I was cited. It was that you already know what you should do. There is, I’m sure, at least one thing that you should work on. I’m not sure if it’s to get better at a certain hard skill, or to expand your network, or to get ready for a a leadership role or to branch out as an entrepreneur… I don’t know. But I bet you know.

So my suggestion is to work on the thing that you know to do. I don’t have a silver bullet answer for you… you already have the answer.

So work on that.

Happy 2019!

 

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Have You Ever Been In A Healthy Mentoring Relationship?

August 11th, 2018

In school they talked a lot about the power of mentors. “Go find a mentor,” they would say. Someone who was further down the path than we were… someone who could help us land our next job, or deal with an interesting boss, or navigate our career, or help with networking, etc.

I have always been a fan of mentoring. I never found ONE mentor, I found mentoring from a lot of people. I figured everyone had something to offer me, and I recognized that I might even have something, some mentoring value, to most people (as long as they were willing to receive it).

There are two big parts to mentoring: the mentor and the mentee. There are also rules, perhaps mentoring etiquette, of a mentoring relationship. Two of my currently popular courses on Pluralsight address the dynamics of a great mentoring relationship. One is on how to be a great mentor, the other is on how to be a great mentee.

Why are these courses among my popular courses? Because companies recognize the value of mentors. Because we all need mentors. Whether you are on the mentor side or the mentee side, check out those two courses. And if you have a JibberJobber account, go to the course tracker and self-report for extra JibberJobber premium upgrade days just for watching the courses.  If you aren’t on Pluralsight you can get a 30 day pass if you are a JibberJobber user – just login, mouse over videos, and click the first option (Pluralsight videos) to get started.

Any questions? Reach out through the Contact link!

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Book Recommendation: Learn How The Experts Do It

January 17th, 2018

There are a few reasons I am recommending this book, none of which have to do with the fact that I know the author Steve Thomas and his awesome wife Kris. I want to share this book because Steve has built a really cool company and is helping a lot of people. He is also a brilliant communicator, and if you have anything to do with fundraising, or non-profits, or marketing, you should learn from him.  If you are a job seeker, you can learn from his email (below) as far as formatting and message, and from his book on how to communicate with people and ask for things when you are uncomfortable.

The regular price is not a big deal (ten bucks), but for the next few days you can get this kindle book for only 99 cents.  What are you waiting for?  Here’s Steve’s email… go get this book!

Hi Jason,

My name’s Steve Thomas.

You and I are connected through Linked In. Our connection might not be any deeper than that. But I suspect you do understand the opportunities that come from some of these connections.jibberjobber_donoricity_book

If you are a nonprofit professional or fundraiser or know someone who focuses on communicating with donors, you might find my 99 cent Kindle book promotion interesting. (On Monday, Amazon will reset the price back to $9.99).

About 4 years ago, I set out to write a book telling the secret to raising more dollars from donors. It took much longer than I expected. Candidly, it was really challenging to write what I know.

I own two advertising agencies that create powerful fundraising day in and day out for nonprofit clients, year after year. These strategies were born in the trenches of that fundraising work.

What’s very cool, is that not only do these strategies raise more money, donors will love what you’re doing.

I’m not a professor or ivory tower PhD who teaches the theory.  I raise money for a variety of nonprofit clients. And using these strategies we’ve been successfully raising money for years.

The book is:

Donoricity: Raise More Money for Your Nonprofit with Strategies Your Donors Crave

That’s right Donoricity.

You pronounce it like electricity, simplicity or felicity.

I’m pretty pleased with it, and I think you’ll love it if you live in the fundraising or donor development world.

Donoricity will help you if:

  • You’re feeling that your communications aren’t connecting with your donors.
  • You’re sick of fundraising that’s embarrassing.
  • You’re weary of programs and systems that don’t really fit you.
  • You’re wondering if there was something missing from your fundraising efforts.
  • You’re thinking that there just had to be a better way.

Donoricity was born in the trenches of fundraising and marketing. It’s real-world tested. It works.

The solutions you’ll find in Donoricity will help organizations from start-up to huge.

You can get the first chapter on audio, see my video and find out more at Donoricity.com.

As I mentioned, beginning today, I’m offering the Kindle version of Donoricity for just 99 centsMonday, January 22nd, the price goes up to $9.99.

So for 99 cents you can see for yourself and improve your donor relationships. It’s a good value. And I think you’ll find it refreshing.

Thanks for checking it out. Let me know what you think.

st

Did you get the book yet?

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Eric Shannon on Job Search Strategies and Tactics

January 5th, 2018

You probably haven’t heard of Eric Shannon. He’s a super cool guy, and really smart. He’s also been in the job board space for 20 years. Isn’t that crazy? I’ve had a few calls and emails with him over the years, and I respect everything he’s shared with me.  So now it’s my turn to share something awesome, from him, with you.

eric_shannon_linkedin

Eric wrote a post titled Use big-ticket sales techniques to get in the game – how to land the interview you want. This is one of the best posts I’ve ever seen. It’s deep, and kind of long, but it’s definitely a post I can stand behind.

As a bonus, his followup is a post on how to land the job offer. Great stuff!

 

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I Believe in Cover Letters

January 2nd, 2018

Over the years I’ve heard, and written, about cover letters. The big question is should you really spend time on them?

YES, absolutely, is my answer.

When I’ve been a hiring manager I’ve read every cover letter I got. First, I skimmed it. If the resume showed the person was competent and could do the job, then I’d go back to the cover letter to see if I could pull out more information.

Should you really take the time to write a cover letter? You have nothing to lose (it’s never bad to write one), and only good to gain (if you do it well).

With that in mind, let me point you to my friend Barb Poole’s LinkedIn article titled 7 Cover Letter Myths You Should Consider. Read each of them… not just to get sold on cover letters, but to learn how to write better cover letters!

barb_poole_cover_letters

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The Shift In Your Marketing Message #JobSearch

December 27th, 2017

As a hiring manager I look for two very important things. It is your job to communicate the right message for both of these, but not necessarily at the same time.

The first thing I need to know is that you are technically competent for the job. Whether you are a mechanic or a programmer or a teacher or a whatever, I need to know that you can do the job. I need to know you have a minimum breadth and depth of experience and skills.

You can communicate that with stats and stories. This is done on a resume and LinkedIn Profile and anywhere else. A super powerful tool is a blog (or Medium articles, or even LinkedIn articles), or perhaps a portfolio. You use the right language (jargon) and can talk about things at a technical level.

There comes a point in my evaluation of candidates (aka, job seekers) that I assume that everyone I’ve whittled it down to has the right abilities to do the job.

This next thing is the deal breaker. By this point I’m not wondering about whether you can the job or not… I have something more important to decide: will you fit into my team?

Understanding that I have three or four or ten or more candidates in front of me, all of which can actually do the job I need to fill, the most important thing becomes which one will be the best hire? Which will fit into my team and culture without disrupting it (I don’t want jerks, and I don’t want a “bull in the china closet”)? Which hire will make me look good with my colleagues and bosses?

I’m not saying that I disregard technical abilities at this point… but I’m keenly sensitive to picking someone that I’m going to want to be around for 8+ hours a day for the next few years.

How in the world do you communicate that?

It’s not all about enthusiasm. And extroverts don’t necessarily have the upper hand.

Communicating that you will fit in well can be done through stories, of course. Share, for example, a time when you had a very challenging task or project that could have exploded/imploded… and how the team pulled together (and your role in that). Show you will fit in by your choice of language, and the way you treat people (interview at a restaurant? Be cool and kind to the servers!). Recognize that every single thing you do, that I or my team can observe, is part of the interview: how you walk in, how you treat people at the front desk, what you do in the waiting area, etc.

So there you go… you have two important things to communicate: one is that you can do the job, the other is that I will want you to be on my team!  Work on your communication so I can know that you are the right person to hire!

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You Are The Product: Learn Product Management and Product Marketing

December 22nd, 2017

I once hired a guy who had sizzle. Everything about him was right.

Until he came to work for me.

Then I learned that he was all sizzle, no steak.

Don’t get me wrong, he was a nice guy. People liked to be around him (generally). But when it came to doing his job, well… ahem.

Worse, for me as a manager, my colleagues (other managers) would ask me to harness him because he was causing problems in their divisions (spending too much time chatting with people, not work-related at all).

In the last 12 years of doing JibberJobber and my own job search, I’ve met plenty of people who were all steak, no sizzle. That is, they were very competent in what they did (from electrical engineers to dentists to marketers to you-name-it), but no one knew it. They didn’t have peers or colleagues who thought about them, talked about them, etc. They enjoyed a quiet life with a good job until the good job went away… their puny brand went away in the first gust of wind.

I’ve developed an amazing tool in JibberJobber.  Yes, there is a lot to do before I’m satisfied, but really, it’s an amazing tool.  We have an amount of breadth and depth that no one else has (for job seekers).  I’ve done a decent job at being the senior product manager here… but, who really knows about JibberJobber?

Well, plenty of people. I used to go to resume writer and career coach conferences… and have spoken at many of them. I used to network a lot with recruiters and outplacement companies. I have spoken at job clubs from Seattle to Miami, from Boston to San Diego, and plenty of places inbetween.  If you search “job search organize” (or any version of that), you’ll likely find JibberJobber.

Why, then, do I get people who sign up today and say “I have been looking for you for months and couldn’t find you! Why are you hiding?”

So, JibberJobber is great, but we are hard to find? Yep (sometimes).

I think many of you suffer from the same problem. YOU ARE GREAT, but the right company/employer is not finding you. Even though your resume is on Monster, your profile is pretty okay on LinkedIn, and recruiters are supposedly looking for you.

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

I submit that while you are pretty good at being the Product Manager of You, you are not very good at being the Product Marketing Manager of You.

When I started JibberJobber it was partially because it was my comfort zone. I was comfortable thinking about and designing web apps. I was comfortable working with developers and QA and figuring out how to get the idea from my head to the web.

I was not comfortable talking to people, networking, giving my 30 second pitch, and otherwise sharing my branding messages.

I was comfortable as Product Manager of Me, but not as Product Marketing Manager of Me.

Here’s the real issue: many times, the actual product doesn’t matter. It’s all in the marketing.

Haven’t you ever gotten something that was marketed well, but the actual product was a let-down?

I’m not suggesting that you, as a product are or will be a let-down. I’m just saying that you might have been focusing too much on the product and not enough on the marketing.

So let me give you this challenge: over the next week or two, figure out what MARKETING YOU means. Make a plan, build a list of tactical, actionable things you can do, and then work your plan. Become the best product marketing manager (of you) that you can!

You really can’t have one (a great product) without the other (marketing your product).

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