Sometimes, You Need Real, Professional Help

January 23rd, 2017

I am a do-it-yourself kind of guy.  I want to figure out how to do, make, and fix things. I want to learn how things work.  I’m not the most handy guy around, but I do like understanding what’s going on, so I can maintain or improve things.

When I broke my ankle I thought it was a sprain. After two weeks I gave in and went to an urgent care clinic to get it checked out. Turns out my sprain, which I was optimistic that I’d recover from without paying for, was a break… severe enough to have to have surgery.  That conclusion came through three different clinic visits (because I kept getting referred to the next guy), and cost $600.

Without a doubt, the only thing for me to do is to lie on a table and have a surgeon cut me open and put screws in my bones. Like these videos (they are kind of nasty). That surgery happens in a few hours.

This is not a do-it-yourself situation.

When I lost my job, I was pretty sure that I could do it (find my next job) on my own. And you know what? I DID!

Oh wait… actually, I didn’t.

I spent months doing the wrong things, spending my time in bad places, with marketing material (think: resume) that was worse than average (average is already pretty bad)… wondering what was wrong with me, and getting more and more depressed.


But I was too proud, and cost-conscience to look for it. I was also confused as to how to make sure the person I found to help me was really qualified, and the right person for me.

So, I did it on my own. And failed miserably.

My job search would have been shorter, more focused, and more hopeful with the right help.

Don’t get me wrong… I feel guided to have started the path of conceptualizing JibberJobber. It was eleven years ago this year, and while it’s been hard, it’s also been an amazing journey.

But, I don’t recommend the path I took to anyone.  Entrepreneurship, sure, but I’d do it differently.  And when I talk to people who want to do it, I share my advice.

Back to job seekers, though, I’ll tell you, do all that you can do, and do the right things, but if there’s any chance you can get professional help, DO IT. That might come from an alumni career center, or a job club, or, there are hundreds of trained, certified qualified professionals that can help you.

No, they are not cheap, but they also are in business to get you back to work.  On the flip side, some are more affordable than others.

Do yourself a favor… if you are at that point of frustration, and you’ve done what you know you can, but aren’t sure what to do next, start to look for professional help.  The three groups I’ve been involved with over the years are The National Resume Writers’ Association, Career Directors International, and Career Thought Leaders. Each of those sites have a link to find professionals.

Once you do your research, and are ready to reach out, make sure you ask the professionals the right questions.  <– read that post!

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Big Announcement #2: New Job Search and Career Management Video System

December 21st, 2016

Almost two weeks ago I shared Big Announcement #1: I’m Transitioning.  Today I get to share Big Announcement #2…

As I mentioned in the earlier announcement, I have been doing a lot of courses for Pluralsight, and as far as I know, I’m not doing any more courses for them.  This freed up a significant amount of time.  Oh, what to do with all that time?

Well, I decided to go back to the JibberJobber Video Library and see what we should do to update it.  Instead of making a few tweaks here, a few changes there, we decided to do a complete overhaul of both the user experience (UX) and the content.  Here’s what you need to know about the new video library, which was released in the wee hours last night:

A New Name:

Instead of the JibberJobber Video Library, we are calling this (some version of) the Insider Information Videos. Why? Because of who the video content is from… see the next section :)

New Content

Instead of just me (Jason Alba) doing courses, which is what I started out with many years ago, I am interviewing people involved in the hiring process. Right now I’m focusing my energy on HR, hiring managers, and recruiters. I love coaches and resume writers, but the feedback I’ve gotten is pointing me in this direction: find out how hiring is done by the people who are in the hiring trenches.

What does a recruiter really think about your resume? Ask a an insider (the recruiter)! What policies affect hiring? Ask an insider (the HR professional). What really influences a a decision-maker in an interview? Ask an insider (the hiring manager)!  There are other insiders I’ll interview… watch for new content over the next year.

The good news is that information from these people should supplement, and complement, what coaches are telling their clients/candidates.

Updated Content:

The LinkedIn content needs to be updated. I’ll review the content for the other stuff, and update it if I can improve it.

Updated Interface

“Interface” is a jargony, kind of boring word. But this is a critical point. Instead of a menu where you drill down to find what you are looking for, we approached this from a “what are the best ways to sift through tons of video content?”  There are three main ways to find answers to your questions, or the right videos for you to watch:

Categories, such as: HR Interviews, Recruiter Interviews, Fortune 500 Interviews, etc.

Tags, such as: interviewing, negotiation, informational interviews, etc.

Search, which is way cooler than you might think.  Why? Because not only are we searching on the names and descriptions of the videos, we are actually transcribing every video, put it into a closed-caption format, and when you search on a word or phrase, we’ll show you exactly where, in every transcribed video, we mention that word. So, in an interview, if we talk about salary negotiation five times, you’ll be able to jump to each of those five mentions easily.

That means that finding the right information in dozens, and eventually hundreds of hours of content, will be really, really easy!

Updated Pricing

For the last many years, the pricing to buy videos was simple: pay $50 and get one of the courses, like LinkedIn, Informational Interviews, etc.  You could even bundle one year of JibberJobber with some videos and get a discount.

We’re switching over to a Netflix/Hulu-like model: pay one low monthly fee and get access to everything.

But wait, it gets better!  You could pay for video access for one year and get a discount, or, the best offer we have is for you is to upgrade for one year on JibberJobber and the video library, and you’ll get 50% off on both. Here’s what that looks like:

Monthly: $9.95/month

One year: $99 (save $20)

Bundle one year + one year of JibberJobber Premium: $120 (save $60 on the video library upgrade and $60 on the JibberJobber upgrade, for a total of $120 savings).

Are you an outplacement firm, resume writer, or career coach?  Reach out to me for information on bulk pricing:

What’s more, this is just the beginning. Over the next months, and years, I will work on adding more content and enhancing the video system, FOR YOU.  Over the next few days I’ll be cleaning up the library and getting all of the videos categorized correctly… so it will undergo a transformation. But it’s ready for you to go into now.  Just login, mouse over Tools, and click JibberJobber Videos (right under Pluralsight Videos).

What do you say? Are you in?  

Just login to your JibberJobber account and click on Upgrade on the bottom left… the payment page will allow you to choose what level you want. If you have any questions or problems, just let us know here.

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Introducing, Closed Captioning Coming to JibberJobber Videos!

October 14th, 2016

For the last couple of months I’ve been working on a ginormous project… and one of the fruits of that project is to bring closed captioning to my videos.  I went through a learning curve, then the in-the-trenches work of getting my video transcribed and formatted for closed captioning… and then figuring out how to get all that in the right format so that video players will be able to take the transcription and put the words in the right place.

This was not a quick project.  But I love what it has produced.

Check out this two year old interview I did with senior technical recruiter Robert Merrill… it was a fun interview, and going through it word-by-word reminded me of how many awesome nuggets of wisdom Robert shared with us… all of which are still relevant to today’s job search.

To see the captions, simply click the cc button, between the volume control and the HD option.  Listen to this, read this, and tell me this isn’t a GREAT interview!

Here’s the first time I posted this video, two years ago!

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Simplify Your Job Search By Simplifying Your Message

September 26th, 2016

A while back I found a UX designer that helped JibberJobber get cleaned up and become more intuitive.  In our early conversations he said that he would probably end up taking out more stuff (links, icons, words, etc.) and not add much new stuff.

In a later conversation we were talking about a certain page, and he said that on that page there were too many choices the user had to make. Each form to fill out is a choice, and there were too many fields on the form.

Right now I’m spending time with my developers cleaning up and making more intuitive (= easier to use) a certain page in JibberJobber. It’s the page where you add a new Contact.  Right now it’s a big old form, with all the fields you could possible want to add.  What we are doing is, instead of adding more descriptions and “do this next” suggestions, we’re taking things away.

Don’t worry, you’ll still have all the functionality and options you have had, but at first glance, we are only leaving up the most important, most relevant things…. with the option to add/open the other fields.

This process is making me think about how we, as professionals, humans and job seekers, present ourselves.

When I was in my job search I wanted to put everything on my resume, and mention pretty much everything I could in my interviews. I wanted to communicate the awesome breadth and depth of who I was, so you could clearly see that I was the best person for you to hire.

In all of this over communication, I was burying the most compelling reasons for companies to hire me.  Burying means it was hard for the listener to pick out the information they should have easily figured out… but instead, it was like I was playing a game of hide and seek with my information. It was a lose-lose scenario.

Are you doing the same thing?  When someone asks you a question, are you giving them too much information?  Like this?

Interviewer: “Why do you think you would be the best person for this Quality Assurance job?”

You: “Because I’m really good at quality assurance, since I’ve been doing it for fifteen years.  And, I like to breed snakes. Snakes are very particular animals, and to successfully mate them you really have to know what you are doing… it’s not just anyone who is good at getting two snakes to mate. I make sure the mood is right, the humidity is just right, and even put on some romantic jungle music.  I also like to restore old cars, when my snakes aren’t mating.”

Okay, what the heck just happened here?  If you are a job seeker you’re shaking your head saying “oh my gosh, what a complete idiot! I would NEVER do that!”  But if you have interviewed a lot of people, you are probably thinking “I’ve got a story that’s worse than that!”

My point isn’t to dissuade you from talking about mating snakes (although, really, don’t talk about that unless it is a job about mating snakes!)… my point is to listen to yourself and how you are responding.  What is the question, and are you answering it?  After you answer it, are you adding more information that is just confusing, misleading, or distracting?

This concept applies to all of your communications: interviews, informational interviews, networking, written (resume, LinkedIn, etc.).

What can you do to stay on task, and keep from distracting your audience?



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How to “make” people want to help you in your job search

August 29th, 2016

Let me share what apparently is a secret to most people: the secret to making (or getting) people to want to help you in your job search.

I say this is apparently a secret because in the 10+ years I’ve been intimately involved in helping people in their job search, it seems that very few people actually know about this tactic. Here’s an example scenario:

Scenario 1 (what happens 99% of the time)

You: Jason, can you help me?  I’d like an introduction to John Doe…

Me: Sure… let me make that introduction.

You: Thanks!

Then, I make the introduction, and I never hear back from you. I wonder what happened… I wonder if you even reached out to my contact, and if you did, how did it go.

Scenario 2 (what should always happen, but I hardly experience it)

You: Jason, can you help me?  I’d like an introduction to John Doe…

Me: Sure… let me make that introduction.

You: Thanks!

[shortly after I make the introduction…]

You: Jason, thanks for that introduction. I just reached out to John Doe and have a lunch set up for this week.  I really appreciate your willingness to connect us, and that you trusted me with your friend.

I don’t wonder, because you followed-up… I know that you respected the introduction, and so far, feel good about this new connection. I hope that lunch this week goes well, and honestly, would like to know how it goes (which means, another follow-up).

Now, the point of this post is to get more people to want to help you more.  When I experience Scenario 2… that is, when the person circles back and tells me that (a) they acted on the introduction I sent, and (b) what they did, I find myself thinking “who else should I introduce to this person?”

I’ve been on the phone with people while they tell me what they did after the introduction, and as we are talking I’m thinking of other names I’ll send an introduction to as soon as the call is over.

I trust that the person will treat my contacts right.

You may hesitate a little to “bug” the person who sent you an introduction, but let me tell you, it’s much better to “bug” them with a short follow-up message, reporting back, than to not talk about it again (where they’ll just wonder if you did anything).

Try it – today, circle back, follow-up, with the people who have given you introductions… even if you are just saying “Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I just emailed this person and hope to have a conversation this week…”

That simple gesture shows you respect and appreciate their trust in you. And they’ll want to help you with more.

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city, state or zip jobs by job search

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Dream Job Lost: Plan for Moving Forward #Sree

July 26th, 2016

Many years ago I came into contact with Sree Sreenivasan. Back then Sree was a professor at Columbia (and a dean there, as well as the Chief Digital Officer), and a tech reporter for WNBC, where he actually featured JibberJobber twice, in NYC.  About three years ago he announced he was leaving Columbia to be the Chief Digital Officer of The Met (aka, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC)… what he said was his dream job.

Last month Sree announced that he was leaving The Met.  I saw this two minute video of him, talking about what he did.  I hope the video embeds well.. if not, go here and watch it. My commentary below this video (scroll down).

I have to say, I was surprised to see that Sree is moving on from The Met. Sree has always seemed to have the perfect career… he had a lot of power and authority, influence and impact, opportunity, and he was in an extraordinary position to meet lots of new people and have real, deep relationships. To jump from over 20 years at Columbia to a new employer was a leap of faith… and here we are, three years later, moving on.

Let’s dig into his video… first I’ll comment on some of his important points, and then I’ll end with an observation that he didn’t talk about:

“I was angry for a little bit”  I too was angry (for a long time).  He said he had to channel his anger… as did I.  I know you will feel a lot of emotions, even anger at whoever did this to you (and maybe at yourself).  Channel that energy into something useful, and don’t nurture resentment and bitterness.

“I put it on Facebook” Seems kind of obvious but too many people don’t do this simple thing: REACH OUT. Maybe not on Facebook, but to your network.  Reach out and let people know that you need help, and that you will accept help, and how they can help you.  Don’t do the job search thing alone!

“I made a google form” (asking what he should do)  This was brilliant… it served a few purposes: (1) it made people think about Sree and what his next move could be, which surely would (2) make them think about how they could help him achieve that (hopefully with introductions and leads). It also (3) invited people to share positive thoughts and ideas with Sree.  As you know, at any point in a job search it’s easy to get into a pity party and think negatively about yourself.  I found that after weeks of rejection and non-response, I started to actually believe that I had nothing to offer, and my prospects for the future were getting darker by the day.

“This could happen to you” This has been my message for over ten years. I don’t care how happy you are, how much of a producer you are, how great your company is… so many variables are at play here, that you have no control over, that no one is safe. Feel safe?  You better STILL be preparing for a change in career.

“What is your Plan B, C, D” Quick… if you had to change jobs right now, what is it to?  What is your Plan B?  Let’s go a little further and think about your Plan C and D and maybe even more.  You might be insanely loyal, but you are only doing yourself a disservice if you don’t have a Plan B (and C and D, etc.) AND aren’t preparing for those plans.  I had no Plan B, and learned that making it up on the fly was hard and painful.

“Save money” I know that most of us are living paycheck to paycheck, but we need to save for a rainy day. I had $1,000 in savings by the time I got laid off, and within one week spent it all on car repairs. Whoops!

“What are you offering the world today?” You need to think bigger than “I do a good job, and my boss knows it.”  What are you doing today that would make other companies and hiring managers say “wow, we want that!”

“People want to help you… “ When I was speaking in SoCal a few years back and made this point, a lady on the front row said “no one wants to help me, least of all my family.”  It was really sad to hear her talk about how she had zero support.  I would argue that in most cases, we all have people who want to help us… even if we don’t think so. Our family, friends, neigbors, colleagues, etc.  don’t want to see us suffer like this.  Here’s a big eye-opener, though: the people you might be sure will help you might not be able to… too busy, not know how, or not realize that you look to them for that much help. But please, believe that people want to help you.

“You have to be willing to accept the help” which is “very difficult” to do Yes, very, very difficult to do. We are generally good at giving help, and just unaccustomed to receiving help.  It takes heaps of humility to accept help graciously.  Get good at this.

What does Sree not talk about? He doesn’t talk about how he has spent years being nice, working on great things, and nurturing real relationships. His Twitter account has over 7o,000 followers (granted, not all of those are real people) because he is a giver, and a networker.  Sree has a contagiously charming personality, and people like him.  He has helped many people, and when you meet him in person you instantly like him.

I know that has a lot to do with the results he had with his Google form… he had a network, with real relationships, and actually tapped into that network.  You could too. I’m not saying you can’t be an introvert, but I am convinced that we all need to get much better at real relationships with people: family, friends, colleagues, etc.

Thank you, Sree, for being a great example to us!

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Fearless Salary Negotiation: Josh Doody and Kristen Jacoway Beasley

June 29th, 2016

Here’s the latest in a new podcast series from my friend Kristen Jacoway Beasley:


At that page you can listen to the podcast, or read the transcript.

Here’s one nuggest I picked out… there are tons more in this content-rich interview:

Kristen asks: “what kinds of things would you recommend people research before they go into an interview so that they’ll know how to show their value add?”

Josh replies: “That’s a great question, and I think you hit the nail on the head, that that research before the interview is really how you begin that process of telling that story by demonstrating, you know, first and foremost that…” Read the whole thing here.

Here is the page with Kristen’s other podcast episodes. Enjoy!

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Work, Vision, and Lots of Stage Time #LessonsFromASpeaker

May 10th, 2016

jason_hewlett_headshotI saw an ad on Facebook from a guy that I am probably destined to know: the speaker/entertainer Jason Hewlett. I say I’m probably destined to know him because (a) we have a mutual friend who talks about him a lot, and (b) I hear he has been active at SLC National Speakers Association chapter meetings, which I used to go to every month (and someday might go back to).

Here’s the first part of his Facebook ad (here’s his video that explains what the ad is about):

“In the past week I have received 5 urgent messages from speakers and entertainers asking how I’ve had such success in this business. The questions are all the same and people are shocked when I reply that it takes work, vision, and lots of stage time.”

This struck me because I’ve been writing about job search for almost 10 years now, and the questions seem to be about the same, and the answers seem to be about the same. I even got to the point, a few years ago, where I wrote “well, there’s nothing else to write about this stuff… it’s all been written.”

Jason’s reply has three parts, and they absolutely applicable to you:

Work: There really is no way around this… work has to be done. Sure, you could get lucky… but what you want (more money, a better job, owning your own gig, selling your own creation, that next promotion, etc.) will most likely require a lot of work. it could be manual labor, it could be deep thinking, it could be working through bureaucracy (aka, playing the game), it could be working on yourself (which is really hard work!) or helping others work on themselves… instead of having “work” be a scary “four letter word,” let’s embrace work, and appreciate the opportunity we have to work. Let’s make the fact that we have to work something that is okay!

Vision: If we don’t have a vision, then what are we working for?  “I want to be a….”, “I want to have….”, “I want to help…” are all statements that will help us know WHY we do what we do. Having a vision is especially helpful when we are faced with a hard task, or troubling times.  Vision strongly correlates with hope… and if we do not have hope, then why in the world do the hard things?  Do not let your vision (or hope) die… you’ll come to rely on it many, many times.

Lots of stage time: So you are a hard worker… and you have a great vision. You are doing great!  Whether you want to be on stage as a professional speaker or not, you need to be in front of your audience. For introverted software developers that might mean participation in online forums… for marketing professionals that might mean a blog on marketing from your perspective, for wannabe executives, that might mean hobnobbing with executives. Whatever “stage time” means to you, let me share two important points: First, Jason says to get LOTS of it. This doesn’t just happen… you have to (a) actively seek it out, and (b) when opportunities come your way, you say YES.  You want LOTS of stage time. Second, YOU WILL FAIL. I have presented hundreds of times, and some of you might know I’ve failed more than once. Once I failed so bad I seriously considered just not speaking anymore.  It was an embarrassing failure. I did take a few weeks off, but I knew that I needed to get back on the (speaking) horse. I did… and later on, I failed again, and again, and … then I found myself failing less frequently. I got BETTER. I learned from my mistakes. But I wouldn’t have learned from my mistakes if I hasn’t made them. Get LOTS of stage time so you can learn to be better.

Thanks for these three suggestions, Jason! This is a great path for an aspiring speaker, and it’s definitely a great path for you and your career!



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The Power of Job Clubs and Job Ministries

May 6th, 2016

This week I shared this with my two LinkedIn Groups (Job Search Career Network and the JibberJobber Career Management Group):

When I go back to the church where I went to my weekly job club (aka career ministry), ten years ago, my knees still get weak. I get nervous about sharing my 30 second pitch, and “networking.” You see, I’m an introvert, and walking into a room full of job seekers is not my idea of a “good time.”

But this job club was perhaps one of the most important things I had done as a job seeker. I went from doing this job search thing alone, in my house, to talking to others and really figuring out what I could do better, and as important, realizing that I wasn’t alone in this seemingly horrible journey. I got support and training, and I’ve been an advocate of job clubs ever since.

Humbling myself, going regularly, and even participating, defined the pivotal point in my job search. Even though I chose to start JibberJobber, instead of pursue a job, the time I spent with others, serving and getting served, brought me out of my depression and hopelessness.

My question to you is this: what job clubs are in your area that you go to, or would recommend? Let’s get a list of these resources, participate where we can, and encourage others to go. Leave a comment or email me and let me know about job clubs local to you.

Here’s a blog post I wrote about this back in 2008: Check out the comments, which as usual, are more valuable than the post.

In those posts, the groups people talked about include:

  • Sacrament, CA: Bayside’s Career Coaching
  • D.C. area: McLean Bible Church (I’ve spoken there multiple times)
  • San Diego area: NC3 Career Transitions
  • Madison, AL: St. Joseph the Worker Job Networking Club
  • Hoffman Estates, IL: St. Hubert Catholic Church

What are job clubs or ministries that you recommend, or know about?

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LinkedIn Summary vs. LinkedIn Experience Sections

March 29th, 2016

I got this question from Derek, who saw my LinkedIn Optimization course on Pluralsight (which you can get access to for free… read below):

“I just completed the course on LinkedIn Profile Optimization and feel that I have a strong above the fold profile which the video was mainly focused on.

The video didn’t focus on the experience section and what to write based off what you did at the company. You touched on writing mini stories for the summary and experience sections, I am not sure writing only mini stories will give the best overall picture in the experience section. Do you have another video on pluralsight that helps enhance the content for the experience section?”

This is a great question. After doing group trainings and one-on-one consultations for years, I feel like my “best answer” is jelling pretty good. Of course, there are exceptions, but in 99% of the one-on-one consultations I do, and the Profile critiques I’ve done, the answer below will be appropriate.

It’s critical to think about the LinkedIn Profile as one single marketing document.  If you break up the sections of the Profile, and think about them as a critical reader (recruiter, hiring manager, prospective funder, partner, prospect, customer, etc.) might, you could probably guess that some parts are more important than others.  For example, your Professional Headline is not only at the top, but it’s a part of your “mini profile,” and seen in other places on LinkedIn (other than your Profile page). On the other hand, the best way to contact me, or the seeking sections, are largely ignored (by design, because they are so far down the Profile).

If we think about the Profile as a single marketing document, the question is, what is the single message of the document?  I am now counseling my consultation customers to have that single message communicated in a concise and clean way in the Professional Headline.  This is what I call your “main claim,” or your primary claim.  Then, your Summary has five to seven secondary claims, ALL OF THEM SUPPORTING THE MAIN CLAIM.  These can be communicated in various ways, my favorite of which is the mini-stories.

You can see all of this in action in my LinkedIn Profile Optimization course on Pluralsight for free.  How?  JibberJobber users get a free 30 day pass to Pluralsight, which means you can watch this, and dozens of my other courses (including the LinkedIn Proactive Strategies course), during your 30 day window.  Click here to see how you can have access within a 60 seconds – no credit card required.

Okay, so in the Pluralsight course, it’s clear how to position the secondary claims and make your Summary much better than the status quo.  Derek gets that, but wonders what to do in the Experience section, which some people call the job description – the parts in each of the jobs you list in your Profile. This really isn’t a job description, although some people treat it that way. I suggest you make this more about YOU and less about the job.

How do you do that?

I think the best way is to use the exact same strategy as what you used in the Summary section. That is, secondary claims (that all support the primary claim in the Professional Headline), with mini-stories that (a) present the claim, (b) give a “for example,” and (c) quantify the results.

Mini-stories are SO powerful. When you align them with your primary claim, you give further evidence and support that your primary claim is valid, and that you are focused and understand your value.

What I normally see is resume-like statements that are super concise, and super dry and boring. Worse, they look cliche. They look like what anyone else would write that has your same job history, and is making the same claims, and is looking for the same job you are looking for.

Okay, you think, maybe that’s not so bad.  To be honest with you, having resume-speak on your Profile is better than the weak, non-information that I see on too many Profiles. So kudos for having anything that helps me understand you more.

But what I’d rather see you have in your “experience” sections are mini-stories that each (a) make a claim, (b) give me a meaty for-example, and (c) tell me why it matters (ie, the quantification)… this is what we accomplish with mini-stories, and (d) support the primary claim. This last part is important so the reader doesn’t get sidetracked by irrelevant information.

That’s my recommendation… from the summary all the way down through the Experience section… claims, quantification, and alignment.

Do you have a different idea? Leave a comment and let us know!

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