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Soft Skills / Professional Development April!

April 1st, 2020

JibberJobber YouTube LiveI finally decided to bite the bullet and do something that scares me: Youtube Live videos. And I’m jumping into the deep end, committed to help all the WFH people do something every Monday-Friday for the entire month of April!

Each day I’ll have a chat around soft skills or professional development courses I’ve created for Pluralsight. Below you’ll see the schedule for the month… You can see I started this morning (click the youtube link to see the recording).

Unless something big comes up, I’ll do these at 10 am (MST). You can see the most current link on my Twitter feed (twitter.com/jasonalba – follow me there or just check in daily).

If you have time, watch the linked courses before each call. I plan on treating the conversation more like a book club dialog rather than rehashing what I cover in the course. Feel free to share this with anyone you want… and hope to “see” you there!

NOTE: I’ll put links on the Youtube link text when I have them (as I go)… 

Wednesday (4/1): Personal Branding (course: Developing a Killer Personal Brand) (Youtube link)

Thursday (4/2): Informational Interviews (course: Informational Interviews) (Youtube link)

Friday (4/3): Working and Communicating with Different Personalities (course: Working and Communicating with Different Personalities)  (Youtube link)

Monday (4/6): Becoming a Better Listener (course: Becoming a Better Listener)  (Youtube link)

Tuesday (4/7): LinkedIn Profile and proactive strategies (courses: LinkedIn: Optimize Your Profile and LinkedIn: Proactive Strategies)  (Youtube link)

Wednesday (4/8): Career Management 2.0 (course: Career Management 2.0)  (Youtube link)

Thursday (4/9): Job Search Strategy (course: Designing a Killer Job Search Strategy)  (Youtube link)

Friday (4/10): Onboard Yourself  (course: Onboard Yourself: What to Do After You Land Your Dream Job)  (Youtube link)

Monday (4/13): Emotional Intelligence (course: Leading with Emotional Intelligence)  (Youtube link)

Tuesday (4/14):  Effective Email Communication (course: Effective Email Communication)  (Youtube link)

Wednesday (4/15): Teams and team work (courses: Working on a Team and Creating and Leading Effective Teams for Managers)  (Youtube link)

Thursday (4/16): How to Get Your Next Promotion (course: How to Get Your Next Promotion)  (Youtube link)

Friday (4/17): Mentoring (courses: How to Be a Great Mentor: Get More out of Mentoring and How to Be a Great Mentee: Get More out of Mentoring)  (Youtube link)

Monday (4/20): Productivity and prioritizing tasks (course: Prioritizing Tasks and Managing Time for Greater Productivity)  (Youtube link)

Tuesday (4/21): Presenting to leaders (course: Presenting to the Boss(es) and How to Speak to Business Leaders)  (Youtube link)

Wednesday (4/22): Building and Managing Your Career Plan (course: Building and Managing Your Career Plan)  (Youtube link)

Thursday (4/23):  Difficult Conversations (course: How to Have Difficult Conversations)  (Youtube link)

Friday (4/24): Innovation and/in teams (course: Boosting Innovation: How Leaders Can Create Innovative Teams)  (Youtube link)

Monday (4/27): Leadership (course: Leadership: Getting Started and Leadership for Non-managers)  (Youtube link)

Tuesday (4/28): Management 101 (course: Management 101)  (Youtube link)

Wednesday (4/29): Marketing and Selling Your Own Products and Services (course: Marketing and Selling Your Own Products and Services)  (Youtube link)

Thursday (4/30): Understanding Your Audience (course: Understanding Your Audience)  (Youtube link)

Friday (5/1): Customer Service for Software Developers: Delighting Customers (course: Customer Service for Software Developers: Delighting Customers)  (Youtube link)

Let’s do this!

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Please Avoid Scams! Fake Job Postings, Threatening Emails, etc.

March 30th, 2020

This morning I got an email that I am $4,311 late on invoices. Crap.

scammer

Oh, wait. This is from the evil scammers. I don’t use the word evil in jest. I am absolutely disgusted by people who do this.

People, PLEASE slow down. Look, think, ask questions, and be a little skeptical. Whether it is a phone call, an email, or whatever, please slow down, don’t panic, and figure out if it is real. The stories of scammers are so horrid, and that gmail and skype and other systems don’t have better checks in place is, in my opinion, appalling.

No, you problaby don’t owe thousands of dollars. No, you aren’t going to come into tens of thousands of dollars of free money. And no, your daughter is probably not abducted (I just watched something on this, where they have a girl screaming in the background and swear they will kill your kid, but it isn’t your kid). Sick opportunists.

Unfortunately, this is happening to the huge number of job seekers, with fake jobs.

The problem is that right now we are in a state of panic, and when we see something, whether it is scary or exciting, we jump before we look. PLEASE LOOK.

So, let’s break this down. I kind of hate doing an analysis like this because the bad people who put this together can learn how to clean up their evil. But I want you to see what to look for. Let’s break down this email:

scammer-email-anatomy-1

1. No one really talks like this. It’s close… it wasn’t THE red flag, but it was just off enough that it looks weird. I’m guessing this is common language for wherever Mr. Evil is from, but something sounds fishy.

2. The name part of the email address, to the left of the @, doesn’t match the name. Normally I’d expect it to be Ayla@ or a.luka@ or Aylaluka@ or something like that, but in this case there is no connection between the sender’s name and the email address.

3. This is a HUGE red flag, and BAD ON AOL for allowing this crap to go through. A legitimate company will not send you an email like this from an aol address. Nor will they send it from Yahoo, or Juno, or Gmail, etc. This email should come from a corporate address… and this right here is the first major red flag.

4. I didn’t catch this on the first pass, because I skimmed to the body, but notice WHO this is to. I am not rzclyryyf. If you click the down triangle/arrow (I did), you’d see that isn’t even a real email. I got it because it went to my JibberJobber email system, and as owner/admin I get all emails that are not assigned to someone on my team (for example, I would get mistake@jibberjobber.com). But look to see WHO the email is addressed to… another red flag.

scammer-email-anatomy-2

I won’t begrudge poor writing in general because we all write poorly. I could probably look through my emails and find a dozen examples, mine or from other people, that look like they were written by Mr. Evil. Having said that, let me show 12 yellow or red flags. Again, I hate educating Mr. Evil so he can do better next time, but YOU have to be vigilant, and here’s what should alert you:

1. “In view of your payment documents”…? Nope. Not in view of anything, and I don’t have payment documents. Red flag.

2. “an unpaid invoices” an is singular, invoices is plural. Anyone typing too fast could make that mistake but this just adds to the BS meter. Yellow flag.

3. “Period of Sep-Dec” Generally companies do quarters… so it should really be Oct-Dec. Very subtle… but it is “off” just enough that, combined with other things, you should be saying “wait a minute!”

4. “Numbers of those invoices” and then it has one invoice number (which seems too long). You have two plural words but only one invoice. Now I’m really getting suspicious… accounting people usually aren’t this sloppy.

5. “$4311,98” Notice there comma is in the wrong place (for US customers) and there isn’t a period in the decimal. The main thing that made this pop out was no one in the U.S. would write that amount without putting a comma after the 4, like this: “$4,311”

6. “settling the debt”? Nope, wrong language. Yellow flag.

7. “was March 31, 2020.” I got this email on March 27th. It should say “is”… but having this kind of notice days away from the due date is just a little weird.

8. In the attachment I’ll “find a list of unpaid bills with all the details”?  Poorly written… and this just seems off. Yellow flag by itself, but by now you should be screaming NO NO NO.

9. Everyone should take their bills seriously, but to have someone write it this way…? Nope.

10. Who “clears their bills?” Not U.S. people. Wrong language Mr. Evil.

11. “after you open this message.” Oh really? I had to open it to read it… this is just poorly worded, and should be a yellow flag.

12. The R should not be uppercase, but I’ll give that a pass. The thing that throws me here is there is no spacing between the message, the regards, and the name. Normally a signature is created in the signature feature of email, and isn’t bunched up to the body like this.

scammer-email-anatomy-3

Alright let’s bring it home. Here are the last few things:

1. Pigging-backing on #12 above, this email signature is all wrong. The name should be with signature block… this is weird formatting. Yellow-to-red flag.

2. I copied this company name into Google and guess what… they are investment advisors. They are in Newport Beach, California, not Montana. Their area code is 949, not 517. It took me 4 seconds to make those comparisons. The company name exists but the industry is not what I was expecting, and the locations are wrong. Definitely a red flag if you take a few seconds to google it.

3. I also checked this address. Turns out (big surprise) it doesn’t exist. Red flag.

4. Notice anything off about the phone and fax numbers? Aside from missing the dash in the right place on both numbers, there aren’t enough digits. If you are worried about being late on your multi-thousands of dollars payment you probably wouldn’t notice that, unless you were skeptical going into this.

5.  I must not get enough xls attachments in my email because I was immediately skeptical of this… it just looked weird. … update: I just sent myself a real xls file and it does not have that weird “office” banner on the top, nor does it have what looks like an off-color error message. Yellow-to-red flag right there.  Also, the name of the file looks weird… the numbers don’t even match the fake invoice number in the body.

Okay… I’ve given you 21 yellow or red flags in this very short email. I don’t expect you to memorize any of them… but don’t open attachments or call the Mr. Evils of the world out of fear or excitement.

What do I do with this? In Gmail, I click the hamburger icon here:

gmail-hamburger

Then, from the dropdown I choose this (and then click the blue button on the next screen):

gmail-report-phishing

You might want to reply back and try to game Mr. Evil, or lecture him. Don’t even waste your time. Just report phishing and hopefully Gmail and AOL will get better at shutting down that email address. And then move on with your life.

Mr. Evil, you are welcome for this consulting. Please email me back so I can send you the bill. Loser.

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Updated Pluralsight Course: Effective Email Communication

March 26th, 2020

As they say, “out with the old, in with the new.”

In late 2013 I created the Effective Email Communication course on Pluralsight. I was pretty sure no one would watch it because, well, everyone knows how to do emails. Who doesn’t know how to do email?

Pluralsight Effective Email Communication

Apparently, enough people needed this course that it did pretty well. If you didn’t know, Pluralsight authors are compensated based on course views. That means if you watch my course, or any part of my course, I get credit (payment) for that. Whether you are on the 30 day pass, or your company pays for your account, or you bought an account, it’s all the same to me.

Grabbed this before it changed...

Grabbed this before it changed…

When I created this course in 2013 the world was a different place. Of course, we didn’t have Coronavirus, shutting down pretty much everything (except toilet paper manufacturing plants). No, really. Things were different then. And so here we are, in 2020. Quarantined in our houses, away from our colleagues, trying to figure out how to work from home.

With changes in our work, communication, and technology, it was time to udpate this course. Perhaps the most important change is that this course is no longer 1 hour and 33 minutes (it is now 1 hour and 1 minute!! Woot woot!). But what hasn’t changed is email (and written communication) etiquette.

Without further ado, I’ll stop writing so you can go check this course out. You can find it here: Effective Email Communication. If you like it, rate it :) Then, click the Related Courses tab, to see a host of other soft skills and professional development courses (you have to be logged into Pluralsight to see those… below the image I’ll put the links to each course):

JibberJobber Effective Email Communication Related Courses

Creative Problem Solving and Decision Making Techniques (Milena Pajic)

Working and Communicating with Different Personalities (Jason Alba)

Working on a Team (Jason Alba)

Writing in the Workplace: Email, Memos, Reports, and Social Messaging (Alan Ackmann)

Becoming a Better Listener (Jason Alba)

Communications: How to Talk, Write, Present, and Get Ahead! (Paul Randal)

Introduction to Emotional Intelligence (Jason Edleman)

Avoiding Common Writing Mistakes (Casey Ayers)

Being a Better Communicator: Grammar, De-jargoning, and Articulation (Alan Ackmann)

Effective Phone Skills (Jason Alba)

Always a good idea to click on Related Courses, once you find a topic you like!

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Fundamentals of Success in Anything

March 25th, 2020

I have a confession. I found a show that has become my new guilty pleasure: Hotel Impossible.

JibberJobber Hotel Impossible

I had never heard of this show before, although it ran for nine seasons. But now, when I work out, this is my go to show. I don’t love what looks like fake drama… but hey, it’s TV, so I take that with a grain of salt. But just this morning I finished an episode I started yesterday, and watched another one before I got out of bed. My wife walked in and was like “what are you doing?” and I said “I’m studying.”

As I watch this show I am learning so much about business. It’s interesting to learn about it business through the lens of the hotel industry. There are so many blog posts I could write from lessons I’m learning from the show… this morning, the thing that stuck out to me the most was that in order to be successful, fundamentals have to be done.

In the hotel business that means:

  1. Safety is #1. Period.
  2. Customer service is key
  3. Cleanliness and maintenance is critical
  4. Business partnerships with other local services/companies is important
  5. Design can change everything (and doesn’t have to be expensive)
  6. Every person should have a well-defined role, with expectations and boundaries
  7. The right tools are super important
  8. Training can’t be overlooked
  9. Marketing will make or break your business
  10. Systems and processes need to be in place and respected

You can tell those fundamentals are not unique to hospitality. They can be applied to just about any industry, service, organization, etc. There are more, like pricing your offering properly as well as ensuring you have funding to do the job right. One thing I love about the show is that Anthony Melchoirri, the main personality, brings in specialists. He doesn’t rely on his own knowledge and expertise… he brings in bed bug dogs, campground experts, hostel experts, revenue experts, hospitality management experts, and of course, designers.

As I’ve been watching the show I’ve thought a lot about this, wondering who the Anthony Melchoirri is for my own businesses. I’m at least average when it comes to smarts, and I think I can learn things well enough… but I realize I’ve hit my limit on various things, and I really should bring experts in. I’m just not sure who those experts are.

That, though, is a topic for another blog post. In this blog post I want to focus on fundamentals.

If you look at the Pluralsight ratings for courses you’ll find that, generally, there are more ratings on fundamental, or basic, courses, than there are for niche courses. Fundamentals are critical… we all need them. We need to understand them, master them, and implement them.

JibberJobber Job Search Business Fundamentals Basics

Too often we can talk about fundamentals but in reality we skip them. I’ve been thinking about the fundamentals of my businesses and thinking about where I need to revisit, and make sure I’m really addressing them. Skipping over fundamentals (in a hotel, for example, housekeeping and maintenance) can make what looks like a good business really be a big, unsustainable mess. So, here are some ideas on fundamentals for my businesses:

JibberJobber

  1. Marketing: Including SEO, my marketing message, my brand, guest articles and podcast interviews, etc.
  2. Functionality: Question #1: does it work? Then: What is the breadth and depth of our offering (compared to the competition)?
  3. Customer service: I know we sometimes fail here but for years this has been my #1 differentiator.
  4. UI/UX: Two different things, but both on my mind since day 1.
  5. Growth: Both user growth as well as financial growth.

The Job Search Program

  1. Marketing: Need to increase awareness, which will increase signups and upgrades.
  2. Product offering: How good is it? What can be done to make it better?
  3. Partnerships: I think growing through resellers/partners is the key.
  4. Seamless experience: Many people who come to the Job Search Program will come from JibberJobber… and then go back. I need to make the experience seamless and delightful.
  5. UI: The Job Search Program is simple… but powerful. The UI needs to look cooler, more welcoming, more modern. People have much higher expectations of UI now than ever before.

Pluralsight Courses

  1. Next course: For me to be successful, I need to continue to add courses to the Pluralsight library.
  2. Learning: I need to learn how to learn better, so I can consume as much as I can as I’m preparing my next course.
  3. Presentation skills: Yesterday I was watching a course on Youtube to learn more about my next topic and I literally almost fell asleep. The presenter had a voice fit for meditation, talked too slow, had no energy, and spent 10 minutes saying the same thing.
  4. Audio integrity: My first courses were done on a cheap headset. I didn’t think mics made a difference… but now I use a $300 mic and the difference is night and day (one of which is unbearable).
  5. Visual appeal: I have learned that visuals are everything. If my visuals stink, my course stinks. I used to loath taking the time to look for “the right” picture, but now I do it because I know how much it matters.

Those are three of my product lines. I could identify key fundamentals for other aspects of my life, like father, husband, person, entrepreneur, etc. If I were in a job search right now, here are five fundamentals I’d really dig into:

Job Search

  1. Informational Interviews: This encompasses so many things, but especially focused, targeted networking. That is why the Job Search Program focuses on informational interviews.
  2. Consistency: You can’t hit it hard for a couple hours today, then play online games for two weeks. What are you doing EVERY DAY, consistently, to get you closer to your next job.
  3. Self-marketing: Including your resume, LinkedIn profile, tagline, even how you present yourself (visually, orally, etc.)
  4. Optimism: And, what I call HOPE. I have to believe that there is something out there for me, I’ll find it, and it will all work out.
  5. Financial wisdom: Do I need to cut costs (cable TV)? How long is my runway before I have no more money? Where should I invest (clothes, career specialists, interview coaching, etc.)?

If I were happily employed, here’s what I’d think about:

Currently Employed

  1. Communication: I need to make sure I’m communicating the right amount with the right people to maintain the right network at work.
  2. Professional development: There aren’t too many jobs where you can stop learning and just coast on what you already know. Always Be Learning for me is the Always Be Closing for sales.
  3. Excellence: I know you have plenty of opportunities to skimp and do a minimal amount of work, but take pride in what you do, and strive for excellence (balanced, of course, with time and other resources). This should pay off in the short and long run.
  4. Soft skills: You shouldn’t be a jerk. Some people excel, even though they are a jerk. But seriously, what fun is that? What if you could excel in your job and your career and not burn bridges and step on toes along the way? Being kind is fulfilling.
  5. Create value: How are you creating value in and for your role? What can you do to become “indispensable?” Yes, everyone can be replaced, but what kind of value can you create and provide that will make you desirable by either your employer, or if that doesn’t work out, your competitors or potential customers?

What about you? What area do you want to see improvement, and what are your fundamentals? My challenge is to not just make the list, but to actually have the right discussions about them, and address them.

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Economic Impact of Coronavirus

March 20th, 2020

Without minimizing any hurt, pain, and loss of life of the medical impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, I want to, at least in this blog post, shift the conversation to the economic impact.

Dawn Rasmussen Pathfinder CareersI have been saying I think this will have a bigger impact than 9/11, 2008, and maybe both of them put together. My friend Dawn Rasmussen, owner of Pathfinder Careers, wrote this on Facebook and gave me permission to share it with you:

Here’s the crystal ball as I see it within my “crackpot economic theory” mindset: (no scientific or economic basis for this- it is a gut prognostication based on what I am reading and hearing)

The ugly truth: This crisis is going to be akin to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

There is going to be mass unemployment to the degree we haven’t seen in any of our lifetimes. The Dow Jones is off 6,400 points this month so far; this after a $1 trillion cash infusion into the markets and an interest rate cut to zero.

As one economist put it: They’ve deployed all the nukes in the economic arsenal yet the market is still falling.

Yes, there is a federal stimulus package in the works but $1,000 per U.S. citizen won’t go very far when factoring the combined costs of just one month’s rent, utilities, food, gas, bills, etc. What happens beyond that 1 month?

Additionally, bailouts for corporations won’t do much if no one can work… the projections I am reading from a list-serv made up of qualified virologists and epidemiologists are predicting <18 months of disruption.

Things will get better than spike again as this virus lingers in the population before successful vaccines are deployed to the general population and create a new herd immunity.

All of that being said: basic services and functions still need to carry on, so there will be jobs.

It just will be shift into being a very hotly contested job market.

EVERYONE needs to sharpen their skills, knowledge, and abilities to be able to adapt to a workplace which will be completely shaken up.

NORMAL will be replaced with a new normal… it won’t be the same ever again.

Remember: In the great recession of 2008, everyone wanted “A” job.

In 2019, everyone was looking for a “BETTER” job.

I think we will revert back to the 2008 model.

Things are on hold now while everyone holds their breath to see what happens; once a new “norm” settles in, then it will be a free-for-all to find work.

I hope that we simply go back to the 2008 model, and not the Great Depression. The “hold their breath” problem is that employers holding their breath means hiring freezes. I personally know of layoffs, and a friend of mine just had a $40k contract “paused” during a spending freeze. I read posts by recruiters who say that there is no activity.

I think this is just the beginning.

Regarding this $1,000 we’ll all get: that will go very, very fast. How many people will spend that in less than 30 days on rent or mortgage? It’s a nice gesture, and I know it will greatly help some people, but $1,000 isn’t going to sustain anyone through this, especially if you are unemployed.

This is the phrase I want to latch onto, though:

EVERYONE needs to sharpen their skills, knowledge, and abilities to be able to adapt to a workplace which will be completely shaken up.

I don’t mean for this to be an alarmist, sky-is-falling post. While I think we are in for a serious and long ride, until things get stable again (I sure hope I’m wrong), I want to focus on what YOU can do.

You CAN sharpen your skills and abilities.

Why not take on a new projects that increase what you do now, or skills that could take you into another field? I’m thinking about people in the services industry who are OUT OF WORK now who could find things that are more conducive to working from home (UX, design, consulting, product or project management, programming, etc.). Need inspiration? Check out the people who are on this path RIGHT NOW, doing a #100DaysOfCode challenge.

Want to be a better writer? START WRITING DAILY!

Want to be a better ______? Start _________ daily!

It’s a pretty simple formula, and why not do it now?

You CAN sharpen your knowledge.

There are a gazillion ways to sharpen your knowledge. Read a book. You know, that thing with pages that you flip with your fingers? Not swipe but flip? Seriously, whether you read books or read articles or take courses or MAKE COURSES or write blog posts or however you know how to sharpen your knowledge, seriously do this.

Education did NOT stop when you got your diploma/degree. Self education is your responsibility. There are so many resources I could probably spend an entire 24 hours just reading a list of things you can use.

If you are ready to dive into courses let me know and I can get you a 30 day pass to Pluralsight (if I have any left).

The economic sky feels like it is falling. More seriously than I can ever remember before. I’m optimistic that we’ll recover, but it will be a rough ride. I want you to work on yourself NOW to help you through this and prepare for future down economies.

This is in your hands. You can do this. Let’s do it together!

Here’s a happy image to lighten this post:

crazy cat

 

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What Is The (JibberJobber) Job Search Program?

March 19th, 2020

Yesterday I blogged about What Is JibberJobber?

Today I want to tell a story of a different service that we developed. You can read the long story here: www.JobSearchProgram.com.

JibberJobber Job Search Program

The Job Search Program is not a tracking tool… that is what JibberJobber is. The Job Search Program is also… sorry to say this… not a comprehensive job search program.

We don’t talk about how to create your resume, or enhance your LinkedIn profile. We don’t talk about career counseling, nor do we talk about interview prep or salary negotiation. Because of this, I feel like i need to rename it (I might do that later). So what, then, is the Job Search Program?

It is very simply a daily system to help you land your next job, principally through informational interviews.

That’s right: this program is all about informational interviews. I want you to get closer and closer to real job interviews with awesome opportunities. That happens through networking, and informational interviews is networking on steroids.

The most important part of this course, in my opinion, is not the WHAT or the HOW. It is that this is a daily program with accountability. Let me say that again: You can read how to do all of the things below on various websites, articles, in books, etc. But the value of this course is that I spoon feed you three things to do every day for 6 weeks.

During the course of the six weeks you are making progress, and each day you “return and report.” You tell me whether you have done the three things from that day or not. This sense of accountability is critical.

I built this program not just to teach you how, but to virtually walk with you as you did it. Three specific things a day, all to get you closer to the right, and most effective conversations. This program will help you focus on on the most important target companies, and get you closer to hiring managers in the departments you should work in.

So what about what you actually learn? If you are looking for a COURSE: You can watch my recently updated course on informational interviews on Pluralsight (you can watch with a 10 day free trial, or I can get you a 30 day pass).

In the Job Search Program you learn:

  • How and where to find people to ask to have informational interviews with
  • How to ask people to have an informational interview
  • How to prepare for your informational interview with research
  • How to create the right questions for your informational interview
  • How to conduct the informational interview
  • The four key objectives of each informational interview
  • How to follow-up with the person you had the informational interview with
  • How to follow-up with leads to introductions you get from your interviewee, and start the whole process over
  • And, probably more.

Just listing this out I realize there’s more than I thought there would be, as far as what you would learn. But, if you think about it, I give you training and instructions for 42 days. That gives me plenty of time to teach and instruct.

Again, the value isn’t in what you learn. It’s in walking through a systematic plan, with accountability, day after day.

And that is why this is an amazing program.

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What Is JibberJobber?

March 18th, 2020

In 2006 I was laid off. A few months later we rolled out this site called JibberJobber, which allowed you to organize and track your job search. I have described it a thousand times this way:

“A replacement for the job search spreadsheet.”

Every job seeker knows what a job search spreadsheet is. A place to track who you have talked to, where you have applied, and when and how you should follow-up. Here’s a quick intro video:

I used a job search spreadsheet in my job search, and it worked great for about two weeks. But then it got to be a mess. I would add a column here, a sheet there. Soon, maintaining the spreadsheet took too much time. I have heard from career coaches who work with engineers that this is a problem… they’d rather tweak their spreadsheet design than actually do job search stuff.

The big problem, though, was that I was missing follow-ups I had scheduled. I got mixed up between a different calendar and a note to follow-up on my spreadsheet, and ultimately missed an opportunity to talk with a hiring manager. I was so frustrated at my “system!” It just wasn’t working.

I wondered why job seekers, who felt like we were third class citizens, didn’t have real systems at our fingertips. Recruiters and HR had systems, why did we have to do what felt like write phone numbers on our hand, like we were in 6th grade?

And so JibberJobber was built. I modeled it after CRM software that sales professionals used to organize and manage their sales prospects. Really, what we as job seekers do is very similar to what sales professionals do.

JibberJobber was born in May 0f 2006. We were the first such site to launch. Over the last 14+ years we have undergone continual changes and enhancements. We mostly focus on functionality… that is, we want to work well. Every once in a while we try to give JibberJobber a facelift, so it doesn’t look like it was created by engineers (I know, we have a lot of work to do here :p).

We’ve also seen about 20 competitors pop up. Some are still around, many have gone away. This isn’t the most lucrative business, really. It makes more sense to make a niche job board and charge companies hundreds of dollars per posting than to try to find a job seeker who will part with $60 (more or less, prices have changed over the years). It’s a weird business, for sure.

But there are people who need our services. We hope to provide HOPE. We want to provide the quality and functionality of tools you have been used to at work and home, and not resort to a messy spreadsheet or spiral notebook.

And so here we are, 14 years later. We continue to work on JibberJobber. We just launched a bunch of enhancements Sunday, and have a huge facelift we are working on. We have a list of suggestions by users, and continue to invest in JibberJobber.

JibberJobber is simply a job search CRM. Still, a replacement to the job search spreadsheet. Ideal for you, if you are in a job search and feeling disorganized.

I should say, some of my favorite users are those who have already landed but continue to use JibberJobber because they know networking is what we do now, for the rest of our careers.

 

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Decisions Based On Fear And Other Emotions

March 17th, 2020

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to make an investment into Pluralsight’s stock. I was talking to Troy, a friend of mine who is also a personal financial advisor, about the opportunity. He told me something I’m guessing all financial advisors say and know, but it was probably new to me. I don’t remember his exact words but they were something like this:

“It’s critical to decide NOW when you are going to sell your stock. What is your price point? You want to make this decision NOW, when there isn’t emotion involved, because later there will be a lot of emotion, and you don’t want to make an emotional decision. That’s when people lose money.”

Scenario: buy stock for $20/share. Think you’ll sell it when it hits $100/share. A couple of years later some previously-unheard-of virus comes along and shuts the world down. Stock goes to $2/share. Better sell it now before it goes to zero, right?!?

fear unknown

Asked another way: BETTER RUN TO COSTCO AND BUY LOTS OF TOILET PAPER, RIGHT?

Better stop going outside to get some sun, right?

Better stop doing the job search because no one knows what’s going on, right?

Better stop ____________, right?

What we should stop doing is coughing on one another. And do social isolation. Not out of fear, rather because it’s prudent in today’s world.

Here’s what you SHOULD NOT stop doing:

Working: If we are headed for a recessionary time, please don’t let your lack of performance put your name at the top of the list for first round of layoffs. Prove your value, do your work. This won’t ensure you won’t lose your job but it will help make you feel good about your contributions. Work is rewarding, and you need some sense of normal in your life right now.

Learning: Do not, I repeat, do not crumble into a ball or go into fetal position. You are going to come out of this… let’s say it takes a year to get back to some kind of normal. You can be smarter, more learned, have some certifications, with some new skills… Or you can brag about finishing every single series on Netflix ever known to mankind (and probably be a little brain dead because of it). Take this time to be better. If you want inspiration check out the #100DaysOfCode hashtag on Twitter, to see the hundreds of people who are improving their skills RIGHT NOW, day by day.

ALSO: I just learned that Pluralsight opened up all of their conference talks FOR FREE. Go check them out here: Pluralsight Tech Conferences

Growing: Take what you learn and practice. Do things. Get better. Take learning to the next level… from consuming information to actually applying it. This might be one of the greatest opportunities you have to really become more proficient in your skills.

Loving: Human relationships are critical, even if you are an introvert. We need to love, and we need love from others. Find it and offer it, however small it might feel. I guarantee there are people right now you could help in an immeasurable way by just showing them love (perhaps with a phone call or text).

Creating: Take time to create something. Write an letter, a blog post, an article, or an ebook. Make something in your woodshop or kitchen. Fix those closet shelves, or learn to do drywall patching. Make, do, build. There is a great sense of accomplishment in creating things, and it’s wonderful practice to improve whatever skills you have.

Living: We simply can’t stop living because of this scare. Maybe you’ll adjust what you do, but kids still gotta play, pets still gotta poop, you still gotta eat. Please don’t let the fear paralyze you and shut everything down. If that happens, shut off media (TV, internet, etc.) and get back to life. Consuming all of the analysis shouldn’t put an end to your daily routines, even if you need to shift your routines.

Serving: People need help. Some might need you to shop for them, others might need a phone call, or help with something. Anything.What can you do to share hope and love? When we serve others, we are usually the ones who get more out of it. A note to those who need to be served: LET OTHERS SERVE YOU! Ask for help if you need it. There are plenty of people who will be willing to help, but they need to know how they can help. I know this is hard, but get over yourself and ask.

Networking: I mentioned phone calls. If you need to get a call with someone for human interaction, they probably need it too. We aren’t used to living this way, and just reaching out and being human can really help people through their tough times.

Moving: Please get out of your chair or bed, or off the couch. Your body needs to move. Walk around the block if you can. Or do yoga, or anything. Move your body. If it’s true that 80% of us will get Corona, we want to be healthy going into it, right?

This morning my daughter asked, wide-eyed: “Where were you during the swine flu?” Like it was the Bubonic Plague, or the Spanish Flu. I told her that no one really felt impacted. These are unprecedented times. And it’s our time to thrive and survive. This doesn’t have to be the beginning of any kind of end. Let’s come out of this healthy, and better. For sure, brighter days will come.

JibberJobber Brighter Days

 

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Impostor Syndrome

March 2nd, 2020

I have been reading a lot about impostor syndrome on my social channels lately.

I think the old me would have said,

“YOU ARE AWESOME! Get over your self-doubt and negative talk and see yourself the way everyone else sees you!”

If I were coaching you I’d say,

“They hired you for a reason! You were the best candidate! Now do the job we all know you can do!”

They had confidence in you… why don’t you have confidence in you?

JibberJobber Impostor Syndrome

I saw someone say impostor syndrome is more common in women. I imagine there are statistics out there that prove that, but I’m hear to tell you, plenty of guys feel impostor syndrome. Unfortunately, this syndrome doesn’t discriminate.

Almost a year ago I wrote My Life Is Impostor Syndrome. I talked about working in a company that I had been following for years. It was really a dream job, with a super boss. But I spent months working through the weird feelings of not being the right person for the job.

Last fall I wrote Why You May Hate Your Next Dream Job. If you have impostor syndrome you will dread going to work. You might feel paranoid that it really isn’t a syndrome, and that everyone else feels the same way (they don’t!).

When I get on stage I sometimes feel like I have impostor syndrome. When I do my courses for Pluralsight I think “why am I doing this course? There are two hundred people who are more qualified than I am!” When I wrote my first book on LinkedIn I could have named you two dozen people who should have written the book (alas, they didn’t).

Sitting here, hiding behind my keyboard, writing a post about YOUR career, I feel like I have a bit of impostor syndrome. Who am I to tell you how to have a great career?

The truth is, these self-doubts creep into our brain and sometimes they settle in comfortably. They grow, and spew their lies.

JibberJobber Impostor Syndrome Self Reflection

A few months into that dream job, the one from the first link, I was in my office with my very smart and capable boss. By this point I was thinking he had all the knowledge he needed, I wasn’t bringing any smarts to the table. He also could do all of the things he wanted me to do… if he lost me it wouldn’t be a big deal. For over a decade I was used to being the chief visionary and strategist, as well as having to do a fair amount of roll-up-your-sleeves work. And here I was, not able to contribute any strategy or vision (because he had that all figured out), and in the learning curve part of doing real work…

So I’m in this meeting and I realize that indeed I did bring value. A lot of value. I was a doer. I was someone who could be giving a vision, and work towards that vision. I could understand the direction and strategy and get the job done. I could work with the right teams, I could represent my own teams in meetings, and I was smart enough to (generally) keep up with what we were doing.

My ability to do all of this was valuable in critical. It allowed my boss to hand over a lot of work, so he could make progress in other areas. I walked out of that meeting finally feeling like yes, indeed, I was the right person for the job. Perhaps there were others who would have been also, but I was just as capable. And for various reasons, I was the chosen one.

It didn’t last, which is okay. I learned a ton from that job, and boss, and opportunity. I had some really great experiences and I had a handful of yucky experiences. What I learned has helped me since then. They got value out of me and I certainly got value out of working there.

When we go into an organization, we’ll have those deceitful feelings known as impostor syndrome. Here’s how I suggest you work through it:

Have patience

Everyone knows, especially your boss and the executives, that there will be a learning curve to go through. They might not tell you that, but if you were being honest with yourself, you would admit you would have to learn stuff… whether it is their software, their processes, the industry, the company culture, etc. I didn’t even mention the tasks you do in your job.

Allow yourself to go through the learning curve. Give yourself time. When I bring on a new person I, as the boss, realize they will need three to six months to work through learning curves. I expect them to be slow, and make mistakes, but within 6 or so months I hope they are up to speed and contributing well.

If I am going to have patience with you for this first 6 or so months, why not have patience with yourself?

Study up

Having patience doesn’t mean just skating along and doing things without intention. I just don’t want you to stress out unreasonably as you ramp up. But some stress is okay… just don’t let it eat into your very soul.

Remember I said you’ll go through learning curves? Well, what can YOU DO to get you through those learning curves? Do you need to read books or articles, or watch courses? What would help you feel like you are learning the right things, at the right pace?

Before you take the drastic step of bowing out, giving up, quitting, do me a favor and WORK ON YOURSELF. You should always be learning, always growing, always improving, even when you don’t feel confident in your abilities.

Please, figure out what you should work on, and then spend time outside of the office to get better. Your boss or colleagues might provide you with some excellent learning materials.

Talk to someone

Fortunately I could talk to my boss. We had some very open conversations where he helped me calm my fears. I wasn’t out of control outwardly, but I was concerned about some things. Getting these things into our regular conversation was helpful for me to realize that some of my worries were mine alone, and didn’t even faze him. That was super important for me to understand.

You might not have a boss like that. Or you might not be ready to have that conversation with your boss. In that case, find a trusted colleague, friend, or even a coach that you can talk through these things with. Sometimes our perspective is biased and skewed in unfair ways, and we just need to talk out loud and maybe get real, grounded insight to help us work through it.

How do YOU fight impostor syndrome? I hope by now you realize it is not just you… this is almost a normal part of onboarding yourself.

JibberJobber Impostor Syndrome Confidence

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When

February 24th, 2020

JibberJobber Waiting For HappinessWhen ____________, I’ll be happy.

When I knew what college I was going to, I’d be happy.

When I figured out what to major in, I would be happy.

When I finally was going to graduate, I would be happy.

When I got a real job, I’d be happy.

When I landed a job, after I lost mine in 2006, maybe I could be happy again.

Once the workplace culture changed, and wasn’t toxic, then I could be happy.

If I could just get a raise, then I’d be happy.

If I could get another raise, I’ll definitely be happy.

Really, last time… I just need another raise, so I can be happy.

I knew a lady who was pretty cool. I didn’t know her well, but we were kind of in the same social circles. One day (after years of lots of hard work) she and her husband became wealthy. They bought a mansion. She drove a crazy cool car. And she always looked happy.

I knew that if I became wealthy (like she had) I would have a big smile on my face all the time, too. I knew that I would be able to relax, and enjoy life, finally. Kind of put the hard parts of “adulting” aside.  When that finally happened, I could be as happy as she was.

I commented about how happy she was to a friend. I didn’t know my friend was her close friend. He said, “What’s cool is that she has always been like that. Even in the hard times, while her husband was building his business, when they didn’t have any money, etc., she was always happy. She hasn’t even changed… she has always been like that.”

It was then I realized I had been lying to myself. I was a liar. Because even when I got to the end of whatever little journey I was on, I wasn’t going to be happy. I would have another journey to work on, and when I finished that, I wouldn’t be happy. I finally realized the endless cycle of “when this happens, I’ll be happy” was just a lie.

I started to think I needed to figure out how to enjoy the journey. Enjoy the opportunity to be on it. Enjoy the challenges and the unknowns and the hard parts. I needed to find happiness while, not when.

JibberJobber While Not When

And that has become my new journey. I strive to be happy along the journey, instead of buying into the lie that I’ll be happy when the journey is over.

Years ago a close friend asked me if I was “happy with where JibberJobber was at.” I quietly thought about and finally responded, “I’m happy, but I’m not satisfied.”

That was so freeing. So empowering. To know that happy didn’t mean the end. There was more that I could do, more than I would do. And I’d let that unsatisfaction drive me.  I figure that is much healthier than having unhappiness drive me.

Happy Monday! I hope this helps shift your thinking about where you are at, especially if you are in transition, so you can find happiness, even in these dark times.

JibberJobber Job Search Dark Times

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