When the Job Search Is Like a Puzzle

January 21st, 2021

About a month ago my wife and our youngest kid decided we were a puzzle family. So they bought three puzzles, cleared off the dining room table, and started the first puzzle.

It went well. As it should have. We are (relatively) smart, and we had time. It was fun to spend time on a project as a family. The puzzle finished pretty quickly and I was left wondering “what is this huge hype around the world about doing puzzles? It’s too easy!”

Then, we started the second puzzle. It was way harder. Significantly harder. That’s okay though… we were puzzle rookies, and maybe we just happened to buy the hardest puzzle on the market. Somehow, with persistence, we muscled through it and finished the puzzle. Because, you know, we were smart.

Harry Potter Puzzle Job Search

So then… the third puzzle. We dumped it out on the table, flipped all the pieces right-side-up, and started finding all of the corners and edges. Immediately we realized that about 90% of the pieces all had the same coloring (black or almost black). This Harry Potter puzzle is (we still aren’t done) freaking hard. The pieces are way more varied than the other puzzles we have done. The colors are not helpful. And the way the pieces fit together are different than the other puzzles. We have definitely stepped into a new level of puzzling here. And we have, many times, questioned whether we are indeed a puzzle family or not.

Of course, me being me, I’ve thought about the parallels between our puzzling experiences and the job search. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

The System that Worked Before Won’t Work Every Time

The way I did the first puzzle was WAY different than how I am approaching this puzzle. The first puzzle had so much variety in coloring and patterns of the image that I only looked at the picture. And it worked just fine. But with this puzzle there are probably 50 or 100 pieces that are just plain black. No color patterns or differentiation.

When I started my Big Failed Job Search in 2006 I had to learn completely new tactics than what I thought I would be doing. Gone were the days of buying a newspaper and sitting at the kitchen table circling job ads in the wanted section. No, no, no.

When you start your job search today you’ll learn there are new ways to do things, and that some of the old ways just won’t work anymore.

Learn Job Search Tactics From Others

While working on the last puzzle our neighbor kids were over… a seven and a ten year old girl. I was sitting at the bench and they were on either side of me, standing. They kept saying “oh! I found a swoosh!” with glee. It was exciting for them. I kept looking at the picture of what I was creating and wondering “where in the heck is the swoosh??” After about the tenth time of their excitement I asked: “What is a swoosh?” Like it’s some little girl secret that I wasn’t privy to.

I was honestly shocked when they showed me the swoosh was a certain shape on some puzzle pieces. I realized they didn’t care about the colors of the pieces, or the pattern we were looking for… they ignored both of those. They were looking at the shapes of individual pieces. These girls could have put the puzzle together upside-down because they were looking at how pieces fit together!

And, while I was staring at what was in front of me, making no progress, these girls had put in like 10 pieces. This was the perfect example of learning from others, no matter who they were. In fact, learning from these children opened my eyes in new ways. I invite you to learn from others in your job search. Learn from people outside of your industry. Learn from insiders, old-timers, and as they say in India, “freshers.”

Just learn. Be open to new ideas, methods, approaches, etc. This, by the way, is a life skill that applies to just about everything we do… not just a current job search.

Progress Is Progress

Sometimes we’ll go to bed having put in like 3 or four pieces. Or, none at all (as is the case with this Harry Potter puzzle). I’ve learned that even finding ONE piece can be a major victory. And, over time, with the help of others, one piece leads to two, which leads to three, which leads to a whole section done, and the next thing you know you are putting in that last piece.

In the job search it is easy to feel like we are not making progress at all. We go to bed and think “well, I’ve sent ten emails and left three voice mails and haven’t heard back from anyone.” Dejection. Depression. I know it well.

But, ten emails and three voice mails today, and then again tomorrow, and then again the next day, add up. Eventually you’ll talk to someone. And then you’ll get closer to, as I say, “having the right conversation with the right people.” That is, eventually talking to a hiring manager about an opportunity you are hot on. Which, by the way, what my six week job search program is all about.

I know slow progress is frustrating. Not seeing forward movement is discouraging. Just realize that everything you are doing is moving you closer to your job. I know it doesn’t seem like you’ll ever get there, but you will.

Blaming Everything Becomes the Distraction

When we started one of our recent puzzles we were absolutely sure there were pieces missing. There were about 7 edge pieces missing… and we just couldn’t find them. So we counted puzzle pieces. Have you ever done that? It’s like counting goldfish in a bag (side note: I’ve done this plenty of times, since one of the snakes I owned only ate goldfish… counting goldfish is HARD. Harder than counting chickens :p).

We counted 504 pieces. Oops. Let’s try that again. 507 pieces. Um… we were supposed to get around 493 pieces, but we aren’t just short, we are over. Turns out, we are puzzle-counting-failures. After doing this a few times we just gave up counting. My wife looked up how to report missing pieces, and we finally just realized we should get as far as we could and then figure out what was missing. That seemed to take the romance (or, sense of accomplishment) out of the whole process… but what could we do. Probably never buy from that company again.

Frustration led to blaming the system and vendor and product.

Turns out, we had exactly 500 pieces, and they were all the right pieces. We just put one piece in the wrong place, which caused a chain reaction of bad placements. Once we figured that out we moved groups of edge pieces around and finally got it right. A few days later we had a completed puzzle. All of the time we spent trying to figure out what was broken, and taking the puzzle company’s name in vain, was time misspent. Wasted.

In the job search there are plenty of people to blame. Our last boss for letting us go. The executives for having made bad business decisions. The economy, the government, our “friends” who aren’t helping us get a job at their company, the resume writer we paid, LinkedIn for being dumb, etc. etc. etc. One of the worst targets to blame is OURSELF… for whatever. This leads to self-doubt and all kinds of destructive thinking that isn’t helpful to job seekers.

Blame takes time, and it is generally destructive. Don’t get me wrong: honesty, self-evaluation, and looking at reality are all good and healthy. But don’t make this central to what you need to work on. You need to get a job. You need to figure out what the right tactics are. You need to focus on working those right tactics. Focusing on blame, and letting that consume you, will waste time and make you angry at parties that really don’t deserve your time and energy.

Compartmentalize this for later… for now, focus on the task at hand.

Puzzles, Like the Job Search, Can Be Fun and Rewarding

After all of the frustration of working through a puzzle, putting that last piece in is so rewarding! The sense of accomplishment! The feelings of pushing through the impossible, making slow progress, and finding your groove! The rewards of finishing this trivial little project are hard to explain to people who weren’t involved. But the feelings are real.

This is going to sound weird to some of you, especially introverts, but I’m here to tell you: the job search, with a heavy networking focus, can be really fun! I hated networking until I realized that networking can easily mean deep one-on-one conversations, not going to a conference room with 500 people and being super superficial. I love learning about people, and their lives and history and what drives them and what they are looking for. I love helping people, once I understand how I can help.

The job search can be so lonely. I felt like I was the only one going through the struggle… all of my friends were gainfully employed. I was the ugly duckling. But finding my groove, working through things, and having mini-victories regularly was rewarding. Finishing my job search was rewarding. Small wins were sometimes my lifeline. And the final reward was ending the job search. Enjoy the journey… appreciate your growth and success. This is another life skill.

Vision Is Everything

Everyone who does a puzzle knows how important it is to keep the picture of what you are building in front of you. Usually this is the box the puzzle came in… which is always right next to your puzzle pieces. One of our puzzles had a big “poster” that we could reference. This picture helped us know where a puzzle piece might go. It also helped us keep the end goal in mind.

In the same way, you NEED to have a vision of what you want out of your job search. I recommend visualization tactics: what kind of company do you want to work for? What kind of boss, colleagues, projects, products, customers, schedule, commute, salary, benefits, etc.?

To get through the discouraging tedium of the job search, where you feel like you are making no progress day after day, hanging on to your vision of a brighter tomorrow, and a real reason for doing what you are doing, might be the only thing compelling you to send one more email, or make one more call. Experts and motivational speakers today talk about finding your WHY. Why are you doing things? What is it you are trying to get to, or create? You have to know your why, which will drive everything else you do.

Have a vision, believe in it, and work towards it. Your next job might not fulfill your vision, but could put you on the right path to getting there.

Puzzles and the Job Search

And so there you go. My kids have no idea that while I’m looking for that next black piece I’m really thinking about you, and your job search. My Big Failed Job Search was 15 years ago, but it has left an impression that won’t go away. It was life-changing. Yours might be, too. If nothing else, I hope you come out of this more empathetic towards others struggling in their careers, and with a resolve to be more helpful.


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Blogs for Branding: Length of a Post

January 18th, 2021

Blog posts can be as short as you want, and still be effective. Like this one.

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Becoming a Leader: Free Webinar

January 7th, 2021

Next week, on Thursday (1/14/2020) I will be part of a conversation Pluralsight is hosting along with Kevin Miller and Heather MacDonald.

Pluralsight From Individual Contributor to Technical Leader

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“I’ve been laid off 26 times!”

January 6th, 2021

Years ago, at the beginning of my JibberJobber journey, I was in Houston presenting at a few job clubs. I was invited to an outplacement networking group… which was a far cry from the churches I normally presented in.

This outplacement office was swanky. Seriously swanky. It was in a super nice building, on a top floor so it felt like an executive office. No expense was spared. It’s what they call a Class A facility, which means really expensive.

So I get there early and got to chat with a few of the job seekers. One guy said, with a weird mix of pride and conflicting feelings, “I’ve been laid off 26 times! What do you think I should do?”

JibberJobber Job Search Attitudes

“Write a book!” I told him. He was thinking how bad it was to be laid off 26 times… maybe he chose the wrong companies to go to, maybe economy happened, maybe Enron happened… but 26 times has to take a hit at your moral. When I said write a book I was looking at it from the other side: he had found a job 26 times! He was an expert in finding and landing jobs!

I often wondered what he would write in his book (which I’m sure he never wrote). Job search ideas, tactics, strategies, and attitudes that only someone like him, who lived through the emotional rollercoaster 26 times, could write.

This morning I was chatting with a friend and colleague about a pending job offer that was at a small, funded startup. She was concerned that working at a startup was risky… riskier than working at, say, a Fortune 500 company.

My advice came down to this: you have to understand your own risk tolerance. Then, figure out if the risk is worth it. Startups don’t inherently mean you’ll get laid off any more than Fortune 500 means you’ll have job security. I’d say the job security risk is about the same.

As we were chatting I remembered the 26 layoffs guy. I thought that perhaps the most important takeaway he could leave us is to be mentally prepared to always be looking for a job. Not necessarily applying, but you should always be networking. Always reinforcing and strengthening your personal brand. And eventually, when the time is right, get your multiple income streams up and running.

Really. I think more important that job search strategies (which will change with time) is the attitude that we have. Looking for job security? That’s probably the wrong thing to look for. Instead, figure out what you can do to be more hirable. How can you tap into the “hidden job market?” How can you have a presence in the right communities, EVEN IF you are an introvert? What skills can you work on to make yourself a more appealing hire?

Attitude over tactics. I’ve never thought about it that way before, but if you have the wrong attitude then tactics won’t matter that much… because you’ll just be back to “searching” sooner than you want.

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2021 Annual Theme: Accountability

January 1st, 2021

In 2006, during my Failed Job Search, I was at a job club networking meeting and they were talking about accountability. What I learned in that conversation went with me to my presentations around the world.

The facilitator said we MUST have someone to be accountable to. At the time, I was accountable to myself. TL;DR: It didn’t work. I needed to be accountable to someone else.

They made a strong plea to not have our accountability partner not be our spouse or significant other. That person is usually very emotionally invested in the outcomes, and will not be the same kind of accountability partner as someone who isn’t emotionally invested. I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough.

A few days ago I saw this tweet from my friend Caitlyn, and after pondering this year’s theme, I knew it should be accountability:

Accountability group.

Similar to a mastermind group.

Folks, this isn’t hokey stuff that weirdos do. These are strategic tactics that people who want to improve, change, and accomplish implement.

Finding someone you can report to is a strategic tactic.

I currently have people who for I’m an accountability partner. They report to me their status/progress, and sometimes if I don’t hear from them I ask for a status (although, generally, the person reporting should initiate the conversation instead of the accountability partner having to chase them).

Successful leaders have coaches, who many times are accountability partners.

This is a success principle. It is not a sign of weakness. It is not a sign of being incompetent. It is a sign of humility paired with the desire to improve.

We can all use the fruits of being accountable.

2021 seems like a great time to start.

If you don’t want to ask someone to be your accountability partner then GET A JOURNAL. And be accountable, in writing, to your journal. Don’t overthink this… here’s an example of what I did last year:

Considering my job is mostly sitting at my computer, I knew I needed to get more physical. So, in order to be more accountable, I send a text to someone every time I finish a ride on the exercise bike. I try to ride an hour and usually get somewhere around 20 miles in. I don’t think that is amazing, but for me it’s more important to be CONSISTENT. 20 miles, many times over the year, adds up.

So I send a text. I don’t care if I get a response. I don’t need an attaboy. But I send the text with the miles I do… like: 20.53. That’s it. BONUS: Since it is in my text history, I can look back and see how often I rode, and how my numbers were. I can see that coming off of a health issue I had to build up from 18 and 19 miles… and for a while there I was over 22 miles (that was a hustle for me!).

I am accountable to someone else, and I have a record for myself.

We are looking for the fruits, some of which come from being consistent with the process.

Whether you get a group, like Caitlyn did, or one person, or just your journal or a spreadsheet, become accountable.

Measure. Report. And then make decisions from there.

Here’s to an excellent 2021!

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Job Search Pain and Paper Cuts

December 10th, 2020

This morning I was feeling my index finger where I had a paper cut.

Ah… the infamous paper cut. We’ve all had them. I think my worst might have been a cardboard cut. Yuck.

Anyway, I was rubbing my index finger… you know when you get a paper cut that has healed over, but there’s still a flap of skin there?

Only, this morning, it wasn’t there. In fact, I haven’t had a paper cut for… maybe years. I was feeling for something that had hurt quite a bit (okay, I’m a wimp)… but it has since completely healed over. No pain, not even any indication that there had been harm.

And while I was realizing I was trying to feel for something that has long passed, I thought about YOU. I thought about the immense pain of a job search. The massive inconvenience. The embarrassment, and the humility required to do some of the things a job seeker has to do.

I would guess most people are out of their comfort zone when they are in a job search. Networking for fun, when you have a job, is one thing. Networking out of complete desperation and fear is quite another. Actually, almost everything you do out of desperation and fear is not fun.

Pain. Damage. Hurt.

I know my paper cut is a pretty weak example of pain. But even my emergency gall bladder surgery, or my broken ankle (which probably caused  the most pain I’ve ever been in)… all of those things sucked. And here I am, without pain in my gut, with a functioning ankle that doesn’t hurt nearly as much as it did before… healed. The pain has passed and I’m relatively whole.

I am here to tell you, from the other side of job loss, that your pain will one day be gone. The humiliation, the fear, it will be gone. It will not only be a memory, it will be a faint memory. And while you fret about it every minute of every day, in the future you’ll go days where you don’t even think about it.

You will be whole and healed.

You might not be able to see it from where you are sitting now, but trust me, it will happen.

Let me know how I can help.

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Anatomy of My LinkedIn Profile Header

December 9th, 2020

I’m diving into my Pluralsight Personal Branding course to redo it for early next year and thought it would be a good time to look at my LinkedIn profile. I like my header, and figured it is a good time to share what I like about it. As I go through this, think about what your header looks like. One of my main messages is to do your branding intentionally.

So here we go, with some elements of my intentional branding on my LinkedIn profile header.

Jason Alba LinkedIn Profile Header Anatomy

#1: The “Background photo”

Many profiles I see have the default background, which is FINE. Don’t stress about this. Some really cool background photos are extremely branded, with key words that communicate the brand. Those are custom-designed images (maybe you can make your own with a simple/free app like canva).

For a long, long time mine was just the default. When I talked a lot about multiple income streams, though, I finally realized I could (should?) put a background image that reinforced my interest in multiple streams.

I didn’t find an image I liked with MULTIPLE streams, but this was good. Plus, it reminds me of a really cool place I went to in Wyoming. It’s just peaceful. I doubt many people will get the subtle connection to multiple revenue streams but that’s okay with me. It looks nicer than the default image and it sparks joy.

Two sites to look for free images that might work for you (and your brand) are pexels and unsplash. Be careful you don’t do something crazy busy or weird. The point is to have something onbrand, not have people scratch their heads and wonder what the image has to do with your brand.

#2 YOUR picture (avatar)

This is really, really important. I talk about this in my course, and my LinkedIn profile course. Without going into detail, or the “why” of any of these, please make sure your image: is a closeup of your headshot; has a clean or uncluttered background; is approachable (SMILE!); doesn’t have weird or yucky or contrasting colors.

Bonus: Use the same image here as you do on other social sites. The consistency will ensure people know they are in the right place, as they go from profile to profile.

#3 Your name Part I

I encourage you to put the name people call you here, not your entire legal name. If your name has like 5 syllables but people call you “Tom” then put Tom! This should be consistent in all of your online marketing assets so people don’t have to wonder if they are looking at profiles for the same person.

#4 Your name Part II

In my “last name” I put: “, Product Manager”. This was very strategic because the name field is apparently higher weighted with searches, and at one time I wanted to show up higher in product manager searches. (I just gave you a really important tip to show up higher in search results)

# Your headline

I talk a lot about this in the LinkedIn course, and why and how to change this. This is a super important little snippet to update. By default, if you don’t update it, it will just pull in your title and company, like “Dishwasher at Big Company”.

I want you to be more strategic in what you communicate than your title and company. Mine looks like title(s) at company, but that is because I wanted to brand myself as a CEO and a product manager, while also increasing brand awareness of JibberJobber.

I might call this section the tagline, and LinkedIn used to call it the professional headline. I like “tagline” because you can (AND SHOULD) use whatever you come up with here anywhere else you use a tagline (even verbally).

#6 Your location

For many years I put something like “global” or “online”.  One day, though, I realized that it just didn’t matter anymore. I was trying to convey that JibberJobber was global, but then I realized people just wanted to know where in the world I was (not my services). So, put where you are.

IF you are mobile, open to moving to other locations, and are concerned hiring managers recruiters won’t want to relocate you, communicate that elsewhere (perhaps in your Summary). Something like:

I’m open to opportunities in Seattle and Miami,” or “I work with clients in Boston and Austin.” Either of those help me pull you out of just one geographic location and help me know you have interest or business in other locations.

So that’s it… a quick look at WHY I have my header the way I do. It’s all on purpose, just as yours should be. Check out the links I put in here for more information, especially the LinkedIn course.


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Of Shovels and Holes and Jobs

December 7th, 2020

You probably know I’m a fan of Dave Ramsey. Last month I wrote this tweet:

Dave is very principle-based, and his advice is meant for each of us, no matter where we are at. I love how instead of saying to start with six months of emergency fund he says to build up to just a month. One month is much more doable than six months, right? If you made $60k a year, you’d have to have $30k for a six month emergency fund (kind of… you could reduce that amount by what you pay in taxes, probably). Who can fathom building $30k into an emergency fund? I can stomach the idea of building $5k, but $30k just seems impossible.

And so he says to start with the one month, then build to three months, then build another three months. And then you are in a good place!

In my tweet I talk about the other part of emergencies… the part that hopefully gets you back into an income stream before your emergency fund runs out. When I ask how employable you are, I’m talking about things like:

  • What skills do you have, or can you learn? Pretty important to convince someone you can actually do the job, right?
  • Who do you know? Or, as they say, it’s not who you know, but WHO KNOW’S YOU! If this sounds like networking, it is.
  • What do people know about you? Or, in jargon: What is your personal brand?

My final thought on the tweet is to BUILD your employability… or any of those three things. Please, please become more employable. I don’t want you to spend months, even years, figuring out how to replace lost income. I want you to enjoy your career, which isn’t done when you are fretting to figure out how to provide for the basics (like a roof over your head).

JibberJobber Ramsey Shovel Hole

One of the analogies Dave uses that I love is that of the hole and the shovel. For example, he’ll have someone call in who is $100,000 in debt but only makes $20,000 a year. They have a very big hole (their debt) and a very small shovel (their income). Contrast that to someone who calls in and has $500,000 in debt (“WOW!!”)… but has $400,000 of income. They have a very big hole, but a massive shovel.

For most people, your shovel is your job. But when you create multiple income streams, or your partner has a job, you grow your shovel from just your job income to all the income. Creating a bigger shovel with more than one income stream is an immensely powerful concept. Businesses do it all the time. Remember the old, original Amazon, which sold books? They have since diversified into streaming video and hosting websites and a slew of other things. When we diversify our income we create opportunities to grow our shovel. The diversification can also create a buffer to protect us from unforeseen threats, such as a job loss or a pandemic.

Of course, filling in the hole, reducing expansion of the hole, or stopping more holes, is also critical. Can you imagine only needing a little bit of money to pay immediate bills, without worrying about loans and mortgages and other typical debt? I hear being completely debt free is so liberating. Even if you lose your job you won’t have your debtors breathing down your neck for past due payments.

In summary:

  • Build your emergency funds.
  • Build up your shovel.
  • Reduce the hole you have to fill.

These are three core elements to having financial peace, which can lead to financial freedom, setting you up for financial wealth.

P.S. Here’s an example of Dave talking about the shovel/hole (at minute 3:20):

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How To: Best Take Advantage of a Pluralsight Free Pass

November 20th, 2020

I just noticed on the Pluralsight homepage they are offering another Free Weekend. This one is from today, Friday, through Sunday.

Pluralsight Free Weekend

I also have on good authority that Pluralsight Authors (aka, content creators) might have 30 day passes you can take advantage of (just ask an Author you know if they have one).

Disclaimer: I have 36 courses in the Pluralsight library. See them here (they are mostly on soft skills, careers, and professional development)

I wanted to share some thoughts on how you can get the most out of any free access to Pluralsight when your time, and the access, is limited.

Number One: Make a Plan

Pluralsight has over 7,000 courses (and more than 40 interactive, hands-on courses). That number continues to grow. The problem is SEVEN THOUSAND. You could literally spend hours… days just going through the library to see what you might want to learn.

If you just learned about the Pluralsight free weekend and haven’t had time to make your plan, it’s kind of too late to spend much time on it. The clock is ticking.

If you were to get your hands on a 30 day pass I’d say to spend two or three days figuring out what you wanted to learn and watch, make a list, and then work your way through that list over the 30 days.

Pluralsight has the most comprehensive technical library you’ll find. One of the easiest ways to find courses that are really appealing to you is to look at the Learning Paths.

Pluralsight Learning Paths

On that Learning Paths page you’ll see tons of techie content. If you are looking to enhances any technical skills go find the write courses for you. Weather you are into security, graphics, machine learning, web development, front end, back end, databases, etc. you’ll find plenty of awesome courses. There are what I call HIDDEN GEMS in Pluralsight, which include:

All the courses you need for the PMP (Project Management Professional) certification prep courses (14 courses, 37 hours), which you would otherwise pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars for. This is a certification that can definitely help you in your career.

Also, the PMI-PBA Business Analysis certification prepartion (5 courses, 14 hours). If you want to be a PMI-PBA you could binge-watch this all weekend, for free.

I was honored to be able to do a course on emotional intelligence. Here’s a learning path called Emotional Intelligence for Leaders and Managers (7 courses, 10 hours). I can only hope that our world becomes more emotionally intelligent… can you imagine what a difference that would make for your career?

Embracing and Managing Change (8 courses, 7 hours) would have been an excellent path to watch in February 2020, am I right? My heavens, if anything is constant it is change. This is a must-watch learning path to help your adjust your mindset on how change can help propel your career, and even add more satisfaction to your job.

The Graphic Design (21 courses, 30 hours) learning path shows there is a lot more to Pluralsight than developer courses. This is a great learning path to upskill your graphics chops.

The Upgrading Your Technology Career (33 courses, 65 hours) has a bunch of my courses. You know I’m passionate about career management, and I hope you are too. These courses help you rethink your future, and your role in driving your future.

The Learning Paths section of Pluralsight take some of the prep guesswork out of your plan. Once you get started you might find there are favorite authors you want to hear more from. On the top-right of an course page you’ll see a link to the Author’s page, where you can see all of their courses. Find an author you like? See what else they have you’ll be interested in!

Here’s my author page.

Make your list, check it twice, Then get watching. You only have three days this weekend!

IF YOU GET A 30 DAY PASS, I recommend you spend a few days creating your list, and schedule when you’ll watch the courses, and then redeem your pass.

Number Two: Choose Your View Speed

The default speed that you watch your Pluralsight videos is 1x. You can easily change that, and many people do. On the Pluralsight player, click the 1 in the box, and you’ll see the option to change your speed to slower or faster.

Pluralsight Speed

I’ve heard from plenty of people that their favorite way to watch courses is to change to 1.2x or 1.3x. I usually can’t do 1.4+ because that gets too distracting, but increasing by .2 or .3 can get you through a course faster, which means you can watch more courses.

Number Three: But Slow Down

The purpose of watching these courses aren’t to “get through them” or “cram them in.” You really want to skill up, to learn, to grow. Sure, increase your speed, but make sure you are really learning and internalizing. Perhaps this means you pause the course every once in a while to write down some thoughts on what you are learning.

You should be taking notes anyway, but this strategy to pause and write down your thoughts should really help you learn the content more. Note taking is a learning skill, and doing a personal debrief, where you go over what you have learned and put it into your own words, can be immensely beneficial.

If you are going to invest the time into yourself, and learning, slow down and really think about what you are learning.

One of my favorite ways to do this is to write a comment in the Discussion area of the course telling the author what you got from the course. Not everything, not all your notes, but perhaps the top three things you are taking away, and will work on.

Number Four: Implement What You Learned

In all of my courses I share many, perhaps dozens, of actionable things you can work on. I invite you to choose one or two things to work on, and when you feel you are somewhat proficient, add another one or two things to work on.

For example, in my course on becoming a better listener, I talk about taking notes, or just being quiet, or listening to understand and not thinking about how you’ll react, or having better eye contact… these are specific things you can practice over the next few months.

When you watch a course, include what you will do in your notes. I do this with a checkbox or an underline so I can easily browse through my notes and see actionable things.

In the learning world people talk about Bloom’s Taxonomy, a popular model on how we actually learn. Higher learning happens when you “apply”… which is practicing what you have learned. Also, “analyzing” is part of higher learning, which happens when you have better notes and do a debrief.

Number Five: Teach What You Have Learned to Someone Else

Okay, let’s go to a much higher level of learning… as you take the course, take notes and think about things as if you were going to sit down with someone else, or perhaps your team at work, and teach them what you have learned. You know teachers get a lot more out of a lesson than a student does, right?

Back to Bloom, the steps are remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create. In order to do a 40 minute session with your team, and teach them what you have learned, you will spend hours doing each of those steps. During those hours of understanding and analyzing and evaluating you will really learn this stuff much better than if you just watch a course and walk away.

Even if you just sit down with your bestie and say “hey, let me share what I just learned from this course I watched,” you’ll have a higher level of learning. Articulating the concepts and ideas, and choosing what to share or not share, will help you critically analyze the content.

I dare you to try this. You’ll only increase your proficiency.

The End

You may know that Pluralsight Authors get compensated when you watch our courses. I want you to watch all of my courses, all day long :p I will get more money.

Actually, I’m a lot more interested in your learning and progression. If you only watch one of my courses, but it changes your life and career, I’m fulfilled. I want you to have more peace and happiness because you are taking career management seriously. Whether that means you improve your hard skills or your soft skills, it makes no difference to me. Everything you do will improve your career.

Being intentional, doing this on purpose, and getting something out of it, is all I can ask of you.

The first step is to get your account… here.

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My Kidney Stone and Your Job Search

November 18th, 2020

Part I: Back Story

A couple of years ago, when I was working at BambooHR, I had an immense pain in my belly/back/gut. I hoped it wasn’t something life-ending like cancer, but you never know. I hadn’t felt anything that painful since I had my gall bladder attacks, many years ago. I really hoped it wasn’t my appendix, which would only mean surgery. The pain was so bad I just couldn’t imagine it being anything that was no big deal.

I think it was a Sunday when I finally dragged myself to the urgent care to get checked out. The visit was a memorable comedy of errors… I’ll never forget when the doctor said I had a kidney stone. I was completely surprised. I didn’t even think about that having been an option.

JibberJobber Pain

So, off to the internet to see what my options where. I like and appreciate doctors, but sometimes their remedies are a little too… cutting. I read a lot of articles and watched a few videos and settled on a tonic that was pretty gross. Basically it was about one or two teaspoons of organic lemon juice, one or two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, a squirt of stevia, and water. The higher the pain the more the juice. I’d do this three times a day.

I dreaded the day I’d be in the office bathroom screaming in pain as I passed this little beast. I had nightmares about it. I didn’t want to be “that guy.” Alas, I never had to. About two weeks into my tonic, my pains were completely gone.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I’ve told you the entirety of my ideas on what to do. If you have gut pains, go to a doctor and get a real, qualified medical opinion. 

Part II: Current Story

Fast forward to last weekend. Pains where back, in full force. I immediately self-diagnosed because this is a type of pain you just don’t forget. I didn’t even hesitate to get back on The Juice, aka, my homemade tonic of gross (straight lemon juice + apple cider vinegar).

JibberJobber Hard Things Gross Drink

I was listening to Dave Ramsey a few days ago and ironically/comically he talked about having a kidney stone. I’ve listened to probably hundreds of hours of Ramsey and I haven’t ever heard him talk about kidney stones. Dave was talking to a lady who had a bad toothache and was empathizing with her. The line that stood out was something like this:

“When I had a kidney stone, I would have given a house to someone if they could have gotten rid of the pain!”

It’s funny because no one says “I’d give a house to someone if you could…” But Ramsey is a real estate investor, so he has a few extra houses lying around ready for kidney-stone-relief aid. The message, though, is that kidney stone pain is so bad it really should be talked about more. Perhaps it could be included in the list of the hardest things that people go through.

Friday night was the worst… turning around in bed was really, really painful. I didn’t sleep well Friday night. Saturday was super painful, and getting up from a sitting position required help. I could walk (hobble) after I got up, but getting up was almost a show-stopper. Saturday night was really painful, but not nearly as bad as Friday night.

JibberJobber Sleepless Nights

And here we are on Wednesday, each day (and night) having gotten way, way better. The Juice is working, I hope. I’ll continue to horse it down, even while I hold my breath, because I know that horrid concoction is somehow helping do something magical to the little beast in my precious kidney.

If this is like last time, in a week and a half I’ll have no memories of the pain, and go back to the diet that probably caused it :p That’s how we roll, isn’t it?

Part III: Your Story (Or, Your Job Search)


As a job search blogger I have somehow figured out how to have just about everything, every life experience, relate back to blogging. This morning I woke up thinking about how this relates. Surprisingly, my focus wasn’t on the pain… I know just how painful and scary and painful (yes, I said that twice) a job search is.

Instead, the correlation is The Juice.

There are two parts to this. The first is that it is weird. I normally don’t drink organic lemon juice, nor do I ever choose to drink apple cider vinegar. I would definitely not normally choose both. Seriously gross.

When we are in job search, we have to do things we normally don’t do. Like, talk to people. Reach out to people like a salesperson, cold contacting them. We have to get out of our comfort zone and do the hard things.

The word that comes to mind is “amargo.” I learned that while living in Mexico. Amargo literally translates into “bitter,” and can be for taste as well as phrases like “the bitter truth.”

The bitter truth of the job search is that you will have to do the lemons and the vinegars. Actually, that is your blessed opportunity: you get to learn and grow, and along the way you will meet some amazing people who will become a part of your professional network.

JibberJobber Bitter Truth Lemons Lemonade

At first it is super hard. But as you do it, it becomes easier. It isn’t something you dread, rather it’s okay. And then, after a while, when you got the hang of it, it is actually enjoyable.

NOTE: I don’t think lemons and vinegar, especially as much as I’m taking, will ever be enjoyable. But networking and branding and career management really can be enjoyable!

The second part of The Juice solution for my kidney stone, and the analogy for you, is that this is something I need to do three times a day until the problem is resolved. And, in your job search, you need to do the right things consistently, every day, until you land your next job.

SPOILER: Please, please, please do not stop networking and personal branding and career managing once you land your job! Your next job transition is statistically in the next 2 to 5 years, and if you continue doing this stuff during that time (as we say, “between job searches”) you will have a much easier transition!!

I created the to take the guessing out of what your tonic should be every single day. Even weekends (optional!). I tell you exactly what three things you should do every day for six weeks. By the end of the six weeks you will know what to do the seventh, and eighth, and eightieth week. I train you, gently, to manage your own career.

Just as it is critical that I drink my tonic three times a day, every day, until my problem is gone, it is critical that you do the right things for your job (or career) every single day. Depending on your situation that might mean you do networking and informational interviewing, or you focus on personal branding, or other things. I don’t know what your tonic is (unless you are a job seeker, then your tonic is The Job Search Program!), but I do know you need to do this stuff every single day.

Sure, take a break on weekends and holidays.

But don’t take too many breaks. Or you’ll end up where I was in 2006: no job, no network, no brand (reputation). It was a horrible, depressing place to be, and a difficult hole to dig out from.

The Conclusion

And so now you know about my personal life, and how my weekend was. And you can see how I can turn a kidney stone into advice for your job search. Charming, right? Please, please take my two points to heart:

  1. Figure out your tonic.
  2. Drink it daily, even multiple times a day if necessary.

My immense, intense pain sucks. But I know that soon, even in the next week or two, it will be history.

JibberJobber Peace of Mind

I know the pains of a job search. They are far reaching and acute. I also know that they can go away. Whether that is because you start a side hustle selling Aunt Ethel’s Famous Spaghetti Sauce or because you land your dream job, your pain will go away.

I’ve seen it happen, across the U.S. and around the globe. We land on our feet. We are resilient. And even though things seem hopeless, you will get through this.

As the good book says, and as a kidney stone doctor says, “this too shall pass.” 

With the right tonic, and time, and discipline, your pain will pass.



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