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Internet Job Search Do’s and Don’ts

June 3rd, 2021

Back in the 1900’s you found a job with the help of a newspaper. I lost my job in 2006 and guess what I did? I went to look for a newspaper, to see the classified section! I wanted to compare it to what I would find online.

I only bought one, and quickly realized the small list of jobs posted there were not a fit for me. I switched over to an internet job search, as had the rest of the world. The internet job search can be quite confusing. You have job board aggregators, like Indeed, which somehow compete with regular job boards like Monster. You have sites for salary comparison and sites to give you a peek into what it is really like to work there (like Glassdoor). You have networking sites like LinkedIn, and of course, sites to track your job search activities, like JibberJobber. All the tools and all the advice can get quite overwhelming, which I think is why people find themselves going back to the basics. In this post I will share five do’s and five don’ts of todays internet job search.

Which of the following is an Internet job search “do”?

Do #1: Get your LinkedIn Profile in order. 

This is probably the first, and one of the easiest, things to do. I’ve done tons of LinkedIn consultations over the years and I think I’ve seen one or two where I said, “This is pretty good! You don’t really need to update anything!” Every other profile had some easy-to-fix stuff. I want you to do this first because everything else you do in your job search, from the first networking conversation or applying to a job to the final interview, will likely circle back to your profile. I’ve been in interview rooms (on both sides of the table) where the interviewers have a printed copy of the resume and the top of the LinkedIn profile. I created a course on updating your LinkedIn profile on Pluralsight.

Do #2: FOLLOW UP! 

It’s easy to email multiple someones and apply to dozens of job postings, and then do it again and again. What’s not as easy is to follow up and show people you are actually, really, genuinely interested in whatever your first contact was about. I’ve found that I am busy. If you message me once your email (or call, or voice mail) might get lost in the next five things I’ve got to get to today. Figure out the right amount of follow up before you move on, but I’ll tell you: one contact is usually not enough.

Do #3: Use job boards for research. 

Yes, yes, of course you’ll use job boards to apply for jobs. It’s so easy and enticing to apply to jobs on job boards. Of course, I want you to try to network into those companies and opportunities, too. But this point is about another use for job boards: research. Looking at job postings should give you an excellent idea of where companies are looking to invest. Research through job boards can give you insight into industry trends, company needs, and changes in actual roles. Before you go to an interview, pull five or ten job descriptions for the title you are interviewing for and do a side-by-side comparison. That should give you a better range of vocabulary, expectations, etc. than you’ll get from one job description.

Do #4: Write better emails.

A big part of an online job search is electronic correspondence. This could be emails, text, chat, etc. There are definitely things you could do to communicate better online. A few things that come to mind are, first, be timely. I’m currently communicating with a service professional who is horrible at corresponding. When I send a message and get no reply I think “they don’t really care about my business.” As a job seeker that is definitely not the message you want to communicate. Also, learn to be concise in your communications… say what needs to be said and edit out superfluous stuff. Have a great subject line, and make sure you have a clear call to action.  I talk about all of this in my Effective Email Communication course on Pluralsight.

Do #5: Complement online with offline. 

I did a 100% online job search and it was a failure. There is no single silver bullet in the job search. You need to email, apply, research, network, talk to people one-on-one, follow-up, etc. Much of this can be done online but there’s no good replacement to develop a trusting relationship than phone calls and in-person meetings. Don’t be afraid to meet and talk to others. I know it doesn’t seem efficient but if you could get someone to actually like and trust you, which happens over various touchpoints (or, communications), you can have someone helping you in your job search, giving you referrals and introductions. That can be much more effective than applying for yet another job (and hearing nothing back). I’m guessing a 100% online job search strategy will be lonely, long, and disappointing.

Which of the following is an Internet job search “don’t”?

Don’t #1: Don’t rely exclusively on job boards.

This was easily my greatest mistake. I spent almost all of my time on job boards, looking and applying. A job board strategy has never been the #1 on any “how to find a job” list. Job boards have a place, for sure, but they should not be the bulk of your strategy. Instead of spending more time searching on job boards, figure out who you should network with, then pick up the phone and make some calls until you get to talk to those people. I know this is way scarier than sending emails, but being unemployed for a long time is scarier than picking up the phone.

Don’t #2: Don’t focus on just a few companies, or just one title. 

When I started my job search I had about three or four companies I knew I’d like to work in, and one or two job titles. It wasn’t until two or three weeks later I’d find a title that was new to me, and I was in love. I had been looking for the wrong thing the whole time. It’s hard to know what to look for if you’ve never heard of the title before, of course. I want you to keep your eyes open as you spend time online looking at and for jobs, and have an open mind as you come across titles that you might not have thought about.

Don’t #3: Don’t believe everything you read online.

I’m not talking about the news… I’m talking about jobs. If you were to look for openings at one of your target companies and see none, does that mean there are no opportunities? Most definitely not. Maybe they don’t post jobs online. Maybe they have a few openings but are asking their team who they would recommend. Just because you don’t find something doesn’t mean you should give up. Network into the organization, ask questions, find out what their needs are, and prepare yourself to have the best conversation with decision makers.

Don’t #4: Don’t stop, even if you hear nothing.

The job search can feel lonely, and you might be anxious to hear from people who could and should help you. One of my great disappointments was learning my sense of urgency was very high while the people I talked to had a lot of other things going on. For example, I could have used a job right away, which meant today or tomorrow, while some people I talked with thought right away meant next quarter. You need to keep working, keep trying, even if no one responds. Perhaps learn why people are not responding and change your tactics, but keep working it. You are bound to eventually talk to the right people.

Don’t #5: Don’t think you can throw all of your new skills away when you get your job. 

Once you land you will be tempted to stop networking, stop thinking about and working on your personal brand. I beg you to not do that. My invitation to you is to learn how to really be CEO of Me, Inc. This is your opportunity… to get serious about your relationships, your brand, your tactics, and do them even when you are employed. Help others, give to others, keep your ear to the ground, and pay attention to industry trends. Instead of acting like a job transition is a huge surprise, embrace it. It will be easier to embrace if you have been doing the work that goes into a successful job search. But please don’t stop everything related to career management.

So there you go… 10 ideas to have a better internet job search!

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Step Away from Your Job Search

June 1st, 2021

I recently wrote a tweet about “stepping away.” This is based on a project I was working on, and getting stuck. I could stare at the screen for minutes… er, hours, and make no progress. Or, I could walk away.

I chose to walk away and address it the following day, which inspired this tweet (I’m also including Jacqui’s response/forward):

I am reminded of my Big Fat Failed Job Search, from early 2006. The economy was great, talent was getting picked up quickly, and I was there all alone not even getting replies to emails or applications. I spent hour after hour getting nowhere. It was frustrating and depressing.

I later found myself on a podcast talking to some recruiters. One of them said the average job seeker spent something like ten hours a week on their job search. I said that didn’t sound right to me… the people I met at job clubs were definitely spending more than ten hours a week. I said I spent about ten hours a day, Monday through Saturday (that is 60 hours a week) on my job search. The guy yelled at me, insinuating that I wasn’t being honest, and saying that I was an anomaly.

I left that podcast in disbelief that people in my situation, hungry, desperate, and in need of a new job (and income) would only work on it ten hours a week.

I’m certainly not promoting 60 hours a week. It was exhausting, especially since I wasn’t making any progress. Of course, 60 hours a week of good tactics that were producing results would have been different. I’ve always known I should have done a job search differently… not spent nearly as much time on job boards and done some REAL networking and follow up (which is why I created the Job Search Program system). But one thing I wish I would have done back then was to STEP AWAY.

60 hours of unproductive, depressing work was not helpful.

If I could counsel my younger job seeker self I would say to step away, every day.

Figure out the most important things I needed to do each day, and do them early in the day. Then, instead of restlessly tinkering on job boards, hoping to find something, I’d say go out and do something productive.

Ideally it would be some networking thing… whether that is with a neighbor or on a call with someone I met at a networking event. Call someone, talk to someone, practice your branding pitches, ask how you could help them, develop and nurture a relationship, ask for introductions, learn about titles, roles, companies, opportunities, networking events, etc.

I spent about 100% of my time on my computer and about 0% of my time doing stuff from that last paragraph. Which is why 2006 was the year of my Big Fat Failed Job Search.

Step away and get your other stuff done. I’m sure you have laundry, dishes, maintenance, exercise, reading, etc. that you should do. Somewhere in the back of your brain you have something nagging at you. It sounds like “I really should do this… but…”

My “but” was that I felt I needed to do my job search until I got a job, and then I could get to those other things. Guess what? Neglect will catch up with you. Neglecting a drip could turn into thousands of dollars of water or mold damage. Neglecting pest control could turn into a multi-thousand dollar infestation problem. Neglecting relationships, neglecting your physical health, neglecting your mental health… all of these things come at a cost. Some costs are bearable. Other costs can be overwhelming.

I was in that situation because I had neglected my network and my personal brand. And I paid dearly for it.

I know how emotionally draining a job search is. I know how much anxiety there is. I know.

I also know how important it is to get your work done, and then STEP AWAY.

It’s hard to relax, and to enjoy… but you have to do that. You need to maintain some healthy balance in your life. You will be a better communicator and networker if you have this balance. Read, clean, fix, work, rest, relax, fish, hike… whatever you need to do to get that healthy balance.

Whenever I thought of any of this during my Big Fat Failed Job Search I had one thought:

If I spend time on anything other than landing my next job I am cheating on my family. I’m cheating on my future. 

That was unhealthy, untrue self-talk. If I had a coach, they would have told me to get off the computer. Ten hours a day of fiddling was not good. I’d much rather do one hour a day of very strategic techniques than 10 hours a day of fiddling. That’s the gist of the Job Search Program. And this is my formal invitation to you:

STEP AWAY!

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You Have to Start Somewhere

May 14th, 2021

Years ago (in 2006) I started this crazy entrepreneurial journey. Somehow I caught wind of blogging, and realized it would be a significant part of getting my story out so more people could learn about JibberJobber.

Starting my blog was… scary. I wasn’t sure about the technology, my voice, my tone, what I should and shouldn’t say, etc. I didn’t have anyone editing my stuff (still don’t, obviously ;)), and wasn’t quite sure how to do it right. I was also a little nervous about the commitment, realizing you don’t just write one post and then quit. I was in this for the long haul.

So, I started. I wrote a post… this one:

It’s Blog Time

Actually, looking at it now I realize I said “Its” instead of “It’s”… oops and oh well.

I started. I swallowed my pride, I moved my fears and concerns aside, and I wrote my first post. You can’t have a second post without a first post. In that post I was honest and open. I said I was a normal guy with normal experiences. I was bragging about having accomplished anything (the main reason I was writing was because I couldn’t keep my job – where is the bragging in that?)

You can’t have a second post without a first post.

That is a pretty good line. Neither can you have a second call, or a followup call, without a first call. So make the call. It won’t be perfect, but it will be done.

Once you start you can get on a journey. And when you are on your journey you can experience all the good stuff, and learn from the hard stuff. I realized one day that the journey is what it’s all about. So get on it, enjoy it, and help others along the way. But you have to start.

 

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Job Satisfaction and the Job Search

May 13th, 2021

Tuesday I wrote Some Careers Don’t Go As Planned and said it contains one of my more important messages. I wanted to pick up from the last line:

Find joy, happiness and satisfaction along the way or you might be disappointed when you get to your destination.

How do you find job satisfaction, or satisfaction in your career, when you are unemployed or underemployed? How can you look back on a life where what you did at work wasn’t nearly as fulfilling as you thought and hoped it would be?

Let’s go to another blog post, this one from 2017, titled What Is Your Center? #7Habits #StephenCovey. If you are a fan of the late Stephen Covey you’ll probably remember the part of his book where he talks about centers. I was shocked when I read it, thinking that he was going to say your family, spouse, or religion should be your center.

He also said your work should not be your center. Why? Well… if your work is your center, meaning you derive your self-worth and identity from your work (see the blog post about centers for more), and you get laid off, then what happens to your self-worth and identity??

When your center is your work, your profession, your role within a company, your job title, your income bracket, or anything related to those, you are setting yourself up for some serious life disappointment.

Maybe you are the most amazing worker, the person who the whole organization depends on. But what happens when the company fold overnight? What happen when your leader goes to prison and takes a few others along?

What happens when a natural disaster shuts down an industry segment, or a pandemic (too soon?) means you’ll be sitting on your couch (wondering how to pay for your couch) for the next 15 months?

What happens when you have a stroke, or lose the ability to use your hands or feet or eyes or whatever you need to do your job?

When I spoke at job clubs around the country I could see the “what happens when” in the fear in job seekers eyes. Shock, pain, devastation. Loss of purpose left no room for job, happiness, or satisfaction.

I don’t know what the answer is for you. For me, I’ve tried to find ways to give back to individuals in a meaningful way. This has included mentoring and coaching, as well as teaching and sharing ideas. Believe it or not, this blog is a big part of my fulfillment and satisfaction.

Should you volunteer in organizations that really need help? Should you write memoirs, mentor, or coach? Should you find joy in finally getting your finances under control, or delving into the world or fitness or photography or woodworking?

I don’t know. But I’m not a huge believer in “do what you love and the money will follow.” Nor do I believe that if you do what you love (now) you’ll be happy, or satisfied, your whole career. If you are looking for joy, happiness, satisfaction, or fulfillment, maybe you need to do a job where you make enough so that you can support other interests or hobbies… the ones that give you joy and satisfaction.

I’m not here to rain on anyone’s career. I’m just saying that if you have your career/profession be your center, you could waiting for a disaster.

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Some Careers Don’t Go As Planned

May 11th, 2021

In 2019 I wrote this post:

Some Poems Don’t Rhyme

If you are a skimmer (like me) you will miss the point of the post. But I think it’s one of the more important messages I can share.

My post starts out talking about poetry, and how poetry is just different. Some poems rhyme, some don’t.

Some careers go as planned and some don’t. I think one of the most important ideas is that if your career hasn’t gone as planned, you are not a failure. I think it’s easy to feel like a failure, comparing where you are at with where you thought you would be. But every different job, career, role, salary, etc. is just a stepping stone. As long as you are still stepping, there is still more of your career future to write. In my post I wrote:

I had planned my career decades ago. It was going to be linear, structured, predictable, safe, and go according to plan.

Now that I’m 45 I look back and my career has been none of that. It has been squiggly, random, back-tracked a few times, holding my breath many times, and just not really sure of anything.

But somehow, someway, it all worked out.

I’m a planner. I respect planners. But I’m here to tell you that what you should plan for is change. Plan for flexibility. Plan for Plan B and Plan C and Plan Z. Plan to trust others, and be let down. Plan to go all-in and have it all fall apart. Plan to be out of work for months, maybe years. Plan to adapt.

Your career plan will look a lot more like a Haiku than a roses-are-red.  If what you are looking at is unconventional, untraditional, then how would you plan and prepare for that?

Learn. Learn new stuff. Excel at what you do.

Embrace change. Love change. Be excellent at change.

Find opportunities. Sniff them out and act on them.

Be a student of careers and income streams.

Be financially savvy, and don’t limit your options because you overspend and are over-leveraged.

Some poems don’t rhyme, and it’s okay. They can still be beautiful.

Some careers don’t go as planned, and it’s okay. You can still enjoy the ride, and have an awesome ending.

Comparing to others can be destructive. Comparing to what your 12 year old self thought you were going to be when you grow up can be destructive. I invite you to enjoy your journey, and keep working on your journey. And in the end you might wind up with something that wasn’t linear, or didn’t rhyme, but it will have been your journey.

Find joy, happiness and satisfaction along the way or you might be disappointed when you get to your destination.

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Welp. Are people on unemployment lazy scammers?

May 7th, 2021

I just saw this tweet by Liz Wheeler, a “political commentator”:

I don’t care what your political affiliation is. This tweet kind or raised my hairs a bit, as it did the tons of commenters on Twitter. The messages I’m reading in this tweet are dangerous. Let’s break it down:

“should have to show proof”

What does that mean? How do you “show proof,” and how in the world are underfunded government workers going to actually validate any proof that comes their way?

I live in Utah. In 2006 I had to call an automated phone system and declare I made contact with two or three (I can’t remember) new-to-me employers in a week in order to get unemployment for that week. The phone call was impersonal, never talking to a human, just pushing 1 for yes or 2 for no (or something similar, it’s now a distant, fuzzy memory). My point is, people collecting unemployment have definitely had to somehow declare they are meeting requirements for unemployment checks.

What proof do you want? Do you think a job seeker should get some kind of confirmation that they reached out to, applied at, or talked with someone at a company that might hire them? Does that mean hiring managers, recruiters, etc. will need to fill out government forms? Or is a simple email exchange good enough? This can get real messy real quick.

The reality is showing proof, or even the current honor system in most (all?) states in the U.S. is really quite flawed. Either it creates a ton of work and paperwork, which would require hiring tons of people to validate and check and follow-up, and enforce, or we stay with “I promise I did this this week.” Will there be abuse? YES. There is. I have seen it. But I’m not sure there is a way to address it by going to the users of the system… it might be the actual system that needs a complete overhaul.

I think it would be great to study (not that I’m advocating for millions of dollars to go towards more research) how other countries handle unemployment issues.

Look, we can’t even agree on wearing masks, and the media has been much more of a hinderance than a help on getting any kind of good or accurate information out there. Why in the world would we ask the media to solve this problem, with a solution like “should have to show proof”??

“they are actively looking for a job.”

I’m not a rich person hater. I love that people can accumulate wealth. I’m glad Liz is worth over $10M and, according to a google search, makes more than $500k a year. I’m guessing she is worth more, and makes more, but my point is she’s rich. And I’m happy for her.

But I do not like what I’m reading into here, the “they”… they… the unemployed, the scammers, the lazy people. They, the people who the rich support with their taxes. They. Why not “us?” I thought unemployed people were “they” too until I become one of them. And then it was “we” and “us.”

Anyone who feels like “they” is a bunch of lazy scammers is one good layoff away from becoming a part of they.

But I digress. I don’t want to focus on the haves and the have-nots.  I want to focus on what “actively looking for a job” means. Since 2006, when I became immersed in this world, I learned that the government felt I was “actively looking for a job” if I made contact with two or three new-to-me companies that might hire me.

That was a horribly loose definition of a successful job search. Who in the government decided that is the best way to find a job? What does making contact with? Having a real conversation or interview, or just saying “hi, I’m here!” What does a company that might hire me mean? And why in the world do statistics say that 65% or 85% or whatever number you want but definitely more than 50% of jobs are found through networking, but we aren’t “rewarded” (if you call UI a reward) for doing effective job search tactics?

Furthermore, what is a job? If I get a minimum wage job then I’m hired. I’m a success, no longer qualified for UI. The metrics and tracking aren’t accounting for underemployment, or career paths, or training, or anything like that.

This government solution is a one-size-fits-nobody solution, and just wanting to enforce it more is going to hurt more people, the economy, and the strength of any nation more than figuring out real solutions to unemployment.

Hey listen, I’m not an economist. I got a D in my Finance class in college. I’ve never been the sharpest tool in the shed, and I have a brother who wonders about my future because “I can’t keep a job.” I’m not getting paid to entertain on TV, nor am I smart enough to be an elected official. So take my post with a grain of salt, but I’m here to tell you, the system is messed up, and what Liz is calling for won’t fix it, it will make it way worse, and perhaps easier to scam.

I think the government could do a LOT better job of educating us on how jobs are found. Tell us the real numbers on job boards, who is hiring, what tactics work, etc. And please, please have different advice for different people. Industry, role, and level all matter. Advice for a kid out of high school is not the same as advice for an executive looking to replace a $500,000 job. If the government is going to be involved, they should do it right, instead of treating everyone the same prescribing job search tactics that boil down to “it’s a numbers game.” It kind of is, if done right, but if done wrong, the numbers game mentality will really suck.

“Too many people are refusing to work & living on unemployment”

I agree there are people who refuse to work. If they are collecting unemployment then they are likely scamming the system.

But what does “refuse to work” mean? Does that mean they refuse to work at $10 or $15 an hour? I remember hearing, in my job search, to NOT take a low paying job which will take too much of my time and energy when I should be dedicating said time and energy to finding the right job for me, with the right compensation. This is not pride, this is logistics. But if I refuse this low paying job and that low paying job I fall into the “refuse to work.”

I have travelled the country and have met thousands of people who are looking for work. None of them that I’ve talked to refuse to work. They wouldn’t have come to my seminars if they refused to work, would they? But they want the right work for where they are at in their career. For someone who is worth ten(s) of millions of dollars, making almost a million a year, to generalize job seekers in this way is offensive.

Speaking of money.. “living on unemployment.” I’m here to tell you, there aren’t many people who are really living on unemployment. Do you know how much unemployment is? NOT MUCH.

Okay, sure, there are people who are paying their bills on unemployment. Most people, I think, don’t want to make a career out of it. There is no dignity in it. When my wife and I received unemployment we were treated, by the people who administered it, as crooks. They questioned every thing we did, every form we turned in. I could tell their jobs had shifted from “helping people out” to “identifying who is scamming the tax payers.” The power trips and the degrading conversations were horrible. We got off as soon as we could. It might have been the most motivating factor in my job search, to distance myself from those people.

I hope your experience with your UI contacts is much better and more dignified than mine was.

If I were Liz I’d worry a lot more about the entire system, and address root issues, than the symptom of people who are living on unemployment (and taking advantage of other welfare programs). Please address root problems without attacking symptoms that were created by a bad system.

The end.

I don’t have any faith that this problem, the root problems, are going to get fixed anytime soon. I know there are stories of employers reaching out to their old staff, who have been on unemployment, and the staff said “no way, we make more doing nothing than coming to work in your store.” I know there’s a shortage of talent, and the pandemic really tested our already problem-laden system. I know companies have grown, shrunk, or even gone away because of it.

I also know that generally, we as humans want dignity. We want to contribute, add value, create, help, build, serve, etc. We don’t want to sit at home, sucking from society and adding nothing. We can only binge-watch so many shows, play so many games. We want to feel whole again. In part, this comes through the work we do.

I don’t have solutions, I just needed to rant. If you want to seem more ranting, from different perspectives, click her tweet above and look at the comments. It gets fiery.

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Why Hiring Stalls And Recruiters Don’t Communicate With You

April 30th, 2021

About a month ago I was asked by the CEO of a company I work with to find a front end developer. That is someone who specializes in making a website beautiful and delightful… not necessarily on optimizing database stuff or some of the behind-the-scenes work. This type of person is in demand…. which is important to this whole story.

Disclaimer: I am not a trained or full-time recruiter. I’m not speaking for recruiters, I’m just sharing my recent experience.

So I worked with the CEO and lead developer to create a job description, posted it on a special board, and got about twelve applications right away. I went through them, scored them based on qualifications, and presented a short list to the team. We talked about it, and reached out to I think five people to set up interviews.

We heard from one person.

Remember, these are people who reached out to us, responding to the job posting.

That was okay. The one person who replied was on our short-short list. We had a good interview, and then… I (being the main contact) was ghosted.

GHOSTED.

Hiring Ghosted

I value good communication, and ghosting someone is not what I would call good communication. The longer I was ghosted the less interested I was in this short-listed candidate.

Communication…. lol. I said I value good communication, and I was upset that i wasn’t hearing from this candidate. All the while, there were new applicants I wasn’t hearing from. Oopsie. This is such a two-way road, and throw in the human factor and we have the perfect storm for misunderstandings and such. Instead of saying what all the candidates I reached out to did wrong, I’ll share why I did not communicate well (from the job seeker’s perspective). These are going to sound like excuses, but that’s not my intention. My intention with this post is to paint a bit more of the landscape of finding the right hire, and sharing why the “candidate experience” can suck.

I’m Busy Doing Other Things

I’m sorry to say this but you aren’t my first priority. And, this task (of finding a front end) might not be my first priority this hour, or today. I have things going on. I’m not a recruiter, but recruiters can have multiple, even dozens of “open recs” they are trying to fill. As we focus on what is most urgent to us right now we might be letting you, the important stuff, get paused. Not great, I know, but this is a reality you need to understand.

Just a couple of months after I launched JibberJobber, in July of 2006, I wrote Sense of Urgency, a frustrating take on how the job seeker’s sense of urgency is “I need a job now, today!” while an employer’s sense of urgency might mean, “We need you now… well, maybe next quarter!”

I’m Busy Working With Other Candidates

When I narrowed down on “the short list,” and then started responding to people from that short list, I was focused on them. We already talked about who we wanted to focus on, which meant not talking much (or at all) with others. We needed to focus on what we chose to focus on, which might not mean you. This is the root of me ghosting others. It’s lame but it is why you might not hear from me.

Does it mean you are a “no?” Not necessarily. That depends on what happens with my shortlist. Again, not making excuses, just sharing why I’m not communicating with you.

My Customer (the Hiring Manager) Changed My Direction

This actually happened… there were some pretty important changes with my customer, who is the person making the hiring decision (not you, the job seeker). They brought in another candidate, and we spent time with that top candidate while even putting the short list on hold. Then there were some strategic and customers things that came up that might have changed our entire direction, and put this position on hold…

Uncertainty sucks. Years ago I was in serious conversations with an outplacement company about a relationship that would have been very good for JibberJobber (lots of moola!!), but then all of the sudden I heard nothing from my contact for months. It was so frustrating from being super close to signing on the dotted line to getting ghosted for months. Did I mention “for months?” Talk about frustrating. Anyway, I found out that company was getting acquired, and there was a moratorium on communication which impacted me in a huge way. It sucked but we couldn’t do anything about it.

Strategies, direction, budgets, interests, etc. change. And those changes impact our lives.

I’ve Focused My Communication On People Who Have Paid Attention

This one really got under my skin. I sent messages out to the shortlist asking when we could talk, and requesting they get one other bit of information. I think out of ten people I asked for one more bit of information, TWO got it back to me. TWO. It was as if the others didn’t read my email.

Well, front end developer is a technical role. If you can’t pay attention to my short email, read the specs, and respond with what I’m asking for, what does that mean for your “attention to detail?” I didn’t do this as a test, to see who has attention to detail. I did this as a legitimate request. Not for fun, but for real. I needed that information. 20% actually got it back to me.

If you don’t hear back from me it could be because I have seen some red or yellow flags from the first time we communicated, including you missing something I’ve asked for.

Now, if I were your boss I’d coach you through it. But I don’t need to give unsolicited information/feedback to 8 people I don’t know, who didn’t even read my short email in the first place. If I ask for something, take it seriously.

I’m Waiting to Hear Back From My Top Picks

My top pics, the short list of the short list, should be in communication with me. But that might take a few days, then I reply, then I wait a day or two, then I reply, then a day or two later I hear back from them. This means a week, or weeks, could go by while I’m in that mode… and not communicating with you. I’d like to communicate with you but I don’t really have anything to say. “I’m waiting to hear back from my #1 pick… I’ll let you know if something changes.” Or, “I’m waiting to hear if they say yes, and if they don’t I’ll come talk to you.” That sounds kind of dumb, and I don’t want you to think you are bottom of the barrel or last choice. So I just don’t reach out and update you, especially if I haven’t heard from you for a while.

I’m Human

I make mistakes. I might have reached out to everyone and thought I included you, but I might have missed you. Or missed your last email. I’m not a robot and I’ll make mistakes and miss things. The saying “slip through the cracks” is common because it commonly happens. I bet you have it happen to (which is why I recommend JibberJobber as a job search tracker and organizer).

I’m Making This Up As I Go

I mentioned above that I’m not a trained or full-time recruiter. I know a lot of recruiters, and I reach out and chat with them, but they have years, decades of experience that I don’t have. I’ll make mistakes. That might mean I overcommunicate, maybe giving too much hope. I do this a few times a year, not a few times a week… so I’ll never be amazing at it. But that’s okay. It’s one of my job opportunities, not my chosen career. I am pretty good at parts of it, I think, but a lot of it is stuff I *think* is right, and I’ll just make mistakes.

Again, I’m not writing this post as an apology, and to offer excuses. I want my job seekers on JibberJobber to really understand why they may be getting ghosted by the recruiter or hiring manager.

So, what can you do about it?

COMMUNICATE TO/WITH ME

Instead of waiting to hear back, which could take a while because of the reasons I’ve listed above, get back on my mind and in front of my eyeballs by communicating with me. I know this can be uncomfortable, and perhaps doing it might annoy the person on the other end. But what do you have to lose? I’d rather you reach out and show interested and sell yourself (not hard, but genuinely and passionately).

Be tactful, be professional, and be hopeful. But don’t sit back and assume I have my stuff completely together and just wait to hear from me. If you are really interested, communicate with me.

What Else Can You Do?

As I work through my top pics, and for whatever reason they get selected out (they are too expensive, they are bad communicators, we interviewed them and there is clearly a technical or cultural deficiency, etc.) the next round of candidates starts to move up to top spot. This is a fluid process and who looked great at first might be a no-go, leaving room for my second picks.

Don’t get offended at being a second pick. I might have to weed through what I thought was awesome to find you, who happens to be the best and right hire. Work with me, communicate with me, make sure you don’t fall off because of bad branding or communication, and we might start a beautiful professional relationship.

But don’t get discouraged to the point where you are mad, bitter, or non-communicative. Those people end up on another list I keep… a list of  “I would never hire these people because they burned bridges.”

The job search is hard and grueling. I know it is. It sucks. It feels demoralizing. But it is also riddled with human error… so fill in those gaps with your proactive and positive strategies and tactics.

You can do this. We can do this together.

UPDATE: The position was put on hold for a bit, and not it is not on hold. Those who stuck with me and communicated with me are in the running… hang in there!

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Five Life Changes to Become More Supportive

April 5th, 2021

Last week I had an eye opening chat with one of my favorite people, Shelley Benhoff. You can watch it on YouTube here.

Pluralsight YouTube Shelley Benhoff

I asked Shelley about her advice for girls and women who are interested in a STEM/tech career. I also asked her for advice to guys who work with women in STEM, and how they can be more supportive. This has really been on my mind lately (as I was getting ready to talk to her about it), and I just can’t stop thinking about it. I recently woke up with some very specific ideas I think will help people be more supportive of women, and really, anyone, at work.

I have to say, I think most of us are trying to make work a better place. If that is you, think about these five ideas. I know they have helped me think about how I can support others.

First, nurture an abundance mentality.

I hate hearing people are mad that someone else got a job or promotion because of reasons outside of performance. Of course, this happens. And no, it is not fair. But you need to change your focus from disgust and hate and jealousy to thinking “okay, how can we make this pie bigger?”

Abundance mentality is so powerful. Instead of thinking “they got that job, and so there is no other opportunity for anyone else,” think “they got that job, and we are doing really well, and soon there will be more opportunities.” Abundance mentality is the opposite of zero-sum game theory. Zero-sum game says “if they get something, I don’t.” But during my entire career I’ve never seen where someone gets an opportunity and that shuts doors for everyone else.

Please, I beg you, start thinking about abundance mentality. There is an abundance of opportunity. We just need to find or create it. When you start to believe in abundance mentality it becomes a lot easier to support others, even when we think they got something we thought we deserved.

Second, celebrate wins of others.

When my wife and I bought our first house we were over-the-moon excited. The house was really nice for us, and where we were at. I had just gotten my first real (big) job, and we had a couple of kids. The house was big enough for us to grow into. And it had a (very old but functional) hot tub under a covered patio!

We had friends and family come over… you know how that is. People are curious to see how others are doing, so they come see your new digs. My wife was shocked when some people made comments that expressed jealousy, or other negative feelings. She really thought others would be as excited for as as we were, and was disheartened to hear comments that were less than supportive. We had a few conversations and she taught me an important lesson: Instead of comparing our lives and wins and accomplishments with others, we need to celebrate with them.

Is this easy to do? Not always. When you feel like you have worked harder, are smarter, etc., and you deserve goodness, and then you see someone else get what you thought you deserve before you get it, it’s hard. Shakespeare wrote plenty about jealousy. The old religious books write about jealousy. This is nothing new. Recognize that jealousy is not good, nor is it healthy. Work through the jealous feelings and get to a point where you genuinely care about others to the point of being happy for their wins.

This goes hand in hand with abundance mentality thinking. If you think the pie is a limited size it’s easier to be jealous. When you shift to an abundance mentality you can think “they got goodness, and we can all get goodness!”

Third, recognize your colleague has a whole world outside of work.

It’s critical that we think about people as humans. They have a mother, father, aunt, spouse, kids, even neighbors and other friends, outside of work. When you have jealous, unsupportive feelings about others you are discounting the goodness that others see in them. Maybe they donate their time or resources to good causes. Your lack of support impacts their ability to function and contribute to their other circles.

I think too often we see one another at work as a title, a role, and sometimes a competitor. We worry about what they’ll take from us, not realizing that when they get a raise, promotion, bonus, or even just recognition, that might carry over into how they parent, or their outside relationships. Why shouldn’t we be happy for, and supportive of them, as they have professional accomplishments?

Many times when we think about our own accomplishments we think about how that will change our home life, or our future. We need to think of our colleagues as humans, and afford them the same benefits.

Fourth, admit that you can’t possibly do it alone.

Funny story: When I was in college I had finally settled on a major. It wasn’t computer science… it was the business college alternative (computer information systems). I had two programming classes, and a handful of other tech classes. I looked at others in the college of business, especially marketing and management, and thought “well, good luck getting a job or having a meaningful career.”

Yes, I was immature, short-sighted, and dumb.

Anyway, at my low point in this thinking I remember walking through the liberal arts building with the English and history majors. I remember thinking they made some really, really bad decisions. They chose easy majors to get through school, and would pay for it later when they tried to have a meaningful career. I regret that line of thinking.

Fast forward a bit and I had an epiphany: while I might be the one to create cool technology, or lead teams that created cool technology, without people who knew how to write and communicate and do other things, I would not be able to see the success I wanted. I needed other people. I needed their diverse skills and thinking.

Since then I’ve worked with some brilliant non-technologists. Wordsmiths, presenters, negotiators, leaders, etc. My thinking was so myopic I couldn’t understand why I’d need others around me. And then, when I had them around me, and I could see their brilliance, I realized I was probably the least important around.

No… even that is wrong thinking. We all contribute. We are all needed. We all add value.  Please, appreciate what others can bring, when they feel safe. Think about what you can bring when you feel safe! Appreciating this can help you move past the feelings of jealousy and into a place where you are supportive of others.

Fifth, remember others supported you, even when they maybe shouldn’t have.

At some point in your career you were wrong. You were new, stupid, immature, and probably made plenty of mistakes. I’m not saying that “marginalized people” are stupid or immature or full of mistakes, but I want you to remember that when you were a dork, or an expensive investment, someone took a chance on you. Whether that was hiring you in the first place, sending you to training, giving you a promotion, letting you work on a hard project or with a key customer, you have likely been the beneficiary of someone giving you a chance.

The reality is that someone supported you. I’m not saying they put you on easy street. I’m sure you have worked hard and taken advantage of opportunities. But I’m sure that some people thought, “Maybe I’ll give this person a chance and see what they can do.” I beg you to give this same opportunity to others. Help them with a chance, and then mentoring and coaching. Some of the most rewarding parts of my career have been when I’ve done that, and seen people step up, grow, and deliver.

Bonus, do all of this without any expectations.

I know how disheartening it is to support someone, to go to bat for them, and get nothing in return. Not acknowledgement, not a thank you, not even a head nod. Maybe, you support someone, and it bites you later.

Please support others without expecting or hoping that you’ll get anything more than self-fulfillment. The more you expect in return, the higher the chances people feel your intentions are not genuine. I’m not saying to give everything away and hope for nothing, but if you were to give and support because it is the right thing to do, goodness will come back to you. It might be through wealth and friendships, but it might just be through a peace of mind you get from a clean conscience, and knowing you have lived a good and noble path.

This is our life.

Our life is too short to be a jerk, harbor unfounded hatred, and be jealous. Sure, you could do that, but you’ll live in a level of miserable that you don’t need to. Doing the things above have allowed me to have more joy and happiness than when I don’t.

Let’s all work for an more enriching, meaningful life. Supporting others is a great way to get there.

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Pluralsight’s #FreeApril is back! Check this out!

April 1st, 2021

Last year, during quarantine, Pluralsight opened their entire library of courses to the entire world. I was anxiously waiting to hear whether they would do it again this year and was delighted to see that this morning, April 1 (this is not an April Fools joke!) they did it again!

Over 8,000 Pluralsight Courses

I want to share some ideas on how you can best take advantage of this. First, go sign up. No credit card required (THANK YOU PLURALSIGHT!). That means you don’t have to worry about getting billed next month, or having to cancel anything. Just get your account and get free access.

This can be a bit overwhelming, I know. Who is going to watch 8,000 courses in a lifetime? Nobody. Who is going to watch 80 courses (1% of the library) this month? Probably NO ONE.

Don’t let this be a Netflix moment, where you spend hours scrolling through the entire library and not figuring out what you should watch. Instead, make a plan, make a list, and then schedule time each day to watch a course.

30 Days of Soft Skills Courses (an email reminder)

I just created a new 30 day email drip series. Sign up below and I’ll send you a VERY SHORT email with a course suggestion every day. 

It’s hard to sift through thousands of courses. This 30 day drip will send you very short emails with daily suggestions for Jason Alba soft skills courses. Easy to sign up, easy to unsubscribe.
Pluralsight is free during all of April 2021. No credit card required. Go to www.Pluralsight.com to get your free account.


In addition to my own soft skill courses, there are plenty of other amazing courses. You can pick topics, like project management or product management, leadership or management, communication or teams, and use the search box to find relevant courses.

Or, you could look through the cultivated learning paths, like these:

Agile Business Management

Introduction to Professional Scrum

AWS Machine Learning / AI

Becoming a Business Analyst

Communications for Project Managers

Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers

Embracing and Managing Change

While it’s true that Pluralsight was designed for developers, and goes very deep into most aspects of technology, there are plenty of non-techie courses. I have 36 of them here.

Figure out your topic.

Then make a list of courses to watch.

Schedule time on your calendar… and take full advantage of a free and open library during the month of April!

Enjoy!

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How To Use a Job Tracker App?

March 15th, 2021

JibberJobber has been called a lot of things, but what we specialize in is how to track jobs in your job search. Since 2006 we have been on a mission to help people who outgrow the job search spreadsheet (which is a great job tracker for about the first two weeks of a serious job search) use an online and more sophisticated job tracker to keep track of all of the stuff that comes your way. Here are the steps to use a job tracker app to manage your job search:

  1. Track new contacts you make while in your job search
  2. Track everyone you send a resume to
  3. Track who who you have interviewed with
  4. Track every target company
  5. Track conversations or touchpoints you have with everyone
  6. Track any follow up you need to do
  7. Track every job you have applied to, or been interested in

I realize each of these might seem like overkill but let me go back to the “spreadsheet is good for about two weeks” idea. A job search is HARD for many reasons. It can be one of the most emotionally taxing things you go through. You can do everything you should and find that hiring managers and recruiters put you off for months, and networking goes south. There’s nothing linear about a long, hard job search. The last thing you need is to be so disorganized that you can’t communicate well with people, your forget follow up opportunities… you even forget that you have applied to certain jobs at certain companies (I’ve done all three).

Let’s go into each of steps to track a job search listed above:

Use a job tracker app to track new contacts

A job seeker should network. Period. No ifs-ands-or-buts about it. You should talk to people, hopefully getting introductions to more people. Then you talk to them and get more introductions. Supposedly most jobs are found because of networking. This happens when people know and trust you… and when they know about you. Getting known, and sharing what your brand is, should be a significant part of your job search. I started to make traction only when I got out and talked with people, not when I spent hours and hours and hours applying to jobs online.

JibberJobber is a great replacement to the job search spreadsheet to track jobs.

Use a job tracker app to track where you send resumes

Regardless of how much networking you do you will send your resume, or fill in an online application. I’ve gone through the job offer process and been asked, after accepting the job, “will you fill this out so we have you in our HR system?” If you find a job posting that is PERFECT for you, apply for it! I’m not going to tell you to not apply for jobs online. But once you apply for it, figure out how you can network into that job, or the decision maker for that job. Tracking who gets your resume might seem easy but then consider which version of which resume you sent to who? I might give someone two or three different resumes, depending on the job I’m applying to. Fun fact: it was when I had applied to six different jobs at eBay, which was just a few miles from my house, that my spreadsheet blew up. It was too confusing to track so much complexity with a spreadsheet (as opposed to a relational database).

Use a job tracker app to track who you have interviewed with

I know you won’t forget who you interview with… for a day or two. But once you start having a lot of conversations with people, and more and more interviews, and let’s throw in some panel interviews just to multiply the number of interviewers… it gets confusing! If there is anyone you SHOULD NOT forget, and definitely SHOULD foll0w up with, it is the person/people who interviewed you! These are the main influencers and decision makers you need to have conversations with!

In JibberJobber you should keep track of every person you interview with and then try to network with them, when the time is right. Look, there’s so much volatility in our careers that we really need to be open to to expanding our professional networks, even with people who don’t choose us to work with them on a particular job or project. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll be on the other side of the table from them!

Use a job tracker app to keep track of your target companies

Target companies… I thought this was such a boring part of the job search. My target company was any company that would actually hire me. The more desperate I got the less targeted I got. I’ve come to realize that having a list of target companies is critical. Knowing your target companies can help you have a more focused job search, better conversations, and make decisions on where to spend your time. Tracking who is at your target company, and what conversations you have with them, is a critical part of networking.

Having a current list of target companies will help you in many more ways than just knowing what your target companies are. I thought this was a data point but soon came to realize your target companies are central to a successful job search strategy. (Speaking of job search strategy, check out the Job Search Program)

Use a job tracker app to log important and relevant conversations

Alright.. we’ve talked about resumes, companies, people… those generally don’t change much. Names and numbers and email addresses generally don’t change. But here’s what does: where you are at with each of them. We track this in JibberJobber with “log entries,” which is basically any touchpoint, even any thought, that is relevant. Did you talk to a recruiter after an interview and get good information? That should go into a log entry. Did you email someone, have a phone call, or talk to someone at a networking event who could help you in your job search? That should go into a log entry. Not just that it happened but any details around the conversation.

Have you learned something about a job or target company that you want to keep track of? Put it into a log entry. It’s easy to think you’ll remember all these details but putting these things in a log entry can give you a peace of mind that you need in your job search. This can help you with interviews, networking, and how you position yourself.

Use a job tracker app to track any and all follow up

Follow up is one of the secret weapons of effective job seekers. Imagine the opposite: you talk to people, you interview, you send your resume… and you wait around for people to get back with you. Look, here’s the deal: people are busy! I’m busy! This morning I made a little to do list to get a bunch of ideas out of my mind and make sure I do certain things by end of day. I probably listed about 20 things on that list! I guarantee the people you are talking with… that friend who said they’d introduce you to their boss, or someone on a panel interview that said they’d get back to you on something… are busy! They want to. They have the best of intentions of helping you! But they are busy. Don’t sit around waiting for them to get to you. Instead, keep a list of your follow-up opportunities, and YOU work your list.

Can you imagine a salesperson just sitting around waiting for everyone to get back to them? Nope. Good salespeople will be proactive and reach out. As a job seeker, you need to get really good at the art of follow up.

Use a job tracker app to track jobs you find and/or apply to

Here’s another thing I didn’t realize was so important to keep track of. Tracking jobs you like, and especially jobs you apply to, is critical. These jobs can show you patterns of hiring at companies an in industries. If you record the job descriptions you’ll have some great information on words and phrases you could use in job interviews. Learning about the trends in a company or industry can help you have the right language when networking or in an interview. Oh yeah… do I even need to mention that you should keep the job description you apply to because by the time you interview you might not be able to find it online? That would be awkward… you want to know the exact title and the points in the description so you have a better interview.

Tracking your job search can feel tedious at first. But the more you track, and the more details you add, the better your job search should go when you have a lot of activity. The alternative is feeling like you are constantly confused, missing things, and wondering if you have follow up you should do.

Ready to get started? JibberJobber has pioneered online job search tracking since 2006. Sign up here

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