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If I Were In A Job Search Today…

July 1st, 2020

A friend called me asking for advice for a friend who has been out of work for the last two months. I told him I’d write a post with my recommendations for a job seeker in today’s environment.

Stay organized in your job search

In 2006 I conceptualized JibberJobber as a CRM for job seekers. Today, people use JibberJobber as a job search spreadsheet replacement. If you are networking at all, and are applying to jobs and interviewing, a spreadsheet gets too cluttered. JibberJobber works similar to the software a salesperson uses to keep track of target companies, prospects, meetings, follow-up, etc. The cost is $60/year.

Learn how to job search

I have created almost three dozen soft skills and career courses for Pluralsight, a leading online continuing education organization. I have courses on personal branding, informational interviews, communicating with different personalities (a critical concept for job seekers), listening skills (super critical as you network and interview), creating a better LinkedIn profile, and having a proactive strategy on LinkedIn. Those are just 6 of 36 courses… if you are interested in my courses (or anything on Pluralsight) hit me up and I might have a 30 day pass available for you.

BONUS: When you watch any Jason Alba course on Pluralsight you can self-report on JibberJobber and we’ll give you free JibberJobber upgrades. If you watch a course a day for the duration of the 30 day pass you can earn 90 days of premium on JibberJobber… making both Pluralsight and JibberJobber free to you!

Focus on networking and informational interviews

“If I had to start a job search today I would spend 90% of my time in informational interviews.” I remember saying that on stage years ago, and it shocked me. But I stand by it, even now, having thought about it for years. Informational interviews is probably the closest silver bullet secret weapon you’ll find in job searching. It is all about networking the right way.

While I love courses, I think this is a very powerful program. Basically, for six weeks I give you three things to do every day. I was talking to someone who just landed a job, while using JibberJobber and the 6 week Job Search Program, and he told me that having the three tasks per day helped him stay on track with the basics. This program is the culmination of 14 years of learning about how to help people get jobs. It is one of the best things I’ve come up with. The program is $197 for now (normally $497) and includes a year of JibberJobber. Click here to learn more.

Do research (BUT NETWORK)

Use job boards. Really. Experts say they aren’t the most effective way to land a job and I agree. In my job search I was obsessed with finding and applying to jobs online. I sat on my computer searching and refreshing and hoping and wanting to be the first to apply. Out of a ten hour day of job search (which I did Monday through Saturday) I spent most of my time on job boards. It was an utter waste of time… with one exception: I learned a lot about what was going on.

I learned which companies were hiring, I learned some names of hiring managers and recruiters I should have reached out to, and I learned what roles were in demand. I also learned, from job descriptions, what I needed to brush up on and be able to talk about. If I were in a job search today I would scour job boards and learn, but not waste time applying. Sure I would apply here and there, but not obsessively like I did before. Use job boards as the tool they are, and then NETWORK. Have smarter conversations and smarter interviews because you are current.

Understand what is happening

They say the job search is a numbers game. I say the job search is a head game. I didn’t get that until I started going to job search network meetings (I know, that was so pre-Corona!). I thought I was broken. I thought I was a loser. I secluded myself, which was bad, and I invested all of my time applying to jobs online, not getting any positive results, which was super bad. I was in a bad place, mentally. When I went to a job club and was listening to the other 30 second elevator pitches I finally realized I was neither broken nor a loser. I was simply in a weird situation that plenty of other qualified unbroken people were in.

Not having the right perspective put me in a bad place. It wasn’t truth… is was misperception. You need to have the right perspective and understanding of what is going on or it will mess with you.

I realize today’s economy is not ideal. It is horrid. It is scary. But companies are hiring. Recruiters still have jobs to fill. Executives need help. It is a different job search than it was a few months ago, but it is not impossible.

Reach out to me if I can help… 

 

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What Is Job Satisfaction?

June 30th, 2020

I remember speaking in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2011 (9 years ago!!), for the years ago. I think it was me and Dan Schawbel in front of maybe 200 or 300 people. It was really quite fun and charming. Southern charming. I was waiting for someone to drop the “bless your heart” bomb, but no one did.

Look how young I was here :p

Jason Alba Charlotte Pronet 2011

I guess I left the South unscathed, then.

Anyway, the morning of the presentation I was driving through downtown Charlotte. I didn’t know what to expect from Charlotte, or downtown Charlotte, but I soon learned that they (whoever they is) regards Charlotte, North Carolina, as “the Wall Street of the South” because a bunch of financial institutions had major offices (or headquarters?) there.

Downtown Charlotte was beautiful. Massive buildings… not like New York City, but much bigger than what I was expecting. I remember beautiful architecture and a clean city.

I also remember, on that early morning drive, passing people at bus stops waiting to catch their next bus to work. I was going to speak to some three hundred people about getting a job while I passed dozens of people waiting to go to their job that morning. Every single person I passed looked… gloomy. Unhappy. The morning was beautiful but there was like individual dark clouds over these poor people who had to go clock in.

The irony was I was about to enter a conference venue with hundreds of people who couldn’t go to work because they didn’t have a job… and they were HAPPY! I was there to give them wisdom or ideas on how to land their next job, and they seemed happy to be there. Was I just there to trick people into being miserable?

No… no, of course not. I know that many of the smiles were because people were finally getting out of the house, and having something to look forward to in the job search. I realize that being out of work is miserable, and many of the people in that audience would have gladly traded places with the bus stop people.

Lately, in my work with Snowfly Incentives, I’ve been thinking a ton about employee satisfaction. Actually, I thought a lot about it when I worked at Bamboo HR, and was working on creating an academy of sorts for HR practitioners. My boss was a thought leader in the HR/culture space and working with him was an honor and a privilege.

Employee satisfaction. We talked about it from the perspective of HR and managers and leaders, creating a culture and environment where employees loved coming to work and brought their best selves to the job. Increases in employee performances and impacts on employer brands and retention were regular conversation topics.

But my roots are in the job search and personal responsibility for OUR OWN career management. So this morning I was wondering, what is OUR role in our own employee satisfaction?

This is a critical question

If you believe that you need to take care of your career (career management), why do you think you should let your company determine your satisfaction level?

Own it. Figure out how to have your own satisfaction.

Will your company do everything right for you? Nope. No company will. There will always be problems. Even in the best of times in my career I’ve had things at my employer I would have liked to have different. A jerk I had to work with, an unfair decision about who gets to do things, lower compensation or raises than I felt were fair, etc. The list could go on and on.

I watched people whine and moan and complain about these things. Really, they are little and inconsequential, but when we obsess about them and talk about them we feed them and make them bigger.

We let this feeding hijack our satisfaction. We empower the little things to contribute to our work misery.

I’m not saying we need to be ignorant, ignore everything, and play Work Polyanna. I’m just saying let’s be intentional about what we decide will give us satisfaction.

Here are some ideas:

Get a hobby. People say to follow your passion and the money or a rewarding career will follow. I don’t agree. If you can monetize your passion, and that remains your passion for the entirety of your career, great! Congratulations! But for the rest of us, my advice is to find a hobby. Do you want to write, create, travel, watch, eat, cook…? Find your hobby(ies) and spend time on them after work hours.

Spend time with humans (or pets). When I was at Bamboo they were really big on work/life balance. More than once an executive would walk past me after 5 (like at 5:01) and tell me to go home, the work would be there tomorrow. Go home because there is much more to life, and mental and physical health, than working late. There are plenty of studies about the importance of socializing with others. Of course this can be done at work, but I suggest you figure out how to do it outside of work. Be around others. Laugh and cry, give and receive. Human interaction is powerful and we need it more than we think.

Decide. Decide who you are, and what you are after, and what makes you happy. I believe a lot of times we haven’t decided what we want in life and that leave a gaping whole for our boss and culture and society to tell us what will make us happy. That is a mistake. Figure out who you are. “Find yourself,” as they say. Make some decisions. Own yourself. Don’t look to others for satisfaction or validation. When you don’t need the approval of others life becomes more simple.

Grow. Figure out how you can progress. I grew up thinking that you have phases in life, one of which is your growth phase. This is when your body grows, your brain develops, and you suck as much information as you can through the education system. Then, after college, you enter a new phase where you have a career and perhaps a family. No one told me this but I think I assumed you didn’t really learn, at least the way you did in school, once you were done with that phase. I’ve learned that is far from the truth. I love learning, whether from books, conferences, chats with experts, and just trying new things. If you feel stagnant then enroll in a course or do something to really dive deep into an area and grow. You have the world at your feet (or fingertips, on your smart phone) and the same amount of time as the rest of us. Own your personal growth.

I think satisfaction comes from shifting perspective, and each of these things help you shift. I invite you to rethink employee satisfaction and not wait for your company to provide it… seek it on your own. Your boss, the HR person, even the company might go away, but your responsibility to owning your own satisfaction will not.

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My Boss Put Me In Urgent Care #CultureMatters

June 26th, 2020

Once, for years, I worked for a bad boss.

Without naming names, because this person is still alive, I’ll tell part of the story.

I have a certain level of integrity. We all do.. even the worst people out there do. Maybe theirs is like 2% while yours is like 90%. Big lie? No way. White lie? Sure, why not. Do the right thing when it is easy? Of course. Do the right thing when it is hard, or even dangerous? Um… no, I don’t think so.

Our integrity is on a scale. Sometimes we have more. Some people have more. Circumstances can change our level of integrity.

The problem between me and my boss was a mismatch in integrity. I felt like there were certain things I WOULD NOT do, or things I WOULD DO every time. Like be nice. Like respect others, regardless of title. Like be honest. If you were to have asked my boss, he or she would have said the same thing. Of course be nice! Of course respect others! Of course be honest!

But saying those things vs. doing those things were different.

I found there was a gap in our levels of integrity. I could tell you stories but, again, I can’t have this traced back to the person or the company where I was.

Plus, I don’t need to tell YOU stories because you have your own stories. I’ve heard them as I traveled around the U.S. and spent time with job seekers. From Boston to San Diego, Seattle to Miami, I’ve heard about crap bosses. There is no shortage of bad boss stories.

So, back to my story. My boss and I worked pretty closely together. I found there were misrepresentations about what was happening with customers and our team and the product and the market and the finances and … just about everything. My boss came back from a meeting and said one thing… because of my new role I called the customer to say “thank you… I just heard that you agreed to _____.” I then got chewed out by the customer saying that absolutely not, under no condition did they agree. But my boss just told me that… and there was no way his or her words could be misconstrued.

Toxic CultureThis was lie number 4,771.

Everything was a lie. Really big stuff, really small stuff. Everything. While I am generally a pretty honest person my boss couldn’t make it a few hours without some grand lie.

Fast forward a bit, having worked in this toxic environment for a while.

Wait… you say that’s not a big deal? That doesn’t warrant toxic? I’ve thought about this a lot. The mismatch in our integrity was really, really bugging me. I did not like being in a meeting with someone I couldn’t trust. I did not like knowing that my boss might be misrepresenting our situation, or capabilities, our product, or me. If he or she couldn’t be trusted to tell the truth about the small or medium or big things, he or she couldn’t be trusted with anything.

One night I was flying home from a conference or customer meeting or something. I don’t remember where I was, or why I was there, but I remember connecting in Las Vegas. I think it was around 9 or 10 at night. I was exhausted. The airport was half empty, with other exhausted travellers. These were the business flyers who commuted a lot and weren’t there for a vacation. I remember standing outside of my gate and realizing “You are going to have a heart attack on the plane.”

Heart Attack On The Plane?

I’m not one to have those kinds of thoughts or feelings. But that night I just knew I might. I wondered if anyone on the plane would be a doctor or nurse. I wondered what training or equipment the flight attendants had. I wondered if I’d be on the news… if I’d die, or if this would just be a big sign that I needed to slow down.

All of those thoughts came out of nowhere and flashed through my mind in a few seconds. I wondered if I should not get on the plane and have a heart attack on the ground instead.

Heart Attack

My chest was tight. I was worried. But I just wanted to get home. So I got on the plane and … nothing happened. I had a normally, boring flight.

I landed, grabbed my luggage, and drove 30 minutes to my home. I kissed my wife, dropped off my bags, and said “I don’t feel good. I am going to urgent care.” I drove myself to urgent care and said some words about “tight” and “heart” and “chest” and found that when you say the right words you don’t have to wait. You don’t even have to fill out paperwork. They scoot you right into a room and hook up stuff that you don’t want hooked up. Cold gel, wires, beeping machines. It’s surreal, like in a movie.

I was able to relax knowing I was in a good place. Safe. Would be taken care of.

Finally, a doctor came in. He said “well, it looks like you didn’t have a heart attack. There is nothing abnormal about the rhythm.”

Relief and Ticked Off

He would soon explain to me that the pain I was experiencing was what he called a “pre ulcer.” That is, I didn’t have an ulcer (in my stomach) yet, but I was close. He told me I was stressed, and gave me some medicine. I was so mad.

I had gone through a lot of stressful situations in my life and had never had an ulcer. I remember hearing about kids stressed out in school trying to get their 4.0 GPA, and working themselves into an ulcer. I had heard about others who were mega stressed and getting an ulcer. I prided myself on being more level-headed and managing my stress better. I had gone through lots of school, various jobs, a few kids, and plenty of other things, and none of those stressful things had given me an ulcer.

But this boss, with our mismatched integrity, did it. He or she pushed and pushed and pushed. I had a very hard time coming to terms that  I was working in an environment where honest and integrity and ethics were not valued. And month after month after month, it took a toll on me.

My symptoms were real and scary, but I could finally know what my medical problem was. And I realized that the turmoil I was feeling had physical consequences.

Toxic Work Environment

When people talked about a toxic work environment I always thought they could suck it up a little. No workplace is perfect. There will always be friction.

I had no idea that some workplaces were so dangerous, though, to our physical and mental well being. Just do your thing, and be yourself, etc. Be strong, water off the ducks back… whatever you need to tell yourself.

But I have not been sexually harassed at work. And all that positive self-talk doesn’t alleviate or resolve sexual harassment.

I have not been targeted by a workplace bully. All that positive self-talk doesn’t make the bully any less annoying.

My issue was that my boss and I didn’t see eye to eye, philosophically, on what is right and what is wrong. I had no idea that there would be a level of toxicity that would so greatly impact my physical health.

My advice to others in situations like this is generally to leave. It’s just not worth it to stay. I’ve heard about people leaving work and crying all the way home because their work environment is so toxic. If the leadership can’t address this, and either move or remove the boss, I lose respect for the leaders. I know why they do it… they are unsure how to proceed. They are betting that the value the bad boss brings will outweigh the harm they are doing. Or, they are just afraid of confrontation.

I saw this in another job where a boss was cancerous to the organization and the leaders did NOTHING. It was shameful. In a situation like that, where the bad boss stays, or gets promoted, it seems the only two options you have are to (a) wait it out or (b) leave.

Wait

Waiting it out might be the right strategy if the toxicity is something you can manage, and your hope is great. You might hope for your team, or your product, or your customers, or for opportunities. This hope is like a magnetic force that keeps us at work, even when it’s bad.

Waiting could be the wrong answer though. Early in my career I worked at an organization at an entry level job. We were told that the only way someone could get promoted to the next department, which would come with a substantial pay raise, would be if someone in that department died. Well, finally, someone died. And they decided to NOT fill his position.

You could wait for your boss to leave. For leadership to wake up and realize your boss is so bad they need to kick him or her out. But that might not happen. Leadership might give the boss the benefit of the doubt, or put them in coaching (with a year or more of time), or just turn a blind eye.

bored

Your waiting might result in nothing but more toxicity.

Like I said, it might be worth it. Sometimes it’s better to have a job than to be out of work and looking. This is a measured risk you must decide on.

Leave

I respect people who decide to leave. The value their own sanity and health. They value themselves and know they shouldn’t be treated a certain way. And they think they can land somewhere else. Sometimes that works out nicely. Other times they flounder for months and go through a lot of emotional stuff during a tough job search.

The may jump out of the frying pan into the fire, but it was an intentional choice. Rarely do I hear someone say “I wish I would have stayed with that toxic boss.” More often than not I hear them say “I left and now am working at my dream job.” Even if they took a cut in pay, a better work environment, or better boss, or better commute, or whatever made it all worth it.

Leaving could be hard. When I KNEW I should have left I worried first about my team. I shouldn’t have, because they were all going to be fine (many of them left). But I worried about them. I had been their leader. What message would leaving send? (Of course, it would have sent the right message. I can see that now).

I worried about abandoning my projects, and not participating in grand success. I worried about losing my benefits, an my salary.

It was hard. But I should have done it. Instead, I put it off. I look back now and see that was an immature time in my career. Where I’m at now, I would not have put up with that crap. I would walk away. There are plenty of fish in the sea.

Green Grass

There are lots of little sayings about the grass NOT being greener elsewhere. Or the grass is green where you water it.

Green Grass

I recently wrote a short ebook about measuring the culture in an organization. I’ll make that available soon, but what I learned from some feedback is that the idea of a great culture or a horrible culture is subjective. It depends on the person. Instead of a great culture we should be looking for a cultural FIT. Said another way, what might be a great culture for ME might be a horrible culture for YOU.

Is grass greener elsewhere? Yes. It’s green, and brown, and purple, and blue, and yellow, and all kinds of colors. When you think about where you would be most happy it’s not necessarily at a “best companies to work for” place. It might be at a government job. Or a small startup. Or in software, or in a bakery, or … I don’t know. YOU need to figure out where YOUR green grass is. You need to figure out what your best fit could be, and where you’ll be most happy.

I’m most happy at an executive level, where I have decision-making, authority, strategy, influence, vision, an a role in operations.

I was offered a job for close to 200k. It was appealing… not just the money but who I would work with. But I would be about FOUR levels below where I wanted to be. I turned it down. I can’t go in at a lower level at this point in my career… I know I’d be unhappy.

You need to know what your green grass scenario is. What would be your dream job, your dream role, your dream level, your dream culture, etc.

And then, go find it. It’s out there.

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Think Like An Entrepreneur, Not An Employee #CareerChange

June 19th, 2020

I recently did a 6-week series for Pluralsight on jobs and careers. It was a lot of fun (and a bit of work :p).

In some of the emails I’m getting from people I can sense a great deal of frustration. This frustration is coming from being in the hamster wheel we call the job search. Again and again, doing the same things, not getting anywhere. I remember waking up during my Big Job Search and thinking “why get out of bed? Why do the same stuff I’ve been doing? I’m not getting any reactions.”

I made a career change. I went from employee, at a corporate job, to entrepreneur. Many of the people emailing me are talking about career changes. I’m reminded of the fabled 10,000 hours that it takes to become an expert. You’ve heard that, right? You need to spend 10,000 hours on something before you can claim to become an expert? That is 5 years of full time work. Nobody I know, in the job search right now, has 5 years to develop expertise and then start their job search.

The urgency is now.

I’m not going to dispute the 10,000 hours thing. People smarter than me claim that. It sounds catchy. And I’d rather a surgeon with 10,000 hours work on me rather than a self-described surgeon with 100 hours works on me.

What I want to dispute is the level of knowledge, skills, or expertise we need to START SOMETHING.

A couple of years ago, at my dream job in a dream company with my dream boss (all that lasted 10 months) I remember watching people slowly do stuff thinking “man, thanks to the amazing sales team there is time for superflous, slow, unproductive meetings.” People could literally sit around, not adding value or producing, and still collect a paycheck. The rhythm we sometimes see in the corporate world is slow. Measured. Good for our mental health. Intent on reducing stress. Focused on creating a great (read: fun) place to work.

Fun Work Culture

But I had been an entrepreneur for about 12 years. My mantra was “you eat what you kill.” You don’t produce, you don’t pay bills. You don’t pay bills, you got problems. There was no paycheck that came every other week. If I wanted to pay my mortgage, or go grocery shopping, or even think of something like a vacation, I had to have revenue lined up.

If corporate was peaceful, which I think too many of us slip into when we land our job, then entrepreneurship was anxiety. I’m not saying that is necessarily bad (or that peaceful is necessarily good), but it was definitely a major shift to go from entrepreneur to “I have a job, and no matter what I do today, I’m going to get paid.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for you to have more anxiety in your life. I do, however, want you to think differently about your career. You see, if you listen to experts telling you that you need to wait, that you aren’t ready, that you don’t know enough, that you haven’t put the hours in, or that you can’t do something, you have a problem. You have been fed a line of bull, and you accept it. And that is harming YOU.

Entrepreneur Waiting

When I put my entrepreneur hat on, back in 2006, I learned about “sense of urgency.” I didn’t think of myself as anxious, rather I had a sense of urgency. If I didn’t know something I had to learn it. Consider:

How do I create an online business from scratch? From product management to design to development to QA to marketing to sales to pricing to customer retention to customer acquisition to financing the venture to …

How do I become a blogger? Is it a consistency thing? Is it a messaging thing? Do I need to write to a human or am I playing a Google/SEO game?

How do I write a book? How do I get a publisher? How do I self publish? I had no idea. But I had to learn all of that, even though I wasn’t an expert.

How do I become a professional speaker? I was confident in my public speaking skills, although I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. How do I create a business line out of professional speaking? How do I get more gigs, how do I engage with my audience, how do I get repeat business, how do I do all of the logistical stuff a professional speaker deals with, should I have “back of the room sales, etc.?

How do I create a DVD, which I can sell at a much better margin, and have more control over than my books? NO IDEA. Never done it before.

How do I start doing online courses? Where do I host them? How much do I charge for them? What exactly constitutes a course, anyway? Do I need special equipment and software? How do I edit and produce my stuff? Is it a long webinar, or a chopped up series of small clips?

These are SOME of the things I’ve done since 2006. I didn’t have expertise in any of these areas.

But my sense of urgency, and my need to create income, led me on the path to learn. Did I make mistakes? YES. Did I work crazy hours? YES. Was there sacrifice? YES. Did it cost money? YES. Was I out of my comfort zone? USUALLY.

Instead of taking it slow, and spending tons of money to “do it right,” I had to just do something. I talked to people about each of those questions I listed (and more). I talked to people who had been down the path, and learned from them. I found people willing to share and help. I studied. I applied critical thinking. I weighed alternatives and juggled priorities.

Entrepreneur Love To Learn

And most of all, I just DID IT. I tried. I threw the proverbial spaghetti on the wall, and some of it stuck. I learned from everything I did.

Here I am, 14 years after The Big Job Search. 14 years * 2,000 hours is 28,000 hours. So maybe I’m 3 times an expert (if 10k hours makes you an expert).

My point, though, is that you don’t have to be an expert to do stuff. I wasn’t an expert in any of those things. I still don’t consider myself an “expert.” But I had a sense of urgency that drove me to think, and try, and be okay to fail, and try again.

My first book? Not proud of the quality. Super proud I wrote a book, but not proud of the book. Even the fourth edition of it… not super proud. I think “it needs to be better.”

But guess what? I did it. I wrote it. And I’ve written two others. Why? Because my sense of urgency drove me.

Get your own sense of urgency. Get on that path, and get off of the “when this happens, then I’ll be qualified” path. Want to change careers? Then DO IT. Figure it out. Try things. Learn as you go.

Want to start a blog, or a podcast, or a consulting business? DO IT.

Entrepreneur Podcast

If I spent 30 minutes with you on a call right now I could coach you on how to become a consultant. Save your money, put away your wallet. Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to LinkedIn, create a new job on your profile. Call it [Last name] Consulting. Or, call it [Your specialty] Consulting. There. You are now a consultant. This is, as they say, hanging a shingle out.
  2. Email everyone in your network telling them what you are doing, and then work the phones.

That’s it. You’ll get your first customer and you’ll do okay. Maybe a little worse than okay. But you get that customer, you bring value to them, you bill them, and you learn from the whole experience. Then you get another, and another, and another, and in a few years you think “man, I kind of feel bad for my first customer. I’ve learned so much.”

Don’t wait for five years from now. Start now, learn along the way.

The first freelance website I built was for a new realtor. She paid me $400. It was okay-ish for the time. But really, it was horrible. Especially compared to now. But doing that first one, working with a client, delivering a product, was a great learning experience. It was a stepping stone to get to where I’m at today.

DO SOMETHING. Don’t wait. Don’t listen to the experts telling you you aren’t ready.

Try. 

Fling the spaghetti. 

Flinging Spaghetti Entrepreneur

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New Pluralsight Course: Using Critical Observation on the Job

June 18th, 2020

Last night I got this in my email:

Pluralsight Jason Alba Using Critical Observation On The Job

One of the coolest things about this course is that it is my 35th published course (I consider it my 38th course I’ve done for Pluralsight… because one was retired and two were massive updates). Seeing this last night was really cool:

Pluralsight Jason Alba 35 Courses

Critical observation is an interesting topic. As I spent many, many hours researching and thinking about critical observation I grew to really appreciate the importance of it. I think some people are inherently good at critical observation while other people are more aloof.

This course builds on my Leading with Emotional Intelligence course. In that course I talk about becoming self-aware, and becoming more aware of others. Obviously, there is cross-over in both courses… especially since the fifth pillar of emotional intelligence is “social skills” (the ambiguous catch-all), and “improving social skills” is a big part of becoming better at critical observation. The other big tie-in was listening skills, which I happen to have a course on: Becoming a Better Listener.

It has been interesting to be on a journey of soft skills and professional development over the last few years. I realize I’ve taken soft skills for granted, not appreciating how important they are for our career. Whether on the job or in a job search, imagine how much more effective we can be if we increase our emotional intelligence, if we improve our critical observation skills, if we become a better listener, and proactively work on other soft skills?

Imagine how different the world would be! We can change the world, one person at a time… starting with ourselves. I’m on that journey… will you join me?

Oh yeah…

When you watch any Jason Alba course on Pluralsight you can self-report in JibberJobber and earn three extra premium days on JibberJobber. Simply go to to the video tracker page to self-report. Through the rest of this month (June 2020) you can click TWICE on the Critical Observation course to get double (6 days).

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Pluralsight Job Search Series Webinars Starts Today

June 1st, 2020

In a social post I wrote:

“Pls share with anyone you know is in a career transition, or worried about their job.”

And then I remembered that when I most needed this I was neither in a career transition nor was I worried about my job.

My job search kind of came out of nowhere. I was sure I had a great resume, background, and experience to land quickly and well. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Whether you are in transition right now, along with the 41,000,000+ others who have filed for (U.S.) unemployment, or you are pretty safe and secure (ahem… !), you should invest time in YOUR career.

Signup at this link – it is FREE

Today we are talking about the job search interview.

Tomorrow we talk about personal branding. Click the link to see what the other topics are…

Pluralsight Seminar Series Job Search Career Jason Alba

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Shorter, More Concise, More Updated Pluralsight Courses by Jason Alba

May 29th, 2020

Earlier this year I was asked to update a couple of my Pluralsight courses. I shaved about 20 to 30 minutes from each of these:

Effective Email Communication (1 hr 1 m)

Informational Interviews (1 hr 1 m)

DID YOU KNOW? Every time you watch a Jason Alba course on Pluralsight you can self-report (in JibberJobber) and get additional premium JibberJobber days added to your account! 

The effective email communication course is an hour of my tips and ideas on writing better, more concise (see a theme?) emails. Emails that are read and responded to. And, I needed to update some things because I think that was a course from 2013.

I updated my informational interviews course because, well, they asked me. I cut out the superfluous and tightened it up. More importantly, I’ve had a few years to really fall in love with the power and effectiveness of informational interviews as a power strategy for job seekers. I even created the Job Search Program, which centers around informational interviews. I am impressed that this “networking on steroids” tactic can be used by people not in a job search… for example, people who are looking for funding, or partners, or customers, or to expand their team.

The reason I put so much time into JibberJobber and my Pluralsight courses is because I want to share the message of HOPE. And it is my HOPE that these two courses will help you become better at what you do, and what you want to do.

Check them out!

JibberJobber Jason Alba Pluralsight Courses

 

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The FREE Pluralsight Job Search and Career Seminar Series

May 25th, 2020

Starting next week, on Monday June 1 (at noon MST) I will be hosting the six-session Pluralsight Job Search and Career Seminar Series.

SIGN UP HERE

I’m excited about this series because we are going to talk about awesome stuff that they should teach us in school, but generally don’t! We’ll talk about ideas, strategies, and tactics that are important to each of us… here are the topics:

June 1: The Interview Process
June 2: Personal Branding While in Transition
June 8: Job Search Process and Systems
June 9: Networking
June 15: Onboarding Yourself to Your Next Job
June 16: Finances

Pluralsight Career Job Search Seminar Series with Jason Alba

Whether you sign up or not, please share this with anyone you know who is in a job transition.

I expect to soon hear that the U.S. has reached 40,000,000 unemployment claims. That means that 40,000,000 (FORTY MILLION) people have filled out the forms to say “I lost my job, can I get unemployment insurance?” The last report I read was that we (the U.S.) was at about 14.7% unemployed. Still a ways to go from the 24.9% unemployment during The Great Depression.

But none of us lived through that (well, probably no one reading this blog post). Let’s put today’s unemployment into perspective using a comparison with a more recent event: 9/11. From wikipedia:

After the terrorist attack various repercussions took place that affected the U.S as a whole. Due to all the money and claims that were being put out to help aid the victims of the attack, as well as different security and laws to protect the U.S, caused several layoffs and un-employments. Specifically, It was said that 462 extended masses were layoffs because of the attacks that displaced approximately 130,000 employees.[44] The unemployment rate inclined to a total of 5.0% which is significant.

Unlike The Great Depression, most of us can remember the horrid events of 9/11. Many of us know people who were directly impacted… people who were at Ground Zero, people who lost their lives, or people who lost their livelihood. It was devastating on so many levels.

The “economic impact,” according to Wikipedia was that we hit 5.0% unemployment. 130,000 people were “displaced.” There were 462 mass layoffs.

What we are going through now dwarfs that. 130,000 compared to 40,000,000?

The number of people who have their careers impacted is THREE HUNDRED TIMES more than 9/11.

I can’t compare a terrorist act to the virus. I haven’t cried about the pandemic, while I remember staring at the TV with tears streaming down my face, watching the towers fall. But I’m afraid that what we are seeing today is just the tip of the iceberg with the economic devastation that we might see over the next few years.

I remember when I lost my job in 2006. The economy was STRONG. It seemed like anyone who wanted to have a job could have a job. Anyone, that is, except me. Unemployment around the country was low. Unemployment, however, in my house, was 100%.

Was I broken? What was wrong… with me?

I didn’t know it then but this became my turning point. This was when I realized that giving my career and future to my boss, to HR, to company owners, or ANYONE else was a great disservice.

This is when I realized that I needed to own my own career. I was in charge of my “continuing education,” regardless of the company budget or what conferences they would send me to. I was in charge of my professional networking, and going to networking events was NOT “cheating on my team” or employer. I needed to keep up on my skills, my network, my brand, and my future.

Promises from bosses were nice and flattering, but when the boss changed, or other circumstances changed, the promises just didn’t hold water.

It’s what I would call career management. It is about self-empowerment, no matter what’s going on around me. It’s about being in control more than giving control to others. It’s about, as Dick Bolles said, options. “Having options,” he said, “gives people people hoping.”

This series is more than a few clever tactics. It’s more than strategy. It’s more than “security.” It’s about empowerment through options. It’s about hope.

And hope is exactly what the 40,000,000 people who have filed for unemployment need. Hope is what we all need right now.

So let’s do it. Let’s let ourselves talk about rebuilding the economy, and our future.

Join me here, won’t you?

 

 

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Assess and improve your skills NOW

May 21st, 2020

Years ago I was asked to speak in Turkey. About a month before my trip I emailed my contact and asked “who else is on the agenda? What are they talking about?” I wanted to know when I’d have my hour, and make sure my presentation was complementary to the other presentations for this conference. Her reply changed my next month:

“You are the entire conference. You will be speaking from 8 in the morning until we end at 5.”

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

I spent the next month brushing the dust off of all of my presentations. 45 minutes on LinkedIn. 45 minutes on Twitter. 45 minutes on Facebook. 45 minutes on blogging. 45 minutes on personal branding. 45 minutes on career management, etc.

The trip was exhausting. I didn’t schedule enough time to acclimate to the time change and got very little sleep the “night” before the presentation. Also, my presentations rely on a bit of humor, and I get my energy from the audience reaction. However, in Turkey I had an interpreter who was in a little box in the middle of the room. I’d say a joke and about about 30 to 60 seconds after my joke, 33% of the audience would quietly chuckle. It was a stressful day, on very little sleep. Alas, I did fine and the audience was gracious.

After my day full of presenting a guy came up and said “a group of us meet privately once a month to talk about business and stuff, we’d love for you to come tomorrow morning.” I went, and it was amazing. Eye opening.

I remember thinking “my friends at home are so worried about the next episode of [insert sitcom or drama series here], while these entrepreneurs in Turkey are HUSTLING.”

JibberJobber Upskill Now Passion

The level of strategic thinking and desire to build and create and perform was almost scary. The difference I saw in that small group of people who met in a little restaurant compared with my own network back home made me want to scream. We, in the U.S., needed to focus more on progress and creating and entrepreneurship and careers and the future and less on our comfort.

Those were some of the thoughts I had in that morning meeting.

Don’t get me wrong… it was super exciting to be in that room with that high level of strategic thinking. I loved it.

And so here we are today. We’ve gone through the Great Recession of 2008. That impacted people I (and probably you) know. On the flip side, we’ve recently gone through a recent “great economy,” with super low unemployment, and a time of less stress and worry, which for many led to letting our guards down.

And then overnight we went from talk about the best economy ever to “we are approaching the Great Depression.” The news announced over 36 million people filing for unemployment. I’m sure the numbers are much greater with entrepreneurs who have had to close doors, and people who just haven’t filed. One out of five, I read. That is NUTS.

On social media people were saying “this is the time to retool, to get better, to go to school,” or whatever. Write your book, do that project, etc. If you didn’t… if you chose to binge-watch Netflix, you were wasting your quarantine.

JibberJobber Binge Watch

Dorks waste their quarantine, right?

So, I honestly don’t care if you binge watched stuff. If you needed to do that just to mentally survive, go for it. Maybe you have been hustling with a ridiculous commute and a non-stop schedule, and this quarantine was finally a time for you to take a breath and slow down. If that was you, I’m glad you were able to finally slow down. I hope it was a time of self-reflection and gave you a minute to really think about your future.

But here is my invitation to you: think about your future, and your skills, now. And tomorrow, and for the rest of your life.

Don’t wait for a better economy when there is less stress. Don’t wait for a worse economy when you have some down time. Figure out where you want to be, and figure out how to get there.

Should you go to college? Maybe. Should you upskill on Pluralsight? I’d  almost always say absolutely yes.

Maybe you should just change the books you read, or the shows you watch. Maybe take one $10 class on Udemy or Coursera. See what your community college offers, or go to a Home Depot Saturday class.

Don’t wait for the kids to move out, or the weather to get better. You can learn, and upskill, NOW. Prepare for the next upswing in the economy, because it will come. Or, prepare for the next downswing because that too will come.

That group of go-getters in Turkey wasn’t waiting. They weren’t waiting for better living conditions? They just needed a laptop and an internet connection and they were off and running. No excuses. They wanted a better way of life for them and their families. There was no “when this happens, then I’ll do that.”

Early in JibberJobber, when I started to see some very moderate successes, people would ask “are you happy?” I thought about that a lot… I wasn’t unhappy. And then I realized what my real answer was:

I was happy. Definitely. I was just not satisfied.

JibberJobber Satisfied Happy

I invite you to be happy with where you are at. Enjoy what you are and what you have. Be proud of what you have accomplished. And then, out of dissatisfaction, and a yearning to be and create more, learn. Skill up. Try more. Do things. Make progress. Not because you are unhappy but because you know that you want to make progress.

It doesn’t have to be crazy progress. This is a long-term game.

Do it NOW and you’ll be ready when opportunities come up. You’ll have done the work, put in the time, have built the skills, and know the value of opportunities. You’ll also be educated enough to know what “opportunities” are dangerous or not worth it. Because you spent time skilling up.

That is my invitation to you. Now. Not when it’s easier, or some mythical time of when it’s better for you. Now.

Want to chat about it? Drop me a note and let’s jump on a call.

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Jason Alba and Snowfly

May 15th, 2020

Yesterday I wrote about writing a book during quarantine. I said:

In one of my projects (more on that tomorrow) I found a need to write this ebook.

Many years ago I met a couple of guys through our home school community who bought a company. I liked both of them as humans and we became friends. It helped that our wives were all friends, too.

I watched them buy and work on this business and secretly wished I could be a part of it. I saw potential in both of these guys, and was impressed by their work ethic, passion, and technical ability, and of course the potential with their product.

The timing was never right, though. They had some stuff to do before they would be ready for me and I had some work to do before I’d be ready to join them.

Last Spring I was chatting with Eli about the company and said “you know, I’m still interested in investing and joining as an owner.” And he was like “Really?”

A few months later I became an equity owner in Snowfly.com. I don’t have a full-time role, but I do contribute in a few things here and there. I think my most valuable contribution is meeting regularly with Eli, who runs the company, and “coaching” him. I use the word “coaching” lightly because I’m not a trained coach. But our conversations are, imo, enriching.

In addition to that I have a few tasks I manage (including writing for the Snowfly blog, some marketing, participating on a UX redesign team, sales strategy, etc.). Stuff I’m pretty comfortable with. The eBook I wrote was one of those marketing tasks. It wasn’t assigned to me… but it was a great idea that needed to become an eBook.

I’m also on the Board, which is a role I enjoy. I think this is the 3rd board of a business I’ve been on.

What is Snowfly?

Snowfly Employee PerformanceSnowfly is a software company that helps companies improve positive cultures with incentives and rewards. That’s probably the 30,000 perspective. They are actually pioneers in the incentives space, having been founded in the nineteen hundreds, and based on principles of behavior change. They are ingenuitive with their application of gamification (huh? Still huh?), and because of their diverse customer base they have created some wicked cool tools. What’s more, the team is fanatical about improving culture, employee performance, employee satisfaction, and working with organizational leaders to improve KPIs and other business metrics.

Right around the time I started seriously talking with them they were creating a new speech and text analytics system that allows a call center (for example) take recorded calls analyze them. This gives management great insight into what is happening on calls so proper training can be put in place. The impact of this insight is astounding. Imagine how you could improve a collection company’s call center? Better calls, better training, more clear expectations, and correcting problems (which could result in very expensive fines) immediately…? That should provide a better customer experience. Same thing with Sales… imagine a sales manager knowing exactly what’s going on, and what the best (and worst) performers are saying on the phone. This can help guide training (do more of what the best person is doing, and less of what the worst person is doing!) and result in immediate results.

The right team. The right products. And plenty of opportunity to improve on multiple fronts. Sounds like a fun opportunity!

What about JibberJobber?

This doesn’t change anything for JibberJobber. We continue to work vigorously on JibberJobber, and have some big enhancements coming down the pipeline. I am also still working on my Pluralsight courses, and super excited about being able to work at various levels of improving careers (from finding a job (JibberJobber and the Job Search Program) to working with companies to make a better culture and place employees want to work and bring their best (Snowfly) to helping individuals improve their soft skills with professional development and communication courses (Pluralsight)… I’m busy.

But I’m having, as the song goes, the time of my life.

Here’s the reality: I’m no spring chicken.

If I’m going to do fun things, now is the time.

JibberJobber Future

What’s in my future?

I’d love to find a company that wants to buy JibberJobber. There, I said it. A company like The Muse, who has done fantastic things in the job search space. They are progressive and have added a lot of value to the job search conversation. But I could also see a job board like Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, Dice needing something like JibberJobber. I could also see one of the big outplacement companies adding JibberJobber to their toolset for job seekers. Until the right offer comes along I will continue to build, support, maintain JibberJobber. There are too many people who have accounts that rely on it, and us, and me. I’m not going anywhere or doing anything with JibberJobber until it is right for my users.

I hope to do a few more Pluralsight courses. This will depend on their direction. I already took a 2.5 year break, but have loved getting back into it after I left my last day job. Did I say a few more? I meant a few dozen more :p

I feel like I’m at a really good point in my career, and I’m able to really enjoy what I’m doing. I hope I get to do this stuff for a long time… contributing and sharing in many ways.

JibberJobber Jason Alba Snowfly

 

 

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