Navigating the Job Search is Like Driving in Spain

June 20th, 2017

Imagine this: you are in a rental car in Spain. It’s stick shift, of course, which you haven’t driven in over twenty years. You set out to drive at least an hour. So you get in your rental car ready to hit the road… they said that most of the street signs are similar enough to what you are used to that it shouldn’t be a big deal.  Then, you come across a set of street signs like this (photo courtesy campervantrips):

spain_streetsigns

No big deal really… right?  Except, you are supposed to turn soon, according to your GPS (which seems to be off by 100 meters).  Wait, did I say meters? Yeah, that’s foreign to me… So I’m in a foreign country, driving a different kind of car (stick), using a measuring system that I’m not used to (how long until 250 meters??), the GPS is off enough to make a difference, and the next exit I want is M-30. Wait, is that an exit, or a road?  And what the heck is E-5, and why is the next one E-901 instead of E-6?  A-4, A-42, A-5… ?????

AAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

This was me a week ago. I rented a car in Spain and, with three teens in tow, drove to various beaches around Barcelona. Most of the time it was fine, but every once in a while it got really confusing! Is this exit for M-30, E-901, A-3, A-4, A-42, A-5… and why can’t it just be ONE thing?  Like, in my state back home, there’s one exit number… like exit 291. That is, I think, two hundred ninety one miles from the south border of the state.  Guess what the next exit is? 292!  Or maybe 293, if it is two miles up.  I don’t remember exactly, but they are in numerical order, and they make sense.

They make sense to me because I’ve lived in this region for the last twenty something years.

After the fourth day of driving in Spain, I start to “get it.” I didn’t totally get it, but I started to get it a little. I got it enough to feel like I was on my way to being more confident with those signs.

Want to know what the trick was?

IGNORE THE NOISE.

The signs in Spain are too noisy. There is too much superfluous writing on the signs, and to read it all would mean to slow down and probably be a danger to cars behind you.  Reading every single thing is too much, it takes too much time, and it’s not (always) important.

Knowing what you can and should ignore is a terrific skill, both when driving in a foreign country with weird-to-you signs and when navigating a job search, which for many of us, is foreign territory.

Because it’s all new, we tend to be hyper-sensitive to stimuli… articles that say this, videos that say that, and too much contradiction. Worse, there’s plenty of bad advice that really gets people mixed up (like, “if you aren’t on google, you don’t exist.” Or worse, “you must use Twitter in your job search.”)  Both of those can be good, but not if you aren’t doing any fundamentals. If you aren’t figuring out how to do the basics, then the advice to get on Twitter and do your job search there is harmful noise.

In your job search, figure out what is noise, and ignore the noise.

This is a SKILL that you can learn and improve. At first it will be pretty confusing but as you find your groove you’ll figure out what you can ignore, and what you need to focus on.

To your career success!

 

 

 

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job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

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The Da Vinci Resume (Live, from Roma)

June 13th, 2017

Well, I was in Rome until yesterday… now I’m in Barcelona to finish out my European holiday!  Last week we went to the Da Vinci Museum, which was really quite awesome.  One of the first things to see was this huge poster thing talking about Da Vinci’s resume. I have seen this before, I probably blogged about it, but I want to revisit it.

roma_5_resume_1

Da Vinci was a genius… for sure.  Even the genius, though, had to hustle. He had to eat, and he had bills to pay.  Even after he did amazing things, and his reputation was growing, he still had to hustle.

When do we stop hustling?  If Leonardo had to keep hustling, shouldn’t we?

roma_5_resume_2

In the first line he doesn’t say “To whom it may concern,” or “Hiring Manager,” or anything generic. It is appropriately addressed to the person who should read it. Please make sure you are addressing a human, not a concept!

In the next paragraph he says “I don’t want to take away from anyone but man, I’m awesome!!”  Do you communicate with confidence, or are you quote-humble-unquote? Nothing wrong with being humble, it’s a virtue… but we must get to a point where we communicate with confidence when we need to… and when we are in a job search, selling ourselves and our skills, we need to!

In the bulleted list of “I can do this” and “I can do that,” you’ll notice that Leonardo doesn’t say “here’s how I do it,” or talk with technical jargon. He is bringing out specific issues and problems!  He understands the relevant, specific things that his most Illustrious Lord is grappling with, and addresses those things saying “I have figured out how to solve this problem.

He talks about solving many problems… as an employer I have problems… can you speak my language, and address thing things that are keeping me up at night? Of course, I want to know details, but that can wait for another conversation.

 

roma_5_resume_3

He goes on to talk about more specific problems, and then says “I can do these other things, too.” Be careful that you don’t talk about all of your skills as that can get distracting. But he goes there. The thing I love about the bottom is that he says “want to see any of my solutions? I’ll make it easy for you… name the time and place and I’ll show you how I’ll solve your problems.”

A genius, but he knows that his audience is crazy busy. Why not accommodate?

Of course, your resume will not look like this.  But your cover letter might have some of these elements, and you can incorporate some of these ideas into your networking conversations and interviews, right?

Heck, if Leonardo could do it, I’m sure you could, too!

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

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Your Next Economic Crash (aka, Recession)

June 12th, 2017

Did you see the interview with Jim Rodgers about the pending recession? Bigger than anything any of us have ever experienced?

I saw it last week and meant to blog about it… but was trying to figure out how to do it without being a “star is falling” guy.

It’s worth the few minutes to watch… click this image and you’ll go to the website with the video:

jimrogers_worstCrashPrediction

So, that’s pretty gloomy. But wait, there’s good news!  Kendall Baker wrote a piece on this showing he did some research, and he found that Jim Rogers is always predicting a huge crash… even saying it’s 100% inevitable that it is right around the corner. Check out Kendall’s article here… you can scroll through it quickly to see evidence of Rogers’ consistent claims. Kendall’s conclusion is “even a broken clock is right twice a day.”

The video, by the way, was posted this month. Kendall’s article was posted a little over a year ago.

So what if Jim is right? What if we see the worst recession in our lifetime? What will that mean?  More importantly, how can we prepare?

Let me share something I learned in January of 2006: no matter how the economy does, you can experience your own personal recession at anytime, for many reasons that are out of your control.

I speak from experience. When my boss(es) said “we’re going to let you go,” the economy was great. But my personal economy was about to take a serious turn for the worse. The stress was almost enough to break me.

I have seen this same thing play out thousands of times since then. I have met users from all over the world… some are from countries where there is no economic positive outlook and no jobs (Greece and Spain), others are from places rich with opportunities (Silicon Valley)… but no matter what’s going on with the economy, something happened… maybe between them and the boss, or a customer, or the company owner was crazy… something outside of my user’s control, and viola… jobless. Months away from being homeless.  Despair without end.

If you haven’t been there I hope you never go there.

If you have been there you know how dark it is.

Whether Jim Rogers is right or Kendall is right, what I know is that YOU MUST PREPARE.  Prepare for a fallen economy, or for a closed company (Enron), or for a crazy boss, or for the time when you are asked to do something that goes against who you are as a person (lie, cheat, or steal).  If I haven’t gone through it, I’ve seen it. And it’s no fun.

But, you can prepare. I see people do it all the time. People who are serious about maintaining a living. These are people who prioritize networking, relationships, branding, and career management. These are people who use JibberJobber, who read books to get better, who self-educate.

It’s a lot more fun to be prepared for a huge change, and to handle it well because you are empowered, than to take only what you can get and continually feel like you are daily become less and less of a person with a reason.

Prepare, now!

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

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Branding and Stereotypes

June 1st, 2017

Wow, it’s been almost a month since I’ve blogged anything here! I’ve been in Europe for the last two weeks (and blogging about it at JasonAlba.com/blog).  I spoke in Belgium at a huge IT conference, speaking about personal branding.  While there, I saw this online:

9gag_stereotypes

By now I’ve been to two of those countries (UK and France), and soon will be in Italy.  I don’t know if those are really true… we’ve had some excellent food in England!

But the point is, stereotypes! Stereotypes don’t have to be true to ring true, or to be powerful or persuasive.

You have to figure out what stereotypes you are stuck with, or should fight, and then create a strategy to fight them!

 

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

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Welcome Glassdoor Readers: Ultimate Cheatsheet for Organizing Your Job Search

May 4th, 2017

Today we got a bunch of new signups on JibberJobber… they came because Glassdoor emailed out yesterday’s blog post titled The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Organizing Your Job Search. Thanks to Catherine Burns for the mention at the end end of her post.

For anyone new to JibberJobber, let me suggest you watch the 80 second video on the front page of JibberJobber (when you are logged out), and then browse through the Getting Started video series.  If nothing else, browse through the titles to get a better idea of the things you could do with JibberJobber:

jibberjobber_getting_started_videos

That’s really where I would start.  Now, to clarify a few things:

Is JibberJobber Free?

JibberJobber is free, like LinkedIn and Gmail and other sites are. That is, there is a super-duper functional free level, where you can do just about anything you could want, and then there is a premium level.  It’s a low $9.95 a month, or if you like a deal, get one year for only $60 (save 50%).  Many people use the free level, and those who really want the premium features (it’s a short list) pay the upgrade.

What if I’ve already used a spreadsheet to track my job search?

Use whatever tool you need… if Excel works better for you than a CRM, great. But if that becomes frustrating, and you are getting upside down, consider switching over to JibberJobber.  Personally, I’d switch everything over right now, but not worry about putting all of your past Excel data into JibberJobber… just start populating with the conversations you are having and tracking from now on.

What if I’m a coach?  Should I use JibberJobber?

I have plenty of coaches who recommend JibberJobber… outplacement companies, counselors, career centers, resume writers, even recruiters.  People who are “in the know.”  You can simply recommend to your clients, you can email me about bulk discounts for coaches, or you can start to use JibberJobber to manage and track your own clients, prospects, etc.

HEEEEEELLLLLLLPPPPPPPP!

I get it… job search is hard. Networking is confusing.  Software is… well, something to learn.  Need help?  Reach out to me. I can point you to a blog post, a video, or even jump on a webinar with you. I want to take the friction out of your job search, the best I can, and delight you with JibberJobber.  I’m at Jason@JibberJobber.com

Finally, welcome!   Don’t let being unorganized and letting follow-up slip through the cracks be a huge weakness in your job search.

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

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Need to Lose 15 Pounds for Job Search Interview. How?

May 3rd, 2017

Imagine this scenario: You have a job search interview coming up. You find the right clothes to wear, but… well, to be honest, they are just a bit too snug.  You really would do well to lose, let’s say, 15 pounds. Then they would fit really nicely!

How do you lose 15 pounds?

Oh yeah, one last detail: your job interview is tomorrow.

That changes things, doesn’t it?

The best way, in my opinion, to lose those 15 pounds, is the Body for Life diet and exercise plan. I’ve done it twice and the results are amazing. It’s hard, of course… all plans are hard.  But the results… wow.

Oh, but wait… that takes time. Ain’t nobody going to lose 15 pounds overnight for their job interview.

You really should have been working on that three months ago. Or six months ago.

Have you heard the saying: When’s the best time to plant a tree?  20 years ago!!  When’s the second best time? TODAY!!!

When’s the best time to start to lose 15 pounds?  Six months ago!  When’s the second best time to start? TODAY!!!

You think this post is about losing 15 pounds. It’s not. It’s about TODAY.

When’s the best time to start networking, with strategy and purpose?  A long time ago!  When’s the second best time to start? TODAY!!!

When’s the best time to update your LinkedIn profile or resume? Last time you switched jobs! When’s the second best time? TODAY!!!

When’s the best time to reach out to that one contact (you know the one)? A month ago! When’s the second best time? TODAY!!!

When’s the best time to use JibberJobber to manage and organize your job search and networking? When you started your job search. When’s the second best time? TODAY!!!

When’s the best time to [insert thing that you know you should be doing, but have been procrastinating]? TODAY! TODAY!! TODAY!!!

You get the point. You hear the message. Now, do something, TODAY.

It is NOT to late to start any of those things.  But put if off to tomorrow, and tomorrow will become next year, and next year will become forever, and in forever you’ll be left sitting there saying “I need to lose 15 pounds by tomorrow… how do I do that??”

START TODAY!

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

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How/When To Narrow Down to the Right Niche #JobSearch

May 2nd, 2017

I got some great questions from William:

I love your site and find your videos very helpful and very insightful. I am currently an active job seeker, a position that I have not really been in before, and been having problems getting my mind set around searching for a job. Your videos have been helping me in that department, giving me tasks to do and strategies to think about which works well for me since those are a couple of my strengths.

I just finished your “Developing a Killer Personal Brand”. You spoke about Niche vs. General Purpose which I am having challenges getting my head around. I spent my entire career getting good at one aspect of Information Technology (IT) and then moving on to another area. For example I spent 10 years honing my skills supporting and architecting server environments before moving over to supporting and architecting networks.

I am defiantly fighting people’s conception of a mile wide and an inch deep which I don’t believe is the case for me.

Five years ago, after some soul searching, I decided to focusing on Information Security which in itself has many facets to it. This bring me to my questions, “How do I identify what area of information security I should be focusing on when I love all of it?” and “Is this what you really meant by identifying the Niche?”

Any other advice you can give me on the subject would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you, William, for these questions.  Before we dive into this, I should say that the videos he is talking about are my Pluralsight videos.  I have about 30 of them on Pluralsight, and they are soft skills, job search, career management, and professional development.  All JibberJobber users can get a 30 day… just login and you’ll see the links.

William says he is essentially branded as being a mile wide and an inch deep. When I started my career in IT I was branded as a mile wide and a mile deep. I didn’t have nearly that much breadth or depth, but people thought “oh, Jason does web development… we should ask him why my computer is slow.” Or, why my mouse doesn’t work, or if he’ll design a logo, or (true story) if he’ll hang my new TV. Because any IT means all IT, right?

If you are in IT you know that is absolutely false. But people outside of IT seem to think that’s the way it is.

So, what do you do?  What is the difference between these statements?

I’m a web developer

I’m a front end developer

I’m a full stack developer

I’m a database programmer

I do networking.

Each of those is pretty specific, although one I find hard to believe (a full stack developer means that you do all of the technology… my guess is that generally you are decent on one end and poor on another, but you can hack your way through it all).  That is where our faulty assumptions come into play… or as William says, people assume he’s a mile wide (lots of skills) but an inch think (not good at any of them)… as we used to say, Jack of all trades.

It is our job to clarify what we really do, and communicate it in a way that everyone can understand it.

We need to make sure that even people outside of our field, who don’t understand our jargon, can get what we do, so they can talk about us!  I can’t emphasize that enough! That’s why we need to come up with messaging that people (like our spouse, kids, neighbors, friends, etc.) can share with others.

If your message is “I can do everything in this field (industry, job, profession, etc.) then your message might be too vague to understand.

When I counsel people on LinkedIn, I tell them to focus more on your results, or the What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) for your client.  Instead of “I am a front end developer,” how about “I make websites beautiful, easier to use, and increase sales with my designs.”  WHAT A DIFFERENCE!  Switching from your job description to the value you bring shifts the conversation!

I know this gets harder as you have more years and diversity in your career.  William says he has 10 years experience in one area, than 10 years in another related-but-different area.  How do you communicate that?  The most important thing to consider is that your answer isn’t to provide a comprehensive list of job titles or accomplishments, but to take the right experiences and accomplishments for the actual job you are applying to.  Don’t start at your history, start at the client’s (hiring manager’s) needs, and work backwards.

The next topic/question is about narrowing down from all security to certain security.

The thing is, William has a lot of experience… and he probably can do a lot of different security roles. Or, said another way, he has a lot of breadth and a lot of depth.  Security is a fast-moving field, and his background should show that he can learn and adjust, and has the proper background, training, and exposure to excel in security.  I would suggest that he focuses on that message, and come up with stories (or mini-stories) to illustrate those points. He should figure out where he wants to get his hands dirty (web, network, WAN, mobile, etc.) and go deep there… or, honestly, he sounds like someone who could be a great CTO.  Sounds like the world is at his feet… he just has to identify which direction he’s really interested in, and then narrow the stories and messaging so they really support the idea that he would be perfect for the role he’s looking for.

That is my answer to the last question, on what is niche?  It’s the last few sentences in that last paragraph.

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

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Associations in JibberJobber Just Got Easier

April 28th, 2017

In JibberJobber we have “associations.” You can associate, or connect, a Contact to a Company. Doesn’t that make sense? As you network into a target company, you will talk to people… so you have a person (or a contact) that is tied to the company.

In JibberJobber you can associate multiple Contacts and Jobs to Companies, multiple Jobs and Companies to Contacts, multiple Contacts and Companies to Jobs, and all of those to Log Entries.  That might sound confusing, but trust me that associating is awesome, powerful, and useful.

In a Log Entry, at the bottom left, are buttons/links to associate Contacts, Companies, and Jobs (and create Action Items). Let’s say you apply to a job, and followed up with someone… now, in the Log Entry, when you want to associate type @ and then three letters (1), and you’ll see a dropdown (2), like below.  Choose any name from the list and that Contact will be associated to the Log Entry!  More coolness to come…

jibbejobber_LE_at_smartness

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job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

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How To Organize Your Job Search / What Is JibberJobber

April 27th, 2017

This is the video that we are going to put on the front page of JibberJobber soon:

How to Organize Your Job Search (JibberJobber) from Jason Alba on Vimeo.

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

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When You Don’t Say It All In A Job Interview

April 26th, 2017

What do you do if you had a job interview that goes pretty well, but after the interview there’s at least one question that nags at you.

Not the question, but the how you answered it.  It’s the familiar taste of regret.

“Oh, I should have answered this way, I should have said that!”

The big question is, now what?

Do you go back to the interviewer and clarify it?  The answer is maybe.

Does it really matter?

Did you really mess it up?

Is your other answer so much better that it merits another point of communication? Or just a little better?

Don’t get me wrong, I like points of communication, but you have to be careful that you take the opportunity to communicate with the interviewer with something that will be impactful… the most impactful!

I don’t want to scare you away from communicating with people who in any other situation are your peers and colleagues, but I want to encourage you to reach out with information that can have a real influence.

The best suggestion I heard in this situation is to include your alternative answer in the follow-up you do after your interview. You are doing that, right?

For example, let’s say you were asked “tell me about your most successful project you’ve worked on, and why was it successful?”

Your answer was okay… it was fine.  But after the interview the question nags and nags at you, and having thought about your career you think of a few other answers.  In the follow-up, you might say something like:

“John, thank you for the opportunity to talk about the product manager opening you have at your company. I’m very interested in this role and think that I can add a lot of value to your team, and the direction of your product.  I look forward to the next steps in your interview process, and welcome any follow-up questions.

In our interview you asked me about the most successful product I have managed. I talked about XYZ, which of course I’m very proud of. There are a couple of other products that I worked on earlier in my career that I didn’t think about when you asked, but I’ve thought a lot about it since then.  The first was ___________…..”

Here is why this is so powerful.  First, most candidates don’t send any follow-up.  When you do, no matter what you say, you will stand out as different.

Second, in this follow-up, instead of saying what the interviewer (aka decision maker or influencer) is expecting, and what other people write, you are carrying on the conversation. You are reminding them who you are, what your story was (from your first answer), and then going on to say “and that’s not all… here are some other great things you should know.”

One of the problems with the job search process, from the job seeker’s perspective, is that a resume does not represent all of the breadth (amount of things a person can do, has done, skills, abilities, etc.) and depth (length of experience, amount of expertise).  Let’s say that you have a lot of breadth and a lot of depth… and you have a few tools that help you convey the scope of your breadth and depth. Namely, your resume and the interview.

Can you see the problem here?

When your resume is one or two pages, providing a very summarized view of your awesomeness.

When your interview is 45 minutes (give or take), you don’t get to go to the extent of your breadth, or the end of your depth.  You get to convey a few snapshots… points in your career, but 45 minutes isn’t enough time to really tell your story, is it?

How, then, can you fill in the gaps?

A follow-up letter, like the example I shared above, is a great way to do that.  Also, a great LinkedIn Profile with mini-stories that fill in the blanks.  Having a brand such that others talk about you (the right way) and perhaps a blog (that can really fill in the gaps on breadth and depth) and perhaps an about.me page… all of those are tools to help you go from someone who is maybe right for this position to someone who is, no doubt, without a question, right for the position!

 

 

what where
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip jobs by job search

JibberJobber is a powerful tool that lets you manage your career, from job search to relationship management to target company management (and much more). Free for life with an optional upgrade.

Sign Up Now! »

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