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Job Search Tool: The Job Seeker Newsletter

August 14th, 2020

Years ago I wrote about a very awesome tactic for networking and personal branding, with an emphasis on helping your network help you in your job search.

In most of my on-stage presentations I talk about it, and in a few of my Pluralsight courses I talk about it. This was not a flash-in-the-pan, whimsical suggestion. I think a regular newsletter for your network can be a super powerful tool.

JibberJobber Job Search Newsletter Typing Email

In the April 5th (2012) post I talk about the three things that go into your newsletter. This is seriously three SHORT paragraphs. Each paragraph has a very important purpose. At the end is a very specific call to action. This post, How to write a job search newsletter (1 of 2), is the nuts and bolts. Don’t let the simplicity trick you into thinking it isn’t a super powerful tool.

The next day, April 6th, I wrote How to write a job search newsletter (2 of 2). This is an important follow up where I talk about how to keep track of WHAT you have sent to WHO. I talk about how you would use JibberJobber to (a) figure out who you would email (and quickly get an email list for those you want to send the newsletter to) and (b) how to track, in JibberJobber, what you sent and who you sent it to.

Please consider including the job search newsletter in your job search strategy. It doesn’t take much time or effort, but could result in some great conversations, leads, and introductions.  The two links above are to short but important blog posts!

JibberJobber Job Search Newsletter at symbol

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Understanding Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills #careers

July 2nd, 2020

When I’ve hired, or evaluated candidates, in the past, I consider hard skills and soft skills. There’s lots of talk about soft skills and how important they are. At a point they supposedly become more important than hard skills. I want to share some important thoughts to help you put the two into perspective.

I recognize that some people don’t like the phrases “hard skills” and “soft skills.” I’ll let them debate that… for the purpose of this post it doesn’t matter what we call them… just imagine whatever favorite phrases you want :p

HARD SKILLS

Hard skills are the skills you need to do the job. If you are a widget maker and need to run machinery, can you run the machinery? Have you had training? Do you have certificates or licenses?

If you need to pull levers, how many times have you pulled levers? How many levers have you pulled in your life? Have the levers been different colors, or different sizes?

If you program, which languages do you know, and how proficient are you at those languages?

If you write (ie, a marketer), how much have you written? Do you write blog posts, or ebooks, or copy for websites, or manuals?

If you train people, what methodologies do you use? What size is your idea group, etc.

Hard skills can usually be trained in a classroom and on the job. You likely can learn hard skills for the rest of your career. I had some plumbing work done recently and the licensed journeyman plumber was stuck… he called in his mentor, a master plumber. They were both licensed but the master plumber had 30 years on the job and had seen a lot more than the younger journeyman. I appreciated that the journeyman plumber was wise enough to recognize he had reached his limits and wanted to consult with someone more expert.

JibberJobber Hard Skills

Hard skills can be hard to define. Usually we say things like intermediate or expert to describe our hard skills, but those descriptors can be meaningless. I know a programmer who said he was intermediate at a certain language but I would have said he was expert. There is too much subjectivity from the person self-assessing and too much interpretation from the person on the receiving end.

Tangent: This is why Pluralsight Skills IQ is so awesome for techies. Instead of arbitrarilly guessing your proficiency you can essentially rank yourself against thousands of peers and come up with a number that tells you what percentile you fall in. It’s way less subjective. If you can find something like that, to assess yourself against others, DO IT. Pluralsight Skill IQ is free, btw.

When Hard Skills Are Important

As a hiring manager I *might* ask you about your hard skills in an interview. If I do, it’s usually in the first interview, and less with each interview that follows.

I say might because I might have already looked you up and done a bunch of research on you before you come in. This is a critical concept… before you get an invitation to the interview I will have already answered this question:

Can this candidate do the job?

This is 100% a hard skills question. My invitation to you is this: communicate the answer to this BEFORE you even get to the interview.

How do you do that? There are a few elegant ways:

  1. Have a portfolio. A portfolio is not just for artists. You should be able to create some kind of documentation or collection of projects or thoughts or writing to showcase your work. If you can’t showcase your work because of confidentiality then here’s a simple suggestion: write some articles on LinkedIn or Medium or your own blog. The articles should showcase your professional breadth and depth and passion and experience. When I see your portfolio I should say “yep, this person can obviously do the job. The experience and passion and thoughtfulness is here.”
  2. Have testimonials. You can tell me you are qualified, but what if you had peers, colleagues, bosses, and customers tell me how good you are? There are many ways to collect testimonials… I usually recommend LinkedIn Recommendations. This is something you can’t fabricate or falsify, and they are pretty easy to get. I talk about how to do this in one of my LinkedIn courses on Pluralsight (one or two, I can’t remember which). Here’s a quick tip: too often recommendations are too generic and weak. I suggest you ask for a recommendation and say “It might read something like this” … and then hit the main points you want to hit (bringing out specific hard skills). I cover this in my course, but #AMA.
  3. Have ministories. In my personal branding course on Pluralsight I talk about crafting ministories… I think I talk about it in the LinkedIn profile course as well. These are SO powerful to (a) claim you have a skill, or can do a thing, and then (b) substantiate and quantify your claim using a simple story. These should be used on your LinkedIn profile, other online places where you market yourself, in social media interactions (like a post on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn), when you network with others face to face, and definitely in interviews.

Make those three things easy to find and understand.

The most important thing I want to communicate about hard skills is that they help you get into the interview. I do not ask you to an interview to see if you can do the job. By the time I have you in the room I assume you can do the job, but I might ask some qualifying questions to dig deeper into your hard skills.

BONUS: if you can quantify the value of your hard skills, all the better. When you show me you can do a certain job with a certain proficiency and you understand you bring value, I LIKE THAT.

SOFT SKILLS

Soft skills is the funny-named cousin to hard skills. This is the one I hear people saying “we need to rename that!” I don’t care what it is called but society calls it soft skills and I doubt we’ll see that change anytime soon.

JibberJobber Soft Skills

Soft skills are harder to quantify. “I’m a really good presenter” is very subjective. Too subjective. I once interviewed someone who was an excellent presenter… until this person did a presentation. I learned they thought they were excellent but I was cringing a lot.

It’s a lot easier to quantify proficiency in hard skills because we have tests and assessments, but there isn’t really a test or assessment for presenting. A presentation received very well by one person might have been received horrible by another person.

A lot of times soft skills are just kind of … felt. Perceived. Gut reaction. You might tell me you are a great listener but when we actually talk you do all of the talking, talk over me, and don’t give me a chance to talk at all. I’ve been there. It can be equally funny and frustrating.

Soft skills have to do with cultural fit. Is your communication style and demeanor a good fit for our team or our culture? I hired someone once who I thought was a fantastic fit… turned out they were a horrible worker. I have passed over people who had soft skills that were just not a good fit… either too quiet or too loud. This wasn’t anything I could read on a resume or LinkedIn profile… this is something I had to experience myself.

My courses on Pluralsight are all about soft skills… 36 courses and counting. How to communicate outbound (in writing, presenting, talking, etc.) and how to communicate inbound (becoming a better listener is one of my most popular courses)… there are probably a couple hundred soft skills courses on Pluralsight to choose from. If you want a 30 day pass hit me up and I’ll see if I can get you one.

When Soft Skills Are Important

A few months ago I was chatting with my fifteen year old who was asking what I do for Pluralsight. I told her I create soft skills courses…. courses on communicating, listening, working with different personalities, emotional intelligence, and job search and career management. She said “oh, most of Pluralsight’s courses teach people how to do the job and your courses help them get jobs and promotions!”

YES!

I wish I had written down word-for-word what she said because it was better than what I just wrote, but that’s the idea.

Soft skills help you get the job.

Soft skills help you get promotions.

When I bring you in for an interview I want to know if you will be a good addition to our team. I want to know if you’ll be as “cultural fit.” That doesn’t mean I want to hire you if you will fit in… maybe I’m looking for someone to shake things up and bring us up a few notches. But I definitely want to know about your likability or coolness factor. I’m not looking for the most popular or likable person, but I certainly want to know if I’ll like working with you.

My team and culture are different than where you just left. I don’t want to go backwards on our team environment, for sure. The only way I can really assess that is by bringing you in and chatting with you. Behavioral questions give me an insight into your soft skills and communication. Listening and watching how you think, react, respond, and treat others gives me insight into your soft skills.

By the end of the first interview I usually know whether you can do the job or not (see hard skills, above). I will have an idea of your soft skills, and whether I think I’d like to work with you or not. If I think you can do the job and you might be a good fit, and I might like working with you, you make hte cut and might come in for another interview. Usually this is with a panel, or with other people. Of course they’ll ask about hard skills because they haven’t done the same level of research on you as I have, and they’ll want to know “can this person do the job?” But when we all circle back and talk about the candidates I think most people will come back with their gut feel. By that stage everyone should be qualified to do the job, so hard skills isn’t much of the conversation… we tend to focus on who we “like.”

How does someone “like” you in an interview when they know you can do the job? It comes down to your soft skills. Your emotional intelligence. Your likability.

The Great Thing About Hard Skills and Soft Skills

I think the great thing, and a hopeful message, is that you can learn and improve your hard skills.

And, you can work on and improve your soft skills.

Improvement in either area will take time and practice and intention. But you can definitely improve.

And that is why I hope to continue creating courses for you.

 

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The Time To Look For a Job Is NOW! (Even Through Quarantine)

May 13th, 2020

Sad.

A friend of mine posted that he is sad, and snappy. This line particularly stuck out from a long facebook post:

Maybe you weren’t at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy. I know this person was living a great life. He isn’t wealthy but he really was living a great life. Rich with friends and doing what he loved. And then everything is taken away.

Combine that with news that we are at 24, I mean 27, I mean 30, I mean 33 MILLION people unemployed. And those are just those who have reported for unemployment insurance. I guarantee there are more. Not to mention people who had their own businesses who have shut down.

It feels like no one is hiring (here’s a link to a spreadsheet of who is freezing hiring). Except that companies are hiring (here are some jobs in Utah for product managers (my dream job) and UX/designers).

Whether you are part of the unemployed, the furloughed, or whatever, there is absolutely no reason to NOT do job search stuff right now.

In my Job Search Program I guide you on a six week journey of informational interviews, or, as I say, “networking on steroids.” Even with all of the economic question marks right now, with no one knowing what Fall or Winter will look like, there are things you could do for your job search. I’m not sure if you’ll land next week (people are getting hired right now) or in a couple of months, or early next year, but you need to get ready. You need to do things to put you in the running.

So what can you do when it feels like there is nothing going on, and no options? Here are nine ideas:

Personal Branding Activities To Do Right Now

JibberJobber Personal Brand Blue Orange

Fix up your LinkedIn Profile. This is your professional landing page and it shouldn’t suck. Here’s my Pluralsight course on that…

Write something to let people see your subject matter expertise, thought leadership, and/or professional passion. This could be as simple as ONE LinkedIn article (here’s my LinkedIn course for proactive strategies)… just think of it as a smart email. Or, you could write a guest blog post for someone with an established blog. Or, consider your own blog (post once a week, or once a month?), or start tweeting. But you gotta share your expertise somewhere, if you want your personal brand to grow.

Fix your email signature. This is what I call the “secret weapon of personal branding.” Secret because everyone could easily have one, but hardly anyone does it well. Strip out useless info (including inspirational quotes) and come up with clearly branded statements to help others know who/what you are.

Networking Activities To Do Right Now

JibberJobber Networking Chatting

Make your list and check it twice. Really, spend some time on this. If you are bored at home you have time to do this. Your list becomes your game plan. It can be the most important list you ever make. Do it in a spiral notebook, or a spreadsheet. Or, if you are serious about career management, keep track of your contacts in JibberJobber. We were designed to replace the job search spreadsheet!

Figure out your target companies. This is also a critical part of your game plan. You’ll want to figure out how you will network into those companies. Maybe you do research on LinkedIn and figure who does, or has, worked there. You can spend a lot of time planning and preparing… time that most of us have right now.

Call someone TODAY. And tomorrow. And pretty much every day. Do this strategically. Not just to chat, but to have an “informational interview.” This is, I think, the most effective job search tactic you can employ. I know it might feel weird, and you might feel uncomfortable. But do it anyway. It will be worth it when you land your dream job. Here’s a course you can get on Pluralsight (the free 10 day account will get you full access) on Informational Interviews. If you are serious about your next job, get on the Job Search Program.

Multiple Income Stream Activities To Do Right Now

JibberJobber Multiple Streams of Income Money

Brainstorm and list ways you could make extra money, even if it is only $100/month. I am super passionate about creating multiple income streams so that when your main stream goes away you still have income. Read this post to see how it worked out for me. There are plenty of lists online you can research to see what might work for you. I’m not saying to burn the ships and become an entrepreneur (although that might be right for you). But imagine making a few hundred, or a few thousand bucks a month that don’t go away when your job goes away.

Learn from others who have multiple revenue streams. I’m not talking about the tons of people on Youtube that are like 18 and telling you how to get rich like they did. Maybe you read books to learn (Multiple Streams of Income, Rich Dad Poor Dad, etc.). Maybe you talk to friends who are entrepreneurs. Maybe you talk to financial advisors. Maybe you talk to the 15 year old kid who is doing stuff (because they aren’t afraid to fail, like us older people are). How you create your other income stream(s), I have no idea. But you can get ideas and inspiration from others to create your own recipe for success.

Try something. People ask me if they should major in entrepreneurship at school. My answer is NO. Why wait to get a degree on how to be an entrepreneur when you can try something right now? Whatever your skills are I bet you can find someone to pay for them. Walk dogs (seriously), paint numbers on curbs (seriously), clean window wells (seriously), or whatever. Dave Ramsey’s go to alternative revenue stream he always recommends is to deliver pizzas. This requires hustle but you can make good money doing that. The biggest issue is usually getting over your pride and other false constraints and just jumping in.

Do something. Don’t get overwhelmed with things out of your control… each of the nine ideas I listed above are in your control.

If you are wondering what this has to do with finding a job right now, or job search activities, every single one of these nine tasks can be a part of you getting your next job. I’ll never forget the phone call I got in 2006, out of the blue, essentially offering me a job. Why? Because I had started JibberJobber. I showed what I could do, I showed I had hustle, and creativity, and could get things done. And I had a job offer. Just starting my own revenue stream led to a job offer. Mind blowing.

You got this.

JibberJobber Like a Boss

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Podcast: Jason Alba and Valerie Sokolosky

December 16th, 2019

I met Valerie Sokolosky years ago through the Reach personal branding training. A few weeks ago I was honored to be her guest on her podcast series talking about my story. Our conversation includes job search (of course, that was the beginning), networking, branding, multiple income streams… you know, all of the stuff I like to talk about :)

Check it out here on Youtube:

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The Difference Between Branded and Nobody #personalBranding

September 24th, 2019

Almost two years ago I hung my shingle out and looked for a full-time job. I had JibberJobber at a point where it didn’t need (or want) my full attention, Pluralsight wasn’t ready for anymore of my courses… and I had time. I also needed a change of scenery. And heck, if I had time, why not look for something where I could get paid, and create one more income stream?

So I did what I had been talking about others doing for years and I became a job seeker. It wasn’t as fun as it sounds, but it was definitely more fun than years early, in 2006, when I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. Long story short, I got a job, and here’s how it started: I found a posting on LinkedIn that was just plain weird. It fit me perfectly and I couldn’t imagine it would fit anyone else. I applied, thinking it would go nowhere, but I got this reply from the hiring manager, a VP (I blurred out his name but then thought he wouldn’t really care :p):

Jason Alba Rusty Lindquist

Up to that point the only response I got to any applications was a canned automated email or crickets. And now I get this flattering response from the VP. When I told my wife about his response she thought for a minute and then said “he probably says that to everyone who has applied.” I was pretty stoked, but she brought me down to earth :p

Long story short, I got hired, months later Rusty left, and a few months later they pulled the plug on my whole program. So I got nine months in corporate, refreshed my ability to “politic,” and had a fun time working my tail off on something that was just destined to die (well, as long as Rusty was there it wasn’t. That’s another thread, though).

The point of this post is not about my last job, or its demise. It’s that I impressed the hiring manager enough that he would respond to me in such a way as he did. Yesterday I was thinking about this and realized that it wasn’t necessarily my background… sure, I’ve done some really cool things, and everything I have done was perfect for this role… but I know tons of people who have done amazingly cool things. Would Rusty have given them the same kind of response?

I’ve heard sayings like “if you aren’t on LinkedIn you don’t exist” and “if I can’t find you on Google you don’t exist.” Not true. There are plenty of people who have no online presence who exist and are very successful. But, as I was thinking about why Rusty would respond to me that way I thought it had to do with how I presented myself and my experiences on my LinkedIn profile.

I’m not going to say that you “don’t exist.” But, I can tell you that as a hiring manager, if I’m down to the last five or ten profiles, and they are all pretty lame (I call them skeleton profiles), but one stands out because not only does that person have the experience I want, but they explain and dig into their careers in a way that they are memorable and prove they have what I’m looking for, I’m inclined to be more interested in them than you.

Skeleton profiles on LinkedIn don’t help you. Not looking? Congratulations… but you might be looking soon :p

Let me suggest one of the most important courses I’ve ever done for Pluralsight… I just tweeted this yesterday:

The concepts in that course are timeless principles. In the olden days we called it reputation and reputation management. Now we call it personal branding. Who knows what it will be called next. Whether you use LinkedIn or Instagram or whatever, there are principles. And that’s what I go into. The course is 2 hours… if you want a 30 day pass to the entire Pluralsight library let me know.

Pluralsight a Developing Killer Personal Brand

Since I started out with talking about LinkedIn, let me also recommend my LinkedIn courses… the first is on optimizing your LinkedIn profile and the second is on developing a proactive strategy on LinkedIn.

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Another Tactic To Quantify Your Cultural Fit and Soft Skills

June 6th, 2019

Yesterday I wrote How To Quantify Your Cultural Fit And Soft Skills. I shared a simple tactic that is just one piece of the puzzle to help people understand that you have certain soft, hard to measure skills.

Another way to quantify your soft skills and how well you might fit into my company or team is to write articles or posts. You can do this on LinkedIn easily. One the homepage of LinkedIn, simply click the Write an article link:

write-linkedin-article

This is super easy for anyone to do. We all have LinkedIn profiles…. your writing platform is just one click away. It’s free and couldn’t be easier. Plus, you might even get one or two people to read what you write :p (more on that below)

Another popular place to write and pontificate without setting up a blog is Medium. Here’s one of many examples:

jibberjobber-medium-soft-skills-articles

Medium is a very cool system that is free, allowing you to put up the same article you might have on LinkedIn (or on a personal blog). In fact, plenty of people have their own website for their brand, and then link to medium posts they have written.

Are you in leadership? I want to have a better understanding of the breadth and depth of your leadership skills. I can get only so much from interviews, and from a resume. If I find 10, or 100, of your articles about leadership, I can get great insight into your breadth and depth of leadership.

Same thing for communication, empathy, customer service, strategy, listening, etc.

Write articles that help me understand the breadth and depth of your thoughts in these areas, and I might think “her resume is okay, but wow, her articles really show that she has the experience and skills we need for this role, and I think we’ll really like her on this team!”

Of course, writing great articles doesn’t mean you are a great leader. Maybe you stink at it. But, I think a great article strategy could go a long way to communicate your proficiency in something that is hard to otherwise quantify.

Finally, what about this notion of no one reading your stuff?

My answer is: I don’t care.

Honestly. If no one reads your stuff, that’s okay. Because you have them there, waiting for the right person and the right time.

The right person is an influencer, or hiring manager, or someone on the panel interview. The right time is when you are in the hot seat, being evaluated.

Even if no one else has read your article, you wrote it for that person at that time. And that should be worth it.

Imagine if you had a dozen, or dozens, of these kinds of articles just waiting for that person at that time!

 

 

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How To Quantify Your Cultural Fit And Soft Skills

June 5th, 2019

I was recently chatting with a few people about the reality of quantifying how good you are at soft skills, professional development, and how you could somehow show you would be a good team and cultural fit.

Pluralsight has solved this problem for technical skills. They have what is called Skill IQ, which allows you to take an assessment and come out with a score of how proficient you are in a certain skill (such as programming, design, graphic arts, etc.). These skills are easier to assess than soft skills.  “How do you do this programming thing?” can have one, or a best, answer. However, “Are you a good listener” is…. too subjective.

Pluralsight-IQ

I had a friend who sent me his resume. A developer, he had a section of his programming languages, with a designation from “novice” to “expert” by each language. Skill IQ is a much better way of communicating how good you are at any particular thing because they are based on the assessment, and compared with other people who take the assessment. Not only are you getting your own score from the assessment, you can see how you compare to others. That is really cool, and much better than a self-assessment of “expert” or whatever.

Personally, I think you can come up with some good questions that can help you assess soft skills, but I haven’t put too much thought into how that would work. Maybe one day I will.

For now, I have a suggestion on how to help quantify your soft skills, your professional development, and your cultural fit. This is right in-line with my blog post from yesterday, on the two things you need to prove in the job interview process (one of them is the cultural/team fit).

First, go to YOUR profile in LinkedIn.

The easiest way to get there is to click on your picture, name, or title from the top-left of LinkedIn:

jibberjobber-edit-linkedin-profile

Then, scroll down until you see the “Add profile section” button.

This comes up pretty soon after you scroll down (sorry if this part gets outdated, LinkedIn changes things regularly):

jibberjobber-edit-linkedin-profile-add-profile-section

Then, lick on Accomplishments, then Courses.

When you click on Accomplishments, you get more options, including Courses. I have seen a lot of people add courses to their Profile… this is where they do it from. Note that if you click on “Courses” you can add ONE course. If you want to add any more you have to click on the PLUS icon. Or, just always click on the PLUS icon!

jibberjobber-linkedin-add-courses-profile

Then, add your course information.

I put the name of the Pluralsight course I created (I figure if I created it I can claim I watched it, right?). You would put the names of any courses you took anywhere… if you want access to my Pluralsight courses (I can get you a 30 day pass), just reach out to me (Jason@JibberJobber.com). I don’t know what the number means, so I’m just putting what course number it is for me (this one was my 31st course), and the third box is to associate that course with a particular job title from your Profile.

I put (Pluralsight) in the course name because I think that adds validity/credibility.

jibberjobber-linkedin-add-pluralsight-courses-profile

Then, Save.

The courses will show on your Profile, under Accomplishments, like this:

jibberjobber-pluralsight-courses-profile

As a hiring manager I’m not going to look at that and say “Oh, Jason took an innovation course. Now I know he is innovative.” Or, assume that I’m good at having difficult conversations, or that I’m a leader. I’m not going to assume any of those, but I will have a better understanding of what you are interested in, where you are looking to improve, etc.

When I was on Dr. Paul Jenkin’s podcast last week I spent time looking at his bookshelf. I do this when I go to people’s houses… I want to know what they read, what books they buy, and what interests them. This helps me know where their mind is, what they do and think about in their spare time.

This is similar. This is your “bookshelf” to give me a little more insight into you. It’s not a perfect assessment of your soft skills, and how you’ll fit into my team, but I think it can contribute to me having a better understanding of those things about you.

Plus, it’s free, and easy to do. In the time you scanned this blog post, you could have added three courses :p

Again, if you want a 30 day pass to Pluralsight, hit me up (Jason@JibberJobber.com).

 

 

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The Two Things You Need To Prove In The Job Interview Process

June 4th, 2019

Prove Job InterviewI’ve been interviewing job candidates since almost the beginning of my career. And, I’ve been in my fair share of interviews. I’ve come to realize that there really isn’t anything secretive about the process… sometimes they feel wonky, or weird. But there are just two things that you need to somehow get across in the entire process.

Note that “the entire process” includes every communication you have with people who are making the hiring decision, which includes your resume, LinkedIn profile, online social presence, etc.

The first things you need to prove is that you are technically competent.

Can you actually do the job? Most of the job seekers I talk to think they are the best fit for the job because they’ve gone through the job description and know they can do every bit of it really, really well. In my job last year at Bamboo I went through the job description and thought “I can do all of this (with one exception),” and “my heavens, no one should have this weird of a background or list of proficiencies!”  (The exception was a bullet point that was mistakenly copied over from another job description for a completely different role. The lesson there is that not all job descriptions are bullet-proof, and many of them would probably be about a C-)

Can you do the job? If so, how do you prove it?

Do you use stories? When I had this role before, I found that the processes were too limiting and my team wasn’t able to really contribute the way they should have. We worked on optimizing some processes and policies, which allowed my team to work much more efficiently, and get more work done. I was able to create those optimizations because I’ve worked in similar teams for years, and had an intimate understanding of what needed to happen.” Not a super story, but you get the point.

Do you use quantifications? One of the most important things you should have on your resume is a list of quantifications of how what you have done has made improvements. Did you raise scores at the school? Did you sell more widgets than anyone else? Did you open more offices, help more people, improve the satisfaction score? Where you working with hundreds of thousands of dollars, or millions, or billions? Put numbers on those things, and impress me. Give me something I can sink my teeth into.

Do you use testimonials? I find that allowing other people to talk about my proficiencies is sometimes more powerful than me “bragging” about them. You can ask for testimonials (you should do this!) and coach people on how to give one that has merit, and isn’t just a good-ol-boys-club-fluffy- statement. Or, you can say something like “People I have worked with would say” or “People who have hired me” or “People who have reported to me” and then some statement that, once again, makes your case in a meaningful way.

Perhaps you prove your proficiency in other ways, but those are the main three I can think of right now. Of course, the vehicles you use to do this could be varied, depending on your audience. Maybe you use a personal blog, or LinkedIn articles, or write on Medium, or speak at local events… the list goes on and on. But don’t use those vehicles without understanding WHAT and WHY.

One last point on this: if you asked me to coach you on this, I would suggest that this is a career management strategy, not just a job search strategy. In other words, this is a long-term strategy, not just something you do while you are in a job search.

The second thing to prove is that you will fit into the culture of the team and organization.

JibberJobber Team CultureI have interviewed people who, technically, would have been excellent hires. They would have done such a good job at the job. But, they were not cultural fits.

This comes down to how nice you are. What your emotional intelligence (EQ) is. How perceptive you are.

Look, I know that sometimes there are some very technical things that need to be done and it just doesn’t matter whether the person is good with people or not. Maybe you can isolate them, or by the very nature of the job, they will not be around people. But in today’s world that isn’t super practical. Team members want to enjoy who they work with. They don’t want to go to work with anxiety because of a conversation that might happen (I’ve been there).

Working with horrible people who are good at the technical part of their job is miserable.

How do you show that you are not a horrible jerk?

You could tell people how nice and great you are. But I know a narcissist who is excellent at convincing people about how nice and great they are. I’ve seen people, who were supposedly nice and great, hired, and became a cancer to the organization.

How do you help convince people that you really are cool?

Again, stories. These stories could be about pulling a team together, or working with difficult people, or how you have contributed to a team culture. “Tell me about a time when…” and relate it back to how you work with others, which can give me insight into how you will work with me, our team, and our customers.

Again, quantifications. Perhaps these quantifications have to do with helping employees stay in a company or on a team longer (which is a real issue), or bringing more people to your team (growth), or satisfaction scores. How can you quantify any part of your niceness and previous cultural fit?

Again, testimonials. Let others talk about and for you. This is how most LinkedIn Recommendations are… focusing more on your soft side and how great you are to work with. There is nothing wrong with asking people for specific testimonials and recommendations, but there is something wrong with not having any to show.

I’m not sure I can say which is more important: the ability to do the job, or the culture fit. I think it will depend on many factors, including what the pain points are the company has experienced. Maybe they had someone that was a jerk but good at what they did, and they are reeling from that pain. Or, they have a bunch of nice people who aren’t good at what they do, and they know they need to hire better for competency.

Your job, as a job seeker, is to someone prove both of the things above. Feel free to let me know how it goes!

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“Some people think you have to have a personal brand… “

February 20th, 2019

I heard this statement recently.

Yes, some people think you have to have a brand.

The reality is, though, you already have a brand. It’s not like you have no brand, and you are a slouch. It could be worse, actually. You might have a brand with negative consequences… that you are lazy, undependable, a grouch, etc.

The pundits say you need a personal brand.

I say you already have one.

The question is, is your existing brand what you want it to be?

In my $5,000 on-stage presentation I talk about having an intentional brand, one you purposefully work on, vs. having an unintentional brand. This is likely a brand you don’t know about, or a brand you aren’t happy with.

I want you to understand that you already have a brand (whether you “need” one or not). And that if you are not happy with that brand, you can do things to make it a brand you could be happy about.

I even have a Pluralsight course on personal branding: Developing a Killer Personal Brand.  Want a 30 day pass to Pluralsight, where you can see all of my courses? Just let me know :)

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Creativity: The Most Important Leadership Quality (?)

February 19th, 2019

jibberjobber_creativityBack in 2010 Fast Company had an article titled “The Most Important Leadership Quality for CEOs? Creativity”  Of course, I heard this during my workout yesterday, while listening to a Ted talk :p

The soundbite that stuck out was that about 60% of CEOs cited creativity as the most important leadership quality.

This stood out to me for two reasons. First, I recently finished creating a Pluralsight course on how leaders can boost innovation in their teams. Really, this is a big fat course on how to be and think more creatively. Whether you are a leader of many or a leader of one (yourself), creativity is important. Even back in 2010 it was important.

By the way, the article has a bunch of interesting nuggets… what they thought about “integrity”, what they thought about global business, etc. Check it out.

The second why the article stuck out was because for years my two favorite “c” words are creativity and curiosity. I wrote a blog post about this, but I can’t find it right now. However, here’s some quotes from me on Forbes where I talk about creativity and curiosity, again from 2010: The Seven Most Universal Job Skills.

I never, ever thought I was creative. I couldn’t draw well, I wasn’t very good at artsy stuff… One day I was talking to some career coaches and I said this to them and they got pretty excited. “You aren’t creative? Jason, you created JibberJobber! You wrote two books! How can you think you aren’t creative?”

It was then that I learned that creativity doesn’t mean being an artist. I learned that we can all create, and that we can all think creatively.

Furthermore, I’ve thought a lot over the years about how much we create vs. how much we consume. I am concerned that we live in a society that is hyper-focused on consumption, which takes the time that we could otherwise produce (or create). I’m not saying we can’t relax, and we have to always create… but I think we are here on this third rock from the sun for a bigger purpose than to just binge watch Netflix and Hulu our entire life.

What can you create?

How can you make creativity a part of your brand?

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