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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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Job Titles and Credentials vs. Value

February 13th, 2019

On my Self-doubt in the job search post, I got this comment from Patricia:

“I have a Ph.d, have taught at prestigious universities, worked for research firms, and a public school system. Now I am over qualified for everything.”

This is kind of sad. I know what Patricia is saying because I, too, did things and had credentials that seemed to make me employable. I was told there were certain things to do to further my career, and I did them.

When I went into my first real (and unplanned) job search, none of what I did had mattered. My CIS degree didn’t matter, even though it was technical (“not technical enough”). My MBA didn’t matter (MBA means “more bad answers”). The fact that I had recently been fluent in Spanish didn’t matter, because the roles I was looking at didn’t care one iota. My past titles didn’t matter, either because they were at a very small company or because the titles I was going for weren’t related enough.

Let me seemingly tangent with something I learned as a speaker. This is Speaker 101 level material: know your audience. I may speak to two different groups on the very same topic, with the very same presentation title, but give two completely different presentations, because the audience is different.

How is this “know your audience” topic different than preparing for a career? I took generic, general career advice and applied it to my future without really even thinking about what I was doing. The building blocks I was accumulating was almost in name only. I was not recognizing the raw skills that I should have been focusing on, instead going after titles and credentials. I assumed (oops, bad on me!) that if you saw a title or a credential, you would understand what went into achieving that title or credential.

I didn’t need to tell you everything that got me there, or kept me there, or made me successful, if you could just see my accomplishments on my resume.

That was a very poor assumption.

Looking at Patricia’s comment above, if you think about it you can probably take ten minutes and brainstorm what it takes to get a PhD. The massive amount of research, creativity, working within a very structured organization (but with enough ambiguity that you need to be creative and take initiative), etc. Presenting, writing, analyzing, persuading, researching, … what else?

You could take ten minutes each and figure out the skills required for any of what she mentioned: teaching at universities, working in research firms, and working in a public school system. I feel like 10 minutes of brainstorming might just barely scratch the surface.

More than understanding the skills, what about understanding THE VALUE.

I want to disconnect titles and credentials from value. I don’t care of if you were president of this or that, I want to know what you did. Here’s an exercise for you (all of you): describe yourself only by the value you bring or create, and not by using any titles or credentials. 

It’s true that, many times, our experiences and credentials help us get into opportunities. How many jobs that you are qualified for say something like “must have a degree” or “MBA preferred”? Having certain things can help you get in the door. But, the successful hire will be the one who ultimately brings value in their role.

I’d rather hire someone with no big past titled-history, who does wonders for my company, than someone who has had all kinds of big titles but can’t seem to make any progress.

Personal experience: in my first big job search, in 2006, I didn’t get any jobs (barely any interviews) because of my overqualified titles. I learned to kind of dumb-down my resume a bit, and remove the big titles and just change them from CEO to “manager” (an ego blow, yes, but the right thing to do based on what I was applying for).  I was putting my titles in front of my value, and I didn’t understand that.

Am I discouraging you from growing, and getting credentials, and education, etc.? Absolutely not! I am encouraging you to do two things:

  1. Understand what you bring to the table. How will you help the organization with their objectives? What can you do to move things forward? Don’t go based off your titles, rather your skills and abilities.
  2. Figure out how to communicate #1. It can be very difficult talking about ourselves, especially when we feel like we are explaining the obvious. But we must become masters at this type of communication. This is a big part of career management, and because jobs don’t have the “security” that they had a few decades ago, we should find ourselves repeating these messages more and more frequently. This is the new normal, and it’s our job to get great at it.

To all of the Patricia’s out there, great job on what you have accomplished. Now, just look at it through a different lens… a career management lens. This should reduce your frustration, and it should help you have much better conversations with your prospects.

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The Shift In Your Marketing Message #JobSearch

December 27th, 2017

As a hiring manager I look for two very important things. It is your job to communicate the right message for both of these, but not necessarily at the same time.

The first thing I need to know is that you are technically competent for the job. Whether you are a mechanic or a programmer or a teacher or a whatever, I need to know that you can do the job. I need to know you have a minimum breadth and depth of experience and skills.

You can communicate that with stats and stories. This is done on a resume and LinkedIn Profile and anywhere else. A super powerful tool is a blog (or Medium articles, or even LinkedIn articles), or perhaps a portfolio. You use the right language (jargon) and can talk about things at a technical level.

There comes a point in my evaluation of candidates (aka, job seekers) that I assume that everyone I’ve whittled it down to has the right abilities to do the job.

This next thing is the deal breaker. By this point I’m not wondering about whether you can the job or not… I have something more important to decide: will you fit into my team?

Understanding that I have three or four or ten or more candidates in front of me, all of which can actually do the job I need to fill, the most important thing becomes which one will be the best hire? Which will fit into my team and culture without disrupting it (I don’t want jerks, and I don’t want a “bull in the china closet”)? Which hire will make me look good with my colleagues and bosses?

I’m not saying that I disregard technical abilities at this point… but I’m keenly sensitive to picking someone that I’m going to want to be around for 8+ hours a day for the next few years.

How in the world do you communicate that?

It’s not all about enthusiasm. And extroverts don’t necessarily have the upper hand.

Communicating that you will fit in well can be done through stories, of course. Share, for example, a time when you had a very challenging task or project that could have exploded/imploded… and how the team pulled together (and your role in that). Show you will fit in by your choice of language, and the way you treat people (interview at a restaurant? Be cool and kind to the servers!). Recognize that every single thing you do, that I or my team can observe, is part of the interview: how you walk in, how you treat people at the front desk, what you do in the waiting area, etc.

So there you go… you have two important things to communicate: one is that you can do the job, the other is that I will want you to be on my team!  Work on your communication so I can know that you are the right person to hire!

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Hidden Benefits of the 360 Review for Your Career

December 12th, 2017

Today I had a coaching session with a very smart Silicon Valley professional. He asked about the value of doing a 360 Review, and as we talked about I realized there were at least three great reasons to do it (more than the obvious, surface-level reasons).

I’m assuming you know a 360 Review is where you send a bunch of questions, about you, to different categories of people. Imagine you are in the middle of your contacts, and above you are your bosses, below you are the people who report to you, to one side you have your peers and colleagues, and to the other side you have customers.  These four groups of people are in a circle around you, hence the “360”. You can, of course, figure out other types of relationships, including your family, etc.

So, what are the three great reasons to do a 360 Review?  Especially considering you have to have thick skin because of some of the feedback you might get (if your questions are good and people are honest!).

VALUE ONE: Derived from the exercise of creating The 360

The 360 will have two parts: the introduction, or The Ask, and the actual questions.

When you have to think about your Ask, and then think through the questions, you’ll get greater clarity about what you are really after and what you should be asking. Compare these:

“Hey, will you answer these questions about me?”

vs

“I’m evaluating my career and investigating some options I have right now. I have a number of assumptions about myself but I’d really like to get opinions from people who I’ve worked with and who see me differently. I’d sincerely appreciate it if you could take 15 or 20 minutes and answer these questions about me. Please be honest in your response. I’m looking for your perspective of my strengths and also things that I can work on.”

I should note that a really good 360 will give the person who responds anonymity. This really can only happen if you use a 360 tool (not too hard to find) instead of just asking them to reply to questions via email.

Speaking of questions, what kind of questions will you ask?  You could ask super vague questions that are cute but feel like a waste of time, like “what color car would Jason be,” or “What kind of cereal would Jason be,” or “Why is Jason so great (please provide 10 reasons)?” Instead, ask questions that are directly related to the KSAs of the role, or skillset, that you want to have shine (or are ready to work on).  For example:

How would you describe Jason’s communication skills?

What are Jason’s communication strengths?

What are Jason’s communication weaknesses?

What would make Jason a better leader?

What three things does Jason need to improve?

Those are just off the top of my head… my point is, ask direct, specific questions that (1) can give you real and helpful feedback (2) on topics that are important.

The whole point of this blog post is to talk about benefits that are beyond the obvious surface-level benefits of doing a 360. The benefit spending time to craft a proper introduction is that you get a more solid idea of what you are after (your goals), and how to frame them (communication that you can repurpose in other situations).

There is immense value in clarifying and practicing this!!

The benefit you get in creating great questions is that you get a serious chance to evaluate yourself, perhaps deeper than you normally are (and without beating yourself up). Thinking through those questions should be a therapeutic exercise and, again, a preparation for interviews and networking conversations.

VALUE TWO: Getting real information from the responses, and making a plan to work on weaknesses and communicate strengths

The reason 360s are so valuable is simple: we have assumptions about our strengths or weaknesses that might not be accurate. Who better to give us a more real perspective than people we work with and around?  As important, the perspective we get, even if they are wrong, is super important. By this I mean that sometimes people might have a wrong impression, but their impression might be shared with others.

Here’s an example: Let’s say I am a super great at doing my job… but I’m a horrible communicator and very impatient with people. I might be the best person in the world at performing the functions of my role, but because I’m such a cruddy person around others, no one wants to work with me. Therefore, no one knows that I’m actually good at something, they just know I’m a jerk. This information comes out in the 360.

What do I do with this information?

I want to help people understand that I really am good at what I do. There are many tactics I can employ to help reinforce a strong and accurate and relevant personal brand… I’m not going to go into that in this post.

I also want to figure out how to stop being such a jerk. Sure, I’m awesome, but if no one wants to work with me, or wants me to be around, then what’s the point?  It’s not like I’m going to have a career like House (the doctor on TV) had… super good at medicine, but everyone hated him. It’s unlikely that you’ll get many chances to have a career like his.

So, take the information you get and really work on the feedback. If this sounds hard, it is. You have to face some harsh realities, and do things you haven’t done before. It might mean joining Toastmasters or the National Speaker’s Association. It might mean you work on active listening, or getting better at contributing in team meetings.  When people give you anything to work on, let me encourage you to embrace the feedback and work on getting better.

I’ve read a lot of articles lately about soft skills and emotional intelligence… this is what people say they can’t “train” you on. Work on it yourself, right now, and through the end of your career!

VALUE THREE: This is a personal branding play

You now get to share your career ambitions and intentions with others.  This is tied into #1 above, where you have a great introduction, but it goes a little further.

Look, you need to realize that most of your colleagues know you by what you do. If you are a software engineer, people think of you as… surprise! A software engineer! It’s pretty simple.

You are branded by how people perceive you, including what your title is.

But if you are a software engineer now with strong intentions of becoming a CIO, CTO, or VP of IT or Development, will people realize that?

No one might even think of you as an executive, a strategist, a visionary, a leader, a manager!  Even though you might be those things, or have the capacity to do those things, they just know you as someone who pounds at a keyboard all day long, creating cool stuff.

How do you get around this branding?

By communicating the brand changes! Yes, you are a technologist… and a great one! You also are very interested in taking your career to the next level. Tell people this when you invite them to respond to the 360. Tell everyone… whether you invite them to respond to a 360 or not.

One of the easiest ways to manage your personal brand is to communicate how you want others to perceive you. So use this activity as an opportunity to do just that.

The 360 is a great tool. I hope the ideas here will help you advance your career!

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Who Gets Hired? Not The Best Person For The Job…

November 3rd, 2017

Yesterday I went to a network meeting with product managers, project managers, and software developers interested in product. It was really cool and I learned a lot.

There was a point in the conversation where we were talking about successful software products and one of the guys made a comment like this:

It’s not the best software that wins… it’s the marketing.

Those weren’t his exact words, but it’s the spirit of what he said… and he is right.

There was a point where JibberJobber had I think three competitors who had much better packaging of their websites than we did. Our look was outdated and clunky (JibberJobber is developed by programmers, not designers), and our competition had sites that were gorgeous. Beautiful. Years ahead of what we had.

Those three are no longer in business…

Why?

Because even though their sites were beautiful, they weren’t very functional. They didn’t have the breadth or depth of features that we have. They were pretty but superficial.

But I still had users who said “I’m going over to their site because they look better.”  No kidding… that’s what people said.

We’re still around, and we’re working on looking better… but we’ll always put function over beauty because our users want and need function.

How does this relate to the job search?

I’ll not beat around the bush on this: people who present themselves better are more likely to get the job.

That could be visual appearance, the refinement of your marketing pitches, your accent (sorry, but people judge), your hair, the car you drive, the clothes you where, and even if you misbuttoned your shirt.

You might be the most brilliant expert in your field, but if you are unknown (poor personal branding) or have bad packaging (your personal marketing), you might get overlooked for someone who presents themselves better. To related that to the bold line above, your abilities are the software, but your presentation is the marketing. And you can’t ignore the marketing just because you think the software is better.

That’s just the simple human nature that marketers have been tapping into for centuries.

So yeah, sharpen your saw and get better at your craft, but get serious about your personal branding and marketing and presentation.

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