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5 of My Pluralsight Courses I Wish Everyone Would Watch (and why)

July 19th, 2021

I have 36 courses in Pluralsight… kind of. Two are retired and “one” is a 6-session job search course. I started in 2012 with a LinkedIn course and have done many job search, career, soft skills, and professional development courses in the last 9 years. I’ve spent the last year and a half updating courses, and have a few more to update.

For years I’ve recommended various courses to various audiences, whether that was on this blog, in a live presentation, or on social media. I’ve had to think “what are the two or three courses I would really recommend to this audience?” This morning I had a similar thought, but instead of “to this audience” it was more “to anyone.” So, without further ado, here are the top five I’d recommend… and why:

Leading with Emotional Intelligence

Hands down, this one impacted me the most. I went into this course thinking “okay, what is this emotional intelligence stuff? Is it fluff, or is there real substance here?” When I was done I thought “if everyone watches this, and starts to implement just one or two of these ideas, we could change the world.”

Literally, change the world. Becoming more empathetic, understanding ourselves better, striving to understand others better… these are things that really can change the world. First, by changing ourselves, and being better to ourselves, and then being better with others around us. Can you imagine how much better your workplace would be if you had a boss with high emotional intelligence? What if YOU had higher emotional intelligence?

I set myself on a lifelong journey of improvement, and I invite everyone to join me. This course was a turning point for me.

Becoming a Better Listener

This is my most popular course, with 629 ratings and over 300 comments in the discussion area. I honestly had no idea it would resonate with anyone. I remember getting ready to dive into this course thinking “come on, we all know how to listen!” I was wrong. I learned a lot while I researched for this course, and have since learned a lot from the comments in the discussion area. Listening is a soft skill we take for granted but could usually improve. The thing that stands out the most to me, after all these years, is learning more about “active listening,” and the tactics that go into real active listening.

I will try to improve my listening skills for many years to come. This is a life-long journey.

Working and Communicating with Different Personalities

This course was fun to put together, and gave me a chance to really dive into the Myers-Briggs model. But don’t let Myers-Briggs get you down… while super popular in the 1900s, there are other assessments that corporate America seems to favor. Regardless of which assessment you use, or gravitate towards, the idea is simple:

We have different personalities, and even so, we can work together.

I have been frustrated by people at work. People who think and work differently than I do. It’s frustrating for someone with a lot of energy to go into a meeting with people with little energy, and vice versa. It’s frustrating for people who talk and make decisions quickly to work with someone who is more methodical, and likes to think deeply before responding. It’s frustrating when they are your boss, or when you are their boss.

What I’ve learned is that these differences don’t mean that we necessarily dislike one another. Differences don’t mean that we are right and they are wrong, or they are right and we are wrong. Understanding differences in how we think, act, react, communicate, make decisions, are motivated, etc. are important to understand. I’m reminded of a quote I heard from someone I worked with years ago: “If knowledge is power, then knowledge of human nature is a super power.” I love that concept… notice each of these three courses I listed all dive deeper into knowledge of human nature.

One more thing… I think it’s absolutely critical that we, ourselves, understand our own personalities and tendencies. When we understand ourselves, and those around us, we have a better chance of higher workplace satisfaction, performance, etc.

Developing Your Personal Brand

I am a nut for personal branding. If I heard about it before 2006 I don’t remember. But in 2006, during My Big Fat Failed Job Search, I learned that I didn’t have a brand, which meant I spent a lot of time educating people on who I was and why that was important to them. Personal branding changes your self-marketing strategy from a push strategy, where you are constantly educating people on these things, to a pull strategy, where people gravitate towards you because, as they say, “your reputation precedes you.”

Since 2006, when I figured this stuff out, I’ve been hired because of my brand. I’ve had people come to me. I’ve had people vet me online and realize they want to work with me, or could trust me, etc. This is a 180 difference from back in 2006.

Also, in my job search I learned that two things I had neglected, which impacted my effectiveness as a job seeker, were my personal/professional network, and my personal brand. I talk about that in the course that was inspired by hundreds of on-stage presentations, titled Career Management 2.0.

How to Have Difficult Conversations

This course was pivotal for me. There was a period where I wasn’t doing Pluralsight courses, and even took a job because of the time I had freed up. That job lasted 10 months. It was an awesome, amazing job at an awesome, amazing company. One of the books their leadership talked a lot about was on difficult conversations (it might have been Crucial Conversations, I can’t remember). Anyway, I had to have some very difficult conversations (I don’t gravitate towards that), and made a study of this topic. Then, I found myself in a really weird place. On a particular Wednesday in late October I was on a call with Pluralsight talking about picking up my work again, and perhaps doing more courses. The very next day I went into my bosses office for a one-on-one with a particular challenge: My family had planned a two-week trip, but I didn’t have two weeks of vacation. I was hoping she’d let me borrow against future vacation so I could take this epic trip.

Alas, that wouldn’t be an issue because her single agenda item on that Thursday was to lay me off. I got five weeks notice, which was a kind gesture, but it was a bit of a shock. I decided, that day, that I was going to work as hard as I could to get a course out in five weeks (after hours, of course), and launch it before my last day at work. And I did. I focused on this course, this topic, and got to work. This course, which covers such an important topic and and outside of work, was turned in before my last day and launched just a few days later. That’s a fun story, right? It was great to get back into doing courses. But more important, the topic is critical for us to be better people, better communicators, better team members, better leaders, and more happy with ourselves and our work.

There are other courses I could have listed here, but these are the five I picked. I hope you can spend time digging into your own soft skills, career, and professional development. These are ways you can invest in yourself and your future.

If you need a 30 day pass use the Contact Us page and see if we have any left.

 

 

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Should You Have a Portfolio: Regrets of a Single Tweet

June 18th, 2021

Welp. Apparently I tweeted something yesterday that caused a small brushfire on Twitter. Since Twitter has a limit of character you can write, I wanted to take what i’ve learned and expand on it here. First, here’s the tweet:

Seems like a pretty harmless statement. Turns out it was pretty, um. hurtful. This has gotten the worst reaction I could have imagined. It’s funny that having over 1,000 likes on a tweet is usually a cause for celebration, but in this case there are so many people who are so upset about the idea of a portfolio, and they way I worded it, that I kind of wish I didn’t tweet it at all.

So there you go… for those of you wondering “but do I really have to do twitter, to?” No, you don’t. You certainly don’t.

Anyway, I’m not here to lick my wounds. I want to turn this into a learning/teaching moment. First, I’ll deconstruct that tweet, and offer less offensive alternative wording. Then I want to talk about portfolios for any role, not just for front end devs.

Deconstructing and Rewriting the “PLEASE have a portfolio” tweet

I think a different way of writing this that would have been less incendiary would have been:

If you are a front end developer or designer, and you can, consider creating an online portfolio. As a hiring manager I am looking at a lot of criteria as I evaluate candidates. Being able see some of your work, or thoughts, is very helpful.

Whew. If only I had Hermione’s time turner, and I could go back and edit that tweet. Alas, I can’t. And I don’t think I should delete it.

A lot of the backlash I got was that front end developers do not have any control of, or say in, what the front end actually looks like. They are given specs by interface designers who are usually artistic, as well as UX designers, who may not be as artistic but focus on what they want a user to do. A front end developer is not a front end designer, and since they might have no control over what the page or app should look like, they shouldn’t be responsible for the visuals.

This might shock people who were really upset about my tweet, but I agree. And reading through the comments made me realize that the message I want to share about portfolios for job seekers is applicable to people who don’t have anything visual to show. More on that below.

Even though a front end developer might not have control over what a design looks like, they can (and I think should, if they have time) have a portfolio. I think a big part of the problem with that tweet is how people interpret “portfolio.” More on that below.

The next part… my original tweet said, “When I evaluate front end devs it’s one of the first things I look for.” Just like when a recruiter, hiring manager, VC, HR pro, or whoever looks for a resume/CV and/or a LinkedIn profile. I softened that statement to say:

As a hiring manager I am looking at a lot of criteria as I evaluate candidates. Being able see some of your work, or thoughts, is very helpful.

I am a hiring manager. I am also a CEO, and have a lot of responsibilities. I am not a full time hiring manager, and I’ve never been trained in it. I haven’t taken classes, I haven’t worked as a recruiter, and I haven’t read books on how to build your workforce. All the same, I am involved in the decision making process.

I remember reading somewhere that most hiring happens from small and medium sized businesses. I can’t imagine that I am very different than most of the people involved in the hiring process: untrained, doing the best we can, and very time constrained.

There’s a lesson here.

It starts with: the job search (or, the hiring process) is broken. I don’t know anyone who would disagree with that. If you have been in the job search you have an intimate awareness of how broken it is. Just about every bit of the process is broken. If you have been invited to interview a candidate at your work, last minute, with no preparation or instructions, you should have a sense of just one of the broken parts of the job search.

I’m not going to represent all of the hiring managers. But I will say to job seekers that you should do whatever you can (ethical, moral, etc.) to get your next job. And if that means making it easier for a hiring manager to evaluate you, then make it easier!

What if I’m narrowed down my open position to five or ten candidates, and three of them have portfolios? I do as much research as I can about my short-listed candidates. For many, that’s a pretty weak LinkedIn portfolio and a decent-but-looks-like-the-rest resume. If you have a good portfolio, I’ll spend a few more minutes on that than I did on the other candidates… don’t you think that could be do your advantage? If you have a blog, where you talk about the breadth and depth of your skills, don’t you think I’d spend time on that, and learn more about you and what you think?

What is a Portfolio?

A portfolio historically is a visual collection of your work. Artists have portfolios… even if they don’t share them. Photographers have portfolios. Some web designers have portfolios, while others don’t because their clientele won’t allow them to.

Take this away: A portfolio is a communication tool.

I want to go up 30,000 feet. This might sound weird but, here goes: YOU are your portfolio. Everything I see from and about you is part of your portfolio.

Case in point: a lot of designers or front ends went to my Twitter bio, found JibberJobber, and then came back to the comments to comment on how it looked really old (implying probably, that my tweet had no validity because the front end looked outdated). Well, touché, I guess.

But really, my design on JibberJobber is outdated. And people are using that as a part of the whole of Jason Alba to make judgements. This is exactly what a hiring manager does.

For example, regardless of any role you are hoping to interview for, let’s say a recruiter finds your social media account and it is… let’s say, controversial. Here’s an easy one: let’s say you have some very strong political opinions and you share them on your social media account. They will take that into consideration, I guarantee you. You will become the far-left or far-right candidate. They likely won’t document that anywhere, but that will become a part of your brand. If the organizational culture is not aligned with your views, you might find you don’t get a call back.

Discrimination? Perhaps. Infringing on your right to free speech? Maybe. That’s for another blogger to write about. I’m just here to tell you that it is human nature to take all of these things, together, and make decisions. I’ve seen it many times. I have seen it on that fiery tweet I wrote… the one I didn’t mean to be fiery at all.

Anyway, you are the portfolio. Everything you present to me. From the tone of your communications (phone and email) I’ll learn about your communication skills, and perhaps a bit about your attitude. From your LinkedIn profile I’ll learn about your work history (hopefully) and companies that decided to hire you. Someone on that tweet thread said they didn’t need to have one, and have never looked at portfolios of others. In their Twitter bio they listed two major tech companies they worked for… that becomes a part of who you are. I might not see a portfolio from this person but just seeing the two companies, that are very difficult to get hired by, on his work history, speaks loud and clear.

The interview is another way for me to dig into your capabilities. I want to learn about your hard skills and competencies and your soft skills and cultural fit.  If you have  communicated the hard skills through other mediums (resume, LinkedIn profile, blog posts, articles, project examples, etc.) then I’ll likely spend less time digging into that, and can ask more questions that help me understand your soft skills and cultural fit.

Remember, I’m just one of millions of people, and I’m sure there are millions and millions of ways to approach this. This is not the gospel of hiring.

Back to that idea about soft and hard skills. Imagine I have two people I want to interview. One person has somehow quantified their hard skills. I can dig deeper into what they think, their professional breadth and depth, and get a really good idea (or at least make some strong assumptions) about their skills and experiences. I might ask some clarifying questions, just to make sure they were really involved in particular and complex problems, rather than just being on a team but sitting on the sidelines while someone else was the root of the solutions. But once I feel comfortable with their skills I’ll spend more time on other things (soft skills, cultural fit, would I like to work with this person).

Guess what? When there is no way for me to learn about your hard skills before an interview, two things might happen: First, I might not bring you into the interview. Ouch, right?

The reality is I might have a hundred resumes in front of me, and I’m looking for the ones that clearly meet my needs. You might be the best candidate out there but if you are not communicating that, you’ll look like the 70 or 80 other candidates that just don’t have what I need.

I’m sorry if that sounds too “gatekeepery” (another comment on the tweet), but that is how it works. I’m busy. Everyone I work with is busy. I’m not going to play detective on 100 resumes when I find 20 that probably meet my needs. I’ll dig deeper on those 20 than I would on the other 80 that end up in the trash bin.

One of my messages here is: Make it easy for the hiring manager, HR, and other influencers to do their job. 

If that means you have a website like this or this or this or this or this, then do it.

Building on the 30,000 view of “what is a portfolio,” especially for someone who’s work is not visual, what can it look like? I have a few ideas below (under “what if I don’t have time”), but let me ask the question another way:

How can I communicate my professional breadth and depth?

That question gets to the same thing a photographer gets to with their portfolio: showing their work, their capabilities, etc.

As a professional with non-visual proficiencies, expertises, experiences, etc. I strongly encourage you to blog. Groans, moans, wailing and gnashing of teeth, I know. Blogging is a whole other topic. This post is already too long to talk about the what and how to blog. But think about a blog as a tool to communicate your breadth and depth. You don’t have to blog about confidential things (yes, I hear you, person who works for the federal government or big bank). You don’t even have to commit to years of regular blogging. Perhaps you use the blog as a tool to write, say, 20 or 30 posts, to communicate what becomes your technical, non-visual profile.

This, by the way, is perfect for people who are front end developers but NOT designers. You know, the people who are saying, “But I have no control over visual appeal!” They are saying, as developers, they want to talk about code, and logic, etc., and not be judged on the visual appeal of a pretty portfolio.

Why not write about things front end devs should know about? This could be so different from one developer to another… at a small company a front end might be way more involved with UI and UX, whereas at a large organization the front end is given all of the UI and UX specs and implements them. You do you. Figure out your breadth and depth and write about it.

Same for a CFO. Same for a data scientist, a database administrator, a CEO… whatever your role, or the role you aspire to, write about the depth and breadth you can.

Oh wait… you hate to write? Then figure out how you might quantify your breadth and depth. Maybe that is in audio or video format (you could start your own YouTube channel and do short (or long, whatever) videos that help quantify your breadth and depth.

THIS BECOMES YOUR PORTFOLIO.

Imagine this: you are looking to hire someone for a role. You find out they have a YouTube channel, and click over to see they have dozens of videos talking about the experiences and expertise. I know this can come in all shapes and sizes, but what if the videos were titled like this:

How to solve the XYZ problem

Why this solution doesn’t always work

Three things I would have done differently

Get the idea?

Again, respect confidentiality, but you now have four ideas of ways to quantify your breadth and depth: visual, written, audio, video.

If those don’t work for you, I’m sure you could figure something out.

Is a Portfolio Required?

Nope. Big fat nope.

If I am looking for a photographer I’ll want to see a portfolio. However, if I have friends who strongly recommend a photographer, I’ll likely go with their recommendation, especially if my friends are critical thinkers and picky about their photographers.

As a hiring manager I have many data points I’m evaluating against. Here’s a list off the top of my head:

  • Timeliness. How responsive are you to my calls or emails? If I message you and don’t hear for two weeks I’m guessing you don’t care about the job anymore.
  • Your background. I hope to get a lot of this from your resume and LinkedIn.
  • How you think. I hope to get this from an interview, if you get to that stage. Hopefully I have smart interview questions that really get into this, instead of a list of “ten best interview questions for [role].”
  • Recommendations from others. The hidden job market is “hey, we have a new opening, do y’all know anyone who should be on our team?” This goes back to the photographer example.
  • How you act. I get this from the interview and perhaps asking around about you. If you are a jerk to anyone, come across as presumptuous, or I hear from asking around that you are not fun to work with, that will influence my decision.

If I were a recruiter I’d probably have a list of 100+ criteria I’m looking at. A portfolio might influence some of those, but it’s not required. And, there are other ways I can get the information I need, if you don’t have a portfolio.

This doesn’t apply to all job seekers. You need to weigh whether it applies to (a) your career field, and (b) to you, based on your time, etc.

Here’s the funny thing… we are preparing an offer letter to someone who didn’t have a portfolio.

What about confidentiality, privacy, NDAs, etc.?  (added 6:30pm)

I forgot this part when I was writing this novel/post earlier today. Lots of people talk about working in a highly confidential area. Actually, I brushed over it with this line, above:

“You don’t have to blog about confidential things (yes, I hear you, person who works for the federal government or big bank). “

So, don’t do a portfolio. Or… listen. I know techies are usually wicked-smart. Seriously, crazy smart. YOU are smart enough to figure this out. What if you change your thinking from “a portfolio is only to show stuff I’ve worked on, like a finished product or something that looks pretty” to “my portfolio is a communication tool to show my professional breadth and depth, even my interests, abilities, and if not breaching confidentiality, some of my work.”

I’m thinking of my friend-who-I’ll-not-name because I don’t want to drag anyone into this mess. My friend has done some very complex and awesome search technology for some massive (you would recognize the names) companies. Do you think he could add screenshots and code to a portfolio? Um… no. Definitely not. If he did, not only could he be in violation of an NDA (and be in legal hot water) but he would be showing anyone who saw it that if you hired him, the intimacies of your projects might be out on the intertubes for everyone to see. He needs to maintain trust from past employers as well as show he is trustworthy to future employers.

So, how could he communicate that he did some wicked-awesome stuff without showing you what he did?

Go ahead… you are smart. Think about it…. think about it… got it? Here’s an idea (I’m sure you could come up with others):

Talk about the problems faced, and the journey to the solutions, without in any way disclosing anything that violates confidentiality. (Watch out… the trick here might be not writing something you shouldn’t without a name while having the employer name on your LinkedIn profile). Be smart about this.

I talk about experiences from my past but I do it in a way that you can’t pin it on an employer.

Think about how you would walk someone through the problems/solutions in an interview. You don’t need the actual product you developed. You could make some generic mockups (imagine a generic mockup of a search function… pretty easy without violating NDA, right?), and then walk through the whole story. You could include some wicked-cool logic in your code, or architecture, or use of SQL, or whatever, right?

When you think about the portfolio as a communication tool and not a photo album, this stuff starts to make more sense.

BONUS: walking through the exercise of doing these things will help prepare you for better interviews.

Why did I tweet the Portfolio tweet?

The why is actually pretty important… it provides context to my message.

I have been looking for a front end developer and recently have been in interviews. One of the people we interviewed showed, on the interview, a couple of projects he had worked on. I immediately thought, “this should already be on a website or CV so I can look at these before the interview.”

If you have something you want to show, something you would show in an interview, maybe you put it in a portfolio? This could be the difference between even making it to the interview stage, or getting cut eliminated before interviews.

What if you just don’t have time to create a portfolio?

Then don’t. Nowhere did I say it was a requirement, or the main thing that influenced my hiring decision, or the only thing. If you don’t have time, then don’t create one.

However, if you can find a few hours, here’s what I’d recommend:

  1. Beef up your LinkedIn Profile. This has become the de facto portfolio for many people. It’s accepted as a sort of a portfolio, and it’s the place where many people will look to learn more about you. It should complement your resume, as well as go further into whatever you want a hiring manager, influencer, or decision maker to know about you.
  2. Search for portfolios of people with your job title. If you find any, study them. Look at their wording, their messaging, and their design.
  3. Consider an about.me page. This is an easy way to create a one-pager that can have a very nice visual appeal. If you are a CFO, for example, you could create something that helps me understand your breadth and depth (in a different way, with a different tone, than a resume). Here’s an example… not on about.me, but could easily be transferred to about me, of what a CFO would include. Is this a traditional portfolio? No. She’s not an artist. But it does the job.
  4. Brainstorm your breadth and depth. This could take a few hours, over many weeks, to get good enough. And, it’s harder than you might think. But you should be able to draw some boundaries around what your breadth and depth is, which also means you know what NOT to include. When you have this defined it will be easier to know what you should include (and exclude) from your portfolio.
  5. Create your mini-stories. This is one of the most powerful ideas I’ve come across in the last many years. Basically, you take a character attribute or skill or whatever you want to highlight, and you write a very short story around it. I like the PAR (problem-action-results) formula, which gives you maybe 3 sentences. The story puts some teeth into a claim. Contrast “I am a critical thinker” to “I am known as a critical thinker. One time I was brought into a project that was about to fail and I…”  The mini-story is very short, but much more powerful than just making a claim.

I know you are busy. I feel for all the people who said “I work all day and do family all night.” It’s not like I’m saying any of this stuff thinking you have a ton of time, and not sure what to do about it. But if you can carve out 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there, over time you should be able to create the content for your portfolio… whether that is on LinkedIn or about.me or you actually buy your own site and make a page on your own. Not many people will do that, but.. ahem, remember the original tweet was for front end developers, many of whom should be able to do that pretty easily.

The End

So there you go. Portfolios. I hope you walk away from this thinking “I can do this.” And if you don’t want to, or can’t, or don’t need to, then no big deal. Like I said, it’s not THE thing that influences a hiring decision… it is one of many factors. If absent, that could be okay.

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Five Life Changes to Become More Supportive

April 5th, 2021

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

Pluralsight YouTube Shelley Benhoff

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

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

First, nurture an abundance mentality.

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

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

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

Second, celebrate wins of others.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus, do all of this without any expectations.

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

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

This is our life.

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

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

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Personal Branding Course Updated for 2021

March 8th, 2021

Last week my newest course update went live. It is called Developing Your Personal Brand.

Pluralsight Developing Your Personal Brand Header

This course is about 2 and a half hours. I talk about what personal branding actually is, who has a brand, and what you can do to create the branding you want. I share specific tactics, tools, ideas, etc. In the last module I share examples.

When I got certified as a personal branding strategist a hundred years ago I had already written my book on LinkedIn, and I think I had written my book on Facebook. I had been blogging for years, and had been actively doing the personal branding tactics I was learning about. I was doing personal branding online and offline. I didn’t learn much in the strategy certification program because it was geared more towards people who hadn’t been thinking about personal branding… but it was good to make sure I was aligned with the best practices being taught to career leaders.

In my Career Management 2.0 course and on-stage presentations I talk about the two major components to career management: your network and your personal brand. I’ve been forced, on stage, to keep this to 45 minutes. That is really hard. Once, in Maryland, I went for almost three hours, which seems long but no one left and there were still questions after.

Personal branding got on my radar when my 2006 job search sucked and I realized part of it was my branding was non-existent. It hurt me to not have an intentional brand. So, I did a deep dive and came up with a structured approach to creating, developing, communicating, and influencing your brand.

That’s what this course is about. It’s for the active job seeker, the passive job seeker, the entrepreneur, and even the person who’s sat in the same chair for 30 years, getting close to retirement. Check it out here:

Developing Your Personal Brand

 

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Blogs for Branding: Length of a Post

January 18th, 2021

Blog posts can be as short as you want, and still be effective. Like this one.

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Anatomy of My LinkedIn Profile Header

December 9th, 2020

I’m diving into my Pluralsight Personal Branding course to redo it for early next year and thought it would be a good time to look at my LinkedIn profile. I like my header, and figured it is a good time to share what I like about it. As I go through this, think about what your header looks like. One of my main messages is to do your branding intentionally.

So here we go, with some elements of my intentional branding on my LinkedIn profile header.

Jason Alba LinkedIn Profile Header Anatomy

#1: The “Background photo”

Many profiles I see have the default background, which is FINE. Don’t stress about this. Some really cool background photos are extremely branded, with key words that communicate the brand. Those are custom-designed images (maybe you can make your own with a simple/free app like canva).

For a long, long time mine was just the default. When I talked a lot about multiple income streams, though, I finally realized I could (should?) put a background image that reinforced my interest in multiple streams.

I didn’t find an image I liked with MULTIPLE streams, but this was good. Plus, it reminds me of a really cool place I went to in Wyoming. It’s just peaceful. I doubt many people will get the subtle connection to multiple revenue streams but that’s okay with me. It looks nicer than the default image and it sparks joy.

Two sites to look for free images that might work for you (and your brand) are pexels and unsplash. Be careful you don’t do something crazy busy or weird. The point is to have something onbrand, not have people scratch their heads and wonder what the image has to do with your brand.

#2 YOUR picture (avatar)

This is really, really important. I talk about this in my course, and my LinkedIn profile course. Without going into detail, or the “why” of any of these, please make sure your image: is a closeup of your headshot; has a clean or uncluttered background; is approachable (SMILE!); doesn’t have weird or yucky or contrasting colors.

Bonus: Use the same image here as you do on other social sites. The consistency will ensure people know they are in the right place, as they go from profile to profile.

#3 Your name Part I

I encourage you to put the name people call you here, not your entire legal name. If your name has like 5 syllables but people call you “Tom” then put Tom! This should be consistent in all of your online marketing assets so people don’t have to wonder if they are looking at profiles for the same person.

#4 Your name Part II

In my “last name” I put: “, Product Manager”. This was very strategic because the name field is apparently higher weighted with searches, and at one time I wanted to show up higher in product manager searches. (I just gave you a really important tip to show up higher in search results)

# Your headline

I talk a lot about this in the LinkedIn course, and why and how to change this. This is a super important little snippet to update. By default, if you don’t update it, it will just pull in your title and company, like “Dishwasher at Big Company”.

I want you to be more strategic in what you communicate than your title and company. Mine looks like title(s) at company, but that is because I wanted to brand myself as a CEO and a product manager, while also increasing brand awareness of JibberJobber.

I might call this section the tagline, and LinkedIn used to call it the professional headline. I like “tagline” because you can (AND SHOULD) use whatever you come up with here anywhere else you use a tagline (even verbally).

#6 Your location

For many years I put something like “global” or “online”.  One day, though, I realized that it just didn’t matter anymore. I was trying to convey that JibberJobber was global, but then I realized people just wanted to know where in the world I was (not my services). So, put where you are.

IF you are mobile, open to moving to other locations, and are concerned hiring managers recruiters won’t want to relocate you, communicate that elsewhere (perhaps in your Summary). Something like:

I’m open to opportunities in Seattle and Miami,” or “I work with clients in Boston and Austin.” Either of those help me pull you out of just one geographic location and help me know you have interest or business in other locations.

So that’s it… a quick look at WHY I have my header the way I do. It’s all on purpose, just as yours should be. Check out the links I put in here for more information, especially the LinkedIn course.

 

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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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Think Like An Entrepreneur, Not An Employee #CareerChange

June 19th, 2020

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

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

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

The urgency is now.

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

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

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

Fun Work Culture

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

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

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

Entrepreneur Waiting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Entrepreneur Love To Learn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Entrepreneur Podcast

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

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

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

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

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

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

Try. 

Fling the spaghetti. 

Flinging Spaghetti Entrepreneur

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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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