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Pluralsight Course: Prioritizing Tasks and Managing Time for Greater Productivity (update)

October 7th, 2020

Today another course update went live, for my Prioritizing Tasks and Managing Time for Greater Productivity Pluralsight course. I have now created, or done major updates, on 40 courses for Pluralsight.

Pluralsight Productivity Time Management Prioritizing Jason Alba

I have to admit it is hard to go into something I was so proud of years ago and critically think through it again. I look at my language, my script, my cohesiveness, even my main messages, and think “wow.” Not “wow you are awesome” but “wow, how could you have not done better?”

In school I couldn’t stand to revisit old papers, and in the beginning of my career I couldn’t stand to look at old code (I was a programmer). Once I moved on from something I didn’t love coming back to redo or try and understand it.

Alas, I’m in the middle of a bunch of course redos. This course was good for me because I got to dive into three major topics: productivity (the goal), prioritization, and time management. I am guessing I gave at least 100 solid tactical tips that you could implement…  this course is full of actionable ideas.

I’m glad to be done, and hope to not revisit it for another five years. Having said that, I wanted to share a very, very nice email I got from my contact at Pluralsight, who helped me get the course to publication. Melissa wrote:

Your overall slide design and course structure was superb and very well-organized. You also had very strong and consistent audio quality throughout. (Jason note: this took over a month. There are a million details, and to have her recognize the design, structure, organization, and the audio quality (editing, etc.) was really nice to hear.)

I also wanted to point out that I really enjoyed watching your course during my review. It was quite refreshing to watch content that I can actually really implement in the here and now. You had a lot of positive insights, and I had some great takeaways into how I can even make improvements in my own productivity. So, overall a fantastic course, all that hard work pays off :)

That was so nice. Melissa helps get a lot of technical courses ready for publication, and I don’t think she is working to become a developer, so a lot of the content isn’t relevant to her. But it was really cool for her to say that what I’ve spent so much time on will actually make a difference in her life.

The course is here: Prioritizing Tasks and Managing Time for Greater Productivity

If you want a 30 day pass to watch it, and any of my other courses, or any of the excellent hard and soft skill courses in Pluralsight, let me know. I might have a few passes laying around :)

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Top 5 In-demand Soft Skills (according to LinkedIn)

September 16th, 2020

I was perusing the intertubes last night and found this article: The Top Skills Companies Need Most in 2020—And How to Learn Them

Y’all know I’m a sucker for soft skills and professional development. I’ve spent years creating more than three dozen soft skill and professional courses for Pluralsight, and easily a dozen before Pluralsight. And, for the record, I just tweeted this:

I like that… “Soft skills are like hard skills… but for your career.”

Back to LinkedIn’s survey of the whole professional world…. here are their soft skills that are most in demand, and Pluralsight courses that help you learn and improve your soft skills:

#1 Creativity (apparently was #1 in 2019, too)

Check out this course by the popular Dave Cross (@davecross) titled Photoshop CC Non-destructive Methods to Enhance Creativity. I’m not a Photoshop guy, but if you are into design, photography, etc. this looks like a super course. Of course, there are plenty of courses for creative professionals… here are six learning paths on Pluralsight for creatives.

Creativity isn’t just for creatives, though. Check out this popular course titled Creative Problem Solving and Decision Making Techniques by Milena Pajic (@milena-pajic).

My friend Stephen Haunts (@stephenhaunts) from England created this course called Innovation in the Workplace.

All the way from France, meet Cécilia Lejeune (@LejeuneCecilia) with her course on Exploring Innovating Product Experiences.

Jillian Kaplan (@TheRealJKaplan) has a nineteen minute executive briefing titled Importance of Innovation.

I (@jasonalba) really enjoyed creating this course on innovation, Boosting Innovation: How Leaders Can Create Innovative Teams. This isn’t just for leaders, though. Anyone looking to increase innovation should get good info here.

#2 Persuasion (was #2 in 2019, I guess :p)

Persuasion is influence is storytelling. I have to recommend Alan Ackmann’s Storytelling to Engage and Motivate.

One of the most important factors in persuading is listening and understanding… hence, check out my Becoming a Better Listener course (I’m proud to have over 575 ratings on this course!).

John Papa (@john_papa) is a Pluralsight legend, popular professional speaker, and has had a fantastic career. His course, The Art of Public Speaking and Effective Presentations, is a must-watch.

#3 Collaboration (was #3 in 2019… trust me, there’s a reason they/I put all of these “the same as” statements)

Shelley Benhoff (@SBenhoff) created the course Fostering Effective Team Collaboration and Communication.

Collaborations means teams. My course, Working on a Team, talks all about collaboration.

One of my most important courses is Working and Communicating with Different Personalities. This course helped me understand how personalities impact relationships, communication, collaboration, etc.

Another important course, and one of my favorites, is Understanding Your Audience, which is a critical aspect of collaboration.

Another course from Stephen Haunts is How to Run Effective Meetings. Again, this is about collaborating with humans.

Collaboration happens through various mediums, including email. But how many of us (or your colleagues) should get some proper training on emails? Here’s my course, Effective Email Communication. Laugh if you must but I’ll argue a ton of people need this course :)

Casey Ayers (@caseyayers) is one of my favorite thinkers. He has a course titled Avoiding Common Writing Mistakes, which should definitely help you collaborate more effectively.

#4 Adaptability (you guessed it, was #4 in 2019 also)

Alice Meredith (@AAMeredith) is a senior HR professional and culture strategist, and is the perfect person to talk about change management. She has multiple courses that have to do with adaptability (see her courses here), specifically Embracing Change: Staying: Staying Agile in the Midst of Change, Building a Successful Change Strategy, Becoming a Change Leader, and Leading Change: The Head, Heart & Hands Approach.

Troy Hunt (@troyhunt) is a world renowned security expert and popular professional speaker, and has a course on Adapting to the New Normal: Embracing a Security Culture of Continual Change.

Kevin Miller (KevinMillerIT) has a course titled Change Management: Getting Started.

Again, Milena Pajic has a course on this: Business Analysis: Defining Change Strategies.

Dan Appleman (@danappleman) has a bunch of career courses, and he talks about future-proofing your career by being intentional. One of his courses relevant to change is Learning Technology in the Information Age (where everything changes!).

#5 Emotional Intelligence (NEW! NEW! NEW in the top 5!!)

I fell in love with emotional intelligence (EQ) as I was creating my course Leading with Emotional Intelligence. I thought this was a fluffy topic for years, but then I got to dive into it. I’m 100% onboard with emotional intelligence and think that as we improve ours, the world changes.

Jason Edleman did a course titled Introduction to Emotional Intelligence.

Alan Ackmann has a course titled Self-assessing Your Emotional Intelligence.

Heather Ackmann (@HeatherAckmann) has a course on Creating an Emotionally Intelligent Workplace Culture.

Emotional intelligence is a little tricky… it is not one single topic, rather a collection of soft skill topics. There are currently two learning paths focused on this, including Emotional Intelligence for Leaders and Managers and Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers.

Your career is in your hands. Now is your opportunity to work on yourself so you can be in high demand!

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Improve Your Hard and Soft Skills for Income Security

August 17th, 2020

A big theme I’ve been talking about over the years is “income security,” which replaces the outdated concept of “job security.”

Income security comes through (1) building and communicating our personal brand, through (2) growing our network with relevant contacts and (3) nurturing individual relationships, and (4) creating and working multiple income streams.

Since 2006, when I got laid off by a “committee of chickens,” I have been working on each of those things. If you have followed me for more than three hours you know I’m a proud Pluralsight author. “Author” is the title for someone who creates content on their video/course learning platform, not for having written books for them.

Last year thousands of Pluralsight customers came to Salt Lake City for their annual Live conference. The theme was “Skill Up!” I thought that theme was maybe a bit cliche… anyone and everyone should be talking about skilling up. But after spending a few days hearing about skilling up, I was 100% bought in. Hook, line, and sinker. I get it. And I’ll continue to share this message.

Pluralsight 33% off

Skilling up is a term you might hear in the business world to talk about ensuring you are always current on what is current. It ensures that your skills don’t get stagnate, and that you don’t become easily replaced because what you were expert in went away, and we just don’t have any use for you.

It’s just a business decision, you know?

Skilling up means being relevant. It means when a new technology or method or idea or process or system comes out, you either have studied up on it, you have some proficiency in it (or adjacent technologies), or you can easily and quickly come up to speed.

It means when an opportunity arises, people come to you for answers.

“Skill up” needs to be how we think about continuing education. There’s no doubt that to be successful in today’s workforce we need to regularly learn. “Going to school to get an education” should be “going to school to be qualified to get this job, but education is a lifelong pursuit.”

Continuing education can help you with your (1) brand (communicate what you are learning and doing, and what your proficiencies, passions, breadth/depth are), your (2 and 3) network (meet new people and develop/nurture new professional relationships as you get into new circles/communities, and (4) multiple income streams (learn new skills, and figure out how to monetize them).

Continuing education, skilling up, is a big part of your career management.

Pluralsight Skill Up Love To Learn

From today through next Friday (that is 12 days… so no hurry, but don’t miss out) Pluralsight is doing a 33% off sale. This brings the normal price to about what a premium Netflix account costs. You get thousands… literally thousands of courses to help you skill up. Pluralsight has world-renown content creators (aka authors) who help the top technology teams skill up. From learning programming to artificial intelligence to design to networking to you-name-it, Pluralsight has courses that technologists rely on.

Not a techie? Not a nerd or a geek? That’s okay. I am sharing this with you because (a) you might be interested in a career change, and (b) there are plenty of non-tech courses that could enhance your career, from business analyst to the entire PMP certification prep to hundreds of communication and soft skills (which is where I spend my time).

I started with Pluralsight in 2012. It was a slow start, and a bit of a rough transition to go from a professional speaker (on stage) to staring at a screen and talking into a mic in an otherwise empty room. But now I have 36 courses in the Pluralsight library, and hopefully will be able to add more over the years. I believe this is a perfect complement to what I can offer through JibberJobber and the Job Search Program. Tools and strategies and tactics married to information and direction and skills helps you be more intentional about career management.

Here’s a great Twitter thread from my friend Piotr, also an author (in Europe), sharing a bunch of his favorite topics, courses, and authors. Click on this link, then you can look at his entire thread:

Look, I love career management. I love helping job seekers. I love hearing about your career successes. I’m as passionate about helping you with your hard and soft skills as I am about helping you with your networking and personal brand. And that is why I continue to talk about Pluralsight. It’s an awesome tool for you to skill up, and a great complement to the rest of the career management stuff you should be doing.

Get the 33% off here.

Pluralsight 33% off

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How To Get More Out Of Online Courses

July 15th, 2020

I was going to write how to get the MOST out of online courses, but I think that will mean different things to different people. More important, I want this post to start a conversation, and to start ideas, about how you can get any more value out of a course you watch, subscribe to, bought, etc.

Caveat: I am a Pluralsight author. I have over 35 courses in Pluralsight. Before Pluralsight I did 9 courses for JibberJobber (the company I own). And I’ve done hundreds of webinars + hundreds of on-stage presentations. I am biased towards Pluralsight, the leading course library for techies. Having said that, I don’t care if you are watching a course on LinkedIn Learning (formerly known as Lynda), Coursera, Udemy, Thinkster.io, Youtube, your company’s LMS, Udacity, General Assembly, etc. etc. etc. There are literally thousands of options. I’m not here to say what is best for you… you have to figure that out on your own.

Let’s talk about getting MORE out of online courses.

Actually watch the course you paid for (or have access to)

Why is it that we buy books and never read them? Oh, you thought it was just you? Nope. There’s even a Japanese word for this: Tsunkodu (doku = reading; tsun = to pile up).

I’m not saying you always have to be learning. I’m not even saying I won’t allow you downtime, or depending on life circumstances or stage of life that you can’t just take a break. If you need to take a break then take a break.

But at one point in your life you decided it would be a good idea to learn something. Whether it was cooking or coding you wanted to learn a new skills or fact or thought process, or just see what the “experts” are saying.

A quick google translate shows that “course” is kōsu in Japanese. So let’s not accumulate courses, not ever watch them, and then have the word tsunkōsu (to pile up courses) apply to us! (I totally made that up, hope it’s not some offensive word!)

Make the time to actually make watch your course. You owe it to yourself. Maybe that means you stop buying new stuff until you go through what you already have.

Turn off distractions

In my listening course I invite people to, right now, turn off all distractions. Other windows, browsers, their email, their Slack and Teams, and even their phone. Let’s just be honest with ourselves… if we allow these distractions to stay up we might… no, we will miss stuff. If you are going to “invest” the time in yourself and watch a course, really do it right the first time.

Personally, if I leave my distractions up during a course, and I switch my attention even for a nanosecond, I get lost in the course. I miss something, I get behind, etc. I know it is against our super power to “multitask,” but please, turn off your distractions and give the course your full attention.

Take notes

I don’t care if you take them on your computer, on paper, or with a chisel on a rock tablet… take notes. Here’s the weird thing: I take lots of notes… but I hardly ever refer back to them. Even when I was in school I would not… for some reason I didn’t understand, I could not go back into my notes. But just writing things down seemed to help my retention. I heard retention is better when you hand write things instead of type things… but I don’g care how you take notes. Just take notes.

You might even look up some note-taking tips online. I’m not talking about learning shorthand, but there are things you can do to really bring out certain parts of your notes. For me, I use an empty box (square) to designate a “do this later” task. It is one of the most important tactics I use when taking notes. Later, I can easily scan through my notes and look for boxes, then see what I need to follow-up on. When I do the thing, I cross it out or put a check in the empty box.

Practice what you learn

Your notes should include actionable tasks to put into practice things from the course. Whether it is cutting code or cutting onions, practicing something artistic, speaking (on stage or on a webinar), listening, or using a new phrase to be more assertive, practice it.

In some of my Pluralsight courses I end my modules with “if you’ve been taking notes you might have written down some of these things to do….” and then I tell you five or six actionable things to practice. Every time you watch any part of a course you should walk away with your own list of “I’m going to try this thing.” If you are watching a technical course it might be easy to pause the course and try the thing they are showing you. If you watch my “Becoming a Better Listener” course you’ll have to figure out when you could practice active listening, or any of the tactics I share there.

But really practice the tactics. There’s this idea that we retain or really understand things based on doing different things (poorly written I know, but hang with me). There are models you can find on google images that show the difference in learning from passive to active listening tactics. If you just watch a lecture you learn or retain 5% of the stuff (numbers vary, I’m sure, based on who did the model). If you read you retain 10%. If you hear and see (audio-visual) you retain 20%. That is 4x more than just being in a lecture (although I don’t know what that means… a lecture has both audio and visual). Anyway, if you see a demonstration you retain 30% (that is why we love the science teachers who light things on fire in the classroom). Discussion increases to 50% (wasn’t he case with me in school… I was more aloof). Practice raised it to 75%. I think if you practice multiple times, over time, you can work your way to a mastery level.

Teach what you learn

In the model I talked about in the last paragraph the last step was to teach others. The retention rate is supposedly 90%. I know when I have to get to teach others I might spend hours and hours and hours reading, researching, thinking of questions, thinking about my audience and how to best present, and learn a ton more than I get to actually talk about. I heard someone say that in corporate training it takes 40 hours of prep time to do a one hour presentation. Yuck, I thought, I’m never going into that field.

And yet here I am.

I love spending the 40 hours learning. Thinking. Creatively devising ways to communicate concepts that will make an impact. My only regret is that once I’m done with my 1 hour presentation I feel like there is so much more to learn and do, and I couldn’t communicate it all. But maybe, just maybe, I was able to inspire the audience to want to learn more.

Teaching others gives you the opportunity to dig way deeper than just consuming content (from a lecture, supposedly at 5% retention effectiveness). How can you do this? Invite a group of people to a brown bag lunch and share what you learned in 30 to 45 minutes. Don’t stress about YOU, and how good you are, and about how this is out of your comfort zone. Once you send the invite, and you are not obligated, I bet you go through the course again with more focus and intention, thinking about what and how you will teach. It’s an awesome experience.

Debrief the course with someone else

Debriefing was a foreign concept to me until about 10 or so years ago when I was involved in youth government and leadership simulations. We spent four days running around a building simulating government relations, negotiations, etc. It was very intense and heated, and most everyone got really involved in the simulation. Then, on the last day, we’d wrap up with a “debrief” that could last two or three hours.

I thought it was a little weird and maybe a waste of time… until I did my first one. The debrief became my favorite part of simulations. Debriefing is where we were able to step aside from the simulation, back into the real world, and talk about what we had learned. Why we made decisions, why we followed certain people, why alliances were (or weren’t) formed. We learned what happened from different perspectives, and got time to analyze what the heck just happened. There were a lot of aha moments as people shared their insights and perspectives.

When I create my courses I hope, in my wildest dreams, that a group of people watch the course individually and then come together in a room and beat up my talking points. Not to prove or disprove my points, but to talk about them as a team. To come to a higher truth for that team, and figure out how they could apply the points and principles individually and as a team. I love to get feedback, and to know that teams have taken my course to a much higher level by talking about it. Figuring out what things they could/should implement in their organization and what things didn’t apply to them. And, because of that conversation, they could figure out their own tactics and techniques that I didn’t even talk about, and become stronger.

This might not happen at a team level but you could certainly talk to someone over lunch. “Hey, I just watched this really interesting course and I want to talk about some of the ideas with you. Can we get together for lunch?” Or, on a webinar. Or, with a group of people who have watched the course, even if they are from different departments. It’s like a book club, where you learn from others, see what stuck out to them, understand how they are thinking about implementing some of the ideas.

I think this conversation that happens in a debrief increases the value of a course exponentially. So don’t just one-and-done watch a course… talk about it with someone!

Here are some ideas from Twitter

I like this idea from Eliud… watch other courses on the same topic to get different perspectives.


Jeremy talks about really budget the right amount of time… this is smart because if you think it will take an hour but you keep pausing it you might think “I’m never going to finish this long course.” But you need to respect how you learn.

Jeremy and John both recommend breaking the course into parts, instead of spending a lot of time just to plow through:

Winnie emphasizes scheduling time out… actually block it out on your calendar! And if you have the list of KSAs you might understand more of the context of the course.

Rachel says (in my own words) to respect yourself, and the time you are investing into the course:

Leo is talking to course creators, but let me flip the coin on this and say that YOU (the learner) can put reminders in your calendar to either pick up where you left off, or to practice certain things, etc. Putting reminders in your calendar shows you really want to learn/master the material, and improve.

Dave’s four-point list is great, and reinforces everything in this post:

I think Colyn is talking to course creators or platforms, but if you agree you can see that debriefing and practicing after watching a course are just critical:

Alright, your turn… what do YOU do to get more out of online courses?

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Understanding Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills #careers

July 2nd, 2020

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

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

HARD SKILLS

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

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

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

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

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

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

JibberJobber Hard Skills

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

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

When Hard Skills Are Important

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

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

Can this candidate do the job?

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

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

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

Make those three things easy to find and understand.

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

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

SOFT SKILLS

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

JibberJobber Soft Skills

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

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

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

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

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

When Soft Skills Are Important

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

YES!

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

Soft skills help you get the job.

Soft skills help you get promotions.

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

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

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

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

The Great Thing About Hard Skills and Soft Skills

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

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

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

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

 

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The Job Search and Career Seminar Series

June 22nd, 2020

Last week I finished my three week six session series on job search and career stuff, sponsored by Pluralsight. I posted the entire series here… you can watch each of the six sessions as well as download the slides (nothing special there) and see what Pluralsight courses and other resources I talked about.

Feel free to share this… lots of people should be needing this stuff pretty soon…

Pluralsight Free Seminar Series: Job Search and Career Sessions

Here are the individual YouTube videos:

The Interview Process

Personal Branding While in Transition

Job Search Processes and Systems

Networking with Humans

Onboarding Yourself in Your Next Job

Personal Finances for Job Seekers

Enjoy, and share!

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New Pluralsight Course: Using Critical Observation on the Job

June 18th, 2020

Last night I got this in my email:

Pluralsight Jason Alba Using Critical Observation On The Job

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

Pluralsight Jason Alba 35 Courses

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

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

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

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

Oh yeah…

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

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

May 29th, 2020

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

Effective Email Communication (1 hr 1 m)

Informational Interviews (1 hr 1 m)

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

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

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

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

Check them out!

JibberJobber Jason Alba Pluralsight Courses

 

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The 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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Pluralsight Discount: 10 Days to Decide

May 4th, 2020

Today Pluralsight announced they are discounting their pricing for the next 10 days by 33%. This is a great time to invest in YOURSELF! Click here:

Pluralsight 33% Off

I’m a sucker for a deal. I don’t care about 5% off or 15% off…

But 33% off? I’m digging that!

Last month (April 2020) I spent a lot of time blogging and youtubing about Pluralsight and my courses.

Pluralsight just sweetened the deal… this comes out to about $16/month and you get full access to the entire library of over 7,000 courses.

That is a great investment in YOU.

Isn’t that an investment worth making?

Upgrade here.

 

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