Nobody is talking about you because there is nothing to say

Personal Branding.

Does that phrase make you cringe, or is it exciting?

There is a lot of talk and hype about personal branding.  Some people treat it like it’s the missing key to professional success.

Let me share one concept that I’ve learned the hard way over the years:

If you want people to know and understand you, and talk about you to others, you need to FEED THEM with information.

As a business owner (which is very similar to being a job seeker), I can go weeks and months without anything new… and during those weeks and months no one is spreading the word about my news.

Because I didn’t have news.

But when I create news (that’s an important phrase), people talk about that news.

Recently I announced a huge change in pricing on JibberJobber, where we are moving most of the premium features to the free side.  That change was communicated to my contacts. Many of them shared this news with their networks via blogs and social updates.

I created news, shared it with my contacts, and asked them to share it with theirs.

As a job seeker, how do you create news?  There are lists of what companies can make press releases out of… why not come up with your own list?  Joan Stewart blogs about this stuff.

You’ll have to come up with your own list, but once you do something interesting (aka, once you have created news), SHARE IT.  And encourage others to talk about you.

Jason Alba blogs for Career Resumes, a full service resume and LinkedIn Profile firm.  Jason is the founder and CEO of JibberJobber.com, a web tool to help you organize and manage your job search.

Does Your Job Search Hurt?

My wife and I were talking about a famous vocalist and about he she sings about who she is, her life, her experiences.

She clearly loves what she does.  And her audience easily connects with her.  Her personal life and her work life seems congruent.  What a blast!

In contrast, when I started my job search I felt like my life was totally incongruent.  I got to the point where I was miserable but I had to put on a smiley face and try and network.

I had to pretend I really enjoyed things, like going to events, giving my 30 second pitch in front of strangers, etc.  I had to pretend things were GREAT when they were really far from great.

At least, I thought I had to do that.

I didn’t understand the idea of being authentic. I am sure I did not connect with  ”my audience.”  I’m sure they saw the misalignment.

If your job search hurts, maybe it is because you are trying to force things that shouldn’t be forced.  I’m not saying this so you can have an excuse to not network with people, but maybe you shift from going to network events and start doing one-on-one meetings (lunches, etc.).

In other words, maybe the strategy is good but the tactics are bad (for you).

I give you permission to change your tactics.  Have a good, strong, purposeful strategy, and have tactics aligned with who you are.

And see if some of the hurt doesn’t go away.

You might be like my friend John who said “I’m having too much fun doing this networking stuff!”

And he really was.

Jason Alba blogs for Career Resumes, a full service resume and LinkedIn Profile firm.  Jason is the founder and CEO of JibberJobber.com, a web tool to help you organize and manage your job search.

Writing Your Own Letter of Recommendation

When I got laid off I went to a boss I had worked under for a number of years and asked him for a letter of recommendation.  He immediately agreed and enthusiastically started writing something.

Later that day he gave me a two page letter of recommendation.

It was horrible.

It was mostly a letter of “Jason is great, but we had to let him go because…” and then went on to explain that it wasn’t my fault, or anything about me, and that he would be happy to recommend me and he wished he could keep me on or find or make a spot for me in the company, but that was just too impossible.

Two pages of that.

It was more like a letter of apology.

I carefully asked him if I could fix a few things and then I wrote something that was a, well, a letter of recommendation!

It might feel weird to write in your boss’s voice, totally bragging about yourself, but this happens all the time.  Many times it is easier for you to say the things that should be said (so that you have an influence on the marketing message) than to have your boss, who usually feels bad about what happened, try and fumble their way through.

Did you catch that?  Your letter of recommendation is a marketing document.

Make sure you are marketing YOU.  If you want to bring out certain characteristics (team player, highly analytical, high social EQ, etc.) and downplay other characteristics that your boss is likely to think about (you have a nice smile, you were a joy to work with, etc.), then make sure you do that.

Let the boss know that you want to make sure certain things come out in your recommendation. Give him or her a list!  Make it easy for them to write this. You might even write sentences or paragraphs and say “here are some ideas of what I’m looking for.”  They can simply copy and paste from your ideas and you’ll get exactly what you asked for.

This might sound weird but it is commonly done in the business world.

If you have a hard time writing about yourself, get the book Brag!

Jason Alba blogs for Career Resumes, a full service resume and LinkedIn Profile firm.  Jason is the founder and CEO of JibberJobber.com, a web tool to help you organize and manage your job search.

Can’t Get Informational Interviews? Maybe it is your approach…

Today on my JibberJobber blog I wrote about Wayne who graciously shared his technique for trying to get informational interviews (or, time on the phone with people in his field).

Wayne is doing some things right, some things wrong, but not getting any results he wants.

The comments are awesome.  Career professionals are weighing in, as well as regular people (non-career-pros).  Everyone is pretty much right, and there are themes.

I am proud of Wayne for doing this, AND for asking for input.  My questions to you:

Are you doing something? Whether that is networking or asking for informational interviews or whatever, are you doing the hard things in the job search?  Don’t hide behind applying online all day (like I did).  You have to do the hard things.

Are you asking for feedback?  If something isn’t working, find out why and change.  This takes guts and humility.

Kudos to Wayne for doing both.

What you can learn from 382 recruiters chasing a fake candidate

On the Recruiting Animal’s Facebook page he shared a link to this: The inside story of how 382 recruiters pursued an imaginary engineer

There is a lot to learn from this write-up.  Even though it is for recruiters to learn, I think we can learn a lot, too.  Some things I took away (there are a lot more, read it for yourself):

In #1 the author calls LinkedIn an “overfished pond.”  Interesting, huh?  You can see their suggestions of other places recruiters are told to look for talent.  Where are you?

In #7 we learn how recruiters are writing emails that aren’t effective, and what they can do to make them more effective.  How effective are YOUR emails?

In #8 they talk about following up and referencing a previous conversation.  Very interesting idea.

In #9 they talk about the “what’s in it for me” concept, which I just wrote about on my JibberJobber blog.

It really comes back to communication, and your ability to develop relationships.  But there are lots of gems in that post.

Jason Alba blogs for Career Resumes, a full service resume and LinkedIn Profile firm.  Jason is the founder and CEO of JibberJobber.com, a web tool to help you organize and manage your job search.

Killer Personal Branding Story: Jacob Share

jacob_share_headshotJacob Share is a friend of mine who runs JobMob.  I had never heard the story that he blogged about yesterday titled The Best Personal Branding Story You Haven’t Heard, where he talks about how he got his first consulting client.

This is one of the coolest, most clever things I’ve heard someone do.

It took guts though.  There was risk.  He could have messed it up or been taken away, and his brand would have gone the other way.

But he didn’t.  What he did was on brand for his audience, and completely appropriate.

Not only did this help him land his first consulting client, it also helped pretty much everyone at the conference know who he was, more than just another faceless conference dweller.

Could you be so bold?

Read Jacob’s story here.

Jason Alba blogs for Career Resumes, a full service resume and LinkedIn Profile firm.  Jason is the founder and CEO of JibberJobber.com, a web tool to help you organize and manage your job search.

The Most Important Interview Question EVER

Don’t you love these posts… what is THE most important interview question?

I think it depends on the company, industry, culture, and unfortunately the person asking the questions.  I say unfortunately because in my experience they are untrained, whimsical, and filled with prejudice and bias.  There’s nothing like going into an interview totally prepared and interviewing with a knucklehead who doesn’t know what he is doing.

And then there are list of hundreds of interview questions, like this one on Job Mob.  Four hundred and forty four?  I can’t even remember fourteen.  That list is just too overwhelming for me.

One of my favorite headhunters, Ask the Headhunter Nick Corcodilos, has his answer to what the most important interview question is, and it contradicts one of his colleagues.  On this post you’ll see the question from his colleague, and you’ll see Nick’s favorite (most important) interview question.

The real problem with Nick’s question, or Lou’s question, or Jacob’s 444 list, goes back to the human being asking the question.  If they are an idiot then maybe no question matters.  It might be how you connect in other ways.

That pesky human element is the monkey wrench that makes interviews so unpredictable.

(having said that, still prepare for your interview!)

Alternative Ideas to Video Resumes

So someone hyped video resumes and you want to know more. I am not big on the concept… as a hiring manager I’m not sure I’m going to watch a 2 minute low-quality, poorly done “video resume.”

Are there alternatives?

Yes.

If you are hoping to send a video instead of a resume (or Profile), I think you are trying to do it wrong.

But if you are sending a video to complement your resume/Profile, go for it.  If you can do it right, and if it conveys the right message.

Do it right: you need to have the right quality.  This is recording quality, light, audio, etc. as well as what you say and how you say it.  Come across as uneducated, too playful, etc. and your video might be the laughing stock of the internet (it happens).

To get an idea of what “do it right” produces, check out the examples on VideoBio.com

Convey the right message: This is where it can get fun, tricky and creative at the same time.  Regurgitating your resume, or the same message from your resume, might be wrong.

In a video you have the ability to take advantage of audio clips, music (watch out for copyright violation), video clips (you in action, on stage, presenting to people, or something like that), images, graphs, colors, etc.

Instead of trying to explain your professional breadth and depth in 2 – 4 minutes, what if you take that time and drill down on just one thing?  If you are a CEO, for example, do three videos. One on strategy, one on management and one on company growth.

Now you are presenting a portfolio of videos that show different parts of you.

I think this sounds hard and overwhelming.  If you think the same, start with powerpoints.  Can you make a powerpoint of 15 slides for something you specialize in?  Can you make three powerpoints?

Much easier than video, and maybe a great place to start.

The point is, video resumes are not what you should be after, but you can use video (or powerpoint) in your marketing material.  Just don’t think of it as a replacement to a traditional resume.

Now, what can you do with this information?  Do something, today!

Video Resumes vs. Video Interviews

We’re going to hear more about video interviews over the next year or two.  When I first clicked on this link I thought they were talking about video resumes.

It’s easy to mix the two up.  Let me describe the difference so you know which has merit and which is all fluff.

Video Interviews are interviews by recruiters or hiring companies done through internet video.  You sit at your desk (or a desk somewhere at a rented office, or a friend who has an office, etc.) and you have a “normal” interview.  They ask you questions, you answer them, etc.  You try to look good (nice clothes, nice hair, etc.) and not twitch or say “ummmmmm” too many times.  You now have to think about your background so it doesn’t distract from the interview.

A friend founded a company called HireVue and they are pioneers in this space. I love what I’ve seen of their product because you can do the interview and the company can send parts of the interview to various hiring managers or decision-makers.

The technology is only going to get better.  On the high end you have HireVue.  On the low end you have Skype (no cost to anyone, but doesn’t have the cool sophisticated tools that HireVue has).

Video interviews are legitimate and here to stay. They solve problems for the hiring manager (or recruiter) and the job seeker.

Video Resumes are… how shall I say this nicely.  They are a joke.  I know some people will like them and use them, but here’s my #1 beef with video resumes: I don’t have time to watch your video resume.

You know how they say recruiters give your resume 10 seconds? If your video resume is 2 minutes, or 4 minutes, how do I “skim” that? I have to watch the entire thing?

I’m normally not going to do that.  Especially if I get 10 video resumes to watch… that could take an hour of my day, instead of 100 seconds of my day.  No way I can squeeze that in.

The message you should get from the “I’m only giving your resume 10 seconds” thing is that you have to make it easy for me to pick out the value that I need when I skim.  You don’t skim videos like you skim written documents.

There are other reasons why I don’t see video resumes taking off, including the quality factor.  Sure you can shoot video, but will it look good?  Will the lighting and sound be right?  Will the angles be good?  Will you know what to say so the entire time is captivating and powerful?

Most people will fail at at least one of those (or other) things making the overall quality or impression less than stellar.

I think video resumes is a fad that has passed, although I’m sure people will try to revive the fad again and again.

There you go: the difference between video resumes and video interviews!

Build it and they will come: Phooey.

I hear people say “I am on LinkedIn but it doesn’t do anything for me.”

They heard about LinkedIn, put up a week Profile (Career Resumes LinkedIn Makeovers), and sat around waiting.

They built it, but no one came.  And then they complain that LinkedIn doesn’t work.

I started my business (JibberJobber.com) almost seven years ago.  I’ve learned that no matter how cool my stuff is I have to go out and find my customers.  I have to be able to communicate my value proposition to them. I have to help them understand why they want to buy my stuff.

Sit around and apply online and you are not much better than the “build it and they will come” strategy.

What are YOU doing to proactively get results?