I met Jason when he linked to one of my posts on career months ago. In our conversations, I learned that it was the difficulties of a job search he experienced first hand when he was downsized in 2006 that led to the creation of JibberJobber.com. Given his extensive software and IT experience, he was able to build a tool that was more suitable to managing not just a job search, but a whole career.
In many of your posts and talks, you draw a difference between career and job. Certainly things have changed in the last 5-10 years and we are drawing more security from our core skill sets and abilities than we are from any one employer - or we should. Do you still see a pervasive need to continue making that distinction between work and job?
Jason: Absolutely … I thought that the entire world was making this distinction as “job security” means less than it ever has, and I saw the message all over blogs and articles. It seems, however, that for every person who reads the blog, there are 999 people who don’t read, or think, about it. I don’t see anything in the future that would decrease the need for us to be career oriented, thinking about CEO of Me, Inc., and hope to see more people take this seriously.
There's also another curious thought I have about the future of work. More and more, I find that we are defined (we learn, grow, become more experienced) by project instead of by design. Do you find that to be true? Is a career now, in fact, a succession of meaningful and game changing projects?
Jason: A career should be defined as such a succession, because a project might be what you and I think, or what a professional does for 18 months at one company (instead of many projects, wrap it up as “helped XYZ company achieve …”). I read somewhere that the tenure of a CXO could be as short as 12 – 18 months… imagine changing jobs (unwillingly) every year! How do you define what you did? It was, in essence, a project. And you are collecting a string of this type of project work.
I hear this from many companies that are hiring today. Although there does not seem to be scarcity in the number of resume submissions, there is rarely a match for what they are seeking among them. Part of the question may be one of format - I've seen some great candidates show up with very poor resumes, and vice versa. The other part may be the fact that the hiring process is old and tired - we need to reinvent a new one. What is your take?
Jason: I’m disgusted in the hiring process. You may be the perfect “candidate,” but if you are missing on criteria they will discount you early on. I think it’s a shame that the hiring process is trying to be automated and efficient, and it is so problem-ridden. I’ve even heard of situations where HR has deleted all of the resumes they have on file just to clean it up and start over, not because they were junk, but because the HR person was overwhelmed and needed a fresh start.
These are not paper submissions, these are human beings, with families, bills, and talents. I have no idea how to really get beyond the issues, but I’ll say that this entire process is broken, not just with HR, but with job seekers, and recruiters, and interviewers, and hiring managers, and … yep, it’s all broken. That’s why we’ve seen all of these “solutions” pop up over the last year or two.
On the candidate side, I hear it continues to be difficult to run an organized job search campaign, if we should still call a job search a campaign.
Jason: It should be actually, if you are doing the job search right, this should be very hard to organize. Think about it – if it takes one month for every $10,000 in salary, you might be in a job search for over seven months, right? In those seven months you will have hundreds, maybe thousands of new network contacts.
How do you nurture those relationships, and know where you need to focus your efforts? Then, pile on all of the target companies, places you submit your resume, jobs you apply for… and the phone numbers, action items, dates, etc…. this is a lot of information that you should manage and track. And think of how valuable all of this information will be in your next job search!?
I know you created a tool to stay productive and on top of all activities. Is it easy to use instead on a spreadsheet? What are the benefits of using that system vs. an home grown one? Sell me!
Jason: When I was in my job search I used a spreadsheet to manage all of that information, and ensure that I did all the follow-up stuff you do in a job search or networking situation. Within about a month my spreadsheet had hundreds of line-items, and it was getting out of hand (especially as I started networking more).
I realized that a salesperson would never be able to run a successful campaign on a spreadsheet, and that is why there are products like Salesforce.com, ACT! and Goldmine… what if I could marry the job search process with one of those CRM tools? We built a website to do just that, which is JibberJobber.com. The free version of JibberJobber, which is available to you for life, is more functional and powerful than an Excel spreadsheet would be for most people. There is no sales jargon… it is a relationship management tool designed to help you manage your career.
If you want to upgrade you get a number of bells-and-whistles which aren’t necessary to do a job search campaign, but definitely help as you network and proactively manage your career relationships. You can, of course, go the “home-made” route, which I did, but when it gets frustrating, or you spend more time on design than on doing the job search, you’ll want something that is sophisticated, a long-term solution, and designed for you. That’s JibberJobber.com.
There's a lot of talk about specialization - being really good at something. Yet, when I see job openings, the descriptions are very general. Is there a disconnect, you think, between what we consider the jobs of the future and what companies still need?
Jason: Yes, I definitely think there is a disconnect. I think this is one of the “broken” things about the job search process. Job descriptions are biased with company culture and jargon, which might be meaningless to outsiders… how do you apply to a culture that you don’t know or understand?
In fact, I’m guessing that most hiring managers are not thinking about the line-items in a job description when they are hiring as much as “can this person do the most important job,” which might not be on the job description! It becomes the job seeker’s job to figure out what the hiring manager’s hot spots are (while still addressing the job description, especially if HR is involved in the hiring process).
One need just take a look at how social media is creating new opportunities for writers and publishers. Now we're hearing about community managers and even chief bloggers. Do you think those titles will take hold and stick?
Jason: I hope so… I am really impressed with companies that are doing this right, and really engaging a community in real conversation. It’s very consumer-oriented… I’m not sure too many companies are really ready for something like this. Kudos to those who are there, and moving forward!
After all, many of the white collar jobs we have today did not exist even a decade or two ago. Is change more rapid now? What would you suggest for individuals entering the work force today?
Jason: You have to think about this “flat world” thing, and how you are going to stay competitive over the course of your career. Think about your network, and the depth of the relationships, as this is going to be just as critical as knowledge or skills.
Become the CEO of Me, Inc, and do stuff a CEO would do: contingency plan, get a board of directors, strategize, grow and develop, prepare, etc. I think about how my career is different than what my son (who is now 7) will be faced with, and it’s a totally different world that we’re preparing him for.
What about mentors? Is it still important to have mentors to be successful? Do you have a mentor?
Jason: I have people who mentor me, but no official mentor or coach right now. It’s rather fluid – depending on what I need, I tap into my network to find someone who has already paved the way and can help me through an issue. Mentors are critical, and that’s one reason to grow and nurture your network.
Where do you draw inspiration?
Jason: From various sources. I have a vision of what JibberJobber could be, and what that would mean for me and my family. I am very driven by my users, who I know are career-oriented and passionate about preparing for their futures.
I get inspiration from companies I read about at TechCrunch, learning about what other entrepreneurs are doing, their successes and failures. I have about 30 career experts who have partnered with me and they are very inspirational and encouraging.
And, none of this would be possible if it weren’t for the support of my wife, kids and family. I’d stubbornly move forward, but they are so supportive and it’s great to not have to worry about them not having a vision that permits me to do what I do. Finally, I believe this is what I’m supposed to be doing, and that what I’m doing will really help people in a big way. I read somewhere that that’s a characteristic of entrepreneurs, so I’ll take it.
Thank you, Jason.
Recently, Geoff Livingston addressed how social media beefs up the resume. In my experience with hiring, the hardest part of reading someone's resume is figuring out what this person accomplished and the business results of those accomplishments - their story. I am still seeing piles of poorly written compilations of things a candidate has done, often in no particular logical order.
How about using social media learnings to clean up those resumes? If you've been looking for a job and wondering why you have not gotten calls, take the red pen and try an edit. You may get your resume noticed with tags, for example. What other elements of the world of social media can you utilize to refresh your resume and job search?
However, remember that the goal with your resume is sell me, not tell me.