Secrets of the Job Hunt


Monday, May 22, 2006

5 Questions for Jason Alba, founder of the Job Search Management Tool: JibberJobber

Last week I posted an item about JibberJobber, a new job search management tool for job seekers. Today it's time for a brief interview with its founder, Jason Alba. I think you'll find his story an interesting one.

1. What is your background and why did you create this tool?

I have a CIS degree and an MBA from Idaho State University. I had a rich internship with Simplot programming on their intranet, and had my first professional job before I had my degree. My last role was as general manager for a small IT company in Utah. I was laid off with a very small severance package, and hardly any notice. It was embarrassing and hurtful, but I soon came to realize that there is this massive underground of people that have lost their jobs (and are looking) and people who have lost their jobs in the past and are very empathetic to us jobless folks ;) I wasn't even sympathetic before because I had worked very hard to get great credentials, including cool job titles (CIO, VP, GM, etc.) and my degrees. I knew we had a great job market, so if you couldn't get a job, it must be your problem. Boy was I wrong.

This site came from a simple spreadsheet that I created to manage my job seek process. I had about 100 prospective employers, 29 recruiters and 7 job boards that I was communicating with. It was very confusing to keep track of all of these contacts, even with my spreadsheet. One day I realized that having something like the spreadsheet, but web-enabled, would be so powerful because of some of the features of the web (access it from anywhere, interface with an e-mail server, etc.) Because of my last 8 years doing Internet applications, from idea to market, I knew what it would take to put this together, and I went for it. Oh yeah, and not getting any calls back from the places I put my resume in kind of nudged me to think of a Plan B.

2. whats the best feature in Jibber Jobber?

The best feature is.... hm.... If I had to pick a "feature" I'd say it is the ability to "track a job posting", which is done in the company logs. Imagine this - you have a company that you want to work for, say American Express. You hear about a new posting they have - Director of Customer Solutions. Go into JibberJobber, go to the American Express company page, and add a new log entry that says that you are applying for the Dir. of Customer Solutions job. Then, any time that you do something for that posting, like send them a resume, or when they e-mail you info back, you can log that. The ability to track the process of a job posting that you are applying for is really cool.

Well, maybe the best feature is the networking management. I didn't realize this but I've since found out that 60% - 80% of jobs leads, and job offers, come from your networking. JibberJobber allows you to have your personal network contacts (you can share network contacts, but you don't ever open your network up to anyone... there is no way I'd open my entire network up to anyone), rank the strength of your relationship with them, as well as make goals to cultivate the relationships. For example, if I just met someone, I put them in as a "one star", but I have a goal to develop my relationship, JibberJobber can help with that. Also, the networking allows you to see the degrees of separation that you have with network contacts. If you print off a degrees of separation report and take that to your coach, and all of your contacts are the first degree, that is a major red flag -- while you may have a lot of people in your network, you are not asking them for more referrals -- you aren't using your network effectively!

3. Can you explain what parts are free and what features are paid?

On the bottom of the website there is a Premium Features link, which is continually updated. Here is the philosophy behind the free / paid model. First, I don't have the money to pay for something like this, and I think that many job seekers don't. However, I want to allow people to have access to a very cool and functional set of tools. Therefore, as a regular user, you can organize your prospective employers, track your network, access the library, put your documents in, see reports, etc. It is quite functional. For people that realize how powerful this is, and those that want more features, they can upgrade to a premium account for just $9.95/month. This will give them more convenience (like, action items will be e-mailed to their accounts), more reports (like, a phone list from their contacts, or a Job Posting report to show them all the jobs they've applied for, and where they are at with each posting).

Premium users get a site-wide search that searches on all of their data at once, the ability to categorize interview preparation answers / questions, a personal library, and a number of other things. I have a list of some great features that will be coming out in the next month or two that I've gotten from career professionals. This is all simple, easy, common sense stuff, but JibberJobber puts it all in one easy-to-use place for the job seeker.

4. What kinds of mistakes do you see job seekers making these days when it comes to finding work?

I would have hated to hear this three months ago, because I cringed when I had to think about it, but people don't spend enough time networking effectively. Networking should not make you cringe. It is just about developing relationships. It is about figuring out what you can give to others, not just what they can give to you. Face it, you will have job changes. You are the product that you'll be selling until you retire. You have to figure out what your "elevator speech" is, and get very comfortable sharing it. There are many ways to build your network. Most everyone has a network, but they think that because they don't go to after-hour networking meetings they aren't connected. Not true! Also, I've heard many people say that they are uncomfortable talking with people about job opportunities, etc. Well, just develop a relationship with them. Don't hide your objectives, but don't keep a single focus of "what can you offer to me?" either. The longer it takes you to develop your network, the longer it will take you to develop true, personal job security.

5. Do you have any other job search advice for my readers?

Here's my advice to your readers that are looking for a job because they have been laid off, fired or downsized: Don't take it personal! You are just proof of the statistics! Everyone is supposed to change jobs every 2.8 years or whatever. Now that you have had this experience (if it is your first time), you need to realize that it will happen again, and you must figure out how to be as prepared as possible! Make contacts, cast your net wide and develop a strong network. Start today, go ask your friend "who do you know that works in x industry? Starting today is much better than starting when you lose your job! Once you develop a relationship, track it - whether you use a post-it note or JibberJobber, you must track and cultivate that relationship! You never know when you'll need it. One great way to cultivate a relationship is to find out how you can help them. If you help someone now, you'll have a serious advocate when you are in need.

My advice to your readers that already have a job is this: Prepare now! I should not have been laid off, but I was! I strongly believe that you should do your job 110%, but don't believe that you are creating job security! There is no job security -- my degrees, past experience and job titles provided me no job security, and they didn't get me the interviews that I thought I would get. When the time comes, if you are prepared, it will be less scary.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good advice to look for a job while still employed. I'm going to take it and start looking today. I've been doing my job 110% to no avail. Thanks Jason. NIHer