Q & A With Jason Alba: The Inside Skinny on Using LinkedIn to Accelerate Executive Job Search

by Meg Guiseppi on November 17, 2008

Jason Alba is the CEO and creator of JibberJobber, a powerful free-for-life online tool that helps you manage your career – from job search to relationship management to target company management – and much more.

After a corporate downsizing impacted Jason in 2006, he experienced firsthand the difficulties of conducting a job search. Drawing on his extensive computer software and IT experience, Jason analyzed the job search process and developed JibberJobber.

With the second edition of Jason’s book, “I’m on LinkedIn – Now What???”, due out any minute, I wanted to check in with him to find out what’s new in the new book and ask him to share some of his tips on extracting the best value and leveraging LinkedIn for executive job search.

What new information and features will we find in the second edition of your LinkedIn book? Do you share any new tips about using LinkedIn and getting the most out of it?

When I started the second edition I had two goals: to clean up the content from the first edition, and to update anything that needed updating because of technology changes in LinkedIn.  I actually rewrote the entire chapter on Groups, and changed chapter 10, which used to be called “Services” and is now called “Companies” … aside from that, there are content and tip updates and changes to just about every chapter – at least 500 edits went into this book!

Many CEOs and top-level executive job seekers who come to me have never heard of LinkedIn and don’t understand the importance of social media in today’s executive job search. What can you say to them about the value of LinkedIn?

Well, first, you aren’t alone… but I strongly encourage you to get on the ball.  Your competition (probably younger) is participating in social environments like LinkedIn, and many recruiters depend on LinkedIn to find talent.  If you aren’t there, you aren’t being found, but your competition is.  Also, doesn’t it make sense to understand the current landscape?  Not having a LinkedIn profile or strategy kind of tells me you don’t really care about the current landscape … so what other current things are you going to be behind on?

Do you have any sage advice or words of encouragement for those who aren’t particularly tech savvy and baffled by today’s job search 2.0?

Two things: First, take it one step at a time, and second, realize that 9 out of 10 hyped things aren’t critical.  If you do NOTHING else, you need to have a LinkedIn Profile and strategy.  I think the next most important thing an executive could do would be a professional blog, like those I recognize in my monthly You Get It award, but I realize that’s a commitment.  Applying Pareto, I’d say you are 80% there if you just have your LinkedIn strategy in place. 

How important has LinkedIn been for you in building JibberJobber and your personal brand?

It’s been pretty cool to grow my network and develop relationships with people I never would have come across.  I have met people critical to the future success of JibberJobber and my business through LinkedIn, and over time we’ve been able to nurture our relationships.  Of course, during this time I stay on-brand with my messaging to remind them who I am, what I do, and I’ve seen them advocate for me because they know my brand well.  Just having a network doesn’t do it, you have to put your brand in front of your network regularly.

What kind of results are you seeing for your own LinkedIn efforts?

I have a 5 year plan with JibberJobber and have made contacts with people who will play a significant role in that plan.  Aside from that, I’ve been able to expose my book and I’m sure make sales because of my LinkedIn strategy, as well as become branded as a LinkedIn expert for speaking and consulting.

What is your regular routine with LinkedIn? Are there certain things you do each time you log in? Do you update your profile regularly?

There are a few things on my Profile that I put in place once, and I’m good with that.  Like, my vanity URL (linkedin.com/in/jasonalba), and my websites, and my picture.  Aside from that, I finally updated my Summary and feel good about that.  I don’t expect to change my Profile for quite a while, and I don’t think people need to after they get it done right.  Aside from that, I export my contacts and import them into JibberJobber so I can manage the relationships better, I participate in Answers, and I have started to participate in Group Discussions. If my network were small I would work on growing it strategically.

What are the biggest mistakes people make with their LinkedIn profiles?

Too little information.  I hate going to a Profile and seeing nothing there.  I want something compelling, something credible.  Sell me on your value, no matter what you do or what your situation is.  You are probably well-accomplished… I want to read that on the Profile without having to go to Google to learn more about you.  Aside from that, if you aren’t actively involved in communicating with your network, you are missing a huge opportunity to create evangelists.

What is the most important thing to do with LinkedIn for personal branding and job search?

Again, make sure your Profile is as good as it should be for who you are.  And then, use LinkedIn as a tool to help you nurture relationships and make connections.  Don’t treat your LinkedIn connections like you treat that stack of business cards on your desk … nurture relationships!

Do you have any special tricks to share about taking advantage of all that LinkedIn offers?

If you want to be proactive, participate in Answers and Group Discussions.  It’s an excellent way to get your name in front of your network, and their contacts.  Make sure you are not spamming, rather you are adding value to a discussion.  Also, if you want to get a lot of value out of searching on LinkedIn, consider Shally’s cheatsheet, which you can find at the top of my ImOnLinkedInNowWhat blog.

What was the biggest lesson you learned when faced with your job search in 2006, that can help others? How were you able to turn around your failing job search?

Many lessons. One was that my resume sucked.  It looked good, and everyone thought it was great, but in the end, it wasn’t getting me interviews.  I should have realized there was a problem in that part of the job search process and gotten help right away.  Another lesson I learned was that sometimes life has a way of changing plans on us.  I had my career goals mapped out, and thought I knew how to get to where I wanted.  And then I ended up being an entrepreneur, which is something I had wanted to do but didn’t think I would be able to do.  It was scary and exciting, and a path I didn’t think was possible, but it happened. Maybe your next step will be something totally unexpected.

Tell us about the benefits of JibberJobber for managing executive job search and overall career management?

I refer to JibberJobber as a career management tool, because we are in transition so frequently.  We need to manage relationships, going beyond just tracking phone numbers and email addresses.  JibberJobber is to you what salesforce.com is to a sales professional, and you should use JibberJobber during your entire career (even between job searches).  Aside from the critical relationship management, JibberJobber allows you to do other things that Meg would recommend, such as manage your “target companies”, log important accomplishments in a job journal, wordsmith your response to “tell me about yourself”, etc.  We’ve taken as many ideas from career and networking professionals as we could and created a place to actually do what they tell you to do.

Jason Alba specializes in social media, with an emphasis on getting professional or business value out of various social tools. Along with managing JibberJobber, the gold standard in career management technology, Jason maintains four blogs, including the JibberJobber blog, and is co-author of I’m on Facebook – Now What???

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bert DuMars November 23, 2008 at 8:59 pm

Thank you for posting this excellent Q&A. I have been on LinkedIn for several years now and have found it to be an extremely valuable place to present my skills, experience and accomplishments. It is also a great place to keep up with your professional network. The new Apps features on LinkedIn are also another great way to keep up with you network and communicate what you are currently working on. Great post.

http://www.linkedin.com/in/dumars

2 Meg Guiseppi November 24, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Hello Bert,

I appreciate your kind comments. I was thrilled to do the Q&A with Jason, who is truly a LinkedIn expert, and has been so generous and supportive to me as a colleague in the careers industry.

Just as you experienced, my executive clients have had great success with LinkedIn, once we got them on track with a brand-driven profile.

Glad you’re happy with the new LinkedIn Apps. I need to get on board with them myself.

Hope you’ll stop by again,

-Meg

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