Has the economic downturn played havoc with your job applications?
Is your confidence eroding away as you unsuccessfully pursue job after job?
Joshua Waldman has the answers for you – and the answers to questions you’ve probably never even considered.
For Joshua Waldman, 2008 was not a good year. He was laid off twice, and while seeking interviews for new positions, decided to apply his knowledge of technology and social media to develop strategies for others. In 2009, he began his wildly successful blog, 'Career Enlightenment', in which he revealed the key principles for successful job hunting.
‘Career Enlightenment’ became a popular tool for finding information about how to conduct a job search online. Featuring Joshua’s articles and information from guest writers, it became the go-to place for anything to do with winning the perfect job. The blog’s success brought invitations to speak about current successful strategies for finding work and to train career coaches, job seekers, and those who mentor the unemployed.
Recognition of Joshua’s media and social networking success was the springboard for the publication of 'Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies', published in September, 2011. This inspiring book is now one of the ‘For Dummies’ group’s bestselling titles.
1. Your blog ‘Career Enlightenment’ changed your life. At the time you began, did you intend it to become a career change, or was it just something to do while you kept hunting for a regular job?
After the 2nd lay off, I knew I needed to regain control over my career. It was just nuts. 2009, and everyone is freaking out about the economy. I started following Pam Slim, Clay Collins, and was inspired by Tim Ferris’ book. I tried a few business ideas, but they all failed. And in order to keep my unemployment benefits, I had to keep looking for work.
So I decided to turn my attention towards that, finding another job. I didn’t want to build a business out of desperation. And all the stuff I was doing on social media seemed to be working really well in job search. Actually, it went too well. I wound up in job interviews so fast, that I was still visualizing what it might feel like to get laid off from yet another cool company.
I figured that a better use of my time would be helping other people get what I got until that point in time when I was emotionally ready for another job. I knew I could get a job anytime. But my mind was still messed up. The funny thing was that people who attended my trainings were getting hired like a snap. The frameworks I was teaching worked over and over again.
During a training with Pam Slim, I realized that my pass time was actually my heart-business. So I really put effort into building a blog with great content.
2. Did your layoffs have an effect on your confidence or did you regard them as an opportunity?
The layoffs devastated me. I could hardly sleep I was so anxious about my bills. I was the only bread-winner in the house. My wife was in school full time. I felt a deep sense of betrayal from corporate America. I would go for walks in the woods for hours, alone. And then when I got job interviews, I would play movies in my head about getting laid off yet again.
I think humans need a sense of control over their environment, to some extent. The layoffs stripped me of that sense. It took years to get over the pain. Today, I see them as a gift and I’m grateful that happened to me. I wouldn’t have discovered my love of public speaking, writing and training. I really do have a sense of gratitude, if you can believe that!
3. Did any particular person, book or website become a guide or mentor to you during your initial research and interviewing?
At the time, there was no one else teaching social media skills to job seekers. Sure you had your LinkedIn trainers, and your Twitter fanatics. But no one was translating this stuff for ordinary, freaked out, job-less people. They really needed this info. So I felt it was my mission to deliver it. I interviewed recruiters, job seekers, hiring managers, anyone I could. And the more I wrote and presented these topics, the clearer it became for me.
4. Your blog reveals that you are an accomplished writer. Did you have any journalism or specific training for writing for the web?
Ha, you should read some of the early blog posts I wrote. Terrible. The only way I got better at blogging was by blogging. I wrote 2-3 times per week. Each post required research or interviews. After a while, I found my voice.
Apart from that, I didn’t even like reading blogs! I found them to be rambling and amateurish, if not a little creepy. But as I got to be a better writer, my horizons opened up and I found blogs that were well written, authoritative and even enjoyable to read. Turns out I was just looking in the wrong places. The necessity of having to be a better writer made me seek out better writers, which made me a better writer etc.
Previous to blogging, the only writing I had done was in school.
5. What was one of the most difficult aspects of originally making a living from your blog?
That’s a huge question. But I guess if I could boil it down, it was figuring out what my business model is. Did I sell coaching? Early on, I picked up a couple of clients to help them with their job search. But I found the experience less than satisfying for me professionally. I didn’t want to do that with my time.
Did I have virtual products? I launched a product that was a lot of work to create. I learned how to do a product launch! But only made 11 sales. I realized that job seekers weren’t going to give me money. So who was. Well, it was going to be the college career counselors then. So I started marketing to professional associations who had job seekers as clients.
It took a long long time to figure out what my revenue mix was. Today, it’s a combination of paid speaking gigs, live trainings and product sales (physical products).
6. How did you begin marketing your services and establish yourself as a someone who had the recipe for success?
At first, I aligned myself with successful job seekers. I told their stories and modeled their successes on the blog. I developed frameworks, taught them and got testimonials from the people I helped. But the key to establishing thought-leadership was writing guest posts for well trafficked websites. I use a system that I developed to get each of my blog posts featured on a large job-search website or newsletter. The goal is to be everywhere.
7. Was there ever a time when you doubted your abilities to maintain the impetus of establishing and maintaining the blog?
I never doubted that. I knew I was passionate about this topic and I never seemed to run out of new article ideas. The only thing I doubted was my ability to make a living from it.
8. How and why did you make the leap from advising adults to working with students in college?
I don’t want to trade time for money, so coaching is not part of my business model. Job seekers have a lot of need but not a lot of means. The only other people in this market who do well have HUGE sales volume. I knew I couldn’t achieve that level of volume with no marketing budget. So I needed a sponsor for the information, and it made sense that college career centers make the perfect sponsor. They want their students to get hired. They are overwhelmed by this technology and can’t deliver the quality content that a specialist can. And they often have budget for training programs to help their students.
9. What aspect of your job do you find the most fulfilling?
I love that Ah-Ha moment. Last night I spoke at an event for administrative professionals. These are highly intelligent women who have been doing the same jobs for 5+ years. Most of them didn’t have LinkedIn profiles since they aren’t actively seeking work. By the end of my talk, I had convinced everyone who didn’t have one, to set one up, and everyone who did have one to spend time to improve it. That shift from resistance to acceptance and even enthusiasm drives me.
10. Your book, ‘Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies’, has proved to be a great success. Are there any more books in the pipeline?
I’ve got the 2nd edition in the works, which I start writing in December. I’ve written a Kindle book called, "A Student’s Guide To Surviving Facebook After College". Right now, my creative efforts are going towards developing a curriculum for the Portland area unemployment offices.
11. ‘Career Enlightenment’ is an inspired and interesting title for your website. How did you decide on it? Were there any other contenders?
I lived in Nepal for three years, I’m an avid meditator and a secular Buddhist. My very first book was a biography of a Tibetan meditation master called, "Hundred Thousand Rays of Sun: the Story of a Modern Chod Master". So the name Career Enlightenment was congruent with me, my values and what I felt like I was offering people. Though some people don’t like it or call it generic, I have no plans to change it!
12. Do you find it easy to attract guest posts that meet the same high standard as your own?
No. It really a mess out there. I have very clear descriptions of what I expect in a guest post and how to approach me. Most guest posters don’t even bother to read it. It’s mostly link bait, crappy posts that have little to do with my subject. One lady was so frustrating that I asked her to never email me again. She kept sending me titles that had nothing to do with my niche. When I found one that might fit, she sent the crappiest article I’d ever read. I gave her three chances. Now I don’t give people more than one.
My advice to anyone trying to get their articles on someone else’s blog: follow their instructions. Mine are simple and common, know my niche, send me three titles to choose from with summaries. When I pick one, send me the article with your by-line and an image. Simple. And don’t expect it to run right away. I’ve got content scheduled at least a month out. If you want it expedited offer to pay.
13. Your website has links to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Do you find this a worthwhile exercise? What benefits do you derive from such links?
I find the most value from Twitter. I have lot’s of followers and each week engage in several fun conversations with readers and potential business partners. At the very least, a social media blog should have links to social media!
14. What have you found to be the best ways to attract new readers and potential clients to your website?
Write good content. Let people know about it. Simple.
15. Your bio mentions your long-time interest in technology. What advice do you have for those who are not as techno-savvy as you, but want to begin an online presence as part of a serious job search?
You don’t need to be tech-savvy, a technophile or even a registered nerd. (Yes, I have my official membership card.) These tools are designed to be easy to use. The real issue for job seekers is NOT the technology but their emotional willingness to do what it takes to find work. You’ve got to be open to doing things differently, especially when you find out that the old way of doing things doesn’t work!
It’s insanity what some people continue to do. “Oh, I sent out 100 resumes and no one got back to me.” So they conclude that they suck or the economy sucks, depending if they are phsycotic or neurotic.
It’s a whole new world out there. Yes, you will feel culture shock. But get over it. Social media is the way companies hire. Plain and simple. Use social and get hired. Use resumes and stay frustrated.
My mission is to break down these tools so they are easy, fun and accessible. The next step is for the job seeker to pick up a copy of my book and follow the simple, step-by-step instructions. Soon, they will get hired and they won’t even know what hit them. It happens all the time!
Joshua Waldman is a blogger at www.careerenlightenment.com, a resource for job seekers looking for comprehensive information about conducting a job search online. You can also follow him on Twitter at @joshuawaldman