Gorilla 911 Career Emergeny

“The company no longer has need of your services”

At least I think that’s what they said, can’t be too sure over the roaring sound in my ears. Still the very proper manager, sitting next to the properly sad looking HR person was a pretty dead giveaway. One of those things you know is coming the minute you walk into the room. 

I was out of a job… My brain tried to process  this as I walked in a daze back to my office. The security guard was keeping a respectful distance, but I could feel her presence as much as I felt the lack of weight of the badge no longer hanging from my belt.

Turning the corner I could see movement in my office. The company had already sent movers to clear out my office? Why were they wearing Day-Glo safety vests? What in the world did ECT mean? And most important why were the two figures gorillas?!?

I recognized the first gorilla immediately, despite the neon yellow vest. It was Hogarth, my personal gorilla (like Harvey the Rabbit, only mine is an 800 pound gorilla). Hogarth had his hairy fingers on my cell phone and was consulting a wrist watch like he was taking my phones pulse. The other gorilla was a bit light in color, kind of a deep grey instead of the charcoal black of Hogarth. This gorilla had a stethoscope to the screen of my computer.

The greyish gorilla turned to Hogarth and said “Linkedin profile is offline, should we start CPR.” As soon as he spoke I recognized him. Stanley? What was my old friend’s gorilla doing here?

Hogarth interrupted my thoughts. “Patient’s contacts are thready and non-engaged. I agree, we need to start immediate Career Panic Reset, get the crash cart.

I opened my mouth to speak but before a single word escaped a high pitched tone filled the room. Hogarth turned to Stanley and spoke in a rushed tone. “Career is flat lining, I’m going to need 20cc of social network stat and we better start an IV drip of phone calls.” Stanley made busy inside a garish carpet bag while Hogarth consulted a clipboard with a familiar looking document on it.

“Hey, is that my resume?”

Hogarth looked up, still speaking the Stanley. “It’s worse than we thought, no resume update since 2010. CPR may not work, get me a shot of adrenaline.”

“Hogaaaarth, I’m not dead!” I shouted.

Hogarth looked me up with what could only be described as an incredulous stare, “of course you’re not. If you were dead no one would have called the Emergency Career Technicians and we wouldn’t have to worry about the sorry state your new job readiness is.”

“What? This is not a project. I’ve been laid off. Of course I’m not ready to be laid off!”

Hogarth gave a deep sigh and looked at me with huge, sad eyes.  “No, you’re not. But you should be…”

Sigh… I can’t really argue with him on that.

Are you ready for a career emergency?

If it hasn’t happened to you, odds are high that in your life you will be laid off (or even fired) once in your career. Odds are pretty much equally high it will be more than once if you work in any of the volatile industries like high tech, automotive, manufacturing, health care, BioTech, construction… (You know what? Maybe I should be listing the safe industries, the list is a lot shorter). All too often the layoff is something you have absolutely no effect over. If an entire division is being eliminated, you could be the next Steve Jobs and you’ll still be getting a package like everyone else.

So what can you do? Sure it’s 911 time (The number you call in the United States when there is an emergency), that doesn’t mean it’s time to panic. Even if you’ve been caught totally flat footed, you can still take control right away and do some simple things fast to put the fires out and rebuild. Better yet, start doing all this stuff now. Only your actions can develop career life insurance.

A Disclaimer on Advice: Old readers know that I have never made any pretense that the advice I give is whole cloth. While I have the occasional gem of an idea, more often than not even those are already good ideas more learned people than I have taught or written on. More often the advice I give is just distilled down for easy consumption. I like to think of Hogarth and I as the gateway to a better way of doing things. We make it easy to find and learn how to be a better worker, manager, team member, program manager, manager.

 Online Presence Emergency Makeover:

Welcome to the 21st Century! It doesn’t matter if you have created an online presence, you have one. The question is, “are you in control of it, or is it in control of you?”.  Even if you work directly with your personal network (You have one, right? No? Read the next bullet then) your online presence will still be a factor in your being hired.

  • Linkedin: Dead simple, have one. If you don’t have it, create it now and start reaching out to colleagues. One of the first places recruiters and hiring managers go now is to Linkedin. People you meet professional at work or at professional events (meetups, conferences, etc.) will look you up here. A sizable number of companies are using LI as their primary recruiting tool and pool of candidates.
    • If you send an invite, always personalize. It doesn’t take much effort and you are creating a personal connection view people in LI bother with.
    • Full profile, including the photo (see below).
    • Your Linkedin isn’t your resume, don’t just copy your resume. Instead use LI to tell more of a story. Make them want to know more about you.
    • Setup Pulse- It’s a way to have automatic subjects to talk to people about.
  • Social Networks: Linkedin is a must, see above. After that it’s all optional. However there are guidelines.
    • A Presence is Good: Especially is you work in anything to do with technology, bio, pharm or medical having a strong online presence shows that you are part of this century. I know, I know, the Apollo program put men on the moon without email, why do I need a Google+ account? Because perception is everything. That doesn’t mean you have to hang our life on the line.
    • Public Profile: Linkedin is public, so be comfortable with anything there being seen by a potential employer. Doesn’t mean you have to be a wilting violet and have not opinions. Just be comfortable with it and stay away from national or global controversial topics.
    • Private Profile: Facebook, Instagram, and Pintrest are examples of private networks. These are places where you connect and communicate with friends and family. These are the places you setup your profile as private. It’s no employers business what you do on your weekends, but if you don’t make it private, they will know. Just remember your profile picture is ALWAYs public, so make sure it’s something you’re okay with a potential employer seeing. A picture of you in shorts and sunglasses is fine. You chugging a beer, not so much.
  • Own your Google: Go to Google and type “Your Name” in quotes. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. Done? Okay, good. If you don’t either own or are 100% comfortable with the first two pages of a Google search on your name then you need to fix it. This is not hard, you don’t need to pay someone to do it and you don’t need to be a tech expert. Now this can be harder if you have a common name, but remember it doesn’t have to be all you, you just have to be happy with the search results. If you have the same name as a famous quarterback and he’s getting good press, awesome. If, like a colleague of mine, you have the same name as an IRA terrorist from the last century, you need to work a little harder to control the google search on your name.

Some quick tips are:

    • Social Networks: Even if you don’t use them and keep them locked down, having an account on the regular social networks is going to help. I have accounts on Google+, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter, that’s four Google searches right there or almost half a search page. Just follow the advice from above.
    • Share Linkedin pulse stories: You’ve got the account. Now set up your preferences on Pulse and at least twice a week share an article you read there.
    • Comment on publicly visible blogs and news articles: Google searches on comments so if you use your name when you post, they will show up in your search index.
    • Start a blog: This can be a little more time intensive as you need to commit to updating it. That said, barrier to entry is easy these days. Even a Tumblr or  Instagram account can work well. Posting wise sayings from other people can be enough to count.
  • Own your image: Just like you need to own your Google, you need to be happy with the images associated with your name. This is mostly done by controlling your online networks (see above), here are just some focused reminders.
    • Make it easy: Check out my Linkedin profile. My profile image is less than a year old. Sure it shows the gray in my beard, but do a Google search on me and you’re bound to find a picture of me anyway. So the first advice is to make it easy for hiring managers to find out what you look like. If you don’t, then either they’ll go looking or they will assume you have something to hide. Does this suck? Sure. Doesn’t it make it easier for managers to discriminate on <insert Demographic>? Sure. And there is nothing you can do to stop that. You need to use your network to get past these issues, not hide your face since they’ll see it eventually.
    • Keep your private photos private: This goes back to your private networks, but needs to be stressed. Make sure when you post photos online that you keep them private. You don’t want that picture of you at a Christmas party with a martini and a glazed expression being the first thing a potential hiring manager sees.

Manager Tools: Interview Podcast Series, Resume Workbook, Failures Chapter 3: Career Crisis.

Manager Tools has been one of my go to resources since 2009. MT has won The PodCast Awards‘ Best Business podcast 5 of the 8 years the award has existed and in 2008 won People’s Choice (in the rarified company of “MuggleCast” and ESPN Fantasy Football”). With 25 years of proven management consulting just in the lead founder, the free podcasts, premium products and conferences are worth their weight in gold. I personally have used MT and CT products and casts to get my last two jobs as well as be highly successful in those jobs.

In this case three key tools will be of use to you:

  • Resume Workbook: $29.95 download with an hour long how to video. Learn to make resumes in an effective and proven way, not the way recruiters with a year’s experience advise you to use.
  • Interview Podcast Series: I believe it’s $199 right now, but it is absolutely worth the price. I’ve used the Manager Tools interview method to get my last two jobs. It works.
  • Failure Chapter 3: Career Crisis – A two part podcast on their Career Tools cast, it came out in January of 2015 (the month before this blog). It’s a great place to start on what you should do Right Now. To sum it up…
    • Get on the phone the minute you are out of the office. Just start calling the people you can think of right away. But for gorilla’s sake, start with your spouse/partner if you have one.
    • Make a list of everyone you know (not just who is in your Linkedin) and start contacting them. The people with a good relationship, call, everyone else, email.
    • Take control of your budget. If you don’t have six months of savings, start figuring out what you don’t need so you can make it to the next job. Six month job searches are pretty common these days.

Wrap up:

This isn’t just good advice for a career in crisis. If you practice preventive medicine you won’t need the ECT to use cardiac paddles on your career.


Joel and Hogarth

Gorilla Spam- Not appetizing, Not good practice

Or- How not to be a Twitter Sinner

Matthew W. Jackson

Photo by Matthew W. Jackson

My computer finished resuming with a happy chirp. In seconds it was pulling down data from the internet and my applications were all madly updating. Taking a slug of coffee I popped open Tweetdeck and looked to see what gems the night’s rest had produced. Two minutes later I’d already pushed out at least a dozen retweets, it was a banner day for tweets.  

“Whoa there, Tex, slow down with that keyboard. Do you know how fast you’re tweeting there?” 

I didn’t bother to look at Hogarth. He was no doubt looming behind me with a disapproving scowl on his face, that’s what a gorilla in the room does. I shrugged, “about a dozen in the last two minutes.” 

My gorilla stepped close enough for me to see his reflection in my monitor. He was counting on his fingers. “About a dozen? So you’re saying that you are pushing out a tweet every 10 seconds? You do know that it takes on average five to eight seconds just to read a tweet? You actually want people to pay attention?” 

“Hogarth,” I said. “I’ve got just a few minutes to retweet here, before I have to get to work. I have to go fast.” 

Hogarth grunted. “You remember Tommy, the engineer?” 

I shuddered, “Oh god, he used to write emails in the middle of the night. By the time I got in the office, I’d have twenty emails from him.” 

Hogarth nodded. “And how many of them did you read?” 

Ouch…  Okay, Hogarth had a point. I threw up my hands, “Okay, fine! So I I’ll cut back to one tweet a minute.” 

I turned back to my computer. Giving a sigh I watched my clock tick down a full sixty seconds. As the second hand swept past the 12 I clicked on a tweet and selected the retweet option. With a satisfied grunt I hit enter. “There!” 

“Don’t you even read them?” 

Shaking my head, I said “These are pure gold, I only follow the best, I don’t need to actually read them.” I pointed at my screen, “Look at this one. It’s from @PMUberGuru. This guy pulls down high five figures for a one hour speaking engagement. I don’t need to read his stuff, it’s guaranteed to be good stuff!” 

Hogarth gave a grunt of surprise. “Well that’s interesting.” 


“This email I just got,” Hogarth said.  

I spun about in my chair, “what email?” I began only to stop before I finished the thought. 

Hogarth had a banana shaped device in his hands. It was lying flat in his palm and split open down the middle. He pointed at the device.”iBanana,” 

Giving me enough time to roll my eyes he continued. “It’s an email from @PMUberGuru. Seems his Twitter account was hacked and the hacker sent out tweets pointing to some really nasty malware web sites. You know the kind, soon as you hit the page its trying to convince you your computer crashed or something, just click this button to reboot your computer.” 

The sheer insanity of Hogarth using a banana shaped phone was quickly shoved to the side as the full impact of his words sunk in. 

“Oh…. Crap…” 



Are you a Twitter spammer sinner? 

TSSS- Twitter Spammer Sinner Syndrome. So like any good, social media using, project manager I follow the #PMOT hash tag. It has been a source of some truly great project management insights. Unfortunately, I often wonder if it is worth the effort. Much like a needle in a haystack, you have to really hunt for those gems. And when I have to hunt for useful information in a Twitter feed, then it’s not really worth it. 

One evening I was working late. I could tell that this one project manager had just fired up his computer (maybe in meetings all day, maybe he’s in AsiaPac). In the course of five minutes he’d retweeted close to thirty tweets.  With the settings on my Tweetdeck that meant that just about when one tweet was fading from my screen, it was replaced by another (I’ve since change Tweetdeck to only show new tweets every ten seconds and am considering disabling notifications all together). At that point I’d had enough and I closed my Tweetdeck. When I fired it up the next morning and scrolled back through #PMOT there was an hour’s time period where this PM was the only tweets on the hash tag and there were a lot of them. 

You know what happened? I don’t even give his tweets a second glance and I certainly have no plans to ever follow him directly.  When I see his picture, I just look to the next tweet. He may be a truly brilliant project manager, but he spammed me and that’s just not okay. 

Spamming is the first sin of Twitter. 

I think there are at least two other cardinal sins and I’m not alone: 

Sin #2: Multi Blasting

Irene Koehler first put words to this sin for me. In her blog, “Connecting Twitter to LinkedIn: Just Say No,” she gives an impassioned argument on why you shouldn’t have your tweets automatically post to LinkedIn.  I can’t agree with her enough on this and it also goes for doing the same with linking tweets to Facebook. It is not uncommon that if you are following someone in one Social Media, you follow them other places. They are all different communication methods and the last thing I really want to do is see the exact same post in LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. 

More importantly, LinkedIn is about professional status and networking. I do not need to know where you just had dinner. I’ve removed people from my LinkedIn network for this. 

Related to this is Foursquare. I’m not on Foursquare. I don’t want to be on Foursquare and I absolutely don’t care if you just became mayor of Costco. If I want to follow your Foursquare progress, I can add a Foursquare thread to my Tweetdeck. I’ve unfollowed people who tweet their Foursquare. 

Sin #3: Twitter is not a bulletin board

I hadn’t even realized this was bothering me until I read Tim Tyrell-Smith’s (Tim’s Strategy web site for career tips and advice) recent blog; “Don’t Follow Me on Twitter – Talk To Me 

Tim points out this sin wonderfully well, but I’d like to offer up an analogy of what is going on here. 

I walk into a coffee shop. Ignoring all the patrons in the shop I wander over to the bulletin board and tack up my lost dog poster. Then I walk out of the coffee shop and go repeat the process at a half dozen other shops. Meanwhile, back in the coffee shop, a lady finishes paying for her coffees and heads out to her car where her husband waits. I helpfully hold open the door for her, before heading off to my next place to post flyers.  When she gets into the car, she asks her husband “so should we make flyers for this found dog?” The dog in the back seat just wags his tail.  

Twitter is becoming the bulletin board of the internet. People don’t post to have conversations, they post to convey information. They use it as a sign post to their blogs (I have been guilty of this). Instead of being a destination, Twitter are the signs on the side of the freeway. Gas, Food, Lodging, Blog posts… 

I maintain two Twitter accounts, one is for my professional project management and the other is a cross between personal and for my freelance fiction writing. As I examined my two accounts I found my professional account was filled with sign posts. Whether it was myself or the people I follow, the tweet feed was filled almost completely with posts to other places. There are no conversations. In contrast, my private feed is filled with dialogue, interaction and “community.” 

Twitter has the potential to be a powerful communication medium. Unfortunately we are in danger of it turning into a mind numbing information pipe. Ever heard the expression, drinking from the fire hose?   

Make Twitter, “cocktails with friends”, not, “drinking from the fire hose”. 

Leave the Spam to the professionals:

Joel Bancroft-Connors
The Gorilla Project Manager
Want me to talk to your gorilla? Send me an email
You can follow me on twitter, @JBC_PMP