Monday, November 10, 2014

Check Your Invitations

One of the most important things you can do for your career is to network with others in your area. You can do this in person, or online (or both), but be sure you keep up with your network.

One good way to do that is to be sure you are accepting links and invitations in whichever medium you use. If you are on LinkedIn (a great place), be sure that you review and accept your invitations every month (at least). On Facebook, accept friend requests, and on other platforms, accept the links.

You don't need to send a note to each person or follow up right away, but at some point you may want to, or need to, and it will be important that you have a large network ready.

How much review do you perform? I do none. I accept everyone.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Showcase Your Knowledge

I wrote a piece I called Challenge Yourself, and while it’s mostly aimed at technical people, I think it can apply to other professions.
I thought of it recently with my son. He’s in his last year of college and taking a GIS class. Part of the class is lots of lab work, creating maps from public data sets, which are the kind of data most of us deal with: a mess of numbers.
He often finds data that is incorrectly entered, formatted poorly, etc. He’s come to me for help with SQL and Python expressions that can help him transform and select data that I appropriate for his maps. A few times he’s had to write a mini-report on how he manipulates the data, but not always.
However as I was helping him, it occurred to me that if I were interviewing him for a GIS job next year, someone that has no experience, I’d want to get some confidence that they know how to work with ArcMap or other tools. A resume or a grade in a class doesn’t mean much. I have no idea of this involved anything complex, or just simple data loads.
If he had a blog, or a series of documents that explained how he built maps and manipulated data, then I’d feel better. I could talk about those tasks and skills in an interview, and use his documentation to drive conversation, as well as determine if he really knew how to work with the tools or not.
I’m sure other students could benefit from some effort to showcase their knowledge.Even professionals in positions could do this, showing that they are improving their knowledge, or even demonstrating the depth to which they know a subject.
Start a blog, or at least document your work.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Salary Survey 2015–Data Professionals

Some good stuff for data professionals in this look at the 2015 salary survey from Robert Half. I don’t know how widely this is across the US, or the variability, but higher salaries than I expected.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Great Interview Question

This piece is written for programmers, but the question may be a great one for other fields. If you are truly interested and excited about your career, it will show through.

Be able to answer this question if you are asked it.

My most recent job

A question I had recently during a talk was this:

"I worked for a long time for large company X, who many people have heard of. However I recently moved to small company y, which no one knows anything about. I'm looking to change positions. Do I include company y at the top of my resume or emphasize the work with company X??

It's an interesting question, and I have a few thoughts.

The first is that you or I can't necessarily build a resume that doesn't upset some recruiter, HR person, or hiring manager. There will always be people that expect a particular resume format and if you don't provide it, they dislike yours. I have seen people that expect a Summary at the top, your Education next, and then a reverse chronology of jobs, with the dates listed first and then the company name, with your title last.

I can't worry about those people, and honestly, if you're hung up on formatting, I may not want to work for you.

The second thing is that I would highlight my experience in a position or a project first, rather than worry about chronology too much. I would set a chronology on my profile (on a web page, CV, LinkedIn, etc.), but use the resume to convince someone that needs a person to do what I want to do, that I am that person.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Mentoring Experiment - Closing Thoughts

Andy wrote a post today called The End of the Mentoring Experiment, which is something we've talked about for some time. In fitting with the decision, and perhaps justifying it further, we decided to do this a few months back, but as with many things, we haven't gotten to it until today.

I remember when we started this, and we were very excited and interested. The first cycle of matches, using 8 people we hand picked, consumed a lot of time, and while it was successful, it was difficult to scale. We continued on a couple other cycles, trying to tweak to process a bit, but never found a way to manage this effectively, given other parts of our lives, and were never quite comfortable with automating too much of the experiment away.

We also struggled with the idea of accidently making some mistake, breaking someone's privacy, or causing harm to another's career or life. Andy wrote a few things about this, and it made sense to us.

We do believe in mentoring, and I hope that those of you looking to grow your careers take time to look for mentors. If you need advice or want help, ask. There are lots of people that will probably give you a little time. It's not a sign of weakness to need or want a mentor. It's a sign of maturity.

For those of you with some experience, keep an eye out for someone that might ask for help, or maybe just seem to be lost. Tread lightly, and carefully, but offer to be a sounding board if they'd like one. You can really make a difference in someone's career with a little effort.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Resume Templates

One of the things that I’ve been asked a few times is why don’t I present and give templates for a resume. Most of the reason is that when I show something, cut and paste in the technology business is far too common and I’ll send up with a large group of people using the same resume template and not thinking about how to stand out.

I’m rethinking that a bit, as it’s unlikely that many people will copy something directly, but I’m not sure I want to completely change. However I did see a link in the Brent Ozar newsletter for free resume templates, and I was intrigued. I looked over the list and have a few comments.

Demorfoza Template

I think the Demorfoza design is very clean and easy to read. It breaks things up nicely, but it seems more like an artist’s resume than a technical one. I can’t speak for other industries, but in technology where searching for skills is so prevalent, I don’t want any of my 30 seconds spent reading about skills shown in the upper right.

You might feel differently, especially with less experience. If I were to use this, I’d consider linking (or including a link) with my skills that might go to projects or blog tags that showcase that skill.

Ayoob Ullah Template

This template  is also very esay to read. I might move the “Languages/Skills” to the second page to keep it out of the reviewer’s eye. However the rest of the resume is very nice. Lots of white space, contact information set to the side and a clear space to catch the reviewer’s eye at the top.

Jonny Evans Template

The Jonny Evans template is very appealing to me. I like that the experience is large and centered in the middle. I’d probably be sure that I used this section to highlight projects more than jobs, showcasing skills.

I also like the “Profile” section at the bottom. I’m not sure I’d include a picture, but having a few ways to find out more about me is a good way to control what the reviewer sees. I might also put a summary of education at the bottom and use the “Education” section at the top to emphasize what I want to do.

The one thing I don’t like is the Personal details are a bit large at the top. I might put my name, contact info, and profile link there only.

Fernando Baez Template

This template didn’t do a great job of presenting itself, to me. All of the shots make it hard to read up close and get an idea of what I’d put in there.

That being said, it’s different. It uses graphics to stand out, and I suspect, it would be  challenge to put together. If I were hiring an artist, this would really stand out. For a technical person, I’m not so sure. All the graphs and image would seem to be more fluff and less substance to me.

If the images showcased some software the person had worked on, then I might feel differently, but I didn’t love this one.

Choose Your Own Style

All of these designs are very clean and easy to look at visually. I find them all much better than the standard templates that I’ve seen at so many career fairs and college offices. These stand out, and I would encourage you to choose some design that looks good.

However fill in the details your own way. Choose what you want to include, and that should be the things that showcase why you are a good hire. It’s not that you need to be the best at your chosen profession, but you want to display a high level of competence for the position. Whether that’s a junior or senior level position.