Monday, June 2, 2014

Get Involved

It’s not just me that believes this. There are plenty of people, especially in the technology communities that have seen involvement change their lives and boost their careers.

Scott Hanselmen and Rob Conery have worked to produce a video with Pluralsight that talks about the ways you can enhance your career by getting involved and engaging with peers.

Here’s the teaser:

Watch it at Pluralsight.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Free Images for your Blog

If you’re blogging, and you should try it, you might try spicing up some of your posts with images. I ran across this post with a number of sources for images.

Here are places they recommend:

There are more, so check out the post.

Note that most of these places let you use photos for non commercial use. That means if you’re consulting or selling services, you can’t use them. However if this is your private blog about your career, check them out.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Be Professional

I try to emphasize this multiple times in my talk, even though it’s obvious. The reason is that people sometimes forget to be professional when they’re trying to stand out.

I’ll admit this can be a fine line, but if you have doubts, get opinions from your partner, your parents, your kids, your friends. You want to look like you can do the job well, in whatever industry you are working.

What It Means

Being professional means a number of things. It means that whenever you are presenting yourself, whether on the phone, on a blog, during an interview, you are doing these things:

  • Stay on topic
  • Be respectful
  • Be polite
  • Be honest

Staying on topic means sticking to relevant topics about your career or industry. You can relate other experiences, but the important part is sticking to the topic.

Being respectful means that you understand the other person’s point of view, or other points of view, and you appreciate how those views, solutions, decisions are reached. You might feel they are wrong or inappropriate for the situation, but you both understand that you could be wrong yourself, and the person might have made their own mistake. It means appreciating the other.

Politeness shouldn’t be hard, but it’s following societal and cultural norms. Don’t interrupt, make some eye contact, be nice, shake hands. There are all sorts of social things here, and if you have doubt, do a little research. Ask friends or partners if you are impolite. This goes a long way towards showing that you can work with others. If you don’t want to be polite, remember that some people (like myself) will hold that against you in a job situation.

I don’t mean to put honestly last, or diminish its importance, but honesty in this sense means trying your best to do a good job at whatever you do. Don’t misrepresent your work or your skills. Accept responsibility for mistakes or delays. Perform an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Interviews and Hiring

T-SQL Tuesday is a blog party in the SQL Server community, where many people all write on the same topic on the same day each month.

This month’s topic is Interviews and Hiring, and it’s worth reading through the various posts that are linked as trackbacks or comments. Some interesting stories and views.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Branding Yourself for a Dream Job

Everyone wants a dream job that they enjoy going to each week. However finding that job, and getting yourself hired can be hard for most people. Steve Jones will give you practical tips and suggestions in this session that show you how to better market yourself, how to get the attention of employers, and help improve the chances that the job you want will get offered to you. Learn about networking, blogging, and more.

Learn practical tips on

  • Networking
  • Blogging
  • Volunteering
  • Speaking
  • Authoring
  • Leadership

This session has been delivered at many events in the past. It is scheduled for 2014 at:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Where to Blog

I'm going to assume for this blog that you have a few posts to publish. If you don't, then perhaps you should start by writing your first post. After that, get a few posts ready, then get a blog set up.

Options

There are a lot of ways to blog. If you're inclined, you can certainly setup your own site and code your blog, but I wouldn't recommend that. You won't keep up with the coding, and unless your intent is to showcase your code writing skills, you shouldn't spend time on this.

Instead visit one of these places and sign up for a free blog:

  • Wordpress - Very popular and I use them for one of my blogs
  • Blogger - Also popular, hosting this blog (for now).
  • TypePad - Not as popular, but a nice platform for sure.
  • Tumblr - Not for me, but some people like it

There are other sites I'm sure, but I'd suggest you just pick one of these. Sign up and then link your Live Writer to it.

Custom Domains

You can choose to get a custom domain if you want for your blog. A custom domain would mean that instead of voiceofthedba.wordpress.com, which is one of my blogs, I could use www.voiceofthedba.com. If you click on both links, they go to the same places.

Domains are available from GoDaddy, eNom, NameCheap, and more. You need to pay for one and then point the domain to your blog. It's an easy thing to do, but a little work. I'm not going to cover it here, but you can Google, check your blog host for instructions, or just buy the service from the blog host.

I might suggest if you want to just keep things simple that you build a short URL for your blog using something like Bit.ly. They'll let you build one like: http://bit.ly/voiceofthedba. Search for providers.

Promote

The last thing I'd make sure you do is have your pieces sent out to various social networking sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. so that someone that might have an interest in hiring you can find them easily. Most of the blogging platforms have plugins to do this for you, so search the help sections for your blog provider.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Writing Your First Blog

How do you write your first blog piece? Here's a few simple steps to get you started.

Set Aside a Time

This can be ad hoc, but I'd rather you set aside 15 minutes at least once a week. Make yourself an appointment. At lunch, at night, weekends, whatever. Just pick a time when you can spend 15 minutes writing.

Use a computer, or a pad of paper, but just give your blog 15 real minutes.

Get LiveWriter

If you're on Windows, use Live Writer. If you're not, a text editor works fine.

Pick a Topic

People always struggle here. I get it; it's hard to choose something. I've written about it before, but here's what I suggest to start..

What did you do in your career today?

You had to do something? Maybe you built something with code. Maybe you helped a customer. Maybe you pushed paper around in meetings and updating status.

No matter what it was, take a minute and think about what you did and what you think about it? Was it worthwhile? Did you use some skill you have? Did you make things move forward?

Write a sentence or two that describes what you think of the item you picked.

Just Do It

Whether it was positive or negative, you can stop and evaluate what you did and write about it. Put your thoughts on paper.

Focus on your topic sentence and then start writing. The main thing is to periodically look back at your topic and make sure you're writing about it. If you're not, move the irrelevant or related items to a new draft post.

Rinse and Repeat

Whether you get this done or not, leave it. Go back to it when you can, perhaps the next 15 minute session next week. Taking it slow means it's more sustainable. If you go faster and do more this week, don't be afraid to drop back to your 15 minutes if you get busy.

Review what you wrote and see if you can improve the spelling and grammar. Do a little self editing and see if your thoughts makes sense

Get an Editor

When you think your piece is good, use someone else as an editor and get their opinion. Pick your spouse or partner, a friend, a colleague, just get someone else to read it. Even if they don't understand the meaning of jargon or technical items, the piece needs to flow and make sense.

Make sure you buy them a coffee or beverage. You'll use them again.

If they think it shows something about your career, it's ready.

Save This Piece

I wouldn't recommend you publish this right away. Write 5 or 10 of these, and once you have them, you'll know how quickly you produce pieces about your career.

At that point, I'd schedule them if you want to publicly blog and use a schedule that allows you to keep going for a bit.

If you want them to remain private, then compile them in a folder, and zip them up. Also be sure you make a copy occasionally. Keep a copy of these handy in case you ever want to showcase your knowledge for a recruiter, client, interviewer, or anyone else.