Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Don't Be Funny

I talk about this in my presentation, and it's time to write about it.

I've seen people try to be funny with sarcasm, irony, or jokes on their resumes. I've seen them try it in blog posts, and even in interviews. Surprisingly, the live attempts work the best because I usually have some context, some inflection and body language.

Trying to write humorously is hard. Very hard. Even when it works, it's often because the reader is being led down a certain path that provides them with a framework for the joke.

Most of you aren't funny at all. On your resume, when I'm in a frame of mind to evaluate your talents, it really doesn't work. You might get a smile or chuckle, but most likely I'll view you as not serious, and a bit of a crackpot. Most likely I'll just chuck your resume.

The one guy that tried to be funny, ended up really strange, and got an interview? We interviewed him only because we were wondering who would put that on a resume. We never had any intention of hiring him. I know, that was wrong and mean, but it happens.

Don't be funny. If you think you are, go to the local comedy club on Tuesday or Wednesday night for an open mike.

Be professional when you want a job.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Blogger Challenge

A friend of mine, Ed Leighton-Dick, challenged himself to blog this April, and extended the challenge to others. I think this is a great idea, and I'd urge you to take this on, no matter what your industry.

However I'll modify it.

If you haven't blogged before and you want to try this, do this in Word (or Notepad or somewhere else). I don't necessarily want you to publish these out for the world to see. Instead, I want you to send a weekly post, completed, to a friend. It can be a spouse, co-worker, college roommate, just someone else that can give you feedback.

Bonus points for sending it to two people.

Why Private?

A blog can really help showcase your knowledge and give your career a boost. Employers can learn about you, and if you're a good fit for their opening, they are more likely to call you. They can perform due diligence.

If you're good.

Being good at your job is hard. Being good at your job and good at communication is a step up, and writing can be a difficult way to showcase your skills. I get pieces all the time from professionals that know their jobs. They just don't express it well.

If you wish to give blogging a try, do it privately, but get feedback. Commit, make an effort, but do so in a controlled fashion.

Try

Take the challenge, and publish. Publicly or not, give it a try. Get feedback and comments, and learn. Even if you put your post out for the world to see, send a link to friends and ask for feedback.

You won't regret it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Branding Yourself for a Dream Job - SQL Bits XIV 2015

I'm heading back to SQL Bits XIV, the first week of March in 2015. I have a couple sessions, one of which is my Branding Yourself for a Dream Job presentation. I spoke to a packed room last year, and am looking forward to presenting again this year.

If you're in London on Mar 5th or 6th and want to learn a little about technology, as well as branding, register and come.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Caution While Posting

I've written about using "The Test" before posting (or emailing, or really committing anything to permanency. It's good advice, and I stand by it. However I saw a post about what not to post to social media, and I think this adds some depth to my advice.

It's a more formal view of social media, and it's written more for businesses, but anyplace where you see it asking about followers, replace that with "future employers". If you see "mission", then think about your brand instead.

Everything you do on social media reflects on you, and if you have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, etc. where you are trying to grow your career, make sure you stop and think about what you are posting and what it says about you.

In general, I'd limit my posts to thinks I've learned, things I've accomplished, things I've solved, things I've done well.

I'd leave out complaints and concerns regarding coworkers and employers.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Remember Who You Really Work For

I saw this on a post from Brent Ozar recently. It's a post of pictures from his company's vacation last year. There are two sentences. The first is that you should listen to a PSA that notes your company gives you vacation for a reason. However it's the ending line that stood out to me:

Remember who you really work for. Schedule your 2015 vacations now.

Who do you work for? You work for yourself, and you should remember that. By yourself, I mean you, personally, and your family. That's who you should put first and take care of, ultimately.

Employers come and go. Remember that and insist that you get your vacation time. Even if you want to sit in your house and stare at the wall, take the time.

Have I scheduled mine 2015? Not completely, but I did schedule a week with my son at Seabase for a Boy Scout trip. I'm also waiting to hear from my brother before we plan a larger family vacation. And, of course, I'm taking a few days in Jan and Feb to ski.

I haven't always used all my vacation each year, however I also get a lot of vacation by US standards. 25 days, so I often sell back a few to the company. However I have made sure I've used my vacation the last couple years and taken 20 days off.

Life is short. You work for you. Work on your career, but remember to take care of yourself (and your family).

Monday, January 5, 2015

Your Social Media Plan - Tips

I ran across a few tips from a friend of mine for social media success in 2015. It's a good list for anytime, not just 2015, but if you're going to use social media, it's a good set of guidelines for you.

The big things I wanted to point out were  that I do think it's important to pace yourself. It doesn't have to be as regular as a blog, but try to participate on some regular schedule. My posts go up and down, but I do try to regularly become a part of the interactions.

Please, please, watch what you say. This is an impression you leave and you want it to be a good one. Not too many black marbles.

Tim mentions that he purges negative influences. I try to be careful here. It's easy to surround yourself with "yes people" that echo what you think and believe. It can be about life, or about technology.

I do purge people that annoy me too much, but I also try to interact with, and follow/read people that I disagree with. It helps to keep perspective.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Long Range Planning and Execution

Let me tell you a story.

Years ago a friend was working in technology. This person had a great job, made lots of money, and was a success. They received unsolicited job offers, changed jobs a few times, and generally enjoyed their job.

However they weren't completely happy. Work was stressful, and more importantly, it wasn't fulfilling. What this person really wanted to do was work in another field entirely, one that required a substantial pay cut and self-employment.

With this person's family, they made a plan. It was a plan that crossed years, with quite a few changes. My friend paid for training. This person practiced skills for the new industry in their spare time. My friend worked part time in this new field, at night and on weekends, slowly trying to build a base.

More importantly, the family bought in and they slowly made financial changes, reducing debt and changing lifestyles to get prepared. The plan changed and altered over time as life often does.

This went on for years, over 5 of them.

Five years.

Eventually my friend reached a point where they made a change. This wasn't according to plan, in fact, the more formal version of the plan called for another couple years of work. However my friend decided it was time for a change.

After resigning, my friend started a new career and it's worked out well. I know, because this friend is my best friend, my wife.

We spent years planning for her to leave technology, and it was hard, it took focus and perseverance, and lots of patience. I would never have guessed this is how life would go, but it did. We initially planned for a year of her new career and then to evaluate it's feasibility. It's worked out well, and almost three years later, she's still enjoying her new career.

You can do the same thing. You don't have to leave technology if you don't want to, but I'd encourage you to pick the career you want. Maybe you'd rather be a DBA than a developer, or vice versa. Maybe you'd rather be a manager.

You worry about pay changes, or problems with your skills. Those are valid concerns, but not reasons to avoid making a change.

Life is short. Live the one you want.