Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Leaving Jobs

In the Brent Ozar newsletter recently, there was a post about the right reason to leave a job. It’s a short, interesting read, and one that I like.

This site isn’t about leaving an employer. It’s about building a brand to help you get the job you want. Maybe that’s a way to alter your current duties by showing you can do more. Maybe that’s about a promotion inside the company, or just a raise in your current slot. Maybe it’s because you want/need a new employer for some reason.

It’s up to you to decide, but I want you to be prepared when you choose to leave. That’s why it becomes important early to network, blog, learn, share, and do plenty to show you’re a great employee as a part of your current job. You never know when you’ll want to leave.

Hope for the best; prepare for the worst.. That’s the motto to keep in mind.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Manage Your Hours

One of the things that I try to do with this site is help people better market themselves for their next job or review. There are lots of ways to do this, but one way I wouldn’t suggest is to overwork yourself.

I note that it’s you doing this as you make the choice to work 60, 70, 80, or more hours a week. Very few jobs require this (there are exceptions), but many employers will gladly press you to work more if you allow this. I see far, far too many people that seem to be unable to push back when asked to work more and more.

There’s a BBC study that shows that working much more than others doesn’t pay off. I’d agree. Rather than work an extra 10 hours, what if you declined and spent that 10 hours learning, writing in a blog, practicing skills on a project? I think in a year you’d see a much greater return on your time.

You work for you. You should consider yourself a contract employee, even if you get a salary as a fulltime worker. Employers are not necessarily looking out for your best interest and can replace you easily. Many companies are loathe to replace workers, which is another reason you should not work an excess of hours as a general rule.

Always remember. Life is short and you work to live, not live to work.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Getting Started Blogging

It’s a new year, and the perfect time for you to start blogging about your SQL Server work. I think blogging is a great way to showcase your knowledge, and over time, this can become as important to your potential employers and clients as your resume or CV.

This post won’t look at what to write, but rather, how to get started. I’ve divided this up for people that might have written some technical articles and those that haven’t. If you have, feel free to skip the next section.

Starting From Scratch

If you’ve never really written a blog or technical piece, I recommend do this:

  1. Create a folder on a shared drive
  2. Open Word (or another WYSIWYG) editor
  3. Begin Writing
  4. Save the post you’ve worked on as 1_SomeTopic.
  5. Repeat, incrementing the number so you get files such as 2_OtherTopic, 3_ReallyInteresting, etc.

That’s it. Just begin writing. Don’t worry about publishing, don’t worry about anything else. Just get in the habit of putting some thoughts down on paper that talk about the work you do.

When you get 10 posts, you are ready to move on.

I would recommend you calculate the average time it takes for you to produce a post. This would be the rate at which I’d look to schedule my posts.

Choosing a Platform

The next step when you are comfortable with your writing is to choose a place to publish your work. There are lots of choices, and a good comparison of sites is listed in this article.

I like Wordpress.com myself. This site uses Blogspot (for now), but I will likely move it to Wordpress. Blogspot works, but it’s basic and the scheduling and editing tools are more of a pain than those at Wordpress.

I also recommend OpenLiveWriter to write with. I can easily draft posts in a WYSIWYG way, keep the drafts private (and on a OneDrive folder) and then publish to my platform at will. I find this easier than trying to work online. The project looks slightly abandoned for now, but it is stable and useful on the Windows platform.

Scheduling

How often should you blog? I think this is a hard question, but I’d blog at the pace that works for me. If you are a new writer, you should have written 10 pieces and tracked the time to produce those. For most people, this is between 2 and 4 weeks for a piece. Some might do 1 a week, but whatever is possible in your busy life is the pace I’d stick with.

My goal is to blog 3 times a week. Sometimes I can do more, but I don’t usually try to do more. It’s better to schedule out posts and ensure I can maintain some level of consistency than I get my posts out right away. Most of the time I have a couple of posts scheduled a few weeks out because I’m not producing news. I’m showcasing knowledge.

My advice is to schedule less frequently than you think you should. It’s easier to add in most posts later than try to maintain some pace that causes you stress.

This should be fun.

Post Reviews

No matter what topics you choose or the frequency of your posts, it is important that you do a good job in producing them. That doesn’t mean you need 3 peer reviews and a copy edit, but you should take the time to get some feedback from others on your work.

If you aren’t an experienced writer, or you worry about the impression your writing makes, then ask a friend, spouse, co-worker, etc. to review a few posts and help you with your grammar, spelling, and the way you communicate the concepts.

Communication is a skill, and you will get better if you work at it. However, the best way I have found to do this quickly is to get feedback from others.

Take the Challenge

Challenge yourself and start blogging today. Even as little as 15 minutes a week can really help you showcase your knowledge, and give you an edge for your next interview.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Distracted from Your Career

2016 has been a tough year for me. More travel and a shift in focus at my own job. While that can be good for my career, and certainly provides lots of content for my blog, it does mean that I haven't been as focused on my career writing.

I would like to do more here, and am already planning to limit travel in 2017. I am making a goal to get back to regular posts here on career topics.

My apologies to everyone following the blog, and I will try to do better next year.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Busy, busy, busy

My apologies for not updating this blog lately. I’ve been busy, and working on my career, but I’ve gotten behind updating this blog.

I have delivered the Branding Yourself for a Dream Job talk a few times this summer, but I haven’t had any great comments, questions, or ideas for new posts. However, a few people that had seen the talk in the past have noted that the things I’ve suggested have worked for them.

I will likely be out of touch on this blog for another month as I have a number of events to travel to and various work commitments, but I’ll endeavor to do a better job keeping posts coming that can help you with your career.

Monday, June 13, 2016

What Did I Do This Year?

Recently I had a friend talk to me about completing an annual review for their job. The end result was this person wasn't seen as accomplishing a lot, and didn't get the raise they expected. However, their view was different. This individual felt they'd worked hard all year and had accomplished a lot.

When I asked the person what they'd done, I received some general thoughts about working on this project or that. The individual was insistent that they had spent a lot of time at work after hours solving difficult problems. When I pressed for which problems, or which projects, there was a lack of detail provided.

No one is going to track the work you do. Even on big, highly visible projects, it's hard for a manager or others to remember your individual contributions. Even if you complete some project by yourself, your manager will be worried about their own accomplishments, and those of their other direct reports.

You need to track your accomplishments throughout the year.

Use a blog, a Word document (back it up), Evernote, OneNote, or something else. Make notes throughout the year and have them ready when you get prepared for your review. Include specifics. Note the tasks that you actually completed and have a specific way to describe them quickly.

Summarizing your work for the year is almost like a book report. You want to take the story of your work year and provide a report that both condenses the year into a few sentences, but includes specific details that highlight your contributions.

Very few people will do this, or be prepared in advance, so a little effort can go a long way towards advancing your career inside of an organization.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Karma and Professionalism

I think it's important that I present a good image to others, which means I'm cognizant of the impression I make with others all the time. Certainly there are times I may do something that isn't professional or may offend others. However I try to keep in mind that the impressions I make are potentially those that might effect my career.

I ran across this picture. The original tweet has been removed, but I've seen it in quite a few places, so I'm guessing it's real.





Now, even if it's not, this has probably happened. In fact, I bet it's happened to quite a few people in many industries. I've run late for interviews, as the interviewer, and I wouldn't be surprised if this happened to me some day.

How should you handle this? Well, as the interviewer I guess that depends on how you feel. For me, I'd think this is the type of person that likely would take shortcuts, or make decisions without regards for others' feelings. If you felt you needed to take a parking space because you're late, at least apologize. Don't curse at someone that's upset. I'd be tempted to tell the person that they are a big disadvantage in this interview as they've shown poor judgment and behavior with others.

As the interviewee? Apologize profusely. I hope you have a reason, but you should be contrite. If you aren't, perhaps you should work on that.

We all need private spaces, places where we can unwind and vent about issues. However, if you're anywhere near a business situation, I'd suggest that you consider the person you have a conflict with just might be the person you want to do business with in the future. Adjust your behavior appropriately with that in mind.