Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm Certified, Now What?

I saw an article from Certification Magazine recently (via Trainsignal on twitter) with that title. It compared the completion of certification to that of a marathon runner. You've completed a marathon, after all the training, and now what?

I'm not sure that's a great comparison, but it does beg the question of what to do when you've completed your MCITPro, MCSE, or any other certification.

Surprisingly, I found quite a few other articles with that same title, and I thought this one from the MD Dept of Transportation was great. It talks about what companies that get certified to do business with the state should do, and it really lets you know that certification is the first step, not the last one.

Their advice?
  • aggressively market
  • identify possible employers
  • contact them
  • keep inquiring about new opportunities
  • research opportunities
  • network
  • use resources
Is it any different for individual workers? I'd argue that it's not, and you should view a certification as the base step for moving your career forward. Whether you are coming out of college, or a twenty year veteran in your industry, the certification can add to your credentials, but it's just an addition, it isn't the ultimate goal or measure of your value.

I think certifications can help. They force you to learn something, and they help you to focus in certain areas. I'm sure there are plenty of people that just try to memorize topics and answers, but that should still help them. Whether they'll be able to apply those skills in the real world is a separate question, but they still have improved skills.

And that's what you also need to do. In addition to just marketing yourself, and showing off your certification, you also want to show that you've learned a few things. Blog and relate your studying back to your job, or to something in that area. I'd argue you should have been doing this all along, but it's never too late.

Pick up a project of some sort, even if you just duplicate some work of someone else. Show that you have picked up skills and can start to apply them. Make a point of communicating that you can apply your skills.

And if you can't do that, perhaps that's the next step for you. Learn to apply those skills and don't assume that certification will carry you along.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Public Speaking

I saw Ed McMahon's book "The Art of Public Speaking" recommended by someone recently. I forget who it was, but it was someone I respected and they were writing after his passing. So I immediately jumped over to Amazon and purchased a used copy.

It arrived recently and I'm just starting to dig in to see what I can learn. Between my own speaking efforts and being a merit badge counselor for the Boy Scouts, I think I ought to learn more about it. I'm tempted to hit a local Toastmasters meeting, though I'm not sure where I'll find the time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

You are building an online brand

With everything you do online. At least according to this blog post at ZDNet, which somewhat validates my presentation: The Modern Resume - Building Your Brand Online.

There's not a lot in the blog, other than mentioning there are some new tools that give you the ability to leverage your social profile with business cards, the Facebook vanity URLs, and more, but also new privacy controls on your Facebook account.

There are pretty good controls already on LinkedIn, and I think they're good, though I would like to see a little more granularity for sharing with co-workers/friends and a separate level for recruiters or potential interviewers.

I mention it in the talk, but it's worth repeating. Anything you post online is a part of your profile. None of them will make or break your reputation or your brand, but they add up. You don't want a lot of items that present you in a poor light. You want more things that make you look good, or at least professional for your career.

Manage your brand. It's always been something you should do, and that continues in the digital world. I'm not sure if it's more or less important, but I think you can better manage your impressions in the digital world.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Behind on Blogging

One of the things I recommend to people that are looking to get into blogging is that they write 10 posts before they publish one. That way they can see if they like writing, but also have a pipeline of content to publish. They can schedule these out, 1 a week, or 1 every 2 weeks, and then continue writing each week. This way they'll never run out of content, even if they don't have time to blog one week.

I set a goal of blogging every day at SQLServerCentral, and so far I've done a good job of blogging this year, only missing a couple days, even only a couple vacation ones!

However last week, being on vacation, I hadn't scheduled any posts, though I managed to do a few anyway. In leading up to vacation, I'd neglected to push forward, and as a result, I only had one post scheduled for this week.

So I've been working from notes, trying to turn a few of the ideas and notes I've had into posts for the rest of this week. I've gotten two scheduled, but I need to knock out 2 a day for a week or so to get caught up.