Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Building a Better Blog - Next week during the 24 hours of PASS

I've got a new presentation on blogging slated for next week during the 24 hours of PASS. The event is a series of presentations, 24 in all, on Sept 2-3, running continuously from people all around the world.

I'm scheduled for the 10am MST, which is 5pm GMT, which works well for me. Kids will be at school and it should be a quiet time around here.

The presentation takes some ideas and thoughts I've had from working on the Modern Resume for people as well as looking over those blogs from technical people that seem to be highly ranked, as well as those that make a good impression on me.

So sign up today! There's all kinds of SQL content to choose from.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Better Blogging

I'm not sure I agree completely with Brent Ozar's advice at Building Your Blogging Momentum, but I like most of it. It seems aimed more for someone looking to raise their profile and not necessarily the average guy, but that's OK. There are lots of people that want an MVP or want to become more well known.

It's what I talk about. Building your brand and making a case for why you're a better employee. Blogging is a great way to do it, and while I know not everyone is a writer, in the IT world, we all need to communicate. Blogging is a good way to build that skill.

And show what you're working on, learning, etc.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Don't Copy Other People's Posts

In my Modern Resume presentation I have a few slides on blogging, a couple of which are hints and tips on "how to blog." The second one starts out like this:

  • Don't copy other posts
  • Don't copy other posts
  • Don't copy other posts

I know that repeating something three times is supposed to be a way to get people to remember something. This is one of those things that I think is really important to stress to people, especially after a few incidents in the SQL world lately.

Joe Webb recently wrote "The theft of ideas and content" after some of his content was plagiarized. I've seen a few other professionals in this the SQL Server world respond to similar issues of their own content. A couple professionals, Brent Ozar and Tom LaRock did a short presentation on how to deal with this.

You can't build a brand of your own if you don't do the work. It sounds cliche, it sounds like the advice you'd get from your parents. Do the right thing no matter what. Lots of people think that everyone lies on their resume, and I'm sure many do, but it can come by to bite you later. Here are six examples of people who lied on their resume and got caught.

In today's world, it's getting easier and easier to check up on plagiarism. I strongly urge you to do your own work.

Your blog is a part of your resume. It's a part of what people will look at before they call you for an interview. Even after you have the job, this survey said you might get fired if they discover you lied on your resume.

I don't know that I'd fire someone for lying on their resume, but I certainly would if I found you copying someone's blog and claiming it as your own.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Who Do You Hire?

I saw this quote at 37 Signals:

"If I have two candidates in front of me, one that included a cover letter about how he hand-rolled his own blog, comments, and feed aggregator for fun to learn a new framework, and another that just sends a resume with a one-liner in the body of the email, I’m going to be much more inclined to say “hire” for the guy with the cover letter, even if the second guy’s resume is a bit better. Similarly, I’ll be more likely to say “hire” to the Eagle Scout, triathlete developer than a candidate who bludgeons me with all of their “accomplishments”..."

It's from this blog post that talks about hiring practices, and how it says something about the company. It's interesting, and while most companies aren't very sophisticated in their hiring practices, that is changing.

I'm including it here since someone asked me about cover letters recently. They asked if they should still write them.

I say yes. A cover letter is your chance to make a case for why you should be picked. You can highlight an accomplishment, show some of your personality, let them know more about your online brand. They might not care, but why take the chance.

The other thing a cover letter says to me is that you took some time to look at my company more and you want to work for us. You're not likely to blast out 10,000 resumes with custom cover letters. If you do, then you're a hard worker and that says something.

Don't use a template, however. Make the effort to write a letter tailored for the company.

I don't know if it's helped me get interviews, but I've rarely sent out a resume in the last decade and not gotten an interview.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

SQLSaturday #17 - Baton Rouge Session Evaluation

I guess I did a good job, with all 3s and 4s in my eval (meaning good and great) for the presentation. That was good as I struggled with a projector that cut off my slides (something to be aware of for next time.

The suggestions I got were good, and I had a few that I need to address in the next presentation:

* find examples of people with lower profiles.
* Talk about more differentiation of personal and private profiles
* More on the physical resume
* Talk about privacy items

I'll work on those, and hopefully address some in October when I give this one again.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Touch Your Resume

If you don't have one, right now, set a reminder.

I'll assume most of you use Outlook, but in whatever calendar program you have, be it Google, a cell phone, whatever, create a new reminder now. Here's what you put in it.

Title: Touch your resume

Recurrence: every 90 days

Details: Check resume

- update Linked In/Facebook/Plaxo/wherever your profile is.

That's it, and then save it. When it goes off in 90 days, do the same thing you'll do today.

Check your resume, see if you have done something significant since the most recent thing you have listed on it. A new job, a new position, new responsibility, a new project completed, anything. If you have, add it. Then look for something to remove if you're approaching the 2 page limit.

If you haven't added anything, you should have just spent about 90 seconds thinking about things.

Next go to your online profile(s) and give it a quick look to see if it matches your resume. Make sure it does, and then get back to work. You've only spent a few minutes on your career, but you're prepared in case something happens.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

SQL Saturday #17 – Baton Rouge Wrapup

My presentation went well at the Baton Rouge SQL Saturday with about 30 people attending. It was the early morning session, and a few people afterward told me they thought it was a good session with advice they could use.

The poll numbers were interesting, though this was a slightly different group. Only about half of the people were SQL professionals, with a number of DBAs and project managers in there along with the SQL people. Very few people knew the authors, and that’s what I expected, and I had 4 of 30 blogging, just slightly above the 10% mark I’ve seen.

In the profile poll, it was very different. I saw:

  • Myspace: 18% ( a few people used this to check on kids)
  • Facebook: 50%
  • Twitter: 35%
  • Plaxo: 8%
  • Linked In: 33%

That’s a shift, with Facebook beating out LinkedIn for the first time. Also a lot of Twitter people, though given the hurricane issues still on people’s minds, perhaps not.

I had a few questions and decided to repeat some good answers here:

Q: I have a a personal Facebook profile, what do I do about business contact friend requests?

A: My thoughts here are that you should consider a separate business Facebook profile if you get invitations from business colleagues.

Q: What about having a personal blog?

A: Definitely keep your personal life separate on a different blog. There are so many easy to use blog services for free that it makes sense to have a separate one for your non-career related beliefs, thoughts, etc. I have updated my slides to note this.

Q: Do you update your status when looking for a new job if your boss can see it.

A: It depends. I have never had issues letting my boss know that I’m not happy, and giving them specific reasons. I’ve also told them when I’m looking for a job. However I did have one senior manager that I could never have told since he would have fired me on the spot, or I think he would have.

My feeling is that you want to be open, but if you cannot, then use a recruiter and be sure that you let them know this is your issue. Let them submit your resume, maybe without a name, and have them look for you.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Get into the Top Ten Percent

When you start applying for jobs, and face competition from other candidates, who do you think gets the interview? Is it the middle 50%? The bottom 20%?

I bet you're thinking the top 5-10 candidates are granted interviews, which in today's world of electronic resumes, could be the top 1% based on some of the numbers I've seen from hiring managers. It's not uncommon for a single position to get 300-500 submissions.

How do you position yourself to be in the top ten percent? I have on easy way that will help you along.


In my research over the last year, and in giving a presentation on the Modern Resume to hundreds of people, it's been fairly consistent in my audiences that about 10% of the people out there that come to these events blog as a part of their career.

And that's the 10% of people that care about their careers and are willing to work on them.

Just by doing a blog you can separate yourself from many other people. You give every potential interviewer or HR person more information, and more reasons to consider you as the top candidate instead of others.

Would you rather interview someone that has a large profile and you have an idea of how they think from forums and blogs, or someone that just sends you a two page resume summary? I've always believed that more information is better, and it helps you make better decisions.

HR people, along with managers, are getting smarter. They don't just hire based on MCSE credentials, or any others. They look beyond that, and the more comfortable they are with you as a candidate, the better image (read "brand") you present, the more likely you'll get the call back.

Now you need to write good blogs. Be simple, tackle things you know well, and have someone proofread your entries. You are showcasing communication skills, as well as knowledge, and keep that in mind.