Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Starting the year out right

It's the end of another year, and thus the beginning of the next one. Whether you had a successful 2009 for your career or not, now is the time to set a goal and make a plan for the new year. Take an hour over the next day and think about your career and where you want to go, what you want out of your career in the next year, or even next three.

Then make a goal.

A resolution to do something along those lines. It could be blog more (or better), learn a new skill, take on a new responsibility, or something else, but make an effort in 2010 to add something substantial to your modern resume. Add something that will build your brand and make it more attractive to your current, or a potential new, employer.

Something besides another year of work.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Getting Your Blog Started

I realized that I haven’t written enough recently on this blog myself, being occupied with other projects for work. Recently I noticed that a friend, Andy Leonard, had written a few posts on blogging and I wanted to point them out. First he had Blog (Durnit!) , which got some interesting responses. Andy’s from the South, hence the title. He then followed it up with Blog (Durnit!), Getting Started , and has some ideas on getting your blog going.

I tend to agree with his choices of Wordpress, Blogger, and my.live.com at Live.com. I’ll also add in Typepad as well.  Any of these sites will give you a free blog. They’re growing with advertising and trying to get their names out there as the best software, so chances are you won’t have to do anything other than register.

However getting a blog started is even easier. Click your Start menu in windows and type “notepad”. That will bring up the text editor, which is a perfectly fine way to start blogging. Make some notes, write about your experience, and save the file with the date and time you finish it. No worries about privacy, about exposing yourself to criticism, it’s just a good way to see fi blogging makes sense for you.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Noting Your Efforts

When you do things worthy of being noted as a part of your brand, you have to document them. I think a blog is a great place to do this, but perhaps you have a page on a website used for this or even just keep a Word document around. However you do it, you need to do it.

When you finish something, volunteering, speaking, publishing an article, leading a group somehow, take a few minutes and jot down some notes. I’d argue that you should clean it up right then, making it something you want to send to a potential interviewer, but if you don’t, at least make the notes. then clean it up when you touch your resume every quarter and have it ready for that next opportunity.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Modern Resume Length

I've been asked this question a few times, and needed to respond:

How long should your resume be?

My answer, which is based on general advice from many books and sites, as well as my experience hiring people is that you should keep the actual resume that you send to people to 2 pages or less. Try to fill out most of a page, but don't go beyond 2 pages.


The biggest reason is that it's annoying for the person reading the resume. We tend to scan them as electronic images, or in Word, but most people get annoyed by having more than 2 pages to read. We move through them more quickly, so you can go beyond one page, but more than 2 just takes too much time and it isn't concise.

I'd really suggest that you try to keep it to a page or page and a half, and if you include keywords, put them at the end so they can be skipped. That way you don't annoy the reviewer. Chances are they get hundreds of resumes for positions so any reason they have to trash yours will likely be used.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Explain it to yourself

I found a nice post from a friend, Roy Ernest, on an effective way to learn. He notes that one of the best ways he’s found is to write an article on a topic. It forces you to research, double check yourself, and explain things clearly.

I agree.

Not everyone wants to write an article that is published specifically to an audience, but this is where a blog comes in. Even a private blog or document that you don’t expose on the Internet. If you want to be sure you understand something and look to explain it back to yourself, write it down. You’ll have to do some research, and if you read it carefully, you’ll realize where you don’t really understand things.

That’s if you take pride in what you are putting down. I’ve seen plenty of people scribble things down halfway, not check themselves or their work, and they’re not really taking advantage of the time to make sure they’ve learned something.

If you want to publish, look for places. If you just want to make yourself understand something, try writing it down.