Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Test

When I was starting out in my career, I had a friend that was a bit of a mentor and helped me to make fewer mistakes in my career. He gave me this one piece of advice, and it has served me well over the years.

He told me that before I sent an email, or wrote a memo, or posted something publicly, I should give it the "Washington Post test". This was back in the days of newspapers in my native Virginia. The test was this: if what I had written appeared in the Washington Post the next day, would I have a problem with that?

Today I use a modified version of the test, where I think about what my Mom or my kids would think about what I posted, or wrote. or even said. It doesn't work quite as well for speaking, but it does work for writing. If there is something you blog, or post, or write, inside of work or outside of it, stop and review it. If you have any doubt that what you wrote might make a poor impression, then don't post it.

It's simple. If you have any doubts, don't to it.

Or get it reviewed. Have a friend, your wife, your boss, or someone else look over your work before you post it. Get their opinion and revise your work.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Show People What You’ve Done

This is a good article worth reading: Why the New Guy Can’t Code. It’s a little heavy handed, but it makes sense and there’s one great quote: don’t interview anyone who hasn’t accomplished anything. Ever.

I think we are starting to see this, with all the research that hiring managers and HR people can do online about applicants. If you don’t have some body of work, some evidence that you have the skills needed for the job, why bother with the interview?

Blogging, building a project, having some volunteer projects or applications you’ve built on the side can bring some depth and color to your application, and it gives you the chance to let the interviewer know about your accomplishments when they are considering calling you.

It removes some level of doubt that you might not be a good fit, and it gives you the chance to make a positive first impression early. That’s half the battle of finding your dream job.