Monday, August 29, 2011

What’s a good sample resume?

I typically don’t include samples in my presentation for one simple reason: I don’t want everyone to copy the sample and start using them.

My philosophy is that you ought to tell your story, make yourself stand out, which means that you should pick and choose from others, but do your own research.

Recently I saw the crew at Brent Ozar PLF post their own sample resumes. While I’m not sure you should copy their formats, I’ll say that Kendra Little’s resume stood out the most to me. It contains essentially a advertisement/cover letter as the first page for Kendra herself. It’s written in plain language with a question that a hiring manager might want to ask and then some details from her career. To me this stands out and it’s one that I bet would get a lot of calls on.

I didn’t love the others, but there are some things you can take from them, which might work for you.

In terms of other samples, ask your friends for theirs, especially the ones that have been successful. Look at what stands out, and ask them what questions they were asked about their resume.

Experience on my Resume

What would I write today, or what’s on my resume? I’ll include an item from one of my last few jobs with a few variations.

Operations DBA - JD Edwards - The JD Edwards SQL Server infrastructure consisted of hundreds of instances that were managed on a daily basis by myself and another DBA. I worked with and coached our team to implement standards across the servers to allow us to proactively monitor the systems. I introduced automated monitoring that went beyond the Patrol software we had purchased, and assisted us in troubleshooting issues. We automated much of our daily work to meet ISO 9001 standards, freeing our time to work with individual clients to help improve the performance of their systems.

It doesn’t say much in terms of details, but this gives an overview of my job, and seems impressive. However I can tailor this for specifics that might help for some jobs

Operations DBA - JD Edwards - to manage several hundred instances of SQL Server with two DBAs, I introduced a standardization and continuous improvement process. I developed scripting solutions to automate the monitoring and baselining of our servers that proactively allowed us to seek out clients and let them know of potential problems and solutions before tickets were raised. We regularly examined servers for consolidation potential to save on hardware refreshes and achieve more efficient use of hardware. We constantly received new instance requests, but less than 2/3 of those required new hardware thanks to these efforts.

Another version that emphasizes costs more and gives a number. I could talk to this in an interview in terms of the process and metrics for measuring the savings.

One more approach:

Server Consolidation - At JD Edwards, each new instance request was examined and the load compared with existing instances using our automated performance monitoring and baseline system. We were able to reduce new purchases of hardware by a third. We were also able to use this system to combine underutilized systems together and free up additional hardware for test and development systems. At Peoplesoft, I managed teams that migrated our large financial and ERP systems from Oracle to DB2, consolidating hardware in a virtualized system at the same time.

ISO 9001 /SOX Compliance - By building a set of processes for daily administration at JD Edwards, we complied with the requirements needed to maintain our ISO certification and meet SOX audits. To simplify this system and allow two people to manage several hundred instances, we developed automated daily reports that could be logged for documentation purposes, and also reduce the need to check each instance. Our reports included checks for backups, job completion, critical errors raised, and uptime to meet our requirements.

Here I’ve taken a different approach to showing my experience by looking at skills instead of jobs. If I were taking another job at a large company who would appreciate these skills, I might take this approach to catch their eye and just list each job at the bottom of my resume.

Tailor Your Resume

The key thing is to show the person that will spend 30 seconds on your resume that you have something to offer. In that sense, think about putting down the skills and experience that will meet their needs, and do it in a way that makes them think it’s worth spending 30 seconds looking at your resume.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Don't Wait to Start Blogging

I'm borrowing the title from Brian Kelley, who wrote a post by the same name. The essence of his post is that you need to start blogging if you want to blog. If you want to make this part of your brand, or part of your career, you just need to start. Don't wait for the perfect ideas, or the perfect formatting or blog software, or anything else. As Nike says....

Just Do It.

I think that's the best advice, and you ought to start. As I wrote last week, you can get started quickly, in 5 minutes, and then go from there.

One last thing I'd say again is to get feedback on your writing early. Maybe privately, maybe by pointing some people at your entries, but get someone to help you learn to write better. Learn to convey your thoughts in a way that is clear to other people. It's not that hard, but there are lots of rookie mistakes that you make early on. Getting feedback will help you fix most of those small errors and allow you to write in a way that is clear to your readers over time.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Five Minute Guide to Starting a Blog

I was asked recently for some advice on starting a blog, so here’s a five minute guide:

  1. Download Live Writer from Microsoft for authoring your posts.
  2. Set a reminder in your calendar once a week to write for 30 minutes.
  3. Get Evernote, a moleskin, or use Live Writer to make notes when you come upon a problem you have solved, or you’ve learned something new. This can be a link, a paragraph, or maybe a sentence. Get in the habit of making notes.
  4. Save your posts as drafts. When you get ten complete posts, which means proofed and checked (preferably by a friend or spouse), note how long it took you to write ten posts.
  5. Set up a blog at Wordpress, Blogger, or Typepad. Any of them will do.
  6. Schedule your posts out at the pace it took to write them. If you wrote 10 in 10 weeks, schedule one a week. If you wrote 10 in 20 weeks. schedule one every other week.
  7. Keep writing, and keep publishing.

That’s it, and it’s simple, but it won’t build a good blog. You have to do that work yourself, but pace yourself and build a blog that you can sustain.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why Bother with the Effort?

Is it worth your time to build a better brand, and allow yourself the chance for more opportunities in life? After all, that's what this brand building stuff is about. It's not here to ensure you make a million dollars or ensure you are famous. My goal with this blog and the presentation is to give you ideas and ways to make yourself stand out slightly from the rest of the people in your industry and help you to get the interview at the place you want to work. A better brand should give you more opportunities, hopefully in the areas in which you want to work.

I think it's definitely worth it, and this image says it all:

You want to have the best life for you, which is a very personal, yet elusive thing. A better brand in your industry will help you with this.

The important thing is to make sure that you don't spend too much time on career, branding, or work and make sure you enjoy life.