Monday, January 24, 2011

Blogging–Peer Reviews

One piece of advice that I often give people for their resumes is to have two other people review their work. One in their area of expertise, and one outside of it. The same thing should happen for your blog entries.

As you blog, even if you are doing it privately as a portfolio and not as a public expression of your knowledge, you ought to find two people that you trust and ask them to review some posts. Let them read your work and give you opinions about the way you write, the impression you make, etc. If you can find more than two people, send them different posts, and get feedback.

Writing is a skill and it takes practice, but to improve, it also takes feedback.

A blog is a great way to show off your knowledge, and a way to improve your communication skills, but only if you work on it and find a way to clearly express your thoughts. If you end up building a blog that it poorly written, hard to read, and does not convey your knowledge effectively, then it could do more harm than good.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blogging–Tags and Categories

Organizing your blog posts is important, and it makes it easier for someone to find out what you think about certain topics. I have not been extremely consistent in how I have done this in the past, but I am working to amend this.
Here is some advice that has helped me as I’ve learned a little about categories and tags.


These are handled differently in different platforms. Blogger uses these as labels, and that is what Live Writer submits them under to the post. In general, a category is really a large scale, gross way of dividing your posts into buckets. Think about newspapers, or even the Google home page. Categories are things like News, Sports, Money (newspapers) or New, Images, Video, Web (Google).

This is a separation mechanism. Use categories for very broad sections of your site.


Tags are descriptive. They are the adjectives that your posts deal with. These are, to me, an easy way to see at a more granular level, what someone is working on. Note that tags tend to cross categories, so you ought to not bucket tags into categories. You might have posts in multiple categories that have the “hardware” tag.

I would view a tag as the first 2-3 words that you would use to describe the topics in your post. What does your post talk about? Is it about performance? Is it about memory? Is it about a particular feature? You might include those as tags.

What to Use

In general, I like to use categories for large sections of the site, almost like menus as they are in Wordpress. So if you have a blog, but also presentations, the categories allow you to separate those parts of the site.
I prefer tags since I think they are more flexible, and allow a better way of filtering your posts. If you have to pick one, go with tags, but keep in mind that your platform may not support these.

I would advise you to think about this a bit, as changing this over time can be painful, as I’ve learned.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Communicating Better

I wrote an editorial that was published today on Building Better Communication Skills and it talks about the need to improve your communication skills. Specifically I talk about writing, since that is the type of communication that we seem to do the most often.

I recommend blogging as a way to improve your skills. To me, blogging is a no-brainer, and it's easy. It can take some time and effort, but you don't have to feel pressured to get it done at a particular time. I'd recommend that you do it at least every other week, but when you write inside that two weeks is up to you. You can do it late at night, you can do it on the weekends, at lunch, and even in a bunch of separate sessions. Unlike something like Toastmasters, you have more flexibility.

I have a whole set of posts on blogging, with different ideas and techniques. I would urge you to consider setting up a blog and working on improving your writing skills. You'll use them often in your career, and being able to clearly express your opinions, thoughts, and knowledge, is very important to growing your career.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Looking Forward to the New Year

What do you want to do in 2011? Now is the time that you should be looking forward in the new year, and setting some goals for your career. Think about the types of things that you would like to accomplish in your career, and write them down.

As you think about your career, consider whether you will look for a new job or not, whether you want a promotion, or if you would like to move into a new career area. Then think about what steps you can take to move in those directions and set those as goals. Then set some metrics that you can use to measure if you are moving in the direction that you want.

Just be sure that you also set reminders to check on your resume or online profile and update it as your grow your career.