Monday, April 25, 2011

Why Build a Brand?

Why should you go to the trouble to start blogging, speaking, answering questions or anything else. What’s the point?

I’ve written a little before about this. When you build a brand, it helps you to stand out from others. You become more noticeable, and more likely to get the interview. You allow a potential employer to do some due diligence before they call you for an interview, which gives them more confidence you are the right person for the job.

And that if they call you, knowing your brand, the job is more likely what you want to do. Your brand lets people know what your skills are, what talents you have, and what you might want to do in life.

Working on your own brand also forces you to think about what you want from your career, or in your career, and it helps you to become better. Working on a better brand means getting better at your career in some way. Whether you blog, speak, or do anything else, you have to learn the topic well enough to teach it.

You are building an online brand with everything you do online, and many people in technology are regularly building that brand, so take advantage of it, put a little more effort in and get into the top ten percent of people in your field.

Remember that a brand can have a downside, so use your own version of “The Test” before doing anything online.

And don’t forget that just because you have a great job your branding doesn’t matter. It can still be useful, even if you don’t want a new job.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Leadership in the digital world

Leadership can be a challenge, especially as we move to a more remote, digital world. However it can be done, and this video shows a touch of how someone is doing so in the Army, a place where leaders are very important.

It's humorous and worth watching, but near the end you get a good sense of the challenges involved in working with people across distances in a digital way.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Have Multiple Resumes

I was asked a question recently about how to present yourself if you are changing careers. If you have been a technology worker for years and just got your MBA and are looking to move into management, how do you show this on your resume?
It’s easy: multiple resumes.
It’s the same advice I give if you are considering two different types of jobs in your search. I have used this successfully for years, and I the only downside is the time it takes to make a separate resume.
Each resume should be tailored towards a particular position, highlighting those skills that are applicable to that job. A few examples will help explain this.
Becoming a manager
Suppose that you have always worked in subordinate positions in companies and now want to try management. Hopefully you have had some taste of this, practicing in informal managerial roles or unofficial settings. Perhaps as some type of team lead.
When you examine your resume, the work you did to build some piece of software, or erect the frame of a house, or re-wire a circuit isn’t really important. In fact, it can be a detriment because there are many managers that transition into the role and cannot let their old work go. They try to do it all themselves and fail.
Instead, you ought to highlight those unofficial things you have done. Perhaps you helped coordinate work for other people and finish a project on time. Maybe you prepared the material to help your previous manager finish the budget. Your “manager” resume ought to highlight these accomplishments and show that you have some skills, even without much experience, in this position.
Changing Fields
Suppose you have been a software developer for years and now want to try being a database administrator. I was in this very position, and tackled this exact problem with a DBA resume that was different from my developer resume.
One of the things I had done was work on the upgrade of the servers and I listed that as something I had accomplished. I worked with another DBA on performance tuning, and I listed a few things I had done, noting that I had done them under the supervision of a senior DBA. It doesn’t make me look like the most qualified person, but it does show I have some knowledge, and I wasn’t bumbling or fumbling around on my own. I had a teacher.
I talked to those things in the interviews I got, and even mentioned them in a couple cover letters. I talked about my software development experience, as it related to the database, not as it solved the problem. My knowledge in solving problems was an aside, or afterthought, but the things I learned about databases while working with data in my application were what I highlighted.
Limit the Number
I know some people might have many resumes, even some specific ones for certain companies. I tried this at one point, but I am not sure it is worth the effort in maintaining them. At most, I might have three resumes right now: DBA, manager, and writer. In the past writer would have been developer or sysadmin, but I only put out resumes for jobs I want to do, and then only the top 2 or 3 positions I’d take.
Life is short. Enjoy it, including your work.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

SQL Saturday #63 - The Modern Resume

I gave this presentation last weekend in Dallas, and it was well received. A quiet crowd, but overall a good talk for me. I had to rush a touch with only an hour to go, and the last part I went through quickly.

I had a couple of interesting questions on resumes. One was how to highlight your skills when you are looking to change jobs. So if you are a programmer and want to be a manager, what do you do? After all, the resume you last used to get a programming job might not make you look like a great candidate as a manager. Multiple resumes can help you here, but don't go crazy. Stick with 2 or 3.

The other question came from a student, of which there were quite a few in the audience. How do you highlight skills without experience. It's hard, but you should have something that leads you to consider this field. Did you have coursework? projects? Interesting articles you've read that inspired you? Showcase what relevant experience you have, no matter how small it might seem, and try to show some passion, some excitement to get the job.

The next presentation for me will be at SQL Saturday #77 in Pensacola on June 4, where I'll have a couple other technical presentations to go with this one.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

SQL Saturday #63 PPT

The PowerPoint deck from my presentation is here if you want it

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