Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Chitchat

It’s the end of the year, and there are numerous parties that many of us will go to to celebrate the holidays in December. Some of these might include people that are struggling in their careers, or even those that are out of work.

I ran across this piece on holiday small talk and think it has some good advice. I would recommend that you read it, and think about how you might handle these situations this holiday season.

I know that most of us would like to help others further their careers if we can, but a party may not be the best place to do that. I think it’s good to listen, but deflect in depth conversations and keep advice to yourself. Try to have a good time, and help others to do the same.

Offer to get in touch and help them at another time, but don’t ruin what should be a festive time.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Modern Resume in Albuquerque

I’ll be delivering the Modern Resume presentation at SQL Saturday #183 in Albuquerque, NM on February 9, 2013.

If you are in the area, whether you are a technical worker or not, please register and feel free to come by.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Reason to Grow Your Skills

I suspect more companies will start to look for new opportunities in business by reducing the amount of resources they spend on tasks that can be easily outsourced. The CIO of Toyota, North America, talks about that a little in this piece.
It’s not just technology, however. I suspect that more and more companies are looking to hire someone else to manage pieces of their business, which are outside their core competency. I can imagine that every business, from paralegals to nurses, from supply chain analysts to architects might find some of their job being outsourced or automated. The easy, simple, tedious parts that can be handled in a simpler way by another person or process.
That means you should be looking to tackle the more creative, or thoughtful, or interesting parts of your job. You should learn to improve your skills so that you are not focused on the easier parts of your job, which can be outsourced, but on the most difficult parts.
As you improve those skills, make sure they are a part of your brand. Whether that’s in a blog, a document, or something else, keeping your brand up to date can pay off in the future.

Monday, November 19, 2012


DadDelaney_ski_Mar2012I hope everyone has a great week this week. I’m off, trying to recharge and refresh after a rough speaking schedule this fall.

My family has a tradition of spending Thanksgiving up in the mountains skiing. There isn’t a lot of snow, but I look forward to skiing, dominos, ping pong, and more with my wife and kids.

You should be sure that you take a break periodically from work and make sure you refresh and recharge. All too often I see people skipping vacation, which isn’t good your mental health.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Modern Resume at the PASS Professional Development VC

I gave the Modern Resume/Branding presentation today for the PASS Professional Development Virtual Chapter. It was recorded and if you are a PASS member, you can access it.
I’ve also updated the slide deck and it’s available here: BrandingDreamJob - v16.ppt

Monday, November 12, 2012

Measuring Your Career Success

“Life is a lesson, you learn it when you’re through.” - Limp Bizkit

There are things in life we can’t judge until we go through them, perhaps even get near the end of the process. Retirement, long term health, and even the measure of your career success.

There was a piece in the CNN Money that interviewed Clayton Christensen from Harvard Business School. It’s about a new book, “How Will You Measure Your Life?” and it talks about the work you do in career and in life and how they should relate.

In the piece, there’s a great paragraph:

“I believe that the source of our deepest happiness comes from investments we make in intimate relationships with our spouse, children, and close friends. But if you measure your life by how much money you make or where you go in a hierarchy, you invest more and more to maximize those things and less and less of your time and energy on family. Even though you think family is important, you invest in things that are counter to what you had intended to do in your heart. ”

There’s more about career and what you should think about as you try to grow your career and move forward.

This site, and the talk I give focuses on the things you can do to improve your career and find happiness, but I’m not sure I emphasize the balance enough.

I think it’s important that you continue to work on your career, in almost any field. Find time to work on professional development, learn more, but keep it in balance.

Life is short.

Remember that you want to focus on what’s important, and often the really important stuff isn’t in your career. It’s outside of work.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bad Jobs or Bad Marriages

I saw a great quote recently from David Brooks’ commencement address that said:

“If you have a great career and a bad marriage, you’ll be miserable. If you have a great marriage and a bad career you’ll be happy.”

I often advocate to people that they find a good job, and a good fit for them as a career to enjoy their life. However your career isn’t everything. I do think that you can have a not-so-great job or career and have a great life. There are people that work in jobs they don’t love as garbagemen, as blue-collar workers, even as CPAs or lawyers, but they have great marriages or great families and enjoy their lives.

They key is having more that excites you in life than your career, and being able to view your job as just a job and leave it behind when you go home.

If you can do that, you might need fulfillment in your career. If you can’t, you might need a new job.

However in either case, if you have a job that wears you down, you feel abused, or you feel no sense or purpose, you probably need a new job. Or a new career.

Professional Development on PASS TV

I’ll be live on the PASS TV broadcast on Wednesday, Nov 7, at 11:40am PST. The Professional Development group asked me to do a short (15 minute) talk, and I’ve put together a set of quick blogging tips with a few slides.

If you’re not at the PASS Summit, you can watch this. If you are, I’m sure the recording will be available later.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Little Interview Humor

I haven’t had an interview like this, but I’ve had a few strange ones. Hopefully you keep your composure if this does happen.

Hopefully you can laugh at this as well.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tell a Story

I recently ran into someone that was changing careers at mid-life. This  individual was trying to move into the SQL world, having had exposure to computers and programming but had mostly worked in another field. This person had been learning SQL Server, working through books and practicing things, but had not gotten any practical experience and was asking for advice on how to structure a resume and break into the field.

Note that I haven’t done this, but here’s my advice from the hiring side: tell a story.

Show me over some time that you have learned things and can relate those to business.

Show me how your past experience in another field is similar to that in SQL Serer, and that you can use logic and perseverence to work through an issue.

Tell me how you learned to do something, with research, asking questions or experimentation.

The past job experience you have in another field isn’t as relevant to me in the SQL Server world as the skills you have, or the work you’ve done to learn new skills. Put those near the top of your resume, and highlight the reasons I should give you a chance.

It’s a change of pace, refreshing, and should catch the eye of HR people.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Is Your Work Worth Doing?

This is an interesting blog that talks about people that find value, satisfaction, or worthiness in their jobs, however small, because they’re making a difference in the world. Sometimes a tiny difference, but a difference nonetheless.

I hope you view the world in the same way, that you think there are things you do that make life better for other people. Whether that’s one other person or one million.

That’s how I view the talks I give on SQL Server. I’m not trying to lecture the world or impress everyone with some amazing new technical item. I’m trying to reach one or two people, get them to think, and hopefully make their job better.

I also highly value the people I work with. If I don’t like them, I don’t take the job.

If you don’t think there’s something in your job worth doing, perhaps you should think about finding a new job.

This TED talk on the subject is referenced in the article, and worth watching.

Chip Conley: Measuring What makes life worthwhile

Monday, October 8, 2012

Is your employer professional?

Read this.

If they’re not, then should you move on?

(hint: yes)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Time Off

Reprinted from my Voice of the DBA blog

skiAs a US citizen, I’m lucky to work for a UK company. I get a generous allotment of vacation, and desperately try to use it all each year. I haven’t been successful yet, but I’m getting closer. If we could only get a little more snow at the beginning and end of the season…..

Last year a friend told me that they lost 6 days of vacation. Over a few years this person had accumulated extra vacation by basically working too hard and when the year ended, some of their vacation was lost because of carryover limits. This person vowed to change this year and use all their vacation, but with a busy job at a small company I’m not sure that will come true. Unfortunately, I’ve all too often seen this same behavior from many people in IT.

This piece shows that all too often people are not taking their vacation, or they’re not taking it as a complete break from work. I’ve been in both situations, and over time I’ve learned that I’m not being more productive in either case. I’m unbalanced, and over time I become less productive. That’s especially true if I’m doing creative work, like writing, or developing code.

There’s no shortage of poor managers out there, and there are plenty of them that will work you as hard as you allow. I don’t have any great solutions for dealing with them other than scheduling vacation every year, insisting you get to take it, limiting contact with work, and if all else fails, looking for another job.

Life is short, too short to spend more of it as work than you have to. Take advantage of your vacation to relax and recharge, even if it’s a stay-cation at home. Getting away from work is not only important, it’s something you owe to yourself and your family.

Steve Jones

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Join Our Networking Dinner in Seattle

This is the third year that Andy Warren and myself are hosting a networking dinner in Seattle, just before the PASS Summit. If you are new to the Summit, or just interested in meeting some new people, we hope you’ll join us on Monday, Nov 5, at Gordon Biersch, located in the Pacific Place mall on Pine St. It’s just a couple blocks from the Convention Center.
We don’t have anything formal planned, just a time and place for people to swing by, shake hands, introduce themselves and talk about what they do, or why they came, or just life in general. It’s a casual event that is just (barely) organized so you have a chance to meet other attendees on an off night.
If you don’t have plans and want to attend, come on by. Please register so we have an idea of the number of people coming.
It’s BYOD/BYOF (buy your own xxx), but there’s no fee to attend.
I’ll be at SQL in the City - Seattle 2012 during the day, another free event, and then I’ll come by afterwards.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Professional Hires

On the feed of Shannon Sharpe, ex NFL player and Hall of Famer.



How does your employer think about you?

Monday, September 10, 2012

The First Hour

What do you do the first hour of your day?

For me, at least my work day, it’s get a pulse on what’s happening through email/twitter, and then check on my site, SQLServerCentral.

However that’s easy. It makes me feel a bit lazy to check email because I know I can do it easily. With school in session, I wake kids up and then usually spend 5 minutes sitting at the top of the stairs, getting shoes on (I like wearing shoes) and scanning email to look for what’s happening. I don’t process it all (I know that’s bad), but I just see if there’s anything seriously wrong.

This articles says that we should spend that first hour another way as many successful people do.

Perhaps I should be spending that hour in another way. Perhaps eating a live frog.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Intelligence vs. Effort

This is a really good way to look at the world, IMHO. I am in a growth mindset, valuing effort more than results. Results count, but if they are valued so far above the effort, we get into a short term mindset.

Sometimes you have to try things, and learn from them. You can’t let a misstep, failure, (likely) partial failure, or the most likely case, an unknown result, prevent you from trying things.

The important thing, especially in your career, is to continue to move forward. Try things, learn, improve yourself. Not everything will be positive, and not everything will be better. However you can learn from those things which don’t work out well.

I’ve often thought that knowing what I didn’t like, or what I didn’t do well was more important than knowing what I like or can do.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Social Networking Matters

I checked over at CareerBuilder for their 2012 survey results and found the numbers down slightly, but there were a few interesting things. Of the 37% that checked your profile on a social networking site:
  • 65% did so to see if you are professionally representing yourself
  • 51% checking for a culture fit
  • 45% looking at qualifications

Only 12% were looking for things that might disqualify you. That's good news in that people are using your profiles as a positive way to round out your resume and application. However it doesn't mean that they won't end up finding something that disqualifies you. 34%, a third, found a reason not to hire people from something on their profile.

Watch what you write/post/say, or do.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Branding Yourself Talk in Denver

I'll be delivering my Branding talk at SQL Saturday #169 in Denver, CO on Sept 22, 2012. This event is being held at he Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church near Cherry Creek State Park.

I'm scheduled for 11:15, and the event is free, so come by if you can.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Want a Better Job? Find a Better Boss

It’s been shown over and over, in a few studies, that bosses can make or break a job. You will enjoy a job more if you have a good boss, and consequently, do better work.

If you are unhappy in your job, is it your boss? Maybe you want to send that article to your boss, or your boss’ boss. Poor bosses hit the bottom line.

If you’re looking for a job, keep this in mind. If someone is a jerk in the interview, chances are they’ll be a jerk when you work for them.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Brand Yourself

I talk about branding, and how it's important to build the brand that represents you the best, and shows what you want to do or be in the future. I heard a great quote from Catherine Kaputa, of She said

"If you don't brand yourself, someone else will."

That's very true. People form impressions of you, they conceive their own notions of who you are and what you are good or bad at. They pass these thoughts and feelings along to others, and those impressions may not be what you want.

You can't change all the opinions of you, but you can do the best job you can to present yourself the way you want to be known. If you do that often enough, and consistently, you should make the best impression for your career.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Getting an Interview

This is really interesting. It's a post about a job search (from Brent Ozar, PLF)someone did, targeting specific companies and then using LinkedIn and some intelligence to focus their search and get interviews.

It shows that LinkedIn can work well, and that you should try to tailor your search when possible. This is a variation of using a cover letter, but one without the resume. Try to make contacts, and remember the most important quote from the post:

"people hire people".

Get to know people to get the chance at a job.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Whether you're looking for a new job, or just chugging along, it's important that you get some breaks and recharge in your life. I write so much about the ways in which you can improve yourself, and get ahead in your career, and that's important.

However it's equally important that you find time to relax, to recharge, and get away from your career. Whether it's a hobby, vacation, time with your family or time alone, make time for more in your life. Even if you enjoy the career work, or enjoy learning about it, take time to recharge and balance your life.

This week is an unwired week for me. I wrote this just before I left on Sunday, and scheduled it. I'll be at Camp Alexander with my middle son for a week of Boy Scout summer camp. He's enrolled in classes, but I'm mostly there supervising and helping keep the boys organized. Lots of free time for me to read, relax, perhaps write a bit, but mostly to get away from life a bit and enjoy the Colorado mountains.

Make sure you schedule some downtime in your life as well.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Networking Ideas

Written for executives, this piece on networking has some good reasons why you should work on your network. I don't think it requires 100% commitment from the non-executive crowd, but it does require work on your part. As mentioned, be active, follow up with people, and don't force things.

Listen, and engage people in conversation. Get to know them, interact with their ideas, and present your own.

You can do this in person at any gathering, but also online. You can interact with people on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

Networking isn't hard, but it does require an effort.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Blogging Inspiration

I use Live Writer quite a bit from my Windows desktop for blogging. It’s free and a great piece of software. It’s always running, and as soon as I schedule a post, I click “New” and leave this up in the background.


It’s peaking out of the side of my normal browser window, and I can constantly see it. When I come upon a problem, or get an idea, I flip over to it and jot a note or a few sentences, or even drop in some code. I save it and move on.

I sync my LiveWriter folder across multiple machines, and no matter where I am working, I have a series of posts I can work on.


If I flip through my local drafts, I see the different drafts I have, along with the particular blog for which they are destined. I keep 4 blogs going, on vastly different topics and so save drafts all times when I’m working.

This won’t help you build a better blog, or write better, but it will remove one of the challenges: deciding what to write about. When you have time, scan through your drafts, and I’m sure you’ll find something to work on.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Resumes - Organization and Structure

A few interesting points from a couple people I talked to  recently. This is some advice that I’m not sure about, but it makes some sense. I won’t go as far as recommending it for now, but I will pass it on. I am trying to talk to a few more hiring managers and recruiters to see how they see the market going.

Replace Objective with Summary

Don’t use an objective. They all look the same. Instead write a short, one paragraph summary of who you are. What stands out about you? This is essentially your elevator, 30 sec pitch about what skills and talents you have. Give the reader three reasons to keep going.

Use Bullet Points

I’m torn on this, but essentially long paragraphs about your projects or experiences are hard to read. Use shorter bullet points, but convey the highlights about your accomplishments or the things that stand out about your career.

Don’t use “We”

Too often people write that a team did something, or we finished a project. The person looking to hire someone doesn’t care about your team; they want to know what you contributed. Don’t lie, but talk about the things you did that contributed to the project. Your contributions to a small, insignificant project are more important than impressing someone with a large project you barely worked on.

Don’t use We, or the Team. Use “I did such and such.”

The 30 sec Rule Applies

People still gets lots of resumes, so try and make yours interesting from the beginning. Give the reader a summary of your skills, and perhaps a summary of a couple things you are proud of on your resume so they are willing to come back and read more, or pass it along to the next person making a decision.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rocky Mountain Tech Trifecta

I delivered the Branding Yourself for a Dream Job presentation last Saturday, May 19, in Denver.

If you are looking for the slide deck, it’s here.

Branding Yourself for a Dream Job.PPT

Resumes and Keywords

After delivering my modern resume talk on branding, I sat in on a couple other professional development presentations. One was from a recruiter, and I heard a few interesting things.

Keywords matter.

They don’t need to be at the top, but they do need to be in your resume. The HR people, and some recruiters play the Highlighter Game, talked about below. The higher your score, the more likely they’ll pass along your resume.

My advice still stands. Keep keywords on the resume, but move them to the end. Get the person that reads your resume something interesting to read at the top.

In terms of formatting, break those keywords up. Use categories and organize your skills. Here’s a quick look at what I’d do on my resume:

Databases: SQL Server 2012/2008 R2/2008/2005/2000/7/6.5/4.2

Languages: T-SQL, HTML, Powershell, C#.NET, VB.NET, XML, C, Perl

OS: Windows 2008, Windows 2003, Windows 7, Windows XP

I might not include the OS part, but the categories should be listed in large general ones that the non-technical person can understand (for the Highlighter Game).

The skills should be listed in order of strength, strongest to weakest. Or in order of the things that you want to do to things you don’t want to work on.

The Highlighter Game

Take a job listing and set it next to a resume.

Grab a highlighter.

As you read through the resume, highlight any keyword that is in the job listing.

Add up the score at the bottom of the resume.

Sort the resumes by score.

Not a great method, but unfortunately what recruiters have seen HR people use as a way to filter down resumes. Usually many of the resumes that meet some minimal bar as then reviewed again.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


As long as we have people with this attitude, we are going places:

"If you hustle – all out, fully hustle – and you succeed, then you gain the satisfaction of a job well done. If you hustle and fail, you never have to worry about what might have been if you’d given everything.

If you slack off, you might get lucky and still succeed, but there’s little satisfaction other than the temporary thrill of escaping with your life. If you slack off and fail, you have to live forever with not knowing what you were truly capable of."

From Todd Henry

Monday, May 7, 2012

Networking Games

At an event a few weeks ago, the organizer decided to try and build a little networking in a group. We were at dinner, with 7 or 8 tables of 4-6 people each. Those are manageable groups, and I had the chance to meet people I was sitting with, but as is the case with many events, it's harder to get to know other people.

Not leaving people to their own devices, the organizer had each person stand up in front of the group, give a two sentence bio about where we were from and our function at the event, and then tell us three things about themselves. The kicker: one of the things was a lie and the rest of us were supposed to guess which one.

It started slow, but people started to get interested, and there were some very cool facts and lies being told by the various people.

That won't work everywhere, but it would have been easy to get groups of 5-10 people to play the game, and tell something about themselves. In a more professional setting, you could limit the things to truths or lies about your job or career.

The idea of a game is often unappealing to many people, but once you get them started, they usually enjoy it. At your next event, consider doing some sort of short game that might get people to network and introduce themselves, and build a little bit of a bond among themselves.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Recruiters Checking out your resume

Using eye tracking software, a series of recruiters were followed for 10 weeks to see what they looked at in a resume. You can read about it, but basically the things they look at are:
  • Name and other identity information
  • current position and company
  • previous position and company
  • education
They do this in about 6 seconds and then make a fit or no fit decision.
I’m not sure if that means these are good recruiters or bad ones, but the fact that they spend 6 seconds on average and only look at a few things is a little disturbing.
There’s also the fact that the more organized (titles and sections) a resume is, the more time spent on it. Not much time, but more. A good reason to perhaps organize things in your resume, and move those keywords to the end, as I’ve mentioned before. However inside the current and previous position, include a few mentions of the technologies you’ve been using.
Whether this is valid or applicable to actual hiring managers in companies is debatable, but the fact that someone passes judgment on you so quickly means that you want to make sure you optimize your resume for this quick review.
Clear headings, make the resume easy to read and have the important stuff on the front page.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Help Blogging

This is interesting, and it comes to me from Andy Warren’s blog. Plinky is a prompt, a challenge, an idea that you can use to blog for the day.

It’s an interesting idea, and one I think might be helpful if you’re just looking to write, but I’m not sure it’s a great idea for a professional blog.

However it does give me an idea for a service to prompt you in your particular industry. I wonder if there’s an engine or algorithm to be written that can help get you going in your field?

In the meantime, I might suggest that you take a day and write down a dozen sentences that describe the kinds of things you do in your job. Then take each of those and turn them into a post, a basic explanation of what you understand about the topic, and schedule those out. I’d think you could easily do one every two weeks and get things scheduled for almost a half year.

Monday, April 16, 2012

After a Rejection

If you’ve been rejected after a job interview, you might feel bad, feel like just moving on and finding another company. It’s natural, and I certainly understand. I’ve been lucky in my career to have few rejections, but I have had a few and I haven’t always taken it in any way other than very negatively.

This article talks about some things you might want to do in the corporate world. Write back to the manager, thank them, and ask about other opportunities.  I hadn’t heard that before, but it makes sense, especially for the reasons given. Corporate people often “start over” with each job opening, not considering other candidates, even if they’ve been interviewed recently.

I have heard to reach out and ask what you could do better. I’m not sure how I’d respond to that as a manager, mostly because of potential legal issues. Also, it might not be anything that you did wrong, and just be that there were better candidates.

It’s worth reaching out, if for no other reason than to have your name in the mind of a manager that might need someone else.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Facebook Passwords and Privacy

One of the things that I always talk about is that you ought to separate your professional and personal lives. For many of us, this might mean that we want to have multiple profiles online, and perhaps make sure we separate those profiles.

I have separate blogs for different parts of my life. This blog is dedicated to the Modern Resume and branding, I have a blog for my running, a blog for my personal life, and a professional blog at I used Twitter and LinkedIn for professional work, but I reserve Facebook for connecting with friends.

Sidebar: If you can’t see much of my profile, it’s because I limit what I show in Facebook to non-friends. Also, if you haven’t met my family, or had a meal with me, I won’t accept friend requests.

I’ve seen recently that some employers are asking for your profile information on Facebook and other sites. I know that this can be a cause of concern, and while there are any number of places to get advice, here’s what I would do:

Politely decline in an interview, or at your place of employment - I would note that my Facebook profile is private correspondence with my friends and family. It is not visible to everyone, and not public information. I would point the employer to my professional, and public, presences.

Provide an analogy - Ask your employer if they would expect to require you to have listening devices in your home or on your person during off hours. Ask if your employer expects to be able to come to your house and view videos or scrap books that you’ve shown friends.  The postings on a private site, like Facebook, are the digital equivalent.

Agree to Remove your Professional Information - You should not use your private profile to identify your employer. Just as you want your privacy, so should they, and you may consider including a disclaimer on your profile. Here’s what I have on Facebook:

The opinions, links, status updates, thoughts, and comments  posted here are my own opinion and to not reflect on my employer.

If you want to show your employer your profile so they can see this, feel free, but I would just sign something to this effect. Note that this would imply you should not have a current employer listed on private social networks.

If required, cite Federal Law - Forcing someone to give a password does not constitute authorization, and I would ensure that if my employer forced this issue and I couldn’t quit, I would get the request in writing. Prior to signing this or handing over the password, I would cite Section 18 of the United States Code, Item 1030, which deals with computer fraud. Accessing someone’s account without their consent, is a violation of this law.

Ultimately it’s up to you to handle this, and you can do what you want, but I would encourage you to think about this before you get asked.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Resources for Learning

I wrote last year about the Khan Academy over at The Voice of the DBA blog. It's a resource that one man set up for his kid and it has grown into a great learning resource for a number of academic subjects. It's a great resource, and if you have kids, check it out.

However, if you're interested in being a teacher in one of those subjects, it's also a good resource. You could get background on a subject, view how others teach the topic, or brush up on portions of the subject you aren't familiar with. That's in addition to being a great teaching tool.

In my industry, the SQL Server/data professional field, we have tons of resources available to us. Microsoft provides various hands-on labs. The company I started provides daily resources to learn from. There are plenty of other resources as well, including free events, and webinars from a variety of sources.

I know the tech industry is probably ahead of others, but more and more doctors, lawyers, and others are blogging and providing free or cheap education all the time. You just have to look for it.

Take control of your career, and seek out resources that can help you get better, learn new skills, and hopefully find the best job in the world for you.

Monday, April 2, 2012

SQL Saturday #131

I’ll be delivering the branding presentation at SQL Saturday #131, in Phoenix, AZ, on Apr 28 at 2:45. If you’ll be in the area, consider registering for the event and coming by. It’s free, and there will be lots of other technical SQL Server information as well.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Do You Need a Coach?

Most of us reach a point in our careers where we think we can tackle most of the challenges we face ourselves. We may ask questions, we may need to read, study, practice, or more, but we tend to have the self confidence to go it alone, making our own decisions and giving ourselves feedback on how things work.

However maybe there’s a better way. I read this piece about a surgeon that tried a coach and found it to be very helpful. To be fair, I’ve read Dr. Gawande’s book and enjoyed it: The Checklist Manifesto.

It’s an interesting idea. We often pay teachers and coaches to help us with sports, with some areas of our lives, but most of us don’t bother. I wonder if there’s something that’s worth investing in here professionally.

I think there is, and that’s probably the easy thing. Finding someone that you trust to be a coach, and you’d be willing to pay.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How do you learn the advanced stuff?

An editorial on technical work, but one that might apply in other areas as well. This was originally published on The Voice of the DBA blog on Oct 4, 2011.

I was talking with someone recently about features in SQL Server and they mentioned that partitioning was something DBAs should know. It’s only available in the Enterprise and Data Center editions for production use, but my friend noted that it works in Developer edition and felt there was no excuse for a DBA not being familiar with a feature that’s been out since SQL Server 2005, nearly four versions removed from its introduction.
I can understand that, but if you don’t have the ability to actually tune large data sets and see the impact of partitioning in a larger, production environment, it’s easy to dismiss this as a feature that doesn’t provide many benefits in a smaller situation. The same could be said for clustering, SSIS imports, or any number of features that aren’t often used. So how do you actually learn to get some experience with these features?
The first thing you need to do is get a copy of SQL Server Developer Edition and install it as a virtual machine on your primary computer. I use VMWare, but you could use Virtual PC, Hyper-V, or VirtualBox as well. The important thing to do is have a sandbox to play in and a machine you can easily copy, clone, or destroy as needed. I would recommend a base install of Windows and SQL Server DE, and then copy that for a machine you can experiment with.
One way to learn is duplicate the work that someone else has done. Make a copy of your virtual machine and then implement partitioning as described in an article. See if you can duplicate the way the author used the feature and get the same results. If you can’t, find out why, and if you can, experiment with the feature and try to improve the author’s implementation. The SQLServerCentral Stairway Series is a great way to do this in SSIS, SSRS, or other features that you may never have seen. Set aside an hour or two a week to learn some feature. After a month or two, you might be surprised what you’ve learned.
The most important is to understand how a feature works and gain some experience in using it. You might not become an expert, but being able to talk about the feature, and explain how you might use it in a situation comes from practice. That ability  might get you the project or job that allows you to become an expert over time.
Steve Jones

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Busy Career

It's been busy for me lately, testing new things, getting new talks ready, with a hectic family life in general. I haven't blogged in a month on this site.

That's not to say that I haven't been looking at my career or paying attention to career building, just been slow to post here.

My apologies, and I'll try to do better. I have a few editorials worth reprinting here that talk about career items.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Have you checked your resume lately?

It's midway through January, and hopefully you are starting the year off on a good note.

A quick reminder that if you haven't touched your resume, or reviewed it in the last 90 days, do so today. Open it up, scan it, and see if there's something you can add or remove. Did you done some interesting work at the end of last year, something that might impress a future employer? Add it now.

If not, close it and move on with your day.

But set a reminder for 90 days from now to check it again.


It’s anti-SOPA/PIPA day, and a number of sites have shut down for the day. O’Reilly closed their page, and of course, Wikipedia shut down.


Google didn’t do the blackout I was hoping for, but they have hidden their logo:


I like the Wikipedia closure, which appeared seconds after hitting a page. It has a great effect on me.


I debated about shutting down this site, but for a Wordpress hosted site, I didn’t see an easy way to do it.

To be clear

I am not against copyright legislation, nor IP protections. We should ensure that content creators have some recourse and ability to control the way their content is used.

I think SOPA / PIPA are gross, overreaching ways of doing this that are designed to help a few large companies, and potentially hurt many small ones, and will have no impact on foreign sites. These laws simple cut the US off; they do not affect the operation of the foreign site.

We can come up with better ways to protect content, while also preserving fair use and personal liberties, and limiting copyright.

My personal stance is that the original 14 years + 14 year extension for copyright is plenty. If you cannot earn money in those 28 years, let someone else build on your work.