Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This blog is moving

After five months on Blogger, the Net-Savvy Jobseeker is moving to a new home at net-savvy.com/jobseeker/. The archive will remain here at Blogspot, so any links to specific posts will continue to work. If you've subscribed to the feed at Feedburner, or if you receive updates by email, those will continue to work, too.

Meet you there!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Trendy jobs seek well-rounded people

Internet trends are doing some interesting things to the IT job market. Angus Loten has some insights in a Fast Company article, The Jobs of Web 2.0. The first trend is a new round of goofy job titles (PHP Ninja?). The second is jobs that require new combinations of technical and non-technical skills.
As such, standard tech job listings on cutting-edge sites like CrunchBoard or 37 Signals often call for "excellent communications skills" on top of LAMP, DRUPAL, AJAX and open source experience. They also co-mingle with listings for consumer insight directors, online audience managers and other marketing-like positions.

"People aren't just looking for a designer or a programmer anymore," said Jason Fried of 37Signals, a Chicago-based software firm that recently launched a Web 2.0 jobs board. "They're looking for programmers who appreciate design and designers who can program, among other skills. Basically, workers who are well-rounded and flexible," he said. [...]

For Pete Snyder, the CEO of New Media Strategies, an online branding firm based in Arlington, Va., most Web 2.0 employees have to speak two languages: programming and marketing.

Bottom line: Internet innovations are contributing to an IT job market recovery, but you'll need to be more than an old-fashioned code jockey to take advantage of the new trends.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Worst ways to...

Jeanne Sahadi is having fun writing the Stephen King stories of the job market (only they're nonfiction). Last week she had the worst ways to get laid off (via CM Russell). This week, the worst ways to quit.


I still remember the guy whose angry resignation email announcement made the rounds. These are worse.

Update: Jim has some more suggestions of how to leave badly.

Personal career development plan

What's your career development plan? The unpleasant reality of today's employment market is that every employee needs to be prepared to be back on the market. If you're just doing your job, counting on your employer to take care of you, you're setting yourself up for a big surprise. The better approach is to work actively on your own professional development, so you'll be ready if you need—or want—to look for something new.

Here's my outline for a personal development plan. Add your own details, and you'll be on your way to long-term employability. If you do it right, you'll enjoy your career more, too.

Training

Formal training isn't the easiest thing to fit into a busy schedule, but it shows a commitment to your career, and it's something specific you can point to on an application or in an interview.

  • If your employer offers training, take it. It doesn't get any easier than that.
  • Check your local community college or university extension program. Don't forget smaller schools that may offer continuing education courses.
  • Professional associations frequently offer or sponsor training events. You can network while you learn, too.
  • Training is as close as the nearest Internet connection with free online training.


Current awareness

Beyond formal training, identify sources of information to keep you aware of the world outside your cubicle. A free clipping service can bring you industry news. Newsletters and blogs can help with current practices and identify influential people in your specialty. Once you find a source you like, pay attention to its contributors and links to find other sources. Maintaining current awareness is a good use of your RSS feed reader.

Connections

Are you plugged into a community of peers? It's easy to focus your networking effort inside your own company, but that's not where you'll get the most help if the company shows you the door. Use LinkedIn as a tool for building your network. Volunteer in your community. Find a professional association or two, or a regional industry group. You'll meet interesting people at the meetings, and you'll be much better connected in the local economy if you reenter the job market. The newsletters, magazines, and other resources offered by most associations are another good source of continuing education and industry awareness, too.

Visibility

Networking is everyone's recommended way to get your next job, but don't stop there. In addition to retail networking (one-to-one), consider these ways to scale up your personal visibility:
  • Participate in trade show panels
  • Be a speaker at your association meeting
  • Write articles for industry publications—both print and online
  • Contribute comments on relevant blogs
  • Write your own blog
  • Create your own web site
  • Build your LinkedIn profile


As with any strategic plan, your personal development plan will benefit from a plan with smart goals. What are you doing to maximize your career this year? This month? Today?

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Use LinkedIn to create an online presence

When you Google yourself, are you lost in a crowd of people with the same name? Would you like to be easier to find?

Todd Defren suggests using your LinkedIn profile to create a permalink for your career . As Scott Allen points out, a profile on LinkedIn may be especially useful to people with more common names who have trouble standing out in search results:
...A lot of professionals are starting to use their LinkedIn profiles as a sort of "professional home page" that's independent of their company. Because of the LinkedIn domain's popularity, these profile pages tend to do well in the search engines. This may not be a big deal for people with very distinctive names, but for those of us with more common names, that’s a good thing.

Two thoughts here: First, if you're hard to pick out of the search results on your name, this might be worth trying. Second, everyone who uses LinkedIn should know that your profile is searchable on the major search engines. The personal background you share on LinkedIn is visible to everyone, just one more bread crumb on the trail to your online reputation.

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Legal issues of social networking background checks

I've written about employers searching the Internet for information about candidates and employees. There's a debate about the ethics, but the safe assumption is that companies will search for information online, including personal information they're not supposed to use.

Besides ethics and good manners, what are the legalities of casual background checks that uncover personal information? Attorney George Lenard discusses some areas of potential liability (via MN Headhunter):
  • Discrimination law
  • Invasion of privacy
  • Terms of service violation
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act

George wraps up with some familiar-sounding advice:
I would advise applicants/employees to assume future employers will read everything you post. So when you put something about yourself out there, you can be yourself, but avoid obvious negatives like saying you hate to work or posting sleazy or drunken photos. It may help to ask yourself whether you would want your mother to see your site. Sorry to say, but you may not even want to admit homosexuality or extreme political or religious views. On a positive note, use your Internet postings, including blogs as well as social networking sites, affirmatively, to build visibility and credibility as an expert in your field (or hobby). Join more "serious" networking sites like LinkedIn even if you are still a student—and work at building a network there that can help you in future job searches.

Yep, that's about it. Just pay attention to the bread crumbs you leave for others to discover, and you won't need to worry about whether their searches are legal.

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Living with the smart people

Oh, look, I'm in one of America's smartest cities:
Raleigh, N.C., with its amalgam of great research universities and high tech companies, tied San Francisco for second place for holders of Bachelor's degrees and was seventh for advanced degrees with 16.7 percent of residents holding one."

OK, actually, I'm in nearby Apex, where we get the traditional advantages of small-town life, too.

Update: Apparently, we're wired, too (via Valleywag).

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Cross-pollinating for innovation

"What's the last book you read?"

It makes the list of popular interview questions, but has anyone actually been asked that question recently? It's an interesting challenge, even if no one actually asks.

Somewhere along the way, I came across advice to read trade journals from another industry, where you might pick up new insights into your own. I like the idea, because I tend to be interested in a lot of areas, and making connections across industries or disciplines is a big part of what I do. So, naturally, I enjoyed reading Bruno Giussani's post about the surgeon who learned from mechanics (via TED Blog).
"The post-operation phase is probably the most sensitive, and until a couple of years ago it was chaotic: there was a lot of noise, everyone moved around with no coordination with the others: we've totally redesigned our way of working", [surgeon Martin Elliott] says. The Ferrari people filmed the doctors at work, then dissected the images with them. "For years we've been convinced that we were doing things pretty well, but seeing the tape it was shocking to notice our lack of coordination", says Nick Pigott of the intensive-care unit.

The world is full of specialists, and you have to specialize if you want to be accepted. But if you add some breadth to your knowledge and stay open to new ideas, you may spot opportunities that the specialists who stay in their niches miss.

If not, at least you'll be more interesting to talk to at lunch.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Help recruiters find you

I've posted before on using the right keywords to show up in recruiter's Internet searches. The advice applies to résumés that you post online or submit to employers (remember, many employers are using database searches to comb through the résumés they receive). It also applies to the rest of your online presence—your web site, blog, biographies connected to articles or conference participation, and your profile on services like LinkedIn.

Now Jim Stroud has added his suggested search tips for recruiters. These are web search suggestions, so to benefit from this directly, you need to post your résumé on a web site somewhere. If you don't have your own web site, you may be able to upload your résumé somewhere, but it needs to be visible as a web page, not locked in some database.

Jim's advice for recruiters implies three tips for jobseekers:
  1. Do include words that Jim tells recruiters to search for. Note that he suggests searching for "resume" in the title or URL of a web page. If your résumé is on the web but its name doesn't include "resume," this search wouldn't find it.

  2. Don't include words that make your résumé look like a template or sample (e.g., submit, openings, template, tips, submission, sample).

  3. Do include the right keywords for your specialty. This is the meat of the query, where a recruiter or employer searches on job requirements. This is why you include buzzwords, technologies, companies, and any other words that hiring managers would use if they were looking for someone just like you.

People can find your web presence in two ways: either they're looking for you, or they're looking for something about you. An online presence that works into recruiters' searches will help people find you when they're not looking for you by name, which can be a powerful way to extend your visibility in the market.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Employers use MySpace, too

People are still talking about the risks of personal information in your MySpace profile. This morning, I heard Stephen Viscusi interviewed on NPR's Morning Edition: Employers tap web for employee information. He moved right past any ethical question of whether employers should be snooping through people's personal lives online to the fact that they are. The ability to discover answers to questions they can't legally ask in an interview seems to be one of the perceived benefits of these online background checks. Viscusi mentions some examples of very personal information that shouldn't be part of the hiring decision but is available on many personal profiles.

Employers and recruiters may disagree on whether it's ethical to look for personal information, but at least some will use it. It's human nature to find those personal tidbits interesting. If you don't want employers to know it, don't put it on the web. Instead, leave a trail that enhances your brand.

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