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).


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.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Career, money, happiness?

Maybe it's just the end of summer, but I've seen a number of posts and articles about happiness and work lately. The one thing almost everyone agrees on: it's not about the money.

Ken Makovsky, What makes us happy (at work)?
...Despite worries about their economic future, Americans put pay, benefits, and job security lower down the list of qualities that are important to them in their job than a sense of fulfillment, opportunities to help people, and autonomy in how they accomplish their tasks.

Penelope Trunk, Three more ways to think about career happiness
  1. Many people want fame, but it's bad for you.
  2. Rich people are not happier but they say they are.
  3. Keep your commute short and your TV off.

CFOs think money is the main factor in the decision to take a job; Jason Alba takes issue.

Matthew Herper, Money won't buy you happiness (ok, this one's not so recent):
According to Ed Diener, the University of Illinois researcher who surveyed the Forbes 400 and the Maasai,... happy people tend to have higher incomes later on in their lives. So, while money may not help make people happy, being happy may help them make money.

C'mon, people, let's get happy!


Interactive talent shortage continues

Interactive marketing is booming, creating openings that exceed the available talent pool. Matthew Creamer writes in Advertising Age yesterday, talent dearth breeds crisis:
...It's a great time to be in digital, provided you're part of the select group that has real experience in Flash development or web design and can help create the sophisticated integrated-marketing programs that agencies and their clients increasingly are demanding. Salaries are soaring, perks are proliferating and promotions are pouring in.

...It's worth observing a significant difference between the dot-com era and now. Back then, everyone prospered. These days, there's a clear advantage for a small subset of the business: those schooled in Flash, web architecture and data analytics. At all experience levels, these folks are reeling in big raises, getting chased by headhunters and being poached by bigger outfits.

It's hard to believe that a company would alienate a star in this environment.

If you're not already working in this stuff, you won't be able to cash in on the current craze at the high end, but the openings aren't exclusively at the highest levels. If your experience is in a shrinking industry or specialty, interactive may be a new direction for you to consider.

If you do have experience they're looking for, are you using the right keywords to make yourself visible? Articles like this one from Ad Age provide helpful clues on what recruiters are looking for, as well as names of people and companies in the market.


A random walk down employment street

uCheez: Employment Site Shuffle
I can't quite decide if this is useful or just entertaining. Joel Cheesman's uCheez (via is a new website featuring a big button that shuffles visitors through a collection of career-related web sites. In my quick tour, I saw sites for Hispanic and bilingual jobs, accountants in the UK, JobCentral, and—big surprise—Joel's blog. I saw targeted job boards for local and international markets, too.

uCheez is an interesting experiment. Web sites pay for joining the shuffle, which jobseekers can use to discover new resources. With so many career-related web sites online, this could be helpful. But the site design breaks the browser's "back" button and history feature, so you'll need to be careful to keep track of the sites you like. Click on "Close uCheez" to see the original web site and URL. If you forget and want to go back to one of the sites you passed, you could end up clicking the shuffle button a lot.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Online tools for organizing your job search

Your job search is all about (pick one):
  • Marketing yourself
  • Selling yourself
I tend to focus on the marketing aspect of the job search, but the sales aspect is where you actually close the deal. It can also be a process that generates a lot of details that you have to track, such as contact details and job leads. I have an Excel workbook to track job-search activities, but better tools are out there. The professional-strength approach to tracking detailed information in sales is to use specialized software, such as GoldMine (PC) or Daylite (Mac), but new, web-based services designed just for the job search offer many of the same benefits. Most offer free versions of their services, too.
  • Backpack is a web-based organizer that could be useful for keeping to-do lists and notes. A paid version adds photo and file upload capabilities. It's not a specialized job search tool, but it has some interesting capabilities, such as sending reminders to your email and cell phone (via Career Hub).

  • Emurse is an online tool for creating, sending and tracking résumés. Once you build your résumé, Emurse generates DOC, PDF, RTF, ODT, HTML or text versions as required, helps you send them to employers, and keeps track of where you've sent it. Emurse includes an web-based résumé option with optional password protection, if you want to be found by web-searching recruiters.

  • Isabont has all the features you want for keeping track of your search. You enter your contacts, events, and to-do lists, upload your résumé and cover letter, and start tracking job postings. A free account gets you access to most of Isabont's features; the $9.95/month premium level adds email and cell phone reminders, email attachments and data export features (via Secrets of the Job Hunt).

  • JibberJobber is another complete job-search organizer, tracking contacts, jobs, and applications. It also offers a library with links, articles, and personal stories. The free version offers most of the benefits of the paid version ($9.95/month, $105/year, $190/2 years).

  • Job Search Log manages bookmarks for the job boards and searches you use, remembers the postings you select, and helps you track applications through the entire process. The free service also includes a contact database, customized letters, and mail merge and reporting functions (via Secrets of the Job Hunt).

  • Myjobtips ($14.95 for three months or $29.95/year) tracks jobs posted on the Internet and adds notes, events and reminders. A free version allows you to track up to three active jobs at a time.

It doesn't matter which tool you use—even paper and pencil can work, if you insist. But an active job search generates a lot of information, and you need quick, easy access. It's just not good form to be unable to remember that you applied for a job at a company when the recruiter calls to schedule an interview.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A little knowledge is a competitive thing

In the introduction of my Beyond Job Boards presentation, I tell everyone that the talk is about tactics. I don't want anyone to think that a few Internet search tips are a substitute for a solid job search strategy. I do suggest that online sources and techniques can make you more competitive in the job market, if you're willing to expand your knowledge of what's out there.

It's probably a safe assumption that today's professionals have at least a minimal knowledge of how to use the Internet. They use email and the web, and they use Google to find things. When it comes to using the Internet in a job search, they know about employer web sites and the big job boards, but that's about it. Most people haven't discovered RSS, they don't understand blogs, and they don't discover social networking until they're in the job market. They don't benefit from these things because they're new, which creates an opportunity for those who discover their value now.

Kathy Sierra posted this diagram on Creating Passionate Users, writing about the mismatch between product capabilities and their typical use. Think of the "product" in the diagram as all of the career-related benefits of the Internet:

Whether I'm working with an individual, speaking to a group, or writing here, my goal is to expand that circle of what jobseekers can actually do with their online tools. You'll never expand the purple circle to fill the green one, but you can be better informed, find more of what you're looking for, and help the right people find you. How big is your purple circle?


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Creative, curious, makes people crazy

I like Creative Generalist because Steve recognizes the connection between creativity and curiosity, a combination that drives people crazy (follow-up posts 1, 2 and 3). It's not easy being a generalist in a world of specialists, but someone has to be able to make connections across domains, or innovations will stay in the lab. The trick is to develop a specialization that benefits from generalist traits and use your curiosity to develop insights others miss.

Other blogs that inspire me: Idea Sandbox, Information Aesthetics, Logic+Emotion,
Presentation Zen.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Convenient search for career advice

Have you noticed the glut of career advice on the Internet these days? If you were to try to read all of the career-related blogs, you wouldn't have any time left to find a job!

Enter CHiMBY, CM Russell's new vertical search engine for career advice (vertical search means that all of CHiMBY's results should be on topic for jobseekers). Here's the short description:
CHiMBY is a vertical search engine that indexes career advice information within a small but highly respected network of authors, bloggers and career media sources in order to provide the best answers to your career advice questions. Each source is hand-picked to ensure fresh, relevant results. The information you'll find comes from an exclusive club of career advice experts.

I'm honored that this blog is one of the over 200 indexed by CHiMBY. Next time you're looking for advice on a specific career topic, give it a try.

We are a CHiMBY recommended career advice site


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Companies hiring in the Triangle

Jason Caplain posted some links for people considering relocating to the Triangle (Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill, NC). Along with some of the usual good suggestions for this market, he has a convenient list of some area companies with open positions:
BrightView Technologies, Broadwick, Bronto, Centice, ChannelAdvisor, Constella Group, Cree, Hosted Solutions, HyperBrach Medical, InnerPulse, Integrian, Motricity, Nextreme Thermal Solutions, Overture Networks, Quintiles, Red Hat, rPath, SAS, SciQuest, StrikeIron

See Jason's post for the links and his other suggestions, then visit my list of Triangle resources for jobseekers for more ideas.


Typo sends opportunity away

Don't put the wrong phone number on your online résumé.

A member of a local networking group recently described getting phone calls at her work for someone who listed her office phone number on his résumé on Monster. He sometimes get a phone call every day at this wrong number. These calls have been going on for 5 months. How many leads has he lost from one typo?

Proofread your résumé, especially details like email addresses and phone numbers that are unforgiving of mistakes. A one-digit typo could send opportunity knocking on someone else's door.

Not a record, fortunately

View from Mt. Mitchell
On the day forecast to be the hottest of the year, here's a moment to remember a cool afternoon with old friends at the highest point east of the Mississippi. 68º F in late July.

Well, at least we appear to have missed the forecast 100º high today.