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  • Dean Waye 8:06 pm on October 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brian Gordon, , , , Search Engine Optimization, Social network, ,   

    Finale: Nobody Finds A Job Alone 

    Adriano Gasparri - My LinkedIn Profile

    [This is the second part of a two part article on finding a job in 2010-11. The first part is here]

    In the first part of this series, I discussed the past decade and how some individuals helped me find new opportunities, and how I had done the same for others. And up until my most recent employer, all these jobs were found in ways that haven’t changed much in the past many years.

    In 2010, there are new tools, and a new (very) general acceptance about using them. Things have changed a bit. Not as much as you might think, or hope. But changed nonetheless. And some new lessons are appropriate.

    Caveat: I’m not 25, and I’m not looking for my first real job. So what I write below might not be as useful for people under 30 as for those over 30. I recently read an interesting article here that might be more helpful for younger folks.

    1. Old but true: You still need to Google yourself occasionally.

    Why? Several reasons:

    • Every day, the likelihood of a potential employer doing it increases.
    • You should know what’s there, before someone else searches for your name and then asks you (or passes on talking to you altogether) because of what’s there.

    But it’s not just about playing defense. You can do a lot to influence what Google puts into those top 10 search results. And don’t think it’s difficult and not worth trying. Search Engine Optimization might be big business, but that’s because if you’re Coke, getting on the top of Pepsi searches is nearly impossible, and therefore expensive.

    You’re not Coke.

    If you have a very common name, like my friend Brian Gordon, you might be able to skip this step, because it really will be hard to float to the top with so many other Brian Gordons out there. The same might even be true if your name isn’t common in the USA, but it is in e.g. India or China, so the result is the same. But the less common your name is, the more important this step becomes, because it is easier to find the real you.

    When I Googled my name last summer, there was basically nothing on the first page that was really me. And the first page is the most important of all, since virtually nobody goes past it to look at page 2. Under my name, there were a couple of Amazon.com reviews I don’t remember writing, a handful of listings for those creepy public record sites that scrape government webpages, and some Usenet postings (see? Usenet. I told you I was over 30).

    Today, the creepy sites are gone, only one Amazon review remains, and everything else is from my blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. Much better.

    2. Today, we don’t have privacy, we have content (aka Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and you)

    If I am hiring today, I go take a quick look at what the web shows about you. It’s easy, and since we’re strangers, I’d rather know something about you than nothing at all.

    I won’t dwell here on the obvious things about Facebook, since I doubt beauty pageant winners with grabby boyfriends (or girlfriends), or silly  people who like to photograph binge drinking will ever read this blog. But there’s something subtler at work here, a possibility, that you might appreciate: you’re not a spectator or minor character in your online presence. You’re the movie producer.

    Like a movie producer, you can’t control all the variables (actors!), but you get to set the theme, the overall direction, and to solve the problems. It’s the same with what I see about you online. The best way to influence what I see about you, since you’re never going to be famous and no one else is likely to intentionally write about you, is to crowd the other stuff off the front page. You, my friend, need to write. You need content.

    So write. But do it in a controlled environment, like forums, blogs, personal websites that aren’t blogs (remember those?). And sure, write on Facebook. But let’s be serious here: for as long as you live, Facebook is now a megaphone for you, not a never-ending public conversation. You look outward, the way radio shows and businesses do there. Your days of Liking, commenting, and posting things you wouldn’t want your 9 year old niece to read tomorrow, are over. And whatever you can clean up today, do it. I have spent a lot of time tweaking Facebook privacy settings. You haven’t (be honest). Plus, Facebook changes them all the time. Stop playing chicken, and stop being reckless. The only people who should spend lots of time on Facebook are people who aren’t in the workforce and never will be again.

    PS Same for Twitter, with a twist: if I see that you posted thousands of items and retweets, and the top couple of dozen aren’t quality stuff and interesting links, I might pass on you. Who has that much time to spend on Twitter? BUT, again, you benefit from the same effect I mentioned above about Google’s first page of results. Virtually nobody looks at page two (who has that much time?). So post 25 good quality tweets, to crowd out the other junk you put up there. Then either stop cold turkey, or keep up the good content stream.

    And that brings us to LinkedIn.com

    Older than the others, and smaller too. Much more boring. Incredibly boring. Like 75 million resume-length business cards, LinkedIn is the anti-Facebook. Everyone’s profile on LinkedIn is either non-existent or chock full of descriptions from (apparently) the greatest business people to ever walk the Earth:

    strategic thinker, innovative planner, and hard worker

    – versatile professional with a decade of experience in multi-system global logistics who personally saved $1.2316 million by optimizing throughput in 3rd shift plants (how? where? is that a lot, relative to what you had to work with?)

    –  John Smith, 3 LinkedIn contacts

    Yet, LinkedIn is where the recruiters go. They might look at Facebook second to find bad stuff and save themselves embarrassment, but they go to LinkedIn to find good candidates. So when you are writing your content for your LinkedIn profile, you should lean more toward what you would write on Facebook than what others write on LinkedIn. Like I said, LinkedIn is smaller than FB, but it’s still 75 million strong, and that’s a lot of competition. Plus everyone there is scared of messing up, the place reeks of tension, so it’s easy to be noticeable by loosening up just a little. You need to stand out. Good news for you, everybody else is as boring as heck. So make your content as warm as you can get away with, write as much as you’re allowed to, and if someone writes you a generic recommendation send it back. And you, you write good, memorable recommendations for other people. Write for them first, pay it forward. Sow and reap. Any questions along that theme, read the Part 1 article again.

    LinkedIn is so important, I am going to rephrase what I just said: This is where people find you for new jobs. Be as warm as you can while staying professional. Generate lots of quality content in your profile. Link to, or embed, your other content from your blog/Twitter. And show that you think (I know that you think, so show it). A weakness on LinkedIn is that your competition focuses on saying what they did but in the most generic possible way. You say what you did, but show that you think about stuff too.

    (You can do this. Honest. I know you can. In most of life, ideas alone aren’t worth much, but they are valuable when someone is willing to write them for public view. So show us yours.).

    Some other thoughts about LinkedIn:

    a. Upload a picture. I use a cartoony graphic mainly because I want something that looks the same on computer screens and mobile phones, can be used on my blogs and other profiles, and would generally carry across wherever I was found and be recognizable. Someday I will switch to a photograph again. You should start there, if you can. And in your picture, fill the whole frame, look at me, and smile. Please.

    b. Think about buying a premium membership for a month or two. There are some interesting features included.

    c. Invite me to connect with you (just search for Dean Waye). Don’t use the generic message LinkedIn offers you. Tell me why we might be able to help each other, or be interested in working together someday. Or tell me you want to write a guest post on my blog (these things don’t write themselves, you know 🙂 )

    d. Join some groups, especially groups in your industry and your college. It’s a good way to connect with new people. Don’t join jobseeker groups, though, except maybe for a day or two, to find the recruiters and connect with them. Then quit. Tip: The recruiters are the ones with 9000+ connections.

    Summary (where it all comes together)

    It’s great when someone hassles you to take because they know you’re a great fit. Absent that, you can do a lot with social networking sites to put your best face forward and show that you’re a thinker and a doer who is responsible enough to manage the Internet Age’s replacement for personal privacy on Google and everywhere else. Be personal, post the odd trivial piece, but mainly keep the least impressive parts of your life off Facebook, and swing a little bit the other way on LinkedIn.

    And if you find a great use for Twitter, send it to me? I still don’t truly see the potential there for individuals, yet. Maybe I should think about it…

  • Dean Waye 12:18 am on October 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Employment, Job Search, Labour economics, , Olive Garden, Red Lobster,   

    Nobody Finds A Job Alone 

    University of Central Florida

    Image via Wikipedia

    Nobody finds a job alone.

    I was thinking about this last week, after dinner with a former co-worker on Thursday. Both of us had been brought into my current company by the same man, who was trying to get him to return to the company the rest of us still worked for.

    As I was driving home after dinner, I thought about the dozen or so jobs I had helped people (some friends, some acquaintances) start over the past decade, and I realized that none of them had ever helped me get a job in return.

    But, you know what? I haven’t yet helped the three men who found jobs for me:

    • Neil , a former grad school roommate who moved to America ahead of me and guided me into his company;
    • Marty, who called me for months before I finally agreed to interview;
    • and Mark, who I briefly worked for at Kronos, and who introduced me to my current employer after moving there himself.

    All great men. All, I’m sure, have helped many other besides me. I’m part of their dozen, and others are part of mine.

    Isn’t that strange? It’s as if career assistance is a giant game of pay-it-forward. Three people helped me. I helped a dozen. Hopefully, some of that dozen will help others whom I will likely never meet. And on it goes.

    Which brings me to to 2010. I last looked for a new job in 2007, and I believe the landscape is very different today. For me, 2007 was like 2004, and 2001. The companies and jobs I have found through connectors like Neil Wornes, Marty Wells, and Mark DeArmon, have been good fits, even if I didn’t think they would be at the time. The jobs where I connected through unknown third parties tended to be brief, and bad matches, despite my initial feelings after the interviews (I’m looking at you, Robert Half).

    But 2010 is different, apparently.

    Prior to this year, I didn’t notice much of a social networking component to the job market. I joined LinkedIn in 2003, but only recently have connections there crossed over into the real world. I’m one of the geeks who has 400+ LinkedIn connections and actually knows nearly every one of them personally.

    So I want to to walk you through a decade or so of job search history from age 29 to today, and discuss what worked and didn’t, and what I still recommend and don’t, and a few lessons that I hope are useful to anyone about to start a new job hunt.

    Part 1: Prior to social networking sites.

    Lesson 1. If you are young, and especially if you are in school, get out there early.

    I was lucky (and financially already in trouble) when I started, so I had nothing to lose by taking anything I could.

    When I returned to school after my bachelor’s, I walked directly to the career placement office and told them I wanted whatever odd jobs a technical person could do. That got me two short-term gigs almost immediately, as the ‘computer guy’ for an A/V company at a large annual software conference, and as a trainer for a subsidiary of MCI teaching people basics about MS Office and the web. The first led to my meeting a local event planner, whose small jobs kept me fed while I was in school. The second led to an opportunity to write a 1-day primer course for local telephone company workers who were being introduced to this new Internet thing.

    That 1-day course course, and being the trainer who conducted it, eventually led me to a job at that telephone company. That was my last full-time job before I left for America.

    Lesson 2. If you get the call, jump. Trust your new friends to know you.

    When my former roommate called me from a company in Virginia, and told me I would like working there, I needed convincing. I had never lived in America, and I had about 10 reasons why the timing was wrong. But I decided to live in the States for 2 years, get some experience, and return to Canada.

    [Note: over time, I met a lot of guys who have moved to America without already having family here. Those who remain here seem to fall into 2 groups. They came for a job and stayed for a woman, or came for a woman and stayed for a job. I’m the former)]

    I stayed with that company for two years, but left after talking with a recruiter at another firm about the job of a lifetime that really wasn’t.
    Lesson 3. As soon as you can, start speaking to groups, meeting folks, and helping others get work.

    After a couple of years, including immigration issues and a post 9/11 economy, I met Marty through our accountant, who I think put us together because we were roughly the same age and were ‘computer guys’. We hit it off, in part because we were (and still are) in different parts of the industry; he’s hardware, I’m software.

    Other than a one-time introduction to Darden Restaurants I made for him (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, those guys), which didn’t work out for either of us, I don’t know why Marty kept in touch with me, and kept asking me to join a company he had become a manager with (after meeting the owner on a plane, in first class, of course. Marty’s often lucky like that). But he kept calling, and eventually the budget opened up for a new position, and while I wasn’t sure about the company, I trusted Marty, and joined.

    That job was my first return to management in years, and gave me the chance to help a lot of people get hired (and to hire some myself). I especially focused on helping recent grads and immigrants, spoke at colleges and universities, and at one point offered whatever help I possibly could to a meeting of 400 international students at UCF.That talk at UCF was a valuable lesson for me. I was the last speaker, and it took me half an hour to get out the door after I finished. Those folks were motivated to find work (this was about two years after 9/11, things in Florida were still bad), and a small mob peppered me with questions and requests before letting me leave.

    From my talks at colleges I ended up either placing or directly hiring at least 4 people in my short time working alongside Marty, including one who graduated from UCF and, I swear, called me every 10 minutes for as long as it took to get me to hire her. I am still friends with her and her husband today, they are great people.

    Extra Lesson: You never know where your next connection will come from. That UCF speech was by invitation of a truly amazing lady related to my wife, Melanie Parker. Today’s she’s at MIT, where I’m sure she helps many, many people find jobs after graduation.

    Lesson 4. Know what your salary number needs to be, and especially if it’s a big boost for you, argue for it. Once you accept the job, you join the annual review / salary adjustment track, and might never see a big boost again.

    From working with Marty, I went to KRONOS, and set to work getting more great people hired there. KRONOS was the kind of company where, if you set your mind to it and didn’t mind the travel, you could meet an awful lot of people, both colleagues and clients. I worked with Honeywell, GE, state and county governments, and many, many others. I also worked with a lot of client HR teams while working both with and for KRONOS (I was a KRONOS customer when I worked with Marty), learned a lot about payrolls, and saw the truth of the old adage “People don’t get what they deserve, they get what they negotiate”.

    If you could see who-earns-what in your own company, or the company you are looking at joining, you would be SHOCKED. Many of the hardest-working and critical people in every company earn so little, you can’t believe they actually raise a family on it. And some of the lowest contributors (and least useful) people earn so much, you can’t believe they are kept on. Also, in my experience, especially these days, few people actually rise within a company. And the larger the company is, the truer this becomes.

    Extra Lesson: My busiest day ever at KRONOS was when a large layoff was anounced. I knew several people who were laid off, and from a Jackson, MS airport spent hours on the phone (took a later flight) to call everyone I knew who might have openings, to place people into new companies as quickly as possible. The lesson… somedays, it’s your turn to deliver real stuff to real people. When that day comes, don’t hold back. Don’t hold back. Don’t hold back. Pay it forward.

    Lesson 5. Somedays, it’s your turn to accept the phone call. It never hurts to listen.

    Near the end of my time at KRONOS, Mark DeArmon was hired and became my manager, only to leave six months later. Soon after that, KRONOS went through some major changes. I had been there three years, and decided to accept his introductions to hiring managers at my (now) current employer. Similar to Marty, I don’t know why he singled me out and kept calling me, but he did, and after talking to three different hiring managers, I joined that company.

    Summary of Part 1:

    These are three men. There are people who think they are ordinary, or worse. But they made big dents in my universe. As I made big dents in others’s. No one finds a job (or starts a business, or does anything big) alone. There are people who can make a difference. You already know who they are. Stop putting them off to another day, a better time, or any other excuse you have. Let them help you. If I knew you’d, I’d help. I have to pay it forward, especially since I haven’t helped them yet.

    Next: Part 2: What Social Networking sites change about the job search (and what they don’t).

    • missdisplaced 7:58 pm on October 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Help out a grad student researching modern job search methods. This is not Spam and I am not promoting anything. It is a real research project.

      Follow the link below and complete my survey. Thank you!

      The following is a survey examining methods employed by individuals in the job search process.

    • derek hoekman (bighook) 6:59 am on October 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Dean Yeah its me .A ghost from those long ago days in Nfld.Read your blogs and have to say very impressed though not surprised.You always had a way of charming the pants off people.My self included.Anyways continued success in your ventures and I agree with your pay it forward philosphy.It is a much missing moral in todays selfish ,trashtalking, instant gratification society .I especially agree with your comments on facebook as I know an out of control teenager who currently uses it to document her partying life style posting pictures of herself and friends blitzed and showing large bundles of drugs and what not they consumed during a weekend.The Paris Hilton scandal lifestyle choice is really impressive. Oh well nice to see you are alive and well and have prospered in the important aspects of life.Anyways I understand if you are too busy to reply with an email but suffice to say I am still alive and happy to see you are as well.Derek

  • Dean Waye 8:50 am on October 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bill O'Reilly, , Communication, Consulting, Education and Training, , , , ,   

    Dear Customer, 6 Things Project Managers Don’t Tell You 

    Project Management Knowledge Areas

    NImage via Wikipedia

    (I wrote this 3 years ago(!), before moving back to technical presales.)

    1. I have fewer people than you think, and that’s good

    No matter how big or complex the project is, I never have enough people and that’s okay, because adding people leads to additional lines of communication, self-sorting into groups or specialties, and a tendency to shirk (someone else will do it). A small team has its own risks, but overall you can’t beat the esprit de corps, the sense of being needed, and the nimbleness.

    2. I use my project management tools sparingly

    In a perfect world, we would live inside a project plan, having deep discussions about Earned Value and Critical Paths. In reality, I use the tools of my trade less than I would like to, because the messiness of your world spills over into mine , and those tools don’t  keep up well. Instead, I use other means to manage my projects, especially…

    3. There is a reason you see me so often, even though I live far away

    I recently made my 400th onsite trip to a customer site. In 3 years. The team that actually works for me (in my industry, it’s software development) hardly ever sees me, and lives all over the world anyway. You see me so much, to you I’m local. It’s even possible that I know more people inside your company than you do. But forget the project plans and status reports (no, not really), my main job is to get the different parts of your company, and your other vendors, to work with me, to talk, and be reasonable.

    I once saw a show where someone discussed how to be treated well as a guest on the Bill O’Reilly show, and the simple answer was, go to his studio. If you attend via satellite, he’ll cut off your mic, etc., but sit across from him (or anyone) and the tone changes. Get people outside their email fortress, and real stuff happens.

    Making real stuff happen = project management.

    4. Project management is the worst job in the world, except for most of the others

    It’s thankless. It’s stressful. The hours are terrible, and the true hourly rate (annual salary divided by # of hours worked) is not as much as it should be. But for a certain type of person, the kind that doesn’t like to be comfortable for long, the kind that likes to struggle, it’s the best seat in the house. Especially if you’re the ‘Outside’ type in the next section…

    5. There are 2 types of project managers, and I am not the one you think I am

    Most project managers are ‘inside’ project managers. A smaller percentage are ‘outside’ PMs. Here’s the difference:

    Inside PM: The budget for the project is coming from the same company that issues your paycheck. That means, in her job, delivering within budget and on deadline are ultimately the definition of success.

    Outside PM: The budget for the project is coming from a customer, or other outside entity. So, ultimate success is some combination of making sure your own company makes a profit this time while making sure the customer is happy.

    See the difference?

    If you are an Outside PM, you know that customers can still be happy even if a project is late or goes over budget, as long as the final result’s perceived value is high (whereas an employer is NEVER happy when you go over budget).

    Read that above line again. Twice. But keep it between us.

    6. If I didn’t like you, I wouldn’t be here

    Thanks in part to organizations like PMI.org, plus the international standardization of project manager credentials, and growth in IT globally, the number of unfilled positions for Project Managers with proven track records is still pretty good. PMs who consistently show a profit (or don’t lose money) have even better options.

    PMs are continuously recruited. We are here because we are interested in your company, or the project, or both.  So as far as customers go, you’re alright :-).

    Hey, I like you.

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