Tips For Your First Geek Job

So, graduation was a blast and with qualification in hand, you’ve marched off to find that first job: success (!), they’re going to give you a chance.  This is your best opportunity to prove to yourself that this is your vocation.

And the best part is that your employer already thinks that it could be.

Selecting a consultant: Part 1

Choosing the best consultant for your business needs can be a daunting, if not harrowing task. It’s tempting to jump straight in, do a quick Google search, make a call and be done with it. But how do you know if you’ve selected the right person for the job? Many of your fears can be allayed if you’re clear about what you want and need before you pick up the phone.

Have You Considered Consulting?

While this phrase may, for some, sound like the death-nell of their chosen career, consulting may be a way of fulfilling those professional dreams before the year ages much more and those New Year’s Resolutions become just a memory.  So what do you want to achieve in 2011?  For some, it may be that larger, in some cases, life-threatening impacts have shifted your focus, and for others, it may mean that you’re seeking a fresh start.  Don’t know where to being?

New Year, New Job?

The beginning of a new year often has people considering where their life is and where they would like it to be. In relation to your career, as you’re considering the year ahead, you may be asking yourself…

New Year, New People

So, it’s twenty-eleven and the previous year either ended with weather upheaval, or the new year started with climate disaster. But the show must go on, so if you’ve been reviewing your business plan in light of resources and man-power and have decided that life would be easier in your business unit/department/office with an extra person, or persons, read on…

The Catch-22 about hiring new people is that the process can take precious time away from doing the things that make you money, which is the reason you decided to hire in the first place. So what do you do?

  1. Consider the type of tasks that you need done to free you up (What are the critical processes?)
  2. What processes need special skills?
  3. What processes can be learned quickly?
  4. What type of person is usually attracted to your employment advertisements? Do these people work out? If not, why not?
  5. Is there a logic to the grouping of responsibilities in your organisation, or are they allocated according to the talents of the person in the role?

Reference versus Reputation

Have you ever felt the buzz of being approached to work for another organisation?  Often this is preceded by out-of-the-blue phone calls, clandestine meetings, and a lot of praise for your abilities coupled with an exaggerated description of contradictions, “… with your experience and skill-set (ugh), you’ll have no trouble meeting the demands of this high-powered role, but you’ll still be challenged to achieve, I’m sure.”

Before you dive in head-first, work through your checklist for new jobs:

  1. Is this an organisation that faithfully represents what your industry is about?
  2. Is this an industry that you want to remain a part of in your next move?
  3. Does the job seem too good to be true?
  4. Why is there a vacancy that you’d not heard about?
  5. To whom will you be reporting, and what is their reputation like?

Resume Design

A resume is a visual representation of your career, strengths, and accomplishments to date. Given that the average employer generally spends less than a minute perusing any one resume, it’s important to ensure that your resume not only has current information, but also a current look. So, how do you ensure that your resume has a keeper design? Here are a few basic tips:

  1. Make sure your name is the focal point – you’re selling yourself and prospective employers need to know who that is.
  2. Construct your resume so that the visual layout guides the seeker to your qualifications and strengths – employers tend to skim and scan resumes rather than read every word, so design your resume to maximise this.
  3. Have consistent and polished formatting – use clear titles and headings, use one typeface in no more than three styles or sizes and ensure there is plenty of whitespace or use of contrast to enhance readability.
  4. Align left or justify your paragraphing – it’s important that the reader’s eye has clean lines to follow.

Remuneration Benchmarking

A focus for manufacturing organisations reviewing their expenditure in this climate has become remuneration, not to downplay these salary bands, but to establish their selection criteria against market expectations for high performing human assets.

As this activity isn’t isolated to periods of downturn, and that it is important for organisations to conduct periodic market reviews, it is heartening that manufacturers are taking the opporutnity to recognise that their technical staff should be valued, based on performance, experience, competence and, let’s face it, rarity.

Career Crossroads

As an Industry Mentor in the Griffith University Mentoring Programme, there has been opportunity to see the world through the eyes of a student of science and technology, and reflect on my own early career experiences.  In doing so, I recall how the limitless possibilities presented to a student create a series of impediments in the form of indecision, insecurity and fear of the unknown leading to a lack of confidence, a feeling of trepidation, and a general unease that can be debilitating if it takes hold.

The grip of anxiety is strongest when we are at our most vulnerable: at a career change, significant life event, or approaching uncharted territory, and we are thrown.  To this end, there is an association of this fear with change, and so a behaviour develops that we face all change or challenges with the same queasiness.  Through analysis we can ease the feeling by falling back on innate abilities: research to understanding – it’s what geeks do.  The fear is not a result of pending change, but a fear of the unknown.

X & Y: Same difference?

News and Views

Word on the street is that some sectors of the workforce and society-at-large are confused about the differences between Gen-X and Gen-Y.  The similarities are that they are younger than Baby-Boomers, have different perspectives about work and have a broader appreciation of technology in comparison with their older counterparts.  However, the groups are very different in their motivations, values, and experiences which needs to be made clear.  Here is a rough guide:

X-ers are those in their mid-30’s to late 40’s (sometimes a bit older), generally well-educated, well-travelled, conscientious and diligent at work, with a no-nonsense perspective in life.  They are adaptable to changing technology and are often change-agents in a business.  Your boss is likely to be from Generation X, so named for its enigmatic or indefinable attributes.