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September 2006 Archives

September 20, 2006

Something I should have done already

Welcome to the Net-Savvy Jobseeker's new home at net-savvy.com! The archive of existing articles is still available at the old address: savvy-seeker.blogspot.com. We're going to have much more fun here, once I catch up with some web design work.

September 22, 2006

Are your skills hot or cold

If you're in IT, you already know about the skills treadmill—the need for constant learning to keep your skills relevant (not to mention the learning curve associated with new versions). Marianne Kolbasuk McGee has an article for Information Week on the hottest tech skills today (via WirelessJobs.com). If your skills are on her cold list, you might want to do an upgrade of your own.

Skills that will be in declining demand over the next two to five years include programming and routine coding, systems testing, application maintenance, technical support, data continuity, and recovery. Those skills are among jobs that are increasingly being offshored.

Hot areas?
Applications developers with customer-facing skills are hot in general right now, but especially hot are rapid application developers and extreme programmers who are among those getting the highest premiums—about an extra 16% added to base pay.

...

Other hot skills include SAP application development, wireless expertise, storage area networking, and RFID. There's also increased demand for "hybrid talent" such as people who have operations experience as well as technology skills.

If you lean to the creative side, there are opportunities related to Web 2.0 and interactive marketing. Funny how technology touches everything now.

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September 26, 2006

Here's a label for you: Person

Are you a jobseeker? A candidate? Maybe a recruiter or hiring manager? How about a consumer, or a subscriber, or a customer? Do you ever get tired of all the labels people slap on you when you're not looking? Denuo's Rishad Tobaccowala, speaking at OMMA in New York, cuts through the jargon with an important reminder (via Scott Karp):

Please let’s talk about people and not consumer or user.

Target Audience: Do I need to be hunted?

360 Surround: Don’t you feel trapped when people talk about 360 marketing?

User Generated Content: Since when did I become a heroin addict?

Consumer: I create, I retransmit, I edit, I share—I’m not defined by your stupid brand.

People, that’s what we need to think about.

People, person, human.


I know, labels serve a purpose. We use terms like consumer to focus our attention on their role in our business. We talk about candidates, recruiters and hiring managers because it's relevant to the hiring process. But it also complicates our interactions. The person sitting across from you is probably a lot easier to talk to than the adversarial role that the interview process can impose.

It won't necessarily help with employers (there's that labelling thing again!) who want to play games, but remember the person when you're talking with potential employers. If things go well, that interviewer is a potential colleague, too.

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What the recruiter left behind

If you've taken the step to create a personal web site or blog to increase your visibility, you should be getting visitors who find you through some sort of search. The next question is, how are they finding you? The boring answer is that they're searching for you by name. Don't get me wrong—it's good if a search on your name leads to your own web site, but it's more interesting (and useful) when people find you by searching for some other subject, such as your professional specialty.

Once you have a web site or blog, you'll want to set it up to gather statistics on your visitors. I use StatCounter, which has a free version that keeps a limited amount of information. With my free account, I can learn things like:

  • Search terms lead people to my site
  • Search engines people use to find me
  • My most popular pages and blog posts
  • Internet domains people are coming from
  • Number of visitors (listed last, but everyone's first question)

Now, first, if you're getting concerned that I'm somehow gathering personal information on everyone who visits my sites, these systems do not identify individuals. There's no personal information involved, so don't worry.

How does this stuff help in a job search? At its most basic level, it tells me if anyone is reading what I put online. I get a rough idea of what's interesting to people by what they search for and which pages get the most visitors. And I sometimes get an indication of which companies are looking at my sites (and what they looked at). Especially during the hiring process, it's interesting to know when the company you're talking to reads your blog (but it still doesn't tell you who is reading by name). When they look at your web site before the first screening call, the stats can alert you to the call you're about to receive.

Web stats are great for keeping track of visitors to your web site, which can give you useful information. Remember that your online presence is more than your web page, and make sure you're using the right keywords everywhere you want to be found.

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September 27, 2006

Are you fluent in jargon *and* English?

Matt Linderman is tired of jargon. He'd rather hear more real English, with people saying what they mean instead of trying to impress with buzzwords. If you've ever fought the urge to play Buzzword Bingo in a meeting, you'll like buzzwords say all the wrong things:

Everyone’s always implementing or enabling or optimizing or leveraging. There are endless value streams, efficiencies, solutions, infrastructures, and enterprises.

Of course, there are meaningless business buzzwords and opaque technical jargon. Rand Fishkin describes a translation skill that should be familiar to technology marketers and tech-support folks:
Our profession requires that we bridge the gap between technical jargon (that can impress and speak to a tech and search-savvy audience) and communicative, plain language that speaks to our customers.

In the job search, jargon has its place, and so does clear communication. Here are my suggestions for the appropriate time and place for jargon:
  • Put relevant keywords in your résumé, blog, web site and profiles. Relevant means words that a recruiter might use in a search for appropriate candidates, including specific technical terms and job titles. Notice that fluffy verbs aren't among the popular keywords.

  • Be prepared to speak clearly without resorting to jargon during interviews. You will probably interview with people outside your specialty, so you should be able to answer questions without resorting to acronyms.

  • Use the appropriate level of jargon in your conversations within your specialty. Jargon exists to make communication within a field more efficient, and you should demonstrate an ability to communicate on your prospective peers' level.

  • When in doubt, don't try to baffle them with bullshit.

Was that clear?

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Online image hijacking

It seems that some people are running into online image problems stemming from personal sites they didn't even create. Sarah White has the report of back-stabbing job competition among college students (via Ragan Jones):

There are cases of college students creating explicit or unflattering (to say it nicely) websites and user accounts pretending to be people they view as competition for jobs. Think about it - they aren't dumb. If they know someone will be looking to compare - who would you hire the one with a friendly site or the one very explicit. The sad part is - the other student may not even know the site exists, yet their reputations are tarnished.

How to protect yourself? First, look yourself up. Do the obvious, quick-and-easy background check that potential employers are likely to do. Look for yourself in social networking sites, too, especially if you're young enough for people to expect to find you there.

If you find something inaccurate—if you're the target of someone's unfair competition—you may be able to get the site removed (good luck). If that doesn't go anywhere, well... the legal issues promise to get interesting.

There's a lot more to your online reputation than a MySpace profile. If there's adverse information about you out there that won't go away—even if it's false—you can use other services to counterbalance the bad stuff. Start a blog; post a LinkedIn profile; post some pictures on Flickr (not the ones that create more trouble for your job search!); create a competing MySpace (or Facebook, or whatever) profile. You might even write about the false profile (but don't air your suspicions about who may have done it online). The goal is to bury the bad profile with more favorable search results, but you'll still want to get rid of the bad stuff if you can.

This sounds like something that's happened once or twice, but even assuming it's unlikely to happen to you, you should know what people find when they look you up. You knew that by now, didn't you?

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New salary tool from Indeed

It's not fun to be on the wrong side of an asymmetrical information situation (witness the popularity of online car pricing tools). Before you start discussing salary with a potential employer, a little homework will prepare you for a more pleasant experience. Since the original post, some new sources have popped up.

Indeed launched a new salary tool yesterday (via Search Engine Watch). Like the Indeed job search, the salary tool is simple to use and gives useful answers to the question everyone wants answered.

As a bonus for marketers, the 2006 Aquent/AMA Compensation Survey of Marketing Professionals gives another data point. It's always nice if multiple sources give similar answers, isn't it?

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The interview before the interview

When do you turn on your best behavior for an interview? If you wait until you meet the first interviewer, you may be too late. You start making an impression as soon as you walk in—or even on your flight to the interview.

Even if you aren't interviewing with the airline that flew you to the interview, do you know that someone from the company didn't see you before you entered the building? The world is full of opportunities to be indiscreet.

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About September 2006

This page contains all entries posted to The Net-Savvy Jobseeker in September 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2006 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.