Subject: Career Advisor Interview with...
Sent: 04/26/2008 at 07:17 AM
What is your Name (or Alias if you do not want to be publicized): Doc Farmer
What is your title or recent title?: Senior Security Specialist (InfoSec, Inc.)
How many years have you been in Information Technology?: 31
Can you tell an experience that was critical to reaching your current level?: I suppose it would be my switch from IT Auditing to IT Security. I've always been heavily mainframe-based, so when I was able to start actually implementing security recommendations in a hands-on fashion, it made a great difference and enhanced my value to client companies.
What professional skills (i.e. communication, writing, interviewing, etc...) do you think allowed you to overcome obstacles in your career?: My writing and communications skills have helped me explain technical issues to management, and management issues to technical folks. Since I've also had to do a lot of security project management, that has also helped me prioritise (sorry, after living in the UK and Middle East for over 12 years, I still write in English instead of American) the workloads and provide more accurate estimates for the work I manage.
Can you share an experience where you overcame an obstacle that was placed in your way during your career and how you overcame it?: Geez, there are so many to choose from - the definition of this job is to overcome obsticles, to find better ways of doing things. And I don't think of them as overcoming career obsticles, more like overcoming management or technical obsticles which would help improve the client's security. I think the one I'm best at, however, isn't technical - it's helping companies understand that Audit and Security are NOT out to find fault or catch crooks, but are there to help save money by reducing the risk of the simple, accidental errors we ALL make (myself included).
What was your best source for technical traning during your career?: IBM Manuals (I actually LIKE reading them - science is still searching for a cure, of course), RACF-L (the listserv group, actually writing technical security articles for Xephon Publications (which require a good deal of research and hands-on testing), and some VERY good bosses who were willing to expand their system horizons.
What Technical Skills allowed you to shine above your co-workers? Why?: I'd say my in-depth knowledge of RACF, my long-term experience with IBM mainframe shops, my background in Audit and (while not a technical skill) my strong work ethic. That last one is actually something I share in common with my co-workers, but the other ones have helped me provide our clients with strong, honest and in-depth assessments of security issues, as well as the means to correct them without nuking their normal operations.
Is there anything else that you can share with I.T. Career Seekers?: I'm not currently looking to change jobs - I enjoy my work at InfoSec, as well as my co-workers and boss. However, we're always looking for new opportunities to find client companies (either directly or corp-to-corp), so if you know of any RACF-based opportunities (Health Checks, System Security Assessments, z/OS Technical Audits), please let me know.
Oh, and if you'd like to connect with me on LinkedIn, I'm an open networker. You can send an invite to me there at Doc.Farmer(at)gmail.com.
What is your LinkedIn Public Address URL (so that we can publicize your accomplishments) ?.: http://www.linkedin.com/in/DocFarmer
Subject: Career Advisor Interview with...
Sent: 04/25/2008 at 01:49 PM
What is your Name (or Alias if you do not want to be publicized): Faith Sloan
What is your title or recent title?: Sr. Web Technologist Consultant
How many years have you been in Information Technology?: 22
Can you tell an experience that was critical to reaching your current level?: Moving to San Francisco and actually staying for 8 years was key. The dot com bubble was yet to be conceived. That was a glorious period of opportunity for learning, working on diverse projects, getting involved with the good - the bad - and the ugly in terms of startups, working with the big corporate entities such as HP, Pacific Bell, US West, Sprint, etc.
What professional skills (i.e. communication, writing, interviewing, etc...) do you think allowed you to overcome obstacles in your career?: Speaking, writing, and NETWORKING are critical. I started writing technical papers; attending large local and global conferences; presenting workshops, etc.
All of this was not only done at the technology level but I also managed to integrate the technology presentation with industry-specific business case. For example, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 13 years so I became 'known' as one who not only knows tech but also knows the industry. Then I was invited by a friend I met on the internet to speak at the American Bar Association Tech Show and was invited back for 3 years so I was then known by folks in the legal industry where I hobnobbed, smoked cigars, and drank brandy [today I laugh at that]. I branched out to work in the telecommunications arena at US West, Sprint, Pacific Bell.
Can you share an experience where you overcame an obstacle that was placed in your way during your career and how you overcame it?: Without a doubt.
Lenos.com was founded by 2 other women and myself in San Francisco. We all had day jobs, got little sleep, ate crappy food, fought (like friends do), and we just couldn't get VCs to give us a few million while the guys around us were getting tens of millions of dollars for borderline insane business plans. Meanwhile, I still had to develop this huge application.
We then took an alternative route to funding via private individuals. This is how we overcame our painful obstacles. It was well worth it. Lenos.com is still going strong almost 10 years later.
Preserverance and being risk tolerant are two ingredients to my success.
What was your best source for technical traning during your career?: I started with a formal foundation with a B.S. in Quantitative Methods and an M.S. in information Systems Management. This is where I learned theory as well as hands on development.
Today my best source of technology 'knowledge' is through sites such as LinkedIn, IT Business Edge, WebPro News, User Groups, guru white papers, 'jump in and create applications' approach, and using a lot of what I call 'Googlization' efforts.
What Technical Skills allowed you to shine above your co-workers? Why?: I wouldn't say that any particular technical skills is the differentiator. But I can say that knowing database considerations, performance issues, along with knowing how to hunker down and code is a great combination of skills to have.
What truly gives me a competitive edge is the ability to communicate across the board -- with technologists, business units managers, and well as with C-Level executive types.
In addition, being able to offer solutions on par with a 'real' business need which affects the bottom line.
Is there anything else that you can share with I.T. Career Seekers?: I highly recommend that technologists continue learning, pushing their own envelopes, and growing every step of the way. There is truly nothing you are not able to do. This is not some tired cliche. Cherish both the trials and tribulations you WILL encounter as they only serve to increase your knowledge base. You might even discover something about yourself.
Get into the 'business'. It makes you a better technologist as well as a better developer.
Finally, TEACH. Not only do you LEARN from teaching while increasing your visibility and 'expert' factor, but it is always good to give back.
Send Faith a LinkedIn Invitation at developer(at)frsa.com
What is your LinkedIn Public Address URL (so that we can publicize your accomplishments) ?.: http://www.linkedin.com/in/faithsloan
The Corporate Systems Facility Maintenance team has an opening for an application systems administrator. The administrator will be responsible to assist with overseeing the technical components of the Viryanet Service Hub application. Service Hub is the application client uses to manage service calls to technicians that service equipment.
Essential Job Functions:
- Provide third level support for Web/Java based application.
- Analyze root cause and assist in designing/building solutions to technical problems.
- Assist with roll out tasks associated with bringing future divisions live on the application.
- Participate in all phases of system testing.
The ideal candidates should possess:
- Good communication and interpersonal skills are a must.
- 2 or more years direct experience with Oracle (10g preferred).
- 1 or more years direct Unix (Unix/Linux) experience.
- 1 or more years direct experience with Oracle PL/SQL.
- Experience supporting Web applications.
- Experience with Windows Pocket PC and handhelds.
- Experience with IBM Websphere.
- Experience with public Wide Area Networks.
We can not accept Corp-2-Corp candidates for this position.
CLICK HERE TO EMAIL RESUME
Subject: Worst recruiter experience I ever had!
Sent: 11/27/2007 at 04:57 PM
What was your worst experience with a recruiter?: Ah, gee, let me count the ways....
It could be all the times they had me wasting my time driving to their offices to meet them before they would submit my resume to their clients, only to not be called by their clients for interviews...
...or it could be when they try to play games when negotiating the salary by asking "How much are you making now?" rather than "How much do you think this job is worth?"...
...or it could be when they write their ads with 3/4 of it taken over by BS about what a GREAT place it is to work and how happy and fulfilled and full of flowers and trees and leprechauns wearing funny hats your life will be if you work there...
...or it could be when they write their ads "inviting" you to participate in their BONUS (read: BOGUS) program to make $500 with every referral...
...or it could be when they treat you like royalty when they're trying to recruit you, and then NEVER return your calls when your resume is rejected...
...or it could be when they are total jerks on the phone...
...or, it could be contract recruiters for AT&T asking for your social security number because that's how AT&T sorts candidates (to be fair, that's AT&T's problem, shame on them)...
...OR, it could be that every time you get a job with these P1MPS, they take a sizeable cut of your pay...
...OR it could be that the IT market in the Triangle has been COMPLETELY taken over by them, so you CAN'T get away from them
Chief Technical Officer
By ELIZABETH GARONE
Special to THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
For many executives, "arriving" involves years of planning and calculated moves. But not for Colin Hendricks. He embraced the "change your mind" approach from the very beginning and says he has "stuck" to it ever since. "There was no plan," Mr. Hendricks says. "Having one would have taken all of the surprise out of my life." That unconventional approach has taken him from an early start in mechanical engineering to a Master's degree in journalism and finally to his current position as Chief Technical Officer of Rome Corporation, a Houston-based financial software company. Elizabeth Garone spoke to Mr. Hendricks about the twist and turns in his career. Edited excerpts follow.
Full name: Colin A. Hendricks
Current position: Chief Technical Officer, Rome Corporation
First job: Mechanical Engineer at Stewart and Stevenson Services
Favorite job: The one I'm doing when you ask me
Education: B.S. in mechanical engineering, Rice University; M.S. in journalism, Columbia University
Years in the industry: 15
How I got here in 10 words or less: Broad educational foundation; always took the job that seemed most fun.
Q: As Chief Technical Officer, what are your responsibilities?
A: I set the technical direction for our software company and lead our software development team.
Q: How did you go from mechanical engineering as an undergrad to journalism as a grad student and then make the leap to financial software?
HOW YOU CAN GET THERE, TOO
Best Advice: Get a broadly useful technical education having something to do with building software, says Mr. Hendricks. "Learn to write and understand code. At the same time, don't give up on learning to communicate with human beings," he says. Mr. Hendricks also advises continuously improving on both skillsets. "Enthusiastically deploy them both in tackling whatever problems are before you," he offers.
Skills you need: A detailed understanding of the basics of how software works and how it is created is key, says Mr. Hendricks. You also need "an ability and desire to interact with people, not just computers."
Degrees you should go for: Any engineering degree (electrical, mechanical, etc.); You could also pursue computer science or applied math, "but only if you recognize that, in real life, you probably won't be working on compilers and arguing about time and space complexity," says Mr. Hendricks. A Master in Information Systems can be helpful, "but only if you're careful not to avoid writing actual code," he says.
Professional organizations to contact: Mr. Hendricks recommends getting involved in open source software projects as a way to make contacts and gain experience.
Salary range: About $150,000 to $300,000, depending on experience and location.A: I chose to study engineering because I like building things, but I've always had an interest in great stories as well. I pursued journalism in the hopes of combining the two and writing about how things came to be. At the time, I really did consider going and working in journalism as a career. I finally ended up in software because I found that I like doing the building myself rather than writing about others' achievements.
Q: In five years at the Rome Corporation, you have gone from writing code to software architect to Chief Technical Officer. To what do you attribute your success?
A: Luck and perseverance. I was lucky enough to have people around me at all levels of the company who are smart, capable, and willing to help each other. I then helped that luck along by working hard at whatever task was before me regardless of its level of difficulty or glamour.
Q: You mentioned that you never really had a career plan yet you seem to be exactly where you want to be. How did that happen and what's next?
A: Flexibility, optimism, and very little reluctance to change the definition of "where you want to be." I'm sticking to my plan of not having a plan.
Write to Elizabeth Garone at email@example.com
Worst February for hiring in the Information Industry in 8 years as a % of total employment in the U.S.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps track of the Hires Rate for the Information Industry. The hires rate is defined by the Bureau as the number of hires as a percent of total employment.
Wikipedia defines the Information Industry as a loosely defined term for industries that are information intensive in one way or the other. It is considered one of the most important economic sectors for a variety of reasons.
Information industries are considered important for several distinctive reasons. Even among the experts who think information industries are important, disagreements may exist regarding which reason to accept and which to reject.
First, information industries is a rapidly growing part of economy. The demand for information goods and services from consumers is increasing. In case of consumers, media including music and motion picture, personal computers, video game-related industries, are among the information industries. In case of businesses, information industries include computer programming, system design, so-called FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate) industries, telecommunications, and others. When demand for these industries are growing nationally or internationally, that creates an opportunity for an urban, regional, or national economy to grow rapidly by specializing on these sectors.
Second, information industries are considered to boost innovation and productivity of other industries. An economy with a strong information industry might be a more competitive one than others, other factors being equal.
Third, some believe that the effect of the changing economic structure (or composition of industries within an economy) is related to the broader social change. That is, as information becomes the central part of our economic activities, the society as well is becoming an "information society." For example, some observes the increased role of mass media, digital technologies, and other mediated information in our daily life, leisure activities, social life, work, politics, education, art, and many other aspects of society.
The Hire Rate for February was 1.4%. December 2007 (December is typacally a low month for hiring) was the only month in the past 8 years that was lower.
So if the hires rate is the number of hires as a percent of total employment. Hiring managers must view the information industry as a place to cut back on hires during these nervous economic times
I have modified the content to better support what I am seeing in the marketplace, but the orginal article was very good also.
1. Forget the "shotgun" job search method.
Many people still use the "shotgun" method for conducting a job search. They read the Sunday job ads; they submit a standard resume to as many job boards as they can find; they call on a few friends. Then they submit their standard resume to either a handful of opportunities each week, or they submit to dozens of jobs with the same resume as long as the position sounds remotely interesting.
My take: While finding a new career opportunity is a numbers game to some extent, you still have to be able to make a personal connection with the person hiring. I receive over a hundred resumes a day. Job seekers have to find a way to stand out to the people receiving the resume.
You can stand out in 2 ways:
- Your resume reflects the skills required on the job description.
- Your resume is action oriented (you did "A" that had "B" results").
2. Start with a plan to find the right company first and the job second.
What the shotgun method lacks—and what every job seeker needs—is a specific idea of the job they want and a plan on how to get it. Yet few job seekers start with these ideas since both require thought and time. Pressed to quickly find a new source of income, most job seekers don't feel they can afford the time needed to create a big-picture strategy; they simply want to apply to as many positions as quickly as possible. They feel they need to act, not sit and think.
That mentality is born of shortsighted fear. It's not the mentality of a long-term, solutions-oriented leader.
My Take: It's improtant to do research about which companies are good to work for in the area where you want to live. Make a list of how your education and experience will allow you to contribute to the organization that you want to join. Take every opportunity to talk about that list when interviewing with the Hiring manager.
3. Focus on growth industries and specializations.
Picking an industry that is still growing or is predicted to grow during these difficult economic times increases your chances of landing a new job and decreases your chances of getting laid off again.
Most of the job search engines, career sites and economists agree that the top industries for 2008 include...
My Take: read my blog entry about this: http://www.career-advisor.net/2008/03/tomorrows-jobs.html
4. Consider different business environments.
There are many more job opportunities than most people realize. In addition to the large national firms that the Dow Jones and Fortune magazine track, there are numerous other business environments to consider, such as startups, spin-offs and fast growing midsize companies. These organizations may be hiring more staff than traditional Fortune 500 companies. Also consider nonprofits and the public sector. In a down economy, some of the largest job growth comes from federal, state and local governments.
This goes into being flexable also.
5. Compete effectively with consultants.
One of the biggest swings in the job market since the last downturn has been in employers' move to augment their staff with consultants and contractors, says Rosenberg. Companies have turned to consultants, who are often as experienced as full-time employees but generally cost less, to scale their staffing levels up or down as needed, in response to changing economic conditions.
"Employers want the immediate deliverable that a consultant can bring, with the lower overall costs and risks of a full-time employee," says Rosenberg.
Consequently, employers' openness to hiring consultants has changed their initial expectations of their new hires: Since consultants are brought onboard to have an immediate impact on a specific problem, and since employers see consultants and full-time employees as roughly equal, employers want full-time workers to have the same immediate impact on a company that a consultant has, says Rosenberg.
To compete with consultants in this economy, job seekers need to convince prospective employers that they'll quickly get up to speed and deliver results.
"You need to demonstrate throughout—on your resume, your application and in your communications with a targeted employer—that you have delivered results on the problem the employer is facing," says Phil Wallner, president of Provident Link, an IT and executive recruiting firm. When your communications with prospective employers address their problems and describe how you've solved similar problems in the past, hiring managers will say, 'I need to talk to this guy!' says Wallner.
6. Focus on revenue.
In a down market, the bottom line still requires sales "above the line" to keep the company alive and growing. Even if you're not in sales, you should highlight the work you've done that directly improved business development, pre- and post-sales support, upselling and cross-selling activities, vendor and partner negotiations as well as business process efficiencies that led to greater client/customer satisfaction, according to executive recruiters. Doing so will show your focus on revenue growth and will help you differentiate yourself as a business builder.
My Take: It is a good idea to highlight your revenue producing activities in the bullets of your summary at the top of your resume.
7. Your resume is a marketing tool, not a bio.
Resume writing is tricky business. You have to provide just enough information to pique the recruiter's or hiring manager's interest in learning more about you. But if you offer too much, they can make a snap decision that lands your resume in the trash.
Complicating matters is the need for resumes to address three different audiences simultaneously: a junior recruiter or HR person screening for certain keywords, the senior recruiter looking for skills and experience, and the hiring manager, who is looking for team fit and specific relevant successes, says Marc Cenedella, founder, president and CEO of TheLadders.com.
Executive recruiters, resume writers and career specialists recommend that job seekers spend at least three to four hours customizing each resume for each opportunity. Tailoring your resume to each opportunity is even more critical in a sluggish economy and competitive job market: Employers want specialists with specific, creative solutions, not generalists with vague ideas.
To ensure that your resume works for (and not against) you, I recommend writing it more like a proposal than a job description. Focus on the immediate results you can offer as well as the long-term benefits you bring. Explain how your su
bject matter expertise can help your target firm address its specific challenges and opportunities and how your leadership and executive skills achieve bottom-line results. The key is to make your points relevant to the employer, not to your ego. In other words, it doesn't matter if you were top dog in your prior firm; you need to clearly show how your experience as the top dog will benefit your prospective employer.
One way to present challenges you've addressed on your resume is using the STAR analysis process, which breaks your challenges into situations, tasks, actions and results. What was the initial situation you walked into? What task or responsibility did you take on? What actions did you undertake? What were the immediate and big-picture results? A shorter version calls for simply noting each major challenge and accomplishment, generally in a case study-like format. The point is to present the greatest information relevant to the prospective employer's needs in the briefest context.
Also, use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to make your resume
After putting all that time and effort into your resume, it would be a shame for a recruiter or hiring manage to reject it on the basis of a spelling or grammatical error—or to have it get trapped in a spam filter. If you aren't using a professional resume writer, then at least have one other person review your resume. If you are in a crunch and must send your resume without another reviewer, here's a trick I learned from a Discovery Channel article on brain functionality: reading text backwards forces your brain to re-review each word individually. Use Lyris Content Checker to pre-scan your resume and cover letter to ensure that innocuous words don't get blocked as spam.
8. Try to be perfect.
With so many job seekers available, recruiters are being told to keep looking until they find an exact match. Candidates who are landing positions in today's economy are—by strategy or by luck—perceived to be "ideal" candidates. Such ideal candidates are confident and they're genuinely passionate about the job, company and industry. Hiring managers consider confidence and passion top qualities.
My TAKE: This is the sooooooo true in this recession economy!!!
To make sure you're playing your A-game on interview day, spend time beforehand scripting and rehearsing your answers to interview questions about your strengths and weaknesses, says Chris McCann of Gregory Laka and Company executive search. McCann also recommends being prepared to explain how you developed staff beyond providing company paid training. For example, did you serve as a mentor? "Noting how some of those individuals have succeeded demonstrates your personal connection and commitment to your team," he says.
Finally, make sure you know the intimate details of your resume and all of your accomplishments, adds McCann. You need to be ready to elaborate in great detail on processes, facts, time lines, technologies, costs and all manner of statistics on all firms and projects directly related to the position for which you are interviewing.
9. Be prepared to be flexible. VERY flexible.
The job market is not the same across the country. Some states are creating more new jobs than others. You may need to move. If international work appeals and is open to you, consider work outside the U.S.
In addition to being open to relocating, you may have to bend over backwards to get a job or impress an employer. An executive recruiter I interviewed for this story told me about a candidate who moved from third or fourth choice to top selection when he offered to work as a consultant to start, at half the rate for six months in a contract-for-hire option. By lowering his rate and starting out on contract, this candidate showed his willingness to mitigate the risk his prospective employer would be taking on by hiring him full-time. Notably, the candidate didn't go to this length because he was desperate for any job. He made some upfront sacrifices because he really wanted this particular job with this particular employer, the recruiter told me.
Another candidate offered to fly cross-country on his own funds to meet with a CEO who was on vacation at the time. By being extremely flexible for the CEO, the candidate met him in a much more informal and relaxed environment. This expensive and risky strategy worked for the candidate—who, again, was not desperate for any job. He got what he felt was the perfect job for him.
10. Plan for the long term.
Don't stop your search until at least 30 days after your first day on your new job. I know colleagues who've had job offers rescinded or who've been laid off—not for performance reasons but for the company's financial reasons—within their first 90 days who then have had to start their job searches all over again. (I've experienced this, too.) Consequently, some job search experts recommend that new hires keep interviewing for other jobs during their first 90 days at their new employer since that's a standard trial period for new hires during which employers can let them go for any reason.
If you focus your efforts on companies in growth industries where your skills are suited, and if you emphasize your ability to have an immediate impact on prospective employers' bottom lines, you'll be poised for success no matter how bad the economy. As Gregory Laka and Company's McCann notes, "There are not a lot of people who can leave their thumbprint on a business. Those individuals are the top 10 percent of the talent pool. They are the people that businesses will always look to hire no matter what the market or economy."
Do you think that working in a Car Factory in the U.S. will be a good career for the future? Do you think working in the construction industry will be a good career over the next 5 years? Do you think Cobol is the programming language that will give you the skill for long term security?
Being informed about the market place and the future market place may help you and your family's longterm stability.
Ask the following questions about your choosen career:
- What does the job currently involve?
- How will the job itself change over the next few years?
- How will the environment around the job change?
- Do these changes require a different person to do the job?
I recently spoke to a consultant (we'll call him John) who's H-1B Visa was being held by a company that finds consulting positions for him. They farm him out for projects. His green card was in process with that employer. He was willing to transfer his visa to my company in the hopes of getting the position.
Unfortunately, if your I-140 (Green Card petition) is still pending, then the application will not remain valid if you change employers. The I-140 must be approved and your I-485 must be unadjudicated for at least 180 daysbefore your I-140 would remain valid if you change employment.
If John was willing to make this decision, this is a sign that times are getting tough for these visa holders. As the IT market shrinks employers must be able to find citizens that meet their job openings.
Anyway, my point. Lauren has defined who she is and how the world views her.
I think that everyone should define their career and market themselves to the work community that they belong to. The reality is that your work alone will not make you known. Self marketing is not shameful. You should make yourself standout.
- Do you have your own website?
- Does your website show examples of your work?
- Do you belong to professional organizations?
- Are you active in professional organizations?
Just some ideas to get you started.
We may want to stay in a certain city so that our children can finish high school. We may want to not relocate so that our family is speared the ordeal of relocating. Do we take a lower level and often lower paying job offer so that we do not have to relocate? It can be a difficult decision.
Mark is a software analyst here in Memphis. He was recently let go from his company 2 months ago. He was made an offer from a company in Dallas last month. He initially accepted the position but dragged his feet because his lack of wanting to relocate. The offer was pulled and he is again looking. Mark's lack of decision making may have put his family in a bad position.
Do not underestimate the importance of your family's financial health. Will it put more strain on your family to suffer financially or to relocate? Make the decision.