For many newbie presenters, their focus is entirely on the material. Do they know their stuff? Are they familiar enough with what’s on the slides that they can talk about them fluidly and accurately? Have they prepared for questions? Practiced their delivery? and so forth…
What’s missing from this focus, and what Carroll spends much of the coverage in his book on adding to the picture, is the audience to whom the presentation is to be delivered. Although he wraps up his advice and behavior coaching in transpersonal psychology language, his most important points can be summarized as follows:
I could go on and on, and if you find this stuff interesting, you should definitely check out this book, too. But the key is to understand ultimately that it’s not what you know, or how much ground you can cover, that really counts when you give a technical (or other) presentation. What really counts is what you can give to your attendees, and what they can take away with them when the presentation is over. If you remember that basic principle, and increase your efforts to get your messages across, you will improve your presentation skills immediately.]]>
Beyond all the things that she mentions: getting the word out, displaying a framed certificate, asking for a raise or looking for a new position, and so forth, there is one more thing I’d like to encourage those preparing to earn a new credential, or those who’ve just passed the bar to same, to consider: how to describe their newly- or soon-to-be-earned cert in a variety of situations:
Overall, the idea is to sell yourself while also explaining and exploring the value of your certification and the knowledge, skills, and experience it’s led you to develop and acquire. Good luck with your new or upcoming credentials: take this approach to obtain the best return on your investment in earning it!]]>
Lots of IT wit and wisdom emerges from being immersed in the current milieu. Today, for example, this might mean pondering hot topics that “everybody” knows about and lots of people are digging into. If you want a couple of for instances that are pretty right now to illustrate, think about virtualization and Windows 7. Generating plenty of buzz, attracting lots of users, and exciting ample interest from those whose job it is to plot a technology course for the next 12-24 months.
Dealing with this stuff in the here and now is pretty easy. But digging back into the there and then raises questions about how information gets distributed, who did what when, and how all the pieces of common knowledge were used to create workable production technologies upon which business activity could safely rest. What I’m learning is that although lots of people understand how information handling processes and activities work in a loosey-goosey kind of way, only a few really understand in depth how they work in detail, and can go out and build such things.
That’s why I keep coming back to the notion of learning by doing. Intuition and understanding things in general will get you only so far. If you really want to master a subject area, you have to put those faculties to work and build or make something that works. I find this insight as helpful in learning new operating systems (Windows 7) as I find it useful in figuring out what to do with virtualization (creating images of multiple hard disks in a virtual machine requires creating one giant virtual disk, then using partition management software to carve it up into individual drives of the proper size and number) for testing, rapid deployment, or remote clients to use.
Thing about what you can do with what you know, and you’ll get further than if you simply keep packing away interesting and potentially useful bits of knowledge. Only if you put that information to work can you ever know if it’s worth anything, or good for something.]]>
And despite Schein’s observations to the contrary, my own experience is that Facebook and MySpace remain far more social than networking oriented in this sense, whereas other, more professional sites such as LinkedIn, Plaxo, and so forth, naturally assume the job search mantle because they’re rather more professionally oriented anywyay. This by no means detracts from the value or import of the article, and isn’t meant as a major cricitism of Shein’s excellent story: there’s no denying that social networks can be very useful to job seekers, especially during the early phases of reconnaissance and targerting where personal connections can make a huge difference in identifying opportunities, and making the first cut between the “nahs!” and the “let’s look at this resume/appliction more closely” stages of candidate qualification.
Shein also observes that once you target a prospective employer, the social networking sites can let you learn a lot about current employees, especially when it comes to understanding the prevailing work ethic, typical employee profiles, corporate/organizational culture, and other aspects of life as a worker at the target company or organization. Of course, this kind of information also leads naturally into interview preparation should an indication of candidate interest provoke a similar sign of interest from a prospective employer.
Personally, I’ve found LinkedIn to be a great way to reconnect with former colleaues, co-workers, and co-authors. In my own case, it hasn’t led me to any job offers, but it has led to numerous consulting and writing gigs, some of relatively long standing and nice remuneration. Working social networks for work purposes turns out to be a savvy and workable approach to today’s job market. If you haven’t done so already, I urge you to give it a try, with LinkedIn at the top of the list. And of course, that leads to my final words on this subject here: always treat your presence on social networking sites as both personal and professional, and don’t post (or say) anything you wouldn’t want a current or prospective employer to see! Otherwise, those words and images could haunt you for years and years to come…]]>
Thank you for blogging about my experience. Before I made the decision to go down the IT path, I found a job for a PC-Tech-like job. A company needed an individual to handle PC/laptop upgrades. They stated A+ preferred but not required. I applied for the position and in my cover letter I listed out the same experience as in my email to you. Needless to say I got no response from the company but that is when I finally decided to get A+ certified. Being 38 years old and going back to school to start over was very difficult, at first. I knew that I could do it but was it where I should go career-wise? In other words without technically being in the field, should I try it?
Years back when I first started college, I took a career profile test to see what suited my personality. The results came back auto technician or detective. I am a car guy for sure and like guns too but, I have this thing about being shot at. So, for years I did car stereo, body shop and auto parts work until I finished college( Associates in Marketing). I spent 11 years at BMW (11 years at one car dealership is pretty much unheard of, tremendous turnover), then 11 months at a Porsche dealership as a service advisor, which felt like 11 years.
A majority of the jobs that I see now want years of experience with the certifications. I know that I have a good bit but not wanting to sell myself short, not enough PC and networking yet to be on my own. That is why I am looking for job environment that has some supervision. Like a large company that does PC and laptop exchanges, were I would transfer files, set permissions, network settings….etc. I did create a profile on ADP’s web site since they support car dealerships like Reynolds&Reynolds and also on RIM’s (Blackberry) site. I know that with some good mentoring, I will excel very quickly. When I started at BMW, I had to learn a lot on my own which taught me so much. I was skipped over several times for training yet I was still able to figure out and diagnose the cars. I have found a few possibilities on Dice, which does seem like the best tech job web site out of all the ones I have been on. I will keep you posted.
I see some emerging glimmers of hope in this reply and some good positive attempts to find work as well. I also continue to see more evidence of highly relevant experience that he’s still hesitant to claim. I’d urge him to make as much of that experience as possible, to stress his abilities to learn, solve problems, and deal with complex systems even in the absence of formal training to learn them.
I’d also urge him to look beyond Dice and other job sites, to ply his own personal network to look for opportunities. I’d also urge him to look for forums and message boards online where others are asking questions about tools and technologies he knows, and posting helpful information to answer those questions. This not only gives him a chance to flex some intellectual and problem-solving muscles, it will also give him something to point to in a job interview or cover letter as evidence of technical skills and a willingness to help and work with others (key ingredients for IT personnel of all stripes). I also recommended that he research PC repair depot operations in his local metro area, because such operations always have need of qualified repair technicians. So do big technology outlets such as Fry’s, Best Buy, Office Depot, and so forth. My final word to him: leave no stone unturned in your search for work. One job will surely lead to another thereafter.]]>
The latest entrant in the Design Patterns parade comes from Microsoft, in the form of a free e-book. It’s called patterns & practices Application Architecture Guide 2.0. It does for .NET Framework based applications what the other books do for different niches: explain how to identify, codify, and use recurring patterns in an interesting and productive way when it comes to creating software architecture, designing applications or services, or building such things (for .NET-based code, this usually means working in Visual Studio with a suitable programming language and add-ins galore to help speed and manage the development process).
If you want to get a deep insightful look into the notion of pattern and how it shaped a genre of software books, read Alexander in the original. If you want to understand why it had such an impact on the software biz, check out the Gamma Design Patterns book. If you want to put this metaphor and method to work with .NET grab the patterns & practices e-book: unlike the other two titles, it won’t cost you anything, either. Whoda thunk you could say something like that about Microsoft?]]>