homeGeek CultureWebstoreeCards!Forums!Joy of Tech!AY2K!webcam

The Geek Culture Forums


Post New Topic  New Poll  Post A Reply
my profile | directory login | | search | faq | forum home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» The Geek Culture Forums   » News, Reviews, Views!   » Our stupid lives   » Post your job advice!

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Post your job advice!
Metasquares
Highlie
Member # 4441

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted July 25, 2006 21:55      Profile for Metasquares   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I was going to post this in Mac D's thread, but it is somewhat tangential (and extremely long!), so I decided to create a new thread dedicated to posting job advice. Feel free to post your own. Feel free to critique my advice as well, but read below first!

This is the outcome of a long discussion earlier today with a friend on how to land jobs. Some of you may not agree with my advice, or think it won't work. It might not work for everyone, but it is working for me, and thus I feel that I should throw it out there. Be warned: I started following this advice at a very young age (12), and thus it is bearing fruit just as I am about to leave the aegis of childhood and enter the world of financial self-sufficiency. If you have not at least built a foundation for this plan, you may find it very difficult to do so while balancing your own need for financial stability.

=======================

Without further ado, my job advice is simply this: Do not be a supplicant if you can avoid it. Make them come to you, and you specifically, not the other way around. All else follows naturally from there.

This is largely a matter of building impressive credentials, combined with a bit of marketing. Once it starts, the effect will snowball, because apparently people in the field do communicate with each other about good candidates (lots of the job offers I've seen begin with "so-and-so sent me your resume"). Emphasize whatever you are strongest in. You want that section of your resume to be so strong that anyone who sees it will want to interview you. The rest of the resume must be impressive enough to keep that interest, but does not need to generate it all over again. Of course, if you can make every part of your resume special enough to generate interest, that's even better!

If you had a very good academic career, be sure to list that. If you know a lot of skills, enumerate and emphasize them. If you've done something unusual for your field or age, like research, list that. If you want to showcase impressive past work, create a portfolio for prospective employers. The important thing is to give the impression that no other candidate will do the job as well as you.

This is long term advice, and you will likely have to begin by finding jobs by looking for them, in order to hone your skills and get a general idea of the field. The most important thing you will do on these jobs is DO STUFF. "Doing stuff" means demonstrating ability in the form of a useful, creative, or intellectual work. This will attract people's attention in the future, particularly if it ties into something they're doing already. That is good.

Is this arrogant? Sort of. It's arrogant in the long term - you are planning on doing something, by your own efforts, that will set you apart from most people. In the short term, this approach is quite humble, as it requires you to make short term efforts and sacrifices in order to ensure future long-term gains.

Anyway, "doing stuff" is the most important form of marketing yourself, because it's targeted. If someone notices you for your work, it will be "you" and "your work" specifically, and no one else will do. This is very good, and involves a bit of a backstory relating to the origin of my username (in appendix A [Wink] )

Aside from what you do, marketing yourself is a matter of your contacts and your activities. Though the first is important, the second is far more so. The best place to find employers looking for extremely skilled workers (but not specifically there to do so, which would imply them choosing you, not the other way around) is probably a professional meeting, such as those sponsored by the ACM or IEEE. I've also found that research conventions are a great way to find jobs - other presenters may see research as routine, but laypeople are very impressed by it.

When they look for you, and find sufficient justification for doing so in your resume, the process of getting a job becomes substantially easier. I didn't even need an interview for my last job, because I entered it noncompetitively. After leaving that job I received three job offers over the summer, one of which pays substantially more than average. They are all waiting for me (!) to get back to them after I evaluate how much work I can handle on top of a first year Ph. D. student's load.

=== APPENDIX A: How my username relates to this ===

"Metasquares" was originally a game created by MetaTools (the makers of Kai's Power Tools) for use on AOL in 1996. AOL canceled the game in 1997 in order to introduce a "premium games" area (which later failed miserably) to their service.

MetaTools seemed to have abandoned the game, perhaps because they were in the middle of a series of mergers at the time (they are now known as Viewpoint).

At the time, I was in the process of developing an AI for the game. When I heard of the game's cancellation, I converted my AI into a network wrapper, which, in a relatively short period of time, effectively put the game back online. After a while I scrapped the idea of controlling the original game via Windows messages and just rewrote the whole thing from scratch.

9 years passed with little fanfare. I managed to scrape together a community of about 10,000 users, which later declined to about 2,000 after purging inactive accounts (it has been steadily rising since then).

Several months ago, I received an email from Scott Kim (the Puzzlemaster and the creator of the original app) stating that MetaTools was re-forming. Though I am not sure whether I am allowed to disclose the specifics yet, I was basically offered a job with the company that I will probably love and an extremely versatile salary. It took 9 years without expecting anything in return from the beginning, but the "stuff" that I did ultimately did bear fruit in a most unexpected way.

Posts: 664 | From: Morganville, NJ | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
drunkennewfiemidget
BlabberMouth, a Blabber Odyssey
Member # 2814

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted July 26, 2006 08:28      Profile for drunkennewfiemidget     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Making people come to you isn't entirely practical.

While I agree with your other points about doing things to add to your credentials, and setting yourself apart from the crowd, in many industries (especially IT, which many of us on this board are in), the market is grossly over-saturated, and sadly, your ability to market yourself and sell yourself to the prospective employer is more important than your actual ability to do the job.

That being said, anyone who's followed my antics has seen me go through 4 jobs in the last 2 years. First, finding one in Ottawa, then finding a replacement in ottawa, then moving back to Waterloo, then being headhunted to the company I'm at now.

I've never been on the jobsearch more than 2 weeks.

Do I have particularly impressive credentials? Hardly. I have zero post-secondary education.

What it comes down to, or at least, anecdotally, for me, is three things. Three very important things.

  • Contacts -- more jobs come from someone knowing someone than any other method. I've had a fair number of jobs in my lifetime, and THREE of them came from some other method than knowing somebody.
  • Interview -- I interview very well. I keep cool, calm, personable, and reasonably light-hearted. People who clam up and get nervous don't do so well. Make the interviewer laugh. That's what makes them remember you.
  • FOLLOW UP -- This is probably the biggest one. Following up makes all the difference in the world. After the interview, wait a day or so, and just throw an e-mail at the interviewer basically saying, "thanks for your time", "I look forward to hearing from you", and "I know for sure now I could do the job."

Similarily, just chucking your resume at companies doesn't work. Chuck the resume, wait a few days, and chuck the e-mail, reiterating your interest, and thanking them again for considering you.

The worst thing I've had come out of following up was a "oh, sorry, we've already found a candidate". That's it. If the worst-case scenario is the recruiter will tell you the position's been filled, at least you can move on.

Posts: 4897 | From: Cambridge, ON, Canada | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
Stereo

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan!
Member # 748

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted July 26, 2006 09:00      Profile for Stereo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My own advice is the good old "be true to yourself." Trying to sound like someone you are not may land you a job, but not for long, as either you'll hate it, or they'll hate you.

One a lighter note, to find a job these days, you can move to Alberta - the oil companies are working full-speed, have hard time finding employees, leaving other companies scrambling to fill their positions too. Or you could move to Ottawa - I've heard the job market is turning seeker-side again, with lots of positions to fill and not enough people, leading to a musical chair game.

Or I could state it more seriously: as much as possible, be flexible - be it to relocate, or to try something else.

--------------------
Eppur, si muove!

Galileo Galilei

Posts: 2289 | From: Gatineau, Quebec, Canada | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
csk

Member # 1941

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted July 26, 2006 09:31      Profile for csk     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Already some very good advice here. As someone currently job hunting, I'd add a couple of points.

Try to prepare for the interview questions beforehand as much as possible. Particularly the "why do you want to work here" variety, have a look at the company web site and work out some sort of answer...

Secondly, make sure you have a buzzword/keyword laden resume. Some recruiters use automated tools to trawl resumes for keywords, so take advantage of this, both in a skill summary type thing and in the employment history section too.

Thirdly, at least here, the market seems to have picked up from an employees point of view, so take advantage...

--------------------
6 weeks to go!

Posts: 4455 | From: Sydney, Australia | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
Geordie

Member # 996

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted July 26, 2006 11:17      Profile for Geordie     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I posted this in some other thread awhile ago in regards to certifications:
quote:
[A] cover letter with no typos, that describes why they are interested in the specific position (winnows down the pile by 40%), accompanied by a nicely laid out resume that clearly shows how they have applied their skills effectively (30% more gone) are the biggest hurdles that most applicants seem to falter on. With the 30% of applicants that get through the "I am not clueless" screening I start looking at experience, length of time at prior jobs, education, certifications, location, citizenship, etc.

However, the single most important piece of advice that I can give to people who want to make more by moving into IT is to treat your resume and cover letter like the work that you put into it is worth several thousand dollars. In the end it probably will be. That advice obviously is not restricted to the IT field either.



--------------------
Geordie

Posts: 322 | From: Fairfax Station, VA, USA | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
Rhonwyyn

Solid Gold SuperFan!
Member # 2854

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted July 26, 2006 17:18      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Stereo, if someone wanted one of those jobs in Alberta or Ottawa, how would they go about finding them? Would Canadian companies interview and/or hire a Yank?

--------------------
Change the way you SEE, not the way you LOOK!

Posts: 3849 | From: Lancaster, PA | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Stereo

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan!
Member # 748

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted July 27, 2006 04:42      Profile for Stereo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Rhonwyyn:
Stereo, if someone wanted one of those jobs in Alberta or Ottawa, how would they go about finding them? Would Canadian companies interview and/or hire a Yank?

In Alberta (but not in Ottawa), they are at a point there's not enough housing accomodation for people coming in. All those people can find a job, it's just harder to find a roof (other than overpriced hotels). So I guess that would be the worst part of going there for a job.

But to find the jobs, it's pretty easy: go on the Internet, find canadian job sites (monster.ca is a good start), then select the jobs that interest you and that you can fill, and apply. Sure, a USian would have to apply for work visa and go through some hoops, but considering the number of Canadians working in the USA and the other way around, I'd guess it's not too bad. So definitely, yes, a canadian company would interview and hire nont-canadian workers, especially if they can't find what they need within the local worker pool, as it is the case now.

--------------------
Eppur, si muove!

Galileo Galilei

Posts: 2289 | From: Gatineau, Quebec, Canada | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
The Famous Druid

Gold Hearted SuperFan!
Member # 1769

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted July 27, 2006 07:54      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Rhonwyyn:
Stereo, if someone wanted one of those jobs in Alberta or Ottawa, how would they go about finding them? Would Canadian companies interview and/or hire a Yank?

How's your French?

There's a points system for entry into Canada, with bonus points for proficiency in both official languages.

Out of curiosity, I just did the self-assessment, and made it over the line thanks to Mrs Druids masters degree, giving myself maximum points for proficiency in English (the official tester may disagree on that one) and my 20-odd years of work experience. For a young'un like you, making it to 67 points could be difficult, my sis-in-law with a PhD in science and a job offer at a Canadian university still had to take French classes to make it over the line.

--------------------
If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

Posts: 10680 | From: Melbourne, Australia | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Stereo

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan!
Member # 748

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted July 27, 2006 08:08      Profile for Stereo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Actually, TFD, this is only if she wants to immigrate to Canada (that is, get at some point canadian citizenship). A work visa (that is, a temporary, renewable permission to live and work in Canada without expectation of getting citizenship) is much easier to get. Getting a job is about what it takes. How do you think one can get the "worked for at least one year in Canada" points (for immigrating) otherwise?

But you have a point. Rhonnie, if you do apply for a canadian job (and get if, of course), then like the place so much you want to become Canadian yourself, it's a big plus to get some French classes, even if you don't intend to go to Quebec (Province), New Brunswick or Ottawa. Or some Innuktitut language if you aim for our northern diamond mines... [Wink]

--------------------
Eppur, si muove!

Galileo Galilei

Posts: 2289 | From: Gatineau, Quebec, Canada | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Xanthine

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan!
Member # 736

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted July 27, 2006 11:23      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
/me takes test

Well, I'd need to take French again as well if I decided to get a job in Canada after graduating...and here I thought a PhD would be so portable. [Razz]

--------------------
And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

Posts: 7670 | From: the lab | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tirthas the Geek
Mini Geek
Member # 2864

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted July 27, 2006 15:10      Profile for Tirthas the Geek     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I got 77 pts. Interesting...my wife and I had always considered moving to BC...something new to talk about at dinner tonight!

--------------------
I already used my best sig on Slashdot.

Posts: 92 | From: Denver, Colorado | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Metasquares
Highlie
Member # 4441

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted July 27, 2006 16:12      Profile for Metasquares   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Xanthine:
/me takes test

Well, I'd need to take French again as well if I decided to get a job in Canada after graduating...and here I thought a PhD would be so portable. [Razz]

The Ph. D. basically gives you 25 free points.
Posts: 664 | From: Morganville, NJ | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Rhonwyyn

Solid Gold SuperFan!
Member # 2854

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted July 27, 2006 16:26      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I scored a 70 before I added in Jonathan's Master's degree, which took me up to a 75. So if I get a job offer, that'd give me even more points to get there. Thanks for the link, TFD. I've found all sorts of interesting information on the surrounding pages. [Smile]

--------------------
Change the way you SEE, not the way you LOOK!

Posts: 3849 | From: Lancaster, PA | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged


All times are Eastern Time  
Post New Topic  New Poll  Post A Reply Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | Geek Culture Home Page

2015 Geek Culture

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classicTM 6.4.0



homeGeek CultureWebstoreeCards!Forums!Joy of Tech!AY2K!webcam