Many of us have learned the hard way that the best way to stay out of trouble at work is to become invisible. If we do our job well enough then no one ever has to contact our boss with a problem. While this has certain benefits it can also lead to your name being first on the list when downsizing or layoffs are in the air. It is much easier for managers to lay people off if they have absolutely no idea what you do.
When you are wandering through the want ads looking for that next great job, you can also divine information far beyond what jobs are available today. The want ads are a great source for finding out what technical skills are most in demand in today?s workplace. Keep an eye out for the number of ads that call for C++ programming skills, Windows NT network management experience or the ability to support users on MS Office. These ads are pointers towards future employment opportunities for you and should not be ignored.
Whatever computer career we might eventually find ourselves in, there is usually some time when we all have to pull duty as support people. Whether this means supporting desktop applications or the programs we ourselves have written, the ability to troubleshoot problems is a basic necessity. Unfortunately, learning how to troubleshoot effectively is not an easy task. Without anyone to rely on for guidance we are forced to find our own way and develop our own methods. Having learned these facts the hard way, this month I will offer up my favorite troubleshooting tips, hints and traps.
Most times we are so busy looking for a new job that we put no thought towards leaving our current one. Often, how you leave a job can be just as important as how you get one. This month I will talk about a few ways to make sure that you don?t burn bridges that you may need later in your career.
As I am sure many of you have found, the holidays are not a good time to be looking for a job. Many companies go into a slow down and the press for filling positions is at a low ebb. If the holiday season coincides with the end of the fiscal year the condition gets even worse. Budgets are spent and many departments are still waiting to see what their budget will be for the next year. Most companies aren't looking any further than the next holiday party. This condition won't right itself fully until after New Year's Day.
As we struggle to develop our careers and our lives we often fall victim to the old cliché of not seeing the forest for the trees. We live our lives from day to day, seeing little more than the end of our nose, and then wonder how we ended up where we are. One of your main goals for 1999 should be the development of a personal career compass. We all need a little direction in our live and often we are the only ones who can provide it.
I am an avid reader of an eclectic variety of books. I love learning about something new. I especially love when my reading in one area is applicable to another, completely different, area of my life. Too often we fail to see how rules established in other arts, crafts and technologies can give us a better understanding of our own field and career.
While you might smile at the title of today?s column I can guarantee you that some time in your high-tech career you will be faced with a dilemma over when or how to take a vacation. It seems that the jobs that most cause a need for a vacation are often the hardest to leave. Unfortunately, not taking vacation can have adverse effects on your performance and even threaten your ability to do a good job.
As we all know, the job market for high tech careers is volatile, to say the least. Jobs come and go on a whim as companies start up and fold in months, if not weeks. Mergers and acquisitions make things even crazier. A company can be here one day and swallowed whole another. This type of volatility can lead to frequent and rapid movement of employees, possibly even yourself. It can also lead to your being asked to follow someone else to a new company.
As a technology worker you spend a large amount of time acquiring your skills. You take classes and work long hours developing your own solutions to otherwise intractable problems. Working with technology often requires an amazing amount of focus and concentration. Unfortunately, this focus on technology can be the very thing that limits the careers of technology workers. I hear the same phrase more and more frequently the longer I work with technology. Knowing about technology is not enough to move you to higher levels in a company or corporation. If you want to attain career success you also have to know about business itself.
Although Labor Day seems to be more about the unofficial end of summer, it should also be a time for everyone to reflect on their careers and see just where they are headed. You can think of it as the New Year's Day of career planning. It is time to take stock, make some resolutions and move forward in the knowledge that your career is under your control.
These last few weeks have been an eye opener for me. I have been engaged to repair and make some modifications on some web sites. I am fairly web savvy and usually have no problem cleaning things up. In this case, though, all manner of things have gone wrong. Through a combination of various programs, web designers and programmers I realized that people working outside of their area of expertise can truly create a mess. Hopefully, my experience will be as illustrative to you as it was to me.
Does the military have the right idea when it comes to developing technical talent?
You don't have to stay in a job that makes your life miserable.
There is more to your life than your job, or there should be.
Take some time for yourself to insure you don't burn out
Get a job...or a better one...in the New Year!
Investments in education and tools can help your career
It is never to soon to start thinking about retirement, especially for computer careerists
Knowing more and more can help you build your career. Don't become overly specialized.
Take some time to help those around you.
Taking stock in your career can help you decide on your next step
Your home office often makes the first impression on your clients
A few sites to help your career take off.
Networking need not carry smarmy associations. There are ways to network without being annoying.
How do you react when another company or recruiter comes knocking on your door?
There are many ways of getting back to school, both traditional and untraditional
Sometimes, in very specific circumstances, giving away your knowledge can be a way to generate more business.
In an age when everyone, even your grandmother, seems to be creating Microsoft PowerPoint slide shows, your ability to present your ideas has become more important than ever.
When most people think of adult education they think of graduate degree programs like an MBA, technical certification programs like MCSE or CNE, or community college extension programs. In reality, some of the best adult education you can find might be sitting next to you in your own office or on the Internet. Too often we ignore the experience of our co-workers and the availability of information on the Internet when we think about upgrading or changing our careers.
These days a career rarely consists of only one job worked until retirement and rewarded with a gold watch. No matter how secure or happy you might feel in your current job there will come a time when you will need to look for a new one. Sometimes, though, people ignore their most important resource when they start the search for the next step in their career -- their personal network of connections.
As high-tech workers we often have a regular set of tools; the screwdriver, the pliers, the CAT 5 cable maker, but increasingly we have a set of knowledge tools as well. These resources, whether print, online or personal contacts, allow us to do much better work than might otherwise be possible. While each discipline of high-tech work has its own vernacular and resources, here are a few "tools of the trade" that might help you on the way to a better job and a better career.
It is hard to believe that another year is about to end. I hope all of you had a fun and productive year. Of course, as many tech workers are finding, the future doesn't look quite as bright as it did last year. As the Internet sector moves from childhood into its teen years you will find that both money and perks might be harder to find. Along with this general slowdown you might experience setbacks both known and unforeseen. The most important action you can take right now is to spend a few minutes to organize both your personal, professional and financial life.
There is a myth in the high-tech industry about training. Everyone promises it but very few actually deliver. This points up the fact that while training is seen as an important aspect of any job, most companies simply do not have the time, energy or wherewithal to actually follow through. This is especially true of the small, startup companies where many high-tech workers begin their career. The bottom line for anyone looking for a job in today's market is, don't let yourself be swayed by big promises of extensive training and mentoring. In most cases, it simply doesn't materialize.
Many people make New Year's resolutions and most of them are already broken by this time. I would like to challenge you with a different type of resolution this year. While others may worry about making more money, making that big promotion or even starting their own company, I would challenge you to make a difference, instead.
Even at the best of times, many high-tech careerists are looking for work. During the current economic downturn, this number is increasing everyday. While a job search is usually far from fun, there are ways to approach it to help insure success.
This is the second in an on-going series of "mini-seminars" culled from the hundreds of previous Career-Op Columns.
Upcoming "mini-seminars" will include Working in High-Tech and Freelancing.
These columns are arranged in the chronological order in which they were originally published. They will be updated with new columns as they are published.
I hope this resource is useful to you. I welcome your comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.