How To Buy An E-Reader Wed 06 Jan 10

With several models on the market, ''test drive'' an e-reader before you buy it.

On_Book The e-reader market long dominated by Amazon's Kindle has matured into a mainstream technology with viable competitive brands and a large, but still growing, choice of books and publications available. E-readers were arguably the hot tech gift on most holiday gift lists.

Amazon recently announced that not only was the Kindle the most gifted item ever on Amazon.com but that "On Christmas Day, for the first time ever, customers purchased more Kindle books than physical books." I suspect most people are likely to download a book upon receiving a Kindle to try out their new "toy," whereas an Amazon gift card to buy a hard copy book is likely to be set aside for later use. And so, I'm reluctant to determine a trend based on a single datum point, but it is interesting. The growth of e-books as a percent of total book sales will be the interesting trend to watch over time.

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How To Measure Anything Tue 22 Sep 09

Hubbard's Book A Good Guide To Measuring Business Intangibles

CIO_Insight_China A friend recently recommended that I read "How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of "Intangibles" in Business " by Douglas W. Hubbard.  I found this very interesting and thought provoking and you may want to take a look if you are faced with questions such as:

  • what is the value of the increased security from investing in a particular system
  • how do you measure how much downtime might be prevented by putting in an UPS (Uninterruptible power supply)
  • how do you measure the change in customer satisfaction or increased sales from implementing a new system.

All these are seemingly "unmeasureable" or "unquantifiable" which makes justify the expenditure of time, resources and effort such a difficult sell to management.  However, Hubbard does an excellent job of showing how you a way you can approach these questions that can help you better decide if the results justify the investment.

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Highly Effective Networking Wed 08 Apr 09

Pierson's Guide to Meeting the Right People and Getting a Great Job

OrvillePierson09 A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Orville Pierson during my job search.  He came to talk at Between Jobs Ministry and help us get our job search work teams off the ground.  These teams were based upon Orville's book The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search which shows us how to conduct a job search as a project.  I know it certainly helped me in successfully completing my job search.

Since that time I've kept in touch with Orville and consider him a good friend.  That's why I was pleased to learn of his timely new book Highly Effective Networking: Meet the Right People and Get a Great Job. In this book Orville gives us an excellent structured approach to networking.  As Vice President and Corporate Director of Program Design and Service Delivery for Lee Hecht Harrison he knows a lot about this and we're fortunate to have him share his expertise with us.

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Job Search Tips: Business Cards,a Free Book and Holiday Networking Wed 17 Dec 08

Camiseta_cv2_jlori Last week I was working at the Houston Growing Globally conference put on by the Houston Strategic Forum.  It was a great conference providing a lot of insight from Houston business, medical and educational leaders.

Helping out at the conference were some MBA candidates from the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management at Rice University (what a great networking opportunity for them).  I was talking with one of these volunteers and at the end of our conversation he asked for my business card (as a good networker should) and then offered me one of his.

Wait a minute!  A student with a business card?  Yep, the business school apparently provides the students with business cards as part of the career search process.  It was complete with the school logo and title of "MBA Candidate, Class of 2010".  What a great idea.  Smart guys those Rice profs.

What else stood out about this is that I've talked with and helped a number of people in career "transition" and have been shocked to see the number that don't have cards or perhaps just as bad use their old ones and pencil in the updated contact information. 

Business cards make it easy for me to contact you - isn't that what you want and a professional looking card says something about your professionalism.  And yet for some strange reason they are not willing to invest the $20 bucks to do it right.

Take a tip from the Rice guys and get some business cards.

The second job search related occurrence was that I was just contacted by David Perry co-author of  "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters: 400 Unconventional Tips Tricks and Tactics to Land Your Dream Job [John
Wiley and Sons
]" with some holiday networking tips and a free e-book offer.

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Competency Based Performance Reviews Mon 26 May 08

Competency_perf_reviewMy good friend, Robin Kessler, has just completed her third book, Competency-based Performance Reviews: How to Perform Employee Evaluations the Fortune 500 WayIt completes the cycle of writing your resume (Competency-Based Resumes: How To Bring Your Resume To The Top Of The Pile ) and getting the interview (Competency-Based Interviews: Master the Tough New Interview Style And Give Them the Answers That Will Win You the Job).  As you can tell from the similarity in titles they all have the common theme of knowing how to express your competencies to succeed in each phase.

Performance review are not very popular with anyone, neither the managers who give them nor the employees who receive them.  There are even some suggestions that we abandon the process as it exists today such as:

I suspect this is because they are rarely done well.  Fortunately Kessler's book can help in this area.  She lays out the process as most companies do it and shows through numerous example how to prepare for the review and how to do one properly.  A major theme is "Don't attack the person, attack the problem".  She shows how properly structuring competency reviews can do this.

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The IT Career Builder's Toolkit Mon 18 Feb 08

Matt_moran Matt Moran is one of my favorite bloggers.  I first ran across Matt at the ITToolBox with his Policy Parrot posts.  If you get a chance, read them.  They are classics in the realm of customer service, an area that should be near and dear to anyone in IT.  Matt brings a real-world practical approach to his writings and he's done it again with The IT Career Builder's Toolkit.  It is not only a job search guide but more importantly a career guide.  It is available on Amazon, Cisco Press or InformIT or you can read it for free online.

An example of this practicality is Chapter 3,  "Information Technology: A Great Career" where he addresses the issue of outsourcing and off-shoring head-on.  Complaining about off-shoring in particular is a favorite past time in IT with the refrain of "How can we compete with someone only paid a tenth of what we make?" As Matt points out "Outsourcing Is About Value, Not Costs"  and the key to having a successful IT career is to focus on providing value and not just being the lowest cost provider.

In another example of practicality Matt provides a list of "Actions & Ideas" at the end of each chapter to help you put the ideas of the chapter to use.  As Matt correctly states, "Looking for work, is work".  As such, you should manage your career and a job search in particular as a project.

Matt does provide useful job search tips in a number of chapters but if your focus is solely a job search you may want to supplement it with some other books that go into more detail on those specific areas.  The value of Matt's book is in building your career not just finding the next job. For example some of the chapters include:

  • Chapter 16  On-the-Job Promotion
  • Chapter 17  The Boundaries and Benefits of Working at Home
  • Chapter 18  The Toolkit Approach to Consulting
  • Chapter 19  The Move to Management

These are topics that you won't find a lot about in the other books but are a critical part of your career.

If you are thinking about your career (and you should be) take a look at Matt's book.  As a true technologist he's made it available online for free and if you like it you can purchase later.

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Book Review: "I’m on Facebook – Now What???" Mon 21 Jan 08

Facebookbig My good friend from Jibberjobber (a great site for you job seekers by the way), Jason Alba has done it again.  He's followed up his book I’m On LinkedIn - Now What??? by co-authoring another great book on social networking.  He and Jesse Stay have partnered up to write I'm on Facebook­Now What???' . [Update February 17, 2008 their book is now available on Amazon.]

By teaming up Jason and Jesse bring a unique perspective to this book.  The book's website describes Jason as a "career management Evangelist".  Having known Jason for a while that is a very accurate description.  He recognizes that a good career doesn't just happen, it has to be managed.  Through his website, and both of these books he helps you do this by providing you with the tools you need.  Jesse rounds this out with technical expertise and experience using Facebook having developed popular Facebook applications.

Jesse_stay_s Jasonalba In the book's Introduction they describe what is about as "helping you figure out how to derive professional, business and career benefits from participating in Facebook", and they deliver on this.  We in IT often use the terms "instruction manual" and "user guide" interchangeably.  However Jason and Jesse have written a user guide in the truest sense of the word.  They not only talk about the "how" of using Facebook but the "why" in regard to using it.  Like I'm on LinkedIn - Now What??? this book is refreshingly honest about Facebook.  They describe what works well and what doesn't and what you should look out for.  This book is much more than a technical manual, it is a true guide for getting what you need from Facebook.

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“I’m on LinkedIn — Now What???” by Jason Alba Tue 04 Sep 07

JasonalbaMy good friend Jason Alba brings a very interesting perspective to managing your career.  Jason is the founder of the JibberJobber Career Toolset which is an excellent tool to help you manage and organize your career so that you can concentrate on your career rather than the organizational tasks.  The JibberJobber website and blog also provide some valuable information and advice.    What is interesting about all of this is that Jason didn't start JibberJobber as a "HR professional" or recruiter or career counselor.  He, like a lot of us found himself  "in transition" and seeing a need put his IT skills to work and started JibberJobber.  So unlike a lot of career advisors Jason has actually lived the career search travails and brings a real world perspective to his advice and to JibberJobber which is why I like it so much.

To add to this Jason has just published “I’m on LinkedIn — Now What???” that really helps you make the most of LinkedIn the social networking tool for your professional and career networking.  [Update February 17, 2008 - this is now on Amazon.] If you haven't joined LinkedIn to help manage your professional networking you need to (it's free although they do also offer additional services for a price) and you need to read Jason's book on how to best use use LinkedIn.

I like Jason's book for a number of reasons. Jason gives a refreshingly honest and balanced review of LinkedIn.  He'll tell you what is good about LinkedIn and what is not so good; how to use it and how it shouldn't be used.  Basically he not only tells you about what it is but also what it isn't.  He makes suggestions and supports them by telling you why he makes a particular recommendation.  I really appreciate that kind of information. 

Just as he does in JibberJobber Jason also provides a real world perspective of a person that actually uses the product to his book.  His tips are very logical and practical.  I especially like his suggestion on how to set up your profile.  I followed his straightforward instructions and it resulted in a more complete profile.  This book will really help you maximize the potential of LinkedIn by guiding you in how you set up your profile and how you use it.

Both JibberJobber and LinkedIn are useful tools for managing your career and now Jason has added a practical guide “I’m on LinkedIn — Now What???”.   These are 3 powerful tools - make the most of them.

If this topic was of interest, you might also like these:

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Debugging Your Information Technology Career Mon 06 Aug 07

Weinberg_book

Update 8/23/07: The author has notified me of the following:

"Last we communicated, I told you that my Under Construction site had an expected "go live" date of August 24th. Because of a problem with my developer, I have chosen a new developer to finish the site.  Although I'm optimistic that my site will be functional next week,  I've changed the "go live" date to September 7th to give me some  leeway in case there are unforeseen issues. As soon as the site is  operational, I will let you know."

Update 8/6/07: The author has notified me that the site to purchase the book is currently under construction but should be available by August 24th if not sooner.  My apologies for any confusion. --- Mike

Janice Weinberg recently sent me a copy of her new book "Debugging Your Information Technology Career" (293 pages, available at www.elegantfixpress.com ).  The book's subtitle "A Compass to New and Rewarding Fields That Value Computer Knowledge" is your first clue that this isn't the run of the mill career / job search book.

The premise of the book is that you may want to leave the IT field and try a new career but don't want to start from scratch.  You've spent all this time making a career in IT why let that experience go to waste?  As Weinberg demonstrates you really can make the switch to fields where your previous experience in IT is an asset.

But IT is so much fun why would you ever want to leave?  As Weinberg points out, outsourcing and off-shoring are the new realities in IT.  As such there is the very real possibility that at some point in your career you may be affected by this.  I'd like to suggest another reason - to broaden your experience and get some real business experience.  Experience outside of IT is becoming a more valuable asset that hiring managers look for in Business Analysts and IT managers.  You may not always get the opportunity for career changes with your existing company and this book and help you make it on your own.

Weinberg gives 20 examples of careers where you can leverage your IT experience.  As part of each example she includes information on:

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Life on the Help Desk; Some Things Never Change Fri 03 Aug 07

Being a tech support person on the Help Desk is not always an easy job.  Dealing with anxious users some of which are clueless can be very frustrating.  Now we have "scientific proof" that while technology may have changed life on the Help Desk is pretty much the same as it has always been.

Just a little something to start you on your weekend.

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