Better Communication: Technology Isn't Always The Best Solution Tue 04 Jan 11

Kiddo Discussions Bindaas MadhaviIT folks get a lot of knocks for poor communication skills.   In response we typically react by increasing the number of emails we send out and the announcements we post on our company's intranet.  Ultimately we are shocked to learn all this extra effort doesn't improve the perception of IT as poor communicators.

This is like the comic situation of meeting a foreigner who doesn't speak your language and assuming that they will surely understand you if you simply speak louder.  The sad reality is that when people refer to our poor communication skills they are often referring to the quality of our communication rather than the quantity.

Simply increasing the amount of poorly done communication doesn't make things better.  We need to change our style instead.  Email and intranet posting can be great ways to communicate, just not for all situations.

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How IT Can Give Better Presentations Wed 15 Sep 10

Cut out jargon and focus on helping, not limiting, customers.

Swimlane_flowchart_ivan_walsh

IT has long sought to be considered a partner to the other business leaders in our companies. It's all part of our pursuit of the holy grail of "having a seat at the table."

Naturally, getting there means we have to promote our ideas, explain technology concepts and communicate our plans. In today's world that also means we use a lot of PowerPoint presentations.

Sadly, IT doesn't have a reputation for giving great business presentations. In the world of death by PowerPoint, IT guys are ninjas.

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Your Online Reputation Matters Wed 07 Apr 10

A positive online reputation is important for both individuals and companies

Avatars brtsergio We've all heard the stories of Joe, a job candidate who was a shoo-in to get that great job until the hiring manager decided to take a look at the candidate's Facebook page. Suddenly some photos of a wild party and comments that his hobby is getting wasted every weekend scuttled Joe's prospects. Joe doesn't get the job and has no clue about why he seems to be so unlucky.

Our online reputation matters. We know this anecdotally, from what we've seen and done as hiring managers, and now there is some data to support this. In January Microsoft published survey results of how our online reputations affect our job prospects. Three-quarters of U.S. survey respondents said their companies have formal policies that require hiring personnel to research applicants online; 70% of hiring personnel rejected candidates based on data found online.

As people become more aware of this, I've seen a number of articles about managing your so-called "digital dirt" and a simple internet search turns up many more. I've even heard that this has spawned a new industry where companies will help you clean it up. Rather than rehash all of the tips on how to clean up your online reputation, I'd like to address two other aspects.

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A Better Helpdesk Wed 19 Aug 09

Emphasize the customer's needs--not IT's--when you design technical support systems.

I've always believed that the quality of helpdesks and support technicians are the most important factors in shaping user perceptions of IT. Not the big application that you just rolled out saving the company big bucks, not the amount of money you've saved by consolidating your data centers and certainly not all of your promises of new systems and hardware yet to come.

Helpdesk_arycogreYour helpdesk and support technicians truly are your Directors of First Impression by which people judge your entire organization. If you can't fix my PC quickly or are rude and provide no status information on my problem, why should I think you can deliver on the expensive new application project?

And yet so often we set up our helpdesk and support technicians for failure. As Jessica Rabbit said, "I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way." Likewise, our helpdesk and support technicians are not incompetent or uncaring, but the process we so often make them work with just makes them appear that way.

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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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Career Management With The Help of Technology: Nurturing Your Network Wed 25 Feb 09

This is the fourth in a series of four posts regarding managing your career with the help of technology.  I've chosen the title words very carefully as I wanted to talk about the life-long process of career management not to be confused with the job search process.  Oh for sure, the job search process is a part of this but the management of your career should not start and stop with each job search you go through.  I am eager to learn what has worked well for you.  Please leave your comments and suggestions. 

Watering_plants_at_dunwoody_jstownsley Okay, you've told people who you are, branded yourself and have established your network, time to kick back and relax, right?  Not exactly.  Your network is really about relationships.  It needs care and attentive nurturing.  Would you be inclined to help out a former network who only calls every few years when they need something from you?  Of course not.

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Career Management With The Help of Technology: Branding & Marketing Yourself Wed 11 Feb 09

This is the third in a series of four posts regarding managing your career with the help of technology.  I've chosen the title words very carefully as I wanted to talk about the life-long process of career management not to be confused with the job search process.  Oh for sure, the job search process is a part of this but the management of your career should not start and stop with each job search you go through.  I am eager to learn what has worked well for you.  Please leave your comments and suggestions. 

In the first post in this series I talked about "Who You Are" which on the surface sounds like it is about your "brand", but it is different.  Think about Chevrolet and Ferrari.  Who are they?  Well they are both car companies.  What's their brand?  Ah, big difference!  Your brand is what distinguishes you from all the other people in the same role.  Think about the group of programmers or analysts you work with.  Through their actions they've established a brand as "the go-to guy in an emergency", "the plodder", the "yeh, I can make that work", or the "that can't be done" person.

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Between Jobs Ministry Wed 04 Feb 09

A Great Resource For Houston Job Seekers

Bjm_175_2 My old friend Gerry Fusco who runs the Senior Manager Group at Between Jobs Ministry asked me to stop by and talk with the group about my experiences in job hunting and what I see employers are looking for today.  It was a great experience.  BJM is doing lots of good things helping people find jobs at all levels from entry-level to C-level.

If you are in a job search and are in the Houston area you definitely need to go to BJM.  It is the best networking and job search resource in town.  I think it is probably one of the best in the country. 

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Career Management With The Help of Technology: Networking Wed 28 Jan 09

This is the second in a series of four posts regarding managing your career with the help of technology.  I've chosen the title words very carefully as I wanted to talk about the life-long process of career management not to be confused with the job search process.  Oh for sure, the job search process is a part of this but the management of your career should not start and stop with each job search you go through.  I am eager to learn what has worked well for you.  Please leave your comments and suggestions. 

We've all learned that the 3 major keys to successful career management are networking, networking and networking.  The good news is that technology can help in this.  Technology can't replace personal face-to-face networking on a big scale but it can supplement it.

Perfect_tree_daveybot If you ask an arborist when the best time to plant a tree the stock answer is "10 years ago".  Okay, so what's the second best time? - "Today".  The same holds true for networking which is why it is so important to think of it as part of your on-going career management rather than the short period of a particular job search.  And just like a tree growing your network takes time and you have to cultivate it and nurture it for it to prosper.  I'll discuss in this and future posts how technology can help in this.

The first and most obvious technologies are the networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.  These are designed for the purpose of making network connections.  They allow you to keep track of our friends and associates and they also provide a way to connect with their friends and associates.

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Career Management With The Help of Technology: Who Are You? Wed 14 Jan 09

This is the first in a series of four posts regarding managing your career with the help of technology.  I've chosen the title words very carefully as I wanted to talk about the life-long process of career management not to be confused with the job search process.  Oh for sure, the job search process is a part of this but the management of your career should not start and stop with each job search you go through.  I am eager to learn what has worked well for you.  Please leave your comments and suggestions. 

Who_am_i_stevec77 Let's start with who you are.  A resume is the classic way of communicating this but it has 2 drawbacks.  First, it overtly screams "I'm looking for a job" which may not be true at this time and is probably not something you want to let your current employer know.  Career management is more about letting people know who you are and what you can do than it is about the occasional "hire me" sales effort. 

Second, a resume doesn't say enough about the intangibles.  One of the most important aspects that someone will consider about offering you a new job or new role is "Will he or she fit with the culture of the organization?"  Your resume says very little about you as a person.  What you're like, how you think, what's your passion, what you think about the critical issues in your field -- all important factors in how you'll be evaluated and all are something a traditional resume doesn't address.

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