Archive for February, 2011

Toot your own horn at work

February 21, 2011

Do you think it’s bad to talk about what you’ve done? Do you have an aversion to self-promotion? Learn to get over that for the sake of your career. Remember the first rule of career management: Your awesomeness is not self-evident.

Your performance at work is judged on your achievements. You need to let your boss know what it is you’ve done if he’s to judge your skills fairly.

When the boss comes and asks how things have been going, instead of

I’ve just been working on that customer record data conversion.

you say

I’ve been working on that data conversion, which has been pretty interesting. I was only getting throughput of 500 records per minute, which would have taken far too long. Turns out that the profiler showed that 60% of the time was spent in doing the vendor lookup. So I hacked together a little Ruby program to build an intermediate Berkeley DB and bypass the Oracle connection. Now it’s cranking through about 6400 records a minute. Much nicer.

This little explanation has threefold benefits. First, your boss knows what you did, and has a better idea of your skills and achievements. This can only help when it comes time for performance reviews.

Second, your success can infect the rest of the department. Maybe the boss will bring it up at a team meeting, and others can learn from you. Maybe he’ll mention it to another team member in a similar situation. (When people ask things like “We’re a Java shop, how can I get the boss to use Ruby?”, it’s examples like this that are steps in the right direction.)

Third, if your boss has any micromanagerial tendencies, this will help fend those off. Bosses micromanage because they’re afraid you’re going to screw something up. When you make it explicitly clear that you know what’s going, you help soothe those fears and may well minimize the micromanagement.

Learn to effectively and tactfully talk about your achievements. Your reputation and paycheck will thank you.

Andy’s jobs/work news roundup for 2011-02-21

February 21, 2011

These links are collected from my Twitter feed. If you have suggestions for news bits, please mail me at
andy@petdance.com.

  • Job boards no more “help” you find a job than a billboard “helps” you find a new pair of shoes. (codeanthem.com)
  • A few things every job-seeking programmer should know about project manager (stellman-greene.com)
  • What job qualifications can trump work experience? (askamanager.org)
  • Ten tips for submitting your resume (money.usnews.com)
  • Don’t call to schedule an interview (askamanager.org)
  • This is how salary negotiation should work (askamanager.org)
  • RT @mjdominus A recruiter asked me to rate my programming 1–10. I said 10, since nobody who asks that is qualified to dispute my answer.
  • From the daily @tom_peters email: If your failure rate is one in a million, what do you tell that one customer?
  • RT @AskAManager Be Cautious When Referring a Friend for a Job (bit.ly)
  • What to do when you think you might lose your job (thecynicalgirl.com)
  • Should you work for free? Probably not. This fine chart lays it out. (jhische.com)
  • The importance of being able to say “I don’t know” (chadfowler.com)
  • How to tailor a resume for an employer (bit.ly)
  • 57% of the Inc. 500 use social media to recruit (talentline411.com)
  • Quit whining and send a thank you note after an interview (xrl.us)
  • How to be a better coworker (mashable.com)
  • Ditch Starbucks and work at the library. (52tiger.net)
  • 8 things you should know about job references (from @AskAManager) (xrl.us)
  • Smokers need not apply (bnet.com)
  • Six reasons you shouldn’t quit without notice (bnet.com)

Job ads to avoid

February 18, 2011

I came across an ad for programmers the other day, and one of the requirements was that you be able to:

Get along well with other sometimes mal-adjusted geeks

The way I read this is “some of the other people are anti-social assholes, and we, as a company, are OK with that,” probably because they are able to turn out code and they’d rather not deal with the long-term effects of such people on a team.

Having worked for such a company before, I suggest that life is too short to work at them, regardless of how cool the job may be otherwise.

Quit whining and send a thank you note after an interview

February 6, 2011

Over on reddit, the old chestnut of a question “Do I really have to send a thank you note after an interview?” has come up again.  It’s always sad to see the excuses that people try to come up with to forgive themselves for skipping this basic step in the job hunting process.

The cost of that thank you note is ten minutes of your time and a 44-cent stamp.  The payoff could well be landing the job.  It cannot hurt you in your job search, and can only be a positive in the mind of the interviewer.  You also take the opportunity to reiterate your good points and show the interviewer that you were paying attention during the interview, and you show that you actually are interested in the job, which is sometimes hard to tell.

It’s ten minutes and 44 cents to give you an edge over other candidates, to help you land the job you want, so that you can be gainfully employed and get out of the job hunt.  The cost/benefit ratio is huge.

Quit whining and do it.