Once again, my name is Mark Allen and once again, I’m writing in the place of Chris on this particular entry while waiting for him to get back from helping the strange man who had some sort of problem with his mysteriously appearing Blue Police Box which has now mysteriously disappeared with both of them inside!
Normally I be a bit worried, but after our last involvement with time travel which landed us both smack in middle of the infamous Noodle Incident (‘nough said) I took the liberty of planting a 5 dimensional tracking device on Chris so I know he’s fine…Sort of…Well, aside from the invisible Yetis that are currently hunting him!
But in the meantime, while Chris is out gallivanting throughout space and time having fantastic adventures some of us remain stuck at work (not that we are in any ways bitter about that of course) and the blog must go on!
Speaking of work, this lends itself to an interesting topic as I’m pleased to say that after doing a lot of consulting and on call work for IT Infrastructure I was just recently hired after a long and arduous job in an engineering capacity for a major IT network security technologies firm!
Although I realize this is probably a case of too little, too late, in order to try to avoid sounding like this whole post is me blowing my own trumpet, I thought it might be nice to offer a few helpful tips that I learned this time around during my journey to my next employment opportunity!
Oh, and if I sound slightly condescending, don’t worry, it’s just a side effect of excessive UNIX use to help cleanse myself from my Windows infested surroundings!
Now odds are, most/a lot of you are not Engineers, so as a result I think we’re safe to skip the really basic stuff as I’m making the assumption that you have enough social skills to be able to be considered functionally social, unlike me, for whom even a purely superficial appearance of normality is simply not a realistic goal in the workplace and by extension, life in general!
Hence there are three major tips that I can offer when pursuing a job in today’s abysmal economy:
1. Be on time –
Yes, I know I promised to skip the basic soft skills but this is one of those of stupid little things that can literally make or break you in terms of employment before the interview even starts!
There were two interviews that would have gone extremely well for me otherwise, but at the end of the day, because I was more than 15 minutes late due to severe traffic, despite my calling and informing the person I was meeting with from the road, it still cost me both opportunities!
2. Don’t underestimate your asking price –
Recently I had been sending out resumes and answering adds and when doing so I had made it very clear that I was very open to modifying my asking price going in, and was largely ignored, but after raising my asking price substantially and making it very clear I wasn’t going to bend on it I suddenly started getting replies back on the same day!
Granted, most of them were negative responses declining the need for my services, but they did note that I would be considered for other positions in the future but in such a personalized way that I was reassured that it wasn’t an auto-reply but from an actual person!
Now I do a lot of consulting so the general rule which I tend to follow (admittedly with both circumspection and moderation) is the more you act like a prima donna, the more seriously management takes your expertise in a given subject!
A great example of this of this rule happened a few years ago to my Uncle, Marshall Cook, when he forgot about this point when being offered a corporate speaking opportunity in New York which he really didn’t want to do.
So he proceeded to ask for <$100k+ on the theory that no sane person would possibly take him up on that for a week long speaking engagement.
Naturally, this being a huge highly successful corporation, they not only raised their offer to surpass his asking price, but also offered to cover all the expenses through the following weekend for both him and my Aunt so they could have a nice short vacation together afterwards!
Now while obviously we can’t all expect that level of treatment from a major corporation, it’s important to sometimes remember that the value of expertise (like everything else) can often be in the eye of the beholder, but it’s important when trying to steal it not to take the wrong one, because you never know if it could actually be a glass eye which could potentially shatter into a million tiny shards some of which could fly into your eyes and blind you in a Twilight Zone worthy serving of gory ironic justice!
3. When dealing with the management interview, it’s not about what you say, but rather what you ask –
A great piece of advice was given to me by my father a few weeks ago when he suggested that in his dealings with management he’s found that the best approach is often to ask as many questions as possible during a meeting as nothing quite helps lifts the spirits (and by that I mean egos) of those involved by giving them a chance to share their vision (and by that I mean ambitions) of what they want for the company (and by that I mean themselves).
Going into the interview for my current job, my initial assessment was that I was in trouble as the person I was interviewing with was very knowledgeable about our products and the market our company was in, but he and I were on very different wavelengths as far as our experiences and take on certain aspects of the IT industry.
Obviously I needed to do something to remedy this, and I ended asking a lot of questions about the company which he was happy to answer which is how we ended building the foundation of what I hope to be a long and fruitful working relationship.
But sometimes you need to dig first in order to get the other guy to drop his guard before you can hit him with the shovel- er, that is to say that often the best working relationships can be based simply on the foundation of one person teaching another the potential perks and perils of their workplace.
Well, that’s all for me for now, so until next time readers, always remember that just because your paranoid, it doesn’t mean that someone hasn’t planted a 5 dimensional tracking device on you in the event that he has to go and rescue you from an invisible Yeti that’s about to eat your face while the Timelord that brought you into danger is distracted by a slowly crawling but shiny piece of local robotics-based currency on the nearby floor!