Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Sunday, July 26, 2009

General Principle No. 782: Résumés should reduce uncertainty

No, I haven't written 781 principles in previous blogs. This was another feeble joke on my part. I merely imply that many trees have laid down their lives so that people could write on the subject of résumés.

I wanted to say that I prefer to find general ideas that I can grok—i.e. have an intuitive understanding of—using an ordinary brain so that I don't have to understand millions of individual ideas one at a time. Let me see if this general idea appeals to you.

An employer seeking new employees faces a lot of uncertainties. To begin with, some employers repeatedly experience trouble in staffing certain positions, possibly because they lack certainty about what those positions entail on the part of encumbents. Employers are uncertain about certain aspects of their own criteria. Perhaps they ask for 'computer literacy' in candidates but what would that mean in practice? Employers are definitely uncertain about the veracity of claims made by applicants, and about whether an applicant would be a good 'fit'. A few employers may even wonder whether their own prejudices are defeating them.

One way of assessing the quality of a résumé is to consider whether it will reduce the uncertainty for a given employer. Notice especially here that I have conditioned that previous sentence. You cannot expect to reduce uncertainly uniformly for everyone. You try to reduce uncertainty for one employer: one job application means you create one résumé.

Now, apart from this, how would this principle be applied?

First of all, it is clear that is implies that it makes research into the employer really important. When you apply to a given employer you want to try to anticipate what that employer might be most uncertain about. Uncertainties might have to do with current business conditions, management knowledge about your own specialty, and so on. Find out and use the information.

At the other end of the scale, the principal explains why attention to detail is important. If you allow typographical errors to remain in your résumé you are leaving doubt in the mind of an employer. She might ask herself, "Are these typos here because this person is careless or poorly educated?" From my own perspective—as someone who thinks of Shakespeare as pretty smart but a poor speller—typos are just annoying and distracting. From the point of view of most employers they raise that all-important question mark—which is synonymous with uncertainty which is why you won't be invited for an interview.

Submit résumés that reduce uncertainty. In other words, be informative. And let me know what you think.

For Careers--Not Just Businesses

Yer sweet spot is that triangular area right there in the middle, eh?

Keywords: Venn diagram, intersection (so I can find this again if I want it).

Friday, July 24, 2009

A University Degree Practically Guarantees a Job: Really?

A recent item (dated 15 July) in the 'Latest News' column of the Council of Ontario Universities announces a survey of 2006 graduates and makes the claim, "Survey shows graduates consistently experience high employment and earning rates."

I realise that the document they present contains only highlights. But, unfortunately, in itself it does not provide significant evidence for this claim.

Let me argue this way. The response rate for the COU survey was only about 22%, or about 1 out of 5. One out of five graduates that were polled chose to respond. Now, ask yourself, would a graduate be more likely to respond to the survey if she had been successful in finding suitable, well-paid employment, or less likely to respond? Put personally, if you were asked to participate in the survey would you be more inclined to report what happened to you if you had 'failed' or more inclined to report it if you had 'succeeded'?

A degree represents a big outlay of time and money. For what my opinion is worth, go carefully.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

International Association of Employment Websites

Answering a question on LinkedIn this morning took me to the jobs site to review their policy about where they obtain the jobs that they index. I don’t know how long eluta has been a member of the International Association of Employment Websites. I am delighted that they are now; otherwise I would not likely have encountered this great source.

The site makes its member roster publicly available. More than that, it’s easy to obtain listings of members by industry or geographical area. This is the Canadian listing which (at this point in time) consists of 24 job sites. If these are all as open and responsible as eluta appears to be to me then I would expect them to be amongst the best in this country.

If you’re like me (heaven help you) you might even enjoy reading some of the tips for job seekers and recruiters. One of the tips for recruiters is brutally apposite: it is that the ‘best and brightest’ have the attention spans of gnats and that one should get to the point. (Love it!)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Great Source of Peer-Reviewed Information

Steve Wheeler comments on his frustrations with the lengthy times often taken for his papers to see the light of day in conventional journals, and passes on the URL for the Directory of Open Access Journals in his blog, "Learning with e's".

There are lots of journals of interest to many career developers, whose contents are available at no cost to us. Since there seem to be no journals of this kind dedicated to careers research I think there is also an opportunity here for Canadians to create one, or to list them on the Directory.

Excellent Video Statement: What Networking Is

Anybody can afford this much time. Just over a minute and a half: a clear statement about what networking is—and what it ain’t.

Thanks are due to Patricia Diver for mentioning this on LinkedIn.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Job?: All Too Easy to Ellicit Hostility

When you’re new to a job, and have yet to be accepted as a member of the group, be aware that any suggestions or criticisms you offer in your new place of work could give rise to hostility in your new colleagues—not the good impression that you were endeavouring to create.

For more see here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Don't Announce Big Goals

For any career developers working with people who will need to put in lots of work and determination to meet their goals this appears to be important advice that we could give: keep your plans to yourself. Otherwise risk losing your drive to complete your project.

Here's what Wray Herbert says about it in Newsweek: "Talking the Talk".
Here's what a couple of Canadian researchers say in the Vancouver Sun: "Keep your 'identity goals' to yourself, scientists advise".
Here's the research article by Gollwitzer et al: "When Intentions Go Public: Does Social Reality Widen the Intention-Behavior Gap?"

If anyone sees videos featuring Professor Gollwitzer I hope they'll tell us.

[My thanks to the "O'Reilly Radar" blog.]

Friday, July 3, 2009

Another Source of Computers in Hamilton, Ontario

One of my friends that I see only on Facebook, Chris Shaver, reminded me yesterday that there's another great source for inexpensive computers in Hamilton, and that's greenByte. Do take a look at their site.

greenBYTE is a program of the St. Leonard's Society of Hamilton, a registered charitable, non-profit organization, which has been providing service to residents of the Hamilton area since 1972.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

15 July Webinar: How-to: Requesting Donations of Computer Products

CanadaHelps is offering a FREE webinar (online seminar) featuring our friends TechSoup Canada! Register now for this step-by-step webinar about how to register and request donated software and hardware through the TechSoup Canada Product Donations Program. Members from the TechSoup Canada team will walk you through all the benefits of registering and requesting products from 25 donor partners, like Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco, Symantec, Intuit. The following information will be covered in this webinar:
  • What documentation and information you will need for registration
  • How to choose the most appropriate activity type for your organization
  • Explanation of what happens during the qualification process
  • How to shop for, and make product requests
  • And much more!
Wednesday, 15 Jul 2009 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT

Book a place here.

MyCharityConnects Conference Videos Available

The MyCharityConnects Conference, an initiative of CanadaHelps, took place on June 8 & 9 in Toronto. Twenty-one (21) of the sessions are available on video here.

The videos offer a variety of in-depth advice of interest to Canadian charitable organisations: web site design, using social media, fundraising, search engine optimisation, trends in philanthropy, adapting to technological change, and so on.

Thanks to Marco Campana of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

We Are Already Free

By ‘we’ I mean career developers. By ‘free’ I don't mean we have freedom though, I mean that basic services we offer are available at no cost from others. (This concept is often cited by software developers because it has made an enormous difference in our industry; see Gratis versus Libre for an explanation.)

In my opinion, people need career support now more than ever yet the structuring of our economic sector might well prove to be about as well suited to this stage of history as are newspapers and magazines. They're dying.

As Seth Godin says, “In a world of free, everyone can play.” No-one needs to be paid to tell others how to write résumés, do interviews or even how to train for a career in biotechnology. Think LinkedIn. Read his article and tell me what you think.