Tag: career planning

Career Success: Where Have All the Lemonade Makers Gone?

Career Success: Where Have All the Lemonade Makers Gone?

By Stephen Van Vreede (@ITtechExec)

When Life Hands You Lemons…

careers in IT cartoon image 3

My whole life I thought that most people creative in that they found a unique way to make something good happen from a potentially bad situation. They saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade” was something people seemed to live by. My career wasn’t any different, as I often found myself in situations that were less than ideal. Perhaps it was all the underdog movies like “Rudy,” “The Karate Kid,” “Ghostbusters,” “Trading Places,” and “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” that made society realize the path to success wasn’t always a straight line.

Early in my career, I had a boss give me a stellar performance appraisal followed by comments that I was too aggressive in my desire to get promoted. I should just be patient because promotions in our industry did not occur in the summer time. What? Are you for real? Just because it’s warmer and the days are longer, no job changes can occur? Needless to say, a promotion taking me from the D.C. area to Northern New Jersey happened, you guessed it, that very summer.

What Happened?

I’m not sure exactly when this outlook changed, but it most definitely has. Today, the prevailing attitude is to whine, complain, and give up when faced with a challenging career situation. This attitude has carried over into everything people do. Think about customer service for a moment. Can you remember the last time you had a problem with a service and the person with whom you addressed the problem cared enough to figure out a way, any way, to resolve the issue for you? If it happened for you recently, that’s great! In my personal experience, it doesn’t happen very often.

Are You a Lemonade Maker?

Take a close look at yourself. Can you honestly say that in most situations you’re a lemonade maker? Or are you a Kool-Aid drinker? Some people are lemonade makers at their job but not their career. Some are with their friends but not their family. You get the point. Identify your areas of weakness and look to strengthen them.

Lemonade Maker as a Brand

As you progress in your career and look to position yourself for the future, consider situations in which you were handed lemons. How did you respond? What did you do that was unique and innovative? Maybe you took things a step further, adding ingredients to make a new drink altogether. Believe me, in today’s market, having this attribute can set you apart from the crowd. Be sure to document these things as successes in dealing with life as it comes at you. Let’s face it, life is almost never ideal. In fact, it’s usually quite messy and certainly not linear. It’s how you respond and perform in the midst of these lemons that demonstrates your character.

The ITtechExec Way

To arm yourself with more tools in your technical job search arsenal, we offer a free Technical Jobs report & Online Identity Assessment to our followers. We also offer a 10% discount to our followers. Take advantage of our offer just by signing up to follow this blog or go to our website ITtechExec (be sure to indicate in the “How did you hear about us?” box that you found us through our blog).

Techies & Their Careers: Stop Thumbing Your Nose at Social Media

Techies & Their Careers: Stop Thumbing Your Nose at Social Media

technical resume tips
Techie careers
Sheree Van Vreede (@rezlady)

If there’s one stereotype about techies that is almost always true (and I have a family full of them) is that they can talk all day about virtualization and network security issues and debate the merits of this solution or that, but they are pretty mum when it comes to talking about their careers. They want you to be impressed (if they even think about that at all) with how they can use their knowledge of technology to solve real business problems, but they want to show, not tell. They are high-level problem solvers, not philosophers.

Talking is overrated anyway.

It’s Time to Come Out of the Shadows

Ten years ago, that quality wasn’t a big issue in the workplace. In fact, it was kind of expected. The techies would hide out in their cubicle caves devising the next solution or migration, and everyone else basically tried to stay out of their way. Today, however, techies often find themselves getting a bad rap, needing to fight to show that they are more than just a commodity that can be outsourced on a whim, that they know how to communicate their knowledge in a way that “tells” value as well as “shows” it. It’s an annoyance, for sure, but like it or not, it’s where the market is continuing to head.

Also, it’s more than about just being more approachable at work; with social media becoming more and more a part of our personal lives, the idea of “engagement” is now a hot topic when it comes to pursuing our careers and how we position ourselves to “influence” the virtual marketplace. Whether you are looking for the next position or happy where you currently are, it is wise to figure out how to use social media to “chat” about your “core talkable difference,” in other words, what makes you unique in your knowledgebase and how you can talk about it. It’s time to stop thumbing your nose at social media as a tool for helping you in your career.

I know, I know, I can hear you now: “Social media is overhyped.” “Social media is a waste of time.” “Social media is just for GenYers.”
And you know what? All of that is somewhat true. What’s also true, however, is that social media is a tool that you can use to your advantage if you know how to do so (I know because I’ve tried it!). If someone tells you that social media is just a time-waster, chances are they aren’t that knowledgeable about it in the first place. You need to get advice from those who use it effectively, and the only way to do that is to get on there…(just sayin’).

Social Media & the Techie

So here are three ways techies can get more chatty across social media and use it to their advantage in their careers:

Blogging.

I know…who has time, right? But blogging is where you can really shine, especially if you know how to drive traffic to your site. You don’t have to talk about how wonderful you are, just communicate your knowledge, share tips, link up with like-minded others. Think of it less as “selling” yourself and more as directing your career down the path that most interests you.

LinkedIn Groups/Answers.

Both the Groups and Answers features on LinkedIn are good tools for engaging with others and for getting an opportunity to share and respond to information about your main topics of interest. You can position yourself as someonen to listen to as well as someone who listens to others.

Twitter Chats.

Some people will call Twitter the biggest waste of time on the Internet, and it certainly can be…if you don’t have a strategy for how you are using it. Not only can you “tweet” out your blog links and LI group responses, but also you can engage in Twitter chats that are relevant to your background. Here are two we recommend:

  1. #ITchat (Tues., 1pm, Eastern): Each week this chat covers a different topic related to IT.
  2. #TCFchat (Wed., 3pm, Eastern): Hosted by the Tech Career Forum, this chat covers issues related to career and job search, from resume to personal branding to the state of the IT job market. You can learn more about the Tech Career Forum and #TCFchat on LinkedIn. You can also find out about the latest questions/topics for the upcoming Wednesday chat.

The ITtechExec Way

To arm yourself with more tools in your technical job search arsenal, we offer a free Technical Jobs report & Online Identity Assessment to our followers. We also offer a 10% discount on our solutions. Take advantage of our offer just by signing up to follow this blog or go to our website ITtechExec (be sure to indicate in the “How did you hear about us?” box that you found us through our blog).