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3.5 Reasons why attending an IT Conference every single year can help your career!

Conference Attendees1. Network with your peers. This is an opportunity to meet new people from other companies. It is also important to visit with prior and current co-workers or classmates and get to know them on a more personal level. These are great people to build relationships with for multiple reasons:

a. You may reach out to these people to see how their company is using a new technology or transforming into an agile environment

b. Get non-biased references or opinions about a new technology you are evaluating and thinking about implementing

c. Learn how other companies operate and what makes their cultures great

2. Invest in Yourself! You will be seen by your boss, peers and others that you network with at the conference as a person who wants to keep current with your industry and who cares about keeping up to date with technology and best practices. The educational component of a conference can expose you to new ways to be more productive. Many people who attend conferences return back to work revitalized and more passionate about their work.

3. Hot new technologies.  Take time to meet with vendors. This is a great way to gain insight on what new technologies are available. You also have an opportunity to build relationships with vendors. Those vendors may be the person you need to reach in the middle of a critical project and if you know someone at that company they may be able to help get you connected to the right person to solve your problem. You can also pick up free giveaways or participate in raffles from vendors at many Exhibit Halls.

3.5 Have fun! Attending a conference should be work mixed with fun! Many conferences have activities such as happy hours, late night parties, and golf tournaments. Treat yourself to    an extra day in the city you are visiting. Plan to come in town early or stay an extra day at the at the end of the trip. Mix business with pleasure and keep your career trajectory on track all at the same time.

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Keep your Career Moving Forward with these Tips

Everyone wants to move forward in their career, but some people don’t realize that they’re making critical mistakes and sabotaging their own progress. Here are a few things to avoid:

  • Micromanaging is Required on Every Project
    Take initiative with your projects and don’t be afraid to ask questions as they arise, but don’t rely on other people to tell you how to handle every detail of the project. Your boss probably won’t promote you if they feel like you have to be micromanaged every step of the way.
  • Your Ego is More Important Than the Team
    If you want the team to use your idea or you are squashing other teammate’s ideas because you want to do it your way, then you could be sabotaging career advancement. Don’t let your ego get in the way of developing stronger work relationships and building an effective team.
  • Being a Complainer
    Occasionally, complaints can be beneficial if they offer solutions and improvements to the company. When a teammate is always complaining, they can sap the morale of the whole team, which can cause undue stress for everyone involved.
  • Bad Communication With Employees and Customers
    Communication is key to maintaining good relationships, and the quality of your communication will get you noticed. If your communication is non-existent or confusing, then it can have a negative impact on the impression that other people have of you. On the other hand, clear and positive communication can show that you are confident, comfortable and a good team player.
  • You Are the “Brownnoser” in the Office
    Trying to impress people too much with flattery often has a negative impact, and your efforts will likely backfire on you. If someone offers too many compliments or are too clingy to the boss, then it will likely come across as disingenuous. It is okay to offer a genuine compliment every now and then, but you need to avoid crossing the line and becoming a brownnoser.

 

Avoid these self-sabotaging habits that often prevent people from getting the promotion or pay increase that they desire. Be aware of your habits and actions throughout the day, and make sure that you aren’t self-sabotaging your career.

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Your Resume has these 4 Must-Haves, Right?

Important Elements That Must Be Included On Your Resume

Whether you’re putting together a resume for your first or last job, there are several core elements that need to be considered when you are writing your resume. Modern technology has made it easier to apply to many jobs without much effort, which means that employers and recruiters are inundated with resumes when a job opening is posted. If you want the job, then you need to make sure that your resume outshines the rest.

  1. An Attractive Summary
    You only have a few seconds to capture the attention of the hiring manager, so it is important to include a summary that entices them to continue reading your resume. The first section should quickly summarize your qualifications and is essentially an “elevator speech” on paper.
  2. Contact Information, And…
    Your name, address, phone number, and a professional sounding email address (not lovetoparty@gmail.com) should be clearly listed at the top of the resume. Don’t forget, you don’t want to include personal information such as your social security number, race, marital status, health status, or birth date. This information is not relevant during the application process, and there is no reason for you to add the information on your resume.
  3. Remember the “3 E’s”
    There are three main points that most hiring managers are looking for: expertise, experience and education. It is a good idea to dedicate a section of the resume to each of these topics:
    Expertise shows the unique skill set that you can bring to the company to show that you are the right candidate for the job. Make sure to adjust each resume to align with the job description, because you can re-phrase your core competencies in a manner that speaks to the language used by the hiring manager.Experience should be focused around the accomplishments that you have achieved in your career. Many people mistakenly list their technologies without explaining what they do/did with their skill set. If you have improved processes or saved the company money, include this information.Education provides the proof that you are qualified for the job based on the education requirements that were listed in the job description. The education section is also the perfect opportunity to share information about certifications or continuing education that you received.
  4. Clean Formatting
    Do not send resumes with hard coding. Companies use automated portals and your information can import incorrectly. Most hiring managers are quickly skimming through a stack of resumes and they won’t have the patience or desire to read resumes that are cluttered or confusing. Structure your resume in a way that makes it easy to read and understand, so that the important information pops out if someone is skimming the page. Since the hiring manager will be sorting through a large stack of resumes, it is important to keep your resume succinct. Limit the length to 1 – 3 pages and only share the relevant information. By limiting the length of your resume, it forces you to cut out the “fluff” to avoid over-sharing details that are not applicable to the job.

 

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3 Ways Multitasking is Killing Your Productivity

On the surface, multitasking seems like a good idea. Why not do two, or even three things at the same time, instead of one? It may sound like a good idea in theory, but when it comes to real life, multitasking isn’t effective. In fact, it’s probably killing your productivity without you knowing it.

Here are a few reasons why you should not try to multitask.

  1. Our brains are not wired to multitask
    You might think you’re a great multitasker. You probably even put it on your resume. But science says otherwise. It’s a fact – our brains are not wired to multitask. We fool ourselves into thinking we’re a multitasking extraordinaire because we can text a friend and watch football at the same time. In the world of work, you’re probably engaged in higher-level tasks than watching the big game while texting. In other words, your multitasking technique won’t translate into increased productivity on the job. Studies show that multitasking is ineffective because the brain is designed to focus on one thing at a time. Switching back and forth between tasks causes you to miss important details and never allows you to concentrate on a single task. Studies show it can take as long as 20 minutes to get your mind fully re-engaged to a task after being interrupted.
  2. You’re not really multitasking
    We may be able to multitask physically (chew gum and fold laundry), but there’s really no such thing as multitasking when it comes to cognitive tasks. What you’re doing is known as task-switching. Back and forth. Back and forth. Task-switching depletes your mental energy at a quicker rate and never allows you to “get in the zone.” The bottom line, it’s draining and inefficient. Experts say it’s best to do things in batches. Give all your attention and focus to that report, then check email.
  3. You’re prone to mistakes and stressed out
    Switching back and forth between tasks at a rapid rate while trying to focus on more than one thing at a time is a recipe for disaster. Your brain and body are in a state of chaos, which leads to errors and stress. Those are two things that certainly won’t earn you that big promotion you’re working towards, right? Researchers at the University of California Irvine showed that chronic multitaskers had elevated heartbeats compared to their more calm, singularly focused co-workers. The multitaskers were in a constant state of high alert. This state wears on your physical and mental health.

 The lesson is simple – multitasking is overrated. Stop doing it. You’ll be happier and more productive.

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An Effective Elevator Speech Opens the Doors to New Career Opportunities

When you are looking for a new job, networking is a critical step to help you connect with other people in the industry. You’ve probably heard the saying that you only get a single opportunity to make a good first impression, and networking with an effective elevator speech can make-or-break your job hunting efforts.

What is an Elevator Speech?

This speech is a quick summary of who you are and the skills that you can offer to the company. The process received the nickname “elevator speech” because of the idea that you should be able to convey your message in the time that it takes to ride an elevator. Most potential contacts don’t have the desire to listen to a long, drawn-out explanation, which is why you need to capture their attention within the first few moments of the conversation.

It is important to have your elevator speech prepared in advance because you never know when you are going to meet someone who could be a potential connection for the next step in your career. If you find yourself in a conversation where the other person is asking about you, then you need to clearly convey your message without stumbling over your words and feeling uncomfortable because you don’t know what to say.

Elements of an Effective Elevator Speech

There are several important elements that should be included in your elevator speech:

  • Start with a “hook” or a question.
    You need to make sure to fully engage the other person in the conversation from the moment you begin because you only have a few moments to make your speech. Begin by asking them a question about a common problem, or have a catchy hook that makes them curious about your skill set.
  • Show how your skill set solves a problem.
    Instead of boring the other person with a lengthy history of your education and experience, a better option is to continue the conversation by explaining how you solve a specific problem that many businesses face. Tell the person a boiled down version of your skill set, focusing on the benefits that you can offer a company.
  • End with a call to action.
    Wrap it up nicely with a call to action that encourages them to engage with you further. For example, you might clearly state that you are looking for a new job, and explain the reason why it is time for you to take the next step in your career.

It is important that you limit your elevator speech to 30 seconds or less because you will quickly lose the person’s attention if you ramble on for too long. Also, make sure that you are talking with a normal, conversational tone. It is easy to slip into a robotic way of speaking or to make it sound unnatural when you are repeating the same information over repeatedly. Practice various ways to explain your skill set so that you can make it a natural part of any conversation.

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Is Your Job Worth Quitting?

When all is said and done, the decision to walk away from an awful job is yours and yours alone. Below are a few important things to consider before you cut the umbilical cord.

  • Have You Reached Your Potential Here?
    If you’ve genuinely done your best at your current job, frequently going above and beyond the responsibilities of the role, and the only thing growing is not your paycheck but your resentment, then it’s time to assess your professional trajectory and decide whether your career has any room to grow at your current company. Is it worth sticking around a few more years for a promotion? That is not guaranteed.  If you get a promotion, will it boost your level of happiness? Is loyalty holding you back from developing your skills and professional ambitions? It may be time to take your talents somewhere else.
  • Do You Have Something Else Lined Up?
    If you’re seriously thinking about putting in your two weeks’ notice, the first thing to do is breathe. Then take a moment to carefully ponder the obvious questions, starting with: do you have another job lined up? If not, are there any solid prospects in the works? How quickly would you be able to start interviewing? The job market is demanding and competitive — are you prepared for the long haul, given that the average job search can take months? Having the security of the next job can mitigate stress, help you keep your cool and make your exit as graceful as possible, with minimal bridge burning. Then again, sometimes a job (or boss) can be so toxic that a three-month stint of unemployment sounds like a vacation. If you’re truly desperate and willing to join the ranks of the jobless, read on.
  • Do You Have A Cash Cushion?
    If you quit without having another job secured, you wouldn’t be the first in the history of civilization to do so. But beware that this can impact your ability to negotiate your next offer.  Career and financial experts alike recommend that we should always have an emergency reserve at hand, even if we’re happily employed with no plans to leave, because you never really know when the next layoff might happen.  Do you have enough money saved up to fund 6-9 months of unemployed bliss? If you think you’re stressed now, how do you think you’ll feel when your next rent or mortgage payment is due and you can’t pull the dough together? If you’re thinking of quitting in the near future, consider hunkering down for a few months and save as much money as you can.
  • Is Your Health Suffering?
    Too often we put the health of our bank account ahead of our own well-being. Is your workplace toxic to the point that it’s causing you physical symptoms? Job-related stress can cause headaches, hives, anxiety, depression, a weakened immune system and a litany of other ailments. Are you willing to work yourself to the bone while your physical or mental health deteriorates? It may end up costing you in the long run (i.e. in old age), and all that money you’ve worked so hard to hoard could be spent on medical care. Don’t be penny wise but dollar foolish.  Ask your HR department about any perks or benefits that may help lower or cover the cost of some interventions. Benefits often changes from year to year, so don’t assume you know it all. If you’re at the end of your rope and nothing can stop you from quitting, then ask yourself: what health measures will I take in between jobs, and at my next job, if the work-related stressors return?
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Don’t be busy, be productive

Do you feel busy? In fact, would you go on to state that you are constantly busy with little time for yourself or new projects?  Well, if your answer is yes then stop it.  Stop saying you are busy and stop being busy as there is a far better way to live life. Busy has accomplished very little in life, not even for the poster board busy bee.  If you asked a bee what it does, he wouldn’t say he is busy.  Rather, he would respond with saying he makes honey and pollenates the flowers of the world. So now it’s time for you to do the same.

The Business of What You Do

As the reader, there is no way one can say with certainty what it is that you do.  In the IT field, you are doing all sorts of technical stuff.  Maybe you are in management watching other people do stuff.  However, whatever stuff it is that you are into, if you were asked what you did, you wouldn’t respond with busy stuff.

So why would you constantly state you are busy? It’s a common belief that human language and spoken word is a powerful tool.  Consequently, your words matter.  Let us propose as a first step to stop stating you’re busy and make a habit to state specifically what you are doing.  Speak not of work, but of outcomes desired.  If your spouse calls you at work, don’t respond with stating you are busy.  State you can’t talk right now because you are designing a system or you are revolutionizing communication for your company.  Be honest, but state what you are doing and feel the power that unleashes.

Shifting Priorities

The other side of busy comes from humans not taking on too much, but prioritizing too poorly.  You see, when you start the habit of stating the business of what you do, certain priorities become clearer.  Simply stating you are busy doesn’t provide the same opportunity as busy can mean a variety of things.  Are you updating the CEO on the future of your organization or are you reading about cats on the internet?  Both would be justified as busy, but each has varying impacts.

Consequently, when you state what each outcome is then you have the ability to shift priorities at will with accuracy.  Imagine a long train with various cars serving various function.  When you can clearly identify the utility of each, then you can simply lift and shift each car in its proper place. Consequently, rather than always existing in a perpetual busy state, you can be accomplishing a series of outcomes in their natural order.  You can do this all day long to include rest and recreation.  Busy?  No thanks. I think I’ll make some honey and pollinate a flower today says the bee.  What will you do today?

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You Said What? 7 Things to Never Say During a Job Interview

One sentence. That’s all it takes to derail your chances at the dream job you’ve been pining after for months – maybe even years. Employers focus on why they should hire you, but they’re really looking for reasons not to hire you. Read on to find out seven things you need to keep in the vault while interviewing.

  1. “I’m really nervous.”
    While it may be true, announcing that you are nervous to a hiring manager or committee kills your chances at getting the job. Honesty is great, but not in this context. No one wants to hire someone who lacks confidence. Why draw attention to shortcomings?
  2. Like, um, ya know…”
    You might not possess the eloquence of a polished presenter, but using an abundance of filler words makes you seem unintelligent, unclear, and insecure. These are not the qualities employers look for in a candidate.
  3. “No. I don’t have any questions.”
    You might as well pack up your stuff and leave now. Not asking questions makes you seem unprepared. And even worse, it can lead the interviewer to believe that you are uninterested in the job and company. It’s best to ask three to five questions at most. You don’t want to annoy them with 20 questions, but you certainly need to ask a few.  Write down or print out your list of questions and have them in your portfolio.
  4. “I need.  I need.  I need.”
    Your interview is a time to speak about your qualifications, but real savvy interviewees know it’s best to talk about the needs of the company, and how you are the person to fill those needs. If you find yourself repeating, “I need” over and over, you’re probably focusing exclusively on your needs when you should be focusing on the needs of the company.
  5. “I’d rather not answer that.”
    If their inquiry is illegal then this response is okay. Withholding information is a huge red flag that you’re hiding something. You need to prepare reasonable answers to difficult questions and be sure to answer them all.
  6. “F&%#, Sh*!”
    Cursing in the workplace is common at many organizations. But you’re not a member of the organization yet. If you curse during your interview, you’ll probably never be a member of that organization. Again, sailor talk isn’t all-bad. Some studies show that people who use colorful language are more honest. But, it’s a big no-no during an interview. There is no benefit and the downside is enormous. You risk coming off as unprofessional and offensive.
  7. “The perks are awesome!”
    The perks may be awesome, but you won’t have to worry about them because you’ve just blurted yourself out of the job. Talking about the free car washes, unlimited snacks in the cafeteria, and casual Fridays makes you seem like you don’t care about the job, only the benefits. If you really want the perks – don’t talk about the perks.

 

 

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How to walk the “tight rope” of work and personal life?

Balancing work and your personal life while striving to advance your career can seem like you are walking a tight rope at the circus.    Sometimes, it just doesn’t seem possible.  Some people seem to be masters at the craft of balancing their personal life and advancing their career.  If you were to ask these tight rope walkers of time, you would likely find out that prioritizing what they must balance is the key to getting to the other side of the tight rope.

What do you balance?

Prioritize what you are going to balance.  If you are having trouble identifying what you balance, then write out what you value and put it in to two separate piles, one for work and one for personal.  Assign a weighted value to each item.  For example, is it important to you to go to your personal trainer twice a week or see your kid’s sporting event, or eat dinner with your family?  On the flip side, is doing whatever it takes to be in line for a promotion, or having time to make sure your software is well tested, or completing everything on your work “to do” list is most important, then weight those accordingly.  There is no right or wrong here, it is about what makes you feel fulfilled.  This is about how you want to balance your life and what makes you happy!

How do you get to the other side of the tight rope?

When you start walking across the tight rope of life you will come to the realization that you are more than who you are the 8 to 12 hours you might work every day.  Consequently, the question of finding work/life balance begins with what is important to you and achieving your professional and personal goals.  The reality is that everyone has the same 24 hours in a day.  So, if you have chosen a career path that is going to put work and personal time in a constant competition for those hours, then you simply must evaluate how to maximize the time you spend with each.  It’s not easy balancing work and personal life, but how well you manage this can make a significant difference in helping you have both personal and professional success and get you to the other side of the tight rope.

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5 Common Resume Weaknesses – and How to Fix Them

Resume mistakes are almost as common as resumes themselves. These five common mistakes can mean the difference between landing the job and continuing the search. Fortunately, you can easily fix these errors.

Make these five tweaks to your resume.

  1. List a combination of Responsibilities and Achievements
    Include key projects that you are working on or have completed as well as your overall job responsibilities.  Your resume should also contain process improvements or cost saving that you brought to the company (if applicable.)
  2. Padding Your Resume
    Your resume needs to be an accurate reflection of where you are in your career.  Only include professional work experience.  Including technologies that you learned in school or on your own does not interest employers (unless it is your first job out of school).
  3. Poor Quality Writing
    A recent survey found that 61% of resumes have typos. Do yourself a favor and ask at least one other person to read over your resume. And once you’ve eliminated all typos, look at the quality of writing.  Keep your verb tenses the same throughout your resume and avoid excessive wordiness and “texting abbreviations”.
  4. Poor Formatting
    As a technologist, your resume needs to look like you know what you’re doing.  Keep the fonts plain and clear and avoid excessively large print.  Your resume should be neatly organized and flow well.
  5. Forgetting About Skills and Awards
    If the job which you’re applying for is skill-intensive, be sure to add a skills section to your resume.  Competence with sending emails or the ability to use Google, for example, have no place on your resume.  If you’ve earned a certification or won any awards, consider adding an Awards section or Certifications section.  Your resume is a great place to brag!