A Business Technology Place

A simple way to keep your resume updated

I have a simple way to keep my resume updated.

I update my resume once a year at the same time I write my annual performance review.

It’s easier this way because I have already gathered data needed to summarize my accomplishments for the year and it’s only a small amount of information to add. If you keep your resume in an electronic file it’s a simple step to open, edit, and be done. If you’re like me, I consider my resume and online LinkedIn profile one in the same. I blogged about merging the resume and online profile back in 2011 and I haven’t gone back to the old way.  If you need the online profile in a document LinkedIn provides the ability to save your profile as a PDF.

The LinkedIn profile can be far more feature rich as well. LinkedIn provides the ability to link to work in your portfolio or even show samples of your work on the page.

So why be stale? Why make it an ordeal to gather data about past accomplishments years afterwards? Get your profile up-to-date and refresh it at least annually.

The role of social media

My news reader brought me an interesting post from Mike Elgan at ComputerWorld this week; Why Google+ is the place for passions. I identify with Elgan’s commentary because that’s how I use Google+ today as well. My circles include Digital Marketing, Georgia Tech, Technology, and Ubuntu. Communities and old-fashion search are other ways to filter content. So is it a place for passions? Absolutely. While I have friends that I converse with at times on Google+, it’s mostly a destination for me to absorb content related to interests. Sometimes I think of it as a visual and interactive RSS reader.

What drives our social media usage?

Some people I know have completely avoided social media sites. They don’t use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Other people I know use multiple sites. As with anything in life, we make decisions about where we’ll spend our time. It’s getting tougher to decide, because the digital age has multiplied all of the sources that compete for our attention each day. For me, it’s all I can do to keep up with work and family obligations during the work week. My social and digital media usage is increasingly becoming a weekend activity. (Thank goodness the little Roku box gives me a digital outlet during mid-week exercises!)

What drives our usage of social media sites is content and interaction. The various platforms deliver content and interaction capabilities differently. Look at the social media sites in 2014. They’ve evolved to communities that appeal to specific audiences. Our interactions on sites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn might include common set of people. But even if it does, the content of the messages and our degree of interaction are different on each platform.

Why does social media matter?

Take the role of social media in our culture and compare it against Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There are elements that fit in each of the three top tiers: love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. I translate that to mean that social media can make a difference in our lives and those we communicate with. For example, our participation in social media can help us get through tough times, provide for others in need, contribute to causes, receive instruction for problem solving, share a joke, engage in debate, and learn new skills. Sure, you could argue that some social media use is superficial. That’s true of all our interactions in life whether through electronic media or not. The bottom-line is that social media is interwoven in elements of human motivation and needs.

Oh, by the way. If you haven’t looked at Google+, it’s worth a few minutes of your time. Golden retrievers and disruptive technologies are a few of things that interest me.

(Image credit – http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/4453/Twitter-In-Real-Life-The-Follow-Back-cartoon.aspx)

Getting value from the annual review

It’s time to write annual reviews.
It’s that time of year again when workers everywhere write reviews of their work performance during the previous year. Most people I know don’t like the process. The reasons vary, but include the following:

  • The results of the review process don’t yield anything tangible such as raises or promotions. Early in my career the annual review rating was used in a calculation for merit increases. With my previous two companies this was no longer true as wage increases were frozen.
  • The review scale is misunderstood. Workers tend to equate the rating scale with school grades. Employers use the middle rating as “meets expectations” and “fulfilling the requirements of the job”. Workers see the mid rating as a C grade. I’ve explained this to workers numerous times but there is a negative psychological effect for many people when they receive a 3 rating on a scale of 1-5.
  • The review rating is subjective in many ways. I remember one review where my manager told me that I was a “cowboy” because I liked to push the organization into places where it was not operating (negative rating). My next manager told me that this same characteristic was a good thing because the organization needed change and I was thinking outside the box.
  • The review process requires thinking and writing. That’s hard work! It requires taking time to think about what was accomplished the previous year. It also requires writing and some workers are not accustomed to sitting and writing.

Think about it differently.
What if we used the annual review as a time to document our accomplishments for both the review form and our resume? Many professionals today keep their resume online in places like LinkedIn. Over the last several years, I ‘ve used the data that I gathered for my self-review to also update my professional profile on LinkedIn. As I see it, if I am going to keep an online professional profile that is publicly visible then it needs to stay current. Otherwise, what message does that send about me?

So what does that process look like? As I write the self-review I make a bullet list of accomplishments and then work those into the summary of my current job area on LinkedIn. I like to prefix each entry with the calendar year of the accomplishment. This technique accomplishes three things:

  1. Shows recency for anyone reading my profile.
  2. Creates a timeline on the profile which shows the progression of work responsibility and job assignments in my career.
  3. Documents my most significant accomplishments when they are at top-of-mind. If I’m updating a resume ten years after a job assignment I’m likely to miss key accomplishments.

Making Lemonade.
lemonadeI’ll be honest, unlike many people, I like the annual review process. What I enjoy is that it helps to create a conversation between manager and employee. As a manager, I also hold weekly one-on-one meetings with each employee. So the content of the review should not be a surprise. But the weekly one-on-ones are often filled with discussions about progress on tactical tasks more than a review of performance.

I don’t enjoy the ratings system. I think the ratings scale is a distraction to the conversation and content of the review. To me, the review scale represents the lemons in equation. The conversation with the employee is the lemonade.

As I think about it, lemonade is a great idea. I think I’ll serve myself a glass as I sit down to write reviews.

What about traditions?

People love traditions.
Traditions are those behaviors with a special significance or meaning that provide a common linkage or bond to bring people together. A tradition provides a human connection that spans race, gender, nationality, and even time. Traditions connect people.

Last week we toured college campuses with my daughter. What an exciting time and an important choice in the life of a teenager. They carefully examine, weigh choices, and explore options for where they will spend the next four to five years in their life. Each school has a set of traditions that have been formed and transformed over time. Some traditions die-out. Some survive. Some stay within the boundaries of active students while other persist into the ranks of the alumni.

During the campus tour it became apparent to me that the traditions of the school were also part of the campus culture. Some of the traditions I heard about centered around athletics. Others focused on student life, student groups, alumni groups. One of them even talked about marriage.

What about business traditions?
Is it a good idea to have traditions in a business? Is it even possible with constant turnover of leadership? Josh Linkner of Inc. Magazine writes about the downside of traditions within a business. Linkner says, “If you think about it, the whole idea of a tradition causes us to turn off our brains. It is the easy, lazy thing to do. Just blindly follow the past so you don’t have to do the hard work of critical thinking in the present.” I often see this when I ask someone why we follow certain processes and they respond that they’ve always done it that way but they don’t know all the reasons why.

I don’t fully agree with Linkner’s stance. What about traditions in the business world that don’t center of work processes or traditions that make for very successful business results? At my previous employer there was annual tradition on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to give employees the option to take a day of service for their community. Employees could work a normal day or take part part in an organized community service activity (with pay). The company would organize several options within the community for employees to volunteer their time. This tradition brought employees together to honor the ideals and vision of Dr. King while at the same time working to establish relationships with others and benefiting the community.

A few other business traditions that come to mind are chili dogs and onion rings at the Varsity in downtown Atlanta. So maybe it’s not the most healthy food or even the best tasting. But that’s a tradition that keeps people coming back for the experience. It’s good business! The there are LinkedIn HackDays. What started as an internal competition to drive innovation is now benefiting specific groups. Teams organize and compete to develop solutions for real world problems. It’s become a tradition for LinkedIn.

Businesses need traditions.
Businesses need traditions just like any other component of our society. I like traditions because they influence connections between people. With so much in the world trying to tear people apart, traditions represent things that bring people together. Sure, not all traditions are worth keeping. I believe most of those will end naturally because if they don’t benefit people then people will not follow them. So find a tradition in your business, or even make one!

My LinkedIn Story

I received an email from LinkedIn this week asking me to share my story about getting a new job. I notice they used variable attributes in the email for my name, title, and company name.

LinkedIn New Job

LinkedIn is now a primary tool in my professional career to facilitate communication and networking. I’ve used LinkedIn since the early days when it was simply a professional address book. Today, my LinkedIn profile:

  • Doubles as my resume.
  • Maintains a current list of my professional network. It helps to me know when connections are promoted and if they change jobs.
  • Creates a connection chain to specific companies.
  • Provides membership to affinity and interest groups.
  • Gives me a place to answer and contribute to community questions about business and technology topics.

I thought it would be nice to document how LinkedIn was a key factor in my recent job change. It provides a good record for my own history and provides a nice fit into the subject theme for The Merchant Stand blog. Here is a copy of how I responded to the LinkedIn email inquiry:

A recruiter from Curtis 1000 pulled my profile during a keyword search for a couple of open marketing positions. She reached out to me to see if I might be interested in the either of the two positions or if I knew someone that I could refer to her. I didn’t feel that either of the two positions was a good fit for my skill set or future interests. However, I did refer a former co-worker to her that I thought would be a great fit for the job. LinkedIn had opened a connection that would become important.

Two days later I noticed a job posting at Curtis 1000 for VP of Technology and Systems Solutions in the screen section labeled “Jobs you may be interested in”. The posting showed because I was already using the ‘follow company’ feature on LinkedIn for Curtis 1000. The job description and summary both matched my previous professional experience and contained areas that I wanted to grow towards. Since I already had an open connection with the recruiter I reached out to her expressing my interest.

Three months later, after several interviews and discussions, I accepted and started the new job. LinkedIn was the tool that created the initial professional connection and the tool that suggested a relevant job description based on my profile and interests. Thanks LinkedIn!