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Can An Old (tech) Dog Learn New Tricks?

I’ve been using Microsoft Word on both the Macintosh and Windows PC’s since 1987. In those years, there have been several updates and features added but the main user interface has stayed roughly the same, if not a bit more cluttered, as time marched forward.

Not so with Word 2007 that I’m now using inside Windows Vista. While I find the new layout to be interesting, I have to say the learning curve is much more extensive than I expected. Just finding all the features I regularly use has been an issue. So I’m not sure if this is a better way to write or just a way for Microsoft to justify an upgrade. I’ll keep posting here on my experiences and my quest to find the “Word 2003 Compatibly Mode” that has to be buried in the menus here someplace (I hope!).

I guess I’m just too set in my ways to change word processor UI’s… sort of like the WordPerfect DOS guys were when Word first came out (menus? function keys are much faster!). Incidentally, I had the same reaction to Apple’s Pages word processor UI; I use Word for MacOS X as a result.

7 Ways To Get Hired

I thought I’d take the time to share a bit of my job search plan online so I could both give some inspiration to other job hunters and get some feedback. I’ll be posting about each of these seven tactics I’m using in detail over coming days but thought my first post would be just an introduction.

Tim’s job search process, 2006 edition:

  1. Figure out what you like to do and are good at – this might seem a bit self evident, but it took me a while to figure this out. The most successful people are those doing the jobs they love. Listen to this podcast for more detail. It all starts here and you will save a lot of time not chasing the wrong job by being honest with yourself at the beginning.
  2. Target at least 10 companies you want to work for – again, a job search best practice. Start with a list of companies you admire and then start searching for others who have similar characteristics. In an hour or two you should have a list of 10-20 companies to research and network into. Make sure all of these are consistent with what you want to do.
  3. Mine the job boards to find companies who are hiring – You can spend a lot of time searching online job boards such as Monster and CareerBuilder but I think they are only useful to find companies who are hiring, not actually to find the right job for you. I’d just stick with the big ones and not waste time on others. For me, they are Monster, Jobster, Simply Hired and Fetchster. Just use their RSS feeds or email alerts to keep tabs on the marketplace.
  4. Network, Network, Network! – Another one that makes a lot of sense as about 80% of all jobs are won via networking. First, network with people you know and ask for referrals to speak with others from their networks. Second, reach out to headhunters. And finally, use online social networks to expand your reach. Join LinkedIn and blog about your passions. Remember, you are looking for a job you are really passionate about and should have plenty to say about the subject. Free tools like WordPress and Blogger make it a no-brainer.
  5. Write it down and set goals – This is one I really need to work on as I have dozens of balls in the air. I’ve found JibberJobber to be a nice tool to capture and track your activities that works great for me. I’ll cover this service and another one called The Job Tracker in more detail next week. At the very least, setup a filing system and Excel sheet to organize your search. Make sure the goals you set are obtainable and realistic. For example, as much as my Christmas would be improved by finding the right role, I know that it’s probably not the most realistic goal. Something like February 1st is better for me given the current velocity of my search; YMMV.
  6. Treat your job search as your job – You are marketing yourself, so don’t spend part time on your search. This is sometimes difficult to manage if you are also doing part-time consulting work, as I am. The bottom line is to put the hours into your job search and not treat this as a another part-time job no matter how many little projects you have around the house.
  7. Talk about how you would do the job during the interview – This is an interview technique that works best after you have already spoken to the hiring manager and uncovered some of his or her hot buttons for the job. Since most interview processes are multi-phased, be sure to include a detailed plan of how you would actually do the job in the form of a 90 day action plan during the second interview. I find printed and bound Powerpoint presentations to be best for my presentation style, but if you are a white board wizard, present that way. Don’t talk about how your background matches the position (your resume does that), talk about what the hiring manager is really interested in: how you would do the job.

Hope this might help some others out there. Be sure to check out some other lists being posted in the blogosphere and post a comment about what I’ve missed here.

Rest in peace, James… you will be missed

I don’t have much to add to the passing of James Kim other than to express my gratitude to have had the chance enjoy his work at TechTV and Cnet over the years and to express my condolences to his family. I never got the chance to meet James but felt the loss yesterday as if a friend had passed away. That’s a testament to both a very decent man who was trying to save his family right to the end and to the power of social media. I only knew him through his reports on The Screen Savers and most recently on Cnet video podcasts that still sit on my TiVo today. Goodbye James, you will be missed but I’m happy to have known you…

Cnet has a very heartfelt tribute posted by his colleagues; check it out here.

Windows Vista Doesn’t Suck

Like a lot of tech geeks, I downloaded and installed Windows Vista beta 2 and got a serial number good for RC1 that runs until next June.  In my old PC, beta 2 barely ran and I had quite a few wifi problems.  Since installing RC1 on my newly upgraded system, I have to say I’m impressed with the performance and usablity.  This comes from a guy who spends most of the day inside MacOS X, so I guess Windows Vista doesn’t suck after all, but I do need to upgrade my video card 😉

More as I use the OS…