Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Career searching advice: find the droids you're looking for.

“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” (Obi Wan Kenobi)

In nearly any form of professional activity, including career searching, the more intelligence one can acquire the more effective one should be, correct?

Not so fast. Timing, in all things, is crucial.

In as public a forum as this, I will not say with whom or when it happened, but twice I’ve attempted to develop a relationship with a relative stranger at Company X. The motivations were: 1. Learning more about the company and said stranger’s relationship to Company X, 2. developing a new relationship and 3. finding a career within Company X at a time when no specific opening was/is currently available.

Twice I believe I’ve initiated conversations (both via Twitter) with people who almost immediately perceived me as a threat. I cannot blame them for this. We dealt in the same realm of expertise. And how are you supposed to respond when the second question from your new contact is, “What is your profession?”

How many ways are there to say “Java engineer,” or “CPA,” or “public relations?” Any seasoned vet of any area of expertise would see through a semantic disguise or other BS. And if they didn’t, one’s endeavors might feel like subterfuge creating an element of remorse with which I would not be comfortable.

Therefore, is one better off trying to generate a relationship inside your area of expertise or outside of it? It is indisputable that the farther up the chain of command the better for situations such as these. What is less clear is how one avoids being perceived as a threat when seeking a new career with Company X.

The only advice I can offer gentle people is to dig, dig, dig … then dig some more to find the highest ranking officer within your area of expertise (i.e. that person to whom you would report) before letting on that your goal is a career with Company X. Then connect in the old fashioned way if you have to. Twitter is not the end all be all, especially if you don’t have the right person.

Comments, advice, experiences welcome!

Move along.

Friday, February 11, 2011

For all the "comedians" out there...

For as long as I can remember, I was never the funny guy. I was farthest from the class clown, complete with the Michael J. Fox wardrobe that ensured I’d be the butt of jokes. Somehow I would often to get in trouble for what that clown did, which made me simultaneously furious with and jealous of really funny people. I must admit that much of this persists more than two decades hence.

I would like to think that my sense of humor has improved, along with my ability to be humorous. Isn’t it true that we all find our friends with the best senses of humor among our favorites?

Content of humor is one thing. But timing and delivery are critically important as well. The immediacy, temporal context and tonal challenges of the Internet amplify the degree of difficulty to the successful delivery of humor by a significant amount.

Only highly deft humorists and satirists can successfully deliver humor via social networks in words only (viral videos do not apply here). Indeed, humor runs the constant risk of, and often relies upon, being offensive. The cursory way we “know” our “friends” and “followers” in our social media circles increases the odds of offending them by several orders of magnitude.

I failed at that in a most epic and embarrassing way quite recently because I didn’t know one of my friends well enough.

Therefore my advice to you is this. If you are not entirely certain that your voice will be heard in the way that you intend it, do NOT post a reply, tweet, comment or other internet black hole of permanence. File it away and save it for the rare occasions when you can intimate it the old fashioned way: in person.

Barring that, it really is ok to leave some things unsaid.