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Stories, insights, and tips on how to stay balanced (and get ahead).


Your Next Job is Only a Tweet Away

In today's down market, finding a job may seem impossible.  I have some suggestions to help you find your next daily grind - the first of which is to throw most of the traditional job search techniques out the window.  We all know unemployment is rising.  So turn off CNN and navigate away from  Instead of listening to the voices of doom and gloom, dramatically increase your chances of landing a job via Twitter.  As many of you know, Twitter is a social networking tool that helps you get in touch and stay in touch with your network of personal and professional contacts.  And networking with those personal and professional contacts is how 60% of people find their next gig.

While some of you may be groaning out loud at the thought of keeping up with one more online networking tool, you should know that Twitter has become such a popular tool in networking and job searching that many people are now wondering Is Twitter the Next Monster? I personally do not think Twitter will ever eclipse the big green monster, but it certainly is a viable tool for your job search.

To begin your job search on Twitter, follow these useful twicks and twips (sorry - had to go there) and your next job may only be a tweet away....

  • Utilize Twitter apps to organize your search. Tweetdeck is a great way to break your network into categorized tweets, allowing you to focus on job specific tweets.
  • Tweet about your job search. Update your followers on how it's going; because, they can give you potential leads. Remember that Twitter is a two way street, so pay it forward.  Help out other job seekers if you come across useful information they could use.  Stockpiling good karma is never a bad idea.
  • Your bio is a 160 character twesume, so use it to sell yourself to a potential employer and include a link to your Web site or other social networking profiles.
  • Your Twitter presence can be as powerful as a first interview. Make sure you are "employer friendly"- in other words, be professional. This is not a time to demonstrate the latest in IM lingo or tweet about the crazy date you had last night.
  • Showcase your expertise. No one wants a tweet about that gyro you just had for lunch. But people will be interested in tweets about interesting industry news, trends and links to articles.
  • Follow the right people (like me) and be engaged. A lot of recruiters are online. When you apply to a job via a traditional way emphasize your interest by following them or their company on Twitter. Interact with the recruiter to be more than a name on a piece of paper.

For those of you who still doubt the validity of Twitter for your job search, you should check out this article: Forbes: Twitter To Find A Job.  As Forbes gives Twitter an endorsement, you can bet companies who hadn't see the light now will be hustling to integrate Twitter into their mainstream recruitment approaches.

Photo by Join


Do You Want Fries With That Executive Suite?

McDonald\'s CEO Jim SkinnerI recently attended a business luncheon in Chicago with Jim Skinner, CEO of McDonald's as the keynote speaker. His company has certainly been getting some positive attention lately as one of the few consumer-focused companies actually growing in this economy. As I listened to his description of the tactics McDonald's utilizes to grow their Fortune 500 company around the world, I was struck by the fact this man started his career in his local McDonald's while in high school. After he graduated and joined the Navy, Jim returned home and took a job as a McDonald's restaurant manager trainee. From there, he worked his way up to CEO in 2004. Pretty cool story.

I wonder, in our current period of economic uncertainty, what might motivate an IT professional to step off the traditional career path through America's cube farms and into a quick service restaurant environment? {C}What if you knew that nearly half of the current McDonald's global executive team had done so?

Where to start? A quick search on McDonald's restaurant careers site provides numerous Manager, Assistant Manager, and Manager Trainee openings. Or, if you'd rather jump right into the corporate side, check out their corporate careers site where they offer no less than 7 current IT internship openings. Note: You don't necessarily have to be attending school or a new grad. for an internship. Remember that time Chandler became an intern on Friends?

A word of advice before you submit your application to McDonald's (or any company): always research the IT department and its leadership in advance. Look for current initiatives the company is touting, and highlight relevant experience on your resume and/or cover letter. For example, a simple Google search will inform you that earlier this year, David Weick, SVP and CIO, was honored with a Distinguished Career Achievement for developing a global point-of-sale system. On March 25, he was quoted discussing credit card security. Setting aside time to do your homework can make a difference on your application, and even more importantly, during the interview.

So, what sets McDonald's apart as a global brand? At the event, CEO Skinner discussed several features that have kept the company successful, including talent management and leadership development. With their executive roster prominently populated by former "crew members," McDonald's clearly puts their money where their mouth is (or the where customer's mouth is, in this case).

Supersizing your IT career may not be such a bad idea at McDonald's.

Photo by Peter Wynn Thompson for The New York Times


Dress for Success in the Economic Recess

While IT hiring demand remains relatively stable in an unstable economic climate, it goes without saying that great job opportunities are few and far between these days.

Just last week, one of our recruiters actually sent a short-list candidate home to change his "loud" tie before a face-to-face interview with the client.  His position:  You must be very mindful of any little detail that could impact first impressions, particularly given the tough hiring environment.  Knowing his client's corporate culture well, this recruiter knew the candidate's tie simply would not fly.

The old adage "dress for success" may be over-used and abused, but it still has huge relevance in today's ultra-tight job market.  Even for web developers, creative designers and social media wonks, it is best to dress conservatively for a job interview regardless of an organization's casual culture or IT department dress code flexibility. Check out this video as it gives you a good idea of what I'm talking about.

Be sharp and look sharp.

Photo from ThinkGeek


The Lean and Green MES Machine

Whether you're a tree hugger or tree cutter, greening your supply chain with a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is proving to be an efficient technique businesses are using to meet their bottom line. We've already seen numerous industries progress from paper-based systems to fully-integrated electronic systems. For example, all of my banking is paperless; I can transfer money online, receive balance account updates via text message and opt-out of receiving paper statements. Medical records are going electronic too. We are living in a lean and green world! Already the number of manufacturers adopting MES is on the rise and expected to double (35 percent to 71 percent), with more than one third extending these functions into the supply chain. 1 Given the increasingly demanding environment, job seekers should understand the lean and green value a MES really adds to shop floor operations. I'll explain...

When it comes to the supply chain, there is no question that the manufacturing process is the most significant area of value and waste creation. In an ideal manufacturing setting, the corporate office has the ability to view or modify operations, extract reports containing resource and production data, and reduce cost by eliminating the waste involved with faulty batch cycles. For these abilities to be of most value, supervisors must have real-time data collection and visibility, internal and external linkages, and capability to quickly adapt to changing business needs. Unlike other nodes in the supply chain, improvements in product production are heavily dependant upon: product quality, production speed, machine deployment and labor productivity. Currently, most manufacturers are operating with Automation Control Systems (SCADA) and Enterprise Resource Planner (ERP) technology. While these technology systems have set the industry standard and will deliver some early lean and green benefits, their paper-based environment often results in labor-intensive processes. These systems can not provide the real-time capabilities needed to establish a lean manufacturing enterprise.

A lean manufacturing enterprise has a production process that achieves more value with less work. Lean manufacturing is a generic process management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (TPS). The key principles of a lean manufacturing enterprise include:

  1. Builds integrity in the customer
  2. Rapid delivery of a quality product
  3. Flexibility for late decision making
  4. Visibility of the whole production process
  5. Empowerment of the team
  6. Elimination of waste everywhere, including:
    -Over production

As businesses and industries across all sectors upgrade their operational systems to support the lean enterprise model, we consistently are finding most of the tactics and strategy solutions are green. Going green may not be just another trend, but rather a keystone in how companies conduct business. Therefore, it is a strong possibility that employers will want to know if you are up-to-speed on the latest technology systems, such as MES.

MES 101

I'm guessing your next question might be: How does MES contribute to more sustainable development? Quite simply, MES seeks to take all aspects of manufacturing command and control from paper-based to a paperless, fully-integrated electronic platform. MES can allow you to manage, optimize and execute mission-critical manufacturing processes with a touch of a screen. By collecting and measuring real-time data, MES offers companies unsurpassed visibility of the whole production process. MES electronically communicates with each shop floor operator on exactly what to do, from prioritizing their work to preventing mistakes and rework along the way. This ability eliminates "crystal ball" management and the "hope and pray" method of disaster prevention. Some say MES will give supervisors the "Midas Touch" to block errors, eliminate waste and increase productivity.

Additionally, some vendors have begun to educate their customers on the elements of MES. Take a few minutes to review HighJump Software's great overview of MES. It puts the system's promise in very clear terms.

Does MES Replace My Job?

As with any new technology, employees are always concerned that they could be replaced by an automation system. Let me assure you that MES does not replace your job, rather it offers you tools to increase your productivity. For example, the paperless banking industry still needs bankers and hospitals still need nurses and doctors.

MES is Making Green a Reality

As an IT professional, it's important to stay abreast of rising technologies in the marketplace. For example, last year, Managing Automation Magazine awarded General Dynamics AIS with its 2008 Progressive Manufacturing Award for their modernization efforts in their factory leading to a paperless manufacturing process facilitated by iBASEt's Solumina MES solution. Clearly, green tech's star is rising. Make sure you know what it takes to be "Lean and Green."

1 Aberdeen Group report: "Global Manufacturing: MES and Beyond Benchmark Report," May 2006.


Photo by Nookiez


Video Resume How-to: Choosing the Right Background

I'm actually not listening to a word you say. Your skills and professional background are of no interest to me. Instead I'm fixated on a different background - that 70's paneling in your bedroom where you shot your video resume. Welcome to the world of DIY resume video creation and one of the more important choices in your production, what's behind you. I'm continuing my quest to help IT people everywhere create their own video resume by documenting the process of doing one for myself.

In this installment, I find out that the background of your video resume can either add to, or detract from your presentation to prospective employers. Where you are matters as much as what you are talking about. You'll see more in my first exploration: The Whiteboard Background.

While I might not end up sitting in front of a whiteboard for my video resume, it got me to thinking about some other potential options.

5 Good Video Resume Backgrounds Around the House

Unless you are looking to get really adventuresome, odds are that you will shoot your video resume at home. Here's a list of a few ideas to stage an interesting background at home:

  1. Home office: Sit at your clean, uncluttered desk with your laptop. Show your tools.
  2. Kitchen: If you have granite counter tops show them off. They make you seem more valuable.
  3. Study/Den: Make sure there are a few books in the background. They make you seem smarter.
  4. On the couch: Think Diane Sawyer TV interview. It makes you more seem more relaxed.
  5. Wall with framed art and greenery: Neutral and professional

5 Bad Video Resume Backgrounds Around the House

For every great video resume setting at home there is an equally bad idea. Here's five that come to mind.

  1. The bedroom: Don't even think about it, unless you are looking to make it in a certain industry.
  2. The bathroom: The fact I get inspired in my shower caused me to consider it briefly. Don't.
  3. The backyard: Really. Unless you work outside, which most IT people do not, outdoor shooting offers all sorts of distracting sights and sounds that add no credibility to your video resume.
  4. The garage: No one wants to see your bike, beer fridge, or woodworking hobby
  5. The car: Action movies seem like they'd be fun, just not for communicating your potential IT prowess

All of this poking around the house got my wheels spinning about ways to make it seem like I'm not at home shooting the video resume at all. My first thought was obliterating the background altogether. I see an awful lot of this at conferences and on the celebrity red carpet interviews. Throw up a sheet behind someone especially with a bunch of sponsor logos on it, and voila.

I intentionally used a blue sheet in my previous attempt because the nerd in me REALLY wanted to know how to do bluescreen/greenscreen chroma-key. You know the technique where you can make it look like you are on the Death Star battling Vadar. Well, it turns out, the technique is pretty challenging. If I choose to go this route, I will need to refine my lighting and background material so that I look a lot better than in this example.

So, what do you think are the best ideas for a video resume background? Do you think it makes a big difference? Feel free to submit examples of what you think does or does not work.

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