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Part 1: How Much Is Your Resume Worth?

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Have you ever considered how much your resume is worth? Put an actual dollar value on it? I sometimes ask people seeking resume help how much they think their two-page resume is worth (hopefully their resume is only two pages and not the 10+ I’ve seen). I get answers from five cents to “a lot,” but the right answer is: it depends on how much I make. If I earn $100,000 every year for the next ten years, these two pages are worth $1,000,000 dollars to me. Think about that for a second. The resume I thought of as a burden to create and update, which I worked on while watching The Big Bang Theory or Game of Thrones, is possibly worth $1mm or more to me. What other documents have you recently created worth $1mm+ to you?

While your resume is far from the only factor in getting a job, it is your gateway into getting the interview. Malcolm Gladwell describes in his book “Blink” how people, especially interviewers, make snap judgments. When you first meet someone and shake their hand, you make a snap judgment about that person. A strong handshake might indicate a smart and put together individual or a weak handshake might indicate a timid and unmotivated individual. The interviewer sub-consciously continues to reinforce that initial judgment through out the discussion. For example,

“Do you know Java?” the interviewer asks.

You reply, “No, but I read a lot and can quickly learn.”

If the interviewer snap judged they don’t like you, they sub-consciously think, “Hmm, doesn’t seem to have the right skills. No hire.” If the interviewer snap judged they like you, they sub-consciously think, “Wow, seems to have a real can do attitude and has great potential. Hire!” The very first snap judgment a hiring manager makes about you is based on your resume.

A well organized, easy to read, and error free resume indicates an intelligent and well-organized individual. A sloppy, dense, or error-filled resumeindicates a lazy and “lacks attention to detail” individual.

That is why we said, let’s build something that helps people build the best resume possible, create a great first impression, and get them the right job:The Resume Reviewer.

To Be Continued in Part 2: Building the Resume Reviewer where we’ll get into the tech detail.

Why You Should Let Your Best Employee Join Another Team

Team Management

Imagine a fantastic software engineer who’s been working for the same team on the same system for a few years. Before long, she gets promoted. Her colleagues and direct reports love her, but despite getting more responsibilities, she’s growing tired of the same set of technical challenges.

A team is being put together elsewhere in the company in order to build a new system, and she has her eye on that. So she decides to approach her manager about it.

WHY INTERNAL TRANSFERS ARE SO RARE

At many companies, this type of request isn’t greeted too enthusiastically. Plenty of organizations have official policies on internal transfers, but they’re seldom utilized as much as they could be. I once had a manager who would say that a team member of theirs “quit” when they transferred, and actually tried to prevent that from happening. A colleague of mine says he once got scolded by a manager who found out he was using the internal jobs site, and was then “forgiven.” In these situations, company culture undermines company policy.

PLENTY OF ORGANIZATIONS HAVE OFFICIAL POLICIES ON INTERNAL TRANSFERS, BUT THEY’RE SELDOM UTILIZED AS MUCH AS THEY COULD BE.

Explicitly or implicitly, when the opportunity to apply your skills in a different part of the company is discouraged, you’re more likely to jump ship altogether.

For managers, though, it comes down to weighing the costs and benefits. If you discourage or outright reject the transfer request and keep that team member on board, you will:

  • Have a demotivated and unhappy employee on your hands.
  • Deliver a clear message to the rest of your team that there’s no leaving this group; there’s only leaving the company.
  • Eventually—usually within six months—be handed a resignation letter.

If you say yes, you’ll no longer have the great employee on your team, but will:

  • Have the opportunity to negotiate when they can transfer (e.g. one or two months, which is far better than two weeks’ notice), so you’ll have enough time to recruit the right replacement and bring them fully up to speed.
  • Deliver a clear message to the rest of your team that you can have a career here and not just a job.
  • Retain a talented and happy employee who keeps using their expertise on behalf of the company.

GIVE THE GIFT OF GROWTH

Some companies actually excel at letting their top employees move around within the organization in order to develop their skills. GE, for instance, has been known to approach top performers who’ve been in their roles for around one-and-a-half to two years and ask about their next position in the company. The point is to get the best people to stick with GE for the long haul and develop a career there.

For employees, the question is when, whether, and how to ask managers about the possibility of transferring to another team. Some companies don’t require you to do that, but some do. Regardless, those conversations should happen, and managers should encourage them. The ideal manager should be a partner to employees, not someone to hide from. Interest in working elsewhere within the company should never be a dirty secret or interpreted as a critique of a manager’s leadership style.

EMPLOYEES WHOSE CAREERS YOU’VE HELPED ADVANCE WILL REMEMBER THAT

Personally, I’ve had two people approach me about transferring to other groups during the past six months. One person wanted to increase the breadth of their experience, and the other wanted to be in the group focused on services (back end is their passion). Both of those employees brought a lot to my team. But after talking it out with them individually, I said yes to both. I knew they’d be able to grow and follow their passions, and it was my job to encourage that.

Sometimes managers are in a tough spot. What should you do if you’d like to help your employees grow in a different part of the company, but the organization frowns on that? Some managers’ judgment will be questioned if they let top performers leave. That risk is real, but it’s better to err on the side of doing right by your employees.

If you do, you’ll ultimately be doing right by your company, too—even if it isn’t exactly seen that way. The reality is that people now change their employers more often than ever, so minimizing that churn can be a good thing. What’s more, employees whose careers you’ve helped advance will remember that. You may be losing someone great now, but they might come back into your professional life sooner than you’d expect.

Post originally appeared in Fast Company.

Does the End Justify the Means?

On Monday April 2, 2012 the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled in the case of Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders that the police can strip search anyone entering jail (not just prison, but also jail) after being arrested for any offense (murder to drug trafficking to speeding to walking your dog without a leash).  Often contraband, such as weapons and drugs, enter the prison system through newly introduced inmates, thus the Justices reasoned that the safety of the inmates and guards outweighs the privacy and rights of the individual.  Is this just?

Consider what this means, as observed by Sherry Colb on CNN Opinion (click here for the article):

In one facility, this means “a complete disrobing, followed by an examination of the nude inmate … by the supervising officer, which is then followed by a supervised shower with a delousing agent.” In the other facility, the booking process “required groups of 30 to 40 arrestees to enter a large shower room, simultaneously remove all of their clothing, place it in boxes and then shower.”

To personally answer the question of justice, self-reflect on do you consider it just (not necessarily like or be happy with, but know in your heart it is just) if a loved one, friend, acquaintance, or yourself were stripped searched for not paying a parking ticket.  It is the same exercise for for torture, i.e. water boarding, where being accused of a crime justifies the means to extract the sought after information.  Using this simple litmus test, some will find the court’s decision just and others will not.

I personally, and profoundly, believe that the decision of the Supreme Court is not just.  The court determined the best way to protect the inmates and guards is by removing the rights and dignitary of the accused.  They focused on a laudable end goal and worked backwards to justify the means – a slippery slope of reasoning that can make any injustice justifiable.

So what can we do given the highest court in the land has made their decision?  Luckily, times and attitudes change – hopefully for the better.  Slavery and discrimination were justified by the courts and later overturned, and so might this decision.  Citizens have several avenues to address this injustice: writing your representative, speaking our against the injustice both verbally and using the internet, and if the injustice happens to you, fight back through the courts by suing the police and state.  You most likely will lose, but all we need is one judge to recognize the injustice and open back up the debate.

Review of the New Apple TV

ImageLast Thursday I received my new 3rd generation Apple TV.  First off, I can tell you that I’ve spent too many hours researching, debating, and analyzing whether or not I should buy the $99 device.  Seriously, my wife and I going to a Saturday night dinner at a NYC restaurant easily tops $99, so I don’t know why I spent hours deciding. But I digress.  The new Apple TV is just fun!  The device is crazy small and the interface is clean and easy to use.  Apple and Netflix movies in HD (1080p) play flawlessly – 1080p streaming was just introduced in the updated version.  I also have access to all of my music via iTunes Music Match and any movies I purchased in iTunes.  I had a lot of fun just exploring the features and watching some TV series I purchased in iTunes but never completed because I hate watching shows on my computer.

Now, some might say, “well, I already have Netflix from my blu-ray player or PS3/XBox.”  True, but I found using the Apple TV is so much easier than those systems.  Also, as of right now Netflix only stream 1080p with the Apple TV.  One thing I don’t like is the remote that comes with the Apple TV – the skinny silver one.    Luckily, I don’t use the remote often because on my iPhone I have the Remote app.  The Remote app is great and makes controlling the Apple TV easy.

My recommendation: buy the Apple TV….for $99 you won’t be disappointed.  And if you really want to go crazy, jailbreak the Apple TV and install XBMC.

Why Should I Update My iOS (iPhone and iPad) Apps?

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – the common reasoning for not upgrading software, hardware, cars, toaster ovens, etc.  Basically, new doesn’t always equal better.  I can’t agree more, but when my mother-in-law gave me the same reasoning for not updating her iPhone apps, it occurred to me…she actually might be breaking her beloved apps by not updating them.

I spend my days developing iPhone and iPad apps, so I know the challenge to test older versions against the growing number of devices and iOS versions.  If my app is at version 5 (having gone through version 1-4), I can honestly say I don’t really test versions 1-2 and maybe not even version 3 for backwards compatibility.  Why would an old version break just because a new version is released?  Well, it has to do with the back-end systems that are supporting the app.  For example, all your friend’s Facebook wall posts appearing in your Facebook iPhone app come from the Facebook servers.  This data is formated in a certain way and overtime as new features are added and others removed, the format of the data needs to change.  Eventually, the older app (unless a lot of time and energy is spent) won’t understand the new data format and will stop functioning. So, while my mother-in-law thinks by not updating she is removing the potential for her apps breaking and saving herself hassle, she in fact is increasing and, for certain apps, inevitability breaking them.  The moral of the story: Update your apps if you want them to keep working.

Learning Through Animation

I just discovered on YouTube a great series from the RSA that animates various TED like talks.  Instead of just listening to a talk by a writer, intellectual, or scientist, you watch this fantastic artist illustrate the topics as they are being discussed.  It truly brings a new dimension to the concepts presented.

And here is my favorite one by Dan Pink on what motivates us:

You can check out all the RSA Animations here.

Hopefully RSA will make one on Malcolm Gladwell.

iTunes Music Match – Finally Taking the Plunge

After waiting by the sidelines since the launch of Apple’s iTunes Music Match, I finally signed up today. In fact, my music library is currently being scanned (and boy is it taking a long time). Why did I wait so long? Simple paranoia. Apple is scanning you music library to do a match and technically can track the uniqueness of a file. In other words, every music file ripped from a CD leaves a unique signature on generated mp3. If the same signature is on 10,000+ people’s mp3 of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, there is a very high likely hood that this is a “shared” mp3 file. Now the last time I used a file sharing service was during the original Napster era and I’ve replaced almost all of those downloaded files with “non-shared” copies.  But who knows if one of my thousands of files is that copy of No Doubt’s Spiderwebs I downloaded 15 years ago. If the records industry forces Apple via a court order to divulge their Music Match records, well, a lot of legal notices will be going out and I certainly don’t want one.

However, my fears were finally reduced after reading this article that states Apple doesn’t keep track of the signature and just does an acoustic match.  So, I’ve taken the plunge and won’t look back (cause at this point I don’t have a choice).