Best Podcasts for Software Developers

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 · 0 comments

podcast_ctap_small Continued skill development is crucial way to develop you career. One great way to stay on top of technology trends and best practices is to follow and listen to experts. I spend about 3 hours a day listening to podcasts, some tech related and some not. The following is a review of some very good tech podcasts for software developers. Listen and Learn…..

1. .NET Rocks – This is hands down my favorite podcast for software developers. There is obviously a Microsoft slant here, but there are great lessons to learn regardless of the tool set you use. Also, I’ve known Richard and Carl since the late 90’s. Both are extremely talented, well versed in their field and exceptional presenters. They are connected to the who’s who of software development. They run about 2 shows a week with a wide range of topics and guests. If you are even slightly on the Microsoft side of development this is a Must Have Podcast.

2. StackOverflow – Is a hosted/organized by IT Conversations and they say they are the longest-running podcast schedule on the planet. IT Conversations publishes a new audio program nearly every day, from tech conferences to unique programs. StackOverflow is a podcast and a website dedicated to software engineers. It’s hosted by Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky. The website offers free Q&A on topics from iPhone development to .NET and Java tips to PHP and Ruby to overall best practices. They post podcasts about once a week. The show is casual and has great show notes.

3. Hansel minutes – Hansel minutes is a weekly audio talk show with noted web developer and technologist Scott Hanselman and hosted by Carl Franklin. You’ll recognize Carl Franklin from .NET Rocks. He also runs a podcast production company called Pwop Productions. Scott works for Microsoft as a Senior Program Manager in the Developer Division. They discuss utilities and tools, gives practical how-to advice, in addition to ASP.NET or Windows issues and workarounds.

4. Ruby on Rails – If you are into Ruby on Rails his is the place for you. It’s “News and interviews about the Ruby language and the Rails website framework.” They have great interviews and also offer transcripts of each show. Not sure who has time to read a transcript. The shows are about 3 times a month. – Check it out.

5. Software Engineering Radio - Software Engineering Radio is for the professional software developer. It’s more of a educational resource, and not a newscast. They post about 3 times a month and cover a broad spectrum of all topics in software engineering. They also offer very good interviews. They have a team of 8 editors. Every show is different.

6. Spaghetti Code Podcasts – As stated in his Bio “Jeff Brand, self-proclaimed .NET Sex Symbol and All-Around Good guy.” This is absolutely true. Well I’m not sure about the sex symbol part. Jeff is a great guy, excellent presenter and very gifted in his craft. Jeff offers posts about two podcasts a month.

7. Polymorphic Podcast - “Craig Shoemaker is a software developer, podcaster, blogger and New-Media Evangelist for Infragistics. As host of the Polymorphic Podcast, Craig does what he loves most - making contributions to the community and drawing the best out of industry luminaries.” – From his Bio. The shows are 1 or 2 a month.

This is a good list to start from. If you have suggestions of other podcasts please let me know I’d be happy to add them to the list.

More Than Just A Tech Training Event!

Thursday, January 22, 2009 · 0 comments

networkFor all you readers out there in the Twin Cities Metro area TechFuse is 3/17/09. If you have time on your hands and $350 to $400 in your pocket you may want to check it out. They offer food and prizes in addition to a bunch of good topics ranging from Infrastructure to Developer topics and Collaboration Tracks. It’s a good overview, not to deep.

I receive many questions regarding training and professional development. Where do I go, what should I learn, how much should it cost??? If you’re in the “tech Industry,” continued learning is essential to your career development. If you’re not working, take this time to sharpen your skill and learn what you can.

IMPORTANT Don’t forget while you are at events like TechFuse, or user groups or even taking classes at your local tech college, to network. Connect face to face with other tech professionals and share stories, ask questions and listen and learn. Keep track of their email address and blogs. Also, connect with them on Facebook or LinkedIn. Sometimes in the tech industry its about who you know, not what you know. – More on the benefits of building an influential network later.

3 Questions To Ask Yourself Before An Interview

Monday, January 19, 2009 · 0 comments

Question MarkI’ve talked to many candidates that are unprepared for their interview. Not at all ready for they type of questions that really matter to the prospective employer. I’d like to list out a few questions you should ask yourself, and know the answers to, prior to your first interview.

1. Who is the employer and what do they do? - This seems like an easy one, but many candidate totally missed the mark on this one. Besides knowing your name you should be able to fully understand he employers industry, how the business model works and some thing unique about them. Of course go to their website, Google them, ask your recruiter and ask others in the industry. Get as much as info as you can. Believe it or not employers are impressed with candidate that do research.

2. Why do you want to work here? Employers would rather hire a candidate that really wants to work for them, than someone that is “kind of interested.” When you research the employer figure out what it is you really like about the employer. Why are they unique? Example: industry, business model, working environment, technical tools, reputation, opportunity for advancement, etc… Most clients will ask this question during the interview.  Important – Do not answer questions with answers based your benefit. Example salary, benefits, location, etc… 

3. What non-technical skills do you have that will benefit this company? Stay away from I communicate well, I’m good with people, I’m a hard worker and I learn fast. They have heard these answers from the last 5 interviewees. You need to stick out in their mind. Dig deep and think about who you are (see this post for more on Knowing Thyself if you need help) and what your strengths really are. Also check out this post on Beyond Tech Skills...

Show Me The Money!!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009 · 0 comments

The Money

In the end it shouldn’t come down to $$$$$

I’ve seen way too many candidates choose an employer based on compensation and health benefits. They assume the job is “only a job” and thinking “what I need/want now is cash.” – WRONG. In the first half of 2008 I can count 7 candidates that passed on good offers for a higher salary only to regret the decision a few months later. Some lost the high paying job, some had to readjust and move back home, some realized the company was a dead-end with no growth potential, some were stuck using proprietary software that wont help them in their.

Think about it, why would a company offer a compensation package over the market rate. What do they have to gain? Typically because they are hiding some flaw they don’t want you to see. Thus, they are paying in salary what they can’t provide in future benefit.

1. Lack of growth opportunity

2. Instable Company

3. Poor Planning

4. They may offer only proprietary or legacy solutions that will shorten your marketability.

5. Bad Location

6. Turnover

Yes from time to time you will find that rare company the has so much business that they need to hire fast and they are willing to pay for it. Unfortunately that’s not going to happen until the economy turns around.

Carefully consider why your next employer is making you an offer above market rate. Most likely they are trying to hide something.

Here is an Add-on – IT Salaries for 2009 overall for non-executive down 2.07% from 2008. Published by Janco Associates.

Beyond Tech Skills, What’s an Employer Looking for?

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Programming passion Obviously technical skills are important, but most companies are looking beyond technical skill and toward personality and growth potential. The days of hiring a tech professional just because he/she can code well, write a good test case or push out updates are over. Companies absolutely need those skills, but all of my clients would rather have someone with a driven desire, a passion, for their chosen profession. Remember when communicating your abilities in an interview or to your boss after you’ve been hired, talk about your drive, passion, energy enthusiasm in what you do and your goals. You’ll have to show results and actions around that drive, but it goes a long way.

As an add-on here is a blog post written by Justin James for TechRepublic. It was written in 2006, but is still very relevant. RSS his posts, they are very good.

Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers

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As some of you know this is one of my Favs. Like Steve or not it’s still funny!

del.icio.us Tags: ,
, Microsoft

Resume 101

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I typically make a point not to edit/adjust the resumes of my candidates. The resume is a reflection of you to the employer. You should put effort into creating your resume and it should be easy to read. For those of you that don't care, or have no clue if your resume is worthy of submission, here is a my basic outline for a resume. Also some tips on what to do and what not to do.

You should have at least the following.

This basic outline will describe content only, not design. I have opinions on design, but content is more important. This isn’t rocket surgery lets not make it more difficult than it needs to be.

From top to bottom -

Contact info: Name – address(just city and state if you wish) – email – cell phone

Example: (Does not have to be centered. Just have all the info together, but not in a table.

First name Last name

1111 Main Street, Anytown, MN 55000

xxx-xxx-xxxx

FirstnameLastname@xyzmail.com

Objective: What are you looking for / what do you want to do. Very very important. Please read Know Thyself post for more info. Two sentences at the most. Try not to start with “To Obtain” most Objectives read like this:

“To obtain a fast paced, challenging position working with a team of technology professionals to further my skills in the information technology field.”

What is that objective saying to you?… No kidding I’ve seen this exact same description in multiple resumes. It’s too generic and doesn’t really say anything.

Be specific about what you are seeking and what your skills are. Not what you’d “hope to obtain” or “like to have.”

Technical Skills: List out what you know and what you have exposure to. Programming Languages, Frameworks, Database, Servers, Networks, Operating Systems and Specialty Tools/Applications. Best to list them in order of experience and capabilities. What are you good at and what are you just learning.

Outstanding Projects: If you have an Outstanding Project with experience relevant to an employer, or maybe something award winning, add it prior to the Work Experience section. Be direct and cut to the technologies used. Also, add the outcome and your responsibilities with this project. Try not to use long paragraphs, but use bullet points when you can. Example:

Developed This “web site” for a specific use which resulted in a this outcome.

Responsibilities included. – Add bullet points here

Technologies used: XYZ, ABC, so on and so on.

What’s next Education or Work Experience: Depending on how much work experience you have, you may want to put our education first. Here is my IF Then statement that will help you determine which one is first. IF number of relevant (tech career related) jobs =>2 THEN Work Experience should be next and Education will be added to the end of the resume. IF years experience at 1 jobs is =>2 THEN again Work Experience should be next on the resume. Thus, only if you have 1 tech relevant job under 2 years experience, should you add Education next on the resume.

Work Experience: The Work Experience section should be organized in chronological order, most recent first. Containing - Company, location, start and end date, title, company description or industry clarification and bullet point list of duties for each employer.

Example:

XYZ Company Saint Paul, MN 03/2005 – 09/2007

Industry: Something that describes the companies main business.

Programmer Analyst

  • Define duties using action words.
  • Example: Developed, Initiated, Lead, Proposed, Managed, Maintained, Produced, Created, Integrated, Designed , Administered, Expanded, Trained, Demonstrated…
  • Use shorter phrases or 1 to 2 sentences.
  • Should be direct and contain Tools Used, Responsibilities, Outcomes, benefits to the company. Also any verifiable metrics.

Education: Degree title

Learning Institution, date and graduation

Major and Minor GPA if in the last 2 years

Any additional info regarding additional training, certifications or classes. Listed as bullet points below.

Bachelor of Science Degree

This University, Anytown, Minnesota Graduation Date: 12/2006

Major: Computer Science Minor: Math Cumulative GPA: 3.35, Deans List

Association/Awards/Honors: List related organizations, groups, awards especially in tech or professional development related areas. Including user groups, associations, frequent forum affiliations, college groups if within the last 2 years.

References: “References available upon request.” Make sure you have at least 3 ready, but never send to an employer unless they request references.

Do’s and Don’ts:

Do:

name your resume file FirstnameLastname.doc

have month/year start and end employment dates.

use bullet points and / or short phrases, 2 sentences max.

have someone you trust look over your resume for small typos

allow yourself 1, 2 or 3 pages depending on work experience. 1 page is not a rule.

Do Not:

use a lot of tables in the design of your resume.

submit your resume in .PDF (MS Word only)

name the resume file Resume10.doc, or JohnS.doc. Use first and last name only

inundate your resume with tech tools in Bold. Don’t over do it.

describe projects or responsibilities in long paragraph form.

list hobbies or personal affiliations

 

Know Thyself

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 · 0 comments

Know Thyself - Greek By Far!!!!! This is the MOST important part (the foundation) of finding a Tech job, maintaining a Tech job and growing your career. Everyday I run into potential candidates that don’t know who they are and what they want. Not knowing will lead your career in the wrong direction.

(It looks Greek to me!)

Before any interview or career decision - Answer the following questions:

(It’s very important to be honest with yourself. – the hardest part!)

  1. What do you want do? This means day to day job. This could also mean what tools you want to work with. Example: .NET vs Open Source, Or size of company, industry, group structure, management style. Also know what you can be flexible on.
  2. What are your strengths and weaknesses? This is a real hard one. You NEED to be honest with yourself on this. Don’t just go for the easy examples like, Strength - “I’m good with people” or Weakness “I’d like to learn Ajax” RRRRRRR Wrong answer. Regardless if this comes out in a interview you need to know this for yourself. Don’t fake it. More on this later. I could write a chapter on this alone.
  3. What can / can’t you live without? Make a list – know this going into your decision.
  4. Where do you want to grow? Most likely your growth direction will change as you gain more experience. That’s OK just make sure this direction is what you want.
  5.   If you are having issues answering any of these sit down and work it out. Get a piece of paper and pencil or (hammer away on your laptop) and put down out everything that is important to you. If you have not done this DO IT NOW! Know Yourself. Don’t allow others dictate the direction of your career.

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About this blog

I'm not a blogger. So consume at your own risk.
Since 1995 I've been working with software developers helping them increase their value through technical training and connecting them to great employers. This blog is dedicated to those technical professionals that want to get the most of out their career. I'll answer questions I get daily, common misconceptions and provide direction, but it's up to you to take action.
Please ask questions and leave comments. I can offer so much more with your interaction.

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Email: tavis@techcareertips.com
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