When submitting your resume via email…

Friday, February 20, 2009 · 0 comments

cover letter About half of the resumes I receive via email are missing an introductory paragraph. BTW - In most cases you don’t need a Cover Letter, unless you are applying or a high level position. One paragraph in the body of the email is sufficient.

It should be short, strong and to the point:

  1. Should be no larger than one paragraph. About 4-5 sentences
  2. Clearly state the position title (reference job # if applicable) you are applying for and the company. Make sure the title is right and the spelling of the company is correct.
  3. Should state your reason for applying for the position. Why are you a fit?  Why are you excited about this position? Think Passion
  4. Should contain a brief list of technologies you have experience with and number of full life cycle projects you have completed. If not what have you done.
  5. Should list one outstanding accomplishment. Can be an area of expertise. Something you are proud of – should be related to the job. Try to tie point 4 and 5 in the same sentence.
  6. Last sentence may contain any of these: “Thank you for your time…,” “If you have any questions…,” “I look forward to talking with you…” Keep it short.
  7. Should end with your name, phone and email (also, home address if you prefer)

See the Resume 101 for more info about building your resume

Build Your Professional Network

Thursday, February 19, 2009 · 0 comments

Part 1 of the “Building The Ultimate Software Engineer” Series

Your professional network is as valuable as your technical skills.

mynetwork I generate content for this blog by asking hiring managers about their careers and what they would have done different. The #1 response I receive is, “I wish I would have started my professional network earlier.” Seriously 9 out of 10 tell me this, so listen.

Most admit it was a lot of work to develop good connections as they grew their career. It was out of their comfort zone, but they took action and did it.

Building a professional network may seem like a simple concept and it is. The concept is - The more people I know, the more access to information I can use and learn from.

Some reasons why its important

  • Meeting like minded technical professionals to learn from
  • Gaining industry specific information crucial to your current project
  • Keep up on the latest in techniques and methodologies
  • Great source for code suggestions
  • Great career connections
  • Introduction to new languages
  • Developing a mentor relationship
  • Building motivation to go the extra mile.

Why do hiring managers care about a Professional Network? .

Think of it this way. If you can save your client/employer time and money by using your sphere of influence to bring in a solid solution/concept, how much more valuable do you become to your employer. Twice, or more, as much as you are now?

“I don’t need to network I’m connected on-line.”

New web based social media tools are very helpful. You should at least have a Facebook and a LinkedIn account. (Also, blogging and frequent participation in tech forums are a great way to establish yourself and connect with others.) BUT you need to build your network with purpose. It’s not just adding friends to your Facebook profile. It’s connecting with thinkers and writers and people that impress you.

Then there’s maintenance. 

Just like the App you release needs to be maintained, so does your network. To maintain your network be proactive and connect with people face to face, or on the phone. Spend some time (but not too much time at work) and give something back. Share your experiences (work related), ask what you can do to help. Remember this is about connecting with people and being personable. This isn’t a one way street. You have to be proactive and give of yourself. 

To get you started:

User Groups – click here for a good calendar

Conferences/Events – Check listings for show times

Even the best developers can’t grow on an island

To make it crystal clear - you can’t grow your career in a vacuum. You need to be connected. Think about what you can do to get build your network.

In the future I’ll talk about using networking to find a mentor and the benefits of actively working with a mentor.

CloudCamp Minneapolis / St. Paul

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 · 0 comments

Held: Saturday, April 18th at the University of Minnesota.

logo_cloudcamp If you are a Web 2.0 developer It’s all about the “Cloud.” So they say! Who is They? Well if you show up you will meet them at CloudCamp. VISI is the Platinum sponsor and it’s also supported by heavyweights like Microsoft and Cisco.  As stated on the website “CloudCamp is an unconference where early adapters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas, “ but it’s not just a bunch of Who’s Who yapping. There is an agenda. 

Proposed agenda:
9:00 - 10:00 networking, unconference organization
10:00-10:15 Lightning Talks
10:15-11:15 Cloud SME panel
11:30-12:15 Sessions round 1 (4 sessions)
12:15-13:00 Lunch
13:15-14:00 Sessions round 2 (4 sessions)
14:15-15:00 Sessions round 3 (4 sessions)
15:30 After Conference Happy Hour

If you haven’t already Register Here: CloudCamp Minneapolis It’s free, but as I write this there are only 30 seats left.

Again this is a great time to network and meet people with common interests and maybe some future employers. You never know.

Ask vs Act


By Guest Blogger: David Hemphill 

Balance1 Software development places many fine-grained decisions in the hands of developers. A differentiator that sets one employee apart from another resides in an ability to judge when they should act on their own initiative and when they should seek a wider audience before proceeding.

The meaning of “wider audience” varies for each situation. In some cases this could simply mean bouncing your idea off of the person sitting next to you or consulting with a peer down the hall. In other cases it could mean raising the issue in a group meeting, emailing a system architect, or notifying a supervisor.

The key is finding the right balance. Engaging permission-seeking behavior or a “cover your butt” approach is likely to wear on those around you. On the other hand taking initiative irresponsibly, even if you are successful, can have negative effects on how you are viewed by peers and superiors. Striking the right balance shows maturity and the potential to be entrusted with important tasks with minimal oversight. Finding an ability to demonstrate this repeatedly goes a long way in how your superiors will choose to position you for future projects and opportunities not to mention promotions.

Let’s explore some examples.

  • If you need to make a minor change to a database schema to add a feature do you first discuss this change with someone else?
  • When you find a solution to a problem that requires adding a new, cool open source library do you discuss the inclusion of the library before proceeding?
  • If you need to change a sorting algorithm (without affecting the public interface) can you proceed on your own?
  • In the process of enhancing an application you find it necessary to add parameters to a method call, can you proceed on your own?

In all of these cases the decision could go either way. It comes down to context.

  • Does your organization have a policy about schema changes and who makes them? Perhaps you are the sole developer of the application and database and these changes are a daily occurrence.
  • How are issues of third-party software licensing handled, including open source software?
  • Would changes to a sorting algorithm impact the order of non-English languages supported by the software?
  • Would changing the number of parameters introduce issues with generated code or component upgrades in the field?

Whether you are early in your career or have recently joined a new organization, striking the right balance in terms of initiative is likely to require exploration. In some cases you may take initiative only to find you’ve violated some company policy or touched on an area of sensitivity in the corporate culture. In a healthy organization a first offence is generally forgiven with an apology, along with an understanding that, “you’ll know better next time.” Exploring and bumping into these boundaries is expected and shouldn’t be taken personally or viewed as failure. It’s simply part of negotiating a new environment. However, it’s important to understand that how you take initiative plays a role in your career opportunities.

New Guest Blogger


David Hemphill I’m excited to announce our new guest blogger, David Hemphill. David is CTO for ObjectFX and serves as their Director of Product Development. I first met David in 2004 and found him to have great insight and a passion for his work. I know you will look forward to reading him. 

PHP Developer – Direct Hire

Monday, February 9, 2009 · 0 comments

Web Developer - PHP with back end experience

php_1As the PHP Web Developer, you will assist our clients team in the development of web-based and back office systems.​ The ideal candidate would be a team player with good problem solving skills as well as a fast learner with a perspective on the overall picture.​


  • Web development on LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP)
  • Integrate with internal and 3rd party systems
  • Implement solutions individually or as part of a team using best practices in software engineering field

The ideal candidate will possess a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or related
field along with 2+​ years experience working on web-based systems, as well as
fluency in at least one of the following programming languages-PHP, Perl, Python.​
In addition we are also looking for the following experience, skills, abilities
and attributes:

  • Fluency in object oriented programming methodologies
  • Fluency with SQL in at least one of the following database servers (MySQL,
  • Oracle, Postgres, MSSQL)
  • Expert knowledge of (X)HTML, CSS and JavaScript
  • Proficient with XML and Web Services
  • Comfortable with version control systems (CVS/​SVN/​etc.​)
  • Comfortable in Linux/​Unit/​BSD
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Experience with the PHP framework specifically the Zend Framework
  • Experience with JavaScript libraries specifically JQuery
  • Experience with Java (J2EE) JSP and Structs
  • Experience with Unit Testing JUnit, PHPUnit, etc.​
  • Certification through Zend, MySQL or Sun.​
  • Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or equivalent work experience

Our client offers competitive compensation and extensive benefits package including
paid time off, medical, dental and vision benefits and future growth opportunities
within the company.​ Plus, we work to maintain the best possible environment for our
employees, where people can learn and grow with the company.​ They strive to provide a collaborative, creative environment where each person feels encouraged to
contribute to processes, decisions, planning and culture.​

If you are a fit for this opportunity please respond to:

Tavis Hudson

Technical Resources


Technorati Tags: ,,

PHP Web Developer, Front End, Zend, MySQL,

MinneDemo – Feb 6, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009 · 0 comments

Technorati Tags: ,,

MinneDemo Here is another networking and learning event that is becoming extremely popular. Essentially 10 demos (no PowerPoint) of Web 2.0, mobile phone and social media applications. “MinneDemo is the Twin Cities’ premier technology demo and networking event. Come for the demos, stay for the beer and conversation.” – MinneDemo website

Here is what you need to know

Date: Friday, February 6th

Time: Demos start at 7pm

Location: Intermedia Arts 2822 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (map)

Attendees: All are welcome! Free! Please RSVP.

What you get: Ten Demos and free Kegs, maybe soda and light snacks. (Be sure to tip your bartenders.)

List of Demos:

  1. Nabbit
  2. re-searcher 
  3. LoudClick
  4. BevPost.com
  5. Socialbrowse
  6. enStratus
  7. Association Manager Online
  8. ZippyStat
  9. SendOnCue.com
  10. iPhone chess game

There are a lot of technically minded people at these events. This is a fantastic networking event. Go, learn, network, grow.

Update for those of you now in Minnesota: MinneDemo came from the idea of BarCamp and MiniBarCamp which are hosted around world. See the respective web sites for times and locations.

Building The Ultimate Software Engineer


build ultimate For the past few months I’ve been interviewing clients, typically Dev Team Managers, to learn what they look for and what they really need in a software engineer. Thus, the ideas around the “Ultimate” is built from an aggregate source of hiring mangers. For clarification, like this blog, this series of posts will not include the “Ultimate” technical aspect of being a software engineer. We assume you went to school or learned on your own and have a very good understanding, and a passion, about the tools and technology, yada yada yada. My hope is these posts will give you a clue as to what hiring managers are looking for outside of just tech skills. 

This will be a multiple part series or I guess a frequent part of my blog as I define the “Ultimate” Software Engineer. I’ll be adding to this list (I assume I’ll make it a list of ten topics) as time allows.

1. Build Your Professional Network  

2. Communication Breakdown

3. Big Picture

4. Initiative

5. The Customer

6. Asking for Help

7. Learn the Business

8. Continued Skills development

9. Asking Questions

10. Passion

Connect with Mi

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.

I invite you to connect with me via email, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Email: tavis@techcareertips.com
Twitter: @Tavisd
Linkedin: Tavis Hudson

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