Author: Kevin W. Grossman
Reviewer: Sue Gee
Finding the right job in today's economic climate can be tough. A book with the subtitle Career Management for Technical Professionals sounds promising.
Chapter 1 has the title "Career Management Means You" with the rider 'Cause No One's Going to Do It for You. Its message is supposed to be that it's your responsibility to manage to your own career. It is conversational in style but a bit one-sided in that it contains a good deal of information about Kevin Grossman himself.
In fact the author figures prominently throughout this book. For example, on the About the Author page and in the Preface that he is the proud father of two little girls, a fact you are reminded about several more times. There a lot to be said for anecdotes in books about soft skills and career management - but in this case there may be too many that are not sufficiently relevant to programmers.
At the end of the chapter we are presented with a plan for the book which has three parts, their titles giving you a reasonable idea of what to expect:
- What You Know: Reconciliation (Chapters 1-7)
- Who You Know: Recognition (Chapters 8-12)
- Where to Go and What to Do: Redemption (Chapters 13-20)
The message of Chapter 2 is that it is well worth gaining educational qualifications and warns about the danger of lying about them, citing some high profile instances where inflated credentials were discovered with damaging consequences. This theme - the risk of making false statement on your resume is repeated in Chapter 6, in a section on about background checks.
Chapter 3 suggests you learn new specialized skills in an effort to stand out with a selection of suggestions that cover virtualization; mobile and wireless technologies for the medical industry; cloud computing and security technologies. As well as advocating high school and online courses, with a passing reference to MOOCs, the author advocates reading and "playing with yourself" to learn new skills by doing. One example is building a website to learn HTML, CSS, PHP and MySQL. He also suggests collaborating on GitHub and answering questions on Stack Overflow where informal mentoring can aid career development.
The title of Chapter 4 is "Find and Take the Contract Work" and it profiles five major freelance websites: Elance; Guru; Freelancer; Freelance.com and oDesk, adding "and don't forget about Linked In". Chapter 5 goes on to suggest volunteering as a good way to acquire new skills and also discusses cross-training - finding out about other people's skills.
Part 1 concludes with Interviewing which largely looks at recorded video interview or ones conducted live and remotely using FaceTime, Skype or Google+ HangOuts.
Chapter 8 Building on Online Profile has the subtitle "Why the Resume Must Die" and is largely about using LinkedIn with advice on creating a profile there. The other side of the coin, researching potential employers, in covered in the next chapter which, as well as LinkedIn and BranchOut, outlines what's on offer from Vault and Glass Door.
The advice in Chapter 10 is "Leverage Your Networks, and Their Networks" and is about social recruiting, including how it has evolved over more than 50 years. Next comes a chapter on Mentors and Professional Associations. The final chapter in Part II opens with a lengthy story about the author's father - a detective in the forgery and fraud department of a US Police Department who had one of the best arrest records in the department due to chasing criminals "across the paper" - finding out information about them. The moral of the tale is that you should research the companies where you are looking for work.
Chapter 13 Cool Tools for Getting a Job introduces the fact that certain companies - IBM, Siemens, Marriott and L'Oreal are mentioned - use video games as part of their recruitment strategies. It goes on to list companies that have won Candidate Experience Rewards and it goes on to list IT specific jobwebsites that off mobile apps for job search. The chapter also refers again to the technical community sites GitHub and StackOverflow and introduces Bright.com, which has conducted a huge resume-to-job description study to create Bright Score, to identify candidate that match vacancies.
In Chapter 14 there is practical advice about how to sell yourself to a potential employer - including outlining your specialized shills and more general advice about covering letters for job applications. After this Interviewing Part 2 is about face-to-face interviews, including how to dress and always following up.
Chapter 16 applies once you have landed a job and is about "Onboarding" - the process of settling into a new company that has in some instances been formalized in order to avoid issues such as harassment. The idea shadow or buddy mentoring systems are also discussed and so are performance reviews, emphasizing the need to have them more frequently than once a year. Chapter 17 follows on with a discussion of internal mobility within the new company you have joined and its main message is that referrals are still the best way to get on both from the outside and the inside.
The next two chapters look at the career opportunities afforded by recent technologies and both have the subtitle "The New Religion". Part 1 covers Cloud Computing and Mobile Technology and Part 2 Big Data and Social Analytics.
In the case of the final chapter, Chapter 20:Traditional IT Careers Today, you need to register its subtitle: Gender, Social and the Innovation Evolution and also its opening quote which refers to Mitt Romney when running for US president noticing the gender imbalance in the IT industry and being presented with "binders full of women". The message here is for recruiters:
"make sure that at least one woman is in the running for every tech job as well as making women part of the recruiting and hiring management teams".
Personally I don't think this goes far enough but its a start. The chapter ends on a positive note aimed at the next generation of IT job seekers:
This is the new world of ongoing transparent engagement and it's a huge continuous opportunity for IT and technology innovation - and for you because of the jobs it has and will continue to generate.
The book rounds out with an appendix listing useful websites that will help you find job opportunities, gain new skills and generally keep you up to date. It covers a broad sweep but it doesn't include I Programmer, which is an oversight!
This book does contain some useful nuggets of advice - but it gives the impression of being over stretched in this format. It would make an excellent talk (or series of talks) but, even when peppered with Mindful Moments asides and the occasional cartoon, this isn't enough to sustain an entire book.