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John Sansom - SQL Server DBA in the UK

John Sansom (Blog | Twitter) is a Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) of SQL Server and publisher of the free SQL community ebook DBA JumpStart, an inspiring collection of advice for Data Professionals, written by 20 SQL Server experts. Awarded the Microsoft Community Contributor(MCC) award, John is a prolific blogger and can be found regularly writing about SQL Server and Professional Development over at www.johnsansom.com.

Your Road to Becoming a DBA: Getting Organised

Knowing precisely how to start on your next adventure is tricky. With so many options and decisions in front of you, identifying what is the best way to move forward for you is vital.

This post is part three of the series Your Road to Becoming a DBA, where I talk about how you can forge your very own career path toward becoming the DBA you want to be. You can find part 1 here where I talked about the importance of Laying a Strong Foundation and part 2 here, where I talk about why Acquiring Experience is Key.

In this third instalment I’m going to be talking about everything else that I wanted to cover in reply to the readers email, which is kind of ironic really because the first point I want to make next is about being organised.

Get Organised to Get Ahead

As you can see there’s a lot of things to consider when it comes to becoming a DBA and it can be easy to get a little overwhelmed by it all. In order to ensure you stay on the right path you have to have a plan. A plan for not only how you are going to get to your chosen destination but also the individual steps you are going to have to take along the way.

I’m a big advocate of writing out your goals, as well as the steps you need to take in order to achieve them. There are already a lot of excellent resources available out there to help you do this, so I won’t take up any more of your time discussing them here. If you’re not sure where to start, get yourself a copy of the book Eat That Frog or do a Google(insert favourite search engine) search on “Getting Things Done (GTD)”.

If you’re serious about becoming a DBA, you have to get serious about being organised.

Books for the Aspiring DBA

There are a tremendous number of books about SQL Server available for you to learn from but there is only one title that I recommend to all new DBAs. In fact it’s something that I consider essential reading for every Data Professional. It’s called DBA Survivor: Become a Rock Star DBA by Thomas Larock (Blog|Twitter) .

You can find more SQL Server books I have enjoyed reading as well as other Professional Development titles here.

Writing a Winning CV

What’s the point of a CV? What is the bottom line? To get you in front of the company for an interview! This is what you need a CV to deliver for you. So think about how you can write your CV to demonstrate irrefutably the serious amounts of value that you can deliver for the company.

If you are going for your very first DBA position then you need to work extra hard to demonstrate your cross transferable skills. Make it clear why project x you completed (which could be a completely foreign field to the interviewer) demonstrates that you have a talent for problem solving or excellent attention to detail, or are calm in a crisis or shows you have excellent project management skills etc.

I’m going to be controversial here and say that the vast majority of Data Professional CVs I see (and I see an awful lot) are not just bad but really bad! With just a little bit of effort and planning you can easily separate yourself from the pack and put together a winning CV.

My mind is going crazy right now with all the different things you should and should not do when writing a CV targeting a DBA position. I’m going to cut the discussions short here because I think this point needs an entire post on it’s own!

Travel the Path You Build

“If you can’t see the right road to take in front of you, then go ahead and build your own road to where you want to be!”

There is no right or wrong way to become a DBA. Every person I have met in our community has their own story about how they got to where they are today. Sure some may be similar but no two are identical. This means that you have the freedom to make your own way forward.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the sender for their email. You’ve sparked some very interesting discussions. I hope I have been able to provide you with some ideas on how your can move forward and I wish you the best of luck on your journey.

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