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When SQLCommunity disappoints....

Everyone who is involved in, and follows me in the SQL Server Community, and my blog, knows, that I am one of its most ardent cheerleaders and supporters.  I am not saying that I do more than others to contribute - that would not be true - I'm just saying that  I love this community, feel the excitement and passion, and know the wonders that it has done for me and so many others personally and professionally. 

Many, including myself, enjoy the events, the contributions, the networking, and pleasure to meet and know so many folks working in, and dedicated to the SQL profession.  In a countless number of cases, the networking pays off in business, and in landing your next full-time job, or contract gig. 

Really this blog is not about me, but my friend, let's call him/her SQLBif (please don't go searching on twitter, as I just made up this fictional name because he/she deserves my confidence.)  I totally feel SQLBif's frustration, and I'm sure many, even me, feel or have felt this frustration one time or another.  Let's face it, we all love to play on the SQL field, and is no doubt a critical part of our SQL Server professional development, but when we go home, we all need to feed the family and pay the bills.  The ability to turn the wonderful SQL Server community experience and network into a profitable opportunity, through contracts or working for a company is definitely a skill that many must develop.  I'm not always good at it, I definitely preach it, and continuously try to practice it.  It's an on-going process.

SQLCommunity has become and is #sqlfamily.  We give to one another, we speak, present, write and teach; we mentor and we coach up and coming eager SQL Server newbies, and cultivate the existing database professionals to learn more and reach for the SQL Stars.  (The professional career advice twist on that, is in order to get to the stars, you need to pass the clouds :-)

The people, the folks in the industry, the clients, the friends as a community, almost never disappoint.  I sometimes do a very good job of promoting SQL events, people, products, companies, community at the expense of promoting myself. That some times effects the bottom line. (I am a SQL MVP in NY offering expert SQLCentric remote/database services, monitoring, performance tuning assessments & optimization, best practice recommendations and implementations - visit http://www.pearlknows.com for details. {End Plug}  There I did it, operators are standing by :-)

The natural expectation is that if you do good by people, then they will do good by you.  Sooner or later, by having your name out there, and expand your network, it will pay off.

I got an email from SQLBif - I had approached SQLBif about a project and to find out SQLBif's availability.  SQLBif's response was, for lack of a better word, heartbreaking.  I asked how are things, and SQLBif told me:

 "It's been tough.  I've been so close to calling it quits with SQL Server.  If this latest opportunity doesn't work out....well, that's it.  I've spent so much time on 'community' while I can't even find a decent DB job.....its ridiculous"

My initial reaction was like, wow, I'm sorry this individual is going through this, and want to support and help their career.  I don't know how much SQLBif has worked to promote him/herself, but I am aware of SQLBif's community presence, and involvement in various sqlcommunity projects and such.  I truly believe that SQLBif is an asset to the community.

My immediate words I conveyed were, "I know exactly how you are feeling, don't give up, and let's talk on the phone"  Too many words to convey a complex set of individual issues in an email.  Nonetheless, I think many of us are or have been in SQLBif's predicament.  We know the sqeaky wheel often gets the grease.  So maybe SQLBif needs to squeak more?

Sometimes, and many times, through out life and one's career, everyone needs guidance, and often everyone needs a coach or mentor.  At least everyone should have access to one.  I truly appreciate and think the Mentoring Experiment by Steve Jones and Andy Warren is a wonderful example of SQLCommunity and giving back.  The Mentoring Experiment reasons that "Most of us believe in the power of mentoring, but the fact remains that few of us have mentors. Why is that?"  Their valiant effort is to match mentors with eager and willing apprentices, and repeat this on a large scale. 

One of the reasons I decided to join Linchpin People, as announced here and here, is that it seeks to be a model of business built around the idea of bringing folks along up the ladder of success can benefit everyone involved.  We can offer the best services, while serving others by offering opportunity to them as well.  We also will be offering career coaching, as a pivotal part of our business goals.  Now, we're not quite there yet, but we are definitely practicing what we preach.  We recently announced the addition of a new teamate, Tim Radney, and expect more to be announced soon. 

As an offshoot to Linchpin People, the brainchild of long time SQL Server stalwart, and CSO of Linchpin People, Brian Moran, his emerging enterprise for L.E.A.P. - Leadership, Entrepreneurism and Professional development - blogs on the need for a coach.  In fact, he argues, "everyone, needs a coach. yes, this includes you" - from the college graduate, to the CEO of a company.  His recent article speaks to this: "Do you need a coach?"  His LEAP series appearing on SQLServerPro site are enlightening and offer guidance on professional development.

Now of course even the most valiant and well-meaning efforts, don't always succeed, and some may need to rethink their own lives and change career-paths.  I don't think, IMHO, that SQLBif has truly exhausted his/her potential in this field, or gave it their all to make SQLBif succeed in the field that has drawn SQLBif into the #sqlfamily.  If SQLBif, decides to give it up, and just become, well, Bif, then I would fully support that individual's decision.  I just want to make sure that SQLBif has truly made the right decision, and is given an opportunity before the proverbial towel get's thrown in. 

You must ask, are you disappointed in SQLCommunity, or disappointed in yourself?  Just hang in a little longer!  Hope this helps!


Posted by Charmer on 11 May 2012

This is a great article. Every one must read it. This will boost the self-confidence who ever is disappointed themselves.Pearl, please Continue this kinda work when ever you can. This would be a time for self refreshment to the newbie's like me. Thank you ....

Posted by bernard black on 11 May 2012

He may be a casualty of the world-wide economic situation.  If things continue to get worse (sovereign bankruptcy etc) we may all be in his boots.  Hang in there and good luck.

Posted by Brandon Leach on 11 May 2012

Times are tough in many areas these days and the attitudes of many people reflect that.    I personally know a lot of really talented people who are in the same situation.

What I've found though is that attitude plays a pretty big role in finding a job these days.  Our attitude shows through in our cover letters, resumes, and in our interviews.  So when we are down, all those things suffer.

As a community we definitely  need to uplift those who are struggling. After all, that is truly what makes #sqlFamily so great.

Posted by dma-669038 on 11 May 2012

Working for community and working on your career are two different things. They are interrelated, for sure - community puts you in touch with lots of people but it does not ever guarantee you will find your next job or grow in your career. That depends on how much you know and what your choices are(consulting vs full time,location and so on). Community work can result in burn outs, if that happens it is necessary to take a break. Also it is not for everyone. There are lots of people who are very low profile with no community presence and do great at their jobs, perhaps because they spend that time working the technical expertise. So perhaps he may want to re evaluate his choices and understand better what he wants to do.

Posted by Narud on 11 May 2012

First of all, you are not having much success to protect the identity of SQLBif, at least not in terms of gender, because when you say that is his (or her), you disclose that SQLBif is a girl.

To continue, I find it extremely surprising that SQLBif not find a job position, because recently I received an offer to go to work in Seattle, even though I live in Mexico City (which I was unable to accept because of my poor English), and that means for me that there are good job positions in USA, but a lack of IT Professionals.

If she does not find a good position in the area of residence, perhaps she should apply the proverb: "If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, then Mohammed goes to the mountain."

Posted by jgoodwin 14842 on 11 May 2012

For those of you who have talent, but are having a hard time getting a job, I will let you in on a few secrets:

1) Stop waiting for someone else to get a job.  Go find it - full time 8+ hrs/day

2) Stop thinking online resources will get you a job soon.  Go in person, network, ask friends, family members, previous co-workers, old bosses, etc.  Remember to let people close to you know when you have found a job.  It is rude to keep them searching when you have already found one.

3) Call some recruiters, and go meet them.  You can easily tell right away which ones will help you. Stop worrying about making friends, and look at how well they do their job.  Do they bring you opportunities? Do they return calls?  Do they actively pursue new leads?  Do they give you resume advice?  If they are not busy getting you a job, move on to someone who is.  Again, DO NOT RELY on someone else's work to get you a job.

3) Throw away optional requirements for a new job.  Would it kill you to move to a new city to take a decent job?  Would it be a deal breaker to work in a small team, large team, or some other situation you do not like? Shift away from even thinking about these nice to haves as impediments.

4) Redo your resume from this one perspective: Will this resume get me an interview from someone who is *not* already doing my job?  This is the purpose of your resume.  If it does not do this, redo it.  Odds are the guy deciding cares more about how you will make him money, and less about how proud you are of some highly technical accomplishment you made.

5) Make your resume skimmable.  No matter how short you make your resume, nor how long, the reality is the odds of it getting read word for word is extremely low.  When someone skims it, do they get the idea that they want to meet you?  If not, remove noise, until skimming results in a desire to meet you.

6) Update your resume on any personal site you have, linkedin, careerbuilder, and so on.  Do not rely on these, but it can't hurt.

7) Understand your client. Stop thinking about your *need* for a job for a moment.  Consider that to get someone to give you a job, they want something in return.  Think about it from their perspective for a while, and come up with a way to trade that new job position for what you have to offer them.  Present it in terms good for them.

8) Speak your client's language.  Confusing clients doesn't make you seem smart.  It just makes you hard to work with.  Listen, and understand them. Respond to them in terms they can understand.  Don't talk down, just in their language and context.

9) In the interview, follow traditional interviewing advice.  Most importantly, do not sell more than you have to offer, nor talk negatively about anyone. By the time you get an interview with a serious client, the real question they want to answer is not how technical you are.  They've already decided most of that.  They want to know if they can work with you.

It is my understanding that major tech cities are having a *hard* time finding qualified candidates.  If you can't find a job in one of these cities, something is very wrong with your approach.  Using the above points, I had two phone interviews in under a week, two in person interviews with serious hiring companies, and offers from both.  I was still employed when I started looking, but I had formal job offers in less than 10 days from the day I started looking.

Your hard work can pay off.  Just think logically.  If you were doing something on a computer, and it wasn't working, would you continue to do it indefinitely, the same way?  No, you would change your approach, until the process was working.

Just my two cents.

Posted by Mad Hacker on 11 May 2012

Although I don't know the exact details of SQLBIF's situation, I can certainly relate.  My brother-n-law lost his job (patent expirations on his speciality product line) as a Sales Rep with Pfizer about 7 months ago and I know for a fact that he was the top producer in his region.  He's having a really tough time finding a comparable position in the same geographic area.  For sevaral months he got little or no interest, then several weeks ago it starting heating up and then went from red-hot to dead-cold almost overnight.  Really tough.  All sectors of industry are seeing tough economic times that we haven't in many, many, years.  Many folks are fortunate to have a job, even if it's one they don't like.  Keep the faith and keep your nose to the grindstone!

Posted by pearlfreshwater on 15 July 2012

At least everyone should have access to one. I know for a fact that he was the top producer in his region.

Posted by fcrappie on 20 July 2012

I can certainly relate.Lovely blog!

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