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The Voice of the DBA

Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest

Get into the Top Ten Percent

When you start applying for jobs, and face competition from other candidates, who do you think gets the interview? Is it the middle 50%? The bottom 20%?

I bet you're thinking the top 5-10 candidates are granted interviews, which in today's world of electronic resumes, could be the top 1% based on some of the numbers I've seen from hiring managers. It's not uncommon for a single position to get 300-500 submissions.

How do you position yourself to be in the top ten percent? I have on easy way that will help you along.

Blog.

In my research over the last year, and in giving a presentation on the Modern Resume to hundreds of people, it's been fairly consistent in my audiences that about 10% of the people out there that come to these events blog as a part of their career.

And that's the 10% of people that care about their careers and are willing to work on them.

Just by doing a blog you can separate yourself from many other people. You give every potential interviewer or HR person more information, and more reasons to consider you as the top candidate instead of others.

Would you rather interview someone that has a large profile and you have an idea of how they think from forums and blogs, or someone that just sends you a two page resume summary? I've always believed that more information is better, and it helps you make better decisions.

HR people, along with managers, are getting smarter. They don't just hire based on MCSE credentials, or any others. They look beyond that, and the more comfortable they are with you as a candidate, the better image (read "brand") you present, the more likely you'll get the call back.

Now you need to write good blogs. Be simple, tackle things you know well, and have someone proofread your entries. You are showcasing communication skills, as well as knowledge, and keep that in mind.

Comments

Posted by at1980 on 20 July 2009

This is only of any real value if you write a technical blog.

A varied blog would give away information to managers that current laws explicitly state cannot be taken into consideration (faith, age, race etc.)

Posted by Wendy on 20 July 2009

What and excellent tip! I had never thought of that before!!

Posted by Steve Jones on 20 July 2009

Correct, this is for a technical blog only. Show what you've learned, what you're learning, even admit mistakes if you learn something new.

Posted by Tim Mitchell on 20 July 2009

Good post.  I was very surprised in your session in Pensacola at the low number of hands that were raised when you asked for the bloggers to identify themselves.  

It definitely sets a person apart when he/she blogs.  Having been on the employer side of the fence several times, I've read over an otherwise qualified resume and asked "great, but who is this person?".  A blog can go into more detail, and shows more of the day-to-day mentality and expertise than can be demonstrated in a 1- or 2-page resume.

Posted by Tim Mitchell on 20 July 2009

... and I completely agree about keeping it a technical blog.  Sure, there will be the occasional off-topic post, but even those should have some loose association to technology, career, or even safe job-related humor.  If you want to rant about politics, religion, or berate anyone, get a spiral notebook.  Don't give a potential employer a reason NOT to consider you.

Posted by QuickTriggerMcGee on 21 July 2009

Are you saying that if you don't blog, then you don't care about your career?

Posted by Tim Mitchell on 22 July 2009

The presence of a blog does not necessarily mean that someone is doing good things for his/her career.  If you have a blog but use it only to complain about your boss, badmouth your company, or post pictures of yourself doing body shots, it's actually doing more harm than good.

On the flip side, there are a lot of good, solid, intelligent people who don't blog.  Are they slackers simply because they don't?  Not at all.  The thing about a blog is that it allows you to regularly share (and showcase) the things that you do and know.  Anyone can write a creative resume, but a blog goes above and beyond to give potential employers/clients/business partners a glimpse into your experiences and abilities.

Posted by Steve Jones on 23 July 2009

Nope, saying that blogging about your career can give you a leg up. It gives a potential employer more information about whether or not to interview you.

If you present a professional atmosphere, and I've spoke to some hiring people and recruiters, it makes a difference. They are more likely to pick you.

Posted by sjones on 24 July 2009

As an employer for many years I would see this as double edged. There a number of bloggers I wuld hire instantly were they vailable, purely on the strength of their blogs.

There are far more that I would avoid. I have seen far too many people pass off others work as their own, including confidential company data, or whose information is misleading or often dangerously wrong whether on Facebook, a blog or a user group.

Selfishly I would certainly be unhappy where I thought my employee was spending time on this rather than on advancing his career in my company. I wrote a blog daily for 6 months and know just how much work it took before I abandoned it. I would take a different view for an internal IT manager and a consultant. All too often a consultant looking to boost his reputation provides proprietary information to competitors, or free of charge to clients who should pay, whether via a public user group, or a blog,  and that would certainly put me off employing someone.

If you decide to blog for career reason then ensure you spell and grammar check and can express yourself clearly logically and consisely, and give credits to sources. also be careful over legal matters like use of trade names and copyright material, or defamatory opinions or unsubstaniated facts.

Posted by David Bird on 24 July 2009

I use a personnel technical blog at work to record tips, scripts, how I fix problems, how to use tools, and anything else I find of use that I do not want to forget. It is a personnel technical blog. There are several reasons I do not publish it on the internet but am willing to share it with my co-workers.

I want to share my knowledge and trouble shooting experiences with my co-workers.

My grammar and spelling would give any English teacher headaches.

I plagiarize which means I copy entire articles and other web content so I do not loose it.

My posts might contain IT sensitive information. I do not include passwords and important ids, but there is no telling what I might let slip in the blog post such as server names, ports, file locations, etc…

Allows me to try different CMS applications using MySQL and other open source/freeware DBMS.

Posted by Carleton on 24 July 2009

There a million choices on where to call home to a blog.  What are some good options for the type of blog we are speaking of?

I know SQLServerCentral has a blog, but since authentication is required, it may not be the best home for a blog that you want viewed by a recruiting audience.

Posted by Steve Jones on 24 July 2009

Blogspot/blogger, wordpress, typepad, all will give you a free blog for personal use.

Posted by Lee Hart on 24 July 2009

Quick question...

lets say you decide to blog on some level...either to express an elaborate example to others, a simple script that you came up with, or simple to organize your thoughts...ect.

How do you present that you are a 'blogger' in a resume...is there a generally accepted method?

Posted by Sean M on 24 July 2009

If a "hiring manager" or other person is tasked with going through 300-500 resumes, are they going to take time to look at the resume, and the blog?

From what sjones said, that person clearly does look at blogs. But are they the exception, or is it common practice to check the technical content of what someone posts on the Internet? For a position that gives access to a company's valuable data, I can understand if a background check would extend out to what's posted on the Internet to verify you're not a terrorist or otherwise a potential threat or hazard, but is there time in the candidate screening process to review the technical merit of a blog?

Maybe it's easier to read the blog ta

Posted by Sean M on 24 July 2009

(sorry, bandaged finger, comment got saved before the last line)

Maybe it's easier to read someone's blog than to cover everything in phone screenings and interviews. I'm interested in hearing feedback from those who have to select candidates for openings.

Posted by -- Cranfield on 24 July 2009

I have yet to see a CV/resume where the applicant has listed their blog details in positions that I've hired for.

Blogs, Twitters, myface etc are not taken seriously where I work. Maybe thats just Finance for you where things are still way conservative...

Having said that I'm now thinking about starting a blog... for my careers sake.

Posted by Bob Lee on 24 July 2009

An excellent book by Jeff Jarvis WWGD.. (What would Google Do) talks about blogs.  For those of you considering starting a blog and for those of you who write one now I'd recommend the read.

Posted by TimothyAWiseman on 24 July 2009

SJones has some good points.  It can be a great help, but it can also hurt if it is not handled carefully.

Posted by TimothyAWiseman on 24 July 2009

SJones has some good points.  It can be a great help, but it can also hurt if it is not handled carefully.

Posted by David Moutray on 24 July 2009

I like what Steve has to say.  I've been thinking about beginning to contribute articles to sites like SQL Server Central.  I review articles on these sites every day to get information to help me to "work smarter, not harder", and I think the idea of a professional blog is a great one - as long as you keep it very professional.  You should write a blog in the same way you would write a resume.  It should be factually correct, to the point and very professional.

After all, I have spent years (not to mention quite a bit of money) accumulating the knowledge that I have, but outside a very small circle of people, no one on the entire planet even knows my name.

Posted by Sean on 24 July 2009

I haven't read all of the comments yet.   One thing that is a bit annoying is when people simply recycle the same topic that has be hashed over multiple times.    This especially is popular with vendors who are looking to make sales.    How many "10 strategies to build a better warehouse" articles can there be.  

This being said, it seems like very specific articles/threads are the most helpful for me.   BOL usually has pretty good generic descriptions of the suite's functionality.

So, I think having a GOOD blog is the key, not just to have one.   Too many people are too busy in the marketing/PR  side of the blogs in my mind.

Posted by Lynn Pettis on 24 July 2009

Regarding how many "Ten Strategies to Build a Better Warehouse" articles, as many as may be written.  If each one is mostly original in content, they may each bring a different perpsective to the topic.  Maybe in one article two of the strategies make sense in your environment, and maybe three from another.  It is a matter of picking and choosing what works for you and discarding the rest.

Each of us can bring a different perspective to a given topic, or idea.  Why tell people to not write an article on a specific topic just because ten other (or more) people have already done it?

Posted by chrisleonard on 25 July 2009

Good tip, Steve.  Interestingly, in addition to the time consumed by blogging, I also get some pushback from my employer on blogging (even one of my colleagues at work, SQL Fool / Michelle Ufford, has a great blog).  Their concern is that I could divulge information that could be seen as invention that they could claim IP rights to.  And since our team solves problems that I've never heard of anybody else solvign on a fairly regular basis, I have been hesitating.  It's kind of like having them say "sure, go ahead and blog, but don't post anything interesting."

Has anyone else run into this?

So even if I had the time to blog, I'd have to consider this as well.  In the meantime, I'm sticking to the old approach:  make sure my work history is proven and my resume is eye-popping (at least to the extent that my history allows it).  Sure would like to blog, because I'm sure it would spur on my own learning in a new way.

Posted by SprocKing on 29 July 2009

Despite my career, I'm something of a Luddite. So, umm, where's a good place to blog and be seen for technical professionals?

Posted by andy russell on 5 August 2009

Simple question, how do you find time to blog?  I really value my time with my family and would not be allowed to blog at work.  So when do you find time to blog?  And how do you know you have anything worth blogging about?  I would like to think I do.  I work in a pretty large shop and we have a little bit of everything you can do in SQL running....clusters, mirroring, log shipping, replication etc...but I just never know if anyone would be interested enough to read about it.

Posted by Ralf Dietrich on 6 September 2009

Hi Andy,

you was presenting the best question ever!

It is most about the time to write (and even read) a blog!

Same as you I've decided to spend more time with my family and ahve a lot more work than hours of the day. But I am able to set precedences. So for today I've spend 2-3 hours of this site (SSC) after an absence of nearly 6 weeks. Maybe I will twitter soon (as I think - there is the time to send 140 letters once a week - maybe it works for you too!

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