UPDATE: I’m working on some changes to how we do office hours. I’ve had a lot of Friday fun talking to a diverse group of people abut data-related issues, challenges, wins and losses. But now it’s time to reflect on how I can make the best use of this hour or whether the term “office hours” is meaningful.
I suspect it means I need to do some more prep and have a guided set of topics prepared before each office hours. Or it might mean that a webinar format isn’t the best format to use. I’m open for ideas. But until then, I’ve cancelled the meeting (if you signed up via a calendar invite). I’ll post again when I’m ready to start this or something like it up again.
Enjoy your Fridays. I’m always on Twitter if you want to talk data to me.
Late last year I put Office Hours on hold while I worked on some other things. But now I’m able to start them up again. They may not be every week, but my goal is to have them when I can also invite others to provide their input to the discussion. Think of them as a “special guest star”. Not all of them will have special guests, but I’m hoping to have a few join us.
What are Office Hours?
I’m drawing from an academic practice of educators publishing set times when students could stop by to get help from an instructor on a more direct basis than in a classroom. However, my intention isn’t for this to be an Instructor/Student dynamic, but more of a professional information sharing opportunity to talk shop outside the bounds of our regular projects.
There is no presentation or agenda set by me. It’s all set by the attendees, sort of like an unconference call.
I see this as the types of conversations that happen during breaks at user group / DAMA meetings or at the end of a webinar. Not all work, but primarily about topics we share an interest in. I also see this as a type of tertulia, which is a conversation by a group of people with a share interest.
This is open to anyone and everyone who would like to be part of a virtual meeting of data professionals where there is no set agenda.
Please enter your real name or Twitter ID when joining the meeting. It helps us connect better, which is why we are having these meetings.
What Office Hours are Not
The intention isn’t for us to provide 45 minutes of free consulting to solve a detailed data modeling problem for one person. That’s what we do for a living. It also isn’t quite the bar discussion after a user group meeting where all topics are available. However, I might be on a beverage break at the same time and so could you. So think about the same sort of topics, approaches, and conventions you’d normally follow in the break room at work or over breakfast at a your local DAMA meeting.
This isn’t a user group meeting with a presentation or agenda. Perhaps it is an “unmeeting” of sort. You don’t have to join at the starting time, nor do you have stay all the way through. If you want to bring your Barbie, GI Joe, or Wayne Gretzky action figure, please do so.
We are using a version of Go To Meeting that allows for 15 participants at a time. That means that our group will be small at any point in time. I think that matches what my intent is. It also means that we can share screens/applications and that you can use a computer headset or dial in to to talk.
If you’d like a meeting invite for you calendar, e-mail me Karen @ infoadvisors.com (remove those spaces). You can also leave a comment here with a valid e-mail address so that I can send you the meeting invite.
So lets give this a try. I’d love to hear your questions, comments, thoughts on DATA. We talk about issues, challenges, funny stories, and whatever is going on in the news about data.
Office Hours Starting 1 March 2013
Due to my travel schedule, I may miss a few Fridays. Check out my Twitter stream on Fridays to find out.
If you are in an office environment with lots of background noise, please manage your own muting: Don’t Be That Guy. Also, it is good form not to use a speaker phone on a conference call. This applies to all conference calls.
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A couple of months ago I talked about Project Parabola – It’s Reorg Season. The project is basically concluded, and not surprisingly, resulted in a small number of layoffs. In a really sad situation an employee walked over to my cube and asked if I had a plastic bag or a box—at first I thought he was joking, but then quickly realized he wasn’t joking. I have to say: watching this was really painful, and frankly, his manager should had a box ready for all of his stuff. That was particularly crappy.
As part of Project Parabola, a small number of employees were let go—they got a basic severance package of a week of salary for each year they worked for the company, along with their vacation pay. Additionally, they get the use of an outplacement service, (I’ll talk more about this later). So how can you prepare for a layoff?
- Always be looking—never stop looking for jobs. Your company doesn’t care about you (seriously no box?) so why should you be loyal to them? I’m not implying you should job hop—but talk to
human traffickersrecruiters (I love the good ones, I really do), and see what’s going on. By all means, if you see something that looks interesting to you, wrangle your way into an interview for it.
- Keep your resume/CVs up to date and tailor them to the specific job description you are applying for. Notice that I have used plural forms there? Yes, it’s fine to have resumes tailored to specific types of jobs. In fact, it’s a good thing.
- Network with others NOW, not when you need a job. By networking, I don’t mean handing out business cards. I mean building relationships with people. You don’t have be BFFs, but you do need to know people well enough to ask them for a favour, later.
- Join user groups and participate in them. Attend some meetings. Most user group meetings are free. Take advantage of that. My mantra is NetworkToGetWork. Remember that.
- Participate in social media, even if you can do it only on a limited basis. Your reach is so much larger there. Still do local, in-person networking, but don’t ignore the virtual opportunities.
- Update LinkedIn—make sure your skills and profile are up to date. Don’t wait to do this when you need it. Do it now. In fact, in my presentations on Career Management for Data Professionals, I tell people to set a reminder to update their profile monthly. Not only does this keep your profile up to date, it notifies people in your network that something has changed. That gets your name in front of them on a regular basis. Regular updates also have the benefit of not signalling your boss that you might be looking for a job.
- Help people now, not when you need help. In addition to building a network you should have a reputation of helping others. I don’t mean just offering to help, but spending time to give others advice, write a helpful blog post, answer an email or to give someone a ride to a SQL Saturday or DAMA event. Note: I may have had assistance in writing this post. Thank you, anonymous helper. If you ever need a job, you are on my list of people to help.
- Read up on negotiation methods. Don’t wait until you need those skills. Get them now. Practice them. You’ll need them even during a layoff. In fact, you should know what to do when you get a lay off notice a head of time. Your rights and obligations vary by jurisdiction, but generally you don’t have to sign or agree to anything right then and there, even if they tell you that you do.
- Have two month’s salary in savings—severance and unemployment will help, but having a nice cushion is very good. I know this one is really difficult. But having a cushion allows you and your family to choose better options.
One other thing to remember—you are going to lose all computer access. This means your files and contacts will be gone. Make sure you keep copies of your contacts and any scripts or tools that you would like to retain, at least the ones you are allowed to take with you. Be sure you keep your personal files and contacts separate from your corporates ones.
The Good News
Depending on what your data source is the unemployment rate for database professionals is between 1-3%. The US Government defines full employment at 3%, so that means it won’t take you very long to find a new job. The one thing I recommend highly is leveraging the outplacement services you’ll get as part of your severance package. Those folks are professionals and can help you write a really good resume. Aside from that some other things you should do are:
- Leverage your network. Let folks in your user group and personal network know that you are looking for a new gig (I’m assuming you are in a user group if you are reading this—if you aren’t, you should be). The best jobs frequently never make it to a formal posting. This is where all that user grouping, social media
workfun, blogging, and generally being a great resource to others is going to pay off, in a big way.
- Update LinkedIn. Yes, I said above to do this regularly. You still need to do that. But right now you need to let that network know you are looking for a job. Do not under any circumstances change your title to Unemployed or something weak like that. Change your title to the type of job you are looking for (and are qualified for). This is the time to leverage your networks, so your networking profiles need to reflect the fact that you are looking for a new project.
- Take the downtime to rest, exercise and learn new skills. Is there a new database feature you’ve been wanting to play with, but couldn’t implement at your old job? Now is the time to learn it.
More Advice on Job Hunting and Layoffs
I’ve blogged about this topic before; you might find these posts helpful, too:
Do you have a blog post with career advice? If you leave a comment here on my blog, you can choose that post to share it, too. Share the love.
My Lessons on Layoffs
I’ve been around a while (I’m not old; I’m experienced), and I know a lot of this stuff, but “Do you have a bag” was still a surprise to me. There weren’t many rumours of layoffs out of Parabola, so even though the total number was small, it was more eye opening. The number one thing I learned yesterday though, was to bring a bag, a plastic trash bag, and keep it in my desk, because MassiveMegaGlobalMegaCorpTM probably doesn’t care enough about you to give you a box to put your belongings in.
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