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Tell your work story with an infographic

Resume screen shot - reflectionI have recently found myself updating my resume. Why? After 4 1/2 years at Spigit, I have moved on as the company has been acquired by Mindjet. It was a good run there.

So I needed to dust off the resume. And you know, it was eye-opening how limiting resumes are. They are great for their core job-to-be-done: provide a history of your work. But they’re terrible if you want to go into more depth. You see advice to limit resumes to two pages. Use “power” verbs. Avoid graphics that foul up automatic scanners.  Good counsel, but not what I want.

I wanted to communicate a narrative about my work at Spigit. We spend so much time in our jobs, and there is always a story there. It’s richer than anything you can communicate via a series of bullets about your skills. I want to describe the circumstances of the work. Give some key milestones of my employment. Describe the projects and outcomes of my work. Creative types will augment resumes with portfolios. What about the rest of us?

It occurred to me that infographics are good for my purposes. They get across key information in a narrative using a visually interesting style. But they don’t require a significant investment of time and focus for the reader. So I created my own infographic to describe the context and work of my time at Spigit:

VP Product Spigit infographic

I tried using one of the infographic-generation sites, but wasn’t satisfied with the results. The default templates didn’t match the story I wanted to tell, I wanted to do more with the interplay of text and graphics, and the PNG image upload was buggy. Instead, I used two free apps to make it:

  • Google Docs – drawing app
  • GIMP image program (installed)

I exported the Google Drawing to PDF. To turn the PDF into a high resolution PNG file, I followed the advice on this StackExchange post.

The final question is where to put the infographic. It doesn’t exactly fit a standard letter (U.S.) or A4 size, so you can’t append it to your resume. So I’ve uploaded it to Slideshare and Scribd, added it to my LinkedIn profile, and it graces the About Me page of this blog. Would be kind of daring to send it to a prospective employer, eh?

If you’re interested in creating one of these, feel free to contact me. I can offer you what I learned in making it. And in case you’re wondering, Spigit’s revenues are publicly available via SEC filings by its lead investor PICO Holdings.

I’m @bhc3 on Twitter.

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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 082109

From the home office at the World Track Championships in Berlin…

#1: Spigit Innovation Summit Wrapup http://bit.ly/4zIqo1 by @innovate “It’s important to have connectors on your #innovation team”

#2: Jeff Bezos on corp #innovation: For innovative ideas to bear fruit, companies need to be willing to “wait for 5-7 years” http://bit.ly/tP9vj

#3: Like this by @paulsloane – Given unlimited resources to solve something, we’d dev something expensive & over engineered http://bit.ly/Qa3tY

#4: Zopa isn’t disruptive argues @bankervision http://bit.ly/ZYela His key points: same customers, same credit scoring, same pricing as banks

#5: Gary Hamel last week: “We have a state of creative apartheid, where some are *really* creative, some aren’t. That’s BS.” #spigit09

#6: Bookmark this: 14 Reasons Why Enterprise 2.0 Projects Fail http://bit.ly/3piYNF by @dhinchcliffe #e20

#7: Bookmark this: How To Kick Start A Community – an Ongoing List http://bit.ly/641dA by @jowyang

#8: Mashable: “14% of surveyed employers disregard candidates who use friendly smiley faces in social media” http://bit.ly/1ajvd8

#9: RT @skap5 Is IMHO a necessary descriptor? Unless of course the rest of your opinions are not humble.

#10: My son starts kindergarten in a couple weeks. Then I see this: “Tutoring tots? Some kids prep for kindergarten” http://bit.ly/3htw0 No…

How many of us find our true talent? She did.

Photo credit: cyclingnews.com

Photo credit: cyclingnews.com

Over a year ago, I wrote a post here titled How Many of Us Find Our True Talent? In that post, I speculated that the vast majority of us find vocations and activities we’re good at. But we likely have talents in totally different areas that never really see the light of day:

My own theory is that each of have talents that are uniquely strong in us. For some, these talents would put them on the world stage. For most of us, they’d probably vault us to the top of a particular field. And yet I suspect that most of us never hit on those unique talents.

And here’s the exception that proves the rule. The Wall Street Journal ran an article this week, Cycling’s One-in-a-Million Story. It tells the story of Evelyn Stevens, a 26 year-old top-ranked cyclist who will be competing in the upcoming Route de France. That itself is impressive enough.

How about this: A little over a year ago, she didn’t even own a bike.

A former tennis player at Dartmouth, she was working as an associate on Wall Street. Putting in the hours needed, she barely had time to jog. Deciding she needed more exercise, she bought a bike. Pretty quickly, it was apparent she was a natural at it. The WSJ article relates how early on, with little training, she clocked a mile-and-a-half hill climb in 5 minutes and 40 – 50 seconds. Strong, trained male riders do the same climb in the low 6:00’s.

She’s now quit her investment banking job, and doesn’t actively pursue her previous sport, tennis. She’s found her true talent. As the Wall Street Journal noted:

The truth is that Ms. Stevens is one in a million: She was lucky enough to stumble into the exact pursuit she was born for.

Indeed.

My Ten Favorite Tweets: Week Ending 080709

From the home office in the former Soviet republic of Georgia…

#1: GigaOm: One RSS subscriber equals 5 to 10 Twitter followers http://bit.ly/MkRHF

#2: Interesting take: “To enable innovation it may be necessary to reduce the number of social ties between coders” http://bit.ly/5apJn

#3: RT @berkun The best approach for wicked problems is to break them apart into smaller problems. Repeat until there’s a piece you can solve.

#4: @GrahamHill Toyota had 20 million ideas in 40 years? Wow. That’s says a lot for how they got to the top of the automotive world.

#5: Checking out @lindegaard‘s list of books and people he finds useful for #innovation work: http://bit.ly/18MUk3

#6: Lloyds CIO: RT @kat_woman have u had a look at spigit? We used it 2 create a world-first idea mgt system internally that runs like a stk mkt

#7: Just spoke with Gary Hamel re: next week’s Spigit Customer Summit. Very nice, very sharp. His keynote will be: “Inventing Management 2.0″

#8: Reading: Go cloud, young man http://bit.ly/h2wx3 by @philww Cloud computing is the future #saas #careers

#9: With family, we’re hitting the shopping holy trinity: Target, Costco, Trader Joe’s

#10: I see these foursquare updates of people out and about, looks great. Mine would be…home….home…playground…home… Kids, you know.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 112808

From the home office in Lake Tahoe, California…

#1: Better than spam? Chris Baskind reports a spammer on Twitter has a 21.5% return follow rate: http://bit.ly/EzHm

#2: If you don’t ask, you don’t get. And…you never get everything you ask for.

#3: Just added BackType to my FriendFeed. An interesting competitor to Disqus and Intense Debate.

#4: I love this saying about parenting: “The days are long, the years are short.” >> So very, very true.

#5: Why is Papa Bear such the dufus in the Berenstein Bears books? Giving us Dads a bad name…

#6: Doing a keyword search in my GReader, seeing some great posts for blogs to which I don’t subscribe. Power of subscribing to others’ shares.

#7: Editing/adding content on my blog’s About Me page. That page receives a good number of hits, and I thought…”What Would @chrisbrogan Do?”

#8: Reading: “Resumes are Dead. Social Media is Your New Resume.” http://bit.ly/yqUQ

#9: Twitter for $500 million..gut says that’s too low. Twitter is the defining platform for lightweight interactions. $1 billion +…

#10: Thanksgiving morning. We’ve got Christmas music playing on the radio (96.5). Kids are jumping on the bed. Heading to Gramma’s house later.

Will We Ever Find Our True Talent? Not Likely Says Malcolm Gladwell

outliers-malcolm-gladwell

This past June, I wrote a post titled How Many of Us Find Our True Talent? It was a look at whether people tend to land in professions that fit their “highest and best” talents:

My own theory is that each of have talents that are uniquely strong in us. For some, these talents would put them on the world stage. For most of us, they’d probably vault us to the top of a particular field. And yet I suspect that most of us never hit on those unique talents.

Malcolm Gladwell currently has a book out titled Outliers: The Story of Success. In it, he examines the underlying factors that propel certain individuals to the very top of their fields. I have not read the book, so I’m picking up its contents from various sites I’m reading and a couple interviews with him that I’ve heard.

From what I’ve seen, Gladwell’s thesis can be boiled down to three factors:

  1. Intrinsic talent for something
  2. Luck of the draw for your circumstances
  3. Heavy practice in a field (min. of 10,000 hours)

Microsoft founder Bill Gates comes up in discussions of this book. We all know that he conquered the PC world with Microsoft, becoming fabulously influential and wealthy. But there’s the Paul Harvey-esque “now you know…the rest of the story”. Here’s how Harvard’s Thomas Sander relates it:

He credits Bill Gates’ success to early and sustained access to high-end computers. Gladwell concedes that Gates is obviously brilliant, but still notes that many other brilliant youth never had the chance to become computer stars of Gates’ magnitude because they didn’t haveaccess to these sophisticated computers.

I heard Gladwell on NPR talking about this. It turns out he attended one of the few schools in the country, high school or college, with access to a mainframe computer where students could program. Now Gates had a passions and aptitude for programming. So there was this great mix of talent and circumstances that allowed it to flourish.

In the post I wrote in June, I ascribed people’s not landing in fields that leverage their true talents to three factors:

  • Too quick to focus on something at a young age, never trying out other areas
  • No opportunities to surface and develop the hidden talent
  • Practical realities – kids, mortgage, caring for someone who is ill – prevent a move into a different field

From what I’ve seen about Gladwell’s book, these factors ring true. As he says himself on the website devoted to his book:

Doesn’t that make it sound like success is something outside of an individual’s control? I don’t mean to go that far. But I do think that we vastly underestimate the extent to which success happens because of things the individual has nothing to do with.

I don’t want to leave this post on a down note. Many, many of us will find vocations that we are good at, and which make us quite happy. We have family and friends which enrich or lives. Personally, having gone from one profession I really enjoyed (banking) to another (enterprise 2.0), I know there are a wide range of fields that each of us can do well at and be happy.

And with a lot of luck, a very few of us find the mother lode.

*****

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Fish Where the Fish Are: Extend Your Blog’s Reach through LinkedIn

This is controversial, but here goes: I think if you’re remarkable, amazing or just plain spectacular, you probably shouldn’t have a resume at all.

How about three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects?
Or a sophisticated project they can see or touch?
Or a reputation that precedes you?
Or a blog that is so compelling and insightful that they have no choice but to follow up?

Seth Godin, Why bother having a resume?

It appears LinkedIn has taken this advice to heart. LinkedIn already has recommendations. Now LinkedIn has opened up its site to let third parties build apps for users. There are nine apps to start with. There are two apps letting you add documents to your profile, which touches on Seth’s “projects” advice above.  And two of those apps allow you to add your blog to your profile: WordPress and SixApart.

Which is interesting…two blog apps in the initial nine? What’s that telling you?

In the professional world, blogs are a great way to:

  • Demonstrate your knowledge
  • Stay current on your field
  • Explore new ideas
  • Connect with others

Out in the wild, there are millions and millions of blogs. The smart advice for bloggers is to stick with it, seek out others and engage in conversations. That’s something that should regularly be part of the blogging life. You’ll learn a lot.

But, it’d be nice to know your professionally oriented blog was reaching others who might open career paths. Which is why LinkedIn’s move to add blogs is so exciting.

Here’s how I picture things as they are, and as they can become:

I know the long-term trends favor recruiting via the blogosphere. But for the next few years, I’m not expecting recruiters to get out there and find candidates based on their blogs. They’ll still go to places where there are concentrated areas of people with relevant experience. LinkedIn has become one of those go-to places.

That being said, recruiters, or more likely, the clients for which they are recruiting, can see a much better picture of you outside of the list of jobs you’ve had.

This adds a new dimension to the reasons for you to blog. Bloggers can get caught up in things like traffic, frequency of posts, comments and making sure their blogs are part of the big social media sites. It’s just human nature.

But now, your blog becomes something more. It becomes a record for how you think, what topics are your passion and opinions on events affecting your field. Even if no one reads your blog out in the blogosphere, you’re still making a case for your talents. And there’s no need to have a high frequency. Whatever you last posted shows on your profile, whenever that was.

A friend recently asked me about blogging. She’s in the non-profit world now, and wants to transition to the business world. I told her one thing blogging can do is get you out of the box that your past work experience and education put you in. Through blogging, you can demonstrate the aptitude to handle work in a new field.

Hats off to LinkedIn for adding these apps. Great addition, and something more people should take advantage of.

*****

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