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Is it true that employers aren’t hiring over the holidays?

They say that December isn’t a good month for job seekers, but you can make the case that it’s not at all true. There are plenty of reasons to be merry.

Firstly, there is no shortage of advertised positions on the major job boards. On Indeed alone, a search for jobs in Seattle shows over 45,000 job listings within 25 miles of the city. And this doesn’t count the multitudes of unadvertised job opportunities.

Secondly, you can count on many job seekers taking time off from the hunt. While the competition is sipping egg nog, the eager job hunter can squeeze in time for job search activities between the shopping and the Christmas parties. By managing your time well, you can enjoy the festivities while simultaneously keeping your employment search moving forward.

Thirdly, in some economic sectors there is a proliferation of temporary jobs. And some of those part-time holiday season jobs will convert into permanent jobs. If you impress your employer, one of those permanent jobs could be yours.

So there are plenty of good reasons to keep looking for work during the month of December. Make the most of the season! Take advantage of networking opportunities at the holiday parties, and use gift-giving to gift yourself suitable wardrobe items for your interviews.

Even if you choose not to go overboard with the job seeking, December is a great month for updating your resume and refreshing your LinkedIn Profile. That’s because the first quarter of the new year is the year’s busiest time for recruiting at many companies because of the start of new budgets.

Come January, everyone who took vacations during the holidays returns to work ready to accelerate the recruiting process. Make sure you’re ready to advance your career in the new year by getting an early start.

Happy holidays! Writing Wolf will be closed on December 24 and December 25, but we’re open and ready to assist you in getting ready for career ready for the New Year.

Microsoft opens to open source technologies

IT job seekers with a passion for open source technologies ought to consider working for Microsoft, implies a new article. In “Microsoft’s renewed embrace of developers, developers, developers, developers”, Peter Bright reports:

The new Microsoft is developer-focused in a way that it wasn’t before. The company is working to embrace to a wider range of developers, meeting them where they are and working much more closely with them to improve the company’s products. This level of interaction between Microsoft and developers on its platforms is not something that existed in the Windows-focused past.

But is it making a difference? Is it restoring the relevance that Redmond once had, and are these non-Windows developer communities even interested in what Microsoft has to offer?

Sea change won’t happen overnight. Microsoft has a considerable reputation for being enormously hostile to open source and emphasizing Windows at all costs. These things don’t engender much goodwill from the communities that the company is trying to engage with. The comments on articles here at Ars illustrate that perfectly; WSL news is invariably met with comments of “embrace, extend, extinguish,” and reports on Microsoft’s open source efforts are met with similar cynicism. There’s a lack of belief that Microsoft, of all companies, can “do” open source, and that it can do open source in a community-oriented, developer-friendly kind of a way. And there are still a few people living with their parents in Wyoming working on Star Trek fanfic.

But Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for the Cloud and Enterprise group, tells us that he’s seeing signs of a shift, albeit using some non-traditional metrics. Guthrie reads Hacker News and looks at the comments there, noting that the commenters are “opinionated, and aren’t shy about sharing their opinions.” And in his view, not only are there more posts about Microsoft technologies “than there have ever been,” the comments are, remarkably, “usually very positive.”

Is it a good idea to write your own resume?

If you’re like most technical professionals, resume writing is not the most enjoyable part of looking for a new job. Professional writers notwithstanding, most people are challenged more by the hunt and the interview and salary negotiation parts of the process. In any case, the time for writing the resume is now upon you and it’s time to take it seriously.

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of writing a new resume yourself, regardless of whether or not you find the activity fun.

Of course, as a resume services professional I have a bias. I’m often surprised to learn how many people feel they must write their own resume and have never seriously considered the alternatives. But you may be surprised to learn that I don’t think everyone needs to have a professionally written resume.

“Pros” of a Do-It-Yourself Tech Resume

  • You may be forced into a position of greater self-awareness about your strengths and weakness, and this self-knowledge could help you to interview better.
  • If you’re a very good writer, you can demonstrate your skills with words. Be aware, however, that you are unlikely to be asked, “Did you write your own resume?” in a job interview, though you never know. It used to be the case that companies say the resume as a writing sample, but these days the much more common view is that it is a marketing document. If writing is an important skill for the job, a company can ask for a writing sample or give you a writing test.
  • You can be confident that you know every nook and cranny of the document so there’s no reason you should be surprised by questions about its contents.

“Cons” of a Do-It-Yourself Tech Resume

  • You will probably not be as good as a professional writer unless you have a good deal of writing talent plus a significant amount of time to invest in studying the state-of-the-art craft of resume writing including the latest technologies used by companies for screening resumes. The result is that a do-it-yourself resume may be inferior, resulting in missed opportunities and fewer interviews.
  • You may miss out on the opportunity of advancing your self-awareness through the interactions with the professional resume writer. A good writer will pose challenging questions and encourage you to think about your achievements in concrete, quantifiable terms.
  • The cost. Hiring an experienced (10 years+) professional resume writer is like hiring an advertising agency or PR firm for your career and should be regarded as a serious investment. Hiring an inexperienced and less expensive writer is easier on your budget, but there are risks.

The Decision

Good resume writers will do everything they can to make the benefits of their service outweigh the benefits of the do-it-yourself Information Technology resume. As a result, they will likely attract many clients who are good writers, even technical writers or technical marketing communications specialists. They are hired not merely because they know how to write, but because they are specialists in a particular domain (resume writing) and know how to get the best results in their specialty.

Nevertheless, it’s not necessary for everyone to hire a professional resume writer. Pros who are talented writers and want to invest the time in creating a superb and professional resume themselves can probably do so, given enough time and effort. If you go this option, read multiple resume writing books that have been published just in the last few years (standards are quickly changing and books written even 5 years ago are out-of-date). There are also websites that provide resume tips that can steer you away from common mistakes.

Once you have given your best shot, go to one or two reputable resume writing firms for a critique. If the document is as great as you think it is, they should tell you that they don’t have a lot of value to add to what you’ve already done. You have created a good document, and you will have to rely upon your own judgment to say whether it is good enough.

As the Principal of a technical resume writing firm, I work with information technology professionals who have decided to go down the path of hiring a professional. I’m glad they’ve placed their confidence in me, and I strive to make sure their investment is rewarded with a state-of-the-art, well-crafted resume.

Write a blog post, win your dream job

Blogs are increasingly playing a role in the hiring process for professionals, allowing employers to spot talent at a distance based on what they know and how they communicate it.

Case in point: Allison Michels, a training manager for Yammer (now part of Microsoft), won her job on account of a single blog post. She writes:

Can writing a blog post change your life? Allison Michels, a training manager for Yammer, is a testament to the power of social media. Having a point of view and expressing it got her a job.

In a previous role with another company, Allison fell in love with Yammer. She saw its potential to connect people throughout the workplace, and collaborate in new and ever-easier ways. A higher-up disagreed, and the use of Yammer was terminated.

Allison loved her job, but she was saddened by the managerial decision. She took her disappointment to the blogosphere. On her blog, “Doing More,” Allison ranted about the shortsightedness of the manager’s decision. Allison’s bold stance caught the attention of David Sacks, Yammer’s founder and CEO. In a tweet to Allison, he wrote: “You seem like an enthusiastic employee whose work is being underappreciated. Do you want to come work for us?”

From a professional point of view, the decision was simple. But the moment in her personal life was not: Allison and her husband had just bought a house on the East Coast; Yammer is based in San Francisco.

In her own words, Allison shares how an openness to life’s surprises, along with some social media savvy, can make work-life integration an excellent adventure.

Read the whole article.

At The Ladders’s blog, you can find examples of workers who were helped by blogging and others who were hurt. A success story:

As you cite critical sources and make intelligent, important observations, your personal blog augments your position within your company and promotes your company. You never bash your company. You can be yourself and be authentic. James P., a salesman, asked for permission from his company to comment on his business travels and business adventures as a technology sales consultant. Customers love the funny, idiosyncratic stories. James says, “My blog has been a business generator for the company and earned me four speaking engagements on behalf of the company and four speaking engagements locally that were sponsored by local sales networking organizations. I can’t believe it. It’s made me kind of recession proof in my career!” His first book is being self-published, and his company uses him to teach and train all new sales personnel.

Read more.

Glassdoor and Instagram: Emerging tools for job seekers

Glassdoor and Instagram are among the latest technology tools changing the way Seattle professionals research and find jobs. The first offers a large database of employer reviews available for searching and the other is allowing some people to give a personal touch to their professional side.

According to Glassdoor.com:

Glassdoor holds a growing database of 6 million company reviews, CEO approval ratings, salary reports, interview reviews and questions, office photos and more. Unlike other jobs sites, all of this information is entirely shared by those who know a company best — the employees. Add to that the latest jobs and the ability to see Inside Connections at companies via your Facebook network — no other community allows you to see which employers are hiring, what it’s really like to work there according to employees, and who you may know at a particular company all in one place.

Employment Guide recently explained that 48% of respondents to a recent survey said they used Glassdoor in their job search. The reviews are helping job seekers make informed decisions before the interview and after landing a job offer. The article says:

One of the most useful tools according to 48% of job seekers was the employee review tab. Surveyed job seekers said reviews posted in the last six months had the biggest impact on their views of the company. Check for any recent negative ratings, along with the ratings regarding benefits and compensation to ensure they’re in line with your expectations. Be cautious when all posts about an employer are completely positive. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Conversely, if all of the posts are negative, don’t assume that it is a terrible company to work for. Typically, if someone has a bad experience, they’ll utilize the internet as their soapbox to vent their dissatisfaction. Read the remarks, and if you’re concerned about anything, ask some pointed questions during an interview to gain a clearer understanding of the company.