May 29th, 2010

Loon

Not quite ...

Over there ===> it says "A day late", but since that's from last weekend, it's more like "a week late". Actually, that TJS post is rather to the point of my current schedule as it's about almost not getting up a "link dump" for the week for the first time since installing that feature there in November. Why? DUH! If I can't keep up with my Twitter reading, I don't see the "good links", and if I don't see (and read) the good posts/articles, I don't have them in my "ArticleLinks.txt" file, and if I don't have stuff in that file at the end of the week ... well, I don't have anything to post, do I? When I hit Thursday last week I had a paltry four links in the file. However, I spent most of Friday trying to get caught up on Twitter (I currently have a minimum of 12 hours worth of old Twitter "captures" on my desktop waiting for me), and was able to fill out that enough to get up the post "a day late" on Saturday.

This week was sort of chaotic ... I had 3 networking events scheduled (the first fizzled out on Tuesday), and was really dreading having to drag myself off to the Census following the evening events. Fortunately, one of the guys on our team from the 1st shift had some things he needed to take care of during the day on Thursday and Friday, and asked if I could swap shifts with him. This ended up letting me go home after the evening networking things, which was also good as The Wife was on a business trip, and this allowed me to be home overnight with The Girls, who would have otherwise been left to their own devices for getting themselves dinner, to bed, up, breakfast, and to school for three days in a row.

I know you're sick of hearing my bitching about this, but it's what fills up my every waking hour ... but the situation of working this Census gig is like "out of the frying pan and into the fire". I had a pretty obsessive schedule of working on my job search 12-18 hours a day before doing the Census, coming out of, of course, a 24-hour day. Now my job search has to fit into a 14-hour day, and I can't survive on 2 hours of sleep (let alone a negative four) per day, so I'm constantly trying to figure out ways of trimming time and activities down.

The "saving Twitter" to my desktop is one of these, where I'll take the 10-15 minutes of "capture" the Tweets I can (which is only 800 back from any particular point, and I lose a lot with not being able to get online at work), putting off "until later" trying to find the time to spend the half-hour to an hour it takes to minimally scan through each of those, pulling out good job postings and interesting articles. I also have to save actually applying to jobs for the weekend (usually I do that on Friday, but since I was on 1st shift yesterday, I didn't have that luxury).

I also have pretty much narrowed down my book reviewing time to when I'm up at Dojo with The Girls ... which is not quite enough to keep me current, but is practically all the time I have. I'm worried about today, as the last time I started up my netbook it was telling me about a memory problem (no doubt caused by the latest update to XP!) and I'm hoping it's not going to be an issue today. I would be very, very, very unhappy to not be able to use that.

The really bitterly twisted ironic part of all this is that I find myself reflecting on working at the Census and thinking "Man, I really need to find a REAL JOB!", like this had never occurred to me previously. What the fuck have I been doing for the past year? Watching daytime TV and popping bon-bons? I don't think so! But suddenly working at this totally "not me" job for less than half of what I would generally consider for a pay scale has me wanting to spend all my time again trying to find something different. Needless to say, when I catch myself thinking this, it feels like a sick, sadistic trap. I'm only there because my 12-18 hours a day, seven days a week for a year didn't land me a "real job", and it's just rubbing my face into that failure. Every. Fucking. Day.

Anyway, wanted to get in an update. Have an hour and 3/4 to get resumes out this morning before we have to head to Dojo. Please click through to The Job Stalker so I might get some of those half pennies from the local market (I suppose my over-all traffic is important too, at least to the Tribune).


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Loon

Good advice, no nagging

Ever since I started doing reviews of job/career/business books over in The Job Stalker blog and began contacting publishers' PR folks to set up mini e-mail interviews with various authors, I've begun to see more and more books being sent out to me for review. This is the first of two books provided to me by Ten Speed Press (hellllooo, FTC) recently. Since I'd been giving myself a bit of a break from the “heavy duty” industry books (well, that's not quite true, I'm about half way through a book on technological innovations intended for a “C-Level” audience), I figured that I'd slip these in just to have something to feature over on that blog!

Casey Hawley's 10 Make-or-Break Career Moments: Navigate, Negotiate, and Communicate for Success takes an interesting approach to career advice, no doubt originating, to a certain extent, from her sitting “on the other side of the table” (most of her previous books being guides for management rather than individual employees). She's listed as a “Communications Consultant” and that's certainly where this book is coming from, offering communications coaching for 10 key challenges or turning points within one's professional life.

Frankly, I had a rather odd “strongest take-away” from this book, and that is more in an experiential than informational mode: the tone is remarkably neutral. As I've noted in previous reviews, I have certain “issues” with career coaches and other similar job-advice-giving folks ... yet I was about 1/3rd through reading this when I realized that I did not feel like I was being lectured to by some self-appointed “expert” (which is frequently a point of irritation in other “career advice” books). Instead the book read more like an in-depth study by an outside observer who was trying to present as unbiased an assessment of the subject matter as possible. This was, to me, “a breath of fresh air” in a genre that typically reads with a subtext of “because I say so!”.

If there was one thing I'd change/add here it would be a collection of key points in the back. The author is somewhat fond of creating memory-jogging acronyms (or as she calls them, “models”) for various situations, from M.I.S.S.I.O.N. to B.E.A.C.O.N., B.L.U.R., and D.U.C.K., and these would be simply referred to in chapters after those in which they were defined. I found these somewhat confusing, and wished there was a back-of-the-book page with these broken down into their component elements, as well as some notations on other concepts. Admittedly, it's a minor point, but it would have made the information flow of the book far clearer.

What are the “10 Make-or-Break Career Moments”? They span much of an individual's career arc: “the first moment you meet an executive or other key business contact”, “the first moment you meet the interviewer for your next job”, “the moment you are offered a job”, “the key moment in a performance review”, “the moment you meet your new team”, “the moment you are fired”, “the moment a challenge to your ethics, loyalty, or future arises”, “the moment you resign from a job”, “the moment conflict arises with a coworker or other businessperson”, and “the moment you are recognized for excellence”. In addition, there is a concluding section where the author profiles a half a dozen notable executives, and showing how they used techniques similar to those outlined in the text.

Each of these “career moments” gets its own chapter, with various levels of advice, from the “philosophical” to the specifically practical, ranging (naturally enough) from the very basic (in the introductory chapters) to the more advanced as the book moves into issues of more senior positions ... in all cases the material is direct, clear, and (perhaps most refreshingly) “not preachy”. I certainly enjoyed reading this more that I had anticipated I would, and found good information for my own use.

10 Make-or-Break Career Moments is, of course, brand new, so should be out in your local brick-and-mortar book store. It has a very reasonable cover price, and Amazon currently has it at a decent discount ... oddly enough, there are already copies in the new/used channel, and a "like new" copy can be had through that for under five bucks. Again, if you're looking for a bit of coaching for your business communications, this would be a solid place to start, with good advice an "no attitude", putting it far ahead of much of its category!


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