Saturday, March 8, 2008

What Everybody Ought To Know About Employers

Thank you for participating in the informal Ohio Election Day poll. The question was, “In your opinion, which of the current presidential candidates is the better communicator?”

68% of the participants felt that Barack Obama is the front runner in communicating his message to the audience, with John McCain coming in at 13% and Mitt Romney coming in at 9%.

You’ll notice that the poll focused on the “better communicator”, a skill that you can use now, and not the person best qualified for the job or the one with the most experience. Being in a company that is in the communication business, I feel that communication skills are critically important. You can be an expert in a number of different disciplines and you can have all of the experience in the world. But if you can’t communicate your thoughts and ideas, then you will not be effective in helping your people navigate a changing environment or mentoring other people.

I have a friend that I worked with in the tech sector. Let’s call him “Bob” (Bob is a nice, safe name). “Bob” and I have worked together in a few tech companies over that past few years. On occasion, I’ve heard him say to prospects and business colleagues, “Yeah, we’ve been around the block a few times. I think that between us, we probably have 60 years of experience combined. In fact, we’ve probably forgotten more than most people know.”

It sounds impressive until you realize that no one cares. Your prospects and prospective employers really don’t care how long you’ve been in business, how much you’ve forgotten and they don’t appreciate being made to feel like their experience is insignificant.

I was reviewing my resume a little while back. I had the pleasure of working with some of the tech sector’s truly innovative minds, Danny Hillis and Brewster Kahle. We brought forth an exciting product based on Dave Patterson’s parallel disk architectures known as RAID. In fact, we built the first commercialized RAID system and the only RAID2 system in the world. It was called the DataVault. The thing looked like a wet bar, weighed in at a hefty 1500 pounds and held a whopping 20GB. Sales reps were selling these things like hotcakes, stating that you could shoot a cannon at it and your data would still be safe and secure. The solid steel framework probably contributed immensely to this sales pitch.Thinking Machines CM2 and Datavault

Visually, it was a work of art

Who cares?

With today’s technology, I can fit 6 times the storage in my pocket and it will transfer data as fast as, if not faster, than the DataVault. Nobody cares that I was on the team that created the first commercial implementation of a RAID device. What they want to know is “what can you do for me now “ and “can you communicate it to the rest of my team?”

That is what employers are primarily concerned with, and that is what your job resume and interview should focus on.

I’ve since removed that particular chapter from my resume asking myself the same question. Who cares about those experiences? They don’t adequately portray what I can do now.

All of that stuff you have done in the past is nothing when compared against what you can do with your current skills in today’s business environment. And if you can communicate effectively, so much the better.

In the end, that is the only experience that matters.

For those of you on the job market and with loads of experience to sift through, take a look at this article on monster.com here.

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