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Johanna Rothman

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since Feb 10, 2005
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Recent posts by Johanna Rothman

I'm really happy too! I have both ebook and print books available, so tell me what you want. Happy to oblige!

For everyone else, keep plugging. There are jobs available. You have given me plenty of blogging ideas for my Hiring Technical People blog: .

Remember your value! -- Johanna
7 years ago
Hi Akshay,

It sounds as if you are interested partially in project management and partially in project portfolio management. I agree with Tim, ask for a one-on-one with your current manager and explain that you want to know more.

You could also read some books. I've written some books you may find interesting: So have many other people. But start your career development with a conversation with your manager.

I would keep working while I understand this. I found it easier to understand while I worked on projects. Of course, I got my Master's degree while working full time, so I'm slightly crazed.

Good luck.
7 years ago
Neha, Congratulations on both having your kids and being ready to rejoin the work force! Both are big accomplishments!

Now, you have to change your perspective. You are thinking about what you want. That's good. You also need to know what an employer will value in you.

Is working from home your only alternative? Have you considered these options:

1. Working during the day when the kids are in school, and leaving early when their school day is done?
2. Working part-time, but full days?
3. Working at a very local (very short commute) company, so you can be home when the kids need you?

I have two children also. I used after-school care, and was very happy with it, so both my husband and I could work full time. That was our choice. Every family makes their own choices. What worked for me will not necessarily work for you.

However, this is a hiring manager's market. It's also a market where distributed teams are the norm, so you have that going for you.

I work from home, and I have a room for my office with a door. That door is quite necessary. It allows me to concentrate. BTW, do not think you can take care of the kids and still work. You will shortchange one or the other. Okay, enough personal advice. Back to the job search.

You need to generate at least three reasonable options for your job search, one of which might be working from home. If working from home is one of them, be prepared to explain how you will jell with the team, how you will complete your work, and how you will provide status, how you will ask for help, all of that stuff. Working from home is more difficult than it might appear on the outside. Staying connected to a team can be quite difficult. If you are prepared before you start to interview, you won't hem and haw.

What value do you provide a hiring manager? How can you "package" yourself, so you can explain yourself as a compelling hire to a hiring manager?

Think outward. What problem are you solving for a hiring manager?

If you think of this as problem solving for a hiring manager, you are on the right track. Good luck!

7 years ago
Yes, the book explains how to answer the question when you have been unemployed. The book also has suggestions for what to do to get more relevant experience.
7 years ago
Patricia, hiring managers will see through this. They will say, "How long has it been since she was in the field?" And then they will be perturbed that you weren't up front about this.

Instead, I would tackle this head on. Use a chronological resume. I would say something like (only if this is true, so say what is true): I spent the last x years obtaining a Master's degree in x, managing a cross-country move, and <doing whatever else I did>. These activities showcase my perseverance, ability to manage my personal project portfolio, adaptability, and my problem-solving ability. *You* have to connect the dots for a hiring manager.

See my post What Traits Are Most Valuable in a Career,

Hiring managers can tell if you are trying to fool them with a non-chronological resume. But they cannot tell what your non-technical skills are. Only you can tell them that. Focus on the value you bring to the job. You can explain that. Only you can explain that. (This is why you should read the entire book :-)
7 years ago
Please be more specific. I did write an entire book. I write a whole blog on this topic. You need to narrow this down for me. I think you are asking me two different questions:

1. What should I write in my CV? (This is a very broad question.)
2. What tips do you have for me in an interview? (This is also a very broad question.)

Do I have this right? If so, please narrow your questions, so I can be more helpful. Thank you!
7 years ago
You should do a career timeline and see where and when your energy has been positive. If you have been out of work for a year, you don't know enough about what past pieces of your career have been energizing without doing the timeline. You can't remember.

You need to decide what your purpose is. Not your passion, but your purpose. When you have been out of work for a long time, you don't have a rudder. You might be there, right now. You need to discover what energizes you.

You need to start networking. There are two kinds of networking: background networking. That will not find you a job. The other kind of networking is target networking. That will find you a job. But, you need to find the loose connections that will introduce you to your target network. What will you say to your loose connections? Something about your purpose.

Looking for a job is an emergent project. You might be a little stuck. That's why I suggest you use a kanban inside of one-week timeboxes, so you have purposeful reflection every week (not on Fridays or Mondays!). It's really hard to keep your spirits up if you've been out of a job for even two months, never mind more than that. And, if your network isn't large enough to support a job search, it's even more difficult.

You can do this work. It requires perseverance. It's work. But hey, if you can program computers, you can do it. Programming is more difficult. But looking for a job requires those interpersonal skills few of us cultivated. So, it's hard. But, you can't give up. You keep going. That's why you have a kanban board.

So, try a couple of activities, and see if they help. Try some purposeful networking. Review your resume, and see if it is helping you. Look at my blog, where I have a bunch of job search traps and what to do about them. And, a bunch of tips. (And, buy the book :-)
7 years ago
I agree. Certifications might be useful for learning, but they prove not much for whether you can do the job. Your job performance proves that you can do the job.

Studying for a certification might be useful.
7 years ago
Well, that's what the book is about :-) This is such an open-ended question, I'm not sure where to start.

If you think the jobs out there are tiresome, maybe it's time for you to do a job timeline. That's where you analyze your career, from the beginning. You see what energizes you, what doesn't. You look for your values.

This should take you some time, say, a couple of hours to do. Then, I suggest you discuss this with a trusted colleague or friend. Why? Because you will articulate things that just thinking about won't help you say.

Now, you know something about what you have done in the past, and where you might like to go in the future. That should help with the tiresome part. You also have the first part of determining your cultural fit for a new position. You can determine the 25 companies that should be on your target list.

If you take my advice, and use personal kanban inside one-week timeboxes, you have a structure that allows you to see your progress. Yes, it's more difficult to make progress when you are experienced, because you may have fewer people in your network and because there may be fewer jobs available. On the other hand, if you are already employed, do you need to rush?

Before it's time for you to make a decision about a job, you should know what your criteria for a decision are. I suggest how you can make a decision.

Does that help?
7 years ago
Hmm, from a programmer's perspective or a manager's perspective?

If you want a book about a technical lead's perspective, you should read Roy Osherove's book Notes to a Software Team Leader. I'm writing a series of management myths, which will become a book, maybe later this year.

Andy Lester and I pair-write a monthly column for "Iterations," the Pragmatic Programmer's magazine. We are considering writing a series of short books, tentatively called "Nuts and Bolts" which would include managing the daily job for technical people. Is that what you would be interested in?

Thanks for letting me do a little marketing intelligence gathering!
7 years ago
Hi Raghav,

Yes, you always want to claim your experience. The key is how you highlight your experience. What did you learn there? How did you add value to your career?

As Jeanne said, programmers need to be able to troubleshoot and communicate with people. Can you highlight any specific experiences and show how you saved the company money, increased revenue, or made some customer happy? Managers care about things like that.
7 years ago
1. You need to assess your current skills and think about your value to a potential employer. Always look outward, thinking about your value. You have skills in many dimensions, not just technical skills.
2. What is your target market? Who are all your target employers? Develop a list of 25 target employers. I am serious.

Now, how will you meet people from your target employers?

You have many options:

1. You can do volunteer/open source projects.
2. You can network with professional groups, meetings, meetups, mashups and the like.
3. You can find people on LinkedIn, target them, and ask for informational interviews so you can see if they can introduce you.

You will have to take the initiative.

What other options can you see?
7 years ago
Thanks, I'm really glad to be here.
7 years ago
HI Kevin,

In the over-50 section, I discuss how you need to network, how will need to manage ageism, how you problem-solve with a potential employer, how you demonstrate relevance, and that you might want to look for a technical position.

Many of us who have been around a while have been with one company for a long time. That can be a mixed blessing. You might not be accustomed to networking. I don't know about you, but when I looked for a job the first 25 years of my career, I didn't have to look too hard. Now, it's a hiring manager's market. And, it's a 20-something marketing. The rules have changed.

It's not that hard to find a job, but you need to network. That means the jobs won't come to you.

And, you need to know about the business. You can't hide in your cube.

Life is different than it used to be. This doesn't have to be bad. But it is different.

If you can't appear to be open to change, you will appear to be old. That is bad.
7 years ago
Certainly, a pattern of leaving a job after a short period of time is a mistake. The question is why. If you have been unfortunate enough to have been laid off several times as one candidate I interviewed had been, you have several choices:
1. You can treat each job as if it was a short-term contract.
2. You can address the topic in a cover letter.
3. You can explain it to a sympathetic hiring manager.

What you can not do is lie. If anyone catches you lying, you are likely to be thrown out. That is another critical mistake.

Another critical mistake is "spray-and-pray." You are not right for every job. You do not need to send your resume everywhere. You need a target list of say, 25 companies. Then, you need to network to find your sympathetic hiring manager in those 25 companies.

That is how you will find your next job.
7 years ago