Do you want to know how you can grow and develop yourself effectively in your career? Here’s how VMware employee, Clint Buelter suggests you maximize resources and opportunities to move forward.
I always enjoy learning about the interesting work that people do as well as the challenges my friends, coworkers and acquaintances are working through. By instinct I always try to add value or even direction to help out and solve some of these problems. One of the challenges I get to help friends and prospective candidates with is making that next step in their career. I’m talking about helping people change jobs, make the jump into a new field or even moving to a new city for that next step that is going to move their life forward.
Underneath the excitement of professionally developing, there is a daunting set of ambiguous tasks that we all have to navigate. Because of this, I’ve thought through and made notes of some of the effective strategies and tools I’ve seen or helped to develop that can help during a job search, career transition, or whatever you choose to call it. This post isn’t a step by step recipe that you can follow to receive exact results, but I’m confident if you pick up a few of these tools and use them along with a simple process, you will be more efficient, effective, and better prepared for your next career move.
The tools we are going to cover fit into a very simple process:
The greatest thing about the web is the vast amounts of information rushing to all of our devices in near real time. And the worst thing for a person contemplating a career move is all of these real time updates clogging your mind and workspace. How is it possible to work full-time, spend time with family, and stay up to date with current trends and news while planning for a future job? The truth is that most people don’t and you probably hear the same phrases I do like, “I’m slammed” or “I don’t have time.” I get it, but we all have 24-hours in each day, and we accomplish exactly what we must get done, nothing more, and nothing less. It’s hard, but simply changing your “I need to” into “I must” can help you get the necessary tasks done.
Aside from the distraction of accountability and discipline, let’s get back to the information challenge. How can you manage all of the articles, company information, job postings and applications? Email them to yourself? Print them out? Copy and paste them into a document on your desktop? You certainly could do all of these things, but I believe that each of these methods is flawed. Instead, I’d recommend 3 tools that I use to manage incoming information on a daily basis.
Evernote is my favorite application and has been since I started using it a few years back. Anything I need to remember or find goes into Evernote. I’d suggest setting up Notebooks in Evernote (similar to folders) and installing their web clipper in your browser. If you see an interesting company you want to research for a future move, clip it into your “Target Companies” notebook. I’ve even created a notebook for articles I enjoyed reading or plan to read at a later time.
The best part of the Evernote service is that it’s free. And, any note you make or item you store is available on all of your devices. So if you spill a coffee on your laptop and lose all of the documents on your desktop – everything in Evernote will still be available in the cloud. Customize Evernote for your needs and organizational style.
Clipboard is another way to manage data, I don’t view it as my life database like Evernote, but it does have some unique advantages. The service is similar to a private Pinterest. Install the browser extension so you can clip items from around the web into your clipboard account. Clipboard’s design team did a great job and the service displays information like articles, or job posts in an awesome visual layout to keep everything right in front of you. Act quickly though, because unlike Evernote this is a linking system and if an article or post is moved you may not find it again.
I recently replaced my instapaper account with Pocket. If you aren’t familiar with either service I describe them as a cloud reading or bookmarking service. You can really manage pocket it in a number of ways, but it is helpful because it gives you a reference point. Let’s say it’s late and you are running a search on jobs.vmware.com for VMware Web Development roles and you’re on page 2 of 10. Hit the browser button (remember to install the browser extension) and the page. Your stopping point will be saved for when you’re ready to roll through the remaining pages.
I really love the task management space when it comes to productivity. Task management is software lingo for “to-do lists.” With a little bit of discipline you can become very efficient and effective. I know what you’re thinking, I already make paper to-do lists, and use post it notes all the time, but I don’t get a lot of value out of them. I agree, so try Astrid or Wunderlist. I’m positive if you use either of them regularly you won’t ever go back to paper.
Instead of having paper to do lists scattered everywhere, and random things that need to be done lingering in your inbox and calendar, try this, put everything you need to get done today or this week in one of these apps. Organize everything you need to do into singular specific tasks. Do this religiously, and at some point you will want to bucket them a bit. You will probably want to create a list for your job search to dos like: updating your resume, following up from today’s interview with thank you emails, and completing your monthly goal setting. You could also have lists for work tasks and personal tasks.
Every time you start planning for the day or week, spend time pulling items off of your to do list and complete them. I’ve found that by entering items in an application makes me more effective because they aren’t cluttering my mind anymore. I can pick a few tasks off the list and do them and eventually the list is empty (for a short time). I keep rebuilding my list during the day or weekend adding new tasks to my lists from my phone. Hey, if we weren’t busy or tasked we wouldn’t be happy right?
Side note: If you are actively looking for a role you should have your resume stored where you can quickly access it, make necessary updates and upload or email it at a moments notice. You can use Dropbox or Google Drive for this. And, it’s probably not a bad idea to have a copy stored on your smartphone. What hiring manager or recruiter wants to wait until you get home? Or worse, you forget to send it and 3-5 days go by…. Maybe the task of sending out your resume should have gone into Astrid? : )
Stepping back for a second, we started this post feeling overwhelmed with the ambiguity of what to do with all of the information out there and how you can get started on a search. Then you selected some sort of system to essentially store all of the relevant information for a later time when you could focus on the material. That time has come, read and select the tasks from this reading that will apply to you.
So now we are near the end of the process, you have your tasks lined out and now you must do them. The whole process is critical but this final step is where your preparation and discipline pays off. Make the calls, send the emails, setup coffees with colleagues you haven’t seen in awhile or told about your upcoming change, apply to jobs and do them all in a timely manner. You can offer and gain the most from the relationships that you’ve previously created, but in a transition you need to be effective on getting out there and building new inroads. Be clear about the value you carry and think of how you can help others.
My advice is to set aside time daily to develop a routine so you can spend time consuming information and completing tasks from your list. Whatever time and day works best for you, then make that your time to focus. Use the tools above that you like, (and please feel free to share/comment the ones you prefer below) and continue to progress your life and work interests.
Clinton Buelter is passionate about people, career development, and software that makes work better. Clinton is currently focused on R&D recruitment across VMware’s suite of applications and infrastructure. Sometimes writing and tweeting, about personal and organizational productivity, software, recruitment, and business. You can find him on Twitter – @buelter.
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