Tag - jobs

Want a job in tech? Here's what you must, must, must have

Whether you’re looking for a job in technology or trying to upgrade your current role, there’s one thing that you must absolutely positively unequivocally have.

It’s something I’ve seen a lot of resumes come in without. It’s something promising but unsuccessful candidates often miss. And it easily and obviously distinguishes winners from losers.

That thing is simple: side projects.


The hardest thing to do when hiring is to differentiate between candidates who seem good and those who are good. It’s easy to distinguish between complete zeroes and heroes. But what about the knights in shining tin? They’re hard to tell from true paladins.

Side projects will show the difference.

Side projects can be anything:

  • For a marketing person: a blog
  • For a developer: code snippets, an open source project
  • For a writer: an ebook
  • For an organizer/manager: a nonprofit club or organization

What it is doesn’t really matter, but it’s critical that somehow, in at least one key way, it’s related to your field – related to the job you want.

What a side project does is demonstrate initiative. It demonstrates passion. It demonstrates that you care beyond the paycheck. It shows rather than tells. A side project provides independently verifiable history. It gives backstory to your story, adding depth and color and dimension … all of which contribute to believability and persuasiveness.

Critical factors of a great side-project:

  1. Longevity
    15 side projects all started and none finished is a horrible backstory. Have one or two side projects (at least until they are complete) and ensure they are in a good stage of completeness or presentability.

  2. Originality
    The already-existing 40,000 code snippets on lightbox effects are enough. Unless yours is unbelievably incredibly better, make the forty-thousand-and-first is not cool.

  3. Quality
    More than anything else in your professional life, you can control the quality of your side project. So this is a direct reflection of your values and … prospective employment value. Make it rock.

  4. Interestingness
    A side project to count the number of stones in the walkway to your current domicile may turn your crank, but it won’t jumpstart anyone else’s engine. Pick something cool. You need to be passionate about it, but others need to be able to appreciate that passion.

My current side-projects are this blog and my iPad app – the Wonderful Colorful House.

What’s yours?

Three amazing developers/managers on the market

This is a shout-out to announce that fact that 3 amazing web/software developers/technology managers that I know really, really well are looking for work.

If you’re looking for developers these guys are great:

Mike Skovgard: LinkedIn, blog
Mike is a commando. Give him a tough development job and he’ll attack it like it’s a Nazi and he’s a WWII stormtrooper. Unbelievably smart, quick, and tenacious.

Bernie VanSpronsen: LinkedIn
Bernie is a concensus-maker. He quickly gets concepts, builds a business case, and figures out a project plan. If there’s a person he can’t get along with, that person is likely pathological.

Carl Forde: LinkedIn, blog
Carl is a thinker and architect. He designs systems, and then he build the bricks of the wall that will form the structure. He’s also working on a PHD in educational technology.

Reason why they’re looking
The company they’re working for – which I used to work for – is centralizing operations at their US location. So the Canadian workers are out of luck.

I feel bad because this is an awful time, economically, to be faced with this situation. But I take comfort in knowing that each of them is super skilled and extremely capable, and good things are in store for those that hire them.

Full disclosure:
I hired Carl and Mike when I was at Premier. And, when I moved on to Director of Home & Family Markets, Bernie took over the Technology Solutions Department from me.