Job Research: Look for the Best Of

You have any trouble finding the right resources for your job and career?

If you're the average progeek, there's two situations:

  • You haven't done enough research, and when you do you are overwhelmed with the books, websites, meetups, and other resources and have no idea to start.
  • You have done the research long ago, and you're still painfully aware of just how much stuff there is out there you can use to find a job, research a career, etc.

One of the problems we progeeks face is, being information-oriented one way or another, being plugged in, is that we're swept away by a flood of options when we do career research.  Sure, we're great at surfing the web, mining amazon, and finding local event boards, but we have no idea where to start.

We could go do everything, and read everything, but we just don't have the time.

We could be very selective, but we worry we'll miss something.

We have frankly, no idea where to even start

I deal with this a lot myself.  If anything I think I'm worse – I type fast, come from a science background, am a complete information junkie, and I'm prone to be overcautious.  You may get overwhelmed, I can make myself overwhelmed in an organized, well-planned manner!

The way I cope with this is to create "best of" lists for my career resources:

  • I keep lists of the most useful links I've found – ones that pay off and work for sure.
  • I keep only the books I know I'm going to read and reread related to my career.  By being selective, I can make sure I rarely buy clunkers.
  • I try out different things – like meetup groups, etc., but also admit I can't do everything and have to be selective.

This is not easy – in fact, I constantly have to re-evaluate some of my plans.  But that makes sure I'm not overwhelming myself or distracting myself with resources that don't yield as much as the best resources – whatever those are.

A few examples you may want to try to make a "best of list":

  • When doing a job search, find the websites, recruiters, and other resources that get the best results for your time.  Feel free to experiment on adding more, but make sure these are the ones you use – and if they change for the worst, take them out of your list.  I still remember when was the greatest thing . . .
  • When getting books, make sure you're selective about what you read and what you keep.  My basic rule for keeping a book of any kind – career or otherwise – is "will I want to read it again more use it regularly."  Otherwise, donate it, lend it out, or sell it at a used book store.
  • If you're looking for work, as noted by Orville Pierson, it pays to be selective about companies.  If u identify ideal employers you can target them – or discover they're not for you.
  • If you want to relocate, make a "best of" list places to move.  This paid off for me when I decided to move out of my home state – my targeted search let me learn about locations, companies, and opportunities.

Having a "best of" approach to your job resources focuses your energy, provides you with resources, and keeps you from going crazy trying to keep up with or do everything.  When you are able to foucus on resources that help you be the best progeek you can, then your focus stays on that goal – not trying to keep up with everything in sight.

Finally, having a "best of" approach encourages you to know why you use things – and why you don't.  When you ask what is a truly good career book, certification, class, website, or employer then you have to explore what you want and what you don't want.  The questions you ask will not only help you find what you do – and don't – need, but to ask just what you're really looking for in the first place.

Keep focused, keep looking for what you truly need.  You'll be happier.

Plus it's easier to past on lists of what you found to others . . .

– Steven Savage