Geek Job Guru: How To Be Terrible At The Skills You’re Good At

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Recently, someone commented on an email I had sent that was a poor bit of communication. Not wrong, not inaccurate, but simply inappropriate – overly wordy, not addressing the point, too much detail, etc. They were frustrated.

As this person put it, to paraphrase, “You write, how did you get this wrong?”

Of course I write. I’ve written fiction and science papers, technical documents and chatty career columns, books and guides. I mean I can write all sorts of things . . .

And then, in that conversation, I realized that was the problem. My mouth literally hung open as it came to me – I had chosen the wrong mode of writing as I had so many modes at my disposal.

That experience stuck with me, and it’s something I wanted to explore for the sake of our careers – and as sometimes we geeks can be very talented and people wonder how we screw stuff up.

It’s not about being bad. Many of us can be so good at something we screw it up.

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Job Basics: Roundup

And here’s the roundup of the Job Basics series.  For those of you that are new here (or came to see it), the goal was to list out job search basics, focusing on the geek audience here, as a reference.

  • Why I did this in the first place.  Seriously, you may want to know.
  • The Goal.  Setting your goal is the start.
  • The Path.  Once you know where you want to go, you have to figure out how to get there.
  • Growth.  Your path is going to require you to grow and develop to get to your goal.
  • Awareness.  Things are happening all the time that can affect your career – being aware is vital.
  • Tools.  The things you need on your job search and for your career.
  • The Search.  How to do a good job search – and adapt it.
  • The Social.  Hw to make your career part of your life.

Thanks for everyone who inspired it – and I hope it helps you.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, publishes books on career and culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at

Job Basics: The Social

People And Profile

You’ve got your resume, you’ve researched your career, you’re on the search.  In fact, you may even have a good job or found one and are well on your way.  There’s one final factor I wanted to address – the social side of your job and your career.

Now I’m not talking about hanging out with your co-workers, though if you like them well enough go for it.  Nor am I talking only about Networking.  I’m talking about opportunities to both connect with people, connect professionally with people, and just have fun exist.

The hard truth about many good jobs, good careers, and successful people is that being social is part of it.  Connecting, networking, learning, joining.  It makes it part of your life and helps you meet people like yourself, and it lets you take what you want to do and do more with it.  A career, alone, isolated from the rest of your life, is not for everyone.

By making sure you socialize with people like you, with groups that do what you do, you help get a larger, visceral sense of what’s important and what’s going on.  You learn about what’s coming, you get the lingo, and in some cases you discover you really, really don’t like where things are going . . .

Finally, you can enjoy the events, parties, seminars, and more out there.  You can have fun with your career.

So here’s how to take your social side and use it in your career.

Networking And Linked In

Yeah, yeah, I’ve said this before.  Network and join LinkedIn.  I also warned that this stuff had to be repeated for a reason.  So I’m repeating it.

The thing is that good networking isn’t just about job connections, as noted, there’s often fun events, parties, etc.  You may find social opportunities with people of like professions, so go and have a little fun.

Join A Professional Association

Seriously.  Join a professional association, a group of similar professionals or future professionals.  Do it now – I’ve got a list right here.

Professional associations, at least good ones, provide resources, events, classes, and social opportunities to meet, work, and learn with people like you or people you want to be like.  I don’t care if you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, these are the people you want to hang out with – moreso if you’re new to the scene.

The opportunities are vast:

  • You meet people of similar interest – and whom you can learn from.
  • There are resources, classes, magazines and more to help you out and keep you connected.
  • Assorted events are usually held by associations, from serious classes to charities to fun social events.
  • Meeting people like yourself can help you get motivated.
  • It looks good on a resume.

Really, go join a professional association.

Join A Club Or Meetup

If you’re near any kind of large city – and even if you’re not – there’s probably assorted clubs or events at that fit your professional interests.  You just have to look for them online, in your local paper, and so on.

The benefits are the same as a professional association – people to meet, changes to socialize, opportunities to learn.  It’s often less formal, there’s not certifications, and so on.  But it’s also something right in your area.

The lack of formality (compared to a professional association) is also an advantage.  It’s more fun, more social, more relaxed, and may do things no professional association would think of – or dare.  If you worry about getting “too professional” a club or meetup may be just for you.

Start A Group Project

I always recommend people have A Project to do – some big effort they do, at least partially for fun, that uses their skills and interests.  It could be a book, blog, indie game, something.  But having A Project means you’re focusing, learning, growing, and doing something for real.  It teaches and uses both skills and meta-skills like organization.

So why not do one with other people.

Now I’m not saying you have to do this.  It’s just a suggestion.  But it has advantages:

  • You can do more with a team (usually) than on your own.
  • You meet people, socialize, and connect both within and without your area of interest – you may want to write on video games, and meeting a webmaster may give you a new appreciation of technology.
  • You can work with each other to promote your work.
  • You learn to work with people
  • There are pure social and fun opportunities.

For me, my Group Project is Crossroads Alpha, and it’s definitely been worth it.

Look For Lectures, Seminars, And More

You want to learn more about your profession, and meet people of similar interests, and have fun.  Go look for lectures, seminars, and film showings in your professional vein.

If you’ve got colleges, schools, museums, libraries, and so forth within a reasonable distance, there’s probably a few lectures and so forth going on now and then – and all the time if you’re in a major urban area.  A check of a college website, local news site, and so on will give you enough.  Some colleges even send out information on adult education and seminars in the ancient form called “mail.”

These are a grab-bag, dependent on your location and the institutions there, but they provide all sorts of diversity and learning opportunities.  In a few cases local clubs and meetups may even go to said events, letting you double up the professional socialization.

And who knows, you might even be qualified to do one someday . . .

Stay Social, My Friends

The social aspect of our careers can be easily ignored or forgotten – sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s not.  But by making it a part of your life, you’ll take your ambitions and your passions farther.  They won’t be isolated – they’ll be a part of your larger social picture.

And you may even have fun with your career.  Which is always nice.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, publishes books on career and culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at