Promoting Professional Geekery #33 – Help Out In HR

(For more Promoting Professional Geekery, see this Roundup of past columns.)

So you’re trying to promote professional geekery.  If you work at a company chances are you have an HR department that . . . isn’t.

HR is a tough profession, as is the entire hiring and hiring-related world of careers (which is why I recommend helping out recruiters).  It’s tougher when people don’t exactly get, understand, or otherwise know how to work with some people, like creative, technical, or scientific types.  Like, in short, geeks.

If you’ve ever been at an employer who didn’t “get” you, or worked with someone in a similar situation, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  I’m pretty sure you’ve had one of these experiences, if not both (I’ve had both).

This means less geeks on the right jobs, less happy geeks at the jobs they do have, and an HR department trying to figure out what wen’t wrong.  Yeah, I know, sounds familiar.

So this is where, you, the professional geek come in.  It’s time for you to offer your services to HR so they know how to deal with people like, well . . . you.

  • You can help them understand technical and career issues for potential interviewees – or for that matter help conduct interviews on subjects you understand.
  • You can get them up to date on cultural issues to help them understand if they’re misunderstanding people – or ignoring them.
  • You can set them straight on social media and other geeky things so they don’t make stupid policies.
  • You can advise them on training policies and skills people need to develop.
  • You can act as a bridge to less assertive progeeks to hook them up with HR to solve problems.

You can help your HR department understand and work with people like you.  It means more good hires, more happy fellow geeks, and less bad decisions.  It means more professional geeks doing what they do well.

A few suggestions:

  • Insert yourself into the hiring process to scope out how it’s going and help out.
  • Offer to research and discuss training needs, then present a report most anyone can understand.
  • Run lunch meetups with HR now and then to get to know people (if it’s a big company), and focus on areas they really don’t know.
  • Form a relationship with the people you get along with in HR and see how you can help out.
  • If HR has a wiki for terminology and standards, help out with it.  If not . . . it might be a good idea to start one.
  • Offer to read over policy documents and make suggestions.
  • Offer to read over or even compose job search ads (so you can give realistic feedback).

You may even find that HR could be part of your career, or you might be good enough to help with or even do hires one day.  Sure, you’re helping others, but it might help you out as well!

Steven Savage

Promoting Professional Geekery #25: Reviews

We want to have a world with more fan-to-pro types, more professional geeks, more happy people doing what they like for money within certain legal and ethical boundaries.  Indeed we spend a lot of time trying to improve ourselves professionally to live our dream jobs.

One thing you can do to keep the dream alive is to make sure people get their hands on the right books and resources and that means reviews and more.  In short, all those books and websites you use, you should review so people know about them (or avoid them).

There's a lot of great books out there, a lot of tools, a lot of websites.  If a person wanted to start their dream career what they need is out there now.  It's just concealed by ignorance, a huge amount of choice, and everything else on the internet (basically porn, cats with captions, and ponies).

You are the person that can cut through through the dross, through the confusion, through the LOLCats, and make a difference.  You can set people on the right path.

You do it by reviewing and promoting things that are worth it.

  • If you do any blog whatsoever on your career, make it a point to review good resources on it in lengthy, excruciating detail.  Let me be clear – if you do a career blog, reviews are virtually necessary.
  • Put reviews at and other websites.  In fact it can often be the same review as above.
  • If it's a resource that's on Yelp, review it there.
  • If you do a review on a blog or website, tell the author so they know.  It helps the improve, promote, and you may make a new contact, friend, or grateful sycophant.  If your review is bad, well, then use your own discretion.

But what to review?  I mean do you review everything?  Maybe, but for some of us we'd never stop reviewing.  So here's my advice so your reviews target the right resources for progeeks.

Review the very good.  If something is exceptionally awesome, make sure it gets a good review, make sure you tell the author, etc.  Let people know of the best.  This is also helpful if it's a hidden gem.

Review the popular job resources. If something is amazingly popular, and if you're really into reviewing things, then make sure you review it.  It doesn't matter if it's good or bad, you want people to know.

Review the horrible.  If something turns out to be bad, disappointing, and should be avoided, then it's worth a review in order to warn people away.  Yes, you'll want to be civil and mature, but it's worth it as a warning.

What's not in here is the mediocre.  Good reviewing of resources tends to gloss over the unremarkable because it's neither worth promoting or warning off, nor known enough to be of your concern.  Don't feel you have to review every book or website – unless you're into that kind of thing.

Promote Professional Geekery by helping people live their dreams – with the right tools.

Also, if you want some books to recommend, well . . .

Steven Savage




Promoting Professional Geekery #22: Talk To The Parents

If you're a progeek of any kind, it's likely that your parents kind of were worried about your career goals – if they even understand them.  If you were one of the people who had supportive parents who got your goals, you're quite fortunate – I think a changing world and economy makes the generation gaps worse at times.

So right now there's a lot of young future progeeks out there and maybe their parents need to know their children are on the right track, aren't going to starve, and can get some mentorship.  It's time for them to see professional geekery in action so they're fine with their little geeks growing up to make money at what they love.

That, by the way, is where you come in.  If you want to promote the fan-to-pro life, it's time to help out parents so they can guide their kids, not panic, or realize they may be doing things right.

  • If you have your own kids, well, hey, do a good job.  Nothing like being a role-model.
  • Help out your friends and family with children.  Be accessible to them for questions, offer to help with career advice, and don't be afraid to mention your success.  Be a resource.  Oh, and on Christmas and Birthday's remember those books, memberships, and programs that can be useful career tools to give a hint . . .
  • Do events at conventions.  I myself have experimented with a "for parents" event (that is still in revision) to help them "get" what their kids are up to.  If you do, say, anime or game conventions, there's probably a few parents needing something to do- captive audience.  Bring donuts.
  • Write.  Yes, you can blog like me, but also there might just be a book in it, a column, a post at a website, etc.  If you think you have the chops to help parents with their future progeeks, seek out the opportunity to share their wisdom.  Heck, talk to us here.
  • Get involved in education.  Your local schools, clubs, and more would probably love to have a professional come in and speak to kids and parents.  Also, you're probably free.
  • Share the resources.  There are books, websites, and more that are good career guides.  Get them out there.

Help out the next generation – by helping this generation see progeekery is a realistic goal and nothing to panic over.

Plus, if you have kids of your own,a  chance you'll land some babysitting partners . . . 

Steven Savage