Friday, May 29, 2015

The Career Update

So after being consistent all month and blogging as part of the SQL New Blogger challenge, I let myself down and had yet to post another blog until one month later. Not exactly the best way to help with readership. Then I found inspiration yet again in a break from the job search.

I've been consumed in the job search and figuring out some personal affairs, which has distracted me from entries so far. The unfortunate fact, however, is that this year is not the same as last year. When I went through last year's search, I had a job ready for me in the middle of May. This time I find myself either too advanced for the entry-level positions, a year or two qualifications short of most senior positions, or beat out by more competition when there is a perfect mid-level position. An analogy that I've considered for the job search is a basketball player with a good shot selection who is a sixth man. In 2014, that's what I was; didn't get a lot of opportunities, but made more of them when I had the chance, and landed that interview fast. In 2015, I've been maximizing my network more and have played like a full-time starter, and now my offense has faltered with the heightened level of competition.

Now this is where I instead ask the questions.

One question I have, as someone on the spectrum, is how do people show off a portfolio of work from previous gigs? I've realized that my own attention span issues and fixations on data itself have held me back a little when trying to figure out the ambiguities in my job responsibilities. Even though job performance has never been an issue, I've prevented myself from selling my skills by my inability to define my previous projects with concrete examples on a technical level.

Better question: how does one sell new skills? I've started to brush off the Java playbook after never having to use it for years, and I simultaneously played around in C# for a little. This was upon my realization that my skill set was more concentrated this time around in spite of my skills with data visualization tools. I asked various recruiters and took a crude sample from job boards to see which skills were most in demand, and that's where C# and Java came up most, especially for positions I began targeting.

That's all the questions, but then there's the self-doubt on if I should talk about Aspergers to anyone. For the record, this is the first entry I am sharing with my LinkedIn network, which will come with some risk. There's the question on if people believe I will be too literal for a hire, or whether I'll be able to show that I am just as normal as the next person. There's a great book about work among the autistics called The Autism Job Club, which has made for a great reference with its six strategies. It's been a confidence booster, knowing that with the changing technologies I can transform myself with some patience. If anything, you the LinkedIn person who may be reading this could have more to ask me. I'm not sure.

Then there's the ever-escaping process on how to contact others when you are the type who doesn't know how. I've been doing it with those I'm comfortable with, but then those on my network who I have not contacted in a while (or sporadically contact) has made for a different story. I do not like to blindly ask "is there anyone I know at Company C?" for that seems desperate. However, this assumption could be incorrect. It may be good if I ask who is at a job and could be an introduction. Or to proactively write an endorsement. I've learned a helpful strategy is to comment on a LinkedIn post or even reintroduce yourself there, and then see what happens without sounding like you are the needy one. For instance, I can ask what help is needed on a project. There's a tip in Anthony Hines' Job Search Survival Kit where you increase your LinkedIn presence, and he is right. It's really more a question of how to do it.

It's been a case of patience, and I am definitely thankful for my network giving me the support necessary, but now I'm thinking I need to use it more while thinking of ways to help those folks as well. I'll still be finding my way for a while, but I like to believe I'm learning from each job search.

Be patient, self, and keep grinding.