Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I need your help in getting off the dime. It isn’t that I don’t want to. It’s that I literally don’t know what to do.
I’m entering a very new field that my colleagues and past contacts know virtually nothing about. The industry I’m interested in is supposed to need people, but I can’t find the channel where people are actually paid for their work.
Please don’t tell me to go to the library to read up on it. I’m very busy doing my current work, which I need to keep up during the transition. Help! Isolated
A: Dear Isolated, While people might tell you to run to a mentor, when you enter a new field, even an expert might be difficult to find.
Use search engines to identify associations around your area of expertise. Read articles thoroughly, even if particular subjects don’t interest you, to get names of players and companies. Go to a conference if there isn’t a local chapter to make initial contacts. Get as much information about attendees as possible. Plan your campaign. Remember the career axiom: It takes one bus to get a ride. mlc
Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I searched Google and found that the first link attached to my name includes a photo of me accompanying a newspaper article. Everyone says to check your online image and get rid of anything that’s negative. What can I do about this? Streamlining
A: Dear Streamlining, Is the newspaper reputable? What about the article and the writer? Is there anything wrong with the photo? Are you dressed overly casually or do you look horrible in it?
What’s wrong with starting with a list of links with positive publicity for yourself? Even if the topic of the article is dreary, if the information is presented well in a decent publication with an acceptable photo and a good writer behind it, you have very favorable publicity. Some people work many years to achieve decent press.
Go back and research the paper. Read about it in an industry publication, such as Editor & Publisher. Is it part of a reputable newspaper group? How long has it been around?
Do a Google search on the writer to see what comes up. Read.
Finally, ask yourself if any companies identified pose a problem. mlc
Bill Horne attended an internal career fair after deciding to enter computer programming (telecom-digest.org). “The IT table was deserted,” he reports, except for one employee.
She asked about his background in programming; so he launched into stories demonstrating his interest in the field. “I told her that I’d modified the operating system of my computer to communicate with an older printer that I had purchased from the M.I.T. surplus exchange,” he emails. “It looked like a Selectric typewriter, with some added electronics to drive the mechanism from a connecting cable. I told her that the printer spoke EBCD (*not* EBCDIC) code, and that I’d made it work with an ASCII-based machine.” She asked for further details and he kept talking.
When it was time to conclude the conversation, “the nice lady handed me a business card after writing a name and number on the back and said I should call the person shown there,” Horne continues. Not until he was out the door did he grasp his interviewer was the IT vice president.
The next day the company directory startled him with information that the contact he’d be making was a third-line manager: “I’d skipped three or four levels of interviewing on my way to getting the job.”