In my own research and networking I frequently come across people and services who are in the business of helping out job seekers. Although I, myself, may not be using these, they might be helpful to The Job Stalker readers, and I’ve decided to try to “formulate” another feature (much like books on Monday and links on Friday) which would bring these to your attention.
The first of these is James Ellis of MicroTrain, who believes that everyone would be able to get better jobs faster if they updated and certified their skillset. Focusing primarily on two audiences, tech professionals who need to keep their skills up-to-date and hard-working ambitious people looking to move into professional careers, they offer an array of hands-on, instructor-led classes in Cisco, Microsoft, VMWare, .NET, SQL and network security, as well as classes on project management, business administration, business analysis, and medical administration.
Ellis, the MicroTrain online marketing manager (@MicroTrain on Twitter), says that their mission is focused on getting people employed, and so they look at training as a vehicle to getting a job, and offer students a variety of career services to help them turn that education and certification into a great and stable career. Ellis says his role is to connect the people who need help with the people who can give it, and that he’s also a professional job hunter (something that I’m trying to avoid!) who loves to review friends’ resumes and give advice on how to stand out. Here’s the interview with him (behind the break):
Q: Briefly, what’s your background?
A: I’m a guy who dropped out of grad school (pol sci) because it would never lead anywhere other than teaching or law school. But I found myself in the school’s computer lab in 1994 playing around with the web and soon the lab staffers were asking me questions. I taught myself some basic web skills during boring contract gigs and talked my way into letting companies play with their web sites (by not treating them as tech or marketing, but as tech and marketing). I’ve focused on the marketing/persuasion/social/engagement aspects for the last three years as social media blossomed.
Q: Have you had notable job-transition experiences?
A: I guess the point of my previous story is that I don’t have a career path. I go to what’s interesting. Which is cool, and all, but you need to have your self-marketing skills finely honed as I am always jumping between jobs and businesses and industries. I’ve worked for a company that sold gardening supplies (I hate the outdoors), one that sold software for tile and marble distributors (um… okay), the historical society of a state I had lived in for less than two years, and the alumni association of a school I never went to. But it doesn’t matter, does it? It’s the work that matters.
Q: How did you get into the business of helping folks with their tech careers?
A: I’ve always loved helping people write their resumes. I love being their best cheerleader (because most interesting people hate being their own cheerleader: they feel weird tooting their own horn). I gravitate towards lots of persuasion theory and how those ideas can and should be applied to job hunting. Those things probably pushed me in this direction: being the online face of a company who wants to help people find jobs. Of course, we’ve got a number of more “professional” career-service professionals. They’re great, but I’m more of the MacGyver of them. But I’ll be asking them for help when I’m stumped.
Q: How do you see the job market in the next 3-6 months?
A: Sunshine peaking through the clouds. There were always jobs to be had, but you had to be super-creative or hyper-qualified to get them. Now, people have had time to focus on the skill of finding a job, I would assume that supply will open slowly, but be filled with a lot of really good job hunters.
Q: If you had just ONE piece of advice for today’s job searcher, what would that be?
A: Be the best at something and know how to tell that story. The smaller the niche, the easier it is to be the best at something, but it doesn’t discount it’s ability to impress people.
Q: What do you feel makes your company unique?
A: We’re a training company that sells training, but we know the reason people want training is to get a better job, so we’ve spent a lot of time and resources getting our Career Services team up and running. We try to help people task the technical and professional skills and certifications we’ve given them and apply towards the job market.
Q: Aside from your services, what resources do you recommend?
A: Not surprisingly, I think having a certification is going to make sure your resume makes it to the top of the pile, no matter what you do. After that, good career services will make sure you can ace the interview and get the job.
Q: Any additional words of wisdom?
A: Try something new! If it hasn’t worked and you’ve been doing it awhile, stop doing it. Think like an employer and match what you’re offering to their needs. After that, it’s just a matter of odds. Don’t be afraid to try something new, but don’t quit.