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Category Archives: Work and Business

Designing Your Résumé (CV) – Some Links

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For those of us stuck in the formal, corporate world (for now), résumés (CVs) are a fact of life that we usually try to avoid and just deal with when it’s required of us. However, heeding some good advice can really change your perspective and make your résumé something you’re actually proud of.

And remember, résumés aren’t just for job-seekers: keeping mine up-to-date and editing it on a regular basis has helped me keep my personal and professional development goals on track.

A great starting point when looking to create/renew your résumé is LifeClever’s Give Your Résumé a Facelift; one of the best résumé design resources I’ve come across, giving simple but effective results.

Sample Résumé (CV)Following on from that, if you’re looking for something a bit more special you could do worse than checking out these 36 Beautiful Résumé Ideas That Work. However, making your résumé stand-out as much as some of these do may not be advisable in some sectors, and I wouldn’t imagine that all 36 work. Instead, Michael Gowin shows a few of the best (see image, right).

Of course, design will always be secondary to content; write, re-write, and then triple-check your résumé. Here are some great articles giving some worthwhile advice (with some overlap, ordered by importance):

My tip? Stick to a constant grammatical voice. It’s my grammar Nazi showing, but there’s nothing worse than reading a sales document (what your résumé/CV really is) that intersperses the passive and active voice; choose one and stick to it, damn it! Personally I would choose the active, remove the word ‘I’, and start sentences with action verbs – very powerful.

Don’t forget to write that killer cover letter!

And is it just a new job you want, or a new career? Maybe the Princeton Review Career Quiz will shed some light on what you should really be doing?

(I originally meant to post this on LoneGunman.co.uk (an abstract is there instead), but decided against it as it didn’t seem to fit with the shorter, link-based posts I usually put there. Aren’t you lucky?)

EMI Embracing the Future?

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I have just read that EMI – one of the ‘big four’ record labels – has appointed Douglas Merrill as the president of its ‘digital strategy’; a post covering “all of the company’s digital strategy, innovation, business development, supply chain and technology activities“.

This in itself is not that impressive. What makes this newsworthy, however, is Merrill’s past… as CIO and vice president of engineering at Google.

Google’s corporate information site says of Merrill (for now, at least):

Douglas Merrill joined Google late in 2003 as Senior Director of Information Systems. In this capacity he led multiple strategic efforts including Google’s 2004 IPO and its related regulatory activities. He holds direct line accountability for all internal engineering and support worldwide.

Previously, Douglas was senior vice president at Charles Schwab and Co., Inc, a multinational financial services company. At Schwab, he was responsible for such functions as information security, common infrastructure, and human resources strategy and operations. Prior to his tenure there, Douglas worked at Price Waterhouse as a senior manager, ultimately becoming a leader in security implementation practices. Before that, he was an information scientist at the RAND Corporation, where he studied topics such as computer simulation in education, team dynamics and organizational effectiveness.

Douglas holds a BA from the University of Tulsa in Social and Political Organization, and an MA and Ph.D. in Psychology from Princeton University.

I for one think this is great news. With the music industry in deep trouble and constantly being crushed by new technologies, they need new ideas… and fast. Litigation is only going to go so far in helping a struggling company to increase its profits.

As I’ve said before; “we can’t hold back technological advancement and especially the evolution of music and its distribution“. With that said, what the big labels need to do is not sue, but evolve. A ‘digital business model‘ is what is required to revive the industry and with this move it seems that EMI have realised this glaringly obvious fact.

Simplicity, Marmite, and ‘Getting Real’ with Don Norman

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Marmite’s high zinc content could be the catalyst that helps solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, or so Edward de Bono suggested to the UK’s Foreign Office back in 2000. The so-called reasoning behind this is that on both sides of the conflict unleavened bread is a staple foodstuff – a staple foodstuff that’s considerably lacking in zinc; a deficiency of which can cause aggression.

This was my most recent introduction to Edward de Bono; the father of ‘thinking outside the box’, and the pioneer of ‘lateral thinking‘: a creative problem-solving technique that involves looking at a given situation from unexpected – and often unusual – angles.

I was first introduced to de Bono in university when his theory of ‘thinking hats‘ was introduced to us as a way to acquaint us with parallel thinking to expand the way we look at information systems. It was an interesting 10 minutes, but after that I had completely forgotten about these techniques ’til now, when I happened upon de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats when brainstorming for books to add to my 2008 reading list.

Reading more about de Bono I find that in another of his books – Simplicityhe argues that the subject of simplicity should be taught in schools as a defining characteristic of quality, something I wholeheartedly agree with. Look at the themes running through the design of most of the successful Web 2.0 (and 1.0) companies and you’ll see that simplicity and usability are at the forefront of every design decision. Look at the design of really great ‘real-world’ objects – simple, right?

Of course, simplicity isn’t everything, and it depends somewhat on your definition of the term. To me simplicity is about delivering more from less by focusing on what’s important to the end-user: a simple – yet effective – strategy which appears to be midway between ‘Getting Real‘ and Don Norman‘s idea of user-centered design.

So, Six Thinking Hats and The Design/Psychology of Everyday Things are on my to-read list (I’ve only read extensive excerpts of the latter) – if I hadn’t already read all of it, Getting Real would be too. I guess all that’s left to ask now is; what does Simplicity/Usability mean to you, and could Marmite bring peace to the Middle Yeast? It’s definitely food for though. (Puns – unfortunately – intended. Sorry.)

Patientline: In Need of Financial Treatment

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As a follow-up to a previous article I wrote on the business practices of Patientline – the company who almost entirely control the in-hospital communications system for patients – you may be interested in some recent developments.

Yesterday, the company’s preliminary financial results for 2007 were released and they were, unsurprisingly, rather disappointing. On this news, their shares fell almost 50% to 2.07p from 4.10p six hours earlier.

A company statement released with these preliminary results was quick to point the finger too. The following quote is from The Register’s article, Patientline Results Prompt Share Meltdown:

Revenue per terminal per day fell 6.4 per cent to £1.62, this figure has been falling for the last three years. The company blames deflation in telecoms charges, reduced treatment times and more use of mobile phones for the fall. The statement further noted: “The NHS ethos is antipathetic to the very idea of patients being charged for anything in hospital.” Revenues have been further hit by “The failure by Trusts to generally adopt Electronic Patient Records…”

I won’t comment further on this, but if you want to hear more, you can do worse than checking out the comments on The Register’s article and Peter Troy’s site.

Apply Pareto’s Principle (80/20) to Everyday Life – The 4-Hour Workweek

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In 1906 the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto observed that 80% of Italy’s wealth was owned by a mere 20% of the population, and as such showed in lucid terms the ‘wealth condensation’ – or ‘rich-poor divide’ – of developed countries around the world… and the world as a whole. The term Pareto’s principle was then coined years later when this framework was shown to apply to an almost limitless number of applications; 80% of the effects come from 20% of the cause.

As you can imagine, this principle has far reaching implications when it is applied to such disciplines as marketing (20% of ads produce 80% of enquiries/sales), IT (80% of resources are used up by 20% of the code) and even business streamlining (80% of income is drawn from 20% of the customers; 80% of an employee’s time is taken up with 20% of the results)… but how many people have applied this principle to their personal lives?

When you realise that in your personal life you use only 20% of your belongings 80% of the time (clothes, music, etc.), and that when it comes to your own work (as a self-employed entrepreneur, an employee, or even as a student) you spend 20% of your time producing 80% of your output, you can start to take dramatic steps to alter your lifestyle.

And thus starts Tim Ferriss’ epiphany in his new book, “The 4-Hour Workweek” – the newest book to storm the tech and geek communities since David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (GTD).

After realising that Pareto’s principle applied to almost every aspect of his life, he went from an over-worked, 16-hour day, start-up founder in Silicon Valley to an ‘ultravagabond’ – working 4 hours a week from any destination as he travelled the world on ‘mini-retirements’. As a Guinness world record-holder in Tango and a national kickboxing champion earning $40,000+ a month, Tim is living the good life – and in his book he promises to show us the secret to his success. The only question is, does he succeed?

Like many other books in the ‘personal/lifestyle development’ genre, The 4-Hour Workweek is crammed with tips and strategies on how you can – in this book’s case – be more efficient in order to free up more time and make more money so that you can do what you really want. The only problem is, I don’t want pages upon pages of tips or a set of rigid rules that I need to follow; I need an adaptable and expandable framework or principle that I can apply to my situation… I don’t want to be told exactly what to do, because the chances are it won’t apply directly to my circumstances, and as such is useless. Luckily, the book has a few of these too.

From helping you realise that the 80/20 principle can be used in you daily life, giving you a base structure on how to create a more efficient company and giving a useful structure on how to avoid work-day interruptions, the book is (on the whole) a useful read. Read with scepticism and with an analytic eye, you can garner some useful information from this book, but I would hesitate to take anything from it at face value. I’m still left pondering: ‘What can I do with this information, and what else in my life can be made more efficient with Pareto’s principle?

Ramit Sethi’s review is worthy of note, along with a few from Amazon.co.uk. John Chow is also giving away a signed copy!