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Career Advice For the Laid-Off Notes Professional

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UPDATE: Don't forget to read all the comments (and probably come back later and check for more) as a lot of folks are chiming in with additional great advice, links, training resources, etc.

A while ago I was contacted by someone who had recently been let go from their job as a Notes Developer to see if I knew of any opportunities, etc., etc. I did not, but I did share a good bit of advice on networking and job hunting. Today I received a similar email from a former colleague, and thought I really ought to share that advice with the community, just in case it's any good and might prove useful to someone else. Mr. Balaban has also offered his own advice while we're on the topic.

So, you lost your job. Congratulations, your new job just started, and it is "finding a new job"! It is full-time, and involves wide ranging activities to promote yourself, beyond simply updating your resume, including:

Sign up on LinkedIn

- Once you're on LinkedIn, fill out your profile (basically copy/paste your resume, and include a picture), then start linking like crazy with the large number of Lotus folks I'm sure you already know (and if you don't know very many yet, refer to the next topic on blogging and meet more that way).
- Also, and perhaps more importantly, join the following LinkedIn Groups which frequently see job postings:  Lotus Notes/Domino Technologies,  Lotus Professionals,  Lotus Software Professionals, Gurus of Lotus - Worldwide, etc.
- Do job searches on LinkedIn too.

Sign up on the BlueSkills job site

Though still in beta, you should definitely check out this IBM/Lotus focused job site set up by our good friend Paul Mooney.

Blogosphere

- You've got time to kill, and nothing will make your resume stand out more than being able to point folks to a bunch of well-written posts. Don't worry too much about trying to "compete" with more experienced bloggers - most employers won't be that familiar with the wider world of Lotus blogging, but your resume will give them a reason to look at yours, so it just has to be enough to give them warm fuzzies about your technical and communication skills. PROOFREAD carefully, both for spelling and verbiage errors, since having none will make you stand out more.
- What comes up first for your name in Google? If it's not good stuff about you (and your name isn't "John Smith") you'll want to raise your profile and blogging is a good way to do it.
- Build awareness of yourself (and drive more traffic to your blog) by commenting on other people's blogs as much as possible. Follow PlanetLotus.org carefully so you can be among the first to comment. That said, don't comment just for the sake of it - only if you can contribute something of value to whatever the subject is (doesn't need to be much, but something).
- And of course, keep up with all the Lotus blogs on PlanetLotus.org.

BleedYellow

- Get on BleedYellow's Sametime server - helpful details from Andrew Pollack here.
- There are probably groups/communities that are worth checking out which might be helpful.
- You can launch a blog on the site, so that might be a way to get started blogging if you want to try that.

Twitter

- You may already be doing this, but follow the Lotus crowd on Twitter since they might post something about openings they hear about.
- Figure out Twitter search and notifications. I've not done a lot of this so am no expert, but you might find some nuggets that way.

Lotusphere et. al.

- Try to go.  At least you don't have to beg your boss to send you (sorry, bad joke). You might be able to get a free pass from one of the vendors with extras that came with their booth, in return for spending some time as a "booth babe". Long shot but if you are a good talker it might be possible. Its often cheaper for them than paying for travel for a junior employee with little technical knowledge. Sell yourself.
- There are also FREE conferences coming up with similar networking and educational opportunities, such as IamLUG in St. Louis and UKLUG in Edinburgh.

Traditional job boards

- Dice is good, Monster maybe, JustNotesJobs.com might still be around - post resumes everywhere you can think.
- Call every recruiter that seems to be posting Notes jobs and tell them you're available and give them a sense of what sorts of jobs you would be good for, even if the current one isn't one of them. Give them a simple story to tell their clients so they can sell you. Be brief, and don't oversell or sound desperate. Get your resume into their database. "Hey, I wanted to find out more about this opportunity since I know a number of people that might be looking" is a great opener since it makes you sound helpful and not needy. "This particular opening is probably not a good fit but I wanted to throw my resume your way if down the road one of your clients needs someone who..." and then give them the 1-2 sentence summary that they would use as an opener to their clients.

What else? Please chime in, and for those in this boat, good luck!

Comments

1 - Go direct.

Seek out and locate companies that you would like to work for. If you have some knowledge (through friends, news articles, groups and associations etc) that they use Lotus Notes (or the technology that you have experience in) then apply direct. Even if they have no positions advertised, companies usually accept resumes regardless - not only is it cheaper for the company (and cost is a hot topic right now) as there is no recruitment fees and you might get a first round interview based on being pro-active or simply that they are pre-qualifying candidates for when they do need people.

2 - Good post which I have to finish reading. When you brought up Google don't forget it isn't all about the ranking anymore, also about your Google Profile I covered here.
{ Link }

3 - "nothing will make your resume stand out more than being able to point folks to a bunch of well-written posts"

But if you plagiarize, remember than the internet has a memory longer than an elephant's.

4 - Good advice Kevin.

5 - Nathan - longer than an elephant's what?
Emoticon

Kevin - all good sound practical advice.

Chris - good point re the Google Profile name. Similarly you should seek to own your own name as 'vanity URL' on Facebook and LinkedIn.

6 - I'd also add that you need to make sure to know more than just @Formula and LotusScript (if you're a dev). There are tons of people who know that stuff, you need to be trying to differentiate yourself by having other skills, be they web dev, Java, .Net, RDBMS integration, whatever, just have something to set yourself apart from the crowd.

7 - @All - Thanks for the additional suggestions and feedback - keep it coming.

@5 - Yes Julian, "owning" your name certainly has its pluses, though those (<cough> @6) with more common names can do ok with obscure George Lucas movie references Emoticon.

And speaking of @6 Matt, yes, having up-to-date skills can come in quite handy. On the flip side, if you have really let your skills languish because your old employer never migrated off R5 or something, there is always the option of a career change.

Of course, if you're only a dev and don't know how to set up a sandbox environment of your own, *getting* those skills while unemployed can be challenging. Jess Stratton did a Lotusphere 2009 session on exactly that, the slides for which can be found here: { Link }

8 - Great post Kevin.
The traditional job boards have been thin lately. Then again, I'd rather have an inside connection than a job board. My latest gig came from a recommendation from a friend and I basically just had a quick interview and get started. It was funny because she worked with me as a consultant and then we switched roles in the new company. Lesson reinforced: always treat people with respect.
I like the PlanetLotus job list too.
Take care!

9 - When I was looking for people in the past, I thought it would be nice if they had a website or some form of demos of their previous work. Basically a "show me why you are good". Even if it was LotusScript only (maybe they did a cool OO library). If they did a cool UI somewhere, show it. Kevin, when we worked together in the past, I knew you "knew something" by looking at your openntf efforts and code. There should be more of that.
Having said all of that, I would hate to be looking for a Lotus Notes job right now. If you don't already know people, it's tough out there.

10 - These are all great tips - all the more timely since my position will be offshored at the end of August. Since I have the advantage of advanced notice I have been actively looking and agree there is not much out there.

A couple of thoughts…

If you are looking for dev if you are primarily an admin (and vice versa) then it will certainly be an uphill battle. Any dev positions out there will most likely go to "experienced" dev's unless someone gives you a break. You can go for training and get certified but if you don't have that real world experience then your chances are slim. And as for dev work Matt White is correct - you can't just know @formula or Lotusscript.

My second thought is to have a positive outlook on my situation. Yes, I am losing my position in a couple of months but there are people out there who have it worse. Part of my new job (which is looking for a new job) is to get out and see if I can help others who have it worse then I do - volunteer my services to people who can use them. Life works in mysterious ways sometimes - if you help others then one day someone might just help you in return

11 - In case you missed it I updated the link above to the newer, 8.5 edition of Jess Stratton's Lotusphere 2009 BP202 - Administration for the Developer: Build and Secure Your Own IBM Lotus Domino Server Playground in an Hour! presentation { Link }

Very handy if you need to learn the new dev stuff and don't happen to know any admin.

12 - I like the idea of lobbying a company you might admire. It can't hurt and you may be able to nuture relationships.

That said no one mentioned craigslist. I've found some decent programmers there, having shunned head hunters of late. Also, look into coworking groups like www.bhivebmore.com and tech councils like www.GBTC.org

13 - Great advice and very timely.

I really so hate having to marketing wizard for a few months though.

Oh well, wish me luck.

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