Saturday, June 2, 2012

Display Your Value

When I think about the traditional methods of job seeking in the IT industry I have to stop and reflect.  My experience with job seeking in this arena has usually consisted of looking for an open position, submitting a resume, attending the interview, answering the interview questions, and hoping that something in that entire process impressed them enough to make me a good offer.  However, somebody in an artistic area, such as a photographer, is expected to show concrete examples of what he can do before jobs (freelance or otherwise) are offered.  In my opinion, the difference is this: I am asking for a job...the artist is putting his value on display. 

One of the challenges here is that aside from some visual areas like web design, IT professionals typically build or support infrastructure in the back-end.  So, to make a comparison to home building, the IT professionals would be synonymous with those installing the plumbing as opposed to those laying the carpet.  The nature of that work is not very visual.

However, what if you could market that skill in a visual way, which would allow you to put your value on display?  A potential employer could actually see (not just discuss) what you have to offer.  As someone who has conducted interviews before, I know that it can be a bit difficult to derive solely from an interview, even if a test is involved, whether or not somebody can move through the process of warehousing data well.  Consider this as a method to display your ability to move through that process well...

1.) In Oracle, MSSQL, MySQL or another system with which you are familiar build a fictitious source system.
2.) Envision how users may want to analyze that data.
3.) Design and build some stars that will allow for this type of analysis.  Be sure and show your ability to use type 1, 2, and 3 slowly changing dimensions, conformed dimensions, degenerate dimensions, factless fact tables, and other techniques that you want to market. 
4.) Write some ETL jobs to populate those stars.
5.) Create a website that displays this process for a potential employer to examine.

This does not have to cost any money.  If a database environment is not available to you, consider using free versions of Oracle or MSSQL that run on a local machine.  Also, Google Sites is a free option for webdesign if you don't want to rent space on a server.

The intent here is not to market yourself as an expert in one specific piece of technology (although your knowledge about one of them will be apparent) but to display your approach to warehousing data.  Consider my portfolio as an example.  One of the best parts is that I incurred no monetary expenses when building this.  It only "cost" me some time and creativity...and I learned a lot along the way.

Also, you can now access this blog via the home page at

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