All of us will face job transition throughout our careers, whether through new opportunities, buyouts, layoffs or the impact of globalization. In addition, most of us spend countless hours thinking and acting upon metadata in our jobs. But, how many of us think about our personal metadata? The metadata of you is critical to manage like any other metadata, and fortunately we already have a collection of repository meta-models to choose from: resume, curriculum vitae (CV), portfolio and extended online models. Like all other metadata efforts, personal metadata has an enormous ROI opportunity, when done correctly.

Resume

When was the last time you updated your resume? Last year? Five years ago? Basically, if you don't update your resume every six months, you may be losing the value of your personal metadata. What happens when your metadata goes out of data in the data world; your value-add goes to zero. The resume is a snapshot in time which is constrained by a page limit imposed by tradition. For those that publish a lot, this may seem like a hindrance. There are a million formats out there and most include: identification on every page, objectives, qualifications, education, employment history, and certifications. Personally, I try to keep this information on the first page which allows me to highlight specific accomplishments and organizational impact on the second page. These accomplishments will underscore both my skills and competencies. Skills focus on the knowledge of "what" I can do including specific tools, techniques or business processes. Competencies focus on "how" I perform the different roles and responsibilities assigned. The skills and competencies focus on the information or knowledge work we have performed over the past decade. This format works well because it provides a single page reference of who I am as well as the differentiation elements of success on page two.

Curriculum Vitae

The CV is the academic equivalent to the resume with the major exception that the CV has no page limit. In fact, most people pride themselves on the length and work very hard at extending it. The major sections of the CV include: education, research interest, honors, awards, experience, books, publications, patents, service and associations. The CV is obviously more comprehensive than the resume and presents accomplishment over the long haul. More importantly, the CV provides the professional another way of reviewing the progression of their career. For the first 15 years of my career, the resume was the tool of choice but something happened in 1999. I can't remember why I converted my resume, but I did and the results were sad. From a two-page resume plus 15 years experience, I got - drum roll please - a one-page CV. That was an eye-opener for me. How could it be possible for me to have worked in IT for 15 years and have such a great resume but have such a lousy (empty) CV? That revelation changed my career planning model and how I evaluate myself in a high-performance world.

The point that had escaped me was that new jobs, responsibilities, promotions and organizational changes made only small incremental improvements in the CV. What I needed to do was to focus my attention, not on the corporate ladder, but extending the CV with long-term value-add additions. For example, the addition of a patent to your portfolio places you in a unique club. No matter what happens in the corporate environment, with globalization or industry consolidation, you will be part of history. More importantly, no one can ever take that accomplishment away from you.

Portfolio

Most of us know the secret of a great interview is to take control from moment you walk in the door. If you can take control of the interview then you can guide the interviewee to your strengths and successes while secretly avoiding your weaknesses. A good interviewee can spot these attempts and stay on the original agenda. The only person I can remember that successfully took control away from me was a college graduate who walked into the office with a leather bound portfolio. This young man understood what every artist, actor and model understands; the portfolio is a powerful weapon. Every time I asked a question on his background he was able to open his portfolio to a page and take a deep dive into his strengths and I was mesmerized. The secret is the power of the written word. While I didn't have a job for that young man, I will never forget how far ahead he was of the curve, and I'll bet he is a huge success today.

The portfolio is a collection of articles, awards or any physical evidence of your success. Do you have a logical model that would work in demonstrating your expertise or would you rather just keep on trying to use meta-physical descriptions? What better way to demonstrate your expertise in data warehousing by reviewing the press release of your previous organization winning the Data Warehousing Institute Best Practices Award. Any physical representation of your work could be moved into a portfolio and considering the current job environment, this may very well be an advantage for you. Consider that a few years ago InfoSys had 9,000 job openings in India with 1 million applicants (use your best Dr. Evil voice). Not too many years ago, one job opening here would produce a thousand resumes. Maybe a portfolio is not such a bad idea in a highly competitive environment.

Opportunities Abound

As we move into the next stages of the information age, we will see new skills, knowledge and abilities emerge, and we have three choices. The first is to do nothing, and the vast majority of information workers will do just that. Without a push, fear or economy collapse most us are just fine working 8:00 to 5:00. Even if you extend that out to 8:00 to 6:00 or 7:00 to 7:00, those few more hours may not really gain you much.

Another option is become very adaptable or, as Gartner refers to it, a versalist. These people adapt to the changes in skills by learning new ones and are willing to move from data stewardship to program integration if the demand calls for it. These people will rely more on their competencies than their skills which will require constant expansion.

The third group is rather small but they will take on and buy into the whole idea of personal branding. They will identify a trend or technology and work to become the expert in the field. Remember, talent competes on a global scale while labor competes on a local scale. The expert will enhance their skills and knowledge to become the very best in the world which will require extensive branding support. To become the world is best requires you to get on the world's stage. The world's stage is an analogy where your ideas, innovations, and best practices can be reviewed by world-class experts in the field.

Has this article been a waste of your time? Do you think these activities are a waste of time? Clearly, most of us have those thoughts, and I am not ashamed to have had them many years ago. If you are not convinced, then do this for me. Update your resume and take it into your boss and ask her what you did three years ago? What project did you work on that was the corporate priority in 2001? Why did you do to deserve that outstanding annual review? Assuming you still work for the same person, which is rare, I doubt they will remember or can recall at a moments notice. Maybe you are between jobs; does anyone ask what you did five years ago in an interview? Our industry is very short-term focused due to the changes in the business and technology. Reflecting on the past, as the saying goes, isn't what it used to be.

If you buy into this idea of personal metadata, then what I have described here is just the first step in a very long journey. Just as we can apply metadata to every asset of the technology environment, so too can metadata be applied in other areas of our professional lives. Four key areas that you need to become a personal metadata maniac are:

  1. Networking: Use the Harvey McKay metamodel and create an active metadata implementation to manage your personal relationships.
  2. Publishing: You do not have to be a world-class writer to publish (clearly). Check out your local DAMA organization - they would kill for your ideas and innovative thoughts. You need to be recognized, so find a medium and speak your mind.
  3. Persona: Define who you are and how that gets represented in all of your physical trademarks including blogging, Web site, resume, CV and press releases. The persona helps define and support the perceptions of you. Perceptions of value are real, the only question that remains is "Are those perceptions established by a default association or defined by you?"
  4. Portfolio: Your portfolio of degrees, awards, honors, certifications and patents define your achievements. These efforts establish your long term commitment to excellence.

Each of these trademark components paint a picture of your value. They are the physical elements of your personal brand and, I would argue, your most valuable asset. As is the case with most metadata efforts, progress can be defined by determining the gaps between your current state and desired state then acting on the analysis. John F. Kennedy said it best: "There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction."

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