Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Secret to Employment Success -- Shhhh

I’m very lucky to have the tools I require to do my job well – for the most part.

At work, I have one of the newest Dell laptops in the company, with a good sized hard drive, an average amount of memory, and most of the software I need to do my job.

But today I find myself at home working, because I don’t have a DVD burner at work. Actually, none of the computers at the office have a DVD burner. I have a CD Burner on my computer at the office, and it can play DVDs but not burn them.

So, here I sit, burning en mass 35 DVDs for our Branch Managers.

I don’t mind doing this – I actually have the day off, so this is my way of doing my part.

Actually, through my years in the working world, I have learned a very valuable lesson – one which will get you the gig when the competition is very stiff.

Less is more.

It really is.

I’ve worked at smaller companies, and even some larger ones, that didn’t have the money to go out and purchase every thing to do the job in the best way possible. This forces you to use whatever the company does have, to do the work – and still make it look like you had the best tools to do the best job.

I’m a big fan of the Adobe suite of software applications. The best tool to work with images and photos is PhotoShop. The most effective way to distribute a document which others can comment on but not change is in Adobe PDF. Even Dreamweaver – which I use to make stunning web pages is now part of Adobe – they bought out Macromedia over a year ago.

Still, I’ve had to the primitive, clunky and not very practical Paint program which comes free with Windows at some places, simply because they couldn’t afford anything better.

On my home computer, I have SnagIT – an exceptional screen capture program. At work, I just use the built-in key combination of Windows to capture a screen. Not as efficient, and you can’t capture the mouse pointer if you wanted too – but it gets the job done.

By being forced to use whatever tools you have at your disposal, you learn to adopt quickly and efficiently to any office. But more importantly, you learn how to use all the tools – from the most advanced to the most basic.

This makes you far more valuable to any office – because not only can you do the job regardless of the tools you have, but for others in the office who don’t have those tools, you can show them how to do things for themselves.

Essentially, you become an expert in all software areas in your field. People in other departments and teams are constantly coming up to me, asking for help with Word, PhotoShop, or asking how to capture a screen image without any screen capture software.

Managers looking to hire people that know this will instantly pick up on it during an interview and give you brownie points.

SO, my advice to anyone looking for work – and I know many out there are – is learn how to do with and without. Practice doing your thing – be it graphic design, writing, layout, video editing, website creation – whatever – practice using the latest and most common applications out there. But also practice doing your thing with the least effective tools too – ones which some companies may be stuck with simply because they don’t have big software budgets.

You’ll have an edge others won’t – and that will better your chances of landing a job in a very tough job market.

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