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Archive for November, 2009

Survivable Disaster Recovery (part 1)

November 25th, 2009 No comments

It would be hard for me to ignore the topic of disaster recovery after these past two weeks. I was able to witness an organization react to their own disaster while I played the active role in a rather blind recovery process. It was a powerful perspective to be in, to help understand what really is needed from having a good disaster recovery plan.

I rarely find a company that has not confused the actual role of a disaster recovery plan. We know we need it, we think we know it what it is, yet most companies over-think the process, muddying the discussion with what really should be a business continuity strategy.   The disaster recovery plan should be a simple, yet focused outline of what keeps your organization running.  As the person yeilding the power to bring you back to a functional organization, I need to know where to focus my energy and how much energy to exert.  What departments make the organization run? (psst, trick question, it’s all of them) Identify the crucial resources of each department (psst, risk analysis model). How long can they operate without those resources? (psst, recovery prioritization model).

While you have toiled for hours to create what you consider to be the perfect plan for that perfect disaster, you missed one important step.  A disaster is something you can not plan for.  It wouldn’t be much of a disaster if you could, would it? Get your head out of “fire in the server room” or “plane in the building” scenarios and start with asking the important questions, like “what do we need to run this organization?”

Here are some easy signs to identify your disaster recovery plan needs revising.

You don’t have one. Don’t worry you are not alone. Many companies out there are still “really intending” to get to that disaster plan. The good news is, after the disaster, you will have all sorts of resources and attention put towards making one.  We are a reactionary culture and while the events of 9/11 were enough to shock most companies into putting attention towards a disaster recovery plan, we all react at different paces.  Give me a call after your disaster and we can talk because we all know you are too busy to sit down before hand.

You created the plan out of compliance. Mildly worse than not having one at all, is having one that isn’t really focused one what you need. Many companies don’t sit down to create a disaster recovery plan until some auditor tells them they need one.  Most resultant plans are structured to ensure compliance, not act as a usable resource when the disaster actually happens.  You will find yourself pulling out this document only confuses and delays an actually recovery process.

The auditing companies are either financial based or compliancy driven for some single objective. Come to the realization that you may be maintaining a surface level disaster recovery plan, along side of the one that will actually be useful in a disaster.

It goes unread. D day arrives, your disaster is upon you, and nobody reads the document.  Hopefully it is because you have been so involved with making such a solid plan, that you have it memorized.  Realistically you don’t look to the plan because it holds no pertinent information, it is outdated, or nobody knows how to find it anyway.

It is thick. Most people mis-apply the relevance to creating a disaster recovery plan. If you plan resembles the encyclopedia, then congratulations.  You have officially created a plan so detailed that nobody could actually follow it if they needed to.  Except for perhaps the one person who wrote it.

So you realize you may actually need to focus on a disaster recovery plan before the disaster.  Now the trick is to give you some easy tools to make it happen.  As I navigate my own organization through the following weeks of preparing a disaster recovery plan, I will publish up some very usable and basic guides for you to use in setting up your own plan. Consider it a usable guide to IT disaster recovery, apposed to the document you have creating dust now.

That is not to say there aren’t a lot of valid, powerful resources out there if you need a head start.

Disaster Recovery Journal

Guide to Rules and Regulations (compliance requirements)

NIST IT Contingency Planning

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Resume Reality Tips

November 3rd, 2009 No comments

The resources available for how to create, modify, and optimize your resume seem to be growing exponentially with the unemployment rates.  During my “summer off” I took advantage of the resume workshop over at Rochester Works, thinking I would get a leg up on the new hot trends in resume building.  That particular class… was not for me.  Being the only person in the class with a resume was my first sign I was in trouble.

That workshop taught me that there are a lot of people worse off than I am.  Luckily I have been able to get a few very valuable tips through my communications with various positions, job recruitment agencies and the people who actually read your resume.

So I spent some time completely re-writing my resume, which oddly still doesn’t depict all of the things bouncing around in my head.  It does however give me a chance to add some  suggestions in how to trim up your resume, having gone through the process.  Add this to the Resume 101 class you can obtain on any corner unemployment line.

Titles – Your title is not your title. The title that you put on a resume should not the one bestowed upon you by your previous employer.  I had a lot of challenges explaining I was titled as supervisor, while my job responsibilities were above that of a manager or director.

URLs – The person reading your resume is going to read the name of the company, and probably type in the name of that company online to find out more about where you were.  Save them the step and put the URL in of the company.

Plain Text – Read your resume in plain text.  All of the formatting disappears when copy and paste it into some of the online job sites, so you may end up modifying the layout so it does not cause painful overlaps in the copy and paste process.

Dates – Under work experience, just list the year and not the month/year.  Overlaps and holes throw up flags and in an economy where everybody has been unemployed it is a flag everybody needs to avoid.

Things to Ditch (from the old school of resumes)

Get rid of the activities. If you get past the first round of eliminations these days, it won’t be because you are part of the local book club.

10 year cut off.  Get rid of any work that you did over 10 years ago, unless it is directly pertinent to the position you are applying for. Yes, I was an IT Manager for an international manufacturing corporation, but let’s not forget that I used to blow up balloons at the local party supply store. (I did do that AND had to wear a bow tie)

32 Flavors of a resume

If you are a seasoned professional, you are going to have a completely different resume for every job you apply for, and here is why.  The person reading the resume picks it up and starts with the process of elimination.  The longer they have to hunt to see if you match the minimum requirements, the closer your resume gets to the trash.  You want to change your format of the resume to get those items on the “qualifications” list, front and center and allow that person to put you in the pile that does not get recycled.

One resume to rule them ALL

The resume you send out still has to conform to the one page rule.  For somebody just out of school, this is pretty easy.  Throw in some life experience, and the resume that you create for your  job hunting is going to be ridiculously long.  Start by making one long resume, multiple pages if needed and write down everything you did.  I mean everything.  When it comes time to send in the resume, save off the document as a new name, specific to this position, and start chopping out everything that does not apply to this position until you hit the one page rule.  It is the quickest way I have found to not suck away your entire life re-writing each resume.

Tracking and Patience

Keep track of the resume you send out, and keep a copy of the job description.  Download something like PDFCreator and make a new PDF for every resume/job description you can.  The average turn around time for a resume to become a call back was well over a month.  By the time I tried to find the original job advertisement it was gone, so having a copy of the original somewhere is important.

At least 3 times I received a letter from the employers HR department, saying that I did not qualify for the position.  The following week I would get a call for an interview.  I still have the letter from the place I am working at now, telling me that I didn’t make the cut.  Be sure to have patience and if in doubt, send them more than they ask for.   Job searching is a 3 month process, so don’t wait around for your perfect resume to be created.  It will evolve more and more as time goes on, but getting your name out there is more important.

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