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Should You Be a Big Fish in a Little GIS Pond?

When you look for a new job or move on to a better job, you should ask yourself: Do I want to be a big fish in a little GIS pond or little fish in a big GIS pond?  This is very important because it may determine if you grow and mature as a GIS professional.

There are plenty of “assembly line” GIS positions out there. These are positions where you’ll encounter the same tasks repeatedly. These positions are usually in organizations where you are the “little fish.” You are one of many with the same skills. These positions are usually found at GIS consulting firms, large local government offices, and offices with more than two or three GIS users. Professional development in these environments might be hard to come by. No training on new software or new methods, no conference attendance, no challenges, no GIS stimulation. The cool stuff is usually left to your superiors who are more experienced.

Then how are you ever supposed to learn if you never get a chance?…

….To continue with this post and find the answers to these interesting questions along with tons of other related material, check out Careers in GIS: an Unfiltered Guide to Finding a GIS Job as an eBook or paperback!

Employer’s Websites: The Best Kept Secret

After exhausting every search engine to locate jobs on the Internet, you’re probably coming across the same job postings every day or ones that have just been reposted on different sites. To make you feel even better about your job hunt, you’ve probably heard about someone who landed a great GIS job that you would’ve loved to apply for. How do people find out about these jobs? Many times these postings were made public, but you weren’t looking for them in the right places.

When searching the Internet for available positions, you’re likely searching using two main types of websites to locate postings: 1) Websites where HR manually loads the posting information to the website.  2) Websites that scour the Internet looking for job postings that match the description or keywords you enter (web crawlers, job search engines, clearinghouses, job consolidation sites, etc.).

It’s the second type of site that can be misleading. Employer’s web servers may sometimes block these “search engine” or “web crawler” type sites from accessing or publishing their online information. The way these search engine sites comb the web for jobs can make them appear malicious and are therefore blocked by a firewall or some other sort of web server security. This usually happens with local government websites and/or sites associated with universities, but it can happen with corporate sites too. Also, jobs posted on an employer’s website can sometimes be so new that the information hasn’t existed long enough to be detected by a job consolidation website.  You may still find this job posting eventually but there may be a delay of a few days which could mean the difference between someone seeing your resume or your resume ending up at the bottom of the pile.

So how are you supposed to find out about these jobs?…

….To continue with this post and find the answers to these interesting questions along with tons of other related material, check out Careers in GIS: an Unfiltered Guide to Finding a GIS Job as an eBook or paperback!

How to search the web for GIS jobs: Part 2

The jobs are out there.  Finding them is a different story.  Do not assume that every available job is automatically posted on the Internet.  Postings do not magically appear on websites like CareerBuilder.com and the GIS Jobs Clearinghouse.  Websites like those require someone to load a posting to the site and occasionally a fee is involved.  Businesses and government offices do not always have human resource staff to help fill a position.  Available positions are more likely just put on their institution’s website and that is as far as it goes.  It’s up to YOU to find it.

Indeed.com is one of the better websites I have come across that acts as a search engine collecting information from other job search sites like Monster.com, Dice.com, etc.  In other words, it is a one stop shop that will allow you to narrow your search by proximity, salary range, etc.  Also, if you visit Indeed.com on multiple occasions, it will remember which postings you have seen and which ones are new (although you may have to do a bit of filtering but not much).  However, I would suggest that you do not limit your search by salary or enter several keywords either.  A simple keyword search on “GIS” should do the trick.  Sometimes being too specific will leave a good position undiscovered.

Watch the GIS blogs!

Staying ahead of the curve is necessary when trying to attain a job in GIS. Better yet, knowing what’s possible is often even more necessary when trying to attain a job in GIS. Your experience and educational background in GIS may relegate you to very narrow exposure of what can or should be done with GIS. You may not be aware how to best apply your skills or in what directions you can travel with the knowledge that you’ve attained. Teachers and professors may be presenting you information that is crucial to your education but doesn’t expand your horizons or allow you to push the envelope.  What can enlighten you? Blogs.

A couple of different websites have made various lists over the years of the best GIS blogs to check out on a regular basis. Most of them are GIS blog sites themselves…

….To continue with this post and find the answers to these interesting questions along with tons of other related material, check out Careers in GIS: an Unfiltered Guide to Finding a GIS Job as an eBook or paperback!

Social media and GIS

Joining various social media networks can help you in many ways when it comes to staying relevant in the world of GIS and/or searching for jobs. Better yet, all you have to do in many cases is sign up for an account.

LinkedIn is the professional networking site of choice. LinkedIn lets you build a profile showcasing your experience and lets you connect with other professionals in your field. Once you create an account on LinkedIn, subscribe to as many groups as possible. Within the LinkedIn website, just go to Groups and search GIS. The whole list will appear before you. Don’t be overwhelmed. Some groups have much more active discussions than others, so try to stick to the ones that have regular chatter. Also, there would be no need to join the [insert home city, state, province] GIS Professionals Group if you don’t live there. But if a move is in your future, then definitely get cracking on making some new contacts with local/regional GIS groups. You are limited to 50 groups so stick to ones that will actually be useful in terms of networking or locating a potential position.

Within most of these groups, you can become part of various discussions and receive interesting news about what other users may be doing. Or better yet, you’ll get information on who has jobs available. Don’t be afraid to start discussions with some interesting questions. There are a lot of group members out there monitoring the discussions, and the right topic may get them talking about a subject that is near and dear to you.

Twitter is another network that is extremely useful…

….To continue with this post and find the answers to these interesting questions along with tons of other related material, check out Careers in GIS: an Unfiltered Guide to Finding a GIS Job as an eBook or paperback!

Congregate with your own kind

A good way to find a job in the GIS industry is to stay on top of what new innovations may be out there – software, technology, or analysis methods. Attending conferences and meetings will give you exposure to new things and possibly give you new creative ideas on how you can apply your talents. These events are crucial for networking as well. Getting a chance to talk with other GIS professionals face to face is extremely valuable.

So which conferences should you attend?…

….To continue with this post and find the answers to these interesting questions along with tons of other related material, check out Careers in GIS: an Unfiltered Guide to Finding a GIS Job as an eBook or paperback!

How to search the web for GIS jobs: Part 1

Looking for GIS jobs over the web is an art form.  Of course there are the obvious GIS job posting websites listed on the right side of this page.  GIS Jobs Clearinghouse, GISjobs.com, etc.  The problem with these websites is that everyone else is searching them for GIS jobs as well.

This anecdote will give you a good idea of your competition.  Just over 10 years ago while working for a GIS consulting firm, I posted a position for a entry level GIS Technician on the GIS Jobs Clearinghouse.  Within one day I had over 50 resumes faxed to me.  Within the first week, I had received hundreds of resumes from all over the United States and all over the world as well…Canada, Ukraine, India.  Do not think that only local people are applying for jobs available in your neck of the woods.  Also, do not think that sorting through hundreds and hundreds of resumes is the easiest task either.

So should you even bother applying for jobs on sites like that?  Of course you should.  It will never hurt your chances if you are qualified for the job.  But if you are applying for a job that is on the other side of the country or the world, ask yourself how likely it would be for those doing the hiring to contact you.  Are they going to pay for you to travel to them to do an in person interview?  Some will and some won’t.  Preliminary interviews can always be done over the phone but it is extremely rare for someone to finalize a job over the telephone.  They will want to meet you in person at least once.

Should I get a GIS certificate?

Simple answer: it certainly won’t hurt you. If you just graduated from college or are just starting out in the GIS industry, I encourage you to get a GIS certificate. It can only help your chances of finding a job.  You need to consider a few things though….

Look carefully at the different certificate programs offered by colleges and universities. What sort of classes are in the curriculum? How many classes are required to complete the program? Not all GIS certificates are equal. No all-powerful oversight committee or accreditation body decides which schools can offer certificates and which ones cannot. That decision is left up to the educational institution in question. These certificate programs are no doubt put together with the best intentions, but be wary of what you enroll in…

….To continue with this post and find the answers to these interesting questions along with tons of other related material, check out Careers in GIS: an Unfiltered Guide to Finding a GIS Job as an eBook or paperback!