Digital Organization: Create a clickable resume!

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In Michigan, unemployment is somewhere between 15 and 20%, depending on who’s collecting the data.  Consequently, there are a lot of stories in the news about job fairs, interviewing techniques, and resume advice.  After reading several of these articles this week, I thought clickable resumes would be a good topic for this week’s OYDS task. A clickable resume (CV or portfolio) is not only a great way to increase your visibility on the web, but it will also provide you an easy to access place to store all the little pieces of information that you need to keep with your professional history.

Ideally, you would start this project with an updated paper-version of your resume or vita, but chances are you don’t have one of those laying around just waiting to be used.  In that case, at least begin setting up the structure so that you can begin tracking your professional history online from this point on.  To “fix” the missing information, you can simply place a disclaimer on the bottom of these pages for now, and finish updating them at some point in the future.

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Perhaps you’re not convinced … you think you don’t need to keep track of your professional history online?  Consider the following list:

  • Conferences that you’ve attended (with web links to the conference pages)
  • Presentations that you’ve given (with web links to the presentations and/or event websites)
  • Publications (with web links to abstracts, or full-text versions, or a place to buy the publication)
  • Design Portfolio (with web links to sites or projects you’ve designed)
  • Contact information (Twitter, LinkedIn, email, etc.)
  • Educational background (with web links to the departments where you graduated, links to thesis or dissertation information, links to capstone projects)
  • Teaching Experience (with links to course webpages or departments at colleges where you’ve taught)
  • Work Experience (with links to companies you’ve worked at and major projects you’ve been involved with)
  • Professional Activities (the stuff that doesn’t fit well elsewhere, courses you took, conferences you organized, etc.)
  • Community Service or Volunteer Experience (with links to the appropriate organizations and events)
  • Awards and Honors (with links to appropriate press releases, articles, or websites)
  • Featured (sometimes you get a mention in some video or article, in which case, wouldn’t you like to have that on your resume complete with link to the item?)
  • Endorsements (I often ask participants in workshops to write a short blurb to recommend the workshop or presentation to others, I collect them on this page)
  • Frequently Asked Questions (because you can only answer the question “Do you sleep?” so many times before you just want a web page that answers the question for you!)

Every item on the list above has a digital trail.  If you’re only keeping track of these things on paper, you’re missing a lot of information.   If you’re not carefully tracking all these links somewhere, you’re going to start losing them.  Incidentally, you can find examples of almost all of these types of pages under the ABOUT menu on my website/blog, TeachingCollegeMath.com.

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If you already have a clickable resume/vita/portfolio online, then you should consider this a gentle nudge to make sure (a) that it’s current and (b) that you’re not missing some of the details of your professional history that you could be tracking.

Even if you’re just a student with little work experience, you should start a clickable resume/portfolio.  As you create work you’re proud of, you can include it in your online portfolio.  You might find that the need to fill up your pages creates the urge to volunteer to help at events and activities that will beef up your “experience” section.

If you don’t already have a resume/vita online, you need to decide on a format.  The most commonly used platforms are websites or blogs (although I think a wiki would work well too).  If you’re nervous about creating your own webpage, I’ve found that Google Sites is extremely easy to use.  In one of my math classes last semester, every student had to create a clickable resume/portfolio as a final project – we used Google Sites (here’s an example) and it took about 5 minutes of lab time to get everyone using it.

So, get started on your clickable resume, CV, or portfolio.  Your site doesn’t have to be finished, it just has to be set up so that you can begin collecting new information from now on.  At first this is a task under Digital Organization, but after that, it moves into a Digital Maintenance task – something you should keep up with as you get new information.

You have a week to get this task done before we move on to the next Organize Your Digital Self (OYDS) task.  New assignments post each Monday.

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Digital Organizers: Set up Google Alerts!

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Have you ever wondered how some people seem to know instantly when you’ve mentioned them (or their website) in a blog post?

Every activity in the digital world leaves a digital footprint (like it or not).  There’s a great video called Digital Dossier that explains the kinds of actions that leave your mark on the web (and it’s mark on you).

If you haven’t ever googled yourself, try it.  Put your name (as you normally write it online) in quotes and search yourself.  [Example: "Maria H. Andersen"]  Ideally, you want to be happy with the first 10 search results (most people never click through to the second page of results).  If you’re not happy with what you see, then your only choice is to start working on a larger digital footprint that will eclipse what’s there (a website, a blog, a google profile, etc.).

In the meantime, it’s relatively simple to monitor what your name is doing on the web.  Set up a web alert that will notify you when a new occurrence of your name goes into the search engine.   The most common alert systems are Google Alerts and Yahoo Alerts.  You can set it up alerts to come to you instantly, daily, or weekly.  To minimize the digital clutter, I’d go with weekly alerts (unless you find yourself in a media hot seat, in which case, switch temporarily to receive alerts more frequently).

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At the very least, I’d set up an alert for your name and for the place where you work.  I find that my weekly alerts about my college are informative.  Often, they’re just reports about which team won what event, but sometimes I discover what my colleagues are up to in the real world too.  I know information about my college faster than most people on campus.

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The other way to use Alerts is to start searching for keywords in your field of interest.  For example, I have a Google Alert set up for the words innovation and math whenever they occur together in a new web item.   Here are a few suggestions for alerts you may want to set up:

  • Your name
  • Your blog URL and blog name (Example: teachingcollegemath.com and “Teaching College Math”)
  • Your twitter account name (Example: busynessgirl)
  • Your place of employment (Example: “Muskegon Community College”)
  • Your professional fields of interest (Example: math innovation, future education, etc.)
  • Your personal fields of interest (for example, if you have a child with autism, you might set one up for research autism)
  • Your publications (the title of your book or a recent article to see who’s talking about it)
  • Your competitor (it’s always good to know what they’re up to … why stop at your place of employment?)

At first, it will take you a while to sort through all the alerts you receive each week.  They will all be new to you.  But after a few weeks, you’ll begin to recognize websites you’ve already visited and you’ll have some insights about which items are going to be worthy of clicking.  You may want to tweak your alerts in a month or so to make the wording more precise on general alerts you set up today.

Even if you already have alerts set up, when was the last time you updated them?  Maybe it’s time to eliminate some, tweak them, or create some new ones?

So, set up a few alerts and start living on the tip of the cutting edge of the Internet.  You have a week to get this task done before we move on to the next Organize Your Digital Self (OYDS) task.  New assignments post each Monday.

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Digital Decluttering: Sort those files!

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This is Part 2 of a series on how to Organize Your Digital Self.  To view all posts in this series, go here.

My guess is that you manage to accumulate piles of paper in your office, in your home, or maybe even in your car (I accumulate paper in all three places).  At least once a year I attempt to get to the bottom of these stacks and put everything away (this creates clean space to begin accumulating new stacks!).   The goal of file organization would be to create a system for organizing these “stacks” that is so natural to use, that it’s just as easy to put away the paper as it is to stack the papers.

Ironically, sometimes the best way to find that natural system of organization is to first accumulate a “stack.”   After looking through all the crap stuff you accumulate over a period of time, you can start to get a sense for what the natural categorization is.   Sort the “stack” into smaller stacks, and group those according to theme, and re-sort if necessary.

On a computer, we accumulate these “paper stacks” in a slightly different form … files.  If you’ve been accumulating random files on your desktop, or in a folder labeled “Junk”, then I would like to congratulate you on your forward thinking.  You were obviously just gathering these together to help you establish a natural computer file organization system.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Restructure all the really important files you regularly access, plus all those miscellaneous files you’ve been accumulating in computer piles, into (at most) ten file folders.  Bonus points for you if you install a sync / backup for these ten folders while you’re at it.

Why 10 and not more than 10?  You need to have a small enough group of folders that you can see all of them at once.  It needs to be a short enough list that you remember and regularly use all the folders in the list.  Why?  Because if you don’t regularly use a folder, you’ll forget you have it and end up creating a duplicate folder (or subfolder) to gather files.  This might not seem horribly problematic, but as you start to split the files into two locations, you’ll start to lose track of where you’ve put things.

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If your computer has been accumulating files for as long as mine has, you’ll need some ground rules to get started on the herculean task or organizing those unruly files.

  1. Create as many sorting folders as you want to at first. Every time you find at least five related items, put them in a folder together.  These folders may eventually turn out to be subfolders of some larger category, but for now, just sort.
  2. Don’t open the files. Create temporary storage folders called Unfiled.  and No Idea.  This initial sort is a little like that first sort on the show Clean Sweep.  It’s not the time to worry about perfectly sorting every file.  When you honestly have no idea what a file is, put it in No Idea.  If you know you should keep it, but you don’t know how to categorize it, put it in Unfiled.  You may also use Unfiled when you just get tired of sorting, and want to just throw everything left into a folder.  As files begin to accumulate in the Unfiled folder, you’ll find that they start to group together naturally into categories.

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There are some visual ways to make file-sorting easier. For example, you can change the way you view the files.  For some types of files (document files), it’s probably easier to see them in a list view.  For other types of files (images), icons are preferable for easy sorting.

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In the Detail View, you can click on the column headers to sort (ascending or descending) by that property.

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When you’re done with the primary sort, you should have a collection of miscellaneous folders.  Now you have to look for ways to organize those folders into larger, all-encompassing categories.

I found that I had a lot of folders with specific conference information (proposals, acceptance letters, travel requests, presentations, and notes), so I created a superfolder called Conferences to house all those smaller folders.  Each subfolder is then relabeled in a way that makes them easy to find.  In this case, it’s the name of the conference, year, and location.

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I’m not going to lie … this task is likely going to take you a while.  However, if you’re like me, it’s been on your list of  things to do (aka “things you’ll never get to”) for a while.  Well, there’s no time like the present.  And, you can say that I ordered you to do it!

Don’t get caught up into the black hole of opening files and cleaning up the files themselves.  For example, I had to resist the urge to create a database of all my test questions.  I also had to resist the urge to rename all the files in a similar format.  Just don’t go there! At least … not this week.  All you do this week is sort.

When you’re completely done with your 10-folder mission, consider making this the time in your life to sync your computer systems once and for all.   A good syncing program will also create an automatic backup system for your important files.  Let me see if I can explain (easily) how a sync works.

I have two computers: Home and Work.  I’d also want an Internet backup so that (a) I have copies of files if anything happens to the computers and (b) I can access the files from someone else’s computer if necessary.  I pay for a program called Dropbox.  On each computer, there is a “My Dropbox” folder with the exact same set of files.  This “My Dropbox” folder is also on the Internet (accessed with a username & password).  When I make a change to a file on my home computer, it syncs this change to the Internet, and the next time my work computer is on, it picks up the change and saves it on that computer too.  It’s not the entire computer that’s synced, it’s just this particular folder.  There are some kinds of files that you may not want to sync (i.e. personal financial information, student grades, etc.).  Just leave these files in a folder outside of the dropbox.

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What’s the real advantage of a sync between computers?  No more duplicate files.  You will never again open a file, only to discover that it’s the version from several weeks ago instead of yesterday’s version.  That’s just awesome.

One word of caution.  Once you have a sync established, tackle the file sorting at a reasonable pace (go for 15 minutes at a time, instead of a massive 4-hour sorting session).  If you sort and rename too many files too fast, your sync (on multiple machines) may not be able to keep up with you (or, ignore my advice and learn this the hard way).

So, find those orphaned files, and give yourself 15 minutes every day to do nothing but sort those files.   If you have additional tips about ways you’ve found to sort piles o’ files, please comment them in!

You have a week to get this task done before we move on to the next Organize Your Digital Self (OYDS) task.  New assignments will post each Monday.  This is just the tip of the digital decluttering iceberg.

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Digital Decluttering: Clean up those profiles!

This is the first installment of what will likely be a 52-week series.  The series is based on a conference/webinar presentation I’ve been doing for a while now called Organize Your Digital Self (OYDS).

Perhaps you’ve experienced the “decluttering bug” before – the sudden and unexplainable urge to just get rid of all the junk that’s cluttering up your life.  You find yourself installing new closet organizers, filing the stacks of paper on the dining room table, and vowing to do a better job keeping up in the future.

Well, we’re all encountering the same issues in our digital life, only we aren’t as good at acknowledging what the problem is.  Just like you might declutter your home once a year, we need to do the same with our digital lives. In the same way we need new closet organizers, we periodically need to add new digital methods of organization (and we need to rid ourselves of the ones that aren’t working).  Finally, we need to have strategies that help us maintain our digital selves in a state of organization instead of chaos.  Are you ready to Organize Your Digital Self ?  Let’s go!

Digital Decluttering: Clean up those profiles!

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The task for this week?  Find and clean up all those digital profiles that arelurking out there on the Internet.  Chances are, you haven’t ever really given it much thought, but you might have as many as twenty profiles collecting cobwebs in cyberspace.  When someone finds you, do you want them to see outdated photos, website information, marital status, or job status?  Heck no!  Not only would that be unprofessional, but it might lead to some pretty awkward conversations.

Before you begin, you might want to find the most recent bio that you’ve written and copy it to a new document.  Update it and write a few different versions.  For example, you might have a lengthy version for a professional site, a more personal version for your own site, and then a short and quick to read version for sites like Twitter.  Please be careful not to reveal too much information about yourself (only you can decide how much is too much).  Personally, I avoid putting my phone number and address out there in public forums as much as possible.

maria_in_sariYou should also choose a couple photos or images (no more than 3) to represent yourself in your profiles.  Since we tend to associate our memories about relationships with images we remember, I wouldn’t change your profile images very often (Facebook is the exception to that rule, since you know those people pretty well already).  Consider this: If you don’t know somebody well, then the only visual “anchor” they have for their memories of interactions with you is that profile picture you choose.  Don’t underestimate the power of this association.

Before our 2009 Math & Technology Workshop, all the participants got to know each other on our Moodle site.   One of their first tasks was to upload a photo or image for their profile.  For two weeks, we exchanged pleasantries and ideas online.  Then they all came to Muskegon in person.  After hanging out with all of the participants for a week in the flesh, there were only four that I didn’t know by name.  These were the participants who either did not post profile pictures on the Moodle site, or the ones who did not use their own photo (e.g. a car or a picture of a son or daughter).

spmariaI used to use one pic for professional sites (a photo of myself from a professional studio), a cartoon avatar (for chat windows), and a more casual picture for other sites (like twitter).  I think this is okay, but recently I’ve settled on just one professional/casual image for everything, and I like that consistency it brings to my digital profile.  No matter where you see my digital presence, it’s the same me.

Without further ado, let’s begin to tackle that list of profiles.  Let me start by giving you a list of of places that you might start looking for those stagnant profiles:

  • Blogger or WordPress
  • OpenID
  • LinkedIn
  • Ning
  • Google chat / Google talk
  • Google groups or Yahoo groups
  • Google profile (show up in Google searches)
  • Yahoo, Microsoft, or Apple profile
  • Wikipedia (or other Wiki sites you belong to)
  • Twitter
  • Facebook or Myspace
  • Blackboard, Moodle, D2L, etc.
  • Academic or work chat clients (like Wimba)
  • Company blog or website
  • Professional blog or website
  • Personal blog or website
  • Picasa, Flickr, Snapfish, or other photo sites
  • YouTube channel (or TeacherTube, Google Video, etc.)
  • Shelfari (or other book-sharing sites)
  • Delicious, Diigo, etc.
  • Digg, Technorati, etc.
  • Profiles on gaming websites
  • Profiles on websites with discussion boards (like TED)

Chances are that if you’ve read this far, you’re already starting to feel overwhelmed!  How on earth did we all end up with so many profiles?!?  You may already be deciding to jettison some of these old accounts.  Just like we throw out some of the junk in our home, feel free to throw out some of the junk in your digital world.  Where you can, delete those old and unused accounts.  That will be one less profile to declutter next year!

So, print the list (or take a screenshot), and give yourself 15 minutes every day to do nothing but declutter those profiles.   If you come up with any additional places to declutter profiles, please comment them in!

You have a week to get this task done before we move on to the next Organize Your Digital Self (OYDS) task.  New assignments will post each Monday.  This is just the tip of the digital decluttering iceberg.

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Organizing your Desktop with RealDesktop

I am at a MathDL pow-wow in Washington DC and tonight was our first meeting – dinner. After mentioning Bumptop (which is in beta-testing) to the folks at my table, I got curious about why I hadn’t seen anything lately on Bumptop and went looking. There they were, posted today, some some images from a Bumptop beta-tester here on Lifehacker. [Read more...]

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