We all know the importance of keeping current on trends in our own industry. What’s often forgotten is the importance of keeping abreast of what’s going on in other arenas. But the well-rounded individual—someone who has the confidence to speak about subjects outside his comfort zone—is the one who stands out in an interview.
Needless to say, staying abreast of every topic is not an option. To what arena, then, do I recommend job seekers devote themselves? Technology—both in their field and in the world at large. Why? Because a company seeking to hire a new marketing manager, for example, is far more likely—given resumes with comparable experience—to choose the candidate who can not only create and pitch a new marketing strategy, but who also commands the necessary information to articulate to the online team how they can support and enhance the company’s new message. Because in the same way your car mechanic has greater respect for you if you understand the general workings of your automobile, you will command greater respect from the technology team if you have a basic grasp of their vocabulary.
So what’s the easiest, fastest way to keep abreast of what’s happening in the field of technology, as it relates to your industry? Change your home page. Many of you spend twenty to thirty minutes there daily, browsing through current articles. Which pages do I recommend? Kurzweilai.net offers current events and breaking news in the technology arena, while www.arstechnica.com will put cutting edge information on trends and capabilities in technology in both the PC and the Mac world in front of you daily. Taking that same twenty to thirty minutes to read one or two articles from either site is all that’s needed to begin to give you facility with the subject matter.
With this information in hand, you are far more qualified to either talk to someone about the design of your own Web site—your shop window to the world during your job search. Familiarity with the subject will help you not only to write a schematic for your designer, but also to hold an informed conversation regarding the possible inclusion of sound, video, or interactive elements.
When you are talking to your possible future employer, you will be able to speak with authority not only about their site, but also about their competition’s, enabling for example—if we return to the example of our hopeful future Marketing Executive— a conversation along the lines of, “I noticed X firm has Y assets (audio/video/multiple microsites). I think it would be great if those were added to your site. Do assets of this kind exist or do they need to be produced? If they do, I’d be happy to talk to your online development team about how we can work together to have them created.”
All of which sets you up to be their go-to person in multiple situations.