In my last article, I wrote about how you and your company can save money by utilizing Lotus Notes and Domino and all of its strengths.
This month, I want to focus on what you, a Lotus Notes and Domino professional, can do to keep yourself employable and weather the current economic storm.
If you are one of the lucky ones, you still have a job. That doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels.
There are many things you can and should do to keep you a valuable member of your current team, or prepare you for life after your current job.
If you are one of the unlucky ones, you are currently looking. Hopefully you can use some of the stuff in this article to help you in the job hunt.
Learn Other Skills
In the Notes and Domino world I’ve seen a lot of specialization over the years. Many people are just Notes developers, or just Domino administrators.
These people tend to be experts in that one aspect of Notes while eschewing most other talents.
Nowadays, that is a huge liability as many companies are looking to get more out of their employees for less.
This means that you need to learn more things BEFORE your company asks it of you. If you are developer in Notes, you should really learn AJAX web development, Java and up-and-coming technologies like Adobe Flex.
If you are an administrator, then you need to be an expert in the OS your servers run on. You also need to learn as much as you can about network architecture, network security, and firewalls.
Many places, especially larger companies, have one team that works on the network, one that works on the OS, and then the team that works on Domino.
You have to resist the urge to avoid the pieces you are not generally privy to. You should try to learn every aspect as much as possible.
Granted, you may not need it now, but what happens if you are let go? Only knowing Domino will really limit the amount of jobs you are qualified for.
You’re even a more valuable asset if you can administer and program for Lotus Notes and Domino.
It doubles your opportunities for Lotus-based jobs and can even allow you to be the only Lotus person at smaller companies.
I know it’s hard to find time to learn new skills, but if you don’t you WILL pay for it later. Turn off the TV, step away from Facebook and start playing around with other technologies.
Learn as much as possible, and it will help you immensely in any job hunts you may have to endure.
Learn Other Lotus companion Products
I mentioned learning to administer and program in Lotus Notes and Domino, and that’s a great start, but there are other products that integrate well with Notes and Domino that you should get a handle on.
The most obvious for me is Lotus Sametime. Sametime is instant messaging and web conferencing from IBM Lotus.
If you are an admin, you want to learn how to install, configure and use the product. If you are a developer, you want to learn how to integrate presence awareness into your applications, both on the web and in the Notes client.
I’ve talked about Sametime before, but Sametime is one of those products that can really save your company money.
Instant Messages can take the place of voice calls, and online web meetings can take the place of traveling from city to city to meet.
And out of all of the Lotus products, this is the one that you will find is most prevalent in Lotus (and even some Microsoft) shops. Becoming an expert in Sametime can really help your value as an employee.
The next product isn’t from Lotus, but rather Research In Motion. RIM is the company behind Blackberry and the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES.)
BES is the server software that is installed within your company to facilitate connecting Blackberries to your messaging system.
Next to Sametime, I’ve seen BES in more companies than anything else. Knowing the ins-and-outs of this piece of software is another huge feather in the cap of an administrator.
And as a developer, if you can make your applications work on a Blackberry, you become very valuable indeed.
You can also learn Lotus Quickr and Connections. These two products are gaining momentum within bigger Lotus deployments and getting up to speed on the architecture and programming opportunities can also help make you a little more marketable.
The main point here is to make sure you learn additional software and skill sets, even if all that means is learning new features on new versions of the software.
If you are a version 7 Notes shop, make sure you learn what version 8 and 8.5 bring to the table. If all you have is knowledge of older versions, new technologies like XPages will leave you in the dust.
I’ll be honest, generally I’m not the biggest proponent of certification programs. I’ve seen too many certified people in my day that didn’t know as much as someone who had been living in the trenches. That said, I do believe that certifications are a truly valuable asset on the job hunt.
The reason for this is that nowadays there will be many people applying for every job you come across. Many more than in years past.
That certification can help you get looked at first, and if you have the experience and skills to back it up, you are more likely to land the job.
It’s a simple truth, if there are two job applicants with the same qualifications, experience and skills, but only one has certifications, that one person will probably get a closer look. So get new certifications, and make sure you keep your current certifications up-to-date.
Get a Web Presence
If you apply for a job today, you can be assured that the hiring company will do a web search on your name. What will they find?
Finding no information in this day and age can almost be as detrimental as finding bad information. So what should you do?
There are several things you can do to get noticed online. First is to participate in some online communities. You could post comments and help people out on Lotus Developerworks or Lotususergroup.org.
You could contribute code to OpenNTF.org. You could start a blog on BleedYellow.com. Posting helpful articles, code, tips or just insightful commentary on what is going on in the community can be a great way to show up in Google results.
You can also take part in other social networks. LinkedIn.com is a business networking site that allows you to post your work and education information and then link to other colleagues.
Growing a network of colleagues in this way can help you make connections with friends of friends, and may help you get job leads through your network.
You can also make connections through sites like Facebook or Twitter. Just remember, the internet has a permanent memory so don’t post anything publicly that you would be embarrassed to have a potential employer read. You should still be true to yourself, but think before you post.
Keep Moving Forward
With the economy the way it is, you should do all you can to make yourself more marketable.
Keep your resume up-to-date, learn as many new and companion technologies as you can, participate in the larger internet community and get into some social networking.
Every little bit helps, and the more you do, the more employable and valuable you become.
That’s good no matter where you are in the job market.
About this Series
This series of articles on intranet solutions with IBM Lotus Notes/Domino and its companion products is intended to help readers understand the fundamental methodology and capabilities of the product and how to utilize it to deliver a feature-rich, secure, and functional corporate intranet solution.
It will include implementation strategies, case studies, industry-tested tips and tricks, and, with your input, true value to the administrator or developer who wants to utilize IBM Lotus technologies to deliver winning intranet solutions.
If you have any questions on the series, Lotus Notes/Domino, or if there’s something you’d like to see addressed, visit the Intranet Journal Discussion Forum.