I would like to focus on something I have mentioned previously—the value of attending local user groups. Whether your work involves .NET, Python, Java, Ruby on Rails, Human Factors, Agile, or Scrum, there's a local user group waiting to share the latest and greatest that field has to offer - and for free! Let's look at the top reasons to attend local user groups.
Candidates who are up on the latest and greatest in their field are more desirable to hiring managers. It is not uncommon to hear from a hiring manager, when choosing one candidate over another, to say, "We just didn't feel that Tom was cutting edge, so we went with Joe."
Even if you are not looking for a new position, staying up to date and having your finger on the pulse of your particular industry segment can't help but impress your boss a little bit. And if you are looking for a new position, make sure to note your user group attendance on your resume. It will most likely be noticed by the hiring manager.
Yes, there is much that can be done with blogs and other online sources (and these are great, too), but user groups provide you the additional opportunity to not only ask your questions to someone face to face, but to network with other developers as well. I cannot emphasize the importance and benefits that can be derived from networking with others in your industry.
If you are finding that your particular industry segment has been "less than active," perhaps it's time to begin transitioning your skills to something more in demand. User groups will contribute valuably to this effort both from the educational and the networking aspect.
We would like to encourage and assist you in attending user group meetings. Please email me if you would like us to send you more information about user groups in our region or visit our IT Event & User Group Calendar.
As always, we're interested in hearing how your job search is going. Feel free to contact us.