Your Position Has Been Eliminated with Mike Burkhart

Welcome to episode 64 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss navigating unexpected career pressure with Mike Burkhart.

Original Recording Date: 12-03-2019

Topics – Your Posiiton Has Been Eliminated with Mike Burkhart

03:21 – Mike’s Career Overview

  • Mike recently took a position as a curriculum developer of instructor led courseware at Nutanix but followed an interesting path to get there.
    • He started off with IT help desk work, which often involved testing DSL lines.
    • This led to a systems and networking background. He also did software testing.
    • He stumbled upon ESX 2.0 at some point and got an introduction to virtualization, which was extremely interesting.
    • Mike’s journey involved him following his passion / interests and making some bets on following them.
    • He became a consultant around the ESX 4.0 days. This involved heavy travel…but not to places you might envision.
    • The consulting firm was a VMware training partner, and Mike was asked to be an instructor.
      • He said yes and decided to try it.
      • "If given an opportunity, take the opportunity if it is something you can imagine yourself doing."
      • Mike is an extrovert and stage musician.
      • Mike believes we are all here for the purpose of love. To love someone is to share experiences, impart knowledge, and have them impart knowledge on you.
        • Education is the pursuit of this connection and pursuit of growing as an adult.
    • Pursuing this instructor role opened his eyes to a completely different passion. Ever since becoming an instructor for a brief stint, Mike has focused (as time allowed even after he became a Solutions Architect) on many different things in the education space.
    • At one point in the last several months, one of Mike’s friends suggested he talk to someone who had an opening in an education related role.
      • The person who referred him was a fellow instructor and VCDX candidate with Mike.
    • Mike has been a VMUG leader for several years and an avid public speaker. His current role is a mixture of all the experience he’s had to this point.

14:23 – Necessity of Career Analysis

  • "I wasn’t looking for an employer. I wasn’t looking for a role. I was looking at how I want my life to operate for me, what skills I want to flex, what skills I want to learn, and what I want to leave behind."
  • Mike was in field Pre-Sales as an Architect before taking his current role.
  • He did a current vs. future state analysis on his career.
  • This process was something Mike needed to do because of circumstances with his employer.
    • This is the second time in his career he was being "made redundant in the field."
    • In this instance, Mike was given the job of applying for the same / other roles within the company as a result.
    • For the architects out there, be wary of the changes you help make within a company having ramifications you may not like.
    • Mike believes he took the right role to support what he wants at this point in his life.
  • The first time this situation happened to Mike was when he worked for an aircraft manufacturer and was one of 3 VMware engineers in the country.
    • At this point in time, Mike realized he needed to lean on his professional network.
    • He was living in Cincinnati and eventually found a role (after 4 months) with a VMware training partner in Louisville, KY.
    • Mike was too focused on "doing the thing" and not focused enough on building his network along the way.
    • Don’t forget to provide value to others, whether it be communicating job openings or something else.
  • Losing a job in this way causes one to go through the stages of grief.

24:30 – Job Hunting in All the Places

  • Folks in this situation may have to scramble, and it can cause you to reach a very low point.
  • Mike has tried…
    • Blindly applying to jobs
      • The success rate on this wasn’t terribly high.
    • Asking friends and family about jobs
    • Looking at contract gigs (long hours often the case here)
      • This requires heavy building and evangelizing of your brand.
      • This avenue was too risky at this time in Mike’s life.
    • Sending out a Tweet to get help
      • Mike was looking at Technical Marketing, Solutions Architecture, Product Management, and Penetration Testing as options.
      • If you ask for help on social media like this, people will respond. But you need to be very specific about how you want help.
      • He was approached about selling his lab equipment, for example.
      • Some people approached him about helping them for free.
      • Mike learned there are a number of public sector jobs open on https://www.usajobs.gov/, but that wasn’t what he wanted either.
      • The Tweet had a ton of interaction, and he was impressed with the number of people who tried to help.
  • Mike finds it challenging to build his brand.

35:00 – Keeping the Resume Updated

  • Mike doesn’t keep his resume that up to date regularly and normally points them to LinkedIn.

  • At one point he hired a resume writer to get feedback and felt it was absolutely worth it.

  • Mike’s resume was very business focused (when looking at Solutions Architect or Product Manager roles), but when he applied to technical roles, he was not getting anyone’s attention.

  • When applying for jobs (even with people you know), the resume should speak to your strengths and be attractive to the people who will read it.

    • This is good advice Mike forgot to take when he started applying.
    • People may not often look at a resume as if they are hiring for a position. It’s extremely difficulty to do this and may be necessary to get a 3rd party to take a look for feedback.
    • And don’t forget to put your contact information on the resume!
  • If you want to follow up with Mike, find him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

image sources

  • Ep64 Mike Burkhart: John White

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