Data Analysis (and where my next job’s coming from)

Never take your skills for granted.

I realised when I left school that far from being a numerate kind of guy who enjoyed being good at music, I was a proper musician, with a numerate slant.

The thing is, music doesn’t exactly pay the bills. For reference, read the sweary but marvellous Rock and Roll is Dead by Steve Lawson.

So I’ve adapted by using the other skills I have (mostly accurate typing, an eye for numbers) and used them to earn a crust. And now, I’m looking at a different kind of job again. I didn’t realise that in ten years the market could change so much.

It’s been astomishing how little tech I was using in my first job compared to now, for a start. In a decade the Microsoft Office suite has gone from a few essential tools in a bag to a high quality workshop with compressed air tooling, extractor system, kitchenette, and adjacent timber yard. It’s certainly made the business of data analysis easier, and more accessible. So now I’m realising it’s an area I might explore further. Even to the point of considering a short course to give me the basics and make myself more marketable to those who are hiring.

Or take the tech itself. In my last permanent role I was logging onto a server in the US to access a database held in Belgium. If I printed from my desk to the printer next to me, the request, the data, the file info and the printqueue were all managed via a transatlantic dance of the servers. That’s crazy. I can remember a time when file storage was on tapes, and a whole data storage unit the size of an ATM could hold 32 GB. Now the same data fits in my pocket. My phone is powerful enough to simultaneously remotely control my media centre while fetching my e-mail, checking my twitter timeline and letting me play Candy Crush Saga. All over a high speed mobile data connection.

Working from home isn’t just possible, it’s almost normal in certain spheres of employment, and just as possible is working from Starbucks (if you need that much coffee) or a local library (if you need the peace). It’s all wi-fi, and can be made quite secure if you need it to be.

Quite honestly, it makes it tricky dealing with an employment agency if they’re not aware of how much change there has been. Last year I did a day with a firm where they demanded I fill out a form with my CV while I sat in the office. The days of e-mailing in a Word document have been here for ages, and yet they insisted I copy out this information long hand. Can I trust these guys to match me with a job that reflects and respects the change in tech tools and dominance that I can clearly see when I’m out in the world, doing the work? Or should I trust the online recruitment sites who operate an impersonal dating service? In between is a fine line and not many agencies hit it for me.

There must be a better solution, but I have no idea what it would be. Everybody has different priorities for a start. Since petrol became so expensive and my children started getting big enough to want me as a taxi service of an evening, the length of my commute is a serious barrier to some job roles I would have otherwise considered. That wouldn’t be the case for other people.

Does anybody fancy hiring a tech savvy, numerate, literate and charming individual who fancies not travelling too far from home? I live in Walsall, by the way. No reasonable offer left unconsidered.

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