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Pluralsight for Project Managers and Business Analysts (Interview with Casey Ayers)

September 13th, 2019

I met Casey Ayers years ago at a Pluralsight conference. He is super smart. He also has just finished his 48th(!!!) course on Pluralsight. You can see his course list here.

Once upon a time I wanted to be a project manager. I also applied for business analyst jobs. And so I thought it would be fun to hear from the expert on both career paths… I asked Casey some questions and he graciously shared his expertise. I hope this inspires you. Please share this with others who are interested in project management or business analysis, which are great fields for people who want to be in tech but don’t want to be developers.

Down below Casey talks about his PMP exam prep courses. This is a full suite of courses to prepare you to pass the PMP exam… I did a quick search online and found that you can get in-person classroom training to pass the exam for around $2,000 to $3,000. I found other classes for $1,000 and on-demand course for $348… the prices are all over the place. Let me know that you get all of Casey’s courses, including the PMP exam prep courses, with your Pluralsight subscription. Full retail price is $299. That is a super deal if all you want is PMP exam test prep…. and you get a whole year to do it at your own pace. The bonus is you get the other 6,500ish (give or take a few hundred) courses for that price.

But wait, it gets better! Click the pink image on the right and you can get all of that, including Casey’s PMP exam prep courses, for only $199. Seriously, why isn’t every future PMP doing this killer deal? It’s like buy one exam prep series and get a year of access to the thousands and thousands of other courses. This deal ends next Friday.

Tell us a little about your career… why are you the authority on project management and business analysis (which are two different career paths)?

In a variety of roles, including Development Director for a mobile app studio and Chief Operating Officer for a startup healthcare company, I’ve had to define missions and lead teams to accomplish objectives successfully. I find the intersection between business analysis and project management to be fascinating, where designing the solutions to challenges shifts to making those plans a reality. The relationship between these two professions is as unique as the roles analysts and project managers play in their organizations: serving as arbiters of change and creation in environments often more focused on simply maintaining or expanding on what exists today.

I’ve learned enough to know that no analyst or project manager is so complete in their individual knowledge and experience as to be unable to benefit from standards and practices developed from the collective knowledge of a global array of experts in these fields. That’s why my courses tend to focus on industry-recognized certifications and frameworks. Knowing how much the experience of each viewer may vary from others, and certainly from my own, this focus on making best practices as accessible and applicable as possible helps me to connect and offer value to PMs and analysts from a variety of industries and different backgrounds.

Casey Ayers Pluralsight AuthorWhat are things that project managers do? What might a typical day (or month) look like?

The specific tasks project managers (PMs) might be faced with on a daily basis will vary drastically based on an organization’s structure and norms, the scope of the project in question, whether a more agile or prescriptive methodology to accomplishing project objectives is being followed, the size of the team, and a limitless array of other factors. PMs working on a standardized sprint basis to deliver incremental value to stakeholders follow a different rhythm from PMs working toward milestones or phases in long-term projects, where most value is delivered at one or a few points in time.

What doesn’t change is this: the need to balance limited resources, ensure a clear and continuous connection between work in process and underlying objectives, and a mandate to work with a wide array of stakeholders who may bring conflicting viewpoints and priorities to the project.

If I want to go into software project management, what are some recommendations you’d give me?

Working as a member of a project team can provide valuable insight into how the work of the project is accomplished and help in better assessing the complexity and worth of potential initiatives. However, the actual work of coordinating resources and managing the project can often seem subtle to even members of the project team when it is done effectively.

Taking on increasing responsibilities for administration and coordination within project teams can assist in making the transition into project management, as can studying the frameworks, methodologies, and best practices that effective project managers rely on to ensure they’re providing adequate attention to each dimension of project work.

What are some key characteristics or attributes successful project managers have?

Project managers must be effective communicators, first and most critically. Without expressing objectives and priorities clearly to others, without receiving and leveraging information from others, and without fostering support and a shared vision between stakeholders, the project will inevitably run into challenges or failure.

Secondarily, effective project managers must develop the ability to balance limited resources while best serving their organizations’ needs. Changes to either project scope, schedule, cost, quality, or resources will always impact all other factors in a variety of expected and unexpected ways. Determining what mix of these priorities best serves the organization’s underlying goals empowers effective PMs to deliver solutions.

If I want to become a business analyst, what are some recommendations you’d give me?

Successful business analysts come from a variety of backgrounds. Some may initially serve as financial or quality control analysts, while others may come from a sales background or have spent time delivering solutions as a member of a project team.

New business analysts are typically well-served by selecting positions that place a particular emphasis on their previous background. For organizations where ensuring solutions can be delivered on time is a top priority, prior experience in project environments can prove helpful. For those where defining underlying needs and objectives are most critical, communication skills and a sales background can help the analyst to gain insight from stakeholders.

Begin by building on what you know best, and never hesitate to clarify information with subject matter experts or conduct additional research if you’re not certain where the organization stands today, or what direction it should take tomorrow.

What are some key characteristics or attributes successful business analysts have?

A sense of curiosity can serve business analysts well, coaxing them to chase down leads, clarify information, and allow conversations to yield unexpected revelations. The ability to communicate with others effectively is perhaps even more critical than in project management, if that’s possible.

Maintaining a willingness to question assumptions and biases – especially those the analyst themselves brings to the table – and vigilantly ensuring that recommended actions remain aligned with underlying needs, especially when scope creep or environmental changes might lead the analyst astray, can help to ensure successful outcomes.

If I wanted to become a project manager, which of your courses should I take, and in what order, and why?

Those without much prior experience managing projects or even working with project teams would be well-served by my CompTIA Project+ (PK0-004) learning path, which starts with Beginner’s Guide to Project Management – this is a great opportunity to learn the fundamentals of project management and to earn a well-respected certification not requiring formal experience or training.

If you’ve been leading project teams or been managing components of projects for some time now, the PMP® learning path  beginning with “Introduction to Project Management & the PMP Exam” will help you learn and apply time-tested frameworks to your project-based work. This series will prepare you to earn the gold standard in project management, the PMP® certification, and equip you with formal tools and methods that will greatly enhance your work as a project manager.

If I wanted to become a business analyst, which of your courses should I take, and in what order, and why?

The PMI-PBA learning path culminates in a certification that is particularly valuable to business analysts working in project environments, but can be useful for business analysts serving in any capacity. Introduction to Business Analysis & Needs Assessment  is my most popular Pluralsight course, and provides a great overview of the value business analysts offer organizations on a day to day basis.

I’m presently creating courses for Pluralsight’s ECBA, CCBA, and CBAP certification series, each of which will prepare viewers to earn industry-leading business analysis certifications offered by the International Institute of Business Analysis. Some of these courses are available now, with more on the horizon. Stay tuned for the official learning paths to be launched later this year.

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Pluralsight for Job Seekers? #Yep

September 12th, 2019

This post is part of a series of posts through next Friday, to promote (push!) the $100 off at Pluralsight. Instead of paying $299/year you can pay $199 a year and have access to their rich library of over 6,000 courses. Most of them are technical, and most of them are for technologists. But back in 2012, when they invited me to do my first course, they showed that they value soft skills and professional development. There are now around 200 soft skills or professional development courses in the library, and more on their way. Here’s a list of six of my courses I suggest for people in a job search:

Developing a Killer Personal Brand

No matter what you think about personal branding, it’s important. Neglect your brand if you want, but you’ll still have one. I say: you be the author of what your brand is, and create the narrative the way you want it to be. Otherwise, others will create it for you, and you might not like that.

Informational Interviews

I believe there are no silver bullets in the job search. But I have said, across the country, that if I were in a job search I would spend about 95% of my time on informational interviews. Seriously, 95%. Haven’t heard of them? Or, they aren’t working for you? Watch this course and learn how to do them well, and get your job search MOVING! Speaking of 95%… my new Job Search Program holds your hand as you put this into practice.

Working and Communicating with Different Personalities

In your job search you need to understand how to influence others, and why others act and speak the way they do. Working with others can be baffling… but the more you understand human nature, personalities, and why people are the way they are, the better you can work with, communicate, and persuade others. You might even learn something about yourself!

Becoming a Better Listener

Listening is about the most important aspect of communication… and I think we all have some room for improvement. Listening better will help you in your networking, your interviewing… in every aspect of your job search! This course has the most ratings and comments of any of my courses. Come on over and listen!

LinkedIn Strategy: Optimize Your Profile

This is where most people (should) spend their time… making their LinkedIn profile better. This course is a how-to on every bit of your profile.

LinkedIn: Proactive Strategies

And then, this is Part II for your LinkedIn strategy. “LinkedIn doesn’t work for me!” Neither does that hammer behind your workbench. The tool works when you use it! In this course I teach you how to network on LinkedIn instead of assuming having an okay profile will get you your next job.

There are more courses that are appropriate for job seekers. But let’s do the math… if you only watch those 6, and pay the $199 for the year, you are paying about $33/course. But, for the $199 you get 12 months of unlimited access (think Netflix) to the entire library! That includes the full PMP certification courses… you could pay thousands for that elsewhere. Not to mention all of the other stuff you could get… even the introduction to programming, design, databases, etc. courses. More on that over the next few days!  Click the banner above to get your one year pass for $100 off… it’s only $199 for the next few days!

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Pluralsight: Building and Managing Your Career Plan Testimonial

September 11th, 2019

Over the weekend I got a really cool testimonial on one of my 31 live Pluralsight courses. First I’ll share the testimonial, and then I’ll comment on why this was special. Maurie wrote:

“I just completed Jason Alba’s course “Building and Managing Your Career Plan“. It is excellent. The content is EXACTLY on point. The presentation is very professional–no endless stream of bullet points that Jason just reads, Relevant icons that reinforce the message. Sparkling examples delivered as a multitude of very short real-life situations, and a call to action for each module. I am an instructional designer by profession, Jason has hit the target dead center in all the things that make this kind of presentation useful, memorable, informative and fun from the perspective of effective and efficient instructional design. This course is at least 7 or 8 stars in the five-point scale.”

Wow, that was cool! Thank you Maurie, for a well-written testimonial! Here’s what I love:

“I am an instructional designer by profession,” says Maurie. Well, I am not. In fact, it wasn’t until last year that I spent significant time with a professional designer. But for a professional instructional designer to give that compliment to anyone is really cool.

When I create my courses, I feel like my job is to not think about any future courses, but to do the very best I can on each course. Leave it all on the field, as they say. I give everything I have to the current course, with design, language, etc. Thank you, Maurie, for recognizing that.

Maurie Coleman (Illinois)“The content is EXACTLY on point.” Thank you, again. This course is based on principles of career management. The first module is about defining and visualizing where you want to be (what’s your ideal title/role?). The second module is a methodological approach to working yourself towards that title/role. The third module talks about career satisfaction. This course is foundational to career management and enjoying the journey you are on. I was super excited to create this course because I’ve learned that YOU need to manage your career, and this is a course to get you focusing on bettering your career.

“This course is at least 7 or 8 stars in the five-point scale.”  Flattering. The current course rating is somewhere around 4.5 (I don’t know if that is rounded up or down), but thank you, Maurie. I’ll take a 7 or 8 :)

Want access to this, my other 30 courses, and the other 6,500 (give or take a few hundred) courses for only $299? You are in luck… the sale is on through next Friday. But don’t wait, click the banner above and buy your one year pass for $100 off!

 

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Pluralsight $100 off: Now Is The Time To Upgrade on Pluralsight

September 9th, 2019

Every once in a while Pluralsight goes on sale. Now is that once in a while. The normal price is $299 for the personal plan, so this is a 33% savings and definitely worth it. (the premium plan is normally $449/year, and with this discount it is $349). Upgrade here.

“What?!?!?!”, you ask?

“Get Pluralsight for a whole freaking year for only $199? That is absurd!!”

Yes, yes it is. Very absurd. Nutso.

But it’s true. And now is the time to jump on it. Here’s the email I got from Pluralsight:

Hi Jason,

Ready to take your tech skills to the next level? Spend the next 12 months learning for less.

LAST CHANCE TO SAVE ON PERSONAL ANNUAL AND PERSONAL PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTIONS!

For a limited time, you can build the technology skills you need at a seriously discounted rate. Take advantage of this awesome offer and get $100 off premium and personal annual subscriptions. Building the tech skills of the future never felt so good.

And they clarified **offer not valid in India** (because the pricing in India is so different already).

What is Pluralsight, you ask? Well, let me tell you. I have been a Pluralsight “author” (which means course creator) since 2012. I am currently working on my 34th course with Pluralsight. I started out doing courses for your career, and then went into anything soft skills and professional development. Over the next few days, until 9/20, I’ll be sharing ideas, thoughts, and even testimonials about my courses on the blog. Stay tuned. And sorry if you get Pluralsight fatigue…. but this sale doesn’t happen often and it’s a great time to get serious about improving yours skills.

Jump on it here and buckle up… I’ll be sharing as much high value as I can. If you hate personal improvement and career management, come back in a couple of weeks :p

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Becoming a Better Listener: 500 Ratings!

July 25th, 2019

There’s no prize for getting ratings on a Pluralsight course, but I’ve been watching this inch up towards 500, and I finally saw it hit 500 last week.

Just a fun little milestone that no one will notice, but I want to document it here :)

pluralsight_listening_500

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Y’all! Job Search Courses on Pluralsight!

July 15th, 2019

pluralsight_transparentThis week I’m in the Dallas area giving four presentations, and two in Austin. I’m giving out Pluralsight 30 day passes (if you haven’t gotten one, message me), and encouraging professionals in transition to binge-watch and absorb anything they want… including any of my 32 soft skill and professional development courses, as well as Casey Ayers Business Analyst and Project Management (PMP) certification courses… and MORE.

As I was preparing a slide to suggest a few courses highly relevant to job seekers, I thought I’d share them here with you. These are just mine, there are plenty of other great courses in this library of over 6,000 courses. And these only represent about 20% of my courses…

Here are the courses I’d suggest for most job seekers:

A course on how to develop a killer personal brand. No matter what you think about personal branding, it’s important. Neglect your brand if you want, but you’ll still have one. I say: you be the author of what your brand is, and create the narrative the way you want it to be. Otherwise, others will create it for you, and you might not like that.

A course on informational interviews. I believe there are no silver bullets in the job search. But I have said, across the country, that if I were in a job search I would spend about 95% of my time on informational interviews. Seriously, 95%. Haven’t heard of them? Or, they aren’t working for you? Watch this course and learn how to do them well, and get your job search MOVING!

How about a course on working with, and understanding, different personalities? Look, in your job search you need to understand how to influence others, and why others act and speak the way they do. Working with others can be baffling… but the more you understand human nature, personalities, and why people are the way they are, the better you can work with, communicate, and persuade others. You might even learn something about yourself!

Becoming a better listener is one of my favorite courses. It’s about the most important aspect of communication… and I think we all have some room for improvement. Listening better will help you in your networking, your interviewing… in every aspect of your job search! This course has the most ratings and comments of any of my courses. Come on over and listen!

I have one course on optimizing your LinkedIn Profile, and another course on a proactive LinkedIn strategy. I wrote the book on LinkedIn over 10 years ago, updated it to multiple versions, and have done countless trainings and consultations on LinkedIn. In these courses we cut through the rhetoric and noise and get to the heart of optimizing your time on LinkedIn. No kool-aid drinking, just smart and doable actionables.

You can get all of these, and more, for free with a 30 day pass from Pluralsight. If you don’t know how, just reach out and I’ll hook you up!

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Getting Started with Programming and Tech With Pluralsight

June 17th, 2019

smart-learn-pluralsightJust two more days until the $100 off sale at Pluralsight. $199 for a year of full access… killer deal.

If you are NOT in a tech role, but have always wanted to learn, I would definitely recommend dropping $199 and having a full twelve months to learn, and play, and dabble. I can’t think of a better way to learn about this stuff with the depth and breadth that Pluralsight offers. Here are seven courses that are “beginner” or “intro to” to get you started in various parts of the tech world:

Learning to Program – Part 1: Getting Started (by Scott Allen)

This 3 hour 12 minute course walks you through the basics and fundamentals of programming. It is introductory, so don’t worry that you won’t understand a thing. Scott’s table of contents shows you learn about a lot of the things you’ll need to know for just about any language. I’m bookmarked this to watch with my ten year old son, who wants to become a developer.

Introduction to SQL (by Jon Flanders)

3 hours and 2 minutes of one of the most powerful aspects of development. SQL is how you access databases… and it makes your web and app experience rich and dynamic. I’m not going to say I was a great programmer, but of all of the things I did, I LOVED database design and SQL. Funny story: in a job interview, when I was still in college, the interviewer asked what I knew about SQL. My response was “Not much, but how hard could it be? All you need to know is FROM, WHERE, SELECT, and a few other things.” He turned out to be one of the smartest software engineers I’ve ever known, and amazingly, I got the job.

Introduction to Maya 2017 (by Justin Marshall and Eddie Russell)

Maya is a 3D animation environment “that enables video professionals who work with animation film, television programs, visual effects, and video games to create highly professional three-dimensional (3D) cinematic animations.” That sounds freaking awesome. Maybe programming ain’t your thing but graphics is? From the course description: “This course is designed for new Maya users, so the goal is not to weigh you down with a lot of technical information. Instead, its goal is to help you form some really good habits and workflows, allowing you to see the entire start-to-finish pipeline for this project…”

Introduction to Web Development (by Nina Zakharenko and Brian Holt)

I cut me teeth on web development. You can too. This course is from 2015, and things changed, but the basics and fundamentals are always good to learn. The course is a whopping 11 hours (yikes!) … if you are serious about learning web development, buckle up and get learning. Oh yeah, who will you learn from? Nina and Brian, at the time their bios were up, were Reddit developers. Wowzers. Learning from developers of one of the hottest and most popular websites in the history of websites.

Introduction to CSS for Designers (by Susan Simkins)

CSS is freaking awesome. How old am I? When I moved away from programming, CSS was just starting to make waves. I didn’t quite learn it, but I understood it was super duper powerful. You can probably make an entire career out of just becoming expert in CSS. Or, if you do any kind of web development, understanding the basics of CSS will help you. This 1 hour 48 minute course should be a great primer.

An Introduction to Design (by Jason Roberts)

Design is underestimated. Software developers aren’t necessarily good at it, but they need to understand it. I tell my graphics-oriented friends they should look at UX (which is design for the user experience) as a career option. I was talking to a recruiter last year who said they could not find one single UX designer in all of Utah. They were all working. This is a hot, hot field. The course is about design in general, but I get excited about UX :) 1 hour 53 minutes.

Beginning Data Visualization with R (by Matthew Renze)

Have you ever heard the phrase “big data?” I think the potential career choices for people who go there are mega-huge. Here’s how I put it: I have a website with 13+ years of data. I know there are rich insights I should be getting from that data. But, I don’t know what questions to ask. I don’t know what I should learn from my data. I feel like I am MISSING OUT. If I had a big data person (or a data scientist), I might do things differently. I might grow my business and help my users more effectively. YOU could be that person. Just about every company out there has data and they are not using it in a way that can best help their users. R is a programming language, and data visualization can help managers and leaders make informed decisions. This three hour course will get you started in the right direction.

Seriously, $199 for full access to those, and THOUSANDS more? What are you waiting for? Save $100 before the sale ends (on June 19th).

Of course, you can watch my 32-and-growing professional development and soft skills courses here.

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Full Pluralsight for only $199? Nuts!

June 11th, 2019

Pluralsight is normally $299 a year. Since I’m a sucker for a deal I thought I’d share this one with you:

Until June 19th, you can get the entire Pluralight course library for 33% off.

Go here:   (that is my affiliate link, feel free to share it :p)

Not only do you get full access to the thousands and thousands of courses, you get:

pluralsight_personal-plan

Get this… to get the last three things, it’s only $349 (through June 19th, then back to $449).

This is a super duper deal.

Let’s compare this $199 for a year of full access to courses of some of the most amazing tech teachers to:..

A coding bootcamp.  Average price in the U.S. is $11,906 (according to Google). You could actually get the full price of Pluralsight ($299/year) for about 40 YEARS for that price.  Now, most of the time you go through the bootcamp and they prep you for a developer job, and help you land it. I don’t have a problem with that. But it is a little pricey.

A used textbook on how to program in C++. This is $111.99. Used. A textbook. Anyone ever pay for text books in college? Bleh. What a farce. For the price of one or two textbooks that are usually useless, you could get a full year of access to almost (or more than?) 7,000 courses taught be people who, in some cases, have actually written the book on their specialty.  I’m sure that textbook’s price is subject to change… but it is still ridiculous.

Attending a professional conference. Let’s say you go to a conference this year, at the early bird price of $599 (give or take a few hundred). Add on flight, hotel, food… you are now easily up to $3,000 (give or take a couple thousand). I’m sure you will get value out of the few days and sessions at the conference… but with a Pluralsight course for less than 10% of that cost you get value ALL YEAR.

The cost of doing nothing. Let’s say that if you were take a few Pluralsight courses, and get smarter in [security, databases, design, graphics, UX, a plethora of programming, and my favorite: professional development and soft skills :p], let’s just say that your new learning leads you to earning ONE dollar per hour more in your company. That is worth about $2,080 PER YEAR. Pretty good investment. Look, your learning didn’t stop when you graduated. Every bit of your job is likely being computerized… don’t you think you should understand more tech?

A college degree. Okay, let’s go the hear of job security (cough cough). A degree in computer science. I’m not even going to put money into this one – you can figure that out on your own (it’s likely at least $3,000/year for four or five years… which is super low). Let’s just talk about TIME. You spend four or five years going to school to be in classes where they are not using current versions of languages, so by the time you graduate you might not have seen or used the languages at the companies that hire you. Been there, done that. And you spent four years in archaic language. Sounds expensive to me.

That was fun. I could go on. But I don’t need to. You get the point.

Look, this is just a little more than a netflix subscription. But with Pluralsight, you could walk into an entirely different career.

Treat yourself. Get this $100 off deal. And then put the time and effort into learning. You can thank me later.

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Leadership For Those Who Don’t Have The Title

May 3rd, 2019

Pluralsight Course: Leadership for Non-managersI just released my 33rd Pluralsight course (my course count is 32 because one of my courses was retired/replaced). This course, titled Leadership for Non-managers, is on one of my favorite topics: personal development, specifically with leadership. I believe that everyone could and should develop leadership qualities. I think you should get ready for opportunities that will come your way. Now is the time to start, not when you get the opportunity.

In this very short (1 hour and five minutes) course I talk about what leadership really is, and discuss an epiphany that I had that helped me rethink and reframe leadership. The epiphany helped me better understand the answer to “what makes a great leader?” I talk about leadership styles, which helps you understand why different leaders seem different, and I give solid examples of leadership characteristics.

My favorite module is the last one. It is only 14 minutes long but I have what I think is my best “how do I actually implement these ideas? How do I make progress?” discussions. I give a seven step plan that you can implement to become a leader, regardless of your current title.

JibberJobber users can get double the JibberJobber upgrade when they self-report for watching this course. Just click the button twice for every one time you watch it.

Enjoy!

 

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Pluralsight Channel: Jason Alba’s Career Management Courses

April 23rd, 2019

Another Pluralsight channel I recently created is called Jason Alba’s Career Management Courses. Again, if you need a 30 day pass, just let me know. Once you are logged in to Pluralsight, you’ll be able to see the channel (click the image below to get there, once logged in).

JibberJobber Pluralsight Channel: Jason Alba's Career Management Courses

The courses in this channel include:

Designing a Killer Job Search Strategy

Developing a Killer Personal Brand

Informational Interviews

LinkedIn Strategy: Optimize Your Profile

LinkedIn: Proactive Strategies

Effective Email Communication

Effective Phone Skills

Presenting to the Boss(es)

Prioritizing Time and Managing Time for Greater Productivity

Building and Managing Your Career Plan

Becoming a Better Listener

Career Management 2.0

Writing and Marketing a Book

How to Get Your Next Promotion

Onboard Yourself: What to Do After You Land Your Dream Job

I hope this helps you with your career and job search goals!

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