Proficiency – Crossing the No Man’s Land Between Training and Experience

“You can’t go to the moon because you’ve never been there.” – Some genius

I was updating my resume the other day and it occurred to me that most resume formats tend to focus on training (education + certifications) and work experience.  Whether it’s job experience or your credit score,  people with opportunities are going to ask where you’ve been before and why they should make a bet on you.   It seems like including your training and experience represent well tread ground, but how would you include other important qualifications that demonstrate your suitability for an opportunity?

What is Proficiency?

Examples abound in the IT field.  Do you contribute to open source?  Have you ever participated in a hackathon or other collaborative project?  Do you volunteer at a non-profit where you’re donating your skills?  Do you tinker in your spare time?  How do you represent these things to those with opportunities you want to pursue?  The term I tend to use for that is ‘Proficiency’

How to Achieve Proficiency

“I teach this shit, I didn’t say I know how to do it.” – Good Will Hunting

So, you’ve spent some valuable hours learning a new language, earning a new certification or finishing your degree.   Any of these is a substantial investment in yourself, but not necessarily enough to make you a successful candidate.  When I earned my very first certification (the CompTIA A+), I was answering phones for my day job.  In order to get my shot at a paying gig, I had to spend time experimenting at home and learning from peers who already had their foot in the door.  This was basically a DIY internship but it set up a path to my first paying job in IT.

Once I’d fully embraced the field as a professional, it was important to continue to grow and learn within the field.  It’s true that IT knowledge becomes obsolete at an alarming rate as new technologies are introduced or refined.   The various sections of your resume will be a record of these evolutionary iterations of yourself over time.

How to Demonstrate Proficiency

“Oh! And it’s scented! I think it gives it a little something extra, don’t you think?” – Elle Woods

For me, I’ve got the typical Education and Professional Experience sections listed.  However, I’ve added Skills & Specializations (this is where specific languages or frameworks can go), Certifications (industry certifications that are appropriate to the role) and Special Qualifications (my speaking engagements and body of writing).

Anything you put on a resume is something you’ll need to be able to talk about immediately in any stage of your interviewing process, whether it’s for paid work or otherwise.  Your mileage may vary, of course.   I think the key takeaway here is to own the format and representation of your skill set.   This can (and should) include things you did in your spare time as they represent investments you’ve made in yourself that didn’t necessarily involve a classroom or a paycheck.  With the right opportunity, it might even be more important as it’s a living record of your passion for your trade.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to add them here or address them to

The Strenuous Life – A Look Back (And Forward)

“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Last month, I took a hard look at myself, my habits and the life they produced.  Rather than let that die on the vine, I’ve immediately gotten to work.  Some changes I’ve made have been:

  • Becoming single threaded on my hobbies – (1 book at a time, 1 project, etc.)
  • Prioritizing meal planning and making healthier choices – I think I’ve had one or two fast food meals in the past month.

One thing that I can’t let slide is ‘Identifying meaningful fitness goals and finding ways to test them.’  I need data on where I’m at and goals I want to reach before I can actually put any kind of a plan together.  One thing that’s helped me spend more time on this was the 12-week Boot Camp at The Strenuous Life, which I finished last week.

The Strenuous Life‘ (over at Art of Manliness) offers an experience that I’d call, “Scouts or Freemasonry for the Digital Age.”  For me, it’s offered a framework of one-off, daily and weekly challenges to see where I’m at and help me learn where I’d like to be.   And since membership is for life, I intend for it to continue to be a rewarding and challenging experience.

Since the program values the initiatory appeal of keeping the details of its challenges private, I won’t be sharing much of the details other than to list off some of the goals I’ve identified for the coming year:

  • Join a martial arts gym and rediscover my love for fighting
  • Continue to encourage my family’s participation in team sports by volunteering as a coach or official for their programs
  • Grow stronger and more competent physically

Still a wireframe, but I think this is good foundation to build on.  We’ll see how it goes.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to add them here or address them to

Building an App for ServiceNow

ServiceNow kind of has a thing for the letter ‘S’.  Is the thing you just downloaded or built a Scoped app?  Is it a Share app?  Is it a Store app?  It could be all or none of these things.

What is a Scoped app?

A Scoped Application is a distinct module or application within the ServiceNow platform consisting of one or more features.  The idea is that the functionality of the app is distinct enough that it shouldn’t be tightly coupled to one of the existing modules in ServiceNow or tightly coupled to the Global scope.  Any admin can create a new application via ServiceNow Studio.

My Lex Integration experiment was a scoped app, but not a store or share app.  My ServiceNow Cookbook describes how to integrate a scoped app with Github so that it can be easily shared with others.  It’s a great way to connect with other developers with similar interests and to bounce ideas off each other.

What is a Share app?

If you think your scoped app is ready for publication, you can begin the process of sharing it to the ServiceNow Share portal.  The portal has gone through some recent changes and has definitely matured in terms of content and activity.

While everything on Share is in varying stages of development and maturity, everything published there is free.  This is definitely good for new ServiceNow users that are just ramping up on the platform and don’t want to retread a lot of ground re-solving solved problems.  The trade-off is that, like most community supported or open-source code, things available on the Share portal are ‘use at your own risk’ with no guarantee of support, present or otherwise.

What is a Store app?

If you think your scoped app is ready for primetime, you can begin the process of publishing your app on the ServiceNow Store.  This is a premium portal where official Technical Partners of ServiceNow can get their apps certified and endorsed on the ServiceNow platform.  Apps on the Store can be either free or paid, but they benefit from additional endorsement and official support from the publisher and the ServiceNow brand.

Why should you want to build one?

Well, when I build apps, libraries or other code bases, I’m usually just experimenting.  But building useful things that other people want is a proven path towards improving your value as a developer and a partner for users of the platform.  Sharing interesting things that you’re working on is a way to connect with others and create opportunities to share with larger audiences.  It can also open up new business relationships or revenue streams as you develop skills and create products worth paying for.

How do you get started? 

Any member of the ServiceNow Developer program can create or contribute to projects on the Share platform.  Here’s a link to the FAQ.  If you or your practice is interested in publishing on the Store, information on how to get involved is available here.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to add them here or address them to