Doug Burns posts a typically honest article about the art of self-promotion and the issue of references. Personally, I think Doug’s blog is itself an excellent tribute to his technical competence, his ability to communicate and share information as well as offering an insight into his personality.

I must confess that my manager’s Inbox is not overflowing with glowing testimonials from colleagues and customers, let alone unsolicited ones. I used to reassure myself that this was because IT managers are exceptionally busy people with (justifiably) high expectations when paying for expensive consultants. Nowadays I just put it down to my lack of technical ability.

However, occasionally a customer will say a heartfelt ‘Thank you. That was really useful’ after a onsite visit which is probably the most satisfying part of my job.

Recently, a person commented on this blog asking about issues with Siebel and UTC. I tried to help directly via email and received a reply thanking me for taking the time to answer his questions. Of course, I deleted the original comment as I have no desire to turn this site into ‘’ but his words of thanks were much appreciated.

Many years ago, during an IT slump, I was trying to secure a contract as a Unix/C programmer. I had an interview at Ingres but was unsuccessful. A week later, the agent called me. The opportunity was suddenly and unexpectedly back on and ‘could I possibly start on Monday ?’.

Unusually, the agent insisted on meeting me in person and told me that, for various reasons, the first choice candidate didn’t really work out. Consequently, he was let go after one week and I was to be on probation for one week with this very demanding client.

The agent proceeded to call me every lunchtime and again at home every single night to discuss progress, technical issues, clamouring for any verbal, implied or written feedback from the client about my technical abilities.

Judgment day duly arrived on Friday. As I nervously approached to get the verdict, the manager said ‘I’ve got to leave now, Norman but thanks for all your efforts this week. See you on Monday’. Probably the best reference I never had.