By Practice Manager: Sandra Zawacki at Jobspring Partners, Washington DC
I’ve been married for eight years, have a full time job that I love, and a rambunctious three year old with another on the way. Let’s just say compromise is a common theme in my house! It’s also a topic that has been increasingly important to discuss with my clients as the job market in DC has made its comeback over the last twelve+ months. Just as it can be in one’s personal relationships, compromise is not always pleasant or enjoyable, but it is necessary for any significant long term success.
So, hiring managers: listen up!
According to an article published in the Washington Post on May 29th, the regional unemployment rate in the DC metro area is currently around 5.3%, well below the national average. Within IT specifically, the numbers are even lower and we have been seeing a huge uptick in hiring month after month since mid-year 2012. This means that if you are a local company looking for great talent in software development, systems engineering or anything else IT related, you are not alone!
Every company I speak to is looking for the “A-player”, the guy coming out of a top 50 engineering school with all the latest technical buzz words and fantastic client-facing abilities (ideally only looking to make very little money). The challenge is that with high demand and a very limited pool of candidates out there, you have to be willing to re-define what an “A-player” means if you want to stand a chance of filling your job.
In a tight candidate market, the first thing you have to be willing to be flexible on is "required skills" vs "beneficial skills". The average job description includes at least 12 must have skills or technologies; non-negotiable check boxes. (No wonder so many positions remain open for months on end!)The list for the latter should far exceed the prior. As you look at your current employees, it can surely be hard to imagine someone being able to work on the team unless they walk through the door with all the relevant skills, but you have to be willing to look for potential.
Is it possible that if a candidate has used a tool similar to what you use, that they could learn yours quickly?
Is the methodology they’ve used really that different from whatever you prefer?
Does someone have the aptitude to grow their skills in areas they are currently more junior in?
The bulk of your interview should consist of evaluating whether you could mentor and grow someone into exactly what you want them to be in a few months’ time, rather than asking textbook questions designed to screen people out. Having someone walk in on day one, who knows your technical environment to a T, is an expert at every technology you use, and can easily do the job might sound ideal, but consider this: why would they stay with your company long term? If there is nothing left for them to learn, they’ll finish the project and move on to a company where they feel challenged.
I hear it all the time: “we have a 4 step interview process in place to ensure we hire the right person and this is just the way we do it here”. Good for you, but while you are taking two to three weeks to herd candidates through your multiple rounds of interviews, your competition is picking up the best talent before you can get candidates in for finals. Most candidates are getting multiple offers in a matter of 5-7 business days, so in order to be competitive you have to evaluate your process and maximize each interaction with the candidate you are interested in.
Companies who understand the idea of momentum and who quickly get candidates through 1-2 rounds of interviews in a matter of days will usually garner more interest from the candidate. Drawn out processes suggests that your company has a lot of red tape to navigate, that the requirements have not been clearly defined, or that you are just not that interested. Additionally, the more face-time you can get with them the better, so whether you are working with an agency or using your internal recruiter, trust their screening. If they like the person, bring them in for a 30 minute interview! Follow that up with one more lengthier, in-person meeting where you include anyone relevant to the decision making and be ready to make a verbal offer within a day if you like them.
I get it, education is important and certainly graduating from a great school is a big accomplishment. But the definition of education in the fast-moving world of IT has evolved to also include how entrenched you are in the tech community, how many hours you put in on your own while testing new tools, and the skills you picked up in your previous positions. Let’s not pretend that the only way to be successful in the business/IT world is by obtaining a four year degree. I think the founders of some of the most successful IT companies around would beg to differ. Speak to the person to determine fit instead of screening their resume simply because they don’t have a degree listed.
Years of experience
This one is simple: try not to fixate on a certain number when determining how many years of experience someone needs to have to qualify for your open position. I frequently come across organizations who have determined that in order to qualify for a “senior” role, a person has to have X number of years of experience. Shouldn’t what someone has learned in those years be more relevant?
Be open to the idea that someone with fewer years could have worked in places where they accumulated a ton of relevant experience and don’t discriminate against a more experienced looking resume because they might be too “old” for your cool culture. You never know if that is the person who plays in a band or is a master at Call of Duty. Speak to the person before you screen the resume.
Name one person who doesn’t love a good deal? Most companies want to keep salary caps low while finding the “perfect” candidate. When candidates are receiving multiple offers, you have to be willing to spend what the market dictates even if you feel like the person “doesn’t check every box” or you believe that someone with only a few years “shouldn’t make that much”. If your budget is fixed with no room for flexibility, well, then you’ll have to be willing to flex your compromising muscle even more when it comes to the categories outlined above.
Finally, it’s ok to have a few non-negotiables. Always make sure that your new hire displays willingness and eagerness to learn. If you have compromised on your job description/qualifications they will probably need to pick up a few new skills and so desire to do so is crucial for short-term and long-term success. Speak to their references to ensure that they were reliable, conducted themselves with integrity, and that their work ethic is in line with what you expect from your employees. If you hire people with these qualities while applying the flexible approach discussed above, you will put your business in a position to grow and succeed and keep your employees happy longer!
To hear more from Sandra, follow her on twitter: @SandraZawacki
In the market for a new tech job? Check out our latest open positions.
By Thomas Parzych, Practice Manager at Jobspring Washington DC
Technology is an ever-evolving industry and such demands the people within the industry are just as progressive as the technologies that are being developed. There are so many different options when choosing an appropriate tech stack for a specific project; hundreds of languages, frameworks, databases, etc.
There's a lot of factors that should be considered when deciding what platform or technologies to use for a specific project. The main concern for most is the cost associated with licensing and/or using the technologies. Another concern is the end-user usability; is it a large application or a smaller-scaled application? Something else to consider is what is easiest for the developer themselves, what language do they feel they are an “expert” with, are they comfortable with others accessing their source code, or do they prefer to not let they’re works be accessible to the masses? As the case in any argument, there are pro’s and con’s to both sides.
Benefits of utilizing the Microsoft .NET platform
Most Microsoft developers enjoy the Microsoft tech stack due to the ease of use. The .NET tech stack is widely believed to be very easy to develop with, and utilizing these technologies seems to offer a range of benefits. The first and foremost is that a Windows server is much easier to configure versus a Linux server. Most people believe that configuring a Linux server (especially with no or minimal previous experience) has a much steeper learning curve and takes a more of an investment of time. Another benefit of utilizing Microsoft technologies is the flexibility to work with varying languages on a framework, whether it be object-oriented (C#, VB.NET, etc.) or more functional (F#), there is a choice between languages to produce the best possible end-product.
Many developers also find some advantages of the Microsoft tech stack to be the quickness of being able to produce the product since there is often less obscurity and complexity when it comes to the .NET code. There is also the ability to build both Windows and Web applications, which allow for the use of multiple opportunities for builds. In addition, there is belief that utilizing the .NET tech stack allows for applications that are highly data-oriented, or applications that support huge database functions.
Benefits of utilizing the Open-Source tech stack
Over the past decade or so, there has been a progressive shift towards more open-source based technologies, and there is certainly reasoning behind this shift. From conversations within the community, the main reason seems to be the flexibility of being able to combine multiple technologies to create a “tech stack”. The mission of choosing what technologies to combine and utilize can be an uphill battle in and of itself.
Open-Source technologies are seen as community based technologies, and quite often shareable. This allows for many other developers to learn and gain exposure and experience with another developer’s source code. The main benefit of the open-source tech stack (and this typically affects the companies utilizing the software’s versus the developer) is the cost efficiency of the technologies. Most companies are happy with both the quality and the return on investment of the technologies. Veracode, the leading provider of risk management software, recently states that open-source products can be more secure then there commercial competitors. Most of the time, open source developers are able to identify and characterize security risks and develop a patch to these risks a lot easier than using Microsoft technologies. All in all, most open-source technologies offer a cost-efficient, secure solution for development environments.
What “Tech Stack” is better to use?
There is no real answer to this all-encompassing question. There are, obviously, many factors to consider. Both open-source and commercial technologies offer benefits of use, and any company or developer will have to assess these factors when making a decision. The main focus should be on assessing what the goals of the application are, and doing the right research to understand what will be most effective.
To hear more from Tom, follow him on Twitter! @Tom_Parzych
(Sources: Veracode and CodeCall)
Article by Morgan Khodayari, Recruiter at Jobspring San Francisco
When starting your job search, it is important to be in tune with how you are represented online and how you are utilizing Social Media. In this day and age, websites like LinkedIn and Twitter are a direct reflection of yourself and when used correctly can add another dimension to your resume and improve your credibility. While the immediate value of a Twitter page or an updated LinkedIn profile may be hard to see, your job search is the most important time to hone your focus on your online social presence.
Keeping Your Information Up-to-Date
One of the first things many hiring managers or recruiters will do after you apply to a job is plug your name into Google or look for your LinkedIn profile. Resumes are a great tool that allows candidates to show case their skill sets but a hiring manager can get additional details by utilizing online resources. LinkedIn gives them a good idea of who you’ve worked with, who you might know in common, or what your additional skills are but if your LinkedIn profile doesn’t match what you’ve highlighted on your resume, or is not up-to-date, it may draw a red flag. It can indicate that you were not forth coming in your resume or it can show that you are not concerned with your online presence. It’s becoming common practice for managers to request LinkedIn pages as opposed to resumes – it organized in the same way and should be immediately accessible so be proactive and include a link to your profile on your resume.
It’s important that you check your various social media sites at least once a day. If you are receiving requests or messages, you should be able to respond within 24 hours as you would an email. If you have a Twitter it’s important to show that you are active and contributing. If you have a Twitter account and have not tweeted for months, it cannot be utilized as a tool for creating your social media brand. You should not feel compelled to tweet constantly through the day – once or twice a day suffices and shows you are reachable and engaging others in the social media community. Be aware of who is looking at your LinkedIn – they could be hiring mangers or recruiters interested in your skill set. Also pay attention to how much traction your page is getting, and work towards improving your presence.
Contribute to Your Industry’s Community
Make sure that you are engaging with your industry’s community in every way possible. Share articles you find interesting, join groups, and reply to comments and statuses of people you find interesting. Utilize hash tags to join conversations within your field, and post articles that you read or events that you attend. This will not only generate more traction to your page, but also prove your credibility. Hiring managers want to know that their employees are in tune with what is happening in the industry and that they are active contributors so ensure that your brand reflects your involvement in the community.
Social Media is an active part of our lives and will continue to become more important. Your online presence can give you a very simple way to differentiate yourself from other applicants and make you stand out through sharing original thoughts and ideas. Take small steps to stay active and informed on various social media sites every day and see the impact of your new and improved online brand!
Last night, Tech in Motion: OC hosted The Future of eCommerce at Amazon's Orange County R & D headquarters in Irvine, CA! The presentation was given by Tom Nora, CEO of neoRey as well as the Director of Startup Workshops. His presentation focused on the Next Generation of eCommerce Technologies and which companies are utilizing these technologies to the fullest.
The event started off with a lot of networking along with catering from Zpizza. We had over 160 technology enthusiasts and professionals in attendance.
Tom began his presentation by focusing on where the eCommerce technology trends will be heading in the future. In his opinion, the technology is going to move towards intuitive UX, big images, back end JS and drupal with no coding. His examples of great eCommerce sites who utilize all of these new technologies are Amazon, Gilt and Nasty Gal.
The presentation was quite the hit and everyone enjoyed themselves. We can't wait until our next Tech in Motion: OC event!
The all elusive cloud is quite the hot topic in today's tech world, with thousands of questions surrounding it. So for April's Tech in Motion event we decided to take a stab at answering some of those questions with a Clash of the Clouds debate!
We had four amazing cloud experts participate as our debaters:
- On the Open Source side we had Erik Sebesta, Chief Architect and Technology Officer of Cloud Technology Partners, and Ed Brennan, Senior Director of Cloud Computer, Development and Strategy of Stratus Technologies
- On the Azure side was Mark Eisenberg, Cloud visionary and former member of the Windows Azure sales team, and Bill Wilder, Founder of the Boston Azure User Group and author of Cloud Architect Patterns (O'Reilly Media 2012).
To say the debate got heated would be quite the understatement. There were valid arguments from both sides, however the only clear cut winners were the audience.
For more information about the event check out the live tweets by searching #TechinMotion or visit our meetup.com to see the comments! A special thanks to our debaters for their active participation in this event.
Have ideas for another debate? Comment below and let us know what you'd like to see discussed at Tech in Motion's next event!