Jobspring Partners: Talent in Action

The Jobspring Experience


Archive: October - 2014 (5)

  • Developing Your Project Mangement Portfolio

    Article by Adrian Lopez-Obeso, Practice Manager in Jobspring Los Angeles.

    A while back, I wrote an article entitled How To Land a UX Job in Los Angeles. In this article, I touched on portfolios and their importance to UX Designers looking for new career opportunities. In addition to recruiting UI/UX Designers, my team works with Technical Project Managers, so I wanted to follow up with some advice for those of you on the market for management roles!

    As in any job market, hiring managers seek out only the most qualified candidates with the most relevant experience. So many resumes are shuffled through their inbox each day that job seekers must make sure that theirs stands out.

    One way that people in the web and software field stand out is by working on side projects that build their skillset beyond what their previous positions required. Whether it’s building an API and adding it to Github, or designing wireframes for a potential mobile app, designers and developers can always supplement their resumes and skillsets with side projects. This gives them a chance to work with technologies or styles that aren’t always encouraged or permitted at their previous workplaces.

    Unfortunately for Technical Project Managers, side projects to supplement your skillset are a hard thing to come by. Your average PM cannot project manage something by themselves like a developer can build an application. In addition, it's typically rare to find something tangible that a project manager can use to display their work when on the market. However, this does not mean that all is lost for PM’s! As a Project Manager, there are always new methodologies, theories, and techniques to research. Along with that, there are numerous certifications that PM’s can achieve to show their worth and expand their knowledge.

    They key is to keep learning. As long as you can show that, you'll find your new Project Management role in no time!

  • Benefits of Coding Academies

    Article by Melissa Tobia, Practice Manager at Jobspring San Francisco.

    There is no question that learning how to code is the “it” thing to do, especially in this booming tech market. Computer-programming schools all over the United States are giving individuals the opportunity to learn code from experienced developers in just 2-3 months. The popularity of these schools has increased because they offer an alternative education to anyone looking to start a career in coding. This alone is changing how the hiring process works because a CS degree is no longer the only way to land a programming role. Anyone can apply to these hacking schools with every intention of landing a software development role upon completion of the course. This opens up new opportunities for aspiring programmers and without a doubt, these coding academies are the real deal. Within weeks of completing the course, students will find that they are being offered fulltime roles at companies with competitive salaries.

    Sounds great, right? The benefits of these academies are substantial but are not acquired without work. Many students have mentioned that the interview process for these schools is very rigorous. Most academies only accept 5% of applicants. As the popularity of programming increases, so does the interest in these schools. They are constantly becoming more competitive and raising their standards for the talent they produce. During the time as a student at these schools, coding is everything. Students spend most of their day at the academy absorbing as much as they can. Coding becomes a student’s primary focus day and night.

    Are you up to the challenge? Below are some benefits to enrolling in a coding program:

    1. Learning a lot in short amount of time: These courses are between 10-12 weeks on average. They teach the ins and outs of how to code and leave graduates knowledgeable on everything they need to know to land a job in the field. Many grads say that they have never learned so much in such a short amount of time. 

    2. Larger salaries: The average salary of students who complete the course is anywhere from $85,000 to $110,000. Students coming out of these programs are going into the real world with very little experience. Making this large of a salary for your first role in programming makes the entire coding school worth the effort and time. Additionally, being a graduate makes you more valuable as a candidate. This can often put students in situations where they have multiple offers and salary negotiations can be made.

    3. Making connections with the tech community: Coding camps pride themselves on being taught by industry professionals. This means your teachers will become important connections to other professionals in the tech community. Taking advantage of these connections can greatly help after graduating. Additionally, most coding camps have career fairs after completing the course, which allows students to network with different hiring managers and companies.

    4. Landing a job: The end goal of these programs is to get a job. In fact, many of these courses even guarantee one. In addition to the help these schools provide, be proactive about finding a job. Make sure to market yourself well—tell everyone you know that you finished the course and are looking for a new role. There are also many sources outside of the school that can help. Networking at meetups, career fairs and hacking events is great as well as working with recruiting agencies like Jobspring Partners.

    Jobpsring Partners has helped many students land software engineer roles here in San Francisco, and for many of them it’s their very first engineering role. This year alone Jobspring has placed over 15 students into roles with competitive salaries and benefits. Jobspring loves placing candidates from these roles because graduates often have a passion for programming that is not found elsewhere. These students did the hard work so now Jobspring can connect them with great companies!

    Whether you’re looking for a career change or additional education after your college degree, coding programs open up new opportunities and networks for anyone who participates in them. Take the time to consider a programming school and how it can benefit your life significantly! 

  • How to Make the Move to San Francisco's Booming Tech Industry

    Article by Heather Samaras, Regional Director in Jobspring San Francisco.

    Interested in moving to San Francisco for a tech career but don’t know how to get your search started? I can help.

    It’s no secret that San Francisco is booming with tech opportunities. With over 55,000 open tech jobs in SF, it is the place to be for anyone wanting a tech career. However, this year SF surpassed NYC as the most expensive city to live in the U.S. This fact is overwhelming to someone looking to move. Working in tech recruiting in San Francisco, I constantly hear candidates asking how they can pick up and move to this expensive city of opportunity.

    In short, it is possible to move here. It takes strategy and smarts, but it can be done. Here are 3 easy steps to realizing your dream of moving and taking advantage of on the 55K open tech jobs in San Francisco.

    1. Be prepared to pack your bags and make the move. The market moves quickly here. It’s important to do your research and figure out where you want to live. San Francisco’s Real Estate market is highly competitive. The most important thing about finding an apartment is being informed. Research different neighborhoods and the average cost of a one bedroom apartment. When looking online for an apartment, utilize the search engine that was created here, Craigslist. Lastly, in SF, you must plan on having the cash ready to pay first and last month’s rent immediately after looking at an apartment. It’s a quick market, but if you go with your gut, you will be able to find a place.

    2. Start scheduling interviews immediately. Start your search online. You can search to find open technical positions in the area. Use the filters for San Francisco and technology to narrow your search.

    Another great way to kick start your search is partnering up with a Technical Recruiting firm that specializes in the type of tech position you are looking for. Jobspring Partners is a great resource. Utilizing a recruiting firm will give you an opportunity to have “eyes” on the street for you. You will need an advocate to push your background out for interviews. Keep in mind that it typically takes at least 6-8 phone screens (with different companies) and multiple on-site interviews (with different companies) to land a job.

    Additionally, remember that not all companies will pay for relocation or travel expenses. Some companies will provide that benefit, but don’t expect it or have it block you from interviewing with a company. I see a decent amount of companies offering the candidate a sign-on bonus (to help with moving costs) once they make the offer. Once you get your feet wet with technical phone interviews and you have a couple opportunities brewing, it makes sense to purchase a ticket and fly out. This shows the potential employers a “seriousness” level that can help to facilitate the on-site interviews. Make every interview count and put your best foot forward.

    If a company offers to do a Skype interview, keep a few things in mind. I’ve seen companies utilizing Skype to interview and hire candidates without even meeting with them in person. This is not the “norm” but it absolutely happens from time to time. Remember when you interview with a company on Skype, think about your surroundings. Don’t sit on your unmade bed with a t-shirt on as this would project a messy or casual feeling in the interview. Treat a Skype interview like you would an on-site—remember you only have one chance to make a great first impression.

    3. Use your network. Once you decide to make the move, tell everyone. If you put out that energy, it will happen. Make sure to utilize the easy ways to expand your network. An example of this is updating your LinkedIn profile so that you are open to tech positions in San Francisco. Additionally, reach out through any of your first connections on LinkedIn that are local to the San Francisco market and ask if they know any connections that may help you. Join San Francisco tech groups on LinkedIn and connect with people in that group. People post open positions in those groups, so it’s a great way to find opportunities you might not elsewhere.  Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and very detailed with your experience. If you have a GitHub account, be active with current code and projects. Your personal website should have an updated version of your resume (that resume is searchable to employers & recruiters). By doing these simple things, you are marketing yourself and expanding your reach to employers in the SF area. This can really make a difference to how fast you land a great job here.

    Take these tips and pick a date for your big move. If you follow these guidelines and act quickly and intelligently, you too can make the move to San Francisco and join the booming tech industry that is constantly growing here. Then, once you have your dream tech job landed, you will never look back.  

  • How to Effectively Interview and Hire an Engineer

    Article by Charlotte Haun, Lead Recruiter in Jobspring LA.

    The market for hiring engineers is more competitive than ever. As a recruiter, one of the most frustrating things to see happen is having a great client, who’s hiring for a tough-to-find position, miss out on qualified candidates because of an inefficient hiring process. Many companies have lengthy technical interviews, as well as take home tests, but the most important thing to keep in mind with these job seekers is that they are not interviewing exclusively with you! They are usually working with multiple recruiters/hiring managers that are pushing them to take their jobs as well. With that said, often times the company that moves the most efficiently with their interview process is the one who gets the candidate.

    I’ve heard many times from job seekers, even extremely talented and senior people that I’m working with, “I just want to accept the first job offer I get, I hate taking off work to go to interviews.” No matter how much we encourage candidates to weigh their options and see a few different companies, sometimes the first company that makes an offer does end up being the best fit.

    Below are some of my tips for managers who are urgently trying to fill positions, but aren’t seeing any results.

    First off, don’t be too critical of a candidate’s resume. Being too judgmental of the resume’s formatting, spelling, etc. may cost you a great candidate. A resume that has the skill sets you are looking for is worth a phone call, even if it only lasts ten minutes. I have seen managers hire candidates that they originally passed on because their resumes didn’t reflect their passion, attitude, and intelligence. If the candidate is extremely job jumpy, it is always worth a phone call to understand why s/he has left those particular jobs. Sometimes their reasons are very justified. For example, start-ups frequently do lay-offs when they are growing, so this could be a cause.

    Keep the interview process thorough, but efficient. Company #1 that does three phone interviews with three different people before physically bringing in a candidate is probably going to lose out to Company #2 that does one phone interview, and then brings them in right after to see the space. Company #2 will be able to make an informed decision faster, and effectively make an offer faster. This is a candidate’s market, and they have many options when it comes to new jobs. A company that has a two month long hiring process will lose out on candidates to the companies that can simply act quicker.

    Do not extend offers in the actual interview. Candidates are usually very emotional or nervous at the end of the interview process, and they could use a day to decompress. If you extend something official to them the same day as the interview, they will usually accept an offer in person because they are caught off guard and excited, and then decline later because the offer isn’t quite what they are looking for.

    Keep the interviews organized and don’t miss phone calls! Candidates become very discouraged when they take time out of their day to take a phone call and never receive one. This can hurt their impression of your company in the long run as well.

    Lastly, be open in terms of your budget. If you are working with a recruiter, be honest, and let them know what number to stay under when they submit candidates. Interviewing candidates that are way over the budget can end up being a waste of time for everyone, and frustrating for the manager. If you are realistic about what you can offer a candidate, then you will be more efficient with your interview process and save time!

  • Hiring Managers: Technical Tests Aren’t Always a Good Measure of a Candidate’s Skill

    Article by Zack Balthaser, Lead Recruiter in Jobspring LA.

    Recently, our New York office published a blog which gave great tips to job seekers on how to ace a technical test. If you are faced with taking such a test, I highly recommend reviewing Samantha’s advice!In this post, though, I hope to explain to hiring managers how and why technical tests don’t accurately measure the ability of a candidate. Just a refresher, a technical test is an assignment given to the candidate to complete at home. They range in time necessary to complete and difficulty, but they typically take between an hour and a half-day.

    Based on what I've seen in the market, technical tests are a bit rare these days, but some managers are still relying on them. Usually, they’re not a good idea. Much of this is because it alienates candidates, and in today’s candidate-driven market, managers need to compete for talent.

    Below, I have broken down the thought process behind why a technical test is a useful interviewing tool (at different stages of the interview process), and offer an alternative to using these tests.

    First Stage of the Interview Process

    Hiring Manager: “This resume looks good, but I want to know if this developer can write good code before I take time out of my busy day to speak with him/her.”

    The Appeal: Resumes aren’t always the best indicator of candidate skill. Some resumes have all the buzz words but the candidate isn’t very good, and sometimes the resume looks flat and uninteresting but the candidate is actually great at his/her job. A technical test seems like a great equalizer, a way to weed out the bad from the good, so the hiring manager can save time by only speaking with qualified candidates.

    Why it’s not necessary: The candidate has never even spoken with you before. S/he has no idea if this is a position s/he will consider, s/he has no idea what the work environment is like, and also has no idea what you are like as a manager. All the candidate has is a job description and a URL. Because this is such a competitive market, s/he likely has 4-7 other companies vying for their attention, AT LEAST. Why would the candidate take time out of his/her busy schedule to try and impress you when they have an inbox full of job descriptions and a line of recruiters trying to speak with them? At the end of the day, it’s an almost guaranteed way to scare away the best talent. 

    The Solution: Use your recruiter. If you must ask questions that aren’t immediately apparent on the resume, a good recruiter will probably have the information you’re looking for. Ask what the feedback has been from other companies. The recruiter might even have references to supply. But a general rule of thumb is to give a candidate a shot if the resume covers the basics. It’s better to have an unsuccessful 15 minute interview than pass on a qualified candidate and prolong the hiring process, which can potentially suck time out of everyone on the team.

    Second stage of the Interview Process

    Hiring Manager: “Well, s/he sounded pretty good on the phone, but I’m going to have a few developers from my team be a part of the next interview. I want to make sure this candidate has some good skills before I have them take time out of their day.”

    The Appeal: The majority of phone screens take less than thirty minutes, and it’s hard to gauge a candidate’s abilities in that time. Most phone screens focus on communication, verifying a few points on the candidate’s resume, and asking a few technical questions. There might be a quick 5 minutes to tell the candidate a few details about the job or the role. A hiring manager wants to know the investment to interview will be worth it.

    Why it’s not necessary: Same points as before. The market is too hot and candidates probably won’t give the test the time necessary to fully portray their skills, if they take the time to do it at all. Most candidates don’t even consider a phone screen a real interview, and will consistently rank the phone screen process below the in-person process. Some won’t even remember the hiring manager or company name because they’re doing so many phone calls.

    The solution: Ask some technical questions in the interview. If you have to see syntax and problem solving skills, have them do a quick whiteboarding exercise. If you absolutely must see code before you meet them, ask for a Github account or some other social coding account. Check to see if they have code samples on hand. But again, focus on getting the candidate into your office so you can sell them on the opportunity. That way it’s a mutual appraisal.

    Third (or final) stage of the Interview Process (somewhat rare)

    Hiring Manager: “This candidate seemed pretty good in person, but I want to see how they deal with some real-world problems” OR “This candidate did great, I just need to see their code before I can feel good about making an offer.” OR “This candidate didn’t blow me away, but I can see his/her potential. If they do well on this test I’ll be able to feel better about making an offer.”

    The Appeal: The hiring manager has met the candidate in person, and maybe the candidate has even passed some vocal or whiteboarding tests, but the manager wants to see what their code looks like. Or, maybe it’s company policy to issue a test, and that’s the way they’ve always done it. Maybe, in the last case, the candidate didn’t do too well and they have to prove themselves.

    Why it’s not necessary: If you’re close to making an offer to a candidate, so are 3-4 other companies out there. Even if the candidate is interested in the position, they love the company, and they gel with the rest of the team, a final round technical test before receiving an offer might seem like an unnecessary hoop to jump through and will probably turn them off. You’ll also be competing with job offers from other companies, some of which might have short expiration dates, and the candidate will probably take an offer on the table than put in more effort to impress you and your team.

    The Solution: Rely on references, which you’re probably checking already, and ask specifically about code quality. Ask the candidate or recruiter if there’s existing code out there you can check (again, existing code samples, GitHub account, etc.). If you’re on the fence about hiring someone and you NEED a sanity check, do another phone call / interview with them. But make it interactive, so the candidate is participating with the manager and/or the team, and not just doing an unnecessary exercise.

    When is a technical test necessary?

    When there’s mutual interest between candidate and hiring manager. Maybe the candidate has a great personality / culture fit and they’re hungry to grow, and they want to prove themselves, but they didn’t do that well compared to other candidates. If the candidate wants to, give them a shot to prove themselves.

    Technical tests are also an alternative to whiteboarding. Some candidates don’t do very well with whiteboarding exercises. I’ve heard it described as having a bunch of people breathing down your neck while you’re trying to concentrate. Some candidates do great on take home tests, but get a little nervous for whiteboarding, so offering an alternative is a great way to build goodwill with the candidate while still gauging their technical skills. But having them do both is redundant.

    When it’s interactive, a technical test can be a good idea. If you absolutely must give them a coding exercise, spend some time on it during the next in-person interview. Go over it with them, and ask them why they chose the methods they did so you can see their thought process. Maybe ask them if they’ve tackled a similar problem in the past, and if there were any specific constraints for that project that shaped their approach to the test. Tell them how this particular environment would solve this problem, based on your own experience and the tools they use. This is a great opportunity to impress the candidate.

    Last thoughts on technical tests.

    Don’t have them do logic puzzles at home. Pretty much every single one can be solved in 3 seconds using Google. It doesn’t prove anything.

    It’s very rare to rely on technical tests these days. Whiteboarding is generally seen as a better alternative because there’s no way to cheat on them, and it doesn’t take any time investment on the candidate’s part.

    It made more sense back in 2009 or 2010, when the talent market was flush with people and hiring managers could pick and choose the best, but in 2014 it’s a relic.

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