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Archive: February - 2014 (5)

  • The New, Now, and Next of UI and UX

    Article by Edward Heinrich, Recruiter at Jobspring San Francisco

    User interfaces have become more and more important in terms of consumer expectations, especially since touch screen smart phones became the mainstream. The touch screen amped up the level of engagement we humans have with our technology, replacing controllers and buttons with more sensory-direct taps and gestures. By striving for minimal but highly functional hardware and software, we’ve created a more intimate way to use our devices – a way that feels more natural. This minimalist wave of the future is arguably led by Apple with their sleek, simple products, and directly contrasted with Blackberry, a successful company famous for its full-keyboard phones but currently facing hard times.

    Aside from machine exteriors, tech software has simplified as well. Programmers are employed frequently and in high numbers (and even higher salaries) to make our apps and programs faster and easier to use. Designers are then responsible for ensuring that our interactive experience feels natural and intuitive and that interfaces are clean and simple. In fact, as recruiters, we are seeing a boom in the UX/UI market as tasks become more specialized and more designers are needed to keep up with the fast pace of the industry. This implies that design and interfaces in general are gaining more importance to everyone from the creators to the consumers. The impact user interfaces have is huge when considering that people check their phones 150 times a day and spend two hours a day on their phones and tablets according to Business Insider.

    The world of user experience is boundless, especially when considering other technologies that have little to nothing to do with interface. For instance, emerging wearable technologies, device GPS tracking, and AI such as Siri can monitor our bodies, memorize our behavior, listen to us, and then all interact with one another through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to give us what we want the moment we need it. Your iPhone can tell your car to play music as soon as you get in after work, your car can tell your Nest when you’re close to home and warm it up before you get there, and everything on your cloud can automatically sync to all your devices so that you’re never without your calendars and information. All of these things contribute to our experience as users with technology, but can do so in a way that eliminates interfaces. On the other hand, interfaces will never completely disappear, so those that are eternally necessary are being improved by designers constantly.

    We are entering a world of extremely seamless and natural-feeling user experiences, a world that is no longer limited by older generations who are slow to adapt. Much of the population, including myself, can hardly remember a time without PCs and cell phones. And those that are a bit older can’t imagine going back to a time without them. High Tech feels as natural to us as eating, and just like food, we strive to consume more and more. As our dependence grows, and as long as the economy stays healthy, we may see a future of tech much like the movie Minority Report before we know it.

  • Jobspring Chicago Lends a Helping Hand at the Ronald McDonald House

    On Friday, January 10th, Jobspring Chicago had the opportunity to volunteer at the Chicagoland Ronald McDonald House. The mission of the Ronald McDonald House is to care for families of children with complex medical needs by providing comfort, compassion and a sense of community. This beautiful facility located in the heart of River North is funded entirely by donations from corporate sponsors and members of the local community.

    The Ronald McDonald House provides free room and board for families with children who are being taken care of in local hospitals. In order to provide 13 meals per week for these families, they rely on volunteers to purchase, prepare and serve food for the everyone who stays at the House.

    DB shopping

    Here's our Regional Director, David Belsky, as he shops for our ingredients! This was our first time volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House, and we had a blast preparing lunch for everyone. We also had to come up with a menu so we chose a fan favorite-- sloppy joes!

     arriving

    Here's our group arriving at the beautiful facility in River North!

    cooking

    Kevin, Cory, Meredith and Katie browned 15 lbs of meat for our sloppy joes. They were all so excited to start cooking in the state-of-the-art kitchen!

    family

    Here's Amy and Jaime posing with one of the sweet families staying in the house! It was such a great opportunity to talk with some of the groups and hear their stories!

    serving

    Lunch time! Our chefs got creative and made one version of "regular" sloppy joes and one version of "spicy" - they were both big hits with the families!

    group

    We had such a great time that we are already planning our next date to volunteer! There are Ronald McDonald Houses in over 300 cities around the world and they are always looking for people to prepare meals for them. If you're interested in getting involved, you can find more information here -- http://www.rmhc.org/. What a great way to spend time together as an office and help out in our community!


  • Three Keys to Securing a Developer

    Article by Ryan Thorpe, Practice Manager in Jobspring Chicago

    RTsquareHiring a software engineer or web developer? Yeah, so is almost every organization. Open source, .NET, front end—you name it. This runs from two-person startups all the way up to Fortune 500 financial, healthcare, and insurance companies.

    With so much competition and demand for talented candidates, companies need to adapt to the market and incorporate certain practices. As a Technical Recruiter at Jobspring Partners, I witness the various processes different companies use to bring developers onto their teams. Based on my experience, I've come up with a few points you should consider in order to secure the talent you want.

    Sell Your Opportunity

    So, you have a candidate sitting in front of you that you like and would make a good addition to the team. Take this opportunity to sell them on why your role is their best bet, because odds are, they’re also interviewing elsewhere.

    Candidates tend to care about three things: technology, projects, and culture. Go into detail on how your team is utilizing modern technologies, creating complex and highly recognizable solutions, and how the culture is on par with their personality and career ambitions. Paint them a picture.

    People buy into this. They respect when someone goes out of the way to sway their decision. It shows you’re passionate about the organization, helps them imagine working there, and automatically gives you a leg-up on the competition.

    Have Realistic Expectations

    We’ve all read through job descriptions. The skills and qualifications parts tend to resemble a kid’s Christmas list. What are the odds they’re going to get an Xbox 360, an iPad, and a LED TV? The same thing holds true with companies. The candidate you secure won't be a unicorn. He or she probably won’t have every bell and whistle you’re looking for.

    This doesn’t mean you’re hiring a dud, so be flexible enough to entertain candidates that have the majority of the skillset you’re looking for, as well as the ability to learn other tools and technologies on the job from senior-level colleagues. You’d be surprised how fast people can adapt, especially if they are hungry and genuinely interested in adding new skills to their tool belt.

    If you hold out for that diamond in the rough, odds are you will miss out on plenty of qualified people. Then you’re back to square one if you can’t find that perfect person.

    Move Quickly

    Keep this in mind from beginning to end. If there is a good resume in your inbox, call it. You want to be one of the first points of contact a good candidate encounters in his or her job search. Once you get in touch, get that person into your office ASAP–no phone screening funny business. In-person interviews provide much more value to the candidate and make you stand out amongst other companies.

    After you get somebody in the door, remember that really talented people usually go off the market in fewer than 10 business days from the start of their search. If they are a “yes” after the first interview, schedule them right then and there for their second round. There’s no use going back and forth delaying things. Try to book the next interview within two-to-three days.

    Do your thing in the second and third round interviews (I’d advise against any more than that) and don’t hesitate to pull the trigger. The longer you wait after a final round to make an offer, the more the “nostalgia” from the interview wears off and gives other companies the opportunity to make their move. Coming out with a quick and competitive offer raises the chances of obtaining that candidate that much higher.

  • The Most Used Language?

  • Switching Careers for DC's Private Sector

    Article by Del Crockett, Regional Director in Jobspring Washington DC

    As a Regional Director that oversees technology recruiting operations in the Washington, DC area, I am often confronted by various levels of Software Engineers that have the misperception that the best, and possibly only real career options in this market are in the federal space. Now I must admit, even I made this same assumption prior to coming to DC. I moved to DC after working in Los Angeles and Philadelphia, cities where ‘government contracting’ isn’t exactly common talk. But in DC, this is as common as 80-degree weather or grabbing a cheesesteak respectively. 

    Below are two simple, yet often overlooked reasons, based on my experiences working with technology managers in various cities across the country, for why I am an advocate of private sector engineering careers over the commonplace federal route in the DC market. 

    Government Technology Playing ‘Catch Up’

    Every day, I talk to software engineers with varying degrees of experience. In DC there's a common story of engineers who graduated from local universities only to be recruited by one of the big federal consulting shops right out of school, therefore entering the federal space by default. After a few years, they often reach a point where they crave the excitement of what they know is available in the private sector. Grand visions of Google, Facebook, and Twitter-esque development shops take over! 

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a vendetta against big federal consulting. In fact, I think they offer a fantastic start to one's engineering career. The problem is that most federal work does not prepare you for a switch to the private sector. There are several reasons for this.

    1. Heavy use of legacy systems and/or slow to integrate new tech. The government relies on private sector companies for their technology. Just look at the investment made into AMAZON WEB SERVICE for cloud computing solutions.
    2. Many lack implementation of agile methodology. Think of any technology company that has had an impact on your life. They run agile.
    3. Creativity and ‘thinking outside the box’ is often not rewarded or promoted due to heavy ‘federal’ restrictions and red-tape. I think Congress paints a clear picture of the red-tape I’m talking about.
    4. Major dichotomy between the working cultures of the two. You just have to experience it to understand the difference.
    5. Most solutions are not ‘Full-Life Cycle’, minimizing your exposure to how end-end solutions are created. Many federal projects offer just a piece of the overall solution to work on. This depth of knowledge will not suffice in the commercial space.

    I meet with Engineering Managers all the time on both sides, and it’s not unusual to hear a manger in the federal space say something along the lines of, "I’d love to see a candidate with commercial product experience." Of course they would, and so would managers in the private sector! The difference is that I have yet to hear a client in the private sector ask for an engineer with federal experience. In fact, I often get requests not to introduce government contractors unless they are extremely unique. Now, is that fair? Probably not, but such requests originate from the five points above. And if developers have such a hard time making a career shift in DC, where government work is fairly common on a resume, imagine what it would be like if you moved to another city. I’m not sure how sexy the government projects you worked on will be to companies on the west coast. 

    Of course, there's always a counter-argument. Government work might be perfect for you, especially if you plan on living in the DC area forever, can acquire a high level clearance (which is money in the bank as far as job stability) and are capable of maintaining those lifestyle restrictions to hold onto it. 

    The Money Argument

    Let’s cut to the chase on this one. Government consultants can make a ton of money! I would even go so far as to say that some are overpaid. Now, with that being said, so is Alex Rodriguez, and I am a believer that if someone is willing to pay it, then to that person (or company), YOU ARE WORTH IT! 

    On the flip side, I also see a ton of candidates who are underpaid in federal and private sectors. There's no universal rule here.

    My point on this topic has to do with the job seekers that are used to making Silicon Valley money in their government job, and now decide they want commercial experience on their resume. These job seekers are often shocked, since salaries in the private sector are usually about 10k lower, on average. I see this shock on a daily basis, and usually it's a conversation of adjusting expectations.

    The reality is that for most Engineering positions in the private sector, a premium is put on those who have the skills to create end-to-end solutions using newer technologies. Think Big-Data, cloud, and mobile, for instance. These are the most requested types of projects Engineers are looking for right now. Unfortunately, if you don’t already have relevant exposure or a history of working in a commercial type of environment, the compensation is not going to compare on day one. 

    If you are going to get into the federal space, you have to face the facts. The government prints money (probably too much) and the private sector is the engine that creates the real growth. The resources available are not the same, so adjustments in expectations have to be made when going from federal to private. Going the opposite way? Well then, be ready to likely cash-in! 

    At the end of the day, the general consensus is that you can make more money doing potentially less cutting-edge or challenging work in the federal space. But if you are looking for the bleeding-edge opportunity often only found in the commercial sector, then expectations need to be a bit more realistic.

    Often, the difference between private and government sector engineers is the mentality. Commercial product managers want developers who are in it for the reward of the work they're accomplishing, and for the innovative tech they get to work on. If you want to work in the private sector, that's the mind-set you'll need to adopt.

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