Jobspring Partners: Talent in Action

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Archive: August - 2014 (3)

  • The Little Search Engine That Could

    Written by Gerard Daly, Recruiter at Jobspring Philadelphia

    Philadelphia has always fought to be known as a major contributor to cutting-edge technology. Yes, this is Comcast Country, and that does have significant pull in certain tech circles, but it also takes away from the smaller companies making big waves. Take, for example, the one Philadelphia startup company DuckDuckGo, a search engine, which has aligned itself to overtake Comcast in number of worldwide users.

    Recently, DuckDuckGo and Apple confirmed a partnership that put the company at the forefront of the behemoth search engine battle that’s ongoing.

    “Online privacy has been an actively discussed topic recently and large corporations are starting to pay more attention, such as Apple, with iMessage and the newly debuted email feature of encrypted attachments via iCloud,” said DuckDuckGo user Colin Elliott, a past Jobspring Partners candidate. “Also, to Apple's credit, they have found a beautiful, anonymous search engine to use in Safari. DuckDuckGo in the past couple months has been rolling out their revamped search, which I'm sure is what caught the attention of Apple.”

    So where did the little search engine that could come from?

    DuckDuckGo was founded just outside of Philadelphia in 2008 by Gabriel Weinberg. As the sole member of the company at the time, Gabriel spent countless hours and dollars to keep his idea alive - and it is a good thing that he did. The company caught the eye of techies in 2011 when Union Square Ventures backed their product and funded the rapid expansion of the DuckDuckGo team. From then on, their business model has allowed them to hold their own and even gain user loyalty from other major search engines.

    What sets DuckDuckGo apart from other search engines is their founder’s motivations. Weinberg’s non-competitive strategies make him particularly dangerous to giants like Google and Bing. Motivated by user experience, not money or competition, he gives them the ability to provide their own features. For instance, refining results to filter out what are called content mills. Content mills are websites that push a massive amount of articles just to bring their sites to the top of a search list. Even more interesting is DuckDuckGo’s alignment with the TOR Onion Browser. Much like TOR, DuckDuckGo provides an anonymizing service to protect the identity of its users.

    One would think that a company filtering out content and promoting anonymity might be shunned, but in fact, the reception has been quite the opposite. Three operating systems have already signed agreements to include DuckDuckGo as their search engine; however, this past Monday, the company made history when it paired with Apple as a default search engine option in Safari. This makes DuckDuckGo the first anonymous search engine to be added to a major browser.

    "We're thrilled to be included in Safari,” said CEO and founder, Gabriel Weinberg, “and we're proud to be part of the Philly community."

    This all goes to show that a small startup that didn’t come out of New York or California can hold their own against massive established corporations. Philadelphia is officially a contender on the search engine playing field.

  • Evolving Trends and Competitive Advantages According to Silicon Valley

    Article by Jason Cooper, Practice Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley.

    With a record number of IPOs and companies like Beats By Dre and WhatsApp being acquired in the billions, venture capital firms continue to dump more and more money into technology-driven startups, hoping to hit on the next big thing. Thus, it’s no surprise that the demand for engineering talent is approaching an all-time high. Job-seekers and companies are always looking for those things that can give them a competitive advantage in the hiring process. 

    Silicon Valley is at the forefront of it all, and is a good place to look at trends in the market. A couple of months back, I was approached by David Ramel, a technical editor of MSDN Magazine, and asked about the use of social media sites, open source contributions, and general themes we are seeing out here in San Jose. What follows is a Q and A of that interaction.

    Q: Have you seen evidence of recruiters/hiring managers paying more attention to participation in tech-oriented social media sites such as Stack Overflow, Quora, and Slashdot when evaluating job candidates?

    A: At this point, I think recruiters are making use of sites like Stack Overflow and Quora more so than hiring managers. I think this is due to the fact that there are more open positions than qualified job-seekers. So recruiters are constantly trying to find new ways to source and connect with potential job-seekers. There is no doubt that these sites are becoming a more popular place for engineers to showcase their skills and knowledge of technology trends. However, I think the evaluation of job-seekers (both technical and cultural) still primarily takes place during the interview(s).

    Q: If so, are these becoming more important than traditional evaluation methods such as resumes, CVs, screening interviews, and so on?

    A: I still think that interviews are the most effective way to evaluate potential candidates. Resumes are a helpful tool, but they often don’t tell the whole story. That’s why I meet my job-seekers in-person and go through their background in detail. I’ve been able to schedule interviews for some job-seekers with nothing more than a quick pitch of their background over the phone. Contributions to these types of sites can help set you apart, but it’s not as if a talented engineer will be penalized by a client for not doing so. Again, I do think that participation on these sites is a way for engineers to get noticed, leading to more opportunities being presented to them.

    Q: Do you foresee these new evaluation techniques surpassing those traditional methods in importance/usage?

    A: The modern day job search has greatly evolved over the last several years. As recruiters and hiring managers try to streamline the interview process and find more efficient ways to hire quickly, I think it’s entirely possible that these new evaluation techniques will play a greater role in the decision making process.

    Q: Have you found that open source project contributions/participation are becoming more important?

    A: I think open source contributions say a lot about an engineer. As a recruiter, it tells me that someone is passionate about what they do and plays an active role in the tech community. Again, there are plenty of great engineers that aren’t going to have open source contributions to point to, and that’s fine. However, if someone is very active in the Linux community or is an Apache committer for example, it surely will capture the attention of recruiters and hiring managers.

    Q: Are hirers using specific big data analytics techniques in their evaluations with respect to the aforementioned trends? If so, any specifics as to the techniques/strategies or software packages being used?

    A: I suppose that this could be happening, but I’m not aware of it yet. However, it seems like a natural progression as many companies look to leverage big data analytics in a variety of ways.

    Q: What would be your advice to software developers/engineers looking to advance their careers with respect to these trends? What specific things can they do to enhance their job prospects in the new age of social media and big data?

    A: I think you want to make sure that what you are putting online and sharing in the open source community is something you are proud of and can stand behind. If you are going to share links to your code/projects on your resume or LinkedIn profile, you want to make sure it highlights your strengths. I think the site that’s getting the most attention, especially from hiring managers, is GitHub. For someone looking to enhance their job prospects, that would be the first place I would start.

    Q: With respect to the previous question, how does your advice vary for new developers seeking initial employment versus experienced developers seeking to advance their careers?

    A: The entry-level engineer out of a top computer science program will have no problem landing a job. They really don’t need to do much to attract the attention of potential employers. The Facebook’s and Google’s of the world will snatch these folks up quickly, and often before they even graduate. However, for those engineers not coming out of high profile schools, I think contributions to sites like Stack Overflow, GitHub, etc. become much more important. Without real world career experience, this is a fantastic way for them to showcase their knowledge and skills.  

    Q: Beyond the aforementioned trends, are you seeing other ways that software development/engineering recruiting/hiring is changing?

    A: In recent years, top tier software engineers have become almost like blue chip recruits in collegiate sports. It’s a candidate-driven market and they often have their pick from a handful of job offers. Thus, companies are constantly altering their interview process, sales pitch, compensation packages, and perks to be more attractive than the competition. In 2009, companies could retain and recruit engineers because the majority of them were happy just to have jobs. Now, recruiters and hiring managers really need to sell their opportunity to potential candidates from the get-go, and throughout the interview process if they have any hope of capturing their attention.

    Q: On the flip side, are you seeing other ways that job-seekers are amending their strategies?

    A: Most analysts predict the demand for engineering talent to continually increase over the next 10-15 years. Provided this trend continues, which I think it will, I see sites like Dice, Monster, and CareerBuilder becoming much less relevant. The job-seekers I know who publically post their resume online can get anywhere from 10-50 calls and/or emails a day. The internet is a great way to advertise that you're looking for a job, but it results in a lot of “noise” with very little filter. Many of the good engineers out there will choose to be more selective in their job search. They may turn to their friends or former colleagues for referrals to specialized agency recruiters or introductions to the hiring manager at their current company. Trust me, if you have a detailed profile on LinkedIn, the good companies and recruiters will find you. You can sit back and choose which ones you respond to and there is no need to subject yourself to the endless calls and emails that come with posting your resume on these sites. It’s gotten to the point where some of the job-seekers I represent no longer have a conventional resume. They simply use their LinkedIn profile in lieu of one, and many clients could care less. It’s about what they can do from a programming standpoint, not about their ability to write a resume.

    Q: What skills are most in demand, in terms of areas of expertise and/or specifics such as experience with programming languages/tools?

    A: Unless you are coding in antiquated languages like VB.Net or ActionScript, chances are your skillset is needed somewhere. However, there are several areas that I think are growing faster than others. I have seen a tremendous amount of demand for engineers with experience building mobile applications for iOS and Android. I see a lot of companies looking for exceptional JavaScript engineers, especially those who have experience with Node.js. Also, there continues to be high demand for people with Hadoop experience as well as data scientists.

     

    In closing, the modern day job search is definitely evolving. The standard resume and job board account is no longer the way to get noticed. While social media and open source community projects make it easier to find and connect with potential candidates, people still hire people. There will always be a place for talented recruiters as it’s a relationship-based business. No matter how many questions you answer on Quora, or how great your resume or GitHub account looks, there is always going to be a personality/cultural component to hiring that I don’t think technology will be able to account for.

  • Personal Networking in the Age of Technology

    Article by Garrett Biel, Recruiter in Jobspring San Francisco.

    Nowadays, the term networking is thrown around more than ever—and it is no secret that San Francisco, especially, loves to network. Networking is not a trend or a fad that will come and go. Networking is a skill and a tool that will always be around to help you find a job or grow your business. With networking here to stay, the question becomes, how has networking changed and are classic networking techniques becoming outdated?

    These days, reliance on technology is reaching an all-time high. With the uproar of mobile devices and smartphone technology, it can be easy to find potential clients or employers with the click of a button. However, this can be seen as a blessing or a curse. It's easy for someone to submit their resume online to a plethora of companies. But it is something else entirely to actually meet face-to-face with a hiring manager or client. This face-to-face interaction opens up an opportunity to connect on a professional and personal level, an opportunity that is lost when dealing through online communication. It is important these days to remind ourselves that sometimes it's necessary put away cell phones and tablets and make time for in-person networking.

    Struggling to find new face-to-face networking opportunities? A meetup is a great way to meet people in your community and learn something new. Meetups are organized events that bring people together with a common interest or mission. In tech especially, there are a number of meetups held every day ranging in topic and size. Have an interest in Ruby on Rails? There’s a meetup for that. Do you want to meet UI/UX designers from new startups in the Bay Area? There are numerous meetups for that. These local gatherings are a great outlet for networking and provide an easy way to direct your goals in connecting with the right people.

    Even if you're not currently in the market for a new job, speaking with people in tech positions that you may one day want to work in can provide you with a firsthand explanation of what the job entails. This sort of advice cannot be found online or in a job description. Additionally, expanding your network through meetups will introduce you to new companies that you may have never found on your own. In lieu of the recent explosion of startups all over the country, it can be overwhelming to keep up with. Meetups are a personal and friendly way to discover new companies and get to know the creative minds behind them. This is especially important in places like San Francisco where new startups are founded every day.

    Not only does a meetup allow you to network with others and grow your community, but it also allows you to learn and grow. Often these events will be focused around a certain technology and feature an expert in the field sharing his or her knowledge on the topic. Learning this new information can help you in future interviews, positions, and general conversations with coworkers. You can have ten years of experience under your belt or even just one, but there is an opportunity to learn something new about a technology you might have never known.

    In the age of the mobile device, it is important to remember that not everything has to revolve around the miniature computer we keep in our pockets. It is the personal connection you make with others that is going to set you apart from everyone else. After the personal connection is made, then turn to technology to keep up with that person—connect with them on LinkedIn, start an email conversation, and most importantly, use these lines of communication to find time to meet in-person again. Face-to-face networking is an old tactic of the business world, but it is not outdated. Technology is important and can be used to enhance our personal connections, but it is still essential to get that face-time.

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