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Archive: February - 2015 (4)

  • 2015 UI/UX Design Trends

    Article by Daniel Urbaniak, Practice Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley

    Running a sales and recruiting team comes with many challenges; keeping up on technology trends typically falls on the back burner for most. However, those who keep up with the ‘latest and greatest’ trends have the upper hand in educating those you are assisting with their search. The UI/UX design world is no exception, with 88% of young adults being connected to a smartphone it has become imperative to deliver the best user experience to compete. (Creativeblog)

     

    2014 brought us design trends like: The hamburger menu, pushing the limited when it comes to resolution, and the expansion of in-house design teams. With the end of the first quarter on the horizon, I thought it would be a great time to discuss a few of the design trends we will be seeing in 2015.

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    Skeuomorphic

    Lean design has been leading the way in recent design trends. This will continue, but as companies and designers continue to hone lean design and how it lends itself to mobile applications, they also need to set themselves apart. In 2015, we will see (and we have already started to) skeuomorphic cues in lean design. Keep an eye out for additional physical presences; transparency and layers will become more common, apps will continue to look flat and conform to strict grids. The focus of design will revolve around movable objects within the screen. In the summer of 2014, Google transposed this design trend on Material Design.

    Slippy UX

    I am definitely guilty of (over) using the term sticky or stickiness when talking about design. I like the idea of creating applications that not only engage a user on their first use, but also ones that keeps the user interested over extended periods of times or uses. The more our devices become connected to our everyday lives, i.e. thermostats, home security, or digital experience with our cars, the greater the need is for efficient and effective delivery of information. Slippy UX is giving the user an application designed for “glance-ability”. Coined by Jake Zukowski, Assistant Creative Director at Frog Design, "slippy UX is intended to be invisible-enough and non-distracting enough for the user while still delivering and absorbing information".

    Connectivity

    There are two emerging trends in connectivity, the first being something more apparent every day, even if we are not aware of it. The ability to send information to many devices, syncing with the cloud, and allowing users to maneuver their information has already started to be a driving force in design. Forrester Research found that 90% of users who own multiple devices start a task on one device and finish it on another. In 2015, we will see user experience that functions across all platforms seamlessly, regardless of device or screen size. The second connectivity trend will be an extension of what some of our mobile apps already do: accessing GPS and Bluetooth to respond better to user needs. The combination of these integrations, wearable technology, and the Internet of Things will result in apps that collect data on the user to deliver advice and infer when the device should be delivered.  The term to look for here is Ambient Intelligence.

    2015

    With worldwide IT on track to spend a total of 3.8 trillion in 2015, we will see the above trends and many more, become apparent in our every day lives.(Gartner.com) What trends are you excited about in UI/UX Design for 2015? 

  • What NOT To Do In Your Technical Job Search

    Article by Tom Parzych, Practice Manager in Jobspring DC. 

    There are a lot of articles on the World Wide Web that instruct potential job seekers on what they should do: how to conduct their search, format their resume, present themselves on interviews, and negotiate the right offer. Here, we discuss a different spin by discussing what potential seekers should NOT do in their efforts to find a new position.

    There are certain misconceptions that people have when starting the search for the right role and making the wrong decision can sometimes make the search all that much harder. First, I will discuss what not to do while starting your search. Next, I will cover what not to do when formatting your resume. This can be especially critical since this is typically your first ‘in’ with a potential hiring manager. Lastly, I will cover how to not conduct yourself during the interview process, and how to handle some hard-to-answer questions.

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    Do NOT expect the Resume Boards to find your next position...

    In the technology field, there are more than enough positions open, which span various fields, niches, and locations. Many are under the impression that this means recruiters, HR, hiring managers, and others of the like are constantly checking the boards for talented resumes. While there is some truth to this, many positions get filled through networking and referrals. I’m sure every programmer, systems analyst, DevOps Engineer, DBA, etc. have gotten calls when posting their resume that are inappropriate for the basic requirements of what they are looking for (i.e. location, title, salary range, contract or permanent roles). This is because anyone has access to your profile and will try to make a square peg fit into a round hole.

    In order to find the next position, you must be proactive rather than reactive. Technology is a very different industry than most other industries. You should be sending your resume to companies that you find interesting (regardless of a job posting or not). You should also be connecting with people at those companies through social media that is profession-friendly (LinkedIn, Google+, etc.), this is the tech industry; be creative! You should also be connecting with recruiters that are specific to your location and know the local market or have inside information. Furthermore, since the tech industry is very collaborative and sharing in their training, you should check out local tech-specific meetings and advocacy groups for introductions to others within the tech industry. Get yourself out there, connect with people who likely have similar interests, and market yourself to the open industry…do NOT expect your resume online to do all the work!

    Do NOT make decisions for the individual considering your resume…

    The first step in most job searches is to update your resume. This can be a very daunting task for some, as ‘selling’ yourself on a piece of paper is nearly impossible. You should have a copy of your resume that you update for specific positions, and use your experience to relay your qualifications for the duties of that specific posting. However, many people ‘screen’ themselves out of even applying for a job based on some ‘requirements’ of the posting. Most hiring managers understand the difficulty of conveying a skill set on a resume (remember: they are people too, and have probably even looked for a job themselves). If you make the decision that you are unqualified based on a ‘job requirement’, you are essentially making the decision for the person who is considering your resume, and that decision is ‘no’.

    Now, this advice shouldn’t be taken too literally. I’m speaking to certain job requirements. Such as, if you have 5 years of experience and the posting calls for 7 years of experience, you should give yourself the shot. Perhaps you have had more diverse experience in those 5 years versus someone with the targeted 7 years. Additionally, if the role calls for 6-7 years of experience, and you only have 4-5/7 years, send in your application regardless! Most understand the room for potential and growth, which should be conveyed through your interview process.

    Do NOT make your resume a Novel

    (no matter how much experience you have)…

    Any technical resume over 3 pages is not being read. Do NOT make your resume overly detailed. Especially in technology, most of the languages or systems you used 6 years ago may not be relevant to the current tech landscape. Technology is constantly evolving and those who work in the field need to do the same, and more importantly, show that evolution. This is directed towards those who would be considered senior in their career, of course, but you should not have to list every technology you’ve worked with since the beginning of your career. Instead, focus on those projects that are current, relevant, or that you’ve acquired on your own time (through mentorship, side projects, etc.).

    When you are targeting a specific role, if the posting calls for a requirement you possess, but most other roles don’t- make sure to put the skill on the resume for that role and move on. For example, if you are a Microsoft Web Developer, your C# experience should be applicable for 98% of the roles you are applying for. That VB.NET experience from 5 or 6 years ago may only be applicable for one posting. Additionally, if you have 4 years of JAVA and 3 years of C#, but want to work in a JAVA environment, tailor your resumes appropriately and apply for those positions. Most hiring managers will pass on those who ‘walk the line’, because it shows some experience in a couple of things, rather an expertise in one or two things. You should NOT just have one copy of your resume, there should be a couple variations.

    Do NOT get in your own way through your interview process…

    Phone screens are sometimes a necessary evil. While the industry is moving heavily towards first-round in-person interviews, there are still some companies, hiring managers, etc. that conduct phone screens as the initial point of contact. With this being the case, there are certain assumptions you should NOT be making. Within technology, there is a misconception that the recruiter or HR representative conducting the phone call may not be technical or may not really know how to ‘screen’ you. However, more and more technical positions call for someone to interface with people in the company, both who are technical and non-technical. These screens can be a great way to show your diversity and ability to work with different internal constituents. When speaking on the phone with a hiring manager, some assume there is no room for fault or difference. Make sure to conduct the interview in a conversational way, if they ask you a ‘how to’ question, and you get the feeling that isn’t what they are looking for, clarify it with them! Do NOT assume that there are only black and white, yes or no answers.

    A lot of people within technology are typically very good at what they do, but can have a hard time relaying this information in an appropriate way. For instance, one should never speak in absolutes and they should be very careful about the verbiage used. Recently, I had a candidate go to an in-person interview with a hiring manager for a local start-up. The candidate was a great fit for the role, and he was really excited about the position. When he met with the hiring manager, he was asked a question: “How would you rate your experience with ASP.NET”. Now, the candidate was a Web Developer with tons of ASP.NET (and he really knew his stuff), and he answered “Expert level”. Fatal mistake. The next question from the hiring manager was about some concepts of ASP.NET, and the candidate got all right but one. When the hiring manager was providing feedback, he said the candidate “shot himself in the foot”. He explained that while he was very interested in the candidate, his concern is that the candidate wasn’t an ‘expert’ and got a very simple (in his eyes) question wrong and that indicated a level of not only knowledge but naivetés that he could not justify. The candidate should have answered with “I’m very comfortable/confident with my experience, but I’m always learning”. This probably would have allowed for a more positive dialogue vs. the one that resulted.

    In addition to remembering what to do in your technical job search, remember what NOT do to!

    I’m hoping that this information will be helpful to those who are looking for more than the typical ‘how to get a job’ articles. While there are very specific recommendations and information out there on what to do to get a job, there are also a lot of things NOT to do that are sometimes forgotten. These small, but sometimes costly, mistakes can be the difference between you landing the ‘right’ job and the ‘next’ job!

     

  • Best Practices to Keep Your Engineers Happy

    Article by Charlotte Haun, Practice Manager in Jobspring LA.

    There has been a lot of buzz in the tech community around companies doing whatever it takes to attract talent. From posting competitive salaries to offering candidates large bonuses, transportation, and equity, companies are stepping up their compensation and benefits package yearly to adjust to the fluctuation of demand for quality talent that are equally passionate about the idea, product, and team.

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    It is important to make sure that engineers are comfortable, content, and happy at their current company. Most engineers will tell you that their voicemails and LinkedIn inboxes are probably full from being contacted by internal and external recruiters, hiring managers, and former colleagues on a daily basis. Engineers who state that they are happy with their jobs are usually open to hearing about new opportunities, especially opportunities that include better perks, compensation, benefits, bonuses and growth opportunity.

    One of the most common things I hear as a recruiter, when speaking to engineers regarding their reason for their job search, are  “growth, money, commute, and new technology.” It is important to make sure that your engineers are cared for and are happy in order to maintain low job turnover and quality work.

    Here are five tips on how to keep your engineers happy:

    Growth: Make sure that potential engineers see growth opportunity/advancement in your company. This could be in various forms like growth in title, salary, or responsibility. Regardless of whether a higher level position is available at the time, make sure there is communication about when the company expands and what the future looks like for the employee. If they don’t see advancement in the future, most engineers will eventually hit their ceiling and want to move on. Try to keep that ceiling as high as possible to keep engineers longer.

    Work/Life Balance: It is important to offer your engineers a healthy work/life balance. You may not be able to physically move your office, but at least try to accommodate commuters. Offer flex hours. Allow one or two days a week remote work. Perhaps provide a “crash pad” for employees that are traveling to stay at a few nights a week if needed. When your employees are taken care of and are not burnt out, they will produce the best work! Investing in your employees is the most important investment one can make.

    Recognize good work: Recognition can come in various forms. Good performance should be recognized in little ways, and on a daily basis with things as simple as a “nice job” or a thank you. Managers should also make a point to get direct one-on-one time to let engineers know that their contributions are appreciated. Celebrating over a nice dinner when they hit an achievement shows the engineers that they are appreciated. Allow them some freedom when good work is done-let them work from home if they prove they can deliver. Lastly, recognize good work with a positive review, raise or bonus, or increase in stock!

    Take feedback: Check in with your team. Find out if they are starting to feel burnt out, frustrated, or bored. Ask what they think of the team and current projects. Take their ideas on new technologies, procedures, or things around the office. Be open to constructive criticism, as your engineers' feedback will allow you to become a better manager.

    Innovation in all forms: Keep up to date with technology as much as possible. Engineers always want to be doing the latest and greatest, so if they are using the same tech stack that they started with 5 years ago, they will get bored and tempted to explore. If your projects are not compatible with new technology, then allow engineers some time to explore on their own. Encourage your employees to constantly seek growth and education and allow them to thrive in the things that they are personally interested in.

    Your engineers are one of your company’s most valuable assets. Make sure that they are taken care of, rewarded, and encouraged, and they will continue to be of the utmost value to your company.

  • Ask the Tough Question: "Why?"

    Article by Keith Wilson, Practice Manager in Jobspring Philadelphia.

    Keith Wilson, Jobspring Partners

    Do you want all of your questions answered? If so, start asking one simple question: Why. It’s nothing revolutionary, but at the same time, it’s also counterintuitive. Growing up, I was always instructed to do as I was told. This process served me well in both school and sports. Once I transitioned into recruiting after college, I was educated on the benefits of digging deeper and asking why I should do the things I was being asked to do. Over the years, I came to understand that all of the answers I wanted were right at my disposal. I just had to ask for them. So as an interviewer or interviewee, why do you need to ask the tough question?

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    To Fully Understand the Situation

    The ability to understand is fundamental to being successful as both an employer and employee. This sounds elementary, but I've experienced what happens when I dive head-first into a project/task without asking any questions. Mistakes are made, but lessons learned quickly. Your strategy should be to understand the full scope of the process and figure out how your actions are going to align with the end goal. Whether you are an employer or employee, these details will allow you to properly diagnose the situation and help you pivot accordingly.

    To Get a Deeper Perspective

    For example, if I am speaking with a client that’s looking to hire 5 engineers over the next 2 months, I need to understand why. Obviously, your hiring spree is great news, but what’s the driving force behind this need? Are these positions out of growth, or did the entire team quit because they are working 60 hours a week? This is just a basic example to illustrate a simple situation where the “why” is vital in moving forward. Once I know the underlying facts of the situation, I can move forward, properly educated, with an eye on the expectations that lie ahead.

    Sidenote: There is no need to probe people on sensitive information that may not be professional. That is not the purpose behind these conversations. If you lay up the question properly, it will be well-received. Don’t make it weird.

    To Receive Feedback You May Not Want, But Still Need

    You do not want to shy away from the tough questions in your own life, either. Asking your boss why you didn’t get the promotion may not come easy, but it may be advice that will advance your career in the long run. Sometimes you just need to delve deeper than surface-level to understand what’s going on. When you remove the roadblocks behind that “why”, your vision will become clearer.

    This isn’t a fool proof plan, but it’s a great exercise to practice. Try it the next time you’re working on a new project with a co-worker or friend and see if you receive some feedback that you weren’t previously aware of. This may allow the creative juices to flow a bit easier and lead you to your next breakthrough. Remember, sometimes nothing is more powerful than the three letter word: Why.


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