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  • Interviewing IT Contractors? Four Topics That Employers Mess Up

    Article by: James Vallone - Director of Business Development

    Have you ever interviewed a contractor and realized that something you just said caused them to be noticeably less interested in the job? Interviewing IT contractors is very different than interviewing perm candidates. There are a lot more land mines to look out for. Contractors think and act differently during their job search. To successfully engage IT contractors, you must be fully aware of what’s on their mind at all times and tailor your conversation to their agenda.

    Begin by understanding that a tech contractor’s job security is based on weeks or months, not years. Typically, contractors are not as interested in long-term career development at your company (unless it’s a contract-to-hire position). They will want to focus more on the specific challenges and expectations of the project at hand. Contractors also greatly value their independence and will view the employer on a peer-to-peer basis (or service provider to client basis) rather than an employee/boss relationship. They are chameleons, fitting into different cultures and becoming members of teams for temporary periods. Many are contracting with more than one company at a time, so time is their chief currency.

    To keep contractors fully engaged during the interview process and interested in your opportunity, here are some important things to pay attention to during the interview:

    1. Don’t be vague about the contract length. Let’s say the contractor asks you how long the contract period will last. You waffle and admit that you are not exactly sure or give a wishy-washy response. What does the contractor hear? They hear that maybe you’ll consume far more time than the contractor wants to commit to this engagement or, conversely, that you may not provide a long enough engagement to make it worth it for them. 

    Advice: Always be specific about both the estimated minimum and potential timeframes so they can feel more secure about the engagement.

    2. Don’t disclose the specific contractor pay rates you are willing to pay. First off, if you’re working with a staffing firm, redirect any questions the contractor has about pay rates back to the agency. It’s the agency’s responsibility to address this. If no agency is involved, it is still not in your best interest to specify rates early on the process. Why? Because if you throw out the rate first, you may risk being too low and turn them off. He or she may decline your contract on the spot without taking the time to explore if there is room for negotiation. On the other hand, if your rate is higher than what the contractor expects, then they’ll hold you to this rate and you may end up paying more than you needed to. 

    Advice: Ask the contractor to provide their pay expectations first so you can establish more control during negotiations.

    3. Don’t discuss your overall budget in too much detail. Any talented IT contractor will want to work for a company that has a solid and reasonable budget in place for staffing. However, they do not need to know exactly what your entire budget is. Communicating that you have a significant budget in place will certainly prove to the contractor that IT is an important initiative for the company. But the contractor may leverage this information against you and inquire as to why you’re not paying them more. And, of course, disclosing a budget number that is very low will have the obvious impact of stirring up concern about the commitment to IT spend. 

    Advice: Use adjectives, not numbers, to discuss the financial context such as, “We have a solid or healthy or strong budget in place for this department.”

    4. Don’t make promises about contract-to-perm conversions. Some contractors may inquire about a potential conversion to permanent hire. They may ask because they are interested in converting to perm, or they are really looking for a permanent position, or because they are not interested in a permanent position altogether. It is really important to understand where this question is coming from before you provide an answer.

    Advice: Ask the contractor first about their interest in becoming a permanent employee. If you find they are ideally looking to be converted to perm, give them a realistic timeline of when the job could convert, but be honest and explain that any conversion would be based on the contractor’s performance during the contract period and that this is not guaranteed.

    Remember, it’s your job to sell the contractor on the great opportunity they have to work at your company. You will always be competing with other employers and must differentiate your opportunity. Avoid these common interviewing obstacles and keep the interview hyper-focused on the selling points to attract the best IT contractors.

  • Contract-to-Hire: Is it Right for You?

    Trends in the HR space are not like those in other industries. While there are always new trends that come into place, in some cases, tried-and-true methods are usually always applicable. However, every once in a while, a trend like contract-to-hire frequently fluctuates between hot and cold, and the past few years we have been going through a heat wave. Several companies are currently focusing on hiring contractors for their businesses and are seeing great rewards and benefits with the work they perform. Our Director of IT Contracting James Vallone discusses why contract-to-hire has been picking up steam with hiring managers all over the world, as featured in Website Magazine.
     
    Website Magazine: Companies and professionals have three routes available when hiring: contract, contract-to-hire and permanent. Contract is when an individual is engaged to work for an agreed amount of time with no intent for permanent employment. When the contract ends, the individual moves on to other jobs. Contract-to-hire is when a person begins work as a contractor with the intention that after a set amount of time, the role will become permanent. And lastly, permanent is when an employee is brought on immediately without any contract period.
     
    There are benefits and drawbacks to each type of work engagement; however, we’ve seen an increase in popularity for contract-to-hire positions. We thought we’d examine some of the reasons companies (and professionals) find this arrangement so attractive, including:
     

    • Fast hires
    • Ease of hiring
    • Cost efficient
    • Immediate impact
    • Flexibility
    • Broader talent pool

     
    You can read James Vallone’s full article here on Website Magazine: Contract-to-Hire: Is it Right for You?

  • 10 Tips: How to Select IT Staffing Firms

    Companies generally like to work with other companies that know their industry and have a strong background with desirable contacts within their field. The staffing industry is no different, which is why working with a specialized staffing firms can give you a significant edge over generalized staffing firms.

    When it comes to IT staffing firms, things can often get pretty technical, as you would imagine – but that doesn’t mean hiring an IT staffing firm should be difficult. Our very own Director of IT Contracting James Vallone and Executive Leadership of Contracts Ben Sanborn provide guidance and tips on how to select an IT staffing firm, as seen in InformationWeek.


    InformationWeek: One question we are often asked is, "What are the advantages and disadvantages of partnering with a specialized IT staffing firm versus a generalized staffing firm?"

    Understanding the pros and cons can help you find a firm that most closely meets your specific staffing needs. Generalized staffing firms are often large, national firms with recruiters that typically work remotely. They staff all types of roles and positions and do not focus on a specific discipline. They have broad talent sources called staffing generalists. They can be experts at staffing large volumes of roles and, for companies that focus on quantity vs. quality of hires, they make routine, high-volume staffing convenient. If we compare them to the healthcare world, they would be general practitioners.

    James and Ben have identified a few of the differentiators between generalists and specialists in IT staffing, that help businesses determine if a firm is right for you:

    1. Are they local?
    2. Do they have people that specialize in current technologies or are they IT generalists?
    3. How long have they existed?
    4. Are they active in the community, do they hold meet ups, do they participate?
    5. Do they speak your language and can they hold a conversation with you on the technology?
    6. Do they listen and understand your needs?
    7. What is their reputation in the industry?
    8. Do they have a sourcing strategy or are they just fishing from the same pond?
    9. Do they make it easy for you to staff?
    10. Are they a full service provider?

     
    You can read James Vallone and Benjamin Sanborn’s full article here on InformationWeek: 10 Tips: How To Select IT Staffing Firms

  • Contract-to-Hire: Is it right for you?

    Written by  James Vallone and Ben Sanborn

    Companies and professionals have three routes available when hiring: contract, contract-to-hire, and permanent. Contract is when an individual is engaged to work for an agreed amount of time with no intent for permanent employment. When the contract ends, the individual moves on to other jobs. Contract-to-hire is when a person begins work as a contractor with the intention that after a set amount of time, the role will become permanent. And lastly, permanent is when an employee is brought on immediately without any contract period.

    There are benefits and drawbacks to each type of work engagement; however, we’ve seen an increase in popularity for contract-to-hire positions. We thought we’d examine some of the reasons companies (and professionals) find this arrangement so attractive.

    • Fast hires: Many companies must fill vacancies so fast that they simply do not have time to wait for their ideal permanent hire candidate. In a contract-to-hire scenario, they request contractors who are already prescreened and qualified, conduct a phone interview, make a decision. The contractor can often start the next day. Given that a typical permanent hiring process takes two to four weeks, with an average of four to six weeks before the start date, contract to hire allows companies to hire with minimal interruption to productivity.
    • Ease of hiring: We have seen hiring managers run into situations where they don’t have a job officially approved, but they need the head count. It can be easier to get a contract-to-hire approach approved up front, fill the job, and have the contractor already working while you’re waiting for job approval. If it is approved, you transition the role to permanent. If it is not, the contract ends without hassle.
    • Cost efficient: Companies pay a staffing firm an agreed-upon rate for a contractor’s hours, this amount can be more cost efficient than immediately going with a permanent hire. (Particularly, in those rare instances when the hire does not work out.)
    • Immediate impact: Because contractors can typically start immediately, they get up to speed and productive much faster than the average permanent employee onboarding process.
    • Flexibility: Even with the most promising hires, companies and professionals both need time to figure out if an individual and the culture is right for them. While every job arrangement has a probation period during which a professional can be let go, contract-to-hire makes the whole situation far more comfortable for all involved. The contract period gives the company and the professional an opportunity to “see how it goes” and determine if it’s the right fit. While permanent employment is the goal, when the contract period is up, both the company and the professional have the opportunity to evaluate the situation and decide if permanent placement is indeed the best decision going forward.
    • Broader talent pool: Some companies express concern that if they go contract-to-hire they may miss out on the best permanent hires. What we typically point out is that some of the best professionals prefer contract-to-hire because of the ability to evaluate over a period of time if the company is a good fit. By going contract-to-hire, you open up your position to a much broader talent pool. Many professionals who typically only apply for permanent hires are willing to consider contract-to-hire. So, you do not lose anything by opening a role to this arrangement.

    Contract-to-hire isn’t for everyone. But companies who prefer to lower hiring risk, appreciate a “trial” period to ensure cultural fit, and want to expand the talent pool they draw from, often find that it can be a great way to find the right people for their roles.

  • The Most Used Language?

  • Jobspring Partners' Weekly Market Knowledge Report 3/26

    Every Monday in our Jobspring offices around the country, the recruiters participate in “Market Knowledge” – a chance to share articles to inform the office about what is going on in the tech markets in our cities. Since we find this knowledge share so useful, we thought that we could start sharing some of these articles with our blog readers!

    Here are the articles that our cities found the most useful and informative:

    Boston

    Windows Blue Update Leaks Online With Tile Changes (Mashable.com)

    The newest  version of Windows Blue, said to make it even easier for users to multi-task, was leaked online earlier today.

    Submitted by: Adam Salk

    Smartphone app will now connect consumers to athenahealth’s network of doctors (Boston.com)

    In conjunction with a Colorado company, AthenaHealth has developed a mobile app that allows consumers to contact their doctors directly to solve medical problems.

    Submitted by: Lindsay Houle

    Chicago

    Who is Chicago’s Hottest Showcasing Startup? [Poll]  (Tech Cocktail)

    Vote on Chicago’s top up and coming start-up!

    Submitted by:  Brad Marek

    Former NFLer’s Tech Startup Aims to Connect Pro Athletes With Gamers  (NBC Chicago)

    Ever wanted to play Words with Friends against a famous athlete? This could be your chance!

    Submitted by:  Kevin McNamara

    Los Angeles

    CSS3 Introduction  (CSS Matter)  

    This article shares the new features of CSS3, what it can do, and resources!

    Responsive Web Design With Physical Units  (Smashing Magazine)

    Discusses ways to design while knowing the physical characteristics of your device.  

    Both Submitted By: Paul Cutter

    New York

    NYC Subways to Get More Touchscreen Travel Kiosks (ABCnews.Com)

    Technology continues to merge itself with New York City, now expanding into more public transportation than ever.

    Submitted by: Neal Singh

     

    Luring Young Web Warriors Is a Priority. It’s Also a Game.  (NY Times)

    Department of Homeland Security is now starting to look for children who know how to hack.

    Submitted by: Ryan Kincaid

    Silicon Valley

    Three soaring Silicon Valley IPOs in nine days, so what's next? (SiliconValley.com)

    With the recent IPO successes from 3 companies in Silicon Valley, several companies are planning to go public since the “IPO window is still open.”

    Submitted by: Danny Cavero

    Yahoo Buys Summly, 17-Year-Old Nick D'Aloisio's News Summarization App  (Huffington Post)

    Yahoo acquired a London based start-up, Summly, for just under 30 million making Nick D’Aloisio, the 17 year old founder, Yahoo’s youngest employee in history.

    Submitted by: Ouliana Trofimenko

     

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  • Jobspring Partners' Weekly Market Knowledge Report: 3/18/13

    Every Monday in our Jobspring offices around the country, the recruiters participate in “Market Knowledge” – a chance to share articles to inform the office about what is going on in the tech markets in our cities. Since we find this knowledge share so useful, we thought that we could start sharing some of these articles with our blog readers!

    So here are the articles that our cities found the most useful and informative:

    Boston

    This robot chimp turns into a tank (CNN.com)

    With the recent influx of natural disasters, the DARPA Robotics Challenged, backed by the U.S. Department of Defense is encouraging scientists to develop robotic first-responders to enter situations that are too dangerous for human first-responders.

    Submitted by: Kieran Carr

    MA to Pay Half the Cost of Tech Company Interns (Xconomy.com)

    To encourage tech talent to stay in the area post-graduation the MA government is offering to reimburse tech companies ½ of their interns’ salaries to ensure tech interns no longer go unpaid.

    Submitted by: Shane Tomlinson

    Chicago

    This 9-Step Checklist Will Sell Your Brand  (Tech Cocktail)

    Figure out your unique selling point with these 9 steps.

    Submitted by:  Lindsey Jefferson

    Zynga jumps on Yahoo takeover speculation  (Chicago Tribune)

    Zynga’s stock priced jumped to the highest since July amidst Yahoo buyout rumors.

    Submitted by:  Kevin McNamara

    Los Angeles

    The Coming Merger of Google Chrome and Android  (TIME)

    Are Android and Chrome on the path to a merge?

    Submitted By: Joe Vassel

    Smaller Tablets Gain Ground; Android Stealing Share from iOS  (LA Times)

    iOS is losing share to Android, while the sales of small, affordable tablets increases.

    Submitted By: Charlotte Haun

    Orange County

    BlackBerry CEO says iPhone UI is old, lacking innovation (www.intomobile.com)

    Thorsten Heins was very outspoken about the Blackberry 10 and its place in the smartphone market. It hasn’t taken off just yet but has had some early adapters.

    Submitted by:  Jason Shotwell

    Computer science enrollments soared last year, rising 30% (www.computerworld.com)

    Computer Science major applications rise by 30%.

    Submitted by:  Simon Asraf

    Philadelphia

    Top 15 Cities for Tech Startup Investments  (Mashable)

    A quick highlight and summary of the top 15 cities for tech startups.

    Submitted by:  Krissy Klignes

    Philly is the 9th Best City for Venture Capital Investment in Startups (Startup Roundup)  (Technically Philly)

    Highlights the startup ecosystem in Philadelphia community through the different types of startups and what they’ve added to the Philly startup community.

    Submitted by:  Kevin Maas

    Silicon Valley

    BlackBerry 10 OS review: Polished look, with plenty of kinks  (CNET)

    Blackberry 10 to be released in March to target the enterprise mobile market.

    Submitted by: Viet Nguyen

    Meet Feedly: The startup most likely to replace Google Reader  (Silicon Valley Business Journal)

    With Google shutting down its Reader services in July this year, Palo Alto based startup Feedly is already gaining usage and seems to be the front runner for Google Reader’s replacement among users.

    Submitted by: Caitlyn Williams

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  • Weekly Market Knowledge Report: 3/12

    Every Monday in our Jobspring offices around the country, the recruiters participate in “Market Knowledge” – a chance to share articles to inform the office about what is going on in the tech markets in our cities. Since we find this knowledge share so useful, we thought that we could start sharing some of these articles with our blog readers! So here are the articles that our cities found the most useful and informative:

    Boston

    Senator Moran On Filibustering Drone Policy And How To Influence Congressmen (TechCrunch)                                                                                                    Everyone has that one client that’s always hard to get on the phone, learn how to influence a Congressman and your tough client will be a piece of cake!                                   Submitted by: Shane Tomlinson

    Mass. adds 16K jobs: Here are the top 10 local employers with the most openings (Boston Business Journal)  Whoever said this was a tough job market must not be living in Boston, check out these great employers that have hundreds of openings.                         Submitted by: Lindsay Houle

    Chicago

    Microsoft's Ballmer: Chicago has good start on being tech hub  (Chicago Tribune)Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer makes a keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in January in Las Vegas.                                                                                                                   Submitted by: Brad Marek

    Robots: When will they take your job?  (Linked In)                                                        The title pretty much sums it up!                                                                           Submitted by: Kevin Donoho

    Los Angeles

    Why You Should Bootstrap Your Start-Up (SoCal Tech)  This article shares the benefits of starting a company without external financial help.                                                 Submitted By: Kamyar Rahrovi

    Los Angeles Invites Proposals for Major Ed-Tech Contract (Edweek.org)

    The Los Angeles Unified School District may spend $500 million over time to provide its students with a computer device.                                                                               Submitted By: Adrian Lopez-Obeso

    New York

    AmEx Backs The Netflix For Designer Clothes, Rent The Runway (Tech Crunch) Rent the Runway just received additional funding from American Express, totaling 54 million for the startup.                                                                                                                        Submitted By: Devon Ellis

    Orange County

    Bartendro robot mixologist crafts cocktails with Raspberry Pi (CNET)  Party Robotics has developed a robotic bartender named Bartendro that can make precision cocktails in less than 10 seconds.                                                                                                      Submitted by: Nicole Torretta

    Orange County is growing green jobs (OC Register)  With government incentives and legislative mandates, jobs in the green technology space are multiplying in Orange County.  There are 3.1 million green jobs in the United States and California is leading the way with over 300,000.                                                                                                              Submitted by: Nicole Torretta

    Silicon Valley

    Here are 11 S.F, Silicon Valley startups pitching at SXSW (Silicon Valley Business Journal) 20% of SXSW 50 finalists are Bay Area companies, which seems lower than it has been in the past.                                                                                                       Submitted by: Jason Cooper

    Forget Google Glass, Google Debuts ‘Talking Shoe’ Concept At SXSWi, Wants More Social, Motivational Everyday Objects (TechCrunch)                                                           Google’s new “Talking Shoe” a product from the Art, Copy, & Code project featured at SXSW13.                                                                                                        Submitted by: Sana Khan

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