Article by Adrian Lopez-Obespo, Practice Manager at Jobspring Los Angeles
Hunting for a job in technology follows more classic job search trends than most people in the field tend to think! Many people in technology fall into the assumption that their skillset or an application they developed or designed is enough to get them a job at the company they are interviewing with. While those things are definitely enough to get an interview and develop high interest, rarely is it enough now to secure a new position.
Companies are hiring aggressively for the top technical talent but this isn’t to say they aren’t being strategic! People hire people, not resumes. As recruiters it’s our job to help highlight the things that your resume doesn’t always show. One of the best ways to do this is to provide references and to do so early in your search.
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The unfortunate stereotype with providing references to recruiters is that we are going to badger your friends and colleagues and ask them if they are hiring, looking for work, know anyone else who is looking, etc. To be clear, this is definitely not the focus when recruiters receive your resumes. Below are the purposes that references do serve and what recruiters look to get out of speaking with them.
1. Highlight Strengths - Recruiters want to place people; plain and simple. References allow us to talk to people that a candidate knows in order to highlight their strong suits or to ask about skills that may be important to the job. Ideally, a good reference will put the candidate in the best possible light.
2. Address Concerns - Hiring managers want to make sure they know as much as possible about the people they are bringing on to their teams. Even more specifically, they want to make sure there are no red flags. Most of the time, recruiters will know the concerns that a hiring manager has and therefore can address these with the references. References tend to want to provide positive insight and will typically shape any concerns in a way that shines well on the candidate.
3. Measure the Quality of the Reference - Many candidates tend to provide the most recent people they’ve worked with and not always those who will give the most positive reference. Since recruiters talk to these references first, they can report back to a candidate when they probably shouldn’t use a certain person as a reference.
Again, recruiters want to make placements and will do their best to set candidates up for
success. A good reference can be the deciding factor in turning an interview into a new job.
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.
Article by Elise Rheiner, Practice Manager in Jobspring Los Angeles.
After the holidays and my birthday each year, I break out my “thank you” stationary and get to work on writing a personal letter to everyone I received a gift from. I even consider a long drive to spend time together a gift. While I am a bit old-fashioned in using snail mail for my family and friends to say thanks, one of the most underutilized and helpful techniques in your job search is sending a simple “thank you” email.
Writing a thank you email doesn’t take longer than five minutes, and can be the deciding factor in whether or not you get a job offer. When you are one interviewee amongst a group, who do you think the hiring manager/company will remember? A thank you email will set you apart from the other applicants who are just crossing their fingers in hopes of receiving an offer. Even if there are no other candidates that a company is interviewing for a certain role, they may still have concerns about whether you would be a good fit. A thank you letter can address these concerns. Be sure to speak to your recruiter and ask if there are any concerns or clarifying factors you can address in your email.
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Be personal and genuine. Just like with your cover letter, it is obvious to employers when you are sending the same generalized “thank you” to every company you interview with. An easy first step is to take note of everyone you meet with during the interview process. It can be hard when you are in a technical interview and end up meeting with three C-level executives and ten members of the technical team, but there should be a few people that you spoke with for longer than a quick “hello.” Draw on the conversations you had with people individually. What did you speak about? It does not have to be anything technical – it can even be personal.
Be specific and ask yourself questions. What specifically intrigued you about this opportunity? Is it what you would be building, what the company stands for, or did you love the team and the people you would be working with? Why do you think you are a good fit for this position? What makes you the best hire for the job? Be sure to address why you would not only be a good employee for the company as a whole, but why you would be the best fit as the newest team member in the department you interviewed to join. This is where you can answer any remaining questions or concerns the company may have, and answer them with factual experience.
A thank you email does not need to be a novel, but it should not be just a few short sentences either. Do some self-reflection and after-interview thinking, and then take a few minutes to write that email. A thank you can be that deciding factor in getting you an offer for your dream job!
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!
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!
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.
Written by Adrian Lopez-Obeso, Practice Manager in Jobspring Los Angeles
I have had the pleasure of starting a team here in Jobspring LA that focuses heavily on the placement of UX Designers. There is an increasing need in Los Angeles for UX Design, and through my experience recruiting in this field and being exposed to the demands of the market, I have outlined how UX Designers can better prepare themselves on a hunt for a new role.
First and foremost, clients want to see portfolios. Whether it’s personal project work or compositions from their 9-5, clients want to see it. UX Design is all about interaction and aesthetics, and clients need to see examples in addition to just resumes.
A large portion of the demand we are seeing comes from companies that are looking to hire designers with a mobile skillset. Advertising agencies, banks, product-driven shops, insurance companies, etc., all have some type of mobile application in the works. Most companies want someone who at least has experience with mobile, if not a focus. More experienced UX Web Designers are losing out on interviews to more junior candidates, due to a lack of mobile work experience. In the same fashion, designers who have a product design background are also being more sought after than those with only website experience. Companies are looking to see complex web/mobile app design, and a candidate with a skillset to match.
Show your work
While portfolios and samples of completed work are great, things like workflows and wireframes are also exceedingly valuable and should be included. Clients not only want to see what a person has designed, but HOW they actually went about it and why they made the decisions that they did. Complexity is key in the UX world, and candidates need to be able to advocate and explain the thought process behind their designs.
Specific tools are great (Omnigraffle, Balsamiq) but most companies aren’t picky. The same goes for coding ability (HTML, CSS, and jQuery). These are all nice-to-haves but candidates shouldn’t worry too much if they don’t have extensive programming experience. It will only raise their value if they do, as with any skill, so candidates should at least have an interest or general understanding of how they work and what they are all used for.
If you can get these initiatives in order, you should be well on your way to landing a prime UX spot with a grateful company!
Recently, Jobspring Los Angeles was fortunate enough to volunteer with No Kill Los Angeles, a pet adoption center that advocates for the preservation of animals' lives. NKLA is an initiative of Best Friends Animal Society, which groups multiple organizations together, all with one common goal. Their goal is to increase the number of adoptions so that fewer animals are placed in shelters, and also to end the unnecesary killing of these animals.
NKLA had a variety of cats and dogs who needed grooming, walking and petting! After receiving an orientation from the staff, we were able to choose which animals we wanted to tend to. Some of us took dogs for a walk, while others groomed and spent time with cats.
Here's Zach about to take his new friend for a walk!
And here is Sam eyeing one of the available cats. At the shelter, they had what they called "Cat Condos" for each cat! If at any time you wanted to pet, groom or hold one, all you had to do was open the door and take the cat out!
Alyssa spent time with the cats as well! They seemed so excited to get out of the cages and have some interaction with us.
Dana and Jackie spent their time with these adorable puppies! They were too young to be taken for walks, so intead, they got to be groomed and held.
Last but not least, here is the group picture we snapped at the end of our day. We had a blast taking care of the animals, as well as getting to know the NKLA staff. If you would like to get involved with the organization, you can find more information here.
We had an amazing time, and can't wait to return!