Jobspring Partners: Talent in Action

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  • DevOps and Automation Unite!

    Article by Steve Vaughan, Practice Manager at Jobspring Partners Philadelphia and Philly Puppet User Group champion

    DevOps– Development Operations, Automation, Cloud Deployment, and Continuous Integration – what does it all mean? Why is everyone talking about it?!

    To be honest, there is not one true answer of what DevOps really is. The title used to be Agile Systems Administrator and now the same responsibilities are posted for any one of a 100 different titles - all of them related to DevOps.

    There are many tools used by a DevOps team or engineer and sometimes choosing those tools can be a difficult and convoluted task. Should one go with the old, battle tested route of CF Engine for configuration management? Jenkins for continuous integration or give Gradle the old college try?

    One of the best ways to go about this choice is to communicate with others in the space – what better way of learning about the intricacies of these tools than speaking with like-minded professionals who have tried, failed and then ultimately succeeded in implementations? 

    An excellent opportunity for learning and discussing is by joining several technology groups in your local area. I recommend checking out meetup.com to begin. You can also find some devops professionals at Tech in Motion, the national event series that Jobspring Partners sponsors. With monthly events in ten different cities across North America, there isn't a problem connecting with someone in the IT field who will talk tech with you all evening long. Find out more at techinmotionevents.com.

    Whether you choose to attend one or all, these are some tremendous opportunities to meet people in your area, learn about the technologies and share war stories about successful implementations! 

  • 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?

    Start searching for your next project in Philadelphia

    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.


  • 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.

  • The Boys & Girls Club of Philadelphia Allowed Jobspring Philadelphia To Be Kids For a Day As Corporate Volunteers

    There were a couple of Jobspringers, up to some good, keepin’ kids from makin’ trouble in the neighborhood. There wasn’t one little fight, and no one got scared, but we made some memories we’d all like to share.

    When Jobspring Philadelphia volunteered with the Boys & Girls Club of Philadelphia on March 27th, we weren’t sure exactly what we would be doing with the children of the program. Turns out, we ended up doing a little bit of everything at the Jackson Street Center. It was “Healthy Living Day” at the after school program, and the kids kept everyone from the office moving!

     

    The Boys & Girls Club of Philadelphia offers kids a safe place to learn and grow while still having fun. They offer a variety of programs to help enhance the lives of their members. Their goal is to offer unique and healthy opportunities that might not be available to their members otherwise – this includes homework help, athletic groups and building leadership skills.


    Steve Vaughan and one of the Boys & Girls Club members took each other on (above) while Keith Wilson and Drew Collins, to the right, caught their breath. The Jobspring Office was thrilled to play basketball, football and tag with the children of the program, but sometimes quick breaks were necessary to keep up with their level of energy. The kids were in much better shape than we expected, and more than up for the challenge of one-on-ones.

    Perhaps Keith was tired out after his Zumba and kick boxing session alongside the group (below). Along with the impromptu sports games in the gym, we were able to take part in some informational workout videos. Additionally, there was a pretty intense bracelet braiding session going on in the study hall room, after we helped the kids wrap up any loose homework ends.

    Mai Chau (below) loved hanging out with the young ladies of the club, even teaching them a few new, old hand games. The girls also loved playing football with us, taking over the ongoing game of tossing the pigskin around.

     

    During one brief moment of quiet, the Jobspring group stopped to snap an office photo. Somehow, we managed to fit this in between the spirited game of tag and a highly completitive round of Jenga, with the help of the center’s assistants.

     

    By the end of the afternoon, it was clear that we were fortunate enough to just be kids for the day with the Boys & Girls Club after school program. We hope to return to the Boys & Girls Club for another afternoon of hanging out with their wonderful members – perhaps Gerard Daly can even get a re-match in foosball!

  • The War for Talent: The View From the Trenches

    Article Written By Steve Vaughan, Practice Manager of Jobspring Philadelphia

    Are you currently looking to hire talent for your technology department? You probably are, and you’re likely struggling, or soon will be. Unemployment rate on a national average is posted at 6.75%, however, unemployment rate for workers who have a technology degree has consistently been substantially lower and have recently decreased to about 4%.

    This is great news, right?  It depends on who you ask!

    Obviously, if there are more technologists who are presently employed, there is a smaller pool of job seekers to choose from. To speak in economic terms, the demand for such talent is much greater than the available supply. If you happened to pay attention in Econ 101, you’ll know that this shock to the equilibrium has several adverse effects. 

    The discrepancy in balance drives prices up, and in this case “price” stands for Engineer salaries. This is something we've encountered numerous times throughout 2013 and will continue to see during the remainder of 2014. 

    However, there are counter measures a company can take to fight these stakes, and they all lay in the grey area of intangible reasons why people take a particular position. 

    Build a culture and promote it!

    One of the most common reasons why engineers leave their companies is because of the culture. If you can build a desirable culture, not only will people take lower salaries, but you'll find candidates proactively reaching out to you because of the noise you'll be making in the industry. This takes a dedicated marketing approach from premier talent already on staff and a defined culture to promote at meetups, networking events, in blog posts, etc. Utilize all avenues possible to get the message out. A company that’s an excellent example of great company culture is Hubspot. The CTO, Dharmesh Shah, was instrumental in capacity, and is a great role model if you’re looking to do the same. You can find out more on his twitter feed.

    Offer top-notch benefits and perks:

    This can be an affordable way to attract great employees and doesn't always have to be health, dental, vision related. Does your company allow for flexible hours? How about work-from-home options? A little bit of leeway goes a long way with highly qualified talent. I once worked with a company who had a nap room, a game room, the option of a stand up desk, an unlimited equipment budget and your choice of Spotify, Pandora, or Rhapsody premium accounts. Pretty cool stuff for a pretty low price.

    Convenient location:

    Traveling around Philadelphia (and a lot of other U.S. cities) is not always the easiest thing to do. It’s a big selling point if your office is located in a convenient location that is accessible to many areas. An inconvenient office location severely limits the quantity of qualified candidates who will be interested.  I can say firsthand that I’ve worked with several companies who pay much higher than market rate salaries just to attract people to commute to their offices; and in my experience, things based on money alone don’t tend to hold up well.

    Take these points as you like, but as an insider who is battling in the trenches of the Technical Talent War, I can assure you that it will only be getting more and more competitive.

  • Mapping Out Your Job Search

    Article by Keith Wilson, Lead Recruiter in Jobspring Philadelphia

    Keith Wilson Jobspring PhiladelphiaAlmost everyone has looked for a job at some point in their life. No matter what the position was, you had certain goals or expectations that had to be met. These were the deciding factors on whether you applied to or interviewed for a position. Your search criteria create the road map to you hopefully finding the position of your dreams. But sometimes, that’s exactly what it is – just a dream.

    As a recruiter, these objectives act as a guide when we navigate the open market on your behalf. We use these expectations to tell your story to hiring managers. I’ve worked with hundreds of jobsearch hopefuls that had an ideal position already drawn up in their heads, which is great. But are these goals realistic? And which of them are the most important?

    That is one of the tougher questions I ask the job seekers that I represent. What is the most important factor in your search? Take a seat, write down why you are looking for a new job and hang onto that list for when you begin to interview. It can be easy to lose sight of the real reasons you're looking, which is why a checklist can be really helpful.

    Evaluate your reason(s) for leaving and rate your “Top 5” components for a new position. The benchmarks for these could be things like location, stability, money, growth, technology, etc. The goal of this exercise is to keep your job search grounded. Not every position is going to align perfectly with the ideal in your head, but it may hit on a few key selling points.

    Weigh the pros of the position you're considering versus other interviews you’ve had or even your current job. If that new offer hits on three or more, then it’s clearly a position worth accepting. Don’t get into a situation where you are rejecting opportunities because it’s not the “perfect” fit. It’s rare to find a job where you can lead, make six figures, work flexible hours, and do it all from the comfort of your home.

  • Being More than Just a Recruiter

    Article by Kevin Maas, Practice Manager in Jobspring Philadelphia

    Kevin Maas, Practive Manager of Jobspring PhiladelphiaWhen I started this career four years ago, I thought recruiting was very one-dimensional. Whenever someone asked, “What do you do for work?” I simply said, “I’m a recruiter.” At the time, I was an entry-level college grad, and that was my understanding of the job. Fast forward to today, and someone asks that same question, I say something like, “I’m an IT-Consultant-Hiring-Expert-Career-Counselor-Solution-Provider to the Philly tech market.”

    Unless you’re a professional athlete or a doctor, it’s not impressive to describe your occupation in less than four words. So, my advice is to be more than just a recruiter. Here’s how…

    Cultivate relationships instead of being as good as your last placement.

    This is a career, not a summer job. Candidates become clients, and clients become candidates, so make decisions and give advice based on the long-term affect.

    Be a subject-matter expert instead of a generalist. 

    If you’re good at this job, then you know the market better than your candidates and clients (combined). For clients, be a reliable business partner, rather than a disposable vendor. For candidates, be a trusted advisor rather than “just another recruiter”.

    Be solution-oriented, not money-motivated.

    What’s more valuable, a rolodex full of clients or a wallet full of bills? I don’t know if that makes sense, but you get my point! The effort you put forth and the relationship you leave behind is more memorable than whether or not you placed that candidate or filled that position. 

    Set goals, not unrealistic expectations. 

    No one likes to waste time, so cut the hedging and be upfront. If a candidate or client is looking for the impossible, be honest with them (point #1), explain why (point #2), and come up with an alternate solution (point #3).

    It's these things that make you more than just a recruiter. You should strive to become a business partner, irreplaceable to clients, candidates, and companies.

  • The Importance of Selling Points for Your Open Position

    Article by Steve Vaughan, Practice Manager in Jobspring Philadelphia

    Steve Vaughan

    Welcome to Q4 of 2013. Analysts and market trends predict a hiring frenzy in specific technology markets with a staggering seven out of ten CIO’s citing major difficulty in recruiting for technical talent. And so the story continues as our economy grows…

    I’ve been in the recruiting game for long enough now to sniff out major selling points of a company versus the scripted corporate lines. As a very niche-focused recruiter who understands that the best candidates take a little convincing before accepting an interview, I want the meat and the potatoes when it comes to selling points.

    Typical answers I get when I ask why someone would want to work at your company versus your main competitor:

    “We have a great group of people and a strong company culture”

    “People work here because our company is growing”

    “Our environment is challenging and fast-paced”

    While these things might all be true and solid selling points, it is not easy to envision what a “fast paced” and “strong company culture” is without the details. That stuff could mean anything! Not to mention, every other company says the same thing (trust me, I talk to a lot of them). The meat and potatoes are simply lacking in one line answers like these.

    Whether you’re trying to impress a candidate or motivate a recruiting agency, the question of selling points begs for a story. I want to hear why YOU decided to take that job and what has kept YOU there for so long. How has the company changed since you’ve been hired?

    Painting a picture of possible internal growth or culture defined through success are the meat and potatoes I’m talking about. As a company with a drive and initiative, there are core values at the foundation of your company that has carved a culture. Let’s hear them.

    For example, did you know that Airbnb (travel industry: room renting site) gives $2,000 to every new employee as a traveling stipend per year? How cool is that? To me, this shows that Airbnb instills in their new hires an ethos of what their company product and overall goal is. Check out what some of the other tech giants offer to new hires as a way of hammering the company’s core values into a new employee.

    If you find yourself in a situation where you’re hiring (which looks like most people will be this quarter), take a step back and think about why you work there. Then think about your audience when conveying this message. Do your potential candidates care more about your technical environment, evolving technologies and Mensa inducted teammates, or about the personalities on your HR team and information they can get off your website?

    Instead of using the old corporate line, re-vamp what ammo you’ll be using to attract the best and the brightest to your team. These are the meat and potatoes that will separate your opportunity from the rest and in this current hiring market, it’s important to use all the advantages you can!

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