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.
" CEO and founder, Gabriel Weinberg, “
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.
Article by Jason Cooper, Practice Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley.
With a record number of IPOs and companies like Beats By Dre and WhatsApp being acquired in the billions, venture capital firms continue to dump more and more money into technology-driven startups, hoping to hit on the next big thing. Thus, it’s no surprise that the demand for engineering talent is approaching an all-time high. Job-seekers and companies are always looking for those things that can give them a competitive advantage in the hiring process.
Silicon Valley is at the forefront of it all, and is a good place to look at trends in the market. A couple of months back, I was approached by David Ramel, a technical editor of MSDN Magazine, and asked about the use of social media sites, open source contributions, and general themes we are seeing out here in San Jose. What follows is a Q and A of that interaction.
Q: Have you seen evidence of recruiters/hiring managers paying more attention to participation in tech-oriented social media sites such as Stack Overflow, Quora, and Slashdot when evaluating job candidates?
A: At this point, I think recruiters are making use of sites like Stack Overflow and Quora more so than hiring managers. I think this is due to the fact that there are more open positions than qualified job-seekers. So recruiters are constantly trying to find new ways to source and connect with potential job-seekers. There is no doubt that these sites are becoming a more popular place for engineers to showcase their skills and knowledge of technology trends. However, I think the evaluation of job-seekers (both technical and cultural) still primarily takes place during the interview(s).
Q: If so, are these becoming more important than traditional evaluation methods such as resumes, CVs, screening interviews, and so on?
A: I still think that interviews are the most effective way to evaluate potential candidates. Resumes are a helpful tool, but they often don’t tell the whole story. That’s why I meet my job-seekers in-person and go through their background in detail. I’ve been able to schedule interviews for some job-seekers with nothing more than a quick pitch of their background over the phone. Contributions to these types of sites can help set you apart, but it’s not as if a talented engineer will be penalized by a client for not doing so. Again, I do think that participation on these sites is a way for engineers to get noticed, leading to more opportunities being presented to them.
Q: Do you foresee these new evaluation techniques surpassing those traditional methods in importance/usage?
A: The modern day job search has greatly evolved over the last several years. As recruiters and hiring managers try to streamline the interview process and find more efficient ways to hire quickly, I think it’s entirely possible that these new evaluation techniques will play a greater role in the decision making process.
Q: Have you found that open source project contributions/participation are becoming more important?
A: I think open source contributions say a lot about an engineer. As a recruiter, it tells me that someone is passionate about what they do and plays an active role in the tech community. Again, there are plenty of great engineers that aren’t going to have open source contributions to point to, and that’s fine. However, if someone is very active in the Linux community or is an Apache committer for example, it surely will capture the attention of recruiters and hiring managers.
Q: Are hirers using specific big data analytics techniques in their evaluations with respect to the aforementioned trends? If so, any specifics as to the techniques/strategies or software packages being used?
A: I suppose that this could be happening, but I’m not aware of it yet. However, it seems like a natural progression as many companies look to leverage big data analytics in a variety of ways.
Q: What would be your advice to software developers/engineers looking to advance their careers with respect to these trends? What specific things can they do to enhance their job prospects in the new age of social media and big data?
A: I think you want to make sure that what you are putting online and sharing in the open source community is something you are proud of and can stand behind. If you are going to share links to your code/projects on your resume or LinkedIn profile, you want to make sure it highlights your strengths. I think the site that’s getting the most attention, especially from hiring managers, is GitHub. For someone looking to enhance their job prospects, that would be the first place I would start.
Q: With respect to the previous question, how does your advice vary for new developers seeking initial employment versus experienced developers seeking to advance their careers?
A: The entry-level engineer out of a top computer science program will have no problem landing a job. They really don’t need to do much to attract the attention of potential employers. The Facebook’s and Google’s of the world will snatch these folks up quickly, and often before they even graduate. However, for those engineers not coming out of high profile schools, I think contributions to sites like Stack Overflow, GitHub, etc. become much more important. Without real world career experience, this is a fantastic way for them to showcase their knowledge and skills.
Q: Beyond the aforementioned trends, are you seeing other ways that software development/engineering recruiting/hiring is changing?
A: In recent years, top tier software engineers have become almost like blue chip recruits in collegiate sports. It’s a candidate-driven market and they often have their pick from a handful of job offers. Thus, companies are constantly altering their interview process, sales pitch, compensation packages, and perks to be more attractive than the competition. In 2009, companies could retain and recruit engineers because the majority of them were happy just to have jobs. Now, recruiters and hiring managers really need to sell their opportunity to potential candidates from the get-go, and throughout the interview process if they have any hope of capturing their attention.
Q: On the flip side, are you seeing other ways that job-seekers are amending their strategies?
A: Most analysts predict the demand for engineering talent to continually increase over the next 10-15 years. Provided this trend continues, which I think it will, I see sites like Dice, Monster, and CareerBuilder becoming much less relevant. The job-seekers I know who publically post their resume online can get anywhere from 10-50 calls and/or emails a day. The internet is a great way to advertise that you're looking for a job, but it results in a lot of “noise” with very little filter. Many of the good engineers out there will choose to be more selective in their job search. They may turn to their friends or former colleagues for referrals to specialized agency recruiters or introductions to the hiring manager at their current company. Trust me, if you have a detailed profile on LinkedIn, the good companies and recruiters will find you. You can sit back and choose which ones you respond to and there is no need to subject yourself to the endless calls and emails that come with posting your resume on these sites. It’s gotten to the point where some of the job-seekers I represent no longer have a conventional resume. They simply use their LinkedIn profile in lieu of one, and many clients could care less. It’s about what they can do from a programming standpoint, not about their ability to write a resume.
Q: What skills are most in demand, in terms of areas of expertise and/or specifics such as experience with programming languages/tools?
In closing, the modern day job search is definitely evolving. The standard resume and job board account is no longer the way to get noticed. While social media and open source community projects make it easier to find and connect with potential candidates, people still hire people. There will always be a place for talented recruiters as it’s a relationship-based business. No matter how many questions you answer on Quora, or how great your resume or GitHub account looks, there is always going to be a personality/cultural component to hiring that I don’t think technology will be able to account for.
Article by Bradley Spencer, Lead Recruiter in Jobspring New York.
New York City is a hotbed for software developers and entrepreneurs alike. With its rich industrial diversity and wealth of talented software professionals, NYC is prime real estate for the ‘next big thing.’ This isn’t much of a secret, and there are a lot of ‘next big things’ out there, so how you stand out against your competition is crucial to bringing on the right hire. You’re competing with a lot of great ideas out there, but if you want to bring in the top talent, you’ll need to shine brighter than your competition.
Developers want to see your vision. If you’re going to convince a developer that you’re the best option, you will need to show him or her some of the cards. Unlimited snacks and dogs in the office are great, but they need to see the facts and proof of concept to feel comfortable taking a leap of faith. The knick-knacks won’t make you standout, but your vision and passion will.
Two hour code tests don’t work. In a highly saturated environment, where top-tier developers are choosing from multiple options, an extensive code test early on will knock you down the list. When a candidate is heavily interviewing, a code test is daunting, and if it comes too early on in the process, it can be a big turnoff out of the gates. Tests serve a purpose, but they should be administered towards the end of a hiring process when a candidate is already ‘bought in’ to your team and product.
Look at long term value vs immediate impact. I understand the urge to be picky and hold out for the perfect fit, however, looking for the perfect match will likely never come. If you’re looking for the candidate coming out of Google or Facebook, you’ll be looking for a while. Rather, look for the essentials in a developer. Do they have the technical chops to get the job done, and can they grow into an essential player at your company down the road?
When you’re ready to move forward with a candidate, it’s important to make the correct offer first. It’s almost always a bad idea to come in lower than a candidate’s asking price. Candidates are turned off by low offers and this will damage the relationship you have built through the interview process, and could potentially knock you out of contention if there are other players in the mix. Most of the time, companies end up eventually getting to the right number, so why not do it from the start?
For early stage startups, finding the right candidate at the right value is crucial and can be a daunting endeavor. It’s important to make candidates see what you see, and your vision for the future of your organization. In the end, they’re taking a leap of faith and buying into you and the foundation you’ve laid out.
Article by Daniel Urbaniak, Practice Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley.
Recently, Tech in Motion: Silicon Valley hosted the largest event in its history, featuring four members of this years’ Forbes 30 under 30 at the Microsoft building in Mountain View. With over 300 attendees, the house was packed to see Robert Scoble, American blogger, technology evangelist, and published author and Perri Gorman, CEO of Archive.ly moderate four young success stories of Silicon Valley: Morgan Knutson, Chief Product Designer at Dropbox, Lisa Falzone, CEO and co-founder of Revel Systems, Steven Eidelman, Co-founder of Whistle, and AJ Forsythe, Co-founder and CEO of iCracked.
The night opened with a few crowd-sourced questions to warm up the panel and engage the audience. Topics ranged from, “how did you go about raising money when you first started” to “what was it like making your first real hire”. Many of the answers left the crowd inspired while providing them with a humbling look into the successes and failures of a group no older than 29. Throughout the presentation, there were three moments during the meetup that really stuck with me.
The first was a conversation that started backstage – Generation Y, and what it's like running a company in the age of entitlement. Being in that generation and having complained about my generation (I’m sure someone has complained about me at some point, as well) I was very curious about what the group would have to say. There was definitely agreement across the board, entitlement is something that they deal with while running their respective companies. However, the conversation turned from a generalization of Generation Y to finding people who are inspired. The group talked about what it was like starting their companies and how there were many times when they could have walked away. The desire to take nothing and make it into something was what kept them motivated. AJ even made the joke that every night he goes to bed pulling out his hair but every morning he wakes up and can’t wait to get to work. He’s 26, by the way, and has over 300 full time employees and twice that working as contractors.
“Fake it till you make it” was a phrase that was enjoyed by the crowd, you could tell because it was tweeted on our rolling twitter feed 10+ times. The message boiled down to the idea that when you're new at something and you've never experienced certain situations in the business world, it's important to keep working until the unfamiliar becomes familiar. The panel all shared their personal anecdotes on times in their careers where they needed to project an air of confidence while going through specific experiences for the first time. Lisa even shared that she started selling her product before it was even fully created.
The final piece was actually the last question that was asked by a member of the audience. It was so spot-on, that if I wasn't involved with the organizing of the event, I would have thought it was planted. Erik Finman, who cashed in $100,000 in Bitcoins to launch his own education startup called Botangled, stood up and asked what kind of advice you would give a fifteen year old programmer and entrepreneur who just moved from Idaho to try and get his first company off the ground. Fifteen!!! The group shared some words of wisdom, but the two common themes were to have as much fun as possible with the company, and to learn as much as possible. There was even a joke or two thrown in there that he needed to sit on the stage with the rest of the group.
After the presentation, many of the audience members stuck around to network. The overwhelming theme when discussing the panel was inspiration. Whether you want to start your own company, take the first or next step in your career, or learn to better manage your team, there was something for everyone to take home and implement in their everyday lives.
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
- Broader talent pool
You can read James Vallone’s full article here on Website Magazine: Contract-to-Hire: Is it Right for You?
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:
- Are they local?
- Do they have people that specialize in current technologies or are they IT generalists?
- How long have they existed?
- Are they active in the community, do they hold meet ups, do they participate?
- Do they speak your language and can they hold a conversation with you on the technology?
- Do they listen and understand your needs?
- What is their reputation in the industry?
- Do they have a sourcing strategy or are they just fishing from the same pond?
- Do they make it easy for you to staff?
- 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
Written by Chris Walek, Practice Manager in Jobspring Chicago
I’ve read a plethora of articles about preparing for an interview, how to construct resumes, and which questions to be prepared to ask and answer. But what I rarely come across is an article about how to hire.
Since we act as an objective third party, we are able to observe many different hiring processes from many diverse companies and have the ability to identify which work best. Part of our recruiting process is actually consulting our clients on how to effectively hire the engineers they want. Here’s the advice that I give:
Skip the Phone Screens
If you see a resume that you like (strong degree, good communication demonstrated in description of roles, well organized, etc.) invite them on-site. Do whatever you can to get face-to-face interaction with that person as soon as possible. This allows the candidate to visualize you as a manager while you visualize them as a member of your team.
Culture is huge in this country. Coworkers and office environment are huge factors in why someone gets up and goes into work every day. A phone call just throws you into the slew of companies doing phone screens and not really treating that person as an individual of interest. Doing a meet and greet off the bat puts your company at the front of an engineer’s mind. (And gives you the potential to actually hire them!)
In a market like this, every first-rate engineer is going to be employed. If a phone call must be done, the purpose should be to make the opportunity sound enticing enough that they want to come in. The technical phone calls with no enthusiasm give the impression that the company doesn’t care about hiring, or know how to do it. Let’s adapt, just like we ask of our engineers.
Sell, Sell, Sell
As a hiring manager, it’s never been more important to sell to the candidate in front of you. Obviously, it’s crucial to vet them and make sure they are an appropriate fit, but after that, you must do everything possible to make your prospect sound better than the rest. A hiring manager who can sell their story-- why they joined the company, the growth path, the culture, is a hiring manager that people will want to work with.
In a market that people believe is driven by money, implementing intangible strategies such as the sale of the opportunity gives the engineer the idea that it isn’t just about monetary gains, but an actual career. Building something they can be proud of, joining a group they hold in high regard, working for someone they look up to—that’s what a great employee will want. Every engineer has something they are extremely passionate about. Finding that and figuring out how it lines up within your company is an incredible tactic for closing a candidate.
Quit it with the Tests
No more tech tests. Just stop. Yes, you need to assess their skills, but if you’re giving a technical homework assignment to someone who is working full-time and battling off recruiters and other opportunities, you will lose. Instead, design a paired programming exercise so they can collaborate with the team and actually demonstrate better coding principles.
This is more efficient on both ends. If you give a tech test, the engineer will most likely be too busy to complete it in a timely fashion. You will end up farther behind than other companies (and less compelling), because you just gave them homework instead of coding with them.
Speed it up
Timing. Oh man, timing. I understand that as a company, you have a lot on your hands, and hiring is probably 5-10% of what you have going on. But timing can be a huge killer. I call it the “momentum of a hire.” When someone is interested in working for you, you need to push and finish the process. If a company doesn’t get back to a candidate within 48 hours, the candidate assumes they were a “no” and will focus efforts on the next thing, forgetting why they were ever interested.
Yes, I’ve heard the old “if they’re good for us they will still be there in two weeks.” If you did an unbelievable job selling and they only want you, then yes, this holds true. However, more realistically, he/she doesn’t believe you will come back in two weeks, and there are other very exciting opportunities available. (Remember, engineers doubtlessly get calls every single day about a new great opportunity.)
Try and keep the entire hiring process as short as possible. 5-7 days is good, but companies can make efficient hires within 72 hours when they identify the right candidate. That short time frame, combined with your awesome sell, enables a company to avoid a bidding war and get the candidate on board while they are most excited. It also shows the candidate that you are serious about hiring, and serious about hiring THEM.
Timing plays a huge role in effective placements. I constantly hear that candidates want one job over others because they swooped in and swept them off their feet quickly. It feels good to be sought after, and that is where they’ll want to work.
Appreciate their Value
And finally, make a good offer. Yes, as a recruiter this obviously benefits me, but let me explain. The one word you never want to hear in the hiring process is “counteroffer”. The engineer you want to hire is working full-time. That engineer is also a contributor to their company, and that company does NOT want to lose them. Offering $5-10k higher than what the engineer says they want shows that you appreciate their worth and you want to reward them for adding value to the company.
Counteroffers can come in many forms, but money is the most common. Offering high not only prevents this, but also demonstrates that you understand the market and are happy to keep your engineers well taken care of.
Another bit of advice-- don’t give long kill-dates on offers. What I mean is, when you extend an offer via a traditional offer letter sent from Human Resources, DO NOT give them 7 days to accept. 24 hours should be a sufficient amount of time, and I suggest that a hiring manager always talk to the candidate the day of the offer. If you give them longer to accept, you better believe they are reaching out to every company/recruiter and saying, “Hey, I just got X offer. Can you beat that?” Not a situation you want to be in.
There are many ways to fill open engineering positions in this market- I’m one of them, but these are simple steps that are crucial even when working through a recruiter. Implement these recommendations and see how much easier it will be to extend offers and have them accepted by your A-team candidates. It was Satya Nadella of Microsoft who said, “In this industry, people don’t respect tradition, they respect innovation.” I believe this holds true in all aspects of a thriving organization.
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!