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Category: Market News (12)

  • 2015 UI/UX Design Trends

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

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

    Ready to hire for your next tech positions? 

    Skeuomorphic

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

    Slippy UX

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

    Connectivity

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

    2015

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

  • Where to Live in Silicon Valley’s Booming Tech Market

    Article by Jason Cooper, Division Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley

    If you were to ask the average American what they picture when they hear Silicon Valley, they’d probably say the big names like Google in Mountain View, Apple in Cupertino, and the Stanford/Palo Alto lifestyle they saw in The Social Network.  While these may be the landmarks people outside of California have come to know as the epicenter of technology, Silicon Valley has become a sprawling and growing landscape represented across the bay area. With Google and Apple buying up office space left and right in their respective cities, and companies like Palantir seemingly doing the same in Palo Alto, tech startups are often forced to find other cities to call home. 

    But let’s say you want to move to the Silicon Valley; where do you start? Which areas were popular in the past and where is it hot spot now? Where will you be most profitable? Where are the startups and the big name companies located? Being in the tech recruiting space, we have all had ample experience in this market. Hopefully, with our knowledge, you’ll be able to find your perfect location to get the most out of Silicon Valley.

    Many people consider the Silicon Valley to be the technologically-savvy region ranging from San Mateo, California to San Jose. As Scott stated in a previous post, the area is booming and salaries are higher than ever. However, there is a serious concern throughout the Valley-- where do people live? How does anyone outside of the top dog execs or the plain lucky afford to live a comfortable life when an average one bedroom apartment goes for $2,100 a month?  Where do the folks working the lower-salary tech jobs go?

    Since the recession in 2010 things have slowly begun to change. A blazing hot startup and IPO market pushed salaries to record level highs, and with that market, housing prices have also risen. It has become incredibly difficult to purchase a home in the region. The local real estate market is selling faster than ever, thus driving rental prices higher and making it difficult for those not making the top bucks to live comfortably within their means.

    Surprisingly, Downtown San Jose housing seems to be plateauing at a reasonable price through this real estate resurgence. There are multiple new apartments, offices, and entertainment spaces being built in the area, and there seems to be a lot of room to expand; which begs the question, how will all of this growth affect the cost of living and the economy of the region as a whole?

    The Palo Alto area has had the largest growth in the Bay Area between the Summer of 2012 to Summer of 2013; while over the last three years, Santa Clara County has become the second fastest-growing county in California. One of the major reasons for the rapid population growth is the above average regional job growth.

    Let’s look at some of the local players within 5 miles of Palo Alto:

    1. Apple, located in Cupertino: whose stock over the last three years has grown from $422/share to $580/share, while hitting a high of +$700/share during that time period
    2. Google, Mountain View: 2010 – $610/share, 2013 - $1105/share (high-water mark)
    3. Tesla, Palo Alto: 2010 - $22/share, 2013 -$150/share, with a high +/- $200/share  
    4. HortonWorks, Palo Alto: Founded in 2011 and still pre-IPO has received almost $100 million in funding.

    So why are those numbers so important? They are directly correlated with opportunity. The common dominator for the candidates that we speak to everyday are: stability, cutting-edge technology, and an opportunity for growth. Silicon Valley is the 21st century’s American Dream- the combination of professional growth, premier technology companies, mild winters and gorgeous summers makes the region, and specifically Palo Alto, an ideal place to begin or jump start your career. Not to mention salaries that are reminiscent of the “.Com Era”.

    However, this rapid expansion has created a predictable but not-so-easy to solve problem: where can we put everyone? Forget about office space or commercial real estate issues for a minute and let’s just look at living situations. On November 5th, the voters of Palo Alto overturned a council approval for the development of 60 apartments and 12 single-family homes. The approved plan allowed housing developers to exceed zoning regulations for public benefit. The constituents of Palo Alto don’t see it this way. They think the area is overpopulated, extremely dense, and parking is a nightmare. Check out this quote from a commenter on a recent article about Measure D, the aforementioned Palo Alto proposal-

    “The damage is done and maneuvering downtown with wall-to-wall people and cars is disgusting. I’m so disappointed in this city and walk around frustrated every day I walk out my front door. I can’t drive down my street to get to my house between 3pm – 6pm, we can’t park in front of our house because all of the downtown employees, I sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and riding our bikes through all of this traffic is getting more dangerous…

    -Downtown Palo Alto Resident - Link

    The Peninsula has become an attractive place to set up shop. Available homes and office spaces in areas like Redwood City, San Mateo, Belmont, and San Bruno are popular choices. The rent in this region of the Bay Area is comparable and cheaper than many of the other surrounding areas. It’s no secret that there is a shortage of qualified engineering talent out there. By living in the Peninsula, more transportation options, including public, becomes a possibility. The location is fairly central to people commuting from all directions.  For example, the growing populace of tech work in Redwood City and San Francisco is just a short Cal-Train ride away. Want to go south? Taking the 280 to San Mateo or San Jose is a much more attractive option to avoid the bumper-to-bumper traffic found on one the most highly congested freeways in America.

    For many of the same reasons, in addition to the number of bridges, certain cities in the east bay, like Fremont, are also becoming more popular. Granted, Palo Alto does have a certain associated appeal, but there are many so many advantages to moving 7-10 miles up the Peninsula that they just cannot be ignored.

     

    Which Bay Area location sparked your interest? Did you find any insight to the area where you already live? Leave your comments and questions below!

  • So You Want to Mine Bitcoin

    Bitcoin has been all over the news recently with its fluctuating value, increased acceptance by online marketplaces, and moneymaking opportunities. This cryptocurrency became popular in the underground online market because it cannot be duplicated and can be exchanged between parties safely and anonymously without the use of a third party like Paypal. The Bitcoin network is a public ledger that includes the history of every Bitcoin transaction, adding new ones to the end of what is called the “block chain”. The block chain is maintained and supported by the power of a globally distributed computing network made up of all Bitcoin participants. Transactions are added through hashes within nodes and verified to be legitimate by hashing pre-existing nodes. This action is called a “proof-of-work”, and once enough transactions have been proofed, they are grouped together and added to the chain, completing a block. As blocks are completed, new ones are discovered, rewarding the finder(s) with newly minted Bitcoin in return for the use of their computing power. Unlike Paypal, who charges a fee for its verification and transactional services, the Bitcoin network incentives its members, as they are required for it to opperate. It is important to note that Bitcoin itself is backed only by supply and demand and that there is a finite amount of Bitcoin that can eventually be minted. The rest of this article will be about how ANYONE can get started mining for free, so if you are interested in learning more about the system, check out Bitcoin.org and the original spec document by the creator.

    A Bitcoin “miner” is simply a device connected to the Bitcoin network that is contributing computing power. To access the network, simply click this LINK and download the client for your appropriate operating system. Make sure you have enough memory (12-14K MB) and time (~24 hours based on your bandwidth) because the client will download the entire history of the block chain to your computer. Once you are caught up to the end of the chain, the client will let you set up a new “wallet”. Your wallet is an encrypted account within the network obtainable and recognized by a character address. For example, mine is: 1B2tNjrB78siE6D9kVi6zhguStiFrrcodR (feel free to send me Bitcoin!). To receive/send Bitcoin, a user simply exchanges this number with another user, setting up a transaction allowing for anonymity with one another if they choose. All of this is done within the client, which is simple and easy to use. From the client, you can view your current balance, transaction history, and even save addresses of other users’ accounts for reference.

    Once your wallet is created and you have your address number, it is time to contribute to the network! This is done through a separate minting application linked to your wallet. Bitcoin itself is open-source, so developers have written their own applications for computing additions to the block chain. (Personally I use the application BitMinter for Mac which I will explain in the next paragraph). Mining is based entirely on computing power. The more power a miner has, the quicker it can complete blocks and be rewarded with Bitcoin. As an individual miner accessing the network through your PC or laptop for the first time, computing power is delivered by your graphics card. To increase power, you can purchase an Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) designed for Bitcoin mining or build your own. These devices are pieces of hardware sold in a variety of shapes and sizes advertised by a numerical representation of how quickly they can process hashes and validate transactions. Price correlates to speed, but other factors to consider are the electricity needed to run the device, cooling, and noise.

    Unless you have a massive Bitcoin mining hardware farm already put together, chances are you won’t find any Bitcoin by letting your mining application run solo. You are competing with all other participants, so a good way to increase your chances is by joining a mining pool. Here, a group of participants link up to combine computing power into one focal point. When a block is discovered, the rewarded Bitcoin is divided up by the amount of computing power each member individually generated. Members are typically rallied around one central mining application developed by the creator(s) of the pool who sometimes take a small cut of the rewarded Bitcoin for putting everything together. The application I mentioned above, BitMinter, is part of a pool and I’d definitely suggest it to anyone curious about getting started mining for free. The website and associated client are very informative and kept up-to-date with real time data on the amount of power being generated by all members, the time and difficulty of the last block discovered, the percentages paid out, and historical information of the pool.

    Now that you know the basics of Bitcoin, how to access the ledger, and contribute to the block chain, it’s up to you to determine your method moving forward. This is a way to get started for free, but it takes money to make more money through the purchase of hardware or buying space in cloud-based Bitcoin mining operations. Also, stay current with news on Bitcoin. Each day, new companies form around mining, opinions are shared on the future of Bitcoin, and innovators discover a new way to use this awesome currency.

  • Want to Work from Home? Apple says "no problem!"

    Q&A with Ashley Verrill, Software Advice


    Every week our office conducts Market Knowledge Monday, as a fun way to stay up-to-date on industry news and educate blog readers on what’s going on in the tech markets of some the Jobspring office cities. During a recent Market Knowledge Monday, Shane Tomlinson filled us in on a TechCrunch article, which discussed how Apple trains their At-Home Advisors, a group of customer service representatives who work remotely. We wanted to learn more about the tools and training methods Apple employs for their remote teams, so we followed up with the article’s author, Software Advice CRM Analyst Ashley Verrill, to find out how other technology companies might leverage Apple’s tactics.


    Jobspring Partners: In your article you discuss the “At-Home Advisors” program at Apple, which is for employees who are hired remotely and never enter an Apple office. Do Apple employees who work on one of their campuses have a telecommuting option?  And if so, how do they become eligible for it? And what is their training process?


    Ashley: The only people I interviewed for this article were the at-home advisors, so I can’t really speak to that with exact certainty (I did get a hold of Apple, but they refused to comment). However, I did get some really active discussion on the article from people who claimed to work for Apple, who said they don’t have an official telecommuting policy. One person said they work in an onsite call center providing “chat” support for Apple and can work overtime from home (specifically, she said “we can also work as much overtime as we want, which includes taking PlayStation games home over the weekend to test them out.”). So, it’s possible their policy varies by department or is less defined than what they use for their at-home advisors. I would definitely be interested to know more details. Maybe they’ll read our interview and chime in!


    Jobspring Partners: In your opinion, could Apple’s At-Home training program work for similar tech companies? Or does it only work because Apple is such a successful, well known company?


    Ashley: Yes to both questions, because there are some tactics that could work for other companies, and others that only Apple can get away with because everyone wants Apple on their resume. For the latter, I think some of the intense monitoring they do during training, as far as watching mouse movements and calling your cell phone if they suspect you aren’t there, would cause a lot of candidates to head for the hills in another context. But then there are things like the way Apple fosters camaraderie that I think could be really successful for any company. The biggest complaint I hear from remote workers in general is that they feel really isolated. This doesn’t sound like someone who is engaged and excited about what they’re doing, which inevitably leads to turnover issues.


    Apple always starts trainings in groups of 20-100 people all in the same area. They meet for “class” online all at the same time and constantly chat and even talk on the phone with each other during training. Between classes, the moderators encourage trainees to talk about themselves. One of the advisors I spoke to talked about a crazy hat day where everyone turned on their camera to show their hat. Another person talked about days where everyone sent pictures of their lunch. This sounds kind of juvenile on the surface, and the folks I spoke to laughed about it, but it was clearly successful. Even people that no longer work at Apple told me they keep in touch with other former advisors.


    Jobspring Partners: You discuss the tactics for At-Home training quite extensively but do not address the technologies used in the training process. For instance, is the video chat feature that managers employ, Skype? Or has Apple created their own software simply for this training program?


    Ashley: The advisors I spoke to mentioned using Cisco’s WebEx for online meetings, iDesk for content and lluminate Education for training modules, which is interesting because that’s actually made for K-12 educators. Then, of course, every advisor is shipped a box before training with an iMac desktop computer, headset and their phone. Some advisors said they would get other products, depending on which division they were providing support for (services versus hardware).


    Jobspring Partners: Outside of their managers, do remote employees have contact with employees that work on Apple’s campuses, or are their remote teams within their “city hubs” their only connection to the Apple family?


    Ashley: They didn’t talk a lot about contact with any other physical Apple locations. One of the first things they do in training is talk about the culture, Steve Jobs, and working from the corporate office. They watch some videos and see pictures of the main office. Beyond that though, they don’t make a concerted effort to connect remote works with physical locations. Some of the workers actually work for a contractor after training is over, so they are technically employed by someone else.


    Jobspring Partners: In your research, were you able to get in touch with any managers of the At-Home Advisors program? And if so, do they have any advice for other managers in how to monitor and manage remote employees?


    Ashley: No, but the advisors all spoke extremely positively about their managers. They said they made a real effort to “speak at their level.” They weren’t stuck on a high horse, and they were really proactive about making sure everyone in the group understood all of the training and were successful in the role. If someone failed a test, they would take time to review what answers they did get wrong and help them study up for the retake. They talked a lot about feedback, but not in a negative way. If something went wrong in their mock call, the whole group would immediately talk about it. This made it feel less like someone just wagging a finger at you. The advisors talked about them as being “mentors.

    Metrics are also extremely important for advisors’ success after training. Remote workers are monitored extremely closely, primarily by way of time-to-resolution and customer satisfaction. The agents with the best performance get the better schedules, time off, and even prizes like lunch paid for by Apple. So, I think as long as companies set clear expectations and have methods for monitoring performance of remote workers, they can moderate any productivity issues. 

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