Article by Casey Popkins and Matt Sottile, recruiters in Jobspring Boston
In the world of startups and software engineering, there are a slew of programing languages to choose from for cool, new software. How many IT pros are choosing COBOL? Better yet, how many of them have ever even seen COBOL?
COBOL, which was developed in 1959, is an acronym for Common Business-Oriented Language, defining its primary domain in business, finance, and administrative systems for companies and governments. This language is still responsible for more than 70 percent of the world’s business transactions, according to a report in FCW, despite the growing prevalence of modern programming languages such as C++, .NET and Java. If the rest of the world is adopting newer languages, why is COBOL still hanging around?
With new and more exciting ways to control and understand finances, one would assume that the language would evolve just as greatly as the technologies that are being used today. There is of course the concern of safety-- despite the defects that occur in the older code, it actually performs faster and is more secure compared to the other modern languages, such as Java. The growing concern however, is that the language is just not as popular, and as a result, only 20% of schools are requiring this language for their degree. While one would assume that with lack of developers for the code, there would eventually be a necessity to evolve with those who are in the field, instead, there is a concern for how these companies will be run without having the knowledge of this seemingly “uncool” language.
The shortage of developers without the knowledge of this code could affect many companies, the US government being one of the biggest examples. The coming shortage of COBOL programmers will affect the government’s legacy IT systems and core databases, which suck up approximately 70 percent of the government’s $82 billion IT budget, leaving only 30 percent to spend on innovative technologies.
So what does the future hold for COBOL? Well, at the moment, it could be sticking around for some time. As agencies begin to try to modernize their IT systems, the decision to keep or repurpose the code can be a difficult one to make. The longer organizations continue to use COBOL it becomes harder and more costly to switch to a modern language.
There could possibly be incentives given to colleges to reintroduce more COBOL training to their students in order to prepare the workforce that we’ll need. COBOL is like Latin, it provides the building blocks for the “newer” romance languages, and we know there are better ways to communicate. What COBOL-reliant companies will do to continue to find solid engineers remains a mystery. One thing this does accomplish is ensure that anyone using COBOL will more than likely have a job in that “niche” market for years to come.
The question that remains about this code and other older codes, is at what point does a system become outdated? Is it possible to create something that is timeless, or is it better to keep changing along with the newer, more innovative technologies that are being created every day?
Article by Edward Heinrich, Recruiter at Jobspring San Francisco
User interfaces have become more and more important in terms of consumer expectations, especially since touch screen smart phones became the mainstream. The touch screen amped up the level of engagement we humans have with our technology, replacing controllers and buttons with more sensory-direct taps and gestures. By striving for minimal but highly functional hardware and software, we’ve created a more intimate way to use our devices – a way that feels more natural. This minimalist wave of the future is arguably led by Apple with their sleek, simple products, and directly contrasted with Blackberry, a successful company famous for its full-keyboard phones but currently facing hard times.
Aside from machine exteriors, tech software has simplified as well. Programmers are employed frequently and in high numbers (and even higher salaries) to make our apps and programs faster and easier to use. Designers are then responsible for ensuring that our interactive experience feels natural and intuitive and that interfaces are clean and simple. In fact, as recruiters, we are seeing a boom in the UX/UI market as tasks become more specialized and more designers are needed to keep up with the fast pace of the industry. This implies that design and interfaces in general are gaining more importance to everyone from the creators to the consumers. The impact user interfaces have is huge when considering that people check their phones 150 times a day and spend two hours a day on their phones and tablets according to Business Insider.
The world of user experience is boundless, especially when considering other technologies that have little to nothing to do with interface. For instance, emerging wearable technologies, device GPS tracking, and AI such as Siri can monitor our bodies, memorize our behavior, listen to us, and then all interact with one another through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to give us what we want the moment we need it. Your iPhone can tell your car to play music as soon as you get in after work, your car can tell your Nest when you’re close to home and warm it up before you get there, and everything on your cloud can automatically sync to all your devices so that you’re never without your calendars and information. All of these things contribute to our experience as users with technology, but can do so in a way that eliminates interfaces. On the other hand, interfaces will never completely disappear, so those that are eternally necessary are being improved by designers constantly.
We are entering a world of extremely seamless and natural-feeling user experiences, a world that is no longer limited by older generations who are slow to adapt. Much of the population, including myself, can hardly remember a time without PCs and cell phones. And those that are a bit older can’t imagine going back to a time without them. High Tech feels as natural to us as eating, and just like food, we strive to consume more and more. As our dependence grows, and as long as the economy stays healthy, we may see a future of tech much like the movie Minority Report before we know it.
On Friday, January 10th, Jobspring Chicago had the opportunity to volunteer at the Chicagoland Ronald McDonald House. The mission of the Ronald McDonald House is to care for families of children with complex medical needs by providing comfort, compassion and a sense of community. This beautiful facility located in the heart of River North is funded entirely by donations from corporate sponsors and members of the local community.
The Ronald McDonald House provides free room and board for families with children who are being taken care of in local hospitals. In order to provide 13 meals per week for these families, they rely on volunteers to purchase, prepare and serve food for the everyone who stays at the House.
Here's our Regional Director, David Belsky, as he shops for our ingredients! This was our first time volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House, and we had a blast preparing lunch for everyone. We also had to come up with a menu so we chose a fan favorite-- sloppy joes!
Here's our group arriving at the beautiful facility in River North!
Kevin, Cory, Meredith and Katie browned 15 lbs of meat for our sloppy joes. They were all so excited to start cooking in the state-of-the-art kitchen!
Here's Amy and Jaime posing with one of the sweet families staying in the house! It was such a great opportunity to talk with some of the groups and hear their stories!
Lunch time! Our chefs got creative and made one version of "regular" sloppy joes and one version of "spicy" - they were both big hits with the families!
We had such a great time that we are already planning our next date to volunteer! There are Ronald McDonald Houses in over 300 cities around the world and they are always looking for people to prepare meals for them. If you're interested in getting involved, you can find more information here -- http://www.rmhc.org/. What a great way to spend time together as an office and help out in our community!
Article by Ryan Thorpe, Practice Manager in Jobspring Chicago
Hiring a software engineer or web developer? Yeah, so is almost every organization. Open source, .NET, front end—you name it. This runs from two-person startups all the way up to Fortune 500 financial, healthcare, and insurance companies.
With so much competition and demand for talented candidates, companies need to adapt to the market and incorporate certain practices. As a Technical Recruiter at Jobspring Partners, I witness the various processes different companies use to bring developers onto their teams. Based on my experience, I've come up with a few points you should consider in order to secure the talent you want.
Sell Your Opportunity
So, you have a candidate sitting in front of you that you like and would make a good addition to the team. Take this opportunity to sell them on why your role is their best bet, because odds are, they’re also interviewing elsewhere.
Candidates tend to care about three things: technology, projects, and culture. Go into detail on how your team is utilizing modern technologies, creating complex and highly recognizable solutions, and how the culture is on par with their personality and career ambitions. Paint them a picture.
People buy into this. They respect when someone goes out of the way to sway their decision. It shows you’re passionate about the organization, helps them imagine working there, and automatically gives you a leg-up on the competition.
Have Realistic Expectations
We’ve all read through job descriptions. The skills and qualifications parts tend to resemble a kid’s Christmas list. What are the odds they’re going to get an Xbox 360, an iPad, and a LED TV? The same thing holds true with companies. The candidate you secure won't be a unicorn. He or she probably won’t have every bell and whistle you’re looking for.
This doesn’t mean you’re hiring a dud, so be flexible enough to entertain candidates that have the majority of the skillset you’re looking for, as well as the ability to learn other tools and technologies on the job from senior-level colleagues. You’d be surprised how fast people can adapt, especially if they are hungry and genuinely interested in adding new skills to their tool belt.
If you hold out for that diamond in the rough, odds are you will miss out on plenty of qualified people. Then you’re back to square one if you can’t find that perfect person.
Keep this in mind from beginning to end. If there is a good resume in your inbox, call it. You want to be one of the first points of contact a good candidate encounters in his or her job search. Once you get in touch, get that person into your office ASAP–no phone screening funny business. In-person interviews provide much more value to the candidate and make you stand out amongst other companies.
After you get somebody in the door, remember that really talented people usually go off the market in fewer than 10 business days from the start of their search. If they are a “yes” after the first interview, schedule them right then and there for their second round. There’s no use going back and forth delaying things. Try to book the next interview within two-to-three days.
Do your thing in the second and third round interviews (I’d advise against any more than that) and don’t hesitate to pull the trigger. The longer you wait after a final round to make an offer, the more the “nostalgia” from the interview wears off and gives other companies the opportunity to make their move. Coming out with a quick and competitive offer raises the chances of obtaining that candidate that much higher.
Article by Del Crockett, Regional Director in Jobspring Washington DC
As a Regional Director that oversees technology recruiting operations in the Washington, DC area, I am often confronted by various levels of Software Engineers that have the misperception that the best, and possibly only real career options in this market are in the federal space. Now I must admit, even I made this same assumption prior to coming to DC. I moved to DC after working in Los Angeles and Philadelphia, cities where ‘government contracting’ isn’t exactly common talk. But in DC, this is as common as 80-degree weather or grabbing a cheesesteak respectively.
Below are two simple, yet often overlooked reasons, based on my experiences working with technology managers in various cities across the country, for why I am an advocate of private sector engineering careers over the commonplace federal route in the DC market.
Government Technology Playing ‘Catch Up’
Every day, I talk to software engineers with varying degrees of experience. In DC there's a common story of engineers who graduated from local universities only to be recruited by one of the big federal consulting shops right out of school, therefore entering the federal space by default. After a few years, they often reach a point where they crave the excitement of what they know is available in the private sector. Grand visions of Google, Facebook, and Twitter-esque development shops take over!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a vendetta against big federal consulting. In fact, I think they offer a fantastic start to one's engineering career. The problem is that most federal work does not prepare you for a switch to the private sector. There are several reasons for this.
- Heavy use of legacy systems and/or slow to integrate new tech. The government relies on private sector companies for their technology. Just look at the investment made into AMAZON WEB SERVICE for cloud computing solutions.
- Many lack implementation of agile methodology. Think of any technology company that has had an impact on your life. They run agile.
- Creativity and ‘thinking outside the box’ is often not rewarded or promoted due to heavy ‘federal’ restrictions and red-tape. I think Congress paints a clear picture of the red-tape I’m talking about.
- Major dichotomy between the working cultures of the two. You just have to experience it to understand the difference.
- Most solutions are not ‘Full-Life Cycle’, minimizing your exposure to how end-end solutions are created. Many federal projects offer just a piece of the overall solution to work on. This depth of knowledge will not suffice in the commercial space.
I meet with Engineering Managers all the time on both sides, and it’s not unusual to hear a manger in the federal space say something along the lines of, "I’d love to see a candidate with commercial product experience." Of course they would, and so would managers in the private sector! The difference is that I have yet to hear a client in the private sector ask for an engineer with federal experience. In fact, I often get requests not to introduce government contractors unless they are extremely unique. Now, is that fair? Probably not, but such requests originate from the five points above. And if developers have such a hard time making a career shift in DC, where government work is fairly common on a resume, imagine what it would be like if you moved to another city. I’m not sure how sexy the government projects you worked on will be to companies on the west coast.
Of course, there's always a counter-argument. Government work might be perfect for you, especially if you plan on living in the DC area forever, can acquire a high level clearance (which is money in the bank as far as job stability) and are capable of maintaining those lifestyle restrictions to hold onto it.
The Money Argument
Let’s cut to the chase on this one. Government consultants can make a ton of money! I would even go so far as to say that some are overpaid. Now, with that being said, so is Alex Rodriguez, and I am a believer that if someone is willing to pay it, then to that person (or company), YOU ARE WORTH IT!
On the flip side, I also see a ton of candidates who are underpaid in federal and private sectors. There's no universal rule here.
My point on this topic has to do with the job seekers that are used to making Silicon Valley money in their government job, and now decide they want commercial experience on their resume. These job seekers are often shocked, since salaries in the private sector are usually about 10k lower, on average. I see this shock on a daily basis, and usually it's a conversation of adjusting expectations.
The reality is that for most Engineering positions in the private sector, a premium is put on those who have the skills to create end-to-end solutions using newer technologies. Think Big-Data, cloud, and mobile, for instance. These are the most requested types of projects Engineers are looking for right now. Unfortunately, if you don’t already have relevant exposure or a history of working in a commercial type of environment, the compensation is not going to compare on day one.
If you are going to get into the federal space, you have to face the facts. The government prints money (probably too much) and the private sector is the engine that creates the real growth. The resources available are not the same, so adjustments in expectations have to be made when going from federal to private. Going the opposite way? Well then, be ready to likely cash-in!
At the end of the day, the general consensus is that you can make more money doing potentially less cutting-edge or challenging work in the federal space. But if you are looking for the bleeding-edge opportunity often only found in the commercial sector, then expectations need to be a bit more realistic.
Often, the difference between private and government sector engineers is the mentality. Commercial product managers want developers who are in it for the reward of the work they're accomplishing, and for the innovative tech they get to work on. If you want to work in the private sector, that's the mind-set you'll need to adopt.
Article by Matt Sottile, Recruiter in Jobspring Boston
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.
Article by Simon Asraf, Recruiter in Jobspring Orange County
As a recruiter, “Send me the resume” is probably the #1 request I hear from hiring managers. The resume is the main item associated with a job search in just about any field. Summed up into 1-2 pages are your strengths, your experience, your education. But it isn't you. It doesn't take aptitude into consideration, or personality, or your enthusiasm to learn new skills. At the end of the day, the resume is probably the worst thing to base a candidate off of, especially in technology.
One of the services we provide at Jobspring is that we sit down with each of our candidates face-to-face to get to know them as humans, not just pieces of paper. We know their likes, dislikes, what is important to them, what they are looking for, and what technologies they feel the strongest in. This helps us target specific industries and opportunities for our candidates. We know them backwards and forwards, and unfortunately, we still get hit with the resume request.
I was recently dealing with a hiring manager who loved seeing resumes. It didn’t matter how well I described my candidate’s background, it always ended in the show me the resume. I obliged because I felt like the candidates I had at the time were strong, and if all it took to get them a chance at a new job was for me to send the resume, then I was happy to do so. I checked my inbox the next morning only to receive an email saying that all of the candidates were “no’s”. I couldn’t believe it. I gave the manager a call and he said that he felt they were not strong enough technically. One of the candidates I sent was a phenomenal fit. When I sat down with him, his goals aligned with the company’s, he was a strong fit in terms of a technology skill set, and he was extremely interested in the job. I made my case to the manager, letting him know that not only was the candidate a good fit for the reasons listed above, but he also was really easy to get along with and had a dynamic personality. The manager gave in and I scheduled an interview for the candidate. He ended up getting the job two weeks later.
Resumes are great, and they provide a quick and concise background of a potential candidate. But at the end of the day, there are so many aspects that a resume does not touch on that make it an incomplete tool when deciding who to interview. This is even truer if you are using a recruiting agency, since the good ones do the prescreening for you.
The #1 aspect a resume does not display is personality. Hiring managers have to make sure that a candidate is not only a strong technical fit, they have to make sure the candidate is a strong cultural fit. Culture is very important to office morale and productivity, and culture changes from office to office. The only way of truly being able to judge a culture fit is meeting the candidate face-to-face. This is a big area where resumes fall short. I have been told by numerous hiring managers that they would relax on one or two of the technical requirements if the candidate were a phenomenal cultural fit. A resume just won't tell you if that's the case.
Another aspect that a resume does not fully cover is communication. Especially in the tech industry, where a lot of engineers are not from the United States, communication is a huge factor. Being able to work well and change ideas with the team is vital to productivity. While you can somewhat gauge communication based on the resume’s grammar, it is impossible to know how strong a candidate’s communication skills are until you sit down with them. On the flip side, a poorly written resume from a non-native speaker can also not be an effective indicator of the candidate’s skills. One thing we tell hiring managers is that software engineers are not professional resume writers, so judging them based off of that, instead of a technical test or conversation, is short-sighted and could lead to missing out on qualified candidates.
Lastly, a resume’s biggest flaw is it does not really show a candidate’s intellect. Every single company’s career page states something to the effect that they accept resumes of truly intelligent and strong engineers. A resume is probably the worst way to determine a candidate’s intellect and has definitely led to managers passing up on great candidates. Intellect is vital for companies in the competitive world we live in. Having an educated, innovative, and intelligent team can pay tremendous dividends to a company, especially in the technology industry. Unfortunately, there is no way to truly measure a candidate’s intellect through a piece of paper, making this another instance where a face to face meeting is better than a resume.
These are just a few examples of how resumes can actually be detrimental to the hiring process. Honestly, the best advice I can give is if you are serious about hiring, spend the limited time you do have meeting candidates instead of sifting through resumes.