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  • Understanding Your Search as an Entry Level IT Job Seeker

    Article by Matt Najera, Vice President of Jobspring Partners.

    The biggest mistake entry-level job seekers make is that they are too focused. Remember, your first job is your first job, so focus on just getting an opportunity that is going to give you skills to have options in the future. The other big mistake I see these days is that entry level IT graduates and recent college graduates rely too heavily on online tools. While Twitter, Facebook, Monster, and other online services can be very helpful, remember that they are only a piece of the job search, and you still need to get out, network, and make connections with people. People hire people, not resumes. This means the more face-time networking, the better your chances at making an impression and getting hired.

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    Be specific in your job search and resume. Entry level job seekers always want to open themselves up to as many opportunities as possible, but when HR staff and Hiring managers see these resumes, and it looks like the person doesn’t know what they want, they typical pass on that candidate. If you want to be a Software Developer, say so. If you want to get into Systems Administration, then go after it! People who are specific about what they want get hired before the people who are still trying to figuring it all out.

    With any job seeker, it’s important to have skills that will allow you to hit the ground running. On your resume, you need to list skills you have that are needed to do the job you’re applying for. Employers are no longer interested in hiring someone they need to train for three months to a year, so any skills you’ve gained, even if it’s from an internship or college work, are important to list.

    One of the best ways to differentiate yourself is to show an actual project you have worked on, whether it’s your own project or one done for a job. It is easy to say, “I worked on a CRM application in my first job, but I can’t show you the source code.” It’s not very common for someone who can come in and leave a copy of the code with the interviewer that proves that they can write quality code. One of the biggest concerns to an employer when hiring entry level IT is your ability to pick up skills fast and mange yourself. 

    In the current market, if you have a good background and strong communication skills, you will have many job options to choose from. However, some of the critical mistakes that many entry level IT job seekers make is to think they are “above” a certain job or technology. I hate to tell you this, but, like any industry, you have to work your way up the food chain. Yes, working with some technologies, or in some specific industries, may be potentially career limiting, but they can give you the experience you need to step up to the next level. There are companies in every city that like to hire people directly from college to work on technologies that may not be the most in-demand skill, but those folks are learning a lot about the Big Data techniques and the enterprise environment. That kind of experience will be a big help for them to move on to their next position and give them opportunity to develop skills and critical thinking you may not get in many jobs.

    So the main theme in your job search is take a job based on upon the experience and skills you will learn, and don't let money be the primary factor! You can’t put a price on the skills you will develop now until 3-5 years from now, and it's a pretty safe bet that you will not be retiring after your first job.

  • Looking Beyond the Job Description

    Article by Andy Kolkhorst, Practice Manager in Jobspring Chicago

    “Send me the job description.”

    This is something that I hear daily. While job descriptions can be very valuable when talking about getting an understanding of an organization and their product, they can act as a hindrance in regards to determining if you have the correct skill set for a position.

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    Everyone has made a list of presents they wanted for their birthday at some point in their life. When you did, did you get everything you asked for? No. This is the exact approach a hiring manager takes when writing a job description. Many different technologies are listed, and in all likelihood, you are not using ALL of these in your current environment. Apply anyway! A job posting can be a very intimidating and the last thing you want to do is put yourself out there and get rejected, I get it. However, in the current tech market where there is an influx in open positions versus qualified candidates, you actually have the upper hand. It is necessary for companies to be flexible in order to ensure that their roles are filled quickly, which often requires them to hire a more junior candidate that can grow into the role.

    This is counterintuitive to what your thought process is while scanning job descriptions online. The most important thing is to find a company that you are passionate about and they will make a role for you. You are a hot commodity right now and any company would be fortunate to have you; this is the mindset you need to have when going into any job search, especially in this hiring market. Roles are staying open for longer than ever and head counts are being lost. Companies are now looking for reasons to hire someone rather than nitpicking on why they should hire you.

    If you are looking for a new job right now, you are in a position of power. Do not sell yourself short during this rare opportunity in the technology industry to truly dictate the next step in your career.

  • Capturing 'A' Talent

    Article by Julie Colgate, Practice Manager in Jobspring DC.

    I have worked with countless clients in the DC area and when discussing what they are looking for in candidates, I hear a similar response over and over again, "I want the best of the best. 'A' talent." At this point, it's almost laughable. Of course companies want 'A' talent! The best part of my job is when I can be an advisor to these companies and help them capture that 'A' talent. There are three big pieces to reeling in those highly sought-after job seekers.

    Employer Branding

    When a candidate is looking for a new job and they are starting the interview process, they want to be as prepared as possible for their interviews. They will research the company, look over the job description, and brush up on their tech and interviewing skills. What companies don’t always think about is that job-seekers are also looking at company reviews, using sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Google, and Yelp. Have a low rating on these sites? A candidate may not be as inclined to interview with your company or they might get a bad taste in their mouth before even interviewing. Have your employees write a review of their experience so far with the organization to get your rating up. Reach out to customers/end-users that you have been in touch with and ask them to write a review on your organization. Candidates that see a positive review on your company will be more excited to interview and have positive preconceived notions before interviewing.

    Candidate Selling

    When a job seeker is interviewing with your company, he/she is selling themselves in the best way possible. Discussing relevant experiences, talking about the cutting-edge technologies that they have worked with, and how/why they can be a good fit for your organization and a great addition to the team. As a potential employer, you should also be selling them on why they should want to work for you and your organization. Give real life examples of what "a day in the life" looks like. Talk with them about the retention rate of the organization and growth potential for them—these things matter to job seekers. As much as you are interviewing them, this candidate will be interviewing you and the company to see if this is a place where they want to work.

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    For a more difficult job seeker, or someone that the team is very excited about, you may have to have a more personalized recruiting effort. Have candidates sit down with an employee that has been with the company for around a year or less and have that employee share their experience with the company so far and why they joined the organization. Also, talk with your team about what they are touching base on with job seekers. Each person that a candidate sits down with should share a different part of the organization or story, that way you can ensure that you are covering everything and that there is no unnecessary overlap.

    Speed of Getting Someone through the Interview Process

    The one thing that makes it difficult to capture 'A' talent is a long and lengthy interview process. Anything more than 2-3 steps to get someone on-board is way too long and will result in a job seeker taking another offer. Specifically, if someone is top-tier talent, they will have a lot of interviews going on. Having a 4+ step process is the best way to lose a candidate that you are interested in. They will either take another offer or lose interest entirely. To ensure that you are getting candidates through a speedy process, ensure that you are covering everything: a 30-45 minute phone interview covering their background and some technical questions, and an in-person and final interview on-site lasting around 3 hours. After that, you should confidently know if you want to hire that person or if you’d like to pass. Any interview process that goes longer than that will result in job seekers losing interest or accepting another offer.

    These might seem like simple or even obvious things, but implementing them will go a long way in ensuring that your company captures the top talent out there.

  • Silicon Valley Talent Wars: Is broadcasting $250k salaries the right move for anyone?

    Article by Scott Purcell, Division Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley.

    Salary in Silicon Valley has always been a hot topic. Way back in the old days of 2013, I wrote what became a popular blog post about at 175k offer generated for a Big Data candidate that was turned down for an opportunity at pre-IPO twitter. Since then, things have only heated up here in Silicon Valley with companies ranging from Facebook and Google to the brand name pre-IPO companies like Box and Palantir to the next generation of startup hopefuls, all competing for the best talent.

    Companies have tried varied tactics to attract talent ranging from salary, equity, sign on bonuses, fun perks, to good old fashion selling their opportunity. But what is the best way to attract talent? Recently, there was an article with wide circulation that discussed a local startup offering $250k per year and $1 Million dollars in four years to any engineer that essentially meets their expectation. This article kind of got me thinking; should companies be going out of their way to use this tactic to attract talent? I’m not suggesting there’s a right or wrong answer and I also don’t think $250k is as much as it sounds in Silicon Valley, but I thought I’d share my pros and cons of advertising what is still an explosive salary these days in Silicon Valley:

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    Pro Argument:

    The main pro here is, who isn’t attracted to making a million bucks or 200k + a year to do their job if that’s above the normal salary? Most would like the idea. Ultimately, the software engineers are the ones that build the product, so why not pay them what executives and some sales people are making at companies? This seems pretty logical. Being transparent about this also creates a somewhat level playing field and avoids issues that can arise when you have people making different amounts.

    As a recruiter that has worked with over 500 companies during my career, I often hear companies talk about why someone should take their job for less money because of the potential equity, career opportunity, or many other factors that can’t really be guaranteed. It is refreshing that a company would reward the employee up front vs. the promise of something in the future that may or may not happen.  

    Cons Argument:

    On the flip side, to me, it would seem there are some definite risks to attracting the right employees by putting out what is essentially an advertisement to come to a place because of salary. As I mentioned in the pros, who wouldn’t be attracted to that type of offer? Why is that a problem? Well, I would imagine that any engineer would want to apply for that potential offer. It may be difficult to determine who really is passionate about the opportunity. If that doesn’t matter to you and you just want the talent, then that doesn’t matter as much. But most startups I've dealt with care about company culture and that’s exactly the reason companies like Amazon and Google have unique and intricate hiring committees. You run the risk of hiring people that know how to interview well and are really just after the money. It may be difficult, even impossible to know who really is passionate about the opportunity and, in an industry where the best people seem to value employees who do their job out of a passion and not just as a job, this could definitely be a slippery slope.

    I would sum up this topic by asking another question, is $250k that crazy of a salary these days in Silicon Valley? In a place where getting a house for a family in a good school district can cost a minimum of $1 Million - $2 Million dollars, that may be an interesting topic or question to ponder moving forward!

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  • DevOps: Fad or Future?

    Article written by Shane Tomlinson, Practice Manager of Jobspring Boston

    I would consider DevOps an umbrella term for many different types of positions. When someone is taking a DevOps job, they really need to look at the responsibilities they will have, and what the business needs are going to be. DevOps came around when cloud computing came into existence and companies realized they no longer needed a physical infrastructure. This created a butterfly effect, where startups saw this as an opportunity to hire additional developers to create their product, but also gave them the workload of maintaining their infrastructure while cutting costs. Since then, DevOps has evolved. My definition of DevOps would be someone that can really bridge the gap between development and operations. This would be someone that is a Senior Operations Engineer that also has an understanding of software development. With that role come the responsibilities of configuration management, cloud computing, and the ability to really make deployments seamless. Ideally, most companies are looking for someone that has specific experience doing repeatable builds through agnostic environments and deploying the same code/app on multiple environments such as physical and other cloud providers.

    In the beginning, a technical department was very black and white. You could really look at it as employees either being on the operations/IT side, or the development side. The DevOps roles are very much in the grey area and straddle the line between both. When hiring someone in DevOps, it really starts with the company defining their needs and then customizing the position for the skillset of a candidate. Companies can’t expect to hire someone that is going to be at the senior level in all aspects of a tech department, but they can look for someone that is more of a generalist to help out with operations, programming, QA, and pushing out releases. This can be a double-edged sword though, as some candidates might only have an interest in, or experience with, certain pieces of that equation and can easily be misled by a job description or during an interview.

    I believe this type of skill set is really going to be the future, and companies are going to continue to look for it. This skillset gives companies the ability to automate an infrastructure which will then drastically cut down on costs in the tech department. Automation can really help to make things easier by not only cutting down time, but also by making things more predictable which enables teams to be more proactive rather than reactive. Also, cloud computing can really cut down the cost, giving companies huge advantages, specifically in scalability. Instead of having to buy physical servers, it gives you the ability to not only scale up, but just as important, the ability to scale down. Cloud computing also saves costs by just reducing space needed to store servers and everything needed to maintain those servers.

    In my opinion, the concept of DevOps is definitely the future. Maybe not from a skill set perspective, but from the perspective that companies are starting to become much more tech agnostic and are breaking the barriers between “department responsibilities”. This is especially helpful for continuous deployments and continuous integration for faster and more stable releases, and made possible by more and more companies moving to an agile environment.

  • The Fight for Software Talent

    Article by Jennifer Setter, Practice Manager in Jobspring New York.

    Over the past 7 years, there has been a huge shift in the software technology market. Fortunately, we have made it out of a recession and into a highly profitable market, which has been led by a broad and varying field of technologists. The current unemployment rate for individuals with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science is less than 2%. This is in comparison to the national unemployment rate of 6.3%. 

    If you are an experienced software engineer today, you are most likely employed and content in your current situation. If you are a software technology executive, you are most likely starving for talent and perhaps unclear on how to fill your open software positions with good engineers. In other words, the demand is much higher than the supply. While this is a problem for employers, it’s a huge advantage for a software engineer who is passively on the job market. Keeping an ear open to new positions means that you have a lot of power over your own situation—and you will reap the benefits.

    Because nearly every software technology company is hiring, you will have your fair share of options, from VC funded start-ups to well-known public organizations. All that you have to consider is what motivates your career. Pin-pointing things such as working in an industry that excites you, learning a new technology, or having a social office space are what will define your next career move. Once you start interviewing with various companies, you will find that you are on the advantageous side an offer negotiation. Since most companies are hiring the passive candidate, you can also expect to see about a 5-7% pay increase from one job to the next. Your options are endless and you won’t know what’s out there until you look.

    Anxiety might arise about leaving a current job for a new one: You don’t want to burn bridges or let anyone down. The reality is that everyone makes decisions based on what is best for them, and fortunately, this is something that a good boss will understand. If you have a strong relationship with your boss or coworkers, that relationship will stay intact whether you stay or go. The average lifespan of a software engineer at one job is a year and a half. You will be neither the first nor the last to leave a company that you are personally connected to.

    From a company’s perspective, the competitiveness of finding and landing top talent isn’t so glamorous. Like every other shop in town, you want to hire the best talent for your team. If you really want to draw in someone from the upper echelon, you need to be aware of why a prospective employee could be attracted to your company. Are you implementing the latest and greatest technologies? Do you have special perks such as flexible work hours or the ability to work remotely? Many executives are passionate about their product and like to think that the engineer they hire will automatically share that same passion. While this may be true for some companies, they are certainly in the minority. As a company that is looking to hire top-tier software engineers, you must really evaluate the perks that only your company can offer. This is what will reel in the right candidates.

    At the end of the day, the technology market is profitable, competitive, and growing rapidly. Engineers are a hot commodity, and they have their fair share of career options with the opportunity to make a lot of money. Technology executives have the opportunity to profit on a market that has unlimited potential, but they have a harsh competition to beat out their competitors. The best product is made when the right people come together with the right companies, and this will only happen when both sides are open to seeing what each can do for the other.

  • Developing Your Project Mangement Portfolio

    Article by Adrian Lopez-Obeso, Practice Manager in Jobspring Los Angeles.

    A while back, I wrote an article entitled How To Land a UX Job in Los Angeles. In this article, I touched on portfolios and their importance to UX Designers looking for new career opportunities. In addition to recruiting UI/UX Designers, my team works with Technical Project Managers, so I wanted to follow up with some advice for those of you on the market for management roles!

    As in any job market, hiring managers seek out only the most qualified candidates with the most relevant experience. So many resumes are shuffled through their inbox each day that job seekers must make sure that theirs stands out.

    One way that people in the web and software field stand out is by working on side projects that build their skillset beyond what their previous positions required. Whether it’s building an API and adding it to Github, or designing wireframes for a potential mobile app, designers and developers can always supplement their resumes and skillsets with side projects. This gives them a chance to work with technologies or styles that aren’t always encouraged or permitted at their previous workplaces.

    Unfortunately for Technical Project Managers, side projects to supplement your skillset are a hard thing to come by. Your average PM cannot project manage something by themselves like a developer can build an application. In addition, it's typically rare to find something tangible that a project manager can use to display their work when on the market. However, this does not mean that all is lost for PM’s! As a Project Manager, there are always new methodologies, theories, and techniques to research. Along with that, there are numerous certifications that PM’s can achieve to show their worth and expand their knowledge.

    They key is to keep learning. As long as you can show that, you'll find your new Project Management role in no time!

  • Benefits of Coding Academies

    Article by Melissa Tobia, Practice Manager at Jobspring San Francisco.

    There is no question that learning how to code is the “it” thing to do, especially in this booming tech market. Computer-programming schools all over the United States are giving individuals the opportunity to learn code from experienced developers in just 2-3 months. The popularity of these schools has increased because they offer an alternative education to anyone looking to start a career in coding. This alone is changing how the hiring process works because a CS degree is no longer the only way to land a programming role. Anyone can apply to these hacking schools with every intention of landing a software development role upon completion of the course. This opens up new opportunities for aspiring programmers and without a doubt, these coding academies are the real deal. Within weeks of completing the course, students will find that they are being offered fulltime roles at companies with competitive salaries.

    Sounds great, right? The benefits of these academies are substantial but are not acquired without work. Many students have mentioned that the interview process for these schools is very rigorous. Most academies only accept 5% of applicants. As the popularity of programming increases, so does the interest in these schools. They are constantly becoming more competitive and raising their standards for the talent they produce. During the time as a student at these schools, coding is everything. Students spend most of their day at the academy absorbing as much as they can. Coding becomes a student’s primary focus day and night.

    Are you up to the challenge? Below are some benefits to enrolling in a coding program:

    1. Learning a lot in short amount of time: These courses are between 10-12 weeks on average. They teach the ins and outs of how to code and leave graduates knowledgeable on everything they need to know to land a job in the field. Many grads say that they have never learned so much in such a short amount of time. 

    2. Larger salaries: The average salary of students who complete the course is anywhere from $85,000 to $110,000. Students coming out of these programs are going into the real world with very little experience. Making this large of a salary for your first role in programming makes the entire coding school worth the effort and time. Additionally, being a graduate makes you more valuable as a candidate. This can often put students in situations where they have multiple offers and salary negotiations can be made.

    3. Making connections with the tech community: Coding camps pride themselves on being taught by industry professionals. This means your teachers will become important connections to other professionals in the tech community. Taking advantage of these connections can greatly help after graduating. Additionally, most coding camps have career fairs after completing the course, which allows students to network with different hiring managers and companies.

    4. Landing a job: The end goal of these programs is to get a job. In fact, many of these courses even guarantee one. In addition to the help these schools provide, be proactive about finding a job. Make sure to market yourself well—tell everyone you know that you finished the course and are looking for a new role. There are also many sources outside of the school that can help. Networking at meetups, career fairs and hacking events is great as well as working with recruiting agencies like Jobspring Partners.

    Jobpsring Partners has helped many students land software engineer roles here in San Francisco, and for many of them it’s their very first engineering role. This year alone Jobspring has placed over 15 students into roles with competitive salaries and benefits. Jobspring loves placing candidates from these roles because graduates often have a passion for programming that is not found elsewhere. These students did the hard work so now Jobspring can connect them with great companies!

    Whether you’re looking for a career change or additional education after your college degree, coding programs open up new opportunities and networks for anyone who participates in them. Take the time to consider a programming school and how it can benefit your life significantly! 

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