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  • The Power of a "Thank You"

    Article by Elise Rheiner, Practice Manager in Jobspring Los Angeles.

    After the holidays and my birthday each year, I break out my “thank you” stationary and get to work on writing a personal letter to everyone I received a gift from. I even consider a long drive to spend time together a gift. While I am a bit old-fashioned in using snail mail for my family and friends to say thanks, one of the most underutilized and helpful techniques in your job search is sending a simple “thank you” email.

    Writing a thank you email doesn’t take longer than five minutes, and can be the deciding factor in whether or not you get a job offer. When you are one interviewee amongst a group, who do you think the hiring manager/company will remember? A thank you email will set you apart from the other applicants who are just crossing their fingers in hopes of receiving an offer. Even if there are no other candidates that a company is interviewing for a certain role, they may still have concerns about whether you would be a good fit. A thank you letter can address these concerns. Be sure to speak to your recruiter and ask if there are any concerns or clarifying factors you can address in your email.

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    Be personal and genuine. Just like with your cover letter, it is obvious to employers when you are sending the same generalized “thank you” to every company you interview with. An easy first step is to take note of everyone you meet with during the interview process. It can be hard when you are in a technical interview and end up meeting with three C-level executives and ten members of the technical team, but there should be a few people that you spoke with for longer than a quick “hello.” Draw on the conversations you had with people individually. What did you speak about? It does not have to be anything technical – it can even be personal.

    Be specific and ask yourself questions. What specifically intrigued you about this opportunity? Is it what you would be building, what the company stands for, or did you love the team and the people you would be working with? Why do you think you are a good fit for this position? What makes you the best hire for the job? Be sure to address why you would not only be a good employee for the company as a whole, but why you would be the best fit as the newest team member in the department you interviewed to join. This is where you can answer any remaining questions or concerns the company may have, and answer them with factual experience.

    A thank you email does not need to be a novel, but it should not be just a few short sentences either. Do some self-reflection and after-interview thinking, and then take a few minutes to write that email. A thank you can be that deciding factor in getting you an offer for your dream job!

  • Silicon Valley Through The Years: From Hardware to Software & Back Again

    Article by Jason Cooper, Practice Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley.

    The term Silicon Valley dates back to the 1970’s and gained popularity in the 1980’s. Initially, it referred to the large concentration of chip companies in the area because silicon is used to create most commercial semiconductors. It has since come to refer to all of the high-tech innovation in the Bay Area. Today, there is still a plethora of prominent chip companies in Silicon Valley. However, the Silicon Valley became just as, if not more, well known for web-based software companies at the turn of the millennium. As someone who manages a recruiting team that specializes in embedded systems, I’ve found the ups and downs of hardware-based ventures in the valley very interesting.

    Companies like Intel, HP, Apple, and IBM were early innovators and were instrumental in the rise of the personal computer. Having a computer in your home wasn’t a foreign concept in the 70’s and 80’s, but it really didn’t become mainstream until the 90’s and the Internet boom. Once people realized the value of email, chat rooms, online shopping, etc., we saw greater adoption as well as a surge of financial investments in Internet startups. Some of them, such as Google, Amazon, and Yahoo still exist and thrive today. However, there were plenty of .coms that generated little to no revenue, were grossly overvalued, and ultimately failed, which resulted in a recession when the bubble burst. 

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    Slowly but surely, the market bounced back and venture capital firms began to invest in Silicon Valley and technology startups again. Seemingly, Silicon Valley has transitioned away from innovation in hardware over the years with a stronger focus on software and the web. There continues to be many examples of success in this area with IPOs of companies like Facebook, Yelp, and Salesforce, to name a few. I think from an investment standpoint, it made a lot of sense to put your money into software companies. It’s a lot easier and cheaper to build a website or a SAAS platform than it is to create an entirely new piece of hardware. You could rent a small office in Palo Alto with 10 engineers and create a site that attracts millions of users the way Pinterest did just a few years ago. The same couldn’t be said for many hardware-based startups…until recently.

    With the introduction of smartphones about 6 years ago, people began to see the value and need to be more connected and have the power of a computer in their pocket. The price of hardware has drastically decreased since, and we are now seeing more and more demand for other forms of mobile devices. GoPro and Nest are both great examples of hardware startups to have successful exits. Whether it be IoT, automotive, fitness trackers, smart watches, augmented reality glasses, home automation, or drones, we are currently seeing the resurgence of hardware in Silicon Valley. It’s a great time to be a firmware or electrical engineer as the demand for such skills hasn’t been this high in years, and we are just at the beginning. Many of these products are still in their early stages and there is plenty of room for continued innovation. Grab your soldering iron and join the hardware renaissance!

  • The Evolution of Javascript

    Article written by Chris Walek, Practice Manager in Jobspring Chicago.

    chrisLet me start by saying that I do not code, and this piece is written more as an observation of what I’m seeing in the tech community regarding the evolution of the demand for Javascript.

    Javascript is not a new language. In fact, it’s been around since the 90’s. It was originally created by Brendan Eich to solve the problem of how to build dynamic web pages and continues to enhance web pages today. 

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    The real beauty behind Javascript is not why is was made or what it solves or how clean the language is. The beauty is this language's ability to evolve the tech community. Whether it’s a .NET shop, Java shop, or Rails shop, once MVC-based Javascript frameworks are incorporated, companies evolve with more of an open source mindset. By doing so, it’s no longer about which organization you are paying for the service. Companies are now able to approach the problem with the best tool for the job, or in this case, the best framework for the job. Javascript has begun to refocus developers on the community behind a technology, and allows them to really analyze why a certain tool is being used. I’m finding enterprise companies moving away from a “one size fits all” mentality within programming, and moving towards a much more progressive and community-driven mentality.

    Of course this isn’t true in every case, but it’s a great start. Javascript is unique in that it’s used in every software development shop and has the power to evolve how languages/frameworks are chosen. Javascript has also evolved beyond just the front-end, and through environments like node.js, it has been able to offer companies a full-stack solution within one language. 

    The difficulty of hiring for Javascript is a whole other beast. The key thing to remember is that no one has been doing purely Javascript unless it’s within the last 2 years. Hiring for this skillset does not have to be difficult, as many good engineers are looking to go in this direction. However, they are most likely coming from a full-stack, web application background and programming in backend languages like PHP, C#, Java, etc. Companies must vet candidates based on their knowledge of OOP, understanding of MVC structure, and their ability to solve problems, as those are the fundamentals of any programming role, including a Javascript role.  The right companies hire with this mindset and understand that if they consider a candidate in this regard, they will breed a very loyal, and very skilled worker. Always let engineers follow their passions. If you don’t, you aren’t letting them provide maximum utility. Javascript is certainly bringing that to light.

    In short, Javascript is evolving the world of technology just as much as the language is evolving itself.

  • 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.

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