Written by Gerard Daly, Recruiter at Jobspring Philadelphia
Philadelphia has always fought to be known as a major contributor to cutting-edge technology. Yes, this is Comcast Country, and that does have significant pull in certain tech circles, but it also takes away from the smaller companies making big waves. Take, for example, the one Philadelphia startup company DuckDuckGo, a search engine, which has aligned itself to overtake Comcast in number of worldwide users.
Recently, DuckDuckGo and Apple confirmed a partnership that put the company at the forefront of the behemoth search engine battle that’s ongoing.
“Online privacy has been an actively discussed topic recently and large corporations are starting to pay more attention, such as Apple, with iMessage and the newly debuted email feature of encrypted attachments via iCloud,” said DuckDuckGo user Colin Elliott, a past Jobspring Partners candidate. “Also, to Apple's credit, they have found a beautiful, anonymous search engine to use in Safari. DuckDuckGo in the past couple months has been rolling out their revamped search, which I'm sure is what caught the attention of Apple.”
So where did the little search engine that could come from?
DuckDuckGo was founded just outside of Philadelphia in 2008 by Gabriel Weinberg. As the sole member of the company at the time, Gabriel spent countless hours and dollars to keep his idea alive - and it is a good thing that he did. The company caught the eye of techies in 2011 when Union Square Ventures backed their product and funded the rapid expansion of the DuckDuckGo team. From then on, their business model has allowed them to hold their own and even gain user loyalty from other major search engines.
What sets DuckDuckGo apart from other search engines is their founder’s motivations. Weinberg’s non-competitive strategies make him particularly dangerous to giants like Google and Bing. Motivated by user experience, not money or competition, he gives them the ability to provide their own features. For instance, refining results to filter out what are called content mills. Content mills are websites that push a massive amount of articles just to bring their sites to the top of a search list. Even more interesting is DuckDuckGo’s alignment with the TOR Onion Browser. Much like TOR, DuckDuckGo provides an anonymizing service to protect the identity of its users.
One would think that a company filtering out content and promoting anonymity might be shunned, but in fact, the reception has been quite the opposite. Three operating systems have already signed agreements to include DuckDuckGo as their search engine; however, this past Monday, the company made history when it paired with Apple as a default search engine option in Safari. This makes DuckDuckGo the first anonymous search engine to be added to a major browser.
" CEO and founder, Gabriel Weinberg, “
This all goes to show that a small startup that didn’t come out of New York or California can hold their own against massive established corporations. Philadelphia is officially a contender on the search engine playing field.
Article by Jason Cooper, Practice Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley.
With a record number of IPOs and companies like Beats By Dre and WhatsApp being acquired in the billions, venture capital firms continue to dump more and more money into technology-driven startups, hoping to hit on the next big thing. Thus, it’s no surprise that the demand for engineering talent is approaching an all-time high. Job-seekers and companies are always looking for those things that can give them a competitive advantage in the hiring process.
Silicon Valley is at the forefront of it all, and is a good place to look at trends in the market. A couple of months back, I was approached by David Ramel, a technical editor of MSDN Magazine, and asked about the use of social media sites, open source contributions, and general themes we are seeing out here in San Jose. What follows is a Q and A of that interaction.
Q: Have you seen evidence of recruiters/hiring managers paying more attention to participation in tech-oriented social media sites such as Stack Overflow, Quora, and Slashdot when evaluating job candidates?
A: At this point, I think recruiters are making use of sites like Stack Overflow and Quora more so than hiring managers. I think this is due to the fact that there are more open positions than qualified job-seekers. So recruiters are constantly trying to find new ways to source and connect with potential job-seekers. There is no doubt that these sites are becoming a more popular place for engineers to showcase their skills and knowledge of technology trends. However, I think the evaluation of job-seekers (both technical and cultural) still primarily takes place during the interview(s).
Q: If so, are these becoming more important than traditional evaluation methods such as resumes, CVs, screening interviews, and so on?
A: I still think that interviews are the most effective way to evaluate potential candidates. Resumes are a helpful tool, but they often don’t tell the whole story. That’s why I meet my job-seekers in-person and go through their background in detail. I’ve been able to schedule interviews for some job-seekers with nothing more than a quick pitch of their background over the phone. Contributions to these types of sites can help set you apart, but it’s not as if a talented engineer will be penalized by a client for not doing so. Again, I do think that participation on these sites is a way for engineers to get noticed, leading to more opportunities being presented to them.
Q: Do you foresee these new evaluation techniques surpassing those traditional methods in importance/usage?
A: The modern day job search has greatly evolved over the last several years. As recruiters and hiring managers try to streamline the interview process and find more efficient ways to hire quickly, I think it’s entirely possible that these new evaluation techniques will play a greater role in the decision making process.
Q: Have you found that open source project contributions/participation are becoming more important?
A: I think open source contributions say a lot about an engineer. As a recruiter, it tells me that someone is passionate about what they do and plays an active role in the tech community. Again, there are plenty of great engineers that aren’t going to have open source contributions to point to, and that’s fine. However, if someone is very active in the Linux community or is an Apache committer for example, it surely will capture the attention of recruiters and hiring managers.
Q: Are hirers using specific big data analytics techniques in their evaluations with respect to the aforementioned trends? If so, any specifics as to the techniques/strategies or software packages being used?
A: I suppose that this could be happening, but I’m not aware of it yet. However, it seems like a natural progression as many companies look to leverage big data analytics in a variety of ways.
Q: What would be your advice to software developers/engineers looking to advance their careers with respect to these trends? What specific things can they do to enhance their job prospects in the new age of social media and big data?
A: I think you want to make sure that what you are putting online and sharing in the open source community is something you are proud of and can stand behind. If you are going to share links to your code/projects on your resume or LinkedIn profile, you want to make sure it highlights your strengths. I think the site that’s getting the most attention, especially from hiring managers, is GitHub. For someone looking to enhance their job prospects, that would be the first place I would start.
Q: With respect to the previous question, how does your advice vary for new developers seeking initial employment versus experienced developers seeking to advance their careers?
A: The entry-level engineer out of a top computer science program will have no problem landing a job. They really don’t need to do much to attract the attention of potential employers. The Facebook’s and Google’s of the world will snatch these folks up quickly, and often before they even graduate. However, for those engineers not coming out of high profile schools, I think contributions to sites like Stack Overflow, GitHub, etc. become much more important. Without real world career experience, this is a fantastic way for them to showcase their knowledge and skills.
Q: Beyond the aforementioned trends, are you seeing other ways that software development/engineering recruiting/hiring is changing?
A: In recent years, top tier software engineers have become almost like blue chip recruits in collegiate sports. It’s a candidate-driven market and they often have their pick from a handful of job offers. Thus, companies are constantly altering their interview process, sales pitch, compensation packages, and perks to be more attractive than the competition. In 2009, companies could retain and recruit engineers because the majority of them were happy just to have jobs. Now, recruiters and hiring managers really need to sell their opportunity to potential candidates from the get-go, and throughout the interview process if they have any hope of capturing their attention.
Q: On the flip side, are you seeing other ways that job-seekers are amending their strategies?
A: Most analysts predict the demand for engineering talent to continually increase over the next 10-15 years. Provided this trend continues, which I think it will, I see sites like Dice, Monster, and CareerBuilder becoming much less relevant. The job-seekers I know who publically post their resume online can get anywhere from 10-50 calls and/or emails a day. The internet is a great way to advertise that you're looking for a job, but it results in a lot of “noise” with very little filter. Many of the good engineers out there will choose to be more selective in their job search. They may turn to their friends or former colleagues for referrals to specialized agency recruiters or introductions to the hiring manager at their current company. Trust me, if you have a detailed profile on LinkedIn, the good companies and recruiters will find you. You can sit back and choose which ones you respond to and there is no need to subject yourself to the endless calls and emails that come with posting your resume on these sites. It’s gotten to the point where some of the job-seekers I represent no longer have a conventional resume. They simply use their LinkedIn profile in lieu of one, and many clients could care less. It’s about what they can do from a programming standpoint, not about their ability to write a resume.
Q: What skills are most in demand, in terms of areas of expertise and/or specifics such as experience with programming languages/tools?
In closing, the modern day job search is definitely evolving. The standard resume and job board account is no longer the way to get noticed. While social media and open source community projects make it easier to find and connect with potential candidates, people still hire people. There will always be a place for talented recruiters as it’s a relationship-based business. No matter how many questions you answer on Quora, or how great your resume or GitHub account looks, there is always going to be a personality/cultural component to hiring that I don’t think technology will be able to account for.
Article by Garrett Biel, Recruiter in Jobspring San Francisco.
Nowadays, the term networking is thrown around more than ever—and it is no secret that San Francisco, especially, loves to network. Networking is not a trend or a fad that will come and go. Networking is a skill and a tool that will always be around to help you find a job or grow your business. With networking here to stay, the question becomes, how has networking changed and are classic networking techniques becoming outdated?
These days, reliance on technology is reaching an all-time high. With the uproar of mobile devices and smartphone technology, it can be easy to find potential clients or employers with the click of a button. However, this can be seen as a blessing or a curse. It's easy for someone to submit their resume online to a plethora of companies. But it is something else entirely to actually meet face-to-face with a hiring manager or client. This face-to-face interaction opens up an opportunity to connect on a professional and personal level, an opportunity that is lost when dealing through online communication. It is important these days to remind ourselves that sometimes it's necessary put away cell phones and tablets and make time for in-person networking.
Struggling to find new face-to-face networking opportunities? A meetup is a great way to meet people in your community and learn something new. Meetups are organized events that bring people together with a common interest or mission. In tech especially, there are a number of meetups held every day ranging in topic and size. Have an interest in Ruby on Rails? There’s a meetup for that. Do you want to meet UI/UX designers from new startups in the Bay Area? There are numerous meetups for that. These local gatherings are a great outlet for networking and provide an easy way to direct your goals in connecting with the right people.
Even if you're not currently in the market for a new job, speaking with people in tech positions that you may one day want to work in can provide you with a firsthand explanation of what the job entails. This sort of advice cannot be found online or in a job description. Additionally, expanding your network through meetups will introduce you to new companies that you may have never found on your own. In lieu of the recent explosion of startups all over the country, it can be overwhelming to keep up with. Meetups are a personal and friendly way to discover new companies and get to know the creative minds behind them. This is especially important in places like San Francisco where new startups are founded every day.
Not only does a meetup allow you to network with others and grow your community, but it also allows you to learn and grow. Often these events will be focused around a certain technology and feature an expert in the field sharing his or her knowledge on the topic. Learning this new information can help you in future interviews, positions, and general conversations with coworkers. You can have ten years of experience under your belt or even just one, but there is an opportunity to learn something new about a technology you might have never known.
In the age of the mobile device, it is important to remember that not everything has to revolve around the miniature computer we keep in our pockets. It is the personal connection you make with others that is going to set you apart from everyone else. After the personal connection is made, then turn to technology to keep up with that person—connect with them on LinkedIn, start an email conversation, and most importantly, use these lines of communication to find time to meet in-person again. Face-to-face networking is an old tactic of the business world, but it is not outdated. Technology is important and can be used to enhance our personal connections, but it is still essential to get that face-time.
Article by Devon Ellis, Recruiter at Jobspring New York.
Software Development Engineer in Test, or “SDET,” is a position that has gained a lot of notoriety in the past few years. This is the product of a marriage between a standard QA Engineer and a Software Developer. Because of this, there is a lot of gray area as to the duties and responsibilities of a SDET. It has also raised some questions as to what the difference is between a QA Engineer and a SDET. I have had hiring managers ask candidates to identify the differences between a QA Analyst and a QA Engineer during an interview, but things get a little bit more ambiguous when you combine two separate positions with varying responsibilities and create what is now known as a SDET.
At first glance, a SDET may seem identical to an Automation Engineer. One may look at two similar job descriptions, one with the title “QA Automation Engineer” and one looking for a “Software Development Engineer in Test,” and not be able to decipher the differences. This is an accurate observation, and may in fact be the best comparison to make. While many of the tools and languages are the same, such as Selenium, Java, and Jenkins, there are subtle but distinct differences that separate one from the other.
To put it simply, a Software Development Engineer in Test is a developer who works on a test team and not a development team. This is the perfect combination of a developer and a tester. A SDET is someone who not only writes the code, but tests it as well. They are responsible for creating the product from the ground up, and ensuring that they do not put out buggy code. Instead of waiting until the end of the product lifecycle to test the code, SDETs are constantly testing and fixing their own code – they conduct themselves on an Agile lifecycle as opposed to a Waterfall lifecycle. Ideal SDETs will have strong technical, problem solving, and analytical skills. Typically, standard QA Engineers are testers who have little-to-no programming experience. No Computer Science degree is required, and an engineer may not even be exposed to the code, particularly with manual testing. This type of position clearly still exists, but the demand for a more tech-savvy QA Engineer is on the rise.
So what does this mean for the tech community in NYC? This means that there is a new field that has previously been unconquered by engineers. This allows for people who are passionate about producing perfect code to be in the ideal job, where they can have their cake and eat it too. With the influx of SDET careers, this leaves the door wide open for an entirely different type of engineer. If you are a Manual QA Engineer, but want to progress towards becoming a SDET, I suggest you check out some coding courses. Codecademy (www.codecademy.com) is a great place that offers interactive courses on how to program. General Assembly (www.generalassemb.ly) also hosts classes given by professional programmers. These are two great companies in NYC that will help to increase one's potential to break into the SDET market. If you can master the delicate balance between Software Developer and QA Engineer, then you can excel in this market.
Article by Bradley Spencer, Lead Recruiter in Jobspring New York.
New York City is a hotbed for software developers and entrepreneurs alike. With its rich industrial diversity and wealth of talented software professionals, NYC is prime real estate for the ‘next big thing.’ This isn’t much of a secret, and there are a lot of ‘next big things’ out there, so how you stand out against your competition is crucial to bringing on the right hire. You’re competing with a lot of great ideas out there, but if you want to bring in the top talent, you’ll need to shine brighter than your competition.
Developers want to see your vision. If you’re going to convince a developer that you’re the best option, you will need to show him or her some of the cards. Unlimited snacks and dogs in the office are great, but they need to see the facts and proof of concept to feel comfortable taking a leap of faith. The knick-knacks won’t make you standout, but your vision and passion will.
Two hour code tests don’t work. In a highly saturated environment, where top-tier developers are choosing from multiple options, an extensive code test early on will knock you down the list. When a candidate is heavily interviewing, a code test is daunting, and if it comes too early on in the process, it can be a big turnoff out of the gates. Tests serve a purpose, but they should be administered towards the end of a hiring process when a candidate is already ‘bought in’ to your team and product.
Look at long term value vs immediate impact. I understand the urge to be picky and hold out for the perfect fit, however, looking for the perfect match will likely never come. If you’re looking for the candidate coming out of Google or Facebook, you’ll be looking for a while. Rather, look for the essentials in a developer. Do they have the technical chops to get the job done, and can they grow into an essential player at your company down the road?
When you’re ready to move forward with a candidate, it’s important to make the correct offer first. It’s almost always a bad idea to come in lower than a candidate’s asking price. Candidates are turned off by low offers and this will damage the relationship you have built through the interview process, and could potentially knock you out of contention if there are other players in the mix. Most of the time, companies end up eventually getting to the right number, so why not do it from the start?
For early stage startups, finding the right candidate at the right value is crucial and can be a daunting endeavor. It’s important to make candidates see what you see, and your vision for the future of your organization. In the end, they’re taking a leap of faith and buying into you and the foundation you’ve laid out.
By: James Vallone and Ben Sanborn
You know how hard it was to find a top contractor, right? Well, now that you have him or her onboard, what are you doing to ensure they stay engaged and retained? Contractors today have a plethora of offers to choose from. Since most work on a temporary basis, they are continually evaluating offers and lining up their next job – even while they work for you. If they have a bad experience with your company, you risk losing them and you risk the potential loss of referrals of other great contractors. (Yes, contractors refer non-competing contractors to companies they know are reliable and great to work for! They also warn others to stay away from bad experiences.) You are not only vying for a contractor’s expertise, but for their loyalty. So, how do you keep contractors engaged and happy?
The best way to do so is to understand what contractors value in their work experience. Most contractors are independent, pride themselves on providing great customer service, love the thrill of fresh challenges, value open communication, want to feel as if they are part of your team, and appreciate clear direction about what your project objectives are and how they can meet them. There are ways to ensure that you create a positive experience for contractors. Here are the top five:
- Onboard quickly and completely. Just because they may not be in the office every day, doesn’t mean they don’t need to know where the bathroom is! Provide a full orientation. Give them a building tour and introduce them to key people they will work with or need to know. Discuss hours, break times, access to the building, and parking. Make sure they have the right technology and equipment to do the job, know how to access systems, and how to communicate with your Helpdesk. If they are not working for an agency, be sure they understand how and when to submit their timesheets and who to contact if they have an issue. You want to make a good first impression. If you don’t, contractors will assume you do not fully value them or will end up feeling less than confident about how to fit in and meet your needs.
- Treat them like a team member. Too often, contractors are left out of the game. While they work for you, treat them like a true member of your team. Be inclusive. This is particularly important if your contractor works offsite. Invite them to company events, celebrations, happy hours. Keep them abreast of internal news and updates. Clue them in about company politics and any pertinent historical info that would be useful to know. You want to make them feel welcome and included. That said, be mindful that some contractors do not want to be down in the weeds more than they have to be. If a contractor doesn’t jump to attend happy hours, be respectful and don’t take it as a negative sign. Many contractors became contractors to avoid the hassle and extra-curricular activities that being an employee entails.
- Dedicate time for one-on-one meetings. Include your contractor in team meetings, but don’t overlook the value of having regular one-on-ones. Weekly check-ins or even just an informal coffee or lunch on a regular basis can help you keep tabs on how satisfied the contractor is with your company and if they are running into any hindrances that they don’t want to discuss in front of the entire team. Contractors want to be included as a team member; keep in mind that that they are not employees though. As an outsider, they can provide you invaluable insight into your culture, team dynamics, process workflows, and input on how you can improve your contractor/company work arrangements. Contractors bring third-party eyes to your internal processes. Don’t be afraid to tap into their perspective.
- Honestly discuss performance. Contractors want to make you happy. They want to leverage their expertise to ensure you get what you need. Unless you provide performance feedback, it’s hard for them to know if they’re hitting the mark. Rather than holding a typical boss-to-employee type performance review, open up a dialogue about performance in general. The best contractors are service-minded and will ask you for feedback so that they can make things easier or more effective for you. Return the favor and ask them as well. Discuss how things are going, what feedback you’re hearing from stakeholders, and any adjustments that need to be made to stay on track.
- Pave the way for future success. It’s not your job to help a contractor line up more work, but if you are pleased with their performance, by all means refer them to other groups within the company. You can be sure they won’t forget your kindness. If for any reason a contract is expected to end before the agreed-upon time, give them a heads up. If there is potential for converting to a perm hire, discuss it with them and offer them the option. You want to keep a positive relationship going so that you have the opportunity to work with them again in the future and to garner referrals from them. One thing companies often overlook is the business development aspect contractors naturally bring. Contractors that have great experiences with client companies become evangelists and often refer other clients to each other. They want you to succeed and are more than happy to help bring you business.
These tips will help you go a long way to creating a positive experience for contractors so you can keep them engaged, retained, and returning to work for you again. By taking a look at what contractors value, you can address their needs and ensure that the project is completed in a mutually satisfying manner.
To learn more about how Jobspring Partners can help with your IT staffing needs, please feel free to contact an IT staffing consultant at any of our locations through out North America.
Written by Samantha Rosner, Lead Recruiter in Jobspring New York
The job interview process is an arduous task in today’s society. There are many pitfalls that can catch job seekers off-guard and cause great opportunities to crumble. The most important part of the interview process for software engineers is the technical interview. Preparing for a technical interview is extremely important for the success of any job prospects. Technical interviews are often quite rigorous and can really push talented engineers to new levels of critical thinking and assessment.
So, engineers often ask, how do I ultimately prepare for the technical interview?
Below is a how-to guide on how to ace it:
Be Ready to Whiteboard: This is generally a go-to interview tactic for tech companies to evaluate engineers during the interview process. It’s always smart to practice solving technical questions on a white board to see how your brain operates/critically thinks when not in front of the computer.
Brush Up on Core Principles and Basics: Always make sure to brush up on any programming languages that may be rusty. Expect to be asked questions ranging from the fundamentals of certain languages to some higher-level concepts. For example, if you are interviewing for a PHP job, it is helpful to brush up on the fundamentals of the LAMP Stack and the MySQL Database.
Bring Code Samples: It’s always a good idea to bring code samples and github profiles with you to the interview. Companies are looking for writing ability and the ability to communicate technical thoughts through code documentation.
Send a thank You Note: This is always a good thing to do when you finish any interview process with a company. You want the company and the people you met with to remember you for the right reasons. Always address why you would be a good fit for the role and bring it back to the job description and what was covered in the interview.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions: An important part of the process is to ask questions about the role to show that you are interested and engaged. Make sure to prepare 2-3 questions to ask at the end of the interview that show genuine interest and thought.
If you do all of these things, the odds of you getting a final-round interview, or even better, a job offer, are extremely high. So always remember, preparation is the key to success in landing your dream job.
Article by Daniel Urbaniak, Practice Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley.
Recently, Tech in Motion: Silicon Valley hosted the largest event in its history, featuring four members of this years’ Forbes 30 under 30 at the Microsoft building in Mountain View. With over 300 attendees, the house was packed to see Robert Scoble, American blogger, technology evangelist, and published author and Perri Gorman, CEO of Archive.ly moderate four young success stories of Silicon Valley: Morgan Knutson, Chief Product Designer at Dropbox, Lisa Falzone, CEO and co-founder of Revel Systems, Steven Eidelman, Co-founder of Whistle, and AJ Forsythe, Co-founder and CEO of iCracked.
The night opened with a few crowd-sourced questions to warm up the panel and engage the audience. Topics ranged from, “how did you go about raising money when you first started” to “what was it like making your first real hire”. Many of the answers left the crowd inspired while providing them with a humbling look into the successes and failures of a group no older than 29. Throughout the presentation, there were three moments during the meetup that really stuck with me.
The first was a conversation that started backstage – Generation Y, and what it's like running a company in the age of entitlement. Being in that generation and having complained about my generation (I’m sure someone has complained about me at some point, as well) I was very curious about what the group would have to say. There was definitely agreement across the board, entitlement is something that they deal with while running their respective companies. However, the conversation turned from a generalization of Generation Y to finding people who are inspired. The group talked about what it was like starting their companies and how there were many times when they could have walked away. The desire to take nothing and make it into something was what kept them motivated. AJ even made the joke that every night he goes to bed pulling out his hair but every morning he wakes up and can’t wait to get to work. He’s 26, by the way, and has over 300 full time employees and twice that working as contractors.
“Fake it till you make it” was a phrase that was enjoyed by the crowd, you could tell because it was tweeted on our rolling twitter feed 10+ times. The message boiled down to the idea that when you're new at something and you've never experienced certain situations in the business world, it's important to keep working until the unfamiliar becomes familiar. The panel all shared their personal anecdotes on times in their careers where they needed to project an air of confidence while going through specific experiences for the first time. Lisa even shared that she started selling her product before it was even fully created.
The final piece was actually the last question that was asked by a member of the audience. It was so spot-on, that if I wasn't involved with the organizing of the event, I would have thought it was planted. Erik Finman, who cashed in $100,000 in Bitcoins to launch his own education startup called Botangled, stood up and asked what kind of advice you would give a fifteen year old programmer and entrepreneur who just moved from Idaho to try and get his first company off the ground. Fifteen!!! The group shared some words of wisdom, but the two common themes were to have as much fun as possible with the company, and to learn as much as possible. There was even a joke or two thrown in there that he needed to sit on the stage with the rest of the group.
After the presentation, many of the audience members stuck around to network. The overwhelming theme when discussing the panel was inspiration. Whether you want to start your own company, take the first or next step in your career, or learn to better manage your team, there was something for everyone to take home and implement in their everyday lives.