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  • SDETs: The Rise of the Tech-Savvy Testers

    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.

  • Startups: Competing for Talent

    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.

  • Five Ways to Keep Top Contractors Engaged

     

    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?

    Contracting at JobspringThe 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:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.

  • How to Ace the Technical Interview

    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. 

  • Tips and Insight from Generation Y

    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.

  • When Accepting a New Job, Sweat the Details

    Written by Kevin Lin, Recruiter at Jobspring Orange County

    Imagine, if you will, that you are in the process of interviewing with the company of your dreams. You have just stepped out of a second round interview where you knocked their technical test out of the park. Since the first interview, you have had fantastic conversations with the hiring manager and you mesh so well with the team that they have already given you a nickname. You like them, they like you, and they definitely want to see you back for a final handshake with their Director of Engineering.

    At this point, most people will have offer numbers dancing around inside their head and have probably already started thinking about where the optimal place would be to put their red Swingline stapler. Before we start registering for the new intra-company softball league, let’s take a step back and make sure we are covering all our bases to really make sure that you have all the necessary information to steer your career onto a new path.

    First, take a moment to really analyze what makes this particular company a better fit than the other companies you are currently interviewing with. Which opportunity offers you the best chance to utilize your current skillset and widen it at the same time? Does one company offer Beer Fridays while the other allows you to work from home two days a week? Put it down on paper and make a list if you have to, but make a quick ranking based on everything from culture to commute.

    With that done, make sure you have a full understanding of your current benefits package and bonus structures (if applicable). If you have a HMO or PPO, confirm the network coverage and if your employer is currently contributing. If you have stock options or a 401k, figure out the max percentage of matching that is offered. Also, verify exactly how many days of PTO and holidays you have at your current job.

    Almost every medium-sized and up company will run a background check, so for your own sake, be truthful when discussing things like current salary (if you have to at all) and make sure to fully disclose if you have anything on your record. As Sandra Zawacki mentioned in a prior blog post, deciding to “roll the dice” with not mentioning any background issues will most likely result in you not being hired.  

    Finally, most companies will want new hires to start within the industry standard of 2 weeks, so make sure that you confirm the exact date and time that you are expected to start at your new position. Giving notice and dealing with counter-offers will be a discussion for another time, but if you ever need help with that, please feel free to ask us! The managers here at Jobspring Orange County have been dealing with issues such as these for many years and will know how to make the transition as seamless as possible.

    At the end of the day, whether or not an opportunity is right for you is something that only you can decide. However, you can use these pointers to make an informed decision to make sure your career path is headed towards growth in the best way possible.

  • Instant Gratification is Holding You Back: It’s Okay to Smell the Roses

    Written by Daniel Urbaniak, Practice Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley

    Type, type, dial, hang up, voicemail… email, email, dial, “Hello, how are you?” “Let’s make it happen”, type, dial, email, “How can you help me right now?” Repeat.

    Sound familiar?

    As a culture we’ve grown ever more reliant on instant gratification. Understandably so, with a constant race to see who can get there first and how you can help me this second. Work and life is becoming progressively faster-paced, and details begin to blur together. Magnify that by 10 if you are in sales, and you have a recipe for missing important details.

    As a Sales Manager, I fall into this trap way too often, as I’m sure most of you do as well. Sure, moving quickly, delivering on due dates, hitting numbers and constant hustle are the name of the game. However, it becomes necessary to look at the big picture before you become the hamster who is addicted to running on its wheel. Once in a while, we need to slow down, take a look around and see where we can add value, even if it doesn’t directly impact our bottom lines.

    In February, I received an email from an Afi Bryant, Career Service Advisor at The Art Institute of California- Silicon Valley. What caught my eye was Afi’s title, Career Service Advisor for a local Art Institute. I knew Afi was reaching out on behalf of her students; there would be no purple unicorn resume here.

    In Silicon Valley, our services are not typically used for entry-level candidates and at the time I knew I wouldn’t be much help to Afi for finding open positions for her students. Then I remembered how daunting it was for me to graduate college and think, “What in the world am I going to do now?” So I stopped, asked the office if anyone knew of any entry-level positions, and as I imagined, crickets ensued. I decided to just give Afi a call.

    The conversation was immediately better than expected. Afi was a native of the same area I relocated from roughly a year before, and we ended up talking at length about a quarterly event that they hold, where local tech companies stop by for two or three hours to sit down with soon-to-be graduates to discuss interviewing best practices, job search techniques, and general feedback on their portfolios. It sounded like a great way to give back to the community, so I volunteered us right away. After the event, we realized that not only was this something that we’d like to continue to do as an organization, but that the Art Institute had a great space for events.

    One month later, the Art Institute was host to the largest Tech in Motion: Silicon Valley event in its history. 320 attendees packed the Art Institute for the ‘Women in Tech Panel’ event which featured Perri GormanKimber LockhartSophia PerlLisa FalzoneMarissa Louie, and Ewa Ding. Not only was this very rewarding for all 320 attendees and the technical individuals on campus, but it also allowed the culinary students to display their talents. (Thanks for the food, guys!)

    The relationship with the Art Institute has continued to grow, and in fact, this post was inspired by Afi calling in yesterday, three months after our initial interaction. An email which ordinarily may have been overlooked will add to the success of a growing event series, and a rewarding experience for both our staff and those students that attend the Art Institute.

    The next time that you find yourself calling and emailing away, focusing on instant gratification, don’t forget to look at the big picture.

  • Interviewing IT Contractors? Four Topics That Employers Mess Up

    Article by: James Vallone - Director of Business Development

    Have you ever interviewed a contractor and realized that something you just said caused them to be noticeably less interested in the job? Interviewing IT contractors is very different than interviewing perm candidates. There are a lot more land mines to look out for. Contractors think and act differently during their job search. To successfully engage IT contractors, you must be fully aware of what’s on their mind at all times and tailor your conversation to their agenda.

    Begin by understanding that a tech contractor’s job security is based on weeks or months, not years. Typically, contractors are not as interested in long-term career development at your company (unless it’s a contract-to-hire position). They will want to focus more on the specific challenges and expectations of the project at hand. Contractors also greatly value their independence and will view the employer on a peer-to-peer basis (or service provider to client basis) rather than an employee/boss relationship. They are chameleons, fitting into different cultures and becoming members of teams for temporary periods. Many are contracting with more than one company at a time, so time is their chief currency.

    To keep contractors fully engaged during the interview process and interested in your opportunity, here are some important things to pay attention to during the interview:

    1. Don’t be vague about the contract length. Let’s say the contractor asks you how long the contract period will last. You waffle and admit that you are not exactly sure or give a wishy-washy response. What does the contractor hear? They hear that maybe you’ll consume far more time than the contractor wants to commit to this engagement or, conversely, that you may not provide a long enough engagement to make it worth it for them. 

    Advice: Always be specific about both the estimated minimum and potential timeframes so they can feel more secure about the engagement.

    2. Don’t disclose the specific contractor pay rates you are willing to pay. First off, if you’re working with a staffing firm, redirect any questions the contractor has about pay rates back to the agency. It’s the agency’s responsibility to address this. If no agency is involved, it is still not in your best interest to specify rates early on the process. Why? Because if you throw out the rate first, you may risk being too low and turn them off. He or she may decline your contract on the spot without taking the time to explore if there is room for negotiation. On the other hand, if your rate is higher than what the contractor expects, then they’ll hold you to this rate and you may end up paying more than you needed to. 

    Advice: Ask the contractor to provide their pay expectations first so you can establish more control during negotiations.

    3. Don’t discuss your overall budget in too much detail. Any talented IT contractor will want to work for a company that has a solid and reasonable budget in place for staffing. However, they do not need to know exactly what your entire budget is. Communicating that you have a significant budget in place will certainly prove to the contractor that IT is an important initiative for the company. But the contractor may leverage this information against you and inquire as to why you’re not paying them more. And, of course, disclosing a budget number that is very low will have the obvious impact of stirring up concern about the commitment to IT spend. 

    Advice: Use adjectives, not numbers, to discuss the financial context such as, “We have a solid or healthy or strong budget in place for this department.”

    4. Don’t make promises about contract-to-perm conversions. Some contractors may inquire about a potential conversion to permanent hire. They may ask because they are interested in converting to perm, or they are really looking for a permanent position, or because they are not interested in a permanent position altogether. It is really important to understand where this question is coming from before you provide an answer.

    Advice: Ask the contractor first about their interest in becoming a permanent employee. If you find they are ideally looking to be converted to perm, give them a realistic timeline of when the job could convert, but be honest and explain that any conversion would be based on the contractor’s performance during the contract period and that this is not guaranteed.

    Remember, it’s your job to sell the contractor on the great opportunity they have to work at your company. You will always be competing with other employers and must differentiate your opportunity. Avoid these common interviewing obstacles and keep the interview hyper-focused on the selling points to attract the best IT contractors.

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