Article by Daniel Urbaniak, Practice Manager in Jobspring Silicon Valley.
For most people, interviewing is a daunting task. There's the gauntlet-style interview process, with interviewer after interviewer for hours on end. There's the never-ending phone screen-style, with a multitude of conversations over the phone that hopefully, if all goes well, lead to an on-site meeting. And once you finally land that face-to-face interview, you might find yourself being grilled by a panel of 5 to 10 interviewers all at once. Even if the interview process is streamlined, an initial 30-60 minute interview followed by an in-depth, in-person interview can still be a roller coaster ride of emotions.
Now, there are definitely methods to overcome the anxiety and properly prepare for success. The obvious is to stay true to yourself. Talk about what you know, and be honest when you are unsure of the answer. Every day I receive feedback from hiring managers who are looking to introduce new candidates to their team. Frequently, it goes something like, "I really like him or her, but I asked a question and they gave me the totally wrong answer. If they didn't know, they should have just said that instead of guessing and getting it completely wrong and continuing to justify that wrong answer."
If you are looking for less of an introspective approach to interviewing, there are a multitude of articles on the web detailing interview styles, prep questions, and how to deal with different scenarios, such as whiteboarding. There's an endless supply of information, really, however it is very easy to become inundated with information and styles to the point where themes begin to contradict one another.
You may want to consider using a recruiter, as they're often a wealth of knowledge when it comes to interviewing processes. The amount of time the recruiter has worked internally or with the client will dictate the amount of prep information that they're able to pass along. Obviously the recruiter you are working with wants you to be as successful as possible, but if this is a new client, they might not have a ton of insider information to pass along to you yet. At the same time, you could hit a similar wall with an internal recruiter or human resources, who are likely swamped with many responsibilities. Information falls through the cracks, or because you are 1 of 100 candidates interviewing, that internal resource just does not have the bandwidth to get the appropriate information to you.
Combinations of the aforementioned tools are helpful and will contribute to your success, if used properly. The job seekers that are the most successful are those that can put themselves in the shoes of the individual on the other side of the table.
With that in mind, I asked David Ta, Manager of Cloud Services at FireEye, to spend a few minutes with me discussing his thoughts when interviewing candidates for his team.
Me: If someone doesn’t have the ‘full package’ from a technical standpoint, what quality or intangible traits do you look for that would make up for those missing skills?
David: It’s pretty straight forward. I ask questions where they can work towards the answer. It shows me how they could work through problems. I am also looking for people that are intelligent, someone that inspires confidence when delivering their answer.
Obviously, this also depends on the role that I am filling. If we are talking about a task doer, I expect a certain level of passion or someone that really puts their heart and soul into their work as opposed to someone that is just cooling to collect a paycheck. If I know this person is interacting with others, if they are light technically it’s important they can articulate themselves in a way both technical and non-technical individuals can understand. Engineering teams will eat you alive if you don’t have the ability to explain your proposed solutions.
Me: What are the challenges and your thought process when you are considering head count and building a team?
David: Challenges, the main thing is finding that balance between a rockstar and a team player. Of course there are candidates that are great at what they do, but they know they are great and that can be a problem for culture. Team work is just as crucial as talent. If someone is less concerned with team work but succeeding on their own work it does not matter. If the one person is failing the team is failing. This is a mentality I consider when interviewing and follow through with once they are on the team. It’s also important to find individuals who take the initiative to do things that will help the team. That’s priceless really.
When actually considering the number of requirements a team needs, I consider the metrics. You cannot justify headcount without understanding and displaying statistics. You need actual numbers. I ‘ve been using a kanban board to visualize work across the team, and the resulting data will help me justify an actual headcount when needed.
Me: If money was no object what resources would you seek out to help you build your engineering team?
David: I would start hosting user groups and meetups here in our office. I would fly famous, relevant speakers (ie. Linux Torvalds) to attract as many people as we could. Obviously provide food, top shelf liquor, and soft drinks. Hopefully it would attract solid candidates and be a great marketing tool for our company. I think hosting free training sessions would also be a pretty cool way to identify talented individuals, you can build a relationship with them while they are in the office and if they excel at picking up new technology it would be an easy transition.
Me: What would your advice be for an entry level candidate?
David: I would tell them to go get their Red Hat (RHCE) certification. Then continue learning and advancing, eventually working toward a Red Hat Architect certification.
When it comes to salary, do not just spit out a number. Let the hiring manager talk to you about a number. Let’s say they are thinking 120K and all you want is 80K, you can really short change yourself.
Another thing to keep in mind while you are interviewing with any company is the interview is not just for the company, it’s for you too. Once you approach it that way you can be more confident.
Smile a lot and create rapport with your interviewer. I read a study that people that were interviewing were more likely to remember the name of a candidate that smiled more often than candidates who didn’t.
Me: What would be your advice for a mid-level engineer?
David: Specifically, I hire for automation. So learn how to script and code. Don’t just put on your resume that you do whatever it is you do, but actually explain what you did and how it either saved time and money or how it improved the business.
Me: What would be your advice for a senior- level engineer?
David: The more programming languages you know the better. Be sure to keep educating yourself on the newest technologies. Python and Ruby seem to be the languages in demand right now, back in the day it was Perl. People tend to just stick to what they know as they get older and it can be a huge detriment if they have not expanded their skillset.
Me: What was your most memorable response to an interview question?
David: There is definitely one… I was interviewing a Perl expert. So I asked him, “What is the difference between for loop and foreach loop?” He told me, “Four letters.” He followed up with the right answer, but very witty.
If you have a fear of interviewing or always wanted to know what that hiring manager was thinking, just put yourself in their shoes. What qualities would you look for in a candidate? David showed us it is not just about technical skills, but the whole package when building a team. There are qualities that each of us have, so take note, have confidence, and think about how you could add value to that team.
Article by Scott Purcell, Division Manager of Jobspring Silicon Valley
The question of how to start working in a new field (or in this case a technology) if you don’t have the necessary experience is one that plagues many job seekers. We all remember what it was like looking for that first job out of college. Everyone was interested, but you were missing the necessary experience for the role.
When technologists want to move into a new field, they run into the exact same problem. You have a great skill-set in one area, but you’re tired of that, and have decided you want to break into another area of expertise. Now companies won’t even give you the time of day. Your resume isn’t even considered! So what do you do? Here are a couple pointers that can help you transition into your desired career path.
One of the best ways to move into a new field is to get industry experience at your current job. If there’s a team specializing in that technology, offer to help outside of your normal work assignments. You can jump in and provide an additional resource to colleagues on these different teams. Because you’re a known entity and have relationships with these colleagues, they’ll be much more likely to feel comfortable having you help out on a project. Think of it like that entry-level internship you did during college to get your foot in the door with a company in hopes of being hired on after graduation. Once you've worked with this team, you might be able to pivot into joining them, but at the very least, you'll have that experience to add to your resume.
Unfortunately not all of us have the opportunity to help out a different team at our current jobs. So what’s the next best answer? Often, people are excited to show me their shiny new Certification. This alone is not the answer. Employers just don’t seem to care about them. Rather than spend your time and energy getting a certification, put it into actually learning the technology on your own or through a class. And most importantly, do something with what you learn. What do I mean? Well, jump on Github and put up some of your code, or develop your own website that displays your work, and put those things at the top of your resume. Potential employers love that! From this, they can actually see your work and see that you’re passionate about what you do. If you're a writer, just telling the publisher what you want to write is probably not going to get you very far. But if you show up with a polished short story, they're likely to take you much more seriously. Think of this as the side job you did in college that relates to the career you’re going after!
In recap, breaking into a new field is possible. What you should do is everything and anything to get experience in the area you want to pursue. Draw attention to yourself while you’re in the interview process, from the initial interaction with your resume, all the way to the in-person interviews and beyond.
Scott was recently quoted in Business Insider and Wired articles about the engineer salary increase in Silicon Valley, read what he had to say!
Article by Jason Cooper, Practice Manager for Jobspring Silicon Valley
I moved to San Jose in January of 2012 having spent the previous year and a half working in our Orange County office. My task: open up a brand new recruiting practice specialized in placing mobile engineers. I was excited to jump head first into a new emerging market, and take on the challenge. Working in the heart of technology and in a time where everyone seemingly owns a smart phone, I didn’t think there would be much of a problem carving out a place in this new frontier. What follows is a series of common themes I’ve encountered in my time here:
The Senior Candidate?
One of the first things I noticed was that the majority of companies are looking for senior engineers with plenty of experience building mobile applications. Of course everyone would love to hire someone with a wealth of experience in the domain. That line of thought makes a bit more sense to me with well-established technologies like PHP, Java, or C#. However, I thought to myself, what constitutes a senior mobile engineer? How can you ask for senior candidates, when the technology itself is so new? Everyone wants people with 2+ years of experience, but there simply aren’t enough of those people to go around. What I encountered were plenty of engineers who fall into the category of what I like to call the “weekend hobbyist.” These people have day jobs in software development, but not working in mobile full-time. They write an app here and there on their own to experiment with the technology and gain experience in the field. Many of these people struggle to find mobile jobs because companies want someone who has been doing it with a team in a production environment. The companies that hold out for the perfect candidate often spend a long time looking. The companies that are most successful in filling their positions are the ones that are open to hiring candidates with good computer science fundamentals, the right attitude, some relevant experience, and a hunger to transition their career into a full-fledged mobile role.
Native vs. HTML5 vs. Hybrid
Do you actually have a business need?
As a recruiter, you always want to work with clients that express some level of urgency in filling their position. I am happy to spend the time finding and recruiting candidates, scheduling interviews, getting feedback, etc. if the client is serious about filling their position. However, there are many hiring managers that seem to be “window shopping” when it comes to hiring mobile engineers. Why does this does happen? I suspect one of the primary reasons is because some companies simply don’t have much of an actual business need to hire mobile software engineers. There just isn’t a huge return on investment for them. If the company’s core product is a mobile application then sure there is a legitimate reason for them to invest in the technology. They stand to make money and attract users from it. However, many companies don’t stand to make a profit from their mobile applications. They are looking to build applications merely to have a presence, keep up with their competitors, and retain non-paying users like in the case of banks or insurance companies. Mobile is such a new space that many companies just don’t yet have the pressing need to hire quickly. On the flip side, hiring Java, Python, or Ruby engineers to work on scaling and adding new functionality to an existing product that generates revenue for the company creates a higher level of urgency to hire.
Salaries and perks in a competitive marketplace
It’s simple economics; when demand outweighs supply, the price goes up. For iOS and Android engineers that are active in their job search, it is not uncommon for them to generate several offers. With so much competition for talent, the salaries for mobile software engineers have steadily increased in the last year and a half. For those that wish to hire engineers with top 50 CS degrees, the price can be quite high. I have seen recent Stanford and Berkeley grads with mostly academic experience get offers north of $110K. I have seen companies going above and beyond to hire the best senior mobile engineers on the market. They may offer the ability to work from home, extra vacation days, free health benefits, cell phone plans, and sign on bonuses. Silicon Valley already boasts the highest salaries in the country and I anticipate they will continue to increase, as growth in the technology sector shows no signs of slowing down. For iOS and Android engineers in Silicon Valley these are the salary ranges (will depend on experience, education, etc.) one can expect if they were to test the market:
- Entry-Junior Level: $80,000-$110,000
- Mid Level: $110,000-$125,000
- Senior Level: $125,000-$160,000
- Architect - Hands on Manager: $160,000-$180,000
What do you think? Share your insight below!
On Thursday, March 14th, Tech In Motion Silicon Valley held a UX Meetup in our Jobspring Silicon Valley office. It was a great night, bringing the UX and tech community of Silicon Valley together with lots of networking and lively discussion.
We hosted guest speaker, Wendy Johansson. Wendy is the Sr. Director of User Experience at Tout, a video social networking start-up and considers herself to be a UX generalist.
Before joining Tout, she was the User Experience Manager at Oolaya. When she joined Oolaya at just 20 employees, she grew UX not only to be a team, but a user-centered design strategy for the company when she left at 350 people. She spoke to our crowd about "Making UX Matter to Your Company" and her thoughts on making UX a strategy within your company and not just a deliverable.
The energy in the crowd was infectious! UX professionals and tech enthusiasts came together and everyone seemed to agree that UX should matter to any company. The presentation became more of a discussion amongst the audience and Wendy, which was great!
We were able to ask Wendy a few questions about User Experience after the event. Check out what she had to say!
JS: A lot of Silicon Valley companies are building out in house design teams from scratch. I know that you were the first designer at Ooyala and helped build that team out. What is some advice you can give these companies when building out a team from the ground up?
WJ: Don't just hire a bunch of UX folks and expect great UX to be the result! You need to have every team in the company understand what value UX will bring to the success of your product and be inviting and inquisitive in integrating UX into the company. Without everyone on board, you'll have a frustrated UX team that focuses more energy on fighting for their voice to be heard, instead of fighting for the user's voice to be heard. Second key is to stop seeking a unicorn - you want a UX designer that also front end codes? That's like asking your hairdresser to also design your wardrobe because they both concern outward appearance. It's not the same thing!
JS: When and how should companies incorporate UX researchers into their team?
WJ: At Ooyala, we didn't have a dedicated UX research team until we were ready to start building brand new products based on discovery and exploration of the industry. So we hired a really smart UX researcher to join the team and she started working directly with the Account Management team to set up a Customer Database to define what customers we talk to and when. This really helped us as a Product team to build trust with customers by not overloading them with research requests, and by ensuring we work with the same customers through the life-cycle of a product (from exploration to beta to release).
JS: How have you seen UX design evolve in the last 5 years?
WJ: The definition of "UX" varies wildly among different sized companies, different regions, different teams. However, I'm seeing UX becoming more of a "catch-all" term that incorporates user research, usability, information architecture, interaction design and visual design. So to a lot of people, UX is a generalist who can do all of those things.
JS: What are some qualities you feel are essential to have to be a great UX leader?
WJ: A great UX leader needs to be able to take a step back and see the bigger picture - not just the business case for a product, but the business case of the company. Not just the best user experience for a given product, but the best user experience that will scale as the product evolves. And a great UX leader sees the people.
JS: What do you do to motivate your team and foster creativity?
WJ: I think of my team as people, not as designers. People need to be challenged, need to have room to breathe and do what they're passionate about, and need to have work/life balance. So I'm incredibly concerned about how my team members are feeling as people and like to have very open communication with them about what's exciting or demotivating them. I also want each team member to feel accountable and proud of the quality of the user experience they're creating, so I enjoy "show and tell" of work to other designers (or the entire company!). This gets feedback from your peers and colleagues that you respect and pushes you to always do your best.
By: Scott Purcell, Division Manager of Jobspring Silicon Valley
Anyone who has lived in Silicon Valley for a while and works in the high tech world, particularly in software, can attest to a market where the competition for solid talent has continued to grow more competitive by the year. As a high tech recruiter managing an office focused on placing software engineers I have seen both the competition for talent grow as well as that very same competition drive salaries into a realm that we have never seen before.
To be fair, salaries for software engineers in Silicon Valley have always been, on average, probably the highest in the United States. I personally came up from LA in March of 2007 and noticed right away the differences in salary ranges in Silicon Valley. For example, very top tier software engineers or architects in Los Angeles would on average be making somewhere in the 110k-125k range give or take. Entry-level grads with a BS in CS from top Universities like UCLA would start out making 50k-70k. These numbers all sounded pretty reasonable to me when you take into account averages for other professions and cost of living. Coming to Silicon Valley definitely was eye opening. Recent grads were getting 70k-80k. Senior Engineers were on average getting anywhere from 120k-140k. These average numbers really blew me away.
Fast forward to 2010. We’ve just come out of a pretty nasty recession and the rest of the country is still hurting economically. Silicon Valley however is on the rebound. After a few years of radio silence in the venture capital world the money is flowing again. Software engineers that have put in a solid 3-5 years with their current companies and have waited out the recession are beginning to sense that there’s a new boom on the rise. Companies begin to use those funds to hire top talent. At first, salaries seem to stay the same on average. But as 2011 begins trends start to emerge. Facebook and Google begin competing fiercely for the very best young software talent and willing to pay 100k+ for entry-level software engineers. Other companies like Yahoo follow suite forcing venture-funded start-ups to also raise their salaries. Those engineers that had been making 125k-140k are looking for new jobs and, with the demand for their skills, are not willing to consider lateral moves. This drives the salaries up and now 150k base salaries for Senior Software Engineers has become the average. New trends in the market like Big Data and HTML5 drive the salaries up even more.
For the first time since I’ve been recruiting I’m placing Senior Engineers at base salaries of 165k. You would think that these would be big, profitable companies, but the companies paying those salaries range from Series A funded startups to 300 person profitable startups. Gone are the days of paying someone a lower salary with the promise of equity unless that equity is something extremely unique; as in 1% of the company and you can still expect a relatively competitive base salary.
Today, in 2013, the salaries in Silicon Valley are drastically different then even six years ago when I moved to Silicon Valley. This year alone I’ve placed entry-level grads starting at 80k and generated an offer for a Java Hadoop candidate with only three years of experience at 175k. Salaries for Senior Java Engineers that my team is placing range from 140k on the very low end to 165k. Candidates with 3-5 years of experience are easily being offered 110k-130k base salaries with significant equity and / or bonuses. This presents challenges to many companies from both a budgeting and internal equity standpoint but that’s Silicon Valley!
So what will future salaries look like in 2013?
This is an intriguing question. We’ve come to a really interesting place regarding compensation in Silicon Valley. Right now top engineering talent is getting 165k and above. With some C-Level executives and lower-management in the same range it can make things challenging from an internal-equity standpoint. Do companies stick to their guns and lose out on candidates or do they look to adjust their entire structure?
My personal opinion is that there are going to be some serious growing pains in 2013 and it will take until Q3 or Q4 until some companies begin to catch up to the market. Many companies will think that salaries are inflated and not want to pay the top salaries when those candidates may not be as skilled as the engineers already at the company. They also won’t want to up the salaries of the current employees. However, as word gets about what the market is paying and there are more companies paying those salary ranges we will start see more candidates making moves based partly on salary. Some companies will successfully counteroffer those candidates and others may lose talent.
By the end of the year most companies will be paying that market rate for top talent and will have to adjust their internal salary structure. This all hinges on the continued economic growth that we have seen the past couple years. Fingers crossed!
If my predictions are right, the good news is there will be some exciting growth in the tech world and more than enough money to go around for both talent and budding companies to continue the explosive innovation that makes Silicon Valley the high tech mecca of the world! As the war for talent continues I’m excited and interested to see how this will continue to evolve the high tech market in Silicon Valley and the impact it has on other tech meccas across the nation.
As you may have read, Jobspring Silicon Valley got to welcome Daniel Urbaniak from Jobspring Philadelphia to their growing team at the start of the New Year! Dan was promoted to Practice Manager to open up a brand new team at Jobspring Silicon Valley specializing in placing DevOps, Python, and Linux System Administrator engineers.
Dan was born and raised in New Jersey and joined the Jobspring Philadelphia team shortly after graduating from Rowan University. This is his first time on the West Coast and he is quickly getting settled in Silicon Valley! He has not only been busy finding a place to live and getting to know the area but has been very focused on building strong relationships with clients and job seekers in Silicon Valley.
We're so happy to have him on our Silicon Valley team!
If you're looking for a DevOps, Python or Linux Sys Admin position or just want to welcome Dan to Silicon Valley, give him a call!
How to Contact Dan:
Phone: (408) 418-1520
Last week Heather Huggins was able to find Franklin the job he had been waiting for to get his career back on track!
Heather, who works on our Mobile and Embedded Software team at Jobspring Silicon Valley, starting working with Franklin back in August. The opportunity that she had in mind for him at the time didn't quite work out and Franklin took a contract opportunity on the East Coast. Franklin soon realized that the contract role wasn't something he was passionate about and decided to start his job search again two months later.
He reached out to Heather to see if she had any opportunities that would be more beneficial to his career. Heather told him about an opportunity with a company she was working with in the 3D graphics medical device space that matched perfectly with Franklin's engineering skill set!
Franklin spoke with the company over the phone and they wanted to proceed with an onsite interview. Franklin, Heather, and the manager were working nonstop to find Franklin a flight to California. Once the flight was found, Franklin flew out the next day, had the interview, and flew back East the day after. A week after that onsite interview, the company offered him the position!
Franklin was very relieved to be moving back to California for a full time opportunity to do exactly the type of work he had been wanting to do!
Congratulations Franklin! We're so glad Heather was able to find you a great job!
That owl on Heather's shoulder is our new affectionately named "Placement Owl". We were able to strategically steal the owl in a heated game of White Elephant during our holiday party. He will now signify each job seeker we place at a company by residing on the recruiters desk. Heather got to be the first to break in our Placement Owl.
How to Contact Heather:
Phone: (408) 418-1520
Meet Viet Nguyen, Practice Manager for Jobspring Silicon Valley's web development team that specializes in placing UI/UX and front-end developers.
Viet was actually the first hire when Jobspring Silicon Valley opened its doors in Downtown San Jose in January 2011. He worked his way up from starting out as an Assistant Recruiter, becoming a Lead Recruiter, and now running the team that he helped start!
Viet says that the most rewarding thing about being Practice Manager is, "I am now able to help others the same way my managers helped me."
Viet was born and raised in the Bay Area of California and graduated from San Jose State University where he studied Business Management. Since joining Jobspring Silicon Valley, he has broken company records and has found many job seekers new homes at both budding and established Silicon Valley companies.
In his spare time you can find Viet DJing around the bay area, playing football and basketball, and hitting the dance floor. Seriously, this guy can bust a move or two!
How to Contact Viet:
Phone: (408) 418-1520