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  • Capturing 'A' Talent

    Article by Julie Colgate, Practice Manager in Jobspring DC.

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

    Employer Branding

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

    Candidate Selling

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

    Find Your Next Team Member Today

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

    Speed of Getting Someone through the Interview Process

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

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

  • AngularJS: The Latest JavaScript Community Hype OR The Real Deal?

    Article by Del Crockett, Regional Director of Jobspring DC.

    As the Regional Director of our Washington DC-based technology staffing operations, I am hyperaware of the number of requests we receive from clients and candidates surrounding specific technologies. In the ever-changing landscape of web development, there is no denying that the buzz around AngularJS cannot be ignored.  

    Here, we will take an insider's look at Angular's impact on the Washington, D.C. web development community from a non-technical point of view.

    First: What is AngularJS?

    AngularJS is an open source JavaScript MVC framework maintained by Google and its community. It is especially unique because it enables developers to extend HTML syntax to clearly express the application's components, therefore de-emphasizing DOM manipulation and the bulk of the code typically necessary, creating a much lighter web application.

    Highlighted Benefits:

    1.      Two Way Data-Binding – Write less code!

    2.      MVC – Done the easy way!

    3.      Dependency Injection - Ease of development!

    4.      HTML Templates – Programming within the browser!

    5.      Unit Testing Ready!

    It goes without saying, but is still worth noting, that almost anything that Google puts their hands on is probably worth having in your tool belt! 

    Second: A Behind the Scenes Look at JavaScript Requests in D.C.

    Our D.C. operation has two separate teams dedicated to JavaScript placements due to the high demand for Web Developers. As technology recruiters, we have an inside look at what Web Development Managers are truly demanding. Take a look at these AngularJS statistics from this year:

    The Supply

    • 41% of web developers have 3 months or more of professional AngularJS experience.

    The Demand

    • 77% of client front-end job openings included AngularJS.

          Of those companies…

    • 60% requested AngularJS as a must-have skill. 40% listed it as a plus.
    • 95% of clients request some variation of framework experience.

    (Stats only include commercial/private sector company request) 

    These supply vs. demand statistics show a real disparity in the D.C. market, creating a real opportunity for developers to leverage their AngularJS skills, while serving as an easy motivator for others without that experience to get ramped up on AngularJS. Companies, too, should take notice of the scarcity of resources and strongly consider flexibility on compensation and benefits and/or technical requirements when opening up a JavaScript job within their team.

    Finally: Is AngularJS for You?

    The choice of framework is clearly subjective and its use is largely dependent on the task at hand. With that being said, there is no denying Angular’s current influence within the community. At the same time, you can find many technical white pages and blogs illustrating why AngularJS is not a great solution and will ultimately flop as a long-standing integrated solution.

    Regardless of how you feel technically about its application, there is no denying that the amount of community chatter surrounding AngularJS and the statistics supporting its demand in Washington, D.C. make it worth your attention!

  • The Rules of The Background Check

    Written by Sandra Zawacki, Practice Manager in Jobspring DC

    A few recent stories about failed background checks, resulting in rescinded offers, has caused me to reflect on the golden rules of passing one of these inquiries. Clearly, the easiest way to pass is to have a completely clean record, but we’re all human and many of us have made mistakes at some point in our lives. The key to a successful job search and subsequent offer is how and when to reveal those slipups.

    In most cases, companies will have you fill out an employment application as part of your interview process. This application will typically ask for prior employment history, education, and will ask you to outline any past felonies or misdemeanors.

    If your prior mistakes resulted in a felony conviction… well, Houston, we may have a problem. For the purpose of this discussion, we’ll focus on mistakes less severe in nature that may not be immediately revealed by looking at your resume, but would be unearthed through a background check. Some examples include: unpaid parking tickets, credit issues, charges not resulting in conviction, misdemeanors, or being let go from prior positions. In my experience, managers, for the most part, are willing to overlook these types of mistakes, provided you are honest and appear to have learned from the situation.

    Each of the stories I was recently told started with “I decided to roll the dice”. This sentiment is equal to the unfounded optimism one has at the end of a long night at a casino poker table: “I’ll win it back”. The truth is that just as the house (almost) always wins, your skeletons are almost always unearthed through a standard background check. If you are fairly confident that the employer will run a check, I would always recommend honesty as the best policy. Being branded as a liar will be far more damaging than those late payments.

    That being said, there are some standard rules of engagement to adhere to throughout your interview process that will help you navigate the “how” and “when”. First and foremost, always be honest with recruiters about any potential issues with your background check. They know their clients well, and they can help you figure out which will take issue with your past and which won't bat an eye.

    In the event that you are navigating the job market on your own, here are some simple rules:

    Timing

    Just because you are intending to be honest about your gaffes doesn’t mean you need to air all of your dirty laundry in detail during the first conversation. I would recommend waiting until after a first round interview before bringing up this type of information, and try to find out how detailed of a background check the company typically does before volunteering everything about your past. If you have something criminal that you feel confident will show up, get a head of it directly with the manager rather than letting him/her be caught off guard later in the process.

    Own the mistake, then focus on the now

    No one typically cares what “really happened”. Any and all long-winded explanations you may provide end up sounding like excuses more often than clarifications. Keep it simple and focus more on what you learned from the situation and how it’s impacted the person you are today. The manager will be impressed with your accountability rather than distracted by storytelling.

    Remorse

    Express genuine regret and let the manager know that while you made that mistake in the past, it’s not a mistake you’ll make again.

    I’d be remiss not to mention that in this day and age, most managers will probably Google you before they make a decision on whether to bring you on as a new employee. It’s a good idea to google yourself from time to time to see what comes up, and to have an opportunity to address what’s out there. Make sure your social media reflects the image you would want to project, (maybe it’s time to take down those pictures from freshman year in college?) and make sure your profile on networking sites like LinkedIn are updated and current. Should you find negative content about yourself online, don’t bring it up unless there is a real issue with a manager seeing that information. If there is anything out there that you feel forced to address, do so briefly, with a focus on what you’ve grown from the situation.

    In the end, you can only hope that your decision to be honest and mature about your prior faults shows your potential employer that you will make a valuable employee, if given the opportunity!

  • The Merits of Working with Multiple Technologies

    Written by Lyndsey Lustig, Lead Recruiter in Jobspring Washington, DC 

    In the land of software development, there's more than one correct way to solve a problem. Since technology itself is limitless, it should come as no surprise that the available tools and resources are boundless as well. Now the question is, which tools should we choose, not only to get the job done, but also to best express oneself?

    I work with technical people every day, particularly those proficient with Microsoft technologies. I've found that often the best technical people don't limit themselves to one brand of tools or frameworks. They step outside their technical comfort zones and experiment with anything they can get their hands on. 

    This article presents four reasons why you might benefit personally and professionally from trying out new technologies. 

    Learn New Paradigms

    Most programmers are familiar with procedural or object-oriented programming. Functional programming, on the other hand, can provide a more concise representation of data transformations. Rather than "how", you describe "what", and the tools can help you transform the data as needed. Scala is a language that combines object-oriented and functional paradigms (for those on the JVM). Underscore.JS is a library allowing you to use the familiar filter, map, fold primitives, and a lot more, in JavaScript. 

    Learn New Ways to Use Old Technologies

    Speaking of functional programming, your experience may cause you to look at LINQ on the .NET platform in a new light. One of my hiring managers was explaining that his organization’s use of Angular.JS (with its draconian dependency injection) caused his team to think differently about DI containers in their .NET server side, resulting in more flexible and more testable C#. In this way, working with one technology influenced how they interacted with another.

    Job Mobility

    Here are four basic ways that broadening your technical repertoire can open up possibilities for career advancement.

    • You can contribute to different areas of the same project (front-end to back-end, application to data analysis, etc.)
    • You can move to new projects entirely (has your organization been piloting a new tech stack?)
    • You can move to new organizations entirely. If this is the case, I can refer you to a specialist. (Wink!)

    And finally,

    • Some organizations only fill full-stack or generalist positions. It’s worth mentioning that this is often true of smaller product development companies or startups.

    Right Tool for the Job

    Many organizations are pushing the limits of relational databases. The high performance or high availability required by their applications call for something new. NoSQL databases are answering this call, but often each in their own way. Spend some time understanding their relative merits and you can be your organization’s hero. Can you drop joins and go for the high performance of key store or document databases? Is your problem better suited by a graph database? What these specialized databases give up in the relational model they make up for by excelling in their particular area of application.

    The following books are a great resource if you’re looking to expand your knowledge of current and new technologies.

    • “Seven Languages in Seven Weeks: A Pragmatic Guide to Learning Programming Languages” by Bruce Tate
    • “Seven Databases in Seven Weeks: A Guide to Modern Databases and the NoSQL Movement” by Eric Redmond

    There are many benefits to be had from interacting with a range of technologies. Whether you’re looking for new ways to tackle an assignment or hoping to advance your career by opening new doors, I highly recommend not limiting yourself to one brand of tools or frameworks. 

     

    Carl Gieringer, a Darmouth College Computer Science graduate and Software Engineer at RevMetrix, was consulted on this post.

     

  • The Perks of Being Active in Your Tech Meetup Community

    Written by Julie Colgate, Practice Manager in Jobspring Washington DC

    In cities as competitive as Washington, D.C., individuals are constantly looking for new ways to evolve professionally. But with everyone looking to have a competitive edge, what is the best way to get ahead in your professional life?

    Having worked extensively in the market, a pretty clear pattern has emerged from the most successful individuals across the board. They all have three things in common-- They’ve developed a network, they are constantly learning, and they are incredibly passionate.

    I’ll let you in on a little secret-- you can get help with all of these, plus beer, at your local tech meetups.

    Develop a Network

    We’ve all heard, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. Relationships are at the core of getting ahead in the business world, and there is no better way to foster these relationships than discussing your passion over a drink, in a room filled with great minds and innovative ideas.

    One thing to remember when developing these rapports is that you need to give as much as you take from the relationship.  Don’t create superficial exchanges just to get ahead, but build strong bonds that will benefit you and the other person throughout your careers.

    Continuous Learning

    There is no better way to learn about local companies and emerging trends than being able to talk to the individuals behind them.  Sure, you can read newsletters like the Potomac Tech Wire, but that’s not going to provide you with half of the learning opportunity that being actively engaged will. Attending a meetup allows you to actively learn about technology by seeing it first-hand, meet with the founders and employees of different local companies, and talk with like-minded tech enthusiasts who may provide a different perspective of how an industry or technology is developing.

    Be Passionate

    Find something that you are interested in and love doing. Maybe you haven’t gotten to this point in your career and need to be inspired, or you have and want to share that passion. A meetup is a great opportunity to explore new interests, be exposed to new ideas, and share your talents.

    I’ve been to many meetups, and it’s hard not to get excited about a company or an idea when you’re engaged with a founder who eats, sleeps, and breathes their idea. Someone who listens to your feedback, loves answering your questions, and has a passion for creating a great product. 

    Meetups are also a great way to get up and do something different. Sometimes it feels like you can get stuck in an everyday monotonous routine. You get up, go to work, go home, eat dinner and go to bed; rinse and repeat. Tech meetups in DC are a great way to break out of this routine and add some excitement to your weeknights. 

    Whether you have a passing interest in what’s hot in technology or you’re an IT veteran, a tech meetup could be just what you are looking for. They are typically hosted at a central location right in DC or just outside of the city, and start around 6pm or 6:30pm for easy access right from work.  If you are looking for a place to start, check out the meetup that we sponsor-- Tech in Motion. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

  • Switching Careers for DC's Private Sector

    Article by Del Crockett, Regional Director in Jobspring Washington DC

    As a Regional Director that oversees technology recruiting operations in the Washington, DC area, I am often confronted by various levels of Software Engineers that have the misperception that the best, and possibly only real career options in this market are in the federal space. Now I must admit, even I made this same assumption prior to coming to DC. I moved to DC after working in Los Angeles and Philadelphia, cities where ‘government contracting’ isn’t exactly common talk. But in DC, this is as common as 80-degree weather or grabbing a cheesesteak respectively. 

    Below are two simple, yet often overlooked reasons, based on my experiences working with technology managers in various cities across the country, for why I am an advocate of private sector engineering careers over the commonplace federal route in the DC market. 

    Government Technology Playing ‘Catch Up’

    Every day, I talk to software engineers with varying degrees of experience. In DC there's a common story of engineers who graduated from local universities only to be recruited by one of the big federal consulting shops right out of school, therefore entering the federal space by default. After a few years, they often reach a point where they crave the excitement of what they know is available in the private sector. Grand visions of Google, Facebook, and Twitter-esque development shops take over! 

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a vendetta against big federal consulting. In fact, I think they offer a fantastic start to one's engineering career. The problem is that most federal work does not prepare you for a switch to the private sector. There are several reasons for this.

    1. Heavy use of legacy systems and/or slow to integrate new tech. The government relies on private sector companies for their technology. Just look at the investment made into AMAZON WEB SERVICE for cloud computing solutions.
    2. Many lack implementation of agile methodology. Think of any technology company that has had an impact on your life. They run agile.
    3. Creativity and ‘thinking outside the box’ is often not rewarded or promoted due to heavy ‘federal’ restrictions and red-tape. I think Congress paints a clear picture of the red-tape I’m talking about.
    4. Major dichotomy between the working cultures of the two. You just have to experience it to understand the difference.
    5. Most solutions are not ‘Full-Life Cycle’, minimizing your exposure to how end-end solutions are created. Many federal projects offer just a piece of the overall solution to work on. This depth of knowledge will not suffice in the commercial space.

    I meet with Engineering Managers all the time on both sides, and it’s not unusual to hear a manger in the federal space say something along the lines of, "I’d love to see a candidate with commercial product experience." Of course they would, and so would managers in the private sector! The difference is that I have yet to hear a client in the private sector ask for an engineer with federal experience. In fact, I often get requests not to introduce government contractors unless they are extremely unique. Now, is that fair? Probably not, but such requests originate from the five points above. And if developers have such a hard time making a career shift in DC, where government work is fairly common on a resume, imagine what it would be like if you moved to another city. I’m not sure how sexy the government projects you worked on will be to companies on the west coast. 

    Of course, there's always a counter-argument. Government work might be perfect for you, especially if you plan on living in the DC area forever, can acquire a high level clearance (which is money in the bank as far as job stability) and are capable of maintaining those lifestyle restrictions to hold onto it. 

    The Money Argument

    Let’s cut to the chase on this one. Government consultants can make a ton of money! I would even go so far as to say that some are overpaid. Now, with that being said, so is Alex Rodriguez, and I am a believer that if someone is willing to pay it, then to that person (or company), YOU ARE WORTH IT! 

    On the flip side, I also see a ton of candidates who are underpaid in federal and private sectors. There's no universal rule here.

    My point on this topic has to do with the job seekers that are used to making Silicon Valley money in their government job, and now decide they want commercial experience on their resume. These job seekers are often shocked, since salaries in the private sector are usually about 10k lower, on average. I see this shock on a daily basis, and usually it's a conversation of adjusting expectations.

    The reality is that for most Engineering positions in the private sector, a premium is put on those who have the skills to create end-to-end solutions using newer technologies. Think Big-Data, cloud, and mobile, for instance. These are the most requested types of projects Engineers are looking for right now. Unfortunately, if you don’t already have relevant exposure or a history of working in a commercial type of environment, the compensation is not going to compare on day one. 

    If you are going to get into the federal space, you have to face the facts. The government prints money (probably too much) and the private sector is the engine that creates the real growth. The resources available are not the same, so adjustments in expectations have to be made when going from federal to private. Going the opposite way? Well then, be ready to likely cash-in! 

    At the end of the day, the general consensus is that you can make more money doing potentially less cutting-edge or challenging work in the federal space. But if you are looking for the bleeding-edge opportunity often only found in the commercial sector, then expectations need to be a bit more realistic.

    Often, the difference between private and government sector engineers is the mentality. Commercial product managers want developers who are in it for the reward of the work they're accomplishing, and for the innovative tech they get to work on. If you want to work in the private sector, that's the mind-set you'll need to adopt.

  • Is Contracting a Viable Option for You?

    Article by Tom Parzych, Practice Manager at Jobspring DC.

    There is certainly a stigma surrounding contract, and even contract-to-hire positions. Most employed individuals are averse to hearing about contracting opportunities, and companies trying to establish a culture, or build a team, are just as likely to avoid hiring someone on a contract basis. However, the hiring market right now, especially in technology, is highly competitive. It’s time for a discussion where contracting is viewed as a viable opportunity. Realistically, contracting is a great solution for a both management and job seekers alike.

    How Contracting Benefits Hiring Managers

    There are many positive aspects to hiring on a contractual basis. However, in order to truly understand the benefits, it’s important to first address the perceived negative aspects, such as:

    • Hiring a contractor creates a culture of instability
    • A contractor doesn’t typically buy into the overall mission of the company
    • Temporary employees have no loyalty or incentive to follow through on deliverables
    • Contractors won’t put in the same quality of work as permanent employee

    These are the main concerns I’ve come across as a recruiter. These concerns typically stem from, in my experience, companies and managers who have never previously hired, let alone approached a contractor.

    There is an underlying theme among these concerns. Namely, will the quality of work from these candidates be the same as if they were paid a salary and benefits? The short answer is YES. Look at it this way; even one-month contracted candidates are incentivized to perform at a high-quality level. Why? Firstly, this is a position that will fill any gap of employment, which means prospective employers will see the position on the candidate’s resume. As a result, the candidate will want a positive reference from the most recently listed employer on their resume. Secondly, the candidate may wish to work on projects with the same employer in the future. Most professionals, in every industry, are not looking to burn any bridges. It is common knowledge that the best way to fill a position is through having a strong network of industry professionals to rely on.

    Now, let’s take a look at the benefits of contracting. Trust me, there are numerous benefits, but here are just a few:

    • Option of temp-to-perm (you can try and buy!)
    • Increased hiring flexibility
    • An immediate need is filled
    • Maintenance of budget requirements, while still getting the work done
    • The hiring company is not the direct employer and therefore, does not have to worry about HR, accounting, or direct supervisorial issues

    By having extra hands on board, deadlines are being met and demand is being filled. Additionally, contractors are usually paid out of a separate budget than permanent employees. This means that you are able to stay within your budget, while also getting the work done in an efficient and effective manner. Sounds like a win-win!

    How Contracting Benefits Candidates

    I’ve had extensive experience helping to place contract candidates at various companies, even those who did not anticipate hiring a contractor, and the benefits very clearly outweigh any concerns the candidate may have. Below are the main benefits on the candidate-side of the spectrum:

    • Getting a foot in the door
    • Gaining exposure to a  new skillset the candidate may not have otherwise had the chance to learn
    • Higher earning potential
    • Avoid being out of work for an extended period of time
    • Typically earn higher hourly rates

    I’ve placed a candidate on a short-term contract countless times, which then, unsurprisingly, gets extended, then extended again. Then the individual is hired as a permanent employee as a result of the company recognizing the value of that specific candidate. This happens more often than most job seekers think.

    Having Doubts?

    Are you still unconvinced or hesitant about contracting? Then I recommend seeking consultation from someone who is familiar with this trend. Be that a former coworker, a colleague at a different organization, a friend, a habitual contractor, etc. It’s time to start considering the contracting realm as a practical option.

     

  • How GitHub is Changing the Way We Hire

    Article by Alex Clark, Lead Recruiter in Jobspring DC.

    Just a month after its status page confirmed that a major DDoS attack crippled the site for three hours, it may seem like poor timing to write a piece about the importance of GitHub. But if you ask me, they are in good company. Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple all reported attacks in 2013 alone. And no one would question the importance of those companies.

    For now, let’s focus on why GitHub is one of the most important tools available to programmers, managers, and other professionals in the tech space. GH is, literally, the largest host of source-code in the world with over four million users currently contributing to its more than six million repositories (1). The question is, what are you waiting for?

    Prospective developers, proven ninjas, and wizards, if you’re contending for a new position without a GitHub account, you’re already one step behind. Interacting with hundreds of tech professionals in the D.C. Metro area, I’m often asked “What can I do to improve my chances of landing a dream job?” My answer is always the same. “Go home and create an account, start a repository and display your code tonight.”

    As Q1 draws closer and a flood of candidates hit the market, you should be looking for anything to set yourself apart from the pack. What better way to do that than by displaying your work publicly for all to see? Take a few days to polish your account and put up code. Network, connect, comment on, discuss, share your work and build upon others’. Collaborate on a project and challenge yourself for all to see. In a word, use GitHub to “engage”. Whether you view it as a social network, a warehouse or a host, use GitHub to its full potential.

    The site is quickly becoming its own virtual community and a productive one at that. GH isn’t a forum to post last night’s party photos; it’s a business avenue waiting to be taken. With around 3,000 live accounts, D.C. is ranked among the top ten cities in the work in terms of GitHub users (2 & 3). Whether you are searching for that next gig or just trying to stay relevant with one of the hundreds of JavaScript frameworks, GitHub is an imperative launching pad for your career.

    When career hunting, it’s important to know who will be looking you up on GH and that person is likely to be a hiring manager. If there is one major hiring trend to point to this past year, it’s that employers want to see your GitHub account. With much more frequency, companies are asking for candidates to submit their account information along with their resumes.

    Perhaps the biggest illustration of GitHub’s importance is how companies choose to leverage it. Hiring managers are creating tech tests and small projects for candidates to solve as a way to vet talent. In the workplace, teams of programmers are able to store their work and access any changes that other team members make in real-time.

    GitHub will continue to facilitate the advancement of software development around the Globe. As the tech industry continues to exponentially change the face of everyday life, it is up to you as a professional in this space to be conscious of trends in order to stay competitive.

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