Article by Julie Colgate, Lead Recruiter at Jobspring Partners: Washington DC
“Hi, my name is Julie. I’m an Open Source Development recruiter and I’m here to serve you. I’ll be helping you find the job you want or find that valuable addition your team needs. I’ve matched 19 candidates and companies over the past year and I want to do that for you as well. Whether you have worked with a recruiter in the past or not, there are a few things you need to know.”
Tell Me What You Want:
The biggest thing for me as a recruiter is to have a clear understanding of what you are looking for in a job or in an applicant. If you don’t want to work inside the beltway, let me know. I’ll focus my efforts in Reston. Want applicants with a special skillset? Tell me and I won’t waste your time on people that aren’t going to fit that role. At the end of the day, the most important thing for me is that I have added value to a company and helped someone further their career.
Know Your Worth:
I’ll split this section in two, one for job seekers and one for hiring managers.
The job market is very competitive today, and even more so for the technology market here in DC. This is why it is imperative that you know how much you are worth, and even more importantly, why you are worth so much. As a recruiter, I want to get you every cent you deserve. For me to do this, I need to understand the important skills you bring to the table, past experiences where maybe you've saved your company money or increased sales, or whatever X factor you have that’s going to make companies swoon over you.
With that said, the market is going to dictate within a certain range the type of salary your skills command. This is where I can be of value to you. I'm an expert on the market from working with job seekers with similar backgrounds to yours and with the types of companies you want to work for. While I'm always going to work to get you the highest salary possible, part of my job is tempering expectations if I don’t believe I can get you the amount you're asking for. What I can help you with though, is finding a job that will allow you to gain the skills and experience needed to command that higher salary down the road.
Time is Money. How much is your time worth? This is where I'm valuable to your organization. Finding the type of talent you need, researching the market to understand which skillsets your budget will afford, figuring out if a person is going to fit in with your company culture - this is how I spend my day. It takes up a lot of time. Time you'd probably rather spend developing and perfecting your product.
I’m a resource for you to utilize. You can tell me what you have budgeted, and I’ll be able to tell you what type of talent I’ll be able to find for you. Conversely, if you give me a description of the type of candidate you're looking for, I'll be able tell you what you can expect to pay.
Communication is Key:
What I need from you is a constant flow of communication. I need you to ask questions when you have them and be responsive when I have them. This comes back to “time is money”. The tech market is very dynamic and changes quickly, so the more constant our communication, the quicker we can fill your position (or find you a new job), and the bigger the advantage you'll have over your competitors.
Help Me Help You:
What it boils down to is this: help me help you. If you are a candidate, I want to find you an opportunity where your skills are fully utilized and where you are compensated appropriately based on what your skills and the market dictates. For hiring managers, I want to save you time and help you build an all-star team that will help your business grow.
To hear more from Julie, follow her on Twitter @jccolgate
By Practice Manager: Sandra Zawacki at Jobspring Partners, Washington DC
I’ve been married for eight years, have a full time job that I love, and a rambunctious three year old with another on the way. Let’s just say compromise is a common theme in my house! It’s also a topic that has been increasingly important to discuss with my clients as the job market in DC has made its comeback over the last twelve+ months. Just as it can be in one’s personal relationships, compromise is not always pleasant or enjoyable, but it is necessary for any significant long term success.
So, hiring managers: listen up!
According to an article published in the Washington Post on May 29th, the regional unemployment rate in the DC metro area is currently around 5.3%, well below the national average. Within IT specifically, the numbers are even lower and we have been seeing a huge uptick in hiring month after month since mid-year 2012. This means that if you are a local company looking for great talent in software development, systems engineering or anything else IT related, you are not alone!
Every company I speak to is looking for the “A-player”, the guy coming out of a top 50 engineering school with all the latest technical buzz words and fantastic client-facing abilities (ideally only looking to make very little money). The challenge is that with high demand and a very limited pool of candidates out there, you have to be willing to re-define what an “A-player” means if you want to stand a chance of filling your job.
In a tight candidate market, the first thing you have to be willing to be flexible on is "required skills" vs "beneficial skills". The average job description includes at least 12 must have skills or technologies; non-negotiable check boxes. (No wonder so many positions remain open for months on end!)The list for the latter should far exceed the prior. As you look at your current employees, it can surely be hard to imagine someone being able to work on the team unless they walk through the door with all the relevant skills, but you have to be willing to look for potential.
Is it possible that if a candidate has used a tool similar to what you use, that they could learn yours quickly?
Is the methodology they’ve used really that different from whatever you prefer?
Does someone have the aptitude to grow their skills in areas they are currently more junior in?
The bulk of your interview should consist of evaluating whether you could mentor and grow someone into exactly what you want them to be in a few months’ time, rather than asking textbook questions designed to screen people out. Having someone walk in on day one, who knows your technical environment to a T, is an expert at every technology you use, and can easily do the job might sound ideal, but consider this: why would they stay with your company long term? If there is nothing left for them to learn, they’ll finish the project and move on to a company where they feel challenged.
I hear it all the time: “we have a 4 step interview process in place to ensure we hire the right person and this is just the way we do it here”. Good for you, but while you are taking two to three weeks to herd candidates through your multiple rounds of interviews, your competition is picking up the best talent before you can get candidates in for finals. Most candidates are getting multiple offers in a matter of 5-7 business days, so in order to be competitive you have to evaluate your process and maximize each interaction with the candidate you are interested in.
Companies who understand the idea of momentum and who quickly get candidates through 1-2 rounds of interviews in a matter of days will usually garner more interest from the candidate. Drawn out processes suggests that your company has a lot of red tape to navigate, that the requirements have not been clearly defined, or that you are just not that interested. Additionally, the more face-time you can get with them the better, so whether you are working with an agency or using your internal recruiter, trust their screening. If they like the person, bring them in for a 30 minute interview! Follow that up with one more lengthier, in-person meeting where you include anyone relevant to the decision making and be ready to make a verbal offer within a day if you like them.
I get it, education is important and certainly graduating from a great school is a big accomplishment. But the definition of education in the fast-moving world of IT has evolved to also include how entrenched you are in the tech community, how many hours you put in on your own while testing new tools, and the skills you picked up in your previous positions. Let’s not pretend that the only way to be successful in the business/IT world is by obtaining a four year degree. I think the founders of some of the most successful IT companies around would beg to differ. Speak to the person to determine fit instead of screening their resume simply because they don’t have a degree listed.
Years of experience
This one is simple: try not to fixate on a certain number when determining how many years of experience someone needs to have to qualify for your open position. I frequently come across organizations who have determined that in order to qualify for a “senior” role, a person has to have X number of years of experience. Shouldn’t what someone has learned in those years be more relevant?
Be open to the idea that someone with fewer years could have worked in places where they accumulated a ton of relevant experience and don’t discriminate against a more experienced looking resume because they might be too “old” for your cool culture. You never know if that is the person who plays in a band or is a master at Call of Duty. Speak to the person before you screen the resume.
Name one person who doesn’t love a good deal? Most companies want to keep salary caps low while finding the “perfect” candidate. When candidates are receiving multiple offers, you have to be willing to spend what the market dictates even if you feel like the person “doesn’t check every box” or you believe that someone with only a few years “shouldn’t make that much”. If your budget is fixed with no room for flexibility, well, then you’ll have to be willing to flex your compromising muscle even more when it comes to the categories outlined above.
Finally, it’s ok to have a few non-negotiables. Always make sure that your new hire displays willingness and eagerness to learn. If you have compromised on your job description/qualifications they will probably need to pick up a few new skills and so desire to do so is crucial for short-term and long-term success. Speak to their references to ensure that they were reliable, conducted themselves with integrity, and that their work ethic is in line with what you expect from your employees. If you hire people with these qualities while applying the flexible approach discussed above, you will put your business in a position to grow and succeed and keep your employees happy longer!
To hear more from Sandra, follow her on twitter: @SandraZawacki
In the market for a new tech job? Check out our latest open positions.
By Thomas Parzych, Practice Manager at Jobspring Washington DC
Technology is an ever-evolving industry and such demands the people within the industry are just as progressive as the technologies that are being developed. There are so many different options when choosing an appropriate tech stack for a specific project; hundreds of languages, frameworks, databases, etc.
There's a lot of factors that should be considered when deciding what platform or technologies to use for a specific project. The main concern for most is the cost associated with licensing and/or using the technologies. Another concern is the end-user usability; is it a large application or a smaller-scaled application? Something else to consider is what is easiest for the developer themselves, what language do they feel they are an “expert” with, are they comfortable with others accessing their source code, or do they prefer to not let they’re works be accessible to the masses? As the case in any argument, there are pro’s and con’s to both sides.
Benefits of utilizing the Microsoft .NET platform
Most Microsoft developers enjoy the Microsoft tech stack due to the ease of use. The .NET tech stack is widely believed to be very easy to develop with, and utilizing these technologies seems to offer a range of benefits. The first and foremost is that a Windows server is much easier to configure versus a Linux server. Most people believe that configuring a Linux server (especially with no or minimal previous experience) has a much steeper learning curve and takes a more of an investment of time. Another benefit of utilizing Microsoft technologies is the flexibility to work with varying languages on a framework, whether it be object-oriented (C#, VB.NET, etc.) or more functional (F#), there is a choice between languages to produce the best possible end-product.
Many developers also find some advantages of the Microsoft tech stack to be the quickness of being able to produce the product since there is often less obscurity and complexity when it comes to the .NET code. There is also the ability to build both Windows and Web applications, which allow for the use of multiple opportunities for builds. In addition, there is belief that utilizing the .NET tech stack allows for applications that are highly data-oriented, or applications that support huge database functions.
Benefits of utilizing the Open-Source tech stack
Over the past decade or so, there has been a progressive shift towards more open-source based technologies, and there is certainly reasoning behind this shift. From conversations within the community, the main reason seems to be the flexibility of being able to combine multiple technologies to create a “tech stack”. The mission of choosing what technologies to combine and utilize can be an uphill battle in and of itself.
Open-Source technologies are seen as community based technologies, and quite often shareable. This allows for many other developers to learn and gain exposure and experience with another developer’s source code. The main benefit of the open-source tech stack (and this typically affects the companies utilizing the software’s versus the developer) is the cost efficiency of the technologies. Most companies are happy with both the quality and the return on investment of the technologies. Veracode, the leading provider of risk management software, recently states that open-source products can be more secure then there commercial competitors. Most of the time, open source developers are able to identify and characterize security risks and develop a patch to these risks a lot easier than using Microsoft technologies. All in all, most open-source technologies offer a cost-efficient, secure solution for development environments.
What “Tech Stack” is better to use?
There is no real answer to this all-encompassing question. There are, obviously, many factors to consider. Both open-source and commercial technologies offer benefits of use, and any company or developer will have to assess these factors when making a decision. The main focus should be on assessing what the goals of the application are, and doing the right research to understand what will be most effective.
To hear more from Tom, follow him on Twitter! @Tom_Parzych
(Sources: Veracode and CodeCall)
By Del Crockett, Division Manager of Jobspring Washington DC
I know what you’re thinking, “If it has to do with Washington, D.C. we must be talking about the government”. Well guess what? You’re in luck because this time we’re not!
Having worked in the Los Angeles and Philadelphia technology markets prior to running our D.C. office, I am often asked to compare the federal government and commercial technology scene. People are curious to learn how the government’s colossal shadow impacts the commercial market locally, often times assuming that the effect is negative. With all the recent sequestration news surrounding D.C. it is fair to assume that this might be the case, but in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The D.C. commercial technology market is on fire (in a good way)!
First, let me clarify what I mean by ‘commercial’:
- Product companies, non-profits and start-ups alike.
- Not federal consulting or government cleared jobs.
Historically dwarfed by neighboring big city New York, Washington D.C. has quietly become a major player in the technology space over the last decade. Located close to some of the top engineering universities on the east coast, the D.C tech scene has always had the capacity to be a vibrant technology environment. Not surprisingly, as the D.C. Metro area has grown (Virginia ranks as a top transient state in the nation) so has the number of organizations opening satellite D.C. offices, not to mention a major injection of new start-ups and subsequent VC funding!
This year alone, D.C. has four companies being represented in South by Southwest’s interactive accelerator finals. Proudly Made in D.C. is an organization devoted to the thriving entrepreneurial tech community in the D.C. area, supporting a large number of companies that have developed roots here. On a national scale, #DCTech is the largest active community to date on Meetup.com, religiously meeting every month to discuss the latest trends in the tech space. Currently they have over 6,600 members!
From a tech staffing standpoint, in 2013 alone we have seen an explosion in the amount of job openings within these commercial companies. So how are candidates with a commercial background benefiting from this growing D.C. market?
Well first, you may have noticed that I referred to candidates with a ‘commercial background’ as if they are a different species. Well in D.C. they are in their own right. With so many government consulting centric candidates in D.C., those who have been able to remain commercial centric for a majority of their career are treated with the same demand that Twinkies had when Hostess threatened to stop production. It’s this demand that’s resulting in offers that are starting to rival New York City salaries. It is not uncommon for us to get a commercial heavy candidate 2-3 different offers within 5 days of teaming up with us on their search.
So where does that leave government consulting-centric candidates who desire a change into the commercial space? Well, all is not lost! At the end of the day, it still comes down to your technical capabilities and overall culture fit. Having placed a number of candidates out of the government scene into the commercial space, I always give the same advice; think like an entrepreneur, sound like an entrepreneur and do your best to tech out like an entrepreneur! Similar to the gridlock we see in Congress, many candidates complain (and get used to) the same rigid technical environment in the federal space. Most commercial companies operate more freely (not to mention quickly) and it is critical you prove you can fit that ideology/methodology.
As a recruiter who has worked in the California tech scene, I have to admit that what I’m seeing happen before my eyes here in Washington, D.C is truly refreshing. When we think D.C. tech, we no longer just think federal thanks to the growth in the commercial product scene. If you’re looking for that cutting-edge, entrepreneurial feel for your next job, you don’t necessarily have to relocate out west or to the Big Apple… look no further than the District!
Washington DC will host it's second Social Media Week from February 18-22. Social Media Week (#SMWWDC) is a week of panels, speakers, workshops, events and parties to highlight and celebrate tech and social media.
Topics for the week include new trends in social media and tech with the overarching goal of connecting people from various backgrounds in an open conversation about what the DC community is bringing to the table, so to speak.
With panels that focus specifically on blogging for a non-profit to speakers talking about the role technology has in human trafficking, there's sure to be an event or two to fit everyone's interest and background. And if not, there's always the awesome opening and closing parties hosted by iStrategyLabs (also the host of the entire Social Media Week in DC).
Jobspring DC is excited to take part in this exciting, tech-filled week. Check out the schedule for the week and make sure to RSVP for the events you want to attend. They are filling up fast!
Happy New Year, techies! Everyone at Jobspring DC hopes you had a fantastic holiday and that your new year has started off with a bang.
Speaking of starting off with a bang; in the first three days of 2013, Lyndsey, a recruiter on our Microsoft Web Development team, helped find great new jobs for two talented job-seekers.
Muzhapaer first came into the Jobspring DC office in mid-October, about a month after Lyndsey started with the company. He was looking for a new automation testing position in the DC area. After several interviews with great companies, Muzhapaer accepted an offer with a well-known company on the second day of January.
We were also able to help Monowar, another one of our job seekers, who was offered a position by a company that came to Lyndsey and specifically asked her to find someone that fit their very specific set of needs. Needless to say Monowar was a perfect fit and both sides are thrilled to be working together!
Needless to say, it was a great week for Lyndsey and the techies she helped find new jobs for to start their new year. If you're in the DC area and looking to start your year off with a new job, please feel free to contact Jobspring Washington DC!
The recruiters at Jobspring DC absolutely love what they do. Building relationships with job-seekers and companies throughout the DC Metro area is something they pride themselves on being able to do well, and nothing makes them happier when they find the perfect job for their job-seekers.
Check out some of our most recent reviews from happy job-seekers:
Thanks for the kind words! If you're in the market or know someone who is for a new tech job in the DC Metro area, give us a call at (703) 682-4000. We'd love to help you out!
Last Wednesday, Jobspring DC hosted its third Tech in Motion event where lots of great tech networking happened. What most people who attended the event didn't know was that over in a corner at the bar, a job seeker we had been working with named Matt was signing his contract papers so he could start his new job!
Here's Matt ready to sign his John Hancock for his new job!
Jessica Potashnik helped Matt Herb find his next .NET position in the DC Metro area. Matt had worked with Jobspring DC before and had only been searching for a new job for a short time before Jessica reached out to him. Looking for something a bit more challenging, Jessica thought Matt would be a great fit for one of our awesome IT consulting clients.
After multiple rounds of interviews, they extended Matt an offer where he is now working remotely with numerous teams worldwide solving complex client problems for the company.
Matt and his wife, Tom and Jessica
Congratulations Matt on your new position!
If you're looking for a new .NET position in the DC Metro area, contact Jessica!
Call: (703) 682-4000