Writing an Effective Job Description

With an enormous amount of competition for top talent in the tech space, writing a standout job description is essential in attracting top-tier candidates. Is the job posting accurate? Is it concise? Is it compelling? Given the amount of time you have to make a positive impact on a potential candidate, it’s critical to trim the fat and present the most crucial and necessary detail right up front.

In this blog, we’ll dive into a few key characteristics of effective IT job descriptions, and provide some helpful do’s and don’ts when it comes to crafting effective job postings.

 

Clearly Define and Communicate the Details

A recent study found that the average job-seeker spends just one to two minutes reviewing a job description before dismissing it as a poor fit (even though the study participants estimated that the task typically takes five to ten minutes of their time). When a candidate is reading multiple job descriptions in one sitting, the marketing of your organization and the role must resonate with them and what they are in search of for their next career role. They can’t take time to wonder if this is a fit, the description has to capture their attention within a very short time span.

Focus on what matters most, and be clear and concise on the requirements and expectations accompanying the open position. In other words, it’s important to break down what this position will require on a day-to-day basis. For example: writing code, managing deployments, peer code reviews, writing technical specifications or collaborating on design. If you don’t clearly define and articulate the details of your open IT positions, top candidates could very well skip right over the opportunity.

Save yourself time by only giving serious consideration to the must-haves of a position. Make a list of everything you think is absolutely required, then reconsider how many are absolute requirements, and which are only desired.

 

Elements of an Effective Job Posting

Given the competitive nature of the current IT ecosystem, it is important to cut the clutter and stand out amongst the other companies hiring for similar positions. Each time you begin to write a posting, act as if you are the candidate. What problems will they be solving? What challenges will they be addressing? Have you painted a clear picture of how this position fits into the department or organization?

With that approach in mind, you should take into consideration that your job description is essentially an advertisement. The tips below will help you to present your open positions with the perfect combination of concise content and unique company positioning:

 

What to Avoid

  • An overly long list of requirements. Research shows that most men will apply for a position if they meet 60% of the requirements, but most women feel they need to meet 100% of the requirements.
  • Overuse of industry jargon and acronyms.
  • Dull writing, which makes the job and company seem dull as well.
  • Avoid empty phrases and overused clichés, like, “must be a team player.”

 

Below are some tips in creating an inviting and effective job description:

  • Use emotion to make the position as exciting as it can be. Emphasize the impact the person will have in the role, the accomplishments they can look forward to.
  • Flavor the writing with the hiring department’s personality. If the department is fast-moving, use short, staccato sentences. If co-workers are fun-loving, include a bit of humor. Adapt your writing style to give the reader an idea of the culture they’ll be entering.
  • Consider including a high-level, two-sentence summary at the top of the description to pull readers into the details that follow.
  • Limit the primary job description to 300 words or less – especially when you’re trying to reach IT candidates, who are likely job-hunting on a mobile device. If you must, link the primary description to a larger version with more details.
  • If you also use job descriptions for post-hiring performance evaluations, create two versions: one to recruit with, and another more detailed version to share with the final candidates.
  • Imagine your ideal candidate (based on both skills and personality), and write with that person in mind. Forget about trying to attract the most applicants with a generic description, and instead picture a particular individual.
  • Review the list of requirements again and again to determine what’s truly essential, then delete those things that aren’t. Try to target the eight keys to future success in the position.
  • Litter your job descriptions with strategic “long-tail keywords” so they’re more easily found by candidates searching online.

Your job posting may very well be your company’s first impression on a job candidate, and how well you position the opportunity can have a major impact on the level of talent you find applying for a position. When taken as an exercise in clear and concise presentation of required skills, you can dramatically increase your chances of luring qualified candidates and reducing your departmental time-to-hire.

Want to Learn More?

Download the series Defining the IT Labor Ecosystem to gain valuable insight into the current technology workforce.

References

AOL Jobs article, 4/10/14
http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2014/04/10/soft-skills-workers-need/

Brookings Institution report, 7/1/14
http://www.brookings.edu/research/interactives/2014/job-vacancies-and-stem-skills#/M10420

Dice.com press release, 6/17/14)
http://news.dice.com/2014/06/17/june-dice-hiring-survey/

Wall St. Journal, 5/2/13
http://blogs.wsj.com/atwork/2013/05/02/how-we-really-read-job-ads/

Wall St. Journal, 10/2/13
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303643304579107793132873508?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303643304579107793132873508.html

Beyond the Salary: The Competitive Benefit Landscape

As the IT job market continues to thrive in 2015, you will continue to see a larger redistribution of leverage from employers to job seekers. If you are like many organizations, landing top-tier tech talent has become an increasing challenge, with qualified candidates often requiring a lucrative compensation, along with competitive benefits and perks. Human resource teams and IT hiring managers are finding themselves in an ecosystem filled with high-caliber candidates unafraid to reject a job offer, and are struggling to find ways to differentiate their organization and secure highly-qualified new hires.

 

Understanding the Current IT Ecosystem

In the long history of labor forces, there perhaps has never been a more demanding candidate pool than today’s technology workers. In fact, by 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects one million programming jobs in the U.S. will go unfilled.

In fact:

  • Between 2004 and 2014, employment increased by a whopping 453,000 people, which equates to a 3.4% annual growth rate.
  • Not only is demand up for top notch IT performers, but the unemployment rate among technology workers in the U.S. is a paltry 2.7% (less than half the overall U.S. unemployment rate: 6.3%).

Understanding the marketplace and the dynamics within can be crucial when attempting to land top-tier talent. The technology field is booming, the Internet of Things is proliferating software into entirely new arenas, and hiring managers are experiencing the increased expectation and heightened demands resulting from a candidate-driven market.

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  • In the near future, employment of computer and information systems managers is expected to grow between 18% and 26%.
  • By 2020, one million programming jobs in the U.S. are predicted to go unfilled.
  • Nearly 41% of tech companies say turnover at their companies is less than 5% (15% to 20% would be considered normal). A whopping 79% of hiring managers say layoffs are unlikely.
  • Fully 32% of recruiters and hiring managers report tech candidates are rejecting more of their company’s job offers.
  • Some 61% of recruiters and hiring managers say more tech candidates are demanding higher salaries than what’s offered to them.

Rapid advancements in technology and the IT industry as a whole, require tech professionals adapt to new software, apps, systems, platforms, services and more. However, those who can keep up with the pace, gain experience and prove their technical worth are highly coveted and richly rewarded – usually in ways that other labor groups are not, especially where benefits are concerned.

 

Packing on the Perks

With the fierce competition between organizations and candidates alike, meeting the needs of the best applicants is becoming about more than just salary. While this is ultimately a primary driver in determining employment, many companies and hiring managers have not adjusted hiring budgets accordingly to address this growing reality. In response, companies are becoming progressively creative with incentives and perks designed to entice talent to join their organization.

In addition to the list of non-traditional benefits for which technology companies have become famous (free drinks, food and even dry-cleaning have become standard), below are some perks which are becoming increasingly common (according to a Silicon Valley Business Journal study of data from the Society for Human Resource Management):

  • More than 70 percent of high-tech companies offer telecommuting or flex time. That compares to just 50 percent of average American companies.
  • Sixty-three percent of tech companies offer travel accident insurance, compared to just 37 percent of average American companies.
  • Signing bonuses, employee referral bonuses, incentive bonuses and on-the-spot bonuses are popular – even commonplace – among tech companies. The Society for Human Resource Management estimates 73 percent of tech companies offer incentive bonuses to their C-level executives, compared to just 52 percent of average American companies. Other types of bonuses are similarly popular and are offered by anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of tech companies.
  • It’s estimated that 41 percent of tech companies offer temporary relocation benefits, compared to 23 percent of average American companies. The Society for Human Resource Management estimates 34 percent of tech companies offer paid house-hunting trips, compared to just 20 percent of average companies.
  • An estimated 25 percent of tech companies offer incentive-based stock options, compared to just 9 percent of average American companies. Tech companies are similarly generous with restricted stock options and employee stock purchase plans.
  • Today, 50 percent of tech companies allow their workers to dress casually every day, compared to just 34 percent of average American companies.
  • Tech companies are unusually generous with business trip-related perks. For example, 82 percent of tech companies allow workers to keep their frequent flier miles, compared to 67 percent of average American companies. Tech companies also allow their workers to keep hotel points and get reimbursed for personal, long-distance phone calls and Internet use on the road in higher rates than the average American business traveler.
  • It’s estimated that 71 percent of tech companies reimburse their workers for graduate- and undergraduate-level college courses. That compares to roughly 60 percent of average American companies.
  • Pensions are popular among the average American company, while 401(k) programs are more popular among the tech industry. The Society for Human Resource Management estimates 49 percent of tech companies offer 401(k) matching, compared to just 36 percent of average American companies.
  • It’s estimated 35 percent of tech companies offer paid military leave, compared to 22 percent of average American companies.

Many of these perks and ideas are worth your company’s consideration, however, it’s easy to overlook other existing elements of your organization that add value to potential candidates. For example, enthusiastic team members, cutting-edge projects, well-structured advancement plans and social conscience are all compelling elements to emphasize during the hiring process.

In our blog, IT Hiring: The Art of Company Positioning, we take this idea further and provide actionable insight into presenting your company to the IT talent pool, and making your organization a competitive destination for technology talent.

Want to Learn More?

Download the series Defining the IT Labor Ecosystem to gain valuable insight into the current technology workforce. 

References

Accenture Technology Vision 2014 report http://www.accenture.com/microsites/it-technology-trends-2014/Pages/tech-vision-report.aspx

Dice.com press release, 6/17/14 http://news.dice.com/2014/06/17/june-dice-hiring-survey/

Dice.com report, first quarter of 2014 http://media.dice.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/2014-Q1-Tech-Trends-Link.pdf

Dice.com study; CIO magazine, 1/15/13 http://202.138.100.141/www.cio.in.new/news/dice-us-tech-unemployment-stands-33-percent-353932013

Industry Output and Employment Projections to 2014 by Jay M. Berman, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor http://www.doleta.gov/BRG/IndProf/IT_profile.cfm

Silicon Valley Business Journal study of data supplied by the Society for Human Resource Management; Silicon Valley Business Journal, 3/25/13 http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2013/03/21/the-10-employee-perks-silicon-valley.html

U.S. Department of Labor, 2006-07 Career Guide to Industries http://www.doleta.gov/BRG/IndProf/IT_profile.cfm

Wall St. Journal article, 4/3/14 http://online.wsj.com/articles/computer-programming-is-a-trade-lets-act-like-it-1407109947?cb=logged0.9301386780571193

Wall St. Journal article, 8/3/14 http://online.wsj.com/articles/computer-programming-is-a-trade-lets-act-like-it-1407109947

IT Hiring: The Art of Company Positioning

If you want to lure the best IT talent to your company, it stands to reason that you need to position your organization as a great place to work. This means creating an “employment brand” that appeals to top-shelf IT talent. The concept of “positioning” is not simply a matter of presenting a logo, slogan or a catchy ad campaign. It’s about actively demonstrating that your company is a fertile tech environment, providing challenges, rewards, growth, social conscience and career opportunity. Luckily, many of these positioning points already exist within an organization – it’s just something that many employers overlook or fail to promote actively and aggressively when seeking new talent.

The IT hiring ecosystem is becoming increasingly competitive and complex, and your corporate positioning can be the difference between landing rockstar talent and settling on marginal team members.

 

Positioning Beyond the Salary

Is your work environment unique, creative or markedly different from your competitors? Are your perks and benefits more competitive than what can be found elsewhere? Does your company actively value and practice employee growth and advancement within the organization? Do you offer exciting new work experiences with cutting or bleeding-edge technologies? While salary is king for job seekers, these types of extras can make a big difference when interviewing. Perks which enhance your offering may be easier to offer than a higher salary and candidates are more often than less, bargaining for non-financial perks. The more unique the attribute, the better it will differentiate your company from other organizations.

And while some of these attributes are policy-driven or quantifiable, others come down to simply presenting your organization in a positive and unique way. For example, some job seekers may be concerned that jumping to a small IT department from a larger one may be a risky move, but your organization may offer the candidate the ability to contribute far more individually to the team than when part of a larger group. It’s easy to overlook these subtle and unique selling points that are likely already embedded in your company, but you never know when one of these will be what seals the deal with a rockstar candidate.

 

A Company Positioning Checklist

When preparing to begin the hiring process, it helps to have a clearly-defined picture about what makes your organization a great place to work. The following suggestions can be used as a starting point for your own positioning strategy:

✓ Assess your company’s strengths as an employer, then assess how your competitors would fare by the same standards. In some cases you may have a significant advantage, or you may uncover room for actionable improvement.

✓ Be willing to back up your claims. It’s not enough to simply make statements about your company’s values and approaches. Rather, be prepared to demonstrate how your company has implemented their philosophy in the real world. Maybe you have a Facebook page dedicated to charitable causes that your company supports. Maybe you have YouTube videos of employees who have worked up the ranks in your organization. Ultimately, actions speak louder than words, and demonstrating company values can be a definite differentiator in the market.

✓ Be active within your industry on social media. Any potential employee would appreciate the peace of mind knowing that their potential employer is active within their industry, and has demonstrated a commitment to openness and thought leadership. Companies that aren’t actively participating online run the risk of being perceived as behind-the-curve, disorganized, un-established, or even disinterested.

✓ Ask someone outside the company to do an online search for your company and describe their initial impression. This can involve your website, social profiles, reviews, etc. An objective opinion of immediate perception can be an eye-opener, and can be a great way to uncover areas of improvement.

✓ Monitor what people are writing about your company on Glassdoor.com and similar websites, correct any blatant untruths, and address negative sentiments toward your company with honesty and candor.

✓ Enter your company in some of the “Best Places to Work” and industry-specific contests or recognition associations. It’s not about singing your own praises as much as it is about demonstrating an active commitment to participation, and delivering quality both internally and externally.

✓ Actively promote your involvement and participation with community organizations, causes or charities. Employees are increasingly favoring companies with a social conscience, and demonstrating your charitable side can make a true impact on candidates.

Highly-qualified IT candidates today are in a unique position to pick and choose many aspects of their career path. As much as potential employers are competing to secure the much-needed talent, ultimately candidates will gravitate toward the best overall career opportunity. You may have the most amazing organization around, but unless you actively promote your differentiators, make a clear and compelling case for your value as an employer, you could miss out on your next tech rockstar.

 

Want to Learn More?

Download the series Defining the IT Labor Ecosystem to gain valuable insight into the current technology workforce.

References

Dunn, Kris. “Here’s What’s Trending in Recruiting.” Workforce Magazine. N.p., 29 June 2014. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

Lorenz, Mary. “Taking Advantage of Opportunities in Staffing: Q&A with Inavero CEO Eric Gregg.” The Hiring Site. Career Builder, 23 Sept. 2013. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

MRI Staff. “Recruiter Sentiment Study 2013 2nd Half.” Recruiter Sentiment Study (n.d.): n. pag. 2013. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

Prokopeak, Mike. “Luring the Best Talent.” Talent Management. MediaTec Publishing Inc, 19 Aug. 2014. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

Sheng, Xing. “Firms Struggle to Align Compensation, Business Strategy.” Talent Management. MediaTec Publishing Inc, 6 Aug. 2014. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

“Should Companies Monitor Their Employees’ Social Media?” The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, 11 May 2014. Web. 15 Oct. 2014.

Sipek, Sarah. “Extravagant Perks Aren’t a Strong Talent Management Strategy.” Talent Management. MediaTec Publishing Inc, 24 July 2014. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

“Two Steps Forward One Step Back.” 2013 North American Staffing and Recruiting Trends Report (n.d.): n. pag. Bullhorn. Bullhorn Inc. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

Vangel, Mike. “Social Recruitment Delivers Results for UPS.” Talent Management. MediaTec Publishing Inc, 13 Aug. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.

7 Tips for Video Conference Interviews

Since in-person interviews aren’t always possible, an increasing number of employers are turning to video conferencing as an alternative to the impersonal phone interview. While all the standard interview preparation guidelines still apply to this type of interview, there are additional aspects to prepare for. Whether this will be your first interview of this kind or your hundredth, these seven tips for a successful video conference interview can help you make the best possible impression.

 

Download and test the program

In a perfect world, you should plan to download the video conference program your interviewer wants to use the same day you schedule the interview. This will allow you adequate time to ensure the program runs well on your computer. Depending on the minimum requirements for the conferencing program, you may find that you need to secure a different computer to conduct your interview on.

But meeting minimum requirements isn’t the end of it. If possible, schedule a practice call with a friend a few days in advance for roughly the same time of day as your interview. Try to avoid waiting until the last minute because what you uncover during the practice run could require substantial action on your part.

 

Get the equipment

One of the more common issues you may encounter during your test run is that your friend either can’t see you well or you’re difficult to hear. These are both relatively fast and easy fixes since you can pick up a better quality microphone or webcam at most computer or electronics stores.

Remember, an IT interview typically requires you to talk about complicated projects and in-depth technologies you’ve used, so anything you can do to make it easier for your interviewer to hear you can make the interview go smoother.

 

Consider your Internet connection

Before you select the location for your video conference interview, be sure to evaluate the type of Internet connection available to you. While you may not have any issues with the Internet going down during your test run, it’s rarely a good idea to use your WiFi that’s known for sporadic or spotty connectivity. If you have the ability to use a wired connection instead of a wireless connection, it can help with the quality and clarity of your video and sound

If the Internet at home is known for its unreliability, you may want to check with your local library or business centers. In many cases, they have quiet study rooms with reliable Internet that you can book for your interview.

 

Prepare your space

While removing clutter from the area visible to your webcam is important for presenting yourself in a professional manner, it’s far from the end of your video conference prep. During your test run, ask your friend for their impression of your surroundings and deal with any distractions. The last thing you want is for your interviewer to be more focused on the concert poster or abstract artwork behind you than your answers to their questions.

The way you light the room where you’ll participate in the interview is also important. Whenever possible, avoid placing sunny windows or light sources behind you, as they can wash out your appearance and create a glare for the person conducting the interview. What you wear can also play into this, as white clothes and shimmery makeup tend to create an unwanted glare.

If you don’t already own one, consider picking up a small adjustable desk lamp from an office supply store so that you’ll have a light source you can easily place behind your computer monitor in the event of an overcast day. After making any changes to your lighting or the background, run another quick test with a friend to ensure you haven’t inadvertently added new distractions when dealing with the old ones.

 

Pick the right place

Since computer microphones can be extremely sensitive, choosing the right location for your interview is critical. Generally, your home is the best option. Public locations can create a cacophony of sound that will drown out your answers while creating a slew of visual distractions for both you and the interviewer. If using a laptop, be sure to have an outlet nearby to prevent any “low battery” interruptions.

It’s also smart to avoid using your current office for your video conference interview. Not only can it be difficult to control the lighting and level of distractions, but it also sends an unprofessional vibe to the person conducting the interview. Even if your current employer has no problem with it, still avoid this setting if at all possible to better manage the impression you make.

 

Protect the time

If there are typically other people in your household during the time of your interview, be sure they’re aware of what’s going on and how important it is. While posting a do not disturb sign on your door and locking it can be useful, your computer’s microphone may be sensitive enough to pick up sounds from other rooms. Possible noise distractions you may have to deal with in your home could include:

  • Appliances running
  • Barking dogs
  • Crying babies or playing children
  • Television
  • Video games

Whenever possible, shut off running appliances and encourage your family to go do something fun outside of the house during your scheduled interview. Also, try to avoid scheduling your interview for the time of day you know noisy children have a habit of parading in front of your home office window on their way home from school.

 

Maintain professionalism

Although participating in an interview from home can feel inherently more relaxed, treat it as you would any other interview. An excellent way to get into the proper mindset for your video conference interview is to do everything else you might do prior to an in-person interview, including showering and picking up a fresh suit from the dry cleaners. Unlike a phone interview, the interviewer will be able to see you. Trying to hide matted hair under a baseball cap or in a hasty ponytail won’t score you any points.

Be sure to practice your professionalism during your practice test with a friend. Are you making strange, bored or repetitive gestures? Do you have the habit of checking your phone throughout? As a rule, don’t engage in slouching or eye rolling – or any mannerism, for that matter – if it’s not something you’d do during an in-person interview.

Also, remember that making eye contact with the interviewer means looking directly into the webcam, not into the person’s eyes on your screen. If you’re utilizing a detachable webcam, try to attach it near the top of your screen to make it easier to look into.

Perhaps the single most important thing you can do for a successful video conference interview is to schedule more time for it than you think you’ll need. Have everything on your side ready to go at least five minutes prior to the appointed time, even if that means starting a half hour early. Letting technical issues create a bumpy start to your interview sends a mixed message, especially when you’re interviewing for an IT position.

 

 

 

References

Doyle, A. (n.d.). Tips for a Successful Video Job Interview. About. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://jobsearch.about.com/od/interviewsnetworking/a/videointerview.htm

Helpful video conference interview tips for candidates.. (n.d.). Eye Network. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://www.eyenetwork.com/video-conference-interview-tips/

How to Do Well at a Video Interview. (2012, April 24). TechFetch Blog. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://blog.techfetch.com/how-to-do-well-at-video-interview/

Salpeter, M. (2011, December 7). 10 Tips to Ace a Video Interview – US News. US News RSS. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2011/12/07/10-tips-to-ace-a-video-interview

Video Conference Job Interview Tips Top 12 Mistakes. (2012, February 7). VSee. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from https://vsee.com/blog/video-job-interview-tips-technical-problems/

How to Succeed The First Week of a New Job

Finally starting the job you’ve had your eye on can be an exciting and stressful time in any IT professional’s career. You sold yourself as a valuable asset for the company during your interview, so it’s natural to feel the pressure to immediately deliver on that promise. Since making the best possible impression on your new supervisor and coworkers is important, review these strategies for making your first week on the job a productive one.

 

Follow the rules

Though you likely won’t have an employee handbook prior to your first day, the way you conduct yourself from the moment you arrive can make a powerful first impression. Your first week at a new job is not a time to risk being late. If your start time is 9:00, leave your house with enough time to arrive at least 15 minutes early.

Dress code is another important rule that you won’t want to violate in your first week. If you’re unsure about exactly what business casual looks like to your new employer, consider dressing on the more professional side of the spectrum just to be safe. You can always take off a suit jacket, but you can’t go back in time to put on a tie.

Pro Tip: Don’t take advantage of casual dress days within your first week. You never know when you’ll be called in to meet with upper management or executives. Dress to create the impression you want to make on them.

 

Master the introduction

One of the best ways to smoothly transition into a new role is to begin making personal connections with the people in your office. Depending on the corporate culture, your supervisor or a coworker may take you around to meet everyone. If they don’t, feel free to take the initiative to introduce yourself to the people seated near you or those you meet in the hallways or break room.

Since learning people’s names quickly is a powerful way to make a good impression, consider looking up a few memory tricks to help connect names with faces if you’re not naturally good with this. In your first week you’ll likely meet dozens of different people in a variety of departments. It’s always better to confirm someone’s name than to call them by the wrong one.

Pro Tip: If you forget someone’s name, simply apologize and work to commit it to memory the second time. People will understand that you have a lot of information coming at you during your first week.

 

Clarify organizational structure

The hierarchy of every company can be vastly different than other companies you’ve worked for. Since you won’t always receive this information, don’t be afraid to ask which department or team is responsible for different functions. This will not only help you better understand the structural dynamics of your organization, but it will also give you the opportunity to continue introducing yourself to the other employees.

During a discussion on the hierarchy, you may begin to pick up on office politics and gossip. Do not engage. Your goal during your first week is to make the best possible impression and get the tools necessary to be successful in your role. There will be plenty of time for politics, if you desire, after you’ve established yourself within the company.

Pro Tip: Use this opportunity to learn who the go-to people are within the company and each department so you can ensure you’ve met them during the first week.

 

Be acceptably social

If you’re the type of person who prefers to work through lunch or read a book while you eat, prepare to step out of your comfort zone for at least the first few weeks on a new job. Joining your coworkers or supervisor for lunch gives you the opportunity to get to know each other on a human level. You’ll also gain additional insight into their personalities, which can make it easier to anticipate their reactions if you must later present them with bad news about a project you’re working on.

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with being the one to initiate a lunch invitation. If you’re new to the area, something as simple as asking where the best place to get a juicy burger or a hearty salad can be an excellent icebreaker. Once they’ve made a recommendation, it doesn’t hurt to ask them to join you.

Pro Tip: Some departments regularly schedule informal gatherings or happy hours after work. Even if you’d prefer to get home right away, try to attend at least a few after hours events to establish yourself as part of the team.

 

Refresh your skills

Unfortunately, the tools and technologies you were asked about during your interview won’t always be what are utilized on the job. Once you have a better understanding of exactly what your job entails and what tools are available, begin looking for ways to refresh and expand your working knowledge of the appropriate technologies. If you’re expected to use something you’ve never worked with before on your first day, don’t hesitate to ask questions if you get stuck.

Pro Tip: In addition to any resources your company may already provide, there are a variety of learning sites every IT professional should have in their toolkit. Taking the initiative to enhance your technical knowledge and skills outside of the office can make a powerful statement about your dedication to the company.

 

Learn what’s expected

It’s not uncommon to get into a new position and quickly learn that the performance expectations discussed in the interview aren’t entirely accurate. Your first week on the job is an excellent time to set up a meeting with your supervisor regarding their expectations of your performance. You may even want to take this a step further by asking them what success in the position looks like to them at various milestones, such as 30 days, three months and six months.

While your supervisor may give you a fairly corporate answer about the dynamics within your department and between departments, your coworkers can often provide a clearer picture of how things really work. Within every department or team, there’s usually one person who’s been around for a while and understands the nuances of getting things done. Make it a point to seek their advice whenever you have a question.

Pro Tip: Take the initiative to gain all the knowledge possible prior to your start date. Find out if there is any documentation on the project you’ve been hired for or reference material for the company that you can review before your first official day.

 

Keep an open mind

In order to really hit the ground running in a new job, it’s critical that you’re open to learning new ways of doing things. Before you can attempt to make any changes or suggestions, you must first learn to work within company policies, procedures and processes. Understand that the company does things the way it does and uses the tools it uses for a reason.

To make the right impression and avoid ruffling feathers in your first week, try to spend more time learning how things are currently done than talking about what you’d change. In many cases, you won’t always have the context necessary to make a recommendation on day one. Furthermore, making any disparaging comments about the work that’s come from previous projects or the tools used won’t help you make a positive first impression.

Pro Tip: While you may have very strong opinions about the best way to complete a particular project, avoid sharing your opinion in an aggressive manner during your first week.

 

 

References

Goudreau, J. (2013, August 23). 9 Things Successful People Do In The First Week Of A New Job. Business Insider. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://www.businessinsider.com/9-things-to-do-in-the-first-week-of-a-new-job-2013-8

Hansen, K., & Hansen, R. (n.d.). Making an Impression: Your First Days Working at a New Job. Making an Impression: Your First Days Working at a New Job. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://www.quintcareers.com/first_days_working.html

Treanor, J. (2014, January 1). 7 tips for a successful first week on the job. chicagotribune.com. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/careers/sns-201312301700–tms–brazenctnbc-b20140101-20140101-story.html

What the Internet of Things Means for IT Professionals

While it began with smartphones and PDAs, there’s now everything from smart watches to smart thermostats available on the market. The Internet and networks that were once limited to just PCs now allow anything that has valuable information to go online. This new trend has the potential to impact all aspects of the job IT professionals perform, but how? Perhaps the more important question is: How can IT professionals prepare for the Internet of Things?

 

Impacts of the Internet of Things

Techopedia defines the Internet of Things (IoT) as “a computing concept that describes a future where everyday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and be able to identify themselves to other devices.” Basically, it allows businesses to gather vast amounts of real-time data about the way consumers utilize their products. As more companies embrace the Internet of Things concept, it will fall to IT professionals to not only handle the analysis of Big Data, but also to help guide product developers on the most effective ways to utilize and harness the power of this new technology

A year-long study performed by Accenture found that “the United States is projected to create nearly 39,000 new jobs for analytics experts through 2015, but will only be able to fill 23 percent of those roles with qualified candidates.” While this skill gap represents a clear challenge to businesses as IoT gains traction in their industries, it represents massive opportunity for savvy IT professionals willing to obtain advanced analytic skills with a focus on how their chosen industry will utilize these mountains of data.

Many companies are already feeling the effects of this knowledge and skills gap within the existing IT workforce. Without IT professionals available to adequately manage the ever-increasing parameters of Big Data, some companies are unable to realize the early potential of the Internet of Things, forcing them to remain on the sidelines while the early adopters blaze new trails across a variety of industries.

Early adopter Royal Caribbean has tapped into the power of IoT to improve the efficiency of its staff, cut costs on wasted food and improve the overall experience to guests cruising on their Oasis class of ships. Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, on the other hand, is using IoT to revolutionize the healthcare industry by giving doctors the patient data they need with a single tap of their badge on any device. This allows them to spend more time with their patients than they do logging into various systems to get the information necessary to provide effective treatment.

 

It’s more than computers

As an increasing number of businesses recognize the power of the Internet of Things, they’ll need IT professionals with expertise in more than just computers. With everything from watches to cars to heart monitors going online and creating Big Data, it’s more important than ever to expand your technological horizons.

Specialization will be the key to successfully navigating the coming demand. Rather than trying to learn as much as you can about everything IoT-related, consider narrowing your focus to only one or two product types that interest you. To maximize your earning potential, you may want to evaluate which industries have the potential to be the most lucrative and focus only on those technologies that will impact that specific industry.

 

Keeping knowledge current and relevant

Once the Internet of Things reaches the radar of the average consumer, you can expect a glut of new information to be available in consumer publications, in addition to the IT news sources you already follow. Be open to these new sources of information because they may be able to provide you with news you’re unable to get elsewhere.

While it’s usually best in the world of IT to deal in fact rather than rumor, IoT changes will soon start coming faster than news writers and PR professionals can confirm that rumors are true. Having at least a general idea of what advances and developments are coming down the pipe can allow you to start positioning yourself to be an asset to the businesses that will be most impacted.

Unfortunately, your biggest competition will no longer be from other local IT professionals. Since Asian countries are already leading the world in IoT advancements and utilization, American companies may turn to overseas professionals to obtain the skills and knowledge they can’t find in the American IT workforce. Working to close the knowledge gap and becoming an expert in at least a few of the most in-demand IoT technologies can help you stay competitive.

But improving your hard skills is just one of the steps necessary for success in this changing technological landscape. As the Internet of Things allows for sweeping changes across industries, gone will be the days of getting years between new product releases. Instead, innovative IT professionals will be working hard to produce quarterly, if not more frequent, updates to all their products.

If you can embrace the new requirements for innovation, flexibility and expanding knowledge to stay one step ahead of the competition, you’ll have virtually unlimited opportunities in the coming years.

 

Understanding security implications

While many IT professionals already report that they support two devices per employee at their companies, the security implications of gathering data from hundreds or thousands of outside sources are incredible. Now, instead of a few employees trying to remotely access the server at any time, unsecured end user devices from outside the company will also require access. Even if your company has Internet of Things projects in the works, it’s unlikely the product managers have already thought through the full ramifications of that type of demand on current security protocols

Perhaps the greatest and most immediate opportunity for the savvy IT professional is in the area of data security. If you take the time to refresh your data and network security knowledge and skills, you could be in an excellent position for advancement as companies begin to realize the potential for a security breach. Security positions are already in high demand and the need for experienced data security professionals will only increase as more companies embrace the technological possibilities of the Internet of Things.

 

Staying innovative and adaptable

As the landscape of your profession continues to evolve in the face of this powerful new technological concept, your ability to take on new types of projects can set you apart from your less adaptable peers. While there are steps you can take now to help prepare yourself for potential new opportunities, you won’t be able to anticipate everything that’s coming your way. Keeping an open mind and a positive attitude will be critical as your employer begins adding IoT projects unlike anything you’ve ever worked on before.

The sheer volume of data that the Internet of Things allows you to collect will create a problem for business and a unique opportunity for you, if you’re willing to lead the way on IoT innovation. Not only will businesses be looking for people to help them understand what data to collect, but they’ll also need people like you that can help them unleash the full potential of that data. For example, the power of IoT allows the creation of heart monitors that can alert users when they’re at risk of a heart episode.

That’s an excellent and necessary technology, but let’s take it a step further. Using the data these heart monitors collect about patients, doctors will have the ability to make more informed treatment plans for their patients. Pharmaceutical companies that manufacture heart medications will also have powerful information about how the medication affects someone with a heart condition, as well as real-time data on any complications it may cause.

When you step back even further, you’ll see that the Internet of Things creates virtually unlimited possibilities across all industries, not just a select few. This will certainly lead to unprecedented opportunities for any IT professional willing to embrace the new technology and become an authority in it.

 

 

 

References

Baker, N. (2013, July 2). How IT Professionals Can Brace Themselves for the Internet of Things via @SwitchOnEaton’s The Plug. How IT Professionals Can Brace Themselves for the Internet of Things. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://switchon.eaton.com/plug/article.aspx/how-it-professionals-can-brace-themselves-for

Hinks, J. (2014, June 4). Internet of Things: 86% of IT professionals express security and privacy concerns. ITProPortal. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://www.itproportal.com/2014/06/04/internet-of-things-86-of-it-professionals-express-security-and-privacy-concerns/

Internet of Things: The Future of Business Technology | Microsoft. (n.d.). Internet of Things: The Future of Your Business Technology. Retrieved October 19, 2014, from http://www.microsoft.com/windowsembedded/en-us/internet-of-things.aspx

Leung, S. (2014, August 6). What the Internet of Things Means for Your Business [Slideshare]. Blog. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://blogs.salesforce.com/company/2014/08/internet-of-things-business.html

McKendrick, J. (2014, October 21). Internet of Things: which things really should phone home? | ZDNet. ZDNet. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://www.zdnet.com/internet-of-things-which-things-really-should-phone-home-7000034893/

Paterson, A. (2014, August 21). The Internet of Things: what is it and what does it mean for you?. ICO Blog. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://iconewsblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/the-internet-of-things-what-is-it-and-what-does-it-mean-for-you/

Violino, B. (2013, July 29). The ‘Internet of things’ will mean really, really big data. InfoWorld. Retrieved October 28, 2014, from http://www.infoworld.com/article/2611319/computer-hardware/the–internet-of-things–will-mean-really–really-big-data.html

Vlack, M. V. (2014, February 20). What The ‘Internet of Things’ Means For Big Data Storage. Acronis Blog. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://blog.acronis.com/posts/what-internet-things-means-big-data-storage

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)? – Definition from Techopedia. (n.d.). Techopedias. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://www.techopedia.com/definition/28247/internet-of-things-iot

Top 10 Traits of an Effective Staffing Partner, Part 2

While there is certainly no shortage of staffing and recruiting professionals IT hiring managers can partner with, not all will necessarily stand out as a long-term partner. In our previous installment, we discussed 5 traits that help define a top-tier staffing partner. In the content to follow, we’ll complete the discussion by defining additional qualifies to look for when in need of a long-term staffing partner.

 

Transparency

Although the typical staffing professional certainly receives financial compensation when filling open positions, focusing on the commission side of the transaction should not be the goal. Instead, their aim should be to ensure that they’re placing the most qualified applicants with the right hard and soft skills into each opening. By taking a sincere interest in the needs of candidate and client, it increases the chances that the hire turns out to be a great long-term fit for all involved.

Transparency is critical to keep the process moving efficiently. In some instances, this can mean telling a hopeful job applicant that he or she simply isn’t a good match for a given position. In other situations, it may mean campaigning a position on behalf of the client to the perfect candidate, even if it means they decline to move forward in the process.

The transparency between a staffing partner and a hiring manager is similar, yet deeper. This level of transparency requires that the staffing partner be open and honest about the salary expectations the hiring manager can expect for a given role, the availability of the desired skillset, and how the company fits into the hiring ecosystem. This can include candid conversations about the applicants themselves, in addition to the types of offers and benefits that are becoming commonplace, and therefore driving the candidate market.

 

Efficient in Identifying Qualified Candidates

Because departmental productivity can be severely hampered with each IT employee gap, an effective staffing partner should know how to expedite the recruitment process in order to fill open positions quickly. Mastery over the interviewing process is important, as well as their ability to perform effective phone screenings and preliminary interviews to weed out unsuitable candidates. A true business partner will understand how to assess and evaluate candidates, and determine whether or not they warrant interview time by the IT hiring manager.

What separates the good staffing professionals from the great ones is their ability to get a true sense of a candidate’s personality and capabilities during initial conversations. In the modern hiring climate, it’s not enough to simply match someone’s expertise to the open positions. Qualified candidates must also have the right personality to easily mesh with the company’s culture, as well as that of the IT department. Without this critical match, it’s unlikely that today’s placement will remain tomorrow’s happy employee.

 

Effective Conduit

Unfortunately, not every recruiting process goes smoothly once the offer is made to the final candidate. Even in an employer’s market, it’s still possible for stalemates and disagreements to occur over compensation or benefits. This is where the outstanding communication skills of an effective staffing partner come into play.

When tensions are high, a true partner understands that it’s not just the words they use that will diffuse the situation, but also the tone of voice they choose. In order to do this effectively, it often means hearing both what they’re being told and what’s not being said to ascertain the emotional position of the other party. Negotiating both parties out of a stalemate and into a mutually beneficial agreement requires a great deal of tact, yet at the same time, it also requires the staffing professional to come out and say it plainly when the final and best offer has been made.

 

Flexibility

In a very real sense, an effective staffing manager must be able to fluidly switch between aspects of their job and shifting priorities at a moment’s notice in order to be successful. Just keeping multiple parties with often competing interests happy can require a great deal of flexibility and creativity.

Since recruiting is a human-focused process, the most effective staffing professionals realize that the needs of the candidate or the client company could shift at any moment. When that occurs, their flexible nature will allow them to look for the new best course of action, communicate this to all parties involved, and efficiently shift to a new approach with minimal impact on the process and timelines.

 

Maintain Long-Term Relationships

The best staffing partners in the business understand the importance of forging long-term relationships with both the hiring managers they serve and the candidates they place in various positions. Moreover, keeping in touch isn’t a chore for them because they have a genuine love of communicating with others. According to Kevin Wheeler, “every great recruiter has a need to be around and with people.”

The beauty of the long-term relationship trait is really two-fold. First, maintaining an ongoing relationship with IT hiring managers leads to a deeper understanding of where their departmental skills excel, where they lack, and what type of individuals they’re always hoping to add to their team. Second, it creates a larger overall candidate pool when it’s time to fill an open position, because they’ve developed professional relationships and placement histories with IT professionals over time, and in many cases, throughout a large portion of their career. A fantastic byproduct of this long-term relationship with IT professionals is an increase in the potential referral market. While an otherwise qualified candidate is currently working with no intentions of making a change, that person’s personal network may contain a peer or equally-qualified candidate which may have otherwise gone undiscovered.

 

Remember, no one skill or trait can really make a staffing partner shine above all others. Instead, it’s the cohesive blend of these experiences and qualities that transforms a staffing partner from someone who can fill your open positions into someone who can intuitively manage every aspect of the hiring process to provide your business with the most stress-free and effective process possible.

 

 

 

 

 


 

References

7 Traits of an Effective Recruiter. (2014, June 2). 7 Traits of an Effective Recruiter. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from http://www.dbpc.ca/staffing/7-traits-of-an-effective-recruiter/

Cautious Hiring to Continue in the New Year, According to CareerBuilder’s Annual Job Forecast – CareerBuilder. (n.d.). Cautious Hiring to Continue in the New Year, According to CareerBuilder’s Annual Job Forecast – CareerBuilder. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=6%2F20%2F2012&id=pr703&ed=12%2F31%2F2012

Characteristics of Top Recruiters. (n.d.). – CareerBuilder.com. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from http://www.careerbuilder.com/jobposter/staffing-recruiting/article.aspx?articleid=ATR_0046HIRINGRECRUITER/

McCormick, D. (2012, March 12). Questions. Pivotal Integrated HR Solutions RSS. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from http://www.pivotalsolutions.com/hrblog/what-to-look-for-in-a-staffing-agency/

Rivera, M. (2014, April 2). IT Staffing – How to Get The Most From IT Staffing Partners. IT Staffing – How to Get The Most From IT Staffing Partners. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from http://www.yoh.com/blog/it-staffing-getting-the-most-from-it-staffing-parnters

Wheeler, K. (2011, March 22). ERE.net. EREnet RSS. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from http://www.ere.net/2011/03/22/4-traits-that-separate-a-great-recruiter-from-a-good-one/

 

Top 10 Traits of an Effective Staffing Partner, Part 1

While there is certainly no shortage of staffing and recruiting firms available to IT hiring managers, not all will necessarily stand out as a long-term partner. In order to achieve this status, there are 10 traits and skills a staffing provider must possess. Today, we focus on five areas that separate a run of the mill vendor from a true strategic partner.

 

Expert in Employment Models and Options

When partnering with a business to fulfill its recruiting needs, an effective staffing professional should not only know the difference between the employment models, but also be comfortable advising which is to the hiring manager’s benefit. While contract-to-hire, direct-hire, contract, temporary and outsourced are all viable options for a number of IT departments, each can have legal and financial ramifications.

For instance, it may make the most sense for the hiring company to bring in a contract-to-hire employee to avoid the risk of a bad hire; however, if this person will be a crucial member or even a leader of a team,  know that contract workers come with an unfortunate stigma that they aren’t a full team player yet. In this case, one option would be a permanent position with a signing bonus stipulating that if they don’t meet the goals or leave before a designated date, the bonus is rescinded. This allows the new hire to come on board fully integrated with encouragement to do their best work possible. An expert staffer deals with these types of restrictions and circumstances on a daily basis, and can easily recommend the best type of position for your unique needs.

 

Industry Expertise

While someone who staffs a cross-section of industries may do an adequate job of identifying quality applicants, the greater value comes from a staffing provider with a focused area of industry expertise. The knowledge of negotiation tactics prevalent in IT careers can help with all aspects of the recruiting process, starting with assisting in the creation of an effective job description.

By working with someone who has considerable experience within the industry, it’s possible to eliminate much of the back and forth that occurs over compensation expectations. An effective staffing partner will already know the salary and benefit ranges across a number of technical specialties, as well as the salary differentials for various regions of the country and different levels of seniority. This knowledge can be invaluable for setting the appropriate expectations with candidates before they reach the hiring the manager.

Perhaps more importantly, this knowledge can also help IT hiring managers when it’s time to put together an offer for a highly-qualified candidate. Leveraging the staffing partner’s experience can help set reasonable salary expectations with the IT hiring manager without risk of insulting top-tier talent with a low offer.

 

Expertise in Company Positioning

Perhaps the most important function of an effective staffing partner is to marry together what jobseekers want with what a hiring manager has to offer. Since an IT hiring manager may not be as familiar with what’s most important to candidates, it’s the staffing partner who’s able to advise a company on what makes them unique and a better option for the top talent available. In many cases, these are things people within the company itself know and enjoy, yet take for granted.

While it’s absolutely critical for a staffing partner to take the time to understand the nuances of their client’s products, services and corporate culture, they should also take this a step further by striving to understand their end user or customer as well. Not only will this provide a full-circle understanding of how the client company fits within the marketplace, but it also allows them to better articulate the true nature of the job to potential candidates.

An ideal staffing partner will also be able to draw upon their knowledge of why IT professionals leave their existing employers to help their clients better understand what drives employee retention beyond salaries and total compensation packages. After all, a true partner to the company wants nothing more than to fill the current open position and prevent other positions from coming open.

 

Knowledgeable about Technology

A common issue with many staffing professionals is that they don’t always understand the complexity of the positions they’re recruiting for, and are unable to answer the candidate’s questions or effectively communicate the nuances of the position. In addition to leaving a poor impression with the interviewee, it can lead to only marginally-qualified candidates being passed on to the hiring manager. This makes it critical for an effective staffing partner to have a working familiarity and some experience with the nature of the most common and emerging technologies.

But it’s more than simply staying current on the technologies, programming languages and versions that companies are utilizing.

To be truly effective in the role, it’s critical for a staffing professional to understand the context into which the applicant’s skill fit. Without this technical experience, it’s easy to put too much emphasis on technical jargon and abbreviations, rather than truly understanding the candidate’s previous contributions and how they apply to your job opening.

 

Adept at Varied and Advanced Tools

The ability to effectively leverage software programs focused industry recruiting can make a substantial difference in identifying qualified candidates. Since IT staffing requires recruiters to look for highly specialized skill sets, they must have the ability to direct their focus away from the general public and zero in instead on the top professionals within the industry. The more adept they are at manipulating databases and leveraging tools, the more time they can spend actually screening the applicants they uncover.

Now that people increasingly conduct their job searches via various social media platforms, an effective staffing partner should not only know which social media sites to utilize, but also should be comfortable enough to use the platform effectively. This includes their ability to filter a robust database filled with jobseeker information in order to identify those candidates that possess the experience, soft skills and software proficiencies necessary to do the job. They should also be comfortable enough to conduct themselves on the site in a way that demonstrates the appropriate image for the companies they work with.

 

Now that you have a better understanding of the five key areas of expertise staffing partners need, we can turn our attention in Part 2 to the five inherent qualities that can transform a staffing form into a strategic partner.

10 Sites to Help Expand Your IT Toolkit

10 Sites to Help Expand Your IT Toolkit

As the complexity of IT projects and evolving new technologies grow, it’s increasingly difficult to keep your development toolkit current. While it’s certainly not necessary for everyone to be a master of every programming language, it’s wise to at least maintain a working familiarity with the most common technologies utilized in modern business. Taking advantage of any combination of these IT development resources can help you build your knowledge base and stay current with emerging languages and technologies.

 

HScripts.com – (Free Site)

This platform bills itself as a go-to site for webmasters and offers written tutorials on multiple web server side, programming and database languages. Within each of these categories, it further breaks the language down into the individual components that you may need to refer to when programming. Tutorials are classified as either basic or extreme, depending on how in-depth you wish to delve into the topic.

In addition to providing an easy-to-use and free reference for developers, it also offers both free and paid scripts, images and web tools to assist you in the development process.

 

Lynda.com – (Paid Subscription)

Lynda.com is a paid subscription platform that offers thousands of video tutorials on topics ranging from business to development to design concepts. Within the development section there are not only nearly 100 programming language courses, but also tutorials that cover project management, data analysis and the foundations of programming. Courses within each category are further broken down by skill level, allowing you to quickly access those tutorials that will be most useful for your existing knowledge set.

While all membership levels provide access to unlimited tutorials, as well as the new content that’s added weekly, choosing a premium membership gives you the ability to download videos to a device to continue your learning while you’re offline a well as providing source file downloads.

 

Mobile Makers Academy – (Paid Tuition)

This platform caters to anyone wishing for an apprenticeship experience and allows you to quickly learn how to build apps for iOS devices. During this eight-week boot camp, you’ll have the opportunity to work in person in San Francisco or Chicago, or participate online during regular class hours. Unlike many online courses, this program will get you coding on your very first day and building your own apps the next day.

However, the Mobile Makers Academy will cost you; the in-person class will run you $9,000 while the online class will come in around $5,000. That is of course if your application to the Academy is accepted. You will, however, be fully prepared to tackle the mobile tech industry, so for some, the cost can be easily justified.

 

Pluralsight – (Paid Subscription)

This platform offers an extensive curriculum of video tutorial content that covers dozens of languages and frameworks. Their offering covers multiple skill levels, allowing you to find what you need to refresh yourself in a familiar technology or learn an entirely new language to add to their toolkit, regardless of whether you consider yourself a novice or a seasoned professional.

Pluralsight paid subscribers also benefit from session transcripts and source materials available for download, making this a simple way to follow along with the training content. Selecting the Plus subscription will give you access to assessments and offline viewing, providing you the opportunity to test your knowledge and expand it even when you don’t have access to the Internet.

 

SkilledUp – (Paid Subscription)

This platform is more like a search engine for development tutorials than a company that offers them directly. The benefit to using this site instead of your favorite search engine is that they weed out many of the lower quality sites or articles on the topic, leaving you with the highest quality learning options currently available. While their site is free to use, the majority of the course options shown are paid; however, they offer filtering options to limit the price of the tutorials shown to under $250, under $100, under $50 and free.

 

TeamTreehouse – (Paid Subscription)

While this platform offers more than 1,000 video tutorials across a variety of topics, it also allows you to choose a guided learning path called a track. This setup can provide you with the necessary knowledge foundation for even those program languages you aren’t very familiar with before you move to the more advanced concepts, without forcing you to search for additional foundational tutorials. TeamTreehouse adds content weekly and already has a track available for programmers wishing to learn iOS 8 programming with Swift, the programming language created by Apple as an alternative Objective-C.

Although both membership options have access to an exclusive forum and code challenges, Pro members will have access to talks from industry professionals, as well as workshops and interviews you won’t find elsewhere.

 

Thinkful – (Paid Subscription)

This platform is useful for busy professionals who want to learn a new programming language while still working a full-time job. Thinkful offers self-paced courses in Python, web development in Rails, backend development in Node and iOS 8 development in Swift, among others. While the average student devotes 10 to 12 hours to their studies each week to accommodate their work schedule, you are always free to work at your own pace to complete the work faster. Unlike many other online development and programming tutorials, you’ll also get one-on-one coaching with your mentor weekly and have the ability to contact them during daily office hours if necessary.

If you’re more interested in going through a more intensive in-person program to take you from novice to job-ready in the shortest period possible, Thinkful will help you find available boot camps in your area.

 

Udemy – (Paid)

This platform offers more than 18,000 paid and free courses. Unlike other platforms that require monthly subscription fees, the majority of the paid courses Udemy offers require only a one-time fee to get started. You can pick from a variety of courses for programming, operating systems, networking and security. This platform also displays user reviews for each course, allowing you to see what other students thought of the curriculum prior to purchasing it.

 

W3Schools – (Free)

Unlike other online certification schools and programs, this platform allows you to study for free and at your own pace. Once you’ve completed the tutorials, you have the option to pay a reasonable one-time exam fee to receive certification for what you’ve learned. The online study materials the site provides include limited text explanations, ample examples and quizzes to help you test your learning progress.

Through this platform, you have the ability to study and receive certification for HTML, CSS, JavaScript, server side languages, XML and web building.

 

 

 

 


References

 

Academy. (n.d.). RSS. Retrieved October 5, 2014, from http://www.mobilemakers.co

Become a web developer | Thinkful. (n.d.). Thinkful. Retrieved October 5, 2014, from http://www.thinkful.com

HScripts.com. (n.d.). HScripts.com. Retrieved October 5, 2014, from https://www.hscripts.com

W3Schools Online Web Tutorials. Retrieved October 9, 2014, from http://www.w3schools.com

Learn HTML, CSS, iPhone apps & more. (n.d.). Learn Web Design, Web Development, and More. Retrieved October 5, 2014, from http://teamtreehouse.com

Online Courses – Anytime, Anywhere | Udemy. (n.d.). Udemy. Retrieved October 5, 2014, from http://www.udemy.com

SkilledUp – Find the best online courses, tutorials and resources. (n.d.). Skilledup.com. Retrieved October 5, 2014, from http://www.skilledup.com

What do you want to learn today?. (n.d.). Online video tutorials & training. Retrieved October 5, 2014, from http://www.lynda.com

wwwpluralsight.com. (n.d.). wwwpluralsight.com. Retrieved October 5, 2014, from http://wwwpluralsight.com

Is Your Company Positioned to Attract Top-Tier Talent?

The current IT hiring ecosystem is a complex organism, making it necessary for hiring companies to appeal to a candidate-driven market. While salary is always a primary driver, potential employees are now looking further into the core of a company when making career decisions. These five tips can help you position your company to attract the top-tier talent it needs to succeed.

 

Identify what sets you apart from the competition

When you’re ready to begin repositioning your company to attract top-tier IT talent, it’s critical to take a deep look at what makes your company different from the competition. Whether it’s a mission statement that everyone works hard to accomplish or an active commitment to work-life balance, every company has something that makes it truly unique. While certain key differences may immediately jump out, you may find that it takes a little more digging to get to the heart of why employees love working at your organization.

In fact, involving your employees in this process can help evaluate your company and its corporate culture from all sides, providing unique and compelling content to be used in social media and internal communications alike. Not only can your tenured employees add valuable insight throughout the process, but your newest additions will bring unique perspectives to the table as well. Be sure to ask new hires:

  • What perks and benefits other companies offered
  • Whether there was anything your company offered that others did not
  • Why they ultimately chose your company.

During this exploratory period, be open to the new information and ideas you receive, even if some of the feedback indicates improvements that your company should consider. Being open to all forms of feedback from new and experienced employees can not only help you identify room for improvement, but also provide insight into the thought process and experience of those currently or recently involved in the active job market.

 

Focus on unique company benefits and position perks

Since money won’t always be the single deciding factor for the most sought-after talent in the IT world, expand your focus on the non-financial benefits and perks you can offer. Look beyond the vacation time or insurance plans. With top-tier talent, a competitive salary and well-rounded benefits package are the minimum requirements for consideration, not the special carrot that gets their attention.

According to Connie Gentry with Select International, “a work environment with flexibility” is relatively easy to implement and provides a sense of empowerment to top-tier talent. Investigate whether the position you want to fill has any leeway with:

  • Flexible schedules
  • Standard hours
  • Telecommuting options

Remember to also look at what your company offers as a whole. Perhaps your company has a strong partnership with certain area charities and employees regularly receive time off during their standard workweek to participate in charitable events. Maybe your company believes so strongly in promoting from within that mentors work with employees in each department to help them map out their desired career progression through the company. While each of these examples may seem insignificant in the scheme of things, when added up, they can mean the difference between landing a rockstar candidate and losing them to the competition.

 

Highlight organization and technological innovation

Although companies often claim to champion innovation, not every company backs this up. In fact, too many companies lose good employees because accepting the status quo on an organizational level leaves little room for the innovative ideas that can take a company to the next the level. If your company is like Google and believes in giving employees 10% of their scheduled time to pursue their own solutions to problems within the company, this is the type of dedication to innovation that can attract top-tier talent.

Of course, providing employees time to devote to their organizational or technological innovations can backfire when it’s completely unfocused. Braden Kelley recommends setting SMART goals for employee innovation projects, with SMART standing for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. When this opportunity of innovation is structured, not only can it foster a positive attitude within your organization, but also provide the fresh new ideas needed to move the company forward and provide differentiation in the marketplace.

 

Be a corporate culture cheerleader

Too often, hiring managers and recruiters focus solely on the position’s requirements and how a candidate’s experience fits the need. When dealing with top-tier talent, your job becomes less about vetting their experience and hard skills, and becomes much more about selling them on why working for your company is their best career move. If everyone from the CEO to the newest employee at your company works hard to maintain a truly special corporate culture, don’t be afraid to sing its praises.

In fact, your ability to articulate how an approachable corporate leadership team champions diversity by allowing employees to display their individuality through their appearance can be more meaningful to a candidate than the knowledge that they’ll get two floating personal days every year.

Even the most sought after talent in the industry has likely spent time working in a cubicle farm where layer after layer of management couldn’t be bothered to hear their innovative ideas. If your company can offer something different – a truly collaborative atmosphere that energizes creativity rather than stifling it – you definitely have something worth mentioning.

The same goes for internal learning programs your company offers that others may not. For instance, the online learning company Lynda.com offers group membership plans that businesses can easily purchase for their IT employees. Even an IT professional at the top of their field can appreciate a company so dedicated to continued personal and professional development that it’s willing to foot the bill for employees to expand their technical and business acumen.

 

Use technology and projects as selling points

Never underestimate how the projects your employees work on and the technologies they use regularly can become major selling points for your company. When a highly-skilled and widely sought-after candidate has the choice between working on projects on the cutting edge and working on the same type of project they’ve worked on throughout their career, the pull of the new can be powerful. Employees at this level pride themselves on their technology prowess, which is fostered by working on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. While a web UI designer may be an expert in his craft, for example, the opportunity to translate and migrate his skills to a unique mobile app project may be the differentiator between accepting or rejecting your offer.

Remember, the most highly qualified candidates may already be on the radar of your competitors, or at least capable of receiving multiple employment offers. Courting top-tier talent is all about demonstrating why your company is the right fit for their ultimate career growth, which includes all of the perks, benefits and intangibles discussed. The IT hiring ecosystem is competitive, and setting yourself apart as a truly desirable technology organization can make a huge impact on your IT hiring success.

 

 

 


 

References

Gentry, C. (n.d.). 3 Ways to Attract Top Talent. 3 Ways to Attract Top Talent. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from http://www.selectinternational.com/blog/bid/149910/3-Ways-to-Attract-Top-Talent

Ide, I. (2013, June 10). Step-by-Step Guide to Positioning Your Company to Attract Top Talent. WinterWyman. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from http://www.winterwyman.com/blog/step-step-guide-positioning-your-company-attract-top-talent

Kaplan, S. (2013, December 21). 6 Ways To Create A Culture Of Innovation. Co.Design. Retrieved October 5, 2014, from http://www.fastcodesign.com/1672718/6-ways-to-create-a-culture-of-innovation

Kelley, B. (2014, September 28). Creating a Common Language of Innovation. Innovation Excellence raquo. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from http://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2014/09/28/creating-a-common-language-of-innovation/

Mayfield, M. (2011, June 8). How to Attract and Retain Today’s Best Employees. How to Attract and Retain Today’s Best Employees. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from http://blog.eniweb.com/wwweniwebcom/blog/bid/65190/How-to-Attract-and-Retain-Today-s-Best-Employees