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  • How to Hire a .NET Engineer

    Article by Kathleen Nealon, Practice Manager in Workbridge New York

    The competition for engineering talent around the country has become very stiff and one of the most competitive places to find good engineers is New York City. Here in NYC, the tech hub is growing rapidly and even starting to rival Silicon Valley. “Silicon Alley” is becoming a force to be reckoned with. Between 2009 and 2013, venture capital invested in the New York metro area was up 76% and the fourth quarter of 2013 was the first since 2001 to attract more than $1 billion.

    With all of this money going into startups, companies are looking to hire the best engineers on the market. Often the first couple of tech hires are crucial for the company’s growth and success down the line. When it comes time to hire the first couple of engineers and developers, whether you are looking for a PHP Developer or .Net Developer, it has become no secret that both are very hard to find. Why is that?

    As a Technical Recruiter who has been working the New York market for the past five years, I have seen a lot of changes from the 2009-2010 market compared to 2014 and have come up with four theories about why it is so hard to hire a .NET Engineer.

    The term “.NET Engineer” is used too broadly

    .Net is a framework created by Microsoft that developers can use to create applications more easily. A framework is essentially a bunch of code that the programmer can call without having to write it explicitly. Therefore .NET Engineers (and .NET Developers) are best defined as a type of web programmer with a strong understanding of the .NET framework.

    Saying you need a .NET Engineer/Developer is an extremely general statement and without giving any more information, you most likely won’t get exactly what you’re looking for.

    So, in other words, it isn’t .NET Engineers in general that are hard to find; it is the specific skill sets and areas of expertise that are a challenge to find.

    There are many .Net Engineers out there, but their skill set doesn’t always match what companies think they need 

    Speaking in terms of numbers, there may not be a lack of .NET Engineers but rather a lack of understanding about what skills would make a good fit.

    Most employers are currently looking for five plus years of .NET development experience even though the .NET framework has only become widespread within the last few years. A possible solution to this dilemma is for employers to start considering more entry level developers who have the passion, desire and potential to learn and grow into the role.

    Also, if hiring managers set their expectations or requirements too tightly, they can lose sight of solid developers. For example, say a company was ideally looking for someone with Java experience but come across an amazing C++ developer. It’s important to determine which skill sets and languages are “must have” versus “nice to have” at the beginning of the hiring process so as not to miss out on great developers with a lot of potential and flexible skill sets.

    Companies want an experienced and highly skilled employee, but aren’t willing to train to get that person

    A lot of highly qualified candidates are already employed and may, at most, be passively looking for new positions. The unemployment rate for technology professionals fell to 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to the total U.S. Unemployment Rate of 6.3 percent.

    .NET changes very frequently, so it can often be hard for developers and engineers to keep up with every update. Realistically, it’s almost impossible for someone to know all of .NET, therefore, either engineers need to be constantly learning in order to stay up to date on what’s current or companies need to help them.

    A big part of my job is helping hiring managers set realistic expectations around skills and what they need in a candidate versus what they would really like to have. I also like to advise my candidates on what hiring managers are looking for and what training could make them even more competitive within the industry.

    Often, managers are looking for people who are experts in many aspects of technology. They spend months searching for these individuals and not find anyone because it is so hard to find candidates in this market who can hit every category on the hiring manager’s wish list. I always suggest that my clients hire people who are eager to learn and passionate about the role— the company can always train for the unmet points on the wish list.

    Companies hiring processes may take too long for “hot” candidates

    Lastly (and specifically on the .NET side) a lot of large corporations in New York City use .NET but, because of their size, the hiring process can be a timely ordeal with many different steps. This often results in hot candidates taking jobs at smaller to mid-size companies because they can move quicker.

    Overall, there may be a large number of .NET Engineers in New York City but finding the perfect candidate for you company can be very challenging. By determining exactly what skills you need in an employee, searching for someone who is willing to learn and train on new technologies, and is passionate about the opportunity you have to offer will help you speed up your hiring process in order to find the hottest available candidates for your company.

  • Wearables: The Newest Form of Mobile Technology

    Article by Ed Vitela, Practice Manager in Workbridge Los Angelos

    Wearable technology is the latest and most exciting form of mobile technology and is one which promises to bring even further changes to our daily lives. At this point in time, about everyone owns, or knows someone who owns, a smartphone. The 'smart' technology that we have become accustomed to associating with our phones is quickly branching out of 'phone only' territory and into other wearable devices.

    Apple Watch, Google Glass, Fitbit, Jawbone UP and other fitness trackers are just a few examples of the smart accessories, smart apparel, and smart "things" providing us with a glimpse into the ever expanding window of our technological future. Smartphones, such as iOS and Android devices, have produced capabilities and conveniences, in both our personal and professional lives, which were unimaginable a decade ago. Many would find it unnecessarily difficult to go a single day without utilizing at least one form of mobile technology or another, and it this mentality which has paved the way for wearables to be highly anticipated and sought after.

    As with any new technology, there are benefits as well as possible drawbacks given the wide array of wearables currently available. Ongoing arguments for and against wearables, both in their current state, as well the larger implications that may come with them in the future, may cause some to dismiss wearables altogether. However, this is a forward movement that cannot be ignored. Discussion is the impetus of change, and the first step to imagination becoming reality.

    Wearable technology will not stay limited to its current state, but will progress and evolve just as its technological predecessors. While leisure and luxury products receive the most attention, the technology also provides huge opportunities to businesses and quality of life with its unique ability to capture data that had previously been unable to be gathered, analyzed and used in a meaningful way. Wearables should not only be utilized, but fully embraced. They are powerful tools to facilitate and ease our work and our personal lives, and may even one day help us overcome our own limitations.

  • The Growing Demand for Data Scientists

    Article by Scott Brosnan, Practice Manager in Workbridge San Francisco 

    Companies are using data to better understand consumers and the immense amount of new data pouring into their system. They know that this just might be the most important driver of business for success in today’s world. Whether it is a small startup or a multi-billion company like Netflix or Facebook, data is at the core in making better business decisions. Companies now save every detail about every click of the mouse. Online companies are able to track the browsing patterns and habits of their users. This allows them to use that data to attract new users with similar profiles and characteristics of existing users. 

    There is a growing demand for individuals who can analyze this data and derive insights from it. This trend will continue to grow as more companies are trying to find ways to capitalize on this information. Companies are willing to (or having to) pay top dollar for individuals that possess these abilities.

    A recent McKinsey report revealed some staggering statistics in the data science field.  There are roughly 140,000 people that are working as data scientists right now, and by the year 2018 there will be a shortage of 150,000 to 190,000 people with data science abilities. The field is just so new that it is a simple supply and demand issue. Every company is trying to make more sense of their data and find ways to most effectively use it. There are just not enough people with the skill set to keep up with the demand. 

    Most data scientists right now have studied mathematics, statistics or computer sciences.  Unbelievably, up until 2 years ago there was no data science or data analytics programs or major option in any university or school. One of the best indicators for the increasing need for data scientist, are the number of programs that are popping up around the country. We have seen programs begin at University of California, Berkeley, University of San Francisco and Indiana University.

     

    As more and more companies look to take advantage of their data, the demand for data scientists will continue to grow.

  • San Francisco’s Latest Tech Problem: Everyone Has a Job

    Article by Lauren Winklepleck, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge San Francisco   

    It seems like almost every technology-based startup in the San Francisco area is hiring for someone that is technical. Whether that be for a DevOps Engineer, Big Data/Hadoop Developer, Ruby on Rails Engineer, or a UI/UX Designer— the SF tech market is booming dramatically and now more than ever…even more than in the dotcom boom of the early 2000’s!

    Back in the first quarter of 2001 there were roughly 32,521  high tech jobs open in San Francisco whereas in Q4 of 2013 there were approximately 53, 319 open tech jobs (source: CBRE research analysis of CA employment development data). That’s a 63.9% increase in 12 years!

    So with over 50,000 open tech jobs in San Francisco, how are these startups filling their roles and capturing great talent?

    There are a several ways these startups are filling their roles— the most effective way, I’ve observed, is keeping in touch with personal networks as well as expanding them.

    Successful hiring managers are reaching out to past colleagues, buddies from college, and even developers they overhear doing a technical phone interview on the MUNI train! 

    In San Francisco, specifically, software engineers have a 2% unemployment rate compared to 4.4% unemployment nationwide. The job market for engineers is hotter than ever, meaning companies will do whatever it takes to make their next great hire.

    As startups continue to receive more funding, more tech jobs will open, which will continue to make the competition for candidates harder than ever—this trend shows no sign of slowing. It’s exciting to see where the San Francisco tech market will be a year from now!

  • The Growing Relationship Between Tech and Education

    Article by Christine Arnold, Lead Marketing Specialist in Workbridge Chicago.

    It’s crazy how much back-to-school checklists have changed since I was in school. I remember how excited I used to get to pick out a new matching set of folders, a pack of fancy roller-ball pens, a trapper-keeper I could decorate with white-out doodles. Fine, maybe I was an office-supply nerd. But those lists these days read a little differently. My sister is going into her freshman year of High School this year, and I was shocked when she told me that her school required the use of tablets in place of text books. Computers? In the classroom? I wasn’t even allowed to remove my Walkman from my backpack while I was on premises!

    She has the option of bringing her own tablet, or of renting one from the school. I assume there’s some sort of financial aid system in place to provide them to students who can’t afford the rental fees. Then, a week before school starts, the students are invited to a mandatory orientation where instructors walk them through which apps to download, and how to navigate them once they do. You’re probably wondering what’s stopping these kids from playing Angry Birds all class. The apps lock down the device so that they can’t access other applications.

    All of this got me thinking about the growing relationship between technology and education. What else is out there that wasn’t around while I was in school? Well, it as it turns out, there’s a lot. In Chicago alone, we’ve got an array of companies doing some really amazing things in the education space. Packback Books, a company that was recently featured on SharkTank, is making huge waves in the textbook industry. They offer affordable short-term rentals of many college textbooks, and their inventory is only continuing to grow. How amazing would that option have been when you were in school? I know I spent upwards of $1000 each semester on my textbooks alone. It would’ve been nice to put some of that money toward tuition instead.

    Another really cool company is Overgrad. They’re a student tracking system that helps create awareness about colleges starting day-1 of your freshman year of high school. They use student data to project which colleges the student will be a good fit for. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even start thinking about college until after I took the ACT my junior year. Not that I regret my decisions, but I imagine that whole process would have been much less overwhelming if the onslaught of information had been gradual. And think about kids in lower income or rural areas, where going to college isn’t necessarily a given. Starting students off prepared and with realistic goals and expectations, and the chance to alter their performance based on those goals, will set them up for a life of success. It gives them more control over their own future.

    If you’re interested in learning about more Chicago companies revolutionizing education, check out this event we’re sponsoring on August 20th: Back to School Ed Tech Demos & Drinks.

  • The Power of a Thank You Note

    Article by Anneika Kerr, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge Boston

    In your job search, chances are you will be introduced to a variety of companies and, most importantly, to many people. Therefore following up those interactions to show your appreciation can positively impact both your job search and your future. In fact, studies have found that a “thank you” note can help you land a new job.

    ·         90% of hiring managers said that being thanked for a job interview had a helpful impact on the candidate’s chances

    ·         Over 80% of hiring managers stated that email and phone calls are appropriate ways to thank an employer

    These notes shouldn’t be long and laborious; instead, it is always best to be concise but memorable. Your note should cover 3 parts: appreciation for their time, why you would be a good fit for the role and in the company, and mention of the future. See below an example:

    Hi Rick –

    It was wonderful meeting you on Monday for an initial interview. I appreciate you taking the time to explain to me how Spear Mint, Inc. works and what you’re looking for in a developer for your team.

    We’d spoken about the need for a full stack developer who understands how to design a simple solution for a complex problem. While at Bubble Yum, Inc. I’d worked on two projects from soup to nuts and feel confidently that my skill set would be an asset on your team.

    I look forward to continuing our conversation with your team in the future.

    Best,

    Solomon

    No hiring manager is looking for a 2 page letter. Just a few quick thoughts on why you are a great fit is all that’s needed. These notes assist in the building of a relationship between you and the interviewer, as well as their company. Here in our SF office, we have seen the benefits countless times.  

    Recently we worked with a candidate, Mike, who was newly on the job market. He mentioned a response he had received, a year prior, to a thank you note he had written. During the initial interview process, he’d found another job and let the manager know while also thanking him for his time. The response Bob received was to get back in touch if he was ever looking again, so he had us reach out. After two interviews and two more thank you notes – my office congratulated him on his new job with that same manager.

    That is the power of a thank you note. 

  • The Future of Infrastructure in an Agile World: DevOps and Release Engineering

    Article by Max Schnepper, Practice Manager in Workbridge Orange County.

    Systems Engineering is literally the only profession I’ve ever heard of where the term “Lazy” was used as term of endearment, “a lazy sys admin is a good sys admin.” If you hadn’t heard this phrase, what they’re getting at is doing something right the first time so that you don’t have to deal with it again, usually through scripting, automation and making everything scalable.

    DevOps: It’s nothing that new. You or your favorite admin could have been doing this for quite a while. Whether or not you’ve ever heard of it, DevOps has been given an actual title, a more formalized structure/methodology and has been growing exponentially. As Software-as-a-Serive (SaaS) companies continue moving towards more collaborative development environments utilizing Agile/Scrum methodologies from the more traditional Waterfall methodology, so too does the way the software teams collaborate with Operations teams.

    Even in more traditional brick and mortar markets such as Orange County where financial, Real Estate, and Insurance type companies rule the market, DevOps and Build/Release has recently picked up substantially. Want to know why? Whether you’re a start-up looking to release your product onto Beta, concerned about scalability when your company hits critical mass, or you’re a highly profitable fortune 500 company trying to keep up with your updates on heavy production servers, you should be hiring a DevOps engineer. The future of technology is collaboration and scalability, and that’s the goal of DevOps.

    If you want to learn more about DevOps, I encourage you to research resources like Chef Cookbooks, perusing Github, follow twitter handles like ScriptRock and see what is out there. Take a look at what’s going on in your local market with networking groups and events specifically geared towards DevOps. As an emerging market, there’s only room to grow!

  • Five Ways to Keep Top Contractors Engaged

     

    By: James Vallone and Ben Sanborn

         You know how hard it was to find a top contractor, right? Well, now that you have him or her onboard, what are you doing to ensure they stay engaged and retained? Contractors today have a plethora of offers to choose from. Since most work on a temporary basis, they are continually evaluating offers and lining up their next job – even while they work for you. If they have a bad experience with your company, you risk losing them and you risk the potential loss of referrals of other great contractors. (Yes, contractors refer non-competing contractors to companies they know are reliable and great to work for! They also warn others to stay away from bad experiences.) You are not only vying for a contractor’s expertise, but for their loyalty. So, how do you keep contractors engaged and happy?

         The best way to do so is to understand what contractors value in their work experience. Most contractors are independent, pride themselves on providing great customer service, love the thrill of fresh challenges, value open communication, want to feel as if they are part of your team, and appreciate clear direction about what your project objectives are and how they can meet them. There are ways to ensure that you create a positive experience for contractors. Here are the top five:

    1. Onboard quickly and completely. Just because they may not be in the office every day, doesn’t mean they don’t need to know where the bathroom is! Provide a full orientation. Give them a building tour and introduce them to key people they will work with or need to know. Discuss hours, break times, access to the building, and parking. Make sure they have the right technology and equipment to do the job, know how to access systems, and how to communicate with your Helpdesk. If they are not working for an agency, be sure they understand how and when to submit their timesheets and who to contact if they have an issue. You want to make a good first impression. If you don’t, contractors will assume you do not fully value them or will end up feeling less than confident about how to fit in and meet your needs.
    2. Treat them like a team member. Too often, contractors are left out of the game. While they work for you, treat them like a true member of your team. Be inclusive. This is particularly important if your contractor works offsite. Invite them to company events, celebrations, happy hours. Keep them abreast of internal news and updates. Clue them in about company politics and any pertinent historical info that would be useful to know. You want to make them feel welcome and included. That said, be mindful that some contractors do not want to be down in the weeds more than they have to be. If a contractor doesn’t jump to attend happy hours, be respectful and don’t take it as a negative sign. Many contractors became contractors to avoid the hassle and extra-curricular activities that being an employee entails.
    3. Dedicate time for one-on-one meetings. Include your contractor in team meetings, but don’t overlook the value of having regular one-on-ones. Weekly check-ins or even just an informal coffee or lunch on a regular basis can help you keep tabs on how satisfied the contractor is with your company and if they are running into any hindrances that they don’t want to discuss in front of the entire team. Contractors want to be included as a team member; keep in mind that that they are not employees though. As an outsider, they can provide you invaluable insight into your culture, team dynamics, process workflows, and input on how you can improve your contractor/company work arrangements. Contractors bring third-party eyes to your internal processes. Don’t be afraid to tap into their perspective.
    4. Honestly discuss performance. Contractors want to make you happy. They want to leverage their expertise to ensure you get what you need. Unless you provide performance feedback, it’s hard for them to know if they’re hitting the mark. Rather than holding a typical boss-to-employee type performance review, open up a dialogue about performance in general.  The best contractors are service-minded and will ask you for feedback so that they can make things easier or more effective for you. Return the favor and ask them as well. Discuss how things are going, what feedback you’re hearing from stakeholders, and any adjustments that need to be made to stay on track.
    5. Pave the way for future success. It’s not your job to help a contractor line up more work, but if you are pleased with their performance, by all means refer them to other groups within the company. You can be sure they won’t forget your kindness. If for any reason a contract is expected to end before the agreed-upon time, give them a heads up. If there is potential for converting to a perm hire, discuss it with them and offer them the option. You want to keep a positive relationship going so that you have the opportunity to work with them again in the future and to garner referrals from them. One thing companies often overlook is the business development aspect contractors naturally bring. Contractors that have great experiences with client companies become evangelists and often refer other clients to each other. They want you to succeed and are more than happy to help bring you business.

    These tips will help you go a long way to creating a positive experience for contractors so you can keep them engaged, retained, and returning to work for you again. By taking a look at what contractors value, you can address their needs and ensure that the project is completed in a mutually satisfying manner.

    To learn more about how Jobspring Partners can help with your IT staffing needs, please feel free to contact an IT staffing consultant at any of our locations through out North America.

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