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  • Choosing a Technology Stack for Startups

    Article by Miles Thomas, Practice Manager in Workbridge Philadelphia 

    Tech startups from all over the country come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and types. From established entrepreneurs who have already sold multiple companies to college seniors working out of a basement, software engineers and businessmen alike have dreams of solving the ailments of the world, one solution at a time. To start an LLC isn’t all that difficult these days either; all you need is an idea, a working space, a computer, and (for some) a bottomless pot of coffee. Sounds easy, right?

    Well, as integral as elbow grease and caffeine are for any start-up, a direction may be the most important thing for any would-be entrepreneurs out there. One direction that is integral to technology companies is the different layers of technologies used to accomplish whatever problem they are trying to solve; this is known as the technology stack. There are many different kinds of technology out there, but most companies land either between one comprised of open source technologies (also called Open Stack) or a proprietary technology owned by another company (.NET owned by Microsoft, or Java owned by Oracle). So, what is the best choice for all you startups out there? Read on…

    An illustration of some of the different layers of a technology stack, and the options that an entrepreneur would have for each.

    Above, is an illustration of some of the different layers of a technology stack, and the options that an entrepreneur would have for each.

    It's well known amongst most tech savvy individuals that open source tech stacks seem to be all the rage amongst startups. After all, not only are open source technologies free to use for you bootstrappers out there, but there are a variety of different programming languages to use depending on what you’re trying to do. Need to use a functional programming language for reactive application design? Use Python or Scala. Need to do simple website development for clients big and small? Use PHP or Ruby on Rails. With so many tools at your disposal, the possibilities truly are endless.

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    Java and .NET may not be as flashy or wide-ranging, but they do offer an array of different tools. With different frameworks and API’s designated to each company’s respective programming languages, Microsoft and Oracle do not leave their users without ammunition. Furthermore, there are defined boundaries for what tool to use and when- this can be extremely valuable for someone who doesn’t necessarily know their way around the latest and greatest.

    The lack of boundaries is the biggest hurdle for people looking to implement an open stack. For example, if a company decides to use Python as their language of choice, what frameworks should they use? Django? Flask? Tornado? CherryPy? What about JavaScript libraries and frameworks? Angular? Backbone? Ember? There are so many possibilities with no guidelines for first timers that it is easy to get caught up in all of the different technologies. Another easy pitfall is ambition to use technologies that are not necessary- I can recall a small web design shop that was trying to implement Amazon WebServices as an example (they are no longer around).

    The boundaries presented by a Java/.NET stack come at a cost, quite literally. The obvious downside of proprietary programming languages is that they can be quite costly; this can be a huge deal-breaker for a small startup with little to no funding. For a smaller company looking to stay afloat, spending what little money they have on-hand for something they can get for free seems foolish (on paper, at least).

    At the end of the day, picking programming languages is all about circumstance. If a company has the money to spend, Java/.NET may be the way to go. If a company is strapped for cash, or if one of their founders has a background in some kind of open source language/framework, then open source may be the way to go. Given the convergence of the current technology landscape, however, it may not be long before it won’t really matter!

  • 4 Desirable Traits of Open Source Job Seekers

    Article written by Jaime Vizzuett, Practice Manager of Workbridge Orange County

    As many know, the tech market is a candidate’s market.  There are very few exceptional engineers with a solid background, and a lot of job opportunities - with the Open Source market being no different. People hire people because of a particular skillset, whether it’s an architect or a junior candidate, regardless of the industry. As Practice Manager at Workbridge Associates Orange County, specializing in placing candidates with Open Source Technology backgrounds, I’ve found that in addition to a particular skillset, hiring managers desire a candidate who displays selective traits, especially in the Open Source market.

    Before getting into these traits, it is important to understand that companies which use Open Source technologies are most likely startups. This doesn’t mean that every company that uses Open Source technologies falls in the same category, but there is definitely a trend. That being said, I spoke with a few of my managers from Corporate to Startup companies and asked them what they look for in a potential employee or contract employee.

    The following are the top four traits hiring managers are looking for in tech job seekers with an Open Source background.

    1. Jack Of All Trades, Master of One

    You can do a little of everything, but if you aren’t great at something, then find out what you’re most interested in and hone those skills. One of my hiring managers mentioned, “It’s always nice to see a wide variety of skills on a candidate's resume, but I also expect them to know the fundamental basics of whatever they have on their resume.”  There is no problem with having a variety of skill sets, or being a “full-stack” engineer, just make sure to focus on one skill, and be great at it. Bottom-line is no one wants to hire an engineer that is a, “Jack of all trades, and a master of none.”

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    2. Be Trendy

    You will hear it over and over again, but keeping up with the newest technology is crucial in any market, and especially in Open Source. The Open Source market is always going to have a floodgate of new technologies, whether it’s Angular.js or a new version of Symfony. Every company wants someone with the trendy new technology that very few engineers have, so being ahead of the curve will set you apart. Having newer technologies in your arsenal could really make the difference between simply getting an interview and getting the job.

    3. Get Social

    Github should be every engineer’s best friend. This is not necessarily a trait, but more like a “nice-to-have”, as one of my hiring managers put it. This is especially crucial for junior Open-Source developers trying to land the job, simply because sometimes Github may be the only example of work that a hiring manager has to look at. Whether it’s through Github, a forum, or social media – having some type of social presence that shows you are passionate and invested in technology is a plus. As the Director of Software Development at a company I work with put it, “I’d rather bring in a junior engineer who shows initiative, passion and hunger to learn more, and Github helps me depict that.”

    4. Know Who You Are And What You Want

    Hopefully you are looking to find a company that is going to challenge you and allow you to continue to expand your skillset, but also one that fits what you look for culturally. As a hiring manager, building a culture is all contingent on the people they onboard, which is why the face to face interview is the most important interview of the process. The onsite interview really allows both the candidate and company to figure out if they are a fit for each other. Neither every candidate nor every company is necessarily going to mesh perfectly, but they should mesh enough to be able to spend most of their time together.

    While technology is always advancing, hiring managers will continue to look for these traits in open source job seekers. Companies will always be looking for the next best talent that can take them to the next level and if you’re a job seeker, I hope the points I mentioned will be taken into consideration as you progress through your career.

  • Develop Secure Code!

    Article by Ryan Brittain, Division Manager in Workbridge Chicago.

    For the last six or seven years, I’ve had a very keen interest in security and the hacker culture, both white and black hat. I’ve gone as far as to help start security meetups in Boston, Washington D.C. and Chicago that are still running and meeting monthly to this day, comprising nearly 3000 members between the 3 of them.

    An interesting evolution that I’ve seen is the shift from network security to application or software security. Network security certainly is still important and having someone who is going to maintain firewalls and do intrusion detection and prevention is still going to be needed. But now, the #1 attack vector for most hackers is a SQL injection targeted at sloppy code. So increasingly, developers need to be cognizant of the fact that when they’re developing, the code that they put out needs to stand the test of time. And it needs to be secure. There are different movements across the country (see the rugged DevOps movement: www.ruggeddevops.org) that are trying to call attention to this, and I would imagine that as the number of incidents or breaches continue to rise, that attention will only grow.

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    On the surface, this may appear like a losing battle. Because somebody with enough talent, technical know-how, and mal-intent can probably get his or her hands on anything they want. And there’s nothing that we, the concerned public, can do to stop it. But there are other groups like OWASP (The Open Web Application Security Project) that have chapters across the country as well as online resources for developers.

    We’re seeing the government taking a more heavy-handed approach to those that are caught with their hands in the cookie jar. (Hackers in chains: 13 of the biggest US prison sentences for electronic crime) Could that be a deterrent? Sure. But it certainly needs to be augmented with the community being more aware, and more informed, with best practices on how to develop secure code.

  • Acing Your First Round Interview

    Article by Rachel Klenicki, Division Manager in Workbridge LA

    It’s the time of year when many people think “new year, new job”. If you count yourself among those looking for a job, and are feeling some trepidation about a first round interview you have lined up- this post is for you! The insight provided here is designed to help you ace a first round interview. I know it can be scary. I know it can be overwhelming. But with these tips, you will be getting several offers in no time!

    Prior to the Interview

    So you have an upcoming interview. Have you made a checklist of all the things you should do prior? If not— here’s where you should start.

    • Research the company. I’m not just talking about the website. Read up on the latest company news and research articles on the founders or higher ups. Any extra information you find and draw on in your interview will help.
    •  Research who you are meeting with. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, it’s time to create one. LinkedIn is a great way to learn about the individuals at a potential employer. Perhaps you have similar hobbies, attended the same school, or have even worked with a current employee at a previous job. Use LinkedIn to research the person you will be meeting with. Finding common ground can go a long way in the interview process, and LinkedIn can help with that.
    • Research the interview address and parking info. This is perhaps the most obvious tidbit, but many jobseekers don’t do this. Don’t leave anything to chance- the directions may be more confusing than you think. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the interview. Be prepared for traffic, late buses and trains, or anything that could make you late. If you do arrive late, apologize!
    • Look over the job description. Understand what the position will entail. If you don’t, make a list of questions and ask these in the interview.
    • Be prepared to discuss your resume. Make sure to tie in what you have done in the past with the current job description.
    •  Ask about dress attire prior to the interview. Some individuals think a suit is the way to go. While this may be the case for some companies, other might view a suit as being way too overdressed. Make sure to ask the recruiter, HR, or the person who set up the interview what they think is best.

    Time for the interview

    Some say the motto “just be yourself” is the key to interviewing successfully; however, if you are a quiet, introverted, and soft spoken person, then it may make it more difficult to get the job. Trust me. First impressions are crucial and you need to make a good one. First impressions often contribute to the decision of whether or not you make it to a 2nd round interview. So slap on a smile and be prepared to work your hardest on being outgoing and personable. Let’s start with the handshake. Firm up that hand, make great eye contact and shake. After that, the manger will usually ask how you are. Make sure to respond. Don’t say you are tired, sick, or anything negative. Always say good, great, or doing well thank you. Then ask how they are doing. While this may seem very basic, it will help build the foundation for a good first impression.

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    Always keep things positive

    Employers typical ask why jobseekers who are currently employed wish to leave their current position. Whatever the reason might be, think of a positive spin to use. Are you at odds with your boss? Word your response along the lines of “I feel I have reached my full potential with my current position and I’m not learning as much from my direct manager”. Never speak poorly of your current employer or boss. If you are looking for more money, don’t say that either! Instead, try “I’m looking for more growth and stability in a company”. If you realize during the interview that it is not the best fit, keep things positive. You never know when you might cross paths again.

    Wrapping up the interview

    Thank your interviewers for their time and let them know you look forward to hearing from them. Don’t ask for their feedback immediately- Be patient. When you get home, write a quick thank you note where you reiterate why you are a good fit for the position and why you want to work there.

    Feeling ready to tackle that interview? Take a few deep breaths, be sure to prepare, and go for it! 

     

  • The Art of Dressing for an Interview

    Article by Melissa Gallagher, Lead Recruiter at Workbridge New York

    The first thing a hiring manager sees after a resume is you. Persona and presentation can make or break the decision to move forward with a candidate. This goes not just in interviewing but in relationship building. Presentation is everything in our society and something many people in technology forget to focus on during the interview process. One of the main questions I get from my candidates is: how should I dress?

    In the past, we were told to dress in business professional for every interview regardless of a company’s dress code. Nowadays, however, it's quite different. It’s imperative that you take the proper steps to understand the company culture when dressing for interviews. For example, if interviewing at a financial company, you should be wearing a suit and a tie. If you’re going to a new, hip startup you should avoid a suit and tie at all costs. It can be difficult to know what the actual culture is if you’ve never been to the office and you have only looked at their website. In such situations, the best thing to do is to reach out to your company contact or give the front desk a call to ask what the dress attire is. I would also recommend searching the “team” or “about us” page for company photos. Once you’ve heard what the dress attire is, or have searched photos online, you should lean on more of the conservative side and dress up a bit for the interview. This DOES NOT mean tie or jacket, but might mean taking an iron to your shirt and wearing nicer shoes than usual.

    Below are three common company environments and what to wear for each interview.

    Conservative

    For companies that have a “business” or “conservative” dress code, stick to more of a classic and basic outfit for the first interview.

    Men: Wear your traditional suit (i.e. blue, black or grey) and make sure your dress shoes are shined and your suit and shirt is wrinkle-free.

    Women: Wear a traditional suit— whether it be a jacket with pants or a skirt and stick to colors such as dark grey, navy or black. Finish the look with a briefcase OR a purse, a basic pair of black pumps and simple jewelry for a winning outfit.

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    Business Casual

    A business causal environment will allow for a lot more freedom depending on how causal the office is.

    Men: This could mean slacks and a button-down dress shirt. Leaning more on the conservative side of business causal, this may mean black, navy or grey dress slacks with a button-down shirt, tie and dress shoes. On the more casual side of the spectrum, you may want to forgo the tie and even wear khaki pants.

    Women: Think about what you would normally wear to work at this company, and then dress it up a bit. For example, you could wear a dark skirt and blouse or a shift dress and cardigan.

    Startup

    Interviews at startups can be pretty tricky. Candidates want to fit in and show that they understand the company culture but look professional at the same time.

    Men: Try a collared shirt with a sweater on top of that and pair that with jeans and closed-toe shoes.

    Women: “Casual chic” should be the term that comes to mind when dressing for a startup interview. Wear something that you are comfortable in, represents you and is work-appropriate. This could mean a pair of dark jeans, simple shirt/sweater, and flats or even a causal dress would be appropriate too.

    In all, we need to remember that presentation is everything especially when you are in a first interview setting. How well you take care of yourself can tell a lot about how you are as a person. Clean, put together, organized, etc. You don’t have to be the cleanest and proper person, but having a clean, ironed outfit can win you a job. In any interview you have, make sure you take some of these steps and be proactive about what to wear!

  • Are You Putting Yourself in the Best Position to Hire Technologists?

    Article By John Howard, Practice Manager in Workbridge DC

    The Current Landscape

    It’s no secret that the hiring landscape for software, web, and IT technologists is tough.  A cursory search of newspapers from cities across the US indicate companies’ need for a variety of information technology professionals; anyone keeping up with the news is aware of the monthly BLS reports indicating the US economy has consistently added jobs, and numerous sources cite tech unemployment in the neighborhood of 3% (while the national average just dipped below 6%).  The most obvious litmus test, however, is done on a day-to-day basis by software, IT, and HR managers trying to hire technologists.  The reality is that the majority of resumes that find their way to the hiring manager’s inbox are never going to receive a phone call or an email, not because there are so many qualified applicants that only the best are contacted, but because of the opposite:  the majority of job ad response are either grossly under- or overqualified, not local to the area or looking for remote / telecommute work, are from offshore or onshore tech consultancies promising numerous perfectly qualified candidates, or so far removed from anything the job description represents that one’s left wondering if the applicant read the description at all. 

    While there are number of important factors to hiring in any market condition, to keep things simple here are three key components to effective hiring.

    Take Ownership

    In his recent book Zero to One, PayPal and Palantir founder Peter Thiel makes the case that hiring is one of the most important aspects to the success of any team or company, so don’t leave it up to someone else to do it for you. While this certainly isn’t an original idea, it’s a point that is often completely overlooked when it comes to staffing.  It is certainly far easier to relinquish responsibility of the majority of the hiring process to HR or recruiters (internal or external) instead of taking ownership of filling your own openings, but unfortunately it’s not nearly as effective.  At the same time this doesn’t mean there is not immense value in partnerships and/or delegating aspects of the hiring process to various vested personnel (members / leads of your team, HR, recruiters, managers).  Ultimately however, it comes down to the hiring manager allocating time in the daily or weekly schedule for phone and in-person interviews, checking out the local Meetup  and user group scene for organic networking, and generally investing his or her time and energy to get the position filled with the right person(s).

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    Prepare

    Every manager, team, company has a process they’re comfortable with or at least use in order to determine whether or not they are going to hire candidate x.  In a competitive market it’s often the process that is blamed if an applicant goes with another offer, but in fact most companies are fairly similar when it comes to determining who they’re going to hire; the issues often occur in the timing.  Whether you want to see a candidate’s contribution to the tech community,  have 1, 2, or 3 rounds of interviews, or any similarly structured hiring process, the important thing to remember is that if you’re interested in a particular candidate, so are anywhere from 1 – 10 other companies. What is your plan to get the candidate interested in the work and your company or team? 

    This goes back to the ownership piece; it’s up to the hiring manager to work with his or her tech and hiring teams in order to ensure a smooth and speedy process. Instead of waiting until the interview goes well to schedule the next round, attempt to schedule two rounds simultaneously (i.e. when you schedule the first phone call plan for the in-person interview pending a successful screen).  If an important member of the process cannot be involved in the candidate’s in-person interview, have the two connect via web conference.  Schedule a lunch or a coffee with an interested candidate if the process is going to be elongated for any reason.  In short, one should be thinking of the next step and what may cause a successful hire not to happen.

    Be Realistic 

    Ultimately everyone wants to hire the same person:  someone with a well-rounded tech background and who specializes in one or two areas, who communicates well and is a great team-player, doesn’t need a lot of hand-holding, is quick and inquisitive, and whose tech prowess will raise the quality of the team, all for a price that won’t break the bank or alienate any existing team members – someone like this or on the better side of the bell curve than this. Yep, that’s the one. The reality is that every company and hiring manager is looking for that person, or a lot of those persons. Understanding where you can sacrifice x or y without sacrificing the underlying quality of the hire creates a hiring advantage. Educating the other members of your team or hiring committee means everyone is on the same page and can act accordingly.

    If you’ve had to hire, you know it’s rarely this simple – often it seems that a million things need to happen, fires to put out, signatures to track down, and an incredible amount of luck in order to land one good IT applicant.  But if you can prioritize the things that matter most, be flexible on the others and treat hiring as your crucial responsibility to building a good team or company, you’ll create more success in hiring.

  • Hiring in Today’s Job Market

    Article by Evan Gordon, Regional Director in Workbridge Philadelphia

    Are you a technology manager in need of new talent to join your team? If so, the market may be a little different since the last time you hired. As someone who has been in the recruiting industry for over a decade, it is obvious when the pendulum swings from a client to a candidate’s market, and for those that have hired this year it is ever so clear; good candidates are hard to find and even harder to land. Below are a few points aimed at capturing talent in a very competitive job market.

    Move Quick

    Good candidates come on the market quick and jump off the market even quicker. The key to landing talent in this market is to condense lengthy interview processes and strike quick. The interview process from first interview to offer should wrap up in a week or 2 max, with an interview process consisting of 2, MAYBE 3 interviews. Do what you can to maximize a candidates visit and allow them to meet as many people in one shot as possible. Especially as the best candidates are typically employed, making it hard to schedule multiple rounds of interviews. 

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    Be Open Minded

    In the search for the "perfect" candidate, it is easy to be nearsighted and miss out on hiring candidates who may not have all the skills listed on the job description, but have both drive and desire. A bright, more junior candidate will often times outshine a more experienced candidate because they have something to prove and appreciate the opportunity. Don't undervalue desire in favor of current skills. 

    Sell Them on Your Job

    Remember, an interview is a two way street: it's a chance for the candidate to sell you on them but also a chance for you to sell the candidate on the opportunity at hand. Make sure to get them excited about the technology, projects, opportunity and the company as a whole. It is your job as a hiring manager to get candidates excited to work for you.

    Give Them a Chance to Speak

    One of the most underrated parts of an interview is asking the candidate if THEY have any questions for you. This is a window into how they think and an opportunity for them to ask about upcoming projects, technology initiatives and clear up any lingering questions they might have. It is also a way to test how prepared the candidate is. If they don't have any questions prepared or simply ask about benefits, work from home, perks, etc... I recommend continuing the search.

    All in all, the market has picked up considerably which is great news for the economy. With that being said, capturing talent is a about supply and demand. The demand increases as business expand and hiring increases but the supply of candidates remains mostly flat. Therefore, make an effort to capture talent before your competitors do.

  • Holiday Hiring

    Article by Carole Sagliano, Practice Manager in Workbridge Boston.

    ‘Tis the season of searching; searching for the right gift, the right wrapping paper, the right decorations, the right recipe, I’m sure the last thing on your mind is searching for right job. But this is exactly when you should be looking and here’s why:

    There is less competition. What it comes down to is that yes, it is tricky to look for a job in the holidays because there is so much going on. But you’re not the only one that feels that way, which is why most people decide to wait until the New Year to set their resolution to look for a new job. Starting now will give you the opportunity to interview and be considered for a lot more roles, since the candidate pool is smaller.  

    Reqs might close at the end of the year. Budgets get cut and requirements get closed quarterly, but the dates become even more relevant at the end of the year. So while some are looking into the new budgets of 2015, plenty are trying to make sure they don’t lose their headcount for this year. The word "urgent" takes on a whole new meaning.

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    More opportunities to network. Let there be parties! Networking events are easy to find now thanks to meetup.com but there are even more chances to get out there during the holiday season. This can be really helpful to get the word on the street about your job hunt within your network! So get your ugly sweater out of the bottom of your drawer and get ready to mingle.

    Better moods all around. No matter what you are celebrating, the end of the year is a time for reflection of the previous year and excitement about the new. This generally creates a more euphoric feeling during these last few months, so take advantage of it! 

    You’ll be noticed. Since there aren’t many people that are looking for a new job during this time you have even more of an opportunity to put yourself ahead of your competition. Without making it seem like you are a work-a-holic, it conveys to the interviewer that you are serious about your career and that you’ll do what it takes. 

    If you use the holidays to your advantage this could be the best time of year to fast-track your job search, rather than adding it to your list of New Year’s Resolutions. 

     

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