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!
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.
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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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.
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!
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.
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Article by Riley Hutchinson, Practice Manager in Workbridge Chicago
I have been recruiting in the UI/UX market in Chicago for two years now, and recently have seen a huge increase in demand for developers and designers in the financial space. Right now, my client list ranges from huge trading firms like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, to companies on the verge of going public like Enova Financial, and up-and-coming start-ups with serious funding looking to build a product from scratch, like Avant Credit and Dough.com. For UI engineers, architecting the user experience of a financial product provides some really interesting challenges to solve.
Financial technology or fintech, as it is more recently known, has seen a huge increase in popularity, especially in Chicago which has historically been a financial hub. Most of these fintech companies are centered on taking the archaic, slow moving, and overly corporate stereotype out of the finance industry. In a recent article in ChicagoInno, an online publication focused on online innovation, Will Flanagan, General Manager, sited, “With the city's storied history of innovation in the financial service industry and its emerging tech and innovation economy, Chicago will play a critical leadership role in the evolving worldwide financial frontier.” From my experience, that couldn’t be more accurate, and because of it there are a few points worth considering when talking about a career at a financial company.
Engineers at trading firms are responsible for highly trafficked, low latency applications— companies recognize the high-pressure nature of this task and pay extremely competitive. This is, in part, why engineers rarely leave fintech companies. Their competitive salaries and overall benefits package makes for very low turnover.
Generally, there are two sides to working fintech that attract engineers searching for a challenge. First, there’s the task of taking complex – and arguably boring – B2B tools and designing them so that they’re easy to understand and navigate. Making algorithms, numbers, graphs and large sets of data look aesthetically appealing is a huge UX challenge. Then there is the UI challenge of exchanging money. Startups are popping up all over the place, making it easier and easier to make payments and exchange cash and with that ease comes an increased need for payment security. Ask any security expert and they’ll tell you constructing those secure channels is no easy feat. Additionally, any company where money is exchanged internationally brings with it many additional complex legalities and moving parts.
If you’re looking into a well-funded startup not only will you be compensated competitively, but you’ll also be able to build a product from the ground up. Sure, that comes with working at any startup, but the financial industry isn’t going anywhere any time soon— a financial startup is a safer bet than investing your career in the next deal website or car sharing app. Many people don’t like the thought of working at financial companies because they view it as working for “the man”, but the reality is the work done is relevant, helps people, fast-paced and always changing.
One of the most popular misconceptions surrounding fintech is the perceived culture or lack thereof. The common stereotype has been that financial firms and companies are overly corporate, out of date technically, and giant cubicle farms where you have to wear a suit. But that is no longer the case.
Take, for example, CME Group which uses one of the most cutting-edge Ruby on Rails stacks in the industry and has been at the forefront of obliterating that stereotype. Enova is another company that invests in their engineers and is very involved in the community. They host the Ember Meetup and senior engineers at Enova contribute to Ember on Github. Additionally, companies like Avant and other Ruby shops are putting a huge premium on company cultures and seriously investing in their engineers. They pride themselves on hiring smart people who can problem solve. Recently, I helped them hire a Notre Dame graduate with a couple months of internship experience at a very competitive salary solely because he was smart. To me, that seems like the most un-corporate move of all time. They’re confident they can fit him into their company structure as he matures technically. This candidate probably wouldn’t have been hired by a more traditional company because he didn’t have a ton of relevant experience. But Avant recognized his potential and snapped him up before their competitors.
So if you’re a UI engineer or a UX designer in Chicago or elsewhere, turned off by the idea of working for a seemingly slow-moving, out-of-date, and overly corporate finance company—it may be time to rethink your stance.
Article by Cory Eustice, Division Manager of Workbridge Orange County
“One interaction at a time.”
Everything that you do in business can be defined by this phrase, and one of the most important things that a business can achieve through interactions is their “hiring brand”. Your hiring brand is an extension of yourself and your business, and it can either open doors to potential employees for you or it can shut them out before you even have the chance to interact with them.
Building a hiring brand starts with having a clear and defined vision of what you want it to represent. Your brand could be as simple as a personal reputation, or as large as the representation of your entire organization. Do you want to be known as the company that constantly has open roles, but is a resume black hole? Or do you want to be known for having a continuous feedback loop in your hiring process that gives potential employees an enjoyable hiring experience? Obviously these are two extremes, but where you sit on the spectrum will either bring you topnotch candidates, or it will shut someone off to giving your company a chance.
As Division Manager of a technical recruiting agency, I deal with companies every day that find it incredibly difficult to attract top talent for their organization. The first thing I always do is dissect their hiring process and typically find that there is a breakdown in the feedback function of the process. Either candidates never hear back from the company, or they hear back in an untimely manner. Companies too often are drawn to solely focusing on their top targets, which causes them to let talent slip away and create an ‘outside looking in’ dynamic. What companies and employees forget is that everyone knows someone and that someone could be their next lead engineer, head of marketing, or vice president of sales. If you or your company left a bad taste in the mouth of a jobseeker, it can spread to their network and lead to individuals in their network not reading your emails or answering your calls without you ever knowing why.
The way I practice having a quality brand in my office is making it a point to get back to everyone within 48 hours, whether it be about a resume submittal or an interview. These simple interactions help build my office’s own hiring brand and make it easily maintainable. I get that everyone is busy, but taking the time to write a quick email can save you the headache of not capturing top talent down the road. I have worked with countless people looking for jobs that were so appreciative of the feedback they received, good or bad, that they later referred their friends and colleagues to me even if I didn’t successfully find them a new role. The fact of the matter is this – because my hiring brand has a quality reputation based on the experiences of the people I interact with, my hiring brand brought candidates to me that I would have most likely otherwise not found. I strongly believe building this strategy within an individual company can bring the same results.
Once your hiring brand is established, it is important to maintain it and ultimately expand it. There are various avenues a company can take that will do this. One of the most effective I have found is through networking events, like meet-ups. By going to meet-ups, you develop a face in the community and if you actually interact with the people, (I know, novel idea-right?), you can become an expert in that community on your subject matter. You can also take your brand a step further by either hosting your own meet-up or simply sponsoring one, which will give your company some type of interaction with a particular community.
I’ve seen the advantages of building a hiring brand and encourage you to do the same. In what ways has your company established its hiring brand?
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.