Article by Morgan Khodayari, Practice Manager in Workbridge San Francisco
It’s no secret that in our current market (particularly in the Bay Area) Engineers and IT professionals are in extremely high demand. With the national unemployment rate on a downward trend, companies are prepared to do whatever it takes to make the best hires. But even in a great market all job searches start with one key tool: a resume.
So how do you get your resume noticed? There are three simple things you need to keep in mind when crafting an engineering resume.
2. Don’t list technologies or applications that you haven’t worked with recently. I get it; there are many tools/technologies you’ve “touched” that you could easily ramp up with when taking a new job. However, if there is a coding language, tool, application, or other technology that isn’t in your core competencies— do not list it on your resume. Mention those technologies in the past positions you’ve worked, but don’t make them the forefront of your resume if you’re not ready to talk about it in depth. When potential employers receive your resume they expect you to be able to discuss everything listed in detail, and when you’re not able to do that it gives the impression that you embellished or lied about what your capabilities.
3. Keep it concise. Your resume is not an opportunity to dictate your life story. Rather, it should be a summary or appendix of your professional experiences. Utilize bullet points to not only improve readability and keep the reader interested, but also to highlight your main accomplishments. Think of every point as an invitation for the interviewer to know more.
Most resumes are accepted or rejected in the first 30 seconds, and your objective in resume writing is to make sure you secure an interview. A great engineering resume perfectly reflects what you’ve done in the past, what you’re currently working on, and what you want to do moving forward.
Article by Katlyn McDevitt, Practice Manager in Workbridge Philadelphia
For 4 years I have specifically worked the IT staffing market, so I consistently have conversations with jobseekers regarding counter offers and why they do not work. By definition a counter offer happens when an employee gives notice to their current employer upon the acceptance of another job offer, and the current employer makes promises, monetary, titular or otherwise to mend the reasons the employee is looking to leave. More or less these are empty promises. Changing jobs is neither a natural situation nor one that is comfortable. For various reasons employees feel a sense of loyalty to their employers, a sense of family with their team and a fear of confrontational conversations with their higher ups so counter offers can be attractive. A piece of my professional obligation to the jobseekers I work with is to educate them on counter offers and their long term ineffectiveness. These are not the easiest conversations to have, however when the facts are laid out and a logical conversation takes place, it becomes apparent that counter offers do not work.
What are your motivations?
Everyone is motivated in their career by variables such as personal needs, professional aspirations, and cultural fit. When meeting with a jobseeker one of my very first questions is, “What motivates you to go to work every day?” At times, candidates take as long as 10 minutes to produce an answer. It is a thought provoking question that is rarely asked, but the answer is the driving factor for getting up every day for work, spending extra nights working late, and occasionally sacrificing your weekend for your employer. If you cannot pinpoint what these factors are, then you are constantly going to find yourself working at an unrewarding employer. Not knowing what truly motivates you makes one that much more susceptible to making the wrong decision and accepting a counter offer.
If you are motivated by money… Money tends to be a motivation when you feel underpaid. Perhaps you got wind of a colleague who is making substantially more than you and believe you are of more value. If you fall prey to this, the solution is not to threaten your employer with an offer at another company, the solution is to build a comfortable relationship with your current manager and not be afraid to ask for more money. When taking this approach, my suggestion is not to walk in one day to your manager’s office and demand more money, but make an argument for yourself. Use statistics, track your specific impact on the team, or be knowledgeable of the performance review policy. If money is all that drives you, then you are absolutely at risk for a counter offer that is a short term solution in disguise.
If you are motivated by career growth… Rising in the ranks is a common driving factor. As you perfect your craft and pay your dues, you expect to be compensated accordingly as well as work your way up the corporate ladder. Career growth can encompass multiple factors of a position, so you always need to pinpoint which factors are important to you. Do you rely heavily on what your actual title is? Do you see a clear progression with your current employer? Whatever your preference, make sure it is known by your employer. Again, creating and maintaining a comfortable relationship with your manager is essential to ensuring you are reaching your expected career growth. I have seen countless individuals who leave their current roles for all of the reasons just mentioned, but they didn’t ask for anything to change. If you have not expressed to your employer what is important to you, how are they supposed to keep you happy?
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If you are motivated by culture and environment… Culture is often an essential piece of the puzzle. Within IT, work spaces can vary dramatically depending on what type of technology you work with, what kind of position you have and the type of company you work for. To ensure you select the right environment and culture fit for your personality, you need to be aware of what you need to thrive. Someone who works second shift helpdesk support will not flourish in the same culture as an open source developer who wants a startup culture. We have clients who do not offer the most innovative environments, but the job is low stress and less demanding. Equally, a large fortune 500 company is going to offer a much more formal work setting as opposed to a small interactive agency. The right environment will evolve as you continue to progress in your career. Whatever makes you happy, vocalize it and make it a large part of your decision making process.
If you are motivated by technology… What technology you choose to work with is very dependent on personal and professional factors. If a work/life balance is important to you, you may need to accept that an innovative, progressively technical company may not be the best fit. If you want to move into a mobile market, but are coming from a .Net background, you need to accept that this is a change in technical focus, which would likely result in a lateral move as opposed to an increase in salary. Similarly, do you feel like you are surrounded by likeminded individuals who share your passion for technology and take the extra time to teach you what they know and vice versa? Similar to culture and environment, this is an ever evolving motivational factor. It is easy to be at a company for a few years and realize one day that they are no longer meeting your technical needs. If that is the case, find someone who is going to value your same thoughts.
Why your company is giving you a counter offer
There are hundreds of articles online that detail why companies give counter offers, so I will not go into too much detail. However, below are a few of the main points.
Save money in the short run
Time is money. When you give notice to your employer, their thoughts are not “Thank you for all that you have done”, but rather “We have a deadline to meet” or “How am I going to ensure the development continues smoothly?” Motivated by this fear, employers take the easy road and opt for a quick fix by throwing money at you. Temporarily this will make you feel valued, supported, or perhaps create the illusion that you now have an upper hand in this relationship. However, it is just an illogical, urgent and fearful reaction from your employer and the novelty of the offer will quickly dissipate as the majority of your grievances, aside from money, remain.
Short term band aid, long term replacement
Picture this, you have a resignation conversation with your manager and he pumps your ego by throwing money at you and playing dumb to the idea of you being unhappy. Reactively he offers an increase on your salary by $20,000 to keep you there and happy. Realistically, can your employer afford to keep you on board paying you $20,000 more? Likely, no. So this is the short term band aid. While you go back to work, your employer will begin searching for someone with your skill set who will work for your former salary, and believe me, those people are out there.
Realize they did not focus on valuing their employees and employee morale
It is not your fault when an employer chooses not to focus on their employees and team morale. However, once you recognize that you are not getting the recognition that you need and/or feel undervalued by your current employer— it is time to move on. Again, reactively, it is easy for your employer to back track after you give notice and play dumb, but realistically would you want to continue working for someone who only admitted their mistakes when backed against the wall?
Realize it is okay to move on...
Everyone is always looking for the best thing, it is a natural inclination. However, when it comes to your employment, you need to step back from the current situation and analyze what is going on. Why are you entertaining the thought of leaving? What about your current situation, if anything, would you want to change? Are you terrified to actually have these conversations with your management team? Whatever the case may be, it’s important to know and accept that it is okay to move on. The evolution of a career should parallel the evolution of your network. Leaving an employer should not result in burned bridges or broken relationships, but rather a mutual appreciation of lessons learned from one another, a respect for the professional time spent together, and best wishes for all future endeavors.
Article by Alex Clark, Practice Manager in Workbridge Silicon Valley
Diversity in tech is a topic that has become increasingly prevalent in the media. Many prominent figures in the industry are participating in open conversations on the once unspoken fact that the industry is saturated with white males while other demographics are underrepresented.
A variety of different factors can be credited with bringing the diversity issue in tech into the limelight. One such factor was the #Gamergate controversy that occurred toward the end of last year. This controversy began when Indie game developer Zoe Quinn received explicit phone calls along with threatening messages via social media. The threats were the result of a blog post from an ex-boyfriend alleging that she was romantically involved with a journalist from the gaming site Kotaku and received favorable reviews for her game as a direct result of this relationship.
The allegations were found to be false, the reporter never critiqued her game, yet that didn’t stop the reaction by what later became known as the Gamergate movement. Proponents of the movement claim they are only interested in discussing the ethics of media and reporting in relation to how games are reviewed. However, the argument that the movement solely cared about journalism ethics in game reviews is not an easy sell as multiple women in the gaming industry fled their homes after their addresses and personal information was published by those claiming to be associated with #GamerGate.
It’s difficult to piece together what this movement really was, who supported it and what it stood for as most action surrounding Gamergate was shrouded in anonymity via 4chan, Reddit, and Twitter. It’s no secret that there are glaring diversity issues in the world of technology and Gamergate serves as a small illustration of the challenges facing an industry dominated by the white male demographic.
According to the Department of Labor in 2013 only 20% of software developers were women. Not only that but women who have computer or mathematical occupations earn $214 dollars per week less than men, that’s roughly $11,000 less annually. Today women are earning the majority of all bachelor’s degrees (57%) and yet only make up about 12% of those earning computer science degrees. It hasn’t always been this way, in 1984 more women graduated with computer science degrees than women that will graduate with the same degree in 2014. I think this downward trend really leads back to culture and early education opportunities.
While the gender gap in tech is wide, it’s certainly not the only diversity issue facing the industry. Google released employment statistics this past May, giving the public an inside glimpse at some of the broader diversity challenges facing one of the world’s most well-known tech companies. For instance, of the 46,000 employees only 2% are African American and 3% are Hispanic. With 72% of all leadership roles within the company are currently held by Caucasians (79% male).
It’s not all doom and gloom for the tech world though, Google and other giants seem to be taking steps to improve the diversity problem. The fact that Google made its internal numbers public illustrates a fundamental shift in perspective. It also pledged a $50 million dollar investment in STEM education to help progress the early education of students in science and engineering. On a similar note Code.org teamed up with the White House to promote its new computer literacy campaign called “Hour of Code.” Over 33,000 schools in 166 countries participated and devoted an hour of time towards teaching students to code! The White House also announced plans to have over 50 school districts including the 7 largest districts in the country offer introductory Computer Science courses. These courses are specifically aimed at introducing girls and minorities to the industry at an early age.
Furthermore, there were some historic industry headlines at the end of the year that indicates an industry shift towards becoming more inclusive. Tim Cook became the first openly gay CEO of a fortune 500 company. In September, Obama announced that Megan Smith would be succeeding Todd Park as the U.S. CTO, the first woman in that position. Smith is also openly gay.
While the industry continues to evolve and make positive changes, there is still a lot of work to be done. Gamergate alone serves as an illustration of the massive hurdles that still stand in the way of diversity in the tech world.
Article by Elliott Hardaway, Practice Manager in Workbridge Washington DC
It’s said that “the grass is greener on the other side”, but is it really? This is a dilemma people in all industries experience from time to time. The job market influences many aspects of our lives regardless of our feelings. Therefore it’s important that energy and resources aren’t wasted on positions which limit career mobility or quality of life.
According to the Job Satisfaction Survey by the Conference Board, for the eighth consecutive year fewer than half of U.S. workers were satisfied with their jobs. While different factors motivate us to work, it’s imperative that jobs provide a level of satisfaction and balance which enhances and improves overall well-being.
But how does one determine whether it’s time to make a move? In my years working the market, there are a few tell-tale markers that signal it’s time for a change. Below are a series of questions to aid in this consideration process.
- Is there anything my current employer could do that would make me stay? Consider common grievances that motivate a change in employer such as: Overworked, Compensation, Lack of Responsibility, No Upward Mobility, etc.
- Are my skills up-to-date with the market and attractive?
- Am I going to miss out on a big bonus or retirement vesting period if I leave now?
- Am I willing to sacrifice certain benefits and/or compensation to find the right employment opportunity?
- Am I willing to invest time for interviews?
- Am I willing to take a step back from peers that I’ve built relationships with over the past year(s) at my current employer to pursue a new job?
Not all of these questions require a certain response, but they are all relevant when considering a move. The first question is the most significant because it requires reflecting on why you are considering a move and will identify the presence or lack thereof of an interest to stick it out with your current employer, given a viable solution. It’s easy to assume employers can’t or won’t change things in order to retain employees, but in reality it’s much more difficult to hire a replacement. According to market information on the cost of employee turnover, hiring a replacement can cost up to twice the salary of the lost employee due to on-boarding, lost productivity, and even cultural impact. Working in staffing, I know firsthand the investments needed financially and in resources such as time to successfully onboard a new hire– it’s not ideal for any company.
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Confronting a boss about grievances and possible solutions can be challenging since many employees fear such a conversation could jeopardize current employment. It cannot be overstated how important communication is. Keeping an open line of communication about progress and overall work satisfaction is key to any employee-boss relationship. Often, individuals misconstrue such open communication as complaining and tend to shy away from it, but having such a conversation is part of being a professional as it’s critical to not let any grievances build up over time. A lack of open and honest communication will squash any possibility of coming to a solution that keeps everyone happy and productive. Addressing the factors instigating a potential move can be uncomfortable to broach. So it’s important to keep in mind that your boss(es) may have had similar concerns during their tenure and likely will understand where you are coming from and may even be able to suggest solutions. When having this conversation, it’s important to direct the conversation towards identifying realistic solutions as opposed to making challenging demands.
By the same token, it may be time to move on if the current opportunity has run its course. There is no amount of money or change in responsibilities that can serve as a long-term solution. If you’ve arrived as this conclusion, use your answers from the remainder of the questions to guide you before proceeding. There’s a strong market out there for those willing to make the investment both in time and willingness to see a cross-section of the available opportunities. If you find yourself at this crossroads, it may be time to take that leap.
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…
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 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!
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.
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.
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!