Article by Elliot Hardaway, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge Washington DC
Finding a new job is hard enough without having to deal with compensation packages. However, it's an important and necessary part of the process. When negotiations start, you might find it difficult to walk that line of overstating or underselling yourself. You don’t want to lose out on an opportunity because you're asking for too much, but it looks just as bad if you accept something too low and come across as desperate.
The tech market across the nation is only getting better as evidenced by this article from Crain's, which states that “an increase of .24 percent (4.4 million new jobs total) from March of 2013 and a seventeenth consecutive month of growth overall, an all-time high for the tech industry.” So yes, the jobs are out there, but what does that mean for pay? “U.S. tech salaries rose more last year than they have in a decade, with the average tech professional earning a 5% increase, from $81,327 to $85,619, according to an annual survey by Dice.” Demand is up and companies are realizing that it's taking a bit more to win over the right candidates. This is good news for job seekers, but of course, it's still important to make sure you're getting the best offer available.
There are few tips that can make life easier during negotiation:
- Understand Your Benefits Package & Perks: Think about aspects of your current compensation package that stick out other than salary. It’s really easy to get caught up in base salaries because it is the bulk of your total compensation package and likely the first number you see. However, a compensation package is more than just a base salary and clients need to understand what else you stand to lose if you move on from your current or past employer.
- Less is More: Avoid talking about salary in the first interview if at all possible. All clients are in search of the best valued candidate, but they are most concerned about finding the most talented and best overall cultural match for the company. Discussing salaries in the initial interview might cloud a good match as it can raise/decrease expectations for you. It can also predetermine financial expectations for the rest of the process with little regard for benefits and other options in your search.
- Don’t Give Wrong Impressions: When talking about salary in the final stages of the interview process, avoid speaking about salary ranges that you would never consider accepting despite high interest in the job. You never want to give any type of impression that a salary range works when it doesn’t as clients will take that as a sign you might accept.
- Do your Homework: Utilize your network to inquire about market salaries or rates for your skill set. Don’t depend exclusively on websites such as salary.com, as they tend to generalize markets. It's a good idea to research each company's background and how their employees perceive them. It's also important to take into consideration the total benefits package as it could help align your expectations for what they can and can’t offer, i.e. non-profits tend to lean heavily on benefits and flexibility while financial companies put a lot of weight in their bonus structure.
- Utilize a 3rd Party – Help Them Help You: Whether it’s an internal HR/Recruiting Employee or you are using a staffing firm, get all the information you can to better understand what it’s going to take to get you on board. These individuals have tons of information: benefits, perks, trends within the company, as well as external trends amassed from past experiences working with them/working with past job seekers. This type of information is critical in the decision process and can really help you come negotiation time.
I know this may seem like a lot to cover, especially when you have a million things going on outside of your job search, but thinking about these things early on in your search can really help to make the process much smoother for all parties involved, including your family. Job searches tend to be a little stressful as it takes a lot of investment, however, this time and effort can result in a great job with a healthy offer. Good luck out there!
If you have any questions on negotiating compensation packages, email Elliot.
Article by Sara Silano, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge Orange County
If you follow or work for a company in the tech industry, you've probably noticed a much higher demand for developers who are more entry-level. For the longest time, the technology market has been split into three tiers: entry-level, mid-level, and senior-level. The question that now stands is why, suddenly, are the entry-level developers in such high demand?
For starters, almost all of the sharp senior developers out there are already working. They currently hold the title of Team Lead, Principal Engineer, or Enterprise Architect. Most importantly, they are experts at what they do and it is extremely difficult to find someone who can replace their role at their current company. These engineers are not necessarily as open to embracing change simply because what they have been doing has been working for as long as they can remember. They are, perhaps, less likely to take a position at a startup since a startup embodies the power of change and development of new ideas. The entry-level tier however, are generally great fits to work at startups.
Recent college graduates are hungry, eager to learn, and less afraid to work a ton of crazy hours. They are determined to put themselves in a situation that will help grow their career. They are still constantly learning and are more open to change. More and more, managers are discovering the value of entry-level developers. It's true that they will require some training, but that offers the opportunity to tailor their training to the environment used by the company. Of course, no company is going to bring just any entry-level developer on board. Every company has their requirements, things they look for in their ideal applicant. The three main areas they'll look at are school, work experience, and personality.
Although a bachelor’s degree in computer science looks pretty impressive, managers always look at the school that the degree is coming from. In Orange County, managers prefer UC schools (of course, an Ivy League degree isn’t objectionable). You'd surprised at how many job seekers I send on interviews that attended the same program and school as the manager they're interviewing with. It's an automatic connection that helps make the interview less stressful for both parties.
Any relevant work experience for at least one full calendar year assures the manager that the applicant will be able to handle their first job out of school. Especially if that position dealt with deadlines. This shows managers that you have the maturity and responsibility to hold yourself accountable for getting the job done.
You'd be surprised how much personality plays into the ultimate hiring decision. This is especially important in startups or small team environments where you'll be expected to work closely with your team members, sometimes for long hours on end. Increasingly, companies are resorting to the agile scrum method which involves a lot of open communication between the team and manager, so personality fit has become important even in larger environments.
The old adage that the more senior, the better, no longer applies. The need for entry-level developers continues to rise.
Developers looking for work in Orange County can email Sara at email@example.com
Article by Edwin Yoon, Practice Manager at Workbridge Washington DC
First and foremost, contracting can be a great way of landing your next job or adding some new folks to an engineering team, very quickly. After we find a job seeker a great new contract opportunity and they complete their project, I make an effort to ask our candidates how their experience was – time after time the response has been “Wow… that was fast.”
The discerning critics of contracting may say: it’s certainly not a full-time job. They’re right, it’s not; it is, however, an easy way to gain employment in this fast-moving IT industry and sometimes even better than a full-time job. Have kids? Imagine not being tied to a 9-5 work day so you can get paid for the hours you work, whenever you choose to (so long as your manager is okay with it). On your spouse’s benefits plan? Great, there’s no need for you to consider the employers benefits package then. Trying to get your foot in the door with this huge company you already applied to in the past? Get in there as a contractor first, where both the interview process and hiring criteria are often simpler.
The list goes on, and the proof is in the pudding – temporary staffing firms have seen rising and record profits over the last few years across nearly all sectors. California-based research firm Staffing Industry Analysts predicts that the industry will see a 6% revenue increase annually over the next few years, and hitting close to $140 billion by 2014.
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of considering a contract or contract-to-hire positions, let’s make sure you get some answers from your recruiter before committing:
How long is the contract? Is the business already won?
Know how long you’ll be working on this contract. That way, you’ll know when you need to start thinking about the next contract/project or the next steps to converting full-time. In my experience, I have seen anything from 4 weeks all the way to, well, forever.
The other thing is to know if the business is already won by the contracting company because sometimes firms like to start the interview process BEFORE being awarded the business and having the ability to put contractors on. You certainly don’t want to turn down the other offers you had when the job you accepted technically doesn’t exist yet. A simple way of asking is: “If I accept the offer, how soon can I start?” The answer you’re looking for is something like immediately, on Mondays, or right after your two week notice.
Am I going to be hired as a W-2 employee or as 1099?
The main differences come down to taxes. As a W-2 employee, you will receive pay checks with tax withholding already taken, and you’ll receive an IRS W-2 from your employer in January of the following year. If you are hired as a 1099 contractor, you’ll get full pay with no tax deductions, but you are also responsible for paying your own taxes come April 15th of the following year.
It’s tempting to opt for the 1099 route since your pay checks are bigger, but that smile quickly goes away when you realize you not only have to calculate how much you owe at the end of the year, but in fact you OWE MORE! You get tagged with self-employment tax which is another 13-14% of your income on top of the taxes you already pay. As a perk, however, you can write off multiple expenses for your work as well (transportation, computers, phone service, etc.) Think about these points before deciding which is better for you.
What happens when the contract ends?
It’s important to know what your options are – most staffing companies have other projects they will have needs for, and it’s good to know if you can still qualify for those. The benefit of using a technology-specific staffing firm is that a great majority of their other clients will have needs that match your skill set so that when you’re done with the current contract you increase your chances of landing another quickly with minimal downtime.
What is the realistic time-frame of converting temp-to-hire? What salary can I be expecting?
If the contract is a temp-to-hire position, it’s a good idea to know when you might be converting to full-time status. That sets the expectations on both sides, and both you and the employer are on the same page. Typically that can be anywhere from 3-6 months, and if you find yourself in month 8 with no talk of conversion, then it’s time you bring that up again.
Now most people get a bit nervous when talking about salary and compensation, but you should know what the potential salary can look like when you convert to full-time. It may be an uncomfortable conversation for you to have now, but it’ll save you a headache down the road – you don’t want to find yourself having worked 4 months into a contract only to find that the salary they’re thinking of doesn’t even come close! Of course, it’s important to be realistic as well. If you are a W-2 employee getting paid $45/hour, you should be considering a base salary of around $90,000 (inclusive of benefits and such).
For a first-timer, a contract position can look intimidating, but don’t let that stop you from considering those opportunities. There are countless stories I come across and personally experience where contractors are thankful they took the offer. Don’t forget to ask your recruiter some questions, so that you’re fully comfortable before moving forward.
Article by John Howard, Practice Manager at Workbridge Washington DC
If you work in the tech sector in any industry, you’ve seen and heard the internet community railing against coining technologists as rock stars, ninjas, or other completely unrelated wishfully-imaginative pseudonyms. The truth is that those names stem from an appreciation of well-versed, competent engineers who have the potential to impact a technology’s evolution or company’s overall success. When it comes time to seek out a new nest, whether it’s through a recruiter, a former colleague or friend, or just on one’s own, the technologists who are the most prepared for the rigorous interview process are the ones who have the most options and end up with the best total package at a company of their choice.
Recently I was referred to a highly-qualified and sought-after jobseeker through a candidate we had helped to find a new job. This was a friend and former colleague who was what most in the tech industry would consider a “rock star.” He had moved to Silicon Valley and was working for a company that creates products that most of us use every day; furthermore, this particular guy was involved in a highly visible product for this highly visible company. Needless to say I was excited to chat with him, and after exchanging a couple of emails we connected over the phone. While I wasn’t particularly surprised by anything he said, there were some things he was doing that stood out and gave me more of a lens into how highly-talented (hence highly-marketable) folks get to the point that gives them a clear advantage over the competition (even though the open source community is well…communal, there is still competition for the best companies and jobs). Like any successful person in any field, it takes a strong work-ethic, dedication, and going above and beyond what the average or even good folks are consistently doing.
What’s the secret? It turns out, a lot of fundamentally basic things:
- Determine what the next step is—this sounds like a no-brainer, and sometimes it is. However, sometimes the desire to move on outweighs the desire to seek out anything specific (accepting more money/benefits/flexibility/etc.). There are a number of established & blossoming trends on the tech landscape—talk to the trusted people in your network who are more aware of what’s going on and where things are headed; find an interesting Meetup or two and interact…often the thought-leaders of the tech community are found here; connect with a good recruiter to learn about the specifics of your area (or where you’re headed). Be very clear about what you're looking for in your next opportunity no matter if you’re "actively" looking or not. The best position you can be in is to have that great job at your current company but understand what would make it better and listen to those opportunities. Try to make it happen in your current company of course but if that doesn't work, truly understand what will make you excited to move from your job.
- Before doing a single interview, take four to six weeks to intensely review, recall, and learn as much as possible, from going through manuals to code base to Github—this includes understanding what you should know offhand for the job you’re currently doing as well as learning as much as you possibly can for the job you’re looking to step into. Furthermore, learn by doing, practicing, and interacting—want to learn Node.js? Try building a web application; not a simple page but something comprehensive that shows some solid grasp of a technology or tool that aligns with both your personal tech and career interests and a marketable skill that would be an asset to a company. Don’t be afraid to put your code out there…get in the mix with folks at Meetups and hackathons.
- Groom your online presence – If you know you are going to be looking for that Node.js job in the next 2-3 months, start researching the technology but also SHARING your research on Twitter, Linkedin, Github, etc. Even go as far as to blog about it. That way when a potential employer looks into your social media history, they see several months of information to back up that you said “you don’t know Node.js, but you have been doing extensive research”. It lends credibility to your statement.
- Prepare references ahead of time – talk to former coworkers and mentors, specifically those who know you well and are also in well-respected companies/positions.
- Diversify your research – talk to friends in industries that you are interested in along with looking up companies/industries online. Sometimes the things you read online are not all true, and often the best and most straight forward advice comes from someone who has worked in that industry or specifically at a company you want to work for.
- Finally, no matter who you are or how long you’ve been in your area, you should understand that you don't know everything that's out there and you should put yourself in a situation to be surprised by people and companies. Talk to everyone, all the time and always-be-networking. Being a selfless networker will come back to you in many, many forms.
Seems like a lot, but if you’re looking for the secret-sauce, about 95% of the ingredients are right here. These are the traits and habits of excellent technologists, and adopting these will put you in a position to be highly-successful on the next job search.
Article by Ian Tushman, Practice Manager for Workbridge Los Angeles
We have seen a surge in DevOps hiring over the past year and the most exciting part is that every new DevOps candidate hired seems to come from a different background. We have seen job seekers take on DevOps roles after previously focusing on systems administration, application development, automation or build/release management.The DevOps movement is an increase in communication between development, operations, test and the production environments.
A Background in systems:
The most commonly asked for skills include server automation and system scaling, preferably in the cloud. Amazon Web Services (AWS/EC2/S3) and RackSpace tend to be the most common public clouds used while OpenStack, CloudStack and Eucalyptus are the most commonly used private clouds. Puppet and Chef are currently the most common configuration management tools used to automate server tuningbut the newly released Salt (about 1 year old) and Ansible (3 months old) have become more prevalent. While we attended the SCALE convention in February, we spoke with Puppet Labs and they sent us a link to their own training and certification course to help job seekers learn a very in-demand tool:
A Background in Development:
Application developers transition very smoothly into DevOps.Rather than focusing on building the application, DevOps includes tools development; building modules and customizing the tools used in each aspect of the life cycle. The most common languages we see are Ruby on Rails, Perl or Python. Chef and RackSpace customization is most commonly done with Ruby on Rails. Cloud systems need to be built and configuration and monitoring tools need to be customized. Each of these tools is essential to support the developers, testers and systems administrators. A background in development will also make you instrumental in code maintenance and reviews. The most common version control systems have been Git, SVN and CVS.
A Background in Build/Release and Automation:
DevOps Engineers work closely with the code and version control systems. They will help to manage the health of the code repository and automate the system for continuous deployments, usually with Jenkins or a bash script. Continuous integration has helped the on-call staff sleep at night knowing that properly tested code with move straight into production when it is ready. The build/release cycle is extremely crucial and ensures that broken code is not pushed live into production.
No matter what background you come from in technology, DevOps is a fundamental part of each aspect of the product life cycle, and the technology market needs more people in the DevOps community!
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Steve Klabnik, an open-source and ruby on rails enthusiast spoke for Tech in Motion: Los Angeles recently and discussed building API-first applications using Ember and Rails. He showed us practical applications of using these technologies, by coding and building an application that a restaurant would use. Everyone really enjoyed picking his brain before and after the talk as well as networking with their peers.
After the event I was able to speak with Steve and gain more insight about his tech roots. Here is what he had to say.
WB: When did you first discover your love of technology?
SK: I started programming when I was 7. One of my uncles brought a computer home to my grandmother's house. I was hooked.
WB: What is your favorite thing about coding?
SK: I like that I can have an impact on people's lives in a positive manner.
WB: What sparked your love of Ruby/open source technology?
SK: Ruby just makes me really happy. It’s fun to program in, the people who program in it are great, and it just fits my brain really well. I love Open Source because we're collectively building a commons.
WB: What in your opinion is the next big thing in technology?
SK: "Tech" in general is so broad, I'm going to go with the Tesla Model S. It's still a luxury car (I won't ever own one,) but the next Tesla model will be affordable for all.
WB: What excites/interests you most about the technology field?
SK: The same as coding: I can impact others positively.
WB: Thanks so much Steve! We hope to have you back soon!
If you are interested in attending or speaking at a Tech in Motion: Los Angeles event please contact: Jennifer DesRosiers at 310-445-3300
Article by Samantha Epstein, Practice Manager for Workbridge New York
Anyone who has been at the fore-front of the tech industry over the last 3-5 years has seen what’s been coming. It started out in Silicon Valley many years ago and has been trending east ever since. As the public markets started to tank in 2008, putting a damper on the finance industry in New York’s boroughs, Silicon Alley really started to take on a new shape as public investment capital was funneled into private VC investments in tech companies. What we’ve been experiencing since is nothing short of an all-out land grab that continues to push the limits of financing, real-estate, and manpower in our already over-extended city.
Money is not new to NYC, and neither is venture capital. But between 2007 and 2011, the New York region experienced a 32% growth in VC deals. Not only does that figure speak for itself, but when you look at that same number nationally, it’s quite simply insane:
That’s on top of the hundreds of already funded start-ups in NYC, the existing enterprise companies that are investing their own capital back into technology, and the thousands that are making the rounds to VCs pitching their idea every single day. So what does that mean? That means money. Lots of it. Money to hire developers; money to buy licenses; and money to buy hardware, software, and office space (not to mention the beer and pizza).
So what is going on with all this money? Well, most of it is going into tech. So much so that there is an entire industry dedicated to getting these new tech companies off the ground faster; meet the “accelerator.” The number of start-up accelerators in NYC went from 0 in 2008, to 12 in 2012*. Essentially a start-up boot camp, these organizations help start-ups grow rapidly by providing resources things like: business plans, organizational development, and product development, and they do it fast.
So now we have hundreds of funded start-ups who not only have cash but teams of advisors working to get these companies up and running. However, part of building out a company is being able to get everyone together in the same room to share ideas and do the legwork. And for tech companies the space must typically include at least minimal technology infrastructure.
NYC has always been a real-estate bubble. It’s no shock that rent is more expensive here. It is, after all, an island. In previous years, that was a determining factor in a company’s interest and willingness to move their operations to the Big Apple. However, the recent influx of financing coupled with good old fashioned collective bargaining power has begun to change this. In 2010, the media/information and computer/tech industries footprint in NYC real estate grew from 3.8M SQ FT to 6M SQ Ft:
Those same VCs and Accelerators that I mentioned previously played a big part in this. All these start-ups need places to work; places with desks, computers, coffee, and other techies to share ideas (and costs) with. Though the Bloomberg administration has made their life easier with tax-breaks and other incentives, when you’re working with a very small budget and already taking a huge risk at a startup, you need something a tad bit more temporary than the $1.8B office Google purchased in 2010*. Enter: the co-working space.
A co-working space is a shared working space that allows start-ups to share resources and collaborate with one another. Alongside the recent development of accelerators, these co-working spaces play a critical role in the real-estate side of things. Possibly the most well-known co-working spaces in NYC, General Assembly (which is also well known for its educational programs) grew to 350 members and upwards of 100 start-ups after about a year*. And they’re not alone in their quest. Aside from their cheap rent and great extras, these spaces have enabled their start-up hatchlings to grow their business before stepping out to make it on their own.
One other solution being currently explored by many start-ups in NYC is moving outside of Manhattan. You can see tech communities popping up in parts of Brooklyn and Long Island City; places that you previously may not have expected. But the bang for your buck in these areas is enticing a lot of these companies to set up shop just a short subway ride from the city’s center, and it’s paying off in cheaper rent and larger spaces.
Now, we may have money and real-estate, but you can’t build a tech company without manpower. All of these ideas can’t take shape without the people who can mold them into products. In the tech world, that primarily takes developers. Working with their product and marketing teams, these guys lay the bricks to the next big thing, and without them these tech start-ups would never get past the idea stage.
When compared to the private sector, IT job growth in NYC in recent years is astounding:
Based on the upward trend in the markets that 2013 has brought us, we can only assume this number will continue to rise. But this growth has not been matched with the number of available, qualified, tech job seekers in the city; A problem that could become the bottleneck of the whole industry here if it isn’t addressed. Luckily, we are seeing several Bloomberg initiatives aimed at targeting this bottleneck, from the Cornell Campus on Roosevelt Island to the High School engineering programs the administration has launched locally. But it’s going to take more than just a college campus and a few dozen high schools participating to fix this completely.
As the manager of a recruiting team here in midtown NYC, I can attest to the rise in business over the last several years (in fact, here at Motion, we are seeing historical production highs on an almost monthly basis). Companies are definitely leveraging the recruiting industry’s ability to help identify and deliver existing talent. However, using recruiting/staffing agencies like ours may help, but it’s a well-known fact amongst recruiters that we simply need more candidates ourselves.
So what are we to do? We’ve got more money being funneled into tech here in the city than the budgets of many small countries. We’ve solved the real-estate problem by sharing space or thinking outside the box. For all intents and purposes, we are in the middle of The Great NYC Land Grab as it relates to technology. But we don’t have enough settlers heading east to New York City.
From where I sit, the answer is simple. We need to talk about it more. We need to tweet it, email it, text it, post it, like it and all out yell it from the rooftops. We need to engage the already active technology community with those interested in becoming a part of the industry through meetups like TechInMotion. We need to start with children using technology in education, and support organizations that teach this like the Bronx based CampInteractive , which fosters the idea as they turn into young adults and gets kids excited about technology and entrepreneurship. We need to take high schoolers and college kids and talk to them about the demand and the rewards. And we need to do it now.
It’s going to take all of us, from VC’s to techies to recruiters. And it’s not going to be easy; we will have to change the way many people think about traditional career paths and how they look at technology as a part of everyday life, not to mention the way we educate our youth. But if we don’t do this, all of us are out of luck. After all, technology has become the universal language, and we’re all in this together.
*All data and/or statistics used in this post have been pulled from the Center for an Urban Future’s article entitled New Tech City published in May, 2012.
By: Andy Dalton, Recruiter at Workbridge San Francisco
Anyone who has ever struggled with watching their grandmother try out her new iPhone or spent an hour helping one of their friends set up a new social media account knows that usability is everything. An easy-to-use, negotiable interface can be the difference between a product that is wildly successful and one that never makes it off the ground. People don’t want to have to fumble through their applications. They want an experience that is both intuitive and fluid.
It seems that some startup founders have forgotten the importance of usability, and, in doing so, will lose touch with their user base. Sure, they need the “rock star” engineers who will create the bare bones of the product and make it functional, but that’s just the beginning. Who will make it usable? How can they mold it in a way that will be attractive to tech-savy teenagers, your grandmother, and everyone in between?
I connected with Kai Brunner, a talented UX Designer we recently represented, and he gave me a lot of insight into the importance of usability and his own views on design. He believes, “the best UX design takes root in architecture, to where form following function can become inspired design credo.” He went on to say, “too often startup founders bring the practice of UX design late into the development process and use it as a blunt tool to fix usability issues that were long introduced by non-designers.” Like Kai, I too see the problem in waiting until after your product has launched to focus on user experience design. Usability should be emphasized from an application’s conception, and should be a top priority of management.
Even the most useful application will not succeed if it is not designed in a way that makes sense to its users. People use technology because of its efficiency and its ability to save them time. For companies this provides an interesting challenge. How do you make a complex application simple to use? In order to do this, you will need to hire a design team that places on emphasis on usability and understands the importance of simplicity. Kai weighed in on this issue stating, “simplifying a process that is inherently complex means to clarify and organize multiple steps into the perception of them being easy and simple to complete.” Here, he touches on the essence of strong UX design and what it takes to truly engage with your users.
Usability boils down to simplicity. How can an application be stripped down to its essence and designed in a way that is most logical and intuitive for its users? This requires careful analysis of what it is about the product that needs to be showcased and an evaluation of how to guide users through the process so they can get the most out of the application. If you wait until it’s too late to hire a strong UX team, you’ll be stuck with a product that works, but is inaccessible. One good designer can mean the difference between a good idea and a great idea.