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Archive: September - 2013 (5)

  • Survival of the FitTest

    Article by Brian Ross, Recruiter in Workbridge LA

    Specializing in a specific technical market has afforded me the ability to observe an interesting trend going on in Los Angeles with Quality Assurance (QA) Engineers. Companies are competing aggressively to hire the ones experienced with open source automation tools and scripting languages. For those QA candidates that have not been exposed to automation testing tools or scripting, this might feel like a disadvantage. In actuality, it is an ideal time for you to expand and build upon your current skill set. With the QA market conditions continuing to be candidate-driven, the results of doing this should eventually yield you more job options.

    Many reasons can be argued why this trend currently exists. Based on my observations, companies advancing their technology stack are contributing significantly to this demand. Companies are constantly trying to advance the technology they use to gain an edge on their competition or at the very least, remain competitive within their respective industries. The majority of the time, the focus is looking for ways technology can accelerate the generation of revenue. Companies want to release the products they've developed to their consumers as soon as possible because this equals the potential to make money. Having QA Engineers capable of automating the testing of their product helps contribute to the acceleration of this process. We should start seeing even more companies make the transition from manual to automated testing in their QA department, creating the need to hire qualified candidates experienced with these skills.

    In general, there are not enough QA candidates keeping up with the latest technologies, which is also why we are seeing a shortage of qualified candidates in this market. However, there’s no need to panic if you find yourself in this position because there are things you can do to improve your predicament:

    1. Consider learning how to use open-source automation tools (i.e. Selenium RC or WebDriver) and/or how to script in a programming language (i.e. Groovy, Python, Ruby, Java) on your own. This shows potential employers that you are motivated to learn and keep your skills up-to-date. There are free versions of Selenium you can download off the internet and many resources available online to learn scripting languages.
    2. If you are currently working, ask your manager if the company will pay for classes or trainings. Many companies do offer paid IT training or education, so take advantage of it. Talk to your manager or team lead to see if they are willing to allow you the time at work to learn these technologies. You might as well try to get paid while building up your skill set.
    3. Don’t be shy to speak with the developers you work with about mentoring (to learn automation and programming). You are the one testing their code, so the better you understand it, the better you will be at ensuring theirs is free of defects.

    No matter how you go about it, once these skills are gained, you could be the one to spear-head implementation of these technologies at your company and most importantly, you have made yourself more marketable.

    Don’t worry hiring managers, I have not forgotten about you! There are things you can also do to help keep the skills of your QA testers up-to-date. For example, I spoke with a QA candidate recently who was working at a company with both manual and automation testing teams in the department. She told me her manager allows her time at work to play with automation tools to familiarize herself with them so she can enhance her skill set, since she is currently only performing manual testing at her job. Managers should also consider implementing automation testing in their Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) if none exists, and provide training. This not only benefits the employee by helping them grow their skill set, but also the company by having a better chance of retaining their top talent. One of the most common reasons candidates say they are looking to leave their current company is they are working with outdated technology and are not gaining any new skills.

    There are many resources available on the internet for QA Testers to download free versions of automation tools and information on learning a scripting language. All you need is the desire to learn!

  • Volunteering at a Local Animal Rescue Shelter

    This past Saturday, the Workbridge LA office gathered early to em"bark" on a trip to the Lange Foundation, a non-profit animal shelter that houses and rehabilitates abandoned K-9’s and felines. The first order of business was a detailed and thorough orientation, where seasoned rescuers gave them a lesson on proper “petiquette”. After they were oriented, they got a tour of the extremely well-kept and homey-feeling facility. The Workbridge LA team picked out their dog of preference and one-by-one, they trotted out of the kennel and were off on their walks in the hot summer sun.

    Some of the pooches were the perfect match for their walkers, while some of the walkers were even more excited and eager to be there than the dogs! There was a mix of pups ranging from hyper and excited to be out of their cages to others who were aloof and disinterested.

    Luigi, a shaggy mutt, was the perfect combination of spunky and friendly. The heat was a little too much for him to handle and their recommended 30 minute walk was cut short when Luigi “pawsed” and parked himself on a neighbor's front lawn, panting vigorously with his tongue hanging out. By the end of the afternoon, the volunteers from Workbridge LA had all formed special bonds with the dogs that they walked.

    The team at Workbridge LA loves giving back to the wonderful communities that they live and work in. They're so thankful that the Lange Foundation hosted their community service endeavor. Workbridge LA will most certainly be back next month to engage in more puppy love, where puppy kisses are encouraged and welcomed!

  • The Perils of Management & the Quest to Remain Hands-On

    Article by Max Schnepper, Practice Manager in Workbridge Orange County

    You’ve been told all of your life that progression in your career is getting into management. You’ve grown your skill set as a software engineer, systems administrator, front-end developer, database administrator, network engineer, etc. over the last 8+ years of your career. Not only do you have strong technical skills, but you have excellent communications skills with an ability to understand the business. The next step is logical: step into a management role and get paid more and advance your career. Although counter-intuitive, that might not be the best idea for you in the short or in the long term.

    Let’s take a look at what being a brand new manager looks like. Right off the bat, you’ll find that you aren’t making a significant amount more than you were as senior engineer, even though you have a lot more responsibility and pressure. Your right hand architect is probably making the same amount, if not more money than you.

    Most of the strongest job seekers out there are not fully financially motivated, and as you get older, career stability becomes paramount. People misinterpret the step into management as a more stable venture. Think of a scenario where you take a management role and slowly after 3 years, your increased responsibilities take you completely away from being hands-on, and for whatever reason, you get let go (in many scenarios, this isn’t because of a lack of good work). Not only are you up against the unemployed managers competing for a new role, the hands-on senior engineers clambering for management roles, but also the still-employed managers looking for a change of scenery. Obviously, there are far less management roles out there in the first place, shrinking your chances of landing a solid gig.

    After looking for a couple months, most job seekers will take the next logical step and open up their search to return to being hands-on. What people don’t realize is that having a management role on their resume will often get them screened out from even having an HR interview. No matter how passionate a job seeker is about going back to being hands-on, or how well recruiters explain it, there are countless examples of when and why hiring managers and HR will screen out past managerial candidates. Some reasons I’ve heard are: he will be bored in this role, she’ll leave after a year when she finds a management role, he’s going to command too high of a salary, or the hiring manager won’t want to hire her because of competition for their own role. Whether or not these are valid concerns for the job seeker, I have empirical evidence of this form of thinking from interviews that I have set up.

    So as a hands-off manager of three years, you might be one of the lucky ones that worked in a shop that was bleeding-edge. Even if the environment that you were working in was bleeding-edge, you would be extremely rusty in terms of programming/design. Not only will you be rusty, but after 3 years, you can almost guarantee that the technology you used to work with is now out of date. The chances of actually landing that hands-on role is going to be extremely difficult, especially at that senior level salary that you would be looking for.

    You already know that everyone is looking for hands-on engineers, so if you're considering a managerial position, just be sure you're making an informed decision. Think long and hard about whether or not management is absolutely the right career path for you. If it is, great! But once you choose that path, just know that if you should want to, it might be really difficult to return to your life as a hands-on developer.

  • Workbridge San Francisco Volunteers at SF Food Bank

    On Thursday, August 29th, 2013 Workbridge San Francisco volunteered at the San Francisco Food Bank.

    Workbridge employees and a few other volunteers worked on boxing 12,000 pounds of pears for families in the Bay Area. Teams of four formed at each barrel for a friendly competition to see who could box their crate up the fastest.

    Though the real win was all the people their efforts would help, Workbridge managed to package 12,000 pounds of pears in one hour. But there was still a lot of work to be done. Next, they bagged hundreds of bags of rice that would also be distributed to the Bay Area.

    Volunteering can be a lot of fun, but more importantly, it's a great way to help out your community. Workbridge San Fransisco worked hard and can't wait to get back and do it again! If you're interested in helping out the SF Food Bank and your local community, please visit San Fransisco Food Bank for more details.

     

  • Four Tips to Hiring a Great Engineer

     

    Article by Kate Lasater, recruiter in Workbridge San Francisco

    Hiring engineers in today’s market can be an arduous process. Qualified candidates are highly sought after and competition is tough.Counter-offers are a reality, and culture-fit is everything. I’ve helped clients of all shapes and sizes hire very specialized, highly sought after employees in a very tight market. Whether you’re a hiring manager in a Fortune 500 company or a start-up founder looking to hire a rock-star hacker, keep these 4 tips in mind when filling your engineer positions.  

    1. Don’t make a decision based off a resume: I think we can all agree that engineers are very intelligent and possess a unique skill-set. However, not every engineer is a professional resume writer. Just because someone can write beautiful lines of code doesn’t mean they can write a great resume. There’s plenty of conflicting information out there when it comes to writing resumes, which leaves many engineers conflicted about what to put on their resume, and how to convey themselves.   

    2. Fit to the person, not the position: This means keeping an open mind and looking at all the skills and qualities a candidate brings to the table, and how he/she could benefit your company. Of course it is important that candidates meet some, if not most, of the requirements listed in your job description. However, it’s very rare to find a candidate who meets all of them. It’s important to be flexible and compromise in such a tight market. You can’t fit a square peg into a round hole.   

    3. Respect the candidate: the logic behind this statement is simple, but far too often I see hiring managers doing just the opposite. Follow up with candidates when you say you will, and keep them in the loop when it comes to your interview process. It’s imperative that you respect a candidate, and especially their time, when it comes to on-site interviews where a candidate will meet with multiple team members. This requires effective organizational and planning skills. Leaving a candidate alone in a conference room for 15 minutes can almost guarantee a negative impression of you or your company.  

    4. Move Fast: Your hiring process needs to be streamlined in such a way that you can move fast and make a hire in less than a week, from first contact to making an offer. Your interview process is a direct reflection of your company and tells candidates how organized your company is and what it would be like to work there. No one wants to work for a slow-moving company that takes weeks to make a decision. Moving fast will also reduce the risk of losing a great candidate to your competition. Great engineers are just as hard to find as a rent-controlled apartment in New York City or even San Francisco these days. When you see the one you like, you take it!

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