On what could only be described as a perfect fall day, our team in Workbridge Boston set out to lend a hand at one of city’s oldest non-profits, known today as The Home for Little Wanderers.
The Home (for short) is actually a merging of four different Boston organizations; Boston Children’s Services (1799), New England Home for Little Wanderers (1865), Parent’s and Children's Services (1849), and Charles River Health Management. For over two hundred years the Home’s singular focus remains on helping children achieve independence and success from seemingly insurmountable difficulties.
Each year, the Home serves over 7,000 children ages birth to 22 by providing them with a network of services including behavioral health, therapeutic residential help, special education, adoption, foster care, youth transition, and family services. The Home continues to make an impact in the Greater Boston Area and will continue to better the lives of our youth, as stated in their mission statement,
“Our mission is to ensure the healthy behavioral, emotional, and educational development and physical well-being of children and families living in at-risk circumstances.”
The original Home for Little Wanderers was built in 1914 and was used as a way station where children orphaned and left homeless by the Civil War could prepare for a new life. It also sheltered over 250 young refugees during World War II. Since its beginning, the Home has moved its location from Boston to a much larger and more innovative space in Walpole, MA. The organization still owns the 100 year old building located in Jamaica Plain. They’ve been looking to sell the property but it was in need of some serious TLC, and Workbridge was there to help!
The team set out down the Green Line and arrived at the HFLW’s Knight Children’s Center around 2:15. Administrative Specialist Veronica Rosario greeted them with open arms. After learning some history about the organization, they set to work with rakes, brooms, and even a leaf blower (which happened to be a favorite amongst some of the recruiters). Before they started working, the grounds and parking lot were covered in leaves and trash. Through teamwork and coordination, they filled more bags than could fit in a truck bed and had the grounds looking inviting rather than completely abandoned.
To learn more about The Home for Little Wanderers and ways you can help, please visit their website www.thehome.org and be sure to follow them on Twitter @thehomeorg.
Article by Matt Rogers, Lead Recruiter and Andy Kahan, Recruiter in Workbridge Boston
We've all been there, weeks of submitting resumes to hundreds of companies and you finally get a bite – a phone screen! All of that time and effort you put into landing a job finally gets you on the “Maybe we should bring them in” list. You set aside the time and prepare yourself as best you can. The phone rings and the screen starts. After twenty minutes or so of speaking to various hiring managers and learning some basic information about the company, the call ends. You’re left feeling like you didn’t get to express yourself enough and thinking, did I explain my skills thoroughly? Did I sell myself as well as I could have? When you’re done overanalyzing yourself, you think back and try to remember who you talked to but you can’t because you were slightly distracted by the fuzzy bunny slippers you were wearing at your kitchen table.
Not being able to fully present yourself over the phone is an issue many people face because communication is actually 70% non-verbal. In this ever growing tech market, hiring managers already have a difficult time finding the right candidates, so why waste your time? You never want to leave a candidate feeling like the above and it is simply impossible to get a true sense of who they are over the phone. It makes the most sense to skip phone screens altogether.
Bunny slippers or not, having a phone interview opens the opportunity for distraction while it’s happening. Unless, of course, a candidate has locked themselves in a cement block. And even then, one could still be playing with their clothing, wondering how long they’ve been inside said block, etc. When a person is required to sit directly in front of someone, it forces them to be aware, conscious, and attentive to not only their surroundings, but to you as the interviewer as well. And it's not just candidates who get distracted. In a busy office, it’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re on the phone between emails, coworkers, and so on. If you have to have a phone screen, go into a conference room away from the hustle and bustle so that you give the candidate your undivided attention.
One thing phone interviews inhibit is the ability to SMILE at someone. When candidates smile during interviews, isn’t it reassuring to you? The smile is a subtle gesture that shows they WANT to be there and they WANT the job. It also solidifies that both parties are comfortable in their surroundings and with each other. There’s also a good chance you both have something in common. Discovering these similarities often times comes out in face-to-face interviews rather than on the phone. A Red Sox mug on your desk might trigger the candidate to say Hey, I’m a Sox fan too! If you can find that common ground, stand on it. It’ll help you both relax and be able to feed off of each other’s energy.
Communication is 70% Non-Verbal
Body language is everything. The way you stand, where you look, and where your hands are all give off an impression. Over the phone, candidates often come across as nervous because of a shaky voice, when if the interview was done in person, if the candidate is sitting up straight looking you in the eye, they may not be as nervous as you would presume. You may sound really stern over the phone, which may scare off candidates, but in person, because of body language, you’ll be able to present yourself like the relaxed person you are.
Easier to Make a Good First Impression
Everything discussed so far leads up to making a good first impression, one that neither you nor a candidate can make over the phone. In person, candidates have the chance to dress appropriately, give a firm hand shake, and come prepared. This makes them look serious about the job and shows you that they aren’t a slob. Being able to put a face to a name is very important for you to distinguish between candidates. There may just be something subtle about a candidate that makes their resume come to life, rather than be just another name in the “maybe” pile.
Companies Get Forgotten
It’s not that anyone means to forget companies, they really don’t, but after a while of applying to various positions, it’s hard for candidates to keep track of where they actually applied, especially if a company isn't at the top of their list. Having an in-person interview assures that your company is never forgotten. After all, candidates have to walk into the main lobby of the building to get to it. It also helps if your office is unique. Whether it’s the color, furniture, artwork, there will always be something that will stick out in a candidate's mind.
Going into a job interview is sort of like online dating. You’ve been telecommunicating and getting along fine, but do you actually go well together? Is this candidate actually a good fit? Going into a face-to-face interview, you know that whoever is coming in can do the job because their resume says they can. Although they meet the job criteria, they may not fit the company culture criteria. Nothing can test that better than a face-to-face interview. If something is off, you’ll know it the second the interview starts and the candidate will know the second it ends.
For all of these reasons, and we’re sure there are many more, we want to encourage hiring managers to STOP with the phone screens. You and the candidate will both be thankful for it.
Article by Abby Rose, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge Boston
I don’t work on a software development team and I don’t understand the ins and outs of what an engineering team does on a day-to-day basis. But do I talk to engineers daily? Yes, and they frequently divulge information to me that they never share with their manager prior to giving their notice.
I talk to them about why they are looking to leave their company (emphasis on looking because we all know that software engineers across the board are all passive in their job hunts). This article is not meant to tell IT professionals how to run their teams or manage their developers. I hope this analysis provides insight to the most common reasons as to why engineers do end up leaving companies and how it might help in your efforts to prevent losing top talent.
I evaluated the candidates that Workbridge Boston has placed and their “reason for leaving” since the beginning of 2013. We have three teams within our organization that place Java, Open Source, .NET and System Engineers, with approximately 150 placed candidates in the past 2 quarters of 2013.
Below are the top 5 reasons why, in our experience, engineers leave their companies:
1. New Challenges/Growth/Strategy
We’ve all heard it. “I have no room for growth in my current company” or “I am not challenged here anymore.” But what do those statements really mean? Our first reaction, as a recruiting firm, is to ask the engineer if they have addressed these concerns with their manager. Many times it is a simple fix and all parties avoid the ever dreaded acceptance of a counter offer.
But what if it’s not a simple fix? Engineers that are not continuously challenged or aren't given the resources to grow their skill set will immediately look elsewhere to do so. Challenge and growth definitions vary for each individual, but what we see as a good solution is to consistently check in and promote an honest and open environment so engineers feel comfortable speaking about their career growth. If an engineer cannot believe in the strategy of a company and their approach to accommodating engineers, it’s easy in this market for them to find another company.
This may seem obvious, but engineers thrive on teams that foster open mentalities on the use of new technologies. An old and stagnant tech stack is the quickest way to lose talent. Engineers are not necessarily chasing companies that use the newest technologies, but they are looking to leave companies that have closed mindsets.
Again, I know I don’t sit on a software development team. The pains of adapting new technologies to a platform may be difficult, but it could be a good way to challenge your engineers (referring to the first point) to integrate or use the technologies they are interested in.
3. Team and Management
I’ve never had a candidate say they hate their boss or that the management staff is horrible. The reasons engineers leave their companies due to management is usually because of a shuffle in upper-level management that trickles down to operational changes on a technical team.
If a leader in space leaves the company, or a VP is promoted to a hands-off role, or a new CTO is hired, changes occur that effect day-to-day routines of an engineering team. The most common pain points engineers talk about are added responsibilities and unrealistic new expectations, a new SDLC that kills the current flow, disorganization of priorities, or lack of new/continued mentorship. Management transitions are a crucial time to communicate with a team and again, foster an honest environment.
4. False Expectations
“I was hired to be a back-end Ruby engineer and I’m developing HTML templates.” That’s no good! It usually surprises me how much I hear about engineers being hired for a certain position and end up spending the first 3-6 months doing a completely different job. It usually roots back to an interview feeling like a honeymoon without diving deep, and truly deep, into what this specific role and this specific engineer’s timeline will be. If they are going to be developing HTML templates for the first 3 months, say that. Don’t hide it.
Again, communication in the first six months on a weekly basis can prevent a situation getting too far out of hand. Many times, as human beings, we wait until it’s too late to talk about being unhappy with our job. Instead what engineers decide to do is jump ship and find something new where they can ditch the unwanted parts of their current role.
Yes, every recruiter encounters a job seeker that is driven to receive a higher salary than what they currently have. Good recruiters proceed with a lot of caution prior to representing that candidate.
It is more common, however, to find an engineer that is looking for a job because of the following reasons associated with money.
- A startup didn’t get funding
- Company is going under and can’t pay engineers their market value salary
- Haven’t received a raise in over a year
Some of these factors are not preventable, but setting up realistic goals and incentives for raises will help you keep valuable engineers around longer. Clear cut steps to a bump in salary and honesty about the stability of the company will increase the longevity of your developers. If other people in the company are being laid off, talking about why and what is going on behind the scenes will prevent engineers from looking around. When employees get laid off, it shakes up the nerves of others. Many times engineers in our office say “a few people were laid off last week, so I’m looking because I want to be proactive about finding something new before I’m out of a job.”
Good news is that reason 5 is an easy fix by being communicative, open, and honest about what is happening within an organization and about how each person can be held accountable for their next raise.
Take away what you would like from this information. Hopefully it helps companies reflect on the way they approach retaining talent from an “aftermath” perspective.
Three take away points:
- Create a truly honest environment
- Communication, communication, communication
- Proactive and not reactive check-ins with all engineers
Last week, the team at Workbridge Boston visited the Greater Boston Food Bank. Their mission? To end hunger by distributing enough food to provide at least one meal a day to everyone in need in the greater Boston area. With the help of over 18,000 volunteers and by acquiring food through industry donations, drives, and financial contributions, the GBFB is able to provide meals for those who need it the most. At the organization’s 117,000 square foot warehouse, volunteers inspect, pack, and distribute food to local pantries, shelters, day-cars, youth programs, senior centers, and community meal programs.
The problem today doesn’t stem from lack of food. In fact, there is plenty (if not more than enough) to go around. It is more so the economic and political obstacles that prevent food from getting to those who need it the most. In eastern Massachusetts alone, one in nine people are at risk of hunger and recent studies show that 47% of those at risk make “too much” money to be eligible for government food aid. See the problem?
Workbridge Boston was one of three teams working that evening, making the total number of volunteers 28. During their time there, they managed to sort 8,830 pounds of food and salvage 7,064 pounds of it! That amount of food equates to 5,404 meals and that is a wonderful thing.
We're so excited that our Boston office was able to get out there and play a part in helping the community of Boston. Offering up your time is no small thing, and our team in Boston did a great job! Everyone involved was active and really engaged in their volunteer task. No one should ever have to go hungry and with organizations like The Greater Boston Food Bank and the help of thousands of volunteers, we hope that one day, no one ever will.
The Greater Boston Food Bank is located at 70 Bay Avenue, Boston, MA and is always looking for new volunteers. Click here to see how you can help. Keep up with them on Twitter to stay involved by following them @Gr8BosFoodBank.
This week Workbridge Boston spent a couple of hours at the Cradles to Crayons Giving Factory. Cradles to Crayons provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive at home, at school and at play. These items are supplied free of charge by engaging and connecting communities that have with communities that need. During our time at the Giving Factory, we sorted through winter coats ensuring that they were in good condition and that any kid would be happy to receive them.
In Massachusetts alone there are 305,000 children under age 12 that are living in poor or low-income households and more than 100,000 Massachusetts children will experience homelessness in any given year. Helping Cradles to Crayons provide for these children was an amazing experience. Our entire volunteer group was able to impact almost 400 children during the two hours we were there, providing them with winter coats, baby clothes, toys, and kid packs containing school supplies, outfits, books, and toys.
It felt great contributing to such a wonderful cause and we had a ton of fun in the process. If you want to help out and contribute to Cradles to Crayons' mission there are many different ways you can get involved. The organization is always welcoming new volunteers at the Giving Factory as well as any donations of children's items, monetary donations, or you could even host a collection drive of your own. Click here to learn more about how to get involved. Keep up with them on twitter and learn more about what they are doing by following @C2CBoston.
@HeadstandAbby and the rest of Workbridge Boston
By: Matt Rogers, Lead Recruiter at Workbridge Boston
The tech world is moving towards Open Source, it’s a fact of life. Many new and exciting companies and applications are appearing every single day because of this- just take a look at what Google is doing….it’s crazy! It is very clear as to what this means for programmers, CEOs, CTOs and VC firms, but what does it mean to the System Administrator? As a technical recruiter here at Workbridge Associates Boston, this is a topic that is brought to my attention pretty often so I thought I would share some of my opinions in a more public forum.
Remember when Linux systems were pretty much a joke? This was true especially here in Boston. No respectable company would set up such a thing. There was almost no documentation, security was a nightmare, and forget about setting up a large scale, high availability environment. It was Windows or bust! Then, the Open Source movement really took off and the top minds in software started working “together” in online forums to build not only really cool applications but developing some very powerful, object oriented languages. These languages continued to be improved upon and used to build ground breaking applications; not just the website of your friend’s band anymore. Fast forward a few years later and top companies such as Fidelity have a team that exclusively works with PHP while everyone and their brother is looking for that “Ruby on Rails Astronaut” or some such nonsense that pays them $130k salaries. Open Source is not only a legit player in the tech world but has now become the dominant force.
Currently, there are large and small tech companies as well as major corporations that are running mission critical applications on 3000 server environment that are all RedHat, Apache and MySQL. System Engineers that have this type of skill set are in high demand; the majority of the jobs that my team and I are recruiting for currently are Linux System Admin and Engineer positions. Too many folks have been pigeon-holed down the Windows path and did not hop on the bandwagon early enough. The good news for the savvy, interested System Engineers out there is that you do not need to be left at the station of this gravy train! Linux is Free as are most of the tools that are hot and high in demand right now, and Linux hiring managers LOVE tinkerers! I advise anyone who is interested in getting into this technology to download Ubuntu or CentOS to your home machine (these are GUI based Linux systems that are easier to cut your teeth on). Many other resources are at your fingertips as well and here are a few that I thought were worth mentioning:
Finally, set yourself up with a github account to document everything that you have worked on so far. You can collaborate with other people, review your work, and have something to point to for potential new employers to check out, since again, they love tinkerers.
Last week, Tech in Motion hosted their first Tech Mixer, an event that hopes to be repeated. Seeing how Boston's tech scene is absolutely thriving, Tech in Motion wanted to host an event that would bring the people of this community together for a night of great conversation and idea sharing. Boston techie's congregated at Lir on Boylston to enjoy an after work drink while chatting up some of Boston's finest technologists. Also at the event were three start-ups demoing their platforms and services; Fashion Project, Studifi, and ZeroTurnaround.
Fashion Project offers people the exclusive service to donate and shop designer labels with a portion of every sale going to charity. Attendees had the chance to talk with Principle Engineer, Chris Jackson, to learn how this philanthropic minded company has brought nonprofits, high tech and high fashion together.
Studifi, an LMS & Collaboration Platform in the cloud, allows students to team-up within their classes, schedule meetings, exchange files, chat and more. This ground-breaking user experience is designed to increase productivity for students, instructors and institutions. Thomas Lextrait, CEO and Founder, demoed the site and was a great addition to the evening.
"ZeroTurnaround is dedicated to changing the way the world develops, tests and runs Java applications. Powered by award-winning Hotpatching Technology, JRebel and LiveRebel are revolutionizing the way Development and Operations teams work with Java." Offering Java Productivity tools, a few folks from ZeroTurnaround had the chance to teach attendees about their product and how it could help them in deploying their work.
Overall it was an amazing night of networking and discussion and we want to thank everyone who came out to the event to put Tech in Motion.
Our next event is on Tuesday, April 30th where we will host a debate: Clash of the Clouds. Panelist made up of cloud-based developers that have used Azure and variety of open source cloud services will go head to head to discuss which is best.
Tech in Motion is co-hosted by Workbridge Associates Boston. If you are on the market for a new tech job, check out our open positions.
Join the conversation and follow us on twitter for the latest tech news, job postings, and #TechinMotion event info! @WorkbridgeMA
The lack of sleep due to Daylight Saving Time did not stop our recruiters from tackling this Monday with hard work and some research. Another Manic Monday means another Market Knowledge Monday where Workbridge Boston keeps on track with and up to date on everything going on in the Boston tech community and hiring scene. This week's winner was recruiter, Andy Kahan on the Network Infrastructure team who shared with the office a map of Boston start-ups that he found while reading the Boston Business Journal.
"Kinvey, a well-known startup based in Cambridge since graduating from TechStars Boston in 2011, this week moved its offices to Boston's Downtown Crossing neighborhood — and released a map highlighting the growing concentration of startups in Boston proper."
Not only does the map showcase the shift from startups typically being located in the Cambridge area to the expansion into Boston proper, it also highlights the fact that Boston is a hub for entrepreneurs who work hard to have their ideas come to life and their companies started. Full article here.
Other honorable mentions:
Mass Tech Leadership Council's Annual Meeting in Boston. Governor Deval Patrick will join the Boston tech leaders to discuss how to make the tech ecosystem in Boston even better than it is already.
The BBJ announces the 2013 Pacesetters. Last Tuesday Boston Business Journal announced a list of the region's fastest-growing private companies, 70% of which located in Massachusetts.
New Neighbors! An Israel-founded firm, Nipendo, whose cloud technology aims to improve B2B trade processes is making the move to Boston and opening up their Headquarters in Cambridge.
The $100M club: 5 Boston tech firms with $100M in VC. An article from the BBJ discussing the VC funding of a few Boston tech firms.
Looking for a new job opportunity? Check out our open positions!
Don't forget to follow us on Twitter: @WorkbridgeMA for the latest tech news, job openings, and Tech in Motion information.