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  • How to Hire a .NET Engineer

    Article by Kathleen Nealon, Practice Manager in Workbridge New York

    The competition for engineering talent around the country has become very stiff and one of the most competitive places to find good engineers is New York City. Here in NYC, the tech hub is growing rapidly and even starting to rival Silicon Valley. “Silicon Alley” is becoming a force to be reckoned with. Between 2009 and 2013, venture capital invested in the New York metro area was up 76% and the fourth quarter of 2013 was the first since 2001 to attract more than $1 billion.

    With all of this money going into startups, companies are looking to hire the best engineers on the market. Often the first couple of tech hires are crucial for the company’s growth and success down the line. When it comes time to hire the first couple of engineers and developers, whether you are looking for a PHP Developer or .Net Developer, it has become no secret that both are very hard to find. Why is that?

    As a Technical Recruiter who has been working the New York market for the past five years, I have seen a lot of changes from the 2009-2010 market compared to 2014 and have come up with four theories about why it is so hard to hire a .NET Engineer.

    The term “.NET Engineer” is used too broadly

    .Net is a framework created by Microsoft that developers can use to create applications more easily. A framework is essentially a bunch of code that the programmer can call without having to write it explicitly. Therefore .NET Engineers (and .NET Developers) are best defined as a type of web programmer with a strong understanding of the .NET framework.

    Saying you need a .NET Engineer/Developer is an extremely general statement and without giving any more information, you most likely won’t get exactly what you’re looking for.

    So, in other words, it isn’t .NET Engineers in general that are hard to find; it is the specific skill sets and areas of expertise that are a challenge to find.

    There are many .Net Engineers out there, but their skill set doesn’t always match what companies think they need 

    Speaking in terms of numbers, there may not be a lack of .NET Engineers but rather a lack of understanding about what skills would make a good fit.

    Most employers are currently looking for five plus years of .NET development experience even though the .NET framework has only become widespread within the last few years. A possible solution to this dilemma is for employers to start considering more entry level developers who have the passion, desire and potential to learn and grow into the role.

    Also, if hiring managers set their expectations or requirements too tightly, they can lose sight of solid developers. For example, say a company was ideally looking for someone with Java experience but come across an amazing C++ developer. It’s important to determine which skill sets and languages are “must have” versus “nice to have” at the beginning of the hiring process so as not to miss out on great developers with a lot of potential and flexible skill sets.

    Companies want an experienced and highly skilled employee, but aren’t willing to train to get that person

    A lot of highly qualified candidates are already employed and may, at most, be passively looking for new positions. The unemployment rate for technology professionals fell to 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to the total U.S. Unemployment Rate of 6.3 percent.

    .NET changes very frequently, so it can often be hard for developers and engineers to keep up with every update. Realistically, it’s almost impossible for someone to know all of .NET, therefore, either engineers need to be constantly learning in order to stay up to date on what’s current or companies need to help them.

    A big part of my job is helping hiring managers set realistic expectations around skills and what they need in a candidate versus what they would really like to have. I also like to advise my candidates on what hiring managers are looking for and what training could make them even more competitive within the industry.

    Often, managers are looking for people who are experts in many aspects of technology. They spend months searching for these individuals and not find anyone because it is so hard to find candidates in this market who can hit every category on the hiring manager’s wish list. I always suggest that my clients hire people who are eager to learn and passionate about the role— the company can always train for the unmet points on the wish list.

    Companies hiring processes may take too long for “hot” candidates

    Lastly (and specifically on the .NET side) a lot of large corporations in New York City use .NET but, because of their size, the hiring process can be a timely ordeal with many different steps. This often results in hot candidates taking jobs at smaller to mid-size companies because they can move quicker.

    Overall, there may be a large number of .NET Engineers in New York City but finding the perfect candidate for you company can be very challenging. By determining exactly what skills you need in an employee, searching for someone who is willing to learn and train on new technologies, and is passionate about the opportunity you have to offer will help you speed up your hiring process in order to find the hottest available candidates for your company.

  • Interviewing a Passive Job Seeker

    Article by Joseph Walsh, Practice Manager in Workbridge New York

    Often, when hiring managers have an open position, they assume the majority of the resumes they receive from their networks, job boards, or recruiters belong to job seekers that are actively looking for just any job. In the technology market, this could not be farther from the truth. Many high-level IT professionals these days have the luxury of not simply accepting the first offer they receive, but instead, looking for the job that best suits them.

    The interview itself plays a huge factor in determining whether the job seeker will accept an offer from a company or not. Traditionally, interviews in the most simplistic form consist of the company bringing in job seekers to their office, asking them questions, having them meet other employees and then explaining to them what the company does and what it stands for. The person chosen for the job is most likely the best at selling themselves to their new employer during the interview process.

    This traditional interview scenario does not play itself out as often as many would think, especially in the IT industry. We are seeing more and more often, it's job seekers who are the ones interviewing the company! With the technology market as competitive as it is today for companies, the top talent often has choices when it comes to deciding on opportunities. In order to separate your company and get the best possible talent, you need to put on your sales pants!

    This means that every perk or benefit you can think of should be brought to the job seeker’s attention during the interview process. Sometimes it’s a very small detail that can make all the difference, and the reasons that people take jobs often surprise me.

    Many startups boast perks that can range anywhere from free lunches, to pet friendly offices, to pool tables, or having a sleeping room where employees can catch some Zzz’s. These perks are important to many people not because of the actual perk itself, but rather because it shows that the company CARES about its employees. That can be one of the bestselling points of all: how much do you care?

    Now, as great as these perks can be, they aren’t going to do for just anybody. Job seekers don’t take a job to do something they have been doing previously, but instead, to do something new. What new and exciting opportunity does your company offer?

  • The Growing Reason for High Turnover in the Tech Industry

    Article by Michael Yurcisin, Senior Recruiter in Workbridge Associates NYC

    There are many reasons why folks in technology leave their jobs. As a tech recruiter, I have heard just about everything under the sun, but the most common reasons fall under the category of growth. The term ‘growth’ can mean quite a few things.

    Salary is an integral part of the ‘growth’ candidates are looking for. Complaints about salaries are understandable, but often a candidate will tell me that he or she has worked with a company for two or more years without getting a raise and were denied when they inquired about one. The next logical step, especially since the market is so hot, would be to explore other options.

    The type of technologies candidates are using nowadays also plays a big factor in looking for a change. Developers want to be working with the most innovative technologies out there. For example, if a candidate is a Front End Engineer, they most likely will want the chance to work with new JavaScript Frameworks like backbone.js and AngularJS. If they are a PHP Developer, they will likely want to be using some sort of MVC framework. Staying up-to-date on technologies is what keeps a career alive over time. Technology is constantly changing, so if employees feel that their skillset is becoming stagnant, they may fear becoming obsolete.

    One’s ‘role’ also tends to be a factor in why employees leave their jobs. If they feel that they have done all they can on the development side of things, they might consider moving into a more managerial role. Since many tech teams tend to be small, they may have to move to a different company to solidify this jump. Of all of the reasons why folks leave their companies, this ‘role-changing mentality’ is the toughest for hiring managers to deal with. Sometimes a managerial role just isn’t in the cards, which often can lead to letting developers lead or mentor more junior members of the team as the solution.          

    Overall, the best way to avoid losing your staff is to keep you ear to the ground on the ever-changing and newly emerging reasons that employees use to move on. Maintain an open and honest line of communication with your direct reports. It is difficult for most people to ask for more money or even more responsibility, so creating an environment where this can happen freely is the optimal goal.

  • Job Search & Resume Critique Workshop at TurnToTech

    Recently, Workbridge New York put on a job search and resume critique workshop for several students and recent graduates from TurnToTech. TurnToTech is a local engineering school here in NYC with a focus on mobile software education.

    When our team of recruiters arrived to TurnToTech Monday afternoon, they gave a quick introduction about Workbridge Associates and what we do. Then the recruiters split up into three different stations for the students to rotate around. At the first station, recruiters walked the students through various job search sites and new ways to find job postings online. Recommended job sites included: Indeed, Simplyhired, We Are Made in New York, LinkedIn, and Joel on Software.

    At the second station, recruiters met one-on-one with the students to discuss their resumes and provide a few good examples of junior and mid-level iOS Developer resumes. They conversed about several different features of the resume, including what employers look for when they’re looking to fill an iOS Developer position versus other coding positions. They touched on the importance of having any apps that you've created and uploaded to the App Store featured on your resume when applying to an iOS Development position, just as it's important to have your Github account listed under your contact info if you’re applying to something like a Ruby Developer role. They also suggested the students include a “skills” section on their resumes to highlight and showcase any technologies they are familiar with and have used.

    The third team discussed the importance of a sending a “Thank You” note after interviewing with someone. You can fit all of the qualifications for the position, but unless you’re interested, it wouldn’t make sense for an employer to hire you. Whether it’s a formal letter or an email, keep thank you notes short and sweet, and make sure to proof read them before sending. For employers, it’s often the thought and interest in the position that matters the most. 

    Workbridge Associates had a great time discussing NY tech job search strategies with the students from TurnToTech. If you have any questions regarding your job search, feel free to reach out to any of the recruiters at Workbridge Associates, they would love to help! Also if you’re interested in learning more about TurnToTech, visit their website or email them at nyc@turntotech.io

  • Game Time Strategy: A Super Bowl Approach to Your Job Search

    Article by Samantha Epstein, Practice Manager in Workbridge New York

    I’ve been in the business of helping folks get jobs for nearly six years now, and I currently run our Microsoft recruiting team here at Workbridge Associates New York. Throughout my time in the recruiting industry, one of the things that has become most evident to me is that no matter how you swing it, a lot of people don’t know how to look for a job. Now, that is fairly bold statement. Of course people know how to look for jobs, it’s just that they aren’t doing it the most effective or efficient way possible.

    As we moved on from Super Bowl XLVIII and I was listening to all the talk about offensive and defensive strategy, I started to think about the various ways people search for a job and which ways are the most effective. What I came up with was four types of job searchers: The Spammer, The Bystander, The Sniper and The Renaissance Man.

    The Spammer

    “The Spammer” is someone that you have to give credit to because of the shear amount of time they spend submitting resumes to job advertisements. The Spammer’s approaches their job search by systematically applying for every position they can find, on every online job board they are aware of. Typically, this process occurs once a day and can last a few minutes to a few hours. The Spammer typically has a pre-written cover letter and resume in an email that they forward, edit, and send. When asked, The Spammer is typically unable to remember all of the places they have applied and has a vague recollection of the actual interviews that they have been on.

    The Bystander

    “The Bystander” is just as the name implies- a spectator. The Bystander is someone who has a very wide and impressive network of connections in their given field. Typically, The Bystander has bought a ticket to the game, but is more interested and/or capable of watching, rather than playing. They approach their job search by creating the most widely applicable and impressive resume they can for their given field, and they then send it to everyone they know with an accompanying request for assistance in finding them a new opportunity. At this point, The Bystander sits back in their lazy-boy, flipping through the channels and checking on the score occasionally.

    The Sniper

    The Sniper is a very specific and well-trained job seeker. The Sniper knows exactly what their target is, how to find it, track it, and how to angle themselves for the kill shot. This type of job seeker knows exactly what they are looking for- typically based on previous job searches and places of employment. They also clearly understand what they don’t want, based on said experiences. The Sniper’s approach to their job search is to look for very specific companies or types of companies, research everything about them, their employees and their open positions, and then attack. They execute this process over and over again until they find something that meets their requirements and expectations.  

    The Renaissance Man

    Just like their namesake, this is an enlightened job seeker who utilizes a variety of approaches. This person often has a systematic approach to things, often seeming somewhat compulsive in structure, organization, and repetition. The Renaissance man maximizes efficiency by including all of the approaches in a very well-targeted manner. He will typically dissect job boards by using specific searches to identify only the most appropriate jobs, quickly applying every morning or frequently throughout the day in order to be a first responder. He will keep in contact with his closest circle, regardless of his current employment situation, constantly networking and updating his network of interesting projects, personal endeavors, etc. His network will also constantly be updating him. This enables his network to constantly be working for him in a mutually beneficial relationship.

    Which Job Seeker are you?

    Ask yourself honestly, “which am I”? There is no wrong answer, and everyone usually falls into different categories depending on their seniority, urgency, and priorities.

    However, just like the big game, a strategy is necessary for success. Typically the best strategies include multiple different approaches to maximize efficiency. In my experience, the best example of this tends to be “The Renaissance Man” approach. Let’s just say it can be enlightening, to say the least.

    Now give it a try, and let us know what works for you!

     

  • Bitcoins: What's All the Fuss About?

    Article by Andrew Kolkhorst, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge New York

    Bitcoins have been the talk of the town recently, but it seems to be that no one knows what they truly are or where they come from. Do they magically appear? Can they be traded? Who invented them?

    Bitcoins are “mined” by using very powerful computers that can process large amounts of data. Their sole purpose is to search for certain algorithms of code that contain bitcoins. As more and more bitcoins are mined, these algorithms become longer and more complex. These super computers are being created, upgraded, and bought at an extremely rapid rate. A Swedish Company named Knc Miner recently came out with a new model called the Neptune which so far has accounted for $28 million in sales, and it does not even have a release date yet (Business Insider).

    So far bitcoins have had a rather tumultuous trading life and have surged up to an $800 high in November. While the bitcoin market is very volatile, the theory amongst many now is that this is not the time to sell, no matter how high the price. See, as more bitcoins enter the market, the more difficult it is to physically “mine” them. There is not an unlimited supply. This is a commodity that will run out like many others.

    A trend that has become popular in many tech companies is distributing equity instead of cash. This allows companies to keep a low operating budget while retaining strong employees. While equity is something that can disappear if a company fails, bitcoins seem to be around for the long haul. Which brings up the question, is being paid by bitcoin more valuable than equity? It is going to be a gamble either way until bitcoins are accepted as a method of payment globally, and until then, you should hold them as an investment. If you are financially stable and can afford to make long term investments, then bitcoins are a smart move, however, if you need cash to pay rent, I suggest passing.

    When negotiating your pay in bitcoins, you need to treat as them as any other commodity. Let’s use gold as an example. The price on gold fluctuates many times on any given day, the same as the price of a bitcoin would. Therefore, you need to think of this bitcoin investment as long term, and you should diversify yourself in other markets. If you are being paid solely in bitcoins (or gold) you do not want to have all your eggs in one basket.

    The world we live in today is becoming more technology-driven and paper money is becoming more of a hassle now that we have services such as PayPal and Venmo. The days of living in a purely digital world are fast-approaching, and there is a very good chance that bitcoin is here for the long haul. 

  • Volunteering at the Winter Clothing Closet

    Right in the middle of the holiday season, five volunteers from Workbridge NY went to Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries on Tuesday, December 3rd to help give back to the local NYC community. Everyone had a great time helping out at the Winter Clothing Closet!

    Every Tuesday from November to March, the Rauschenbusch Center holds their Winter Clothing Closet where they provide men and women with free winter clothing, coats, sweaters, and more. On Tuesday mornings, people line up to make the list of around thirty people who get access to the clothing closet, and then return to shop later in the afternoon.

    When our recruiters arrived at the Rauschenbusch Center, they were given a tour of the Winter Clothing Closet setup and shown how the clothing closet works.

    Everyone got to work hanging up coats and other winter clothing and sorting the winter accessories before the men and women arrived.

    Once the shoppers arrived, each volunteer helped one person at a time find a coat, clothing, and winter accessories. In the end, everyone went home with a bag full of clothes to help them stay warm this winter season, and our recruiters were happy to be able to help and get to know more people in the community.

    Although we were only able to make a small impact in one afternoon, we hope to have helped make a big difference in the lives we did reach!

    If you're interested in learning more about Rauschenbusch Metro or helping their Clothing Closet, visit their website or email volunteer@rmmnyc.org.

  • How to Hire a DevOps Engineer

    Article by Tim Lockwood, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge New York

    The competition for engineering talent is at an all-time high, especially in tech hotbeds like New York. Here in NYC, the tech sector is thriving like never before, and companies large and small are setting up shop and building out teams of engineers. Many of these new teams, particularly those in startups and growth-stage companies, are open-source based, and working in lean, agile development environments. As these companies grow, they develop a need to scale their infrastructure to support an increase in customers or traffic. Enter, the traditional ‘DevOps engineer’. So hot right now. Everyone is looking to hire one, and most are spinning their wheels trying.

    Now, it’s important to note that ‘DevOps’ is not a discipline in itself, but a movement focused on increased collaboration between development and IT. Technically, a DevOps engineer can be someone with any number of backgrounds, but essentially they are someone who can work collaboratively with other engineers ranging across the tech ecosystem.

    By running a basic search in a job search engine, you’ll notice that most ‘DevOps’ titled roles are calling for the same thing: a senior engineer with a strong background in Linux systems, a knack for programming, using modern languages like Ruby and Python, and experience implementing tools like Puppet or Chef for Configuration Management. Great. As a recruiter, and a non-technical person, those skills are easy enough to identify, and tangible enough to evaluate within minutes of meeting a prospective candidate. Here’s the problem: there aren’t many of them out there.

    Because the core DevOps tools (Chef, Puppet, etc.) are relatively new, the pool of candidates who have had the opportunity to master them is small. Until recently, only the most forward-looking of engineering teams opted to implement these modern configuration management tools, and complimentary tools (Hudson/Jenkins, Foreman, mCollective, etc.). This has not only created a bottleneck in an already competitive candidate recruiting landscape, but a catch-22 for many prospective engineers who lack exposure to the technologies required by many of the companies they’d like to work for.

    The result of these conditions is 200+ open jobs- the majority of which have been open for more than two months (some as long as seven or eight months). With this comes significant salary inflation for those qualified to fill these positions. My team has seen several instances this past year where candidates in NYC who have been courting multiple suitors have generated offers of more than $40k above their current salaries.

    So, if your team is looking to onboard a DevOps engineer, and you can’t afford to compete with the top tech firms in your area or wait months on end, what can you do?

    At Workbridge Associates, my team and I have overseen many successful DevOps hires by clients who have decided to employ someone who is more junior than they had in mind, but with some training, can grow into the role. In these cases, our clients bring on someone who is eager and grateful for the opportunity to expand their technical depth. After all, the DevOps ethos is predicated on cultivating a collaborative technical team. In the past two years, we’ve noticed that junior hires in the DevOps market have resulted in candidates who stay longer. What better way to build a true DevOps team than to develop it in-house versus bringing in a hired gun?

    Of course, every team has different needs, but here are a few things to remember if your company is actively looking to bring on an elusive DevOps engineer:

    • Be realistic. Every CTO thinks that their product is great and should attract top talent. It will become apparent pretty quickly if this is the case or not, and it’s crucial to adjust accordingly.
    • Be creative. If you’re not having success bringing in the ‘finished product’ right away, it’s time to explore other options and weigh training costs.
    • Sell the candidate on what you can do for them. Beyond salary and benefits, the best candidates want to know how they can increase their technical capital. Make it clear from the first interview how your team can help the candidate grow their skills.
    • Talk about the long-term role that the candidate will be able to take on with your company. This is a concern I’m hearing more and more. Many senior DevOps engineers are hesitant about roles that require them to do a lot of upfront automation, because there are cases where once that initial work is done, they have essentially automated themselves out of a job and are relegated to ‘keeping the lights on’, so to speak. This is dissatisfactory. Give prospective candidates a long-term picture of how they will fit in.

    While these points may be common sense for some hiring managers, there are a surprising number of companies that are behind the curve. The tech hiring market has shifted in favor of the candidate, and it’s going to remain that way for the near future. Those who recognize that shift, and adjust, will continue to hold the edge in hiring.

     

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