Workbridge Associates: Where People Meet Performance

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Location: Orange County, CA (58)

  • Telecommute vs Office Commute - Weigh In!

    Article by King Bea, Sourcing Specialist at Workbridge Associates Orange County.

    My 20lb dumbbells sit in the corner of my room, gathering dust and indenting the carpet underneath. The fitness application on my iPhone would be my best point of reference as to the last date of their usage. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever used my dumbbells as more than just a daily reminder to exercise. They're more of a symbol of an idea. Originally, I purchased the pair because I thought owning them would make exercising more convenient and that I could be more productive with my day. Oddly enough, I’ve found that I prefer to boost my heart rate away from home, away from my room, and apart from these cursed dumbbells. (Yes, I’m actually going to bridge the gap between dumbbells and telecommuting, but remember, this is a blog post. An anecdotal one for that matter.)

    Telecommuting can be defined as simply working from home or a remote location, separated from a centralized office space. With numerous studies on work-life balance, environmental benefits, psychological factors, differences of occupation, etc. on the table, the final verdict on remote work is still up in the air. Just like any idea or opinion on best practices and how work should be accomplished, there are those throwing rocks at each other on either side of the fence. What we do know is that roughly 20% of the global workforce telecommutes with India leading the charge. In the US, telework accounts for about 16% of the total workforce; California has both the largest percentage of teleworkers in a Metropolitan area (San Diego) and the fastest growing area for telework (Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario). Not surprisingly, Silicon Valley’s percentage is on the upswing. Across the board, telecommuting has sharply increased throughout the United States. From a personal perspective in the IT industry, my candidates are more incentivized to consider a new role if the opportunity offers some form of telecommute throughout the week. Moreover, there is a general consensus that software engineering is an occupation that can be based, in part, away from the office.

    Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!, had such disdain for the concept that she eliminated the company policy altogether after being appointed. HP CEO Meg Whitman followed suit thereafter. Both women were proponents of a collaborative and ultimately innovative workspace that could only be realized by being in close physical proximity to your colleagues. On the other hand, Richard Branson, entrepreneur extraordinaire, condemned the Yahoo! move as a "backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever." Both a Stanford and Beijing University study reported an increase in productivity and efficiency in a randomly assigned control group. The New York Times published an article by Jennifer Glass that defends telework in an article entitled, “It’s About the Work, Not the Office.” The rise and popularity of collaboration software such as GoToMeeting and Cisco’s WebX should not be ignored either.

    I am not a true telecommuter since I drive to our Orange County office daily. However, 100% of my work is done for our San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices. In essence, I am using the “work dumbbells” that sit in my room and so far, I have been relatively effective in my role. However, I believe that the quality of my work is partially dependent on those physically around me. I hold myself accountable to their presence. My work ethic is strengthened by an office space and the individuals with which it is filled. What motivates you to pick up the dumbbells? Are you camp telecommute or team office?

  • Benefits of Training Up Your Junior-Mid Level Developers

    Article by Peter Withers, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge Orange County

    Cliché phrases like “black-belt in JavaScript” and “Rockstar Developer Wanted!” are all too common these days on job boards written by software companies looking for their ideal software engineer. Many tech companies in this day and age, from the two-man start-up to the Fortune 500 giants, seek that perfect software engineer that will sweep them off their feet and meet their wish-list of qualifications. But in many instances, companies can avoid the long, drawn out search for that needle in a hay stack developer by hiring a more junior candidate and training and molding them into their ideal developer. Avid Flombaum, former co-founder and CTO of Designer Pages, states “The bottom line is that for most products, seeking out “rockstar” senior engineers is like hiring Picasso to paint your apartment.” There will always be unique instances where a software company really does need a highly skilled software architect or unique senior software engineer that a company cannot fill from its own internal workforce. But there are also many cases where junior to mid-level candidates are overlooked by employers simply because they lack something as minor as experience with a unique or specific framework and/or database. However, these junior job-seekers often make up for this ten-fold with their drive to succeed and motivation to build upon their skillset. Companies can avoid spinning their wheels and prevent the risk of hiring a senior engineer who might not live up to high expectations. Instead, hire the up-and-coming, more affordable, “green” engineer and mold these engineers into the ideal developer.

    Handfuls of interviews with senior software developers that don’t live up to a manager's high expectations can waste substantial amounts of time and energy and can be avoided by hiring a trainable junior developer. Additionally, these junior to mid-level developers are often less money-motivated and are frequently more interested in the opportunity itself. There are many cases in which a junior developer will be more than willing and excited to make a lateral move in order to expand their skillset just so they can get their hands dirty with a new tech stack. Junior developers will also strive to push themselves on a day-to-day basis to grow into the role they were brought on to do, and will work to prove themselves if a company takes a risk and invests in them by providing mentorship via their current senior developers.

    Implementing a mentor/mentee program for new junior developers can be an attractive selling point to potential developers, and can also help retain existing senior engineers by giving them that added responsibility and a feeling of importance. Additionally, this gives the mentor a sense of pride and ownership by developing the skill set of a more junior programmer and may incentivize a senior programmer to stay at a company with a mentorship program if he feels like he has more responsibility and a direct impact on the company’s success. Lastly, a mentorship program undeniably makes a junior developer want to stick around at a company if they are always developing their skillset. It makes the junior developer feel indebted to the company/mentor that has invested in and fostered their skillset, and in general, it strengthens employee relationships within a company.  

    At the end of the day, it’s more rewarding for a manager to have assembled his or her own successful software team from the ground up, as opposed to having temporary contractors come and go. Training/mentoring your developers and building solid relationships with them can create a strong sense of loyalty for the mentor/mentee as well as create a work environment that feels like home to everyone. Also, promoting junior developers within a company and having them climb the ranks into the lead, managerial, or even a C-level role is a great success story that can breed additional success and create a winning culture that spreads to other employees within the company.

  • The Resurgence of Company Culture

    Article by Chris Walery, Recruiter in Workbridge Orange County

    Like in the rise of the dotcom tech bubble in 1997, recently, there has been exponential growth of one word: culture. Looking back into the 80s and 90s, culture took a back seat to profit and growth. This was also a time where there was no such thing as a small technology startup. The industry was commanded by behemoths like IBM, Intel, Xerox, and Atari.

    The big corporations were run and controlled exclusively by their stockholders and board members, and to them, culture wasn't as important as product timelines and high salaries. There really was no “fun culture” fueling profits and employees. That shifted once the dotcom boom began, as all of those highly intelligent engineers began taking their ideas and splintering off from their large corporations to create the small, dynamic, innovation-focused companies of that era. Think eBay, Google, PayPal, yahoo.

    The industry's shift into smaller, innovative, and FUN culture created the need for a new motto, and "Work Hard, Play Hard" thinking began. Fueled by startup companies competing for extremely high-demand engineers, these companies couldn’t compete with the high salaries of their behemoth rivals, so they sold people on whatever they could. 100% remote work, company equity, open working spaces, video games consoles in the office, and bring your kids to work days became popular perks.

    Now that the demand for engineers is picking up to dotcom era levels, the significance of culture is being highlighted again. Today, just as in 2000, companies need to devote significant thought, energy, and resources into keeping their employees happy and comfortable, as much as they do on developing new products and technology. In the highly competitive marketplace for talent, potential employees are factoring more than just salary into their decisions. The company perks, benefits, and culture take priority for most over pure salary increases.

    For most, this means being part of a company culture where happiness is paramount to money. Being treated as a member of a family (no matter how big the company) where bosses take critical feedback from employees and from it, build ideal work environments. Perks such as extra PTO, relaxed, casual environments, and videogame rooms have proven to have their benefits. Just ask Google, whose open, innovative, and casual environment has fostered ideas like Gmail, Google Maps, Google+, and so many more. Companies need to focus on creating a place where people will be comfortable, happy, and inspired so that time in the office feels less like work, and more like an exciting/innovative research project. The happier the employees, the less likely they are to shop themselves around.

  • Volunteering with WHW and Project Interview

    Recently, Workbridge Orange County took some time out of their busy schedule to partner with WHW to host Project Interview at their office. WHW is a local non-profit agency with a mission to provide comprehensive employment support services to empower disadvantaged men, women, and teens to achieve economic self sufficiency through employment success. Project Interview is a corporate volunteer opportunity run by WHW to help their job seekers practice their interiviewing skills. By setting up rounds of the full interview process, from resume submittal, phone interviews, to in-person interviews, job-seekers were able to practice these important skills.

    After all three phases were completed, Workbridge gave thorough feedback to all the potential employees and there was a "winner" chosen! The idea behind this program is to take WHW job search and workshop training programs into a real world setting, allowing WHW clients to experience an actual interview process from start to finish with a real employer but a fictitious job opening. 

    Workbridge Associates takes a hands-on approach to recruiting, interviewing all of their own job-seekers, so it was a natural alliance to use their interviewing skills to help others improve.

    It was a great afternoon for Workbridge, helping out their local community and being able to use their skills for good. The partnership between Workbridge Orange County and WHW has been ongoing since April 2012. If you'd like more information about getting involved with Project Interview click here.

  • 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.

  • The Rise of the Entry-Level Developer

    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 sara.silano@workbridgeassociates.com

  • Tech in Motion Recap: Starting a Startup

    Last week, Workbridge Orange County hosted Tech in Motion: OC's event Starting a Startup: Everything you need to know from K5 Launch. K5 Launch is a startup incubator here in Orange County that focuses on helping new startups find the footing that they need. Ray Chan spoke about what they look for, how the help, and how others can get involved in the burgeoning startup community in Orange County. Afterwards, we had 3 startups "pitch" their ideas to K5 Launch and the audience, getting real time feedback for their ideas. Here are some questions we got to ask Ray Chan and the startup presenters after the event. 

     

    Interview with Ray Chan: 

    WB: What is the importance of startup incubators in Orange County?

    RC: First of all let me distinguish an incubator from an accelerator. An incubator is more a real estate play, they rent offices and attract tenants by hosting entrepreneurial networking and educational events in the office. While an accelerator actively involves in the startups as well as providing seed funding and strategic connections to accelerate startups to become angel or VC invest-able in 3 to 4 months. K5 is an early stage venture investment firm where we provide funding to early stage startup as well as operating an accelerator. The importance of startup accelerator is because OC business culture is very transactional and not too entrepreneurial and risk taking. Although there are a plenty of talents, wealth, successful businesses, entrepreneurs in OC, they are very scattered and loosely connected. It would typically takes first time entrepreneur many months just to connect all the dots and find out all the resources they need, or their other option is to move to the Bay Area. K5 basically accelerates startups by providing a clear road map and needed connections and launch them with solid foundation in 3 to 4 months.

    WB: How did you form K5 Launch?

    RC: My partner Amir and I have been investing for many years, mostly in the Bay Area. But then we ask ourselves, why we put money in the Bay Area? The more we invest in the Bay Area, the more OC talents will be lost to the Bay Area. As described above, we have so many talents here, so much wealth, so many high tech companies, we just have a very weak entrepreneurial eco system here.  So we build K5 Venture to fill the void.

    WB: What has been your biggest, successful moment working with K5 Launch?

    RC: Watching startups succeed

    WB: 1 piece of advice for future startups?

    RC: Don’t start unless you LOVE and HUNGRY for your vision.


    Interview with Steve Gladstone:

    WB: How would you describe your startup?

    SG: CultureWidget is centered around the fact that a cultural fit is the prime determinant in long term hiring success. As it costs a company between 150-250% of employee salary in costs to replace, and our goal is to enable companies to hire more successfully, and eliminate this cost.

    WB: What is your motivation for starting your startup?

    SG: I want to help candidates and companies find better cultural fit for the long term success of both. We are very passionate about measuring, analyzing, and providing tools to help identify and address cultural gaps and issues that infiltrate the hiring process.

    WB: What did you take away from participating in Tech in Motion:OC?

    SG: It was a great opportunity to present our idea, seek feedback and validation, and connect with people we can work with, including K5 Launch.


    Interview with Srikanth Deshpande:

    WB: Talk about your startup

    SD: Pick2Pay, a mobile/web app that helps you maximize your credit card rewards. Pick2Pay is an app that helps you answer the simple question- Which card in my wallet should I use for every purchase I make in-store or online?  We are available on the iOS store and on the web at Pick2pay.com/app.

    WB: What is your motivation for starting your startup? 

    SD: I have had the problem of deciding between my cards every time I made a purchase. I used sticky notes at times to remind me which card to use while shopping to maximize my rewards. This became a much bigger problem while shopping online where there are credit card portals which have different rewards for each store. So we decided to work on this problem during a startup weekend at Cornell in Ithaca, NY and ended up winning the competition.

    WB: What did you take away from participating in Tech in Motion:OC ?  

    SD: We got some great feedback from the mentors to learn from the mistakes of our competition and some engaging questions from the audience about our user base and loved the interest from the audience who approached us with further questions and suggestions at the end of the pitch. 


    Interview with Christos Vrahnos:

    WB: Please describe your startup.

    CV: A revolutionary new method for eliminating use/handling of loose change/coins during small cash transactions & putting them to good use.

    WB: What is your motivation for starting your startup?
    CV: It was an "a ha!" moment & started doing research, realizing the potential. Always felt I had "entrepreneurial blood" in me. If I can't figure out everything myself, I'll surround myself w/people that can help.

    WB: What did you take away from participating in Tech in Motion:OC ?
    CV: Great to bounce one's ideas of of many intelligent minds at such an early stage & help better form one's concept w/helpful input. Great gathering of intelligent minds. Great opportunity!

    It was one of the best events yet for Tech in Motion:OC with over 140 RSVP's!

    If you haven't checked it out yourself, make sure you do at www.meetup.com/techinmotionOC. Our next event is set for May 1st at Amazon featuring Tom Nora talking about the future of E-Commerce! 

  • Understanding Your Job Search as an Entry Level IT Job Seeker!

    By Matt Najera, Vice President of Workbridge Associates

    The biggest mistake entry-level job seekers make is that they are too focused. Remember, your first job is your first job, so focus on just getting an opportunity that is going to give you skills to have options in the future. The other big mistake I see these days is that entry level IT graduates and recent college graduates rely too heavily on online tools. While Twitter, Facebook, Monster and other online services can be very helpful, remember that they are only a piece of the job search, and you still need to get out, network and make connections with people. People hire people, not your resume. This means the more face time networking, the better your chances at making an impression at getting hired.

    Be specific in your job search and resume. Entry level job seekers always want to open themselves up to as many opportunities as possible, but when HR staff and Hiring managers see these resumes, and it looks like the person doesn’t know what they want, they typical pass on that candidate.  If you want to be a Software Developer say so; if you want to get into Systems Administration, then go after it!  People who are specific about what they want, get hired before the people who are still trying to figuring it all out.

    With any job seeker, it’s important to have skills that will allow you to hit the ground running. On your resume, you need to list skills you have that are needed to do the job you’re applying for. Employees are no longer interested in hiring someone they need to train for three months to a year, so any skills you’ve gained, even if it’s from an internship or college work, are important to list.

    One of the best ways to differentiate yourself is to show an actual project you have worked on, whether it’s your own project or one done for a job. It is easy to say, “I worked on a CRM application in my first job, but I can’t show you the source code.” It’s not very common for someone who can come in and leave a copy of the code with the interviewer that proves that they can write quality code. One of the biggest concerns to an employer is your ability to pick up skills fast and mange yourself when hiring entry level IT. 

    In the current market, if you have a good background and strong communication skills, you will have many job options to choose from. However, some of the critical mistake that many entry level IT job seekers make is to think they are “above” a certain job or technology. I hate to tell you this, but, like any industry, you have to work your way up the food chain. Yes, working with some technologies, or in some specific industries, may be potentially career limiting, but they can give you the experience you need to step up to the next level. There are companies in every city that like to hire people directly from college to work on technologies that may not be the most in-demand skill, but those folks are learning a lot about the Big Data techniques and the enterprise environment. That kind of experience will be a big help for them to move on to their next position and give them opportunity to develop skills and critical thinking you may not get in many jobs.

    So the main theme in your job search is take a job based on upon the experience and skills you will learn, and not just have money be the primary factor! You can’t put a price on the skills you will develop now until 3-5 years from now, and it's a pretty safe bet that you will not be retiring after your first job.

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