Article by Evan Gordon, Regional Director at Workbridge Associates
It is an understatement to say the information security market is on fire and as anyone in the talent management space would tell you, it is likely the fastest growing area in information technology. However, it would be wrong to assume there is an abundance of talent. “Cybersecurity job postings grew 74% from 2007 to 2013, which is more than twice the growth rate of all IT jobs. The labor pool has yet to catch up.” (NetworkWorld) This statistic doesn’t even factor into consideration all of the newly created positions opening. As you can imagine, this makes it increasingly difficult for companies to fill their current open requisitions. Here are a few, of the many, reasons for this phenomenon.
1. There have been a number of major security breaches in the last few years that have brought an increased awareness to information security and the need for companies to protect their information and that of their customers. These can be both costly and embarrassing which companies such as Sony, Target and Home Depot learned the hard way. These events are causing companies to be more proactive with the way they view information security which is manifested in the implementation of new security solutions and revamping architecture to be more secure. This results in the need to hire more security professionals. Security used to be looked at as reactive and there to catch the bad guys, now companies are doing more to ensure their information isn’t compromised from the start.
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2. Unfortunately, there are not many colleges that offer information security degrees which causes supply and demand issues. Students graduating college with CS degrees are typically studying either software development or systems and networking. Clearly there is a correlation between these subjects and security but most graduates are accepting lower level, support roles. These recent grads can and will often times eventually find their way to the information security field but that’s a good 3-5 years out and won’t solve this issue now.
3. Technological advancements drive the need for information security professionals. Take credit cards for example. Ecommerce barely existed a decade or so ago and now we have “Cyber Monday” which rivals Black Friday as the busiest shopping day of the year. The fact that so many companies accept credit cards as payment online led to the development of various security standards such as PCI. There are also other such standards in healthcare such as HIPAA which creates additional security needs and positions.
All in all, the technology field as a whole is booming and the market literally can’t keep up with the demand for IT professionals right now. With that being said, we are getting more requests for information security professionals than I have ever seen in my 13 years in the industry and I don’t see this trend changing any time soon. As long as there are hackers out there trying to break into companies and steal information, there will always be a need for technologists to be one step ahead and ready to protect company and customer data going forward.
Article by Katlyn McDevitt, Practice Manager in Workbridge Philadelphia
For 4 years I have specifically worked the IT staffing market, so I consistently have conversations with jobseekers regarding counter offers and why they do not work. By definition a counter offer happens when an employee gives notice to their current employer upon the acceptance of another job offer, and the current employer makes promises, monetary, titular or otherwise to mend the reasons the employee is looking to leave. More or less these are empty promises. Changing jobs is neither a natural situation nor one that is comfortable. For various reasons employees feel a sense of loyalty to their employers, a sense of family with their team and a fear of confrontational conversations with their higher ups so counter offers can be attractive. A piece of my professional obligation to the jobseekers I work with is to educate them on counter offers and their long term ineffectiveness. These are not the easiest conversations to have, however when the facts are laid out and a logical conversation takes place, it becomes apparent that counter offers do not work.
What are your motivations?
Everyone is motivated in their career by variables such as personal needs, professional aspirations, and cultural fit. When meeting with a jobseeker one of my very first questions is, “What motivates you to go to work every day?” At times, candidates take as long as 10 minutes to produce an answer. It is a thought provoking question that is rarely asked, but the answer is the driving factor for getting up every day for work, spending extra nights working late, and occasionally sacrificing your weekend for your employer. If you cannot pinpoint what these factors are, then you are constantly going to find yourself working at an unrewarding employer. Not knowing what truly motivates you makes one that much more susceptible to making the wrong decision and accepting a counter offer.
If you are motivated by money… Money tends to be a motivation when you feel underpaid. Perhaps you got wind of a colleague who is making substantially more than you and believe you are of more value. If you fall prey to this, the solution is not to threaten your employer with an offer at another company, the solution is to build a comfortable relationship with your current manager and not be afraid to ask for more money. When taking this approach, my suggestion is not to walk in one day to your manager’s office and demand more money, but make an argument for yourself. Use statistics, track your specific impact on the team, or be knowledgeable of the performance review policy. If money is all that drives you, then you are absolutely at risk for a counter offer that is a short term solution in disguise.
If you are motivated by career growth… Rising in the ranks is a common driving factor. As you perfect your craft and pay your dues, you expect to be compensated accordingly as well as work your way up the corporate ladder. Career growth can encompass multiple factors of a position, so you always need to pinpoint which factors are important to you. Do you rely heavily on what your actual title is? Do you see a clear progression with your current employer? Whatever your preference, make sure it is known by your employer. Again, creating and maintaining a comfortable relationship with your manager is essential to ensuring you are reaching your expected career growth. I have seen countless individuals who leave their current roles for all of the reasons just mentioned, but they didn’t ask for anything to change. If you have not expressed to your employer what is important to you, how are they supposed to keep you happy?
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If you are motivated by culture and environment… Culture is often an essential piece of the puzzle. Within IT, work spaces can vary dramatically depending on what type of technology you work with, what kind of position you have and the type of company you work for. To ensure you select the right environment and culture fit for your personality, you need to be aware of what you need to thrive. Someone who works second shift helpdesk support will not flourish in the same culture as an open source developer who wants a startup culture. We have clients who do not offer the most innovative environments, but the job is low stress and less demanding. Equally, a large fortune 500 company is going to offer a much more formal work setting as opposed to a small interactive agency. The right environment will evolve as you continue to progress in your career. Whatever makes you happy, vocalize it and make it a large part of your decision making process.
If you are motivated by technology… What technology you choose to work with is very dependent on personal and professional factors. If a work/life balance is important to you, you may need to accept that an innovative, progressively technical company may not be the best fit. If you want to move into a mobile market, but are coming from a .Net background, you need to accept that this is a change in technical focus, which would likely result in a lateral move as opposed to an increase in salary. Similarly, do you feel like you are surrounded by likeminded individuals who share your passion for technology and take the extra time to teach you what they know and vice versa? Similar to culture and environment, this is an ever evolving motivational factor. It is easy to be at a company for a few years and realize one day that they are no longer meeting your technical needs. If that is the case, find someone who is going to value your same thoughts.
Why your company is giving you a counter offer
There are hundreds of articles online that detail why companies give counter offers, so I will not go into too much detail. However, below are a few of the main points.
Save money in the short run
Time is money. When you give notice to your employer, their thoughts are not “Thank you for all that you have done”, but rather “We have a deadline to meet” or “How am I going to ensure the development continues smoothly?” Motivated by this fear, employers take the easy road and opt for a quick fix by throwing money at you. Temporarily this will make you feel valued, supported, or perhaps create the illusion that you now have an upper hand in this relationship. However, it is just an illogical, urgent and fearful reaction from your employer and the novelty of the offer will quickly dissipate as the majority of your grievances, aside from money, remain.
Short term band aid, long term replacement
Picture this, you have a resignation conversation with your manager and he pumps your ego by throwing money at you and playing dumb to the idea of you being unhappy. Reactively he offers an increase on your salary by $20,000 to keep you there and happy. Realistically, can your employer afford to keep you on board paying you $20,000 more? Likely, no. So this is the short term band aid. While you go back to work, your employer will begin searching for someone with your skill set who will work for your former salary, and believe me, those people are out there.
Realize they did not focus on valuing their employees and employee morale
It is not your fault when an employer chooses not to focus on their employees and team morale. However, once you recognize that you are not getting the recognition that you need and/or feel undervalued by your current employer— it is time to move on. Again, reactively, it is easy for your employer to back track after you give notice and play dumb, but realistically would you want to continue working for someone who only admitted their mistakes when backed against the wall?
Realize it is okay to move on...
Everyone is always looking for the best thing, it is a natural inclination. However, when it comes to your employment, you need to step back from the current situation and analyze what is going on. Why are you entertaining the thought of leaving? What about your current situation, if anything, would you want to change? Are you terrified to actually have these conversations with your management team? Whatever the case may be, it’s important to know and accept that it is okay to move on. The evolution of a career should parallel the evolution of your network. Leaving an employer should not result in burned bridges or broken relationships, but rather a mutual appreciation of lessons learned from one another, a respect for the professional time spent together, and best wishes for all future endeavors.
Article by Miles Thomas, Practice Manager in Workbridge Philadelphia
Tech startups from all over the country come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and types. From established entrepreneurs who have already sold multiple companies to college seniors working out of a basement, software engineers and businessmen alike have dreams of solving the ailments of the world, one solution at a time. To start an LLC isn’t all that difficult these days either; all you need is an idea, a working space, a computer, and (for some) a bottomless pot of coffee. Sounds easy, right?
Well, as integral as elbow grease and caffeine are for any start-up, a direction may be the most important thing for any would-be entrepreneurs out there. One direction that is integral to technology companies is the different layers of technologies used to accomplish whatever problem they are trying to solve; this is known as the technology stack. There are many different kinds of technology out there, but most companies land either between one comprised of open source technologies (also called Open Stack) or a proprietary technology owned by another company (.NET owned by Microsoft, or Java owned by Oracle). So, what is the best choice for all you startups out there? Read on…
Above, is an illustration of some of the different layers of a technology stack, and the options that an entrepreneur would have for each.
It's well known amongst most tech savvy individuals that open source tech stacks seem to be all the rage amongst startups. After all, not only are open source technologies free to use for you bootstrappers out there, but there are a variety of different programming languages to use depending on what you’re trying to do. Need to use a functional programming language for reactive application design? Use Python or Scala. Need to do simple website development for clients big and small? Use PHP or Ruby on Rails. With so many tools at your disposal, the possibilities truly are endless.
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Java and .NET may not be as flashy or wide-ranging, but they do offer an array of different tools. With different frameworks and API’s designated to each company’s respective programming languages, Microsoft and Oracle do not leave their users without ammunition. Furthermore, there are defined boundaries for what tool to use and when- this can be extremely valuable for someone who doesn’t necessarily know their way around the latest and greatest.
The boundaries presented by a Java/.NET stack come at a cost, quite literally. The obvious downside of proprietary programming languages is that they can be quite costly; this can be a huge deal-breaker for a small startup with little to no funding. For a smaller company looking to stay afloat, spending what little money they have on-hand for something they can get for free seems foolish (on paper, at least).
At the end of the day, picking programming languages is all about circumstance. If a company has the money to spend, Java/.NET may be the way to go. If a company is strapped for cash, or if one of their founders has a background in some kind of open source language/framework, then open source may be the way to go. Given the convergence of the current technology landscape, however, it may not be long before it won’t really matter!
Article by Evan Gordon, Regional Director in Workbridge Philadelphia
Are you a technology manager in need of new talent to join your team? If so, the market may be a little different since the last time you hired. As someone who has been in the recruiting industry for over a decade, it is obvious when the pendulum swings from a client to a candidate’s market, and for those that have hired this year it is ever so clear; good candidates are hard to find and even harder to land. Below are a few points aimed at capturing talent in a very competitive job market.
Good candidates come on the market quick and jump off the market even quicker. The key to landing talent in this market is to condense lengthy interview processes and strike quick. The interview process from first interview to offer should wrap up in a week or 2 max, with an interview process consisting of 2, MAYBE 3 interviews. Do what you can to maximize a candidates visit and allow them to meet as many people in one shot as possible. Especially as the best candidates are typically employed, making it hard to schedule multiple rounds of interviews.
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Be Open Minded
In the search for the "perfect" candidate, it is easy to be nearsighted and miss out on hiring candidates who may not have all the skills listed on the job description, but have both drive and desire. A bright, more junior candidate will often times outshine a more experienced candidate because they have something to prove and appreciate the opportunity. Don't undervalue desire in favor of current skills.
Sell Them on Your Job
Remember, an interview is a two way street: it's a chance for the candidate to sell you on them but also a chance for you to sell the candidate on the opportunity at hand. Make sure to get them excited about the technology, projects, opportunity and the company as a whole. It is your job as a hiring manager to get candidates excited to work for you.
Give Them a Chance to Speak
One of the most underrated parts of an interview is asking the candidate if THEY have any questions for you. This is a window into how they think and an opportunity for them to ask about upcoming projects, technology initiatives and clear up any lingering questions they might have. It is also a way to test how prepared the candidate is. If they don't have any questions prepared or simply ask about benefits, work from home, perks, etc... I recommend continuing the search.
All in all, the market has picked up considerably which is great news for the economy. With that being said, capturing talent is a about supply and demand. The demand increases as business expand and hiring increases but the supply of candidates remains mostly flat. Therefore, make an effort to capture talent before your competitors do.
Article by Marialice Carter, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge Philadelphia
As Crystal previously mentioned, one of the most important things a job-seeker can do to enhance their search is create a digital presence. I’d like to add a few additional tips that will help get the most out of your job hunt.
When you make the important decision to start your search, you can help yourself by taking care of a few things ahead of time.
What’s appropriate here will have a lot to do with what your skill set is and where you are interviewing. A good rule of thumb is to have an interview suit ready to go. It’s probably been a while since you’ve had to wear it, so try it on, make sure it’s clean, fits well, and makes you feel like a million bucks. If you have a couple of different shirts/ties/necklaces/accessories options, you can get away with wearing the same suit to multiple interviews. First impressions go a long way. You’ll want to do the same with a business casual or fully-casual outfit. Even in a jeans-and-t-shirt environment, you need to look put together - no wrinkles or stains. And don’t forget to get the right footwear. No sneakers with your suit.
When in doubt about the dress code, ask your recruiter. Once you put the word out that you are looking for a new position, you should be prepared to have interviews lined up right away. You don’t want to turn something down because you have nothing to wear! In addition to clothing, now is also the time to make an appointment for a haircut or any other grooming that's important to you.
It’s time to dust off the old resume file and update it with details about your current position. Also, take a look to see if the formatting needs to be updated. If your resume is saved in Comic Sans, you’ll want to rejuvenate that. Do you have your summer jobs from college listed? Chances are, if you are trying to take a step forward in your career as a UI Engineer, you don’t need to tell the world that you were a Subway Sandwich Artist. (Unless you are applying for a UI role at Subway- there’s always an exception) Do take a minute to add on anything interesting about yourself; you want to highlight your professional experience but also make yourself seem human.
You'd be surprised by the out of date contact information recruiters see on a daily basis. Is your address correct? Location, location, location! It's often important for hiring managers to know that you live close by. Is your phone number current? Does it have a reasonably professional message and/or ring back tone? Are you using an AOL or Hotmail email address? Think about getting something a little more current. Even my mom would tell you that having an AOL account is like having a rotary phone.
Your LinkedIn page should be current, and Facebook accounts should either be scrutinized for professionalism or privatized. Same goes for Twitter. If you have a website, make sure it's something you're proud of, especially if you're a Web Developer or a Designer, or a UI or UX Engineer. As Crystal suggested - if you are interviewing for positions in the Open Source community, then get on GitHub - that's just plain smart.
Think about when you can actually interview and what's important to you in your next position ahead of time. Scheduling can be one of the biggest headaches for job seekers and interviewers alike. Alleviate this stress by coming up with some scenarios that will work for you. Do you have any PTO, flex time, or work from home days? If a company will meet you after hours will you be able to make it? Do you have any evening obligations? When an opportunity comes along, you won't have a lot of time to schedule the interview, so making the time will often have to happen in 24-72 hours.
Finally, when you get to the interview, are you ready to answer the questions that will come your way? There’s no doubt that you know your craft in-and-out and can answer the technical questions easily, but are you prepared to answer the other questions about why you are looking, what you want next, why you've left positions in the past, and what kind of compensation you’d like? If not, talk these things through with your recruiter, that's what we're here for!
To conclude, get your house in order ahead of time. It will keep your stress level down and make the whole process go by smoothly. When you're prepared and feel good about yourself it shows. Bring that confidence and energy into your interview. If a manager is already excited by what they see on your resume and what they can find on Google, you’ll settle into your new position in no time.
By Evan Gordon, Regional Director of Workbridge Philadelphia
In today's market, some candidates have trouble explaining the reason they left their last position in a way that doesn't set off red flags with their perspective employer. During the course of my career I have heard a multitude of reasons, because candidates often feel more comfortable being "blunt" with a recruiter. However, it is important to realize that a hiring manager or human resources professional will often use these facts to decide whether or not to move forward with a candidate. It is important to be honest, but remember to try and look for the positives when explaining why you are looking, or have left positions in the past.
Let's look at a few common reasons for leaving a job:
- Career Growth
- Issues with coworkers/manager
Keep in mind that inherently, these may all be valid motives for looking for a new position. And quite frankly, the people you are interviewing with have probably left occupations in the past for some, or all, of the same concerns. A phrase I learned years ago applies here, “it's not always what you say but how you say it.” The way that a job seeker describes the situation which is causing, or has caused them to look for work is usually more of a red flag than the actual issue.
It is important, when explaining the above, to remain upbeat and go into as much detail as possible. For example, if your main motivation for looking for a new position is due to your career hitting a wall, explain this by going into specifics, instead of just saying "I am looking for a better opportunity." Instead, illustrate why you feel you stagnant, and how this new position will offer the possibility for career growth that is lacking in your current role.
Also, remember to be conscientious about what you say. Your explanation can be interpreted incorrectly and you don't want your new employer to think you will be quick to jump ship, which will most likely result in no job offer. Perception is reality, and the reality is how you explain your reason for leaving a position is usually a major factor in screening out potential candidates.
The best thing to do, when preparing for an interview, is to plan exactly what you want to say, and the desired perception. Once you have that down, do a dry run with a friend that you trust, and get their feedback. If your friend comes up with any questions, be sure to practice addressing the various concerns, and edit your explanation, if need be. This is a situation where the old idiom, “practice makes perfect” really applies. You don’t want to sound rehearsed, but going in prepared will make you more comfortable and confident. That will be sure to give you a leg up on your “looking for a better opportunity” competitors.
We at Workbridge Philadelphia could not be more happy for one of our .NET recruiters- Joe!
Joe worked tirelessly to find the perfect job seeker for a great client, and we're happy to report that of his effort paid off!
Joe hard at work!
Sometimes when recruiters are asked to find a specific job seeker for a client, they have a feeling that it will be an easy match to make. Sometimes, they get the feeling that it will be exactly the opposite. This was a case of the latter. When Joe got the requirements for his client's new position, he knew it was going to be tough one to fill, but he was determined to succeed.
Joe's client is one of the .NET team's favorite people to work with. The last time he was in the market for a new job, we were actually able to place him in an awesome management-level position. He's a great guy, and a pleasure to have in the office. He definitely has strict requirements for job seekers he is looking to hire at his own company, but we appreciate the passion and always enjoy a challenge!
This time around, he was looking for a brand new Senior Software Engineer. His company is UK-based, and was looking to make a big move to the states. This was a major hire for them, and the to-be-determinded job seeker was going to have a lot of impact and visibility.
It ended up being an involved process, with lots of nearly-perfect job seekers, but Joe persisted. He ended up finding the perfect person for the job! When we say he worked tirelessly, we mean it. He tried anything he could think of to find the right job seeker- and it paid off!
We hear that everything is working out great- for the job seeker, the client, and the company. We could not be more excited for everyone, and more proud of Joe.
If you would like to speak with Joe, please give him a call at 215-209-0100, or shoot him an email at Joe.Battaglini@workbridgeassociates.com
We here at Workbridge Philadelphia are all incredibly proud of Jonelle, who was able to speedily fill two positions - all during the bustle of the holiday season!
Jonelle recently reached out to a new company in Delaware, who was looking for both a QA Analyst and a Senior Systems Engineer. They had been having trouble finding qualified applicants and were thankful for the help.
Jonelle was able to set up talented job seekers to interview for those positions. Our client loved the people Jonelle scheduled to interview with them and they found the perfect applicants to fill the available positions.
We were all overjoyed to be able to find not one, but two, people that the company was happy with! Jonelle was especially happy, "it made my holiday break even more rewarding!"
Congratulations to both people on their new job, and great job Jonelle!