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  • What's Your Preference, Java or Ruby?

    Article by Cory Guilory, Technical Recruiter at Workbridge San Francisco.

    With technology changing every day and the competition to create the most innovative and influential products rising by the millisecond, deciding on what technologies you are using to build these products is becoming even more crucial for success. With that being said, I want to examine two of the most used technology stacks in Silicon Valley and try to answer the question: Java or Ruby?

    Ruby on Rails is one of the hottest terms in technology and there are endless reasons why. Being that Ruby on Rails is an open-source web application, its popularity among developers has increased dramatically over the last 6 years. Its success is driven in part by thriving companies who benefit from the speed and agility of Rails, which boosts productivity and revenue.  

    Many of the companies that you know and love use Ruby in some capacity - Amazon, NASA, Groupon, and Yahoo, just to name a few. The fact that Ruby on Rails is providing an open-source programming framework that includes reusable and easily configurable components makes working with this language appealing to programmers. 

    With start-ups increasingly focused on information delivery rather than physical product delivery, many choose Rails to build apps quickly, at low cost and, therefore, low risk. As businesses explore how they can use Ruby on Rails to build their next generation of products and services for consumers and employees, they’ll discover the significant development time-saving Ruby on Rails offers. Coupling this with low up-front investment and overall cost savings, it makes perfect sense that we’ll continue to see more companies choosing Ruby on Rails in the future.

    Now that we've gotten everyone excited, I want to shed some light on one of the most used technologies in the world and how Java has significant advantages over other languages and environments. Unlike Ruby on Rails, Java has been in use for more than 20 years. Java was originally designed for interactive television, however, it was too far ahead of its time. Java is an object-orientated programming language designed to have as few implementation dependencies as possible. It is intended to let application developers "write once, run anywhere", meaning that code that runs on one platform does not need to be recompiled to run on another. 

    Another key benefit of using Java is its security features. The Java platform allows users to download untrusted code over a network and run it in a secure environment in which it cannot do any harm. It cannot infect the host system with a virus, cannot read or write files from the hard drive, and so forth. Java uses 16-bit Unicode characters, rather than the more traditional 8-bit characters, that represent only the alphabets of English languages which allows for increased usability worldwide.

    The final, and perhaps most important reason to use Java, is that programmers like it. Java is a simple and elegant language with a well-designed, intuitive set of APIs, allowing programmers write better code with fewer bugs, again reducing development time.  

    Choosing between these two technologies for your web programming can be difficult, but the expectation of your end-user, quality, and timeliness of executing your deliverable will guide your choice. Do you opt for one of the world’s most well-trusted, well-designed, and secure technologies in use with Java, or are you intrigued by the "new kid on the block" who can offer low cost, low complexity web applications that can get your product up and running in no time with Ruby? 

  • UI & UX: The Difference in Terms of Design

    Article by Haithem Ibrahim, Recruiter in Workbridge San Francisco

    UI and UX, two terms that I’m sure just about everyone in the tech community has recently heard used fairly loosely. It seems that every company small and large is looking for a UI/UX designer to join their teams. Clearly these two acronyms have become the tech industry's latest buzzwords. But what do they actually mean? To start off, let’s define the two. First we have UI which refers to “User Interface” and second we have UX which refers to “User Experience”. It terms of design, UI and UX cannot be used irreplaceably. 

    User Interface (UI) Design generally refers to the user facing side of any type of physical interface, whether that is your latest smartphone, a desktop computer, or the navigation system in your new car. A UI designer is responsible for everything that a user will see on the interface. This includes everything from (but not limited to) input controls such as buttons, navigational components such as sliders, and informational components such as message boxes. Furthermore, it is the UI designer's responsibility to understand what the users’ needs are. They must be able to arrange the interface in a simple way that allows for the best user experience. Now that we have established that the UI designer is responsible for everything that the user can see and use, what does the UX designer do? 

    The UX designer is responsible for the emotion of the user. They are responsible for how they feel when interacting with the interface or product. UX is a much broader term that encompasses the entire process from concept to completion. UX designers generally start by conducting user research and interviews. The goal with this is to understand exactly what the users’ needs are. In most cases, the next step is to create a set of personas of each possible user and their needs. Once these first two steps have been completed, the UX designer will have the information needed to create the backbone of the product or “wireframes”. The wireframes are essentially the blueprints of what the UI designer will use to create the interface that the user interacts with. 

    Clearly UI and UX design are interrelated and you need both to create simple user centered products. At the same time, one should understand the differences between them. As stated, UI design focuses on what the user can see and touch and UX design focuses on how the user feels when they interact with the product. Hopefully my brief description about the differences in UI and UX design has given you a better understanding of two!  

  • Workbridge San Francisco Volunteers at SF Food Bank

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

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

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

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

     

  • Four Tips to Hiring a Great Engineer

     

    Article by Kate Lasater, recruiter in Workbridge San Francisco

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

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

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

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

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

  • Workbridge San Francisco Volunteers at Project Open Hand

    The Workbridge San Francisco office volunteered at Project Open Hand mid-August of 2013. “Project Open Hand is a nonprofit organization that provides meals with love to seniors and the critically ill.” Every day, Project Open Hand organizes 2,500 healthy meals and provides 400 bags of groceries to clients that suffer from serious illnesses and health challenges. Workbridge San Francisco was able to be a part of 125 daily volunteers that show up at the doors of Project Open Hand to help give back to a community that is looking for a helping-hand. 

    It all started with the team heading across the beautiful city of San Francisco on the 38 bus. As everyone started to get excited, they arrived at the doors of Project Open Hand.

    Once the team was settled in and ready to start, they were taken on an orientation tour of Project Open Hand and were provided with a delicious dinner. After the tour, the group was then able to begin their job as prep cooks and kitchen helpers. Seven team members came together with volunteers from all sorts of different backgrounds to help create meals that would be distributed throughout the Bay Area the next day.

    Overall, their experience with Project Open Hand was exciting, eye opening, and educational. The team walked away with new culinary skills and the ability to say that they were able to help someone else!

    Giving back to your community can be rewarding but best of all, it’s needed! If you’re interested in volunteering or have questions about Project Open Hand Please call (415) 447-2300.   

  • How Can Contractors Benefit your Company?

    Article written by Kyle Sluzar, Practice Manager of Workbridge Associates San Francisco

    Kyle SluzarIf you have been involved in technical hiring recently, you’ve probably noticed how hard and competitive it is to find the right candidate. You spend endless hours gathering and screening resumes, reaching out to people, scheduling interviews, conducting interviews, and trying to close candidates. Sometimes you think you’ve found the right candidate and then suddenly that person gets another offer, or gets a counter-offer, and it’s back to the drawing boards. This is rather time consuming as well as very frustrating. So, how does one avoid this? The answer is simple: Hire a contractor.

    There used to be a fear that if you hire a contractor, he or she will be susceptible to leaving for a better opportunity, which in turn, won’t help build your desired workplace culture. This is false. Most of today’s companies are hiring contractors as a tool to build their business as well as their team. One might ask, “How do they do this?”    

    Well let’s start with the interview process. In the current market, when a company finds a candidate that interests them, they must show urgency to hire. Sometimes this causes less time spent between the candidate and the team. Thus, the candidate ends up not being a positive culture fit. If this ever becomes the case, the candidate should be hired as a contractor in order to see how well he or she works with the team. This makes it a low risk but high reward situation. I’ve worked with many managers who question doing this because they don’t want to close the requisite and lose out on the “perfect” candidate. Just because the contractor was hired, it doesn’t mean that one has to stop collecting resumes. 

    Now let’s discuss technical skill set. If a candidate falls short technically, they shouldn’t be completely ruled out! A lot of managers have recently become more open to hiring the candidate on as a contractor and putting them on a 2-week project. This is done so the manager can see what creative ideas the candidate can come up with. If the candidate ends up picking up the technology quickly, this should be a sign to bring them on full-time. I recently suggested this to a client that was questioning a candidate on their design style. Instead of ruling that person out completely, the client had them work with the team for a week. You can guess what happened next. It ended up being a perfect fit!  

    Hire junior! If you are ever questioning a candidate because they are too junior, but have the bandwidth to have someone mentor and train them, hire them as a contractor. The candidate will be extra motivated to work hard and learn the product and technology. Once that candidate gets up to speed, they should be hired full-time so they can naturally become committed to the mission.

  • The Importance of Usability

    By: Andy Dalton, Recruiter at Workbridge San Francisco

    Anyone who has ever struggled with watching their grandmother try out her new iPhone or spent an hour helping one of their friends set up a new social media account knows that usability is everything.  An easy-to-use, negotiable interface can be the difference between a product that is wildly successful and one that never makes it off the ground.  People don’t want to have to fumble through their applications.  They want an experience that is both intuitive and fluid.

    It seems that some startup founders have forgotten the importance of usability, and, in doing so, will lose touch with their user base.  Sure, they need the “rock star” engineers who will create the bare bones of the product and make it functional, but that’s just the beginning.  Who will make it usable?  How can they mold it in a way that will be attractive to tech-savy teenagers, your grandmother, and everyone in between? 

    I connected with Kai Brunner, a talented UX Designer we recently represented, and he gave me a lot of insight into the importance of usability and his own views on design.  He believes, “the best UX design takes root in architecture, to where form following function can become inspired design credo.”  He went on to say, “too often startup founders bring the practice of UX design late into the development process and use it as a blunt tool to fix usability issues that were long introduced by non-designers.”  Like Kai, I too see the problem in waiting until after your product has launched to focus on user experience design.   Usability should be emphasized from an application’s conception, and should be a top priority of management.

    Even the most useful application will not succeed if it is not designed in a way that makes sense to its users.  People use technology because of its efficiency and its ability to save them time.  For companies this provides an interesting challenge.  How do you make a complex application simple to use?  In order to do this, you will need to hire a design team that places on emphasis on usability and understands the importance of simplicity.  Kai weighed in on this issue stating, “simplifying a process that is inherently complex means to clarify and organize multiple steps into the perception of them being easy and simple to complete.”  Here, he touches on the essence of strong UX design and what it takes to truly engage with your users.

    Usability boils down to simplicity.  How can an application be stripped down to its essence and designed in a way that is most logical and intuitive for its users?  This requires careful analysis of what it is about the product that needs to be showcased and an evaluation of how to guide users through the process so they can get the most out of the application.  If you wait until it’s too late to hire a strong UX team, you’ll be stuck with a product that works, but is inaccessible.  One good designer can mean the difference between a good idea and a great idea. 

  • How to Avoid Being a "Digital Ghost" in Your Job Search

    By Crystal Rothberg, Practice Manager of Workbridge San Francisco

    I recently visited a social media client and in our discussion, the hiring manager said he did not want to interview ‘Digital Ghosts’.  I asked him what he specifically meant by this term ‘Digital Ghost’ and he stated that if a candidate had less than 100 connections on LinkedIn or wasn’t active on Github or didn’t have Facebook/Twitter, why would they be a good fit to work for a social media start-up?  His thought was if candidates are passionate about social media and technology, they would be active users of these sites in their day-to-day lives. 

    Now, do I agree that you should disqualify a candidate because of this?  No.  I think there are plenty of people who shy away from social media because of privacy issues and other personal reasons.  However, I do believe having a strong online presence can only help you with your job search – specifically having robust LinkedIn and GitHub profiles when looking for a Software Engineer or Operations (DevOps) job.

    LinkedIn

    In regards to LinkedIn, upload a professional (with personality!) picture, create a strong headline, be detailed in the summary and add information from your resume into description of each job you listed. A good gauge of this is your Profile Strength that LinkedIn provides for you – the more content you add to your profile, the higher the strength.  Don’t forget to use keywords that are searchable for a hiring manager or recruiter.

    Also, with each job, ask for recommendations from your coworkers and supervisor.  While it may seem forward to ask for recommendations, I find that most people do not proactively do this for you, so just ask.  The best case scenario is that a potential hiring manager knows the person who recommended you, which adds value to your personal stock.  I hear many times of hiring managers pinging a mutual connection of a candidate before an interview to get ‘the scoop’. 

    Finally, connect with people!  Connect with your coworkers, friends, people you interviewed with, or someone you met a meet-up.  Add yourself to relevant groups as well.  All this increases your profile’s visibility. 

    Github

    When looking for Software Engineers and DevOps Engineers, most hiring managers are now using Github and therefore, it’s important to grow your presence on this open source code repository and revision control site.  With the ability to see your work, we are shifting away from just using a resume to land an interview.  I’ve also found that hiring managers gauge the candidate’s passion for technology on whether or not they use Github actively.  To state an obvious point, hiring managers want to hire people who love what they do – and contributions to the open source community is a great way to show this.

    Github can also help when your resume isn’t as ‘textbook’.  For example, we were recently representing a candidate whose only experience were short term Ruby on Rails contracts.  The hiring manager was reluctant to interview based solely on the resume. However, after reviewing the candidate’s Github account, he brought the candidate in for an interview and eventually ended up hiring him. 

    The moral of the story is that in the modern era of the Internet and social media, the job search isn’t just a cut and dry resume and cover letter anymore. It’s important to be aware of what hiring managers value highly in their talent acquisition strategy and working with a recruiter can help with that, but no matter what, always make sure you do your research.

    We love these success stories at Workbridge and I feel like are many more out there.

    Have an interesting job search success story? Share it in the comment section below!

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