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  • When Is It Time to Begin Your Job Search?

    Article by Elliott Hardaway, Practice Manager in Workbridge Washington DC

    It’s said that “the grass is greener on the other side”, but is it really?  This is a dilemma people in all industries experience from time to time. The job market influences many aspects of our lives regardless of our feelings. Therefore it’s important that energy and resources aren’t wasted on positions which limit career mobility or quality of life. 

    According to the Job Satisfaction Survey by the Conference Board, for the eighth consecutive year fewer than half of U.S. workers were satisfied with their jobs. While different factors motivate us to work, it’s imperative that jobs provide a level of satisfaction and balance which enhances and improves overall well-being.

    But how does one determine whether it’s time to make a move?  In my years working the market, there are a few tell-tale markers that signal it’s time for a change. Below are a series of questions to aid in this consideration process.

    1. Is there anything my current employer could do that would make me stay? Consider common grievances that motivate a change in employer such as: Overworked, Compensation, Lack of Responsibility, No Upward Mobility, etc.
    2. Are my skills up-to-date with the market and attractive?
    3. Am I going to miss out on a big bonus or retirement vesting period if I leave now?
    4. Am I willing to sacrifice certain benefits and/or compensation to find the right employment opportunity?
    5. Am I willing to invest time for interviews?
    6. Am I willing to take a step back from peers that I’ve built relationships with over the past year(s) at my current employer to pursue a new job?

    Not all of these questions require a certain response, but they are all relevant when considering a move.  The first question is the most significant because it requires reflecting on why you are considering a move and will identify the presence or lack thereof of an interest to stick it out with your current employer, given a viable solution.  It’s easy to assume employers can’t or won’t change things in order to retain employees, but in reality it’s much more difficult to hire a replacement.  According to market information on the cost of employee turnover, hiring a replacement can cost up to twice the salary of the lost employee due to on-boarding, lost productivity, and even cultural impact. Working in staffing, I know firsthand the investments needed financially and in resources such as time to successfully onboard a new hire– it’s not ideal for any company.

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    Confronting a boss about grievances and possible solutions can be challenging since many employees fear such a conversation could jeopardize current employment.  It cannot be overstated how important communication is. Keeping an open line of communication about progress and overall work satisfaction is key to any employee-boss relationship.  Often, individuals misconstrue such open communication as complaining and tend to shy away from it, but having such a conversation is part of being a professional as it’s critical to not let any grievances build up over time.  A lack of open and honest communication will squash any possibility of coming to a solution that keeps everyone happy and productive.  Addressing the factors instigating a potential move can be uncomfortable to broach. So it’s important to keep in mind that your boss(es) may have had similar concerns during their tenure and likely will understand where you are coming from and may even be able to suggest solutions. When having this conversation, it’s important to direct the conversation towards identifying realistic solutions as opposed to making challenging demands.

    By the same token, it may be time to move on if the current opportunity has run its course.  There is no amount of money or change in responsibilities that can serve as a long-term solution.  If you’ve arrived as this conclusion, use your answers from the remainder of the questions to guide you before proceeding.  There’s a strong market out there for those willing to make the investment both in time and willingness to see a cross-section of the available opportunities. If you find yourself at this crossroads, it may be time to take that leap. 

  • Are You Putting Yourself in the Best Position to Hire Technologists?

    Article By John Howard, Practice Manager in Workbridge DC

    The Current Landscape

    It’s no secret that the hiring landscape for software, web, and IT technologists is tough.  A cursory search of newspapers from cities across the US indicate companies’ need for a variety of information technology professionals; anyone keeping up with the news is aware of the monthly BLS reports indicating the US economy has consistently added jobs, and numerous sources cite tech unemployment in the neighborhood of 3% (while the national average just dipped below 6%).  The most obvious litmus test, however, is done on a day-to-day basis by software, IT, and HR managers trying to hire technologists.  The reality is that the majority of resumes that find their way to the hiring manager’s inbox are never going to receive a phone call or an email, not because there are so many qualified applicants that only the best are contacted, but because of the opposite:  the majority of job ad response are either grossly under- or overqualified, not local to the area or looking for remote / telecommute work, are from offshore or onshore tech consultancies promising numerous perfectly qualified candidates, or so far removed from anything the job description represents that one’s left wondering if the applicant read the description at all. 

    While there are number of important factors to hiring in any market condition, to keep things simple here are three key components to effective hiring.

    Take Ownership

    In his recent book Zero to One, PayPal and Palantir founder Peter Thiel makes the case that hiring is one of the most important aspects to the success of any team or company, so don’t leave it up to someone else to do it for you. While this certainly isn’t an original idea, it’s a point that is often completely overlooked when it comes to staffing.  It is certainly far easier to relinquish responsibility of the majority of the hiring process to HR or recruiters (internal or external) instead of taking ownership of filling your own openings, but unfortunately it’s not nearly as effective.  At the same time this doesn’t mean there is not immense value in partnerships and/or delegating aspects of the hiring process to various vested personnel (members / leads of your team, HR, recruiters, managers).  Ultimately however, it comes down to the hiring manager allocating time in the daily or weekly schedule for phone and in-person interviews, checking out the local Meetup  and user group scene for organic networking, and generally investing his or her time and energy to get the position filled with the right person(s).

    Succeed in Securing New Talent Today

    Prepare

    Every manager, team, company has a process they’re comfortable with or at least use in order to determine whether or not they are going to hire candidate x.  In a competitive market it’s often the process that is blamed if an applicant goes with another offer, but in fact most companies are fairly similar when it comes to determining who they’re going to hire; the issues often occur in the timing.  Whether you want to see a candidate’s contribution to the tech community,  have 1, 2, or 3 rounds of interviews, or any similarly structured hiring process, the important thing to remember is that if you’re interested in a particular candidate, so are anywhere from 1 – 10 other companies. What is your plan to get the candidate interested in the work and your company or team? 

    This goes back to the ownership piece; it’s up to the hiring manager to work with his or her tech and hiring teams in order to ensure a smooth and speedy process. Instead of waiting until the interview goes well to schedule the next round, attempt to schedule two rounds simultaneously (i.e. when you schedule the first phone call plan for the in-person interview pending a successful screen).  If an important member of the process cannot be involved in the candidate’s in-person interview, have the two connect via web conference.  Schedule a lunch or a coffee with an interested candidate if the process is going to be elongated for any reason.  In short, one should be thinking of the next step and what may cause a successful hire not to happen.

    Be Realistic 

    Ultimately everyone wants to hire the same person:  someone with a well-rounded tech background and who specializes in one or two areas, who communicates well and is a great team-player, doesn’t need a lot of hand-holding, is quick and inquisitive, and whose tech prowess will raise the quality of the team, all for a price that won’t break the bank or alienate any existing team members – someone like this or on the better side of the bell curve than this. Yep, that’s the one. The reality is that every company and hiring manager is looking for that person, or a lot of those persons. Understanding where you can sacrifice x or y without sacrificing the underlying quality of the hire creates a hiring advantage. Educating the other members of your team or hiring committee means everyone is on the same page and can act accordingly.

    If you’ve had to hire, you know it’s rarely this simple – often it seems that a million things need to happen, fires to put out, signatures to track down, and an incredible amount of luck in order to land one good IT applicant.  But if you can prioritize the things that matter most, be flexible on the others and treat hiring as your crucial responsibility to building a good team or company, you’ll create more success in hiring.

  • Being Ready at a Moment's Notice

    Article by Amy Robert, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge DC

    A well written resume and cover letter, along with a clear cut design, is so important when applying for jobs. But who likes writing bullet point phrases that will encompass the entirety of your experience and the value that you can add to a company? I don’t know about you, but I get writer’s block the moment I begin to consider how I could possibly put my experience in a brief few words so that a potential employer will look at my resume and decide to move forward.

    If this hits home for you, know you are not alone. However, I implore you to consider regularly updating your resume. Here’s why: You may think you are in a good industry or with a good organization, which you probably are. I have dialogues with information technology professionals across all industries every day in my job. Many of them are very happy with their current position and with how they are progressing in their career with their current organization. That is, until something drastically changes at a moment’s notice.

    I am informed of many different circumstances and situations that arise, causing an employee to seek out a new employer, and I could not begin to mention them all. Here are a few:

    • Management or company values change due to someone leaving, promotions, company reorganization, or the company is acquired by another company, etc.
    • Unexpected loss of budget creating a need for a massive lay off  or restriction from hiring that 4th or 5th team member, meaning you are doing double the amount of work and become burnt out, cases of government furlough resulting in leave without pay, etc. Lack of budget could also mean that the project you joined the company to lead is no longer going to be implemented.

    Whatever the case may be, it's rare that someone will have a scheduled date or predetermined time inked out in their calendar for when they begin their job search. There's always a change, or an event, or maybe a final straw that will spur you to look elsewhere.

    That catalyst behind your desire or need to seek something else could hit you when you least expect it. Why not be prepared with an excellent resume in your arsenal? My recommendation for you is to make a habit of regularly updating your resume with relevant information. When you have acquired a new skill, learned a new technology, or led and implemented a new project, add it to your resume. This way, when that day comes for you unexpectedly, you are ready and may begin your search immediately. If anything, you will have a few polishing edits to make, and then you'll be ready to begin the application process and send your resume to your favorite recruiters to begin marketing your background on your behalf.

  • You're Not the Only One Hiring

    Article by Elliott Hardaway, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge Associates DC

    According to a recent Dice.com survey, overall 2013 unemployment rates for the United States have decreased from 7.7 percent to 7.0 percent. However, tech workers are twice as likely to remain employed and the overall unemployment rate hovered at around 3.5 percent for the year.

    When it comes to companies filling open positions, it has to start with attracting talented job seekers with the right job posting or description, unique benefits/perks, and an appealing office culture. As the interview process begins, it can be very difficult to keep candidates interested. If the hiring process drags out beyond two weeks, competition will set in and interest will start to fade. Once you’ve reached a decision, it’s important to make sure your ideal candidate is prepared and ready to jump on board.

    The first step is putting together an enticing job description, one that will attract not only a large crowd of applicants, but also the right applicants suited for the job. No one wants to read a ten-page description, so make sure it’s informative without going overboard. It’s important to mention both specific and appealing benefits and perks that come with the job- such as vacation, bonus, 401K, metro accessible location, and healthcare. Candidates also want to hear a bit about the office culture so they can get a visual of what day-to-day life would be like for them. Including an example or two of projects they could be involved in will help to give the candidate a more detailed description of what the job and requirements entail. This is huge, as most engineers are looking due to boredom and lack of growth, so knowing what technologies and exciting projects are on the horizon could be the difference in a candidate applying or not.

    Another effective way of finding the right applicants is to work smart and utilize your network. Whether that be through a local meetup, as Liz in Workbridge Boston previously mentioned, or just simply asking around, it’s critical to help complement what can be a difficult search. Networking is a sure-fire way of reaching candidates that may be very passive in their search, and with so many Meetup groups out there, you can choose the one that best correlates to the job you are trying to fill.

    Once you’ve started filtering through resumes and begun the interview process, it can be difficult to keep candidates interested. You should first inform any potential job seekers of the interview process, so you can manage their expectations, especially if you plan on having more than one round of interviews. It’s extremely important to keep an open line of communication and not allow more than two days, if at all possible, between interviews.  This is a good way to lose candidates, as job searches are all about timing.  Following up with prospective candidates, even it’s just a simple e-mail to let he or she know you haven’t forgotten them, can go a long way in maintaining interest.  Keeping your staff in the loop on your decision-making will also assist in moving the process along, as they will in turn keep you accountable for some of the responsibilities mentioned prior.

    So, you’ve found the perfect applicant and want to congratulate them and offer them the job; what’s next? Before you hand over that offer, you need to make sure you understand the candidate’s priorities. This will allow you and your team to alleviate any concerns or questions they may have about working at your company, and more importantly, on your team. Once you have a good understanding of their “hot buttons”, make the best offer you can so as to avoid negotiations. Going low or “low-balling” will only sour the relationship you’re trying to build. You may end up getting them to accept the offer, but they will remember the struggle involved, leading to a less smooth transition. Providing them with a deadline of when you need an answer is helpful in understanding their interest and overall search, so generally between 24 to 48 hours is sufficient. If you’re concerned that you may not be the best opportunity available to the candidate, don’t be afraid to adjust your company’s hiring process to get the job filled. Going to get coffee one-on-one with them, or simply making an extra call to ensure they understand the offer will definitely help separate you from the competition.

    To avoid positions staying open for too long, make sure to invest the proper measures to make a great hire. Don’t fall into the trap many hiring managers have made in being too stubborn in their ability to hire, and waste your allotted budget by waiting too long to fill your job. Time is money, and there’s also no need to add stress to your existing team because you won’t buckle down and an extra set of hands. Using these tips should help prevent you from missing out on the best talent. If you’re going to commit to building your team with the right people, then commit. Remember that 3.5% statistic? It’s do-or-die out there.

  • 2013 Tech Trends in DC

    Article by John Howard, Practice Manager in Workbridge DC

    With the year winding down, it’s a good time to share some of the trends we’ve been noticing in DC throughout 2013. There’s a lot of good news in the DMV tech sector. I’m seeing the highest salaries and lowest interview to job-filled ratios that I’ve seen since I moved to DC from New York in 2011. Actually, the best interview to offer and acceptance ratios that I’ve seen in the 7 years I’ve worked for Workbridge. And that includes my first 4+ years in NYC! Here are a few quick focal points:

    Higher Production, Higher Salaries, and End of Year Hiring:

    Some raw data: In the second half of 2012 (Jul 1 – Dec 31), 38% of our fulltime placements were at $100k+. In the second half of 2013, 60% of our fulltime placements have been at, or over, $100k (some well north of this number), a 22 point jump! This is distributed over the exact same number of placements to date. The difference is, we still have a month left in the year! This data correlates with what we’re seeing across the country. From NYC to Silicon Valley, salaries are up. While we’re not in the valley, check out this article.

    This dovetails nicely into end of year hiring. Often, the assumption is that nothing happens between Thanksgiving and the new year. In some cases this is accurate. However, for companies or groups that haven’t filled this year’s open headcount, it can be a mad rush to get the last positions filled, and obviously this creates a favorable condition for job seekers. This is certainly the case right now. We’re a 5-person recruiting team and there’s no exaggeration when I say we’re working with 30+ companies who are ready to hire today, many with multiple openings.

    Tech:

    While there will be pockets of hiring for almost everything, we’re seeing the strongest results in four primary areas: Java, UI/JavaScript, Ruby on Rails, Data Scientists/Engineers.

    • Java still seems strongest in DC and along the I-66 and 267 corridors, though is prevalent everywhere in the DMV. Most shops are still looking for fullstack experience, using Java EE, Spring/SpringMVC, EJB3+, Hibernate, JUnit, REST, MapReduce/Hadoop, & good knowledge of relational (+ for nonrelational) databases.
    • It’s pretty well-known that both UI and end-to-end JavaScript technologies have evolved and continue to evolve, which leaves companies scrambling to find talented developers to leverage everything from jQuery to Twitter Bootstrap to AngularJS (along with, for that matter, any and all emerging UI libraries and frameworks, CSS preprocessors like LESS & SASS).
    • Fullstack is desired everywhere, and this is no different for RoR tech. A lot of companies are leveraging Ruby 1.9+ and Rails 3.2, including JavaScript, REST, RSpec, and Resque.
    • If companies aren’t already leveraging data science & analytics, likely there are plans to do so. Again, Hadoop is used quite a bit, along with Python, C++, R, Matlab, & D3.js for data visualization.

    I didn’t take into account a handful of other interesting and emerging job fields (C++, Drupal, mobile, and PHP are still steady markets), as the bulk of what companies are aggressively searching for are listed above. We continue to work to cultivate strong relationships with technologists in the area. I’m always ready to jump on a phone call, Skype, or meet for coffee or a beer with anyone who is actively or passively interested in the DC job market.

    Our Focus (company types, location, contract & fulltime):

    We continue to focus primarily on commercial & non-profit companies, with a focus being on a variety of SaaS / software product, and startups. We have recently partnered up with a couple professional services companies that are creating some really groundbreaking tech changes for established departments of the government infrastructure – a bit different from the typical roles many in the government and professional services sectors are used to. The entire metro DC area is hiring, and we’re skewed about 75% fulltime, 25% contract or contract-to-perm (contract jobs are about the only roles that ever allow for remote/telecommute work).

    Tech in Motion DC Events:

    Tech in Motion is our cross-brand event series that typically involves popular and emerging tech topics and panelists. Some recent ones included a Green Technology panel at Opower, and our most recent Demos and Drinks mixer in DC, with companies like Audax Health and others presenting. For more info or future events in DC check out our page. More and more, people are leaning on networking groups to make professional connections, and that trend is no different in DC!

  • Volunteering at Wagtime

    On Wednesday, October 9th, Workbridge DC volunteered at Wagtime. Wagtime is primarily known for being a premiere pet resort and boutique with two locations in DC and Virginia. They cater to every dog owner’s needs through hands-on care and customer service. Such amenities include a spacious environment along with 24 hour availability, special zones for elderly dogs, power walking, in-home pet care, and licensed veterinarian recommendations. On Saturdays, Wagtime holds an adoption for the dogs that are without owners that they care for. Workbridge DC got to meet and walk Sadie, a Rottweiler, Big Mama, a Pug and Terrier mix, and Serena, a black lab mix, who are all up for adoption.

    Upon arriving, the Wagtime staff gave a quick introduction to the dogs as well as the best routes of where to walk. During the walk, Workbridge DC took the dogs to a dog park where they were able to let out all their energy!

     

    Even though it was sprinkling during the entire visit, it didn’t discourage the team from having fun. Workbridge DC enjoyed their time at Wagtime and look forward to visiting again, perhaps even with their own pets!

     

  • When You Find Yourself Without a Job

    Article by Edwin Yoon, Practice Manager in Workbridge DC.

    Furlough hit some government workers hard, some more than others. It became the most talked about topic in the Washington, DC area for weeks. But what were the options for someone out of work? For some, it was a chance to take a small vacation. For others, it was a painful process of not knowing where their next paycheck was coming from. Many job seekers understand that uncertainty all too well. The bright side is, there's plenty you can do to help your chances if you're currently searching for a new job.

    1. You should always be updating your resume. You may have just finished a major project at work and now is the time to include all the details that went into that project on your resume. Since the IT field is always growing, seminars and training conferences happen frequently. It would be beneficial to mention the conferences you attended. Make sure you’re also updating your LinkedIn profile as well since many employers check that during the screening process.
    2. Posting your resume confidentially. Having a backup plan of finding another job is understandable and helpful. In this case, it’s best to post your resume confidentially. By removing your contact information and giving an anonymous email, like you see on Monster, your email won’t get flooded or spammed and you won’t be receiving calls every 2 minutes. Also, don’t just stick with the traditional job boards, try using social media, like Twitter. More and more, companies are abandoning the traditional job boards and using social media platforms.
    3. Networking—go to meetups! We sometimes forget the simple act of networking through events. Go out and meet some people! There is a meetup group for everything and they are nationwide. I suggest going to meetups that are both relevant to your field and those that aren’t. I’ve noticed, when going to meetup events, that 90% of all network security meetup attendees are developers. By stepping outside your field, you are increasing your chances of learning a new way to approach the technology you use. Not to mention, the technological influencers you’ll meet at these events have the potential to impact your career.
    4. Get in touch with a recruiter. A recruiter’s job is to know the industries they specialize in, so they will know more about who is hiring and what positions are available that could be relevant to your skillset. Do your research on finding a recruiting office in your area. There’s no harm in meeting with a few so as to have several options. Be open and honest with them, and give them the information they need to help you. Good recruiters will be tactful with this info and use it to increase their effectiveness in finding you relevant opportunities.
    5. Be open to part time and contract jobs. You might be on a tight budget and can’t wait for a potential employer to make up their mind. Having a part-time or contract job will fill the gap on your resume and as well as that extra time on your hands. Working 15-20 hours a week will still allow you the time to interview while providing a flow of income. If you’re worried employers would see a six month contracting job as “job-hopping”, think again. Employers would rather see experience than a gap in your resume. I often see contract and consulting jobs being listed as such on resumes, to alleviate any concerns potential employers may have.

    Finding a job all comes down to being productive. By updating your resume and posting to traditional and non-traditional job boards, you’ll enhance your chances of getting an interview and snagging those opportunities. Events and networking at meetups are great ways to meet face-to-face with the technological influencers and employers in your area. Don’t dismiss getting in touch with a recruiter, they can become one of the greatest assets to your search with their knowledge of the industries. If you’re worried about money, be open to part time and contract jobs. These opportunities will improve your resume and eliminate gaps. 

  • The Benefits of Building Strong Work Relationships

    Article by Amy Robert, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge Washington DC

    No matter what industry your profession lies is in, you are most likely going to be working with people in some capacity. Meetings, collaboration on projects, remote support with users, gathering research, or reporting to a supervisor are all examples of how human interaction is unavoidable in the work space. I can’t tell you how many times people forget to utilize these interactions to their benefit. This benefit can be both business and personal.

    Being in recruiting, part of my job is checking job seekers' references. If you've ever checked references before, you've likely found that each response is a little different, even if they all worked at the same company, or even on the same team, with the job seeker. Some responses are very short with little detail to provide because they don’t really know the person they are referring very well. In other cases, you can have a very detailed and extremely affirmative reference, a response so glowing that you imagine the job seeker could win any position, just based on that reference. I’ve found that those who get the most elaborate references have fantastic working relationships. What are some of the most common things I hear about these people?

    • They always take initiative whether it is with work or relationships with others.
    • They are an effective communicator
    • They are dependable.
    • They are fun and easy to work with and a great team player.

    The best references say this and more and have great reasons and examples of situations to back them up. I know that many days, mine included, are so busy that I’m just trying to get the job done and do it well. But take the time to invest in your relationships at work. You're already there, so you might as well utilize your time to its maximum potential.

    You might find that you enjoy work more if you take that time to engage with your coworkers. This can improve your attitude while at work, establish you as a team player, allow you some fun, and it helps others really get to know you so that they can (presumably) say nothing but great things about you in the future. Networking is a key component when you begin to seek out a new opportunity, and the more people you have in your network that truly know and care about you, the more opportunities you'll find by way of referral.

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