For many tech specialists, consulting is often the next logical step in a successful career. If you’ve worked in management positions in the past, transitioning to consultation can allow you a greater degree of freedom, as well as the opportunity to exercise your expertise. However, before you make the switch, there are a few things to consider to ensure the transition goes as smoothly as possible.
The very first step to transitioning to a consultation role is considering the long-term effects it may have on your career and your personal life. It’s a good idea to plan for periods of slower income, travel, or very long hours. Prepare your family for these changes in your routine, and have a system in place to make the switch easy on everyone involved. Professionally, you should consider how unique consultation opportunities will look on your resume. This will help you choose assignments that broaden your experience and skill set.
If you’re testing the waters, you’ll want to determine your desired salary well ahead of time. A good formula for contract workers is your former salary divided by 1000 plus 50 percent. So if you made $80,000 before your transition, you may settle on $120 an hour for your consulting fee. Check the market to see what IT consultation usually pays, and this will help you get a good range for your skills. If you work for a consulting firm, your salary may be set in stone, but independent consultation allows for flexibility in your salary.
Choosing whether you’d like to be an independent consultant or on staff at a consultant firm can be a major decision in your transition. If you have more experience, you may opt to work independently, while those looking to diversify their tech portfolio may find more value in a consulting firm. If you choose the latter, you should also consider the size and reputation of the firm before you commit to a position.
Once you’ve made the important decisions, it’s time to take action. It’s not a good idea to quit your full-time job before you’ve built up a client base, so start by doing consultation work on the side or even trying pro bono work. If you’re lucky enough to get a long-term contract, this will give you the necessary cushion to ease into your transition.
Making the switch from direct employee to consultant can be stressful and challenging, but it has the potential to offer amazing benefits and freedom to those willing to try. Consultation can offer you valuable opportunities to expand your knowledge base and your experience, so if you’ve been in the IT industry for a while, perhaps it’s time to take the leap.
The virtual reality gauntlet has been thrown, and it seems that Facebook and Google are the top contenders. After Facebook’s February announcement that they were actively developing VR software, it was rumored that Google was working on a similar technology. The first product to hit the market will set the bar for VR, increasing the urgency of the development stage. Given the potential of this new technology, it seems there will a race to the finish line between these two tech giants.
Virtual reality’s potential is endless. It will not only redefine every form of electronic entertainment, but it may also dramatically change the way we communicate and do business. The technology will change users from passive to active as they interact with movies, TV shows, and video games. As VR develops, it may introduce virtual conferencing or calling, allowing users to simulate real conversations with friends, loved ones, and colleagues.
The market for this software is unreal. The variety of uses will appeal to a wide range of demographics, allowing the initial creator to corner the market on the next generation of entertainment and communication technology. It’s possible that VR may even come to overshadow the Internet, which may spell disaster for the loser of the development race.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that VR will follow in the footsteps of 3D and simply fail to gain traction. While the potential is there, there’s always the risk that consumers simply won’t take to it.
Whoever is the first to introduce virtual reality software to the market will have the chance to create their own set of standards. The second release, then, will be responding to these standards and will lose a lot of freedom in their development process. It isn’t simply that they must match feature for feature, but that users will get used to a certain interface and may be hesitant to make the leap to a competitor once that second platform is released.
There’s also the problem of what happens to Facebook or Google after VR exists. If the new software encompasses everything they could accomplish using the social media or online searching, there will be a steady decline of people actively using either Facebook or Google. They’ll be left in the wake of the Next Big Thing.
So, in order to avoid being the responder to a new technology, or being left with the dregs of internet users after virtual reality’s launch, it’s imperative for both Google and Facebook that they release their new software before their competitor. Of course, there’s the possibility that a third party will make a release before either of these two Internet behemoths, which could spell disaster for either company.
The Silicon Valley Hiring Case has been one of the most high-profile class action lawsuits in the region, and the five-year battle is nearly at its end after a judge approved Apple, Google, Adobe Systems, and Intel’s proposed settlement of $415 million. Representing 64,000 employees from a variety of professional fields, this class action suit had the potential to damage the reputation of these major companies, as well as result in costly, long-term litigation.
The tech companies were sued after engineers learned of the existence of a “no poaching” policy, in which Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel, Intuit, Pixar, and Lucasfilm agreed not to hire each other’s workers. Labeled as a conspiracy, this policy effectively shoe-horned employees into their positions, limiting their opportunities to move between companies and capping their wages.
The details of the no-poaching agreement were revealed in a series of email correspondences between major players in the tech industry, including late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. In one such exchange, Google executives indicated that they wanted to hire Apple engineers, to which Jobs responded, “If you hire a single one of these people, that means war.”
In fact, the evidence was so compelling that Judge Lucy H. Koh rejected their initial offer of $324 million, believing the amount to be too low. It is extremely unusual for judges to reject settlements, and given that the plaintiffs cited upwards of $3 billion in damages, it’s likely there was overwhelming evidence in their favor.
Intuit, Pixar, and Lucasfilm settled with the claimants for $20 million, leaving the remaining three tech giants to settle or face drawn-out litigation, as well as a media frenzy and poor publicity. Despite critical public attention, each company has declined to comment on the approval of their second offer.
There is a final approval hearing scheduled for July 9, which will hopefully bring the lawsuit to a close. If the settlement is approved, attorneys could claim as much as $83 million in legal fees, while the workers will receive several thousand dollars.
Though the amount of the settlement is a paltry sum considering the value of each company involved, there will be other long-term effects of the class action suit, particularly in regards to under-the-table arrangements between executives. During the course of the case, damaging documents, emails, and other evidence may put the fear of exposure into these tech leaders and discourage other back room dealings in the future.
No matter what type of work you’re interviewing for, there are a key set of traits that would be best suited for the position. As the hiring manager, it’s your job to pinpoint what those traits are and establish an objective way of evaluating the character of each of your candidates. Whether you give them a personality test or ask targeted questions during the course of your interview, you can establish a unique behavioral profile for each interviewee.
The first step is to create your list of ideal behavioral attributes. When making your checklist of ideal character traits, it’s important that you consider these three categories of professional personalities.
Teamwork skills will make it easier for you and your staff to work with the new hire. Candidates who lack many of these skills can be difficult to manage, overbearing, or ineffective as employees. Depending on the type of position, teamwork skills may be less important than their ability to self-direct, for example. Remote workers or those who will be largely isolated during the course of their workday may not need exceptional teamwork skills. Examples of these traits may include:
• Conflict Manager
• Active Listener
No matter what the position entails, many hiring managers will rank work ethic very highly on their list. A good work ethic, however, is often a learned behavior that results from a very particular set of personality traits. Even if you’re interviewing someone with very little experience, if they possess traits that are conducive to hard work, they can develop a very strong work ethic during the course of their employment. A candidate with a good work ethic may have some of these personality traits:
Professionalism is a highly sought-after behavior, particularly since many workplaces are moving away from traditionalism and into a more laid-back environment. This behavior is learned and not inherent, so if you’re hiring a candidate who comes from a more casual background, they may not have the experience to demonstrate the professionalism you’re looking for. However, if they possess the right personality traits, they can often pick up business cues and learn as they go.
Again, this may vary in importance depending on your unique company. These personality traits may often manifest themselves in other ways than traditional professionalism, so they may be valuable in other context as well. A highly professional person will be:
Once you’ve chosen your ideal character traits, rank them on a scale of importance and use this scale to weight the final score of each candidate. Bring your list of traits with you to the interview, and rank each character based on how they stack up against your expectations. This will not only help you get a good picture of their personality, but you will also remain consistent and objective during the course of each interview.
Given the shortage of qualified IT candidates and the comparable wealth of open positions, many tech contractors find themselves moving quickly from one project to the next. A 2013 survey found that 32 percent of these IT and engineering specialists receive their next offer within two weeks of completing a project, while 84 percent received an offer for their next job or project within three months.
When searching for your next IT candidate, then, it’s important to remember that time is of the essence. While you should certainly never rush into a decision, hiring managers in the tech industry simply don’t have the leisure of others in less-competitive fields. You’re never going to find the perfect candidate (or, if you do, consider yourself very lucky), but there three things you can do to help narrow it down to your best possible option.
If you’re searching for an IT candidate, there’s likely a very long list of skills that you’d like interviewees to possess. This long list can hurt you in several ways, however. On one hand, very qualified candidates are likely to skip over your job posting if they find that they lack two or three (or more) of your desired skills. Even if they’d do the job admirably, you may never even see their resume because of an over-ambitious job description. On the other hand, you may fail to consider talented candidates because they don’t perfectly align with your ideals.
To counteract these negative effects, you should narrow down your list of desired skills to three or four key competencies. This ultra-focused list will help you define your expectations and hone in on the skills that matter most for the position. You won’t be disappointed when each candidate falls short of the “dream candidate,” and they’ll be more likely to apply to a reasonable description.
An unorganized review can cause you to miss out on important aspects of a candidate’s qualifications or character, or it can result in a biased, subjective perception that can harm you and your company in the long run. Develop an objective, consistent system for gauging each interview. For instance, you can refer back to your list of desired skills and rate each candidate on their abilities in relation to your requirements. Based on the importance and priority of each skill, you can objectively choose the right person for the job based on your metric system.
While it would be nice to have that Ivy League-educated, highly experienced engineer, those may not be the needs of your company, and you may not be able to pay the salary that caliber of candidate would require. Be fair to your interviewees and your company, and honestly evaluate your needs for each position. Do you need a full-time IT worker, or would a contractor better suit your needs? This will help you adjust the job description and accurately articulate the details of the position to each candidate.
IT and engineering specialists often command high salaries, so look into the market value of the position and offer something in a similar range. If you offer too low, it’s unlikely that you’ll attract a qualified candidate, while aiming too high may put a financial strain on your company. IT workers know what their skills are worth, so make sure your number is accurate if you want to attract talent to your business.
These three tips will help you seize the moment while you’re searching for the right IT candidate. If you make your job description concise and realistic, prioritize your interview to get an accurate picture of each interviewee, and create a sensible, attractive salary offering once you’ve chosen a candidate, you increase your likelihood of selecting the best person in a timely manner.
In the IT job market, your technical abilities can often be the be-all and end-all. The idea often seems to be that if you don’t meet the long list of necessary skills, you simply aren’t the right person for the position. However, this isn’t always the case. For many hiring managers, certain aspects of your personality may actually be more important than skills you’ve picked up along the way.
Below are a few examples of soft skills that may land you that IT dream job, and why hiring managers may choose them over more technical capabilities.
A thirst for knowledge is a highly sought-after character trait in any industry, but it can go a long way in tech. You may not have mastered PHP or networking just yet, but if you have a voracious appetite for new information, you may find that hiring managers are willing to teach you the necessary skills. Quick learners are often a worthwhile investment, as they tend to stay on top of their skills and constantly refresh and update their knowledge base.
Passion and motivation can be invaluable for IT companies, particularly startups and those who specialize in innovative technology. Hiring someone who’s emotionally invested in their finished product will improve both the quality of their work and their drive to complete it. An infectiously enthusiastic personality can also impact the morale of co-workers, creating a more effective (and happy) workforce overall.
In tech, it’s often expected that you be capable of a certain degree of autonomy. No matter how advanced your skills are, it simply isn’t worth the investment if your manager has to hold your hand through every project. A candidate who possesses self-drive, on the other hand, will not only be able to complete tasks on their own, but will be able to occupy themselves with meaningful work when they aren’t given explicit direction.
A desire to succeed in your industry can be very appealing to hiring managers. This soft skill often translates into intuitive insight into what’s best for the company, granting you the opportunity to impress your managers with the added benefit of improving your place of work. Ambitious candidates are also fiercely competitive, and this competitiveness can inspire your team to work harder, particularly when you’re incentivized by upper management.
These are just a few examples of personality traits that hiring managers may prioritize over technical capabilities. Don’t let the fact that your skill sets don’t perfectly align with the position’s requirements discourage you from applying. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised by how valuable your soft skills really are.