The VR Market Is About To Get A Lot More Competitive

Virtual reality is becoming real. Companies have begun using VR to allow potential customers to try out products before buying them, or to experience a destination before traveling there, and movie studios have begun using the technology in trailers.

One reason for the surge in interest is that VR technology has become much more affordable. Google Cardboard uses a simple cardboard viewer to turn an ordinary smartphone into VR device.

Of course, higher-end headsets make the VR experience all the more immersive. Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the dominant headsets. Now, Intel is getting into the high end VR market with Project Alloy. Unlike the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which require the use of handheld controllers to interact with the virtual environment, Project Alloy will allow users to simply use their hands. Project Alloy will also include real-world elements into the virtual scene if they are in camera range. The ability to use natural gestures and to incorporate real-world people into the virtual environment will create a different, so-called "merged reality" experience for Project Alloy users.

Microsoft will also be developing similar "mixed reality" experiences through the Windows Holographic Shell. The shell, planned for release late next year, will let any Windows-equipped PC generate VR images (as long as the user has a headset to view them). Perhaps it's no surprise that Microsoft and Intel are collaborating on specifications for VR PCs and headsets. They may be hoping to stimulate a broad range of VR development and encourage users to purchase new devices in order to enjoy augmented or virtual reality experiences.

Are you a developer or engineer with the skills needed to build VR hardware or software? The Armada Group has 20 years' experience placing employees with advanced technical skills with top technical companies. Take a look at our hot jobs to see the positions we're currently filling. Then contact us to let us know how you want to shape the future of VR. We'll take time to understand your talents and goals to match you with an innovative firm that will help you invent the future.

11 New Ways to Improve the Way You Hire IT Pros

It's been said so often that it's become a cliché: Every business is a software business.

That means that when you're hiring tech talent, you aren't competing for employees just against other companies in your industry. You're competing against every company in America. Coming out on top in that competition means getting smart about your approach to hiring. Here are 11 tips to help you hire faster and hire better.

Know why you're hiring.

Have a rock-solid, detailed job description, and be clear about which skills the new employee needs to have and the skills you want them to have. And while tech hiring is often about checking off acronyms and buzzwords, know what results you want the new hire to be able to deliver, not just which languages they need to be able to code in.

Help candidates be prepared for the interview.

Tests like asking candidates to open a nailed-shut window are almost totally inappropriate for hiring technical employees, but candidates will be stressed even without a stress test. Help reduce their stress so they can present themselves comfortably by making sure they know what to expect before they arrive.

Read the resume before the interview.

You can tell when a candidate doesn't research the company before the interview and it doesn't leave a good impression. Similarly, it doesn't make a good impression with the candidate if you're clearly scanning their resume for the first time while they're sitting across from you. Remember, they're evaluating you while you're evaluating them. So read their resume and check out their Linked In or Facebook profiles before you meet the candidate.

Treat it as a conversation, not an interrogation.

Yes, you need to know about the candidate's abilities and interests, but that doesn't mean you should bombard them with one question after another. Make sure the candidate has a chance to respond and ask their own questions.

Be prepared to be spontaneous.

If you've understood the requirements of the job and reviewed the candidate's resume, you should have a list of questions prepared. Make sure you ask all the necessary questions, but don't be afraid to go off script. Follow up on things the candidate says that intrigue you.

Allow the candidate room to talk.

Give candidates time to respond in detail to your questions. The interview process is about their answers, after all, so unless there's a real time crunch and some questions are mandatory, give them room to provide full explanations.

Pay attention.

When you're interviewing multiple candidates, especially on a single day, it's easy to start tuning out in the middle of the interview and thinking about the other things you need to accomplish. Avoid these distracting thoughts by planning your day around the interview rather than squeezing it into a jam-packed schedule.

Interviews shouldn't be Pass/Fail.

You're trying to hire the best candidate for the job, not just an adequate candidate for the job. Don't simply consider whether the candidate is acceptable; evaluate them in depth to be able to compare multiple candidates and find the best fit.

Let the candidate know what happens next.

Remember, you probably aren't the only company the candidate is interviewing with. Let the candidate know how long it will take to hear from you. That way, they'll know whether they should wait, get back in touch with you, or jump on another offer they've received.

Give every candidate a final Yes or No.

The candidate took time out of their day to come meet you. They deserve the courtesy of a final answer, whether to make an offer or decline to hire them.

Work with a top-tier recruiting firm.

You'll minimize the pain of the hiring process and make it far more efficient if you work with an experienced recruiting firm that can identify potential candidates and meaningfully prescreen them. The Armada Group has more than 20 years experience placing top talent in the technology industry. Contact us to learn how our skilled recruiters can help you hire faster and better.

Why UI Engineers Make More Money in Silicon Valley

There's no question UI Engineering is a top-paying career choice. The national average salary is over $95,000. Move to Silicon Valley, though, and you can add more than $15,000 to your pay: The average UI engineer salary in San Jose, California, is more than $111,000.

The reason for that is simple: Silicon Valley is still the heart of the tech industry, still full of startups looking for talent to help them crack the big leagues, still full of established tech firms like Google and Apple that need superstars to help them remain on top.

All of those companies are competing for a small pool of super-talented engineers, and that competition means big paychecks for developers with the right background and abilities. Compensation offers often comes with more than salary and standard benefits packages, with stock options and other perks. Those inducements are needed when the candidates with the best backgrounds receive and weigh multiple job offers.

It isn't just the competitive hiring situation that leads to high salaries. The costs of living in Silicon Valley, including owning a home and raising a family, are higher than in many other parts of the country. Higher salaries are needed to compensate for these higher costs.

For UI developers and other tech talent, working for these Silicon Valley companies is immensely appealing, and not just for the financial rewards. These tech companies are all about technology, and rather than tech supporting the business, tech drives the business, tech is the business. This lets engineers make a much more profound impact through their development work.

Finding these opportunities requires working with a recruiting firm with the connections to these top-paying companies and the insight to help you succeed in the hiring process. The Armada Group has been placing candidates for more than 20 years. Check out the Hot Jobs we're currently working to fill, and then contact us to speak with a recruiter. Our team will take the time to understand both your achievements and your aspirations, and match you to an opportunity where you can maximize your salary and your success.

Tech Jobs in Silicon Valley Exceed Dot Com Era

Today's senior IT employees may look back on the Dot-Com era, the late 1990s through about 2000, as a golden age. The Internet had burst onto the scene and companies of all kinds were popping up, finding new ways to exploit the new technology. Inevitably, many of those companies found their business models to be unsustainable, and the dot com crash followed.

Today's new graduates may not realize it, but they're searching for their first jobs in a new golden age. There are now more tech jobs in Silicon Valley than there were during the dot com boom period, and technologies that were once dismissed as dead, like artificial intelligence, are suddenly finding new applications.

The Bay Area now has more than 20,000 more technology jobs than it did back in the dot com era, leading some to question whether a new bust is coming. In fact, several major tech firm, big names like Yahoo and Microsoft, have laid off thousands of employees, and venture capital — a key measure of support for this industry — has dropped by nearly three billion dollars over the last year.

But there are also signs that the boom-n-bust cycle is still set on boom, with the bust nowhere in sight. Tech firms with cash have been acquiring other tech firms, especially those in currently hot areas like big data or the Internet of Things. And tech unemployment remains low, at less than half the general unemployment level.

That means that job seekers in the Bay Area will find opportunity, and likely stability, if they search for a new position in the tech industry. Those who are willing to look outside the hottest specialties or who are willing to work in businesses that merely use tech rather than create tech will find even more chances for interesting, meaningful work.

The Armada Group has been helping developers and other technical workers chart their career paths for more than 20 years. Our recruiters are skilled at understanding and matching candidate backgrounds against the requirements of job opportunities. Let our recruiters help your career boom in the Bay Area. Contact us to start your search today.

Millennials Are An Anxious Generation. Heres How You Can Help

When your employees give everything their all, sometimes they end up giving too much, leading to burnout. The Millennial generation is often overloaded with work, continuing education, hobbies, and family obligations, leaving them overstressed and unable to do their best. Use these tips to help the Millennials at your workplace find balance that lets them be productive at work and in all aspects of their lives.

Offer Flexible Work Arrangements

It's easier for Millennials to manage their work and outside obligations when they have the flexibility to work from home, work a shifted schedule, or work part-time hours. Technology today makes it possible for almost every worker to get their job done from home; particularly in IT, there are few positions that truly require an on-site presence to interact with customers or equipment.

Offer Flexible Work Assignments

Sometimes burnout or work stress comes from having too little that's interesting to do rather than having too much to do. Give your employees the chance to mix it up with different projects that reduce boredom. Rather than spending all day coding, let your team shadow business people for a few hours or days. It will be a break in the routine that also deepens their understanding of the goals and significance of their work.

Create a Culture of Caring

If management demonstrates that it cares about employees, they'll be less likely to stress and more likely to ask for help if they need it. Allow managers to get to know their employees outside of work with offsite teambuilding activities. Except when deadlines are in danger, allow employees to goof around at the office. That casual banter helps build relationships that pull the team together and encourage everyone to work together to meet project goals.

Make Work Meaningful

Employees are less likely to burnout at work if the work has meaning to them or to society. Make sure your business contributes to social or civic causes and encourage employees to join your charitable teams.

The Armada Group has been helping companies hire top talent for more than 20 years. Our experience working with all generations of employees, including Millennials, can help you build an workforce of capable, content workers. Contact us to leverage our approach to recruiting and solve your hiring challenges.

Six Facts To Make You Change Your Hiring Strategy When it Comes to Sofware Developers

Are you using an old-fashioned hiring strategy while trying to woo candidates to work on cutting edge tech projects? If you think throwing money at potential employees is how to lure them in, think again. Today's IT workers aren't driven by money — or at least not by money alone. Take a look at what one survey found about software developers — and rethink what your hiring strategy needs to offer job seekers to get them to accept your offers.

Interesting projects are more important than money.

This means you need to sell candidates on the actual project they'll be working on. And while some jobs are clearly less exciting than others, especially maintenance and support, you can highlight what candidates will learn in those positions and how they'll have the chance to grow and move into other opportunities at your business.

Employees want to work from home.

The ability to work from home ranked third, right after money, in the things job seekers are looking for. So make sure your firm has robust support for work-from-home; if you have doubts about the practice, there are tools you can use to monitor productivity. Also recognize that working from home doesn't mean always working. So make sure your company can balance demands on employees and allow them to have a life.

Working for you should have its perks.

Employees expect their company to offer perks, such as free or discounted access to the company's product. Employees also enjoy perks like covered gym memberships. And some perks employees want are good for your business as well as the employee: software developers want perks like the chance to attend training classes and technical conferences.

Big names mean big appeal.

The employer "brand" can have significant appeal to potential employees. If you're trying to hire top-quality software engineers, you may want to spend time boosting your company's reputation first. This means you may need to improve your current employees' morale to get them talking positively about working for you.

You may need to accept less-qualified employees.

It's long been a joke in the industry that job ads ask for 3+ years of experience in technologies that have only existed for 1-2 years. But even in more established areas, such as mobile application development, you may not be able to find the level of expertise you'd like. You may need to consider hiring more junior employees and creating your own training plan to develop their capabilities.

Working with a recruiting firm can shortcut your hiring process.

Recruiters have large databases of candidates, plus the ability to prescreen resumes and match candidates to appropriate jobs. Through marketing your open positions and searching for passive job seekers, recruiters can bring you better candidates than you would find on your own. The Armada Group has more than 20 years of experience helping companies find employees. Contact us to learn how our services can change and improve your hiring strategy.