Xcode 6 Swift CloudKit and more surprising developer news from WWDC 2014

Unexpected and exciting news for developers has emerged from the 2014 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), where the keynote revealed an Xcode update, new tools for iCloud, updated APIs and app extensions — and most notably, a new programming language for iOS and OS X app development.

Introducing Swift

The biggest surprise at WWDC 14 was the announcement of Swift, a brand new and completely re-architected programming language for applications using the Apple operating systems. Swift allows developers to continue writing Objective-C code alongside it, but the new language produces much faster code compared to both Objective-C and Python.

Optimized into native code, Swift’s features are thoroughly modern — fast iteration, generics, and functional programming patterns make the language easy to work with, and Apple is providing a free iBook with all the details of using Swift. Developers who build applications in Swift will be able to ship to iTunes and Mac App Stores once iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite come out of beta later this year.

Playgrounds and sidebars: Xcode 6

Another previously unannounced bit of news came in the form of a fresh update to Apple’s Integrated Development Environment (IDE), Xcode. One of the most exciting features of Xcode 6 is Playgrounds, a feature that lets developers try out a bit of code without creating an entire project. An interactive sidebar displays the output of the code typed into Playground, and the sidebar can also show SpriteKit or SceneKit animations, graph variables, or drawing steps.

Also new to this version of Xcode are live debugging codes, including a built-in UI inspector that’s similar to Reveal and Spark Inspector.

Increased functionality with app extensions

Previously, applications on the iTunes and Mac app stores couldn’t talk to each other, but at WWDC 14 Apple unveiled app extensions that will now allow them to do just that. These extensions allow Apple-based apps to provide an extension as a service, which lets other apps tap into them.

The example used in the keynote was a Pinterest app that pins items to an associated account. The app uses a Pinterest pin button that can appear in share sheets, allowing the other apps to call on it to provide a user interface for the extension task of pinning the item.

CloudKit saves developers time and money

Creating applications that rely on custom-built web services is a time-consuming and expensive process for developers. With the introduction of CloudKit, Apple is expanding the functionality of iCloud and allowing developers to skip the provisioning and hosting for their cloud services.

CloudKit brings developer tools to iCloud that include user authentication, private and public database utilization, and alternate asset storage solutions. These tools offer very high storage limits, they’re free to implement, and they arrive provisioned to accommodate all of the app’s users.

A great year for Apple developers

In addition to the major developments, WWDC 14 announced a slew of new features and tools — from PhotoKit for camera and photo services apps, to HealthKit and HomeKit for health and fitness apps, to new features for SpriteKit and SceneKit, and more. Altogether, the new functionalities help developers create improved and more seamless experiences for Apple-based app users.

Keeping up on the latest IT trends, and navigating the ever-changing technological world are traits that The Armada Group takes pride in. We can help your company stay updated on all the newest and biggest facets of the IT industry. For help with finding a perfect IT candidate or position, contact our expert recruiting team today! 

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10 Tips to Make Your Company Appeal to Women in Tech

Women in technology make up just over 10 percent. Studies show that the interest simply isn’t there, as very few women going into college pursue a computer science degree. It will take an industry-wide effort to generate more female enthusiasm, and results won’t follow overnight. However, here are seven tips you can use to make your company appeal to women:

1. Hire women. This seems almost too obvious, but it’s often overlooked. Women who walk in to an all-male IT operation are less likely to feel comfortable working there.

2. Involve the community.  Find local groups who focus on empowering women in the workplace. Once your company establishes an effective relationship, most groups will go to great lengths to help you.

3. Contact Sororities. Because most sororities include a GPA stipulation, they will tend to have a higher quality education – or, at the very least, prove to have the more earnest students. Forming relationships with sororities extends a branch from your company to women interested in technology.

4. Increase flexibility. Women, statistically, are much more prone to accepting offers from jobs that are willing to adjust for family planning. Flexible hours and work from home jobs will open a number of opportunities.

5. Have a female recruiter. At least one female recruiter on your team will drastically increase the odds of appealing to other women. This also remains true for women in management or administration, even if they’re not directly involved in IT.

6. Have an intern program. If you have multiple internships, reserve a proportion of slots exclusively for female participants – while making an effort to bring in more than one. 

7. Bring in outside help. Consider bringing in a female consultant to find small changes to your workplace that could help to build a more gender neutral atmosphere.

Increasing the number of female candidates is a long-term goal for most IT workplaces, as females bring in a different perspective that can positively affect the outcome. These seven tips can help your company become a more female-friendly environment.

At The Armada Group, we’re dedicated to female talent, as well as elite talent from both genders. We have some of the best and brightest in candidates and serve the fastest growing companies in America. Contact us to see how we can help you!

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Friday, Jul 11 2014

How Soon is Too Soon?

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How Soon is Too Soon

Especially after a very strong interview, most candidates impatiently await the news from a recruiter. However, it’s a professional faux pas to call a few hours after interviewing to see if the interviewer has made a determination. This causes frustration and – chances are – there’s other candidates who have yet to interview. Here are a few keys regarding recruiter etiquette and proper follow up contact:

  • Be patient. There are usually between three and five final candidates for a single slot, and some companies require interviewing them all prior to making a determination. Most recruiters have a massive workload, so it’s nothing personal – there’s just a lot going on behind the scenes.
  • Send a follow up email first. This is the best and quickest means to professionally tell the interviewer and recruiter “Thanks for your time and the opportunity.” It’s generally accepted best practice to send this email the day after. The only exception is if your interview is early in the morning; in this case, sending an email that afternoon is acceptable.
  • If you don’t hear back from your recruiter after a few days, don’t fret. The worst mistake a candidate can make is to not follow up. The second worst is to call the recruiter repeatedly.
  • After three days or so, it’s within the expectation to call the recruiter. If he or she doesn’t answer, leave a voicemail. Most professional companies will call you and tell you either way, but after a few days, a reminder is warranted.
  • If, after following up, you don’t hear from the recruiter for a few days – try again. Try different methods every few days, and vary calling times. However, it is not customary to call or email more than twice a week. Any more than that is unprofessional. However, after a two week period – it’s probably time to send a final email thanking them again, and request that they hold on to your resume for future career opportunities.
  • Asking for the position subtly is great – especially in person – but on a follow-up call, do not ask “Did I get the job?” Instead, try “I wanted to follow up and see if you and/or the manager have made a determination?”

Finding a new job can be stressful, but it’s worth it once you get the best offer from the right job. There’s a lot of time that goes into it on the recruiter’s end, and it’s not usually an overnight process. Follow these tips for professional etiquette in following up.

At The Armada Group, we take the stress out of the process. We work directly with candidates to ascertain their skill set and company view, and pair them together with the best fit. This helps long-term job satisfaction, and increases overall success. We work with elite talent from some of the largest and fastest growing tech companies in the world. Contact us today to see how we can help you

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Should You Hold Out for Perfect Candidates

Many hiring managers dream of finding the perfect candidate — someone with just the right mix of skills, experience, and personality – who’s willing to work for the salary on offer and likely to stay with the company long-term. Unfortunately, those perfect candidates are few and far between, and might even be non-existent. So why are hiring managers holding out for them?

In the current job market, as the country continues to recover from the recession, some experts perceive a general glut of talent. Hiring managers believe they’ll have plenty of time, and plenty of candidates to choose from — so if a candidate is good but not perfect, they might decide to wait. Major companies like Microsoft and Google have open positions that have been available for months because the ideal candidate hasn’t walked through the interview door yet.

But is waiting for perfection really the best strategy? Here’s why holding out may be causing more harm than good for your company:

The longer the hiring process, the more money you’re losing

It is undeniably costly to hire the wrong person for the job — but the costs of waiting can add up to even more. When you’re scouting for candidates, you’re typically sinking time, money, and resources into various recruitment strategies and channels. Meanwhile, your company is short-staffed, which typically causes decreased productivity and morale while increasing the strain on your current team as they struggle to fill the gaps.

The ‘talent surplus’ is general, but your needs are specific

Overall, there are currently more job seekers than open positions. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a surplus of the type of talent you want to hire. In fact, there are talent shortages in some industries, particularly in-demand IT positions. When you factor in geographic location and active versus passive job seekers, the talent pool shrinks even further.

The perfect candidate may not be the best choice

Let’s say you’ve found the ideal hire — certified and experienced in all the skills you require, with a positive attitude and lots of motivation to do a great job, and happy with your salary offer. Now, ask yourself this: Where will they go from here?

Hiring perfect candidates can actually be risky. If you onboard someone who has everything they need to perform the job perfectly, there’s nothing to challenge them and nowhere to go but up — or over to another company. In many cases, a strong candidate who’s not perfect will prove a better fit for the long term.

Tips for hiring not-quite-perfect candidates

Saying yes to perfection is easy, but how do you choose someone who isn’t ideal? Consider these tips to help you choose a great candidate who can grow into perfection with your company:

  • Reconsider your job description and requirements, and decide which skills and characteristics are truly necessary to get the job done — and which you can live without.
  • Tweak your recruitment strategies to become more active. Many employers choose to post open positions on social networks and job boards, and then wait for the resumes to roll in. Instead, actively seek candidates who meet your minimum requirements and initiate contact — it will speed the process, and give you a more qualified list to work from.
  • If you’re not sure about a candidate from the resume alone, take the chance and schedule an interview. You may discover that someone who looks merely competent on paper is actually a great find in person.
  • Focus on training and retention to improve the quality of your current staff and new hires, and to keep more of them around so you’ll have a reduced hiring burden in the future.

There may be no such thing as perfection, but there are plenty of good candidates who can become great employees. At The Armada Group, we can tell the difference between a great candidate, and a perfect fit for your company. Contact us today for help with every step of your hiring process.

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The Most Attractive Incentives for Short-Term IT Workers

Many employers associate benefits with full-time employees, and don’t think about them in the context of short-term IT workers. But good temporary help is worth the effort of offering incentives — and if you supply benefits for your temporary IT staff, you’ll enjoy advantages like attracting better talent, increased productivity, and a higher ROI on your short-term staff investment.

What do temporary IT workers want?

The first step to a successful incentive plan for short-term IT employees is to identify what motivates temporary workers. These employees know that their time with you is limited, and in many cases they’ve already arranged their careers to take care of typical benefits like health insurance that long-term employees receive.

Effective motivation for short-term IT employees is similar to non-insurance incentives for permanent employees. And since these workers have limited time contracts, creating an incentive program for temps is often more affordable for you as an employer.

The ‘more money’ incentive

Just about everyone likes money, and that includes temporary IT workers. A short-term bonus plan for IT temps can be a great motivation to perform well. You can offer bonuses for meeting deadlines, upon project completion, or even for above-and-beyond productivity.

Creating a strategic bonus or series of bonuses for short-term IT employees will increase morale and fuel the natural human drive for competition, ensuring an overall higher performance.

The ‘cool free stuff’ incentive

Gift cards are a great and inexpensive bonus to offer temporary IT employees. You can usually purchase gift cards from just about any local businesses — opt for retail, restaurant, and entertainment cards to give the best bang for your gift bucks.

If you have short-term IT staff that you’ve hired for a big project, and they’ll be around for several months, you may consider giving reloadable gift cards and placing a small amount on them each week. This will keep temporary workers motivated to continue, and give them the opportunity to spend quality time with family when they aren’t working.

The ‘work-life balance’ incentive

Paid holidays, sick days, and personal days are a popular benefit for permanent employees, but what about temporary staff? Offering paid days off to short-term IT workers isn’t usually feasible for a business, but you can create a smaller scale program that still offers much-needed advantages.

For example, you might give temp workers a half-hour of paid time off for every full day worked, and allow them to take advantage of their accrued paid leave for things like important appointments or the occasional personal day. You could also consider offering time off with half-pay when it’s reasonable and needed.

The ‘good job’ incentive

Simple thanks for a job well done are a strong motivator for full-time staff, that’s also free for your business to offer. With short-term IT workers, you can take your recognition for their work a step further and offer official employee awards. The possibilities range from printing out certificates to holding a fun event for your temp IT team upon project completion — and all are equally appreciated.

In addition, employee awards give temp workers something they can demonstrate their value with to their next temporary employer. For an IT professional who changes jobs frequently, this can be an exceptionally valuable benefit.

At The Armada Group, we can help you devise incentive programs to maximize your fulfillment of temporary IT workers, and to keep your full-time staff happy and productive. Contact us today for more information, or to find outstanding qualified candidates.

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The Most Important Career Question Youve Never Even Considered

CIO posed what they consider to be “The most important career question you’ve never even considered.” While Glen, the author, goes on to explain in more detail, the ultimate question is this – do you want to make yourself a “hot commodity,” someone who has a unique skill but is a transactional relationship, or a “treasured stalwart,” who is intended to be a long-term employee but rarely works in the “hot new skill” industry.

As the author states, neither is wrong, and both have their various characteristics. So, we’ve opted to expand a bit upon the two options to help clarify some of the pros and cons of each.

The general idea of a commodity worker is one who works contract or part time, and who specializes in a unique skill; one that the company, for whatever reason, doesn’t want a standard full-time employee for. It could be implementing a new network or part-time SQL DBA – there’s no specific field, but it tends to fill the short-term needs, rather than long-term trends.

Commodity pros:

  • Generally higher pay (in the short run)
  • Provide necessary and sometimes difficult skills
  • Can contractually work for flexible periods of time and flexible projects

Commodity Cons:

  • Not always a steady, consistent flow of work (e.g. occasional periods of unemployment between projects)
  • Not usually “developed” as a tenured employee would be in understanding the overall picture
  • Culture doesn’t always fit with company

On the other hand, the stalwarts will have different characteristics. They tend to retain long-term employment, and operate in fields that the business will need either indefinitely or for extended periods (think: Java programmer).

Stalwart Pros:

  • Consistent, stable employment
  • Developed as an asset to the team (which can increase flexibility)
  • Understand business culture better

Stalwart Cons:

  • Doesn’t cash in on “hot skills”
  • Generally lower pay (in the short run)
  • Less flexible hours

While there isn’t a right or wrong answer (and not everyone fits neatly into a single category) this goes to show the evolution of the IT sector. Generally, IT professionals tend to gravitate somewhere in the middle, rather than polarize at the ends.

At The Armada Group, we can help you not only ascertain the best fit for you, but we can help to pair you with a business that is looking for your work style as well as skills. We work with some of the best and most innovative talent in the industry, on both sides of the spectrum, and we want to help you find the next step of your career. Contact us today for a consultation.

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