personality over skills

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.

Willingness (and Ability) to Learn

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.

Enthusiasm

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.

Self-Direction

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.

Ambition

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.

Friday, May 08 2015

Top Tech Priorities for CIOs

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tech priorities cios

Chief Information Officers are evolving with their industry. As they develop a deeper understanding of new technologies, they adapt their strategies and restructure their priorities to reflect emerging trends. Regardless of their industry, many CIOs have similar tech goals. These are just a few of their core priorities in 2015.

Real-Time Data

As we develop more and more tools to collect customer data, we come face-to-face with how truly massive that data actually is. Big data is quickly closing in on zettabyte territory, and we have to address how we’re processing it, rather than how we’re collecting it. Many CIOs are turning to real-time data through updated analytics. This intuitive model will allow you to change what the customer or client sees and experiences as you learn about them.

Data Security

 A high degree of sensitivity is required when handling the amount of user data that many CIOs encounter on a daily basis. The risks involved with this level of information are tremendous, so you not only have to contend with outside threats, but also the fine line of acceptable use of customer information. Abuse of personal data can not only damage a company’s reputation, it can actually result in costly lawsuits. As a result, CIOs often prioritize data sensitivity and security on their list of tech concerns.

Cloud Services

In past years, cloud services were considered an emerging technology that required a certain level of boldness to adopt. However, perspectives have shifted and the cloud is now a leading priority for CIOs. It’s been a slow process, but every year more major companies invest in this technology. With benefits like improved scalability, reduced costs, and a more efficient infrastructure, it’s no surprise that cloud services are spearheading advancements in the tech industry.

Mobile

An ever-growing number of customers are interacting with companies from mobile devices. As a result, it’s never been more important to engage with them on a playing field they understand. By prioritizing mobile technologies, CIOs open new connections between their business and the people they’re trying to reach. No matter the industry, or whether the company is B2B or B2C, the benefit of mobile connection is extremely powerful.

The momentum of these new technologies is growing with every year, and a tech-savvy CIO will choose to prioritize these emerging trends. This will not only grant access to the myriad of benefits that come with advanced technology, but it will also allow your business to compete in the global marketplace.

evolution virtual technologies

In 2014, VMware was ranked ninth on Forbes’ “Most Innovative Companies” list, but this hasn’t stopped new developments in virtualization from rapidly closing the gap between VMware’s software suite and heavy hitters like OpenStack or CloudStack. These evolving technologies may actually come to replace VMware’s niche software as more and more customers opt for these newer stacks. But before we look at where this technology is going, let’s look at where it’s been.

Virtual Stacks: Origins

VMware was designed to meet specific needs of CIOs during the rise of virtualization. The businesses these CIOs and managers represented had applications or software packages that were never designed for virtualization, and at its most basic level, VMware’s purpose was to address this cultural shift in the tech industry. Once corporations were on board, more features were added to advance the technology.

Its origins, however, made VMware a very niche product. It was designed for enterprise-level customers, and others found themselves left out in the cold. OpenStack and CloudStack, on the other hand, were created to address a different need: the increased dependency of VMware on traditional uses. There are strengths to all three, but many innovative companies are drawn to these newer, more flexible technologies. So why exactly is VMware being replaced?

VMware vs. OpenStack vs. CloudStack

VMware comes with a rich legacy of established features and a strong support community, as well as a full suite of virtualization software. That being said, it’s a closed system, so there’s very little flexibility or room for creativity. In every aspect of the tech industry, experts are finding themselves drawn to open source technology like its two competitors. The ability to customize solutions, innovate your system, and collaborate with big-name companies to improve the software is more exciting than tradition.

Then there’s the matter of price. VMware can be relatively expensive, but it’s easier to install and get off the ground. OpenStack and CloudStack are free, but require a team of engineers to get it up and running (which can translate into higher initial costs). However, VMware comes with hefty licensing fees, so once you’ve covered the initial cost of OpenStack or CloudStack deployment, your price tag will begin to taper down over time. As a long-term solution, open source virtualization software may actually be the more cost effective means of achieving your goals.

Between the two VMware competitors, OpenStack has a better track record with large, well-known companies and a healthier reputation. As a result, it tends to take the lead as the most mature choice among open source virtualization technologies. With these attractive alternatives to VMware’s traditional infrastructure, it may come as no surprise that these new software packages are quickly taking the lead in virtualization technology.

optimizing talent acquisition

The current shortage of talent in the tech industry may be a blessing for recent IT and engineering grads, but recruiters and hiring managers aren’t experiencing the same benefits. With fierce competition for talent and the comparatively short shelf life of job-seeking IT specialists and engineers, many companies are finding that they have very little time to make a decision on a qualified candidate. By choosing too quickly, they risk hiring underqualified or incompetent workers, and hesitation can be just as detrimental. These three industry secrets will help you fine-tune your talent acquisition process so you can avoid the risks common to the IT hiring process.

Focus Your List of Skills

When hiring managers prepare for an interview, they often create a list of ideal skills and traits that they’d like to see in their interviewee. As a general rule, each of these desired skills can add one-to-two weeks onto the time it takes to fill the position. When searching for IT talent, time is of the essence, so hiring managers in the tech industry should trim their list of skill sets down to three to four critical items. Longer lists can not only take more time to fill, but they may actually discourage qualified candidates from applying for the position.

Evaluate Your Needs

Once you have your list of skills, it’s important to evaluate the needs of the company. Will the position be full-time or contract? Is filling the position high-priority? What are you willing to pay for IT talent? IT specialists and engineers are aware that their skill set is in high demand, so most will demand a competitive pay scale. You should choose a number that can keep your company competitive without over-investing in the position. Having your needs outlined ahead of time will help you in the negotiation process when you’ve selected a candidate.

Plan and Prioritize Your Interview

To get the most accurate results, your interview should be concise and well organized. Having a pre-determined structure and list of questions will help you get a clear picture of each candidate’s competencies, and it can allow you to present an appealing image of your company’s brand. You should also create a scoring matrix in order to objectively evaluate each interview. Rate the interviewee against your key requirements, as well as a list of hard or soft skills that would complement the position. Once this is complete, weight their score against the importance of each skill or trait. A planned interview process will help you remain consistent and thorough with each candidate.

In order to make a compelling offer to talented tech workers, it’s important that you utilize each of these three acquisition techniques. Not only will they help you choose the right candidate, but it can present a more cohesive, organized image to interested interviewees.

raised bar silicon valley

With the influx of tech jobs and the shortage of qualified software engineers, many recent graduates have discovered that finding a position in Silicon Valley is remarkably easy. But while the talent gap isn’t going anywhere, tech companies are beginning to demand more and more of their engineers, resulting in remarkably high expectations for those new to the tech industry. These are a few of the ways standards are changing for Silicon Valley engineers.

More Skills, More Experience

Experience doesn’t always mean years on the job, but hiring managers in the tech industry are now expecting engineers to have a stronger grasp on a wider variety of tools. Whether that means you’ve used a suite of different coding languages to create fully-functional sites, or you’ve designed a feature-rich app, you have to have something concrete in your portfolio to get your foot in the door. With so many technologies at their disposal, tech companies like to see candidates with strong skills in a variety of areas. Create a well-rounded portfolio during your early years as an engineer to give yourself a jump start during your job search.

Creative Thinking & Other Soft Skills

Your technical capabilities, however, are no longer the be-all and end-all. You also have to work well in a team and have the ability to effectively communicate your ideas. Many of the more discerning companies are also looking for engineers who possess the ability to think creatively and find elegant, non-traditional solutions to common problems. If you possess these skills, you’ll be a more competitive candidate in the Silicon Valley tech industry. These skills, however, are often innate rather than learned, and can be difficult to replicate if they don’t come to you naturally.

User-Focused

In recent years, software engineers have gravitated towards social, consumer-based platforms like Facebook and Google. These industries often search for candidates with the ability to problem solve from an end user’s perspective. They need developers who can implement features and programs that would benefit and appeal to the consumer. This ingenuity can be hard to find in those who are more technical by nature, so the well-balanced engineer will find that their chances are actually better than those who are purely tech-savvy.

Meeting the new standards of Silicon Valley’s tech industry is a tall order for even the most qualified engineers. As the culture trends towards more social interfaces, they demand more socially minded engineers who can place themselves in the positions of their target audience. If you can partner creativity, collaborative effort, and the necessary know-how, you have the potential to meet and exceed these new expectations.

paranoia CISO

While it has never been seen as a desirable trait in any industry, many information security experts suggest that a healthy dose of paranoia may actually be good for business. After all, a paranoid leader is a vigilant one. This state of alertness can actually improve the defenses of your organization, through regular improvements, scheduled maintenance, and increased awareness in your company. So should you look for a CISO with a paranoid streak? Consider the benefits before making your final decision.

1. Paranoid CISOs search out advancements.

Paranoid CISOs are ever-improving. Because they constantly suspect that their organization is under attack, they’ll always be looking for new, advanced ways to fortify their defenses and stay informed on new developments in the industry. There’s always room for improvement, so your company will have the most up-to-date information security system available with new, multi-layered controls. This valuable instrumentation and increased depth can help prepare for a threat or attack before you’re even aware it’s there.

2. Paranoid CISOs never neglect necessary system maintenance.

Complacency is just as dangerous as an inherently weak security system. If your CISO isn’t taking the time to update and patch their managed program, they’re opening up channels for potential breaches. A paranoid CISO, on the other hand, constantly patches their program to ensure that no known weaknesses exist in the system. This regular maintenance might be neglected by complacent leaders, creating dangerous vulnerabilities in your organization.

3. Paranoid CISOs improve company awareness.

In their constant state of hyper-vigilance, a paranoid CISO will want to ensure that every member of your organization is doing their part to follow security protocols. This will help create a culture of data security to protect your company at every level. From data analyst to CEO, you organization will be more secure and less vulnerable to attack.

4. Paranoid CISOs develop a deep understanding of the company.

Not only will they understand the nature of each and every potential attack, but a paranoid CISO will also understand the potential consequences they may have on the company. Their deep-rooted knowledge of the business will motivate them to improve and monitor the system, specifically targeting the threats that may cause the most harm to the company.

So while paranoia is often the butt of office jokes, it may actually help the performance of a company’s security system. A paranoid CISO can do more for a business than a complacent leader. Embrace a healthy level of paranoia in your CISO for an improved system and better overall defenses against attacks.