6 Important Tips for Crafting a Strong Tech Resume

For those who are entering the tech job market, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that IT is a healthy industry with lots of job openings to go around. The bad news is this doesn’t make it any easier to impress potential employers and get hired.

Regardless of availability, the IT job market is highly competitive. No matter where you apply, you’ll need to make a strong case for hiring you over dozens or hundreds of other candidates with a varying range of experiences. And the first step toward making that case is crafting a resume that hiring managers can’t pass up.

If you need help packing your IT experience into your resume, these tips will show you how to create a resume that commands attention.

Claim your identity

Your resume should tell prospective employers who you are — but do you know the answer to that question? Many IT job seekers make the mistake of generalizing in the hopes of appealing to every employer, but this ultimately ends up weakening your resume.

Instead of positioning yourself as a developer, state that you’re a front-end developer or a Javascript developer. Don’t be a mere programmer — be a programmer analyst, or an application programmer. Build your resume around a specific role, and you’ll be better positioned as the right hire for that role.

Illustrate your passions

In addition to experience, an obvious passion for the work you do can go far in the eyes of employers. Use your resume to demonstrate how passionate you are. Listing projects is standard, but take it a step further and explain how you took your projects to the next level, and why.

You should also describe any extracurricular activities, student or professional organizations, or volunteer efforts you’ve been involved in prior to entering the IT job market.

Tone down the hype

If you’re crafting a resume with scant experience to back it up, you may be tempted to hype yourself heavily in order to demonstrate confidence. It’s better to use caution in this area — if you’re going to hype, make sure you have the skills to back it up.

Avoid phrasing that indicates you have skills or experiences you’re “working on” or “going to get around to.” If you’re currently taking extra courses or working toward certifications, it’s alright to state that. But it’s not okay to claim you’re already a Java expert because you can make a “hello, world” screen, or to say you’re CCNA certified if you have a class scheduled for next month.

Tailor to your audience

You might be a graduate, but that doesn’t mean you’re through with homework. The most effective resumes are tailored for the particular company you’re applying to — and that means you need to do some research.

Look for the most in-demand skills in your professional area, and those that the company is looking for specifically. Then create a revised version of your resume that highlights those skills. This way, you’ll have no problem breezing through the resume screening software, and a much better shot at catching the eye of a hiring manager.

Skip the filler

When your resume is stripped of hype and contains only core information, it might look a little short. This is when you could be tempted to add some text simply to take up space — and you might list things like email proficiency or Microsoft Excel as skills.

The problem here is that IT employers expect you to know the basics. Pointing out that you have obvious skills won’t win you any points, and will be seen for what it is: an attempt to pad your resume. Don’t worry too much about the length. If you’re a recent graduate or new to tech, employers won’t pass up your resume just because it’s short.

Get on GitHub

If you don’t already have a GitHub profile, or an active account on a similar online IT community, start building one now. The ability to give prospective employers a URL that showcases projects you’ve completed or worked on is worth more than your GPA. With a strong online profile and tangible work results, you can impress any employer enough to move to the next round.

The Armada Group knows what it takes to not only create a strong tech resume, but how to get through every phrase of the hiring process. Contact one of our experts today and learn how we can fill your staffing needs or find your dream placement today.

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Micro-jobbing takes your data science strategy to the next level

An uncertain economy has given rise to a variety of non-traditional employment scenarios. The expanding popularity of contractors, temporary employees, and freelance workers has launched a new variation on independent contractor arrangements, called micro-jobbing — and there are many ways this freelance-style platform can benefit your business.

What is micro-jobbing?

Like contractors, micro-jobbers are independent employees who contract their services to companies or individuals. The primary difference between traditional contractors and micro-jobbers is the length of the job. While independent contractors typically work on projects for several months to a year, micro-jobbers take on smaller tasks that can be completed in days to weeks.

Therefore, the scope of micro-jobbing projects is smaller than that of contracting jobs. Where a contractor might design and implement a new software application for a company, a micro-jobber may offer services as an independent tester, or create a new feature for an existing application.

Micro-jobbing and data science

Many people perceive micro-jobbers as third-rate outsourcers who may be from a foreign company and probably offer low-quality work for equally low prices. However, micro-jobbing is a viable platform for a lot of top talent — creative and motivated individuals who prefer not to work in an office environment, and enjoy choosing their own jobs and setting their own hours.

Data science is a complex field, but many skilled micro-jobbers have recognized the market value of this skill set and acquired experience in fields like information management, data filtering, and predictive analytics. There are a number of data science micro-job tasks that can add value to any IT department.

The benefits of micro-jobbing

Micro-jobbing arrangements are mutually beneficial for both companies and talent. For IT professionals, micro-jobbing provides a way to earn extra income without the restrictions of a traditional employment setting. And for organizations, hiring micro-jobbers allows you to gain valuable resources and services without the need for a full-time financial commitment.

Enabling micro-jobbing in your organization

For most companies, building the capacity for micro-jobbing requires a bit of organizational development and restructuring. Here are three steps you can take to pave the way for micro-jobbers in your organization:

  • Understand the scope of micro-jobs. Be realistic when deciding on the tasks you want to assign to micro-jobbers. A full-time commitment of three to six months isn’t suitable for this platform — instead, choose tasks that can be completed in a few weeks or less.
  • Work with procurement to fast-track onboarding. Because micro-jobbers are very short term, you’ll need a way to bring them into the organization quickly and efficiently. Be sure to discuss your micro-jobbing program with procurement and emphasize the difference between micro-jobbers and independent contractors, so they know what to expect.
  • Recruit micro-jobbers with a custom platform. Most of the existing popular platforms for micro-jobbers, such as Elance and TaskRabbit, are focused primarily on low-skill, low-paying tasks. To recruit talented micro-jobbers, your company may be better off building a branded platform and marketing your site directly to the data science community.

Implementing a smart micro-jobbing strategy can help your organization take your data science to the next level. The available talent pool is huge, and bringing in micro-jobbers can not only strengthen your overall data science strategy, but also help to keep your in-house team sharp, focused, and challenged. Talk to our recruiting experts today to find out how The Armada Group can help your company implement its best staffing option. 

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Conduct Regular System Checks to Survive compliance and security audits

No one enjoys an audit. You know that compliance and security are vital areas for your IT department, but facing an audit in these areas is like heading to the dentist for a root canal. Audits always seem to come at the wrong time. And it doesn’t help that no matter how prepared you think you are, the compliance auditor is going to find something wrong — after all, they have to keep their job.

Fortunately, you don’t have to suffer with anxiety every time a security or compliance audit is announced. By proactively addressing compliance and security issues, and performing regular checks that make compliance a year-round focus instead of an annual scramble, your IT department can rest easy when the auditor shows up.

Here’s what you can do to handle compliance issues regularly and stay prepared for audits 365 days a year, while also handling your day-to-day IT project load.

Plan (and budget) compliance work for IT every year

Like most of the IT industry, compliance and regulations change continually. It’s essential for your IT department to work proactively on compliance every year, rather than simply catching up before (or after) an audit. The best solution here is to plan realistic budgets and implement new compliance measures as they come up, instead of waiting for an auditor to point out the fact that they’re missing.

Designate a compliance control point

Rather than spreading compliance tasks through your IT team on an as-needed basis, which often results in a last-minute rush before an audit, appoint one person as your compliance central command to plan and budget your needs. This ensures someone is always keeping an eye on compliance, and you’ll know about potential problems before they become major issues.

Some of the responsibilities for your control point should include:

  • Reading the latest compliance and security publications
  • Attending conferences on new or changing regulatory and security measures
  • Scheduling the IT work required to ensure consistent compliance

Perform regular self-audits

Waiting for your regulators to show up for an audit can throw your IT department into a minor panic. To help control audit fever, create a regular audit schedule and perform “dry runs” with either internal auditors, or a third party that is separate and distinct from your regulators. In addition to helping your department understand and experience audits, these practices also help to strengthen your company’s security and governance positioning.

Prep a single file for your documentation prior to an audit

When you have an upcoming audit, prepare a single binder or efile that contains all of your documentation for compliance, including procedures, policies, system flow diagrams, and anything relevant that pertains to governance or security. Presenting this file to an auditor not only makes their job easier, but also creates a favorable first impression of your preparedness — which can positively impact your overall assessment.

By taking proactive steps to address security and compliance issues before audits happen, you and your IT department can ease audit anxiety and come through the experience quickly and painlessly. Speak to the staffing experts at The Armada Group today, to ensure your company is compliant and to ensure all your staffing needs are met.

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The Problem with Wearable Technology

 

Wearable tech is a relative newcomer to the technology landscape. Not too long ago, gadgets like Google Glass and the Pebble Smartwatch belonged in the realm of science fiction — but today, wearable technology is a fledgling reality. And it’s poised to have a significant impact on the business world.

While wearables were initially introduced as consumer technology, the focus is shifting toward enterprise applications. In fact, industry experts say it’s not a matter of if wearables will become part of the corporate culture, but when. But like any new technology, there are some issues surrounding wearables that CIOs and IT departments should be aware of in order to prepare for the entry of these smart gadgets into the workplace.

Here are some of the most common pitfalls to watch for involving enterprise wearables:

Wearable technology is not well defined

In modern terms, the latest crop of wearable tech devices is still in its infancy — and no one knows exactly what constitutes a wearable. Most personal wearables are centered around fitness or health, and often have connectivity with a mobile application. Devices that are considered enterprise wearables are largely smartglasses and smartwatches.

But new gadgets and categories are emerging, and there is no set definition for wearable technology. This can be problematic for CIOs and IT departments, especially when it comes to defining workplace policies for wearables, if you’re not sure what those policies should apply to.

Smart gadgets suffer from development challenges

As a relatively new technology, wearables face some serious concerns that impact performance and user experience. Some of these challenges, particularly for smartwatches and smartglasses, include:

  • Energy inefficiency for color displays
  • Insufficient Internet connectivity, often creating the need for companion devices
  • Poor battery life
  • A lack of standards for waterproofing charging connectors
  • Privacy and security concerns over personal data collection
  • Awkward design issues

These challenges could make it difficult to integrate wearables into an enterprise environment, particularly the connectivity and security concerns.

No standardized platform for wearable tech

Much like smartphones and tablets, the wearables industry is working without standardized platforms. There are also no regulatory standards in place for wearable tech, bringing challenges for IT departments when it comes to measuring and reporting from a regulatory perspective.

Ideally, wearable software should be hardware-agnostic. Greater collaboration between wearable designers and enterprise developers could lead to platform standardization and across-the-board success — but for now, software systems for wearables are diverse and fragmented.

IT departments have a smaller margin of error

The enterprise wearables industry brings some unique potential pitfalls to IT, especially for rolling out new wearable tech. Smartglasses in particular come with different user experience and design requirements, and many IT departments have no prior exposure to working within these requirements.

In addition, overreaching is a common problem for wearable rollouts — IT departments take on too much, too soon, on the strength of the marketing hype surrounding many of these hot new gadgets. The best strategy is a controlled, small-scale first deployment to test the waters before taking wearables company-wide.

Wearables and legacy systems don’t mesh

The majority of new technologies are designed for integration with legacy systems. This is not so with wearables. Organizations may introduce wearable tech expecting to see productivity gains, only to discover that the utility of wearables relies on tapping into other corporate systems — and there is no easy way to bridge the two.

One of the largest stumbling blocks with wearable integration is data input. Legacy systems are generally built to accept keyed data, but most wearables don’t have keyboard inputs. Instead, they rely on voice or touch input that doesn’t translate to the legacy infrastructure.

The gains made possible by wearable tech are not sufficient to support the expense of replacing existing systems. Instead, CIOs and IT departments need to find a way to bridge wearables with legacy infrastructures in order to derive enterprise value from introducing these new devices to the workplace.

For more on how wearables and other new technologies can fit into your company structure, contact the IT experts at The Armada Group today.

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10 administrative skills every IT manager should have

IT managers need to know more than the tech side of a business. And while administrative skills might seem counterintuitive to the IT professional, there are some non-technical skills you must have in order to successfully manage your IT team.

As an IT leader, you serve as the bridge between your team and upper management or business users — ensuring projects are cleared, tasks are assigned, everyone stays motivated, and the work gets done. Having or developing the following10 indispensable administrative skills will help you do just that.

1. Clearly defining projects and goals

Most IT professionals are creative and resourceful, and will find a way to complete any type of project — as long as they fully understand the project’s objectives and desired outcomes. To keep your team productive, you must be able to define requirements, goals, and expectations to a detailed level. This may mean rejecting sandbox work or project prototyping if there is no definable objective, or identifying the right point to cut off work before it enters unproductive territory.

2. Relationship building with upper management

Like it or not, IT is inextricably linked to the politics of business. Your team’s ability to progress hinges on a solid working relationship with mid-level and upper management throughout the organization. Great IT managers are able to build trust with other management personnel, which gives their own team the leeway they need to undertake projects without interference.

3. Fighting for the budget

Nearly every IT team has experienced the frustration of stopped work because it’s “not in the budget.” IT managers must be able to sell the work to management convincingly, with project justifications, detailed returns on investments, and the hard numbers to back everything up.

4. Serving as a political shield

While there are some exceptions, most IT pros would rather stay in the world of technology, and avoid the world of office politics. In addition to relationship building with management, a successful IT manager will take on political pressures and battles for their team, whether the conflict is with management, shareholders, or other departments — ensuring a clear path to progress.

5. Addressing problems proactively

No project goes off without a hitch, but small snags can often become major roadblocks if they’re not addressed quickly. IT managers should be able to spot problems in any area — technical, strategic, political, or operational — and diffuse the issue before it becomes a full-blown situation.

6. Promoting teamwork

A cooperative and committed team is essential to the success of your projects. However, if there is a competitive environment in your organization where everyone feels the need to outdo everyone else, this atmosphere can adversely affect your team and cause them to work at cross-purposes. Effective IT managers must not only encourage, but practice teamwork — and demonstrate that assisting others is just as valued as individual contributions.

7. Employing the power of praise

Encouraging teamwork, along with productivity, job satisfaction, and loyalty, can be fairly easy to accomplish through the simple method of praising your team. Studies have shown that recognition of an employee’s efforts — even if it’s nothing more than a spoken thank you — can drive engagement and boost a company’s bottom line.

8. Demanding accountability

In any given team, you’ll find at least a few people who are adept at passing the buck. They’ll refuse to accept responsibility for mistakes or problems — and when that happens, the whole team loses. As an IT manager, you need to be familiar with the everyday situations and responsibilities of your team. This way, you’ll know exactly what went wrong with who, and ensure that no one is blamed or demoralized for someone else’s mistakes.

9. Being accountable

As the saying goes, you can’t talk the talk unless you walk the walk. Everyone makes mistakes, including IT managers. If you want your team to practice accountability, you need to own up to your own responsibilities and admit when you’ve gone wrong.

10. Spotting employee burnout

Many IT professionals are highly driven, willing to work hard and put in extra time to solve a problem or complete a project on deadline. But this relentless pace can sometimes lead to burnout — a dangerous situation, and one that the most driven of your team will never let on about. As an IT manager, you need to be able to recognize the signs, and step in to reward hard-working team members with a day off to recharge.

At The Armada Group, we recognize what it takes to find great IT professionals, and are adept at picking out top talent in every facet of IT. Speak with a member of our team today, and learn how we can quickly fill vacancies at your facility with the best talent across the nation.

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5 Tips to Prepare for  a Phone Interview

Prepping for interviews is an essential part of any job search — but are you ready for the right kind of interview? You might have been preparing for an in-person interview, only to find that your initial interview will be over the phone.

Many companies use phone interviews as a pre-screening tool. These interviews are faster and more convenient for busy hiring managers, and can help them reduce a large pool of applicants who are qualified on paper to a manageable size for in-person interviews. If you survive the phone screening, you’ll be invited in to sit down for a traditional interview.

Getting ready for a phone interview is similar to prepping for a traditional interview, but there are a few modifications and additional steps you should take to prepare. These five tips will help you ace your phone interview and move on to the next phase.

1. Take it seriously

The idea of a phone interview can seem informal, so it’s common to think that you’ll be able to just rattle off your qualifications and pass with ease — and therefore, you don’t need to prepare. But the fact is that companies use phone interviews to screen out applicants, and they’re looking for a reason to not schedule a formal interview with you.

Prepare thoroughly for a phone screening, just as you would for a traditional interview. Make sure you’ve studied the job description, researched the company, and practiced your responses to common interview questions.

When should you start preparing for a phone interview? Preferably, as soon as you send off your resume — some hiring managers like to save even more time by asking to do the phone interview the first time they call, instead of scheduling a time for later.

2. Print out your materials

Unless you have all of your application materials memorized completely, it’s a good idea to print everything out and have it in front of you during a phone interview. You’ll almost certainly be asked about specific things that appear on these documents. Make a hard copy of your:

  • Resume and bio
  • Cover letter
  • Full job description
  • Supporting documentation, such as your portfolio or internship position description

In addition to these documents, you can create a “cheat sheet” that will help you stay focused during the phone interview. Make notes of any critical points you want to make with the employer, such as your relevant skills and experience, your interests and passions, and particular abilities that match the written job description.

3. Prep your environment

While you’re not interviewing face to face, you still have to present yourself as a professional during a phone screening. This means you’ll need a good quality phone — a landline, if possible — that doesn’t produce delays, echoes, or tinny sounds, and won’t drop your call in the middle of the interview.

You’ll also need a quiet environment to conduct the interview where you won’t be distracted or interrupted. Choose a private room with a door, where there won’t be traffic noise or barking dogs. If other people will be around during the interview, stress the importance of not having background noise. And if you’re unable to have quiet and privacy at home, consider reserving a private room at a library or other place where you won’t be interrupted.

4. Dress for success

Even though the interviewer isn’t going to see you during a phone screening, it’s still important to prepare and dress the same as you would for a traditional interview. Grab a shower, eat breakfast, and wear a professional outfit for your phone interview.

Why should you do this? Going through the motions of preparing for a live interview will put you in the right frame of mind. If you’re still in your pajamas and interviewing from your bed, you’re likely to feel you’re having an informal chat with a friend, instead of a professional interview that will decide whether you get the job you want.

5. Stand up (or sit straight)

Once again, the hiring manager can’t see you during a phone interview — but your position matters. Like your attire, the way you physically conduct yourself during a conversation affects your frame of mind. Research shows that people who are standing while speaking project themselves better, and feel more confident in what they’re saying — which translates even over the phone.

If you’re uncomfortable or unable to stand, you should at least sit up straight behind a desk or table, with your hard copy documents in front of you. This position projects a more professional stance than slumping on a couch or lounging in bed.

Getting ready for a phone interview? Contact our team of recruiting experts at The Armada Group. We can help you prepare for any interview situation, and ace them all!

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