How to Better Measure Your Success in IT

Most IT departments are, by nature, results-driven. And because IT loves numbers and formulas, you’ll find myriad combinations of analytics and KPIs and data charts designed to measure success — usually in terms of output or dollars. But how good are these measurements in gauging the success of your career on a day-to-day basis?

If you’re an IT pro, and you want raises and promotions and accolades (and who doesn’t?), all those analytics won’t help you much in the way of personal advancement. There are better ways to track your progress that can alleviate the daily stresses of your job and help you become more satisfied, productive, and promotable.

Here are three of them, relating to the most common issues IT professionals face in the workplace: prioritizing, communicating, and building relationships.

Prioritize: Measuring where all your time really goes

For an IT pro, there are never enough hours in the day. Your workload always seems to exceed the amount of time you have to spend on it, and every week you feel further behind. But the good news is, you’re probably spending a lot of time on tasks you don’t need to worry about — and you can focus your efforts to increase productivity and decrease stress.

Take the time each day to write down your top three-to-five priorities. Then keep track of what you do all day, and how long you do it. Once you have these lists, figure out what percentage of time you’re spending on your priorities versus everything else, and prune out the clutter. If your workload is actually too heavy to accomplish your core tasks, you can show this data to your boss and ask to have non-essential activities reassigned.

Communicate: Measuring the effectiveness of what others are hearing

Good communication is essential in the workplace. As an IT pro, you need to communicate not only with the rest of your team, but also with your supervisors, management, people in other departments, or even customers. And the most common barrier to communication is that not everyone you need to convey information to speaks the same language.

When you’re communicating something, the tendency is to think only about what you have to say. But the key to effective communication is to understand how the other person needs to hear it. If you’re speaking to a non-tech person, you can’t use jargon or complex terms. If your style is straightforward and to the point, a less direct person may find you abrasive or intimidating — and therefore will only hear your tone, not the words you’re saying.

Consider the communication issues you’ve experienced in light of your audience. Is it possible they could have misunderstood you because of their listening style? To measure your effectiveness in communicating, pay attention to nonverbal cues that suggest they’re confused by the terms you’re using, or tuning out your words in favor of your tone. You can adjust the way you convey information to make sure everyone’s clear, resulting in smoother daily operations all around.

Relate: Measuring your workplace relationships

Relationships make the working world go ‘round. When you have strong relationships in the workplace, your career will flourish — but weak relationships can hamper or cripple your progress. You may get along great with like-minded people, but what about those from different generations, different cultures, or even different departments?

Improving your workplace relationships will help you get ahead, and make for a more harmonious environment for everyone. It only takes a few minutes at a time to build rapport — you can choose a day to sit with a different group at lunch, or invite a co-worker you don’t know well for a cup of coffee. Make it a point to offer authentic compliments on other people’s work, especially those in different departments, and send a quick thank-you when another person does something that positively affects your work.

Charts and analytics are great for measuring the technical ROI of your work, but these real-world measurements can help you achieve personal satisfaction and advancement. Speak to the experts at The Armada Group today to find out how to take a better measure of your IT success, and enjoy lowered stress and higher productivity.

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Why Your Developers Should be Focusing on Innovation

With the rise of easily accessible technologies like the cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), the digital landscape is more competitive than ever. Organizations looking for an edge need to focus on innovation — especially when it comes to apps.

App development is the new frontier for innovation and organizational change. The best way to achieve this is to give your developers room and encouragement to innovate, by making their lives easier and providing them with the tools they need to produce great apps and secure valuable intellectual property (IP) for your organization.

The following tips will help you help your developers, leading to increased innovation and driving competition in a fast-paced technical world.

Go all in with the public cloud

For most organizations, building an in-house infrastructure with enough servers, storage, and services to provide developers with sufficient resources for innovation just isn’t practical, or even feasible. The public cloud is a faster and more economical choice, both for developers and the organization as a whole.

Public clouds offer highly efficient, flexible infrastructures that can scale up as needed, and consume only those resources developers actually use. Embracing the public cloud reduces project completion times and product time-to-market, and saves you significant money.

Broaden access to tools and services

With the rise of SaaS and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service), the many tools and resources employed by developers can be readily available. In the past, most organizations relied on long-term contracts for services and tools, often spending hundreds or thousands on legacy and enterprise software in the interests of cost efficiency over time — complete with drawn-out approval processes and lengthy installations and rollout.

This approach is detrimental to app developers, who may switch the tools and services they use from day to day and prefer to test out a tool before making a long-term commitment. You can encourage innovation by foregoing long-term contracts and letting developers self-select the tools they’ll use.

One of the most effective ways to do this is by giving them access to enterprise developer marketplaces, such as those from Windows Azure, Red Hat, and Heroku. These marketplaces allow developers to work with a wide variety of enterprise-ready tools and APIs, which help them build better applications, faster.

Encourage freedom from locks and controls

When your developers are locked down to a single platform or language, innovation is stifled. Allowing and encouraging them to design platform agnostic apps for the Web, mobile, and Internet of Things devices will save your developers a lot of time and grief.

What’s more, you can encourage innovation by limiting the controls placed on developer experimentation. Consider monitoring tools and API management solutions that take security measures into account, but still provide developers a window into network traffic.

Give developers time for pet projects

In general, developers are highly creative and love to make things. Regardless of what they’re working on for the organization, chances are high they’re also invested in a few personal side projects. They’ll work on these projects on their own — but your organization can benefit by allowing developers to pursue pet projects at work.

The ability to collaborate with co-workers on side projects and invest paid time in developing them often leads to positive, unanticipated developments, such as solving a business problem that was previously intractable. You may also end up with new products to add to your organization’s portfolio — AdSense, Gmail, and Google Hangouts all began as Google employees’ side projects.

If you provide your developers with tools and resources they can use without limits, and the time they need to pursue creative solutions, you’ll benefit from the innovative apps and products they turn out.

For more information on innovation – for your employees or your recruiting strategy – contact the innovative recruiting experts at The Armada Group. We know what it takes to stay at the forefront of our industry, and can help you with any staffing issue today. 

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Getting the Most Value out  of Your Recruiting Support

Finding a job isn’t easy, especially in a highly competitive industry like IT. Many tech job candidates choose to work with a recruiter during their job search for a variety of reasons, from finding employment faster to landing the best possible position that matches their skills and abilities.

Here are some of the benefits of using IT recruiters for your job search, along with tips on how you can work better with recruiters to gain maximum value from your working relationship.

Get both feet in the door

While recruiters certainly work with IT job applicants, they are employed by hiring companies, either as in-house recruiters or third-party recruiting services. This means recruiters work to develop relationships with hiring managers and human resource professionals in the companies they work for — and those hiring managers prefer applicants who are referred by a trusted recruiter.

When you work with a recruiter, your resume typically goes to the top of the pile, and you’re more likely to be called for an interview than candidates who submit their resumes cold.

Gain access to “secret” jobs

Many companies don’t advertise their best IT positions. They may not have the necessary infrastructure to handle the flood of resumes, or they may prefer to choose candidates from a select pool of trusted resources — which typically includes recruiters they’ve developed relationships with.

Working with a recruiter gives you the opportunity to apply for positions that aren’t advertised to the public. Not only are these often better jobs, but there’s also a shorter time from application to employment, as the company doesn’t have to deal with hundreds of hopeful candidates and endless rounds of interviews.

Land the perfect career

Hiring managers and human resource personnel will typically have several responsibilities within their organization. But an IT recruiter has just one job — matching the right candidates to the right positions. Recruiters are familiar with the companies they work for, and the candidates they represent. They’re able to give you inside information on why you would (or wouldn’t) fit well with a particular company or position, and ensure that you get hired at a company you’ll love to work for.

Free career resources

IT recruiters can help you with other aspects of your job search, beyond the application process. Most recruiters offer interview practice and training, skills development opportunities, and other resources that will help you with your current job search and beyond. Recruiters can provide you with career guidance and direction, especially if you’re not sure which employment path is the best to take.

Tips for working with IT recruiters

Recruiters can benefit you in many ways during your job search, but there are some things you should do to ensure a smooth path to employment:

  • Stick with one recruiter. Some IT job candidates believe that working with multiple recruiters will increase their chances at getting hired — but in fact, the opposite is usually true. Companies may work with more than one recruiting agency, and if two recruiters present your name for the same position, it can keep you from getting the job and damage your relationship with both recruiters.
  • Be honest. If you’ve sent out (or you’re still sending) resumes directly to companies in addition to working with a recruiter, let the recruiter know if he or she offers to send your information to a company where you’ve already applied — especially if you’ve been turned down. Referring a candidate who’s previously applied can harm a recruiter’s reputation, and chances are they won’t want to continue working with you.
  • Stay organized. Keep track of your job search, even if the recruiter is also monitoring your schedule. Note which companies you have resumes in with, who’s contact you, where you’ve interviewed, and who you’ve followed up with. Maintain detailed notes, along with dates, about all of your job search activities so you can reference them later.

Working with an IT recruiter like The Armada Group can help you ramp up your job search and find a great job, faster. Make sure you keep the relationship honest and professional, and you can enjoy all the benefits of having a recruiter on your side while you find the perfect job. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

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Will SmartWatches be the Breakout for Wearable Technology

Wearable technology has a lot of exciting potential, but so far gadgets ranging from GPS shoes to Google Glass have amounted to little more than interesting fads. Could smartwatches push wearable tech into the mainstream consumer markets? With the official announcement of the Apple Watch, set for release in early 2015, wearables may move out of the fad phase and into everyday life.

Smartwatches on the market now

The smartwatch is not a new tech category. In fact, Samsung, Sony, and Motorola are just a few of the brands currently offering the gadgets in an increasingly crowded space. So far, consumer demand for these devices has not been overwhelming, and the smartwatch is viewed more as a James Bond-esque accessory for diehard tech fans than a “must-have” piece of technology.

Most of the current crop of smartwatches emphasizes a single main functionality, whether it’s health and fitness, smartphone notifications, or mapping and communication. The same features can be accessed with fitness bands and smartphones, lending these devices a limited appeal.

Apple’s game-changing smartwatch gamble

While current smartwatches have limited uses, the Apple Watch is said to offer full functionality for fitness tracking, smartphone integration, and more. On the fitness side, the watch offers a tracking app along with a heart rate monitor and accelerometer. A wide range of apps work with the Apple Watch, and users will also be able to receive short calls through the watch when an iPhone is linked to the device, which contains a microphone and speaker.

Other features of the Apple Watch include an interactive GPS with different types of vibrations for turning left or right, haptic message notification that feels like a “tap on the wrist,” and the ability to run third-party apps — not just those from the iTunes store. Apple CEO Tim Cook called the watch “the most personal device we’ve ever created” at the public announcement for the device.

Apple: Redefining the market (again)?

In 2007, Apple transformed the mobile device industry with the release of the iPhone. Some analysts believe the Apple Watch will do the same for the wearable tech landscape, making smartwatches a “must-have” for consumers — and driving competitors to up the game and produce devices with similar features and functionality.

If the smartwatch goes mainstream, the device could impact a number of industries. While the impact may not be to the degree smartphones cut into the market for digital cameras and MP3 players, it’s projected that a successful smartwatch could disrupt the fitness band industry and impact traditional watchmakers.

The Apple Watch will be available in three versions: a standard model with a black or silver stainless steel body, a sports model in gray or silver aluminum, and a luxury model with a hardened, 18-carat gold body. Pricing for the device starts at $349, and 30 million units are expected to be sold in 2015.

Need help finding candidates who understand and utilize all the most current and up-to-date technologies on the market? Contact The Armada Group today!

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Can Using Apps Improve Your Resume

An updated resume is an important tool for anyone, even if you’re not looking for a job right now. It’s a good idea to keep your resume continually fresh — noting new accomplishments or certifications, updating quantified results, adding portfolio links, and clearing off items that are no longer relevant. You should also have your resume handy and accessible, especially if you’re currently job hunting.

The good news is that you can do all of this right from your smartphone or tablet. Here are five apps that can help you create and maintain a recent, polished resume that’s ready to send or show to prospective employers.

1. Microsoft Word

The overwhelming top choice for resume format is .doc or .docx, which makes Microsoft Word an obvious choice for resume-generating apps. There are two ways to get MS Word on your phone: Microsoft Office Online, which can be accessed through a browser, or Microsoft Office Mobile, a free read-only app that you can use to create and edit documents with an Office 365 subscription ($7 per month).

For most users, the mobile app is the better choice. It’s a slimmed-down version of Word designed specifically for smaller screens, with an intuitive interface and mobile-friendly controls. The best feature of MS Word is the wide selection of resume templates that make resume-building on the go easy.

2. Resume Builder Pro (Android)

This Android app lets you build a resume quickly and easily with a database-driven approach. The app gives you individual sections to populate with information, such as Objective, Skills, and Education, and then generates a clean, professional-looking resume in .docx format — which is emailed to the address of your choice.

Potential drawbacks to this app: You have to move through multiple screens to make minor changes, and any formatting changes you make in Word will have to be re-applied after you edit through the app.

Resume Builder Pro is priced at $4.99 for the Android.

3. Resume Builder Pro (iOS)

While this app has the same name as the Android app above, it’s not the same program — though it does have similar features. Resume Builder Pro / Pocket Resume for the iPhone and iPad also generates database-driven resumes from individual sections you fill in. An extra feature this app includes is the ability to pull and integrate information from your LinkedIn account.

While the app doesn’t generate resumes in Word format, you can export to Dropbox, directly to a printer, or as a PDF to email. Resume Builder Pro for iOS costs $3.99.

4. LinkedIn apps

LinkedIn has become the essential social network for any job seeker. To potential employers, you might seem suspect if you don’t have a detailed LinkedIn profile available. And while LinkedIn offers basically the same information as your resume, but in a different format, you don’t have to write your resume twice to use it.

With LinkedIn’s profile editing interface, you can import an existing resume in a few clicks. The business-oriented social network also offers a suite of free apps to help with your resume and job search, including a mobile LinkedIn interface, Connected, Job Search, Pulse, Recruiter, and SlideShare.

5. LinkedIn Resume Builder

This experimental software from LinkedIn Labs offers to turn your existing LinkedIn profile into a functional resume. The LinkedIn Resume Builder offers a variety of templates, and you can share your resume through an exported PDF or a custom link. You can also edit the resume after it’s generated from your profile.

If you’re already active on LinkedIn and have a detailed profile, this free tool is an easy way to create a professional resume quickly from your computer or mobile device.

For more information on how to best build a professional resume, contact the career experts at The Armada Group. We know what top IT companies are looking for in candidates, and can help you build a resume to suit their expectations. 

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The Evolution of Software Engineering  Skills

Technology may change in the blink of an eye, but the basic job of a developer or software engineer remains the same: to produce code. Writing code is the heart of every developer task, from debugging and maintenance to creating brand new software.

However, many of the tools, resources, and skills developers use to crank out code have evolved along with technology, particularly with the emergence of the cloud. Here are some examples of the ways modern cloud developers differ from software engineers before them — and a few things that haven’t changed.

Source code control systems

This type of system isn’t new — in fact, developers have used them for decades to store and track codes, versions, and revisions. All source code control systems have the same basic components:

  • A repository where code is stored
  • Revision control tools to manage copies of the master code
  • A version system that keeps track of releases

For the modern developer, the difference in source code control systems is awareness and mastery of adaption. Working with these systems in the cloud requires the ability to manipulate code for a widely dispersed workforce. The distributed git system, made popular by the collaborative developer website GitHub, is the most widely used, but centrally controlled systems like Microsoft Team Foundation Server and Apache Subversion are also commonly used in cloud development.

Agile development methods

There is increasing pressure on modern developers and software engineers to push products to market faster. This has led to the creation and practice of smaller, faster, and more flexible methods for producing code — and speed increases are often achieved through collaboration over a git system, with developers who may be located in diverse geographic areas.

For example, one method many developers employ is called a “sprint.” Sprints are periods of time, usually a week or two, when a team of developers does nothing but produce working software.

Platform as a Service

A lot of end users are familiar with the cloud term Software as a Service (SaaS), a time-saving and cost-effective method for using programs and applications that are hosted on the cloud rather than on workstations or servers, and accessed with an Internet connection.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is similar in that it delivers large, expensive components developers use on a hosted platform, without hefty overhead or upfront investment. PaaS is a cloud computing layer that provides infrastructure build, integration testing, and software deployment — removing overhead for the developer and allowing coding to happen faster.

Multilingual flexibility

For a long time, developers could build a career by becoming proficient in a single programming language. Today’s cloud developers need greater linguistic capabilities — as least in the languages they use to talk to computers. Most programming languages are decades old, but modern developers are combining them in new ways in order to work with all the domain-specific languages that can go into a single software product.

For example, a system developer might be fluent in Perl, BASH, and Python, while a front-end developer must speak JavaScript, CSS, HTML, and XML.

All factors considered, speed is the primary difference between previous generations of software engineers and the new breed of agile cloud developers. What once represented a year’s worth of output can now be created in a matter of days, and the process can be repeated week after week.

But at the end of the day, developers deal with code. And that will never change.

 

The Armada Group knows what modern skills developers need to cultivate and maintain in order to be at the forefront of their industry. To speak with one of our recruiting specialists, or to find a top IT candidate, contact our team today.

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