Monday, Dec 15 2014

What CIOs Need to Excel in 2015

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What-CIOs-Need-to-Excel-in-2015

As technology continues to evolve rapidly, so does the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Like many other positions, the demands and responsibilities of this role are rising to meet the fast-paced changes throughout the industry. What is important for today’s CIOs — and what may be less important than it used to be?

Here’s a look at the future of the CIO role, for 2015 and beyond.

CIOs will be less tech-savvy, more boardroom-ready

Traditionally, the role of any IT professional has required high levels of technological skill. But in the modern business landscape, where every organization regardless of industry has an IT infrastructure to maintain, the technical side of a business is no longer separate — it’s an integral component of every department, and increasingly important to shareholders, partners, and customers.

The CIO of the (near) future will rely less on technical skill, and more on leadership and persuasion. CIOs will be responsible for gaining buy-in and getting the green light from shareholders and the C-suite, and for ensuring a strong business-IT alignment across the organization. These leaders can come from any background — not just IT.

Speed and agility are critical

Successful CIOs in 2015 will be able to move at the speed of technology. CIO strategies will incorporate high degrees of agility and scalability to accommodate the latest advances, leading organizations through massive transformations from companies that have tech departments, to world-class digital companies that also operate in the physical space.

The CIO of tomorrow understands that the competitive technology curve is moving away from strong IT skills and traditional IT services, and toward emerging digital business technologies in the social, mobile, analytics, and cloud spaces. Cutting-edge strategies in these areas will be vital to the success of any organization, particularly as big data evolves toward more practical uses and substantially increased ROI.

CIOs will adopt a customer point of view

The traditional role of the CIO has been internally focused. CIOs tend to consider internal operations and supporting functions, while leaving external impacts and customer-facing decisions to marketing and sales. But the new CIO will understand that the market is shifting toward customer-centric technologies and infrastructure decisions — and a customer-first attitude is essential for success.

Personalization, market segmentation, and targeting strategies must start at the foundational level in order to be effectively driven by the latest technologies. In 2015, successful CIOs will transition legacy skill sets to the new digital reality, and develop an outside-in view of an organization’s technology. Keeping up with the speed of the modern market will require massive changes in the mindsets of IT leaders as the focus shifts from maintaining internal functions, to streamlining external operations and creating a flawless customer experience.

For the modern CIO, success hinges on mastering the soft skills that have been regarded as the antithesis of the IT profession for decades. Exceptional communication, increased speed and agility, and strong leadership and persuasion skills will define the role of the CIO for 2015 and beyond.

 

 

Best-Practices--Job-Descriptions-and-Candidate-Profiles

When you’re filling IT positions at your company, you want to attract top talent and hire the right fit. Do you have the tools you need to make that happen? A compelling job description and an accurate candidate profile can work together to help you find and hire ideal IT candidates.

Developing your job description and candidate profile simultaneously will help you maintain consistency, clearly define the role for both candidates and your company, and increase your chances of finding the perfect IT professional. Here’s how you can create a job description that draws in top talent, and a candidate profile that helps you hire right the first time.

Job description: Less is more

Just as you don’t want to read through dense, overly long resumes that detail a candidates’ history back to grade school, IT candidates don’t want to slog through long-winded, highly detailed job descriptions with endless requirements. Long blocks of text remain unread, especially when they’re posted online.

To attract the best talent, your job description should market your company as a great place to work. It must be appealing, attractive, and as brief as possible without leaving out the essentials. Keep in mind that your description is competing with all the other hiring companies for a limited talent pool — and you need to impress IT candidates right from the start.

The components of a fantastic job description include:

  • Engaging headline: Don’t make this bland or generic. Simply listing the job title is not enough (and adding “now hiring” at the front is not an improvement). Include a few descriptive words that convey the nature of the job and your company.
  • Short requirements list: If you include a list of 10 requirements for a position, most candidates are going to be missing more than half of them — and therefore won’t apply. Focus on the three or four most critical skills, work styles, or behavior traits to include in your job description.
  • Job specifics: Offer an exciting summary of details about the job or project, the particular role you’re looking to fill, and the team that the candidate will be working with.
  • Exciting benefits: Your job description should sell the benefits of working for you. Beyond salary and benefit packages, let candidates know what they can expect with regard to training, opportunities for challenges, and advancement.
  • Employer brand: Highlight the reasons why people enjoy working for your company, including your workplace culture.

Top IT candidates don’t have to take every job that comes their way — they are able to pick and choose the project that excites them. In order to attract the best, your job description needs to sell the position and your company.

Candidate profile: Your hiring blueprint

Finding the perfect IT candidate means knowing more than their work experience, skills, and education. In addition to what’s listed in the job description, you need to consider a candidate’s behavioral and personality traits, as well as soft skills like communication, work ethic, attitude, and values.

Creating a candidate profile allows you to define a full, accurate picture of the ideal candidate. You’ll understand the type of person you need in this position before you start interviewing, and you’ll be able to tailor your interview questions and format to find the best qualities for the job.

When defining your candidate profile, keep in mind that you don’t want to hire someone who’s exactly like you — and you also don’t want someone who’s completely opposite. Aim for a happy medium and profile candidates who share your values and goals, and complement rather than mirror the existing strengths of your team.

Decide on the two-to-three most critical behavioral traits that the ideal candidate will possess. Some of the most common desirable traits for IT candidates include:

  • Focused: A positive attitude and specific ideas about the contributions they want to make to your company
  • Objective: Fair and unbiased candidates who gather information and seek input before making decisions
  • Reliable: Candidates who are consistently available and complete work on time
  • Communication: Strong communication skills with both coworkers and supervisors (may also extend to vendors, stakeholders, and customers)
  • Principled: Candidates with clear values who share those values with others
  • Flexible: Shows a supportive attitude toward change and is willing to try new ideas to achieve results
  • Team player: Demonstrates a willingness to work well with others, collaborate effectively, and share credit

Taking the time to develop an engaging job description and a thorough candidate profile in tandem will help you attract and identify the best IT candidates, and fill your open positions correctly the first time — whether you’re hiring a consultant or a permanent employee.

 

 

How-to-Make-2015-a-More-Productive-Year

Looking for a job can be stressful and time-consuming, whether you’re unemployed or unhappily employed. But with the New Year approaching, it’s the perfect time to turn things around and make a fresh start. Your job search doesn’t have to consume your life — by working smarter, you can corral your job-seeking activities and be more productive with the time you spend.

As an IT candidate, these tips will help you make 2015 your most productive year, so you can land the job of your dreams.

Ready, set, organize

Like any other task, your job search will be smoother if you have an efficient, dedicated workspace. Set up an area that will provide you with minimal interruptions — because each time you have to stop what you’re doing, it takes time to refocus and get back into the task.

Decide on the system you’ll use for organizing tracking your job search progress, and have it ready to go in your workspace. There are many different ways to keep track, so choose whichever method you feel most comfortable with that you’re likely to stick to — whether it’s spreadsheets, index cards, a weekly planner, or a tracking app.

Create a daily and weekly plan

Job seeking involves a lot of activities, and many of them are repetitive. You need to network and monitor your presence online, search for jobs, research companies, update your resume and cover letter, apply to jobs, follow up on submissions, attend interviews, and follow up with those. Developing a plan that reminds you when to do each of these activities helps you save a lot of time — and prevents you from chasing your tail.

A sample daily and weekly plan might include:

  • Monday: Review available positions you can apply to
  • Tuesday, Thursday: Research companies you plan to apply, take notes to use in your custom resume and cover letter
  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Follow up with one networking contact
  • Wednesday: Google yourself and weed out negative information, if needed
  • Friday: Follow up on any applications you sent out last week

Let technology find jobs for you

Actually searching for jobs that match your criteria can take a lot of your valuable time — but you don’t have to spend hours running Google searches and scouring job boards. Most online job boards provide a free alert system that notifies you via text or email when a new job is posted that meets your search criteria. There are also several Twitter feeds for job boards that send out tweets as new job postings come in. You can typically choose either daily or real-time updates, and select the alert type that’s most convenient for you.

As you subscribe to job alerts, don’t forget to check niche online job boards as well as general boards. Niche IT job boards can provide a richer and more focused resource for open positions — which makes your job search easier.

Tailor your resume and cover letter smartly

This may not save a lot of time, but customizing your resume and cover letter according to each job you’re applying for increases your productivity by producing more targeted, effective submission materials. The better you can express your qualifications for a specific position, the higher your chances of landing an interview.

You don’t have to rework your entire submission packet every time. But at a minimum, update your resume keywords and your Summary of Qualifications according to the requirements for the job you’re applying to, and enhance your cover letter with comments about the specific company that you’ve found through your research.

Work with a recruiter

One of the most efficient and time-saving steps you can take for your 2015 job search is to work with an IT staffing agency. Recruiters handle much of the legwork for you — finding positions that you’re best suited for, submitting your resume and cover letter, and scheduling interviews.

In addition, recruiters can help you get hired faster, for better jobs. Staffing agencies specializing in IT develop long-term relationships with IT hiring managers, giving you the value of a referral to help you get your foot in the door. A recruiter can also give you access to jobs that aren’t posted for public viewing, since many hiring managers often hire directly through staffing agencies instead of posting job descriptions.

Make 2015 your year to land your dream job with a streamlined, productive job search strategy!

 

 

IT-Executives--The-Secrets-of-Successful-Hiring

When you’re hiring IT leadership, it’s important to get the right person into the position, the first time. But what should you look for in an IT executive? Often, technical and management skills top the list of desired qualities, but there’s a secret characteristic that can be just as or more important than tech credentials: Charisma.

This quality is hard to define, and it’s also one that’s typically looked down on in technical circles. People with charisma may be viewed as “all charm and no brains” — using a persuasive personality to hide the fact that they have no skills or knowledge whatsoever.

While this may occasionally be the case, the truth is that more IT professionals are picking up on the importance of “soft skills” in today’s business landscape, where an ability to relate to stakeholders and the C-suite can get more done than the most brilliant coding or engineering skills.

Why hiring for charisma is important

More and more, IT isn’t just about technical competence. The role of IT is not only to build and maintain systems, but also to effect change, bring others onboard in a strategic direction, and influence peers, department leaders, stakeholders, and customers within a variety of internal and external settings.

The best IT leaders need at least a reasonable, working knowledge of the technologies their companies use. But beyond a fundamental grasp, it may be less important for leaders to demonstrate strong technical skills, and more important to possess soft skills that fall under the broad category of charisma.

How to hire IT leaders for the right qualities

Many professions, including IT, will often promote people based on their current job performance — only to find that they’re not well equipped for a leadership position. For some reason, it’s harder to see when IT pros who truly shine in their roles may flop as a leader. For example, no one would place a star HR manager into a high-level developer role, but high-performing technical resources are routinely dropped into leadership positions without debate.

There’s no doubt IT requires a higher level of technical know-how, but the role of today’s IT leader is aligning with more traditional management roles. To hire the right person for an IT executive position, evaluate the role itself before the likely candidates. Are the responsibilities of this particular role geared toward interacting mainly with the rest of the IT team — or will this leader spend more time communicating with the C-suite, shareholders, and end users? For IT executives whose role is to bridge the tech department with key non-technical people, charisma is more important than hard skills.

IT as a relationship business

In the modern business environment, IT staff members at every level are expected to leave the server room and “sell” ideas, at least internally. For IT leaders, the ability to successfully defend both technical and strategic decisions, and to take command of a situation when problems arise, are increasingly crucial to the overall performance of your organization.

So when you’re promoting IT leaders, look for that elusive quality of charisma to place your company ahead of the curve. 

 

 

What You Need to Know Before Reorganizing Your IT Department

IT reorganization is one of the biggest projects you may ever undertake as an IT manager. No matter how you approach a reorg, it’s going to cost you time, resources, and productivity. This means it’s essential to have a sound, business-oriented strategy in place before the decision to reorganize is made.

Here are the most important considerations for launching and implementing an effective IT reorganization for your company:

Know why you’re considering a reorganization

The best way to avoid potentially complex and costly mistakes is to understand the actual problems that prompted you to consider an IT reorg, and decide whether there’s another way to address those problems.

Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish with a reorganization. If your goals can be met through alternative fixes, try implementing the less disruptive solutions first.

If alternatives fail, or if reorganization is the clear answer, then it’s time to talk strategy.

Decide where to start

IT reorganization is a measure that’s intended to solve problems with the organization’s tech department. This means you need a thorough understanding of not just the problems themselves, but the issues they’re causing throughout the organization.

The first step in building a reorg strategy is to communicate — with your IT team, with key stakeholders, and with C-level management. Your approach may vary depending on the parties involved, but the goal is to same: to open conversations and gather input on pain points affecting various parts of the company, and IT areas that could stand improvement.

Gauge your reasons for reorganizing

There are several legitimate reasons to undertake IT reorganization. Here are some of the most common:

  • Your technology is an island: In today’s highly connected business environment, insular IT departments simply won’t survive. Bryan Kirschner, director of the Apogee Institute, indicates three must-have qualities for successful IT: outside-in, cloud-first, and mobile-centric. If your organization lacks these qualities, a reorganization may be the right solution.
  • IT is failing to deliver results: This is one of the most obvious reasons to consider a reorganization, but it’s also one that requires the most caution. If your IT department regularly misses deadlines and exceeds budgets, a reorg may be called for — but only if there’s no other way to fix these problems.
  • You’re new at the helm: If you’re a newly appointed IT leader, whether you’ve been promoted or arrived from another company, you may be itching to make sweeping changes. Depending on the actual situation, this may be a good idea — just be sure it’s the right one. Reorganizing simply because “it’s been a while since the last one” is never a good strategy.
  • The company mission refocuses on new technology: Every business in every industry today needs technology to thrive. If your organization is facing major changes to the way technology impacts your daily operations — such as migrating from single-channel to omni-channel customer experiences — reorganization is almost certainly the right choice.

Obtain buy-in at the C-level and within your team

If you don’t have key personnel on board, your chances of successfully reorganizing will plummet. As with any business initiative, C-level buy-in can make or break an IT reorganization — so make sure to involve them from the start, and maintain transparency by sharing your objectives throughout the process.

You’ll also need to involve your IT team, in order to keep morale elevated and maintain productivity during the often difficult and lengthy reorganization. Keeping your team involved and informed not only helps to decrease the stress that always comes with change, but also helps them feel they have a stake in the success of the reorg.

With thorough planning and communication, you can roll out an IT reorganization smoothly and effectively, and enjoy the benefits of a streamlined IT department for the entire organization. If you need help with this, or any, IT procedure, contact the experts at The Armada Group.

LookingForTalentedDevelopers

 

Wednesday, Nov 26 2014

Can iOS Apps Make Your Job Easier?

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Can iOS Apps Make Your Job Easier

Most of us are relying more on our smartphones and tablets every day. These indispensible pieces of technology can help us communicate, keep us organized, wake us up in the morning, and even help us find the keys we dropped somewhere in the car at night. But can your iPhone or iPad help you boost your brain function and make you more productive?

Not surprisingly, the answer is yes. Here are five apps for iOS that can help you work smarter and more efficiently — either directly or indirectly.

Brainbean

What does a memory game have to do with making your job easier? According to several studies, memory games can make you smarter in the short term, improve overall brain function, and even help to prevent dementia. Brainbean gives you eight free games that exercise your mind and improve memory, pattern recognition, and imagination:

  • Letter List gives you a letter, and asks you to come up with as many words as possible that start with the letter
  • Incomplete Drawing gives you part of a drawing and asks you to complete it with the power of your imagination
  • Word Scramble gives you a bunch of letter tiles, and has you make as many four-letter words as possible from those letters
  • Pipe Builder has you rearrange six tiles containing pipe segments to form a complete pipeline

Brainbean also includes Mosaic Drawing, Pattern Tiles, Block Builder, and Remote Association.

Babbel

Learning a new language is another proven way to boost brain function, but actually doing this is harder as you get older. Babbel provides an easy, interactive tool to help you learn a second language, or a third and fourth. Game-like activities are used to help you master words and phrases, and simple listen-and-repeat actions allow you to master pronunciation. There are 14 languages to choose from, including German, Spanish, French, and Italian.

Babbel is free for the first few levels. Advanced lessons are available for a monthly subscription fee.

Adobe Photoshop Sketch

This free-form sketching app from the biggest name in digital illustration lets you draw and sketch on photos or backgrounds that are imported from your camera, device storage, or the Adobe Creative Cloud. You can also sketch on a blank page. It includes five pens and a full color palette, as well as a ruler tool to easily draw straight lines. Adobe Photoshop Sketch is free, and makes a great tool for meetings and presentations.

Adobe Photoshop Mix

Another Adobe product that uses the Creative Cloud, this simplified version of Adobe’s flagship software lets you perform photo editing on your iPhone or iPad. Features include image mixing, enhancing, effects, cut-outs, and crops. And with connectivity to the Creative Cloud, you can access more advanced image editing tools such as content-aware fills and shake reduction.

Adobe Photoshop Mix is a free app, and can be extremely useful in meetings and presentations, especially on larger iPad screens.

Skitch

While not as versatile or free-form functional as the Adobe apps listed here, Skitch is an excellent on-the-go annotation tool. The app allows you to quickly and easily annotate web pages, PDF files, images and photos, and maps pulled from Apple Maps, allowing for more streamlined communication on the fly.

Skitch is free to download, but it costs $1.99 to get PDF markup capabilities (all other markup features are free). You can also connect the app to Evernote Premium for $4.99.

For more information on how to make your job easier, or to find a job that suits you better, contact the employment experts at The Armada Group. We help place candidates in top positions across the nation – and world.

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