The 5 most In-Demand Software Engineering Skill Sets

As technology continues to take over the world, there is a continuing and massive demand for skilled software developers. Employers are seeking software engineers who are talented with both core technologies and emerging IT areas, as innovation leads to better mobile devices, wearable tech, and even robotics.

While there is demand in nearly every area, some skill sets are particularly sought after in software developers. Here’s what employers are looking for now to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of technology.

The top 5 foundational skills

The hot new thing is always in demand, but some developer skill sets simply don’t go out of style. Recent research from IT career service Dice.com states that the five highest-searched skill terms for software developer candidates are:

  • Java / J2EE: The Java platform retains its place as the most in-demand skill for software engineers — which isn’t all that surprising considering how many applications and systems are powered by Java.
  • .NET: Microsoft’s user-friendly framework comes in second, thanks to an overwhelming majority of businesses that run on Microsoft.
  • C++: This high-level, general-purpose language is versatile enough to remain in demand for many employers.
  • C#: Designed in the tradition of Java and implemented primarily on Windows, C# is the fourth most sought-after skill set on the list.
  • SQL: Database software is a primary objective for numerous businesses, especially those looking to capitalize on Big Data — so this database language enjoys high demand among employers.

The search terms that round out the top 10 on Dice.com’s list include “senior,” HTML, “web,” C, and Linux. These skills are essential must-haves for businesses across every industry, and demand for them won’t drop any time soon.

The hottest emerging software skills

In addition to core skill sets, employers are looking for software developers with up-and-coming talent. Current and near-future technology development in fields like the Internet of Things and wearable tech is driving demand for fresh new skills that are still “in beta,” so to speak, compared to core skills.

Some of the most sought-after emerging IT skills include:

  • Mobile technology, including Android and iOS platforms
  • Embedded systems and the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Robotics
  • Wearable technology
  • Hadoop
  • Big Data

Software developers with mastery of traditional platforms, who’ve incorporated one or more of the hottest emerging skill sets, can likely expect their pick of careers as employers compete for top talent. In addition, the modern business environment prefers software engineers who also have a great business sense and strong soft skills.

For help finding candidates who posess these skills and more, contact the recruiting experts at The Armada Group today. We understand the skills candidates need to have to succeed in today's IT environment, and maintain a vast network of talented candidates who can fulfill all the requirements of your business.

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Why and How to Say no To a Job Offer

A job search can be a long and frustrating process. Of course, your ultimate goal is to end up with a great career, in an exciting place to work, with a fantastic salary. You might take a good job, in a nice place to work, with a decent salary. You definitely don’t want a crappy job, in a bad place to work, with a pathetic salary — but if you’ve been looking long enough, you may be tempted to settle for less than you need.

Taking the first job you’re offered might be the wrong choice. And if you happen to get more than one job offer, you’ll have to decide which to accept, and you’ll be left having to turn one down. Here are some tips to help you recognize when you should say no to a job offer — and how to politely turn down a job that’s just not right for you.

Salary: When enough isn’t enough

While there are many different reasons people might want a certain job, from a great benefits package to a nap room for employees, “making a lot of money” still tops the list for many. The salary is an important consideration for any job offer. Yours should be commensurate with your experience and the position you’re being hired for — if the company is offering significantly less than your last job with no subsequent perks or benefits to make up for it, or significantly lower than the average salary for that position, you should probably say no.

In addition to the salary itself, be sure to consider the job responsibilities. You might find that you’ll be making the same amount, but you’ll have a lot more responsibility and will therefore work much harder — without a raise to show for your efforts. Under these circumstances, it may not be the right job.

Responsibilities: When your get-up won’t go

Motivation is essential to long-term career satisfaction. Your initial reading of a position’s responsibilities should motivate you to perform, and the interview should reinforce that motivation on both your part and that of the employer.

If the actual responsibilities don’t seem clear during the interview, be sure to ask questions that clarify exactly what the job will involve. You don’t want to end up doing a job that you’re not qualified for — or conversely, one that will present little to no challenge and result in career stagnation. If there doesn’t seem to be ample on-the-job motivation or room to grow, it’s likely a position you’ll want to decline.

Culture: When you’re a square peg

Finding out about an organization’s culture before you accept a job offer is a must. A toxic environment is a definite don’t, but you also don’t want to work in a culture that is radically different or oppositional to your own working style — such as excessive formalism for creative positions, or a laid-back atmosphere that borders on indifference in a highly competitive industry.

Pay attention to cultural cues during your job interviews, so you can tell whether you’d be a good fit for this particular company. Asking questions such as why the person who held the position before you left, or how employees are rewarded for innovation or extra effort, can elicit telling responses that will help you decide how comfortable you’d be in the environment.

How to say “thanks, but no thanks” politely

If you find yourself with a job offer you have to refuse, it’s best to turn it down gently and graciously, no matter how strongly you feel about the offer. Here’s how:

  • Offer your heartfelt thanks. Keep in mind that the recruiter or hiring manager has probably spent several hours reviewing your resume, researching you on social media, and interviewing you. They may have also talked you up to the team before offering you the job. Indicate that you know how much went into recruiting you, and you appreciate their efforts, by saying thanks for specific things the interviewer did, like answering all your questions or introducing you to key personnel.
  • Give a brief, understandable reason. It’s rude to leave hiring managers clueless over why you’re declining the position — but if you get too specific here, you could step on toes fairly hard. It’s nearly always best to state that you’re declining the offer after careful consideration because you’ve decided to pursue other opportunities.
  • Keep in touch. Even turning down a job offer is not a good reason to burn bridges. You never know when the wrong opportunity might become the right one, or you’ll get the chance to do a favor for a hiring manager by sending the right candidate their way — and you’ll build goodwill for your career along the way.

In the long run, holding out for the right job — and being able to say no to the wrong one — is the best thing you can do for your career. Consider your options carefully before you accept an offer, and don’t be afraid to turn down a position that could put you back on the job search path a lot sooner than you’d planned. Partner with The Armada Group during your job search, to find out how our team of staffing experts can find positions you'll want to say "Yes!" to.

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5 Non-Traditional Interview Questions to Uncover the Best Candidates

There is no doubt that the standard interview has weaknesses. The interview as a hiring tool is not going away any time soon — but recruiters and hiring managers need a way to strengthen this process in order to make better decisions and find the right candidates for the job.

While your interview format should still retain some standard questions, you can uncover the best candidates by adding non-traditional questions into the mix. Here are five unexpected interview questions that will help you refine your hiring process and select great candidates for your open positions.

1. What is your definition of success?

This question is similar to the standard “what are your career goals” line, but it places a slightly different emphasis on a candidate’s aspirations. By asking interviewees to give their own definition of success – without tying it specifically to the position they’re interviewing for – you’ll know not only what their goals are in terms of working for your company, but also whether they’re looking for a long-term career or just a paycheck. You can also gain insight into whether the position is a good fit for them.

2. What are the first three things you do when you arrive at work?

This non-traditional question gives you a look at the candidate’s work style, level of organization, and work ethic. Everyone has a different method of dealing with their work day, but the answer to this question should indicate that the candidate handles tasks in a timely and efficient manner. In addition, you’ll discover more about their relevant skills and knowledge through their response.

3. What types of people bother you?

Regardless of the position, the ability to work within a team is important for any candidate. Asking this question gives you insight into a candidate’s cultural fit, so you can gauge how well they’ll get along with your existing team. Honesty in divulging a few pet peeves is fine as a response, but if a candidate either states that they get along with everyone, or churns out a laundry list of complaints, these could be potential red flags.

4. What are the most effective approaches for managing you?

This question can give you insight on both cultural fit and the candidate’s working style — whether they’re low-maintenance and function best with little to no guidance, or perform well under detailed direction and support. Depending on the existing managerial style at your organization, a candidate’s response may signal an ideal fit, or a potential problem aligning with your leadership.

5. Please list and rank factors that affect your job acceptance.

With this question, you can find out what a candidate is looking for in terms of deciding on the right job for them. This is a more subtle way to uncover candidates’ salary and benefits expectations, willingness to perform, and what they believe the position will entail — which will hopefully align with the actual job description. You can also use this question to make the right offer and win over top talent who may be considering positions at other companies.

In today’s connected business environment, answers to standard interview questions are readily available to determined candidates. Asking both standard and non-traditional interview questions ensures that you’ll receive more than rehearsed responses, and helps you determine which candidates are the best choice for your organization. Speak to the staffing experts at The Armada Group today to learn how unconventional interview practices can expedite your hiring process.

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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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