Hot to Spot the Right Company Culture for You

Americans work hard, and we work a lot – long hours are expected in most industries, and tech roles can require responding to issues around the clock. When you spend that many hours working, you want to feel comfortable in the workplace. Finding a company culture that fits you well is as important to job happiness as your salary and benefits. Use these tips to figure out whether a company’s culture is the right one for you.

Know what you're looking for.

Give some thought to company culture before you start your job search process. The atmosphere at almost any startup is going to be different from the atmosphere at more established firms. The vibe in certain kinds of industries is known to be cutthroat, while others are more laid back. While there are exceptions to every generalization, if you think about the culture you want before you start looking for a new position, you'll be able to target your job search more effectively.

Pay attention to what the company tells you.

Many companies talk about their culture on their website. The career pages may also talk about what it's like to work there. Videos with current employees talking about their projects and their experience give a non-HR point of view (even if the message is company-approved).

Pay attention to what the company doesn't tell you.

When you're on site for an interview, notice what's going on around you. You'll see what the office space is like – how high are the dividers between cubicles; do the managers keep their doors closed? Notice how people are dressed, whether you see groups of employees talking about work or non-work subjects, and the level of tension in the air.

Pay attention to what former employees say.

You can read reviews of a company on sites like Glassdoor. It's impossible to know for sure the motivations behind comments and how much truth they contain, but reading them will give you insiders' opinions.


Part of your discussion with your interviewers should be asking about the company culture. Tailor your questions to the interviewer's position and level. If talking with an HR employee, you can find out the official position and how the company sees itself. When you talk with the hiring manager, you can find out about the atmosphere they try to maintain within their team. And when you meet with technical staff, you can find out what the reality is for those in the job you'll be working in.

Make Hiring from a Competitor Less Risky

Information technology is a competitive business. Companies compete for funding, for sales, and for employees. Because top tech talent is in short supply, sometimes the best hire is working for your competition. If you do steal someone away, make sure your theft is legal.

Take the Employee's Talent, Not Their Employer's Trade Secrets

You should be aiming to gain competitive advantage from the employee's special skills and knowledge, not from their inside information about their former employer's business plans. Trade secrets are protected by law, even if the employee hasn't signed a nondisclosure agreement.

It's important to make sure any ideas the employee brings with them are original and can't be claimed by their current employer. Some employment contracts give ownership of ideas, even if they were developed on personal time or seem unrelated to the company's line of business.

Make Sure the Employee Can Work For You

Some employees are under noncompete agreements with their employer. While courts don't always uphold these agreements if they're challenged, you should consider the consequences of a potential fight before hiring the employee.  Litigation can be expensive, even if you win. Court battles require time as well as money, so the employee's contributions may be limited until the case is settled.

Ask about any other agreements the employee signed. In addition to non compete agreements, nondisclosure, nonsolicitation, confidentiality, and other clauses may affect the ability of the employee to perform the services you want.

Make a Clean Break

Under some circumstances, it may be possible to work with the current employer to ensure that the employee doesn't bring over any materials. The current employer can designate a monitor to document that only personal items are removed from the premises and that all required corporate material was returned. This can eliminate the basis for claims of trade secret thefts later. If possible, you can structure the new employee's responsibilities to reduce the possibility of disclosing confidential information.

Consult Your Attorney

The best way to make sure your hiring the competitor's employee is within the law is to consult an attorney prior to offering a position to them. Make sure you and your legal advisor review all employment agreements signed by the employee with their current employer. Once you understand the commitments they've made, you'll be able to determine whether there are any risks in hiring them and if those risks are worth taking.

Digital Tech will Attract the Millennials Your Want

Every succeeding generation is more tech savvy than the previous one. The PC hadn't even been invented when baby boomers started working; early boomers had to adapt to PCs with on-the-job training, and even late boomers only encountered them in college.

The latest generation, the millennials, is far more comfortable with technology than its parents and grandparents. Companies that want to attract them, whether as customers or employees, need to use technology in ways that appeal to them.

Companies Need Social Media Savvy

Surveys show that lack of awareness of the business's brand is a major hindrance to recruiting. But companies' talent-branding techniques focus on traditional media. Few of them effectively use the digital media and social media technology that communicates to millennials in other aspects of their lives.

Millennials document their lives on social media, and they expect social media to document a company's life, too. That means the corporate job site needs to be more than just a listing of jobs. It needs to introduce the company culture, through photos and videos of real employees talking about life on the job.

Use every social media channel out there—LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and whatever new trending site comes along—to post images that convey the experience of working for you. Normal, everyday activities like team meetings and lunch in the cafeteria should be displayed as well as official corporate special events.

Mobile Tech is Mandatory

Besides using multiple social media channels, companies need to make sure their digital information works well on multiple platforms. Millennials have given up landlines for mobile phones, and most rely on mobile tech for accessing online data. A website that doesn't work well on phones and tablets isn't just ineffective for company recruiting; it's likely to push away candidates you want to attract.

Millennials aren't threatened by technology; they see it as a tool that supports innovation. Companies that use cutting-edge technology and emphasize this to their potential hires will have an advantage in recruiting the best talent of the newly dominant generation.

How to Become a Platform Operations Engineer

Platform operations engineers typically work in a business's network operations center, overseeing the functioning of large networks consisting of thousands of servers. The engineers are responsible for making sure that service is not interrupted and that performance metrics are met. They may be responsible for installing tools and making configuration changes to network software.

Some engineers may perform similar services specifically for cloud and big data platforms rather than the general corporate network; other firms use the title to refer to engineers who support specific applications. In all cases, the job function requires maintaining uptime and capacity to handle business needs.

Education and Skills Required

An undergraduate degree in a technical field is typically necessary. The engineer should be very familiar with operating systems, networking, and communications protocols. While programming in high-level languages isn't necessary, platform operations engineers often need to write scripts to perform routine functions or extract information from log files. They should be familiar with shell and other common interpreted scripting languages such as Python.

Platform operations engineers supporting specific cloud, big data, or application platforms need to understand the functioning of the specific tool and environment. Vendor-provided training and certifications help engineers learn the necessary skills.

Nontechnical Skills

Platform operations engineers need good communications skills. They may need to interact with nontechnical managers to explain technical issues in an easily understandable way. They should be able to think creatively and remain calm under pressure when working to resolve critical production issues. Operations problems often occur at inconvenient hours, so engineers should expect to be on call around the clock.

Career Path

Entry-level platform operations engineers will work under the guidance of more senior colleagues to understand the network topography or application, monitoring tools, and how to respond appropriately to systems alerts. With experience, senior platform operations engineers work more independently to analyze systems and help architect network and application changes. Management roles oversee the team's work and ensure that changes and service levels are aligned with corporate strategy.

What to Wear to an Interview with an IT Recruiter

It used to be simple to decide what to wear to an interview. A business suit was appropriate for both men and women. Almost no technical jobs require wearing a suit at work, though; some offices are casual enough for jeans and sneakers, or even shorts in the summertime. And when you're interviewing with a recruiter, you aren't interviewing with the employer, anyway. So exactly how do you dress for meeting a recruiter?

The key is to remember you're trying to convince the recruiter to pass you up the hiring chain and get you an interview with the company. They'll ask about your technical skills, but recruiters aren't able to judge the depth of your knowledge. Instead (and this isn't disparaging their skills) they need to make judgments based on non-technical factors. Your ability to present yourself well, which includes your body language, speaking ability, and, yes, how you dress is key to succeeding at this meeting.

Dress to Impress Anywhere

Because the recruiter may have positions available at multiple companies, you can't easily tailor your outfit to match the norms at a specific employer. The best choice is to wear something that would be appropriate at almost any employer. This means smart business casual or a suit. The more senior the position you're aiming for, the more formal your outfit should be. You can use an accessory or two to show your personal style, but tilt conservative.

For any interview, whether with a recruiter or an employer, make sure everything is clean and neatly pressed. It's best not to wear something brand new, though. You want to be sure there won't be any problems, like the fabric making you itchy and uncomfortable. That physical discomfort can translate into odd mannerisms or facial expressions during the interview.

Ask the Recruiter's Advice

When you meet with the recruiter, it doesn't hurt to ask them about the dress code at the employer and how you should dress for your interview there. The recruiter wants you to succeed and get the job, and they'll give you the best advice to help make that happen.

Winning Workforce Strategies for a New Generation of Talent

The baby boomers were going to change the world, and maybe they did. But the work world will continue to change as the boomers retire and millennials take their place. Boomers and millennials, and the Gen Xers in between, grew up with very different experiences, and their expectations are very different. As millennials begin to dominate the office, businesses need to adapt to attract and retain the best talent.

The Need for Flexible Work Arrangements is Inflexible

Millennials grew up with pocket-sized computers, their smartphones, and are used to always being connected. They understand the need to be available, but not the need to be in a specific place during specific working hours. Companies need to make sure their BYOD policies let employees work on the equipment they prefer from the places they prefer.

Don't Expect Loyalty

Millennials have seen carnage in the office, with massive layoffs and the elimination of benefits like pensions. They don't expect any loyalty from their employer and don't offer any in return; in one survey, more than one fourth said workers should start looking for a new position before their first on-the-job anniversary. Companies should get used to seeing resumes that have lots of short stints on them. Companies also need to have a plan for coping with frequent turnover.

A Purpose-Driven Life

Millennials want their lives to matter. They look for a purpose in their work. This means companies need to be clear on the value of what the company does and of every employee's contribution. And they need to be able to explain why the employee matters to the business. Support employees in developing new skills, both technical and interpersonal.

Silence is Not Golden

Millennials believe they have the right to speak up and be heard. Develop a company culture that allows even the most junior team member to make suggestions and have them treated respectfully. Use collaboration software to encourage knowledge to be shared throughout the firm.

The U.S. census shows that in 2015, millennials have become the dominant generation in the workforce. Companies need to market more than their products to them; companies need to market themselves and make the necessary changes to thrive until the next generation comes along.