The First Secret to Lifelong Career Success

It’s easy to understand that there’s no single secret to success — if there were, everyone would be happy and successful. But successful people often have a lot in common, and by following those common denominators, you can achieve what you want from your career.

Here’s an example. What do Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and New York Times bestselling author Greg McKeown have in common? All three of these incredibly successful people believe that the most important factor in their success is, in a word: Focus.

Finding your focus — as a noun, and a verb — is the first step toward lifelong success in whatever career you’ve chosen.

The two meanings of focus

In a recent article on LinkedIn, McKeown states, “When people speak of focus, they usually mean having a single goal. It is a static thing, a thing you have.” This is focus as a noun — a fixed point around which all of your career activities are based. Your focus is your objective, the thing you want to achieve.

But in order to realize your focus, you must have the ability to focus, as a verb — and here’s where the secret to success diverges from the common viewpoint. Focusing does not mean honing all of your attention on a single objective. Instead, it means having the ability to see the bigger picture, and recognize unexpected opportunities that can lead to achieving your focus-noun.

Here’s what you can do to align both types of focus and accomplish your ultimate goal:

Ask (the right) questions

If you’re looking for true career success, your to-do list simply isn’t enough to get you there. The best way to focus is to view your career on a bigger landscape — one that extends beyond the day-to-day and reaches into the future. You can accomplish this by setting aside regular time to ask yourself the right questions.

What are the right questions? Instead of focusing on the next promotion, ask yourself whether you want to be at the same company two years from now. Rather than reviewing your achievements, list the professional goals you had before your current position — and whether you’ve met them, or still want them. What makes you stand out? And can those qualities help you move forward, or do you need to invest in professional development to reach your objectives?

Make time to escape

Have you become your job? Many professionals believe they’re too busy to find the free time they need to pursue their own definition of success — but if Bill Gates can do it, so can you. One of the busiest men in the world steps away from Microsoft for two week-long breaks each year, and spends them reading, studying, and thinking about the bigger picture.

The time to escape won’t fall into your lap, so you must make it a priority to take time. Ask yourself: Do you really need to attend that meeting? Will things honestly fall apart if you take a few moments out of your day for thoughtful reflection? What can you read or do that will spark your excitement and get you motivated to focus?

Remember that your time is valuable

Every successful person has the same number of hours in a day. The difference often comes down to how you value your time — do you claim it as yours, or do you give it away to others in the hopes of furthering your goals?

It’s essential for you to treat your own time as extremely valuable, and remove nonessential activities that prevent you from focusing. Make it a habit to cut down on the number of times you check your email, the number of people you hand out your personal phone number to, and the number of obligations you commit yourself to for others.

When you find your focus and commit yourself to doing something each day to reach it, success is practically guaranteed to find you. If you want partners in your journey to success, contact The Armada Group today. We know what it takes to be successful, and to place candidates in careers that launch them into future success.

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Smartphone as a Credit Card

Mobile payment technology is supposed to be the wave of the future, but so far smartphone payments haven’t gained much traction. PayPal and Google have both made starts with mobile wallet solutions, though neither has seen widespread adoption. Now, as Apple may be getting into the game, the iOS solution just might kickstart the entire mobile payment industry.

Apple and the mobile wallet

According to a new report from The Information, smartwatches and iPhones with larger screens aren’t the only projects in Apple’s pipeline. The tech giant – with more than 40 percent market share of mobile phones in the U.S. – is reported to be in talks with payment industry companies to develop a mobile wallet solution that may be ready in time for the 2014 holiday season.

The report states that the integrated solution would allow iPhone owners to pay for purchases in stores using just their phones, and would involve a “so-called secure element” that’s projected to refer to the iPhone 5S Secure Enclave, which stores and protects Touch ID fingerprint data from access outside the phone, reverse engineering, and transmittal over the Internet.

Deal with Visa reported in place

The Information’s report says that Apple has already reached a deal with major credit card processor Visa for its mobile wallet solution. With more than three-quarters of a billion iTunes and App Store customer accounts — most with stored credit card numbers — Apple is uniquely positioned to make such a deal work.

But a direct partnership between Apple and Visa is not likely to be an exclusive arrangement. This powerhouse combination could serve as the first step for encouraging massive numbers of retailers to accept Apple payments, which in turn would interest other major smartphone brands like Samsung, LG, and Sony in exploring integrated mobile wallet solutions to meet market demand.

Apple and the ripple effect

When it comes to mobile technology, Apple has been a pioneer across every segment. The iPod, iPhone, and iPad each introduced groundbreaking features and technologies that other companies were quick to follow. If Apple enters the mobile wallet arena, this ripple effect is likely to bring the competition along for the ride.

The credit processing industry may experience a similar effect. Typically, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express work to capitalize on new fields the competition is entering — so if the Visa-Apple partnership succeeds, other major credit card companies will follow their lead.

Mobile payments have been projected for years, but the technology has not quite realized its potential. Apple’s entry into this new frontier could provide the push other companies need to make the mobile wallet a reality for the majority of smartphone owners.

If you are looking for candidates who are at the top of their technical fields, or are looking for a career in one of the most innovative companies in the nation, contact the recruiting experts at The Armada Group today!




Why Your Employees Should be Hands-Off Sometimes

Technology is irresistible to humans. We can’t help pressing buttons, flipping switches, or rearranging those tangled cords — and if we’re at work with no clue what we’re doing, it’s only a matter of time until disaster strikes and IT swears revenge while they spend hours fixing what took us seconds to break.

At InfoWorld’s Off the Record blog, IT professionals share anonymous stories of tinkerers, button-pushers, and clueless people who “know what they’re doing” — when it comes to bringing the office workflow to a crashing halt. Here are five of those stories illustrating why sometimes, your employees should really resist the temptation to fix things that aren’t broken.

Network admin disconnects the employees — all of them

A senior network administrator was showing off two relatively new servers in a data center to managers, boasting about uptime with claims that there was no need for an uninterruptible power supply. The admin touched the dedicated circuit breaker for the first server to prove the point — which promptly kicked 500 users off their server connection.

Apparently not satisfied with cutting office productivity in half, the admin then touched the second server’s circuit breaker and severed the connection for the remaining employees. Management decided to increase their investment in server infrastructure.

Operator powers down

A data center operator committed to easing workflows and expediting tasks noticed a loose ring on a piece of glass, and proceeded to improve efficiency by moving it. But the glass happened to be covering an emergency power-off button, which the operator managed to press — causing a blackout and a systems shutdown. The company experienced no long-term damage, but the operator decided to stick to a broader scale for improving efficiency, and leave the little details alone.

Newbie pushes the embarrassment button

A junior tech on a mission to turn off a non-critical server headed to the server room, located the machine, and pushed the button — only to instantly realize it was the wrong server, one housing files that were currently in use by more than 600 employees. Letting go of the button would wreak havoc, but there was no one around and his phone wasn’t getting service.

With a landline phone just 10 feet away, but out of his reach unless he released the critical button, the tech heroically took off his pants and used them to pull the phone over. Help soon arrived in the form of several eyewitnesses, who received the best office story ever in exchange for saving the day.

Paperclip panics the boss

It was a classic computer room — three mainframes with several attached tape drives, four printers (three line, one high-speed laser), dishwasher-sized disc packs, and a huge Halon fire suppression system to protect the investment. As the boss and the operators disagreed on handling shutdowns in case of fire, they met in the computer room for a test run that the boss insisted should include the main operators staying behind to take care of the mainframes.

Just before the test, a stray paperclip dropped into a control box, creating a short circuit that triggered the Halon. But the drill went as planned when the boss was the first one to speed out of the room.

VPs make executive decisions

Admins get a little worried when execs start poking around servers — with good cause, as this story proves. One day, in the middle of a difficult data center consolidation between two tech departments, employees suddenly found they couldn’t get email or connect to certain remote sites. IT traced the issue to server failures, which seemed to have happened all at once.

Amazing coincidence? Not exactly — a couple of VPs visiting the acquired company had ruled the critical servers “unused” with no impact on production systems, and had turned them off.

IT turns on itself

Non-tech professionals aren’t the only ones who make critical mistakes. A large, busy data center tasked an IT pro with deciding which servers were unnecessary and decommissioning them. The tech, perhaps having an off day, chose a critical management server to unplug and bring back to his desk, where he reformatted the hard drive. A flood of issues ensued with the loss of the database, extending to backups and firewalls. The tech was promptly transferred to a less disaster-making department.

While these stories are humorous, they all have a common theme – sometimes your employees need to be hands off. If you need assistance managing employees or finding better adept tech talent, contact the recruiting experts at The Armada Group today.




What You Need to Know Before Accepting an IT Job Offer

The job description looks great. You research the company, and the culture seems like you’ll fit right in. You send in your resume, nail the interview, and accept the job offer — only to find that the job itself is nothing like you thought, and you hate it. But you can’t leave now, or you’ll be branded as a job-hopper.

This scenario is all too common, but it can be prevented. Here’s how you can dig deeper and find out the truth about a company’s culture and actual working environment before you say “yes” to that tempting IT job offer.

Ask questions — and listen to the answers

During an interview, most job candidates are so focused on answering the questions in a coherent and hopefully impressive way that they fail to ask enough questions of their own. Employment experts consistently recommend that you have at least one inquiry prepared for what’s usually the final interview question, some form of “Do you have any questions for me?” But you should be ready to ask more than just one.

Ask the interviewer scenario-based questions about the company’s culture and available career paths. Find out how the IT department interacts with other departments in the company. Ask about top performers in the organization, what it takes to be considered a top performer, and what kinds of qualities are rewarded.

In addition to asking lots of questions, really listen to the answers. Trust your instincts on whether the answers sound genuine, if the interview offers natural-sounding stories to back up their claims, and whether the responses align with what you want or expect from the position.

Learn what you can from current and former employees

There are few better sources to learn about company culture than the people who work there, or have worked there in the past. Use LinkedIn or other online resources to check out the company pages, and particularly the profiles of current employees. Look for indications of a clear career path, frequent promotions, and other signs of career satisfaction. This type of research can also help you prepare the right questions to ask an interviewer.

In addition to research, try to connect with the company’s employees. Talk with current employees and ask for an honest assessment of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Ask questions that are related to what’s important to you in a new job.

With former employees, you can learn more about company culture by asking why they left, and if they would ever consider going back. Just keep in mind that organizations change, and an issue that drove an employee away may no longer exist at that company.

Read company reviews and engage them on social media

In the age of transparent and abundantly available information, job seekers can find plenty of resources to help them learn more about the companies that interest them. Career websites like Glassdoor and Indeed offer company reviews, usually written by current or former employees, that can help you make your decision. However, remember to take these reviews with a grain of salt — the anonymous nature of online reviews allows for shills and disgruntled people alike to express biased views.

Another way to get a good picture of a company’s culture is to follow them on social media, and pay attention to how they respond. Many companies share information about their culture through social networks, and those who don’t can give you insight by looking at the way they treat customers and job candidates online.

Accepting a new job is a big decision, and one you shouldn’t take lightly. Make sure you’re diligent in learning the true nature of a company’s culture before you say yes to that seemingly great job offer, and you can avoid the high cost of accepting a job you hate. If you need more assistance in your job search, contact the career experts at The Armada Group today!




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 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’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.