Over the past few years, the number of H-1B visa applications has largely risen. Companies embraced it as an opportunity to find skilled foreign workers to fill vacant positions, particularly in the tech sector where low unemployment and growing skill gaps in the American workforce have made hiring a challenge.
However, recent data suggest the pattern has possibly changed, indicating tech firms may be seeking alternatives to H-1B visas.
The H-1B visa program gives American businesses the ability to secure non-immigrant foreign professionals to work for their company. It was designed to ensure companies could access skills and abilities when they aren’t presented in their current workforce and aren’t available in their area.
For the 2018-2019 filing period, the number of petitions dropped by approximately 4 percent, signaling a shift in company mentality regarding the program. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stated only 190,098 petitions were filed for that time, a notable drop from the approximately 236,000 petitions received in 2016.
Reason for the Drop
After President Donald Trump was elected, he quickly declared his intention to overhaul the H1-B visa program. This included making the requirements more stringent across the board, including for initial selections and renewals as well as H-4 visas for spouses of H-1B workers.
The intention was to encourage companies to hire Americans and other legal immigrants in lieu of using the H-1B program, and it may have worked.
A reduced number of petitions suggests businesses aren’t turning to H-1B visas as a potential solution as often. Some may have decided to reduce their number of petitions fearing that the chance for approval was shrinking, particularly since the requirements are harder to meet. Others may have become more diligent about finding alternatives, lowering their need for the program based on updated hiring practices.
However, even with the policy changes and the initial reduction in petitions, it’s too soon to tell if this year’s decline is a one-off or a sign of a new pattern emerging. This may be an indication that companies were hesitant to submit petitions based on the Trump administration’s stance and various announcements about increased difficulty in obtaining approval. But this could shift again after the current period finishes and the state of the approved or rejected petitions becomes more widely known.
Ultimately, the H-1B visa program is still in flux. The full impact of the policy updates is not yet known, and additional changes may be on the horizon, sending the program into a different direction.
At this point, it’s safe to say companies are seeking out alternatives that allow them to locate citizens and legal immigrants for their vacancies, instead of using the program. If you are currently seeking skilled professionals for your job openings, the team at The Armada Group can connect you with some of the area’s top talent. Contact us to discuss your hiring needs today and see how our services can benefit you.
The tech industry has struggled when it comes to gender diversity. Many companies claim it is an objective, but don’t subsequently adjust their cultures to make it more welcoming to women.
Evidence has suggested that the gender pay gap in tech is closing, representing a solid first step toward equality. But eliminating what has become known as “bro culture” is also a vital part of the equation, and many wonder if it can ever be corrected.
The Beginning of Bro Culture
During the earliest stages of what can be viewed as the current technology landscape, many of the companies were comprised largely (if not entirely) by men. This resulted in a culture that met their needs and preferences, and it became ingrained over the years.
However, as time moved forward, the tech industry didn’t remain the territory of men. Women also became interested in computing, programming, and other areas of the sector, leading them to pursue degrees and seek out opportunities in IT. But the culture wasn’t always welcoming, even if a diverse workforce can help promote innovation and creative thinking.
Repairing Bro Culture
Any change in a company’s culture has to come from the top down. Leaders need to embrace not just the concept of diversity, but take active steps to create environments that feel welcoming and inclusive to all skilled professionals, regardless of gender.
Additionally, they need to communicate the benefits of diversity to everyone in the company, showcasing how people of varied background can bring in new perspectives, helping the business innovate and meet the needs of their customer base.
To help promote these goals, they also need to set clearly defined standards regarding employee behavior. This can include policies that guide expectations as well as repercussions for creating an environment that isn’t supportive of all members of the workforce.
In some cases, training may be required to help demonstrate which actions may be off-putting to other groups, including women, and how to correct any behaviors to craft an inclusive culture. Reporting mechanisms may also be necessary, giving workers a platform to discuss any problems they encounter so solutions can be identified quickly.
Further, hiring practices may need to be examined. Bias, whether unconscious or conscious, may be harming female candidates during the hiring process, causing them to be eliminated from consideration solely based on their gender. While gender discrimination is illegal, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur, and taking a hard look at a company’s hiring track record can help determine whether biases may have influenced decisions.
Overhauling an organization’s culture takes a significant amount of effort. However, if a bro culture persists, companies will struggle to find the high-quality workers they need to succeed, particularly with unemployment remaining low and skill gaps existing throughout the tech industry.
If you are interested in learning more, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members today and see how our expertise can benefit you.
Today’s tech pros are commonly tasked with working as part of a team and communicating with a variety of stakeholders, company leaders, and customers, some of whom may not be as tech-savvy in your area of expertise. As a skilled professional, it’s easy for one’s ego to color their interactions, especially when speaking about an area where you may be knowledgeable or are passionate about.
But allowing your ego to impact your interactions generally has consequences. Arrogance and bragging are rarely well received, and defensiveness or a reluctance to change one’s opinion can stymy collaboration.
Ultimately, if you’re going to survive in the business world, you need to be skilled at setting your ego aside. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Prepare for the Environment
In some cases, our environment plays a large role in the amount of ego we display. If there is a lot of it present in a room, exhibited by peers or leaders in the organization, it’s easy to get sucked in. However, in ego-free environments, it’s often easier to keep one’s ego in check.
While you can’t necessarily control the nature of your workplace, you can prepare for it. Knowing that you are going into a potentially contentious situation gives you an opportunity to increase your level of self-awareness, ensuring you don’t merely react to stimuli and instead consider the impact of your contributions before you speak.
Similarly, by setting your ego aside, others may do the same, depending on the nature of the conversation and your position within it. This allows you to potentially influence the interactions subtly, creating a more welcoming and productive environment.
When one’s ego comes out, it could be based on a misinterpretation of reality. For example, you may see someone else’s view or statements as threatening when they are meant to be part of constructive discourse.
By practicing mindfulness, you can learn to view a situation as it truly is instead of responding on an emotional level. Consider meditating regularly or dedicating time to introspection, so you can determine what about the encounter tends to put you on edge and if you may be skewing the reality of the situation unintentionally. It can also help you build willpower, ensuring you don’t lash out with your ego in a reactionary fashion.
Often, if we simply view a situation from the other person’s perspective, we can gain valuable insights into the origin of their behavior. Further, by considering whether additional influences, such as a personal issue or work stress, may be influencing their approach can also be beneficial.
At times, this allows you to see a person who seems to be using their ego isn’t intending to target you. Instead, it may be the result of increased pressure elsewhere and may be venting out unintentionally. And that can help you set your ego aside.
Ultimately, by not allowing your ego to take control, you can have more positive and productive interactions. If you are interested in learning more, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our team members today and see how our experience can benefit you.
When people think of the technology sector, they generally focus on the tech itself. Advances like artificial intelligence, machine learning, chatbots, big data, and drones often capture headlines, but they aren’t necessarily the most valuable assets in the IT landscape.
Many high-level tech professionals, including everyone from CIOs to venture capitalists, understand that there is more to the technology arena that the tech itself; the people are just as (if not more so) important. And, by managing people properly, you can create thought leaders, inspire innovations and increase productivity.
For the technology industry to thrive, the environment has to be conducive to innovation. Often, this doesn’t happen by chance. Instead, it must be cultivated and curated, and strong leaders can make that happen.
One approach to creating such a workplace is the use of Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs. Ultimately, the premise asserts that, by providing clear objectives and outlining measurable steps to monitor success, employees have something to focus on.
Plus, it removes any ambiguity regarding what management or the organization as a whole wants its staff to accomplish. This gives everyone a common goal, aligning internal activities and defining priorities.
Similarly, workers who feel as though they are part of a community tend to outperform their peers. Creating a strong corporate culture that focuses on teamwork and collaboration may do better than one that concentrates on individual achievement and competition.
Understanding how one employee’s outputs impact the entire project, or even the company’s larger goals, can also breed a sense of unity. It allows everyone to see how they fit into the larger whole, giving meaning to daily tasks that, without this context, may seem inconsequential.
Additionally, encouraging relationships that mimic friendships (or even genuinely become that close) also leads to a positive culture. This is especially true when management doesn’t fully distance themselves from their staff and, instead, creates an environment filled with support.
Mentorship is also powerful in the workplace, allowing strong connections to form while the youngest in your staff get valuable guidance that can help them grow as professionals, both for their benefit and that of the company.
The “People” Factor
Regardless of how far technology comes, there is also a “people” factor to the industry. There are hardworking individuals and talented leaders behind these developments.
Without a focus on how to create an environment that supports the needs of the human beings behind the code and tech, revelations may not come as quickly as they otherwise could. By crafting an ideal workplace, you can increase productivity and innovative thinking, helping make the next step in technology possible.
If you are interested in learning more, the skilled professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable team members today and see how our expertise can support your business as it strives to reach new heights.
The C programming language has been around for over 46 years, and many people would consider that quite a feat. After all, few languages have that level of longevity.
Not only is C still relevant, but it’s also in demand, cracking many top 10 lists focused on the most desirable languages for programming professionals. But how has C managed to succeed while so many others have, by comparison, failed? If you are wondering about its retained relevance, here’s what you need to know.
The C programming language of today isn’t the same iteration as the original. ANSI C (or ISO C) raised to prominence in the late 1980s. C99 and C11 later became standards in many organizations.
Since C is ever-evolving, the language changes to meets the demands of today’s IT world. This has allowed those with C skills to simply update their level of competency and businesses to keep moving forward, treating it as an advanced version of the status quo.
C has been around for nearly five decades. That means a lot of existing code is written in C. Approximately 31 percent of Debian Linux was comprised of C programming, along with various legacy database systems.
The sheer amount of code written in C helps it remain relevant. Replacing these systems with alternatives focused on other languages would be costly, making it an unattractive approach for even forward-thinking organizations. And, if the current option is still meeting a company’s needs, the incentive to change is even more minimal.
C Is Popular
Whether developers enjoy, or are at least willing to tolerate, a particular language also plays a big role in longevity. When given a choice, programmers typically default to options with which they are comfortable.
The fairly wide use of the C programming language means many professionals operating in the development and coding arenas know how to use C. The increased level of familiarity helps keep it alive and increases the odds that newer systems will feature at least some C-based code.
Additionally, developers aren’t keen on switching to another language unless it offers an obvious benefit. While C++, Go, and Rust could potentially replace C, they don’t typically provide enough to make switching necessary.
Ultimately, C does the job, so moving away from something that works doesn’t make a lot of sense in the eyes of development professionals.
Will C remain a popular language for years to come? It’s hard to say. However, its widespread use, and general popularity help keep it relevant in 2018, making it a skill worth acquiring and maintaining for many programming professionals.
If you are currently looking for new developer job opportunities, including those featuring C as a requirement, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you with some of the leading employers in the area. Contact us to learn more about our available positions and see how our services can help you take the next step in your programmer career today.
Generation Y, or the Millennials, are primarily considered to be the first generation to grow up with tech. Now, as even the youngest members gain traction as adults, their preference for technology is reshaping another industry: the baby market.
Tech-savvy Millennials are looking for innovative baby products and, if they don’t find what they are looking for, some are deciding to create offerings and enter the marketplace. Startups are supporting the tech baby boom, and it isn’t likely to slow down any time soon.
If you aren’t familiar with the burgeoning tech baby market, here’s what’s on the horizon.
Better Monitoring or Tracking
In comparison to many other forms of tech, baby monitors were largely lacking. While video-enabled devices entered the marketplace some time ago, new advances are adding AI-supported features.
For example, Cocoon Cam is creating a product that will monitor an infant's vitals, letting parents examine the information or potentially receive alerts if an issue is detected.
Knowledge-oriented services, like Tinyhood, look to provide parents with valuable information and expert device on-demand, helping them with everything from sleep schedules to breastfeeding challenges.
Most Millennial parents would likely describe themselves as busy and frequently on-the-go. This has created a need for services designed to help make planning easier to manage.
For example, Galore is an app-based program that helps parents plan activities and book classes. Fabric allows parents to create a digital will that can be accessed through the parents’ smartphones and adjust their life insurance plans whenever the need arises.
Most of these services focus on being user-friendly and highly accessible, ensuring that busy parents have access to the right tools to handle their obligations quickly and efficiently.
More Than Fashion
Young children often outgrow clothes much faster than they can wear them out, and services like Kidizen is looking to fill a void in the resale arena. The platform would help parents find second-hand items for their children or sell their children’s clothing or shoes when they outgrow them.
Since most Millennials are familiar with the resale concept thanks to services like Etsy and Airbnb, it is a void that seems only natural to fill.
The Baby Tech Trend
The baby tech trend likely began as many Millennial tech entrepreneurs started having children of their own, making the need for new products and services more apparent to their creators.
However, this isn’t a trend that is likely to end any time soon, especially since the next generation, Gen Z, has a similar affinity for technology and the oldest members of that generation are already adults. Additionally, IoT and smart devices are becoming more prevalent in general, showing that there is certainly an opportunity for similar offerings that focus on the needs and desires of parents.
If you would like to know more about the baby tech book, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members today and see how our expertise can benefit you.
To say that call center agents spend a lot of time on the phone is an understatement. In most cases, their entire shift is dedicated to helping callers by answering questions and resolving issues. As the day wears on, it can be hard to maintain a level of enthusiasm, especially when the calls are some repetitive in nature. Additionally, fatigue makes it more difficult to judge the emotional state of the caller, which can be harmful.
Now, a software program called Cogito is looking to improve the call center experience for agents and customers alike. Here’s how.
At its core, Cogito is software that analyzes the tone and pattern of the speaker’s voice, making adjustments based on word choice and even the length of time the line goes silent. It does this through robust algorithms supported by machine learning, allowing it to use data from other voice records to assess the status of a call as it progresses.
Cogito Call Center Software
When Cogito notices that a call participant, including agents or customers, has a voice pattern that suggests a potential problem, it alerts the call center representative.
For example, if it determines the agent's tone isn’t as cheerful, a notification that looks like a little cup of coffee pops up on the screen. This lets the representative know that their mood has changed, giving them a chance to refocus and correct it.
Similarly, if the software detects that a customer may be experiencing heightened emotions, either positive or negative, a heart icon displays. When they see the heart icon, the agent knows that the caller is having an emotional reaction and can adjust their approach if necessary.
What Does This Mean for Jobs?
Ultimately, Cogito isn’t designed to replace people in call centers. Instead, it functions in a support role, helping them assess how a call is going more quickly and efficiently so that quick action can be taken should the need arise.
The goal of software like Cogito is to provide customers with a better experience by bringing things to the attention of representatives that a person may have a more difficult time ascertaining. While an employee can certainly notice a heightened emotional state in a caller, they might not be as aware of their own tone. Additionally, the software may recognize changes in mood and cadence used by the customer more quickly than the agent, allowing them to intervene more rapidly to diffuse tense situations.
Some similar software offerings, like one from State Collection Service, can even display congratulatory messages to agents when it believes that a customer was satisfied with the interaction. These quick moments can help boost morale and confidence among agents, allowing them to be more effective at their jobs. Additionally, it can provide helpful tips, like steps to calm an upset customer, as soon as a potential issue is detected, giving the representative guidance when it is needed most.
In the end, software like Cogito isn’t going to replace workers, only give them new tools to help them be more productive and effective in their roles.
If you would like to learn more, the team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to see how our expertise can benefit you.
When it comes to maintaining your health, getting quality sleep is a must. Not only can it help lower your risk of developing certain chronic conditions, but it also supports healthy brain function, digestive health, and immune function.
While most healthcare professionals recommend that people get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night, many struggle with reaching that target.
Luckily, there are things you can do to help you get more uninterrupted sleep, and eating the right before-bed snack may be one of them. If you need to get sounder sleep, here are a few snacks to try.
Almonds provide a number of health benefits, and some suggest that better sleep may be one of them. Like certain other nuts, almonds contain melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone. Additionally, a single serving provides 19 percent of your daily magnesium needs, and magnesium can improve the quality of your sleep.
Anecdotal evidence that turkey makes people sleepy is available in abundance. Some attribute this to the presence of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps with the production of melatonin. However, research is somewhat divided regarding whether turkey contains enough tryptophan to have an impact.
But, turkey is also a source of protein and having a moderate amount of this macronutrient before bed is associated with sounder sleep.
While chamomile tea is a beverage and not a snack, it could help you get better quality sleep. Not only is it usually caffeine free, but it also contains the antioxidant apigenin, which may promote sleepiness.
A small study found that those who consumed chamomile extract before bed fell asleep faster and had less nighttime waking. While the study used an extract, drinking chamomile tea is worth a try if you have trouble falling and staying asleep, especially since a separate study suggested the tea also provided benefits.
A study involving 24 adults showed that those who consumed two kiwifruits one hour before heading to bed fell asleep 42 percent faster than when they didn’t have a snack. They also reported less nighttime waking, increasing their total sleep time.
Kiwis contain serotonin, a chemical that can help regulate a person’s sleep cycle. Certain antioxidants in the fruits may also promote better sleep. However, additional research is required to determine if either of those points are responsible for the benefits.
Like almonds, walnuts contain melatonin. Additionally, they are a great source of healthy fats, including ALA, which may help a person sleep sounder.
Limited studies have been conducted on walnuts, so additional research is required to support it’s potential. However, eating a handful of walnuts before bed may be worth a try.
By choosing one of the snacks or drinks above, you might find that you fall asleep faster and experience less nighttime waking, allowing you to get the rest you need to support your overall health and productivity.
If you would like to know more, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our staff members today and see how our expertise can benefit you.
When you’re getting ready to drift off to sleep, a single noisy distraction can leave you jolted awake, struggling to reclaim the sense of ease you need to get some quality shuteye. Whether it’s your neighbor’s dog barking in the yard, a car alarm that is set off by the slightest breeze, or the sound of your refrigerator kicking on, reducing the amount of noise you are exposed to should be an essential part of your nighttime routine.
If you struggle to get the rest you need, here are some options for eliminating noisy distractions so you can get some sleep.
Sometimes, the easiest way to deal with noises is earplugs. If you purchase high-quality industrial-strength versions, they can both be comfortable and effective.
You’ll need to find a brand that offers the proper size for your ears. Otherwise, they may become dislodged in the middle of the night. Once you do, consider purchasing them in bulk, so you can replace worn out or missing earplugs as needed.
Additionally, make sure you can hear your alarm through the earplugs, so you don’t sleep longer than intended.
Hang Heavy Curtains
Thick, sound-absorbing curtains can make a world of difference when you need to keep noises from entering your bedroom. Select options that will fully cover any windows, buying different curtain rods if necessary to ensure the fabric provides sufficient coverage, and hang a set over your doors as well. This helps give you protection from sounds that may slip through any cracks, making your room significantly quieter.
If your floors are wood, tile, laminate, or similar material, then invest in some carpeting to help dampen the noise. You can either install wall-to-wall carpet or purchase area rugs, as both can help. For additional noise reduction, consider adding a sound-absorbing pad, giving you an extra buffer. You can also layer area rugs over each other or place them on top of carpeting to reduce noise even further.
Try a White Noise Machine
White noise helps by overpowering ambient sounds, ensuring that any extraneous sounds don’t affect your sleep. You can purchase a white noise machine (including versions with built-in alarm clocks) or find a suitable app for your smartphone or tablet.
Alternatively, you can use a fan to accomplish a similar goal. So, if you already have a decent fan, consider turning it one every night instead of investing in a white noise machine.
If white noise doesn’t do the job, you can also try a sound machine that includes natural-sounding audio that you find soothing. You can also find nature sound tracks in a variety of apps or as downloads from a range of music stores.
By following the tips above, you can eliminate noisy distractions, helping you get a better night’s sleep each and every day. If you would like to learn more or are seeking out new opportunities, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with a member of our knowledgeable team today and see how our expertise can benefit you.
After Bitcoin’s meteoric rise in 2017, the world has become fascinated with cryptocurrencies. The virtual currencies were designed to be an alternative medium for payments, employing new ledger mechanisms to record transactions and monitor the flow of funds.
However, the largely unregulated cryptocurrency market has also come under fire. Scams aren’t uncommon, and some question whether they help support illegal activities simply based on how they are designed, even if it is an unintentional side effect.
Cryptocurrencies are shaking up the global market. If you aren’t familiar with how they are used, here’s what you need to know.
The Appeal of Cryptocurrencies
While initially considered a novelty by many governments, cryptocurrencies have significant potential when it comes to international dealings. The funds are easy to use and can provide alternatives to individuals or companies operating in countries where the local currency is unstable.
Additionally, cryptocurrencies are primarily unregulated, providing people with the ability to circumvent strict controls regarding taxation and the flow of money, both internally and across borders.
The technical mechanisms are also appealing to some. Blockchain ledgers provide some benefits for the recording and tracking of transactions, being mostly transparent and unalterable.
Government Responses and Perspectives
As cryptocurrencies gained traction, many governments began examining the digital currency market in an effort to develop proper controls, particularly when it comes to preventing issues like tax evasion. However, few limitations on the use of cryptocurrencies are currently in place, and it may take time to resolve any potential problems, as some may not yet be especially apparent.
Issues of High Volatility
One of the biggest concerns regarding cryptocurrencies is their volatile nature. At one point in 2017, Bitcoins were valued at over $19,000 each. However, the market has since experienced significant declines, even falling below the $8,000 mark.
While the high experienced by Bitcoin has led some to invest in it and other altcoins as a means of diversifying their portfolios, the future of most cryptocurrencies is incredibly uncertain. Some financial experts fear that a crash is inevitable while others claim that a recovery is on the horizon.
A boom or crash can impact global markets in a variety of ways, though the low total market capitalization should prevent a drop from having the same level of impact as those in other areas, such as when mortgage-backed securities led to a global financial crisis.
The size of the market likely means that there is little systemic risk today, though that may change depending on how much traction cryptocurrencies gain and how investors react. Additionally, new legislation will impact the effect virtual currencies have on larger markets, but the precise impact of regulations won’t be fully known until they are in place.
Ultimately, cryptocurrencies are a fledgling part of the global market, so the full effect of their presence may not be known for some time.
If you are interested in learning more, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members today and see how our expertise can benefit you.