Crystal McKee

Crystal McKee

Working From Home

 

It’s no surprise that a significant percentage of professionals wouldn’t consider reporting to the office their favorite part of the day. In fact, many would relish the ability to work from home, for a variety of reasons.

 

Did you know that tech professionals who work from home often save a significant amount of time and money? According to a recent report, it’s true. And those points alone can make it worth exploring remote work opportunities.

 

How Working from Home Saves Time

One of the most obvious ways working remotely can save time is by eliminating an employee’s need to commute. Depending on where they live, they may save a few hundred hours a year by forgoing the daily trip to the office.

 

Remote workers also avoid many office trappings that can waste time. For example, they won’t be interrupted by a chatty coworker who wants to discuss something non-work related or distracted by the phone call taking place one desk over. Ultimately, this allows someone who is working from home to be more productive, which is a form of time-savings in and of itself.

 

How Working from Home Save Money

Since remote workers aren’t required to commute, they can save a significant amount in gas alone. While the precise amount depends on a number of factors, including their gas mileage and driving distance, employees can save upwards of $500 a year in some cases, and nearly everyone can keep at least a couple hundred bucks annually by making the transition.

 

Additionally, not commuting reduces wear and tear on their vehicles, reducing the frequency of oil changes, new tires, and many other automobile maintenance activities. Insurance rates may also decrease, as the number of miles put on a vehicle in a year plays a role in determining the cost of the premiums. In some cases, families may even be able to reduce the total number of vehicles owned by the household, making the savings more substantial.

 

 

Even those who take public transportation can experience the money saving benefits. Typically, bus and subway passes come at a cost, but they might not have to be purchased if the worker isn’t commuting.

 

But the savings go beyond commutes. If a worker typically has to grab lunch from a restaurant or a cup of coffee from a café on the way in, that expense is also eliminated. For professionals who were required to wear business attire in the office, their clothing costs and dry cleaning bills may decrease as well.

 

Even Occasional Telecommuting Helps

Employees can experience time and money saving benefits even if they don’t work from home every day. Just one or two days a week can create a noticeable difference in both areas, so companies that offer flexible work arrangements can tout the potential gains to employees.

 

If you are interested in learning more about the time and money saving benefits of working from home, the knowledgeable staff at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our team members today.

 

 

New Tech Hire

 

While each member of your tech team likely possesses a range of valuable skills, some are probably more effective in their positions than others. And, in many cases, their hard skills are only part of the story.

 

Successful IT professionals often have a range of qualities that help them excel, allowing them to stand out from their peers. By hiring tech pros with these traits, you can improve the overall performance of your team. To help you get started, here are seven qualities your new tech hire should possess.

 

  1. Curiosity

If you're looking for a top performer, seek out candidates who are insatiably curious about their area of technical expertise. This can include professionals who explore their field both inside and out of the office, as well as those who stay abreast of rising trends and devour new details about emerging technologies.

 

  1. Adaptability

Technology is an ever-changing world, and the best tech pros are prepared to roll with the changes. Ultimately, IT teams can’t afford to stand still when it comes to examining the potential of different technologies and must be willing to make a transition when it benefits the company. Otherwise, it’s easy to stagnate or, worse, fall behind the times.

 

  1. Problem-Solving

In the world of IT, rarely does everything go to plan. If your team is going to be successful, your employees need to be able to identify problems, analyze the situation, and find solutions.

 

People who are problem-solvers are typically also strong learners, as they have to take in new information to get to the root of an issue and correct it.

 

  1. Teaching

The ability to teach others is a highly valuable trait, particularly in a world filled with skill gaps. A willingness to teach also indicates that they put the needs of the team first while being effective in this role shows they have a range of important soft skills, like communication and patience, that aren’t always easy to find.

 

 

  1. Coachable

A willingness to receive feedback and adjust their approach is also a valuable quality. This indicates the candidate isn’t necessarily set in their ways and is open to constructive criticism that helps them improve.

 

  1. Business-Savvy

As technology becomes ingrained in nearly every department, having a foundational understanding of business is beneficial. It will make it easier for them to understand the needs of the company as a whole as well as individual departments.

 

  1. Leadership

Leadership isn’t limited to telling people what to do. Instead, it also includes being able to bring people together to achieve a common goal or encourage others to be at their best.

 

A tech pro with leadership skills can help ensure your team works well together, making it easier for them to accomplish joint goals.

 

By seeking out the qualities listed above, you can find a tech pro who can do more than just complete individual tasks as they are assigned.

 

If you are looking for a skilled IT professional to join your team, the experienced staff at The Armada Group can connect you with some of today’s top talent. Contact us today to learn more about our services can how they can help you find the ideal tech pro for your open positions.

 

 

 Quality Sleep

 

Many tech professionals struggle to quiet their minds when their head hits the pillow at the end of a long day. Often, people have to fight against invasive thoughts regarding whether they finished their to-do list, if an upcoming presentation will go off without a hitch, or whether a project will finish on time.

 

These racing thoughts can leave some wide awake, even if they’re exhausted. And, if they keep a person from being able to get enough shuteye, they may have issues staying conscious during the day, let along focused.

 

Luckily, there are things tech pros can do to quiet their busy minds, letting them get better quality sleep. If you struggle to get enough shuteye, here’s what you can do.

 

Avoid Activities in Bed

Ideally, your bed should be associated with sleep only. That means you need to avoid participating in a range of activities once you lay down.

 

For example, avoid the urge to watch tv or talk on the phone. Don’t jump on your smartphone for anything, including checking emails, reviewing your social media accounts, or even just cruising through the news.

 

Your bed needs to be a place for rest and relaxation, and that means avoiding unnecessary stimulation once your head hits the pillow.

 

Establish a Daily Wake Up Time

One of the biggest things you can do to ensure you can fall asleep with ease is getting up at the same time every day. This helps train your body clock to a specific waking time, making sure you’ll feel sleepy at the right time too.

 

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Only Go to Bed When You’re Sleepy

There’s a big difference between being physically tired or without energy and actually being sleepy. If you aren’t sleepy yet, you’ll likely have issues drifting off into dreamland.

 

Trying to force yourself to go to sleep is often counterproductive, particularly if you get frustrated when it doesn’t happen. Instead of forcing the issue, wait until you are actually sleepy to lay down.

 

Don’t Toss and Turn

If you can’t fall asleep, then you shouldn’t just lay there, tossing and turning while hoping that sleep overtakes you. Instead, get out of bed and participate in an activity that doesn’t increase your overall level of alertness, like reading or listening to music while enjoying a non-caffeinated beverage.

 

Address Your Worries

In some cases, anxiety about the upcoming day can keep you up. If this happens to you, it’s wise to take a proactive approach to managing worry.

 

For example, you can take about 20 minutes in the early evening to write down all of your concerns. Then, for each worry, write down a “next step” that will help you find a solution. This process can reduce your stress levels by planning for how to take action in the future, ensuring you don’t feel overwhelmed when it’s time to get some rest.

 

By following the tips above, tech pros can quiet their busy minds, making it easier to get some well-deserved shuteye.

 

If you would like to learn more or are seeking a new job opportunity, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our experienced staff members and to learn more about our services today.

 

 

Wednesday, Mar 28 2018

DevOps Trends You Need to Know

DevOps

 

The DevOps approach to software development has gained significant moment over the past few years, making its way into more workplaces and industries. As with everything associated with tech, it also moves and shifts on a regular basis, making it important to stay on top of trends.

 

If you are wondering what DevOps trends deserve your attention this year, here’s what you need to know.

 

CALMS and DevOps

There is some argument about the true definition of DevOps, but one recently developed acronym is making significant headway in the field and is likely to make a larger impact throughout 2018.

 

CALMS (culture, automation, lean, measurement, and sharing) is a reflection of the most current mindset in the area of DevOps, reflecting current priorities and goals. It also shows that each aspect is vital to organizational success, as even a single missing component can harm a company’s ability to truly transform.

 

DevOps at Scale

Like with Agile before it, many companies have declared an acceptance of DevOps principles, though not all have taken active steps to use it in their organization. As 2018 progresses, however, this is anticipated to change, with wide-scale adoption resulting in legitimate action on the part of enterprises.

 

Ultimately, 2017 reflected an interest in experimenting with DevOps, while 2018 is poised to be the year when it actually takes real shape.

 

The Rise of the SRE Role

When an approach begins to become mainstream, a specialty role is often created that supports these objectives. For DevOps, that’s the site reliability engineer (SRE), a professional that marries ops prowess with software development skills to improve architectural flexibility, the use of automation, and empowerment of developers to create higher quality applications at a faster rate.

 

 

Increasing Use of Serverless Technology

The DevOps world has been buzzing about serverless technology, and that interest is likely going to translate into a wider adoption of the approach, similar to the rise of the function-as-a-server solution.

 

Serverless technology has the ability to provide a range of benefits, including from a development perspective. So, it shouldn’t be surprising if more DevOps professionals and companies embrace these solutions based on what they have to offer.

 

DevSecOps Will be More Prominent

With some many companies focused on IT security, it’s no wonder that the field is finding its way into the DevOps arena. Ultimately, the approach allows security professionals to join the conversation earlier, ensuring that their needs and goals are considered from the beginning.

 

It also means that DevOps teams will become more informed about security principles, allowing them to act appropriately even without direct guidance. Over time, security considerations will become a habit and not an afterthought, changing how projects are approached well into the future.

 

If you are interested in finding a new role in DevOps, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you with leading opportunities throughout the area. Contact us today to find out more about our current openings and how our services can benefit you.

 

 

Friday, Mar 16 2018

Has Agile Hit its Peak?

Agile 

 

Agile was once lauded as the ideal approach to software development. It allowed teams to create software at a rapid pace while also keeping projects aligned to their core objectives. But, as Agile joined the mainstream, many began considering it the answer for every project, even if it wasn’t always an appropriate approach.

 

While Agile can be an excellent methodology for certain objectives, it may not be ideal for your team or project. Before you default to an Agile approach, here are a few times when you should consider using an alternative methodology.

 

Your Using Agile to Appear Up-to-Date

A lot of companies adopt the Agile methodology largely based on appearances, wanting to be able to declare to the world that they are an Agile organization. Others choose it because they haven’t used a new methodology for quite some time and they fear that they will be viewed negatively for not using the approach.

 

However, choosing Agile just because it is the method where everyone recognizes its name isn’t a good reason for bringing it in. Just because a business isn’t using Agile doesn’t mean that their current approach isn’t practical, so don’t abandon something that is working just because of the name.

 

 

Your Costs Would Rise

In some highly regulated industries, trying to force an Agile approach to development can actually cost you more money in the long run. Often, if regulatory bodies dictate how certain things must be done (even if they allow for the use of some Agile concepts), it’s best to stick with what is effective, especially if significant documentation and mindset changes could stall your tech teams.

 

Not every industry is as suited for Agile as others, so it’s okay to bypass this approach if it doesn’t quite fit in your highly regulated environment.

 

A Two-Week Delivery Schedule Doesn’t Make Sense

Agile uses a segmented development approach in the form of two- to three-week sprints. At the end of each spring, there is supposed to be working code and a demonstrable result. However, not every project can be divided into pieces that align with such a schedule and, if it doesn’t break down properly, but you try to force it by compressing your timeline, you could be pushing your IT staff beyond the limits of what is possible in that timeframe.

 

Some projects simply don’t break down into Agile-ready chunks and, when that’s the case, trying to make it align with the methodology just doesn’t make sense.

 

Ultimately, Agile can be a great software development methodology, but only if it makes sense for your project and is appropriate for your industry. If it doesn’t align, then don’t try to force Agile into your workplace. Otherwise, it could cost you more than you expect.

 

If you are interested in learning more or are seeking a skilled IT pro to join your team, the experienced staff at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to learn more about our services, including how they can benefit your business, today.

 

 

 Data Scientist

 

Companies all over the country are looking for skilled data scientists, making it one of the hottest careers today. And, as more businesses look for ways to leverage their data, data science has the capacity to remain an in-demand specialty for quite some time.

 

Professionals in these roles often command high salaries, especially if their skill set is strong. However, even those who have worked as a data scientist can always elevate their careers by making smart decisions. If you are looking to get your data scientist career off the ground or take it to the next level, here’s how to get started.

 

Learn the Right Programming Languages

While there is a range of programming languages in use in the data science field, some of them are more in-demand than others. Ultimately, Python, R, and SQL are the most common ones requested by companies in their job postings, so having at least one of those at your disposal is a must.

 

If you aren’t familiar with those programming languages, you do have options for acquiring the skills. First, you can always take a course at a local college or university, even if you already have a degree, as this will allow you to improve your knowledge in a formal, and widely accepted setting.

 

Boot camps are also becoming a popular method for learning coding languages. Some of these courses focus on a specific language while others cover several that are relevant to a particular profession.

 

Finally, if you are already a skilled coder, you may be able to learn Python, R or SQL on your own. There are a lot of free online resources that can provide you with guidance, so don’t be afraid to conduct a search and see what is available.

 

 

Focus on Accessibility

Right now, competition for top jobs can be fierce. There are a lot of tech pros who decided to focus on data science, so there may be multiple qualified candidates that apply to every opening.

 

While having the right technical skills is important, you also want to demonstrate that you can make the information accessible to others. Not everyone who uses the results of your work will be tech-savvy, so being able to discuss the data in a way that is easy for others to understand can separate you from the pack.

 

Examine Multiple Industries

Since data science can benefit nearly any business, there are opportunities available in practically any industry. This means you may want to explore options outside of your current industry, particularly if you are looking to make a step up quickly.

 

While IT companies are an obvious target, data science is also hot in the finance, insurance, and professional services industries. Healthcare, manufacturing and even retailers (at the corporate level) may also be looking to add data scientists to their teams.

 

If you are interested in finding a new data scientist position, the team at The Armada Group can connect you with leading employers throughout the area. Contact us today to see how our services can help you succeed.

 

 

Infrastructure Support Engineer

 

Infrastructure support engineers are a vital part of any business that has its own IT infrastructure. These professionals help ensure that the environment is robust, scalable, and capable of delivering essential services that are required for a variety of tasks.

 

Typically, professionals working in this field are largely focused on physical resources, including a wide range of hardware, software, and tools, ensuring that they are fully operational whenever they are needed. They may be tasked with building new solutions, maintaining current systems, or integrating new technologies into existing infrastructure designs.

 

How much you can earn as an infrastructure support engineer in San Jose depends on a few factors, such as your level of experience and your personal skill set. However, here is an overview of what is potentially available, depending on where you are in your career.

 

Salary Averages

In the San Jose area, the average base pay for an infrastructure support engineer is just over $81,000, which is considered well above the national average. Typically, it takes a minimum of seven years of experience in the profession or a highly coveted skill set to reach salaries above that point, though many professionals who dedicate themselves to the field will see this as perfectly reasonable.

 

The full range of potential pay rates can fall anywhere between $65,000 on the low end, typically reflecting entry-level positions, to $123,000 on the high end, indicative of professionals with a substantial amount of experience.

 

In some cases, senior level professionals can even obtain higher salaries, particularly if they are tasked with overseeing a team of other professionals.

 

 

Factors that Determine Salary

While experience often plays the largest role when it comes to a professional’s pay rate, other factors can also impact salary offerings. For example, most infrastructure support engineers have at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field, and those who obtain graduate degrees may be better equipped to reach a higher level of compensation more quickly than those who don’t.

 

Your skill set is another point that can impact your salary, especially if you are highly competent in a niche area that many other professionals don’t encounter and a company is seeking out a professional who specifically has expertise in that area.

 

Ultimately, pursuing a career as an infrastructure support engineer can be incredibly lucrative, especially if you obtain the necessary level of education and are willing to put in the time to build your skills and level of experience.

 

If you are interested in securing a job as an infrastructure support engineer at one of the area’s leading companies, the knowledgeable professionals at The Armada Group can assist you in reaching your goals. Contact us to speak with one of our skilled staff members today and see how our services can help you take the next step forward in your career.

 

 

Interview Answers

 

When you head into a job interview, your goal is to convince the hiring manager that you are the best person for the position. Effectively, the answers you provide to each of the questions functions as a sales pitch, and they all need to be spot on.

 

Certain interview questions are especially common, so nailing these responses is crucial. To help you do just that, here are a few that you need to prepare answers to in advance to help you achieve interview success.

 

Tell Me About Yourself

This prompt sounds like an invitation to discuss any part of your life, but it generally isn’t. Instead, they want you to walk them through your career, touching on important points and achievements that highlight your relevant skills and experience. This provides the hiring manager with an overview of your professional background and effectively sets the tone for what is to come.

 

What is Your Biggest Strength and Weakness?

While this inquiry may be separated into two separate questions, it may also be asked together, so its wise to prepare for both scenarios.

 

For your strength, it’s best to focus on one that is especially relevant to the position for which you are interviewing. You also want to do more than just spout out a single word. Instead, provide some additional details that highlight why you see it as your greatest strength, such as a specific scenario where it helped lead to your success.

 

When addressing your weaknesses, don’t try to disguise a positive as a negative, such as “I work too hard” or something similar. Instead, pick one that isn’t particularly relevant to the role, supporting it with an example that demonstrates that point. You can also discuss steps you are taking to improve on your weak area, showing that you have the initiative to overcome your shortcomings.

 

 

Why Did You Leave/Are You Leaving Your Last Job?

This question allows the hiring manager not just to gauge what happened with your past jobs, but also what motivates you to make a change. This can help them determine if their workplace is likely to meet your needs, which may encourage you to stay over the long-term, or if there is an inherent disconnect that will cause issues.

 

For example, if you left your last position because of a lack of opportunities for advancement, then, by all means, share that detail. The hiring manager knows whether the same problem exists in their workplace, and can use your response to decide if the cultural fit is appropriate.

 

In cases where you were fired or laid off from your last position, you need to be honest about what occurred, but try to keep things brief.

 

There is a wide range of other common questions a hiring manager may ask, so don’t be afraid to do some research to see which are likely to arise, allowing you to prepare your responses in advance. This will help you respond more confidently and properly, increasing your odds of impressing the hiring manager during your interview.

 

If you are looking for a new position, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to learn more about our available opportunities and see how our services can benefit you.

 

 

Test Automation

 

While manual testing skills are still valuable to software professionals, the increased use of automated testing means that workers need to be prepared to develop their level of competency in that area. Otherwise, you risk becoming functionally obsolete, harming your ability to advance your career or even maintain your current position.

 

If you have been hesitant to jump into the world of automation, here is why you should take the leap today.

 

Demand is Rising

A few years ago, hiring professionals began sounding the alarm, letting software testers know that automation was going to become mainstream. Since that time, the demand for professionals with experience in test automation has only increased, reflecting how widely utilized the approach has become.

 

In some cases, companies are choosing to make automated testing skills a requirement, eliminating those who don’t possess the necessary level of competency from contention immediately. Often, this is a reflection of the growing use of Agile development methodologies which promote automation as a means of achieving continuous integration and faster development cycles.

 

 

Top Automation Technologies

Certain automation technologies are more widely used than others, so focusing on those that are most requested can be beneficial.

 

While every company has different needs, Selenium, JMeter, QTP, LoadRunner, and xUnit frameworks (including JUnit, NUnit, and TestNG) are excellent places to start.

 

If you have a target company in mind, research which technologies that business uses and begin exploring those.

 

Are Programming Skills a Necessity?

Often, manual testing professionals fear that improving their understanding of automated testing practices means they have to essentially become programmers. It is true that programming experience can be incredibly beneficial, particularly when interacting with development teams or assisting with black-box or white-box testing.

 

However, that doesn’t mean you need to become an expert in every available coding language. If you are just starting out with programming, consider dedicating some time to learning SQL, as this is a commonly requested area of competency.

 

Java experience is also beneficial, along with popular languages like Perl, Python, and C or C++. General web development skills, such as XML, HTML, HTTP/HTTPS, and CSS are also helpful.

 

In the end, software testers do need to be prepared to do some level of programming, even if it isn’t the focus of their profession. By getting started today, you can better position yourself to continue along your chosen career path, ensuring a higher level of job security.

 

Is Manual Testing Dead?

While the increased importance of having test automation skills is changing the tech landscape, manual testing continues to play a part in many workplaces. However, the shift does mean that automated testing skills are becoming a necessity, so it is crucial that you add them to your repertoire to ensure a reasonable level of job security.

 

If you are interested in learning more or are seeking a new software testing opportunity, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable team members today.

 

 

Blockchain

 

Blockchain has garnered a lot of attention thanks to its association with cryptocurrencies, especially bitcoin. The solution allows transactions to be tracked in a new way, using an approach that many consider more secure than many other options available today, increasing interest in the technology and how it can benefit a number of industries.

 

Since blockchain is relatively new, many companies have just begun exploring how they can benefit from the technology, particularly when it comes to ensuring transactions and data exchanges are more secure. If you are wondering how you can get your start in blockchain, here’s what you need to know.

 

The Appeal of Blockchain

As mentioned above, most people associate blockchain with cryptocurrency, though its potential stretches well beyond that role. As a mechanism, blockchain increases accountability and security related to various transactions or information exchanges, including contract signings, while also reducing error rates.

 

Generally, blockchain is prized for its ability to verify a transaction’s validity. Blockchain records cannot be altered after the fact, and all transactions can be published to shared ledgers, allowing trusted involved parties to easily review details while maintaining a suitable level of access control.

 

It also offers companies a way to increase the speed at which transactions can be completed while also providing a method for substantial cost-savings, as blockchain eliminates the need for intermediaries, such as banks or government agencies, to be involved in the execution of an agreement.

 

 

Blockchain for Business

As of today, “blockchain-as-a-service” isn’t a common offering, so some businesses have struggled to find an entry point to begin using the technology. However, two tech giants have embraced the concept, giving organizations a way to get started with relative ease.

 

Microsoft has provided blockchain tools into Azure, its popular cloud services offering. In just five simple steps, you can get started with blockchain through Azure through the “labs” profile. This gives you a relatively quick way to create a blockchain instance, opening the doorway to the larger world associated with the technology.

 

IBM also has a solution that includes a little more polish than Microsoft’s offering thanks o the ability to not just create a blockchain instance, but satellite features as well. Along with the developer environment, chaincodes and contracts can be generated through IBM Blockchain. The solution is also interoperable with Hyperledger Composer, a Linux Foundation offering. Through IBM Blockchain, it is possible to do anything from create a single blockchain application to building an entire network.

 

Over time, additional options for bringing blockchain into business will certainly arise, including possible “as-a-service” providers who can make the technology more accessible, though gaining an understanding of what blockchain can do now is indeed a worthwhile venture.

 

If you are interested in learning more, need a blockchain professional to join your staff, or are looking for a blockchain developer position, the knowledgeable team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our specialists today and see how our services can benefit you.