Crystal McKee

Crystal McKee

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.

 

 

Career in Data Analytics

 

As more companies look to leverage their data, a career in data analytics becomes more enticing. Data allows businesses to make smarter decisions, making it particularly powerful in today’s marketplace. But there’s more to data analytics than meets the eye, and professionals must have a strong skill set to be successful in the field. If you are considering a career in data analytics, here’s what you need to know.

 

A Forward-Thinking Perspective

Before, analyzing data was something companies did to take a look back, giving them an avenue for examining past decisions. Now, data analytics is generally viewed as a forward-thinking pursuit, allowing businesses to make smarter decisions today in hopes of securing a better tomorrow.

 

While this doesn’t necessarily innately affect how the work is done, it does demonstrate the kind of perspective successful professionals in the field must maintain. This means that assisting with future growth and profitability is a large driver for many people working in these positions, reflecting the mission of many of these roles.

 

It’s More Than Just Numbers on Screens

While the work is predominately computer-based, that doesn’t mean it is relegated to working with existing software. A lot of creation can occur in a data analytics role, including possibly working on devices designed to help capture valuable data.

 

For many people, this means that a career in data analytics can involve exciting tasks beyond reviewing information for insights, as improvements in how data is collected can be incredibly valuable to companies and rewarding to those who work on the projects.

 

 

People Matter

Many people assume that data analytics derives its value from software outputs, with the human element being secondary. However, professionals in the field generally discover that their skills and input play a substantial role in the success of data-oriented projects and goals.

 

While a system may provide outputs, data analysts are often responsible for giving the data meaning and assisting with the decision-making process, and that is a role that should never be downplayed. Even if you aren’t in a position to make large-scale decisions personally, your work guides those who are making those calls, allowing you to be a big part of instituting change within the organization and beyond.

 

Beyond Technical Skills

Having the technical know-how to perform in a data analytics position is obviously essential, but other skills are just as vital. Having a strong understanding of business terms, particularly those related to your company’s industry, is also incredibly valuable, as well as the nuances of how the business operates.

 

Communication skills are also highly coveted, as you’ll often need to relay complex information to stakeholders who aren’t as well-versed in the technical side of things. Additionally, teamwork skills are crucial, as most people in the data analytics field work closely with others.

 

If you are interested in pursuing or furthering a career in data analytics in 2018, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you with some of the area’s most in-demand employers. Contact us today to see how our services can help you take the next step.

 

 

Wednesday, Jan 10 2018

Will Your Job Survive AI?

Survive AI

 

Many people are concerned about how AI will affect their job or career. While the technology is predicted to eliminate 1.8 million jobs by 2020, it should also create 2.3 million new positions, which actually leads to a net gain.

 

However, how it will affect you largely depends on the role you hold and current skill set, and nearly everyone should expect to experience some change to how their tasks are performed as AI becomes more prevalent. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about how AI could affect you.

 

Tech Will Experience Sweeping Change

One of the industries that will be most affected by AI is the one that created it: tech. AI platforms are poised to take over a variety of tasks, such as security monitoring, data analysis, and even low-level programming. This eliminates the need for people to manage repetitive and tedious tasks, allowing them to focus on other pursuits.

 

It is also possible that AI will limit the need for middle managers as these systems could be adapted to handle tasks associated with resource allocation. Likely, adjustments in this arena will be slow, as companies may be hesitant to rid themselves of middle managers until the technology is proven to be effective.

 

However, that doesn’t mean that your position will be eliminated. Instead, managers are taking advantage of these advances by refocusing their workers’ priorities, using the technology instead to augment the activities of employees and not simply replace them.

 

Currently, AI isn’t capable of certain functions, especially those associated with understanding the context surrounding a problem, and not just the data being presented. Additionally, creative pursuits aren’t easily replicated by technology yet, leaving those tasks firmly in the hands of professionals.

 

 

New Opportunities

At this point, an AI is not a self-sustaining entity. These solutions require skilled professionals to be implemented, programmed, and supported, creating a range of job opportunities that weren’t previously present in the field.

 

For professionals interested in working with the technology, having the right skill set is imperative. This can include commonly used programming languages, like Python and R, as well as an understanding of data analytics. Some tech workers may be able to gain these skills on the job, while others may need to pursue additional education.

 

By understanding how the technology may impact your job, you can make smart decisions about the direction of your career, allowing you to position yourself to take advantage of the emergence of AI instead of becoming a victim of it.

 

If you are interested in learning more or are seeking a new tech position, the team at The Armada Group can help you evaluate your options and choose a direction that will allow you to meet your goals. Contact us today to see how our services can assist you as you navigate the changing tech landscape to find a new role.

 

 

Senior DevOps

 

If your developing a career in DevOps, the idea of being a Senior DevOps Engineer may be particularly enticing. Like any upper-level position, you’ll need to possess the proper skill set and also make an effort to separate yourself from your peers.

 

To help you begin on your way to becoming a Senior DevOps Engineer, here are some tips to get you started.

 

Technical Skills

First and foremost, you’ll need to be especially proficient in a range of scripting languages, including options like Bash, PowerShell, and Python. You may also need to be familiar with working on multiple computing platforms, such as Linux and Windows.

 

When web services are a component of your development efforts, being experienced in RESTful services is beneficial. And, to meet project objectives, you may need a thorough understanding of continuous integration and delivery, as well as knowledge of configuration management concept.

 

Since cloud services and tools can play a vital role in DevOps, being familiar with CM tools and frameworks like Chef and SALT can help you get ahead. Expertise in test automation is also highly desirable and can help you stand out from your peers.

 

Soft Skills

Like most IT positions, Senior DevOps Engineers also need a range of soft skills to excel. Most importantly, you’ll need strong written and verbal communications skills, including the ability to make complex information more accessible to stakeholders who may be less tech-savvy.

 

Planning and organizational skills are incredibly useful as they make it easier to keep projects on track and ensure you are handling your tasks based on any applicable deadlines. Being able to work as part of a team is also crucial.

 

Senior DevOps Engineers may also need to guide junior team members, so leadership skills can help you move up the ladder to the next level position.

 

Securing a Promotion

While there is no guaranteed way to obtain a promotion, certain efforts increase your likelihood of success. For example, volunteering for leadership roles can help you develop your skills and assert yourself as someone who can direct and manage the work of others. Taking on new challenges shows your interested in expanding your knowledge base and growing in the field while participating in professional development activities also demonstrate you are working to keep your skills sharp and relevant.

 

You also need to meet the fundamental requirements of your current position, such as meeting your deadlines and maintaining high-quality standards. Additionally, you need to be open to feedback and work diligently to follow any advice that can allow you to become a top employee.

 

Securing a promotion is generally about more than just being technically proficient, so aim to become a well-rounded employee who is willing to go the extra mile and support larger team goals to ensure the company has everything they need to succeed.

 

If you’re looking for a new DevOps position, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you with some of the most innovative employers in the area. Contact us to see how our services can help you get ahead in your career.

 

 

Hiring Strategy

 

When it comes to hiring, two things matter more than anything: speed and quality. While the two don’t always seem to go together well, there are strategies that can help you secure top talent as quickly as possible. Here’s how to get started.

 

Clearly Define Your Ideal Candidate

One of the easiest ways to improve your hiring process is to first clearly define what your ideal candidate looks like. Typically, this involves an extensive review of the job requirements with a focus on critical competencies and priorities, such as filling skill gaps.

 

Now, during this process, you don’t want to create a skills list that is so extensive it becomes practically unattainable, especially since many professionals won’t apply to a position unless that are a 100 percent match for the requirements. Instead, list only those that are most crucial for the role as requirements, and review the applications to determine if anyone also possesses any “nice to have” skills as well.

 

Align Your Interview Team

Often, each interviewer on a team or panel has a different idea of what a great candidate looks like unless they are given clear guidance regarding any current priorities. Failure to align your interview team means everyone isn’t likely to agree on a top prospect, which may leave you without a potential new hire.

 

Begin by identifying any essential core competencies that are necessary for the role as a method for guiding everyone’s analysis of the interviewees. This will also help you determine if you need someone who functions as more of a specialist or generalist in their particular area, as either approach can be appropriate, depending on your priorities. Then, consider if any attributes define candidates who may be a solid cultural fit, increasing the chances that they will excel in the environment.

 

You also want to make sure that the panel won’t place too much weight on credentials from top-ranked schools or previous experience at leading companies, as many professionals are just as skilled even though they don’t possess that particular pedigree. It also helps to have a discussion regarding the importance of achievement versus experience, as a seemingly less experienced job seeker may be more prone to greatness despite their greenness.

 

Agree on Acceptable Trade-Offs

Some teams are more willing to take a risk on a potentially great talent who needs some additional development than others, and getting everyone on the same page in this area is essential. If everyone isn’t assessing the candidates from the same perspective, you may have conflict in your interview team as they debate the merits of someone who appears to have potential but isn’t proven. By having this discussion in advance, it is easier to align the panel in a particular direction, speeding up the hiring process.

 

Similarly, very rarely does a candidate possess every skill or trait you’re hoping to find, so it is important to determine which points are non-negotiable and which can be overlooked as long as the interviewee has another characteristic or competency which could be helpful.

 

By following the tips above, you can streamline your hiring process significantly. If you would like to improve your strategy further, the recruitment specialists at The Armada Group can connect you with some of the area’s leading talent. Contact us today to see how our hiring strategies can work for you.