H 1B

 

According to recent statistics from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) division of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an increasing number of H-1B applications are being challenged by the agency. Even though the Trump administration hasn’t implemented formal reforms in the program, one study claims that “requests for evidence” has increased by 44 percent year-over-year, marking the highest levels experienced since right after the financial crisis in 2009.

 

Many tech companies claim that they rely on the program to help them find the skilled workers they need, stating that they aren’t always available in the local talent pool. The additional level of scrutiny leaves many such businesses concerned.

 

The major question regarding the program is why the applications are being more closely evaluated even if significant changes have not been made. Here’s what you need to know.

 

A Call for Review

In April, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that required DHS and the Labor, Justice and State Departments to review the existing H-1B policy in an effort to eliminate abuse and fraud within the program. While their exact approach isn’t thoroughly revealed, making the process more rigorous is likely a sign that the departments are attempting to live up to the requirement.

 

USCIS has also made the process of renewing H-1B visas more challenging, increasing the amount of proof required to determine if a worker is actually eligible for the program. This move may have at least partially been responsible for the increased number of “requests for evidence.”

 

The Debate Surrounding H-1B Visas

Advocates for the program, including numerous large tech firms, insist that the visas are necessary to obtain a fully capable workforce. With unemployment numbers being low, particularly among IT professionals, many fear that restricting the program will only make the talent shortage worse.

 

Critics of the H-1B visas state that the program takes jobs away from American workers who could otherwise fill the roles, even though the program is supposed to bar that from happening. They also suggest that tech firms should invest in the education of their workforce to manage skill gaps, and not default to bringing in foreign labor.

 

H-1B Program Changes

While President Trump vowed to make changes to the program during his presidential campaign, it is unknown if or when such reforms could take place. However, it should be anticipated that using the H-1B visa program could continue to become more challenging as numerous Congressional bills have targeted the system in various ways.

 

If you are looking for a highly skilled IT professional to join your team, the recruitment specialists at The Armada Group can connect you with some of the area’s leading tech talent. Contact us to see how our unique approach to recruiting and hiring can benefit your company today.

 

 

Network Engineering

 

Network engineers are seeing their once static roles morph into something much more fluid. As new technologies, like cloud services and IoT, enter the workplace with greater frequency, these professionals are having to adapt quickly to meet the demands of today’s leading companies. With that in mind, here are eight must-have skills that will help you land your next position.

  1. Understanding of Application Data Flow

As applications become increasingly complex and tap into more resources, understanding how data flows through the system is essential to your success. Applications interact with databases and clients while also often connecting to cloud-based services. If you want to optimize the network, you need to understand how these pieces fit together.

  1. Cybersecurity

Security is at the forefront of every company’s mind, and understanding the network’s role in cybersecurity is vital. This includes traditional technology, like firewalls and intrusion prevention techniques, as well as more sophisticated technologies, such as unified threat management (UTM) solutions. Network engineers play a large role in cybersecurity, making these skills mandatory.

  1. SD-WAN

SD-WAN garnered a lot of attention, but not everyone understands its limitations. Network engineers must know what scenarios are appropriate for SD-WAN and when a traditional service is better suited to the task. Additionally, being able to communicate these concepts to management, including leaders who may not be as tech savvy, is a valuable skill that can help set you apart from those less experienced in the technology.

  1. DNS

DNS is a critical component of public and private clouds, as well as numerous unfired network security architectures. With security being such a high priority, and some of the growing issues involving DNS specifically, being competent in this area is critical.

  1. Internet of Things

IoT has put additional pressure on network engineers who now need to accommodate a range of sensors and other wireless devices into the corporate network. You’ll be expected to provide insight into the technologies, make system recommendations, and even set governing policies. While IoT hasn’t entered all businesses, it’s a growing trend, so be prepared for it to enter into your purview soon if it hasn’t already.

  1. Virtualization

The need to virtualize network services and functions is growing, especially in companies that recognize it is needed before an end-to-end SDN can be implemented. Demand for this skill is increasing at a rapid pace, making it a smart skill for any network engineer to acquire.

  1. Network Automation

As networks become more organic and are expected to adapt to changing needs, automation is becoming increasingly more common as it eliminates the need to perform redundant actions to adjust to shifts. By learning how to automate these processes, you become a valuable member of any networking team.

  1. Hyperconverged Systems

As the appeal of hyperconverged systems grows, network engineers will need to be prepared to deploy and maintain this technology. Understanding how these solutions operate is also critical, ensuring you are prepared to optimize the systems as needed.

 

If you are looking for a new network engineering position, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you with some of the area’s leading employers. Contact us today to see how our services can benefit you.

 

 

Remote

 

The idea of working from home, or at least telecommuting on occasion, is appealing to many professionals. It supports a greater work-life balance and can remove certain stressors, such as a long commute. But convincing a manager that you’ll thrive in a remote position isn’t always easy, especially if you haven’t had the opportunity to work remotely before. To help you craft a strong case, here are six ways to prove you’ll excel in a remote role.

 

  1. Embrace Technology

At the foundation of remote work is technology. Regardless of your duties, you’ll need to complete your tasks and communicate with your teammates largely through tech resources. This means you may need to have a variety of solutions on your computer as well as sufficient bandwidth to support your work.

 

  1. Request Clear Objectives

Even if you can easily reach out to your manager, having set performance standards will help ensure you are meeting and exceeding all expectations. Often, one of the largest concerns about allowing employees to work remotely is whether they will sufficiently contribute to the team. This often stems from the lack of direct supervision, but having clear objectives can help alleviate these issues as both you and the manager understand what you will be doing when you’re on company time.

 

  1. Make Communication a Priority

Being separated from the proverbial hustle and bustle of the office can make it hard to stay connected with your team. This means you need to make communication a priority, through whatever means necessary.

 

Generally, the majority of your discussions will be online, usually through collaboration software solutions, that allow information and files to be easily shared. However, don’t relegate yourself to this platform alone, as phone calls and face-to-face meetings (whether in-person or over video conferencing software) help maintain a stronger connection.

 

By focusing on communication, you can keep your manager apprised of your efforts and ensure you don’t miss any critical changes that occur along the way.

 

  1. Be Open to a Trial Period

Sometimes the easiest way to prove you are capable of being a productive remote employee is to show them. If your manager has doubts about the arrangement, or you're trying to convince a hiring manager that you have what it takes, consider proposing a trial period. This will give you a chance to clearly demonstrate your ability to stay on target when not in the office while providing the company some flexibility, should the arrangement not work out.

 

  1. Create an Ideal Workspace

Another concern many managers have when assessing people for remote positions is whether they have a suitable environment in which to work. For example, the idea of an employee taking an important client call with a dog barking in the background or children asking for lunch isn’t very appealing and could hurt the company’s reputation. However, you can remove some of these concerns by showing you have a dedicated workspace that can be kept quiet. This could be as simple as a discussion about your home office and your plan for keeping distractions at bay.

 

  1. Discuss the Benefits

While a remote position may benefit you in obvious ways, it also helps the employer. Companies often discover that telecommuters are more productive than their in-office peers and take fewer sick days. Additionally, it can lower their overhead costs.

 

Sometimes reminding them there is a lot to gain can help improve your case. Just make sure that, if you broach the subject, you do so professionally and come armed with facts.

 

If you are interested in a remote position, the professionals at The Armada Group can help you explore your options. Contact us to speak with one of our skilled recruiters today.

 

 

Negotiation

 

Competition for top tech talent is fierce, as more companies are forced to do battle with one another to secure the best candidates. While this generally means that businesses are offering better salaries than they were just a few years ago, that doesn’t mean what you were hoping to be offered will automatically be on the table. And that means you’ll need to negotiate.

 

Walking into a negotiation unprepared, or assuming that it will somehow be easy, won’t set you up for success. Many hiring managers are quite skilled when it comes to these processes, so treating it like a game will get you nowhere. If you are anticipating a salary negotiation in your future, here are some tips to help you come at it like a pro.

 

Focus on Being Likeable but Persistent When Discussing Nonsalary Terms

Trying to play hardball or coming off as arrogant can easily backfire. However, being pleasant but firm rarely does. One of the easiest ways to get started is to focus on nonmonetary compensation, like your benefits package.

 

First, by starting with other forms of compensation, you can learn more about what the company can potentially offer. This lets you know what, aside from salary, is providing you with value, and which items can function as powerful negotiation tools.

 

Often, if you are firm about a particular benefit, like an extra week of vacation, one of two things will happen: you’ll get what you asked for or be offered an increased salary if they can’t come through. And, if you don’t see anything you want to ask for explicitly, these are points that can be revisited if they can’t meet your salary expectation, as long as you are open to alternative forms of compensation.

 

Define Success for the Position

Once you’ve gotten to a salary and benefits package you are comfortable with, it also pays to have a discussion about what defines success in the role as well as the required benchmarks to be eligible for a raise. This creates a scenario that sets expectations, both for you and the manager, regarding when a salary increase would be due, and serves as a starting plan for your future success.

 

Additionally, you can come to an agreement regarding what sort of raise would be appropriate if you meet those goals. Essentially, you are negotiating your future salary increase in advance, which can help keep you motivated while also projecting self confidence.

 

Have Them Invested in Your Success

As you wrap up your negotiations, you have an opportunity to get your manager directly interested in your success. This can be achieved by selling yourself in a way that lets them know your accomplishments validate them.

 

Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask, “What does it take to be successful here?” as the answer can be incredibly valuable and helps you forge a stronger relationship. If you receive helpful advice, and actively work to follow it, you’ve crafted a connection that may have otherwise been missed.

 

If you are looking for a new position, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to discuss your career goals today.

 

 

Data Analyst

 

Now that more companies are working to make the most of their data, talented data analysts are more in-demand than ever before. And, with the number of skilled professionals remaining low, job seekers with the right combination of knowledge and experience can achieve impressive salaries and strong benefits packages with a variety of perks.

 

As a data analyst, you have the potential to have an incredibly lucrative career. But where your career path will take you depends on numerous variables, so taking the time to forge a proper plan is necessary if your goal is to reach the highest ranks in the field. Here’s what you need to know.

 

Education is a Must-Have, But Not in the Way That You Think

It’s no surprise you need a college degree to work as a data analyst. However, that doesn’t mean your education has to be completely focused on the field. Since data analytics is a relatively new specialty, only a few universities offer targeted degrees for up-and-coming data analysts. This means, as long as you have completed your education in a related field, you likely have the potential to reach the upper echelons of the career path.

 

Usually you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree, even for entry-level data analyst positions, but there are a variety of majors that can propel you forward in your data analyst career. For example, a degree in IT or computer science can work quite well, but other relevant specialties, like economics, mathematics, and statistics, can also let you get your foot in the door.

 

Experience Matters

As with almost any career path, it takes experience in the field to advance. Precisely how much you need, however, may vary from one employer to the next.

 

Direct experience in a data analyst position is obviously helpful, though time spent in certain related areas can also help you move forward. There are a variety of IT fields that could be applicable to data analytics, allowing those who weren’t previously working in this specialty area to transition without having to start at the bottom.

 

The best way to approach this, if you aren’t officially a data analyst, is to request duties that are helpful in your target field. By getting involved in these project, you have relevant experience to add to your resume, making it easier to advance towards your goals.

 

Industry Considerations

While a data analyst may find an opportunity in almost any industry, it may be easier to reach the top if you choose one and dedicate your career to that segment. For example, if you focus on the healthcare industry, securing a higher-level position in that niche may not be as difficult as trying to transition to a finance company. This is because you’ll be more familiar with industry norms, allowing you to integrate more quickly into your new workplace.

 

Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t switch industries. However, if one catches your eye, sticking with it can be beneficial.

 

If you are interested in finding a new data analyst position, the recruitment specialists at The Armada Group can connect you with top companies throughout the area. Contact us today to see how our services can help you advance in your career.

 

 

Certifications

 

With competition for top talent in the IT field being fiercer than ever, many companies are exploring new options to help with recruitment and retention. One such benefit involves paying for employees’ certifications.

 

While the benefit to workers is clear, as having a business cover the cost of any form of continuing education is seen as a boon, some organizations struggle to see the value it provides to them. However, paying for employee certifications can actually be a very smart move when handled wisely. Here’s what you need to know.

 

Fill Skill Gaps

Even in today’s tech-oriented world, it can be hard to find candidates who possess the skills you need to round out your team. And, with unemployment among IT professionals remaining well below the national average, it may only become more challenging.

 

Choosing to pay for employee certifications can ultimately help you overcome any existing skill gaps as you can sponsor the training of your top employees, giving you access to their new skills. Essentially, you can mold your current staff into an ideal team, covering all the competencies you need to move forward towards your goals. And, by selecting truly talented workers for the task, you can almost guarantee they’ll come back with the level of understanding you need.

 

A Win-Win

Many businesses turn to traditional offerings, like raises, to keep talented employees on staff. While a larger paycheck is likely to have a positive impact on workers and may improve retention rates, the direct benefit to employers isn’t necessarily as high as with paying for certifications.

 

Most IT professionals see the value in additional certifications, as it can help them move forward in their career, and companies can benefit from their increased skill level, helping them achieve their goals as well. In some cases, offering certifications in lieu of salary increases can have a similar effect on retention, won’t necessarily cost more than a raise, and gives your company access to skills that may otherwise be unavailable.

 

Boost Morale

Having an employer support professional growth can be seen as a substantial benefit for workers. Not only does it save them from having to pay out of pocket for additional training, but it also proves the company is invested in their forward progress and various personal goals.

 

In the end, this can lead to a happier workforce, increasing productivity and improving retention. In addition, employees who are satisfied with their employer are more likely to stay for the long haul, and may also share their appreciation with others, making recruitment efforts easier as well.

 

Offering to pay for employee certifications does require a strong plan, as you need to exude a level of control over which options are supported and who would qualify for such a program. However, by investing in this area and creating a strong guiding structure, your company has a lot to gain from the arrangement.

 

If you would like to learn more or are seeking an IT professional to join your team, the skilled staff at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today.