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Wednesday, Aug 07 2013

Top Five IT Jobs for 2013

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Businesses committed to progress must keep up with rapidly evolving technology – anticipating trends, guaranteeing data capacity, and utilizing innovation. So who’s responsible for leading the charge, all while protecting the company’s systems and bottom line? Here are five roles that control the backbone of information technology.

CIO: Chief Information Officer – Median Income $160,000

Sometimes referred to as a CISO (Chief Information Systems Officer), this high-ranking position drives the organization’s objectives through technology. Focused primarily on internal customers, they are responsible for the enterprise-level network infrastructure, supporting data requirements and communication across the organization. This usually includes vendor negotiations for needed equipment, software, and services.

CIOs develop strategies and initiatives that employ information systems to support business processes. They propose budgets for programs, upgrades, and IT-related projects. The CIO role is shifting more toward business management, with an emphasis on special expertise in finance, law, green tech, and security.

CTO: Chief Technology Officer – Median Income $150,000

This role is often confused with the CIO. The latter is concerned with the profitability of the IT structure, while the CTO is motivated by the external customer and uses technology to augment their organization’s offerings. Though they do share some responsibilities, the strategies a CTO develops are intended to increase revenue.

The CTO is responsible for the company’s web presence, maintaining site registration, up-time, and search engine optimization. They may conduct code reviews, test for conformance, and examine web analytics. If relevant, CTOs also supervise web application and software development.

CSO: Chief Security Officer – Median Income $150,000

While the CSO may also be required to provide for the physical security of employees and facilities, this job’s primary function is to shield the organization’s data from internal and external threats.

The goal is to proactively protect sensitive information by identifying vulnerabilities, creating security solutions, and developing and implementing policies and procedures, which the CSO then communicates to employees. Staff training and active system monitoring help ensure security. The CSO may also be involved in plans for disaster recovery and business continuity efforts.

VPIT: Vice President of Information Technology – Median Income $140,000

The VP of IT is the visionary, anticipating company growth and using emerging technology to support long-term objectives. They implement and maintain current systems and infrastructure while analyzing new possibilities for integration.

The VP allocates resources, prioritizes IT projects, and administers the development of applications and technology, providing leadership for development teams. Plans, policies, programs, and schedules for networks, computer services, data processing, and business operations are directed and managed by the VP.

ITSM: Information Technology Security Manager – Median Income $135,000

An Information Technology Security Manager establishes the company’s security strength via guidelines, design, and training. The role oversees risk audits and assessments, implementing appropriate security solutions and collaborating with other departments to ensure that employees comply with procedures. The ITSM maintains an awareness of possible threats and plans countermeasures for security vulnerabilities. Responsibilities may also include securing networks and any off-site backup storage.

Most of these positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but MBAs or specialized master’s degrees will serve better. Would honing your skills and education pay off? We see the IT field expanding rapidly, and the need for qualified experts is poised for growth.

 

Three Errors to Watch For

The saying “the devil is in the details” certainly didn’t originate with programming, but it’s an apt truism for the world of code. Three simple categories of mistakes and oversights can cause numerous headaches for developers, but it can be difficult to stay on top of all the minutiae. Are you prone to one or more of these missteps? They happen to everyone, but a little practice can give you a sharper eye and reduce your workday stress.

Inconsistency

It isn’t always easy to remember what you’ve named a past piece of data, but when you’re dealing with thousands of bits of information, consistency is your best friend. Call a spade a spade, every time you reference one—or as the case may be, refer to a “product number” as ProductID or ProdID, but not a conglomeration of the two. The same goes for dates and times: rely on the internal clock, or set a company-wide standard—otherwise, you might be faced with endless debates on whether 6/8 refers to June 8th or August 6th.

Overenthusiasm

Sometimes, excitement can impede logical thinking, and a fad is born. These fads can be genuinely good trends, but they’re easily overused or pushed on the wrong audience. Just because something is in style, doesn’t make it the right choice, and could actively harm your end goal. Another common error due to overenthusiasm comes from code completion tools. It’s great to have help with code, but you need to stay on top of even the best tools, even when it’s all too easy to click away and wait for the magic.

Forgetting the basics

After weeks, months, and years spent tackling complex programming, it’s easy to forget the initial lessons you learned. This most commonly shows up when checking the logs—or, rather, not checking them. You need to find an error message before resolving a problem, but programmers often seem to skip over that first step and then find themselves befuddled. If something isn’t making sense, step back and make sure you’ve checked all the avenues for gathering information before calling in reinforcements.

Don’t beat yourself up

If you catch yourself making some of the above mistakes, don’t stress. Even advanced programmers get caught up in little details and find themselves wading through inconsistent timestamps or gleefully showering clients with the latest UI fashion. Instead, take an error as a warning sign, and keep your eyes peeled. These common programming flubs are only true problems if they are consistent; one or two won’t hurt your reputation or work output. But for fewer headaches all around, beware the details that can try to trip you up.

If you are looking for a career in IT, contact the staffing experts at The Armada Group today. We have the network and resources to help you land your next job.

Interview questions boil down to one of three things

During an interview, you may get asked hundreds of off-the-wall questions. Some don’t seem relevant to the position at all, while others are so specific you wonder who goofed up that intricately in the past. It can be easy to let these inquisitions throw you for a loop, but the vast majority actually fit into one of three categories.

Recognizing the underlying concern of the interviewer can help you make sense of even the most unexpected question in your pre-job interrogation—so take a deep breath, sort your puzzling problem into one of the following groups, and take it away.

Can you do it?

The main factor that interviewers need to sort out is whether you are capable of the job for which you are being interviewed. Rather than ask outright if you can complete the tasks—some of which they’ve surely seen on your resume—they will often pose detailed scenarios involving a capability you’ll need, or probe your work history for clues as to what you’ve handled before. Often, these types of questions will occur on the phone or through the application process, as the field of candidates gets whittled down in preparation for face-to-face interviews.

Do you want to do it?

A trickier set of questions involves discovering if you are motivated to do the job in question. These too can be scenario-based or related to your work history; this section of an interview also talks generally about your interests and passions, in hopes that they’ll line up with the open position.

Here, the interviewer is hoping to uncover your level of commitment, regardless of stress or difficulty. If you can portray yourself as someone who perseveres and doesn’t let trouble get in the way of success, you’ll always have the right answer to a motivation-based question.

Will you do it with us?

This last category of interview questions pertains to the work environment and, frequently, the hiring manager. No matter how great a candidate you may be, the right skills and desires are irrelevant if you don’t mesh with the company and existing employees. You need to complement the team that’s already established. A tip—don’t try to make it sound like you’ll fit if you have your doubts. Be upfront and honest with your interviewer, or you’ll run the risk of getting hired at a place that isn’t right for you, which can breed resentment from all parties.

Revealing the hidden question

It’s almost always the case that the questions posed at an interview are just different ways of asking the same three things. If you’re thrown a curve ball, it’s worth taking a moment to try to categorize the question. When in doubt, be honest, dedicated, and agreeable—that’s what interviewers most want to see.

If you are looking for IT careers in California, contact the experts at The Armada Group today.

Friday, May 31 2013

Your Job Search LinkedIn Strategy

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The power to hire

LinkedIn is quickly becoming known as the place to be seen if you're on the hunt for a new job; it's easy to post your resume, connect with others in your industry, and seek out new opportunities. Blindly filling out a profile, though, won't garner the results you're hoping for. Instead, enact a strategy for utilizing LinkedIn's tools to promote yourself successfully. With the right words and the right apps, you'll be found by the right people.

Focus on the bones of your profile

The profile section on LinkedIn provides an up-till-now unheard of benefit: the chance to put what is essentially your complete resume online, in a location where you know recruiters will see it. The first step, then, is to get that information on your profile. You never know who is looking around, but you do know that your info won't be seen if it doesn't exist.

Add enhancements to your profile

When you're confident in the main components of your page, start investigating apps that you can add to boost your content. The SlideShare Presentations app makes LinkedIn go multimedia, with the ability to upload PDFs, share presentations, and even post video. Wordpress can integrate with your LinkedIn profile, syncing your blog posts automatically, so that you reach a wider audience and don't have to think about copying posts yourself; an option to filter enables you to control what syncs. There are plenty of other useful apps, too—look around and see what best fits your profile.

Use your profile to network

Obviously, LinkedIn is best used for networking. Making connections offers you ins to new companies and people, giving you a foot in the door for your dream job or even just creating a cadre of individuals you can contact for various needs. Another app, Events, shows you what events are happening in your industry or within your network. Attend the events, engage in conversations on LinkedIn, and list your profile on your business cards: take advantage of any way you can spread the word about you and/or your business.

Stay on top of your profile

Once you've established a solid, useful LinkedIn profile, don't let it sit while you do your networking and contacting around the site. If you update your resume, do the same for your profile; keeping your information current is invaluable even when you aren't job hunting. Even information that wouldn't necessarily be included in a resume, like conferences attended or books read, can be added as it occurs, so that anyone looking has your most up-to-date details.

Link yourself in
With a readable, informative profile, eye-catching additions, community involvement, and continual evolution, you know you're getting the best out of LinkedIn. Every industry and employee is different; by making your profile your own, you project a confident presence that's much more likely to be noticed.

If you are looking for more California IT jobs, contact the staffing experts at The Armada Group today. They have the network and resources to help you develop a job search strategy, and land your next job.

Red flags to avoid

You have finally scheduled an interview for the position you’re hoping for, but you’re far from the finish line. The hiring manager has clearly reviewed your resume and expressed interest in your as a candidate, so a strong interview could be the last hurdle before you land your new job. While the basics of interviewing can be easily accomplished—don’t be late, dress professionally, and so on—there are more subtle actions and phrases that can turn off an IT hiring manager. Don’t fall prey to these common mistakes.

Mistake #1: Not doing your homework on the company you are interviewing with

Just because you’re the perfect fit for the position description doesn’t mean you’re right for the company, or that it’s right for you. It’s an embarrassment, to say the least, to go into an interview and be asked a question like “What 3 things did you learn about our company from our website?” and not being able to articulate an educated answer. A hiring manager can immediately tell if you haven’t done your research—if you aren’t willing to invest time to learn about the company beforehand, they’ll likely assume you won’t after being hired.

Mistake #2: Failing to listen actively

Interviews are your opportunity to present yourself and your qualifications. That doesn’t let you off the hook for listening to what the hiring manager is saying—and if you don’t breathe long enough to actively focus on what you’re being told, you’ll be on your way posthaste. Active listening goes beyond simply hearing words, and requires digesting and responding to what’s being said. Without it, you can’t connect with the hiring manager, and they’re likely to not value your input since you don’t value theirs.

Mistake #3: Being a Robot

The ability to work as a team is important, and a hiring manager will likely make sure you have that experience before taking you on. However, it’s possible to be TOO team-oriented in your interview, to your own detriment. If you consistently talk about “we”—as in “we took this approach”; “we implemented this software solution to solve X”—you run the risk of appearing to be an insignificant contributor to the initiative. It’s a fine line: don’t act like you single-handedly delivered a 50 person, 25 man-year project; at the same time, make sure the hiring manager knows your specific contributions to a successful outcome.

Mistake #4: Giving robotic answers

One of the biggest turn-offs for a hiring manager is when an interviewee fails to present herself as an individual, with specific talents and expertise. This goes beyond setting yourself apart from the “we” of your team, and involves telling detailed stories and real-world practical answers from your past. If all you offer is methodology, you’ll be perceived as no different than any other potential employee. It’s the specific facets of how you approach your work that will set you apart.

Become a shoe-in

Obviously, you want to make a lasting, positive impression at your interview. By learning as much as possible up-front about the company, actively paying attention to the conversation with the hiring manager, asserting your initiative as well as collaborative skills, and focusing on your qualities in addition to book smarts, you’ll position yourself as someone to keep an eye on—and, better yet, someone to hire.

 

If you are looking for top IT positions in California you need to be prepared for the interviewm. Let The Armada Group help you develop a job search strategy, and land you an interview with your ideal company.

The Ins and Outs of New Hire Success

Bringing on a new employee is the end of the tedious searching and interviewing process, but it is only the beginning of integrating that person into your existing team. The training process for a newly hired software engineer depends on the company and the individual’s level of experience; regardless, there are some basic guidelines—and some pitfalls to avoid—when it comes to getting the best out of your new hire.

Specificity

The most important factor in a training program for a recently onboarded software engineer is to make it specific. Break out small steps, as opposed to only focusing on a larger, more vague plan. Give your new hire specific tasks, with measurable results.

Identify the areas your new hire will need to become comfortable with: company-specific tools, platforms, and code base; the development process for new concepts; and the details of any new job environment.

Resources

While larger companies frequently have the resources and budget to hold classes, send new hires to conferences, and provide focused, long-term, one-on-one training, smaller organizations cannot afford the expense and loss of productivity that those options entail. Much of this knowledge can be acquired intuitively over time, but the purpose of the training program is to speed up the acquisition of knowledge so that you can quickly have a productive employee.

A focus on books and online training can replace expensive classes and seminars. Reading the code and code reviews, staples of most software engineer training programs, are still highly beneficial for learning the environment, though they run the risk of making the new hire feel like they’re being put under a microscope prematurely.

Timeline

The obvious pitfalls of many training programs are that they either overwhelm with new information, or proceed so slowly that your new employee is bored. Balancing new information with preexisting knowledge can be difficult; many say the best ratio is 50% prior knowledge (such as simple problem-solving, reviewing the code base, development methodologies, or working with a familiar interface) and 50% new learning (such as company-specific systems and complex architecture).

Learning from a base of knowledge is the general key to a successful training strategy. By gaining familiarity with the newest member’s background and prior experience, you’ll be able to build off that platform as you introduce new concepts and requirements. Start with small goals to keep them excited and productive, and build upon each day’s successes.

A Good Investment

A new employee has immense long-term potential to benefit a company, but the initial training stages will create a temporary drain on your resources, as current employees will have to take time to train the new hire. If you can balance this short-term loss of productivity with a customized, effective training program, you’ll see an exceptional return for your efforts, in the form of another dedicated, enthusiastic, competent employee.

 

If you are looking for software engineering talent in California, contact the staffing experts at The Armada Group today.