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The current competitive job market can be difficult for employers as well as job seekers. Sorting through a pile of resumes to find qualified candidates, then selecting that one right person out of a pool of potentials can be quite daunting.
Being prepared with a thorough job description and a clear idea of the well-suited employee for the position is the first step to finding the perfect match, but there are some other ways to filter out the wrong candidates.

Look at the Total Package
It can be tempting to isolate certain desired characteristics, especially if the position is responsible for a specific project or specialized tasks. But hiring based on expertise alone can create an unintentional minefield of issues. There are other questions to keep in mind as you sift through resumes and conduct interviews that will help you evaluate if they're both capable of performing and how they'll perform.

Do they have the knowledge as well as the experience the job requires? What other relevant experience and skills do they bring to the table? How's their attitude – are they a good fit for your company's culture? If they need to work closely with others, are they a team player? Does their desired career path align with what is available at your organization? Are they still committed to their career development, willing to pursue further education or certifications?

Weed Out the Unqualified with Interview Questions
When you've identified what you want to know about your candidates, use that to design the types of interview questions that will give you the insight you need. Sometimes simply asking a candidate what they learned from another job or volunteer experience will set the stage for a revealing answer. Other times, you may need to ask similar questions in different ways to pin down a response – and if you can't elicit one, that might be a red flag.

Along the way, don't dismiss any concerns that arise about the suitability of a particular candidate. Don't make assumptions or gloss over issues – both are likely to come back and bite you later. Clarify with further investigation.

Develop an Onboarding Program
The top talent you're looking for will be sharp, and full of questions about the position and its perks. Quality candidates will want to know what's in it for them beyond salary. Having a comprehensive onboarding program for new hires will be a feather in your cap, as it demonstrates the investment you're willing to make in new employees. Outlining your program with a candidate is a great way to discover more about their own goals and objectives while you communicate your company's.

While no single person is completely perfect, there is someone out there with the combination of skills, experience, knowledge, attitude, and work ethic that will complement your organization's needs. Remaining prepared and objective throughout the process will help you spot that candidate when they're across the interview table from you.

If you are looking for IT recruitment agencies in California, contact The Armada Group today.

Wednesday, Sep 11 2013

Certifications to Advance Your Career

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There are more IT specializations than there are flavors of ice cream. The best way to communicate your knowledge is to supplement your experience with a certification. Seasoned professionals and recent graduates alike can benefit from these standardized measurements of expertise. But how do you know which one(s) will best top off your career?

What's Your IT Demographic?
Unlike the average person, you know that IT doesn't just translate into "good with computers". So are you a network specialist, or have you focused on security? Maybe you're a web developer or an app programmer. Getting certified in one area when you're experienced in another only makes sense if you're switching. Otherwise, there's plenty of diversification within your own specialization. Focus your certification efforts to collaborate with your experience.

What Are Your Career Objectives?
How far do you want to go? Do you want to become a CSO and oversee all of a company's security efforts? Or are you content with the next level of maintaining the firewall? Define what you want before investing the time and money educating yourself. Be SMART with your objectives – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Be aware of trends within your IT specialization, such as cloud computing and mobile security. With clear goals in mind, research which certifications might be useful in obtaining your objectives. Remember that many require a commitment to maintaining a certified status.

What Career Path Interests You?
If career objectives describe your destination, a career path is the map of your journey to get there. Just like there is more than one way to go from Philadelphia to New York City, your career path has alternate routes. Some may involve lateral moves to positions with the same pay and responsibilities as your current one, but will offer opportunities to gain the skills and experience you need to move forward. Some routes may leapfrog you ahead, provided you jump through a few hoops while in "mid-air". Both ways may require certifications, but different ones. Talk to your supervisor and/or human resources representative to discover if what you want is a possibility and if your ideas on achieving advancement coincide with theirs.

What Certifications Will Have a Significant Impact?
While certain skills are emphasized more than others at times, a few are essential. Some certifications have also been around for many years, and are simply updated as technology evolves. Whether these or newer/trending certifications are right for you can only be determined by your career objectives, path, specialization... and the demand.

Right now, project management is a hot topic, so PMP certification is highly desired for professionals looking to manage more IT projects. As Linux continues to broaden its market influence, Red Hat Certified Engineers are becoming more necessary in the system administration. RHCEs can also benefit from related but more specialized Linux certifications. There is also a high demand for virtualization (VCP), security (CISSP), networking (particularly Cisco's CCIE), and all the different flavors within Microsoft's family of domains (MCITP varietals).

Pursuing a certification for the sake of having a few letters next to your name is not going to help drive your career. Taking the time to define, discover and discuss what you really have a taste for will make you happier with what you choose and get you closer to your dreams. If you are looking IT job opportuntiites in California, contact The Armada Group today.

Wednesday, Sep 11 2013

IT Onboarding Strategies

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Not to be confused with the less in-depth process of employee orientation, onboarding is a comprehensive program designed to acclimate new hires into the performance and social aspects of their position. A successful onboarding program is meant to teach the newcomer the skills, mindset, information, and conduct needed to thrive in your environment. There are several important components that make onboarding an effective talent management tool.

Set Clear Expectations & Goals
Because employee onboarding is more involved than a one-time orientation, each department's program can – and should – be different from another's. For the IT manager, the plan begins with a clear but thorough layout of the employee's responsibilities, performance targets, and purpose within the department and the company as a whole. The new talent should be made aware of your structure, from people to technology, as it is relevant to them, as well as how they tie into current and future projects and objectives. Everyone should remember that flexibility is key, and that some aspects will be dynamic as priorities change.

Assign a Mentor
As you familiarize new employees with the hierarchy and roles of your department, pair them with a more experienced IT professional who can help the new employee navigate everything from unforeseen issues to best practices. The ideal advisor is someone who enjoys personal interaction, understands boundaries, takes pleasure in their job, and has perhaps asked for more responsibility or expressed interest in management. If you're already grooming someone for career advancement, this could be a great way to help your mentor-to-be stretch his or her wings.

Develop Career Expectations & Share Skills Needed to Succeed
As part of your onboarding strategy, schedule review times for you and the new hire to sit down and chat. Casual "how's it going?" questions when you pass them in the hall don't count, as they may be either unprepared or too intimidated to answer honestly. Consider spending a few minutes with them after a day or two, a couple of weeks, at 30 days, and so on – whatever works best for your priorities. Do you have an open door policy? Make sure they know how you work so they can feel comfortable meeting with you outside a time in your original plan.

One of the goals of these meetings is to gauge how your new IT professional is fitting into their role and to make adjustments as necessary. This fine-tuning of the job description can be anything from their daily duties to helping them define their career opportunities. While you've already assigned them a mentor, you still have a responsibility to help them develop the skills they need to succeed with you.

Stay in Constant Communication
Though hovering and micro-managing is never recommended, maintain a strong line of communication with your new hire. Occasional efforts to check in on specific projects, ask for feedback, or bring something interesting to their attention are great ways to let them know you value them. Everyone's communication style is different – some enjoy frequent face-to-face interaction, some would rather talk briefly on the phone, and others favor emails. Your new IT person should know what you expect, and you should discover what they prefer.

Onboarding new IT professionals is a process meant to build trust, establish communication, and set clear goals. Not an endeavor to be taken lightly, a good onboarding program will enable you and your new hire to work more effectively as you pinpoint one another's expectations. If you are looking for IT recruiters in California, contact The Armada Group today.

Tuesday, Sep 10 2013

Top California IT Talent

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Frontend Developer
• Over 14 years of experience with web applications development and JavaScript experience.
• 3 years of experience with HTML5 and CSS3.
• Over 2 years of mobile application development while working with responsive design.

Front-end/UI Engineer
• 6 ½ years of UI development, recent employers include Apple and Google
• 4-5 years of experience utilizing responsive web design
• Solid experience creating consumer-facing, high profile mobile web applications
• Skilled with cutting-edge technologies such as HTML 5, JavaScript, and CSS

Systems/DevOps Engineer
• 3+ years of recent experience working with cloud computing services such as Amazon Web Services and VMware
• Over 10 years of experience with systems administration and 2+ with DevOps at major companies such as Hightail and eBay
• Excellent Shell and Perl scripting skills
• Confident working in both start-up and enterprise environments

If you are interested in one of our top candidates, contact us today.

Searching for a job is a job in and of itself, and it can be frustrating when the one measurable goal – landing rewarding employment – is still out of reach after applying yourself again and again. When looking for someone to hire you, it seems the decision is out of your hands, but there many aspects of the job search that are under your control. Here are a few ways you can work a little smarter to secure the job you want.

Resurface and Rethink

When diving after every possible position in your field, you’ll need to come up for air once in awhile. Take the time to give yourself a bit of a break – but a meaningful one. Remind yourself of prior successful projects. Recall the rough spots and what got you through them. Reflect on your vocation; your choices in education, training, and other experiences; and the efforts you invested to become knowledgeable, qualified, and resourceful.

Once you break away from making a job title your identity, think about what you really want from your next position. What’s the ideal direction for your career? To keep your goals in sight, make sure the water’s no longer cloudy with discouragement and desperation before you dive back into the job search.

Plan on It

You know who you are, and you have a definite goal. Now, develop a strategy. Treating the process as a project will allow you to remain objective. Break down your big-picture vision into smaller steps, and give yourself ways to measure your progress. For example, you may want to research a networking group online, and give yourself a deadline for deciding whether or not to join. The clearer you are about search-related tasks, the less mental clutter you’ll have.

Connect More

There are more ways to network than ever before. Make sure those in your immediate circle know you’re looking, but don’t stop there. Explore the possibilities for professional interaction online – niche sites for your field, groups on LinkedIn, forums on sites related to your occupation – and check into local groups that meet regularly. Volunteering is another great way to expand your circle, but make sure to choose a cause and an activity that genuinely interests you.

Sharpen Your Tools

Apply your new outlook to your core search implements. Refine your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile to reflect your passion, experience, and insight. Use features on LinkedIn creatively, and share your profile link on other social media sites when appropriate.

Like any project, a job search is done best when you’re thinking clearly. Keep yourself on a regular schedule, and put your skills and experience to work on focused tasks. This will help you move forward and stay in control of your best job search asset: a positive attitude.

If you are looking for IT or more specifically developer jobs in Santa Cruz CA, contact the employment experts at The Armada Group today.

Wednesday, Aug 21 2013

Managing Your California Tech Team

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It’s often safe to say that managing a tech team is somewhat different than managing salespeople or customer service staff. Clear and ongoing communication, however, remains a core principle of successful project completion. The following tactics will help you establish and maintain productive interaction.

Definitions & Deadlines

Whether members of your team pride themselves on promptness or are prone to procrastination, your project will languish in ambiguity and confusion if there’s just one main objective and deadline. Serve your team’s need for clarity by breaking down the project into smaller tasks with shorter deadlines, and make sure everyone knows who’s doing what. The various roles and their responsibilities should be clearly defined, and their important connection to completing the project should be understood.

Consider asking for volunteers for certain parts of the project, instead of just assigning duties – many IT specialists thrive on new opportunities that challenge them and expand their expertise.

Use Tech Tools to Communicate

You could create a flat outline of the project flow on a whiteboard somewhere, but the best way to keep the dialogue flowing is to use technology. There are many project management tools out there for your team, from free and basic cloud solutions to multi-layered and enterprise-level programs. You know best what you’ll need, but it should be something your team can quickly and easily use to share ideas, information, and project documents with an eye on the deadlines you’ve set.

Make a Habit of Meeting

Even if some of your tech team fall into the introvert category, don’t assume they want to stay hunched over their computer for the duration of the project. Bring them up for air and remind them they are a valuable team member by scheduling short, regular meetings with the entire group.

Avoid the negative rap of meetings by staying focused. Refer to your project outline, and utilize the chosen communication tool. Most importantly, really listen to your team when they talk about their progress, frustrations they’re experiencing, and their thoughts in general. Take notes, and be sure to make positive, meaningful comments.

Follow up, but Don’t Micromanage

Great leaders remove roadblocks to keep their group moving forward. Follow up individually with team members. Using your notes, remind them of what they said during meetings. Are there problems unrelated to their assignment that you can handle for them? Do they need more tools or training? Don’t hover, nitpick, or second-guess how they’re doing their work, or you’ll risk compromising any trust they have in you.

Managing people effectively can be challenging, especially when the project is particularly important. With carefully planned communication, regular and relevant interaction, and an atmosphere of trust and support, you can help your IT team not only complete a successful project, but develop a more productive work environment for the future.

If you are looking for IT employment agencies in Santa Cruz, contact the experts at The Armada Group today.