• Blog

    IT Staffing, Recruiting & Hiring News

Items filtered by date: January 2018

Machine Learning

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have taken the business world by storm, with more and more companies becoming interested in how they can integrate these technologies into their operations so they can experience the benefits for themselves. However, there are a limited number of skilled professionals available to support these emerging systems.

 

While the high level of demand is excellent for AI specialists, it leaves companies struggling to find the skilled workers they need to reach their technology goals. But Google is releasing a solution that may make AI and machine learning technologies more accessible to businesses.

 

Say Hello to Cloud AutoML

Google has begun rolling out Cloud AutoML, a solution focused on automating the creation of machine learning models, to help bring the emerging technologies to the masses. The first product in the release, Cloud AutoML Vision, provides developers with an easy to use, drag and drop interface, allowing them to craft image recognition models with greater ease.

 

According to the company, the system allows organizations to experience more accurate results, when compared to generic machine learning APIs, which can easily be considered a significant benefit for businesses looking to implement the technology.

 

 

It should be noted that the Cloud AutoML platform is still in the Alpha phase of development, so growing pains are likely as Google works to iron out the kinks in the technology. However, it represents a potentially significant step forward, even if there is still work to be done to make it viable on a larger scale.

 

Additionally, the question as to whether something as inherently complex as AI and machine learning can be automated, a point that is particularly relevant should the technology be added to critical systems. But, if it is deemed a success, it could signal the beginning of a revolution in the field, encouraging more firms to explore the associated possibilities and giving companies a new approach that can help them overcome skill gaps in their teams.

 

Will AI and Machine Learning Specialists Still be Relevant?

While the idea of an automated or simplified approach is enticing, most companies would be wise to maintain an AI or machine learning specialist on their staff, particularly as the technology still has a long way to go before it can be deemed suitable for all situations. In the meantime, working with experienced professionals will continue to be the norm, even as Cloud AutoML exits Alpha, or even Beta, as businesses will need to learn what the solutions can and cannot do effectively.

 

If you are interested in hiring an AI or machine learning specialist to join your team, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you with some of today’s top talent. Contact us to speak with one of our skilled recruiters today and see how our services can help you achieve your AI and machine learning implementation and support goals.

 

 

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.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

Reference

 

Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out who to list as a reference. Ultimately, you need to select people who can speak to your professional abilities in a positive manner, as the information they provide the hiring manager is a crucial part of their decision-making process.

 

That means, there are certain people you should never include on that list. With that in mind, here are six people you should forgo listing as a reference.

 

  1. Anyone Who Fired You

While it seems obvious, it’s still worth saying: anyone who fired you should never be used as a reference.

 

Generally, a manager who terminated your employment won’t have positive things to say about you in the workplace and may be inclined to be honest with the prospective employer about their experience. Even if the reason you were fired wasn’t related to an infraction or issue, such as when it just isn’t a great fit, it is best to avoid using them as a reference at all costs.

 

  1. Someone with a Bad Reputation

Whether their reputation focuses on their performance or their attitude, such anyone who tends to bad mouth their coworkers or company, having such a person speak on your behalf may backfire. Essentially, there is an inherent risk that you will be considered guilty by association or, at a minimum, anything positive they have to say about you won’t carry much weight.

 

  1. Anyone You’ve Never Worked With

Unless a purely personal reference is requested, you should only list professionals with whom you’ve worked. This ensures they can speak to your skills and performance accurately and based on firsthand knowledge.

 

Now, it is okay to list people who worked with you as a volunteer or even classmates that you completed projects with if you are a recent graduate. Otherwise, stick to current or former managers and coworkers whenever possible.

 

 

  1. Someone You Don’t Know

If you have a particular company in mind, and you know someone who knows someone who works there, it may be tempting to ask the inside contact for a reference. But, since they don’t know anything about you, they aren’t going to have much to say. Plus, asking them to put themselves out there for a stranger may not turn out well, doing more harm than good.

 

  1. Anyone You’ve Lost Contact With

Similarly, if you haven’t been in contact with someone for a few years, then they aren’t the best choice for a reference. First, the can’t speak to your recent experience, and that may not reflect well on the hiring manager. Second, you have no way of knowing what is currently happening in their professional lives, and there may be some factors that are relevant.

 

However, you can work to reconnect with the person first and then decide whether they make a suitable reference, particularly if the information they can provide is important.

 

  1. Someone You Don’t Know Well

While an acquaintance may seem like a viable option, they may struggle if any of the hiring manager’s questions require in-depth knowledge about your experience or personality. Vague answers may give the hiring manager pause, leading them to assume that the reference is intentionally hiding something.

 

Ideally, your references need to be able to speak about your experience in a thorough, informed and positive manner, so you need to select people who can do so well. This ensures the hiring manager gets the information they need without having doubts about the quality of your references.

 

If you are seeking out a new opportunity, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you with top employers throughout the area. Contact us today to see how we can help you take the next step in your career.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

Project Management

 

IT projects are often complex, requiring a significant amount of time to complete and a diverse set of employees to ensure all needed skill sets are present. To coordinate the associated activities, having a robust project management strategy is a necessity.

 

Like any other area, there are a number of trends that are poised to change the face of project management in 2018. With that in mind, here are a few that you are likely to notice as the year goes forward.

 

The EPMO Model

Organizations have begun to favor the Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) methodology over the traditional project managing office (PMO) model. EPMOs typically reflect a more strategic approach, aligning the project, portfolio, and program activities to larger company goals. This allows companies to reach a higher level of success, particularly when it comes to creating end results that meet the original objectives. Plus, fewer projects fail using the associated methodologies, which is a benefit that can’t be ignored.

 

Increased Use of Software and Tools

Web-based project management software and tools have become more affordable over recent years, allowing more companies to access them. This provides smaller organizations with the technology they need to better manage their projects, including by reducing waste, efficiently allocating resources, and keeping them aligned with their goals.

 

 

Analytics Play a Bigger Role

Business analytics continues to become more accessible as well, allowing companies to leverage the power of their data in more meaningful ways. Teams can identify trends in advance, spot potential risks earlier in the process, and even examine complex approaches with greater ease, giving them valuable information that can increase the chances that the project will be successful.

 

This also helps in the development of future projects as lessons learned today can be captured with greater ease, allowing the associated information to guide decisions during the next project.

 

More Remote Workers

Technology has also made remote work and telecommuting options easier to manage, allowing your full-time staff to experience greater flexibility or you to access top talent in areas outside of your immediate vicinity.

 

Since work-life balance has become a priority for many professionals, particularly Millennials and the incoming Generation Z, this can be an attractive offering that gives you an advantage over competitors who choose to forgo the option, increasing the odds that you will be viewed as an employer of choice.

 

Hiring for Emotional Intelligence

Companies and employees are placing a higher value on emotional intelligence in the workplace, and this will likely affect hiring decisions today and into the future, particularly with project managers. The nature of the work requires coordinating with a wide range of professionals, all with different priorities and personalities. Emotional intelligence makes the task easier, making it a valuable skill for anyone leading a diverse group of workers.

 

If you are looking to hire a project manager or would like to learn more about current trends, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to speak with one of our skilled team members and see how our expertise can work for you.

 

 

Published in IT Infrastructure

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.

 

 

Published in Recruiting

Cybersecurity

 

As the number of cyberattacks seems only to keep growing, and the results of the intrusions get more severe, more and more companies have prioritized their cybersecurity operations, and that often means securing and retaining top talent in the field. Protecting sensitive data and systems is a must-do, so any trouble in the hiring arena can have a significant negative impact on operations.

 

If you are ready to find the next great crop of cybersecurity talent, here’s what you need to do.

 

Invest in the Right Tools

While having up to date cybersecurity tools doesn’t necessarily seem like a key to securing the best and brightest professionals available, it actually is. Having antiquated systems and approaches won’t make you an attractive employer to highly skilled workers, especially if they are already well-versed in the latest offerings.

 

Similarly, you need to make sure that every available tool and technology is designed to help your team be more efficient and effective. This limits the amount of frustration associated with the work, creating a more pleasant work environment and, subsequently, improving morale as well as productivity.

 

If your tools aren’t current, then its time to examine upgrades and implementations that can help your company meet the expectations of today’s workers, particularly those who aren’t interested in taking a step back in the technology arena. Otherwise, you may miss out on great workers simply because you are behind the times.

 

 

Offer Strong Salaries

If you aren’t prepared to offer a reasonable salary for the position, you’re almost guaranteed to have trouble hiring experienced cybersecurity professionals. Demand for their skill set is high, so it’s imperative that your offer be competitive.

 

Now, this doesn’t mean you need to outdo every competitor in your area, just that your salaries need to be in line with the standard. To help you accomplish this, do some research into what certain skill sets and experience levels are worth in your city or metro area, and use that to guide your actions.

 

The same is true for benefits packages and perks, especially if there is a shortage of cybersecurity professionals in your region. Often, it’s helpful to review a variety of online resources as well as vacancy announcements from other businesses, giving you an understanding of what is available today and increasing the odds that your offer will be seen as competitive.

 

Diversify Your Recruiting Efforts

While sticking to tried and true recruitment resources may have been sufficient before, if you are struggling to find the skilled workers you need, it’s time to consider new approaches. This can include listing vacancies on niche job boards, partnering with local colleges and universities, or working with a reputable staffing firm that focuses on IT professionals. By expanding your search, you increase your odds of finding the top talent you need to succeed.

 

If you are looking for a cybersecurity professional to join your staff, the team at The Armada Group can connect you with some of today’s top talent. Contact us to learn more about our services and how they can help you find the right new employee quickly.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

Tech Contractor

 

Technology has changed the workplace in notable ways, particularly when it comes to working remotely. This allows companies to explore opportunities to outsource certain tasks that don’t require a physical presence in the office, and this has given rise to contract work, especially in the tech space.

 

A significant amount of potential exists in this arena, including the ability to piece out larger projects and secure top talent in specific niches, something that would have been incredibly difficult to accomplish only a few years ago. Additionally, the approach allows professionals to focus on particular areas of interest, giving them more control over their careers and the tasks they choose to take on.

 

If you haven’t delved into these arrangements, here’s what you need to know.

 

Not Traditional Outsourcing

Many businesses and professionals maintain an antiquated view on outsourcing, assuming that entire projects or functions need to be offloaded for the arrangement to be effective.

 

However, opportunities exist that allow companies to break larger projects into smaller components, giving them a chance to secure highly specialized skills for a short period. It also allows multiple pieces to be in progress simultaneously as long as each part isn’t reliant on another. This can shorten development times significantly, letting projects reach completion faster than ever before.

 

Further, workers can concentrate on specific skill areas, performing tasks that only relate to their preferred field. For professionals who have a passion for a particular niche, this can be an invigorating way to structure their career, allowing them to get more value from their work.

 

 

Increased Access

When it comes to highly specialized skills, companies may struggle to find suitable workers depending on the availability of talent in their area. Similarly, a professional with a particular focus may not always locate positions in their immediate vicinity.

 

Contract arrangements, supported by remote work technologies, allow businesses and workers to connect even if they aren’t in the same city or even state. This gives both sides more access to what they are looking for, giving companies a method for overcoming skill gaps and professionals a chance to find the kind of work they want to do.

 

Classifying Tasks

In general, most work can be divided into two categories: core and non-core. While core tasks are usually assigned to full-time employees, non-core activities may be ideal for contractors, especially if the arrangement isn’t necessarily going to be long-term. This allows for more effective workflow designs and increased overall efficiency, especially when it comes to completing projects that require a highly defined skill set.

 

Ultimately, the benefits of contractor roles in IT means that they are likely to remain a viable option for companies and professionals for the long-term, particularly as the technologies that support these opportunities only continue to improve.

 

If you are interested in learning more, the team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to see how our expertise can help you navigate the world of contract work with greater ease and confidence.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

Unethical

 

IT professionals are often trusted with a significant amount of power in any organization. They have access to critical systems and data, some of which is not directly related to their positions.

 

Employees in any department may participate in some questionable activities, and IT workers are no exception. While some occasional lighthearted actions can be beneficial to morale, when certain lines are crossed, a serious problem exists.

 

To help you identify these issues and address unruly IT employee behavior, here are some common areas of concern and how to handle them.

 

Practical Jokes

IT employees are uniquely positioned when it comes to practical jokes. They can do anything from changing a person’s password to adjusting computer wallpaper, often remotely.

 

While some of these actions may seem harmless, they can easily become bothersome. For example, another employee’s work may be disrupted by a practical joke, hurting productivity. In more severe scenarios, such as changing a worker’s desktop background to something inappropriate, a staff member may become offended, or worse.

 

To prevent these activities, you need strong policies in place that define how credentials can be used as well as any consequences that are associated with these breaches of trust. Using alerts that inform the manager when specific actions are taken can also be effective deterrents, as all activities are automatically broadcast to their supervisor.

 

 

Accessing Confidential Information

Most IT professionals have administrator credentials that allow them to access a range of systems. While this is necessary for the work, it can cause problems when they abuse the privilege, using their credentials to access confidential or sensitive information not related to their positions.

 

Further, they often have the ability to delete or alter logs, giving them a chance to cover their tracks.

 

Setting up alerts can help spot this kind of activity, as well as a robust ticketing system that can help determine which actions are legitimate and which may be illicit in nature.

 

Non-Work-Related Activities

Since IT often controls what can be accessed over the internet and which activities are logged, the potential for abuse is significant. A worker could give themselves the ability to access entertainment related sites that would otherwise be blocked, giving them the opportunity to slack off while they are on the clock.

 

While taking a moment to relax isn’t inherently a problem, if they begin spending more than a reasonable amount of time on non-work-related activities, productivity is going to decline. Further, if they access inappropriate content using company resources, you could have a bigger problem.

 

To help lower the risk associated with such actions, it’s imperative that all employees be subject to the same restrictions based on actionable policies and that any attempts to circumvent certain blocks be appropriately logged and alerted. This helps deter IT professionals from taking advantage of their position, lessening the likelihood that someone will do so.

 

Ultimately, most IT employees are standup workers and wouldn’t abuse their power. However, it is crucial that the proper policies and monitoring mechanisms are in place to ensure that such activities don’t take place.

 

If you are interested in learning more or are looking to hire a new IT worker, the team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to see how our services can work for you.

 

 

Published in IT Infrastructure

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.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

Tech Salaries

 

While low unemployment had previously spurred significant growth in regards to tech salaries, 2017 somewhat bucked the trend, at least when it comes to the average pay over all specialties. However, certain skill sets are highly valued, allowing salaries in those areas to soar. Additionally, whether you work as a full-time employee or a contractor also plays a role regarding the level of compensation you can likely obtain today.

 

National Averages

Across all specialties, the average salary tech pros received was $92,712 in 2017. This reflected only slight growth (a 0.7 percent increase) when compared to 2016.

 

However, IT contractors saw a 5 percent increase year over year, with the average hourly rate being $72.32.

 

Additionally, specific skill sets achieved above-average growth when it came to pay. For example, PAAS professionals had compensation rates around $127,702 in 2017, a marked increase from 2016 levels where the average was $120,403.

 

Some other skills that outpaced the slow growth trend were MapReduce, Elasticsearch, Redshift, and Cloudera.

 

 

Tech Salaries in Silicon Valley

The average tech salary in the Silicon Valley region was notably higher than the national average, reaching $114,654. Along with a high demand for skilled IT workers in the area, the difference can likely be partially attributed to the increased cost of living in California. But, that doesn’t mean that Silicon Valley salaries don’t outpace other regions with high costs of living.

 

For example, New York is considered a more expensive state, but the average pay rate there came in at only $103,941. Similarly, Washington DC had salaries below the six-figure mark, at $99,937, even though the cost of living is generally seen as higher.

 

Additionally, tech salaries have experienced some significant increases over the past few years. Between 2013 and 2017, the change was measured as an 8.4 percent increase, which is certainly notable.

 

However, in 2017, the region did experience a slowdown, with growth only coming in at 0.4 percent.

 

What These Trends Mean

At times, there can be a significant disconnect between what tech professionals believe their skills are worth and what the market data suggests is reasonable. This can make filling vacant positions difficult for companies as a skilled candidate may have a stated salary expectation that isn’t within their budget, or workers can assume that they are underpaid, leading to frustration, when they are actually well within the standard.

 

Ultimately, both sides would be well-served by researching the going rates for particular skill sets and using that information to set their expectations. This can ensure that businesses are offering a suitable salary for the skills and experience they hope to find and that candidates aren’t over or undervaluing their capabilities when seeking a new job.

 

If you are interested in learning more, are seeking a new position, or are looking to hire additional team members, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to see how our services can benefit you.

 

 

Page 1 of 2