The Most Important Career Question Youve Never Even Considered

CIO posed what they consider to be “The most important career question you’ve never even considered.” While Glen, the author, goes on to explain in more detail, the ultimate question is this – do you want to make yourself a “hot commodity,” someone who has a unique skill but is a transactional relationship, or a “treasured stalwart,” who is intended to be a long-term employee but rarely works in the “hot new skill” industry.

As the author states, neither is wrong, and both have their various characteristics. So, we’ve opted to expand a bit upon the two options to help clarify some of the pros and cons of each.

The general idea of a commodity worker is one who works contract or part time, and who specializes in a unique skill; one that the company, for whatever reason, doesn’t want a standard full-time employee for. It could be implementing a new network or part-time SQL DBA – there’s no specific field, but it tends to fill the short-term needs, rather than long-term trends.

Commodity pros:

  • Generally higher pay (in the short run)
  • Provide necessary and sometimes difficult skills
  • Can contractually work for flexible periods of time and flexible projects

Commodity Cons:

  • Not always a steady, consistent flow of work (e.g. occasional periods of unemployment between projects)
  • Not usually “developed” as a tenured employee would be in understanding the overall picture
  • Culture doesn’t always fit with company

On the other hand, the stalwarts will have different characteristics. They tend to retain long-term employment, and operate in fields that the business will need either indefinitely or for extended periods (think: Java programmer).

Stalwart Pros:

  • Consistent, stable employment
  • Developed as an asset to the team (which can increase flexibility)
  • Understand business culture better

Stalwart Cons:

  • Doesn’t cash in on “hot skills”
  • Generally lower pay (in the short run)
  • Less flexible hours

While there isn’t a right or wrong answer (and not everyone fits neatly into a single category) this goes to show the evolution of the IT sector. Generally, IT professionals tend to gravitate somewhere in the middle, rather than polarize at the ends.

At The Armada Group, we can help you not only ascertain the best fit for you, but we can help to pair you with a business that is looking for your work style as well as skills. We work with some of the best and most innovative talent in the industry, on both sides of the spectrum, and we want to help you find the next step of your career. Contact us today for a consultation.

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Published in Recruiting
Wednesday, Dec 18 2013

5 Common IT Job Search Mistakes

Looking for a job in the competitive tech market can be an exercise in frustration. If your IT job search doesn’t seem to be getting you any closer to landing a job, it might be the competition, or maybe your resume. Or you could be making one or more of these common mistakes that many IT pros stumble into during a job hunt.

Read on to learn more about potential IT job search problems, and how you can correct them.

Skipping the planning and preparation stage

A lot of IT job seekers brush off their resume and dive right in, without giving a thought to job search strategy. This mistake leads to hours of wasted time and a faster onset of burnout as you fail to make progress.

Maybe you’re spending all your time sifting through the hundreds of listings on job boards, or Googling for new leads. Maybe you’re only dedicating a few minutes to finding a potential position and firing off your resume. Whatever you’re doing, if you haven’t planned ahead of time then it’s probably not working.

Look at your schedule and block out some time to focus on your job search. To stop yourself from spending most of that time crawling through job postings, use your first session to set up alerts for the type of position you want—either through Google or directly on job boards. Then you’ll have opportunities waiting for you to investigate when you sit down to job hunt in earnest.

Applying the spaghetti method

Throwing your resume all over the place and hoping it sticks somewhere is not only a poor strategy. It’s also likely to land you a job you won’t like, which means you’ll have to start the job search process all over again. With this method, you’ll waste time chasing down leads that don’t pan out—and the evidence of your scattershot job search will dilute the message you’re sending to potential employers.

Make sure you know what you’re looking for, and focus your efforts on jobs that match. Also, don’t rely solely on job boards and recruiters, which might be the least effective avenues for real job opportunities. It’s better to concentrate on expanding your business network and finding leads through the connections you make.

Too much tech talk

How long is your resume? By nature, IT resumes usually have more content than other industries—but if yours is a sprawling, eight-page document that reads like a manual, it’s time to revise. Listing every single detail of your career can backfire if it goes on longer than two or three pages. At that point, impressive turns into tedious, and you’ve lost most hiring managers’ interest.

This mistake also applies to interviews. While you can and should mention your technical skills during a job interview, it’s better to keep that discussion brief and focus on your soft skills. You landed the interview on the strength of the technical information in your resume—so the interview itself is the time to show you’re a good fit for the company.

Trashing your past (or current) employer

Plenty of IT pros have had miserable work experiences. But if you’re using your interview time to bad-mouth a rotten boss, there’s more at risk than the chance your interviewer knows your former employer. You’re also making yourself a poor candidate. The hiring company only has your side of the story when it comes to bad employment experiences, and they may default to thinking you’re a complainer.

So be honest about why the bad situation didn’t work out, but stay respectful. Instead of talking trash about the employer, focus on how you met the challenge of a difficult work environment.

And if you’re currently employed, whether your boss is good or bad, don’t use your work email address as your contact information during your job search.

Failing to follow up

This may be the number one mistake IT pros make in a job search. Many employers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to collect candidate resumes and scan for keywords before they start scheduling interviews—and with hundreds of resumes sent this way, it’s easy to lose a few in the shuffle.

During the application process, look for contact information for each company where you can direct questions. Then, once you’ve uploaded your resume, send a follow-up email that reinforces your interest in the job and asks for verification that your application packet was received.

You should also follow-up any interviews you go on with a thank-you email, including anything you forgot to mention during the interview. Simply following up can help you stand out from other candidates, and increase your chances of being hired.

If you are looking for technical job opportunities in California, contact us today.

Published in Recruiting

 

There’s a relatively recent shift in employment trends that is especially significant in the tech industry, and that is job longevity. The days of starting and ending your career at the same company are long gone—and it’s rare that anyone spends even a decade with the same employer.

In the software development field, this paradigm has come to signify a positive asset. Developers and engineers who change jobs frequently are viewed not as disloyal and unreliable, but as adaptable and improving. Their skills outgrow their job demands, and they move on to better challenges—a process that makes them more desirable to employers.

So as contrary as it might seem, frequent job-changing is one way software developers can increase their employability. Here are some other things you can do to make yourself a hot commodity in the tech world.

Be an expert at one thing (and proficient in others)

Specialists are always in high demand in every field. While it’s important for software engineers to be well-rounded, choosing an area of expertise will help to ensure that there’s always a position for you somewhere. Make sure you specialize in something you enjoy doing, so you don’t get burned out and lose your expert advantage.

Of course, technology is always changing, so you shouldn’t specialize in the flavor of the moment. Instead, opt for foundational specialties in things that tend to last for a decade or more, such as a particular field, programming language, or type of software.

Keep your options open

This tip can be applied in a few different ways. First, it’s essential to continue learning new things and working with new technologies. Employers want to see software developers who are flexible, open-minded, and willing to try new tools, languages, and platforms. The longer you go without learning, the more difficult it will be to find a new position.

Second, experienced developers should be willing to compromise on the hierarchy of positions they’ll accept, especially when entering a new software area. If you’ll only take a senior or supervisory position with a high salary, you’ll find your options extremely limited and your job search extended much longer than you want.

Network—even when you’re not thinking about changing jobs

The saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” can often be applied to finding work as a software developer. You don’t necessarily need connections to land a job, but there are a lot of benefits to continual networking—not the least of which is the potential to lower your job search time dramatically.

In addition to maintaining an accurate, active LinkedIn profile, you can network throughout your current employment by:

  • Reaching out to others in your field at different companies. For example, when you hear about a new development you admire, send a quick email or social media mention to congratulate them. The positive impact you make will help you out later.
  • Put yourself out there by attending conferences or industry events, writing industry articles for online circulation or as a guest blogger, or even doing some public speaking. You’ll make connections you may not even be aware of until you start searching for your next job.

Being employable as a software developer is all about keeping things fresh, interesting, and constantly circulating. Resist the urge to bury yourself in code, and make new experiences that will help you enjoy a long and happy career.

If your are looking software developer jobs in California, contact The Armada Group today.

 

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Published in Recruiting

 

You know better than anyone how technology can revolutionize systems, so it shouldn't be a shock that one of those revolutions is how landing new opportunities and moving forward in your career are being changed by the social web.

Resumes are becoming passe, and taking their place is the concept of “personal brand” - signature traits, achievements, and contributions that reflect what you alone bring to the table. Your personal brand is your reputation, your work legacy, your defining role in the industry. Careful cultivation can create a personal brand that will open up doors as you progress along your career path.

Be the Next . . . You!

Many people have tried to predict who will be 'the next Steve Jobs'. Will it be Jeff Bezos? Elon Musk? You? The problem with trying to the next someone else is that it isn't authentic. Your personal brand has to be just that – personal. It's that unique intersection between your knowledge, experience, and passion—and how you share that with those around you in the workplace.

Figuring out your personal brand is as simple – and as difficult – as taking a look at your top traits and what you are known for. Are you a usability evangelist? Do you educate people about quality assurance? Are you seen as a great team leader, or viewed as a lone wolf visionary? Look at the consistency of your work; does it have a theme? What do you know the most about and how do you communicate it? How does that tie into your career goals? Leverage the best of what you have to offer, and how you offer it, to purposely develop your brand and its message.

Get Social to Get Noticed

Now that you've gotten a good start on identifying your personal brand, a large part of its development will be networking to help others identify it. While it's not all about who you know, that does play a significant part in ensuring doors are opened to you.

LinkedIn, BranchOut, and Google+ are three excellent social networking sites with a more professional focus. Work hard on your LinkedIn profile – don't just view it as your online resume. Join industry groups and interact with them. Follow industry influencers on LinkedIn and elsewhere, making sure to comment on articles. Be as useful as possible without fawning over them. Add valuable insight to keep the discussion going, and you'll soon stand out. Hone your writing skills to make sure you communicate well – it's going to come in handy...

Create a Voice Worth Sharing

The next level of building your personal brand is creating and sharing your own content. If you've paid attention to what and how the IT leaders are sharing, you should have a sense of the kind of content that's valuable to your industry. It's time to add your voice.

There are multiples ways your brand can deliver its messaging: A blog on your own site, guest posts on respected industry blogs, forums and groups, whitepapers, participating in an open source project, speaking at or leading a seminar, even 'micro-blogging' and delivering nuggets of wisdom on Twitter. Your first priority is to create valuable content; your second is to promote it. This hierarchy should guarantee that your focus is serving others – the reverse will come across loud and clear that you're not ready to lead and therefore not worthy of followers.

Branding tells the story about what you 'produce' and why, but it's not just about promoting yourself. If you want a brand that communicates how you are the right choice for that next step up, it has to be about how you are really qualified. Otherwise, your brand will simply become more noise lost in a busy online world.

If you are looking for information technology jobs in California, contact us today.

 

Published in Recruiting

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 07 2013

Top IT Candidates in California

 Senior Project Manager/Scrum Master


•Results driven, hands-on project leader and scrum master with an outstanding record of 15+ years delivering complex technology and system integration projects on time and within budget.
•Expert in Agile software development and release management.
•Skilled at managing projects with budgets of $2 to $20 million; effective in keeping projects on-schedule and within budget;
•Project management expertise in providing overall responsibility for all project management deliverables that support projects and programs including scope management, quality management, resource management, schedule management, risk management, communications management, 3rd party contract management.
•Expert in Scrum, its roles, ceremonies, artifacts and best practices.
•Technical knowledge and hands-on experience with architecture design, database performance and software application functions in complex environments.
•Analytical skills in creating project plans and establish timelines to ensure milestones are achieved using industry accepted tools.
•Proactive, works closely with end users and development team during the design, configuration, application development and implementation and training stages.
•Extensive full life cycle program development experience.
•Focused on exceeding customer expectations while providing value and insuring organizational profitability. Monitored and maintained Customer Satisfaction by engaging in weekly or monthly status meetings.
•Ability to manage a several highly technical and complex projects or programs concurrently.
•Program management skills, ability to analyze complex problems and give recommendations, comfortable communicating at all levels of the organization, able to adapt communications and presentations according to the audience, ability to command respect.
•Matured ability to communicate complex concepts clearly and effectively. Ability to run project update meeting with both technical and non-technical attendees.
•Excellent communicator, both written and oral.
•Strong knowledge of Microsoft project, Microsoft office suite (PowerPoint, Visio, Outlook, Excel, etc), and other project management tools including Clarity, PPM, RTC, Rally and SharePoint.

 

Android Developer

•4+ years of extensive experience in Design, development, testing and System Integration in Telecom applications 2G-3G UMTS and Mobile Applications
•Extensive experience in design, development, troubleshoot and porting video streaming application across multiple mobile platforms of Android, RIM, J2ME
•Development, System Integration and Technical Evaluations on J2ME, MID, Windows Mobile, Linux, Android, UMPC, RIM/Blackberry, WML, WAP, etc. in the 4G/3G and Mobile Advertising group for Sprint Nextel
•Core expertise in application development using Object Oriented Design, UML, JAVA, C++, XML, Perl, TCL, JAVA, SNMP programming
•Experience in Object Oriented Design and Programming using C++.
•Extensive experience on working on various Unix/Linux environment including Sun Solaris and Linux

 

iOS Developer

•4+ years of experience with Xcode, Instruments, Cocoa Touch, and Objective C
•Updated knowledge of XCode 4.5, iOS 5 and 6
•Complete understanding of Object Oriented Features (Inheritance, Polymorphism, Abstraction and Encapsulation)
•Experienced in XML and JSON Parsing with NSJSONSeralization and NSXMLParser
•Experienced with using GCD and NSOperationQueue with Multithreading
•Familiar with UI design implementation using Storyboards and NIB files
•Efficient storage of data using SQLite, Core Data and Database
•Recognition of all features of and differences between iOS 3.0-6.0
•Experienced in all aspects of iPad application development including designing for all types of screen sizes and orientations.
•Experienced with SVN and Git
•Experienced with Security framework and AFNetworking Library.
•Experienced with SCRUM, Waterfall, and Test Driven Development SDLCs.
•Familiar with deploying applications using 1st party and 3rd party methods
•Developed native based iPhone applications and beginning knowledge of hybrid development

 

Front-End Developer

•Professional software engineer with 5 years of industry experience in creating web and mobile applications most recently at PayPal.
•Worked with HTML and CSS for 5 years and HTML5 and CSS3 for 2 years.
•3 years of experience working with JavaScript and 2 years of JQuery.
•Enjoys delivering software on tight deadlines with a positive user experience.
•Quick learner, pays great attention to detail and would be outstanding contributor to all of the projects they participates in.

 

Sr. Manager & Release Engineer

•Sr. Manager for Software, Build and Release.
•80% of his time on build and release and 20% on management.
•Has over 15 years experience with Python, Perl, Shell, JavaScript.
•10+ years of solid build and release experience.
•10+ years experience with software branching with the release level process.
•Currently manages 300-400 releases per day.
•Looking for an exciting new career opportunity.

 

If you are interested in any of our top candidates, contact The Armada Group today.

 

 

Published in Recruiting
Tuesday, Jul 09 2013

App Development and the Cloud

Integrating the cloud into building your app

As the cloud takes a more predominant position in everyday life, it’s replacing old standbys and traditional processes. This leaves many people curious, confused, or concerned. Application development is one area that seems hardly old enough to be set in its ways, and yet many developers are ignoring—or even actively avoiding—working with the cloud.

Even so, the collaborative opportunities of the cloud create an environment in which multiple minds can provide input, and processes can be streamlined to reduce repetitive tasks. There are some great cloud development tools available—read on for some different approaches to developing within the cloud.

Joint Effort

When it comes to working together, one of the best contenders is Cloud9 IDE. This development environment uses multiple languages and provides a collaborative function, ensuring that you can be anywhere in the world, working with others around the globe to write and edit code. You retain your personal environment, while the new app creation takes shape through shared effort. For a far-flung group or a close-knit community, Cloud9 IDE is a great choice for development.

Basic Introduction

For those looking to ease themselves into cloud tools, UmbrellaSDK introduces a cloud-based platform with an easy to learn and use setup. It uses HTML5 and JavaScript, so you can develop apps for both iOS and Android; additionally, the real-time output lets you immediately see the effects of your code, so you can quickly catch a typo or decide against a color. Test the “cloudy” waters with this introductory platform.

Fluent Linguist

If your focus isn’t constrained to a few languages, Codenvy might be your cloud development answer. It utilizes HTML, Ruby, Groovy, JavaScript, and lots more, and the entire platform is geared toward programming in Java. Chances are high that Codenvy supports your tools of choice; if you simply want to relocate to the cloud, this is an outstanding way to do it.

Renewed Flop

Google may have given up on Collide, but the platform is finding new homes throughout the development world. A host of software tools collaborate to bring you an equally collaborative experience, which runs on Java 7 JRE. The source code is out there for the taking, so if you’re feeling adventurous, let Collide take you up into the cloud.

Taking it to the skies

As with every aspect of app development, cloud platform choices depend upon the needs and whims of each developer. These four options are hardly all that’s out there; a little digging will unearth plenty more ways to send your project skyward. But for the befuddled, or just those looking for a little guidance, Cloud9 IDE, UmbrellaSDK, Codenvy, and Collide will all start you on your way to cloud-integrated success.

If you are looking for application developers in the Santa Cruz area, contact the staffing experts at The Armada Group today!