Boost Your Skills with 5 Online Tech Education Programs

Continuing education is a great way to boost your tech skillset. Today, there are tons of online platforms that can give you quick access to a range of courses, many of which you can complete at times that work for you.

If you are looking to boost your skills, here are five online tech education platforms worth exploring.

08 Big Data Means Big Jobs 5 Areas to Specialize in for Career Success

In the IT industry, change is accelerating — and a large part of that change is due to big data. With organizations just beginning to realize some of the massive potential that big data holds, the demand for IT professionals working in big data-related areas is rising fast.

In fact, technology research firm Gartner predicts that 2015 will see 1.9 million IT jobs created to support big data in the United States alone, with each of those roles creating positions for three non-IT people. In total, Gartner says, the information economy will generate 6 million jobs over the next four years.

The challenge for businesses is filling those jobs, because there simply isn’t enough talent to go around. Gartner estimates that only one-third of IT jobs can be filled with the current talent pool. So if you’re considering a career in IT, there will be ample opportunity to jump on the big data bandwagon.

Here are four areas revolving around big data that will be in high demand as companies struggle to close the talent gap.

Cloud skills

The cloud can be described as the foundation for big data. All of the areas that feed into this discipline are build on the cloud — big data itself leans heavily on cloud platforms and apps, social media is powered by the cloud, and mobile is basically a personal cloud.

One of the most talked-about advantages of the cloud is the potential cost savings, but today’s cloud environment is about more than saving money. Employers are now looking for IT professionals who can leverage the potential for new capabilities, architectures, services, and approaches to app design — with big data as the lynchpin for powering the effectiveness of the cloud.

Mobile skills

According to Gartner predictions, by 2016:

  • 40 percent of the workforce will be mobile
  • Two-thirds of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone
  • More than 1.6 billion smart mobile devices will be purchased globally

The outlook for tablets is equally strong, with an expected 20 percent of sales organizations to use tablets as their primary mobile platform, and 70 percent of mobile workers using a tablet or hybrid device by 2018. Even now, CIOs are purchasing iPads by the tens of thousands.

With an increasing reliance on mobile devices comes a growing demand for IT professionals who specialize in mobile — including app development, big data integration, and mobile device management. BYOD policies also require mobile specialists to manage the corporate network across disparate platforms.

Social computing

Even as the biggest social networks reach their limits in terms of growth, social is becoming even more important from a business standpoint as organizations develop a more disciplined approach to social media. Gartner forecasts that at least 10 organizations will spend more than $1 billion each on social media in three years.

Part of that spend will be on talent as organizations hire more IT pros who specialize in social media and big data. There are massive amounts of valuable social data available, and as big data tools and platforms become more refined, more businesses seek talent who can extract actionable insight from this information.

Information and analytics

Finally, big data itself will create more job opportunities directly. Organizations can access a continual flood of information from both internal and external sources, providing them with endless opportunities to innovate, optimize, discover new insights, and transform the way decisions are made.

With big data, companies are able to turn information into revenue. This opens up career opportunities for IT pros who can work with structured and unstructured data, and mine “dark data” — data that is being collected, but not used — for business value.

Published in Recruiting

Stop Making These 5 Job Search Blunders

Looking for that great new job is a complicated and time-consuming process. With so much involved, even the most savvy job seekers can make small mistakes — that may end up having huge consequences. But you can increase your chances of successfully landing your dream job by being aware of potential pitfalls in the job search process, and knowing how to avoid them as they come up.

Here are five of the most common job search mistakes, and what you can do to ensure you aren’t making them.

Sending unsolicited resumes

One common bit of advice that’s been thrown around to job seekers over the years is to apply widely, and send your resume out to as many companies as possible — even if they’re not hiring. Some have recommended using this strategy to get into your dream company. But the high volume of resumes that are sent to any given company, hiring or not, combined with widespread use of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) practically guarantees that unsolicited resumes are a waste of your time and efforts.

Instead of sending out resumes blindly, your time would be better spent identifying a handful of ideal job opportunities, and customizing your resume and cover letter to match each individual job’s requirements, company information, and job description.

Relying on job boards and online listings

Generally speaking, online job boards are not the best sources for leads. Even worse are online “classifieds” or “want ads,” which are often riddled with increasingly clever scams posing as opportunities. But even legitimate online job postings will often end up wasting your time — simply because of the high volume of applicants these listings receive.

While it’s okay to dedicate a small portion of your time applying through online job boards, the majority of your efforts should be spent on more productive and effective strategies for finding opportunities. Networking is absolutely the most effective, since a majority of today’s new hires are referral-based. The Jobvite 2014 Social Recruiting Survey reports that 60 percent of hiring managers and recruiters said their best hires were through referrals.

Working directly with a recruiter is another highly effective way to find great opportunities. Recruiters have access to job openings that aren’t posted to the public, which means you’ll apply with a referral from the recruiter and compete against a smaller pool of candidates for the position.

Networking ineffectively

While many job seekers understand the importance of networking, at least in theory, most aren’t using this powerful tool effectively. Networking is best when it’s made the focus of your job search, and when it’s approached in a structured and professional way that allows you to measure the results of your efforts.

For example, “being on LinkedIn” is not an effective networking strategy. Simply joining the social network doesn’t bring a flood of recruiters and potential employers to your virtual doorstep. You need to optimize your LinkedIn presence with a detailed, relevant profile that lets people know you’re in the job market, connect with industry professionals, influencers, and potential employers, and interact through groups and discussions in order to attract attention and grow your network.

Flying solo on your job search

This refers not only to networking, but also using career experts in general. Of course, when you’re actively looking a job, you should let family, friends, and colleagues know that you’re in the market to keep your network open — you never know where the next opportunity might come from.

In addition to asking for help from people you know, you can substantially increase your chances of getting hired by working with a professional. Career coaches, resume experts, staffing agencies, and recruiters have extensive resources for job seekers that can help you every step of the way, from identifying opportunities to making it through the interview.

Not asking for the job

It’s incredibly disappointing and frustrating to trip at the finish line — but that’s what can, and often does happen when you forget to ask for the job. You might make it all the way through the application process and a round of interviews, but if you don’t express your genuine interest in the position, you may be passed over anyway.

The very last step of every interview should be to thank hiring managers for their time, and state clearly that you want the job, in plain language. This makes your final impression as someone who’s both qualified and enthusiastic, which exponentially increases your chance at getting hired.

Need more assistance in your job search, or have questions about any of the job search blunders above? Call The Armada Group today and talk to one of our career guidance experts!

WorldClassJobOpportunties

Published in Staffing News

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.

Published in Staffing News
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!

Self-analysis can help define your career

First developed over fifty years ago, SWOT analysis is still a useful tool to chart a career path that capitalizes on what you have to offer and where you want to be. It stands for Strengths and Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats—two dichotomies that can direct your future along a course that you’ll both enjoy and prosper at. Self-analysis isn’t easy, and requires owning up to your less than optimal traits and patterns. Still, it gives you a valuable look at your true potential at work.

From the inside

Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors, built into you by predisposition, education, interests, and other shaping forces. Your strengths, where they align with your passions, will determine your dreams, goals, and objectives, both in life and your career. Analyzing your strengths and weaknesses is a challenge, and requires uncomfortable honesty; ask yourself, what do I avoid doing? What are the areas where I’ve received less than positive feedback?

At the same time, ensure you acknowledge and celebrate your strengths: Which tasks do I enjoy doing? In what work environments do I thrive? Knowing both the positives and negatives about your internal talents will give you a clear base from which to examine the outside factors surrounding your career.

From the outside

Opportunities and threats are factors that affect your career externally. You have minimal control over them, if any, but you can use opportunities to your advantage, and minimize the risk of threats. This section of your SWOT analysis is less personal, but equally important: it’s where you integrate reality into your self-investigation.

Not all advantageous openings or unexpected concerns can be predicted, but a thorough look at where your career might go and what events or people might hinder it can help prepare you for your best future. Ask yourself what could potentially be coming your way, and whether it’s something you want to pursue or avoid. Having that direction will allow you to more effectively utilize your strengths and weaknesses.

From others

Feedback from one or more individuals outside your job, preferably who’ve known you for years, can really tighten your SWOT analysis. They can point out areas you excel or typically avoid, and bring an outside perspective on your workplace and desired career path. By connecting with someone who isn’t invested in your career, you can trust that they will ask hard questions and bring a more unbiased opinion to the table.

A person who knows you as an individual, not just an employee, will have a broader spectrum from which to draw their queries and conclusions. At the same time, it’s important for you to convey how critical honesty is—this person should be tactful, but not try to spare your feelings too much when it comes to weaknesses and concerns.

On the right path

Conducting a self-analysis will help you chart a vision for your future or at a minimum, have more information at your disposal when a new position opens up, you receive a negative review, or you find yourself contemplating a career move. SWOT is an excellent place to start to get a handle on whom you are and where you can go. If you are looking for IT jobs in California, contact the experts at The Armada Group today. We have the network and resources to help you advance your career.

Published in Recruiting

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.

Published in Staffing News

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.

Published in Staffing News

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.

Published in Staffing News

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.

Published in Staffing News