Onboarding a New Employee

 

As a manager, it’s often your duty to ensure the success of your team. However, when many companies bring on IT contractors, they don’t take as much time and attention with them as they do with their regular new hires.

 

While it’s true the company’s relationship with a contractor does differ from the one they maintain with their permanent staff, that doesn’t mean you should forgo certain steps. When you properly onboard an IT contractor, you give them the tools they need to excel in their role, increasing productivity, the quality of their outputs, and even their level of job satisfaction.

 

If you are getting ready to bring on an IT contractor, here is some important advice for their onboarding.

 

Build a Relationship

Even though a contractor may only be with your company for a short time, that doesn’t mean you should avoid making a connection. By getting to know your IT contractor, you help turn a transactional relationship into a meaningful one.

 

Not only can this help them feel more welcome and integrated with your organization, fostering positive feelings and potentially a greater sense of loyalty, it can also help you stay ahead in the talent war. A happy contractor is more likely to accept a position with you in the future should you have a similar project or require someone with their skill set down the road, making it easier for you to secure reliable top talent when the need arises.

 

Plus, if your IT contractor genuinely feels like part of your team, they are more invested in the project’s success as well as the success of everyone involved. When there is a sense of connection, most employees, whether short or long term, are more likely to go the extra mile for their co-workers and managers, enhancing productivity and the quality of their outcome.

 

Set Clear Expectations

When you bring in an IT contractor, you usually have a solid idea of how you want them to contribute to the organization. However, if you don’t clearly define your expectations during the onboarding process, your new IT contractor might struggle to meet or exceed these requirements simply because they weren’t aware of them.

 

To ensure your IT contractor is set up for success, take some time during the onboarding process to fully outline what needs to be handled and when. Create a calendar with all relevant deadlines and let them know precisely when and how they need to provide you with status updates.

 

Typically, a contractor isn’t fully aware of any operational standards or office norms in your organization. Additionally, they weren’t exposed to the weeks or months of planning phases that took place before their arrival, so they didn’t have a chance to glean this information over time. This means it is always best to spell everything out clearly, ensuring they understand your expectations, goals, and how their contributions align with the big picture.

 

If you would like to learn more or are seeking an IT contractor for your next project, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with a member of our skilled team today and see how our hiring expertise can benefit you.

 

 

Published in Hiring Managers

Device Security

 

Today, there may be more devices connected to the internet than there are people walking the planet. That means there are billions and billions of objects heading online each and every day, and every one of them could potentially represent a vulnerability.

 

Many consumers view devices like smart thermostats as innocuous. However, once they are in place, the ae connected to a network, creating a cybersecurity risk if the device isn’t properly managed.

 

As more companies embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile devices to improve their operations, neglecting to focus on device security means your business is also vulnerable. Instead of seeing these pieces of tech as harmless additions, the need to be considered potential points of entry into your network, ensuring you maintain the proper mindset to keep your systems and data safe.

 

If you haven’t focused on securing your devices, here are some tips for getting started.

 

Manage Your Device Updates

A surprising number of internet-connected devices require regular updates. However, these aren’t always performed automatically, leading many of them to remain in the original state for months or years on end.

 

For example, many vehicles that support internet connectivity may need updates to maintain optimal operations. Sensors, barcode scanners, thermostats, and a range of other devices are in similar positions.

 

Without proper update procedures, you won’t receive any patches that enhance the security of the device by closing known vulnerabilities. This means you could be at risk if an out of date device remains on your network, even if it doesn’t do anything but maintain a connection.

 

 

Automate Security Event Log Reviews

Many companies are inundated with security events. Every time an employee mistypes their password, the incident is logged for review. If a tablet shifts between access points in your workplace, that could result in an entry. And, if a smartphone suddenly seems to appear in a different country, that is another event.

 

Ultimately, not every event signals a problem, but, if your company gets thousands of events in a single day, having a person separate those that correlate with a genuine security incident from those that don’t may be cumbersome, if not impossible.

 

Luckily, if you embrace AI, you can use a machine to supplement the work of people. They can seek out specific kinds of incidents, flagging them for further review, or determine whether a device's movements or actions are expected or cause for concern.

 

Ultimately, by assuming a security mindset and supplementing with AI technology, you can manage your devices more effectively, ensuring your systems remain secure and your data stays safe.

 

If you are interested in learning more about managing device security or are seeking a skilled professional to join your IT security staff, the team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to discuss your security needs and goals with one of our experienced staff members today and see how our services can benefit you.

 

 

Time to Quit

 

Let’s face facts: figuring out if you need to quit your IT job isn’t easy. Ultimately, you want to make sure you are making the right choice, and it’s common to feel conflicted about leaving.

 

However, there are certain signals that could suggest that making a move is the best option. Here are seven signs that quitting might be the right move.

 

  1. The Idea of Work Fills You with Dread

While every day at work can’t be a walk in the park, constantly dreading heading into the workplace is a sign that the job may be a poor fit. If you keep trying to convince yourself that it’s just a “bad week” or “bad month,” but things never improve, leaving may be the best option for preserving your well-being.

 

  1. Your Boss Isn’t Knowledgeable

No one knows it all. But, if your manager doesn’t seem to be knowledgeable in critical areas that relate to your department or role, then that can quickly become frustrating. If you don’t trust that your boss has the knowledge and skills required to make good decisions and lead things in the proper direction, it can cause feelings of anger, doubt, or anxiety.

 

If you find yourself repeatedly doubting your manager’s level of competence, then it may be wise to move on.

 

  1. The Company is Failing

Working for a business that may not survive is challenging. While some employees feel that sticking it out is the “right” thing to do, hanging on to an employer that is going under is going to increase your stress levels.

 

Even if you feel loyal to the organization or your manager, if you witness signs that the end is on the horizon, it could be wise to at least plan for your exit, and the sooner, the better. If you wait until the company closes its doors, you could be stuck hitting the job market with your former coworkers, leading to more competition when you find a new opportunity. In contrast, by starting early, you may be able to land another job before everyone else starts applying.

 

 

  1. You Hate the Work

While it is unrealistic to expect to love every task that falls into your hands, if none of your duties ignite your passion, then moving on could be a smart decision. Being enthusiastic about your work is necessary for long-term success. Whether you need to find a job at a different company or shift into a new career depends on how far your distaste for the field goes, so be honest with yourself about how you feel and then make an appropriate change.

 

  1. You’ve Hit a Ceiling

Being comfortable on the job isn’t automatically a bad thing. But, if you aren’t improving your skills, engaged in exciting activities, or given a chance to advance, your job could be holding back your career.

 

In some cases, if you’ve hit your career peak, that’s okay. However, if you have bigger goals, then you may need to seek out an employer that can help you get there. Otherwise, you could end up feeling trapped and stagnant, and that isn’t good for your overall well-being.

 

  1. Your Health is Suffering

No job is worth your health. If job stress is leading you to experience depression, anxiety, frequent illnesses, headaches, or worse, then it’s better to move on.

 

  1. Your Personal Life is Gone

Whether its job stress, long hours, the inability to take a vacation, or anything else, if your job is significantly affecting your personal life, it could be time to leave.

 

Ultimately, staying in a bad job can be harmful to your career, your health, and your overall well-being, and any of the signs listed above could signal that it’s time for a change. If you are interested in exploring new employment options, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you with leading employers throughout the area. Contact us to speak with one of our staff members today and see how our services can help you find your ideal role.

 

 

Remote Workers

 

As unemployment among tech professionals remain low and more IT workers become interested in working remotely, many companies have begun to embrace the new paradigm to help them secure top talent. But managing telecommuters is often incredibly different when compared to employees in the office, and not every business has it all figured out yet. With that in mind, here are a few things that you might not be aware of that remote workers want from their employers.

 

To Feel Like Part of the Team

One of the biggest issues remote workers face is feeling isolated, or even ignored, by their team and manager. Often, telecommuters aren’t privy to a variety of casual conversations that occur in the workplace, even when they result in information that could be useful to them. This can leave them seemingly disconnected and out of the loop, which can hurt their professional efforts as well as morale.

 

More Efficient Conflict Resolution

Additionally, since communication between remote workers and others can be more complex to manage, they may struggle when it comes to resolving conflicts in the workplace. Typically, since instantaneous back and forth is harder to coordinate, issues can drag on for days or weeks before reaching a resolution, and telecommuters rarely have alternative options to find a solution more quickly, as they can’t simply walk up to the person and begin a discussion.

 

Clear Expectations

Another drawback of less frequent direct interactions is remote workers don’t often receive the feedback that employees in the office may get to help them proceed in the right direction. Since the level of interaction is typically less with telecommuters, it’s critical that they are provided with clear expectations regarding their duties, hours, or any other point that may feel ambiguous. Otherwise, they may feel lost as to how they need to proceed and, unless someone is able to answer a message or phone immediately, they can be left seemingly drifting until they get a response.

 

The Key to Remote Worker Management

At the core of all of the above issues is communication. Since remote workers aren’t in the office, it is imperative that well-structured and highly accessible forms of communication be made available, and that members of management and their team reach out regularly. Additionally, having options like video conferencing can go a long way to help a telecommuter feel more connected to the group, as being able to see the person’s face while they are talking helps forge a stronger bond.

 

Ideally, you want to schedule regular meetings or conference calls with every remote worker, especially if they have recently started in the position. This ensures that everyone takes the time to communicate effectively with one another and that nothing is left hanging unnecessarily.

 

If you would like to learn more or are interested in finding a new remote worker to join your team, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to see how our services can work for you.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

Cloud

 

It’s no secret that cloud computing has significantly changed the way many companies do business, but choosing the right variant of the technology isn’t always easy, especially if you aren’t familiar with the differences. Public, private, and hybrid cloud designs all come with their own benefits and drawbacks, so selecting the option that is best suited to your needs is essential. To help you make the ideal selection, here are some of the differences between public, private, and hybrid cloud.

 

Public

When people imagine a cloud, they are often picturing the public version. This technology began with offerings like Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), or applications that are accessed over the internet and hosted elsewhere. Now the public cloud provides options for applications, data storage, and infrastructure, where the technology is housed with a third-party provider.

 

In the most basic sense, a public cloud centers on shared physical hardware, and access is provided by obtaining services from a third party. Often, this solution is ideal for small- to medium-sized businesses that may otherwise not be able to afford to invest heavily in internal IT resources, like servers and other infrastructure.

 

Private

A private cloud often resembles on-premises data centers but provides you with additional options. This includes the ability to use automation, software, and virtualization to create an infrastructure that mimics the cloud, providing you with additional flexibility regarding how business gets done. While it doesn’t offer the full array of options you can get in a public cloud, it does give you the ability to exert more control over items like compliance, data privacy, and security, which can be incredibly beneficial for companies operating in highly regulated industries.

 

While the function resembles an on-premises data center, that doesn’t mean you have to keep your equipment onsite. Third-party vendors do provide access to private clouds, though the cost is likely to be higher than a public one. Often, you get the same level of control using a vendor as you would maintaining the hardware internally, so you should be able to implement security and compliance standards based on your needs.

 

Hybrid

Regretfully, there is no single widespread definition of what is and is not considered a hybrid cloud, but, at its core, these systems combine features of public and private clouds to maximize efficiency while maintaining certain security standards. For example, applications may be placed on a public cloud while data remains on a private one.

 

The intent behind a hybrid cloud design is to give you the best of both worlds, allowing you to pick and choose which data, applications, or infrastructure pieces are placed where. This is often done to balance accessibility with security and each solution can be customized to meet the needs of a specific organization.

 

If you would like to learn more about cloud technologies or need a skilled cloud-oriented IT professional to join your team, the specialists at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to discuss your needs today and learn how our services can work for you.

 

 

 Certifications

 

IT professionals with big data skills are in-demand and seeing high rates of compensation as unemployment among tech workers continue to remain low. While having experience in the field is helpful, certain certifications can give you an edge when it comes to impressing hiring managers. To help you select the right options, here are seven big data certifications that will boost your career.

  1. Analytics: Optimizing Big Data

This undergraduate program is somewhat unique in that it’s suitable for professionals in a wide variety of field, including data analysts and similar IT workers. The Analytics: Optimizing Big Data certificate brings together an understanding of statistics and analysis with written and oral communications skills. Students learn about the tools associated with analyzing large sets of data and how to use various software packages to achieve optimal results.

  1. Certified Analytics Professional

Offered by INFORMS, the Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) course is a general certification that covers the analytics process. Key points of instruction include framing problems, acquiring data, analytics methodology, modeling, and deployment. For those looking for a well-rounded certification, CAPs may be an excellent choice.

  1. Cloudera Certified Associate (CCA) Data Analyst

Aimed at SQL developers, the CCA Data Analyst confirms a professional’s skills related to loading, transforming, and modeling Hadoop data for the defining of relationships and extraction of meaningful results based on raw outputs. Students are given set problems and must analyze the information and determine an ideal approach within a specified time limit. Cloudera does offer a companion course that covers all of the exam material for an additional fee.

  1. EMC Proven Professional Data Scientist Associate (EMCDSA)

Serving as a demonstration of an individual’s ability to function within a data science team and participate in big data projects, the EMCDSA certification covers topics like the deployment of the data analytics lifecycle, reframing business challenges, the application of analytic techniques, tool usage, data visualization selection, and more.

  1. IBM Certified Data Architect – Big Data

A certification designed for current data architects, the IBM Certified Data Architect – Big Data certificate allows professionals to demonstrate their ability to work with clients and solutions architects to turn customer business requirements into a solution focused on big data.

 

Data engineers can pursue a sister certification through the IBM Certified Data Engineer – Big Data program. This focuses on the individual’s ability to translate an architect’s big data solution into a finalized product.

  1. SAS Certified Big Data Professional

Professionals interested in using their programming knowledge to gather and analyze big data in SAS can benefit from the SAS Certified Big Data Professional certificate. The program puts a focus on SAS programming skills and how they can be applied to analytics including when working with Hadoop.

 

Any of the certifications above have the potential to give job seekers significant advantages when seeking a new position focused on big data. If you would like to learn more or are interested in finding a big data job, the team at The Armada Group can help you explore your options. Contact us to speak with one of our recruitment specialists today.

 

 

Published in Recruiting

5 Sleep

 

When under the gun, many professionals exchange longer hours at the office for a shorter time getting restful sleep. While the occasional push likely won’t hurt you in the long run, making it a habit is almost guaranteed to backfire. This means, even if you are spending more time on the job, you aren’t necessarily getting anything additional done than you would have by maintaining a regular schedule.

 

It turns out that an inconsistent sleep schedule is one of the most damaging things you can do to yourself, especially when being productive is a priority. Here’s what you need to know about how your sleep patterns affect your ability to churn out quality work.

Melatonin Release

When it to managing your circadian rhythm, almost nothing is more important than melatonin. This naturally occurring chemical helps determine when you fall asleep as well as when you wake in the morning. People who sleep on a regular schedule are more likely to have melatonin on their side, allowing them to fall asleep with greater ease.

 

Those who keep an irregular schedule, such as not going to bed at the same time every night or waking at the same time every morning, can experience a stunning three-hour delay in their melatonin release. This shifts their circadian rhythm, functionally making an 8:00 am meeting feel like it is happening at 5:00 am.

What the Shift Means for You

If you don’t follow a regular sleep pattern and don’t have the luxury of sleeping in or maintaining a slightly skewed schedule, then you’re going to be attempting tasks when your body and mind aren’t primed for the work. Using the above meeting example, you would be required to maintain focus at a time where your performance is suffering. This is because most people aren’t at their most productive at the equivalent of 5:00 am.

 

To make matters worse, you may struggle to achieve wakefulness when you need it. This could lead to sleeping through alarms, missing appointments, or even falling asleep on the job. In the end, none of those things are going to help you be productive in the office.

 

Even if you are able to make it out of bed, you’ll suffer many consequences from a lack of quality sleep. Decision-making ability will be impaired, making it harder to properly assess and respond to situations as they arise, and increasing the likelihood of ill-considered actions and mistakes on your part. You may also find it challenging to learn new skills, hindering growth and limiting your ability to take advantage of production-improving advancements. Reaction times also generally decrease, and your emotional and mental well-being can suffer.

 

Overall, getting quality sleep is more likely to make you productive than extra hours at the office can, especially over the long-term. Give yourself the best chance at a quality sleep experience by making it a priority and relaxing in the hour before your scheduled bedtime. Then, you can truly be at your best when it matters most.

 

If you are interested in finding a new position that allows you to better maintain a proper sleep schedule, the recruiters at The Armada Group can help you locate suitable options. Contact us to discuss your priorities today.

 

Published in Staffing News

8 Project Managers

 

To be a successful IT project manager, you need the right combination of skills. Unlike some other tech-oriented professions, the competencies required for these roles are fairly diverse, covering aspects of finance, human resources, leadership, and more. If your goal is to move into the field of IT project management, here are 10 skills you need to have under your belt.

Communication

Most project managers will spend a notable amount of time working with a range of professionals including the members of the project team, various stakeholders, and even the final customer. Since not everyone with which you will interact has the same technical background, it is imperative to be able to communicate with every effectively regardless of the level of understanding. This means breaking down technical concepts into relatable terms is critical to the success of many projects, making this skill particularly valuable.

Scope Management

The success of many projects actually hinges on the scope. Failing to define the scope leaves the goals unclear while also leaving you open to scope creep. Being adept at gathering critical information and establishing the project’s target increases your odds of success.

Team Selection

If you’re given the chance to choose your team, then learning key human resources skills like candidate screening and skill assessment ensure you have the right professionals for the job at hand. Without these competencies, you may find yourself battling skill gaps instead of making forward progress, which can spell doom for any IT project.

Time Management

Project managers are often tasked with creating comprehensive schedules to meet strict deadlines. Understanding how to allocate time properly and delegate tasks can keep things on target, creating a foundation for the team’s success.

Risk Assessment

All projects face a level of risk. Being able to see potential vulnerabilities or roadblocks gives you the opportunity to mitigate any potential ill-effects should they arise, leaving you prepared to manage the worst even while planning for the best possible outcome.

Budget Management

Many project managers are given an initial budget and are expected to manage the funds appropriately as things move forward. Understanding key concepts like cost estimation, expense control, and budgeting are critical to your success. You’ll also need to learn how to make adjustments should unexpected costs threaten to bankrupt the project.

Procurement

For projects that require outside materials or third-party support, it is important to know the fundamentals of the procurement process. Everything from bid requests and analysis, supplier identification, and vendor contracts play a role in this area, and managing the tasks well can make budgeting a simpler task to handle.

Quality Assurance

Unless your project’s final output meets quality expectations, it is unlikely to be deemed a success. Understanding how to monitor progress for quality control is key to ensuring all standards or requirements are being met effectively. It also ensures you’ll have the opportunity to intervene should things begin to go off track early on, making changes easier to manage.

Adaptability

With so many variables, most large-scale IT project will hit a snag at some point in the process. Being prepared to adjust on the fly often means understanding that nothing is set in stone, and maintaining that perspective can make the entire venture easier to manage.

Technology

As an IT project manager, being familiar with the technologies covered in the project as well as any project management systems in place are both critical to overall success. Without this core knowledge, you may find yourself spending more time asking questions than making progress.

 

If you’re an IT professional interested in a project management role, the team at The Armada Group can help you explore options in your area. Contact us to discuss your career goals today.

 

Published in Hiring Managers

1 Future

 

The world of business is always changing regardless of your industry. While most companies are aware that some shifts are inevitable, not every organization takes steps to position themselves to adapt to what the future may hold. As new technologies are introduced and current solutions receive updates, how business operations are managed can become fundamentally different. And failing to keep pace puts the long-term success of the organization at risk. If your goal is to future-proof your company, here are some key factors to reaching that goal.

Strong Leadership

You don’t typically hear of a successful business being run by subpar leadership. Often, having the right people in upper management is vital to the longevity of any company. Strong leaders are able to create a cohesive vision for the organization’s future while remaining open to change and focusing on adaptability. If the leaders aren’t willing to embrace innovation and monitor current trends to shape future actions, any business could see itself struggling to make it to tomorrow.

Positive Culture

Job seekers are placing more importance on company culture than ever before, making it critical for businesses to work at developing one that is seen as positive and supportive. Corporate cultures are also indications regarding how an organization manages the business as a whole. Allowing a toxic environment to take hold suggests the company isn’t prepared to adapt when necessary, which can be seen as a negative by employees and customers. Not managing the culture in your workplace puts your business at risk, so it is critical to take action to keep your culture favorable.

Respectable Values

Having a well-defined mission and values statement can also help attract quality employees as it can be a major source of motivation. It also gives your local community an idea as to how the business operates based on what it perceives as important. Without strong values, it’s difficult to garner support internally and externally, making it harder to achieve long-term success.

Focus on Relationships

Even though social media has given companies more options for connecting with their customers, many businesses fail to use these tools to build relationships. Interacting with your client base in a real and genuine way can increase loyalty, creating a more sustainable model. It also gives you access to direct feedback from those who purchase your products or services. Together, these facts make relationships a vital component for future-proofing your business.

Embracing Technology

By being open to new technologies, companies position themselves to take advantage of emerging approaches that can increase productivity and overall efficiency, giving the company a potential advantage over competitors who aren’t as quick to adapt. It can also alleviate stress placed on employees by giving them options to complete their work with greater ease, even paving the way for increased job satisfaction and improving retention efforts.

 

If you are looking for top IT candidates to help your business move forward with the latest technological advances, the recruitment professionals at The Armada Group have the required experience to find today’s best and brightest job candidates. Contact us today to see how our customized approach can support your business.

 

MySQL

 

Even as rising technologies associated with big data and IoT dominate discussions regarding hard data is managed, MySQL professionals are still critical for many organizations. In many cases, new skill sets are designed to supplement MySQL where it is in use, and aren’t intended to replace the system. With that in mind, pursuing a career as a MySQL DBA can lead to strong job opportunities even as the use of data continues to grow and change. And here’s why.

MySQL is Cost-Effective

Managing expenses is always a priority in business, and MySQL is a solution that meets those goals. The open source solution often features low licensing costs, making it easy for businesses to fit into their IT budgets. Additionally, the cost of ownership is similarly low.

 

But the low cost doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful. It’s high speed and superior reliability makes it a particularly good choice for industries that need to limit downtime. And that means professionals familiar with the system as still very much a hot commodity in today’s market.

It’s Used by Top Companies

MySQL has a prominent role in many top companies. In fact, it is a preferred choice for many businesses, especially those focused on Web 2.0, SaaS, ISV, and Telecommunications. The high amount of reliability is critical for companies operating in these areas, as downtime due to failures, maintenance, administration, or other tasks is practically unacceptable in the eyes of consumers. The system uses master-slave configurations coupled with cluster servers to provide uninterrupted access, making it an ideal selection for businesses that need to remain accessible at all times.

On-Demand Scalability

One of the biggest benefits of MySQL is its high level of flexibility. The solution is highly scalable and can be customized to meet the unique needs of individual businesses. It provides a solid platform for large enterprises who need to integrate various features and functions within their database servers, and can easily be expanded when business needs change.

 

As companies continue to acquire large amounts of data, having a solution that can grow quickly is a boon. And that means skilled professionals are needed to make that happen whenever the need arises.

 

In the end, MySQL is seen as efficient, cost-effective, and reliable, all of which are highly valued by a range or organizations. Professionals with the skills to support MySQL will remain in high demand even as other data-oriented technologies enter the workplace, as few options have the ability to beat MySQL in these key areas.

 

If you are interested in a career as a MySQL DBA or other opportunities in IT, the professional recruiters at The Armada Group can match you to relevant positions in your area. Contact us today to see how MySQL skills can help further your career.

 

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