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Why Do Employees at Netflix Like Its Termination Policy

 

Many Netflix employees extol the virtues of the company’s generous benefits package and positive corporate culture. However, one interesting aspect that often garners positive attention is actually Netflix’s termination policy.

 

If you are wondering why employees embrace Netflix’s approach to assessing whether a worker should stay or be let go, here’s what you need to know about their unique approach.

 

The “Keeper Test”

Netflix understands that to build strong teams, every member needs to provide value. As a means of determining whether an employee is meeting the needs of the business, they are subject to the “keeper test.”

 

With the keeper test, managers consider one key question: If the employee was considering leaving Netflix for another company, would I strive to convince them to stay? If the manager would answer that with a “no,” then the person is either terminated or encouraged to leave on their own.

 

The approach is designed to ensure that only “highly effective” workers are retained. Not only does it ensure that mediocre employees don’t bog down their teams, but it also motivates employees to always be at their best, as everyone is subject to the seemingly ruthless evaluation.

 

“360” Evaluations

Netflix has also employed a formal tool, known as “360,” to give everyone the ability to review anyone else in the company, including CEO Reed Hastings. Additionally, it provides every worker with insight into why any person has been let go, a critical part of the company’s transparency-focused culture.

 

Together, they help managers to determine which employees are actually worth keeping. Additionally, it even leads to shakeups at the upper levels of the corporate hierarchy, serving as a non-traditional playbook for making retention decisions.

 

Is Emulating Netflix Wise?

Ultimately, when combined, the keeper test and 360 are meant to promote objectivity when it comes to hiring decisions. It removes emotions from much of the process, as whether an employee is liked is less important than if they are effective and productive. While this can certainly be beneficial, it doesn’t mean Netflix’s model is ideal for every business.

 

In some cases, the risk of being quickly terminated can lead some to constantly fear being fired, even if they don’t make a mistake. This can increase stress and potentially harm productivity, even in top performers if they have a tendency toward anxiety.

 

Similarly, it relies on management being able to set emotion aside at all times, which isn’t something everyone can do. Further, a good employee who is well liked may be better in your company than a tremendous talent whose personality clashes with the rest of the team, something that can breed conflict and harm overall productivity.

 

However, that doesn’t mean that companies can’t learn from Netflix’s approach, particularly if there is a tendency to keep mediocre workers without just cause.

 

If you would like to learn more about effective internal policies, the team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to discuss your questions or concerns with one of our knowledgeable staff members today and see how our workplace expertise can benefit you.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

How to Survive a Toxic Work Environment

 

Toxic workplaces are incredibly damaging to morale and are often considered the leading cause of employee burnout. While most professionals would never willingly accept a role in such an environment, it is often hard to understand the severity of the situation until you are in it personally. At times, this occurs once you begin a new job. In others, the existing culture morphs into something toxic over time, leaving you a bit stuck.

 

If you find yourself in a toxic work environment, there are things you can do to make it more manageable. Here’s how to get started.

 

Resist the Urge to Join In

When it comes to a toxic culture, the old adage, “if you can’t beat them, join them,” should not apply. While going along with the crowd may seem like the easiest way to avoid becoming a target of negativity, it is almost guaranteed to damage your reputation both inside and out of the company. This can make it harder to secure new opportunities when the need arises.

 

Similarly, it can also reflect poorly on you as an employee. Even if a workplace is toxic, that attitude rarely extends to everyone. If those above you on the ladder notice your change if behavior, it can harm your ability to grow professionally.

 

Build a Support Network

Having colleagues or other professionals you can trust in your corner can make it easier to survive in a toxic workplace. If you have a few coworkers you can rely on it may be easier to keep your spirits up and avoid negative incidents.

 

Additionally, having a large professional network increases your odds of learning about new opportunities in companies with more favorable conditions. Then, you may be able to make a speedy exit to greener pastures if you feel that is the best course of action.

 

Enhance Your Skills

Even the most toxic workplaces have something to offer. If you get a chance to join interesting projects or acquire new knowledge, make sure to take advantage of them. This gives you more to showcase on your resume, increasing the odds that when you apply elsewhere that you’ll impress the hiring manager.

 

Document What Happens

If you are exposed to toxic events, make sure to keep copious notes about what occurs. Save any emails, record information after meetings, and otherwise track what happened and when it happened.

By documenting everything, you give yourself the evidence you need to either push for change or to simply protect yourself, both of which can be valuable in their own right.

 

Ultimately, by following the tips above, you can survive a toxic workplace. Then, if you feel like you need to make a change, you can do so at your own pace and without undue pressure to escape. If you would like to learn more about how to deal with a toxic environment or are seeking a new position, the team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to speak with one of our knowledgeable recruiters and see how our workplace expertise can benefit you.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

High Paying IT Skills

 

When you want to make the most of your IT career, it isn’t uncommon to jump online and learn about high-paying opportunities in the field. However, this usually results in article after article discussing the highest-paying jobs in IT, and this isn’t always helpful to tech professionals who aren’t interested in switching specialties.

 

After all, it can take a significant amount of time and training to go from a focus on networking to concentrating on cybersecurity. Additionally, you may have to take a few steps down on the career ladder to make a transition like that viable, and that isn’t always a lucrative approach.

 

However, you can still enhance your earning potential without having to fully reshape your IT career. By acquiring specific high-paying skills, you can make yourself a more valuable employee, even within your current niche.

 

If you are wondering which skills are potentially worth pursuing, here are some of the highest-paying tech skills of today.

 

Data Architecture

As companies continue to become more data-driven, having skilled professionals who can understand and enhance the complex relationships between systems, applications, and databases is a must. Additionally, they also need IT pros who can design and implement new storage and management systems, ensuring they have the ideal solution for their needs.

 

While data architecture may be managed by someone specifically in a data architect role, these duties may also be assigned to other professionals. For example, database administrators, application developers, project managers, and business analysts may benefit from this skill set, allowing them to earn more while remaining in their specialty.

 

Complex Event Processing (CEP)

While CEP has been around since the 1990s, it is particularly relevant in today’s business world. Big data, cybersecurity, and IoT have increased demand for this form of data processing, allowing data correlations based on information stored in multiple systems to be more easily identified.

 

CEP may be helpful for cybersecurity, IoT, data analytics, and a range of other IT professionals, making it a valuable skill to add to your repertoire.

 

Machine Learning

A subset of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning skills are increasingly valuable as more companies look to create systems that can improve how automated tasks are performed without the need to explicitly program them at each juncture. Additionally, machine learning is relevant to a range of IT specialties, including cybersecurity, data analytics, IoT, e-commerce, and more.

 

Since the technology has so many potential applications and is still relevantly new in the business world, adding machine learning skills to your arsenal can be particularly lucrative.

 

Prescriptive Analytics

Another subset in the AI space with significance in multiple IT specialties, prescriptive analytics involves processing historical data, identifying trends, and locating patterns as a means of creating meaningful predictions about future events that are accompanied by actionable recommendations. The suggestions provided take this technology beyond predictive analytics, and it is likely to become more prevalent as companies learn to harness its power.

 

Since prescriptive analytics can be relevant in a number of specialties, including cybersecurity, data management, IT operations, and application development, it’s a skill that can provide value to a variety of IT professionals.

 

Ultimately, all of the skills above are some of the highest-paying ones in the IT world today. By adding them to your repertoire, you are empowering yourself to have a more lucrative career, even without having to change IT specialties.

 

If you are interested in learning more or are searching for new tech job opportunities, the professionals at The Armada Group can help you explore your options. Contact us to speak with one of our experienced recruiters and see how our expertise can benefit your career today.

 

 

Build Release

 

Build and release engineering is an exciting but complex specialty within the IT world. Typically, you are responsible for a wide range of duties, including software design, building, testing, troubleshooting, and release.

 

The variety that is inherently part of build and release engineer roles make these positions attractive to professionals who appreciate both variety and challenges. You have to compile code, install libraries, create scripts, select hardware, and manage the deployment of each package, making sure that everything works seamlessly together to ensure a project’s success.

 

If you are enticed by the idea of working in build and release engineering, here’s how to know if this IT specialty is right for you.

 

Technical Skills

Since the duties associated with build and release engineering jobs are so varied, you’ll need a broad technical skill set to be successful in the role. Typically, a bachelor’s degree in computer science or an allied field serves as a foundation. Then, you need to gain a thorough understanding of key concepts like configuration management, version control systems, and branch management.

 

Additionally, the ability to write complex scripts for a range of platforms is a must. This allows portions of the build and deployment processes to be automated effectively, increasing the likelihood of a positive outcome through increased reliability. Further, it enables these processes to be easily repeatable, saving additional time and energy on subsequent projects.

 

Thorough knowledge of testing and troubleshooting systems is also essential since you are typically responsible for handling those duties. You’ll also need to be able to create release schedules, adjusting your approach based on the complexity of the software.

 

 

Soft Skills

A successful build and release engineer will also possess a variety of soft skills that can help them excel in the role. Verbal communication skills are often critical, as you will need to both work as part of a larger team as well as with customers who may not be overly tech-savvy. Written communications skills are similarly a necessity, both for the use of collaboration platforms and the development of any documentation that is required for the project.

 

Due to the complexity of these roles, attention is detail is an incredibly valuable skill. If you accidentally use the incorrect version of the source code or omit an essential library, the scripts may fail, leading to issues when you attempt to deploy the software.

 

Problem-solving is also a core competency. Since you are responsible for troubleshooting, being able to identify the issues and find suitable solutions is crucial to your success.

 

Career Potential

Build and release engineers can have lucrative careers, similar to the level of success a software engineer or similar professional can experience. As you build your level of experience, six-figure salaries are possible, especially if you are highly efficient in your role.

 

If you are interested in learning about build and release engineering opportunities, the professionals at The Armada Group can help you explore your options. Contact us to speak with a member of our knowledgeable staff today and see how our services can make getting your build and release engineering career off on the right foot.

 

 

Published in Hiring Managers

Match Business 

 

It wasn’t long ago that IT functioned in a supporting within nearly every business, learning about the business rules and processes and identifying corresponding solutions. Now, technology is evolving at a rapid pace, having the capacity to define the business and serve as a source for positive organizational change.

 

As things have shifted, IT is tasked with being a leader in innovation and has certainly become a more visible component within the company thanks to its ability to be the root of future successes. This makes matching your tech to the business incredibly critical.

 

If the idea of making your technology match the company is new to you, here’s how you get started.

 

 

Concentrate on Creating a Competitive Advantage

With the number of IT solutions available on the market today, it’s easy to become sidetracked by offerings that don’t align with your larger strategic goals. Instead of allowing yourself to be automatically caught up in the latest developments, focus only on those that will enable you to create a distinct competitive advantage, preferably one that is sustainable.

 

Ultimately, every business has mission-critical tasks that help with market differentiation, and supporting these activities through updated tech can allow your company to stay ahead in the overall marketplace. Identify the areas where the organization truly stands out from the crowd and seek out tech that can make it easier to maintain that advantage.

 

At times, you’ll need to dig deep into how the business operates to figure out which areas truly deserve special attention. You may need to ask certain questions, often repeatedly, that allows you to drill down to the core areas where a competitive advantage exists as many people want to believe that their company outshines the competition in every possible area. However, every organization will have a core focus that separates them from similar offerings in the marketplace, and those are the areas that truly deserve additional innovation as a means of staying ahead.

 

Befriend Best Practices

Once you’ve identified the company’s competitive advantage, it’s time to build best practices that keep everyone aligned with this goal. Generally, this means standardizing specific activities and simplifying your core objectives so that everyone can operate on the same page.

 

In the end, every project IT takes on should be for the betterment of the primary competitive advantage. Those that don’t align with that concept should usually be set by the wayside, at least temporarily, so that the larger goal of remaining ahead can be the focus.

 

By ensuring your tech matches your business, you can increase your odds of maintaining your advantage without wasting time, energy, or other resources on tasks that genuinely aren’t as critical to your success.

 

If you are interested in learning more or are seeking a tech professional who can help you reach your goals, the professionals at The Armada Group have the expertise you need to succeed. Contact us to learn more about how our services can benefit you today.

 

 

Published in Hiring Managers

Employee Benefits

 

IT professionals know that the ball is in their court when it comes to choosing to stay with an employer. With unemployment among these workers sitting near 2.5 percent, there’s no shortage of opportunities for highly skilled tech pros. While salaries certainly factor into an employee’s decision to stay with a business, many companies are also including more options in their compensation packages to lure in the best and brightest.

 

It is important to determine what benefits are considered in-demand by your workers and adjust accordingly to stay competitive. To help you choose the right options for your team members, here are some of the most in-demand employee benefits that could affect your retention rates.

Student Loan Repayment

It’s no secret that many Millennials are plagued by student loan debt, and they aren’t necessarily the only ones working to pay back thousands of dollars for their education. With that in mind, some companies are developing student loan repayment programs for employees that meet certain requirements.

 

Often, these benefits are tied to specific metrics, such as performance ratings or tenure, so payment doesn't have to be made early in the individual’s employment.

Early Reviews

Most employers tie performance-based raise opportunities to reviews. By offering new hires the chance to be reviewed in six months instead of at the year mark can entice candidates to come on board. If you extend the option to existing employees by holding semi-annual salary reviews to ensure your rates are competitive, this could have a positive effect on retention efforts over the long-term as well.

Education and Training

Most top performers aren’t satisfied with stopping their career where they are today. Instead, they are looking for chances to improve their skills and grow professionally. Having an education and training program can give them an avenue to meet their goals while making them more valuable to the organization as a whole.

 

These benefits can be administered as a tuition assistance program as well as with formal training budgets. Since IT is an ever-evolving field, having the opportunity to earn additional certification opportunities could be highly valued by tech workers looking to stay up-to-date and competitive in the field. Some other methods can include mentorship opportunities or the ability to job shadow other workers who function in the employee’s area of interest.

Paid Time Off

This classic part of the benefits package can be used as a retention tool as well if the company is willing to exceed what is offered by competitors. Providing more than the standard two week vacation time or considering unlimited options can set your business apart from others operating in your area. These offerings can be applied companywide or scaled based on tenure. However, if you use the tenure-based approach, make sure the starting rate is sufficient to attract new talent, and that incremental increases begin early in the process.

 

If you would like to learn more about retention techniques that can help your business or are looking for a new employee to join your team, the experienced professionals at The Armada Group can assist. Contact us to discuss your needs and see how our services can help you reach your hiring and retention goals.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

why your engineers will

While it's true that managers need to know how to manage; they don't need to know the details of how their employees do their jobs. Managers need to know how to make decisions that help the business achieve its goals. For technology managers, that means understanding technology well enough to make smart decisions that set the technology direction for the business. The best place to find managers with that understanding? Look within the ranks of your engineering and development teams.

Your Engineers Understand Technology

For starters, the talent on those teams already understand the details of your business, and they're already thinking about how to use technology to solve your company’s problems. Because they know both technology and the business, an engineer from your team won't believe that any single technology will magically fix all the issues you face. They'll understand how to bring multiple technologies together to craft a solution.

Your Engineers Understand Technical People

The engineers on your teams also understand the way technical people work. They know that late arrivals at the office don't mean laziness; they reflect late nights spent solving problems at work. They know how the people on team work together, and where the team is struggling because of gaps in skills. They have the ability to assess the way a candidate will fit in and work with the team, as well as the candidate's technical capability.

Finding Leaders On Your Team Encourages Leaders to Develop

When you find your IT leaders from your engineering teams, you encourage the development of more leaders on your engineering teams. Promoting a technical team member to a leadership role demonstrates a true commitment to developing your employees. Other employees who weren't sure if they'd have a future at the company can see it as a real possibility.

Once you promote a technical team member to a leadership role, you'll most likely need to fill the hands-on role they're stepping out of. You might also find that, despite your honest desire to promote an internal employee, no one's ready – or technical employees prefer to remain technical. In either case, The Armada Group has extensive connections with top talent who can get the job done and help your business achieve its goals. Contact us to learn how we can help you build a team of strong developers and leaders who drive your business to technology success.

Published in Staffing News

Armada Dec How Much Should You be Earning as a Senior Front End Engineer

Front-end engineering is one of the most in-demand developer skills. With the need for applications to run on multiple devices, companies need skilled front-end developers to create interfaces that work on every platform. There's a lot of reward in the good feelings that come from creating attractive interfaces that are easy to use, but front-end developers also get the rewards of a competitive paycheck, especially at senior levels.

Senior Front-End Engineer Skills

Before you can become a senior front-end engineer, you need to have a couple of years experience with core skills, plus additional skills to round out your ability to contribute to a team.

Every front end developer needs to know standard front-end technologies like HTML and CSS. JavaScript is key; you should have expert knowledge of base JavaScript language capabilities including scope, closures, and inheritance. You should also be familiar with libraries and frameworks like jQuery, Node.js, and Angular.js. You should also have a solid understanding of AJAX and JSON.

Since front-ends are so dependent on images, the ability to manipulate images in Photoshop is also a useful skill.

At many companies, front-end developers pinch hit on the backend, and knowing a server-side technology like Python or .NET, in addition to front-end languages, increases your value to your employer.

Senior Front-End Engineer Salaries

Salaries vary across geographic regions and industries, but you can still find useful information. According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for front end engineers is more than $99,000. They also provide a salary breakdown by company, with Facebook's front-end engineers averaging more than $135,000 and Yahoo's front end engineers averaging about $111,000. Not surprisingly, the numbers go up when you add "senior" to the title; Glassdoor reports an average figure of close to $120,000 for senior front-end engineers at Yahoo.

Other surveys report even higher figures in specific locations. Indeed reports an average salary for senior front-end engineers of $105,000, but the same title in New York or San Francisco pulls an average salary of more than $140,000. 

Published in Recruiting

 How to Volunteer in the IT Industry

Volunteering is good for your community, and it's good for you. Volunteers often improve their physical and mental health. Volunteers get to meet new people and make new friends, an expanded network that can help in your job search. Volunteering can help you improve your social and relationship skills, which can be important in succeeding at interviews, and also once you're hired. If you work in technology, volunteering can also improve your technical skills, which helps you get hired.

Volunteer for Open Source Projects

You can find projects at Github or Apache. Choose a project in an area you're familiar with, or one where you want to develop new skills. If you don't want to write code after a day programming at the office, you can still contribute to the Wiki by writing other documentation, or running tests to make bugs reproducible.

Volunteer for Industry Organizations

Small technical groups and meetups are run completely by volunteers; even larger organizations with professional staff need volunteers to help run events. You can organize an event around a topic you're interested in and lead a small discussion session. Public-speaking ability is often necessary if you want to move up the management ladder, and tech society meetings are generally supportive environments for practicing these skills.

Volunteer for Your Kids' Schools

Schools often need help setting up and overseeing their technology, as well as helping teachers and kids use it. One great advantage of volunteering at the school your kids attend is that you get to know the teachers and administration better, and understand the challenges they face.

Volunteer for Projects You Care About

You can also bring your IT skills to nonindustry groups. Rather than contributing money to support a cause, contribute your IT skills. You can help a nonprofit upgrade its network, develop its website or write programs to analyze data it collected. Or spend time working with underprivileged youth, as a Big Brother or Big Sister. Let them see that technology is fun and open their eyes to the career opportunities. Using your IT ability to inspire someone else to dream of a brighter future may be the most meaningful contribution you can make on or off the job.

Published in News at Armada

Dev Ops Mainstream

The pace of technology change is rapid, but in tech as in other areas of life, there's resistance even to beneficial changes. The first object-oriented programming language was probably Smalltalk, which became available in 1972, but object-oriented programming didn’t become mainstream until a decade later, when C++ became standard. The DevOps concept was first started in 2008 or 2009: how close is it to becoming mainstream?

DevOps Going Global

Currently, DevOps is largely used to support businesses that are heavily dependent on the cloud, where automated deployment and configuration management is crucial. According to Gartner, fully 25 percent of Global 2000 companies will integrate DevOps into their processes by 2016. It's this move away from cloud-specific utilization that will make DevOps part of the technology mainstream.

DevOps Requires More Than Tools

While the development of tools to support DevOps will grow to a $2 billion market in 2016, the key to broad acceptance is the realization that DevOps isn't just a set of tools. Companies are looking for DevOps ready tools, but they have also come to understand that DevOps is a culture of collaboration that enables continuous improvement in a business's technical environment—which benefits the bottom line.

Of necessity, DevOps requires improved communication between development and operations teams. Companies also find that using DevOps improves communication between their IT teams and business partners, which, combined with agile development methodologies, reduces the time to develop releases.

Companies that are still struggling to adopt agile software processes are likely to struggle with DevOps. Getting people to accept rapid deployments and collaboration between development and support teams is unlikely in an environment of step-wise work phases like those in a waterfall development model.

DevOps Enables Business Growth

In some companies, DevOps enables deployments to be made as often as multiple times an hour, compared to the old process of a few times per year, allowing companies to be much more responsive to business needs. Using DevOps also enables companies to scale deployments rapidly and cheaply. For companies that succeed with DevOps, growing DevOps parallels business growth.

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