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How You Can Become a Great Engineering Manager

Engineering managers are in a somewhat unique position. Along with the ability to lead a team, they still need a solid technical understanding, ensuring they can plan for the nuances of the development process and plan accordingly. They are frequently tasked with aligning business requirements with reality, as well as communicating critical decisions to stakeholders who may not be as tech-savvy.

Ultimately, being an engineering manager means taking on a challenging role that is often viewed as vital for a company’s success. If you want to make sure that you are exceptional in the position, here are some tips that can help you shine.

cios must find tech talent faster than ever

Technology is shaping businesses more than ever, which means finding the right technology staffers is more important than ever. Because technology offers a competitive advantage, failing to hire the right people, fast, will make companies fall behind their competition in the race for customers. Ultimately, in today's world, technology is the business.

Technology and Business Both Need Top Technical Staff

In a strange way, that's made hiring the right technical people even harder. Because technology underpins business solutions and business strategy, both the business team and the IT team need to hire employees with technical skills.

Technology Skills Change Rapidly, Staff Needs to Keep Up

The technical staff who solved yesterday's problems may not be the right people to solve tomorrow's problems. Companies need to hire people who can solve today's problems, but they also need people who can envision the future and understand how to deploy upcoming technology to avoid tomorrow's problems. This can mean a constant scramble to hire, using outsourcing to fill in skills gaps, using new approaches like crowdsourcing to bring in new ideas, or implementing a well thought-out training program that helps IT employees evolve along with the technology.

Transforming Education and Business

Besides an in-house training program to develop employees, businesses need to work with the educational institutions in their area to transform the curriculum and create programs that focus on the skills employers need. Internally, businesses need to transform the employee experience, much as they're transforming the customer experience, to operate digitally and appeal to skilled staff who want to work in sophisticated, innovative technology environments.

Transforming the Hiring Process

Working with The Armada Group can be part of a company's employee experience transformation. With our understanding of the job market, your opening's specific requirements, and our deep pool of technically capable candidates, we can screen and match candidates and openings efficiently and effectively. Whether the IT worker will join a business team or the IT department, we help make the hiring process smooth, seamless, and appealing to top candidates. Contact us to learn how to find the talent your company needs to build its competitive advantage. 

Published in Recruiting

Automation Engineer

As an automation engineer, you'll be expected to design, program, simulate and test automated machinery and processes. You'll find opportunity in industries, including manufacturing or food processing, that rely heavily upon robots or machines.  Here's what you need to know about launching your career and the steps that can lead you to a six-figure automation engineering career.

Education

To begin a career as an automation engineer, you'll need a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical or electrical engineering. Classes that may help you in your career include robotics, statistics, fluid dynamics and databases. You'll learn much about the specifics of automation engineering on the job. As you gain traction in your career, consider post-graduate degrees to further specialize and increase your marketability.

Licensing & Certifications

While there is no formal licensing or certification required for an automation engineer, a control system engineer license or control systems technician certification can give you an edge when competing for the best jobs. As you advance your career, becoming a certified automation professional can help maximize your compensation potential. This certification is difficult to get, and is currently held by only about 400 automation engineers in the world. Attaining this certification will attract top employers and allow you to ask for top dollar in salary negotiations.

Additional Desirable Skills

Automation engineers can increase their chances of career success with these abilities:

  • Understanding of computer programming and software development
  • Ability to troubleshoot equipment problems and perform complex system tests
  • Creative thinking skills
  • Detail-oriented personality
  • Excellent manual dexterity
  • Ability to communicate well to other members of the development team

Employment and Salary Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing is increasingly moving toward automated processes to reduce workforce size and increase worker safety. This gives automation engineers good job prospects in the foreseeable future. According to a survey by Automation.com in 2012, the average annual salary for automation engineers was $103,910. 

Published in Staffing News

Behavioral Questions to Use in Your Next Interview

No matter what type of work you’re interviewing for, there are a key set of traits that would be best suited for the position. As the hiring manager, it’s your job to pinpoint what those traits are and establish an objective way of evaluating the character of each of your candidates. Whether you give them a personality test or ask targeted questions during the course of your interview, you can establish a unique behavioral profile for each interviewee.

The first step is to create your list of ideal behavioral attributes. When making your checklist of ideal character traits, it’s important that you consider these three categories of professional personalities.

Teamwork

Teamwork skills will make it easier for you and your staff to work with the new hire. Candidates who lack many of these skills can be difficult to manage, overbearing, or ineffective as employees. Depending on the type of position, teamwork skills may be less important than their ability to self-direct, for example. Remote workers or those who will be largely isolated during the course of their workday may not need exceptional teamwork skills. Examples of these traits may include:

• Communicator
• Conflict Manager
• Active Listener
• Perceptive
• Assertive
• Empathetic
• Persuasive
• Cooperative

Work Ethic

No matter what the position entails, many hiring managers will rank work ethic very highly on their list. A good work ethic, however, is often a learned behavior that results from a very particular set of personality traits. Even if you’re interviewing someone with very little experience, if they possess traits that are conducive to hard work, they can develop a very strong work ethic during the course of their employment. A candidate with a good work ethic may have some of these personality traits:

• Focus
• Organization
• Reliability
• Flexibility
• Initiative

Professional

Professionalism is a highly sought-after behavior, particularly since many workplaces are moving away from traditionalism and into a more laid-back environment. This behavior is learned and not inherent, so if you’re hiring a candidate who comes from a more casual background, they may not have the experience to demonstrate the professionalism you’re looking for. However, if they possess the right personality traits, they can often pick up business cues and learn as they go.

Again, this may vary in importance depending on your unique company. These personality traits may often manifest themselves in other ways than traditional professionalism, so they may be valuable in other context as well. A highly professional person will be:

• Principled
• Objective
• Loyal
• Professional
• Ethical

Create Your Checklist

Once you’ve chosen your ideal character traits, rank them on a scale of importance and use this scale to weight the final score of each candidate. Bring your list of traits with you to the interview, and rank each character based on how they stack up against your expectations. This will not only help you get a good picture of their personality, but you will also remain consistent and objective during the course of each interview.

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Published in Hiring Managers

silicon valley engineers

In Silicon Valley, the IT job market is hypercompetitive. Startups hoping to be the next Google, Facebook, or Snapchat use a wide range of tactics designed to give them a shot at snagging top engineering talent — the skills that can make or break a technical company, and mean the difference between billions and bust.

But the latest play in the engineering talent wars, being launched by startup Weeby.com, embraces a radically different philosophy from typical Valley tech startups. Instead of luring in talent with the promise of world-changing tech and substantial equity that will theoretically make them millionaires if their hard work pays off, Weeby.com is offering to make engineers millionaires from the start — by paying them a million dollars for their first four years of work.

The strategy: A transparent and “backwards” pay structure

Weeby’s salary structure represents a near-complete reversal of traditional Silicon Valley startups. While other companies establish ultra-low startup salaries and rely on finding passionate engineers who believe in the founder’s vision, Weeby.com intends to pay their talent like they’re already superstars, right from the gate.

The company’s founder, Michael Carter, believes that even the average market range salary of $111,000 for engineers in Silicon Valley isn’t enough. The Valley is one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world, and employees at a very low six-figure income still worry about making mortgage payments and raising families. At usual startup salaries, which can run $50,000 to $75,000 plus equity, those worries become serious concerns — and drive top talent straight to higher-paying doors like Facebook and Google.

The restructured compensation at Weeby begins with a base salary that’s at least $100,000 and commensurate with experience — always more than what engineers were previously paid. Engineers are then given performance-based monthly bumps of $10,000 until they reach $250,000. At that point, the monthly raises continue on a smaller scale, but ultimately the salary amounts to $1 million in four years.

In addition, Weeby is offering up to four times more equity than Silicon Valley startups of similar size, in a structure that will have employees collectively owning more of the company than its biggest investor.

The opposition: Higher salaries will attract mercenaries

Not everyone in Silicon Valley agrees that paying engineers higher-than-market rates is a smart idea, especially for startups. In an interview with CNet, Y Combinator president Sam Altman called the strategy “a horrific idea,” saying that if a company is known for paying huge cash salaries, they’ll end up attracting terrible cultural fits. Altman adheres to a more traditional view, stating that startups should recruit an initial batch of core employees who are “maniacally dedicated” to the company’s vision and products, and believe they’re working for a purpose that is bigger than themselves.

Three-time Silicon Valley founder Steve Newcomb, in the same interview, asserted that paying exorbitant salaries can harm a startup company’s reputation before they get off the ground. “If you have to pay people more money than market to come work for your company, then that’s a statement of the value of your product and the value of your company,” Newcomb said — also mentioning that above-market salary investments could upset investors.

However, Weeby’s investors are on board with the strategy, including Karl Jacob, who served as an advisor to Mark Zuckerberg’s six-man board during Facebook’s early days. Carter hopes that the idea of paying top engineers what they’re truly worth will spread, and more Valley startups will be able to build superstar teams that can change the world — and still get paid.

“Silicon Valley’s about getting a great team together and trying new things,” Carter said. “When you do something for the first time, it allows you to approach something with a fresh eye, [and] sometimes, you get a result like Google, Facebook, or Snapchat.”

Published in Staffing News