Many people are drawn to technical careers by a love of technology; they enjoy the creativity those careers require and the challenges they provide. Others are drawn to technical careers by more practical concerns: tech careers are among the best-paying opportunities out there. But even if your developers love their jobs because they love technology, they still want to be fairly compensated. That compensation isn't limited to their paycheck; benefits and perks matter, too. Work with your human resources and budgeting teams to make sure your company provides developers these crucial perks:
Start with a basic benefits package – 401K, stock options, paid time off including vacation, sick days, and personal days. Don't be tempted to leave insurance to the government-run exchanges; employer plans can offer better options and better networks. Offer, and subsidize, the cost of dental and vision insurance as well as medical insurance.
Sure, developers can work on any old computer, but they'll get a lot more done and be a lot happier with top-of-the-line equipment. The larger the monitor, the better, and the more monitors, the better, too. Make sure you have enough printers, so developers don't have to walk all the way around the building to pick up a printout. The paperless office isn't a reality for developers or anyone.
Quiet space where they can think.
Coding problems aren't solved on the computer; they're solved in the developer's mind, first. The open workspace with low cubicle walls is filled with distractions that make concentration difficult, which frustrates developers who want to get their jobs done. Even if you can't give everyone an office with real walls and a door, provide a quiet space where they can go to simply think through a tough challenge.
Freedom to use the best technology to solve the problem.
You need a stable technology platform, and mixing multiple technologies can complicate support, but don't force your team to use a tool that isn't appropriate for the task at hand just because you have the support capability. Developers want to work with new technology that makes it easier and more fun to solve the hard problems.
Training in new technology.
To use the best and newest technology, your team needs to understand it. Support your developers in learning those skills; don't force them to study on their own time but encourage them to attend off-site seminars where they can concentrate on learning without being distracted by day-to-day business issues. The commitment to their development will boost morale as well as their technical capabilities.
These perks help developers get their jobs done and demonstrate the value your company places on their skills, which boosts morale and their loyalty to your business. Contact The Armada Group to learn how we can help your business find employees who love technology and want to apply their skills to solving your problems.
Some might cite the cliché, "turnabout is fair play." For decades, workers in other industries have feared their jobs might be replaced by automation. Now, losing their jobs to computerization is one of the top fears of developers.
That's one of the findings in Evans Data Corp.'s survey of developers. To be sure, assembly language coding jobs disappeared when high-level languages were developed. But the role of the software developer didn't disappear; the skills still were needed, only the tools used changed. And in general, although the tech industry is an early and enthusiastic adopter of technology, programming languages linger. There are still jobs for Cobol developers out there.
New trends in artificial intelligence, though, are making developers uneasy. Previous applications of technology in programming, like the development of compilers, mostly automated the mechanics of software development. The cognitive capabilities of AI go beyond that, promising—or threatening—to co-opt the creative thinking parts of the software job.
Up 'til now, humans' cognitive abilities were unmatched. But new advances in machine learning mean software can make software design decisions or detect bugs as effectively as human developers. Code databases may let algorithms create applications that match requirements specifications. Those abilities could put development jobs directly at risk.
This is still mostly hypothetical, though; a worry for the future. Statistics show the number of IT jobs increasing, not decreasing, and salaries for these positions are well above median wages for other kinds of work. While developers do need to keep their skills up to date as technology trends change, there's still plenty of opportunity for skilled and experienced developers to work on challenging, exciting projects.
For companies that aren't ready to hire a robot as a programmer yet, and for developers who don't plan to retire any time soon, working with The Armada Group is an effective way to find a new hire or find a new job. With our deep database of jobs, deep pool of candidates, and deep understanding of the industry, we match opportunities and candidates based on education, skills, experience, and aspiration. Contact us to learn how we can help you hire or get hired.
If the members of your development team came off an assembly line, with identical skills and personalities, managing them would be so much simpler! The team would automatically be compatible, and the same rewards would motivate everyone to do their best. But team members don't come off an assembly line, they each have differing skills and personalities, and one of the biggest challenges for managers is figuring out the right way of interacting with each unique team member to achieve a successful result.
The Tech Geek
Some team members are all about the technology. They'll argue the reasons you must adopt the dot-19 version of a library instead of continuing with the dot-16 version you're currently using. They'll swear the latest technology that's barely made it out of the lab is the only thing that will let the business beat out its competitors.
Get the most out of these geeky team members by giving them the chance to show off their technical chops and prove the benefits of those new technologies through small pilot projects. These developers are also the folks you should ask to build the most technically complex, critical components of your application. Make sure they know you appreciate the value of new technology and of their skills, within the context and confines of the project needs and schedules.
The Independent Thinker
Even though agile development teams define their own processes, not every team member buys in completely. When you have a developer who goes their own way, it becomes much more challenging to track project activities and ensure a high level of quality.
To bring these independent thinkers into line, make sure their voices get heard in the meetings where team processes are discussed. If they deviate later, remind them that they participated in the definition of the process, and that it's important they adhere to the procedures they agreed to at the time.
The Deadline Misser
Getting code working right is tough, and some developers consistently struggle to meet their deadlines. In some cases, this is because they just don't have the skills for the job, and you may have to take corrective action. In other cases, it's just that – like most developers – they're overly optimistic when giving estimates of how long work will be. If there's a pattern of missed deadlines, have a talk with the developer to see whether they need training in programming or in estimating, and be sure to add buffer into their estimates, so future projects more closely match to reality.
Development teams need all kinds of skills and personalities. If there's a gap on your team, The Armada Group's boutique staffing services can help you find the right new hire to make your project succeed. Contact us to learn more about our staffing services.
Technology changes fast, and developers need to keep their skills current to keep up with the marketplace. If you want the opportunity to work on the most challenging new projects, these are the skills you need to know now.
Companies are gearing up for big data projects, hoping to gain a competitive edge from analyzing the data collected by all their interactions with customers and suppliers. There's a vast range of skills needed to support big data work, ranging from engineering tasks that focus on managing and storing these giant collections of data, to analytical tasks that focus on understanding the business and using that data to create insights that drive business success. For the engineering-oriented jobs, focus on skills like Hadoop, Spark, and NoSQL databases like MongoDB. The analytical tasks require data science skills, such as statistical methods and text analysis, plus the ability to program in languages like R and Python.
More and more companies are implementing a "mobile first" development strategy. Because of the small screen size, strong UI and UX skills are needed to build an effective interface. Android is by far the dominant platform; iOS trails in second and Windows, Blackberry, and other mobile operating systems barely register. Learn the languages of choice for both Android and iOS development – Java and Swift, respectively – plus a cross-platform development framework such as Sencha will give you the most options for mobile application, and mobile career, development.
Float on a Cloud
Cloud computing is fast becoming a dominant method of application delivery. Learn the features and APIs for the major cloud platforms, including Amazon Web Service, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. The cloud is also a major contributor to the growth of DevOps, opening up deployment and support career paths for those who understand how to automate the process and monitor deployed applications.
Work With a Staffing Agency
Working with a staffing agency like The Armada Group is a great way to explore the jobs your current skills prepare you for and help you identify the skills you need for the best jobs on the market. Search our jobs or contact us to learn how our services help you build your career, not just find a new job.
The letters "I" and "X" are pretty far apart on a keyboard, but type UI and type UX, and suddenly the distance between them isn't very clear at all. Both UI, which stands for User Interface, and UX, which stand for User Experience, relate to the design of a product's interface. Choose a job in one or the other and you'll be doing something very different on a day-to-day basis.
UI developers focus on the visible pieces of an application's interface. UI designers specify how specific elements are laid out on specific pages of the application. They also ensure that the overall look of the product is consistent. Their job is to make sure the application looks good using tools like HTML and CSS.
UX developers focus on the entire experience users have while working with an application. Their job is to make sure that using the application feels good, and often conduct experiments with users to identify troublesome spots in the application's flow. UX developers don't build pages; they create wireframes and storyboards to show how the application will work.
Which Career Should You Choose?
If you like the hands-on work of fine-tuning page layouts and creating graphic elements using Photoshop, working as a UI designer will satisfy your creative urges. If you tend to a more analytical kind of thinking and enjoy research, working as a UX designer will give you big questions to think about.
You don't necessarily need to choose one path over the other. At many companies, the difference between UI design and UX design isn't a hard distinction; one person may do both tasks for a project, depending on where it is in its development cycle. In those companies, whichever title your role is given, you'll enjoy the challenges of both kinds of design thinking.
You should also realize that you can choose more than once; you can change your mind. Career paths don't have to be a straight line. When you work as a UX developer, you'll work with UI developers, and vice-versa, so you'll be able to see the responsibilities of both titles. If you think you'll be happier in the other role, work with your employer to make the switch. There are plenty of design challenges to go around however you abbreviate your job title.
Managers are busy. It's tempting to communicate with your team via email blasts and team meetings, where you can talk to everyone at once. Fitting one-on-one meetings into your schedule is important, though, because email doesn't convey tone and people may say things in private they wouldn't say in a group. So once you've managed to squeeze a one-on-one meeting onto your calendar, be sure you make the most of the opportunity.
The best one-to-one meetings take place in person, in a quiet location where you won't be distracted. If you can't meet in person, like with remote staff, that doesn't mean you're limited to email; make use of the other communication methods the Internet supports, like Skype. As with in-person meetings, make sure you're in a quiet place. Before making any Internet calls, make sure you have all the software you need installed. Test it out before the first time. If you can't complete an Internet call because of technical glitches, it's frustrating for the other person; they may feel their time was wasted and you don't value their time.
Put aside your cellphone and stop checking emails for the duration of the meeting. Have a plan for the discussion; this time is too valuable for a rambling conversation. Because these meetings should be about what the employee needs, you may want to have your employee prepare an agenda of the points they'd like to discuss.
At the same time, don't be all business. One-on-ones give you a chance to connect on a personal level with the people on your team. Without stooping to gossip, make sure you're aware of their personal situation so you can interact with them as a person, not just as an employee.
Listen closely to what the employee tells you. Keep it confidential when appropriate, but also be sure to take action where needed. It's worse to have a meeting and ignore acting on an employee's requests than not to have the meeting at all.
These meetings should be regular, but you can also schedule a follow-up meeting to touch base on progress. And even though one-on-one conversations should be routine, don't let them become routine. Make them interesting and valuable for your employees, so they want to keep talking with, and working for, you.
Big Data is expected to bring companies big profits, but it can also bring big headaches. The value of big data comes from analytics, algorithms that look for patterns in the data. Knowing those patterns, companies can sometimes gain competitive advantages. But is acting on those patterns legal? It depends.
One example of this kind of risk is the recent news that Google's advertising systems tends to show high-paying jobs to men more often than to women. There clearly isn't a discriminatory intent, but there is a discriminatory effect anyway. In another example, an algorithm used by Athena Capital Research led to the SEC fining the company for illegal market manipulation.
Identify Risks With Using Analytics
In order to understand the risks of their analytics, CIOs need to understand the math behind them. Engineers can build systems that crunch all kinds of data, but the CIOs need to decide which data is ethical to use, how using it ties in with the company's business strategy, and how to monitor the algorithms to make sure they're in compliance with all relevant regulations.
Identify Opportunities by Using Analytics
To find the opportunities for algorithms, businesses – and CIOs – need to start with a business problem first, not the data. Once the problem is identified, you can select the data to use to solve it. By controlling both the data and the problem the algorithm solves, issues like discrimination can be prevented.
Understand How Your Customers Will React
Another usage of algorithms is to personalize the information presented to your customers. Some customers will want this; some may find it creepy. In some cases, it can feel like a violation of privacy.
Understand Public Relations Consequences
Algorithms sometimes drive pricing decisions, with consequences that go beyond their impact on the company's bottom line. Some companies modify prices based on information such as the user's zip code. This can be considered discriminatory, like redlining, as well as becoming a public relations problem. While Uber's legal surge pricing has been widely criticized, it developed into a major public relations disaster when it automatically kicked in during a hostage crisis in Sydney, Australia. When algorithms run the business, the business – as well as the public – can end up losing.
Every succeeding generation is more tech savvy than the previous one. The PC hadn't even been invented when baby boomers started working; early boomers had to adapt to PCs with on-the-job training, and even late boomers only encountered them in college.
The latest generation, the millennials, is far more comfortable with technology than its parents and grandparents. Companies that want to attract them, whether as customers or employees, need to use technology in ways that appeal to them.
Companies Need Social Media Savvy
Surveys show that lack of awareness of the business's brand is a major hindrance to recruiting. But companies' talent-branding techniques focus on traditional media. Few of them effectively use the digital media and social media technology that communicates to millennials in other aspects of their lives.
Millennials document their lives on social media, and they expect social media to document a company's life, too. That means the corporate job site needs to be more than just a listing of jobs. It needs to introduce the company culture, through photos and videos of real employees talking about life on the job.
Use every social media channel out there—LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and whatever new trending site comes along—to post images that convey the experience of working for you. Normal, everyday activities like team meetings and lunch in the cafeteria should be displayed as well as official corporate special events.
Mobile Tech is Mandatory
Besides using multiple social media channels, companies need to make sure their digital information works well on multiple platforms. Millennials have given up landlines for mobile phones, and most rely on mobile tech for accessing online data. A website that doesn't work well on phones and tablets isn't just ineffective for company recruiting; it's likely to push away candidates you want to attract.
Millennials aren't threatened by technology; they see it as a tool that supports innovation. Companies that use cutting-edge technology and emphasize this to their potential hires will have an advantage in recruiting the best talent of the newly dominant generation.
Do robots hurt manufacturing jobs? As with almost everything, it depends on who you ask and how you word the question. Since technology is continuing to develop – there are now robots that can learn new skills by watching videos on YouTube – understanding their impact on human society is becoming more and more critical.
Yes, Robots Hurt Manufacturing Jobs
Until now, robot workers have been able to perform limited functions that they're programmed for, but that's changing. A robot developed at the University of Maryland learns by watching YouTube videos. It's able to learn new fine motor skills, like cracking an egg, and turn that into a repeatable process. Another robot, created in Finland, was built with a neural network that let it improve its welding skills on its own.
Once robots are able to learn and effectively reproduce procedures without being programmed, they'll be able to move to new areas within the factory more easily. Not only will this hurt assembly-line workers, it will hurt the workers who've moved into robotics programming jobs.
No, Robots Don't Hurt Manufacturing Jobs
Although there's no doubt that robots can replace manufacturing – Foxconn last year announced plans to replace iPhone assembly workers with robots – the overall statistics on the impact don't actually support fears of a robot takeover.
The loss of jobs in manufacturing in the United States is correlated with increased use of robotics, but there were many other economic changes that contributed to job loss at the same time, including globalization and offshoring of jobs. A recent study showed that Germany uses more robots than the U.S., but lost a smaller percentage of its manufacturing jobs. Other countries that use fewer robots than the U.S., such as the United Kingdom and Australia, experienced larger drops in manufacturing employment.
Meeting the Challenge of Robots
The same study found that the biggest impact of robots on workers was for low-skilled workers. Improved vocational training may help workers remain employed. Still, as robots become smarter and more flexible, finding the balance between automation and employment will remain a challenge.
Some companies think DevOps is "just" a support role. Smarter companies realize that DevOps performs a critical business function, and reward their DevOps staff for contributing toward business success. For tech workers who want to make a high income in a DevOps position, identifying companies that value DevOps is key to achieving their goals. If you're considering a DevOps position, look for these signs that the company treats its DevOps team with respect:
The company uses DevOps in its job titles.
Recognizing DevOps as a distinct position means the company has thought about the DevOps role. Companies that align responsibilities with the job title usually align salaries with the responsibilities, as well.
The company looks for specific DevOps skills when hiring.
DevOps positions require more than certification in specific technologies. They require a deep understanding of the business, plus the ability to interact with customers (internal and external) to understand their needs and develop solid solutions to their problems.
The company has integrated DevOps across the development lifecycle.
DevOps is intended to span the development lifecycle, but in many companies it simply covers the turnover to production status when testing completes. Companies that understand the value of DevOps allow developers and operations staff to work cooperatively through the entire lifecycle.
The company has been using a DevOps approach for a while.
The DevOps term was only coined in 2009, and the concept is still spreading across the industry. Companies that bought into the idea early and have been using it for a while are more likely to understand the value of the role and pay DevOps workers high rates.
The entire company culture is collaborative.
DevOps can only flourish in an organization that doesn't have strong boundaries between departments. Companies where DevOps succeeds encourage communication between teams, with a sense of shared responsibility rather than silos.
The company's DevOps employees are enthusiastic.
When you interview with a company, pay attention to the attitude of the employees you talk with. Listen to how they describe their work, its challenges, and its rewards. While you can't ask someone to show you their paystub, you'll get the best sense of how a company treats its DevOps staff by talking to the people currently doing that work.