Communication

 

Unless you operate a one-person show, your company likely heavily relies on communication to get things done during the workday. Being able to collaborate effectively makes teamwork possible and quality lines of communication ensure everyone is in the loop.

 

On the other side, inefficient communication harm your business greatly, including your bottom line. A recent survey on poor communication in enterprises determined that the annual impact of subpar communication could result in a cost of $11,000 per employee. That means a loss of $1,100,000 per every 100 workers on the payroll.

 

The effects of inefficient communication are far-reaching. It can lead to increased stress, reduced productivity, higher levels of frustration, lower morale, poor decision making, reductions in innovation, and even legal disputes.

 

To help you identify which communication methods may be harming your company’s success, here are a few points worth considering.

 

Over-Reliance on Email

In many cases, employees are bombarded with incoming email throughout the workday. While they are simple to create, emails are also easy to miss, intentionally ignore, or accidentally delete. Additionally, multi-person email threads can quickly become confusing, especially if not everyone is responding to the latest message.

 

When it comes to effective collaboration, email isn’t the ideal tool. Instead, choosing an appropriate tool can help avoid the pitfalls of email, allowing full teams to communicate more efficiently and with easier tracking.

 

Ambiguous Instructions

When it comes to giving instructions, clarity is key. However, many managers and team members leave important details out, creating points of contention and fueling misunderstandings. For example, the vague “as soon as possible” deadline may not mean the same thing to the writer as the reader, and its subjective nature can cause conflict. Additionally, deadlines may be missed, harming productivity, because the work wasn’t aware of the actual timetable involved.

 

To avoid this form of miscommunication, it’s critical that all instruction be clear and specific. Providing step-by-step instructions, hard deadlines, and even estimated time to completion can all help ensure everyone is on the same page.

 

Lack of Timely Feedback

Feedback can be incredibly powerful in the workplace, but only when it is delivered at the right time. By providing information in real time, employees have the opportunity to quickly correct issues or change courses, keeping productivity up and improving the overall quality of their work. Additionally, timely feedback can improve engagement and reduce turnover, as staff members don’t feel left in the dark when it comes to their performance or progress.

 

For businesses that want to increase their use of real-time feedback, consider implementing training programs for managers or using HR software designed to prompt for project- or task-oriented performance reviews once certain duties are completed.

 

By improving communication in the workplace, your company can experience productivity gains, boosts to morale, and more effective teamwork throughout the organization. Ultimately, those are all great for the bottom line, ensuring you get the most from every moment an employee is on the clock.

 

If you would like to learn more or are interested in adding a new member to your team, the skilled professionals at The Advance Group can assist you in reaching your goals. Contact us to see how our services can positively impact your bottom line today.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

Armada Group Job Hopping

Building an impressive resume requires acquiring impressive work experience. Does changing jobs frequently stand in the way of that? Changing jobs frequently certainly lengthens a resume, because there are more jobs to list. This used to be a negative, as companies looked for loyalty. That was fine when 25 years of service got you a gold watch and a pension.

In today's world, managers recognize that loyalty cuts both ways, and since companies often demonstrate little loyalty to employees, they can't expect much in return. The trick with job hopping is to make sure that each job change adds something new to your resume and boosts your value. This means you should consider job hopping if the new position:

Lets you develop a new technical skill.

Technical skills are the most important skills any IT worker brings to their job, but it can be difficult to keep skills current when you stay at an employer a long time, as companies are often committed to a specific tech stack. Job hop strategically to develop a new skill that can position you well for future opportunities.

Gives you a new job title.

If your current employer requires you to keep your title for a fixed number of years before you can add the word "senior" to it, jumping to a new employer can shorten the time it takes to climb the ladder. Although sometimes there's not much difference between job duties, having a senior position on your resume can help the next time you want to change jobs.

Gives you new responsibilities.

You can become a more well-rounded worker by moving to jobs that give you experience in different aspects of technology: programming, QA, support, and management. You'll gain skills that qualify you for a variety of positions in the future.

Whether you've changed jobs often or stayed with one employer for years, when you're ready to make your next change, The Armada Group's recruiters will match you to an open position that takes advantage of the skills you've acquired. Contact us to start looking for your next job now.

Published in Hiring Managers

present side projects

One way to demonstrate your commitment to a technical career is to pursue technical projects outside the office. Including those projects on your resume shows potential employers that your interest in technology extends beyond the office; they won't have to push you to develop new skills and abilities.

In order to make the biggest impact, don't simply list everything you've ever done; selectively cull your experiences and highlight how they helped you develop your capabilities.

Keep the list short.

A long list makes the individual items seem as if they must have been small and insignificant. Choose only a handful of projects to list; make sure they're ones where either your contribution made a significant impact to the project, or the project made a significant impact on you.

Choose projects that are relevant to the position.

If your contribution to an outside web project was designing the layout, that might impress an interviewer who's hiring someone to work on user design. It's less likely to impress an interviewer who needs a backend developer.

Quantify the benefit of your experience.

Don't simply list the project as a bullet point. Document how your contribution contributed to the project's success and what you gained from your participation.

Include skills from side projects in your technical summary.

The skills you develop through classes and projects on your own time are as valid as the skills you develop on the job and through company-sponsored training. Make sure you include all the relevant keywords in the technical summary section of your resume.

Create an online portfolio to show off your projects.

The work you complete for your employer is usually owned by the employer and may be behind a firewall or under a nondisclosure agreement. Make the projects you complete on your own time accessible online and provide the links so interviewers can see the quality of your work for themselves.

If you've got a resume filled with solid experience from your previous jobs and from the technical projects you work on for fun, the Armada Group can help you find a new job where your skills will propel you to success. Contact us to learn how we can help you find a job that encourages you to continue to grow.

Published in Staffing News

What it Takes to Be a Successful IT Leader

Being an IT leader starts with technical competence. Without question, if you don't understand the technology, you can't make informed decisions and persuade a team that you've chosen the right course of action. But leading isn't just about making technical decisions. It's about working with the people above you and below you, and guiding them and the project to a successful conclusion. That requires a whole set of skills that go beyond the ability to program.

Technical Vision

Understanding the details of how to implement a particular technology on a specific project is important for individual developers. For IT leaders, understanding the general capabilities of a technology and how it can be applied to the benefit of the business is more important.

Business Insight

Using technology to achieve business objectives requires understanding those business objectives. The more the IT leader understands the business mission and operational processes, the better they'll be able to direct applications development to address important business problems.

Interpersonal Communication Skills

IT project leaders need to be able to talk persuasively with several very different sets of people. They need to speak with management and business staff who are concerned that the project is on budget and on schedule, and that it will deliver features that help the business succeed. They need to coordinate with parallel organizations, such as operations and support, to make sure the application will be supported and effective once it's deployed. And they also need to speak with their team of developers, who want to work with appropriate technology on a realistic schedule.

Team Building

Because IT leaders are not doing the hands-on development work, one of their most important responsibilities is to build an effective team that does do that hands-on work. This includes hiring the right people, and ensuring that the team uses a good development methodology, and helping team members develop the skills that let them take on additional responsibilities.

Work with The Armada Group

Successful IT leaders reach out for support and assistance when they need it. Working with The Armada Group can help IT leaders find their next position or find their next employee. Contact us to learn how we can help solve your job or talent search problems.

Armada Nov Turning Your Temporary Job into a Permanent Position

When job search takes longer than you expect, sometimes taking a temp or contract role is a solution. It gets you a paycheck, and more than that, it gets you into a company. You may be able to turn the temp role into a permanent one.

The Company Called It a Temp-to-Hire Position

Some companies are explicit about the "trying-before-buying" nature of a temporary job when they bring on a temporary worker. Recognize that "try-before-buy" works both ways; you're under no obligation to stay with the company if the position isn't what you're looking for.

You'll want to do exceptional work to impress them. Treat the job as if you'll be there until retirement and are climbing their career ladder. Be there every day and take on more than they ask of you. Make sure you have positive relationships with your managers, co-workers, and others in the company. If you're difficult to work with, it will be hard to convince them to retain you … no matter how good your work is.

The Company Called It a Temp Position

If the company hasn't held out the possibility of converting your status to full time employee, you still need to do stellar work, but you need to do more to convince them to retain you. When you start, let the company know you'd be interested in a permanent position, and as the contract nears termination, raise the subject with your manager. Depending on the size of the company, you may want to reach out to the HR department as well. If you have a good reputation within your department, they may be able to recommend you for another opening in the company, even if your current position will not continue.

The company may have sized the work they assigned you based on the length of the contract. If there's more work to be done, if there's a follow-up project, or if you've learned skills that are applicable to other ongoing work in the department, point it out to management. You may also want to remind them that you're already here and know how things work, while it will take time for them to find, hire, and train someone else.

Leverage the Temp Role to Boost Your Career

Whether you want the temp role to turn permanent or not, don't treat it as a throwaway. Take advantage of the position to learn about the company, the industry, or the technology you're working with. No matter how short the temp job, it's an opportunity to learn something and develop skills or character that will enhance your resume and lead to the job you want.

Published in Recruiting

CIOs Must Learn the New Math of Analytics

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.

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

415 million settlement silicon valley hiring case

The Silicon Valley Hiring Case has been one of the most high-profile class action lawsuits in the region, and the five-year battle is nearly at its end after a judge approved Apple, Google, Adobe Systems, and Intel’s proposed settlement of $415 million. Representing 64,000 employees from a variety of professional fields, this class action suit had the potential to damage the reputation of these major companies, as well as result in costly, long-term litigation.

The Background

The tech companies were sued after engineers learned of the existence of a “no poaching” policy, in which Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel, Intuit, Pixar, and Lucasfilm agreed not to hire each other’s workers. Labeled as a conspiracy, this policy effectively shoe-horned employees into their positions, limiting their opportunities to move between companies and capping their wages.

The details of the no-poaching agreement were revealed in a series of email correspondences between major players in the tech industry, including late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. In one such exchange, Google executives indicated that they wanted to hire Apple engineers, to which Jobs responded, “If you hire a single one of these people, that means war.”

In fact, the evidence was so compelling that Judge Lucy H. Koh rejected their initial offer of $324 million, believing the amount to be too low. It is extremely unusual for judges to reject settlements, and given that the plaintiffs cited upwards of $3 billion in damages, it’s likely there was overwhelming evidence in their favor.

The Settlement

Intuit, Pixar, and Lucasfilm settled with the claimants for $20 million, leaving the remaining three tech giants to settle or face drawn-out litigation, as well as a media frenzy and poor publicity. Despite critical public attention, each company has declined to comment on the approval of their second offer.

There is a final approval hearing scheduled for July 9, which will hopefully bring the lawsuit to a close. If the settlement is approved, attorneys could claim as much as $83 million in legal fees, while the workers will receive several thousand dollars.

Though the amount of the settlement is a paltry sum considering the value of each company involved, there will be other long-term effects of the class action suit, particularly in regards to under-the-table arrangements between executives. During the course of the case, damaging documents, emails, and other evidence may put the fear of exposure into these tech leaders and discourage other back room dealings in the future.

Published in News at Armada

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.

Linked in

Published in Hiring Managers

personality over skills

In the IT job market, your technical abilities can often be the be-all and end-all. The idea often seems to be that if you don’t meet the long list of necessary skills, you simply aren’t the right person for the position. However, this isn’t always the case. For many hiring managers, certain aspects of your personality may actually be more important than skills you’ve picked up along the way.

Below are a few examples of soft skills that may land you that IT dream job, and why hiring managers may choose them over more technical capabilities.

Willingness (and Ability) to Learn

A thirst for knowledge is a highly sought-after character trait in any industry, but it can go a long way in tech. You may not have mastered PHP or networking just yet, but if you have a voracious appetite for new information, you may find that hiring managers are willing to teach you the necessary skills. Quick learners are often a worthwhile investment, as they tend to stay on top of their skills and constantly refresh and update their knowledge base.

Enthusiasm

Passion and motivation can be invaluable for IT companies, particularly startups and those who specialize in innovative technology. Hiring someone who’s emotionally invested in their finished product will improve both the quality of their work and their drive to complete it. An infectiously enthusiastic personality can also impact the morale of co-workers, creating a more effective (and happy) workforce overall.

Self-Direction

In tech, it’s often expected that you be capable of a certain degree of autonomy. No matter how advanced your skills are, it simply isn’t worth the investment if your manager has to hold your hand through every project. A candidate who possesses self-drive, on the other hand, will not only be able to complete tasks on their own, but will be able to occupy themselves with meaningful work when they aren’t given explicit direction.

Ambition

A desire to succeed in your industry can be very appealing to hiring managers. This soft skill often translates into intuitive insight into what’s best for the company, granting you the opportunity to impress your managers with the added benefit of improving your place of work. Ambitious candidates are also fiercely competitive, and this competitiveness can inspire your team to work harder, particularly when you’re incentivized by upper management.

These are just a few examples of personality traits that hiring managers may prioritize over technical capabilities. Don’t let the fact that your skill sets don’t perfectly align with the position’s requirements discourage you from applying. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised by how valuable your soft skills really are.

Published in Hiring Managers
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