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Why is AI Bias So Hard to Fix

 

While an artificial intelligence (AI) does not have its own personality, per se, that does not mean they are not affected by bias. Deep learning algorithms are designed to identify patterns and use them to make recommendations, come to decisions, or render conclusions. If any part of the learning process promotes bias, then the AI ultimately develops one. And, if an AI bias occurs, it can be incredibly hard to fix.

 

The Origins of AI Bias

AI bias can happen for a variety of reasons. While the most obvious source is the data used by the system, other issues can also result in bias.

 

For example, an AI is usually designed to help answer a specific question. If that question contains a subjective component, or a concept that is open to interpretation, the company creating the AI puts their own definition on the concept. If their viewpoint is biased (even if it is unintentional) or even just poorly defined, the AI could produce unintended outputs, creating a lack of fairness or other observable bias.

 

When data is collected, bias can show up in one of two ways. First, if the data collection method results in an inaccurate depiction of reality, that can create bias. Second, if the data reflects existing biases that are present in society, the AI then has them as well.

 

Finally, when data is prepared, bias can also creep in there, even if the source data was unbiased. For instance, the attributes selected for the AI to review could create a prejudice.

 

Why Eliminating AI Bias is So Challenging

Dealing with AI bias is actually incredibly difficult. In some cases, the introduction of bias is not very apparent, so the designer may not realize there is a problem until they begin reviewing outputs. When this occurs, retroactively finding the source of the issue is a daunting task.

 

Similarly, the subjective nature of some core questions can make it difficult to determine what an unbiased outcome looks like. Along the same line, defining fairness itself is not easy, particularly since it has to be examined in mathematical terms when designing an AI. Since social context can impact the definition of fairness, and that can vary dramatically from one location to the next, the challenge is even greater.

 

Dealing with AI Bias in the Future

While the AI bias problem could be considered vast, researchers are working diligently to find a solution to the problem. This includes developing new algorithms that detect potential issues, including hidden biases, and processes that hold organizations accountable for unfair practices.

 

Dealing with AI bias will take time. However, even if it will not be solved easily, a solution is in the works.

 

Do You Need Assistance Building Your Tech Team? Contact The Armada Group!

If you would like to learn more about AI bias and how it can impact business, the team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us with your questions or thoughts today and see how our deep learning expertise can benefit you.

 

Published in Hiring Managers

How the Newest Tech Trends will Impact Consumer Markets

 

At the beginning of the year, companies around the country plan for their technology spending. With so many emerging technologies grabbing headlines as of late, understanding which trends will likely provide your customers with the most benefit is critical, allowing you to make better decisions about spending.

 

Similarly, tech professionals can benefit from the knowledge as well. By learning about how the consumer markets are shifting, they can acquire skills that align with these trends, positioning themselves for a more lucrative career.

 

If you are wondering how the newest tech trends will impact consumer markets, here’s what you need to know.

 

Home Automation Makes Headway

Home automation is poised to make significant strides over the coming years. Currently, the market is filled with niche products, such as monitoring devices and smart lights. However, the call for simplification and integration is only getting louder, especially as more consumer buy into the concept in general.

 

People often embrace technology that has the potential to make their lives simpler or will help them save money. Since home automation can possibly do both, this is a trend with staying power.

 

Augmented Reality Meets Mobile Computing

Both augmented reality (AR) and mobile computing can be powerful. However, as the two come together, the potential to reshape work and life experiences as well as enhance productivity only grow.

 

By giving users the ability to see informational overlays placed onto the real-world, the possibility of real value is clear. Similarly, being able to visualize structural changes or products in the actual space where it will be placed could be a gamechanger for a wide array of industries.

 

Blockchain

While most people associate blockchain with Bitcoin, the technology is much more than just the power behind a cryptocurrency. Blockchain has the capacity to revolutionize several consumer markets, particularly in areas like banking, accounting, finance, insurance, and even healthcare.

 

Consumer-Facing AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been making waves for years, and many still consider the technology to be in its infancy. Some of the more recent developments have focused on the power of consumer-facing AI, such as chatbots for customer service, giving customers the ability to get answers to common questions quickly. or voice analysis for incoming calls, allowing customer service representatives to receive call handling tips based on the system’s interpretation of the caller’s mood.

 

The potential for leveraging AI to improve customer interactions is there, especially as AI’s natural language processing capabilities become more robust. Precisely where it will go is still somewhat of a mystery, but no one is questioning whether there will be an impact on the consumer market.

 

Are You Looking for the Most Talented Tech Professionals? Contact The Armada Group!

In the end, all of the tech trends above will have a massive impact on the consumer market, so they should remain on everyone’s watchlist. If you would like to know more, the team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us with your questions today and see how our tech trends expertise can benefit you.

 

Published in Hiring Managers

Interview Questions

 

Whether you are applying to an IT job or a position with a tech company, you typically expect to be asked certain technical questions. After all, they either apply to the role itself or the organization’s business model, so these inquiries have an innate level of relevancy.

 

However, it isn’t uncommon to be asked non-tech questions as well. Typically, questions that fall outside of the tech landscape serve a critical purpose in assessing whether you are a strong fit for the position or the company as a whole.

 

Even tech giants like Google and Amazon branch into non-tech areas, regardless of whether the position is tech-oriented. If you are wondering why they ask their candidates these non-tech job interview questions, here’s what you need to know.

 

Soft Skill Assessments

Communication skills, problem-solving capabilities, and leadership potential are often highly relevant to nearly every company, regardless of the position itself or their industry. Hiring managers will often ask non-tech questions that help them assess a candidate’s soft skills as a means of determining whether the job seeker possesses the right mix to be successful in the role.

 

For example, if you are asked for an example of a time when you used data to make actionable recommendations (something Amazon has been known to do), the hiring manager is looking for insight into your analytical skills and how you use them to benefit the company.

 

Similarly, being asked how you would prioritize or choose from assignments from multiple leaders in the organization gives the hiring manager information about how you assess your skills, any preferences you may have, and how you approach challenging situations involving workplace dynamics.

 

Since soft skills are incredibly valuable assets, hiring managers want to know which you possess and how you use them to be effective in a position, and non-tech questions are a common approach for making these assessments.

 

 

Cultural Fit

When it comes to determining whether a candidate fits into a company’s cultural, tech questions aren’t always ideal. Instead, hiring managers use non-tech questions to assess whether the environment is right for you.

 

For instance, questions about your preferred management style can let them know if you would thrive or struggle under the position’s manager. Asking you to describe an ideal physical environment helps them ascertain whether the workplace itself matches your preferences.

 

Similarly, requests for examples of how you function as part of a team provide powerful insights into how you work in group scenarios and whether your approach would mesh with your coworkers.

 

Ultimately, non-tech questions help the hiring manager get to know you beyond your technical capabilities. Since cultural fit and soft skills are so important in every workplace, it’s wise to anticipate that you’ll face similar questions yourself, as they are practically guaranteed to arise.

 

If you are interested in learning more or are seeking out new job opportunities, the team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to discuss your goals today and see how our services can benefit you.

 

 

Published in Hiring Managers

 Sports Technology

 

Technology dedicated specifically to sports and athletics, both at the professional and amateur levels, is becoming more prevalent, leaving many wondering if it will morph into a field of its own. The systems are designed to do more than just monitor performance, supporting other objectives like health tracking and providing access to visual tools that can help them improve.

 

New products are being introduced on a regular basis, but that only scratches the surface of what the field may have to offer. If you’re wondering what’s next for sports technology, here’s what you need to know.

 

New Devices and Wearables

Since fitness trackers like the Fitbit became all the rage some years ago, there have been significant advances in the available devices and wearables that are designed to help athletes improve. Activity-specific devices are becoming more prevalent in the market while the capabilities of general devices are increasingly robust.

 

The field is poised for additional growth, particularly as interest in sport-specific technologies grows, and there is certain room in the marketplace for more sophisticated advancements.

 

 

A Connection with Big Data

While most sports technology devices are capable of collecting data about the individual using the tool, big data is also making an appearance in the field. Supporting applications are able to use information about other users to provide additional information and recommendations to users, giving them the opportunity to improve their performance or simply see how they measure up to others.

 

Analytics are also often integrated into these applications, some of which have predictive capabilities that allow a user to anticipate their results if they choose a specific course of action.

 

Improved Metrics

One of the tricks associated with this rapidly advancing field is that, though a number of performance metrics are being included, tech professionals weren’t always knowledgeable about which metrics are actually valuable to users. As the sports technology field grows, however, the professionals behind the devices and applications are learning more about the sports, allowing them to select better information.

 

This means that tech professionals who have a solid understanding of athletics are highly sought after in the industry, allowing them to be well-positioned when it comes to securing a top-notch position. And, if a software engineer or data scientist has explicit knowledge about the specific sport being targeted in the device and supporting app, all the better.

 

Whether sports technology will become a full-blown field of its own, in an official sense, is yet to be seen. But, the potential is undoubtedly there, giving sports-minded tech professionals the option of specializing in an area that may combine two of their passions.

 

If you are interested in learning more about the burgeoning sports technology specialty or are looking for a new tech position, the team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members today and see how our services can benefit you and your career.

 

 

Project Management

 

IT projects are often complex, requiring a significant amount of time to complete and a diverse set of employees to ensure all needed skill sets are present. To coordinate the associated activities, having a robust project management strategy is a necessity.

 

Like any other area, there are a number of trends that are poised to change the face of project management in 2018. With that in mind, here are a few that you are likely to notice as the year goes forward.

 

The EPMO Model

Organizations have begun to favor the Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) methodology over the traditional project managing office (PMO) model. EPMOs typically reflect a more strategic approach, aligning the project, portfolio, and program activities to larger company goals. This allows companies to reach a higher level of success, particularly when it comes to creating end results that meet the original objectives. Plus, fewer projects fail using the associated methodologies, which is a benefit that can’t be ignored.

 

Increased Use of Software and Tools

Web-based project management software and tools have become more affordable over recent years, allowing more companies to access them. This provides smaller organizations with the technology they need to better manage their projects, including by reducing waste, efficiently allocating resources, and keeping them aligned with their goals.

 

 

Analytics Play a Bigger Role

Business analytics continues to become more accessible as well, allowing companies to leverage the power of their data in more meaningful ways. Teams can identify trends in advance, spot potential risks earlier in the process, and even examine complex approaches with greater ease, giving them valuable information that can increase the chances that the project will be successful.

 

This also helps in the development of future projects as lessons learned today can be captured with greater ease, allowing the associated information to guide decisions during the next project.

 

More Remote Workers

Technology has also made remote work and telecommuting options easier to manage, allowing your full-time staff to experience greater flexibility or you to access top talent in areas outside of your immediate vicinity.

 

Since work-life balance has become a priority for many professionals, particularly Millennials and the incoming Generation Z, this can be an attractive offering that gives you an advantage over competitors who choose to forgo the option, increasing the odds that you will be viewed as an employer of choice.

 

Hiring for Emotional Intelligence

Companies and employees are placing a higher value on emotional intelligence in the workplace, and this will likely affect hiring decisions today and into the future, particularly with project managers. The nature of the work requires coordinating with a wide range of professionals, all with different priorities and personalities. Emotional intelligence makes the task easier, making it a valuable skill for anyone leading a diverse group of workers.

 

If you are looking to hire a project manager or would like to learn more about current trends, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to speak with one of our skilled team members and see how our expertise can work for you.

 

 

Published in IT Infrastructure

Unethical

 

IT professionals are often trusted with a significant amount of power in any organization. They have access to critical systems and data, some of which is not directly related to their positions.

 

Employees in any department may participate in some questionable activities, and IT workers are no exception. While some occasional lighthearted actions can be beneficial to morale, when certain lines are crossed, a serious problem exists.

 

To help you identify these issues and address unruly IT employee behavior, here are some common areas of concern and how to handle them.

 

Practical Jokes

IT employees are uniquely positioned when it comes to practical jokes. They can do anything from changing a person’s password to adjusting computer wallpaper, often remotely.

 

While some of these actions may seem harmless, they can easily become bothersome. For example, another employee’s work may be disrupted by a practical joke, hurting productivity. In more severe scenarios, such as changing a worker’s desktop background to something inappropriate, a staff member may become offended, or worse.

 

To prevent these activities, you need strong policies in place that define how credentials can be used as well as any consequences that are associated with these breaches of trust. Using alerts that inform the manager when specific actions are taken can also be effective deterrents, as all activities are automatically broadcast to their supervisor.

 

 

Accessing Confidential Information

Most IT professionals have administrator credentials that allow them to access a range of systems. While this is necessary for the work, it can cause problems when they abuse the privilege, using their credentials to access confidential or sensitive information not related to their positions.

 

Further, they often have the ability to delete or alter logs, giving them a chance to cover their tracks.

 

Setting up alerts can help spot this kind of activity, as well as a robust ticketing system that can help determine which actions are legitimate and which may be illicit in nature.

 

Non-Work-Related Activities

Since IT often controls what can be accessed over the internet and which activities are logged, the potential for abuse is significant. A worker could give themselves the ability to access entertainment related sites that would otherwise be blocked, giving them the opportunity to slack off while they are on the clock.

 

While taking a moment to relax isn’t inherently a problem, if they begin spending more than a reasonable amount of time on non-work-related activities, productivity is going to decline. Further, if they access inappropriate content using company resources, you could have a bigger problem.

 

To help lower the risk associated with such actions, it’s imperative that all employees be subject to the same restrictions based on actionable policies and that any attempts to circumvent certain blocks be appropriately logged and alerted. This helps deter IT professionals from taking advantage of their position, lessening the likelihood that someone will do so.

 

Ultimately, most IT employees are standup workers and wouldn’t abuse their power. However, it is crucial that the proper policies and monitoring mechanisms are in place to ensure that such activities don’t take place.

 

If you are interested in learning more or are looking to hire a new IT worker, the team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to see how our services can work for you.

 

 

Published in IT Infrastructure

Senior DevOps

 

If your developing a career in DevOps, the idea of being a Senior DevOps Engineer may be particularly enticing. Like any upper-level position, you’ll need to possess the proper skill set and also make an effort to separate yourself from your peers.

 

To help you begin on your way to becoming a Senior DevOps Engineer, here are some tips to get you started.

 

Technical Skills

First and foremost, you’ll need to be especially proficient in a range of scripting languages, including options like Bash, PowerShell, and Python. You may also need to be familiar with working on multiple computing platforms, such as Linux and Windows.

 

When web services are a component of your development efforts, being experienced in RESTful services is beneficial. And, to meet project objectives, you may need a thorough understanding of continuous integration and delivery, as well as knowledge of configuration management concept.

 

Since cloud services and tools can play a vital role in DevOps, being familiar with CM tools and frameworks like Chef and SALT can help you get ahead. Expertise in test automation is also highly desirable and can help you stand out from your peers.

 

Soft Skills

Like most IT positions, Senior DevOps Engineers also need a range of soft skills to excel. Most importantly, you’ll need strong written and verbal communications skills, including the ability to make complex information more accessible to stakeholders who may be less tech-savvy.

 

Planning and organizational skills are incredibly useful as they make it easier to keep projects on track and ensure you are handling your tasks based on any applicable deadlines. Being able to work as part of a team is also crucial.

 

Senior DevOps Engineers may also need to guide junior team members, so leadership skills can help you move up the ladder to the next level position.

 

Securing a Promotion

While there is no guaranteed way to obtain a promotion, certain efforts increase your likelihood of success. For example, volunteering for leadership roles can help you develop your skills and assert yourself as someone who can direct and manage the work of others. Taking on new challenges shows your interested in expanding your knowledge base and growing in the field while participating in professional development activities also demonstrate you are working to keep your skills sharp and relevant.

 

You also need to meet the fundamental requirements of your current position, such as meeting your deadlines and maintaining high-quality standards. Additionally, you need to be open to feedback and work diligently to follow any advice that can allow you to become a top employee.

 

Securing a promotion is generally about more than just being technically proficient, so aim to become a well-rounded employee who is willing to go the extra mile and support larger team goals to ensure the company has everything they need to succeed.

 

If you’re looking for a new DevOps position, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you with some of the most innovative employers in the area. Contact us to see how our services can help you get ahead in your career.

 

 

Published in IT Infrastructure

Certifications

 

With competition for top talent in the IT field being fiercer than ever, many companies are exploring new options to help with recruitment and retention. One such benefit involves paying for employees’ certifications.

 

While the benefit to workers is clear, as having a business cover the cost of any form of continuing education is seen as a boon, some organizations struggle to see the value it provides to them. However, paying for employee certifications can actually be a very smart move when handled wisely. Here’s what you need to know.

 

Fill Skill Gaps

Even in today’s tech-oriented world, it can be hard to find candidates who possess the skills you need to round out your team. And, with unemployment among IT professionals remaining well below the national average, it may only become more challenging.

 

Choosing to pay for employee certifications can ultimately help you overcome any existing skill gaps as you can sponsor the training of your top employees, giving you access to their new skills. Essentially, you can mold your current staff into an ideal team, covering all the competencies you need to move forward towards your goals. And, by selecting truly talented workers for the task, you can almost guarantee they’ll come back with the level of understanding you need.

 

A Win-Win

Many businesses turn to traditional offerings, like raises, to keep talented employees on staff. While a larger paycheck is likely to have a positive impact on workers and may improve retention rates, the direct benefit to employers isn’t necessarily as high as with paying for certifications.

 

Most IT professionals see the value in additional certifications, as it can help them move forward in their career, and companies can benefit from their increased skill level, helping them achieve their goals as well. In some cases, offering certifications in lieu of salary increases can have a similar effect on retention, won’t necessarily cost more than a raise, and gives your company access to skills that may otherwise be unavailable.

 

Boost Morale

Having an employer support professional growth can be seen as a substantial benefit for workers. Not only does it save them from having to pay out of pocket for additional training, but it also proves the company is invested in their forward progress and various personal goals.

 

In the end, this can lead to a happier workforce, increasing productivity and improving retention. In addition, employees who are satisfied with their employer are more likely to stay for the long haul, and may also share their appreciation with others, making recruitment efforts easier as well.

 

Offering to pay for employee certifications does require a strong plan, as you need to exude a level of control over which options are supported and who would qualify for such a program. However, by investing in this area and creating a strong guiding structure, your company has a lot to gain from the arrangement.

 

If you would like to learn more or are seeking an IT professional to join your team, the skilled staff at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

Social Media

 

Using social media to find potential candidates, a process known as social recruiting, can be highly effective. However, there are various unwritten rules that indicate a recruiter may have gone too far. These tools are powerful, but using them properly is the key to success. Here’s what you need to know about the nuances and best practices associated with social recruiting.

 

Don’t Spam Job Posts

An overzealous recruiter may be tempted to get the word out about a position by repeatedly posting information about the vacancy on social media. While they may believe this will help the post be seen by more people, it’s actually a quick way to alienate yourself.

 

If a particular account keeps flooding followers with the same announcement, it may encourage people to unfollow the account as a way to eliminate the noise. Others may ignore the posts or mute them from their feeds. Either way, it means you lose access to passive job seekers who are simply annoyed by the practice.

 

Don’t Pry

Researching a candidate over social media can be an excellent way to vet a job seeker. But digging deeper than is necessary isn’t useful and can border on inappropriate. For example, quickly scanning posts and photos for signs of trouble or to confirm the person has the relevant education or experience is fine, but opening hundreds of photos isn’t a way to accomplish those goals.

 

Writing Off Candidates Who Won’t Let You In

Since screening the social media accounts of job seekers has become common practice, many candidates separate their personal pages from their professional ones. Typically, they’ll restrict access to the accounts that are dedicated to their private lives and only give recruiters access to the professional variants.

 

Turning away a job seeker just because they won’t friend you on Facebook is generally a mistake. Yes, there is information to be seen there, but the candidate is smart enough to keep these details private. Remember, if you can’t see the account, it is likely the person isn’t letting anyone in if it could harm their public image. And that’s actually a good thing.

 

Don’t Force a Peek

While this is by no means common, some recruiters have crossed serious lines by “making” job seekers log into their social media accounts in front of them, so they can take a look. Not only is this a violation of the candidate’s privacy, it is often seen as highly unethical and potentially an abuse of power.

 

Instead of resorting to these measures, recruiters need to understand that social media is only one tool for evaluating applicants. Not being given access to an account isn’t a reason to discount a potential employee and forcing them to give you access is unacceptable.

 

If you have open positions and would like assistance screening candidates, the team at The Armada Group can locate the top talent you need. Contact us to see how our services can improve your recruitment processes today.

 

 

Published in Recruiting

Social Media

 

The use of social media as a recruitment tool is fairly common. Many recruitment professionals use these systems to locate and screen candidates, reach out to those with potential, and build long-term relationships with skilled tech professionals. Additionally, companies use these outlets to post information about job openings and highlight everything they have to offer new employees.

 

But how do you use social media properly to find the technology pros you need with greater ease? By making sure you cover the following basics.

Provide Value

Many companies jump onto social media and just expect people to follow them, even without a good reason to do so. If you want to attract potential candidates to your social media sites, you need to provide something of value. Often, simply adding posts with useful information is enough to attract some interest, so just make sure you have more than ads for your products and services posted regularly on all your accounts.

Understand Hashtags

Your ideal candidates likely have certain priorities and points of interest. One way to get their attention is to create posts designed to draw them in and associating the information with hashtags relating to those areas. In most cases, upcoming tradeshows, news events and industry developments are quickly connected to a particular hashtag. By discovering what they are and writing posts that allow the use of the hashtag to feel organic, you can make a connection with potential job seekers who share that interest.

Involve Employees

Your current employees can be your biggest cheerleaders, and they aren’t only focused on the bottom line. By encouraging employees to share company information – including job vacancies – with their networks, you can reach a new audience with greater ease. Make sure they are focused on posts with substance by not considering them a source of additional advertising. Like your own posts, providing information with substance will attract more positive attention than having everyone push the same carefully crafted slogan.

Actively Connect

The purpose of social media is to be social, and this involves having actual conversations with other members of the community. Make sure to add personal touches to your content to show that there is an actual person behind the account and not a faceless automaton. And, if a person reaches out to your company, acknowledge them quickly and engage them directly.

 

However, it is also important to manage any messages being sent carefully. Take the time to review any posts before they go live, even if you are responding with a direct message. The comments you write today will live on for a long time, so a poorly chosen word or phrase can create a bad impression for those who see it directly, as well as anyone within their network with whom they choose to share. And that can hurt your recruiting efforts in both the short and long term.

 

If you are currently looking for new candidates for open positions or are looking for a social media expert to help you connect with job seekers online, The Armada Group can help you locate the right people for your needs. Contact us to see how our services can help you achieve your larger hiring goals.

 

Published in Recruiting
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