Weekly meetings can be a great way to track company metrics and keep everyone accountable, solve problems by drawing from the collective intelligence of the team, and review customer feedback and issues that can help your organization improve performance. But they can also be a boring, non-informative, mandatory gathering that everyone in your office dreads.
Of course, you want your weekly meetings to be more like the former, and less like the latter. These tips will help you conduct more effective and engaging meetings that keep your team informed, productive, and looking forward to the next session.
1. Start with the executive team
In mid-sized or large companies, there may not be a need for every department to have a weekly meeting — but regular sessions with the executive team are a must. Smaller companies can condense weekly meetings into a single, company-wide event, while those with more staff can cascade up or down as needed from the executive meeting.
2. Know your priorities
One of the most important keys to effective weekly meetings is to know what you’ll be discussing ahead of time. For best results, determine your top three to five company priorities at the start of each quarter, and for each priority:
- Assign accountability for various goals and results
- Establish metrics and success criteria
You can then structure your meetings around these priorities, and leave each week with measurable results and detailed action plans.
3. Keep a log
Have some way to record the meeting or take notes, so you can refer back and review to look for issues or problem areas that will help to streamline future meetings. Make sure the meeting log includes who said they would do what, and when, to help continually track accountability and stay on point throughout the week.
4. Structure meetings intelligently
For best results, weekly meetings should be relatively short and follow a preset schedule. By planning ahead of time, you can hold effective weekly meetings in 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the group.
Business coaching firm Positioning Systems suggests a strategic and highly effective weekly agenda that includes:
- Good news: (5 minutes) Open the meeting by having everyone share two positive stories — one business, and one personal.
- Numbers: (5 to 10 minutes) Review individual or team weekly productivity metrics, without conversation or comment.
- Customer/employee data: (10 minutes) Discuss recurring issues or problems facing either teams or their customers, and assign at least one issue to a person or group to investigate in the coming week.
- Review accountability: (10 minutes) Review the accountability notes from the previous meeting, reschedule or reassign tasks as needed, and discuss commitments for accountability for the next meeting.
- Collective intelligence: (10 to 30 minutes) Choose a top priority and ask for everyone’s input on the matter. You can also use this section of the meeting for a presentation on one of the company priorities, led by the person who’s accountable for it.
5. End on an informative note
At the close of the meeting, ask everyone in the group to offer a word or phrase that describes how they felt about the meeting. This gives you the opportunity to gather feedback that can be used to adjust future meetings, and ensure that things go smoothly for everyone. Try to end with positive encouragement, so everyone looks forward to next week.
It hasn’t taken long for businesses to jump on big data in a big way. The hype surrounding big data’s potential has only been circulating for a few years, but the technologies of big data are already disrupting the digital age — in 2014 alone, big data initiatives within companies were rapidly moving from the test phase to actual production.
The coming year will see big data evolving more into real-time usage, as new technologies enable enterprise functionality that can actually impact business. Here are some of the major developments poised to take place in big data for 2015.
More focus on data agility
The enormous potential behind big data lies in the ability to actually use it — which requires making sense out of massive streams of warehoused data and finding actionable connections. Data agility is crucial for any organization looking to move forward from capturing and managing data, to actively using the information.
However, traditional data warehouses and legacy databases aren’t fast or flexible enough to structure data into a usable format. In 2015, more organizations will transition away from legacy data resources and implement more agile platforms, with the ability to measure results in response times and operational impact rather than data volume.
Data lakes continue to evolve
The data lake, an object-based storage repository that stores structured, unstructured, and semi-structured raw data in native format, became highly popular in 2014 — mainly due to their scalability, agility, and cost effectiveness. This year, the data lake will evolve and gain more capabilities that will enable this platform to process data internally.
With an evolved data lake, large-scale enterprise processing platforms will be able to migrate from batch processing to real-time, with file-based, Hadoop, and database engine integration. The ability to store massive amounts of data will be less important than having access to tools that can process that data quickly, and pinpoint actionable trends and results.
More organizations embrace self-service big data
Traditionally, companies using big data have tasked IT with establishing centralized structures before allowing users to access the data. This process creates a bottleneck that slows down business, discovery, and exploration. But more organizations are moving toward self-service structures as the comfort levels with structure-on-read increase.
With direct access to big data, developers, data scientists, and data analysts can explore data directly, without waiting for IT to establish structures. This will allow companies to reduce costs and time-to-implementation, leverage new sources of data, and respond quickly to both opportunities and threats.
New business models evolve through Hadoop vendor consolidation
Hadoop is a big name in big data, and initially large enterprises like Intel were investing in the development of their own Hadoop distribution. But even with the unusually rapid pace of global Hadoop adoption, the big data platform is still in the innovation stage — and more companies are turning to established Hadoop vendors for support in the stack. Intel, for example, stayed with its own distribution for just one year before switching to distribution vendor Cloudera.
This year, the evolution of open source software (OSS) platforms like Hadoop will continue, with new models blending deeper innovations and greater community involvement.
Enterprise architects take the lead
The hype surrounding big data is already giving way to real-world usage, and enterprise architects are leading the way. As the understanding of the Hadoop technology stack improves, professionals who have been working most closely within this platform are creating more sophisticated and well-defined requirements for big data applications that are highly usable and scalable.
Last year, the Hadoop ecosystem introduced a landslide of tools, applications, and components. This year, those tools will be put to use as enterprise architects work to integrate Hadoop into the data center, and deliver the type of big data business results that have until now existed only as possibilities.
You’ve scoured resumes and held interview after interview, and now you’re faced with a happy dilemma—choosing your new hire from several equally qualified candidates. While this is a problem most IT managers love to have, it can be challenging to make the final decision. You want the best possible hire, one who’ll make a long-term, productive employee and add the most value to your company.
And of course, you don’t want to second-guess your decision down the road.
If you’re struggling to choose between two or more candidates with excellent qualifications for the job, these tips will help you make that important final selection.
Take your time
Hiring in haste often leads to significant, or even disastrous, mistakes. While your company may be operating short-handed right now, it’s better to give yourself the time you need to make the best decision and hire an excellent employee who’s likely to deliver value for years. Otherwise, you risk hiring the wrong candidate—and if things don’t work out, you’ll have to start the hiring process all over again.
Consider cultural fit
With technical qualifications being equal, an important differentiator for the right candidate is cultural fit. Look for a candidate with soft skills and personal qualities that will balance out the team they’re being hired to, as well as the organization overall. Choose someone who holds values and ethics that align with the company, and who will get along well with other employees.
Identify unique skills
Review your top candidates’ backgrounds and ask yourself what kind of unique skills each of them would be able to bring to the company. For many organizations, one of the best deciding factors is finding a candidate who has demonstrated the ability to adapt their expertise to various environments. A sense of willingness to learn new skills or adopt new viewpoints is also a big plus.
Hold a final interview round for outside opinions
Ask your top candidates to come back for another interview—and this time, have the department manager or other team members sit in. This will give you a working idea of the chemistry between the candidates and the existing team, helping you determine the best cultural fit. It’s also an opportunity to ask further, more in-depth questions about the candidates’ specific skills and experiences in areas that are most important for the position.
Look for the little things
Did one candidate arrive for the interview in formal attire, while the rest were somewhat dressed down? Did any of your top choices send a handwritten thank-you note as a follow-up to the interview? Consider hiring a candidate who took things a step further than the rest—their attention to detail is a good indication that they’ll make a valuable employee.
Pick the passionate candidate
If you’re still struggling to make a final decision, passion may be your trump card. A candidate who’s passionate about the profession, and the specific position at your company they’re interviewing for, may be the best choice.
Consider personal passions as well as professional aspirations here, and look for places where the two align. Employees will be putting 40 or more hours a week into their jobs—so they should be doing something they enjoy, or their morale and productivity will suffer.
Being a hands-on IT manager is good for you, and good for your team. The hands-on approach ensures that you’re aware of how projects are progressing, how your employees are performing as individuals and as a team, and whether you’re on track to meet deadlines. Hands-on management allows you to be involved without demoralizing your team, and enables you to address potential issues proactively, before they become serious problems.
But there’s a fine line between hands-on IT management and micromanaging. Take over too much of the process yourself, and you’ll have the opposite effect: slowed progress, reduced productivity, and gutter-level team morale. Micromanagers dictate instead of delegate, and rob themselves of their most powerful resource — their team.
The differences between micromanaging and hands-on leadership
A good manager will be heavily involved in making desired outcomes clear, checking in on staff progress, and reviewing projects after completion to find lessons that can be applied to the next project. A micromanager will be overly involved, to the point where team members feel they’re not allowed to make decisions or take responsibility — and they’ll never learn or grow from the experience.
Here are some specific differences between micromanagers and hands-on managers:
- Hands-on managers communicate expectations clearly; micromanagers dictate how expectations will be met
- Hands-on managers offer feedback and ask team members to redo work that isn’t quite right; micromanagers redo tasks themselves
- Hands-on managers place the responsibility for projects on employees and expect their best efforts; micromanagers assign work task-by-task and retain responsibility for the project themselves
- Hands-on managers ask for representative samples of the work to review; micromanagers insist on reviewing every email and being present at every meeting
- Hands-on managers adjust their approach to managing employees of varying skill levels and projects of varying importance; micromanagers are uniform in managing every aspect of employees and projects, regardless of skill level or importance
How to implement a hands-on approach
How can you strike the right balance in a hands-on approach to management, without crossing the line into micromanaging? The first step is to make sure you and your team are on the same page, by clearly conveying goals and objectives that paint a picture of what success looks like. This paves the way for handing off responsibility to your team, so you can step back and measure the progress.
Once you’ve developed an effective strategy for clear communication:
- Spend less time doing, and more guiding: If your expectations have been clear, you won’t have to monitor every detail of your team’s progress. Instead, spend your time serving as a resource, offering guidance as needed to keep everyone on track.
- Check in regularly: Make time to touch base with your team, both collectively and individually, to review their progress and results to date. Offer constructive feedback and go over current project priorities, making adjustments as needed to keep things running smoothly.
- Be forthright about concerns: If an employee is not meeting expectations, or work is not progressing the way it should, take a proactive stance and address the issue right away — rather than waiting to see if it will work out, or taking over an aspect of the project yourself. Whether the issue requires simple feedback, or reconsidering the fit of a team member to a current role, resolve the problem quickly so the project continues to progress.
As an IT manager, your job involves getting the results you need, both short-term and over time. A hands-on management style will help you monitor your team’s progress without meddling, and empower them to generate the right results.
Want help becoming a hands-on manager, or getting away from micromanagement? Contact The Armada Group today!
With 80 million in the United States, most of them already in or about to enter the workforce, millennials are the rising generation. And since 40 percent of current IT professionals will retire over the next 10 to 12 years, millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025.
Of course, this means there will soon be millennials in positions of power at the majority of organizations. As this generation takes the reins of leadership, there will be a new breed of CIO — those who’ve grown up firmly in the digital era and have never known life without the Internet.
How will millennials handle their technology purchasing power? Here’s what they’re likely to do differently from their predecessors, and how the millennial CIO will change the way IT works in organizations.
Big brands won’t be automatic buys
In the earlier days of technology, brands were everything. Organizations stuck with the tried and true: Microsoft, Apple, IBM. No CIOs were willing to risk their jobs investing in a new, unproven startup with any possibility of failure — because if things went wrong, their buying choices would be blamed.
But millennials are less risk-averse than their predecessors, and more willing to try, or even embrace, new technologies and startups. In fact, a study tracking millennial behavior in the workplace from IT industry association CompTIA found that this generation prefers to work with startups run by millennials like themselves — and big brand names simply don’t matter as much, if at all.
Buying choices will hinge on customer experience
The advertising onslaught began in earnest with the millennial generation, who have been pelted with marketing campaigns from every direction — television, radio, Internet, mobile, and more. This advertising overload has made millennials wary and distrustful of larger brands with ulterior motives, and led to a demand for transparency and personalized experiences.
Millennial CIOs are likely to work with vendors who can provide these qualities. They’ll look for brands with platforms that rely less on making money, and more on changing the world through innovation and creativity. Bonus points for brands that are heavily involved in philanthropy — despite the “selfish” tag often applied by the media, over 85 percent of millennials base purchasing decisions on whether the brand stands for something socially and takes meaningful steps to ignite social change.
Employers should remember that this millennial state of mind extends to the jobs they hold, as well as the brands they invest in — in all things, they want to be treated right.
IT decisions may be crowdsourced
Social networking has had a tremendous impact on the lives of millennials, and many traditional advertising channels are all but invisible to them. Instead, this generation relies on referrals, reviews, and peer recommendations to make buying decision in both their personal and professional lives.
Millennial CIOs are likely to want more feedback from all sides before making a purchasing decision. In addition to their peers, they will probably involve their IT team in considering new products, and weigh several competing factors of a given solution or strategy before deciding to implement something new. Because they’re risk-takers, they are also likely to skip seeking permission, opting to ask for forgiveness instead if something goes wrong.
Want more information on millennial CIOs or this incoming wave of millennial workers? Contact The Armada Group today. We successfully place millennials and other top IT professionals in positions across the nation.
The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon is still under debate in many workplaces. Some employers have strict policies that prevent employees from using personal devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops at work. Others allow limited usage under guided policies — and some feel there’s no point trying to stop the flood of devices, and do nothing.
The use of personal devices is spreading faster than any new technology before, and there are already more smartphones than people in the United States. Should your company give in to the BYOD pressure? Here are the pros and cons of allowing personal devices in the workplace.
The Pros: BYOD and consumerization
Allowing employees to use personal devices at work can do more than satisfy their desire to check Facebook on their lunch breaks. BYOD has been linked to the consumerization of IT — an emerging process that’s helping to connect companies with customers, develop stronger consumer relations, and increase employee participation and job satisfaction.
The benefits of IT consumerization through BYOD for your company include:
- Faster communication and more efficient mobile employees through the internal use of personal devices
- Increased consumer relationship building and the ability to shape customer perceptions of your company with consumer tools, especially social networking
- Mobile devices as an HR tool: Younger employees rely on their smartphones and other devices, so refusing to allow BYOD will make it difficult to attract and retain fresh talent
- The self-supporting nature of consumer technologies allows BYOD policies to actually decrease the burden on your IT department and increase IT productivity
The Cons: Limited control and security risks
While there are many benefits to BYOD, there are also downsides — particularly for companies who manage sensitive information digitally that must be protected. Due to the lack of a unified device platform and the non-existence of regulated mobile security standards, a diverse range of devices in the workplace can be difficult to manage at best, and can sometimes pose a high risk for employers.
Some of the disadvantages of BYOD include:
- Managing security: Security is one of the biggest and most significant challenges for BYOD. With multiple employees using multiple devices, it’s difficult to meet both compliance and security standards, particularly for companies in industries that must adhere to certain security measures. There is also the risk of employee devices containing sensitive data falling into the wrong hands.
- Acceptable use control: In any workplace, especially larger organizations, there may be little control over the way employees use personal devices at work. Even with acceptable use policies in place, monitoring every device at all times to ensure that employees follow those policies is not a feasible or cost-effective strategy.
- Performance and productivity: While some BYOD workplaces achieve increased productivity, others see a drop in productivity when personal devices are permitted. This may be due to several reasons. Larger workplaces are unable to monitor all employees and restrict the use of personal devices. What’s more, the addition of multiple personal devices to the business network can strain resources, affecting network performance and connectivity speeds — and ultimately productivity, as employees’ workstations are slowed.
- Data retrieval: Finally, BYOD environments can pose a risk when employees leave the company, taking all of the data on their devices with them. This can be particularly problematic in sales environments, when employees often leave for competitors — but still have access to their previous company’s contacts and information.
When it comes to tech, employees are DIY
Today’s personal devices are engineered for simplicity on the user end. User-friendly interfaces mean that more employees are finding innovative ways to put personal devices to work for their companies — whether or not IT allows it. This can be either a positive or a negative aspect of BYOD environments.
In some cases, BYOD can improve productivity. With an endless list of business tools available on personal devices, from social media to Google Docs, Dropbox, Flipboard, productivity apps, CMS access and more, most employees need little to no guidance integrating their devices with their working lives. It makes things easier for employees — and for IT, who doesn’t have to babysit a network of personal devices and can focus on core responsibilities instead.
However, the perception of mobile devices as DIY technology can also pose risks in BYOD workplaces. Employees may not be as stringent with security measures for their own personal devices as is required for business-related applications, and can neglect to apply security features such as multi-factor authentication. They may also not change their passwords frequently enough, and fail to apply security updates as needed — leaving personal devices open for security breaches.
The decision to allow personal devices in a workplace rests on a number of factors. These policies can be effective in smaller businesses, or those without strict industry security regulations. But for large companies dealing with sensitive information, mobile device standards for security and platform unification may not be advanced enough to permit safe BYOD environments.
If you need help implementing a BYOD policy at your company, contact the experts at The Armada Group today.
Technology is irresistible to humans. We can’t help pressing buttons, flipping switches, or rearranging those tangled cords — and if we’re at work with no clue what we’re doing, it’s only a matter of time until disaster strikes and IT swears revenge while they spend hours fixing what took us seconds to break.
At InfoWorld’s Off the Record blog, IT professionals share anonymous stories of tinkerers, button-pushers, and clueless people who “know what they’re doing” — when it comes to bringing the office workflow to a crashing halt. Here are five of those stories illustrating why sometimes, your employees should really resist the temptation to fix things that aren’t broken.
Network admin disconnects the employees — all of them
A senior network administrator was showing off two relatively new servers in a data center to managers, boasting about uptime with claims that there was no need for an uninterruptible power supply. The admin touched the dedicated circuit breaker for the first server to prove the point — which promptly kicked 500 users off their server connection.
Apparently not satisfied with cutting office productivity in half, the admin then touched the second server’s circuit breaker and severed the connection for the remaining employees. Management decided to increase their investment in server infrastructure.
Operator powers down
A data center operator committed to easing workflows and expediting tasks noticed a loose ring on a piece of glass, and proceeded to improve efficiency by moving it. But the glass happened to be covering an emergency power-off button, which the operator managed to press — causing a blackout and a systems shutdown. The company experienced no long-term damage, but the operator decided to stick to a broader scale for improving efficiency, and leave the little details alone.
Newbie pushes the embarrassment button
A junior tech on a mission to turn off a non-critical server headed to the server room, located the machine, and pushed the button — only to instantly realize it was the wrong server, one housing files that were currently in use by more than 600 employees. Letting go of the button would wreak havoc, but there was no one around and his phone wasn’t getting service.
With a landline phone just 10 feet away, but out of his reach unless he released the critical button, the tech heroically took off his pants and used them to pull the phone over. Help soon arrived in the form of several eyewitnesses, who received the best office story ever in exchange for saving the day.
Paperclip panics the boss
It was a classic computer room — three mainframes with several attached tape drives, four printers (three line, one high-speed laser), dishwasher-sized disc packs, and a huge Halon fire suppression system to protect the investment. As the boss and the operators disagreed on handling shutdowns in case of fire, they met in the computer room for a test run that the boss insisted should include the main operators staying behind to take care of the mainframes.
Just before the test, a stray paperclip dropped into a control box, creating a short circuit that triggered the Halon. But the drill went as planned when the boss was the first one to speed out of the room.
VPs make executive decisions
Admins get a little worried when execs start poking around servers — with good cause, as this story proves. One day, in the middle of a difficult data center consolidation between two tech departments, employees suddenly found they couldn’t get email or connect to certain remote sites. IT traced the issue to server failures, which seemed to have happened all at once.
Amazing coincidence? Not exactly — a couple of VPs visiting the acquired company had ruled the critical servers “unused” with no impact on production systems, and had turned them off.
IT turns on itself
Non-tech professionals aren’t the only ones who make critical mistakes. A large, busy data center tasked an IT pro with deciding which servers were unnecessary and decommissioning them. The tech, perhaps having an off day, chose a critical management server to unplug and bring back to his desk, where he reformatted the hard drive. A flood of issues ensued with the loss of the database, extending to backups and firewalls. The tech was promptly transferred to a less disaster-making department.
While these stories are humorous, they all have a common theme – sometimes your employees need to be hands off. If you need assistance managing employees or finding better adept tech talent, contact the recruiting experts at The Armada Group today.
A job search can be a long and frustrating process. Of course, your ultimate goal is to end up with a great career, in an exciting place to work, with a fantastic salary. You might take a good job, in a nice place to work, with a decent salary. You definitely don’t want a crappy job, in a bad place to work, with a pathetic salary — but if you’ve been looking long enough, you may be tempted to settle for less than you need.
Taking the first job you’re offered might be the wrong choice. And if you happen to get more than one job offer, you’ll have to decide which to accept, and you’ll be left having to turn one down. Here are some tips to help you recognize when you should say no to a job offer — and how to politely turn down a job that’s just not right for you.
Salary: When enough isn’t enough
While there are many different reasons people might want a certain job, from a great benefits package to a nap room for employees, “making a lot of money” still tops the list for many. The salary is an important consideration for any job offer. Yours should be commensurate with your experience and the position you’re being hired for — if the company is offering significantly less than your last job with no subsequent perks or benefits to make up for it, or significantly lower than the average salary for that position, you should probably say no.
In addition to the salary itself, be sure to consider the job responsibilities. You might find that you’ll be making the same amount, but you’ll have a lot more responsibility and will therefore work much harder — without a raise to show for your efforts. Under these circumstances, it may not be the right job.
Responsibilities: When your get-up won’t go
Motivation is essential to long-term career satisfaction. Your initial reading of a position’s responsibilities should motivate you to perform, and the interview should reinforce that motivation on both your part and that of the employer.
If the actual responsibilities don’t seem clear during the interview, be sure to ask questions that clarify exactly what the job will involve. You don’t want to end up doing a job that you’re not qualified for — or conversely, one that will present little to no challenge and result in career stagnation. If there doesn’t seem to be ample on-the-job motivation or room to grow, it’s likely a position you’ll want to decline.
Culture: When you’re a square peg
Finding out about an organization’s culture before you accept a job offer is a must. A toxic environment is a definite don’t, but you also don’t want to work in a culture that is radically different or oppositional to your own working style — such as excessive formalism for creative positions, or a laid-back atmosphere that borders on indifference in a highly competitive industry.
Pay attention to cultural cues during your job interviews, so you can tell whether you’d be a good fit for this particular company. Asking questions such as why the person who held the position before you left, or how employees are rewarded for innovation or extra effort, can elicit telling responses that will help you decide how comfortable you’d be in the environment.
How to say “thanks, but no thanks” politely
If you find yourself with a job offer you have to refuse, it’s best to turn it down gently and graciously, no matter how strongly you feel about the offer. Here’s how:
- Offer your heartfelt thanks. Keep in mind that the recruiter or hiring manager has probably spent several hours reviewing your resume, researching you on social media, and interviewing you. They may have also talked you up to the team before offering you the job. Indicate that you know how much went into recruiting you, and you appreciate their efforts, by saying thanks for specific things the interviewer did, like answering all your questions or introducing you to key personnel.
- Give a brief, understandable reason. It’s rude to leave hiring managers clueless over why you’re declining the position — but if you get too specific here, you could step on toes fairly hard. It’s nearly always best to state that you’re declining the offer after careful consideration because you’ve decided to pursue other opportunities.
- Keep in touch. Even turning down a job offer is not a good reason to burn bridges. You never know when the wrong opportunity might become the right one, or you’ll get the chance to do a favor for a hiring manager by sending the right candidate their way — and you’ll build goodwill for your career along the way.
In the long run, holding out for the right job — and being able to say no to the wrong one — is the best thing you can do for your career. Consider your options carefully before you accept an offer, and don’t be afraid to turn down a position that could put you back on the job search path a lot sooner than you’d planned. Partner with The Armada Group during your job search, to find out how our team of staffing experts can find positions you'll want to say "Yes!" to.
For those who are entering the tech job market, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that IT is a healthy industry with lots of job openings to go around. The bad news is this doesn’t make it any easier to impress potential employers and get hired.
Regardless of availability, the IT job market is highly competitive. No matter where you apply, you’ll need to make a strong case for hiring you over dozens or hundreds of other candidates with a varying range of experiences. And the first step toward making that case is crafting a resume that hiring managers can’t pass up.
If you need help packing your IT experience into your resume, these tips will show you how to create a resume that commands attention.
Claim your identity
Your resume should tell prospective employers who you are — but do you know the answer to that question? Many IT job seekers make the mistake of generalizing in the hopes of appealing to every employer, but this ultimately ends up weakening your resume.
Illustrate your passions
In addition to experience, an obvious passion for the work you do can go far in the eyes of employers. Use your resume to demonstrate how passionate you are. Listing projects is standard, but take it a step further and explain how you took your projects to the next level, and why.
You should also describe any extracurricular activities, student or professional organizations, or volunteer efforts you’ve been involved in prior to entering the IT job market.
Tone down the hype
If you’re crafting a resume with scant experience to back it up, you may be tempted to hype yourself heavily in order to demonstrate confidence. It’s better to use caution in this area — if you’re going to hype, make sure you have the skills to back it up.
Avoid phrasing that indicates you have skills or experiences you’re “working on” or “going to get around to.” If you’re currently taking extra courses or working toward certifications, it’s alright to state that. But it’s not okay to claim you’re already a Java expert because you can make a “hello, world” screen, or to say you’re CCNA certified if you have a class scheduled for next month.
Tailor to your audience
You might be a graduate, but that doesn’t mean you’re through with homework. The most effective resumes are tailored for the particular company you’re applying to — and that means you need to do some research.
Look for the most in-demand skills in your professional area, and those that the company is looking for specifically. Then create a revised version of your resume that highlights those skills. This way, you’ll have no problem breezing through the resume screening software, and a much better shot at catching the eye of a hiring manager.
Skip the filler
When your resume is stripped of hype and contains only core information, it might look a little short. This is when you could be tempted to add some text simply to take up space — and you might list things like email proficiency or Microsoft Excel as skills.
The problem here is that IT employers expect you to know the basics. Pointing out that you have obvious skills won’t win you any points, and will be seen for what it is: an attempt to pad your resume. Don’t worry too much about the length. If you’re a recent graduate or new to tech, employers won’t pass up your resume just because it’s short.
Get on GitHub
If you don’t already have a GitHub profile, or an active account on a similar online IT community, start building one now. The ability to give prospective employers a URL that showcases projects you’ve completed or worked on is worth more than your GPA. With a strong online profile and tangible work results, you can impress any employer enough to move to the next round.
The Armada Group knows what it takes to not only create a strong tech resume, but how to get through every phrase of the hiring process. Contact one of our experts today and learn how we can fill your staffing needs or find your dream placement today.
For IT professionals, the current job market offers good news and bad news. On the upside, there is a definite talent shortage in the IT market — but in potentially less encouraging news, it’s a shortage of the right skills.
IT salary trends also offer a good news / bad news scenario: Salaries and bonuses are going up, but the growth is slow.
Employers can’t fill “hot” tech positions fast enough.
Recruiters and HR professionals agree that when it comes to in-demand IT skills, there just isn’t enough talent to go around. The rapid pace of change in technology practically ensures that when a skill becomes hot and demand explodes, there simply aren’t sufficient numbers of IT professionals who’ve already gained experience with the new skill to supply business needs.
However, IT pros can watch these trends and acquire new skills that will bring them into demand. Computerworld’s IT Salary Survey 2014 breaks down the current top 10 sought-after skills for tech professionals:
Application development. Number one on the list for the third year in a row is this skill, which 49 percent of managers expecting to hire this year are looking for.
Help desk and IT support. Considering the rate of introduction for new technologies, this one shouldn’t be surprising as the second most in-demand skill, with 44 percent of managers looking to fill positions here in 2014. In fact, demand for IT support is rising faster than any other area — it’s up from 37 percent last year.
Business intelligence and database analysis / development. These two separate skills tied for third place on the top 10 list. In both cases, 29 percent of hiring managers have plans to increase their staffing for BI and data-related positions — including database administrators, database developers, and database architects.
The remaining IT skills on the top 10 list include:
- Network administration
- Cloud computing
- Web design and development
- Data management
Beyond hard skills: A shortage of sought-after qualities
One of the difficulties hiring managers face in finding the right IT talent is their own desire to employ the perfectly well-rounded candidate — a skilled IT pro who also has great people skills and problem-solving abilities.
The role of IT workers is changing, and it’s no longer sufficient to deliver a flawless technical performance. Tech pros who are most in-demand are those who can demonstrate flexibility in their approaches, and who are able to break down and explain complex technical concepts in language that executives, co-workers, and end users can understand.
The outlook for IT salaries
In addition to hot job skills, the Computerworld survey looks at salary data in both current and historical senses. This year, average IT salary changes include:
- Average pay increases of 2.1%
- Average bonus increases of 0.7%
- 60% of IT pros reported receiving raises (up from 57% last year)
- 8% reported pay cuts (down from 9% last year)
- 61% of IT professionals feel secure in their jobs
Overall, IT salaries are entering a slow climb, after decreases in pay and bonuses brought about by the recession. In fact, in 2012, less than 50 percent of IT workers reported receiving raises in salary.
While the general correlation between in-demand skills and commensurate salary isn’t quite there yet, IT professionals would be well-served to take on “hot” skills and make an effort to further personal development, in order to meet the soft skill requirement that gives IT candidates an additional edge in the job market.