How to Show Gratitude to Your IT Team

 

As the holiday season approaches, many managers look for ways to express their appreciation to their IT team. However, if you want your employees to genuinely feel valued, you have to look beyond the acknowledgements that you typically dole out this time of year.

 

Often, to show your staff that you value them, you need to make an effort to ensure they feel heard, and this can’t be accomplished if you only focus on it during the holidays. If you want to make sure your IT team knows they are valued, here’s what you need to do.

 

Say “Thank You” Often

Managers are typically overtasked. This means it is easy to forget how your team keeps projects and daily activities moving forward, as it’s just part of the day-to-day. However, by actively trying to remember to thank them for their contributions, you demonstrate that you value what they have to offer. Plus, it shows that their efforts aren’t going unnoticed and that they are appreciated.

 

It also helps to extend your thanks beyond yourself. Let your team know when stakeholders appreciate the results of their efforts as well, especially if they don’t have an opportunity to interact directly with other leaders or customers.

 

Be an Active Listener

You can’t make your IT team feel heard if you spend the entire conversation merely waiting for your chance to speak. While you plan your response, you miss critical details in the discussion, and this can cause your employees to become frustrated if their input was ignored, even if it was unintentional.

 

When your employees speak, make sure to focus solely on listening. Take in every word and wait for a natural pause before you even begin to formulate a response. That way, you won’t miss a vital part of the conversation and your reply can be more meaningful.

 

Give Them Challenges

While every IT role comes with a certain level of monotony, giving your employees a chance to stretch outside of their comfort zones or take on a challenge can actually show that you value them. By allowing them to use their unique talents to take on something new, you demonstrate your trust in their abilities and interest in helping them grow.

 

See Them as Individuals

In IT, functioning as part of a team is the norm. This makes praising the group more common when a job is well done since multiple people were critical to the overall success of the project.

 

While recognizing the team’s efforts is wise, you also want to see them as individuals. Highlight each person’s achievements to make them feel seen and single them out if they truly went above and beyond. This ensures that every employee understands that they are valued for what they bring to the table and not just what they can accomplish together.

 

If you would like to know about how you can show your IT team you value them this season and beyond, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us with your questions or thoughts today and see how our workplace expertise can benefit you.

 

 

Published in Hiring Managers

Social Media

 

Social media screening has become increasingly popular with companies. Traditionally, it’s used to find additional information about candidates beyond what is contained on their resumes including as a way to learn details that reflect a job seeker’s beliefs and personality.

 

While social media screening can be beneficial, the approach also comes with some drawbacks. Here are some of the pros and cons of using social media screening to find your ideal candidate.

 

Pro: More Than a Resume

By design, a resume is a fairly short document, usually being limited to one or two pages. Even if the applicant provides a cover letter, you’re only getting a glimpse into their skills, abilities, and experiences.

 

Social media screening is a great tool for learning about a job seeker’s capabilities beyond what can be expressed in a resume. You may find blog posts that highlight their knowledge as well as their skill with the written word. Information about less applicable, though still potentially valuable, skills may also be readily available. Portfolios of past work may also be accessible through their social media pages.

 

By screening their social media accounts, you can learn a lot of helpful information about who a candidate is as a professional, giving you a better ideal if you want to continue considering them for the role.

 

Con: Protected Status Details

Most social media users reveal a significant amount of information on their profiles, including items that could associate them with a protected group. For example, a person’s picture may allow you to determine their national origin, race, gender, and approximate age. Posts or affiliation with certain groups may relate to a disability they have or religious preferences.

 

Even if you did not intend to find these details, using them in a hiring decision could be viewed as discrimination. This could lead to a lawsuit or other forms of legal trouble.

 

 

Pro: Spotting Red Flags Early

While perusing through an applicant’s social media profiles, you may discover behaviors or incidents that show the person might not be the ideal employee. Posts that include racist or sexist remarks should be considered a red flag. Images that show irresponsible behavior or messages that speak poorly of their current employer are also warning signs. Even poor writing skills may suggest you may want to move on to another candidate, especially if written communication is a substantial part of the job.

 

Con: Equal Opportunity Concerns

A large portion of the popular maintains social media accounts. However, not everyone takes part in social media, and some of the reasoning is both logical and justifiable. If a lack of active accounts or profiles leads you to discard a candidate, then the job seeker may be inclined to file a lawsuit over that decision.

 

If you do use social media screening, ensuring that those who don’t maintain a presence aren’t immediately cut from contention is a must. Otherwise, you might not only open yourself up to a lawsuit but could also miss out on a great candidate.

 

Ultimately, social media screening can be a powerful tool, but it needs to be managed wisely and should only be a small part of the larger process. If you are interested in learning more or are seeking candidates for your vacant positions, the skilled professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to discuss your business needs today and see how our services can benefit you.

 

 

Published in Recruiting

Community

 

Networking is the activity du jour for upwardly mobile professionals, but many find the concept behind these relationships difficult to wrap their head around, as many feel inauthentic during their pursuit of professional contacts. But having others available to act as sounding boards, provide support, and connect you with opportunities can be vital to your success. So, instead of trying to network, put your effort into building a community.

 

Why a Community?

The primary difference between networking and community building lies less in the activities themselves and more in how you approach them. Networking is often viewed as disingenuous, as some use these connections for the sole purpose of getting ahead.

 

In contrast, crafting a community focuses on creating meaningful relationships with other professionals as the primary goal. The intention is to forge a personal connection between members, making every interaction valuable on some level, regardless if each one forwards your career.

 

It also shifts the focus from short-term gains, such as finding out about job openings, to something with more longevity, building solid relationships. This simple change in mentality can alter how you approach the associated activities, making them feel more comfortable and rewarding.

 

How to Get Started

Even if you embrace the idea of building a community, it isn’t always easy to figure out how to start. One important first step is to assess your own characteristics, particularly those your friends or family members consider assets. This gives you insight into how you are perceived by others, which may differ significantly from how you believe people view you. With this knowledge, you can begin to select your actions based on how you want to be received, allowing you to shift your approach when necessary.

 

Once it comes time to begin building your community, it’s wise to approach each person as you would when you try to make a new friend. First, this relieves some of the pressure associated with forging relationships with career goals in mind. Second, it allows you to connect on a more meaningful level, instead of just what each of you can offer the other.

 

A simple way to start is to connect with people who have similar interests to yours, as bonding with like-minded individuals tends to take less effort. Begin by identifying some common ground and use that as a springboard to move the relationship forward. Then, assume a giving attitude, such as by providing advice or offering support, to help show that you have something to offer.

 

Long-term relationships involve give-and-take over time, so don’t be afraid to extend yourself to help build a connection.

 

Ultimately, creating a community is incredibly similar to becoming friends with new people. And, by approaching it as such, networking can feel less fake and more beneficial to everyone involved.

 

If you are looking for a new opportunity, the team at The Armada Group can help you connect with leading companies in the area. Contact us to see how our professional community can work for you.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

Social Recruiting

 

Even with social media playing a larger part in the daily lives of the masses, many IT hiring managers aren’t entirely comfortable with social recruiting. Often, fears that the process is complicated or that your efforts won’t yield the desired results serve as a basis for the anxiety, but failing to capitalize on what social media has to offer can be detrimental to your hiring goals.

 

If you want to put your social recruiting anxiety to rest, here are some tips to get you started.

 

Start Small

The concept behind social recruiting can be overwhelming, especially when you look at all of the available platforms and numerous lists on best practices. However, it is perfectly appropriate to start small, focusing on a single platform and dipping your toe in the water.

 

Also, don’t let fears about the right and wrong ways to approach social recruiting hold you back. Generally, the process of nailing these efforts involves a significant amount of trial and error. So, concentrate on being professional and courteous first, then adjust your approach based on your results.

 

Be Authentic

Social media isn’t a traditional advertising platform, so simply blasting information about your vacancies isn’t going to do the job. If your posts are devoid of authenticity, they’ll likely be viewed as spam by those who see them.

 

Adding a personal touch makes you and your company seem more approachable, making it easier to start meaningful conversations with potential candidates. Plus, if you also post information that provides additional value, such as useful articles, you’ll give people a reason to pay attention to what you have to say.

 

Vary Your Posts

As mentioned above, bombarding your followers with job announcements isn’t going to lead them to see you in a favorable light. Instead, you need to add a variety of posts to get the best results. For example, follow a post about a helpful article with one talking about a vacancy. You can also mix in questions you’d like to ask the crowd (as they can respond through the comments section), as well as the occasional personal post.

 

Variety is the spice of life, and it makes your posts more interesting when viewed as a whole.

 

Target Your Message

When you are trying to find a particular kind of candidate, it helps to focus your content on information they would find valuable. This enables you to craft a dedicated audience and keep your primary message on track.

 

Along the way, make sure you are clear about who you are in relation to the company. People don’t like being deceived, so being upfront about your position as a hiring manager is often a wise move.

 

If you would like to learn more about social recruiting or are looking for a skilled professional to join your team, the recruitment specialists at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to see how our services can work for you.

 

 

Published in Recruiting

11 Network Administrator

 

Almost every business relies on some level of network to complete daily operations, making opportunities for network administrators particularly plentiful in a wide range of industries. If you are interested in pursuing a career in network administration, here is what you can expect along the way.

What Does a Network Administrator Do?

Most network administrators are tasked with managing the day-to-day operation of a company’s network. This includes planning new solutions, installing the necessary hardware and software, managing upgrades and repairs, ensuring overall system performance, and even handling certain aspects of security. Additionally, many networking professionals interact with other employees who are experiencing difficulties with certain aspects of the system or who need training in related IT areas.

Education and Training

To work as a network administrator, formal education or training is typically required. In some cases, a computer networking program at a community or technical college can be suitable for obtaining and entry-level position in the field, while others find a bachelor’s degree to be a more appropriate option for starting their career. In some cases, a four-year degree focused specifically on networking can be found, making the transition into the working world fairly intuitive. However, a degree in a related area like system administration can also be suitable depending on the specific coursework involved.

 

Like many areas of IT, continuing education may also be necessary to stay abreast of new technologies and other developments. However, some of this can be managed by obtaining and maintaining certifications dedicated to the field.

Networking Certifications

While holding various certifications isn’t necessarily a requirement to become a network administrator, it can certainly help you develop your career. Modern systems involve a wide range of technologies, and obtaining various certifications demonstrates you hold to necessary competencies in each area.

 

In most cases, certifications are offered by specific technology vendors, such the Cisco CCIE or CCNP and Juniper JNCIE-ENT. However, CompTIA also provides one of the most in-demand certifications through their Network+ offering. Often, the CompTIA Network+ is considered an entry-level certification, demonstrating you possess the core competencies required to work in the field, while the Cisco CCIE is one of the most advanced certifications available today.

Important Skills

While technical ability is vital, having a range of soft skills is just as critical if you want to have a successful career as a network administrator. Here are just a few of the additional skills that can help you get ahead:

  • Customer Service
  • Troubleshooting
  • Technical Writing
  • Disaster Planning
  • Stress Management
  • Research and Problem-Solving

Earning Potential

In 2016, the median pay for a network administrator in the United States was just shy of $80,000 per year, making it a potentially lucrative career. Those who reach the top 10 percent of the field can even expect wages well above the six-figure mark at nearly $128,000 annually. Additionally, many of these positions are full-time, meaning they often come with strong benefits packages including items like medical insurance and retirement programs.

 

If you are interested in pursuing or furthering your career as a network administrator, the recruiters at The Armada Group can help you explore your options. Contact us today and see where our services can take you.

 

Published in Staffing News

Successful CIO

 

Many of the world’s most successful CIOs reached their positions through a range of career paths. On the surface, it can seem as like they may be dramatically different personalities. However, many of them share certain characteristics. And these traits are often a sign of great potential in aspiring, new, or current CIOs to develop into strong leaders.

 

To help you understand which traits can be an indication of exceptional leadership potential, here are some key characteristics many of the top CIOs have in common.

Empathy

One of the most important traits strong leaders share is the ability to understand employees and their daily roles and struggles. Being able to relate to them personal level and empathize with their situations allows you to make decisions in a way that supports their needs as well as those of the business.

 

It also involves creating a culture where employees feel secure when they need to speak up and ask for support. By cultivating such an environment, workers are more likely to see themselves as being valued by management, which can be critical for morale and long-term retention.

Confidence

A CIO can’t lead if people aren’t confident in their abilities. Part of ensuring workers feel secure in your decisions is being confident in your actions and abilities. Being able to assume a place of dominance without being overbearing, balancing strength with empathy, creates an ideal blend that employees are more inclined to follow.

Self-Awareness

As a leader, it’s not enough to be able to spot and correct flaws in others; you must be able to do the same with yourself. Everyone, including the most successful CIOs working today, makes mistakes. Being able to monitor and manage your own behavior is key to being a well-rounded leader in the workplace, and can support strong interpersonal relationships.

Adaptability

While being confident in one’s decisions is important, understanding when you need to be flexible and make adjustments is just as critical. Change is a constant part of any business, and being equipped to role with them as they arise makes you more agile on a daily basis. If you are also comfortable adapting when things don’t quite go as planned, you can make positive changes quickly, better positioning the company for success in both the short- and long-term.

Independence

We are all ingrained with the idea that being a strong leader requires being open to guidance from others. While this is true, it is just as important to be able to act independently when the need arises. Being stuck in a place where you can’t make a decision without input from others puts you at a disadvantage while also preventing you from making quick changes when the need arises.

 

Ultimately, no two CIOs are completely the same. However, many of them share these traits, helping to show how they can be used together for greater success. If you are interested in more information about the characteristics of strong leaders or are looking to hire additional personnel to help your business thrive, the recruitment professionals at The Armada Group have the expertise you need. Contact us and see how our experience can support your leadership goals today.

 

Published in IT Infrastructure

The Best Advice For Working With Tech Recruiters

Working with a recruiter can be a great way to streamline your hiring process. By offloading the preliminary screening to a recruiter, you remain focused on your business while the recruiter filters out the unqualified applicants. You and your team only need to take time away from your daily tasks when the recruiter finds a candidate who is a solid prospect for the job.

That's the ideal outcome. If you don't work effectively with your recruiter, though, you can end up seeing many potential hires who just aren't appropriate for the position. To make sure that doesn't happen, do the following:

Choose a recruiter with expertise in technology.

Tech jobs aren't like other jobs, and technical employees aren't like other employees. Choose a recruiter who understands technology, can use appropriate technical terminology, and understands what technical candidates want from their career.

Give the recruiter time.

There are times you contact the recruiter to meet an immediate need, like when a critical employee gives notice, but if you can start working with the recruiter before the need is urgent, you'll get better results. Contact a recruiter as soon as you know you'll have headcount opening up, even if it's not immediate.

Give the recruiter an accurate, detailed job description.

Don't just hand the recruiter a list of keywords and acronyms. Tell them about the level of expertise needed in each skill, and be clear about which skills are mandatory and which are optional. Also, let the recruiter know about the non-technical skills that are necessary for the job. Ask the recruiter to have candidates complete an online skills assessment, or have them ask the candidates a fixed set of simple technical questions (which you provide answers to) in order to guarantee a baseline of competence.

Give the recruiter feedback after candidate interviews.

If the candidates the recruiter sends over don't fit the job, don't simply tell the recruiter "No." Give detailed feedback about the skills and/or personality traits that made the candidate the wrong candidate. With that guidance, the recruiter can tailor their prescreening questions more effectively and increase the chances that the next candidate will be the right candidate.

The Armada Group has spent more than 20 years connecting employers with top-tier technology workers who help companies innovate and succeed. Contact us to find talent with the skills you need to complete your projects and help your business grow.

Published in Recruiting

Can Alternative Education Shrink The IT Skills Gap

One reason it takes so long to fill open IT positions is that there just aren't that many candidates for the jobs. IT jobs are often very specialized and even candidates with solid credentials—degrees from good schools or a few years of work experience—may not tick all the required skills boxes. New educational paradigms may provide a way to find qualified candidates who've built their skills through less traditional paths. Here's a look at some new ways IT job candidates are developing skills to add to their resumes.

Boot Camps

Military boot camps last up to 13 weeks and provide intensive, focused training during that period. New recruits learn necessary individual skills as well as the teamwork needed to complete objectives.

Coding boot camps are similar, except without the shaved heads and yelling drill sergeants. Instead, coding boot camps offer intensive training in programming languages and development methodologies. Students work on projects both individually and in teams. By the time they complete a final project, boot camp graduates are capable of completing entry-level programming assignments.

MOOCs

MOOCs—massive open online courses—put university lectures onto an online platform. These courses may have thousands of students enrolled, and rely heavily on peer review to grade assignments. The quality of these programs varies greatly, with some courses taught by faculty from top universities.

Students often have the option to audit a MOOC without completing any project work. If a candidate lists a MOOC on their resume, find out if they received a certificate attesting to their completion of the coursework.

Nanodegrees

Nanodegrees are an extension of MOOCs. Instead of receiving certificates of completion for individual courses, students follow a specific course of study structured much like a degree program with prerequisites, required courses, and electives. There is also a required project assignment. At the end of the coursework, a nanodegree is awarded.

These programs are highly tailored to skills needed in industry. As one example, the MOOC firm Udemy has partnered with AT&T and other technology businesses to design nanodegrees for front end development, back end development, and other technical roles.

How Capable are Graduates of Alternative Education Programs?

Just as university degree holders differ in their capabilities, the graduates of these programs also will differ in their capabilities. They still need to be screened through technical interviews for their ability. But technical ability isn't the only factor to be considered. Graduates of these alternative programs have demonstrated their motivation to develop themselves for careers in technology. That can go a long way in getting the job done.