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Career Mistakes by CIOs

 

Nearly every CIO took an occasional misstep early in their career as they were learning to navigate the nuances of leadership roles. Luckily, aspiring tech leaders can learn from these mistakes, helping them to avoid similar situations and trappings as they work their way up the ladder.

 

If your career goals involve reaching the upper echelons of management, here are some common early-career mistakes made by CIOs and how to avoid them.

 

  1. Avoiding Maintenance Tasks and Routine Projects

Typically, maintenance activities and routine projects don’t have a substantial amount of visibility within an organization. However, they are essential to a company’s success.

 

Similarly, pushing against prolonging legacy systems in favor of transitioning to the latest and greatest system may seem more exciting, but it may not be in the best interest of the business. And rejecting the idea of improving what’s there can hurt your career.

 

Instead of rejecting the routine, differentiate yourself within that space. Increase your knowledge of existing systems, learn how to use them to create additional value, and strive to improve what is already in place. This will set you apart from professionals who aren’t interested in anything but high-visibility projects, cementing your reputation of always having the organization’s best interest in mind.

 

  1. Not Seizing Opportunities to Become a Top Performer

If you establish yourself as a top performer, it is possible to bypass your more complacent colleagues, even if they have more experience. Those interested in reaching the leadership ranks should work to keep their skills up-to-date and complete their work to the best of their ability every time, regardless of the level of visibility.

 

Don’t be afraid to acquire new skills associated with emerging technologies, even if they aren’t yet in use at your company. That way, if they decide to embrace them, you are ahead of the pack and can help make the transition a possibility.

 

 

  1. Not Proactively Planning Your Career

Becoming a CIO rarely happens by accident. Instead, reaching that level in an organization is usually the result of a well-planned career that was properly executed.

 

If your goal is to become an executive, then identify the skills and experience required to land those roles. Then, pursue opportunities that allow you to move in that direction, networking with other skilled professionals and tech leaders along the way.

 

  1. Being Afraid to Let Go

Whenever a person in a contributor position reaches the leadership ranks, it can be hard to shake that old work persona. But, if you become a manager, your role has changed, and you need to learn to trust your team and release the urge to handle the tasks that used to make up your day to day.

 

Strong leaders delegate and empower their teams, and that means letting go of who you used to be and embracing who you are now.

 

By avoiding the early-career mistakes above, you can position yourself for greater success as you reach the leadership ranks. If you are looking for a new opportunity to move your career forward, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you with leading employers throughout the area. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members today and see how our services can help you take the next step toward your career goal.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

AI

 

Whenever a technology begins to get a foothold in an industry, fears generally arise regarding how the innovations will affect the availability of employment. But even if it does impact those working in specific positions, that doesn’t mean the number of jobs available actually decreases. Often, it just indicates a shift within the job market, and can even lead to more work being available than before.

 

AI has the potential to make workers more efficient, eliminating tedious and repetitive tasks and allowing professionals to focus on duties that require human input. So, instead of eliminating positions in IT, it is more likely to change the nature of those working in the field.

 

Here is an overview of AI in the workplace, and how it could create more jobs, not less.

AI Requires Support

While AI may take certain duties out of the hands of workers, the systems that use the technology will continue to need support. AI systems require human input to determine how the solution needs to react to certain variables. Additionally, issues can present within any system, making the need for troubleshooters a critical part of any AI implementation.

 

AI systems are not self-sustaining. Instead, they represent a part of overall IT strategy, and workers are needed to make any associated goals a reality. Skilled tech professionals are responsible for the creation and implementation of AI-oriented solutions, effectively creating new IT positions specifically designed to support these innovations.

AI Doesn’t Stand Alone

An AI system is only as powerful as the data with which it works, and that means people are still highly relevant to its operation. Additionally, employees are needed to oversee outputs and finalize conclusions or courses of action. Further, workers are responsible for taking outputs and turning them into meaningful information that can be used throughout an organization, a task that AI simply isn’t prepared to manage at this time. Experts in data analytics and engineering are needed to manage duties that require additional intelligence beyond what the system can provide.

 

Without the involvement of data professionals, the AI can’t perform its duties any better than a person who doesn’t have sufficient information to draw accurate conclusions or identify relevant patterns.

Pursuit of More Complex Objectives

Since a primary benefit of AI is the ability to remove repetitive administrative tasks from the hands of skilled professionals, companies have the capacity to refocus their goals in pursuit of higher level development objectives. Businesses will have the opportunity to invest more in the hiring of individuals with critical tech skills like coding.

 

While certain entry-level positions may become less available, more advanced positions might be created. This is essentially beneficial to IT workers who traditional pursue higher education to gain entry into the field, as companies can focus on hiring these individuals over those previously required for less technical tasks that support IT objectives.

 

Ultimately, AI isn’t going to eliminate workers across the board. Instead, it will change what kind of tech professionals are needed and how their daily tasks are managed. If you are interested in pursuing a new IT position related to AI or any other specialty, The Armada Group can help you explore your options based on today’s job market. Contact us to discuss your ideal job and experience how our services can benefit you.

 

Published in Staffing News

Collaborative

 

Many employees and managers alike feel that time spent in meetings is less productive than it could be. Often, these events take a significant amount of time and may not actually be as helpful in developing new breakthroughs within an organization. This is especially true if the people in attendance stay restricted to particular work groups or divisions, as it prevents information sharing from getting innovators involved from other areas.

 

However, there are methods available for creating a collaborative environment that supports communication between workgroups, allowing those with differing perspectives to participate when working towards common goals. Additionally, by implementing the correct tools, collaboration efforts can be directed with the simple click of a mouse.

Structured Meeting Agendas

One of the biggest issues that prevents meetings from being productive is the lack of a clear agenda. By structuring the event, participants are fully aware of what should be covered, as well as the overall goal. Meetings without structure can easily drift off target, leading to time being spent on issues that should not be of immediate concern. And, when this occurs, objectives are missed and valuable time can be wasted.

 

Companies that value collaboration treat meetings like assets. They understand that time spent on any cause throughout the workday is valuable and should be managed accordingly. That way, everyone gets what they need to move forward on organizational goals – without any time being wasted on topics that do not need to be covered.

Tool Implementation

Collaboration-oriented software solutions have made connecting easier than ever, as long as they are used in the right way. Giving employees options regarding how they reach out can help streamline the time spent in meetings, by providing alternatives to traditional in-person attendance, while also allowing organic innovation to occur more easily.

 

Solutions that integrate audio and video conferencing, mobile messaging, and traditional email can get everyone connected whenever the need arises. Additionally, quick links to online meeting platforms can be sent through a variety of mechanisms, ensuring everyone has the ability to attend without having to dig through old messages or track down original meeting invites.

 

Often, when critical members of a team cannot be in attendance, the ability to innovate through collaboration is limited. By making the ability to communicate highly accessible, members of work groups and larger teams can touch base regardless of whether they are in the office, at a remote location or even on the road. This ensures key personnel can always participate, providing their knowledge and perspective whenever required.

 

These technologies also allow impromptu gatherings to occur with greater ease, ensuring that when a good idea hits the floor employees can pursue the opportunity immediately instead of waiting until the next scheduled meeting. By allowing these conversations to take place naturally, innovative ideas are quickly shared, helping the group keep the creative juices flowing whenever inspiration strikes.

 

If you are looking for employees to help implement collaboration software solutions or to contribute to larger organizational discussions and innovations, The Armada Group can help you get the employees you need. Contact us today to see how a new employee can help you reach your next breakthrough.

 

Published in IT Infrastructure

the professional way to cancel

Just like you don't want to burn bridges when you quit your job, you shouldn't burn bridges when you need to cancel an interview. You never know when your path will cross with that recruiter or that potential hiring manager again. Leave a positive impression when you cancel an interview by handling it like a professional.

Let them know you aren't coming.

Unless you're incapacitated, there's no excuse for simply not showing up. Inform the interviewer that you're unable to make the appointment. Try to give the company enough time so people aren't left with holes in their schedules.

Apologize and offer a reason.

Don't grovel, but offer a sincere apology for disrupting schedules. You shouldn't make a lengthy justification, but it's polite to offer a reason for the cancelation. If you don't want to share details, just explain that you're unable to make the meeting.

Use the phone.

Text messages are too casual for an important professional communication like this. Use email if you need to, but using the phone is more personal. Particularly if you want to reschedule rather than cancel permanently, having a phone conversation conveys that you are interested. It also allows you to coordinate a new interview time without a lot of back and forth emails.

Ask to reschedule.

Don't rely on the company reading between the lines of your message. If you want to come in at another time, be explicit and ask to reschedule. If you aren't interested in the position any longer, tell the company you've decided not to pursue this opportunity.

Take a moment before you cancel your interview to think through your reasons for canceling and to make sure they're good ones. If you're canceling because you're afraid you aren't qualified for the position, reschedule instead of canceling completely, and boost your confidence by doing a practice interview or reviewing the technical subject matter. Don't talk yourself out of pursuing what might be a great opportunity.

If you've canceled an interview because you knew the opportunity wasn't right for you but are still looking for a new job, The Armada Group can help. We've been matching great candidates to top open jobs for more than 20 years. We'll take the time to understand what you're looking for and match you to jobs that will challenge and excite you. Contact us to get the interviews that get you your dream job.

Published in Staffing News

why are python careers

Picking the right technology to learn is important to position yourself for job and career success. Languages and technology vary in how in-demand they are in industry; if you choose to learn a language that's in high demand, you'll have lots of opportunities to choose from. For developers today, the language to learn is Python.

Python is Easy to Learn

Learning Python is relatively easy, compared to other programming languages. The syntax isn't cluttered with brackets; you don't need to declare variables and can just use them as you need them. There's less code needed to accomplish basic tasks. Because the language is object oriented and has built-in support for data structures like lists, programmers can quickly start building application functionality rather than application infrastructure. Because it's interpreted, you can easily test the code you write as you go along, rather than needing to define a complicated and time-consuming build process. 

Python is Used in Industry

One of the biggest companies pushing Python is Google, where it's used as part of the Google App Engine and YouTube. With Google a major driver of technical innovation, it's no surprise that its support for the language has boosted its popularity. Other major companies that use Python cross every industry you can think of—the list includes Yahoo, Industrial Light & Magic, ABN AMRO, the National Weather Service, and more.

These companies like Python because it is efficient and powerful, and there are numerous libraries and frameworks that make developing substantial applications. Django is a popular framework for web development, and other frameworks provide features such as numerical analysis. The language is also portable, with versions that run on any platform, giving companies the flexibility of supporting multiple operating systems.

Python Gets You Hired

There's continued to be an increase in need for Python programmers, making them among the most in-demand and highest-paid developers. If you've got top Python skills and are ready to take on a new opportunity, The Armada Group can help you find a job that'll challenge and excite you. Contact us to start your search. 

Published in Recruiting

Stay on Top of These 10 Influential IT Recruiting Trends

1. Job seekers have the power. When the economy was tighter, recruiting was more straightforward. There were more job seekers, and they had fewer jobs to choose from. With the economy much improved, companies need to work harder to attract candidates and speed up the process to avoid losing a great candidate.

2. Personalize the recruiting process. You'll need to woo each candidate as an individual. Even for non-executive roles, searching for top candidates becomes more like executive search.

3. Money talks. Along with getting to making an offer more quickly, companies need to make more compelling offers to win over candidates. Sign-on bonuses and paid relocation are no longer a thing of the past. Expect to have to outbid simultaneous offers or counteroffers from the candidate's current employer.

4. Phones are the dominant technology. The recruiting action all happens on mobile phones, now. Candidates expect not only to have interviews over the phone, but also to access the company's careers information on their phone. If your site isn't mobile-friendly, the candidates may not be friendly, either.

5. There's more opportunity for recruiters, too. Companies won't only be competing for IT staff, they'll be competing for the recruiters who find the IT staff. Companies may have to make competitive offers to hang onto their recruitment specialists. Even companies that previously used internal recruiters may need to turn to agencies for assistance due to being shorthanded.

6. Candidates love video. Static text isn't good enough anymore. Businesses need to integrate video into the recruiting process, with videos about the job opportunities and life at the company. Video interviewing can be a convenient way to interview candidates without having to bring them to the company site.

7. Resumes are passé. Candidates don't want to upload a resume to each potential employer, and they hate having to correct parsing errors after it's loaded into your system. Streamline the process by working with their online profile at sites like LinkedIn. And because resumes can hide a candidate's strengths, also review a portfolio of their work. Seeing what they've actually done will give you a much better perspective of what they're capable of.

8. Just-in-time hiring isn't fast enough. If you only look at resumes when a position is available, you'll miss out on great candidates. In today's job market, top-quality engineers are in and out of the market fast. When an impressive resume crosses your desk, consider making an offer even if you don't have an open position. You're better off already having top talent on staff when a role opens up, compared to searching for weeks while being shortstaffed.

9. Hire people you already know. The best person to work for you may be someone who worked for you previously. Unless someone was terminated for cause, bringing back someone who already knows how your business operates gives you a "new" hire who can settle in and start producing quickly, rather than needing to get familiar with how to get things done.

10. Emphasize workforce planning. Increased turnover and a competitive hiring market means you need a better plan for keeping your employees working for you and developing their talents. Improved use of data will help companies develop effective policies, as predictive metrics become further developed.

Published in Staffing News

High Tech Invention

In comic strips and action movies, robot exoskeletons give inventors superpowers. In factories and other work environments, robot exoskeletons support workers, to improve occupational safety.

The need for improved occupational safety is large. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than 3 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses in private industry during 2013. The impact on productivity is large, with a median eight days off from work due to injury or illness. The number of fatal work injuries was much smaller, at about 4,500, but the personal impact is, of course, immense.

Sit Down On the Job

For assembly line and other industrial workers, repetitive stress is a common medical issue. The Chairless Chair supports workers in a half-sitting position, customized to their specific body shape. Wearers don't have to drag a chair with them as they move about; the Chairless Chair moves with them.

Lend A Hand

The Ekso Works, like the Chairless Chair, transfers the user's weight to the ground. It goes a step further in having a sprung arm that can handle a heavy tool, making it practically weightless to the person wearing the exoskeleton. Another exoskeleton, the Fortis, lets wearers lift heavy objects effortlessly in a standing or kneeling position. Wearers will be able to work more easily in areas where bench-mounted tools can't be used.

Put a Spring in Your Step

A device that fits around the wearer's calf, the Walking Assist Clutch, literally puts a spring in the wearer's step. The device is triggered at a specific moment during a stride and increases the efficiency of walking by seven percent. This would benefit workers who are on their feet all day long, like nurses or a police officer walking a beat.

Benefits Beyond the Workplace

Businesses are looking at these devices to provide more ergonomic work environments, and increase employee productivity as well as minimizing health expenses due to employee injuries. For employees, benefits include the reduced risk of injury, and no lost wages from unpaid time off. Outside the workplace, exoskeletons will enable paralyzed individuals and frail elderly to maintain independence. In those cases, the exoskeleton is indeed delivering a superpower.

Buy Into New Processes

Information technology teams are often eager to work with the latest technology, but they aren't always that eager to work with new processes, which are seen as management fads with little benefit to the technical workers. If the team doesn't support the new process, it may fail, reinforcing that opinion. Managers should take steps to get the team to buy into the new process, so they are invested in its success. Here are some steps that will help your team buy into a new process and help it succeed:

Explain the process and stand behind it

When you talk about the new process with your team, your belief in it has to be evident. If you aren't able to convincingly explain what the new process will achieve, the team won't be motivated to make it work. If you can show the team how the new process will benefit them – not just you or the business - that's even better. Even the most dedicated employee has a little bit of "what's in it for me?" inside them.

Don't be a dictator

Even if you're the one mandating the new process, if you take input from the team, they'll feel ownership of the process and want it to succeed. When someone offers a good suggestion, integrate it into the process. Also, realize that developing a good process requires iteration. Be willing to modify the process, once you see how it works in reality.

Stay involved

Don't mandate a new process and then wait for a final report. It may take time to fully roll out the process, and you need to be aware of how the team is responding each step of the way. Have regular feedback meetings, and let the team know that getting feedback is a priority. If you're not hearing any complaints, don't assume everything is going fine. Schedule one-on-one discussions with different team members to get their opinions; you may get feedback they weren't comfortable offering in a public forum.

A team is also more likely to believe in the value of a new process if they hear about benefits from a peer, not just management. If the new process is rolled out over time, rather than implemented across the entire company simultaneously, non-management employees who found the change to be positive can become evangelists for the change. Let them spread the good news to your team and share their excitement. They can get your team excited about the change, too, which goes far beyond simply accepting the change, and is much more likely to make the change succeed.

Published in Hiring Managers

High Tech Bags

Until recently, the biggest technical innovation in luggage was the wheel. Now, though, bag makers are teaming up with tech firms to make smart bags that will streamline the travel process and make lost luggage a thing of the past. Samsung and Samsonite, plus other vendors, are adding features that mean bags do more than just hide your dirty laundry from prying eyes.

No More Bag Check-In Line

You won't have to stand in line to check in your bags with the new smart luggage. Because of a chip inside, these bags will know when they've arrived at the airport and talk to airline systems automatically. You'll get a unique baggage ID sent to your phone. Just drop the bag on a conveyor belt. With some bags, you'll avoid overweight bag fees because the bags have a built-in scale and it'll tell you before you leave home if you've packed too much.

No More Dragging Your Luggage

Human traffic patterns in an airport concourse can seem more chaotic than highway traffic patterns, so self-propelling luggage may be as difficult as a self-driving car, but it's coming. A motor in the bag will let luggage trail close by your heels as you walk through the terminal. Don't worry about forgetting to keep it with you, because a proximity detector will alert you if you walk off without it. It's too bad bags won't self-propel themselves into the overhead storage bins, though!

No More Hanging Around the Luggage Carousel

If you've ever raced through the terminal only to wait interminably for your bag, you can now take your time. Bags will send a message to your phone when they've made it off the plane and head for the carousel. Once everyone uses this feature, you won't need to fight through the crowd to get close enough to grab your bag. If everyone has a self-propelling bag, it's possible the luggage carousels will be eliminated and your bag will find its own way over to you.

No More Lost Luggage

Worse than an interminable wait in baggage claim is an interminable wait that ends when you realize your luggage isn't going to come. If your bag doesn't show up, the new smart bags can tell you where they are, so you don't have to wait for the airline to track it down. 

Introverts More Extroverted

Many roles in IT are, by nature, solitary work. But as user experience becomes more important, it is vital that your IT team be able to engage effectively with both internal and external consumers.  Introverts may not choose to become more extroverted on their own. You may need to provide your team with both the encouragement and tools they need to increase their interactions with co-workers and customers. Consider these tips to help your introverted IT people engage more comfortably.

Expand their comfort zones

Many introverts who find personal interaction uncomfortable are quite chatty and engaged online. Continue to provide channels for continued online interaction, but also schedule some one-on-one and small-group meetings to slowly get them accustomed to increased engagement.  Provide a mix of group and solo time for best results. Even those who make the leap to becoming more extroverted will likely need some alone time to recharge.

Bolster team engagement

Schedule team-building activities for your IT team to give them the opportunity to interact with employees in other departments and get to know them on an informal basis.  Focus especially on group activities that require different competencies, work styles and cooperative efforts to succeed. The skills and relationships forged in team activities can be brought into the workplace to increase confidence and comfort on the job.

Share what they know

As with most people, introverts are more confident when speaking on topics they understand in depth. Begin a program for IT professionals to give presentations on their areas of expertise. Start with small groups or internal lunch-and-learns.  Allow attendees to ask clarifying questions as needed, and solicit feedback on what they have learned.

Once the speaker has gained confidence in this controlled environment, consider larger venues for the most successful speakers. This can help position the employee and your organization as thought leaders.

As technology grows increasingly consumer-centric, it's critical that every employee is able to interact at every level. Change the internal perception of techies as being standoffish and introverted by providing opportunities for interaction. With increased visibility comes increased engagement, which is good for both the employee and the organization.

Published in IT Infrastructure
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