Trolls

 

Google has taken a strong stance against online harassment, leading to the development and release of its latest tool: Perspective. But how does this new tool help shut down trolls before they can do real harm? By bringing machine learning into the battle.

 

Perspective is designed to review comments left by users on sites using the technology. As it does, each one is rated based on how potentially toxic the comment is to the larger discussion. The model was trained using hundreds of thousands of comments that were deemed toxic by people who viewed them, creating a framework for the operation.

Language and Context

The Perspective API is an offering from Google’s Jigsaw division, a group that increased its efforts in the troll-fighting arena in late 2016. The hope is to create solutions that understand the nuances of human language to identify abusive comments.

 

In its current iteration, Perspective is able to detect insults and potentially harassing comments based on word choice and overall comment construction. Once detected, the comment is scored based on its perceived threat level, often yielding results with higher levels of accuracy than traditional keyword blacklists and with a speed that far outperforms a traditional human moderator.

Goals of Perspective

The goal behind Google’s Perspective is to prevent the posting of potentially harmful comments, at least until they can be reviewed by a site admin or other moderating authority. Comments containing potentially inappropriate content can be flagged for review or removed until they have been specifically approved for display. This can help sites take greater control over the conversations if the content of a message appears to be harmful to their readership.

 

The Perspective API also provides value on the user end. In some cases, a comment can be reviewed before posting, alerting the commenter to the potentially toxic language before they even submit it to the conversation. Another application involves allowing readers to sort comments based on their potential level of toxicity, helping viewers to avoid potentially harassing comments in cases where they aren’t automatically removed.

Potential Risks

There is some concern that solutions like Perspective could be used to censor comments instead of simply creating a safe space for participants. For example, quotes from people involved in current new stories could be automatically removed should the words be considered potentially abusive, even though the discussion is focused on a story about their use. Additionally, it could allow a site to remove comments that don’t speak to their point of view regardless of whether the language or tone is appropriate, limiting free discussion about topics that may be controversial in nature.

 

However, some point out that the use of blacklists can also yield similar results, especially since they are incapable of adjusting for context. Additionally, Perspective is intended to be a step in the comment moderation process and not the sole determining factor in what should be removed and what should stay.

 

Ultimately, Perspective is a tool designed to help moderators maintain control over potential harassment more effectively than currently available solutions. Only time will tell if the efforts actually yield positive results.

 

If you are interested in learning more about today’s technology developments, are looking for a new job in an IT field, or need to find top tech candidates for an open position, The Armada Group can help you on your way. Contact us to speak with a recruitment professional about your needs today.

 

agile dev ops

 

Agile has been on the IT development industry radar for well over a decade, but the principles are just as valuable today as they were at their original creation.  It advocates for continuous improvement through flexibility and adaptive planning.  In comparison, the term “DevOps” is relatively new.  However, it also supports initiatives around improved quality by integrating Automated Delivery and Continuous Deployment into the software development cycle.

 

Separately, each of these strategies brings value to software and IT development teams.  Not only can they speed up the process of creation and eventual release into the market, they also has the potential to improve customer satisfaction and increase brand loyalty.  Additionally, both approaches are known to increase employee engagement, aiding companies with their larger recruitment and retention goals.

 

But, when taken together, Agile and DevOps can accomplish those goals and much more.

Employee Satisfaction

The use of Agile and DevOps in conjunction can increase employee satisfaction.  Often, involved team members are happier with their work which creates a more productive work environment.  This improves recruitment and retention efforts, helping businesses locate top talent and keep them on the payroll over the long term.

 

Projects move forward with greater velocity, and the ability to improve products to create more value becomes a constant.  Additionally, the rapid release of new iterations can actually lower the level of support required with updated releases, as companies focus on implementing a series of small changes instead of large-scale rereleases.

 

Ultimately, Agile and DevOps work towards the same goals of creating better products while simultaneously increasing employee engagement throughout the development cycle.

Customer Satisfaction

Often, when development teams are happier, productivity increases and engagement is maintained.  Additionally, product development is seen as continuous, meaning that new value is created within the product at faster intervals than traditional development approaches.  And a side effect of this is often greater customer satisfaction.

 

Customers can witness the quality of the product increasing over time, and many businesses that use Agile and DevOps techniques are able to keep pace with or stay ahead of the competition, which is critical to long-term organizational success.  In turn, the higher-quality output can increase brand loyalty while also attracting new customers.

A Combined Effect

Agile and DevOps have the same essential goals; they work to bring high-value products to customers and support continuous improvement and evolution.  Since each of these principles focus on streamlining development, businesses that use the tactics are typically more attractive to top talent working in the field.  In those regards, Agile and DevOps are natural allies.

 

If you are looking for your next software developer or are hoping to find an IT manager with experience in Agile and DevOps, The Armada Group can help streamline your hiring processes and find the candidates you need quickly and efficiently.  Contact us today to see what one of our recruitment specialists can do for you.

11 New Ways to Improve the Way You Hire IT Pros

It's been said so often that it's become a cliché: Every business is a software business.

That means that when you're hiring tech talent, you aren't competing for employees just against other companies in your industry. You're competing against every company in America. Coming out on top in that competition means getting smart about your approach to hiring. Here are 11 tips to help you hire faster and hire better.

Know why you're hiring.

Have a rock-solid, detailed job description, and be clear about which skills the new employee needs to have and the skills you want them to have. And while tech hiring is often about checking off acronyms and buzzwords, know what results you want the new hire to be able to deliver, not just which languages they need to be able to code in.

Help candidates be prepared for the interview.

Tests like asking candidates to open a nailed-shut window are almost totally inappropriate for hiring technical employees, but candidates will be stressed even without a stress test. Help reduce their stress so they can present themselves comfortably by making sure they know what to expect before they arrive.

Read the resume before the interview.

You can tell when a candidate doesn't research the company before the interview and it doesn't leave a good impression. Similarly, it doesn't make a good impression with the candidate if you're clearly scanning their resume for the first time while they're sitting across from you. Remember, they're evaluating you while you're evaluating them. So read their resume and check out their Linked In or Facebook profiles before you meet the candidate.

Treat it as a conversation, not an interrogation.

Yes, you need to know about the candidate's abilities and interests, but that doesn't mean you should bombard them with one question after another. Make sure the candidate has a chance to respond and ask their own questions.

Be prepared to be spontaneous.

If you've understood the requirements of the job and reviewed the candidate's resume, you should have a list of questions prepared. Make sure you ask all the necessary questions, but don't be afraid to go off script. Follow up on things the candidate says that intrigue you.

Allow the candidate room to talk.

Give candidates time to respond in detail to your questions. The interview process is about their answers, after all, so unless there's a real time crunch and some questions are mandatory, give them room to provide full explanations.

Pay attention.

When you're interviewing multiple candidates, especially on a single day, it's easy to start tuning out in the middle of the interview and thinking about the other things you need to accomplish. Avoid these distracting thoughts by planning your day around the interview rather than squeezing it into a jam-packed schedule.

Interviews shouldn't be Pass/Fail.

You're trying to hire the best candidate for the job, not just an adequate candidate for the job. Don't simply consider whether the candidate is acceptable; evaluate them in depth to be able to compare multiple candidates and find the best fit.

Let the candidate know what happens next.

Remember, you probably aren't the only company the candidate is interviewing with. Let the candidate know how long it will take to hear from you. That way, they'll know whether they should wait, get back in touch with you, or jump on another offer they've received.

Give every candidate a final Yes or No.

The candidate took time out of their day to come meet you. They deserve the courtesy of a final answer, whether to make an offer or decline to hire them.

Work with a top-tier recruiting firm.

You'll minimize the pain of the hiring process and make it far more efficient if you work with an experienced recruiting firm that can identify potential candidates and meaningfully prescreen them. The Armada Group has more than 20 years experience placing top talent in the technology industry. Contact us to learn how our skilled recruiters can help you hire faster and better.

Published in Recruiting

salaries skyrocketing

The software industry is full of very creative and inventive people. Unfortunately, plenty of those people apply their creativity to the development of malware and other attempts to hack into corporate and government systems. In order to defend themselves, companies need to hire more information security workers with more sophisticated skill sets. Other industry trends also mean a greater demand for IT security engineers. The supply simply can't keep up, leading to rising salaries and great opportunities for those with the skills.

Protecting Customer Information

There are probably very few people in America who haven't received a notice from some company that their information was stolen due to a data breach. The increasing numbers of malware attacks have made information security a major focus at every business, whatever its size. This means a high demand for security experts who can help companies design and implement an effective defensive strategy.

Protecting Internet of Things Devices

The internet doesn't just connect people today; it connects "things," too; the Internet of Things connects billions of devices that are largely hidden from view. While the initial connected devices offered smart-home features like alarm management and thermostat controls, IoT devices are no longer limited to homes and offices. The devices are now in factories, industrial facilities, and even automobiles. The consequences of a hacker taking control of those devices can lead to dangerous situations in the physical – not just online – world. The creators of these devices are devoting increased attention to keeping them secure, increasing the demand for developers with security skills.

Protecting Data in the Cloud

Cloud computing has moved company applications and data outside of a data center on its own property into remote facilities "in the cloud" that are shared with other companies, and outside of the company's direct control. As a result, companies need to take additional steps to protect their data. To do this, they need security experts with the skills to help them develop a strategy around the use of cloud, as well as to implement specific protective measures.

As a result of these trends, salaries are rising for all technical workers who have security responsibilities – including programmers, network administrators, security engineers, and all the way up to the Chief Information Security Officer. For IT experts who want to find a job with job security, information security jobs offer lots of rewards. Contact The Armada Group to start your search today.

top tech jobs that boast

Salary shouldn't be the only factor driving your career; you'll be working for a few decades, so you should make sure that you'll enjoy your hours on the job. That said, a healthy paycheck can definitely boost the satisfaction you experience. Here are five tech jobs that let you take home a big paycheck.

1. IT project manager. Project managers oversee the work of a technical team, developing project schedules, making sure the team delivers quality work, and making sure the clients are satisfied. While the position typically requires a technical background, the functions are primarily administrative. IT project manager salaries average over $98,000.

2. Analytics manager. Companies today are rushing to implement big data and analytics projects to help them understand their customers better and make smarter, data-driven business decisions. Analytics managers with a strong understanding of databases, statistics, and analytics earn more than $97,000.

3. Product manager. While project managers oversee the technical work of building a project, product managers own the scope and functionality of the project. They make the decisions that prioritize features and own the roadmap for product development. Product manager salaries start at around $108,000 and can reach $150,000 or more with experience.

4. Mobile application developer. Smartphones are becoming the dominant way of accessing applications, and many companies now take a mobile-first approach to application development. Developers with skills in iOS and Android app development earn starting salaries around $76,000, rising to $115,000 with experience.

5. Devops automation engineer. While operations roles have traditionally been at the lower end of technology salaries, these positions are becoming more critical as companies migrate to agile, cloud, and continuous deployment approaches. The rise in need for engineers with the skills to automate deployments, monitoring, and support activities has meant a rise in the need for devops engineers and a rise in their salaries. Devops automation engineers now average salaries around $89,000.

There's a wide range of tech jobs, and almost all of them pay well. Browse our jobs database to explore your options. Then contact our recruiters who will help you get hired.

what are the pros and cons

The last few decades have seen a trend towards increased flexibility in the workplace. The 9-to-5 routine is gone, with employees setting their own hours – starting later or working longer hours fewer days of the week. The internet allows employees to work from home, using their own desktop computer. Now smartphones and tablets allow employees to work from anywhere, using their own devices.

Pros of BYOD

Employees love the freedom that comes from this flexibility, plus the ability to use their personal devices that they've tailored to meet their own personal likes and dislikes. For employers, this boost in employee morale isn't the only benefit. They gain from having employees able to work from anywhere at any time. Plus, they lose the costs of providing employees with equipment and support.

Cons of BYOD

The flexibility that comes with BYOD isn't all cost-free, for either the employee or the employer. Even before smartphones and tablets, cellphones meant the employee could be reached at any time, but often all the employee could do in response would be to promise to look into a problem when they got back to the office. Now the employee is expected to use their smartphone to start working on an issue as soon as they get the message. Plus, employees are using some of the data plan that they're paying for to support that work.

For employers, the use of personal devices increases the risks of a data breach. Employees can use their devices to access company networks using insecure Wi-Fi services. Devices can be lost, along with any sensitive data stored on them. Companies can attempt to reduce the risks through mobile device management software, but this means placing restrictions on employees' use of their own devices, which is often not well accepted. Employers may need to provide support to enable employees to access their work applications from a wide variety of device configurations.

Create a BYOD Policy to Address Issues

Companies should define a BYOD policy that balances employees' desires to work their own way with the company's need to maintain control over its sensitive data. A generous BYOD policy can be a perk that helps companies gain and retain employees. The Armada Group has more than 20 years' experience bringing together employers and top talent. We work with you to understand the job and the skills you need to match you with the right employee. Contact us to get started.

stop poor client relationship

Building an application can be a fun challenge, but ultimately it needs to meet the needs of your client. Misunderstandings and miscommunication can lead to a difficult relationship that makes satisfying their requirements nearly impossible. If you notice you're having conflict with your client, take action to salvage the relationship and the project before it impacts your business.

Identify the Problem

First, acknowledge that there's a problem. Take a step back and try to figure out exactly what's gone wrong. You may be able to point to a specific moment after which the relationship changed, which may mean there's a specific concern about the project that you need to address. Or the relationship may have been difficult from the beginning, which can mean that your style of interacting with the client doesn't mesh with their preferred method of communicating.

Communicate With the Customer

Let the customer know that you recognize there's a problem. You may choose to apologize or simply to accept responsibility for improving the working relationship. If there's a problem with the project, identify the ways you'll be addressing the issue to reduce its impact going forward. If the problem is with how you've been interacting, put in place a new way of providing updates and answering questions – perhaps by a regular email, phone call, or demos, depending on the customer's preferences.

Know When to End the Relationship

Sometimes the relationship can't be salvaged. It's better to hand the project off cleanly to someone else rather than continue to struggle. Make sure to do this professionally; giving notice to a client, like giving notice to an employer, is not a time to burn bridges. Provide all the support needed to transition the project. Done well, you can walk about with your reputation intact.

You can't always choose your clients, but you can choose your employees. When you need to bring on top technical talent, The Armada Group can connect you to a large pool of highly qualified candidates. Contact us to learn how we can help you find employees that help you complete projects successfully to maintain good relationships with your clients.

Published in Staffing News

6 tips lead to job security

With the high demand for skilled IT workers, many employees job hop frequently, in search of more challenging, better paying, and more enjoyable opportunities. Other IT employees want stability and job security that allows them to remain in one position and develop in-depth knowledge of a company's business and applications. That stability can be hard to find in the industry, as changes in technology and changes in business priorities can lead to projects being cancelled and jobs being eliminated—not to mention the risk of failure.

But not all IT workers are equally vulnerable to losing their jobs. While no one is indispensable, here are six tips you can follow that can help lead to IT job security.

Emphasize your core capabilities.

Sometimes managers forget that you know other things than the skills that you use in your current job. Find ways to remind your boss that you know other programming languages than the one your current project uses. Also, demonstrate that you're willing to help out in other ways. When there's a problem, your attitude shouldn't be "Not my job"; it should be "I can fix that."

Develop new skills.

Don't rely only on the skills that got you the job. As the industry changes, the technology used by your organization changes. Make sure you participate in training classes to learn the new skills that are being used on new projects within your company.

Develop the business, not just code.

The more you understand about the industry, the company, and its clients, the more effective you will be at developing code that meets the true requirements, not just the ones documented on paper.

Help your company adopt and adapt to new technology.

Don’t just go along with the old way of doing things. Use your understanding of the company to identify ways that new technology can solve problems. One successful idea can lead to lots of visibility for you within the company.

Don't hide behind your desk.

The more people who know you and your capabilities, the more people who will stand up for you and try to find a position for you when jobs are eliminated. Don't just hunker down behind your desk writing code. Participate in cross-departmental projects to meet other developers and managers. Become comfortable standing up in front of a room to make a presentation.

Commit to doing your best.

"Good enough" work really isn't. Your peers and managers can tell if you're just phoning it in. Make a commitment to yourself to continually do your best work with passion.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, job stability just isn’t there. When you need to look for a new position, you need a search firm that will understand your background, your skills, and your interests to match you with the best opportunities. The Armada Group has been connecting job seekers with opportunities for more than 20 years. Contact us to learn how we can help you find your next job.

Published in Staffing News

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.

8 Tech Jobs With Bigger Salaries in 2016

If you want to make more money in your technology career, think about switching to a technical area that's in demand. The competition for talented employees forces companies to raise salaries to win over new employees and to keep them on board once they're hired. Here are eight technical fields that are seeing salary bumps this year.

  • Wireless network engineer

Company networks make use of wireless technology to let their staff work remotely; they rely on wireless network engineers to oversee their wireless LAN. Salaries for this position can range up to more than $150,000. You'll need at least a bachelor's degree in computer engineering or computer science. Certification in wireless networking is useful.

  • Big data engineer

The demand for big data skills, like Hadoop, is higher than ever as more companies start big data projects to make sense of the structured data in their databases and the unstructured data in other sources like online forums.  Big data skills lead to big paychecks, as much as $183,500.

  • Data scientist

Like big data engineers, data scientists work on big data projects. While the engineers focus on the tasks of loading and managing the data, the data scientists perform statistical analyses to find insight in the data. Salaries for this job go over $150,000.

  • Mobile applications developer

Everyone has a smartphone in their pocket these days and the phones are used for much more than phone calls. Besides consumer applications, companies are building mobile versions of their corporate applications so employees can work from off-site. The mobile application developers who create these applications can earn more than $175,000.

  • Content strategist

Content strategists help companies figure out what online content is needed to support business objectives. They may determine content plans and design the user experience as well as make sure content management technology works within the corporate technical environment. Salaries range up to $109,000.

  • Multimedia designer

A page of solid text is boring; today's websites and mobile applications need to be dynamic and interactive. Multimedia designers combine multiple kinds of media to make websites, kiosks, and other applications compelling for end users. With good graphics skills, you'll draw a salary of up to $91,000.

  • User experience (UX) specialist

Deciding how users will interact with websites and applications is the job of the user experience specialist. They combine graphics skills, technical skills, and an understanding of user psychology to define the user experience. Salaries can reach $132,500.

  • User interface (UI) developer

Once the UX specialist defines the user experience, the UI developer does the work to implement it and build it into the application. Salaries are similar to those for UX specialists, topping out around $132,000.

Published in Staffing News
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