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How to Stand out in Your Next IT Interview

Most IT candidates view job interviews as a passive event. They’ll prepare as well as they can ahead of time for the questions that are most likely to be asked, but once the interview starts, the hiring manager directs the conversation. It’s the interviewer’s job to ask questions, and the candidate’s job to answer them.

But if you change your perception of job interviews, you can become an active participant with a role in steering the conversation, and substantially increase your chances of getting hired.

Essentially, a job interview is a sales presentation. You are the salesperson, and the product you’re selling is yourself — your skills, your experiences, and the potential value you can bring to the company. Preparing for your next IT interview the same way a sales pro puts a presentation together can help you stand out, get noticed, and get the job.

These tips will help you develop a powerful sales presentation that will sell hiring managers on you.

Know your prospect

Before the interview, research the hiring manager and find out as much as you can about their profile and background. LinkedIn is typically a good place to start, and you may also find some information on the company website. Look for potential icebreakers or any connections you can mention.

While you’re on the company’s website, gather background information on the company itself — make sure you understand their markets, products and services, and brush up on their history. Note the name of the CEO as well.

Take the wheel

At the interview, once you’ve introduced yourself and broken the ice, start out by asking the hiring manager a few specific questions that illustrate your knowledge and interest. Your questions might be related to the particular job, the company, or the hiring manager personally, such as “What was it that attracted you to this company?”

While you’re asking the initial questions, confirm your understanding of the essential requirements for the position with the hiring manager. This sets the stage for your presentation, and helps you uncover any additional interest areas that you may be able to address to strengthen your position.

Connect the dots

When the hiring manager asks traditional interview questions, answer by relating your skills and experiences directly to the job requirements you’ve already confirmed. If you have nice-to-have or non-essential expertise, feel free to highlight those areas with examples that tie them into the role.

In addition, relate your best professional achievements and success stories that tie into the confirmed requirements. You can also share information that falls outside your professional life, to highlight your personality and cultural fit.

Illustrate the future

Let the hiring manager know that you’re looking for a career, not just a paycheck, by asking questions about the company’s current and future projects. Ask about expectations for performance, and listen for potential “hot buttons” where you can speak directly to your experience in handling these issues.

Finally, close out your presentation by restating your genuine interest in the position, summarizing the benefits of hiring you — and asking for the job.

With preparation and groundwork, you can sell yourself as an IT candidate and impress hiring managers with a stand-out presentation. Contact The Armada Group to learn more about how to get out there and close the sale!


Published in Recruiting


4 Important Tips for Underpaid Workers

With the recession not quite behind us yet, many people feel that they’re lucky to have a job — even if they aren’t being paid what they’re worth. But being overworked and underpaid takes a real toll. It places undue stress on your work environment as well as your family and personal life, and can quickly lead to burnout or even serious health problems.

How do you know if you’re underpaid? If you suspect your salary is lower than it should be, you probably don’t want to start asking around the office about how much everyone else is making. Fortunately, there are more covert ways to find out what your salary range should be:

  • Try a salary calculator: Many career-focused websites such as Salary.com provide aggregate data on salary ranges for a variety of different careers. If you’re looking for a rough estimate, this is a quick and easy way to find it — but remember these sites may not calculate education, experience, certifications, job locations, and other factors that can influence salaries.
  • Browse job boards: Looking at recent listings for positions similar to yours on sites such as Monster.com or Careerbuilder.com can also give you general idea of the expected salary. You may find listings that match your experience and location. However, you might have to scour a lot of listings to find numbers, since many employers describe salary offers as simply “competitive” or “depending on experience.”
  • Ask a recruiter: A recruiter’s job is to match candidates with positions and “sell” them at the highest possible price. Recruiters are valuable sources of information when it comes to salary, because they know exactly how much employers are paying for a given position and have worked with candidates at several levels of education and experience.

If it turns out that your current salary is lacking, there are steps you can take to remedy the situation and start earning what you’re worth.

Ask for a raise

The fastest route to getting the salary you should have is to ask for it. Once you’ve researched your position, you’ll have evidence of the fair market value you should expect to receive, and you can present it to your boss when you make your case for a raise. But if your manager or supervisor is unapproachable or refuses to consider it, you have more options.

Ask for equity

If you’re underpaid and working for a small or startup company, you may be able to make up the difference with equity. Talk to the owner about the possibility of sharing ownership — perhaps a 10 or 15 percent interest in a rising business would make it worth temporarily working for less. Stock options are another possibility for gaining equity and increasing the value of your work.

Resign from the job

Barring a raise, shared ownership, or any effort to address your underpaid status, it may be time to say “take this job and shove it.” You can be polite in your resignation and give proper notice — but if there’s no chance you’ll realize a fair salary any time soon, your days at your underpaid job should be numbered.

Sign on with a recruiter

Looking for a new job can be a long and difficult slog, especially if you resign because you’re underpaid. Recruiters can make your job search process faster and easier, and ensure that you receive the highest possible salary for your skills and experience.

Once you leave an underpaid position, you don’t want to wait around too long to find a job that pays what you’re worth. Working with a recruiter gives you more options and a faster path to a job you’ll love.

Want to know more about how a recruiter can help you get what you’re worth? Contact The Armada Group today.



Published in Staffing News


Large-Scale Hadoop Installations are the New Norm

What web-based company has the world’s largest Hadoop cluster? Surprisingly, it’s not Google, Facebook, or even Twitter — it’s Yahoo!, with 455 petabytes of data stored on over 100,000 CPUs in more than 40,000 servers. The company’s biggest Hadoop cluster, at around 4,500 nodes, is around four times the size of Facebook’s largest cluster.

Hadoop is a hot topic in today’s tech world, especially when it comes to Big Data. As more organizations work toward mining and implementing Big Data strategies, the use of Hadoop on a larger scale is set to become the new standard for practical, results-driven applications of data mining.

What is Hadoop, and why does it matter?

At the most basic definition, Hadoop is a free, open source software library that makes useful, cost-effective processing of Big Data possible. The Hadoop library, developed by the Apache Software Foundation, is built on underlying technology that was invented by Google to index the massive amounts of data collected by the search engine and transform it into relevant results for searchers.

Hadoop consists of four modules — Hadoop Common, Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), Hadoop YARN, and Hadoop MapReduce — and includes several compatible add-ons such as programming languages and databases, which enhance the real-world applications of the library.

Providing scale and flexibility for large data projects, on a basis that’s affordable for both enterprise and small business, makes Hadoop an attractive solution with endless potential.

The appeal of Hadoop

As Yahoo! has come to realize, Hadoop provides a wide range of flexible, scalable capabilities and vastly increased potential for the real application of Big Data. In most large organizations today, data is siloed — stored and worked with in separate systems with little to no cross-functionality. Large-scale Hadoop installations make it possible for organizations to share data quickly, easily and effectively, with strong security measures still in place to prevent data breaches and malware attacks.

With an organization’s data stored collectively, Hadoop installations can then run YARN to manage data ecosystems. Hadoop YARN is a framework that provides job scheduling and cluster resource management, enabling the system to spread resources out sufficiently across multiple machines and deliver increased flexibility. The YARN framework also maintains redundancy to guard against data loss and system failure.

With YARN, engineers and developers can work immediately on small clusters within a larger deployment, and collaborate with others without sacrificing security.

Combining Hadoop with other systems

Within Hadoop, there are several distinct systems that can be operated independently, but still remain part of the larger ecosystem. This includes elements such as Hbase, the non-relational distributed database for Hadoop; Pig, a high-level platform for large-set data analysis; and Hive, a data warehouse infrastructure.

Hadoop has the capabilities to handle large swaths of an organization’s data needs, but depending on the individual company, other systems may be used to supplement a Hadoop installation — and the library integrates well with popular enterprise systems. For example, Yahoo! employs other systems for email serving, and photo serving in Flickr, but stores copied data from these systems in Hadoop.

The rise of Big Data and the need for efficient, cost-effective analytics has paved the way for Hadoop to become standard in organizations of all sizes. To find out if your organization should be undergoing a Hadoop installation, contact the IT experts at The Armada Group.

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Published in IT Infrastructure


Why and How to Say no To a Job Offer

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.



Published in Staffing News
Wednesday, May 28 2014

Tech Professionals Facing Change

As the microevolution of IT continues, positions and occupational roles change functions. A helpdesk specialist, for example, has entirely different focus now than even a decade ago – and for that matter, requires a different skillset. With the rapid changes over the last few years, here are some of the professions facing the greatest change.

1. Business Intelligence Analyst. This position has seen a drastic shift recently, in part brought on by big data and cloud solutions. The collection, accumulation and assimilation of big data into actionable intelligence has become the primary purpose for many business analysts and business intelligence professionals, and it’s rapidly becoming an important role to fill as more companies are searching out aggregated data for their own purposes.

2. Application Developer. Speaking of big data, there are different needs for the data. A Business Intelligence Analyst will need a means to access and analyze data. Because there are so many different types of data and databases – and purposes behind them – having an application developer to create the method is a pivotal role and changing the face of IT.

3. Programmers. Similar to the circumstances of the app developers, programmers need to know multiple languages – unlike a few years ago when one could learn Java and be gainfully employed, or land a job based exclusively from C++ expertise.  Having a comprehension of a half dozen languages is common practice, even if you only use one or two frequently.

4. Mobile. Mobile browser optimization, mobile app developers, and localized SEOs have all fuelled the mobile arena. WAP browsers have gone by the wayside, and Mobile Chrome, Safari, Yelp, Poynt and Google Maps have replaced them. One report estimated as many as 60% of product inquiries are performed via mobile, and companies have caught on to this trend. 

IT has always been a very rapidly evolving field, and the last few years have held no exception – except, if anything, to evolve faster. The face of IT will continue to evolve as business needs arise, and will be shaped and reshaped over the coming years.

At The Armada Group, we stay at the forefront of that curve.  We recruit for some of the most innovative companies in the world, and we retain elite IT talent. Based in the heart of IT growth in Silicon Valley, we want to help your business grow both locally and around the world. If you are looking for technical employment in the Bay Area, contact our team today. 


Published in Recruiting

Are you looking for IT jobs in Mountain View?

The last few years, there has been a particular shortage of Linux engineers. This has caused a major skill vacuum as hundreds of jobs go unfilled. Considering the vast majority of enterprise and business applications run off Linux, as well as most servers, this creates a problem for employers.

To address the occupational shortages – which are accompanied by lucrative salaries – many IT professionals and software engineers have switched from other areas to Linux, and many students have graduated with a focus on learning and entering Linux. If you’re considering moving to Linux, here are 3 skills (among many – the choice was difficult) you’ll need to know.

1. Java is one of the foremost programming languages in the world, and arguably the first true object oriented language. The demand for programmers/developers in Java is astronomical, and the pay rewards accordingly. Whether you’re planning on being a Java developer, or another Linux area entirely, it will benefit you to learn at least the basics (and probably a little more) of Java.

2. OpenStack is an open source cloud computing project which runs off Apache source code. Cloud computing, along with Big Data, have been incredibly influential and have revolutionized the last few years in computer science and IT structures. Understanding Open Stack will prove very marketable, and work on open source projects make you stand out from the crowd.

3. MySQL query language has proven to be incredibly helpful, especially in the exploding days of big data. Because of the vast amounts of data available, having a solid database is becoming more and more crucial for businesses to operate and effectively compete. Therefore, having skill in MySQL is greatly beneficial for job availability.

Our Honorable Mention goes to Apache as the most widely used HTTP server, making it incredibly important to know. Apache is also open-source, and often runs on Linux.

Regardless of which Linux skill or experience you have, Linux engineers are high in demand. At The Armada Group, we can help you find the next step in your career. Regardless of which Linux skills you have, we can help you find a very competitive career opportunity. We work with some of the largest and fastest growing companies in the country.

If you are looking for Linux based job opportunities in Mountain View, contact our team today.

Published in Recruiting