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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

Start Using Your IT Talent to Its Full Potential

More companies may be moving away from IT cost reduction, but the responsibilities of IT departments continue to expand. In addition to standard operational and tactical activities, IT is often expected to drive innovation, foster business agility, and increase its own value to the organization — with the same limited resources.

For many IT departments, the best response to this challenge is to get more from their existing resource pool, particularly IT talent. The trick is ensuring that your team must stay motivated to be more efficient and productive, without burning out.

Here are three strategies you can use to unlock the potential of your talent, generating heightened productivity and innovation:

Encourage time management with “zones”

Improved time management leads to greater efficiency, but your team may not know how to get started. There are so many time management strategies to choose from that simply deciding on a method to implement can be challenging. As an IT manager, you can help by encouraging everyone on your team to learn and use the same strategy.

Zone-based time management is an effective method that works well in an IT environment. This strategy, developed by Eric Bloom of Manager Mechanics, is based on the idea of being “in the zone” — a time of peak productivity when a person is focused, motivated, and knows what needs to be done. In zone-based prioritization, IT pros tackle complex tasks like software development and business case writing while they’re in the zone, and perform less demanding activities at other times, according to their alertness levels. Here’s a look at the breakdown:

  • In the zone: High-level tasks (development, project planning, business writing)
  • Alert but not creative: Structured tasks (status report writing, project plan vs. actual tracking)
  • Functional but not up for a challenge: Routine tasks (returning emails, expense reports, reviewing spam folders)
  • Basically not sleeping: Low-level or busywork tasks (cleaning their office, deleting old email, filing things)

Develop talent diversity with cross-training

It’s a well-known fact that training existing employees is cheaper and less time-consuming than hiring new employees, yet many IT departments avoid this approach — whether it’s because they’re too focused on the idea that “hot new talent” must be acquired, or they believe multi-disciplined IT pros are less effective because their skills are spread out further. However, cross-training is a smarter, faster, and longer-lasting solution not only for getting more out of your existing talent resources, but also for increasing employee loyalty, satisfaction, and motivation levels.

The majority of IT professionals appreciate the opportunity to learn new skills, especially if they’re provided training on the company dime. Cross-training boosts employee retention, while equipping your organization with the right tools to handle constantly shifting business requirements. When everyone on your IT team is able to tackle multiple disciplines, any given project will be smoother and more efficient.

You’ll also have happier developers and engineers who are motivated to stretch their skills, try new things, and drive innovation and success for the company.

Schedule personal creative time for your talent

For top IT talent, technology is often more than a job — it’s a way of life. Many IT pros have a side project or three going on, in addition to what they’re doing at work. And if you allow your talent on-the-clock time for pursuing their own creative ideas, those side projects could ultimately benefit your organization.

The best way to let your team tinker with personal projects during the workday is to actually schedule creative time, building it right into your company’s planning process. Set a percentage of time — anywhere from 5-to-10 percent works well — for employees to indulge their personal creativity, and work out the best way to provide that time. It might be several hours on a certain day of the week, or a few hours set aside on two or three days.

When implemented consistently, this freedom to develop creatively will increase motivation and productivity for your talent, and lead to potential spinoff products that add to your organization’s bottom line. If you want to know more about driving motivation and productivity, talk to the pros at The Armada Group today.


Published in IT Infrastructure


What Makes a Successful IT Professional

With the demand for skilled tech workers increasing, many of today’s IT professionals are able to enjoy challenging and lucrative careers. Of course, in every industry there are some pros more successful than others. So what’s the recipe for IT success?

Below are some of the characteristics shared by successful IT professionals across many different fields and career paths. Cultivate these qualities, and you can enjoy a long and rewarding career as an IT pro.

Successful IT pros love technology — and share the love

It’s a given that everyone performs better when they’re doing what they love. The best IT pros have a demonstrable passion for technology, and it’s often contagious. If you’re excited about your work, that excitement rubs off on your co-workers, your supervisors, your customers, and everyone you engage with professionally — which means they enjoy working with you and want to get involved.

As an expansion of passion for technology, successful tech professionals are happy to share their knowledge and skills with others. IT pros who believe their knowledge is too valuable to share aren’t going to get very far — but those who share and help others are able to build loyalty, enhance their professional reputation, and win promotions.

Successful IT pros understand the business

With the world relying more on technology every day, you can find IT professionals in just about every industry — from tech companies to retail, finance to food service, manufacturing to education. One of the key aspects shared by successful tech pros is a thorough understanding of not just IT, but the particular industry they work in.

One of the most sought-after qualities in IT pros is the ability to break down concepts to a non-tech level, and communicate the value of IT services or solutions to key people who don’t work in IT, such as customers, shareholders, and other departments. This requires a strong business understanding and knowledge of how your work relates to other functions of your industry.

The top IT pros are skilled business professionals who know a lot about technology. With a comprehensive knowledge of your industry, you can deliver superior solutions and more innovation, which enhances both your reputation and your value as a professional.

Successful IT pros know (almost) everything, but specialize in something

One of the most effective paths to IT success is specialization. Regardless of your actual position, if you’re the best in your field, you’ll find greater success than a well-rounded tech generalist. So if you’re a data communications pro, your focus should be on knowing everything about the hardware and software that sends and receives data. If you’re a project manager, you should be exceptional at leading projects and people.

However, no IT position functions in a vacuum — so it’s equally important to be proficient in the areas that relate to your expertise. For example, a successful top Java programmer will have a strong working knowledge of database design and stored procedures. The best project managers will understand software development and testing. With the complexity of modern business, IT pros must understand all the components that feed into their specialties.

Successful IT pros love a good challenge

Technology can be extremely complex, and every IT pro faces challenges and problems on a regular basis. Rather than letting themselves become frustrated and stressed, the best tech professionals view problems as learning opportunities, and face new challenges with excitement at the possibilities.

Even technical problems that appear impossible at the start can help you broaden your horizons and increase your skills, knowledge, experience, and problem-solving capabilities. Continual learning is an important part of facing challenges — with the rapid pace of IT evolution, there is always some new platform, language, or tool that can impact your job and your industry.

To be successful in IT, keep learning and loving what you do — and share that passion with others. Employers will notice your skills and enthusiasm, and you’ll find yourself cultivating a rewarding career in technology.

Want to find out more about what it takes to become a successful IT pro? Or need a top industry professional to fill a position within your company? The Armada Group knows what – and who – it takes to be the best in the business. Contact us today



Published in Staffing News
Thursday, Oct 30 2014

Preparing for Millennial CIOs


Preparing for Millennial CIOs

With 80 million in the United States, most of them already in or about to enter the workforce, millennials are the rising generation. And since 40 percent of current IT professionals will retire over the next 10 to 12 years, millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025.

Of course, this means there will soon be millennials in positions of power at the majority of organizations. As this generation takes the reins of leadership, there will be a new breed of CIO — those who’ve grown up firmly in the digital era and have never known life without the Internet.

How will millennials handle their technology purchasing power? Here’s what they’re likely to do differently from their predecessors, and how the millennial CIO will change the way IT works in organizations.

Big brands won’t be automatic buys

In the earlier days of technology, brands were everything. Organizations stuck with the tried and true: Microsoft, Apple, IBM. No CIOs were willing to risk their jobs investing in a new, unproven startup with any possibility of failure — because if things went wrong, their buying choices would be blamed.

But millennials are less risk-averse than their predecessors, and more willing to try, or even embrace, new technologies and startups. In fact, a study tracking millennial behavior in the workplace from IT industry association CompTIA found that this generation prefers to work with startups run by millennials like themselves — and big brand names simply don’t matter as much, if at all.

Buying choices will hinge on customer experience

The advertising onslaught began in earnest with the millennial generation, who have been pelted with marketing campaigns from every direction — television, radio, Internet, mobile, and more. This advertising overload has made millennials wary and distrustful of larger brands with ulterior motives, and led to a demand for transparency and personalized experiences.

Millennial CIOs are likely to work with vendors who can provide these qualities. They’ll look for brands with platforms that rely less on making money, and more on changing the world through innovation and creativity. Bonus points for brands that are heavily involved in philanthropy — despite the “selfish” tag often applied by the media, over 85 percent of millennials base purchasing decisions on whether the brand stands for something socially and takes meaningful steps to ignite social change.

Employers should remember that this millennial state of mind extends to the jobs they hold, as well as the brands they invest in — in all things, they want to be treated right.

IT decisions may be crowdsourced

Social networking has had a tremendous impact on the lives of millennials, and many traditional advertising channels are all but invisible to them. Instead, this generation relies on referrals, reviews, and peer recommendations to make buying decision in both their personal and professional lives.

Millennial CIOs are likely to want more feedback from all sides before making a purchasing decision. In addition to their peers, they will probably involve their IT team in considering new products, and weigh several competing factors of a given solution or strategy before deciding to implement something new. Because they’re risk-takers, they are also likely to skip seeking permission, opting to ask for forgiveness instead if something goes wrong.

Want more information on millennial CIOs or this incoming wave of millennial workers? Contact The Armada Group today. We successfully place millennials and other top IT professionals in positions across the nation.  



Published in Staffing News

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