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As an IT candidate, you’ve got more to worry about than the average job seeker. In addition to the resumes, cover letters, and initial interviews, you have to be ready for the technical interview—a real-time test of your skills that will make or break your chances at getting the job.

Fortunately, you can prepare for the tech side of your interview process. Here are five of the most popular types of coding questions you can expect, so you can get ready to ace your technical interview.

Back to the basics

It might surprise you to know that the simplest skills are highly likely to be included as part of a technical interview. Basic data structures and algorithms are typically core questions, and even though they’re simple in comparison to the actual work you’re doing, you will need to prep for them.

You should be intimately familiar with the basics and ready to demonstrate your proficiency with a fundamental understanding of coding. Before you hit the interview trail, take some time to refresh and practice your basic skills—even if you think it’s “too easy” to bother.

Linked lists

You will undoubtedly be asked to write some code that involves a linked list during your interview. This topic is extremely popular with technical interviewers, because it demonstrates your ability to produce simple, clean code at a fast pace.

Potential questions you may be asked regarding linked lists may involved finding specified elements in a single pass, implementing functions (such as Insert or Delete) for different types of linked lists (singly-linked, sorted, circular), or finding solutions without marking nodes.

Hash tables

Technical interviewers love these. Hash tables are versatile data structures with the primary advantage of letting you search for and retrieve information quickly from massive arrays. It’s essential that you have an intimate familiarity with how they work, so you’re ready to tackle any coding question.

Know the difference between Maps and Sets, and understand the typical operations of hash tables as well as the various applications. You should also be familiar with the tradeoffs of using hash tables versus other data structures.

Array programming

Arrays are important elements in programming languages like C# and Java. This topic is frequently part of technical interviews, and the questions range from incredibly simple to extremely complex.

You may be asked to find a missing or duplicate number in an array of 1 through 100. Or, you could be given an array of characters that form a complete sentence, and asked to write an algorithm that reverses the order of the words, but not the characters.

String programming

Another favorite for technical and programming interviews, string is a primary topic that, like array, is common to many programming languages. Coding questions on string programming may be related to length, permutations, finding and replacing values, and more. Questions involving palindromes are also popular.

The best thing you can do for yourself as an IT candidate is to practice coding prior to interviews. Use real code for your practice runs, and after you write it out, compile and run the code to check your answer. With practice, you can go into your technical interviews confident and ready to land the job you want.

If you are looking for technology jobs in Silicon Valley CA, contact us today.


Published in Recruiting


Every organization wants to attract and retain top talent. Not too long ago, throwing around big salaries and benefits packages might have been enough—but today’s talent isn’t motivated by money alone. In fact, many skilled professionals are willing to work for less, if the company has a great culture.

What is culture?

Workplace culture is more than a buzzword. There is no precise definition—instead, “culture” is a catch-all term for all the things that affect your organization’s perceived environment.

You might look at culture as a set of unspoken guidelines that your team follows not because they’re written in an employee handbook, but because they’ve arose through collective observations of what goes on in the workplace—such as whether new ideas are welcome or frowned on, and who actually gets credited for accomplishments.

Why culture matters

A poor culture can have a seriously adverse effect on your business, including your bottom line. If your employees dread coming to work every day, their satisfaction and their productivity is going to plummet. Your current top talent is likely to seek friendlier, more open pastures, which will bring down the remaining team even more.

On the other hand, a thriving workplace culture makes for happy, productive employees and a business that’s moving faster than the competition. Workplace environments with great culture experience lowered stress and increased creativity across the board.

Culture and talent

When you have a positive culture at your organization, it’s easy to recognize, even from an outsider’s point of view. No one wants to work in a cubicle farm—but a workplace with lots of open space, interesting conversation, and happy employees makes an instant good impression.

You can use your workplace culture as a recruiting tool to attract top talent. Highlight the strong points of your culture in your job descriptions and recruiting material, and be sure to show interviewing candidates around when they come in, so they can experience the culture firsthand.

Tips for cultivating culture

If your organization is struggling with culture issues, or you’re not sure how to get started, here are some things you can do to reinforce a positive workplace environment:

  • Make sure everyone on your team understands your company’s values and mission, and (hopefully) agrees with them
  • Encourage openness and transparency: ask for and pay attention to feedback, and discuss things like policy changes prior to implementation, instead of announcing them after the fact
  • Ensure that achievements are recognized and rewarded, and demonstrate your appreciation on a regular basis—a simple “thanks for the great work” can go a long way
  • Have clear goals for individuals, departments, and companies, and offer regular training to avoid the perception of a dead-end workplace

An organization with excellent culture is one that will naturally attract and retain the best talent. Don’t overlook this important aspect of your business—make culture a priority, and the results will speak for themselves. If you are looking for employment agencies in Silicon Valley, contact us today.


Published in Recruiting

Mention productivity suites, and you’re most likely to think of Microsoft Office. This extremely popular collection of software includes the basic office programs—Word for word processing, Excel for spreadsheets, Access for databases, and PowerPoint for slideshows—and comes with extras such as Outlook for email, OneNote for freeform note taking and collaboration, Publisher for desktop publishing, and more.

What you may not know is that there are many free, open source alternatives out there that are similar to MS Office in appearance and functionality. Most include only the basic programs, but some include additional applications and features that put them on a par with the software giant’s flagship suite.

If you’re looking to replace Microsoft Office, or just want to investigate the alternatives, here are three of the best Office-style productivity suites out there.

Kingsoft Office Free 2013

Perhaps the closest in appearance to MS Office, Kingsoft Office Free 2013 gives you a choice of three display styles. You can use a ribbon-style interface similar to the latest Office programs in one of two colors—Elegant Black or Water Blue—or you can switch to “Classic Style” if you’re a fan of the old-school, 2003-and-earlier MS Office versions.

This productivity suite includes three applications: Writer (similar to MS Word), Spreadsheets (similar to MS Excel), and Presentations (similar to MS PowerPoint). Office Free 2013 has nearly all the functionality of MS Office, and adds features not found in its Microsoft paid counterparts, including tabbed document display and a click-and-drag paragraph adjustment tool.

While the programs aren’t able to save files in the latest X-extensions (.docx, xlsx, and pptx), these file types can be opened and edited with Office Free 2013, and saved in the earlier standard formats of .doc, .xls, and .ppt.

Apache OpenOffice

One of the most widely known free alternatives to MS Office, Apache OpenOffice comes with applications for word processing, spreadsheets, slideshows, databases, and graphics. The tools included with this suite are:

  • Writer: Comparable to MS Word, this word processing application has a similar look and feel, and includes features like design wizards and desktop publishing tasks
  • Calc: A spreadsheet application in the vein of Excel, this program includes most of the same features as the Microsoft version
  • Impress: The PowerPoint-like tool for slideshows offers multiple view options, diagramming and drawing tools, effects, and animations, and supports multiple monitors
  • Base: OpenOffice includes a database tool that lets you create and modify forms, queries, tables, and reports
  • Draw: This image application offers a complete set of tools for producing graphics that range from simple diagrams to full 3D illustrations

A newer version of this productivity suite, LibreOffice, is available that uses the same underlying source code as OpenOffice, but varies in terms of application features, usability, and available support from the development community.

Google Docs

There isn’t much in the digital world that Google hasn’t attempted (and for the most part, succeeded with), and productivity suites are no exception. Google Docs is a free online productivity suite that can be used by anyone with a Google account, which is just about everyone.

The applications include Google Documents, Google Spreadsheets, and Google Presentations, respectively substituting for MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. In addition, there’s the Google Drawings image editor, and Google Forms, which lets you create forms to embed on a website or share through email or a link.

What makes Google Docs different is its focus on collaboration. Because it’s an online suite, users can easily share and collaborate on their creations. These applications are also easy to integrate with other Google services, including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google+, and Google Drive.

If you are looking for technical recruiters in Santa Cruz, contact us today.

Published in Recruiting

In today’s connected world, online recruiting has become the norm rather than the exception. Organizations and recruiters use online platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and even specialized social recruiting tools like Jobs2Web to locate and contact skilled candidates for a variety of job openings.

How many are using Google+ to scout for job candidates? Probably not enough—especially when it comes to filling IT positions. Many people view Google+ as the infant of the social world, with a 2011 launch that places it lowest on the totem pole of maturity among popular social networks.

Still, the “infant” is growing fast, with more than 300 million active users and counting. And more importantly, the concentration of potential candidates is higher, with most Google+ users being tech-savvy professionals. If you’re not already using Google+ as part of your job candidate search strategy, you should be.

These tips will help you find the right IT talent on the search engine giant’s tech-friendly social network.

Get active on Google+

The best foundation for successful recruitment through any social network is an active company presence. If you don’t have a Google+ account for your business, you should get one started—and if you’re signed up but have been ignoring your company page, bulk up your profile and start sharing content.

Of course, social activity is a two-way street. At the same time you’re sharing content, you should also “+1” (the Google+ equivalent of a Facebook like) interesting content from industry influences. This helps you grow your network, and puts your organization on the radar of skilled IT pros who are reading the same content. As a bonus, it also increases your SEO and your visibility on Google.

Use Circles to tailor your communications

One of the unique features of Google+ is Circles, which lets you separate your followers into different groups and share content separately. You can create a Circle for job candidates and post relevant content, such as job descriptions or application contact people, and reach a wide pool of candidates quickly.

Google+ also lets you import your email contacts and sort them into Circles, so it’s easy to add current applicants, past employees, and more into your group.

Host a Google+ Hangout

Another tool that’s unique to Google+ is Hangouts. These are real-time video conferencing events that let multiple people connect and communicate through webcams and audio. Hangouts are becoming popular ways to connect top people with followers and fans across multiple industries- earlier this year, NASA even hosted a Hangout with astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Holding your own Hangout events is a great way to attract talent and have them interact directly with your organization. During the event, your speaker can encourage participants to look at the career openings on your company website, and have them sent a direct link to your job postings with the chat box.

Google+ is a prime hunting ground for IT talent. Take steps to incorporate this social network into your online recruitment strategy, and you may find your next rock-star developer or engineer there waiting for you.

If you are looking for technical recruiters in Santa Cruz CA, contact us today.

Published in Recruiting
Thursday, Nov 28 2013

Traits of Great IT Leaders

Things are always changing in the tech industry, and that includes leadership. Today, being an IT leader means something different than it did even ten years ago. Leaders are no longer controlling, reviewing, and directing every aspect of a project-instead, they’re empowering skilled team members to work both independently and collaboratively, doing what it takes to get the job done with efficiency and excellence.

So what makes a great IT leader? Here are a few of the most common traits shared by successful leaders in the tech industry, and how these traits help them guide and develop the most powerful and complex component of IT-human resources.

They know themselves

The best IT leaders are self-aware. They have high degrees of emotional intelligence-understanding their own strengths and weaknesses, and knowing who to surround themselves with in order to complement those aspects. They’re also aware of their own emotional triggers, which helps them to manage logically.

To be a successful leader, you also need to know your own leadership style. When you’re aware of both how and why you manage as you do, you’re able to project an authenticity that your team can detect in every interaction-making it easier for them to respect you.

They create a team environment where it’s safe to fail

Collaboration is essential in today’s IT landscape. A great leader is able to encourage effective collaboration by knowing who should work together on what projects, along with when and where collaborations should take place. Leaders embrace the idea that “none of us is as smart as all of us.”

Working together can also help to cultivate innovation-and a strong leader is aware that innovation sometimes requires failure. It’s important for an IT leader to encourage team members to take reasonable risks, and not to penalize them or call out individual employees if a risk fails. Team members should know that they’re allowed to make some mistakes along the way.

They’re always learning

Without question, the most successful IT leaders never stop to rest on their laurels. Even those who reach the pinnacle of the company ladder are aware that they don’t know everything-and they’re always looking for ways to grow and improve.

This is especially essential for leaders in the tech industry. With frequent changes and upgrades, and continually emerging technologies, the only thing IT professionals can be sure of is that things will be different tomorrow. Staying up to date with the latest advances that are relevant to your company is crucial for successful leadership.

However, keep in mind that you shouldn’t only strive to improve your industry knowledge. If you’re aware that you struggle with soft skills like decision-making, or communication, or strategic thinking, you can continue to learn more in those areas-take a course, read relevant books, or even network with and learn from other leaders you admire.

Most great leaders aren’t born that way. They learn to improve through awareness and experience-and you can, too.

If you are looking for a staffing partner to help you recruit top IT talent in California, contact us today. The Armada Group has the top IT recruiters in Santa Cruz

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Published in Hiring Managers

With the baby boomer workforce heading into retirement, it’s now urgent to create workplaces that can both lure new IT talent while ensuring employee knowledge is passed along. A good mentoring program can foster this exchange, bring top talent on board, and provide your company with other tangible benefits.

Creates a Team Culture

Mentoring means deeper personal relationships at work, whether it’s via one-on-one dialogues or group mentoring meeting – or, preferably, both. When an employer creates space for and encourages the building of positive exchanges, employees realize the company is truly interested in their professional development.

In a 2010 survey by the Corporate Leadership Council of the Corporate Executive Board, 64% of high-potential employees who identified themselves as dissatisfied with their current employment cited its lack of impact on their career development as one of the reasons they were considering other opportunities.

A company that makes more than a token effort for a healthy mentoring program is investing into an organizational culture where employees feel stronger bonds with their colleagues and their employer.

Creates Tangible Business Benefits

If your organization has been searching for a solid way to better its communication, foster diversity, or align its culture with its mission, mentoring can provide a channel to achieve these valuable business goals. Supporting the connection of worthy advisers to interested employees also increases accountability within a well-structured program, turning potential into performance as talent works with talent to set goals, define responsibilities, clarify expectations, assimilate feedback, and measure results.

When done right, mentoring can also help prevent knowledge loss, as experienced IT professionals advance their career paths or retire by passing along their technology understanding to new or less experienced employees. This gives mentorees insight into their careers, allowing them to give and gain long-term value to the company.

Creates an Enticing Environment for New Recruits

As the candidate pool for IT talent shrinks, companies competing for great recruits will need to demonstrate that they can provide more than just a paycheck and profit sharing possibilities. More than ever, employees want to know where a new position can take them professionally. When recruits see that a company actively invests in a mentoring program, they know they’ve found an employer who will help them along their career path. They will see growth challenges and a bright future.

This realization applies to both ends of the equation. While many employees will recognize the value of having a mentor or mentoring group, others will be excited about the opportunity to become a mentor, raising their industry visibility and increasing their leadership skills.

As you develop a mentoring program, build in recognition and celebration of the future impact mentoring will have on your company and your employees. This requires that you find and collect the success stories that will inevitably arise. These examples will become testimonials for recruiting, raise demand for mentoring, and help you improve the program as best practices are shared. Mentoring can help build an environment of trust and loyalty your IT team will appreciate throughout their career with your business.

If you are looking for IT recruiters in California, contact The Armada Group today.

Published in Recruiting

For most organizations, getting and retaining top IT talent is a primary goal. When it comes to attracting talent, some strategies are more effective than others. One of the most foolproof is to make your business a great place to work.

So, what constitutes a desirable IT environment? Today’s employees are seeking flexibility, opportunities for advancement, and a team atmosphere that fosters knowledge and communication.

Create a team orientation

A popular workplace mentality at many of today’s successful businesses is that “none of us is as good as all of us.” This is especially true for millennials, who are often far more comfortable and productive working in teams than flying solo.

There are several ways to foster a team culture in your organization:

  • Offer diversity training for both new and established employees
  • Recognize and reward team players as frequently as those with individual merit or accomplishments
  • Arrange for team-building workshops, seminars, or retreats that help employees learn to work better together

Offer certifications and training

Helping your IT staff build up their skills and abilities isn’t just good for your company’s productivity as a whole—it’s also great for retention. When you make additional training and certifications available to your employees, you’re sending the message that you want to invest in them for the long haul.

The potential for advancement within your company is crucial for IT employee retention. If they believe they’ll be stuck at the same level—and the same salary—for as long as they work for you, they’ll start hunting for greener pastures.

Tell them “why” to do

Today’s savvy IT employees are no longer satisfied with simply being handed down tasks from management and expected to complete them by rote. They want to know why they’re doing what they are—not out of laziness or an opportunity to refuse work, but because they want to feel like they’re making a difference and contributing to the success of the company.

Providing employees with context for their work and business goals enhances the team culture, and helps staff feel they’re part of something larger than themselves.

Be flexible

Work options like flexible scheduling and part-time telecommuting are becoming more common in today’s workplace. In fact, many employees—who are leading increasingly busy lives outside the office—value flex options over other types of benefits, and would choose a position with flexibility over one with a higher salary and rigid requirements. Offering flex options is a great way to differentiate your firm and attract top talent.

Provide variety

No one wants to do the same thing at work, day after day. You can improve attraction and retention for IT employees by offering different projects throughout the year, providing opportunities to cross-train and experience a variety of work disciplines.

Put these strategies into place for your business, and you’ll create a desirable IT environment that enables you to attract the best talent—and keep them happy, engaged, and productive.

If you are looking for staffing agencies near Silicon Valley, contact The Armada Group today.

Published in Recruiting

The current competitive job market can be difficult for employers as well as job seekers. Sorting through a pile of resumes to find qualified candidates, then selecting that one right person out of a pool of potentials can be quite daunting.
Being prepared with a thorough job description and a clear idea of the well-suited employee for the position is the first step to finding the perfect match, but there are some other ways to filter out the wrong candidates.

Look at the Total Package
It can be tempting to isolate certain desired characteristics, especially if the position is responsible for a specific project or specialized tasks. But hiring based on expertise alone can create an unintentional minefield of issues. There are other questions to keep in mind as you sift through resumes and conduct interviews that will help you evaluate if they're both capable of performing and how they'll perform.

Do they have the knowledge as well as the experience the job requires? What other relevant experience and skills do they bring to the table? How's their attitude – are they a good fit for your company's culture? If they need to work closely with others, are they a team player? Does their desired career path align with what is available at your organization? Are they still committed to their career development, willing to pursue further education or certifications?

Weed Out the Unqualified with Interview Questions
When you've identified what you want to know about your candidates, use that to design the types of interview questions that will give you the insight you need. Sometimes simply asking a candidate what they learned from another job or volunteer experience will set the stage for a revealing answer. Other times, you may need to ask similar questions in different ways to pin down a response – and if you can't elicit one, that might be a red flag.

Along the way, don't dismiss any concerns that arise about the suitability of a particular candidate. Don't make assumptions or gloss over issues – both are likely to come back and bite you later. Clarify with further investigation.

Develop an Onboarding Program
The top talent you're looking for will be sharp, and full of questions about the position and its perks. Quality candidates will want to know what's in it for them beyond salary. Having a comprehensive onboarding program for new hires will be a feather in your cap, as it demonstrates the investment you're willing to make in new employees. Outlining your program with a candidate is a great way to discover more about their own goals and objectives while you communicate your company's.

While no single person is completely perfect, there is someone out there with the combination of skills, experience, knowledge, attitude, and work ethic that will complement your organization's needs. Remaining prepared and objective throughout the process will help you spot that candidate when they're across the interview table from you.

If you are looking for IT recruitment agencies in California, contact The Armada Group today.

Published in Recruiting

There are more IT specializations than there are flavors of ice cream. The best way to communicate your knowledge is to supplement your experience with a certification. Seasoned professionals and recent graduates alike can benefit from these standardized measurements of expertise. But how do you know which one(s) will best top off your career?

What's Your IT Demographic?
Unlike the average person, you know that IT doesn't just translate into "good with computers". So are you a network specialist, or have you focused on security? Maybe you're a web developer or an app programmer. Getting certified in one area when you're experienced in another only makes sense if you're switching. Otherwise, there's plenty of diversification within your own specialization. Focus your certification efforts to collaborate with your experience.

What Are Your Career Objectives?
How far do you want to go? Do you want to become a CSO and oversee all of a company's security efforts? Or are you content with the next level of maintaining the firewall? Define what you want before investing the time and money educating yourself. Be SMART with your objectives – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Be aware of trends within your IT specialization, such as cloud computing and mobile security. With clear goals in mind, research which certifications might be useful in obtaining your objectives. Remember that many require a commitment to maintaining a certified status.

What Career Path Interests You?
If career objectives describe your destination, a career path is the map of your journey to get there. Just like there is more than one way to go from Philadelphia to New York City, your career path has alternate routes. Some may involve lateral moves to positions with the same pay and responsibilities as your current one, but will offer opportunities to gain the skills and experience you need to move forward. Some routes may leapfrog you ahead, provided you jump through a few hoops while in "mid-air". Both ways may require certifications, but different ones. Talk to your supervisor and/or human resources representative to discover if what you want is a possibility and if your ideas on achieving advancement coincide with theirs.

What Certifications Will Have a Significant Impact?
While certain skills are emphasized more than others at times, a few are essential. Some certifications have also been around for many years, and are simply updated as technology evolves. Whether these or newer/trending certifications are right for you can only be determined by your career objectives, path, specialization... and the demand.

Right now, project management is a hot topic, so PMP certification is highly desired for professionals looking to manage more IT projects. As Linux continues to broaden its market influence, Red Hat Certified Engineers are becoming more necessary in the system administration. RHCEs can also benefit from related but more specialized Linux certifications. There is also a high demand for virtualization (VCP), security (CISSP), networking (particularly Cisco's CCIE), and all the different flavors within Microsoft's family of domains (MCITP varietals).

Pursuing a certification for the sake of having a few letters next to your name is not going to help drive your career. Taking the time to define, discover and discuss what you really have a taste for will make you happier with what you choose and get you closer to your dreams. If you are looking IT job opportuntiites in California, contact The Armada Group today.

Published in Staffing News
Wednesday, Sep 11 2013

IT Onboarding Strategies

Not to be confused with the less in-depth process of employee orientation, onboarding is a comprehensive program designed to acclimate new hires into the performance and social aspects of their position. A successful onboarding program is meant to teach the newcomer the skills, mindset, information, and conduct needed to thrive in your environment. There are several important components that make onboarding an effective talent management tool.

Set Clear Expectations & Goals
Because employee onboarding is more involved than a one-time orientation, each department's program can – and should – be different from another's. For the IT manager, the plan begins with a clear but thorough layout of the employee's responsibilities, performance targets, and purpose within the department and the company as a whole. The new talent should be made aware of your structure, from people to technology, as it is relevant to them, as well as how they tie into current and future projects and objectives. Everyone should remember that flexibility is key, and that some aspects will be dynamic as priorities change.

Assign a Mentor
As you familiarize new employees with the hierarchy and roles of your department, pair them with a more experienced IT professional who can help the new employee navigate everything from unforeseen issues to best practices. The ideal advisor is someone who enjoys personal interaction, understands boundaries, takes pleasure in their job, and has perhaps asked for more responsibility or expressed interest in management. If you're already grooming someone for career advancement, this could be a great way to help your mentor-to-be stretch his or her wings.

Develop Career Expectations & Share Skills Needed to Succeed
As part of your onboarding strategy, schedule review times for you and the new hire to sit down and chat. Casual "how's it going?" questions when you pass them in the hall don't count, as they may be either unprepared or too intimidated to answer honestly. Consider spending a few minutes with them after a day or two, a couple of weeks, at 30 days, and so on – whatever works best for your priorities. Do you have an open door policy? Make sure they know how you work so they can feel comfortable meeting with you outside a time in your original plan.

One of the goals of these meetings is to gauge how your new IT professional is fitting into their role and to make adjustments as necessary. This fine-tuning of the job description can be anything from their daily duties to helping them define their career opportunities. While you've already assigned them a mentor, you still have a responsibility to help them develop the skills they need to succeed with you.

Stay in Constant Communication
Though hovering and micro-managing is never recommended, maintain a strong line of communication with your new hire. Occasional efforts to check in on specific projects, ask for feedback, or bring something interesting to their attention are great ways to let them know you value them. Everyone's communication style is different – some enjoy frequent face-to-face interaction, some would rather talk briefly on the phone, and others favor emails. Your new IT person should know what you expect, and you should discover what they prefer.

Onboarding new IT professionals is a process meant to build trust, establish communication, and set clear goals. Not an endeavor to be taken lightly, a good onboarding program will enable you and your new hire to work more effectively as you pinpoint one another's expectations. If you are looking for IT recruiters in California, contact The Armada Group today.

Published in Recruiting
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