When a team is highly engaged, they outperform their less-engaged counterparts, typically by a wide margin. Managers are usually aware that happy employees are more productive, which is what makes managing morale so important.
While boosting morale can seem like a tricky undertaking, there are simple steps that can make a significant impact. If you want to boost team morale over the long-term, here are some tips to follow.
In the IT industry, change is accelerating — and a large part of that change is due to big data. With organizations just beginning to realize some of the massive potential that big data holds, the demand for IT professionals working in big data-related areas is rising fast.
In fact, technology research firm Gartner predicts that 2015 will see 1.9 million IT jobs created to support big data in the United States alone, with each of those roles creating positions for three non-IT people. In total, Gartner says, the information economy will generate 6 million jobs over the next four years.
The challenge for businesses is filling those jobs, because there simply isn’t enough talent to go around. Gartner estimates that only one-third of IT jobs can be filled with the current talent pool. So if you’re considering a career in IT, there will be ample opportunity to jump on the big data bandwagon.
Here are four areas revolving around big data that will be in high demand as companies struggle to close the talent gap.
The cloud can be described as the foundation for big data. All of the areas that feed into this discipline are build on the cloud — big data itself leans heavily on cloud platforms and apps, social media is powered by the cloud, and mobile is basically a personal cloud.
One of the most talked-about advantages of the cloud is the potential cost savings, but today’s cloud environment is about more than saving money. Employers are now looking for IT professionals who can leverage the potential for new capabilities, architectures, services, and approaches to app design — with big data as the lynchpin for powering the effectiveness of the cloud.
According to Gartner predictions, by 2016:
- 40 percent of the workforce will be mobile
- Two-thirds of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone
- More than 1.6 billion smart mobile devices will be purchased globally
The outlook for tablets is equally strong, with an expected 20 percent of sales organizations to use tablets as their primary mobile platform, and 70 percent of mobile workers using a tablet or hybrid device by 2018. Even now, CIOs are purchasing iPads by the tens of thousands.
With an increasing reliance on mobile devices comes a growing demand for IT professionals who specialize in mobile — including app development, big data integration, and mobile device management. BYOD policies also require mobile specialists to manage the corporate network across disparate platforms.
Even as the biggest social networks reach their limits in terms of growth, social is becoming even more important from a business standpoint as organizations develop a more disciplined approach to social media. Gartner forecasts that at least 10 organizations will spend more than $1 billion each on social media in three years.
Part of that spend will be on talent as organizations hire more IT pros who specialize in social media and big data. There are massive amounts of valuable social data available, and as big data tools and platforms become more refined, more businesses seek talent who can extract actionable insight from this information.
Information and analytics
Finally, big data itself will create more job opportunities directly. Organizations can access a continual flood of information from both internal and external sources, providing them with endless opportunities to innovate, optimize, discover new insights, and transform the way decisions are made.
With big data, companies are able to turn information into revenue. This opens up career opportunities for IT pros who can work with structured and unstructured data, and mine “dark data” — data that is being collected, but not used — for business value.
The job search is often a frustrating process. And that frustration is increased when you keep landing interviews, but never hear the magic words “You’re hired.” It can be especially challenging to fail at the interview stage, because you aren’t able to receive feedback about what was right and what went wrong. The interview is the last stage—and once you’re off, you can’t go back for another curtain call.
There are many reasons why you might not be getting through at the interview stage. Some of them are beyond your control, such as the other qualified candidates you’re up against for the job. But there are some aspects you can control, and improving them will increase your chances of landing the job you want.
Here’s how you can rethink your interview strategy and adjust your approach to get from “don’t call us, we’ll call you” to “When can you start?”
See what the interviewer sees
One effective way to change your interviewing strategies is to change the way you view the interview itself. If you consider it a performance you’re giving (for an audience of one), this change in mindset can help you spot problems you didn’t realize you were having, and improve your delivery to make a better impression.
So how can you review your own performance? Mock interviews, either with a friend or a professional. They will not only give you more practice and help you sharpen your skills, but they’ll also give you the opportunity to assess your interviewing skills from a new perspective. Go through a mock interview and use a webcam or video camera to record the process. Then you can watch yourself with fresh eyes and pick up any inconsistencies or issues you didn’t notice while you were focused on answering questions.
Make it about the interviewer
If you’ve already gone through some less-than-successful interviews and tried to figure out where you went wrong, you probably already know that it’s important to do your homework. Prior to an interview, you should try to learn everything you can about the company and the specific position you’re going for, and work that into the conversation to demonstrate your genuine interest in this particular job.
But how much time do you spend talking about the actual person who’s giving the interview?
A job interview is often as much about a personal connection as a test for skills and qualifications. You can make a connection with your interviewer by being socially generous—steering the conversation toward the interviewer to make them feel smart and accomplished.
Avoid a straightforward question-and-answer session where you do most of the talking. Instead, ask the interviewer questions about themselves, their concerns and issues, their role at the company, and their goals. Get them talking, and respond with relevant points about your own interests and qualifications. If the interviewer feels that you’re genuinely interested in them as a person, your interview will be far more memorable.
Answer the questions you’re not asked
In some cases, there may be an elephant in the room that’s preventing you from having successful interviews. Aside from the obvious possibilities—sloppy appearance or inappropriate dress, bad first impressions, or obvious non-fit for the job—the most common “elephants” in an interview are current unemployment and long gaps in your resume.
Unless you’re entering the workforce for the first time, it’s important to be prepared to explain why you’re not employed, or why there are long periods of time between jobs on your resume. Be proactive in this regard, and bring it up before the interviewer asks (if they’re planning to ask at all). When you can offer a plausible explanation, you’ll put the interviewer at ease and the remainder of the interview will be smoother.
Ask your own (smart) questions
Just about every employer will ask you whether you have any questions for them at the end of the interview—but don’t save your questions until the end. Asking questions at an interview is a very effective way to demonstrate your interest in a particular company. It shows that you’re not only knowledgeable about the organization and the position, but you’ll also be able to make valuable contributions to the company when you’re hired.
Take the time to come up with a list of intelligent questions that you can ask throughout the interview. Save a few for the end, because you should never answer “Do you have any questions for me?” with “No.” And once your final questions have been answered, close the interview by asking whether there are any gaps you haven’t addressed and how you can follow up or move forward.
Show the interviewer that you’re interested, engaged, and valuable as an employee, and you’ll soon find yourself happily employed with your interviewing days behind you.
Looking for a job can be stressful and time-consuming, whether you’re unemployed or unhappily employed. But with the New Year approaching, it’s the perfect time to turn things around and make a fresh start. Your job search doesn’t have to consume your life — by working smarter, you can corral your job-seeking activities and be more productive with the time you spend.
As an IT candidate, these tips will help you make 2015 your most productive year, so you can land the job of your dreams.
Ready, set, organize
Like any other task, your job search will be smoother if you have an efficient, dedicated workspace. Set up an area that will provide you with minimal interruptions — because each time you have to stop what you’re doing, it takes time to refocus and get back into the task.
Decide on the system you’ll use for organizing tracking your job search progress, and have it ready to go in your workspace. There are many different ways to keep track, so choose whichever method you feel most comfortable with that you’re likely to stick to — whether it’s spreadsheets, index cards, a weekly planner, or a tracking app.
Create a daily and weekly plan
Job seeking involves a lot of activities, and many of them are repetitive. You need to network and monitor your presence online, search for jobs, research companies, update your resume and cover letter, apply to jobs, follow up on submissions, attend interviews, and follow up with those. Developing a plan that reminds you when to do each of these activities helps you save a lot of time — and prevents you from chasing your tail.
A sample daily and weekly plan might include:
- Monday: Review available positions you can apply to
- Tuesday, Thursday: Research companies you plan to apply, take notes to use in your custom resume and cover letter
- Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Follow up with one networking contact
- Wednesday: Google yourself and weed out negative information, if needed
- Friday: Follow up on any applications you sent out last week
Let technology find jobs for you
Actually searching for jobs that match your criteria can take a lot of your valuable time — but you don’t have to spend hours running Google searches and scouring job boards. Most online job boards provide a free alert system that notifies you via text or email when a new job is posted that meets your search criteria. There are also several Twitter feeds for job boards that send out tweets as new job postings come in. You can typically choose either daily or real-time updates, and select the alert type that’s most convenient for you.
As you subscribe to job alerts, don’t forget to check niche online job boards as well as general boards. Niche IT job boards can provide a richer and more focused resource for open positions — which makes your job search easier.
Tailor your resume and cover letter smartly
This may not save a lot of time, but customizing your resume and cover letter according to each job you’re applying for increases your productivity by producing more targeted, effective submission materials. The better you can express your qualifications for a specific position, the higher your chances of landing an interview.
You don’t have to rework your entire submission packet every time. But at a minimum, update your resume keywords and your Summary of Qualifications according to the requirements for the job you’re applying to, and enhance your cover letter with comments about the specific company that you’ve found through your research.
Work with a recruiter
One of the most efficient and time-saving steps you can take for your 2015 job search is to work with an IT staffing agency. Recruiters handle much of the legwork for you — finding positions that you’re best suited for, submitting your resume and cover letter, and scheduling interviews.
In addition, recruiters can help you get hired faster, for better jobs. Staffing agencies specializing in IT develop long-term relationships with IT hiring managers, giving you the value of a referral to help you get your foot in the door. A recruiter can also give you access to jobs that aren’t posted for public viewing, since many hiring managers often hire directly through staffing agencies instead of posting job descriptions.
Make 2015 your year to land your dream job with a streamlined, productive job search strategy!
Being a great leader — whether you’re already in an executive position or looking to be promoted to one — requires strong emotional intelligence. And an important part of emotional intelligence is the ability to keep negativity out of your communication and interaction with other people. Negative thinking and emotion prevents you from getting results both for yourself and with others. What’s more, negativity can spread stress like it’s contagious — studies have shown that negative thoughts transmit stress-producing hormones that affect those around you.
Even if you have high emotional intelligence, you may be putting out negative vibes without realizing it. Here are five subtle but common ways you might not know you’re being negative, and what to do if you spot yourself engaging in them.
Not accepting compliments
For many people, responding to compliments with a demurral is an instinctive reaction. If you’re told you did a good job, your instinct may be to downplay the sentiment by crediting someone else, insisting it wasn’t that hard, or even saying you were just lucky. You may think you’re being humble — but this type of reaction actually undermines your confidence and makes it harder for other people to trust your skills or abilities.
Instead of demurring, learn to accept compliments with grace (and a dash of humility). Own your positive actions or accomplishments, even if your response is a simple “thank you” with no further discussion on the subject of the compliment.
Negating a positive
Negative inferences happen when you make a positive statement, and then follow it up with something negative that undermines the effect. For example, you might say, “My last performance review was fantastic, but I’m still not making the salary I should.”
The first part of this statement is positive and worth both consideration and discussion. But when it’s followed immediately with negativity, the positive value goes out the window — and suddenly you’re one of those people who always sees the glass as half empty. Negative inferences crush enthusiasm and prevent others from taking your side.
Instead, keep your positive statements positive and focused on your options. For example, you might say, “My last performance review was fantastic, so now I’m going to work on presenting my accomplishments better so I can negotiate a higher salary.”
Reacting too quickly
When something goes wrong, people have a tendency to react — and in the heat of the moment, your reaction might be less than emotionally intelligent. For instance, if a team member says something unfortunate during a meeting, you might approach them after the meeting with a comment along the lines of, “That was a stupid thing to say!” This type of reaction is not constructive, and can quickly break down relationships.
A better way to handle moments like these is to focus on responding, instead of reacting. When you respond to a problem, issue, or negative situation, you give yourself time to consider what really happened and why it might have happened — and then formulate a thoughtful reply that is constructive and considerate.
“Yeah, but…” mode
Everyone’s said it from time to time. Someone makes a suggestion, and you want to agree, but you immediately calculate the problems with the idea and your response sentence starts with “Yeah, but…”
This opening is a blocker. The word “but” dismisses anything positive that came before it, and makes collaboration with other people difficult. If you find yourself saying “Yeah, but” frequently, people will lose interest in listening to you.
Instead of agreeing, and then immediately disagreeing, focus on validating ideas that you believe are worthy, and offering possible changes or alternatives for those that don’t quite seem there yet. Keep the “but” out of your responses.
Bringing others down to raise yourself up
Emotionally intelligent people understand that the path to success is not forged by blatantly stepping on others along the way. However, you could be engaging in a more subtle form of diminishing other people, through statements that contain gossip or put-downs — even if they seem innocuous.
Besides the risk of having these negative comments get back to the people you’ve made them about, the person you’re talking to may wonder what you’re saying about them to others. If you’re tempted to put someone else down in order to feel better, ask yourself what your real motivation is for making these damaging statements. It might be insecurity about your own performance, jealousy of someone else’s abilities, or simply just a bad habit of engaging in gossip.
This type of negativity can be the most difficult to overcome — but it’s also the most rewarding. When you have genuine respect and kindness for others, they’ll reciprocate, and you’ll be better positioned for leadership.
Want to learn more about being an emotionally intelligent leader? Contact the staffing and recruiting experts at The Armada Group. We can help you find – and retain – the best in IT management and professionalism.
Integrating the cloud into building your app
As the cloud takes a more predominant position in everyday life, it’s replacing old standbys and traditional processes. This leaves many people curious, confused, or concerned. Application development is one area that seems hardly old enough to be set in its ways, and yet many developers are ignoring—or even actively avoiding—working with the cloud.
Even so, the collaborative opportunities of the cloud create an environment in which multiple minds can provide input, and processes can be streamlined to reduce repetitive tasks. There are some great cloud development tools available—read on for some different approaches to developing within the cloud.
When it comes to working together, one of the best contenders is Cloud9 IDE. This development environment uses multiple languages and provides a collaborative function, ensuring that you can be anywhere in the world, working with others around the globe to write and edit code. You retain your personal environment, while the new app creation takes shape through shared effort. For a far-flung group or a close-knit community, Cloud9 IDE is a great choice for development.
Google may have given up on Collide, but the platform is finding new homes throughout the development world. A host of software tools collaborate to bring you an equally collaborative experience, which runs on Java 7 JRE. The source code is out there for the taking, so if you’re feeling adventurous, let Collide take you up into the cloud.
Taking it to the skies
As with every aspect of app development, cloud platform choices depend upon the needs and whims of each developer. These four options are hardly all that’s out there; a little digging will unearth plenty more ways to send your project skyward. But for the befuddled, or just those looking for a little guidance, Cloud9 IDE, UmbrellaSDK, Codenvy, and Collide will all start you on your way to cloud-integrated success.
If you are looking for application developers in the Santa Cruz area, contact the staffing experts at The Armada Group today!
Self-analysis can help define your career
First developed over fifty years ago, SWOT analysis is still a useful tool to chart a career path that capitalizes on what you have to offer and where you want to be. It stands for Strengths and Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats—two dichotomies that can direct your future along a course that you’ll both enjoy and prosper at. Self-analysis isn’t easy, and requires owning up to your less than optimal traits and patterns. Still, it gives you a valuable look at your true potential at work.
From the inside
Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors, built into you by predisposition, education, interests, and other shaping forces. Your strengths, where they align with your passions, will determine your dreams, goals, and objectives, both in life and your career. Analyzing your strengths and weaknesses is a challenge, and requires uncomfortable honesty; ask yourself, what do I avoid doing? What are the areas where I’ve received less than positive feedback?
At the same time, ensure you acknowledge and celebrate your strengths: Which tasks do I enjoy doing? In what work environments do I thrive? Knowing both the positives and negatives about your internal talents will give you a clear base from which to examine the outside factors surrounding your career.
From the outside
Opportunities and threats are factors that affect your career externally. You have minimal control over them, if any, but you can use opportunities to your advantage, and minimize the risk of threats. This section of your SWOT analysis is less personal, but equally important: it’s where you integrate reality into your self-investigation.
Not all advantageous openings or unexpected concerns can be predicted, but a thorough look at where your career might go and what events or people might hinder it can help prepare you for your best future. Ask yourself what could potentially be coming your way, and whether it’s something you want to pursue or avoid. Having that direction will allow you to more effectively utilize your strengths and weaknesses.
Feedback from one or more individuals outside your job, preferably who’ve known you for years, can really tighten your SWOT analysis. They can point out areas you excel or typically avoid, and bring an outside perspective on your workplace and desired career path. By connecting with someone who isn’t invested in your career, you can trust that they will ask hard questions and bring a more unbiased opinion to the table.
A person who knows you as an individual, not just an employee, will have a broader spectrum from which to draw their queries and conclusions. At the same time, it’s important for you to convey how critical honesty is—this person should be tactful, but not try to spare your feelings too much when it comes to weaknesses and concerns.
On the right path
Conducting a self-analysis will help you chart a vision for your future or at a minimum, have more information at your disposal when a new position opens up, you receive a negative review, or you find yourself contemplating a career move. SWOT is an excellent place to start to get a handle on whom you are and where you can go. If you are looking for IT jobs in California, contact the experts at The Armada Group today. We have the network and resources to help you advance your career.
Interview questions boil down to one of three things
During an interview, you may get asked hundreds of off-the-wall questions. Some don’t seem relevant to the position at all, while others are so specific you wonder who goofed up that intricately in the past. It can be easy to let these inquisitions throw you for a loop, but the vast majority actually fit into one of three categories.
Recognizing the underlying concern of the interviewer can help you make sense of even the most unexpected question in your pre-job interrogation—so take a deep breath, sort your puzzling problem into one of the following groups, and take it away.
Can you do it?
The main factor that interviewers need to sort out is whether you are capable of the job for which you are being interviewed. Rather than ask outright if you can complete the tasks—some of which they’ve surely seen on your resume—they will often pose detailed scenarios involving a capability you’ll need, or probe your work history for clues as to what you’ve handled before. Often, these types of questions will occur on the phone or through the application process, as the field of candidates gets whittled down in preparation for face-to-face interviews.
Do you want to do it?
A trickier set of questions involves discovering if you are motivated to do the job in question. These too can be scenario-based or related to your work history; this section of an interview also talks generally about your interests and passions, in hopes that they’ll line up with the open position.
Here, the interviewer is hoping to uncover your level of commitment, regardless of stress or difficulty. If you can portray yourself as someone who perseveres and doesn’t let trouble get in the way of success, you’ll always have the right answer to a motivation-based question.
Will you do it with us?
This last category of interview questions pertains to the work environment and, frequently, the hiring manager. No matter how great a candidate you may be, the right skills and desires are irrelevant if you don’t mesh with the company and existing employees. You need to complement the team that’s already established. A tip—don’t try to make it sound like you’ll fit if you have your doubts. Be upfront and honest with your interviewer, or you’ll run the risk of getting hired at a place that isn’t right for you, which can breed resentment from all parties.
Revealing the hidden question
It’s almost always the case that the questions posed at an interview are just different ways of asking the same three things. If you’re thrown a curve ball, it’s worth taking a moment to try to categorize the question. When in doubt, be honest, dedicated, and agreeable—that’s what interviewers most want to see.
If you are looking for IT careers in California, contact the experts at The Armada Group today.
The Ins and Outs of New Hire Success
Bringing on a new employee is the end of the tedious searching and interviewing process, but it is only the beginning of integrating that person into your existing team. The training process for a newly hired software engineer depends on the company and the individual’s level of experience; regardless, there are some basic guidelines—and some pitfalls to avoid—when it comes to getting the best out of your new hire.
The most important factor in a training program for a recently onboarded software engineer is to make it specific. Break out small steps, as opposed to only focusing on a larger, more vague plan. Give your new hire specific tasks, with measurable results.
Identify the areas your new hire will need to become comfortable with: company-specific tools, platforms, and code base; the development process for new concepts; and the details of any new job environment.
While larger companies frequently have the resources and budget to hold classes, send new hires to conferences, and provide focused, long-term, one-on-one training, smaller organizations cannot afford the expense and loss of productivity that those options entail. Much of this knowledge can be acquired intuitively over time, but the purpose of the training program is to speed up the acquisition of knowledge so that you can quickly have a productive employee.
A focus on books and online training can replace expensive classes and seminars. Reading the code and code reviews, staples of most software engineer training programs, are still highly beneficial for learning the environment, though they run the risk of making the new hire feel like they’re being put under a microscope prematurely.
The obvious pitfalls of many training programs are that they either overwhelm with new information, or proceed so slowly that your new employee is bored. Balancing new information with preexisting knowledge can be difficult; many say the best ratio is 50% prior knowledge (such as simple problem-solving, reviewing the code base, development methodologies, or working with a familiar interface) and 50% new learning (such as company-specific systems and complex architecture).
Learning from a base of knowledge is the general key to a successful training strategy. By gaining familiarity with the newest member’s background and prior experience, you’ll be able to build off that platform as you introduce new concepts and requirements. Start with small goals to keep them excited and productive, and build upon each day’s successes.
A Good Investment
A new employee has immense long-term potential to benefit a company, but the initial training stages will create a temporary drain on your resources, as current employees will have to take time to train the new hire. If you can balance this short-term loss of productivity with a customized, effective training program, you’ll see an exceptional return for your efforts, in the form of another dedicated, enthusiastic, competent employee.
If you are looking for software engineering talent in California, contact the staffing experts at The Armada Group today.
Red flags to avoid
You have finally scheduled an interview for the position you’re hoping for, but you’re far from the finish line. The hiring manager has clearly reviewed your resume and expressed interest in your as a candidate, so a strong interview could be the last hurdle before you land your new job. While the basics of interviewing can be easily accomplished—don’t be late, dress professionally, and so on—there are more subtle actions and phrases that can turn off an IT hiring manager. Don’t fall prey to these common mistakes.
Mistake #1: Not doing your homework on the company you are interviewing with
Just because you’re the perfect fit for the position description doesn’t mean you’re right for the company, or that it’s right for you. It’s an embarrassment, to say the least, to go into an interview and be asked a question like “What 3 things did you learn about our company from our website?” and not being able to articulate an educated answer. A hiring manager can immediately tell if you haven’t done your research—if you aren’t willing to invest time to learn about the company beforehand, they’ll likely assume you won’t after being hired.
Mistake #2: Failing to listen actively
Interviews are your opportunity to present yourself and your qualifications. That doesn’t let you off the hook for listening to what the hiring manager is saying—and if you don’t breathe long enough to actively focus on what you’re being told, you’ll be on your way posthaste. Active listening goes beyond simply hearing words, and requires digesting and responding to what’s being said. Without it, you can’t connect with the hiring manager, and they’re likely to not value your input since you don’t value theirs.
Mistake #3: Being a Robot
The ability to work as a team is important, and a hiring manager will likely make sure you have that experience before taking you on. However, it’s possible to be TOO team-oriented in your interview, to your own detriment. If you consistently talk about “we”—as in “we took this approach”; “we implemented this software solution to solve X”—you run the risk of appearing to be an insignificant contributor to the initiative. It’s a fine line: don’t act like you single-handedly delivered a 50 person, 25 man-year project; at the same time, make sure the hiring manager knows your specific contributions to a successful outcome.
Mistake #4: Giving robotic answers
One of the biggest turn-offs for a hiring manager is when an interviewee fails to present herself as an individual, with specific talents and expertise. This goes beyond setting yourself apart from the “we” of your team, and involves telling detailed stories and real-world practical answers from your past. If all you offer is methodology, you’ll be perceived as no different than any other potential employee. It’s the specific facets of how you approach your work that will set you apart.
Become a shoe-in
Obviously, you want to make a lasting, positive impression at your interview. By learning as much as possible up-front about the company, actively paying attention to the conversation with the hiring manager, asserting your initiative as well as collaborative skills, and focusing on your qualities in addition to book smarts, you’ll position yourself as someone to keep an eye on—and, better yet, someone to hire.
If you are looking for top IT positions in California you need to be prepared for the interviewm. Let The Armada Group help you develop a job search strategy, and land you an interview with your ideal company.