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The Importance of Creativity as a Software Engineer

At its core, software development can seem like a very mechanical process. There are formulas, processes, and structures, making it all appear to be very rigid. Typically, there are rules to how programs are written and, if you don’t follow them, you don’t end up with a functional end product. 

However, creativity is essential if you want to be an exceptional software engineer. Creativity gives you the ability to assess a situation from a variety of angles, ensuring that your chosen approach isn’t just functional, but ideal. 

If you want to understand why creativity is so important as a software engineer, here’s what you need to know. 

Published in Recruiting

Call Center


To say that call center agents spend a lot of time on the phone is an understatement. In most cases, their entire shift is dedicated to helping callers by answering questions and resolving issues. As the day wears on, it can be hard to maintain a level of enthusiasm, especially when the calls are some repetitive in nature. Additionally, fatigue makes it more difficult to judge the emotional state of the caller, which can be harmful.


Now, a software program called Cogito is looking to improve the call center experience for agents and customers alike. Here’s how.


Cogito Voice-Analysis

At its core, Cogito is software that analyzes the tone and pattern of the speaker’s voice, making adjustments based on word choice and even the length of time the line goes silent. It does this through robust algorithms supported by machine learning, allowing it to use data from other voice records to assess the status of a call as it progresses.


Cogito Call Center Software

When Cogito notices that a call participant, including agents or customers, has a voice pattern that suggests a potential problem, it alerts the call center representative.


For example, if it determines the agent's tone isn’t as cheerful, a notification that looks like a little cup of coffee pops up on the screen. This lets the representative know that their mood has changed, giving them a chance to refocus and correct it.


Similarly, if the software detects that a customer may be experiencing heightened emotions, either positive or negative, a heart icon displays. When they see the heart icon, the agent knows that the caller is having an emotional reaction and can adjust their approach if necessary.



What Does This Mean for Jobs?

Ultimately, Cogito isn’t designed to replace people in call centers. Instead, it functions in a support role, helping them assess how a call is going more quickly and efficiently so that quick action can be taken should the need arise.


The goal of software like Cogito is to provide customers with a better experience by bringing things to the attention of representatives that a person may have a more difficult time ascertaining. While an employee can certainly notice a heightened emotional state in a caller, they might not be as aware of their own tone. Additionally, the software may recognize changes in mood and cadence used by the customer more quickly than the agent, allowing them to intervene more rapidly to diffuse tense situations.


Some similar software offerings, like one from State Collection Service, can even display congratulatory messages to agents when it believes that a customer was satisfied with the interaction. These quick moments can help boost morale and confidence among agents, allowing them to be more effective at their jobs. Additionally, it can provide helpful tips, like steps to calm an upset customer, as soon as a potential issue is detected, giving the representative guidance when it is needed most.


In the end, software like Cogito isn’t going to replace workers, only give them new tools to help them be more productive and effective in their roles.


If you would like to learn more, the team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to see how our expertise can benefit you.



4 Strategies to Prevent IT Employee Burnout

IT projects are intense. There's a push for perfection, a drive to meet deadlines, 24/7 systems that crash at 2 a.m. … It's easy for IT employees to get burned out.

Burned out employees aren't productive, aren't creative, and, most importantly, aren't healthy. Here are four strategies to help keep your IT team working and happy about it.

  1. Help your team develop their skills. 

    Find out what your employees want to do, then help them do it. Employees who are working on a project they're interested in are happier and less likely to burn out. For some employees, this may mean learning a new technology and using it in a proof-of-concept side project. For others, it may mean developing non-technical skills and moving up the management ladder.
  2. Share the support responsibility.

    Rotate the responsibility for production support issues, and stick to the rotation. End users often directly call the person who helped them out the last time instead of calling the support hotline. Let your staff know that it's ok to tell these callers "John's on support this week; I'll let him know about the problem."
  3. Honor your employees' time off.

    Modern business tends to treat "time off" as a joke; employees are expected to check email unless they're in a destination without Internet. Force yourself to let employees who are on vacation or taking a sick day to truly be away from the office. If the employee were to quit, you'd have to manage without them; this is an opportunity to make sure you have backup knowledge for all their responsibilities.
  4. Praise your team publicly.

    Most of the rewards people receive for work aren't visible; salaries and bonuses are confidential and promotions are rare. Reward your team by letting them know you value their work in the simplest way possible: tell them. People want to feel their work has meaning, and this is an effective way of reassuring them the work is meaningful to you and to the company.

Published in Hiring Managers

Fact Check Resume

It's tempting to embellish your achievements on your resume. The whole point is to put forward a representation of you that gets you hired. You're expected to put forward information that presents you in a positive light, but don't take it to the point of making up degrees and lying about what you've accomplished.

The Internet Knows Everything

Even if your potential employer doesn't do a full background check, they're likely to do a simple Google search on your name. If the information on your resume doesn't match what they find on Google, that will send up a red flag. And even if you pay a reputation management firm to try to push negative information down in the search results, the information is still out there. It's better to prepare responses to the negative information that show you learned from the situation.

Character Counts

Employees want employees they can trust. The job may involve handling money; it may involve handling valuable intellectual property. In every case, companies need to believe you'll be honest and treat their money and property respectfully. There's no worse way to prove you're honest enough for a job than lying about yourself before you're even hired.

You Set Yourself Up for Failure

If you manage to nab an interview, but don't have the skills and experience claimed on your resume, it's not likely to go well. Employers are likely to probe to verify you have the knowledge implied by acronyms and buzzwords, and if you threw them in just to get in the door, you won't make a good impression. If you somehow manage to actually get a job that requires the skills you claimed, you're not likely to succeed on the job.

You Can Get Fired

Don't think you're safe just because you got the job and you're managing to perform okay. You can get fired for lying whenever the company finds out about it. 

You Hurt Yourself

Even if you fake your way through everything, get a job, and manage to succeed on it, you'll know it's all based on a lie. Protect your self-esteem and base your career on a solid foundation instead. If you think you need to lie about your accomplishments to get a job, there are other ways to buff your resume.

You can take training to get the skills you lack, or complete an academic program to earn that degree. You can prepare answers to questions about why you should be hired despite lacking a specific certification or skill. And you can network to meet and impress potential hiring managers in person, rather than meeting them as a piece of paper.  It's far better for you in the long term if you take more time to find a job you're really suited for, based on your actual achievements than to lie to take a shortcut.

Published in Staffing News


Your Dream Job isnt a Reality - Yet

If you’re still scouring job listings for that perfect position that uses your skills and meets your career goals, and striking out every time, you may be tempted to give up and settle for a job you can do instead of the job you really want. But don’t lose hope — because if your dream job doesn’t exist, you might be able to create it.

You don’t have to limit your job search to advertised positions. With strategic research, active networking, and a sharpened pitch, you have a chance to carve out the perfect job and take control of your career.

Here’s how you can make your dream job a reality, even if it doesn’t exist.

Identify your dream employers

The perfect job starts with a great employer — one with a mission you can get behind, co-workers you’ll fit right in with, and opportunities that will help your career move forward. Begin creating your dream job by developing a short list of employers you’d love to work for.

Once you’ve researched and chosen 10-to-20 possible employers, start looking further to identify potential opportunities for the position you have in mind. For each company, find out everything you can about:

  • What department(s) your dream job might fit into
  • Which departments are underdeveloped or emerging
  • What areas you could apply your skills that the company hasn’t considered yet
  • Whether you have any potential contacts or other ins at the company

Look to social media, career websites like Glassdoor and Indeed, and the companies’ websites, blogs, and press released for insight into this type of information, and then reduce your list to the most likely companies. Remember not to limit yourself to the positions the company has listed as available — you’re going to offer them something unique.

Activate your network

A network is the most powerful tool available for today’s job seekers, especially when it comes to applying for an unlisted job. You’ll substantially increase your chance of getting hired if you can connect with someone who:

  • Has inside information on what’s happening in your dream companies
  • Is able to offer you tips on getting noticed by the company’s decision-makers
  • Can directly vouch for your skills and abilities to potential employers

Look through your existing network, and your extended network, to find out what kind of connections you have or can make. LinkedIn is the best source for business connections, but you might also find connected people on other social media networks, at the college or university you attended, or even among your friends and family.

Once you’ve found potential connections, send out a short message that explains what you’re looking to do, and whether they’d be willing to make an introduction for you. However, if you can’t find any personal inroads to your dream employers, you can still try contacting recruiters or hiring managers directly.

Prepare your perfect pitch

Landing a job that doesn’t exist yet is a bit more challenging than applying for a listed position. Instead of just convincing employers that you’re the right person for the job, you also have to convince them that they need the job done in the first place. This means proving that if they hire you for the position you’re pitching, you’ll have a real impact on a key component of the company — whether that’s efficiency, lead acquisition, sales, or the bottom line.

Use your best skills and achievements to prepare a pitch that explains just how you can help their company grow. Make sure your pitch incorporates ties to the specific company’s background, and be passionate about why you want to do this particular job for this particular company.

Finally, if and when you land an interview, go in prepared to talk about the company itself, the industry in general, and even its competitors. Bring examples of similar positions at competitors, and demonstrate how you can help them achieve results. Remember that you’re selling not only yourself, but the actual job you want to do.

Creating your own dream job is a challenging but worthwhile endeavor. With research, preparation, patience, and persistence, you can turn a nonexistent dream job into a personal reality.

For help finding or creating the perfect position for you, reach out to the career experts at The Armada Group. We understand what it takes to find and fill a perfect IT position, and place candidates every day in top industry jobs. 



The Problem with Wearable Technology


Wearable tech is a relative newcomer to the technology landscape. Not too long ago, gadgets like Google Glass and the Pebble Smartwatch belonged in the realm of science fiction — but today, wearable technology is a fledgling reality. And it’s poised to have a significant impact on the business world.

While wearables were initially introduced as consumer technology, the focus is shifting toward enterprise applications. In fact, industry experts say it’s not a matter of if wearables will become part of the corporate culture, but when. But like any new technology, there are some issues surrounding wearables that CIOs and IT departments should be aware of in order to prepare for the entry of these smart gadgets into the workplace.

Here are some of the most common pitfalls to watch for involving enterprise wearables:

Wearable technology is not well defined

In modern terms, the latest crop of wearable tech devices is still in its infancy — and no one knows exactly what constitutes a wearable. Most personal wearables are centered around fitness or health, and often have connectivity with a mobile application. Devices that are considered enterprise wearables are largely smartglasses and smartwatches.

But new gadgets and categories are emerging, and there is no set definition for wearable technology. This can be problematic for CIOs and IT departments, especially when it comes to defining workplace policies for wearables, if you’re not sure what those policies should apply to.

Smart gadgets suffer from development challenges

As a relatively new technology, wearables face some serious concerns that impact performance and user experience. Some of these challenges, particularly for smartwatches and smartglasses, include:

  • Energy inefficiency for color displays
  • Insufficient Internet connectivity, often creating the need for companion devices
  • Poor battery life
  • A lack of standards for waterproofing charging connectors
  • Privacy and security concerns over personal data collection
  • Awkward design issues

These challenges could make it difficult to integrate wearables into an enterprise environment, particularly the connectivity and security concerns.

No standardized platform for wearable tech

Much like smartphones and tablets, the wearables industry is working without standardized platforms. There are also no regulatory standards in place for wearable tech, bringing challenges for IT departments when it comes to measuring and reporting from a regulatory perspective.

Ideally, wearable software should be hardware-agnostic. Greater collaboration between wearable designers and enterprise developers could lead to platform standardization and across-the-board success — but for now, software systems for wearables are diverse and fragmented.

IT departments have a smaller margin of error

The enterprise wearables industry brings some unique potential pitfalls to IT, especially for rolling out new wearable tech. Smartglasses in particular come with different user experience and design requirements, and many IT departments have no prior exposure to working within these requirements.

In addition, overreaching is a common problem for wearable rollouts — IT departments take on too much, too soon, on the strength of the marketing hype surrounding many of these hot new gadgets. The best strategy is a controlled, small-scale first deployment to test the waters before taking wearables company-wide.

Wearables and legacy systems don’t mesh

The majority of new technologies are designed for integration with legacy systems. This is not so with wearables. Organizations may introduce wearable tech expecting to see productivity gains, only to discover that the utility of wearables relies on tapping into other corporate systems — and there is no easy way to bridge the two.

One of the largest stumbling blocks with wearable integration is data input. Legacy systems are generally built to accept keyed data, but most wearables don’t have keyboard inputs. Instead, they rely on voice or touch input that doesn’t translate to the legacy infrastructure.

The gains made possible by wearable tech are not sufficient to support the expense of replacing existing systems. Instead, CIOs and IT departments need to find a way to bridge wearables with legacy infrastructures in order to derive enterprise value from introducing these new devices to the workplace.

For more on how wearables and other new technologies can fit into your company structure, contact the IT experts at The Armada Group today.




Hyperconverged technologies- The new must-have for very lean IT departments

Most small and mid-sized businesses don’t have the budget for large in-house IT departments. Many run with an IT team of five or less, and some outsource their IT functions completely. Part of the reason behind this is the high cost of corporate-level infrastructures required to run a business independent of third-party solutions — investing in private servers, sufficient storage, and a scalable virtualization layer — can add up fast.

But there’s a solution for very lean IT departments in hyperconverged technology. An exciting new development in scale-out computing, these modular systems provide a centralized node containing all the functions of an infrastructure — storage, networking, computing, and virtualization — and are easily scalable by adding more nodes.

A new hyperconverged product from Scale Computing, called HC3, presents a promising and affordable solution for IT departments with zero to five people that allows small and mid-sized business to operate on corporate grade infrastructures.

What is HC3?

Scale Computing’s HC3 is a hyperconverged node intended for very lean IT departments. There are three levels with various capabilities for scaling — the HC3 supports up to 100 VMs, the HC3x can handle up to 200, and the limited introduction HC4000 grows up to 400 VMs and scales up to eight nodes.

The key features of HC3 nodes include:

  • Extremely easy to use, capable of building VMs out of the box within one hour
  • Fully integrated server, storage, and virtualization capabilities
  • Simple, linear scalability through adding nodes
  • Low cost of entry with zero licensing fees and a free year of premium support

The core tenant of Scale is “keep it simple,” and this system reflects ease of use in every aspect. The node includes built-in VM redundancy to protect against disk failure and node or server failure, an intuitive user interface, and live migration for rolling updates that upgrade one node at a time, with no downtime.

Storage and pricing

With the HC3 system, storage is streamlined and centralized. Each VM has access to the entire storage pool, so there’s no need to specify separate storage for HBAs or iSCSI targets. Each node has four or eight drives with sizes that are customized according to your business needs.

With regard to pricing, at an entry-level list price of around $25,000 for a three-node cluster, the HC3 is much more affordable for small business compared to traditional systems. A full year of premium, 24-7 support is included with the price.

Scale’s HC3 can be up and running in just a few hours, providing professional IT for any size business — even with a zero IT staff. Self-contained hyperconverged technology is an ideal solution for the automated cloud environment businesses are shifting toward — and the affordable price of entry can level the playing field for small and mid-sized companies looking to maximize their IT.

To learn more about what your small to mid-sized IT department needs, or for help building that department, contact the experts at The Armada Group today.




Hiring Managers Care


Motivating factors play a primary role in any worker’s performance. When choosing a career in IT, some do it for the money, some for the enjoyment and satisfaction. Others like solving complex problems. Regardless of why, there’s one constant that every successful IT person has: Passion. Here are the top three reasons hiring managers care more about passion than credentials:

1. Technical expertise enables a worker, but it’s passion that drives someone. A professional who has a passionate drive about their occupation will do whatever it takes to be successful, to perform at their peak, and to learn the most about their job. Generally, someone with a CCNP has a higher degree of knowledge than another with a CCNA – but the person who has the CCNA will learn the CCNP position, and their drive will help them learn more comprehensively.

2. Passion finds a way around objects and challenges that frustrate expertise. This same drive motivates a worker to excel personally, not just professionally. This brings an automatic increase in perseverance, training, and discipline. People who enjoy their job are also more likely to acquire new information that, while it may not relate directly to the job, nonetheless increases performance.

3. Passion brings something to the table that technical expertise and credentials simply don’t. Having a “burned out” employee with any amount of expertise is still a disgruntled employee. Having a fire glowing inside of a candidate for what they do isn’t a “soft skill,” it’s a necessity. Passion is what will make a candidate acquire skills and knowledge when it’s not required, and what keeps a candidate up late working when the rest of the office is gone. Passion is what distinguishes an ordinary candidate for a growth driver.

Certifications, experience and credentials certainly help a candidate get their foot in the door, but passion is what gets the job. Regardless of the level, a passionate worker will always produce more, work harder, and advance more quickly.

At The Armada Group, this is one of the main things we recruit for. We recruit elite talent for some of the fastest growing and most innovative tech giants in the world, and we’re looking for passionate and driven individuals in all stages of their career. Contact us today to see how we can help you!


Published in Recruiting

For some reason, the IT industry places a different emphasis on certifications than other industries. Perchance it’s because there are so many “self-taught” IT professionals who understand the subject matter but never set foot in college. Or perhaps it’s because IT is such a wide vertical that even a degree can’t teach you everything. Whatever the case, there’s no doubt that certifications provide one of the best measures of demonstrating subject matter expertise.

With that in mind, your career path will help determine which certifications are right for you. Here are some of Microsoft’s certifications to help advance your career:

MTA, or Microsoft Technology Associate, is the most basic MS certification, and usually entails an entry-level (if even that) understanding of the subject matter. The MTA is presently offered in Server, Desktop, Database, and Developer categories. The MTA by itself will not likely land you a job, but it may help familiarize you if you’re new to the field.

MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) is a more common “entry-level” certificate and proves a solid understanding of the fundamentals. This is widely accepted as the standard in beginning an IT career, and is offered in servers (Windows Servers 2008 and 2012) desktop, (Windows 7 and 8) applications and database roles.

After the MCSA is the MCSE (or MCSD for developers) which is a notch above, and is the pinnacle of Microsoft’s certifications since the retirement of MCM/MCSM/MCA programs at the first of the year. The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert certification is for the elite, and requires documented hands-on experience – as well as the MCSA – prior to testing. Servers, databases, and developers (MCSD) all have this as an option.

The Microsoft Office Specialist and MOS Expert are unique to the applications field. The MOS is the base; while MCSA is the middle and MOS (Expert) is at the top.

When examining credentials, the most important factor to consider is “where will this take me, and is it worth the time, effort, and cost?” The best way to discern the above is to plan out a career path with where you want to be, and then ascertain which certifications will get you there.

This is when talking to a staffing agency becomes the logical next step. At The Armada Group, we know what certifications are important, and as we deal with many different talents, we can help you in terms of finding the right career opportunity for you. We work with some of the most innovative and fastest-growing companies in the world, and we want to help you find the opportunities you’re looking for, and develop the experience along the way. If you are looking for technical employment in Silicon Valley, contact our team today.

Published in Recruiting

Whether you happen to be in the market right now, or you’ve decided that you’re going to kick off the New Year by looking for your dream IT job, you need a great resume to help you in your job search. The IT job market is a competitive one, and your resume is the key to gaining the attention of hiring managers, who are often looking at hundreds of applicants for a single position.

If you’re updating your IT resume for the first time in years—or creating a new one—the process can seem daunting. But it doesn’t have to be hard to turn out a resume that will impress potential employers and land you the all-important interview for the job you really want.

These holiday resume makeover tips will help you showcase the right aspects of your resume, and lead to getting you hired.

The big idea: Tell the story of you

One of the best ways to approach a resume makeover is to look at it from a different perspective. Instead of writing a list of skills, experiences, and accomplishments, your resume should tell the story of you—drawing out the core of what makes you a great choice for the job you’re going after.

Take some time to consider what you would bring to the table. You might even envision yourself in your desired position, to help you determine which of your qualities and skills would matter most. Then, work on building your resume around that vision—so potential employers can immediately see where you fit.

Watch your wording

By nature, most IT resumes tend toward density—particularly if you have a long career with a lot of experience behind you. Many candidates believe that the more experience you list, the better you’ll look, which results in the mistake of page after page of tech-heavy text that makes hiring managers’ eyes glaze over.

Ideally, you should limit your resume to no more than two pages. This means making careful wording choices that don’t use a lot of tech-babble, but instead pinpoint your relevant skills and accomplishments with clarity. Streamline your resume wherever possible, and remember to highlight your story.

Appearances count

The words on your resume are important—but so is the way those words are arranged. An effective resume gets your key points across quickly and clearly, so that hiring managers can make faster decisions about putting you in the “yes” pile. If they have to look too hard for your relevant skills and qualifications, you’ll be out of the running before you leave the starting gate.

This means chronological resumes that start with your education, and then list your experiences in order from first job to current position, are right out. You want to have essential information front and center—at the top of the first page. If you haven’t done so already, create a resume section that lists your key skills and qualifications in bullet form, and make this the first thing a potential employer sees.

Save all of your housekeeping information, such as degrees, certifications, and early job experience, for the second page. If you impress hiring managers enough upfront, they may not even have to know that information before bringing you in for an interview.

If you are looking for tech employment in California, contact us today.

Published in Recruiting
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