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

why your engineers will

While it's true that managers need to know how to manage; they don't need to know the details of how their employees do their jobs. Managers need to know how to make decisions that help the business achieve its goals. For technology managers, that means understanding technology well enough to make smart decisions that set the technology direction for the business. The best place to find managers with that understanding? Look within the ranks of your engineering and development teams.

Your Engineers Understand Technology

For starters, the talent on those teams already understand the details of your business, and they're already thinking about how to use technology to solve your company’s problems. Because they know both technology and the business, an engineer from your team won't believe that any single technology will magically fix all the issues you face. They'll understand how to bring multiple technologies together to craft a solution.

Your Engineers Understand Technical People

The engineers on your teams also understand the way technical people work. They know that late arrivals at the office don't mean laziness; they reflect late nights spent solving problems at work. They know how the people on team work together, and where the team is struggling because of gaps in skills. They have the ability to assess the way a candidate will fit in and work with the team, as well as the candidate's technical capability.

Finding Leaders On Your Team Encourages Leaders to Develop

When you find your IT leaders from your engineering teams, you encourage the development of more leaders on your engineering teams. Promoting a technical team member to a leadership role demonstrates a true commitment to developing your employees. Other employees who weren't sure if they'd have a future at the company can see it as a real possibility.

Once you promote a technical team member to a leadership role, you'll most likely need to fill the hands-on role they're stepping out of. You might also find that, despite your honest desire to promote an internal employee, no one's ready – or technical employees prefer to remain technical. In either case, The Armada Group has extensive connections with top talent who can get the job done and help your business achieve its goals. Contact us to learn how we can help you build a team of strong developers and leaders who drive your business to technology success.

Published in Staffing News

Are Your Job Descriptions Job Deceptions

Job candidates may be looking for a new career for one of many reasons, or several reasons at once. The motivations vary according to each candidate’s personal preferences and circumstances — but there are typically common factors. Some of the most popular reasons for embarking on the path of career change include:

  • A desire for new challenges
  • Moving or seeking a better location
  • Increased potential for career advancement
  • Improved job security
  • A higher caliber of co-workers
  • More money

The last factor may be the most common, either as a sole reason or part of the overall motivation for jumping the career ship — and it’s also a frequent cause for deception on behalf of job candidates. Here’s how it happens, and what you should do about it.

When employee verification turns up a deception

For a great candidate whose resume is impressive, and who’s passed the interview (or multiple interviews) with flying colors, typically the final step between extending a job offer and actually hiring is an employee verification screening. This includes background and reference checks, as well as contacting past employers to verify:

  • Whether the candidate worked there, and for how long
  • What their job title was
  • What salary they were receiving

At this point, many hiring managers are surprised to learn that the candidate has lied about their previous salary, stating it as higher — sometimes much higher — than it actually was.

Why candidates lie about salary

There’s a common psychology among job candidates that inflating their salary records will benefit them once they’re hired somewhere else. Some assume that if they’re applying for a position that’s offering a larger salary than they’re currently receiving, they need to say they were making the same amount (or close to it) in order to justify the higher offering. Others believe that claiming to have earned more will allow them to negotiate for a higher-than-offered salary.

In any case, it’s the wrong strategy to use in trying to earn more — and it could cost them the job offer.

Discouraging salary deception

Hiring managers and recruiters know that lying about salary simply doesn’t work. What many candidates fail to grasp is that earning less money doesn’t mean they’re worth less. Provided your resume and interview show you’re the type of person the company wants to hire, you’ll be offered the salary that was advertised for the position — even if you made less at your previous job.

Another factor is the company’s budget. In nearly all cases, hiring companies have a set budget for the roles they’re looking to fill, and they’ll stay very close to that budget. Upping the salary offer during an interview is rare, especially if the candidate is trying to negotiate a much larger amount.

When candidates inflate their salaries, they lose credibility with employers, and often destroy their chance at getting hired. Instead, the right approach is to be confident in your abilities, and prove that you’re worth the salary you’re requesting.

Want to know more about salary deceptions, or how this could apply to your hiring or job search strategies? Contact The Armada Group today. We know what it takes – and what you can’t do! – when filling or fighting for jobs.

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Published in Staffing News
Wednesday, Dec 18 2013

5 Common IT Job Search Mistakes

Looking for a job in the competitive tech market can be an exercise in frustration. If your IT job search doesn’t seem to be getting you any closer to landing a job, it might be the competition, or maybe your resume. Or you could be making one or more of these common mistakes that many IT pros stumble into during a job hunt.

Read on to learn more about potential IT job search problems, and how you can correct them.

Skipping the planning and preparation stage

A lot of IT job seekers brush off their resume and dive right in, without giving a thought to job search strategy. This mistake leads to hours of wasted time and a faster onset of burnout as you fail to make progress.

Maybe you’re spending all your time sifting through the hundreds of listings on job boards, or Googling for new leads. Maybe you’re only dedicating a few minutes to finding a potential position and firing off your resume. Whatever you’re doing, if you haven’t planned ahead of time then it’s probably not working.

Look at your schedule and block out some time to focus on your job search. To stop yourself from spending most of that time crawling through job postings, use your first session to set up alerts for the type of position you want—either through Google or directly on job boards. Then you’ll have opportunities waiting for you to investigate when you sit down to job hunt in earnest.

Applying the spaghetti method

Throwing your resume all over the place and hoping it sticks somewhere is not only a poor strategy. It’s also likely to land you a job you won’t like, which means you’ll have to start the job search process all over again. With this method, you’ll waste time chasing down leads that don’t pan out—and the evidence of your scattershot job search will dilute the message you’re sending to potential employers.

Make sure you know what you’re looking for, and focus your efforts on jobs that match. Also, don’t rely solely on job boards and recruiters, which might be the least effective avenues for real job opportunities. It’s better to concentrate on expanding your business network and finding leads through the connections you make.

Too much tech talk

How long is your resume? By nature, IT resumes usually have more content than other industries—but if yours is a sprawling, eight-page document that reads like a manual, it’s time to revise. Listing every single detail of your career can backfire if it goes on longer than two or three pages. At that point, impressive turns into tedious, and you’ve lost most hiring managers’ interest.

This mistake also applies to interviews. While you can and should mention your technical skills during a job interview, it’s better to keep that discussion brief and focus on your soft skills. You landed the interview on the strength of the technical information in your resume—so the interview itself is the time to show you’re a good fit for the company.

Trashing your past (or current) employer

Plenty of IT pros have had miserable work experiences. But if you’re using your interview time to bad-mouth a rotten boss, there’s more at risk than the chance your interviewer knows your former employer. You’re also making yourself a poor candidate. The hiring company only has your side of the story when it comes to bad employment experiences, and they may default to thinking you’re a complainer.

So be honest about why the bad situation didn’t work out, but stay respectful. Instead of talking trash about the employer, focus on how you met the challenge of a difficult work environment.

And if you’re currently employed, whether your boss is good or bad, don’t use your work email address as your contact information during your job search.

Failing to follow up

This may be the number one mistake IT pros make in a job search. Many employers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to collect candidate resumes and scan for keywords before they start scheduling interviews—and with hundreds of resumes sent this way, it’s easy to lose a few in the shuffle.

During the application process, look for contact information for each company where you can direct questions. Then, once you’ve uploaded your resume, send a follow-up email that reinforces your interest in the job and asks for verification that your application packet was received.

You should also follow-up any interviews you go on with a thank-you email, including anything you forgot to mention during the interview. Simply following up can help you stand out from other candidates, and increase your chances of being hired.

If you are looking for technical job opportunities in California, contact us today.

Published in Recruiting

 

There’s a relatively recent shift in employment trends that is especially significant in the tech industry, and that is job longevity. The days of starting and ending your career at the same company are long gone—and it’s rare that anyone spends even a decade with the same employer.

In the software development field, this paradigm has come to signify a positive asset. Developers and engineers who change jobs frequently are viewed not as disloyal and unreliable, but as adaptable and improving. Their skills outgrow their job demands, and they move on to better challenges—a process that makes them more desirable to employers.

So as contrary as it might seem, frequent job-changing is one way software developers can increase their employability. Here are some other things you can do to make yourself a hot commodity in the tech world.

Be an expert at one thing (and proficient in others)

Specialists are always in high demand in every field. While it’s important for software engineers to be well-rounded, choosing an area of expertise will help to ensure that there’s always a position for you somewhere. Make sure you specialize in something you enjoy doing, so you don’t get burned out and lose your expert advantage.

Of course, technology is always changing, so you shouldn’t specialize in the flavor of the moment. Instead, opt for foundational specialties in things that tend to last for a decade or more, such as a particular field, programming language, or type of software.

Keep your options open

This tip can be applied in a few different ways. First, it’s essential to continue learning new things and working with new technologies. Employers want to see software developers who are flexible, open-minded, and willing to try new tools, languages, and platforms. The longer you go without learning, the more difficult it will be to find a new position.

Second, experienced developers should be willing to compromise on the hierarchy of positions they’ll accept, especially when entering a new software area. If you’ll only take a senior or supervisory position with a high salary, you’ll find your options extremely limited and your job search extended much longer than you want.

Network—even when you’re not thinking about changing jobs

The saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” can often be applied to finding work as a software developer. You don’t necessarily need connections to land a job, but there are a lot of benefits to continual networking—not the least of which is the potential to lower your job search time dramatically.

In addition to maintaining an accurate, active LinkedIn profile, you can network throughout your current employment by:

  • Reaching out to others in your field at different companies. For example, when you hear about a new development you admire, send a quick email or social media mention to congratulate them. The positive impact you make will help you out later.
  • Put yourself out there by attending conferences or industry events, writing industry articles for online circulation or as a guest blogger, or even doing some public speaking. You’ll make connections you may not even be aware of until you start searching for your next job.

Being employable as a software developer is all about keeping things fresh, interesting, and constantly circulating. Resist the urge to bury yourself in code, and make new experiences that will help you enjoy a long and happy career.

If your are looking software developer jobs in California, contact The Armada Group today.

 

Ready for A New Gig?

Ready for a New Gig?

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Published in Recruiting
Thursday, Nov 21 2013

Top 5 Chrome Extensions of 2013

 

In just five years, Google Chrome has become the most widely used desktop browser, surpassing both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Chrome is pretty impressive right out of the box, with the latest update (Version 27) featuring excellent security, fast response time, superior HTML5 support, cross-device bookmark and preference syncing, and a built-in PDF reader and flash player.

However, extensions and add-ons can make Chrome even better. There are now almost as many Chrome extras—more than 50,000 of them—as there are in the extensive Firefox library of add-ons. Here are five of the best for 2013.

Security extension: Click&Clean

Maximize your browsing privacy and security with this full-featured extension. Click&Clean features a drop-down menu with 1-click actions like clearing your cache, deleting cookies, and erasing your download and browser history. You can also delete temporary files, Flash Cookies, and client-side Web SQL databases.

This extension offers more than a fast way to erase your browsing activity. Click&Clean gives you a one-click link to external security applications, like Bitdefender to scan for malware and CCCleaner or Wise Disk Cleaner to securely delete files. You can also use this add-on to watch flash videos offline.

Interface extension: AdBlock and AdBlock Plus

Both of these Chrome add-ons serve the same basic purpose: they keep ads from ruining your online experience. The community-driven AdBlock Plus blocks banners, pop-ups, and video ads, including on Facebook and YouTube.

AdBlock (without the “plus”), which is unrelated to the extension of nearly the same name, takes things a step further by blocking banners, pop-ups, and all video and Flash ads, including those in Flash-based games. The latest version, 2.6, also includes a counter that shows you how many ads have been blocked.

Productivity extension: RescueTime

Ever wonder where the time goes when you’re online? Now you can figure out which sites are your biggest time drains with this handy add-on. The RescueTime Chrome Productivity Meter keeps track of which sites you’re using online. An automatic pause feature stops the timer when your keyboard and mouse go untouched for two minutes, and you get a report letting you know exactly where you spend the most time.

Bonus extension: Can’t seem to pry yourself off Facebook or YouTube? Pair RescueTime with StayFocusd, an add-on that limits the amount of time per day Chrome will let you spend on certain websites before the browser blocks them. You can set StayFocusd to monitor your time on entire sites, specific pages, or even apps and Flash games.

Sharing and bookmarking extension: AddThis

A faster way to bookmark pages, share content on your social networks, and more, AddThis makes it easy to save your favorite things online. You can bookmark or share anything with a tool bar drop-down menu, or by right-clicking anywhere on a page. AddThis supports more than 300 services, including the big social media networks, blogging platforms, and email services.

Tab extension: Awesome New Tab Page

The default new tab in Chrome shows you shortcut options based on recently visited pages or most-used bookmarks. With the Awesome New Tab Page add-on, you get a customizable Windows 8-esque tile menu that lets you arrange your favorite bookmarks and custom shortcuts, add dynamic widgets, launch apps, and more. You can move, resize, and delete your shortcuts and widgets at will with a drag-n-drop interface.

If you are looking for software developer jobs in Santa Cruz CA, contact us today. We would love to hear from you.

 

 

Ready for A New Gig?

Ready for a New Gig?

Send us your résumé, and we’ll do the searching for you!

 

 

Recently, Apple released the OS X Mavericks, billed as “the world’s most advanced desktop operating system.” Designed to help Mac users port the iOS experience to their desktops and laptops, the new system has a lot of new features and advanced technologies—and best of all, it’s a free upgrade.

The new operating system comes with apps for the desktop that also work with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices. Here’s what’s new with OS X Mavericks, which you can download and install now from the Mac App Store.

Device syncing for iBooks

The iBooks app included with Mavericks makes your library accessible through your Mac. This upgrade syncs iBooks libraries through iCloud, the OS X storage—so when you highlight, bookmark, or take notes on any device, the changes appear in all your devices automatically. The app also remembers what page you’re on, and lets you keep multiple books open at once.

New and improved Maps

Apple took a lot of flak over its Maps function when it was first introduced in 2012 with a host of glitches and mistakes. Now the improved Maps interface contains fewer mistakes, and also has features like the ability to look up directions on your Mac, and send them to your iPhone for voice navigation en route.

Recent searches and bookmarks are saved to the iCloud and synced with all your devices. The app offers information on local points of interest, and uses the interactive, photorealistic Flyover view that gives Maps a great look and feel/

Facelift and features for Calendar

In addition to a great new look, the Calendar app for OS X Mavericks comes with an event inspector that auto-suggests points of interest or addresses when you start filling in the location field. There’s also a weather forecast display, one-click directions, a travel time calculator, and notification scheduling.

Password storage with iCloud Keychain

This app uses 256-bit AES encryption to store website user names and passwords on user-approved Mac and iOS devices. In addition, it can store your credit card information, and auto-fills the data to save you time when you’re signing in or checking out.

Improved functionality for multiple screens

Apple’s OS previously treated multiple screens as primary and secondary displays, with the Dock and menu bar only available on the primary display. With the Mavericks upgrade, multiple screens now behave as two primaries, each with a separate menu bar. The Dock is accessible through whichever screen you’re using, and you can run any combination of multiple windows and full-screen apps independently. The multiple display functionality also lets you use an HDTV as a functioning second display with Apple TV and AirPlay.

Better organization with tags

A new tag function with OS X Mavericks makes it easy to find files and documents stored on your hard drive or in the iCloud. You can tag files with keywords, and retrieve all files tagged with a specific keyword at once by either entering the keyword in the search field, or clicking on it in the Finder sidebar.

Efficiency and performance boosts

OS X Mavericks has redesigned not only the looks, features, and interfaces of desktop apps, but also their performance. A Timer Coalescing feature for processing groups operations to put your CPU into low-power mode more often for increased energy efficiency, and App Naps powers down apps while they’re not in use to save even more energy.

There’s also improved HD playback efficiency and a Compressed Memory feature that keeps more memory available by compressing data from inactive apps.

If you are looking for software developer jobs in California, contact us today.

 

You know better than anyone how technology can revolutionize systems, so it shouldn't be a shock that one of those revolutions is how landing new opportunities and moving forward in your career are being changed by the social web.

Resumes are becoming passe, and taking their place is the concept of “personal brand” - signature traits, achievements, and contributions that reflect what you alone bring to the table. Your personal brand is your reputation, your work legacy, your defining role in the industry. Careful cultivation can create a personal brand that will open up doors as you progress along your career path.

Be the Next . . . You!

Many people have tried to predict who will be 'the next Steve Jobs'. Will it be Jeff Bezos? Elon Musk? You? The problem with trying to the next someone else is that it isn't authentic. Your personal brand has to be just that – personal. It's that unique intersection between your knowledge, experience, and passion—and how you share that with those around you in the workplace.

Figuring out your personal brand is as simple – and as difficult – as taking a look at your top traits and what you are known for. Are you a usability evangelist? Do you educate people about quality assurance? Are you seen as a great team leader, or viewed as a lone wolf visionary? Look at the consistency of your work; does it have a theme? What do you know the most about and how do you communicate it? How does that tie into your career goals? Leverage the best of what you have to offer, and how you offer it, to purposely develop your brand and its message.

Get Social to Get Noticed

Now that you've gotten a good start on identifying your personal brand, a large part of its development will be networking to help others identify it. While it's not all about who you know, that does play a significant part in ensuring doors are opened to you.

LinkedIn, BranchOut, and Google+ are three excellent social networking sites with a more professional focus. Work hard on your LinkedIn profile – don't just view it as your online resume. Join industry groups and interact with them. Follow industry influencers on LinkedIn and elsewhere, making sure to comment on articles. Be as useful as possible without fawning over them. Add valuable insight to keep the discussion going, and you'll soon stand out. Hone your writing skills to make sure you communicate well – it's going to come in handy...

Create a Voice Worth Sharing

The next level of building your personal brand is creating and sharing your own content. If you've paid attention to what and how the IT leaders are sharing, you should have a sense of the kind of content that's valuable to your industry. It's time to add your voice.

There are multiples ways your brand can deliver its messaging: A blog on your own site, guest posts on respected industry blogs, forums and groups, whitepapers, participating in an open source project, speaking at or leading a seminar, even 'micro-blogging' and delivering nuggets of wisdom on Twitter. Your first priority is to create valuable content; your second is to promote it. This hierarchy should guarantee that your focus is serving others – the reverse will come across loud and clear that you're not ready to lead and therefore not worthy of followers.

Branding tells the story about what you 'produce' and why, but it's not just about promoting yourself. If you want a brand that communicates how you are the right choice for that next step up, it has to be about how you are really qualified. Otherwise, your brand will simply become more noise lost in a busy online world.

If you are looking for information technology jobs in California, contact us today.

 

Published in Recruiting

If you’re wrapping up your degree in one of information technology’s many specializations, or if you’re interested in a new position, the job market for IT professionals is looking pretty bright, even in an economy with slow job growth. We’ve collected a few good reasons you may want to brush up your resume and get excited about new challenges.

Accelerating Job Growth

The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has released figures showing that several IT specialties will be on the forefront of all job growth, in both volume and specific demand, for the next decade. Some of those high-demand areas of expertise include information security, cloud computing, and mobile app development. Analysts of many stripes – web, data communications, and systems – are also desired.

For many of these positions, the focus is more about solving business problems than just administration or coding. That means those looking to land a new position will need to have more than just IT skills—the ability to see the big picture and puzzle out the details will be essential.

Rising Salaries

In addition to the number of IT positions, salaries are also expected to progress nicely, especially in comparison to other vocations. In particular, mobile app developers, wireless network engineers, network engineers, and data modelers are all projected to see an average increase of over 7.5%. Several more IT specialties will see more-than-modest growth, making the field fertile with possibilities.

Multiple Job Offers in Multiple Locations

Looking to relocate? IT is everywhere, and great prospective careers can be found far beyond Silicon Valley. Companies of varying sizes across the U.S. are taking advantage of new technologies, and hiring the staff they need to harness its advantages. Mobile, interactive, and big data are all hotspots for the IT field, creating openings in many different industries. If your IT experience includes healthcare, expect to see more opportunities as well, as technology needs in this arena are exploding.

A growing number of telecommuting IT jobs are available, as employers realize this flexible feature is attractive to the top talent they’re seeking to add to their teams. Provided the communication and deliverability are there, you may be able to relocate your work environment to your home as part of your compensation negotiation with a new job.

Spending Predicted to Escalate

Perhaps not quite as strong as predicted earlier in the year, the 2013 IT spending forecast is still up over last year—and continuing to trend higher for the foreseeable future. Companies are recognizing that updating their technology, as well as exploring new tech tools, is a crucial investment into staying on the cutting edge. Collecting, organizing, and sorting big data is essential for maximizing information gathered from customers and potential customers. In turn, they are also seeking the right IT team members to implement solutions and manage systems, as well as specialists they can depend on to speed up progress.

Forecasting job outlooks isn’t an exact science, but considering how many of the important pieces are in place for growth, it’s pretty fair to say that 2013 is a great year for chances to advance your IT career.

If you are looking for information technology jobs in California, contact The Armada Group today.

Published in Recruiting

Careers, like technology, can stagnate or become obsolete—and, also like technology, they can be augmented to boost progress. With a clear goal and careful planning, you can innovate your thinking and develop opportunities to ensure that your job becomes an exciting advancement.

Bridge the Gap between Current and Needed Skills

You bring three types of skills to your job: knowledge-based skills (education and past job experience), general transferable skills (non-specific to your expertise), and behavioral characteristics (personality traits developed through life experience). All three can be expanded and improved upon. Take stock of the different skills you offer: are you a detail-oriented TI graduate with who communicates well? List everything you bring to the table.

Now, envision your career destination. What skills do you need to get from there to here, and how can you acquire them? This will help define your career path. Whether it’s further training, better project management abilities, or stronger follow-through – or all three – your ideal workplace image can direct your self-development.

Consult with Leaders about Your Career Path

You have your dream and some thoughts on how to get there. The next step is sitting down with the appropriate people at your organization and talking about the possibilities. Whether it’s your supervisor, a human resources staff member, or the colleague who’s become a mentor, someone in leadership can offer the guidance you need to get where you want to be. Eventually moving forward may mean some side-stepping with lateral moves in your company for now – but don’t undervalue the opportunities that a related, same-tier role can provide in developing your skill set.

Those you consult can also point you toward useful activities and training. Maybe they know of a community college course, an “apprenticeship” within the organization, upcoming projects, or even volunteering that will provide relationship-building opportunities. Keep your ears and eyes open, and remember that to a certain extent, you are asking for construction criticism; however, your employer should be pleased with your motivation and interested in your development. They may even be willing to invest in that development.

Get Noticed by Getting Certified

As far as investing in development, nothing says commitment like putting the money and time into pursuing certification, if applicable. Many IT careers that show strong possibilities for career growth are tied to certifications that demonstrate your specialized knowledge. Depending on your demographic role, there are certifications for security, networking, programming, project management, and more. Determine which will provide the highest return on your training and education investment for the specific position you want to reach. Peruse descriptions of open positions for that particular title on job boards to pinpoint certification qualifications. Without being obnoxious about it, keep your supervisor and HR department updated on your acquisition for certification.

Advancing your IT profession requires being honest about your current capabilities, identifying improvements, setting goals, having important conversations, and investing in education and training. You know better than anyone else what you want from your career, and you have more control than anyone else to get where you want to be.

If you are looking for software engineer jobs near Silicon Valley, contact The Armada Group today.

Published in Recruiting