How to Survive a Toxic Work Environment

 

Toxic workplaces are incredibly damaging to morale and are often considered the leading cause of employee burnout. While most professionals would never willingly accept a role in such an environment, it is often hard to understand the severity of the situation until you are in it personally. At times, this occurs once you begin a new job. In others, the existing culture morphs into something toxic over time, leaving you a bit stuck.

 

If you find yourself in a toxic work environment, there are things you can do to make it more manageable. Here’s how to get started.

 

Resist the Urge to Join In

When it comes to a toxic culture, the old adage, “if you can’t beat them, join them,” should not apply. While going along with the crowd may seem like the easiest way to avoid becoming a target of negativity, it is almost guaranteed to damage your reputation both inside and out of the company. This can make it harder to secure new opportunities when the need arises.

 

Similarly, it can also reflect poorly on you as an employee. Even if a workplace is toxic, that attitude rarely extends to everyone. If those above you on the ladder notice your change if behavior, it can harm your ability to grow professionally.

 

Build a Support Network

Having colleagues or other professionals you can trust in your corner can make it easier to survive in a toxic workplace. If you have a few coworkers you can rely on it may be easier to keep your spirits up and avoid negative incidents.

 

Additionally, having a large professional network increases your odds of learning about new opportunities in companies with more favorable conditions. Then, you may be able to make a speedy exit to greener pastures if you feel that is the best course of action.

 

Enhance Your Skills

Even the most toxic workplaces have something to offer. If you get a chance to join interesting projects or acquire new knowledge, make sure to take advantage of them. This gives you more to showcase on your resume, increasing the odds that when you apply elsewhere that you’ll impress the hiring manager.

 

Document What Happens

If you are exposed to toxic events, make sure to keep copious notes about what occurs. Save any emails, record information after meetings, and otherwise track what happened and when it happened.

By documenting everything, you give yourself the evidence you need to either push for change or to simply protect yourself, both of which can be valuable in their own right.

 

Ultimately, by following the tips above, you can survive a toxic workplace. Then, if you feel like you need to make a change, you can do so at your own pace and without undue pressure to escape. If you would like to learn more about how to deal with a toxic environment or are seeking a new position, the team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to speak with one of our knowledgeable recruiters and see how our workplace expertise can benefit you.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

Body Language in a Job Interview

 

While having the right mix of skills and experience is critical to landing a new role, how you dress and present yourself during your job interview can also be a factor in whether you are selected for the position. By putting additional effort into your appearance, you can inspire confidence in the hiring manager. Plus, by learning to control your body language, it is possible to use your mannerisms to your benefit.

 

If you are wondering how to make the best impression possible, here is what you need to know about your appearance and body language during an interview.

 

How to Select Your Attire

How you look plays a role in how you are perceived and can significantly impact your first impression on the hiring manager. People will make assumptions about your competence, intelligence, attention to detail, and trustworthiness based on your appearance, so selecting the right attire is an essential part of preparing for an interview.

 

First and foremost, all of your interview clothes need to be in good repair. Holes and stains are guaranteed to leave a poor impression, so they need to be avoided at all costs. Similarly, every piece needs to fit well, as loose clothing makes a person appear disheveled while items that are too tight may seem inappropriate in a professional setting.

 

Additionally, you want to make sure your attire isn’t rumpled when you arrive. While you may not be able to prevent every wrinkle before you come in for your interview, ironing your outfit before you leave home can be beneficial.

 

If you aren’t sure what sort of clothing is appropriate for the environment, always err on the side of more dressed up and conservative. In many cases, business casual is a solid choice, but it’s hard to go wrong with a classic suit and tie or similar outfit if you aren’t sure what the hiring manager expects.

 

Master Your Body Language

During your interview, your body language can be just as important as the words you use when answering a question. By using positive body language, like sufficient eye contact and smiling, you increase your odds the hiring manager will see you as a competent professional.

 

Similarly, learning to maintain an open posture can help you seem friendlier and more self-assured while using power poses and standing or sitting up straight can make you appear more confident.

 

When you rehearse your interview responses prior to the meeting, spend some time reciting your answers in front of a mirror. This will allow you to observe your mannerisms, giving you a chance to adjust your body language to send the ideal message.

 

Ultimately, your appearance and body language do matter during a job interview, so working to improve them both can increase your odds of being selected for the role. If you are interested in learning more about how you can make a positive impression on hiring managers, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable team members today and see how our hiring expertise can benefit you.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

Google Learns from Failure

 

While the term “postmortem” may conjure up some grisly images, that is the word Google decided to assign to its process of assessing its failures to allow them to make improvements. It involves an internal process of documenting mistakes and analyzing missteps so that the company can learn from these errors.

 

Ultimately, any organization can embrace Google’s approach, allowing them to benefit from this tried-and-true system. If you are ready to see your failures in a new light, here’s how to get started.

 

Identify the Most Significant Problems

Not every incident is as serious as others. When you want to focus on improvements that provide the most value, it’s wise to focus on issues that are genuinely important.

 

To determine which events qualify, you need to define what constitutes a major problem for your company. This may include evaluating the potential ramifications of an incident, ranging from the level of impact the organization feels to how it affects customers, as well as how severe the long-term implications are should the issue remain unresolved.

 

Document Everything

Creating a written record of the issue is a critical part of the process. It allows you to review precisely what occurred, what led to the problem, how it was mitigated, and the final resolution. Then, you can focus on defining steps that can prevent the misstep from reoccurring in the future.

 

If you want the documentation process to be successful, it’s wise to gather input from all involved parties. This ensures you get a complete picture of the incident as well as the perspectives of anyone who worked on the matter.

 

It also allows every team member to reflect on the scenario, which can potentially lead to additional insights that weren’t clear during the height of the incident. The process can be a little time-consuming, but it is worth it in the end.

 

Focus on Growth

When something goes wrong, it’s easy to play the blame game. After all, no one wants to believe they are even partially responsible for what occurred.

 

However, focusing on blame isn’t constructive. It creates an environment that is based on fear as people work to dodge any repercussions.

 

Instead of allowing blame to dominate the conversation, shift the discussion to a more constructive place by making growth the priority. This will enable you to reframe the incident as a chance to improve instead of as a setback.

 

Additionally, when you remove blame from the equation, your team will be more likely to admit their mistakes or failures, increasing the odds that you’ll be able to learn from the entire situation. Leaders also need to be honest about their errors. Otherwise, your employees won’t be as open.

 

By following the tips above, you can use Google’s approach as a positive example for addressing problems as they occur. If you would like to learn more, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members and see how our expertise can benefit you.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

H1 B Visas

 

Over the past few years, the number of H-1B visa applications has largely risen. Companies embraced it as an opportunity to find skilled foreign workers to fill vacant positions, particularly in the tech sector where low unemployment and growing skill gaps in the American workforce have made hiring a challenge.

 

However, recent data suggest the pattern has possibly changed, indicating tech firms may be seeking alternatives to H-1B visas.

 

H-1B Petitions

The H-1B visa program gives American businesses the ability to secure non-immigrant foreign professionals to work for their company. It was designed to ensure companies could access skills and abilities when they aren’t presented in their current workforce and aren’t available in their area.

 

For the 2018-2019 filing period, the number of petitions dropped by approximately 4 percent, signaling a shift in company mentality regarding the program. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stated only 190,098 petitions were filed for that time, a notable drop from the approximately 236,000 petitions received in 2016.

 

 

Reason for the Drop

After President Donald Trump was elected, he quickly declared his intention to overhaul the H1-B visa program. This included making the requirements more stringent across the board, including for initial selections and renewals as well as H-4 visas for spouses of H-1B workers.

 

The intention was to encourage companies to hire Americans and other legal immigrants in lieu of using the H-1B program, and it may have worked.

 

A reduced number of petitions suggests businesses aren’t turning to H-1B visas as a potential solution as often. Some may have decided to reduce their number of petitions fearing that the chance for approval was shrinking, particularly since the requirements are harder to meet. Others may have become more diligent about finding alternatives, lowering their need for the program based on updated hiring practices.

 

However, even with the policy changes and the initial reduction in petitions, it’s too soon to tell if this year’s decline is a one-off or a sign of a new pattern emerging. This may be an indication that companies were hesitant to submit petitions based on the Trump administration’s stance and various announcements about increased difficulty in obtaining approval. But this could shift again after the current period finishes and the state of the approved or rejected petitions becomes more widely known.

 

Ultimately, the H-1B visa program is still in flux. The full impact of the policy updates is not yet known, and additional changes may be on the horizon, sending the program into a different direction.

 

At this point, it’s safe to say companies are seeking out alternatives that allow them to locate citizens and legal immigrants for their vacancies, instead of using the program. If you are currently seeking skilled professionals for your job openings, the team at The Armada Group can connect you with some of the area’s top talent. Contact us to discuss your hiring needs today and see how our services can benefit you.

 

 

Network Engineers

 

Network engineers are vital. They ensure companies and employees have access to critical resources, allowing them to handle their duties quickly and efficiently.

 

While technical ability is obviously important, there are other skills that are essential if you want to have a successful career. If you're going to rise through the ranks as a network engineer, here are three must-have skills to keep you moving forward.

 

  1. Communication Skills

Network engineers, like many other tech professionals, are no longer in the proverbial shadows, restricted to basement work areas and never interacting with other employees.

 

Today, network engineers need to communicate with other professionals, including team members, upper management, and a variety of departments. Often, you’ll be tasked with relaying complex information to individuals who aren’t as tech-savvy. Additionally, you have to work with other departments to ensure any network changes actually meet their needs.

 

Without strong communication skills, you’ll struggle as a network engineer, so consider this a must.

 

 

  1. Organizational Skills

Since a core part of a network engineer’s job is the creation and deployment of potentially complex networks, having strong organizational skills is a must. You need to be able to outline a project, break it down into logical steps, and keep everything on target as you move forward.

 

Depending on your level of seniority, you may also be responsible for requesting bids, managing budgets, and ensuring outside parties adhere to their contractual obligations. Without strong organizational skills, it’s easy for the details to fall through the cracks, and this could quickly derail a project and, potentially, harm your career.

 

  1. Willingness to Learn

While this is more of a trait than a skill, a willingness to learn is essential for any network engineer who wants to be successful in their career. Technology evolves quickly, and IT professionals need to stay up-to-date if they're going to remain relevant in the field.

 

Without a willingness to learn or, even worse, a reluctance, you’ll quickly become stagnant in your network engineering career. Over time, your skill set may also become obsolete, cutting your career short.

 

You don’t necessarily have to commit to a lengthy formal education to keep up with the latest and greatest in the field. Instead, you can focus on up-and-coming certifications, attend training seminars and conferences, or simply conduct your own research. Additionally, if your company is bringing in a new technology, embrace it and focus on acquiring the knowledge to use it properly.

 

Ultimately, network engineers who possess the skills listed above are poised for greater success than their counterparts who may be lacking in these areas. If you haven’t focused on those before, now is a great time to start.

 

If you are currently seeking a new network engineering position, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you to top employers throughout the area. Contact us to speak with one of our recruitment specialists today and see how our services can help you find your ideal role.

 

 

Published in Hiring Managers

Cryptocurrency

 

After Bitcoin’s meteoric rise in 2017, the world has become fascinated with cryptocurrencies. The virtual currencies were designed to be an alternative medium for payments, employing new ledger mechanisms to record transactions and monitor the flow of funds.

 

However, the largely unregulated cryptocurrency market has also come under fire. Scams aren’t uncommon, and some question whether they help support illegal activities simply based on how they are designed, even if it is an unintentional side effect.

 

Cryptocurrencies are shaking up the global market. If you aren’t familiar with how they are used, here’s what you need to know.

 

The Appeal of Cryptocurrencies

While initially considered a novelty by many governments, cryptocurrencies have significant potential when it comes to international dealings. The funds are easy to use and can provide alternatives to individuals or companies operating in countries where the local currency is unstable.

 

Additionally, cryptocurrencies are primarily unregulated, providing people with the ability to circumvent strict controls regarding taxation and the flow of money, both internally and across borders.

 

The technical mechanisms are also appealing to some. Blockchain ledgers provide some benefits for the recording and tracking of transactions, being mostly transparent and unalterable.

 

Government Responses and Perspectives

As cryptocurrencies gained traction, many governments began examining the digital currency market in an effort to develop proper controls, particularly when it comes to preventing issues like tax evasion. However, few limitations on the use of cryptocurrencies are currently in place, and it may take time to resolve any potential problems, as some may not yet be especially apparent.

 

 

Issues of High Volatility

One of the biggest concerns regarding cryptocurrencies is their volatile nature. At one point in 2017, Bitcoins were valued at over $19,000 each. However, the market has since experienced significant declines, even falling below the $8,000 mark.

 

While the high experienced by Bitcoin has led some to invest in it and other altcoins as a means of diversifying their portfolios, the future of most cryptocurrencies is incredibly uncertain. Some financial experts fear that a crash is inevitable while others claim that a recovery is on the horizon.

 

A boom or crash can impact global markets in a variety of ways, though the low total market capitalization should prevent a drop from having the same level of impact as those in other areas, such as when mortgage-backed securities led to a global financial crisis.

 

The size of the market likely means that there is little systemic risk today, though that may change depending on how much traction cryptocurrencies gain and how investors react. Additionally, new legislation will impact the effect virtual currencies have on larger markets, but the precise impact of regulations won’t be fully known until they are in place.

 

Ultimately, cryptocurrencies are a fledgling part of the global market, so the full effect of their presence may not be known for some time.

 

If you are interested in learning more, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members today and see how our expertise can benefit you.

 

 

 Universities

 

As technology becomes more ingrained in the daily life of nearly every American, universities are working to take on issues surrounding the ethical ramifications of the increased use of tech. While many recent developments in the sector, like AI and autonomous vehicles, have a lot of potential for good, there are also risks associated with the technology that need to be considered.

 

If you are wondering how some of the top universities are teaching ethics in tech, and why they are taking it on, here’s what you need to know.

 

Why Focus on Ethics?

The technology industry has frequently become the focus of ethical challenges. Companies like Uber and Google have faced criticism about their culture, and Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms were drawn into the debate for their possible roles in spreading questionable material during the last presidential election.

 

Ultimately, technology is impacting the lives of the masses, and improper handling of certain issues in these realms negatively affects the country and even the world. Since tech is only likely to become a larger part of daily life, both inside and out of the office, the creation of classes designed to discuss and address these problems is timely.

 

 

What are Top Universities Teaching?

While the full scope of what is, or will be, offered is growing, many of the classes focus on key issues facing the tech industry and people working in IT roles. For example, MIT and Harvard are jointly offering a course titled “The Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence,” predominately focusing on the possible ramifications of AI and machine learning.

 

The University of Texas at Austin has just begun offering a class called “Ethical Foundations of Computer Science,” and intends to make it a requirement for computer science majors in the future. Cornell has a course focused on data science and ethics while Stanford is developing a class on general computer science-related ethics that they plan to make available next year.

 

The ultimate goal is to introduce concepts of ethics and morality to students who will soon be working in burgeoning fields associated with computer science and tech. With technologies like autonomous vehicles and weapons, both of which have the significant capacity to harm or even kill, preparing to be released to the market, being equipped to teach critical points about ethics is being considered a must.

 

Additionally, many up and coming technologies could fundamentally change how society works, and the implications of such changes are potentially vast.

 

While it’s hard to predict exactly what technologies will become available over the next three, five, or ten years, teaching ethics at a foundational level will help those working in the field to consider the broader implications of their activities, hopefully preventing potential issues before they occur.

 

If you are interested in learning more about ethics in tech, the knowledgeable professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our skilled team members today.

 

 

Friday, Mar 16 2018

Has Agile Hit its Peak?

Agile 

 

Agile was once lauded as the ideal approach to software development. It allowed teams to create software at a rapid pace while also keeping projects aligned to their core objectives. But, as Agile joined the mainstream, many began considering it the answer for every project, even if it wasn’t always an appropriate approach.

 

While Agile can be an excellent methodology for certain objectives, it may not be ideal for your team or project. Before you default to an Agile approach, here are a few times when you should consider using an alternative methodology.

 

Your Using Agile to Appear Up-to-Date

A lot of companies adopt the Agile methodology largely based on appearances, wanting to be able to declare to the world that they are an Agile organization. Others choose it because they haven’t used a new methodology for quite some time and they fear that they will be viewed negatively for not using the approach.

 

However, choosing Agile just because it is the method where everyone recognizes its name isn’t a good reason for bringing it in. Just because a business isn’t using Agile doesn’t mean that their current approach isn’t practical, so don’t abandon something that is working just because of the name.

 

 

Your Costs Would Rise

In some highly regulated industries, trying to force an Agile approach to development can actually cost you more money in the long run. Often, if regulatory bodies dictate how certain things must be done (even if they allow for the use of some Agile concepts), it’s best to stick with what is effective, especially if significant documentation and mindset changes could stall your tech teams.

 

Not every industry is as suited for Agile as others, so it’s okay to bypass this approach if it doesn’t quite fit in your highly regulated environment.

 

A Two-Week Delivery Schedule Doesn’t Make Sense

Agile uses a segmented development approach in the form of two- to three-week sprints. At the end of each spring, there is supposed to be working code and a demonstrable result. However, not every project can be divided into pieces that align with such a schedule and, if it doesn’t break down properly, but you try to force it by compressing your timeline, you could be pushing your IT staff beyond the limits of what is possible in that timeframe.

 

Some projects simply don’t break down into Agile-ready chunks and, when that’s the case, trying to make it align with the methodology just doesn’t make sense.

 

Ultimately, Agile can be a great software development methodology, but only if it makes sense for your project and is appropriate for your industry. If it doesn’t align, then don’t try to force Agile into your workplace. Otherwise, it could cost you more than you expect.

 

If you are interested in learning more or are seeking a skilled IT pro to join your team, the experienced staff at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to learn more about our services, including how they can benefit your business, today.

 

 

Published in IT Infrastructure

Infrastructure Support Engineer

 

Infrastructure support engineers are a vital part of any business that has its own IT infrastructure. These professionals help ensure that the environment is robust, scalable, and capable of delivering essential services that are required for a variety of tasks.

 

Typically, professionals working in this field are largely focused on physical resources, including a wide range of hardware, software, and tools, ensuring that they are fully operational whenever they are needed. They may be tasked with building new solutions, maintaining current systems, or integrating new technologies into existing infrastructure designs.

 

How much you can earn as an infrastructure support engineer in San Jose depends on a few factors, such as your level of experience and your personal skill set. However, here is an overview of what is potentially available, depending on where you are in your career.

 

Salary Averages

In the San Jose area, the average base pay for an infrastructure support engineer is just over $81,000, which is considered well above the national average. Typically, it takes a minimum of seven years of experience in the profession or a highly coveted skill set to reach salaries above that point, though many professionals who dedicate themselves to the field will see this as perfectly reasonable.

 

The full range of potential pay rates can fall anywhere between $65,000 on the low end, typically reflecting entry-level positions, to $123,000 on the high end, indicative of professionals with a substantial amount of experience.

 

In some cases, senior level professionals can even obtain higher salaries, particularly if they are tasked with overseeing a team of other professionals.

 

 

Factors that Determine Salary

While experience often plays the largest role when it comes to a professional’s pay rate, other factors can also impact salary offerings. For example, most infrastructure support engineers have at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field, and those who obtain graduate degrees may be better equipped to reach a higher level of compensation more quickly than those who don’t.

 

Your skill set is another point that can impact your salary, especially if you are highly competent in a niche area that many other professionals don’t encounter and a company is seeking out a professional who specifically has expertise in that area.

 

Ultimately, pursuing a career as an infrastructure support engineer can be incredibly lucrative, especially if you obtain the necessary level of education and are willing to put in the time to build your skills and level of experience.

 

If you are interested in securing a job as an infrastructure support engineer at one of the area’s leading companies, the knowledgeable professionals at The Armada Group can assist you in reaching your goals. Contact us to speak with one of our skilled staff members today and see how our services can help you take the next step forward in your career.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

Test Automation

 

While manual testing skills are still valuable to software professionals, the increased use of automated testing means that workers need to be prepared to develop their level of competency in that area. Otherwise, you risk becoming functionally obsolete, harming your ability to advance your career or even maintain your current position.

 

If you have been hesitant to jump into the world of automation, here is why you should take the leap today.

 

Demand is Rising

A few years ago, hiring professionals began sounding the alarm, letting software testers know that automation was going to become mainstream. Since that time, the demand for professionals with experience in test automation has only increased, reflecting how widely utilized the approach has become.

 

In some cases, companies are choosing to make automated testing skills a requirement, eliminating those who don’t possess the necessary level of competency from contention immediately. Often, this is a reflection of the growing use of Agile development methodologies which promote automation as a means of achieving continuous integration and faster development cycles.

 

 

Top Automation Technologies

Certain automation technologies are more widely used than others, so focusing on those that are most requested can be beneficial.

 

While every company has different needs, Selenium, JMeter, QTP, LoadRunner, and xUnit frameworks (including JUnit, NUnit, and TestNG) are excellent places to start.

 

If you have a target company in mind, research which technologies that business uses and begin exploring those.

 

Are Programming Skills a Necessity?

Often, manual testing professionals fear that improving their understanding of automated testing practices means they have to essentially become programmers. It is true that programming experience can be incredibly beneficial, particularly when interacting with development teams or assisting with black-box or white-box testing.

 

However, that doesn’t mean you need to become an expert in every available coding language. If you are just starting out with programming, consider dedicating some time to learning SQL, as this is a commonly requested area of competency.

 

Java experience is also beneficial, along with popular languages like Perl, Python, and C or C++. General web development skills, such as XML, HTML, HTTP/HTTPS, and CSS are also helpful.

 

In the end, software testers do need to be prepared to do some level of programming, even if it isn’t the focus of their profession. By getting started today, you can better position yourself to continue along your chosen career path, ensuring a higher level of job security.

 

Is Manual Testing Dead?

While the increased importance of having test automation skills is changing the tech landscape, manual testing continues to play a part in many workplaces. However, the shift does mean that automated testing skills are becoming a necessity, so it is crucial that you add them to your repertoire to ensure a reasonable level of job security.

 

If you are interested in learning more or are seeking a new software testing opportunity, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable team members today.

 

 

Published in Staffing News
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