Whether your official job title is “technical writer” or you need to handle some technical writing as part of your duties, improving your skills is a smart move. By enhancing your capabilities, you can become a more valuable employee, stand out from the crowd, and more easily advance your career. If you want to know how you can improve your technical writing, here are ten tips that can help you achieve that goal.
Most IT professionals would benefit from staying on top of emerging technology trends. By doing so, you are ensuring your field- and industry-related knowledge remains current. Trend-awareness allows you to take certain actions that benefit your career. For example, you can identify potential disruptors and acquire skills that relate to those emerging technologies, enhancing the value of your skillset. Alternatively, you can alert your employer to new tech that may benefit the organization, allowing them to remain ahead of the competition.
Staying on top of emerging technology trends doesn’t have to be challenging. Here are a few ways that you can get going right away.
The tech world may still be male-dominated, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of women who want to pursue careers in the industry. Plus, women can be incredibly successful after launching a career in tech, especially if they use the right approach.
If you are a woman who wants to work in the tech industry, here are some tips that can help you kickstart your career and keep it moving forward.
Advances in the world of technology often leave many people fearful. They may assume that emerging tech – like advanced robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) – will take over their jobs, leaving them with nowhere to go.
While technology will make certain positions obsolete over the coming years, the news isn’t all negative. According to a report, 75 million jobs may disappear by 2022. However, 133 new jobs will emerge during that same timeframe, creating a net gain of 58 million positions.
To say that technology changes rapidly is likely a massive understatement. Often, new innovations and approaches emerge with such frequency that keeping pace seems practically impossible. However, falling behind can be detrimental to companies, so they need to find options that can help their tech workers keep up.
Luckily, there are a variety of resources that can make tracking trends and staying relevant as easy as possible. If you want to make sure your tech team can keep up even as IT picks up the pace, here are a few ways to get started.
Many tech pros credit their success to having an outstanding mentor. As a result, many seasoned professionals who were assisted by a mentor themselves often explore giving back, prompting them to take on a mentee.
When software moves from test to production release, making sure it runs properly is the job of the site reliability engineering team. Sometimes the production environment is different from the development and test environment, so the application doesn't have the same performance it had during test. Sometimes there are more users than anticipated, and the application doesn't scale up. Sometimes real-world data causes problems that test data didn't uncover. Whatever the issue in production, site reliability engineers need to figure out the cause of the problem and put the necessary changes into place to make the application successful.
At some companies, the SRE function is called DevOps, because it's all about moving applications out of development and keeping them operational.
Monitoring and Planning Ahead
A lot of the site reliability engineer's role is about keeping an eye on the system and planning for issues. For an SRE, the "system" means the entire system, including the application, third-party software, the hardware, and the network. The SRE team monitors the system to make sure it meets availability and responsiveness requirements.
The team also looks to the future of the system. They make sure any planned changes, to any component, minimize impact to users. They review capacity and come up with plans for expansion. They also have the responsibility for dealing with unplanned downtime and planning for disaster recovery.
Site Reliability Engineer Skills
Site reliability engineers need solid software engineering skills. They need to understand how software works and how different software products interoperate. SREs often write complex scripts to automate operational tasks. But they also need to bring a broader perspective than just application software development, and understand networks and system administration.
Site reliability engineers need to be creative thinkers and problem solvers, who can work under pressure to figure out a system problem and create a solid solution for bringing things back under control quickly. They need to be analytical, to review data about system usage and system problems, in order to develop plans for the future of the application.
Communication skills are important; SREs need to be able to ask questions of other technical teams to figure out the problem and also to explain to management both the problem and the solution. SREs are part of a team and need to be able to work with a variety of colleagues.
Site Reliability Engineer Career Path
In some cases, SREs choose to strengthen their software engineering skills and move to the software engineering team to create the future of the application. Other SREs choose to develop their system engineering skills and continue to work within site reliability engineering. For those who are interested in management, success as an SRE can lead to firm-wide responsibility for managing infrastructure and shaping the future of the enterprise.
The competition for top talent is on the rise, and IT managers are looking for the most effective ways to find and hire top candidates. One of the best strategies for bringing in IT talent is to work with a third-party recruiter that specializes in the tech industry.
External recruiters can help you relieve the burden of talent management by sourcing highly qualified candidates for your open positions, quickly and cost effectively. But like all business solutions, there are things you can do to leverage your relationship with an external recruiter and ensure a smoother process with improved results.
Here are some of the best practices for working with third-party recruiters, temporary and staffing agencies to bring top IT talent into your organization.
Make talent acquisition a priority
When you’re looking to fill an open position, finding the right candidate quickly is a top priority. Professional external recruiters will understand this, and do everything possible to ensure that the recruiting process takes the least possible time.
However, it’s essential to keep in mind that finding high-quality candidates is a time- and labor-intensive process. You should expect a high-priority candidate search to take around six weeks — and during that time, be prepared to prioritize dedicated time and resources to the process on a daily basis.
Keep communication lines open
Staying in touch regularly with your external recruiter is crucial for the success of your talent search. In order to maintain strong communication and cooperation, the following best practices are recommended:
- Maintain a direct working relationship between the third-party recruiting team and the decision makers in your company, without relying on “gatekeepers” to relay communications.
- Be responsive, returning important calls and emails within one business day of receipt — particularly when a decision is required.
- Deliver timely, detailed feedback on interviews and candidates submissions, also within one business day.
Maintaining a high sense of urgency and responsiveness throughout the recruiting process will enable an external recruiter to deliver the timely results you want.
Have realistic candidate expectations
Every IT manager wants to hire the “perfect” candidate — but keeping your expectations reasonable and realistic is essential for success. In order to ensure that your positions are marketable, and you receive an adequately sized candidate pool to choose from, work with your external recruiter to develop:
- Quality job opportunities that will interest top candidates
- Well-written, streamlined job descriptions with the best chance of being read
- A strong employer brand that attracts the right candidates with good cultural fits
- Realistic sets of desired skills and competencies (no “purple squirrels”)
The Armada Group is committed to the success of your organization. With our top-priority requisitions, you’ll receive at least one qualified candidate for your review within 48 hours of initiating the talent search process, or a progress report detailing key findings for further discussions. Contact us to learn more about our IT talent recruitment solutions.
Today’s IT professionals have a diverse range of career paths, options, and specialties to choose from. If you’re creative and detail oriented, enjoy working with machinery, and want a well-paying job with plenty of opportunities, you may be a good candidate for a career in automation engineering.
What is an automation engineer?
Automation as a field involves creating and applying technologies that control or monitor production and delivery. There are automation opportunities in both product- and service-oriented industries. Two professional associations, the International Society of Automation and the Automation Federation, are involved in promoting and supporting the field of automation.
The duties of an automation engineer include designing, programming, simulating, and testing automated machinery or processes that are intended to complete precise tasks — for example, robots used in packaging, food processing, or vehicle manufacturing. Automation engineers work with automated machinery from concept to prototype, and are responsible for providing detailed documentation including design specifications that enable the production or application of their products.
Educational requirements for automation engineers
In the United States, there are not many degree programs specifically offered for automation engineering. Most automation engineers start out with a bachelor’s degree in either electrical or mechanical engineering, which may include courses in relevant subjects such as robotics, fluid dynamics, statistics, and databases. Some automation engineers continue to earn master’s degrees before entering the job market. The bulk of relevant automation engineering training is then gained through hands-on career experience.
Licensing and certification for automation engineers
As with most IT fields, licensing or certification can enhance your prospects for landing a career in automation engineering. One of the most popular certifications in this category is the control system engineer license, which demonstrates an understanding of instrumentation and automated controls.
Obtaining status as a certified control systems technician can also qualify you for a wider range of career opportunities, as more than 40 organizations that use automated systems recognize this title. The top level certification for automation engineers is certified automation professional — a title held by only around 400 professionals in the world.
Important skills for automation engineers
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the following qualities are required for automation engineers:
- A firm understanding of software development and computer programming
- Equipment troubleshooting skills
- The ability to perform complex system tests
- Creative thinking and detail oriented
- Excellent manual dexterity
- Strong communication skills to support interactions with other members of the development team
Employment outlook for automation engineering
Manufacturing is moving increasingly toward automation, and the demand for qualified automation engineers is rising as more manufacturers turn to automation for efficiency, cost savings, and increased output. A survey from Automation.com reports that the average annual salary for automation engineers is $103,910.
In the not-too-distant past, work was something you went to five days a week, and left at the office on weekends and holidays. But today’s business world is dominated by always-on technology, and the boundaries between work and personal life are increasingly blurred, if not obliterated.
It may be logical to believe that company expectations for employees to be constantly available are the cause of eroding work-life separation, but even in demanding companies, this isn’t the sole reason. Human nature and societal norms contribute significantly to the disappearing divide between work and home — and as a consequence, we’re focusing on the wrong problems.
What causes work-life imbalance?
There are real business reasons that most employees are unable to separate eight hours a day from the rest of their lives. Email is one — it’s omnipresent, available anywhere there’s a connection, and most employers don’t think twice about expecting their staff to keep up with email at all times. There’s also the globalization of business, and collaboration with co-workers and partners in various time zones that skew the start and close of the “business day.”
In addition to the modern corporate environment, the nature of people encourages a blending of work and life. American employees take pride in hard work and self-sacrifice, and many people thrive on being needed. Furthermore, some work activities — such as opening a new, unread email — influence us chemically, releasing dopamine that makes the action addictive.
Finally, exceptional employees are always working, even outside the office environment and without being required to. For many people, dedication to great job performance means constantly thinking up new ideas and planning ahead. This process naturally works itself into everyday life.
Conquering the work-life balance myth
In order to successfully address the issues surrounding work-life separation, we first need to accept that separating them is impossible for most people. The good news is that blending work and personal life doesn’t have to mean erasing your identity as a person, eliminating all free time, or becoming defined by your job.
What is the best solution for achieving both professional and personal satisfaction? For many, the answer is to embrace the blurred lines, and strive for a work environment that grants more control over personal time with flexible scheduling. The typical nine-to-five workday is practically extinct — and the best way to thrive in the modern business landscape is to get rid of rigid boundaries and time clocks, so the stress of “balancing” personal and work life is eliminated.
Any employer looking to provide work-life balance for their employees should institute a more flexible scheduling process. Despite beliefs to the contrary, studies have repeatedly shown that workers who have more control over their schedules are more productive and motivated, produce higher quality work, and have a greater sense of loyalty to their organization.
There are several reasons why flexible scheduling is so effective. One is that allowing greater control over work schedules allows employees to work at their personal optimal times, rather than conforming to a one-size-fits-all, eight-hour shift. Some people are much more productive first thing in the morning, while others don’t really get into gear until the afternoon.
Another, perhaps more impactful reason this arrangement works is the blending of personal and work time a flexible schedule allows. When employees can take time off in the middle of the work day and make it up when it’s convenient, they’re able to accomplish personal tasks they’d otherwise have to skip with a rigid schedule — like getting school-aged children on and off the bus, banking, attending personal classes, or caring for elderly parents. This allows employees to reduce or eliminate the personal stress that would otherwise affect their performance at work.
It’s in the best interests of any company to care for their employees as a whole person, rather than an eight-hour chunk of labor. By allowing and encouraging overlap between personal and professional lives, your company can bust the work-life balance myth and achieve a truly happy, productive, and loyal workforce.