Enhancing your skillset is almost always a wise decision. When you expand your Python expertise, you become a more effective employee and a better job candidate. As a result, you may be able to land more interesting projects, handle more tasks on your own, and even advance your career more quickly.
Often, books are a great way to gain more knowledge. If you are wondering why Python books are worth considering, here are four that allows you to elevate your capabilities quickly.
The world of technology changes quickly, and new skill sets become critical to an organization’s success frequently. Plus, tech is becoming increasingly ingrained in nearly every industry, bringing IT workers into workplaces that previously had little, if any, onsite tech pros.
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.
Some companies have railed against the idea of remote work. Even though most IT professionals have the technical know-how to telecommute with ease, businesses often fear that employees who are working outside of the office aren’t as productive as they are when someone can peer over their shoulders.
However, by limiting remote work options, most companies are doing more harm than good. If your policy is incredibly strict, here’s what you may need to rethink your approach to remote work in 2019.
By and large, employees that have the ability to work remotely at least part of the time are substantially more satisfied with their jobs than those that don’t have telecommuting options. Being able to work remotely provides employees with a range of benefits including avoiding the daily commute, the ability to perform their duties in a comfortable environment, eliminate distractions for heads-down work, and more.
As job satisfaction rises, so does retention. Employees aren’t as inclined to seek out other opportunities with their employer meets their needs, so keeping your best and brightest on staff may be easier.
When they telecommute, most professionals become more productive, not less. They have the ability to focus with greater ease and don’t have to deal with the interruptions that come with being in the office.
For example, random visits from coworkers are a distraction. If a tech pro is dealing with a project that requires a high level of attention to detail, every time they are pulled away harms productivity beyond the minutes they spend dealing with the interruption as they have to take time to refocus before they can continue.
The ability to work remotely is a benefit many tech professionals seek out. Since not every company offers telecommuting options, revamping your remote work policy to be more flexible can differentiate your business as an employer. You may have an easier time attracting top talent simply because a remote work program is in place, making it worth exploring.
Additionally, if you are open to having staff members that telecommute every day, you can even expand your recruitment efforts into other cities, states, or potentially even countries. This can dramatically increase the size of your talent pool, making it easier to locate hard to find skill sets that aren’t readily available near your office.
Ultimately, having a remote work policy that allows employees to telecommute at least some of the time is beneficial. Retention rates will improve, productivity will increase, and recruitment may get easier, making it a win-win scenario for workers and employers.
The Armada Group Can Help!
If you would like to know more about how to update your remote work policy, the skilled professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to discuss your current policy and which changes you are considering with one of our knowledgeable team members today and see how our expertise can benefit you.
Even if you are generally satisfied with your position, the idea of expanding your role can be exciting. This can include getting your hands into a particularly interesting project, gaining a new skill, or working with a team that you admire.
Branching out isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t want to overstep any boundaries that may exist within the organizational landscape. But failing to expand your tech role could lead to missed opportunities and stymied growth, making an attempt typically worth your while. To help you explore new opportunities without stepping on any toes, here are some tips to get you started.
Before you ask to be added to a specific project or request additional responsibilities, it is essential that you have a full understanding of how you can provide value to the business by getting involved in those tasks. This allows you to explain how your participation positively impacts the bottom line, making your case more powerful, especially if you can quantify the result.
Ultimately, you have to create a pitch to “sell” why the company should let you expand your duties, and your points can’t all be self-serving. Demonstrating your value shows the business what is in it for them, making it easier to secure their approval.
Make the Most of Learning Opportunities
At most companies, there is a range of learning opportunities available to employees; you just have to know how to spot them. Anything from formal training to workshops during lunches to job shadowing can be effective ways to branch out and increase your knowledge.
Start by exploring the kinds of options that are made available to workers and see if any catch your interest. If so, examine the requirements for participating and explore the value of your attendance.
In some cases, offerings that may not be specifically aimed at you could still be helpful, though you may need to pitch the idea to your manager to get approval. To do so, use the advice above and demonstrate how your participation benefits your department or the company as a whole. Whenever possible, use specific examples and quantify the information, as they will be the most effective approach.
Invest in Yourself
Sometimes, your company won’t have the kind of learning opportunities you need to help you meet your goals. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t invest in yourself and pursue additional education on your own time.
Often, the majority of your professional development falls squarely in your hands, so don’t let a lack of options in your workplace stop you from exploring skills that interest you. And, if your company has a training budget that allows them to cover educational costs for things like classes and conferences, see if you qualify.
If you are interested in branching out by finding a new position, the team at The Armada Group can connect you with leading employers in the area. Contact us today to see how our services can benefit you.
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.
The idea that the IT staff remains tucked in the back room surrounded by machines, emerging only when some technical problem occurs that no one else understands, is rapidly becoming a myth. Today’s IT shops are moving toward greater collaboration, with the understanding that when users and IT work together, better systems result.
Increased collaboration between IT and customers is best-accomplished through greater integration with the rest of the business. This organizational collaboration can not only improve the technologies being used, but also help IT pros advance their careers through better soft skills and more recognition.
Here are four ways your organization can bridge the gap between IT and its customers, whether they’re business users or company clients.
Partner IT staff with other departments
In an organization with multiple departments, IT typically serves a function for all of them. One of the best ways to bridge tech people with the rest of the company is to assign IT staff to a specific department, allowing them to partner with a business unit and focus on solutions for that unit.
By working directly with another department, IT can solve problems more efficiently. In these types of partnerships, technology may actually be the last solution IT turns to — the partner should first consider whether the issue can be solved by bringing in different people, or implementing new processes. This improves IT efficiency, reduces costs, and diminishes wasted time and resources.
The partner approach can also help IT professionals enhance their careers. Opportunities to work directly with another department allow them to broaden their soft skills and increase problem-solving abilities, while exposing them to different processes within the company.
In larger organizations where IT is responsible for keeping multiple departments up and running, creating centers of innovation can vastly improve processes and efficiency. Build small, specialized IT teams, each focused on working directly with one department, and maintain a core IT department to oversee the individual teams.
This type of structure works best in organizations that rely on innovation and integration, such as medical facilities, corporations, and large-scale or industrial production. A decentralized IT program also encourages tech employees to participate directly in other aspects of the organization, and develop a greater understanding of their focus areas to streamline operations and drive innovation.
Connect IT with end users
Even integrated IT staff are often confined to working within the organization, and rarely have the opportunity to interact with the people who use the company’s products or services. By facilitating interaction between IT employees and end users, you can encourage fresh ideas and stronger motivations to perform.
There are several ways to connect IT people with customers. Regular visits to other business units is a good start, but you can also send IT staff out with sales reps or other external-facing employees to shadow their interactions, or even organize business functions where the staff and customers have the chance to mingle. When IT is able to see the impact their work has on real people, they’re more engaged and motivated to deliver the best possible experience for end users.
Come out of the cave
In small to mid-sized companies and more integrated work environments that don’t necessarily have many departments, IT employees should be encouraged to leave the back room and spend time on the shop floor, so to speak. The more interaction IT has with the rest of the employees and the rest of the business, the better their understanding of their own function within the company.
Through direct observation of business processes, IT professionals can often spot issues that no one had been able to pinpoint previously, and make changes that will improve efficiency. Encourage IT staff to ask other employees questions and listen carefully to the responses, so they can develop a sense of the real needs of the business — and come up with more creative ways to meet them.
Regardless of company size, frequent interaction with other employees and end users can help IT professionals further their careers. They’re able to develop skills that are underused in direct IT work, and demonstrate that tech people are people, too — breaking down the stereotypes and perceptions that would otherwise prevent them from advancing.
As the digital landscape becomes increasingly crowded across every channel, and users continue to tune out traditional advertising, it’s more challenging than ever to differentiate online. For this reason, more companies are seeking IT pros who are able to provide exceptional user experiences.
What makes a great user experience? Here are 10 important considerations for making your websites, apps, or programs user-friendly — and more likely to succeed.
The majority of companies still use Windows tools and operating systems for one primary reason: It’s what they’re used to. Familiarity is a key component for a successful user experience. Basically, it means that accomplishing something within the environment should be obvious and not require explanation, such as a back button — a familiar tool that’s used in every Internet browser.
2. Responsive feedback
Websites, programs, and applications often include a number of micro-tasks, such as login screens. These tasks should include validation through feedback whenever possible — such as notifying users when they’ve successfully logged in. Without relevant and responsive feedback, users end up focusing intensely on micro-tasks and become frustrated.
3. Smooth performance
It goes without saying that performance is a crucial issue for user experience. If a website, program, or app suffers from performance issues, the user perceives the product as poorly designed or malfunctioning, and won’t be likely to continue using that product.
This attribute relates to the level or degree to which the use of an application, website, or program is obvious to the user. In addition to an intuitive interface, efficiency in features and functionality can enhance the user experience — particularly if there are more advanced tools that can be used with greater efficiency as the user becomes more familiar with the product.
Products that are actually helpful to users in accomplishing real goals deliver a better user experience. If a program, website, or application solves a business problem but disregards user needs, the experience is diminished for the user.
6. Relevant content delivery
A satisfying user experience should include relevant and valuable content, delivered in a timely manner. Ecommerce giant Amazon has mastered this aspect of the user experience with features like product recommendations, customer reviews, and a powerful and intuitive search function that deliver the right content at the right time.
7. Internal consistency
The user experience is enhanced when an interface or application handles similar tasks in similar ways, making the overall experience more intuitive and shortening the learning curve. In addition to internally consistent functionality, consistence in visual design is vital for presenting a professional and well-organized product.
8. External consistency
This refers to the visual appearance of a program, website, application, or interface aligning with its purpose and matching the expectations of its target audience — such as a polished and professional look for a website offering legal services, versus a fun and colorful theme for a site offering products for children.
9. Contextually appropriate
The interface for the user experience should match the environment in which the product will be used. For example, a product used for military applications should be more compact and rugged than one used in a restaurant, where the environment allows for a larger and more detailed interface.
In many cases, there is an implicit trust when users first work with an application or interface that the product will work as intended. Any issues that impact user engagement, such as error pages or non-working features, can erode that trust and diminish the user experience.