Many professionals opt to not take the time to streamline their workflow. As a result, they are diminishing their productivity, wasting valuable minutes multiple times a day. Over the course of several days or weeks, a software developer could be losing hours simply because they didn’t find mechanisms that allowed them to maximize their time.
As a software developer, your time is valuable. If you are dealing with complex projects and tight deadlines, finding ways to reclaim those minutes or hours boosts your productivity. Even a heavy workload can become more manageable with a few tweaks. If you want to make sure you can maximize your productivity, here are some tips that software developers can start using right away.
There are tons of tech podcasts available today. Figuring out which ones are worth your time and attention can be challenging as few professionals have time to give everyone a try to narrow down the list.
Luckily, there are a few that stand out from the pack. While they are each incredibly unique, they all provide value to tech professionals looking to take a deeper dive into current events, emerging technology, career management, the impact of gadgets on daily life, and much more. If you are looking for a tech podcast to add to your playlist, here are five worth exploring.
Accidental Tech Podcast
Known as ATP to its fans, the Accidental Tech Podcast features three developer hosts who dig into everything from industry news to emerging products to programming languages. Their high-level of expertise give them credibility, and their passion for the topic keeps things exciting. Plus, they speak like a group of best friends, making you feel like you are simply part of the gang.
A podcast with a distinct formula, Clockwise always features a round-table discussion. Along with the two hosts, two industry guests present their thoughts on a range of tech topics. The show never gets long-winded, as every podcast is limited to 30 minutes or less. This means you can enjoy insights about some of today’s most interesting and, at times, controversial subjects in a highly digestible format.
The first and most popular tech podcast featuring an all-female set of hosts, Rocket discusses technology and geek culture. Their discussions on anything from tech to video games to comics are genuinely as enjoyable as they are informative.
Back to Work
This podcast focuses more on employment topics than IT specifically, but it is still incredibly valuable for tech professionals who want to keep their career on the right track. The discussions encourage you to really take a realistic look at your job and how you do it, providing tips and insights on key subjects like productivity, communication, tools, workplace barriers, and more.
A unique take on the tech podcast genre, Analog(ue) focuses on the human aspect of technology, including how today’s gadgets impact daily life, for better or for worse. It provides a unique perspective on the impact of technology and may give you insights that can help you determine what products may be beneficial to your lifestyle as well as those that may do more harm than good.
Ultimately, all of the tech podcasts listed above are great additions to any playlist. Consider giving one (or all) of them a try and see which ones resonate with you. If you would like to discover more amazing tech podcasts, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our skilled IT specialists today and see how our expertise can benefit you.
Coming prepared for a job interview is a must. But, even knowing that, many job seekers stop short when it comes to getting ready, focusing largely on practicing routine interview questions and digging up information about salaries.
If you want to make the best impression on the hiring manager, then you need to take it a step further by researching details about the company itself, as well as their products or service offerings. If you aren’t sure how this extra effort can help you land the tech job you want, here’s what you need to know.
It Shows You’re Informed
During an interview, the hiring manager wants to do more than just assess your background; they want to determine if your skills and experiences translate into value for their organization. While rehashing your accomplishments is helpful, it doesn’t always provide the interviewer with the context they need to feel confident in your capabilities.
By learning about the company, as well as their products or services, you can showcase your skills in a meaningful way based on their anticipated needs. You can craft your responses to be particularly relevant to their industry or offerings, showing you took the time to become informed about the business and how it operates.
Luckily, gathering this kind of information isn’t as difficult as it once was, thanks to the plethora of online resources. Refer to the company’s website to get a solid overview, dig into their social media accounts to discover recent news and developments, and check out employee review sites to get some background information that may not be available elsewhere. Anything you can find out about what they do and why they do it can give you an advantage during the interview, so don’t skimp on the research if you really want the job.
It Demonstrates Interest
Hiring managers generally favor candidates who seem genuinely interested in not just the role, but the company and its products or services, as well. When you dig into the details and use that information to color your responses, it’s easier to assert your interest in the position.
When a candidate doesn’t perform this level of research, the hiring manager may question whether they are truly passionate about the opportunity. This is especially true if they ask questions that pertain to their particular industry or offerings, and an interviewee can’t adjust their response to answer fully.
By knowing the details, you can stand out from other candidates who didn’t go the extra mile. This can help you make an especially positive impression on the hiring manager, and may make it easier to land the job.
If you are currently seeking a new position, the skilled professionals at The Armada Group can connect you to exciting opportunities throughout the area. Contact us to speak with one of our experienced recruiters today and see how our services can help you find your ideal job.
Being able to find top talent remains one of the biggest concerns amongst IT managers in almost every industry. It is closely followed by worries about retaining the employees that are currently on staff. This makes it even more imperative for businesses to have a strong culture that helps attract the candidates they need as well as keep those already working for the company in place.
In most cases, competitive compensation can only take you so far. While the associated salary and benefits are a big part of hiring any employee, the company’s culture also plays a role. But what creates a culture that is too good to pass up, and what will have candidates pass you by? To help you understand what it takes to create an environment that woos the best and brightest, here are some tips for cultivating the right culture in your business.
One of the most enticing offerings for talented candidates is the available to explore something new on the job. This can include the ability to train into different areas or experiment with new technology. Individuals who are especially adept at their job often crave new challenges. This keeps the environment exciting and gives them the chance to test their skills.
On the other side, having an environment that begins to feel tedious or dull, and that doesn’t support exploration and professional growth, is sure to be a turn-off when it comes to the best candidates on the market. Essentially, boredom is one of the biggest enemies, and it must be fought at all cost if you want great applicants to come knocking at your door.
Another important part of the company’s culture is morale. Happy employees will sing the praises of your business, and that makes top candidates interested in becoming a part of the workplace. Ultimately, everyone wants to enjoy their time on the job. So, if the culture doesn’t help keep employees engaged and content, you aren’t going to have access to the top talent you are hoping to find.
While some of employee morale is based solely on time spent working, giving workers a chance to cut loose and have fun can also improve the culture. Whether it is through employee appreciation events, team building retreats or a simple thank you lunch, creating an atmosphere that encourages bonding and socialization (at the right times) can work wonders for your company’s reputation as an employer of choice.
Hiring with Care
Once you establish your culture, it is important to hire new employees that fit. Choosing applicants who have similar values and general attitudes ensure your culture will thrive, making it easier to attract more top talent whenever the need arises. If you are looking to hire new IT professionals, The Armada Group can help you find the right candidates for your vacant positions. Contact us to discuss how we can help you create the kind of culture that will keep top talent coming in for years to come.
While it has never been seen as a desirable trait in any industry, many information security experts suggest that a healthy dose of paranoia may actually be good for business. After all, a paranoid leader is a vigilant one. This state of alertness can actually improve the defenses of your organization, through regular improvements, scheduled maintenance, and increased awareness in your company. So should you look for a CISO with a paranoid streak? Consider the benefits before making your final decision.
1. Paranoid CISOs search out advancements.
Paranoid CISOs are ever-improving. Because they constantly suspect that their organization is under attack, they’ll always be looking for new, advanced ways to fortify their defenses and stay informed on new developments in the industry. There’s always room for improvement, so your company will have the most up-to-date information security system available with new, multi-layered controls. This valuable instrumentation and increased depth can help prepare for a threat or attack before you’re even aware it’s there.
2. Paranoid CISOs never neglect necessary system maintenance.
Complacency is just as dangerous as an inherently weak security system. If your CISO isn’t taking the time to update and patch their managed program, they’re opening up channels for potential breaches. A paranoid CISO, on the other hand, constantly patches their program to ensure that no known weaknesses exist in the system. This regular maintenance might be neglected by complacent leaders, creating dangerous vulnerabilities in your organization.
3. Paranoid CISOs improve company awareness.
In their constant state of hyper-vigilance, a paranoid CISO will want to ensure that every member of your organization is doing their part to follow security protocols. This will help create a culture of data security to protect your company at every level. From data analyst to CEO, you organization will be more secure and less vulnerable to attack.
4. Paranoid CISOs develop a deep understanding of the company.
Not only will they understand the nature of each and every potential attack, but a paranoid CISO will also understand the potential consequences they may have on the company. Their deep-rooted knowledge of the business will motivate them to improve and monitor the system, specifically targeting the threats that may cause the most harm to the company.
So while paranoia is often the butt of office jokes, it may actually help the performance of a company’s security system. A paranoid CISO can do more for a business than a complacent leader. Embrace a healthy level of paranoia in your CISO for an improved system and better overall defenses against attacks.
Remaining objective in an interview can be difficult. We’re often inclined to base our impressions of others on emotions and first impressions rather than fact. This can not only harm the interviewee, but it can also result in the loss of talented candidates. By maintaining objectivity and consistency in each of your interviews, you can ensure that the process is as thorough and accurate as possible.
These five key elements of an objective interview will keep you on the right track during your candidate search.
Create a Checklist
Before you begin reviewing resumes, create a checklist that you will follow for each interview. Steps can include “review the job description” or “review interview questions.” Closely following this protocol for each interview will help you maintain consistency throughout the hiring process.
Outline Your Expectations
It’s important to have a solid understanding of what you’re looking for in a candidate. Create a list of desired attributes, and rank them on a scale of importance from one to five. If computer skills are more important for this position than professionalism, for instance, then you will give that trait a higher rating. By outlining your expectations for the ideal candidate, you’ll be more able to objectively compare each individual interviewee to your set of desired characteristics.
Categorize Your Questions
As you’re writing your list of interview questions, try to categorize them by the list of traits determined above. If you need a candidate with project management skills, ask about occasions when they’ve influenced the outcome of a project by taking a leadership position. Other categories may be detail orientation, communication, and the ability to be a team player.
Use a Scoring System
Create a score sheet that will help you evaluate each candidate during the interview. Using your outlined traits, rate them on a scale of one to five. You should complete the score sheet as soon as possible after the end of the interview, while your impression is still objective. The same score sheet should be used for each interview.
Rank Each Candidate
Once you’ve rated your candidates, it’s time to compare their rating to the importance of each trait. Multiply the interviewee’s score in each category by its importance. This is their weighted score. Once you’ve weighted each category, add their total score and compare with other interviewees to choose the candidate best suited for the position.
These five elements of an objective interview process will aid you in choosing qualified candidates without clouding your judgment with emotions or “gut feelings.” This process is fair and consistent for the interviewees and delivers the best results for your company. By remaining consistent and impartial, you increase the effectiveness of your interview process and choose the best candidate each time.
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 order to make sure your IT project is completed on time and in budget, you need a great project manager. But how can you spot one? Unfortunately, holding the title of project manager doesn’t always mean that a person can effectively manage projects.
Here are the skills a good IT project manager should have to complete projects successfully, without wasting your time or money.
Organization and multi-tasking
A project manager’s organizational skills can make or break a project. A strong project manager will be able to juggle multiple tasks, or even multiple projects, and track project issues on a daily basis — so they’re spending less time looking for information, and more time managing the project productively.
It goes without saying that project managers should be good leaders, but it’s important to realize that there’s more to manage than the IT team. A great IT project manager is able to take charge of the team, and also lead vendors and stakeholders in order to reach a collaborative consensus.
Good project managers inspire their team to realize the project vision, and maintain strong relationships with key stakeholders that ensure alignment with project goals.
Key personnel in any project will include both technical and non-tech professionals. Good project managers are excellent communicators — able to clearly explain even complex concepts to key stakeholders, and ensure that communication is maintained among all stakeholders as well as between stakeholders and the project team.
Effective communication encompasses more than the ability to translate tech speak. Great project managers will be able to relay both good news and bad news to all staff levels, in a timely and tactful manner. They’ll also understand who needs to know what, when, and how — and ensure that the appropriate information is delivered to the right people, at the right times.
A good project manager will know both how and when to negotiate. With most projects, the IT project manager is working with people whose interests may not align with their own, or who don’t seem to be interested in understanding the goals of the project — or why they should help accomplish them.
Successful project managers develop relationships with stakeholders and determine their interests, which enables them to negotiate cooperation by appealing to the stakeholders’ needs — while still remaining within the objective parameters of the projects.
An eye for detail
When it comes to IT project management, details count. A great project manager will take a meticulous approach to handling project details big and small, and understanding the impact every detail will have on the overall success of the project. Failure to pay attention to details can mean failure of the entire project.
In every project, issues and obstacles will arise — and some will require an immediate solution. A good IT project manager must be able to make critical decisions quickly, arriving at the best possible solution in the shortest amount of time to avoid delaying or derailing the project.
Relevant technical skills
While project managers don’t need high-level IT skills to be effective — after all, the skills brought to the table by the IT project team are crucial to success — an effective project manager must have a firm understanding of the programs, software, and platforms that are involved in the project, or that the company works with regularly.
Great project managers will have enough technical skill to be able to take on some of the project tasks themselves. By completing project tasks personally, project managers can earn the respect of the team, which enables them to work more effectively as leaders.
The San Francisco Bay Area is perhaps better known as Silicon Valley—the place where multi-billion dollar tech companies are born. SV is the home of household names in technology: Google, Apple, Facebook, HP, Yahoo!, Netflix, eBay, and hundreds more thrive in this area. Tech-leaning entrepreneurs salivate at the prospect of starting up here, and the brightest IT talent flocks to SV in hopes of being snagged by one of the giants.
But why is this particular place Silicon Valley? How does the Bay Area continue to incubate the best and most innovative tech companies that survive for the long haul? Here are a few of the reasons technology lives in SV, and fizzles out in other areas.
The Silicon Valley state of mind
Many entrepreneurs starting out in SV share a number of similar traits that uniquely position them for unprecedented success. Among them are a willingness to collaborate and a strong competitive drive, as well as openness to innovation, experimentation, and even failure.
But perhaps the most important piece of the SV puzzle is dedication. Innovators and entrepreneurs come to Silicon Valley with the knowledge that building a hugely successful, standout technology company does not happen overnight—and they’re willing to make the long-term commitment that represents the only path to success of Google proportions.
Not for profit—yet
In Silicon Valley—and to some extent Seattle, the only other area to come close with the production of more than one multi-billion-dollar tech giant—profits are often not the first concern of a startup daring to dream big. This idea seems to fly in the face of sound business theory, because why start a business if you’re not going to make money?
That’s not to say that Silicon Valley startups aren’t interested in money. It’s simply not that high on the list of requirements for the earliest stages of the long-term plan. For instance, Facebook and Twitter both focused on growing massive and unprofitable user bases, waiting years before introducing any type of monetization to their networks. Seattle-based global online retail giant Amazon has continually operated in the red since the company’s inception in 1994.
One of the main issues with this type of approach is sustainability. Long-term operation without immediate profit is not only high-risk, but also requires substantial investment of resources. And many non-Silicon Valley investors simply aren’t equipped to provide this type of financial investment, which results in early exits and sellouts in order to turn a profit, rather than staying the required course and placing big bets on developing massive companies.
Truly, madly visionary
Attempting a Silicon Valley style breakout requires a certain level of instability—a kind of systematic irrationality that allows startups and entrepreneurs to disregard logic, pass over sound business decisions, and take chances that from the outside can appear downright disastrous.
Most investors and entrepreneurs, rather than investing ten years or more in building an enormous technology corporation, prefer to grow the company to nine or ten figures and then flip it into a near or mid-term payday. And in perhaps a majority of instances, this is the right choice. Selling a fledgling company to a larger conglomerate provides the personnel and financial resources that can make or break a success. But for many in SV, there’s a greater willingness to roll the dice, and hope the company stands on its own.
One of the most well-known examples of this type of apparent insanity that can ultimately pay off occurred in 2006, when a struggling and unprofitable social network turned down what appeared to be the deal of a lifetime. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, was 22 years old, and the company had been launched less than two years before Yahoo! offered $1 billion to buy Facebook.
The company’s three-person board turned down the offer, despite elder advisors’ attempts to convince Zuckerberg to accept. The reason the young CEO gave for their refusal was that Yahoo! “had no definitive idea about the future. They did not properly value things that did not exist, so they were therefore undervaluing the business.”
As it turned out, Zuckerberg’s choice to stick to his guns was the right one. Facebook is now worth more than $200 billion, and the CEO’s personal net worth is over $33 billion.
Success in Silicon Valley hinges on dedication, ambition, and a vision to build a technology company that will be around forever. It’s more than a place—it’s a state of mind that serves as an inspiration for entrepreneurs and startups everywhere.
The general wisdom for job candidates states that having a diverse skill set is an advantage. The more you’re able to do, the broader your potential qualifications are for a wider range of jobs. But when it comes to the IT industry, diversification may actually work against you in your job search.
In many cases, it’s better to focus on and improve a particular set of tech skills, specializing in a certain area rather than attempting to be an IT jack-of-all-trades. Specialists can be beneficial for employers, and give you a greater boost as a job seeker. Here are some of the advantages of specialization for IT candidates.
A competitive edge
The IT job market is highly competitive. Tech candidates are competing with both seasoned professionals and newly trained college graduates, and there is increasing pressure on companies to hire the best of the best among IT talent. If you have a specialized IT skill set, you’re more desirable to employers — who prefer to choose rock stars over stage hands.
Specialists are more likely to get hired than candidates who are simply proficient in the required skill set. While specializing can limit your options, you’ll have a greater chance of landing the positions you are qualified for with comprehensive skills in a particular area.
Elevated authority and expertise
Networking is an essential part of any job search. IT specialists can enhance their profiles, and their chances at getting hired by top companies, by becoming authorities on their areas of specialization through various networks that employers and recruiters frequent.
Contributing to and leading discussions in your specialist area on social channels like LinkedIn, and IT-centric forums like Github, can help you create an online presence that will truly impress employers. Your authority and influence as a specialist will give you a significant networking advantage over other candidates.
Employers seek out specialists in part because they don’t require a lot of training, and need little-to-no supervision on the job. As an IT specialist, you can enjoy increased independence and autonomy in your career. Specialists are also more likely to be innovators, with the freedom and latitude to work on projects that interest them personally in addition to directly assigned projects.
Increased salary and job security
IT specialists can typically command higher salaries than their general-skills counterparts. Particularly in today’s business landscape, employers place a high value on tech specialists, who are able to deliver more value to the organization. This often extends to better perks and benefits in addition to salary.
Those who specialize in a particular skill set can also enjoy greater job security. If you’re difficult to replace, you will be more valuable to a company — and less likely to be laid off or downsized, even if the organization is forced to cut back on staff.
Having specialized IT skills as a job candidate can not only help you land a more desirable position with a great company, but can also serve as the foundation for a long and successful career in technology.