Automation has been a blessing for many businesses. Not only can it help cut costs, but it can also achieve amazing results while removing tedious tasks from the hands of your employees. In essence, it’s a win-win-win, making it hard to ignore.
However, automation isn’t always the way to go. There are some situations where using the technology introduces significant risk, at times in unexpected ways. Before you automate every aspect of your operations, here are three potentially risky outcomes.
When It Allows the Manual Skill to Disappear
While automation is touted for reducing the need for manual processes, freeing up employees to focus on activities that genuinely require the human touch, using automation to the point where the manual approach is no longer known isn’t a great idea.
Even though technology is robust, it is bound to fail at some point. Technical issues happen every day, so you can’t assume that your company will be immune to trouble. If you rely too heavily on automation, when that problem occurs, no one will know how to default back to the manual process. This can bring business to a standstill.
When It Leads to Disengagement
Automation is often an excellent way to boost engagement as it gives your workers the ability to handoff duties that are a bit mundane or repetitive. However, when technology is used to make decisions for employees or allows them to distance themselves emotionally from the company’s operational essence, disengagement can occur.
For employees to feel satisfied on the job, they need to connect with the company. Automation has the ability to eliminate core business knowledge over time, making it harder to create a bridge between what the worker is doing and the success of the organization. If morale begins to decrease, productivity generally falls and turnover increases, creating a less than ideal scenario for everyone involved.
When It Creates Poor Customer Experiences
At some point, everyone has had a poor customer service experience thanks to automation. For example, being stuck talking to an automated call attendant that won’t let you reach out to a person can be infuriating, especially when the system can’t provide you with the information you need.
While using automation to make customer interactions easier can be wise, it shouldn’t be used to dehumanize the entire process. Instead, striking a balance is essential. Otherwise, customer frustration is going to lead to poor word-of-mouth, and that can be incredibly damaging to your business.
Ultimately, automation is a powerful tool, but it must be used wisely. Without an adequate balance between technology and the people-factor, automation can actually do more harm than good.
Ready to Hire Talented Developers? The Armada Group Can Help!
If you would like to learn more about how to use automation to your advantage without harming operations, morale, or customer service, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to discuss your questions with one of our experienced team members today and see how our workplace automation expertise can benefit you.
Pursuing a career as a software architect can be incredibly lucrative. In the San Jose area, those with the proper skills can make an average salary of over $140,000, well above the national average.
But, this means you need to have an appropriate level of technical prowess, and certain skills are more likely to help you stand out from the potential sea of applicants. If you are wondering which skills employers want to find in software architects, here’s what you need to know.
C++ and Java
While many programming languages may be requested by employers, C++ and Java are two languages that are commonly listed on software architect job postings.
Java is often prized for its versatility as well as its role in emerging technologies, like machine learning and artificial intelligence. Additionally, it can be applied to multiple environments, which is ideal for multi-platform organizations.
C++ is usually considered a general-purpose programming language and is widely used across multiple industries. It works well for application and server-side development, making it a must-have in the eyes of many companies.
Apache Hadoop plays a substantial role in big data-oriented objectives, so software architects that are familiar with this open-source software framework are in high demand. Hadoop can be seen as critical when data that needs to be analyzed is located on multiple servers, so being able to support these projects is a great way to stand out from the competition.
Many organizations favor the Agile methodology for software development. If a business already uses the approach, then being familiar with Agile will be seen as a necessity.
Since Agile has been a go-to methodology for some time, many experienced software architects will already have this knowledge. For those just breaking into the field, learning the fundamentals of Agile can be beneficial, as not everyone in entry-level roles will have this experience.
Gone are the days where a person’s technical ability was the only thing hiring managers focused on. Now, soft skills are seen as vital to a software architect’s success, so they are becoming more prominent on job postings.
Usually, leadership and organizational skills are a high priority, especially for upper-level of senior positions. Communication skills are also a must, as software architects aren’t just tasked with working as part of a team but also partnering with stakeholders who may not be as technically savvy. This means being able to gather information and communicate complex details in a way that is easily understood by those not working in the software architecture field is a must.
There is a range of opportunities for software architects, but possessing the skills above puts you in the best position when it comes to furthering your career.
If you are looking for a new software architect position, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you with top employers throughout the area. Contact us today to see how our services can help you take the next step in your career.
Job seekers are often anxious when it comes to having their references checked, with many wondering exactly what a former employer can say about their performance. For example, can a previous employer tell a hiring manager that you were fired? Can them tell them why that decision was made? Are they allowed to discuss the amount of notice you provided when you quit or how many times you were absent?
Questions such as those can leave a lot of job seekers worried, even if their overall work history is fairly standard for their field. If you have been wondering what a previous employer can or cannot say about you legally, here’s what you need to know.
Federal and State Laws
When it comes to federal regulations, there simply aren’t any. Employers, from a national perspective, have the ability to say whatever they want when they are contacted for a reference.
However, many states do have laws that dictate what can or cannot be discussed, though they can vary dramatically from one state to the next. This means you need to review the regulations that pertain to you, and not just based on where you live now, but where your previous employers were located too. If you are planning to relocate for a job, then review the laws in each of the states you are considering as well.
What Employers are Usually Allowed to Say
As mentioned above, what your former employers can say about you varies from one state to the next. However, there are certain things that are commonly considered legal.
Most previous employers can typically disclose if you were terminated from your position, as well as the reason behind that decision. Some states also allow them to talk about your performance, though the feedback may be limited to generalizations.
However, even if an employer can discuss specific details about their experience with you, the majority are very cautious when it comes to disclosing various kinds of information. Predominately, their goal is to avoid lawsuits that fall into the defamation category, which includes slander and libel. This means that, unless they are entirely certain that what they are about to say is accurate, they won’t provide the information.
Can You Ask Them What Will be Discussed?
Sometimes, the easiest way to find out what might be disclosed is to contact your previous employer’s HR department or a suitable representative and just ask them. In most cases, they will be upfront with you about their policies, so you can determine what they are likely to say during a reference check.
Ultimately, if you aren’t sure what they will cover, it is best to assume that they will provide a large amount of detail. This is one of the reasons why you need to always be honest on your application, as failing to be truthful can come back to bite you.
If you are looking for a new position, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you with exciting opportunities throughout the area. Contact us today to learn more about our services, including how they can benefit your career.
For programmers, machines are often easier to deal with than people. They don't have personal quirks, they do what you tell them to do, and they don't talk back. For introverted personalities, technical jobs can mean minimizing interactions with difficult people.
It isn't possible to avoid people entirely, even in tech jobs. The ultimate users of every application are people, after all; even embedded systems hidden inside a manufacturing machine need to serve the goals of the company – the people – that own the application. This means technical workers need to deal with people, whether to understand the application's requirements or help them provide support when there are problems.
If you're a techie who hates to look up from your computer, here are three ways to develop skills that let you work well with customers.
Become less introverted.
Put yourself in positions where you need to interact with people. Sticking to technical interactions can help boost your confidence. You can also start online, by participating in forums. Then move on to real-world environments like a tech meet-up. Force yourself to talk to at least one person. These activities can make dealing with other people less intimidating.
Improve your interpersonal skills.
Along with reducing your fear of interacting with people, you need to build skills to make the interactions effective. You can take classes in presentation and communication skills; it's also important to boost your listening skills. Understanding customers' issues by listening to them is the first step in being able to resolve their concerns.
As well as being able to listen and speak with customers, really interacting well requires having the empathy to understand their points of view. Acting classes are a great way to experience another person's perspective.
Whether you're ready for a position that requires dealing with customers every day, or just want to keep your head down and write code, The Armada Group's jobs database has jobs that match your skills and interests. Take a look at the available positions and then contact us to start working with great recruiters who'll help you find a job that challenges and rewards you every day.
Degrees and certifications are good preparation for technical jobs – partly! They give developers the technical skills they need to get started on their career. But school projects are different from projects in the real world. Just knowing the latest technology isn't enough to succeed. Here's a look at what developers wish they knew about the work world before their first day on the job.
When starting a job, developers often look at the project they'll be working on and the technology they'll be using. If it's an interesting project using the latest technology and the pay is good, it's often too tempting to say no. What developers often don't consider is the lifestyle that goes with that project. Does it have an intense, deadline-driven schedule? Are employees valued and rewarded for their contributions? When you finish school, you start shaping your life, and the environment at the office will have a big impact on how you feel and how much time you have for living it.
Coworkers Can Make or Break Your Experience
In school, many projects are independent; when there are group projects, students often pick their partners. In business, almost every project is a team project, and the manager makes the assignments. Being able to get along, cooperate, and collaborate with teammates is key for succeeding in real world development projects. Even developers who aren't leading a team need to become comfortable speaking up in meetings to share opinions and shape design decisions.
Make It Work
Software projects at school are often graded on the quality of the code. In business, how good the code looks isn't always important. Sometimes it just has to work. Even if the code is ugly and will make maintaining it more difficult in the long term, the wrong technical choice may be the right choice for the business if it meets an urgent business need.
Programming Isn't Everything
You need to write code, but there are very few developers who do nothing but write code. Development jobs in industry require being able to speak with business users to get requirements, work with technical partners to design architectures, work with quality teams to design test cases (or do your own testing if there is no separate QA team), oversee the product's build and deployment into production, and help the production support team resolve issues. No matter how much you enjoy programming, developing skills to engage in these "peripheral" tasks is necessary for success.
Whether you're starting out in your career or are already a seasoned pro, think about what you want from your next job and then contact The Armada Group. Our experienced recruiters work to understand your skills, abilities, and career dreams, then match you with a job where you can excel.
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.
Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) has become an increasingly popular policy as more employees work both remotely and on-site from their mobile devices. This is especially popular for small businesses or companies with limited budgets — letting employees use their own devices is cheaper than investing in and distributing company devices. But is BYOD the right choice for your company in particular?
The answer depends on a number of factors. Even companies without big budgets to invest in worker tech may find that it makes more sense to find a way for company-owned devices — or conversely, those with less limited resources might find that BYOD is a better choice.
Here’s a look at the benefits and drawbacks of BYOD policies, and how you can decide what’s right for your business.
The advantages of BYOD
While the cost savings are usually the first benefit that comes to mind, perhaps the biggest advantage of a BYOD policy is productivity. Typically, your employees will be more productive when they’re working from a device they’re intimately familiar with.
However, it should be noted that there is a learning curve with company-issued devices, and employees can reach similar levels of productivity once they’ve used the new device enough.
Some of the other benefits of BYOD include:
- Cost savings: This applies not only to the initial device investment, but also to maintenance and upkeep expenses — which are typically the employees’ responsibility for personal devices.
- Increased responsibility: When employees use personal devices for work, they are fully responsible for handling them, which can decrease the occurrence of damage or device loss.
- Greater flexibility: With a BYOD policy, it’s easier to try different technologies or the latest tools without having to commit to costly upfront investments or get tied up in long-term contracts.
The disadvantages of BYOD
While a BYOD policy comes with many benefits, there are also some serious challenges to consider. These challenges can affect multiple departments in your company, including human resources and IT/security.
Some of the issues that can arise with BYOD include:
- Security challenges: With multiple users accessing your company’s network from potentially unprotected devices, it can be difficult to secure your data and systems.
- Resource consumption: The need to support a variety of operating systems and device formats can be draining on infrastructure and programming resources — not to mention your IT team.
- Increased costs: With BYOD, you may end up paying additional licensing fees to install programs on employees’ personal devices, unless you’re using Web-based software or VPN protocols.
- Employee dissatisfaction: In some cases, employees may consider company-issued devices a highly positive perk — and asking employees to purchase their own equipment for work may demotivate some of your staff.
What to do if you implement BYOD
If you decide that BYOD may be the right model for your business, it’s important to have a strategy for implementation — other than simply announcing that employees can use their personal devices at work. You’ll need a BYOD policy in place that covers things like:
- Whether employees are required to have personal devices, or if it’s optional to bring mobile devices to work.
- Who can use personal devices for work (some companies have BYOD policies that only permit personal devices for employees who travel frequently).
- Any usage implications or restrictions on personal devices (i.e. personal devices can be used for certain purposes, or at certain times).
- Software and security requirements for personal devices.
The use of mobile devices continues to increase, for both personal and professional areas. Whether your company chooses to implement BYOD or invest in company-issued devices, it’s important to address how you’ll handle mobile devices in the workplace, and set policies and best practices that make the most sense for your particular business.
Technology is irresistible to humans. We can’t help pressing buttons, flipping switches, or rearranging those tangled cords — and if we’re at work with no clue what we’re doing, it’s only a matter of time until disaster strikes and IT swears revenge while they spend hours fixing what took us seconds to break.
At InfoWorld’s Off the Record blog, IT professionals share anonymous stories of tinkerers, button-pushers, and clueless people who “know what they’re doing” — when it comes to bringing the office workflow to a crashing halt. Here are five of those stories illustrating why sometimes, your employees should really resist the temptation to fix things that aren’t broken.
Network admin disconnects the employees — all of them
A senior network administrator was showing off two relatively new servers in a data center to managers, boasting about uptime with claims that there was no need for an uninterruptible power supply. The admin touched the dedicated circuit breaker for the first server to prove the point — which promptly kicked 500 users off their server connection.
Apparently not satisfied with cutting office productivity in half, the admin then touched the second server’s circuit breaker and severed the connection for the remaining employees. Management decided to increase their investment in server infrastructure.
Operator powers down
A data center operator committed to easing workflows and expediting tasks noticed a loose ring on a piece of glass, and proceeded to improve efficiency by moving it. But the glass happened to be covering an emergency power-off button, which the operator managed to press — causing a blackout and a systems shutdown. The company experienced no long-term damage, but the operator decided to stick to a broader scale for improving efficiency, and leave the little details alone.
Newbie pushes the embarrassment button
A junior tech on a mission to turn off a non-critical server headed to the server room, located the machine, and pushed the button — only to instantly realize it was the wrong server, one housing files that were currently in use by more than 600 employees. Letting go of the button would wreak havoc, but there was no one around and his phone wasn’t getting service.
With a landline phone just 10 feet away, but out of his reach unless he released the critical button, the tech heroically took off his pants and used them to pull the phone over. Help soon arrived in the form of several eyewitnesses, who received the best office story ever in exchange for saving the day.
Paperclip panics the boss
It was a classic computer room — three mainframes with several attached tape drives, four printers (three line, one high-speed laser), dishwasher-sized disc packs, and a huge Halon fire suppression system to protect the investment. As the boss and the operators disagreed on handling shutdowns in case of fire, they met in the computer room for a test run that the boss insisted should include the main operators staying behind to take care of the mainframes.
Just before the test, a stray paperclip dropped into a control box, creating a short circuit that triggered the Halon. But the drill went as planned when the boss was the first one to speed out of the room.
VPs make executive decisions
Admins get a little worried when execs start poking around servers — with good cause, as this story proves. One day, in the middle of a difficult data center consolidation between two tech departments, employees suddenly found they couldn’t get email or connect to certain remote sites. IT traced the issue to server failures, which seemed to have happened all at once.
Amazing coincidence? Not exactly — a couple of VPs visiting the acquired company had ruled the critical servers “unused” with no impact on production systems, and had turned them off.
IT turns on itself
Non-tech professionals aren’t the only ones who make critical mistakes. A large, busy data center tasked an IT pro with deciding which servers were unnecessary and decommissioning them. The tech, perhaps having an off day, chose a critical management server to unplug and bring back to his desk, where he reformatted the hard drive. A flood of issues ensued with the loss of the database, extending to backups and firewalls. The tech was promptly transferred to a less disaster-making department.
While these stories are humorous, they all have a common theme – sometimes your employees need to be hands off. If you need assistance managing employees or finding better adept tech talent, contact the recruiting experts at The Armada Group today.
A job search can be a long and frustrating process. Of course, your ultimate goal is to end up with a great career, in an exciting place to work, with a fantastic salary. You might take a good job, in a nice place to work, with a decent salary. You definitely don’t want a crappy job, in a bad place to work, with a pathetic salary — but if you’ve been looking long enough, you may be tempted to settle for less than you need.
Taking the first job you’re offered might be the wrong choice. And if you happen to get more than one job offer, you’ll have to decide which to accept, and you’ll be left having to turn one down. Here are some tips to help you recognize when you should say no to a job offer — and how to politely turn down a job that’s just not right for you.
Salary: When enough isn’t enough
While there are many different reasons people might want a certain job, from a great benefits package to a nap room for employees, “making a lot of money” still tops the list for many. The salary is an important consideration for any job offer. Yours should be commensurate with your experience and the position you’re being hired for — if the company is offering significantly less than your last job with no subsequent perks or benefits to make up for it, or significantly lower than the average salary for that position, you should probably say no.
In addition to the salary itself, be sure to consider the job responsibilities. You might find that you’ll be making the same amount, but you’ll have a lot more responsibility and will therefore work much harder — without a raise to show for your efforts. Under these circumstances, it may not be the right job.
Responsibilities: When your get-up won’t go
Motivation is essential to long-term career satisfaction. Your initial reading of a position’s responsibilities should motivate you to perform, and the interview should reinforce that motivation on both your part and that of the employer.
If the actual responsibilities don’t seem clear during the interview, be sure to ask questions that clarify exactly what the job will involve. You don’t want to end up doing a job that you’re not qualified for — or conversely, one that will present little to no challenge and result in career stagnation. If there doesn’t seem to be ample on-the-job motivation or room to grow, it’s likely a position you’ll want to decline.
Culture: When you’re a square peg
Finding out about an organization’s culture before you accept a job offer is a must. A toxic environment is a definite don’t, but you also don’t want to work in a culture that is radically different or oppositional to your own working style — such as excessive formalism for creative positions, or a laid-back atmosphere that borders on indifference in a highly competitive industry.
Pay attention to cultural cues during your job interviews, so you can tell whether you’d be a good fit for this particular company. Asking questions such as why the person who held the position before you left, or how employees are rewarded for innovation or extra effort, can elicit telling responses that will help you decide how comfortable you’d be in the environment.
How to say “thanks, but no thanks” politely
If you find yourself with a job offer you have to refuse, it’s best to turn it down gently and graciously, no matter how strongly you feel about the offer. Here’s how:
- Offer your heartfelt thanks. Keep in mind that the recruiter or hiring manager has probably spent several hours reviewing your resume, researching you on social media, and interviewing you. They may have also talked you up to the team before offering you the job. Indicate that you know how much went into recruiting you, and you appreciate their efforts, by saying thanks for specific things the interviewer did, like answering all your questions or introducing you to key personnel.
- Give a brief, understandable reason. It’s rude to leave hiring managers clueless over why you’re declining the position — but if you get too specific here, you could step on toes fairly hard. It’s nearly always best to state that you’re declining the offer after careful consideration because you’ve decided to pursue other opportunities.
- Keep in touch. Even turning down a job offer is not a good reason to burn bridges. You never know when the wrong opportunity might become the right one, or you’ll get the chance to do a favor for a hiring manager by sending the right candidate their way — and you’ll build goodwill for your career along the way.
In the long run, holding out for the right job — and being able to say no to the wrong one — is the best thing you can do for your career. Consider your options carefully before you accept an offer, and don’t be afraid to turn down a position that could put you back on the job search path a lot sooner than you’d planned. Partner with The Armada Group during your job search, to find out how our team of staffing experts can find positions you'll want to say "Yes!" to.
Social media has revolutionized the way that people interact. It helps to form our opinions, share information, and – possibly the most crucial – changes the way we conduct business. While many initially assumed MySpace would disappear into the abyss of tech fads, it gave way to Facebook, followed by a rash of different flavors of social media for different purposes. In today’s world, companies cannot expect to excel in the business world without having a platform to interact on social media.
And neither can candidates.
Facebook might be a great place to post cat memes and baby pictures, but it’s also increasingly common to use it as a news source. Some very widespread companies (PCMag, for instance) disseminate a wide variety of content, which allows users to stay abreast of current developments.
For those who find Facebook a little too personal for professional purposes, LinkedIn serves an entirely different community, as it’s aimed towards professionals. This filters the lion’s share of political and religious discussions, fighting over the greatest video game-du-jour, and the endless stream of alternately hilarious and atrocious material. LinkedIn allows users the opportunity to receive relevant news and blogs which cater towards a user’s preferences. It also allows users to join industry-specific groups, where you can both read, post, and interact with best practices and relevant information in your chosen career path.
But perhaps the most notable feature of LinkedIn is developing a network for career opportunities. LinkedIn is a wonderful tool to find and be contacted by recruiters, and using your profile to list achievements, skills, and work history is a great way to get noticed by recruiters and industry leaders alike.
Finally, SpiceWorks is one of the best methods to really showcase your talent. SpiceWorks is a social media designed specifically with the IT specialist in mind. It allows a user the ability to communicate with high-level facets of a job, help and learn about projects, and interact with others in the IT community.
When it comes to succeeding in IT, the best place to do so is with the help of a recruiter. At The Armada Group, we can help. We only work with the best talent in the Silicon Valley area, and we understand what it takes to succeed. We work with some of the most innovative companies in the nation to pair elite candidates with the ideal career opportunity for maximum long term productivity. Contact us today to see how we can help you!