Onboarding a New Employee

 

As a manager, it’s often your duty to ensure the success of your team. However, when many companies bring on IT contractors, they don’t take as much time and attention with them as they do with their regular new hires.

 

While it’s true the company’s relationship with a contractor does differ from the one they maintain with their permanent staff, that doesn’t mean you should forgo certain steps. When you properly onboard an IT contractor, you give them the tools they need to excel in their role, increasing productivity, the quality of their outputs, and even their level of job satisfaction.

 

If you are getting ready to bring on an IT contractor, here is some important advice for their onboarding.

 

Build a Relationship

Even though a contractor may only be with your company for a short time, that doesn’t mean you should avoid making a connection. By getting to know your IT contractor, you help turn a transactional relationship into a meaningful one.

 

Not only can this help them feel more welcome and integrated with your organization, fostering positive feelings and potentially a greater sense of loyalty, it can also help you stay ahead in the talent war. A happy contractor is more likely to accept a position with you in the future should you have a similar project or require someone with their skill set down the road, making it easier for you to secure reliable top talent when the need arises.

 

Plus, if your IT contractor genuinely feels like part of your team, they are more invested in the project’s success as well as the success of everyone involved. When there is a sense of connection, most employees, whether short or long term, are more likely to go the extra mile for their co-workers and managers, enhancing productivity and the quality of their outcome.

 

Set Clear Expectations

When you bring in an IT contractor, you usually have a solid idea of how you want them to contribute to the organization. However, if you don’t clearly define your expectations during the onboarding process, your new IT contractor might struggle to meet or exceed these requirements simply because they weren’t aware of them.

 

To ensure your IT contractor is set up for success, take some time during the onboarding process to fully outline what needs to be handled and when. Create a calendar with all relevant deadlines and let them know precisely when and how they need to provide you with status updates.

 

Typically, a contractor isn’t fully aware of any operational standards or office norms in your organization. Additionally, they weren’t exposed to the weeks or months of planning phases that took place before their arrival, so they didn’t have a chance to glean this information over time. This means it is always best to spell everything out clearly, ensuring they understand your expectations, goals, and how their contributions align with the big picture.

 

If you would like to learn more or are seeking an IT contractor for your next project, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with a member of our skilled team today and see how our hiring expertise can benefit you.

 

 

Published in Hiring Managers

Working From Home

 

It’s no surprise that a significant percentage of professionals wouldn’t consider reporting to the office their favorite part of the day. In fact, many would relish the ability to work from home, for a variety of reasons.

 

Did you know that tech professionals who work from home often save a significant amount of time and money? According to a recent report, it’s true. And those points alone can make it worth exploring remote work opportunities.

 

How Working from Home Saves Time

One of the most obvious ways working remotely can save time is by eliminating an employee’s need to commute. Depending on where they live, they may save a few hundred hours a year by forgoing the daily trip to the office.

 

Remote workers also avoid many office trappings that can waste time. For example, they won’t be interrupted by a chatty coworker who wants to discuss something non-work related or distracted by the phone call taking place one desk over. Ultimately, this allows someone who is working from home to be more productive, which is a form of time-savings in and of itself.

 

How Working from Home Save Money

Since remote workers aren’t required to commute, they can save a significant amount in gas alone. While the precise amount depends on a number of factors, including their gas mileage and driving distance, employees can save upwards of $500 a year in some cases, and nearly everyone can keep at least a couple hundred bucks annually by making the transition.

 

Additionally, not commuting reduces wear and tear on their vehicles, reducing the frequency of oil changes, new tires, and many other automobile maintenance activities. Insurance rates may also decrease, as the number of miles put on a vehicle in a year plays a role in determining the cost of the premiums. In some cases, families may even be able to reduce the total number of vehicles owned by the household, making the savings more substantial.

 

 

Even those who take public transportation can experience the money saving benefits. Typically, bus and subway passes come at a cost, but they might not have to be purchased if the worker isn’t commuting.

 

But the savings go beyond commutes. If a worker typically has to grab lunch from a restaurant or a cup of coffee from a café on the way in, that expense is also eliminated. For professionals who were required to wear business attire in the office, their clothing costs and dry cleaning bills may decrease as well.

 

Even Occasional Telecommuting Helps

Employees can experience time and money saving benefits even if they don’t work from home every day. Just one or two days a week can create a noticeable difference in both areas, so companies that offer flexible work arrangements can tout the potential gains to employees.

 

If you are interested in learning more about the time and money saving benefits of working from home, the knowledgeable staff at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our team members today.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

YouTube

 

According to new data, Americans spent almost a billion hours watching videos on YouTube on Android this past July alone. In fact, over the approximately 12 billion hours of streaming performed through the top 10 video apps on Android between August 2016 and July 2017, YouTube accounts for nearly 80 percent of the associated activity. And that makes YouTube the most used video streaming app today.

 

Not only does this show a shift from traditional entertainment programming, but also changes in how prevalent mobile technology has become. Here’s an overview.

 

Competitors Don’t Even Come Close

When people think of mobile streaming video, YouTube might not be the first that comes to mind. However, the second place competitor, Netflix, doesn’t reach nearly the viewership that YouTube experiences.

 

The other top streaming services (Twitch, Hulu, and Amazon Video) fall even further behind the leader, even though they are still commonly used applications.

 

Now, some of YouTube’s dominance could be attributed to the fact that it is largely a free service. Additionally, the ability for user’s to upload videos gives it an advantage over some platforms (aside from Twitch) and make it a video service that is also social in nature.

 

YouTube is Expanding

YouTube has recently begun offering services aside from the traditional video sharing capabilities. For example, YouTube Kids allows for targeted streaming that is seen as appropriate for younger viewers while YouTube Red, the paid subscription component, has increased YouTube’s involvement in exclusive programming.

 

Additionally, the company launched YouTube TV, a product designed to allow users to stream live TV or record to a cloud-based DVR, similar to the offering by Sling. The subscription service will increase the company’s revenue, giving it options beyond the traditional ads in front of videos and the YouTube Red service.

 

What this means is that YouTube is taking advantage of its position in the world, creating new companion opportunities that will appeal to its already substantial market base. And, as more people turn away from traditional cable and satellite television in favor of lower-cost options, YouTube’s total influence may continue to grow.

 

At this point, from a revenue only perspective, Netflix and HBO Now still beat YouTube, and Hulu at times outpaces YouTube depending on the average being examined. However, YouTube is working to grab more paying customers by expanding its products, something that the other services may struggle to do.

 

Ultimately, YouTube can be a strong model for growing and expanding a business by tapping into the existing customer base for related product offerings and sales. And, with its current rate of growth and popularity, it’s hard to imagine another mobile offering outshining the company anytime soon.

 

If you would like to learn more, the professionals at The Armada Group have the expertise you need. Contact us today to see how our services can help your business grow and prosper.

 

 

Published in News at Armada

Collaborative

 

Many employees and managers alike feel that time spent in meetings is less productive than it could be. Often, these events take a significant amount of time and may not actually be as helpful in developing new breakthroughs within an organization. This is especially true if the people in attendance stay restricted to particular work groups or divisions, as it prevents information sharing from getting innovators involved from other areas.

 

However, there are methods available for creating a collaborative environment that supports communication between workgroups, allowing those with differing perspectives to participate when working towards common goals. Additionally, by implementing the correct tools, collaboration efforts can be directed with the simple click of a mouse.

Structured Meeting Agendas

One of the biggest issues that prevents meetings from being productive is the lack of a clear agenda. By structuring the event, participants are fully aware of what should be covered, as well as the overall goal. Meetings without structure can easily drift off target, leading to time being spent on issues that should not be of immediate concern. And, when this occurs, objectives are missed and valuable time can be wasted.

 

Companies that value collaboration treat meetings like assets. They understand that time spent on any cause throughout the workday is valuable and should be managed accordingly. That way, everyone gets what they need to move forward on organizational goals – without any time being wasted on topics that do not need to be covered.

Tool Implementation

Collaboration-oriented software solutions have made connecting easier than ever, as long as they are used in the right way. Giving employees options regarding how they reach out can help streamline the time spent in meetings, by providing alternatives to traditional in-person attendance, while also allowing organic innovation to occur more easily.

 

Solutions that integrate audio and video conferencing, mobile messaging, and traditional email can get everyone connected whenever the need arises. Additionally, quick links to online meeting platforms can be sent through a variety of mechanisms, ensuring everyone has the ability to attend without having to dig through old messages or track down original meeting invites.

 

Often, when critical members of a team cannot be in attendance, the ability to innovate through collaboration is limited. By making the ability to communicate highly accessible, members of work groups and larger teams can touch base regardless of whether they are in the office, at a remote location or even on the road. This ensures key personnel can always participate, providing their knowledge and perspective whenever required.

 

These technologies also allow impromptu gatherings to occur with greater ease, ensuring that when a good idea hits the floor employees can pursue the opportunity immediately instead of waiting until the next scheduled meeting. By allowing these conversations to take place naturally, innovative ideas are quickly shared, helping the group keep the creative juices flowing whenever inspiration strikes.

 

If you are looking for employees to help implement collaboration software solutions or to contribute to larger organizational discussions and innovations, The Armada Group can help you get the employees you need. Contact us today to see how a new employee can help you reach your next breakthrough.

 

Published in IT Infrastructure

Culture

 

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.

New Opportunities

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.

Positive Morale

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.

 

Published in Recruiting

11 IT Security

 

There's never been a greater need for information security professionals. New technology, such as the growth of electronic health records, means there's more valuable information online to steal. And new technology also provides new angles of attack, such as a recent DDOS attack powered by unsecured Internet of Things devices.

 

For those building a career protecting businesses and consumers from these threats, these are the 10 highest-paying IT security jobs to aspire to. Titles and responsibilities vary by company, so be sure to explore all your options whether you're aiming for a role that's hands-on, a team lead or manager position, or as a senior executive.

Chief Security Officer

These C-suite executives oversee the security strategy of an entire business and monitor the effectiveness of the operational teams. With big responsibility comes a big paycheck of nearly $200,000.

Chief Information Security Officer

Like a CSO, the CISO is a senior executive with high-level responsibility. The CISO focuses more intently on information and data assets. Salaries match or exceed their CSO peer, and can reach close to $250,000.

Global Information Security Director

With an understanding of industry-specific security requirements, these professionals direct the work of project teams and are responsible for the response to a breach. Salaries extend upwards of $150,000.

Director of Security

The security director works with security teams and vendors to reduce the data security threats facing the organization. Salaries hit over $175,000.

IT Security Consultant

If you want the flexibility of working for more than one company, apply your security expertise as an IT security consultant. You'll help companies apply best practices or guide them through a crisis response. Expect a salary of more than $125,000.

Application Security Manager

Applications have specific risks based on the nature of the data they collect and store. An application security manager makes sure that applications have security appropriate to the risks they face. The salary for this work can reach more than $175,000.

Lead Software Security Engineer

As a lead software security engineer, you'll lead a team implementing security solutions throughout the enterprise. Median salaries are over $120,000.

Cybersecurity Lead

You can't defend against threats if you don't know what the threats are; cybersecurity leads help companies identify potential and actual threats, plus help defend against them. Median salaries hit $105,000.

Lead Security Engineer

Like a lead software security engineer, lead security engineers help teams implement security solutions, but have a focus that extends beyond software. Salaries reach more than $145,000.

Cybersecurity Engineer

A front-line defender of the organization, this is a hands-on role that involves probing for vulnerabilities and then building defenses. Look for salaries up to $125,000 or more.

 

Whether you're a security professional looking for a job, or an employer in search of a security professional, the Armada Group can match you to a position or candidate that will secure your future. Contact us to speak with a recruiter and learn about our process.

7 Tips on How to Make Your IT Team Feel Valued

Tech employees enjoy the challenge of new technology, but that isn't enough to make them love their jobs. Managers often think a paycheck and bonus expresses the company's appreciation for employees' work, but that isn't enough, either. At the end of the day, even technical employees spend their day interacting with people, and it takes a personal touch to make them feel valued. Here are seven tips you can put into practice to make your IT team feel valued:

1. Celebrate team successes

When your team succeeds, make sure you take the time to celebrate with them. Because projects can take years to complete, don't wait 'til the end. Acknowledge the successes along the way, like when they hit a milestone.

2. Say “thank you” often

It costs nothing to say "thank you," but this is one of the most basic and most overlooked ways of making people feel valued. Don't just casually throw out a "thanks;" say what specifically you're thanking them for, and what the value of their contribution was.

3. Let people know that others recognize their contributions

Don't claim credit for your team members' ideas. When they have good ideas that you pass along to higher-ups, tell the supervisors where the idea came from, and make sure you let your team know there was a positive reaction.

4. Encourage contributions

Have an open-door policy, and seek out input from employees who may be too shy to initiate conversation. As much as possible, involve team members in project planning and other decisions that affect when and how they do their work. Be sure to act on their input; otherwise, they'll recognize it's a waste of time to make suggestions.

5. Talk to people as individuals

Make sure you talk with everyone, not just team leaders or employees who report directly to you. Not everyone will want to share details of their personal lives, but if you can get to know employees as people, they'll feel less like corporate widgets. Be aware that issues in employees' personal lives can affect their performance at work, and offer appropriate assistance when necessary.

6. Offer challenges

Give your team members challenges and opportunities for new experiences. Help them find mentors who can help them grow. When they've outgrown their current role, help them find a new position within your company that will offer them the growth you no longer can.

7. Be honest

Respect your team enough to tell them the bad news, as well as the good news. While everyone would rather receive compliments, honest, well-intentioned feedback shows you care enough to offer constructive criticism, rather than taking the easy route of ducking a difficult conversation.

Published in Hiring Managers

Build Release Engineer Is Making the Career Change Right For You

Preparing software for release requires bringing many separate components together: code that needs to be compiled, third-party libraries that need to be installed, scripts that enable everything to run, and some kind of hardware where the software is deployed. Ensuring that the right versions of all the components are packaged together and successfully installed is the job of a build and release engineer.

Technical Skills

Build and release engineers usually have a degree in computer or information science. The engineers should understand how configuration management and version control systems work, and be able to work with the development team to manage branches.

Engineers should become comfortable writing complex scripts for a variety of platforms, as these are needed to automate the many steps of a build and deployment process. Many organizations try to minimize manual effort required to install a product, as that may be error prone. The scripts help ensure that the build process is repeatable and reliable.

Nontechnical Skills

Communication skills are important, as the build and release engineers need to work with the development and infrastructure teams to understand the components needed for the builds and the platforms the built packages need to run on. Release engineers need also need written communication skills, in order to document the build and release process.

Attention to detail is critical, since pulling the wrong version of source code into a build or omitting a necessary library means build scripts may fail or the deployed application won't run correctly.

Career Growth

The salary for build and release engineers is comparable to those in related careers like software engineering and systems administration. As you become more experienced in the release engineering process, you can take on additional responsibility for planning the application build and deployment process. For those who are interested in management, senior engineers can help choose tools and set corporate standards around the build and deployment process. Other build engineers opt to move into quality assurance or software development roles.

Published in Staffing News

Systems Integration Engineer

If you like taking the big view, working as a systems engineer may be the right career choice for you. Systems integration engineers focus on the entire system, not just a single piece of it in isolation. They're responsible for making sure the hardware, software, and network function together with appropriate performance and security.

Succeeding as a systems engineer means being well rounded technically, as well as having good interpersonal skills. Here are four skills essential to your success.

1. Understand computer hardware, software, and networking 

Systems integration engineers typically have a degree in computer science, computer engineering, or other technical disciplines. Solving system integration problems requires the ability to understand all the different components of a deployed solution. Because integration issues often arise when older technology must be coupled with newer technology, systems integration engineers should enjoy constant learning.

2. Enjoy both analytical and hands-on work to solve problems 

Systems integration engineers have to untangle difficult interoperability issues that arise when different application components are developed, at different times, by separate teams. This can require analysis of application and network logs, as well as writing middleware code to make components work together. Systems integration engineers often are involved with testing the system, including unit testing of middleware and complete end-to-end testing of the application.

3. Communicate well with customers and other engineers 

Because they solve middleware issues, systems integration engineers should be able to participate in technical discussions with other systems integration engineers and their software engineering and network engineering colleagues, to discuss application and architectural issues. They should be able to develop technical documents to propose alternative solutions, document the implemented design, and define test cases.

4. Bring a focused attitude to work with a strong attention to detail 

The solution to systems integration problems often is found by understanding the fine points of the application. Systems integration engineers should have the persistence to methodically work through a problem and multiple potential solutions to identify the best approach for resolving it. Systems integration engineers may need to switch focus from thinking about long-term design issues to solving an immediate application issue, so the ability to switch between tasks without losing focus is key.

As computer applications and the environments they run in become ever more complex, there's no end to the challenges systems integration engineers need to solve, making this an exciting career for technically oriented thinkers who thrive on variety.

Published in Recruiting

direct employee to consultant

For many tech specialists, consulting is often the next logical step in a successful career. If you’ve worked in management positions in the past, transitioning to consultation can allow you a greater degree of freedom, as well as the opportunity to exercise your expertise. However, before you make the switch, there are a few things to consider to ensure the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

Long-Term Impact

The very first step to transitioning to a consultation role is considering the long-term effects it may have on your career and your personal life. It’s a good idea to plan for periods of slower income, travel, or very long hours. Prepare your family for these changes in your routine, and have a system in place to make the switch easy on everyone involved. Professionally, you should consider how unique consultation opportunities will look on your resume. This will help you choose assignments that broaden your experience and skill set.

Set Your Salary

If you’re testing the waters, you’ll want to determine your desired salary well ahead of time. A good formula for contract workers is your former salary divided by 1000 plus 50 percent. So if you made $80,000 before your transition, you may settle on $120 an hour for your consulting fee. Check the market to see what IT consultation usually pays, and this will help you get a good range for your skills. If you work for a consulting firm, your salary may be set in stone, but independent consultation allows for flexibility in your salary.

Independent Consulting vs. Consulting Firm

Choosing whether you’d like to be an independent consultant or on staff at a consultant firm can be a major decision in your transition. If you have more experience, you may opt to work independently, while those looking to diversify their tech portfolio may find more value in a consulting firm. If you choose the latter, you should also consider the size and reputation of the firm before you commit to a position.

Ease Into It

Once you’ve made the important decisions, it’s time to take action. It’s not a good idea to quit your full-time job before you’ve built up a client base, so start by doing consultation work on the side or even trying pro bono work. If you’re lucky enough to get a long-term contract, this will give you the necessary cushion to ease into your transition.

Making the switch from direct employee to consultant can be stressful and challenging, but it has the potential to offer amazing benefits and freedom to those willing to try. Consultation can offer you valuable opportunities to expand your knowledge base and your experience, so if you’ve been in the IT industry for a while, perhaps it’s time to take the leap.

Published in Staffing News
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