Article by John Howard, Practice Manager at Workbridge Washington DC
If you work in the tech sector in any industry, you’ve seen and heard the internet community railing against coining technologists as rock stars, ninjas, or other completely unrelated wishfully-imaginative pseudonyms. The truth is that those names stem from an appreciation of well-versed, competent engineers who have the potential to impact a technology’s evolution or company’s overall success. When it comes time to seek out a new nest, whether it’s through a recruiter, a former colleague or friend, or just on one’s own, the technologists who are the most prepared for the rigorous interview process are the ones who have the most options and end up with the best total package at a company of their choice.
Recently I was referred to a highly-qualified and sought-after jobseeker through a candidate we had helped to find a new job. This was a friend and former colleague who was what most in the tech industry would consider a “rock star.” He had moved to Silicon Valley and was working for a company that creates products that most of us use every day; furthermore, this particular guy was involved in a highly visible product for this highly visible company. Needless to say I was excited to chat with him, and after exchanging a couple of emails we connected over the phone. While I wasn’t particularly surprised by anything he said, there were some things he was doing that stood out and gave me more of a lens into how highly-talented (hence highly-marketable) folks get to the point that gives them a clear advantage over the competition (even though the open source community is well…communal, there is still competition for the best companies and jobs). Like any successful person in any field, it takes a strong work-ethic, dedication, and going above and beyond what the average or even good folks are consistently doing.
What’s the secret? It turns out, a lot of fundamentally basic things:
- Determine what the next step is—this sounds like a no-brainer, and sometimes it is. However, sometimes the desire to move on outweighs the desire to seek out anything specific (accepting more money/benefits/flexibility/etc.). There are a number of established & blossoming trends on the tech landscape—talk to the trusted people in your network who are more aware of what’s going on and where things are headed; find an interesting Meetup or two and interact…often the thought-leaders of the tech community are found here; connect with a good recruiter to learn about the specifics of your area (or where you’re headed). Be very clear about what you're looking for in your next opportunity no matter if you’re "actively" looking or not. The best position you can be in is to have that great job at your current company but understand what would make it better and listen to those opportunities. Try to make it happen in your current company of course but if that doesn't work, truly understand what will make you excited to move from your job.
- Before doing a single interview, take four to six weeks to intensely review, recall, and learn as much as possible, from going through manuals to code base to Github—this includes understanding what you should know offhand for the job you’re currently doing as well as learning as much as you possibly can for the job you’re looking to step into. Furthermore, learn by doing, practicing, and interacting—want to learn Node.js? Try building a web application; not a simple page but something comprehensive that shows some solid grasp of a technology or tool that aligns with both your personal tech and career interests and a marketable skill that would be an asset to a company. Don’t be afraid to put your code out there…get in the mix with folks at Meetups and hackathons.
- Groom your online presence – If you know you are going to be looking for that Node.js job in the next 2-3 months, start researching the technology but also SHARING your research on Twitter, Linkedin, Github, etc. Even go as far as to blog about it. That way when a potential employer looks into your social media history, they see several months of information to back up that you said “you don’t know Node.js, but you have been doing extensive research”. It lends credibility to your statement.
- Prepare references ahead of time – talk to former coworkers and mentors, specifically those who know you well and are also in well-respected companies/positions.
- Diversify your research – talk to friends in industries that you are interested in along with looking up companies/industries online. Sometimes the things you read online are not all true, and often the best and most straight forward advice comes from someone who has worked in that industry or specifically at a company you want to work for.
- Finally, no matter who you are or how long you’ve been in your area, you should understand that you don't know everything that's out there and you should put yourself in a situation to be surprised by people and companies. Talk to everyone, all the time and always-be-networking. Being a selfless networker will come back to you in many, many forms.
Seems like a lot, but if you’re looking for the secret-sauce, about 95% of the ingredients are right here. These are the traits and habits of excellent technologists, and adopting these will put you in a position to be highly-successful on the next job search.
Article by Ian Tushman, Practice Manager for Workbridge Los Angeles
We have seen a surge in DevOps hiring over the past year and the most exciting part is that every new DevOps candidate hired seems to come from a different background. We have seen job seekers take on DevOps roles after previously focusing on systems administration, application development, automation or build/release management.The DevOps movement is an increase in communication between development, operations, test and the production environments.
A Background in systems:
The most commonly asked for skills include server automation and system scaling, preferably in the cloud. Amazon Web Services (AWS/EC2/S3) and RackSpace tend to be the most common public clouds used while OpenStack, CloudStack and Eucalyptus are the most commonly used private clouds. Puppet and Chef are currently the most common configuration management tools used to automate server tuningbut the newly released Salt (about 1 year old) and Ansible (3 months old) have become more prevalent. While we attended the SCALE convention in February, we spoke with Puppet Labs and they sent us a link to their own training and certification course to help job seekers learn a very in-demand tool:
A Background in Development:
Application developers transition very smoothly into DevOps.Rather than focusing on building the application, DevOps includes tools development; building modules and customizing the tools used in each aspect of the life cycle. The most common languages we see are Ruby on Rails, Perl or Python. Chef and RackSpace customization is most commonly done with Ruby on Rails. Cloud systems need to be built and configuration and monitoring tools need to be customized. Each of these tools is essential to support the developers, testers and systems administrators. A background in development will also make you instrumental in code maintenance and reviews. The most common version control systems have been Git, SVN and CVS.
A Background in Build/Release and Automation:
DevOps Engineers work closely with the code and version control systems. They will help to manage the health of the code repository and automate the system for continuous deployments, usually with Jenkins or a bash script. Continuous integration has helped the on-call staff sleep at night knowing that properly tested code with move straight into production when it is ready. The build/release cycle is extremely crucial and ensures that broken code is not pushed live into production.
No matter what background you come from in technology, DevOps is a fundamental part of each aspect of the product life cycle, and the technology market needs more people in the DevOps community!
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Steve Klabnik, an open-source and ruby on rails enthusiast spoke for Tech in Motion: Los Angeles recently and discussed building API-first applications using Ember and Rails. He showed us practical applications of using these technologies, by coding and building an application that a restaurant would use. Everyone really enjoyed picking his brain before and after the talk as well as networking with their peers.
After the event I was able to speak with Steve and gain more insight about his tech roots. Here is what he had to say.
WB: When did you first discover your love of technology?
SK: I started programming when I was 7. One of my uncles brought a computer home to my grandmother's house. I was hooked.
WB: What is your favorite thing about coding?
SK: I like that I can have an impact on people's lives in a positive manner.
WB: What sparked your love of Ruby/open source technology?
SK: Ruby just makes me really happy. It’s fun to program in, the people who program in it are great, and it just fits my brain really well. I love Open Source because we're collectively building a commons.
WB: What in your opinion is the next big thing in technology?
SK: "Tech" in general is so broad, I'm going to go with the Tesla Model S. It's still a luxury car (I won't ever own one,) but the next Tesla model will be affordable for all.
WB: What excites/interests you most about the technology field?
SK: The same as coding: I can impact others positively.
WB: Thanks so much Steve! We hope to have you back soon!
If you are interested in attending or speaking at a Tech in Motion: Los Angeles event please contact: Jennifer DesRosiers at 310-445-3300