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Archive: June - 2013 (4)

  • The Benefits of Building Strong Work Relationships

    Article by Amy Robert, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge Washington DC

    No matter what industry your profession lies is in, you are most likely going to be working with people in some capacity. Meetings, collaboration on projects, remote support with users, gathering research, or reporting to a supervisor are all examples of how human interaction is unavoidable in the work space. I can’t tell you how many times people forget to utilize these interactions to their benefit. This benefit can be both business and personal.

    Being in recruiting, part of my job is checking job seekers' references. If you've ever checked references before, you've likely found that each response is a little different, even if they all worked at the same company, or even on the same team, with the job seeker. Some responses are very short with little detail to provide because they don’t really know the person they are referring very well. In other cases, you can have a very detailed and extremely affirmative reference, a response so glowing that you imagine the job seeker could win any position, just based on that reference. I’ve found that those who get the most elaborate references have fantastic working relationships. What are some of the most common things I hear about these people?

    • They always take initiative whether it is with work or relationships with others.
    • They are an effective communicator
    • They are dependable.
    • They are fun and easy to work with and a great team player.

    The best references say this and more and have great reasons and examples of situations to back them up. I know that many days, mine included, are so busy that I’m just trying to get the job done and do it well. But take the time to invest in your relationships at work. You're already there, so you might as well utilize your time to its maximum potential.

    You might find that you enjoy work more if you take that time to engage with your coworkers. This can improve your attitude while at work, establish you as a team player, allow you some fun, and it helps others really get to know you so that they can (presumably) say nothing but great things about you in the future. Networking is a key component when you begin to seek out a new opportunity, and the more people you have in your network that truly know and care about you, the more opportunities you'll find by way of referral.

  • How to Negotiate Salary in 2013

    Article by Elliot Hardaway, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge Washington DC

    Finding a new job is hard enough without having to deal with compensation packages. However, it's an important and necessary part of the process. When negotiations start, you might find it difficult to walk that line of overstating or underselling yourself. You don’t want to lose out on an opportunity because you're asking for too much, but it looks just as bad if you accept something too low and come across as desperate. 

    The tech market across the nation is only getting better as evidenced by this article from Crain's, which states that “an increase of .24 percent (4.4 million new jobs total) from March of 2013 and a seventeenth consecutive month of growth overall, an all-time high for the tech industry.” So yes, the jobs are out there, but what does that mean for pay? “U.S. tech salaries rose more last year than they have in a decade, with the average tech professional earning a 5% increase, from $81,327 to $85,619, according to an annual survey by Dice.”  Demand is up and companies are realizing that it's taking a bit more to win over the right candidates. This is good news for job seekers, but of course, it's still important to make sure you're getting the best offer available.

    There are few tips that can make life easier during negotiation:

    • Understand Your Benefits Package & Perks: Think about aspects of your current compensation package that stick out other than salary. It’s really easy to get caught up in base salaries because it is the bulk of your total compensation package and likely the first number you see. However, a compensation package is more than just a base salary and clients need to understand what else you stand to lose if you move on from your current or past employer.   
    • Less is More: Avoid talking about salary in the first interview if at all possible. All clients are in search of the best valued candidate, but they are most concerned about finding the most talented and best overall cultural match for the company. Discussing salaries in the initial interview might cloud a good match as it can raise/decrease expectations for you. It can also predetermine financial expectations for the rest of the process with little regard for benefits and other options in your search.
    • Don’t Give Wrong Impressions: When talking about salary in the final stages of the interview process, avoid speaking about salary ranges that you would never consider accepting despite high interest in the job. You never want to give any type of impression that a salary range works when it doesn’t as clients will take that as a sign you might accept.
    • Do your Homework: Utilize your network to inquire about market salaries or rates for your skill set. Don’t depend exclusively on websites such as salary.com, as they tend to generalize markets. It's a good idea to research each company's background and how their employees perceive them. It's also important to take into consideration the total benefits package as it could help align your expectations for what they can and can’t offer, i.e. non-profits tend to lean heavily on benefits and flexibility while financial companies put a lot of weight in their bonus structure.
    • Utilize a 3rd Party – Help Them Help You: Whether it’s an internal HR/Recruiting Employee or you are using a staffing firm, get all the information you can to better understand what it’s going to take to get you on board. These individuals have tons of information: benefits, perks, trends within the company, as well as external trends amassed from past experiences working with them/working with past job seekers. This type of information is critical in the decision process and can really help you come negotiation time.

    I know this may seem like a lot to cover, especially when you have a million things going on outside of your job search, but thinking about these things early on in your search can really help to make the process much smoother for all parties involved, including your family. Job searches tend to be a little stressful as it takes a lot of investment, however, this time and effort can result in a great job with a healthy offer. Good luck out there!

    If you have any questions on negotiating compensation packages, email Elliot.

  • The Rise of the Entry-Level Developer

    Article by Sara Silano, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge Orange County

    If you follow or work for a company in the tech industry, you've probably noticed a much higher demand for developers who are more entry-level. For the longest time, the technology market has been split into three tiers: entry-level, mid-level, and senior-level. The question that now stands is why, suddenly, are the entry-level developers in such high demand?

    For starters, almost all of the sharp senior developers out there are already working. They currently hold the title of Team Lead, Principal Engineer, or Enterprise Architect. Most importantly, they are experts at what they do and it is extremely difficult to find someone who can replace their role at their current company.  These engineers are not necessarily as open to embracing change simply because what they have been doing has been working for as long as they can remember. They are, perhaps, less likely to take a position at a startup since a startup embodies the power of change and development of new ideas. The entry-level tier however, are generally great fits to work at startups.

    Recent college graduates are hungry, eager to learn, and less afraid to work a ton of crazy hours. They are determined to put themselves in a situation that will help grow their career. They are still constantly learning and are more open to change. More and more, managers are discovering the value of entry-level developers. It's true that they will require some training, but that offers the opportunity to tailor their training to the environment used by the company. Of course, no company is going to bring just any entry-level developer on board. Every company has their requirements, things they look for in their ideal applicant. The three main areas they'll look at are school, work experience, and personality.

    Although a bachelor’s degree in computer science looks pretty impressive, managers always look at the school that the degree is coming from. In Orange County, managers prefer UC schools (of course, an Ivy League degree isn’t objectionable). You'd surprised at how many job seekers I send on interviews that attended the same program and school as the manager they're interviewing with. It's an automatic connection that helps make the interview less stressful for both parties.

    Any relevant work experience for at least one full calendar year assures the manager that the applicant will be able to handle their first job out of school. Especially if that position dealt with deadlines. This shows managers that you have the maturity and responsibility to hold yourself accountable for getting the job done.

    You'd be surprised how much personality plays into the ultimate hiring decision. This is especially important in startups or small team environments where you'll be expected to work closely with your team members, sometimes for long hours on end. Increasingly, companies are resorting to the agile scrum method which involves a lot of open communication between the team and manager, so personality fit has become important even in larger environments.

    The old adage that the more senior, the better, no longer applies. The need for entry-level developers continues to rise.

    Developers looking for work in Orange County can email Sara at [email protected]

  • Considering a Contract Job? Ask Some Questions First!

    First and foremost, contracting can be a great way of landing your next job or adding some new folks to an engineering team, very quickly. After we find a job seeker a great new contract opportunity and they complete their project, we make an effort to ask our candidates how their experience was – time after time the response has been “Wow… that was fast.” 

    The discerning critics of contracting may say: it’s certainly not a full-time job. They’re right, it’s not; it is, however, an easy way to gain employment in this fast-moving IT industry and sometimes even better than a full-time job. Have kids? Imagine not being tied to a 9-5 work day so you can get paid for the hours you work, whenever you choose to (so long as your manager is okay with it). On your spouse’s benefits plan? Great, there’s no need for you to consider the employers benefits package then. Trying to get your foot in the door with this huge company you already applied to in the past? Get in there as a contractor first, where both the interview process and hiring criteria are often simpler.

    Find a contract or contract-to-hire position near you on the job board.

    The list goes on, and the proof is in the pudding – temporary staffing firms have seen rising and record profits over the last few years across nearly all sectors. California-based research firm Staffing Industry Analysts predicts that the industry will see a 6% revenue increase annually over the next few years, and hitting close to $140 billion by 2014.

    Now that we’ve covered the benefits of considering a contract or contract-to-hire positions, let’s make sure you get some answers from your recruiter before committing:

    How long is the contract? Is the business already won?

    Know how long you’ll be working on this contract. That way, you’ll know when you need to start thinking about the next contract/project or the next steps to converting full-time. In my experience, I have seen anything from 4 weeks all the way to, well, forever. 

    The other thing is to know if the business is already won by the contracting company because sometimes firms like to start the interview process BEFORE being awarded the business and having the ability to put contractors on. You certainly don’t want to turn down the other offers you had when the job you accepted technically doesn’t exist yet. A simple way of asking is: “If I accept the offer, how soon can I start?” The answer you’re looking for is something like immediately, on Mondays, or right after your two week notice.

    Am I going to be hired as a W-2 employee or as 1099?

    The main differences come down to taxes. As a W-2 employee, you will receive pay checks with tax withholding already taken, and you’ll receive an IRS W-2 from your employer in January of the following year. If you are hired as a 1099 contractor, you’ll get full pay with no tax deductions, but you are also responsible for paying your own taxes come April 15th of the following year.

    It’s tempting to opt for the 1099 route since your pay checks are bigger, but that smile quickly goes away when you realize you not only have to calculate how much you owe at the end of the year, but in fact you OWE MORE! You get tagged with self-employment tax which is another 13-14% of your income on top of the taxes you already pay.  As a perk, however, you can write off multiple expenses for your work as well (transportation, computers, phone service, etc.) Think about these points before deciding which is better for you. 

    What happens when the contract ends?

    It’s important to know what your options are – most staffing companies have other projects they will have needs for, and it’s good to know if you can still qualify for those. The benefit of using a technology-specific staffing firm is that a great majority of their other clients will have needs that match your skill set so that when you’re done with the current contract you increase your chances of landing another quickly with minimal downtime.

    What is the realistic time-frame of converting temp-to-hire? What salary can I be expecting?

    If the contract is a temp-to-hire position, it’s a good idea to know when you might be converting to full-time status. That sets the expectations on both sides, and both you and the employer are on the same page. Typically that can be anywhere from 3-6 months, and if you find yourself in month 8 with no talk of conversion, then it’s time you bring that up again.

    Now most people get a bit nervous when talking about salary and compensation, but you should know what the potential salary can look like when you convert to full-time. It may be an uncomfortable conversation for you to have now, but it’ll save you a headache down the road – you don’t want to find yourself having worked 4 months into a contract only to find that the salary they’re thinking of doesn’t even come close! Of course, it’s important to be realistic as well. If you are a W-2 employee getting paid $45/hour, you should be considering a base salary of around $90,000 (inclusive of benefits and such).

    Have more questions about being a contractor? Ask the nearest office to you here.

    For a first-timer, a contract position can look intimidating, but don’t let that stop you from considering those opportunities. There are countless stories I come across and personally experience where contractors are thankful they took the offer. Don’t forget to ask your recruiter some questions, so that you’re fully comfortable before moving forward.

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