Workbridge Associates: Where People Meet Performance

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Archive: July - 2013 (4)

  • How Can Contractors Benefit your Company?

    Article written by Kyle Sluzar, Practice Manager of Workbridge Associates San Francisco

    Kyle SluzarIf you have been involved in technical hiring recently, you’ve probably noticed how hard and competitive it is to find the right candidate. You spend endless hours gathering and screening resumes, reaching out to people, scheduling interviews, conducting interviews, and trying to close candidates. Sometimes you think you’ve found the right candidate and then suddenly that person gets another offer, or gets a counter-offer, and it’s back to the drawing boards. This is rather time consuming as well as very frustrating. So, how does one avoid this? The answer is simple: Hire a contractor.

    There used to be a fear that if you hire a contractor, he or she will be susceptible to leaving for a better opportunity, which in turn, won’t help build your desired workplace culture. This is false. Most of today’s companies are hiring contractors as a tool to build their business as well as their team. One might ask, “How do they do this?”    

    Well let’s start with the interview process. In the current market, when a company finds a candidate that interests them, they must show urgency to hire. Sometimes this causes less time spent between the candidate and the team. Thus, the candidate ends up not being a positive culture fit. If this ever becomes the case, the candidate should be hired as a contractor in order to see how well he or she works with the team. This makes it a low risk but high reward situation. I’ve worked with many managers who question doing this because they don’t want to close the requisite and lose out on the “perfect” candidate. Just because the contractor was hired, it doesn’t mean that one has to stop collecting resumes. 

    Now let’s discuss technical skill set. If a candidate falls short technically, they shouldn’t be completely ruled out! A lot of managers have recently become more open to hiring the candidate on as a contractor and putting them on a 2-week project. This is done so the manager can see what creative ideas the candidate can come up with. If the candidate ends up picking up the technology quickly, this should be a sign to bring them on full-time. I recently suggested this to a client that was questioning a candidate on their design style. Instead of ruling that person out completely, the client had them work with the team for a week. You can guess what happened next. It ended up being a perfect fit!  

    Hire junior! If you are ever questioning a candidate because they are too junior, but have the bandwidth to have someone mentor and train them, hire them as a contractor. The candidate will be extra motivated to work hard and learn the product and technology. Once that candidate gets up to speed, they should be hired full-time so they can naturally become committed to the mission.

  • The Five Year Career Plan

    Article by Joseph Schurig, Practice Manager in Workbridge New York

    The tech market is doing well. There was a time not too long ago when California was the only state with exceptional career growth in the tech sector. These days, growth from every corner of the country is not only common, it’s expected. Considering the amount of open positions in IT and the growth of venture capital funding for startups, it should come as no surprise that the average tech salary has increased consistently over the past few years, and drastically. With all that money out there within the consulting and full-time tech market just waiting to be snatched up, we sometimes forget to consider of another important piece of the job hunt: the five year career plan.

    The industry average for a software engineer staying at a single position is less than two years. Clearly, career growth is not as much in the forefront of job seekers' minds as it should be. And i get it, for someone looking for a job, it can seem simple to just choose the opportunity with the highest salary. The money is out there, so why shouldn't you take as much of it as you can get? Despite the lure of the comfortable raise in salary, job seekers should also consider the long term career growth in their next job.

    While numerous cities across the country have experienced exceptional growth, Silicon Valley and New York are experiencing some of the most drastic results. Look at the numbers: the New York sector received a 2.5% bump in employment in June, compared to 1.30% percent in CA, nationally 1.00%. That same trend has continued since March, when New York /CA/National averages opened at 2.4%/.3%/.7%. While the average salary in the NY sector is $94,000 compared to $143,000 in CA and $120,000 nationally, there are opportunities at all ranges, above and below the averages, many with huge growth opportunities. The money is not going to vanish over the next decade. Job seekers should find their passion and work where they enjoy what they're doing.

    While the East Coast tech market has experienced recent growth (lower salary average in NY reasoned for more jobs for younger talent), strong trends have been consistent over the past few years. This begs me to reiterate: candidates should be looking for five year growth, not just the starting salary. The recent past and forecasted future of salary growth in the tech sector reasons that a five year plan is more beneficial to careers.

    The salary figures are there. The trend of market growth isn’t going to disappear soon, and there is going to be money plus potential equity/options out there for anyone seeking it. Great opportunities do exist. These days, it's just a matter of matching your monetary goals for the next five years (combined) and your passion. This isn't exclusive to the startup market. Companies that are decades old are experiencing similar growth, while startups are receiving record highs of funding from VC’s. The passion and the numbers are out there, we just need to take advantage of it as a community.

  • The Top Five Reasons Your Engineers are Leaving

    Article by Abby Rose, Lead Recruiter in Workbridge Boston

    I don’t work on a software development team and I don’t understand the ins and outs of what an engineering team does on a day-to-day basis. But do I talk to engineers daily? Yes, and they frequently divulge information to me that they never share with their manager prior to giving their notice.

    I talk to them about why they are looking to leave their company (emphasis on looking because we all know that software engineers across the board are all passive in their job hunts). This article is not meant to tell IT professionals how to run their teams or manage their developers. I hope this analysis provides insight to the most common reasons as to why engineers do end up leaving companies and how it might help in your efforts to prevent losing top talent.

    I evaluated the candidates that Workbridge Boston has placed and their “reason for leaving” since the beginning of 2013. We have three teams within our organization that place Java, Open Source, .NET and System Engineers, with approximately 150 placed candidates in the past 2 quarters of 2013.

    Below are the top 5 reasons why, in our experience, engineers leave their companies:

    1.   New Challenges/Growth/Strategy

    We’ve all heard it. “I have no room for growth in my current company” or “I am not challenged here anymore.” But what do those statements really mean? Our first reaction, as a recruiting firm, is to ask the engineer if they have addressed these concerns with their manager. Many times it is a simple fix and all parties avoid the ever dreaded acceptance of a counter offer.

    But what if it’s not a simple fix? Engineers that are not continuously challenged or aren't given the resources to grow their skill set will immediately look elsewhere to do so. Challenge and growth definitions vary for each individual, but what we see as a good solution is to consistently check in and promote an honest and open environment so engineers feel comfortable speaking about their career growth. If an engineer cannot believe in the strategy of a company and their approach to accommodating engineers, it’s easy in this market for them to find another company.

    2.   Technology

    This may seem obvious, but engineers thrive on teams that foster open mentalities on the use of new technologies. An old and stagnant tech stack is the quickest way to lose talent. Engineers are not necessarily chasing companies that use the newest technologies, but they are looking to leave companies that have closed mindsets.

    Again, I know I don’t sit on a software development team. The pains of adapting new technologies to a platform may be difficult, but it could be a good way to challenge your engineers (referring to the first point) to integrate or use the technologies they are interested in.

    3.   Team and Management

    I’ve never had a candidate say they hate their boss or that the management staff is horrible. The reasons engineers leave their companies due to management is usually because of a shuffle in upper-level management that trickles down to operational changes on a technical team.

    If a leader in space leaves the company, or a VP is promoted to a hands-off role, or a new CTO is hired, changes occur that effect day-to-day routines of an engineering team. The most common pain points engineers talk about are added responsibilities and unrealistic new expectations, a new SDLC that kills the current flow, disorganization of priorities, or lack of new/continued mentorship. Management transitions are a crucial time to communicate with a team and again, foster an honest environment.

    4.   False Expectations

    “I was hired to be a back-end Ruby engineer and I’m developing HTML templates.”  That’s no good! It usually surprises me how much I hear about engineers being hired for a certain position and end up spending the first 3-6 months doing a completely different job. It usually roots back to an interview feeling like a honeymoon without diving deep, and truly deep, into what this specific role and this specific engineer’s timeline will be. If they are going to be developing HTML templates for the first 3 months, say that. Don’t hide it.

    Again, communication in the first six months on a weekly basis can prevent a situation getting too far out of hand. Many times, as human beings, we wait until it’s too late to talk about being unhappy with our job. Instead what engineers decide to do is jump ship and find something new where they can ditch the unwanted parts of their current role.

    5.   Money/Stability

    Yes, every recruiter encounters a job seeker that is driven to receive a higher salary than what they currently have. Good recruiters proceed with a lot of caution prior to representing that candidate.

    It is more common, however, to find an engineer that is looking for a job because of the following reasons associated with money.

    1. A startup didn’t get funding
    2. Company is going under and can’t pay engineers their market value salary
    3. Haven’t received a raise in over a year

    Some of these factors are not preventable, but setting up realistic goals and incentives for raises will help you keep valuable engineers around longer. Clear cut steps to a bump in salary and honesty about the stability of the company will increase the longevity of your developers. If other people in the company are being laid off, talking about why and what is going on behind the scenes will prevent engineers from looking around. When employees get laid off, it shakes up the nerves of others. Many times engineers in our office say “a few people were laid off last week, so I’m looking because I want to be proactive about finding something new before I’m out of a job.”

    Good news is that reason 5 is an easy fix by being communicative, open, and honest about what is happening within an organization and about how each person can be held accountable for their next raise.

    Take away what you would like from this information. Hopefully it helps companies reflect on the way they approach retaining talent from an “aftermath” perspective.

    Three take away points:

    1. Create a truly honest environment
    2. Communication, communication, communication
    3. Proactive and not reactive check-ins with all engineers

  • Lending a Hand at the Greater Boston Food Bank

    Last week, the team at Workbridge Boston visited the Greater Boston Food Bank. Their mission? To end hunger by distributing enough food to provide at least one meal a day to everyone in need in the greater Boston area. With the help of over 18,000 volunteers and by acquiring food through industry donations, drives, and financial contributions, the GBFB is able to provide meals for those who need it the most. At the organization’s 117,000 square foot warehouse, volunteers inspect, pack, and distribute food to local pantries, shelters, day-cars, youth programs, senior centers, and community meal programs.

    The problem today doesn’t stem from lack of food. In fact, there is plenty (if not more than enough) to go around. It is more so the economic and political obstacles that prevent food from getting to those who need it the most. In eastern Massachusetts alone, one in nine people are at risk of hunger and recent studies show that 47% of those at risk make “too much” money to be eligible for government food aid. See the problem?

    Workbridge Boston was one of three teams working that evening, making the total number of volunteers 28. During their time there, they managed to sort 8,830 pounds of food and salvage 7,064 pounds of it! That amount of food equates to 5,404 meals and that is a wonderful thing.

    We're so excited that our Boston office was able to get out there and play a part in helping the community of Boston. Offering up your time is no small thing, and our team in Boston did a great job! Everyone involved was active and really engaged in their volunteer task. No one should ever have to go hungry and with organizations like The Greater Boston Food Bank and the help of thousands of volunteers, we hope that one day, no one ever will.

    The Greater Boston Food Bank is located at 70 Bay Avenue, Boston, MA and is always looking for new volunteers. Click here to see how you can help. Keep up with them on Twitter to stay involved by following them @Gr8BosFoodBank.

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