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Archive: April - 2015 (2)

  • How to Build the Perfect Engineering Resume

    Article by Morgan Khodayari, Practice Manager in Workbridge San Francisco

    It’s no secret that in our current market (particularly in the Bay Area) Engineers and IT professionals are in extremely high demand.  With the national unemployment rate on a downward trend, companies are prepared to do whatever it takes to make the best hires.  But even in a great market all job searches start with one key tool: a resume.

    So how do you get your resume noticed?  There are three simple things you need to keep in mind when crafting an engineering resume.

    1.  Keep what is most impressive at the top. Do you have a degree from a top-ranked school or program?  Do you have any particular certifications?  Have you recently written an application with the newest Javascript framework?  Make sure that’s the first thing a potential employer sees.  When evaluating a resume it’s expected that the most important information is right under your name, and you want something there that will immediately convince the reader that you deserve an interview. 

    2.  Don’t list technologies or applications that you haven’t worked with recently. I get it; there are many tools/technologies you’ve “touched” that you could easily ramp up with when taking a new job. However, if there is a coding language, tool, application, or other technology that isn’t in your core competencies— do not list it on your resume.  Mention those technologies in the past positions you’ve worked, but don’t make them the forefront of your resume if you’re not ready to talk about it in depth.  When potential employers receive your resume they expect you to be able to discuss everything listed in detail, and when you’re not able to do that it gives the impression that you embellished or lied about what your capabilities.

    3.  Keep it concise. Your resume is not an opportunity to dictate your life story.  Rather, it should be a summary or appendix of your professional experiences.  Utilize bullet points to not only improve readability and keep the reader interested, but also to highlight your main accomplishments. Think of every point as an invitation for the interviewer to know more. 

    Most resumes are accepted or rejected in the first 30 seconds, and your objective in resume writing is to make sure you secure an interview. A great engineering resume perfectly reflects what you’ve done in the past, what you’re currently working on, and what you want to do moving forward. 

  • Avoiding the Mistake of Accepting a Counter Offer

    Article by Katlyn McDevitt, Practice Manager in Workbridge Philadelphia

    For 4 years I have specifically worked the IT staffing market, so I consistently have conversations with jobseekers regarding counter offers and why they do not work. By definition a counter offer happens when an employee gives notice to their current employer upon the acceptance of another job offer, and the current employer makes promises, monetary, titular or otherwise to mend the reasons the employee is looking to leave. More or less these are empty promises. Changing jobs is neither a natural situation nor one that is comfortable. For various reasons employees feel a sense of loyalty to their employers, a sense of family with their team and a fear of confrontational conversations with their higher ups so counter offers can be attractive. A piece of my professional obligation to the jobseekers I work with is to educate them on counter offers and their long term ineffectiveness. These are not the easiest conversations to have, however when the facts are laid out and a logical conversation takes place, it becomes apparent that counter offers do not work.

    What are your motivations?

    Everyone is motivated in their career by variables such as personal needs, professional aspirations, and cultural fit. When meeting with a jobseeker one of my very first questions is, “What motivates you to go to work every day?” At times, candidates take as long as 10 minutes to produce an answer. It is a thought provoking question that is rarely asked, but the answer is the driving factor for getting up every day for work, spending extra nights working late, and occasionally sacrificing your weekend for your employer. If you cannot pinpoint what these factors are, then you are constantly going to find yourself working at an unrewarding employer. Not knowing what truly motivates you makes one that much more susceptible to making the wrong decision and accepting a counter offer.

    If you are motivated by money… Money tends to be a motivation when you feel underpaid. Perhaps you got wind of a colleague who is making substantially more than you and believe you are of more value. If you fall prey to this, the solution is not to threaten your employer with an offer at another company, the solution is to build a comfortable relationship with your current manager and not be afraid to ask for more money. When taking this approach, my suggestion is not to walk in one day to your manager’s office and demand more money, but make an argument for yourself. Use statistics, track your specific impact on the team, or be knowledgeable of the performance review policy. If money is all that drives you, then you are absolutely at risk for a counter offer that is a short term solution in disguise.

    If you are motivated by career growth… Rising in the ranks is a common driving factor. As you perfect your craft and pay your dues, you expect to be compensated accordingly as well as work your way up the corporate ladder. Career growth can encompass multiple factors of a position, so you always need to pinpoint which factors are important to you. Do you rely heavily on what your actual title is? Do you see a clear progression with your current employer? Whatever your preference, make sure it is known by your employer. Again, creating and maintaining a comfortable relationship with your manager is essential to ensuring you are reaching your expected career growth. I have seen countless individuals who leave their current roles for all of the reasons just mentioned, but they didn’t ask for anything to change. If you have not expressed to your employer what is important to you, how are they supposed to keep you happy?

    Ready for a Job Change?

    If you are motivated by culture and environment… Culture is often an essential piece of the puzzle. Within IT, work spaces can vary dramatically depending on what type of technology you work with, what kind of position you have and the type of company you work for. To ensure you select the right environment and culture fit for your personality, you need to be aware of what you need to thrive. Someone who works second shift helpdesk support will not flourish in the same culture as an open source developer who wants a startup culture. We have clients who do not offer the most innovative environments, but the job is low stress and less demanding. Equally, a large fortune 500 company is going to offer a much more formal work setting as opposed to a small interactive agency. The right environment will evolve as you continue to progress in your career. Whatever makes you happy, vocalize it and make it a large part of your decision making process.

    If you are motivated by technology… What technology you choose to work with is very dependent on personal and professional factors. If a work/life balance is important to you, you may need to accept that an innovative, progressively technical company may not be the best fit. If you want to move into a mobile market, but are coming from a .Net background, you need to accept that this is a change in technical focus, which would likely result in a lateral move as opposed to an increase in salary. Similarly, do you feel like you are surrounded by likeminded individuals who share your passion for technology and take the extra time to teach you what they know and vice versa? Similar to culture and environment, this is an ever evolving motivational factor. It is easy to be at a company for a few years and realize one day that they are no longer meeting your technical needs. If that is the case, find someone who is going to value your same thoughts.

    Why your company is giving you a counter offer

    There are hundreds of articles online that detail why companies give counter offers, so I will not go into too much detail. However, below are a few of the main points.

            Save money in the short run

    Time is money. When you give notice to your employer, their thoughts are not “Thank you for all that you have done”, but rather “We have a deadline to meet” or “How am I going to ensure the development continues smoothly?” Motivated by this fear, employers take the easy road and opt for a quick fix by throwing money at you. Temporarily this will make you feel valued, supported, or perhaps create the illusion that you now have an upper hand in this relationship. However, it is just an illogical, urgent and fearful reaction from your employer and the novelty of the offer will quickly dissipate as the majority of your grievances, aside from money, remain.

            Short term band aid, long term replacement 

    Picture this, you have a resignation conversation with your manager and he pumps your ego by throwing money at you and playing dumb to the idea of you being unhappy. Reactively he offers an increase on your salary by $20,000 to keep you there and happy. Realistically, can your employer afford to keep you on board paying you $20,000 more? Likely, no. So this is the short term band aid. While you go back to work, your employer will begin searching for someone with your skill set who will work for your former salary, and believe me, those people are out there.

    Realize they did not focus on valuing their employees and employee morale

    It is not your fault when an employer chooses not to focus on their employees and team morale. However, once you recognize that you are not getting the recognition that you need and/or feel undervalued by your current employer— it is time to move on. Again, reactively, it is easy for your employer to back track after you give notice and play dumb, but realistically would you want to continue working for someone who only admitted their mistakes when backed against the wall?

    Realize it is okay to move on...

    Everyone is always looking for the best thing, it is a natural inclination. However, when it comes to your employment, you need to step back from the current situation and analyze what is going on. Why are you entertaining the thought of leaving? What about your current situation, if anything, would you want to change? Are you terrified to actually have these conversations with your management team? Whatever the case may be, it’s important to know and accept that it is okay to move on. The evolution of a career should parallel the evolution of your network. Leaving an employer should not result in burned bridges or broken relationships, but rather a mutual appreciation of lessons learned from one another, a respect for the professional time spent together, and best wishes for all future endeavors. 

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