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The Purple Squirrel: Senior Mobile Engineers

September 15th, 2016

purplesquirrelThe term varies slightly across agencies, but the goal is the same: Find the Purple Squirrel! Our purple squirrel is a mid-senior level mobile engineer with 3+ years of experience.  Across the country, we have dozens of roles open for Android & iOS Engineers — and not enough available candidates.

If you think about how we consume digital media, it’s no surprise that the use of smartphones and tablets has increased while desktop usage decreases.  Social media is primarily driven through mobile -over 60% of which is dedicated to social media usage.  Startups and established brands alike are scrambling to ensure that their mobile experiences will keep consumers coming back.

Why are mobile engineers in such high demand— and why aren’t there any readily available for some of the top companies in the mobile space?  We spoke to Gabe Klein, the Front End and Open Source Technologies Manager in Chicago, to get his input about a market where demand is high and a supply of experienced mobile engineers is low.

What is your general feeling about mobile development roles?

Gabe: The great part about mobile development is that it is relatively clear cut.  Unlike other technology stacks where there are nuances about particular frameworks (think PHP or JavaScript), typically an engineer is either Android or iOS.

Why is the market so geared towards mid-senior level candidates?

Gabe: Before diving into the market’s desire for senior-level candidates, we need to look at the types of development teams that companies have created internally.  In Chicago, many of our clients have small mobile teams, so the ability to train and nurture a junior developer (talented or not) often doesn’t align with its immediate needs as a business.

Because of this, the market demands mid to senior-level candidates, even though, in my experience, junior developers are able to handle the work load. However, they may not have all of the boxes ticked when it comes to professional experience or the ability to hit the ground running without much direction.

From personal experience, larger, established companies have been willing to take on a more junior level engineer if they have more robust mobile teams.

Are good mobile developers few and far between?

Gabe: Not necessarily.  There just happens to be significantly more jobs open than candidates who are either unemployed or looking to leave their current role. They have their choice when it comes to choosing an employer.  Many companies offer perks that range from dog-friendly offices to flex schedules—everything to accommodate and retain good mobile engineers.  The competition is steep and they know that they can (and should be!) picky.

And it isn’t just the cool work space, perks & salary that will interest a great mobile engineer. If all else is equal, app content and the ability to develop from scratch also tip the scale.  When we sit down with engineers and ask them about their ideal role, they talk about working on a useful app, one that would provide value to themselves or their circle of friends & family.

How does a less experienced mobile engineer get experience when the market is so geared towards senior-level developers?

Gabe: Internships, projects, and continually honing technical skills.  Someone who demonstrates their experience building an app from start to end is highly valuable. It shows follow through, professional experience (even if it is a personal project), and a final product. Don’t be afraid to use a recruiter for mobile engineer roles, even if your experience is more junior.  When we have good relationships with our clients, they are often willing to meet junior candidates because we provide the initial screening.


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Posted in Current Events, Talener Blog

Canceling Your Interview

June 2nd, 2016

It happens: a family emergency, traffic, or an alarm that didn’t go off.  Even when you’ve meticulously prepared for it- sometimes it seems like the Job-Seeking Gods are against you.

If you have to cancel your interview, your best excuse is always an honest one.  Often, the most elaborate excuses raise red flags. We’ve heard them all. If you must cancel, consider (if possible) calling the interviewer or scheduler directly to convey your sincere regret for missing the scheduled time with them.  By letting the interviewer or recruiter know as soon as you are aware that you can’t arrive on-time (or at all), other arrangements can be made to salvage your chances at a second shot.

Talener asked its seasoned recruiters about some of the more interesting excuses they’ve heard over the years.


What excuses (real or not!) have you or someone else given when you needed to cancel an interview?

**The recruiter called Barnes & Noble to track down the wallet so he could interview— he got the job**


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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog

Scaling Your Startup: The Hiring Process

May 2nd, 2016

When you’ve graduated from a two- man operation in a garage office, but haven’t quite signed a lease for a Silicon Valley address- where does that leave you? As a startup, scaling out your business comes with challenges at every level of your business. This includes your hiring process. Knowing the roles needed, your story, and having a defined process will allow for streamlined movement forward in your company’s path to success.

Tell Your Story Well
You might be the one on the interviewer’s side of the desk, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t also being interviewed. As a startup or small operation, you must be able to sell yourself in a way that instills confidence in your future employees. Are they going to get paid? What has been done with that Series A funding? What about the product or service itself? Can it revolutionize the crowded startup space?

Know your story. Know it well. If you can’t get buy-in from candidates in the interview process, reconsider how you tell it. Make sure it can be understood by everyone. This means breaking down the story for tech candidates, account executives and everyone in between. At the end of the day, if your candidates don’t buy-in early, they may decide that your startup isn’t right for them.

Have Well-Defined Roles
If you aren’t clear about the exact roles that you need, wait to interview. The interview process should be streamlined; and part of streamlining the process is understanding what roles you need specifically. Often, we see clients who spend two to three weeks interviewing before realizing that they need another skill set. This leads to missed opportunities on potential fits.

Streamline the Process
Is your process clear, concise, and timely? Be mindful about keeping pace with the market. On average, most of the top candidates that we (recruiters) work with come on and off the market with 10 days. Having the right interview process in place that takes human capital movement into account is necessary.
Qualify, Don’t Disqualify.

Don’t look for reasons to not interview someone. For first round interviews, interview everyone who might be a fit. Yes, there will certainly be things missing on a resume that might disqualify them from being hired, but don’t let those reasons hinder the first round interview process.

Above all, be true to your startup, your vision, and goals. Organized and streamlined hiring practices will give you the right talent at the right time, allowing you to focus on other areas of the business that need to grow and develop. Sell your story and let your future employees sell your story.  Have questions about the hiring process or scaling out your own startup? Get in touch with Justin, our  Regional VP of Sales, today.

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Posted in Client News, Talener Blog

Resources for Common Job Search Questions

March 4th, 2016

Employee dilemma with question marks on blank paper

Everyone’s job hunting situation is different. Perhaps you’re coming off of a 3 month contract or have left your job after 20 years. In either situation, you may have questions about how to explain past work history, a background check, what to do about references or counter offers.

We’ve compiled some great resources that can help with the basic questions you may have.  And as always, asking a Talener team member is the best way to get tailored answer to your situation.

What does a sample tech resume look like?

Should I accept a counter offer?

I was fired, now what?

How do I explain short stints on my resume?

Are references important?

Background Check 101

What do I do if I’m asked about my salary expectations?

I’m converting from a consulting role to a full-time role. What is the raw conversion?

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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog

It’s Always an Interview

March 4th, 2016

Every day you are interviewing. Maybe not for a job, but you’re interviewing with every stranger that holds a door, sits down next to you on a train, or shares an elevator.  You never know who you will meet again. You never know if the receptionist at a company is the boss’s daughter.

What does this mean? It means you are interviewing before you even step foot into your meeting with your prospective manager.  From the moment you click send and your resume darts off into a company database, you have entered the interview process.

Your resume starts your story.  You’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s.  Your resume is clean, concise, and has the perfect combination of experience and technology.  So why is it, that some highly qualified, and let’s say for the sake of argument, the best candidates on paper, can’t land a job?

It might be the interviews. While there is some debate about the merits of traditional coding interviews via white board, the fact of the matter is, many companies still use them as well as traditional interviews today.  So armed with a portfolio, references, and your resume- head into your interview confidently.

  1. You’re always interviewing. Treat the Admin like you would treat the CEO. We want to know if candidates coming into our offices are respectful of our admins. They see and hear everything and are great judges of character.
  2.  You’re late. Find your route to our offices or your prospective new employer. Then find another. It happens: traffic, accidents, delays. We understand, but when your livelihood is on the line – take it seriously. If you can’t arrive on time, let someone know. Part of interview preparation is having the contact information of the person that is interviewing you and assuring that you can reach them if needed.  Not showing up is a pretty solid guarantee that you won’t be putting in your 2 weeks notice.
  3. Know your audience. Are you going to a technical interview? Or is it with HR? Does it matter? YES! On paper, HR may be able to identify skills, but they are also looking for culture fit, how comfortable you are, and whether you can answer standard interview questions.  You should prepare to tailor your answers to someone who can/can’t understand technical lingo. If you aren’t able to explain technical jargon to HR, how could you do it in a client-facing position where they have no experience in web design or software development?
  4. Dress the part. There’s no harm in asking HR or your hiring manger what the atmosphere is like before you get on site. It’s insightful to want to be respectful by dressing and composing yourself at the appropriate standard. If they’ve told you it’s a jeans & t-shirts environment, a suit probably isn’t your best bet. But the opposite is true as well.
  5. Rehearse your answers. Know your resume inside and out. Make sure every last line can be explained or worked through and discuss how you’ve grown since that moment in your career. Be prepared to explain work gaps, short term contracts, and areas where you feel like you can improve. If you can’t (or don’t want to) improve your skills, you’re stagnant.
  6. Ask Questions. You’ve researched their backgrounds, scoured the company site, and even got in touch with someone who used to work there. Ask questions about current projects or shifts their seeing in their industry. Ask them why they left industry X to get into industry Y. Genuine interest goes a long way.
  7. Thank them. Thank them during the interview, send a quick email to thank them after, and make sure that you highlight anything about yourself that you may have missed.  Something short, sweet, and within 24 hours of the interview is suggested.
  8. Ask about follow up. Be clear about when they will follow up with you or with a recruiter. Or, ask when you can follow up directly. It’s OK to ask about a timeline as long as you aren’t pushy. Make sure that you send any projects or information that you promised during the interview.
  9. Check-in. If you are using Talener or any other staffing agency, check in to with your recruiter to discuss how it went and what your thoughts are post-interview. Are you still as interested? Did they mention something that sounded off to you? Is there something you’d like the recruiter to discuss with the manager? Discuss any potential issue so that your recruiter can get ahead of the situation.
  10. Understand why you did/didn’t get another interview.  You got a second round interview? Awesome! Why? Was it your personality? Willingness to grow & develop additional skills? Someone obviously thought it was important, so play up your strengths.  Didn’t get another interview? Find out why. Ask your recruiter to get specifics about the interview. Was it something you said? Culture fit? Or perhaps something you didn’t pick up on at all.

Check out the great interview advice links below from some companies that we have worked with:

Tech Interview Tips-

How to Nail an Interview in Software Engineering- Business Insider

Tech Job Interview Questions- Forbes

10 Tech Interview Errors- Monster

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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog

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