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Tech Meetups : Laravel Chicago Spotlight

October 17th, 2016

Information flows freely when you walk through the door of a Meetup.  From conversational language breakfasts to equine enthusiasts – you can find a meetup for nearly any hobby or interest. And the benefit of meeting people with similar interests goes beyond good conversation and new relationships – it can also be beneficial to your career.

Technical meetups are popping up all over the country and across the world.  People with very specific tech interests can exchange their knowledge in a space where everyone shares the same interests.  Plus, many meetups are sponsored by local companies that may allow you to see their space after hours or talk with their employees about the work environment.

We spoke with Hao Luo, the head of the Laravel Chicago Meetup to get his insights about why meetups are so important, and how meetups provide a way to learn & socialize outside of the workplace.

What do you think is the principal reason that people attend meetups like Laravel Chicago?

Guests come to Laravel Chicago because they are curious about the technology and are looking for a community to exchange ideas.

What is the benefit to having a meetup in a company space versus a neutral space?

There are many benefits to having the group at a company setting. First, the space is usually accessible for most attendees.  Second, members can interact with the sponsors before and after the meetup to make connections.   Plus, many sponsors regularly help advertise our events on their social media networks.

What are your goals for Laravel Chicago?

My goal for Laravel Chicago is to form a community of tech-enthusiasts who are interested in Laravel.  More times than not, a developer can feel lonely working in a silo, and Laravel Chicago is a place where a developer can feel a sense of belonging.  The ethos of the web is about openness, and collaboration.  I believe, as web developers, our profession dictates us to have a similar mindset, and as we collaborate together, we become better developers.

How did the group start and evolve?

Laravel was just getting popular a few years ago, and I realized that Developers in Chicago who were interested in the PHP framework were craving a community.  Together with my manager, we created a group on Meetup.com and had our first event in Evanston.

Unfortunately, only two people came to our meetup event. We were, or course, disappointed, but we continued to have it in Evanston. Unfortunately, the meetup just wasn’t getting enough traction and we had to suspend the group.  Sometime later on, one of our co-workers told us about Talener and how they might be interested in sponsoring us.

In 2012, we were able to revive the group and had our first meetup group in downtown Chicago at the Talener office. The turnout was phenomenal. And those people who came to that event are regulars now, years later.

What is your goal going into every meetup?

I want to foster the sense of community and pique the interest of our new members.  At the same time, I want to encourage our members to get out of their comfort zones. Often, this means challenging them to present at our upcoming events.

Any advice for novice developers joining a meetup group?

  1. Keep Being Curious and Continue to Learn
  2. Make Friends
  3. Remember to contribute back to the community by giving a presentation of two. Don’t be nervous- we really are all friends!

What would you say to someone who is nervous or feeling a little uncomfortable about coming to a meetup because they don’t know anyone or they don’t think their skills are up to par with the rest of the group?

It’s always nerve-wracking doing anything the first time. Coming to a meetup group and having to meet new people in a new environment is touch, but it really does get easier from there. And—don’t worry, we’ve all been there.

 

If you’re interested in PHP Frameworks, generally curious about Laravel, or just getting started as a developer, take a few minutes to look at their meetup and join us on Tuesday, October 25th for their next meetup at the Talener Chicago office.  As always, pizza & drinks are provided!

For more information, visit the Laravel Chicago Meetup Page, or get in contact with Mary Kate at mmcgillivray@talener.com or Gabe Klein at gklein@talener.com

Posted in News, Talener Blog

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.

Excuses

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

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