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Full Interview with CNN Money, IT Talent Shortage

January 27th, 2012

Here is the full interview that I did with Annie Fisher from CNN Money. 


The IT talent shortage has gotten a lot of attention in the media, etc., but how hard is it to get a job in IT if you have only (re)training with no actual work experience?


If you are trying to enter the IT world then you have to enter at the right level, which is either as an intern or at the entry level help desk or desk top support level or administrative assistant in the IT Department.  Certification programs/advanced training is a great start! But individuals will still need to start at the bottom, which may mean taking on an un-paid internship, which allows the individual the opportunity to prove to the perspective employer that this is the field they want to be in. Additionally, employers love to hear about outside passions and hobbies, so it’s critical to discuss your tech hobbies if you don’t have any actual work experience.


On a personal note, one of my favorite placements of all time was with the Monster Board in 1998.  The Managers running the technology department were very young entrepreneurs.  They told me that they were looking for junior people, a certification was acceptable, however, they didn’t want anyone old to manage because they were so young.  I had them meet with 10 candidates in 1 day.  When the interviews concluded, they asked me, who I thought that they liked and who I thought they didn’t like.  Bottom-line, their favorite candidate was the older guy, who had just gotten his Microsoft Certification and he said something like, “I know this certification means nothing.  I want an opportunity to learn and given the opportunity, I will deliver.”


A follow-up question to that would be, if employers prefer to hire people who have training *and* experience, then how can you get experience?  Would a staffing firm like Talener have opportunities for would-be techies who’ve been trained but haven’t worked in the field (yet)? Or do contract/temp positions require experience as well?


Talener is the best friend to a candidate like this for a few reasons:

  • We have established strong relationships with our clients at both the Management and Human Resources Levels, across industries who will interview candidates that we feel they would like, rather than only interviewing candidates for positions that might have the perfect resume.
  • With such a shortage of Technology Talent out there right now, we are hearing more and more from our clients that they are looking for someone hungry, passionate and enthusiastic and you can’t spell hungry on a resume.  Our staff interviews the candidates ahead of time and gets to know them on a deeper level and therefore we do a much better job representing that candidate to our clients. We then take that information to the hiring manager and strongly suggest, and in some cases, insist on the interview.


An individual can gain the experience by joining a company at the right level or by joining the right type of company.If an individual has no experience and is passionate about wanting to work in IT, then join a technology company, even at the administrative level or in a non-technical function that you may be more qualified for.  From there, learn by listening, asking questions and engaging with your coworkers at every opportunity and make it clear that you are passionate about technology and you would welcome an opportunity to transition into a pure more technical role whenever possible.  If you can successfully prove yourself in your current role,  eventually a position will be presented to you.  You can expedite this internal transfer by taking advanced training classes independently and on your own time.  Share that with the Technology team and get some insight from them as to what you should be studying. It might take a year or more, but we believe that it will happen. 


There are a few other ways of working your way into a more technology role: Such as Project Management Office, Office Management, Pre-Sales, Professional Services and Support Contract positions at the entry level are a great opportunity, but few and far between.


Posted in Company News, Talener Blog

CNNMoney/FORTUNE Article – Can you snag a tech job with training alone?

January 26th, 2012

Continuing his media blitz, please see the CNN/Money article featuring a quote from Mike Dsupin towards the end.  As usual, please read it, share it and let us know what you think!

Link to the article is here:


Posted in Career Tips, Company News, Current Events, News, Talener Blog, Talener Culture

Exciting Talener News!

January 24th, 2012

We have some exciting news to share with you all – Talener’s own Michael Dsupin spoke with a reporter from Forbes last week and his comments were featured in her article “6 New Job Titles that 4G will Deliver”. 

Here is a link to the article:

Posted in Company News, Current Events, News, Talener Blog, Talener Culture

Startups and Large Companies- Definitions and Differences

January 24th, 2012

Oftentimes it is wondered what the primary differences are between startups and large corporations.  As job seekers, you probably want to know how unique each experience would be.  The funding, structure, strategy, and culture of small startups are very different than that of large public corporations.  Each has it’s own pros and cons, but ultimately it is up to personal preference on particular factors that matter most to you.

Startups can be defined as companies that have limited operating history, and typically have potential for high growth.  They attract investors based on their risk/reward potential and scalability.  Steve Blank, a serial entrepreneur and adjunct professor at Columbia’s Business School has written extensively about entrepreneurship and has defined six distinct types of startups:

1. Lifestyle: These are businesses formed by people pursuing their passion and making a living doing what they love.  This could be someone who loves music opening a record store or someone who loves clothing to own a boutique fashion store.

2. Small Business Startup: These are small business owners who see their business as a vehicle to earn money and make a living.  They don’t have to necessarily be passionate about what they do or intend for their business to grow.  They just want their “slice of the pie.” Examples could be independently owned shops like restaurants and convenience stores.

3. Scalable Startup: These are companies whose founders intend for company to grow into a large corporation.  Unlike small business startups, the founders plan to eventually go public and make money in an IPO.  These types of companies tend to group together in innovation clusters (Silicon Valley, NYC, Boston, etc), and are very relevant to Talener’s business and the tech industry.

4. Buyable Startup: These are companies whose goal is to put out a marketable product, then be sold to a larger company.  These can include web and mobile app companies that hope to create popular apps, attract a user base, and get acquired by more established companies.

5. Large Company Startup: These are divisions within a large corporation created to capture market share of a current trend.  A large company can create these subsidiaries internally or acquire existing innovative companies to take over.  An example of this is Apple acquiring Siri for the iPhone 4S.

6. Social Startup: These are companies that are founded as a means to change or improve the world more so than just make money for founders or capture market share.  Someone could be passionate about a certain cause and start a company as a vehicle to help this cause.  An example is Tom’s Shoes- for every pair of shoes sold, they’ll donate a pair to someone in need.

Startup companies are primarily funded one of three ways: with the founder’s own personal money, seed money from angel investors, and venture capital.  Equity stake is often tied into compensation packages, but its value is tied to the success of the company.  Most large companies are publicly owned or part of a larger holding company’s collection of brands.  They are collectively owned through stock sold to the general public.

The structure of startups is very horizontal.  The founders are entrepreneurs who have invested heavily in their project and are involved in every aspect of the business.  The CEO and cofounder will also be a sales lead or hands on engineer.  Large companies can have staffs that exceed the hundreds or thousands; therefore they need to be hierarchical to maintain effective structure.  Some people will prefer the chain of multiple managers and organized meetings.  It can get bureaucratic, but offers security and a stable career ladder to pursue.

Culture is oftentimes the biggest difference between startups and large companies.  In a small company you have much more interaction with your coworkers, act as a team striving towards the same shared goal, and generally have looser administrative controls than the systematic makeup of a large company.  In these larger companies you won’t befriend everyone, but may have broader company pride.  Work life balance is an important factor for many people, and the perks and benefits will be different across.  Some are comfortable with the structure of a corporate environment, some enjoy the flexibility of a less restricted one.

Employees can have a demonstrable impact on a startup’s overall success and play a more influential role than in a larger organization.  They also have an opportunity for accelerated learning and contributing in ways beyond just their own job responsibilities.  People who have worked for startups will often say that “startup years are like dog years” because of the amount of skills and experience acquired in such a short period of time.  For someone young and independent, it could be a great fit in this kind of environment.

Entrepreneurs take big risks and are often gambling at critical decision-making points, with outcomes that can go either way.  The company offers excitement and potential for large achievements, but can also lose funding or make poor business decisions at any moment.  Startups usually take on much more risk than large companies.  They have to be aware of funding concerns, keeping up with market conditions, and protecting intellectual property. A large company with conglomerate backing can offer very steady career advancement for those who desire long-term security.  You have a defined path towards an end goal and stability with your work-life balance.

Employees of startups also like that they can see a company grow from nothing to a well-known name.  They feel invested in the brand and know the tangible impact they had in helping the company get to this point.  Startups always have the potential to evolve into large corporations though.  With rapid growth, strategy and leadership often changes. Founders who think a certain way aren’t necessarily always the right leaders from a business standpoint.

Because working with a startup is much different than working with a large company, you must also approach the job search differently.  Hiring managers of small and large companies will often have different priorities in what they find important in their candidates.

With startups, personality and culture fit are usually the most important factors.  Hiring managers are often cofounders who want to identify candidates that share their same passion and vision.  Therefore, the skill set could be great, but a genuine interest in the company’s product is just as important.  These hires are very important to them because they can significantly affect the company’s future and success.  These founders think much differently than a corporate manager and understand that their new hires will play a more impactful role.  Ability to mesh with current employees, character traits, and outlook matter just as much as ability to perform technical aspects of the job.

With large companies, a culture fit may be important but skillset and ability excel at the job usually are still the top priority.  With a larger and more diverse staff, individual behavior does not affect the company as much as it could in a startup.  A hiring manager at a large company usually won’t disqualify a strong candidate solely because of their personality the way startups often will.  The hiring process at large companies also tend to go through multiple rounds and need approval from several layers of managers.  This ensures selective vetting and a chain of approval.  Executives are rarely ever hands on in hiring midlevel positions.

There are not as many layers in a startup where the CEO/CTO/Founder is usually also the hiring authority.  Startups will often offer equity share, but its value is tied to the potential of the company.  Some like to be incentivized by this minority ownership of small startups. Others would rather have a signing and end of the year bonus with larger companies.

Candidates should keep these distinctions in mind when searching for new opportunities.  Strategy, structure, funding, culture, and hiring practices will differ between small and large companies, so they should consider their own interests and find the right personal fit.

Posted in Company News, Current Events, Talener Blog

Mayor Bloomberg, Silicon Alley, & the Future of NYC Technology Staffing

January 17th, 2012

The recent focus by Mayor Michael Bloomberg toward making New York City a leading haven for technological innovation and entrepreneurship points to an exciting and potentially lucrative future for the NYC technology staffing industry. Being a founder of a successful New York City-based technology startup himself, Mayor Bloomberg is finely attuned to what it takes to build a successful technology company in the Big Apple and the ways in which he can help make NYC even more conducive to budding companies. A number of his administration’s recent initiatives speak to the seriousness and dedication with which Mayor Bloomberg has committed city government to aiding in this cause, despite the persisting air of an uncertain economy. The most notable of which is the recent announcement that a Cornell/Technion-Israel Institute of Technology consortium has been selected as the winner of the Applied Sciences NYC initiative to build a new 2 million square feet/11 acre applied science and engineering campus on Roosevelt Island. This historic undertaking, in addition to many other city-led measures, is expected to transform the local economy and set the stage for NYC to solidify its position as a global hotbed for technology advancement in the 21st century.

“Thanks to this outstanding partnership and groundbreaking proposal from Cornell and the Technion, New York City’s goal of becoming the global leader in technological innovation is now within sight,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “By adding a new state-of-the-art institution to our landscape, we will educate tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and create the jobs of the future. This partnership has so much promise because we share the same goal: to make New York City home to the world’s most talented workforce.”

–Mayor Michael Bloomberg

                The Cornell/Technion applied science & engineering campus on Roosevelt Island will be quite extensive. Plans include housing to accommodate 2,500 graduate students and 280 faculty members by 2043. This is projected to increase the number of full-time graduate students enrolled in NYC Master’s and Ph.D. programs by approximately 70%. An off-site campus will be opened in 2012 and the first permanent housing will be completed no later than 2017. By 2027 the campus will have been expanded to 1.3 million square feet. The New York City Economic Development Corporation projects that the project will generate $23 billion in economic activity over the next 30 years and $1.4 billion in tax revenue. The campus alone will create some 20,000 construction jobs and 8,000 permanent jobs. It is also believed that approximately 600 spin-off companies will be created as well, leading to an additional 30,000 permanent jobs. Cornell will also immediately be offering Master and Doctoral degrees in Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Information Science and Engineering.

While the planned Cornell/Technion campus on Roosevelt Island has garnered considerable attention in recent months, there has been a plethora of additional strategic moves made by the City in the past 24 months to increase NYC’s standing as a global center for technology entrepreneurship.

The creation of the Mayor’s Council on Technology and Innovation is just one of such measures. The council will consist of NYC industry leaders who will seek to identify new opportunities for the City to cultivate success in its rapidly growing technology sector. It will also address areas of concern or risk that the technology sector may face, as well as identify joint action items for the City and members of the Council to undertake.

The creation of affordable and accessible incubator space has also increased NYC’s appeal in the eye of the budding tech entrepreneur. Highly lauded incubators like TechStars, are providing necessary resources and allowing for the kind of “shoulder-rubbing” environments so vital to the success of nascent tech companies. Co-working spaces like WeWork Labs, General Assembly, and Dogpatch and incubators like TechStars, Gramercy Labs Collective, and Prehype are experimenting with new ways to cultivate young companies in NYC.

“We are finally seeing the tech industry recruiting away from other industries in NYC, such as lawyering, banking, consulting, etc. And this is exciting because people, who previously were taking the safer financial road, are instead going for their dreams, starting great companies and creating a new ecosystem.” 

–TechStars’ Managing Director David Tisch

An early-stage investment fund, the NYC Entrepreneurial Fund, has been created, with the City setting aside $3 million and an additional $19 million being added by venture capital firm FirstMark Capital, totaling $22 million. An initial investment of $300k was made in MyCityWay, a mobile application provider and winner of the inaugural NYC BigApps competition.

The NYC BigApps competition, 3 years and running, has created an annual outlet for the type of technological innovation and creativity that Mayor Bloomberg hopes to foster. The competition entails the releasing of city information – property tax records, the city-wide tree census, Wi-Fi hotspots, where dog runs are located, etc. – to local tech companies to see what kinds of creative ways they can come up with to utilize the information.

A new initiative designed to ensure start-up companies are able to harness the talent that exists within the City’s immigrant community has been put into place. Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, a top immigration law firm in NYC, will lead seminars covering immigration considerations for startups. The seminar will include an overview of the non-immigrant visa categories, requirements for eligibility for both businesses and employees, and employee/beneficiary issues. General Assembly – one of nine City-sponsored small business incubators – will host the seminars, which will begin later this fall.

                What this all means for the local technology staffing industry is quite clear. With a growing amount of venture capital funding flowing into the city – now second only to Silicon Valley – the number of tech startups and top-tier talent setting up shop here is rapidly increasing. New York City can now boast of having replaced Boston as the 2nd-most desired location of choice amongst technology startups, with 86 venture capital deals worth $831 million being closed in NYC vs. 83 investments worth $710 million in Boston-based companies. And with an increasing number of well-funded startups taking root in the local market, there will be more hiring activity and a larger, more sophisticated, and ultimately more talented candidate base to recruit from. With a new state-of-the-art world-class institution on the East River, NYC tech staffing firms will now have the ability to recruit top-notch Computer Science talent right from its doorstep. 

Posted in Company News, Current Events, Talener Blog

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