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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Interviewing

February 26th, 2016

There are some obvious faux pas that we are all guilty of when searching for a job. Luckily, in addition to connecting you with companies, Talener offers resume review services, interview prep, and coaching to get you through one of the most stressful times of your life.

While some of these may seem obvious, these mistakes are made every day as re-writing a resume or interviewing cause nerves run rampant. So before you click apply or handover your resume to us, or another resource, ask yourself these questions:

When is the last time you read your resume? I mean, really took the time to review your entire resume to refresh your memory about projects or skills that you’ve listed. It happens more often than you think, a hiring manager asks about at technology you have listed, but haven’t touched in 5 years.

Did you do your research? Did you check out the company site, including the “About Us” Section? What about the manager’s LinkedIn profile? Do you have talking points or questions to bring up to further your engagement?

If you are given an interview, how will you arrive on time to your interview? Do you have alternative transportation methods if the trains are running late or traffic is at a standstill? Plan your arrival wisely.

Are you prepared to tackle a technical interview and/or an HR interview? Preparation for these interviews should be approached differently, including understanding their title and role within the organization.

If asked, can you talk about what you are doing to keep up in your tech stack? Experience is great. Talent is irreplaceable. But what about motivation and growth? What are you doing to maintain your edge outside of work? Do you have personal projects? Are you involved in tech community projects or meetups?

You should begin your job search with these five questions. Once you can clearly answer the above questions, begin your serious job search. If you need to make changes to your resume, do it. If you need to take a trip across town to clock the time it takes for an interview (or future commute), do it.

But don’t give up. After a few weeks, candidates that we meet will lose contact because they are frustrated that interviews don’t pile up. In certain tech stacks, the market is candidate friendly, where as in others, it’s saturated with highly qualified applicants. We will continue to reach out to you with opportunities, but we also want you to come back to us for feedback, new leads, or ideas. You never know, we may have an ongoing relationship or insight about a company that you’re interested in.

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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog

Level Up: Your Job Search & Separating Yourself in Today’s Market

February 25th, 2016

Blue find job button

The job search today is vastly different than the days of faxing resumes, paging candidates and wearing a suit & tie to work. It seems like everyone is on the job market. With a click of a button, you put yourself out there. But where is there? And if everyone is on the job market, how do you separate yourself from the millions of resumes that have also been uploaded in the blink of an eye?

Going back 25 years (yep, we admit it, some of us have over 25 years of staffing experience) – the market has evolved at a pace we never would have expected. But that 25 years of experience means that when Talener opened in 2007, we understood the importance of being specialized and localized to better serve the mobile and vast job market.

So, is it easier or is it harder to find a job today? When you’re trying to separate yourself from hundreds of resumes (seriously, there can be hundreds of resumes submitted online for one job), the idea of competing with people that have similar backgrounds can be daunting. That’s where we come in. We provide market expertise in your tech stack and location at no cost to you. This is a service we provide to elevate your profile against others that are applying on their own.

No matter the market, or the generation of the job search, one thing has remained a constant: Hiring is about relationships. It’s that fun word: networking. Jobs are often found through referrals. It’s that foot in the door that pushes you to the top of the list. Just like dating websites, job boards are a sea of candidates that don’t really tell your whole story. One of the rules that we follow at Talener is that the business of job placement is about meeting and connecting people. This is why we meet every candidate and go on-site to every client. That way, we can represent your full profile; we are your foot in the door.

Want to know the difference between meeting with us and blasting your resume out to 20 job boards? During an interview, a Technical Product Manager told us about their Agile/Scrum experience, but didn’t list it on their resume. Because, for them, it was a given. It’s like telling an NBA Basketball player to list dribbling as a skill. The candidate assumed that everyone would know he had it. But the manager hiring for the role complained that they lacked the required experience in Agile/Scrum. Had we never met with this person, we could have never been able to tell a hiring manager, that they do, in fact have the requisite experience.

The opposite can also be true. A highly skilled candidate lists Agile/Scrum all over the resume, making the hiring manager feel as if they are “fluffing up the resume” because they lack real experience. Resumes, like online profiles are up for interpretation. This is why using a highly specialized firm, like Talener, is important to get the whole story.

Check out  5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Interviewing to see if you’re ready for the next step.

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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog

Bootcamp Grad: Preparing for the Interview

February 17th, 2016

In the interviewing gauntlet, there are always tips and tricks for getting through an interview. If you’re a new bootcamp grad, check out this brief interview guide of Do’s & Don’ts for getting through the process:


Be prepared to talk about what you did before the bootcamp

  • Why? – You want to focus on any skills that could carry over to a new engineer role: communications skills, client facing skills, analytical work, etc.

Know why you left your old role and WHY you moved into software development

  • Why?- Someone doesn’t leave a role to learn software development  just because (unless they are independently wealthy, in which case…they probably don’t need the job). Know specific reasons why you are making the transition: new skills, complimentary skills, job market, etc.
  • Why? –  Show your passion for technology and what it means to you moving into a new role/industry/company

Know our languages and how to talk about them in real world applications

  • Why? – Theoretical knowledge of a language is not the same as having used or being proficient in a language. Know your languages like the back of your hand and know your weaknesses with those languages even better.
  • Why? – You will be asked about projects. Bootcamp grads may have compacted development into a much smaller time frame than traditional CS grads so it’s important to have a concise outline in your head of projects, professional work, and personal investment.

Practice your answers

  • Why? – The more you practice, the more clearly and concisely you will be able to give confident answers.

Research the company before the interview

  • Why? – It shows interest in their product, industry, structure, and services.  It also means that you’ve taken the time to analyze their current market and give you an opportunity to let them know how you will help.
  • Why? – So you can ask questions of the interviewer. If you have done thorough research, you can ask questions regarding development of new software, team structure, etc. This turns the tables and takes you out of  the hot seat for a while.

Know how you want to grow

  • Why? – It shows forward thinking and an understanding for learning, mentorship and the future with the organization. This doesn’t mean you have to have a five year plan.  It is simply an open door for guidance, continued training, and growth.   “I’m comfortable building the back end of Ruby on Rails web apps on day one, but I’m looking forward to expanding my front end skill set as well.”
  • Why? – It gives you challenges that you want to overcome. You are motivated to overcome them.  Provide specific past examples of challenges that you were able to take on.

Have your portfolio memorized inside and out

  • Why? – This shows drive and organization.  You should know every last detail your personal projects, live apps, published work & Github. You should be able to explain the process from start to finish without missing a beat.

Articulate your experiences

  • Why? – If you are speaking with someone who is non-technical, this is where your past background and commuication skills are key.  This is the difference between knowing what you do vs. HOW and WHY you are do it.  Help your non-technical interviewer vizualize your work.


Go into too much detail about your previous career

  • Why? – You want to spend a few minutes talking about your previous career but if it isn’t entirely relevant to your new industry/ company/ skills set, it may draw focus on reasons you are less qualified for this new career.

Be too selective on the industry, company size, location & compensation

  • Why? – If you’re a new grad with no experience at all, then there is no reason to like or dislike on specific aspect of an industry, company, or size.  If you would like to focus on a certain area of work, do your homework about the companies within the industry, how their software teams are made up, and what they consider to be fair compensation by looking at their job boards.  One year of professional software development experience will make you significantly more marketable and allow you to hone in on your dream job with much more ease. Don’t settle, but be flexible.

And, as always, standard interview rules apply: be early, dress to impress, prepare questions, bring a resume (even if they have one), and avoid strong sensory markers that someone might associate you with, instead of your skills ( strong cologne, nail polish still drying from your subway ride, etc.

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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog, Uncategorized

Why We Give Back

February 12th, 2016

MoW Picture


There are hundreds, even thousands of charities that work tirelessly to ensure that we take care of those who need information, guidance, and help to get through their daily lives. The reasons that we give back are infinite. Whether you feel compelled based on personal experience or because it makes you feel better – giving back is an essential part of contributing to society.

As a company, we give back for various reasons. But simply put, it’s just the right thing to do. We have been able to build a successful organization with passionate people who allow us to give back in many ways. It is our responsibility to show our appreciation for our success and lead by example. It shows our staff how passionate we are, and in turn allows them to be passionate about causes that are important to them.

In the month of November, as the holidays approached, we wanted to bring attention to the fact that many people would not be eating holiday meals at the same time that many of us were preparing to head off to our families for the holiday season. In fact, many would not be eating meals at all. It was important for us to reach out to a population that can be forgotten because they can’t necessarily be seen on the street or in a soup kitchen. Our decision to support Meals on Wheels in November helped us to understand that many older Americans are unable to leave their homes to shop for or get a nutritional meal.

Our goal was to donate at least $10,000 to the organization. We wanted to give our staff the opportunity to be part of this donation by giving them a competition that we knew they would take to heart. And we were right. $10,400 later, we proudly presented a check just in time for the New Year. There was no prize for them. There was no personal incentive to work harder. There was no monetary reward. There was no trip or fancy dinner. But our employees went above and beyond to make sure that we hit that goal.

Last winter, I took an eighth grade class into New York City to help set up a soup kitchen and feed the needy. It was a great experience for the kids and myself because everyone was so appreciative. And there was a realization that we are all people. We are all the same. Everyone’s circumstances are different, but everyone needs to be fed and needs to know where their next meal is coming from. No one in this country should be wondering about whether they will be hungry tomorrow.

Giving back to Meals on Wheels made us understand that we were helping those who could have very well been our parents or grandparents. And this understanding gives us the insight to appreciate not only our meals, but our families, our health, and ability to get up every day without the fear of not knowing where we will sleep, how we will eat, and if we will be safe as night falls again.

Coincidentally, as I’m writing these thoughts, this was posted by my church in an email today. Whether you are religious our not – the idea is universal.

“We need to feed the hungry in the name of Jesus, and that is a high honor and call. We need to make sure that none of our neighbors are ever turned away when they look to the church for help.” – Timothy Cardinal Dolan

I am so proud of our staff for considering it an honor to give back. I am so proud that they went above and beyond their normal work to ensure that we could reach our goal. And I’m so proud that we are able, as a company, to help those that need it most.

Join us this month as we take on our next challenge for Cycle For Survival. Every one of our offices has put together a spinning team to raise money and ride against rare cancers. And once again, I know they will make me proud to have such a dedicated team of people who are professionally and personally so passionate about giving back.

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Posted in Company News, Talener Blog

Insights from the CEO: Passive Job Seekers

February 1st, 2016

While on a client visit at a few weeks ago, the term “passive candidate” came up in our conversation. The hiring manager explained that they recently had a candidate who turned down their offer. When we asked why, they explained that they turned it down because they were a “passive candidate”.

Later on, a colleague and I spoke about what it really means to be a “passive candidate”. The definition in itself is simple: it’s anyone who is actively working. In order to on board a passive candidate, an offer from a different company needs to be “better” than their current position. But this is where the simple definition weaves itself into a spider web of complex emotions, needs & desires. “Better” does not mean the same thing for everyone. If you have a family, perhaps it’s monetary or stability. If you are beginning your career “better” could mean team size or the latest and greatest office perks.

My intention is not to lump passive candidates into one pool. Rarely does one factor (let alone the same one) influence the decision to leave one role and accept another. If your spouse is making $1m annually as a brain surgeon, your primary motivation may not be remuneration centric. But, you never know.

A few week ago, Mark Zandi, of Moody’s predicted full employment by mid-2016. What does this mean on a macro level? Companies are competing for top talent and their roles may not look as appealing as they were during the recession.

As the owner and CEO of Talener, I would hate to think that someone could offer a better opportunity than myself. I know that individuals are drawn to certain roles and my goal is to constantly find people who are drawn to mine.

Getting to the root of what someone “wants” and what is “better” isn’t quite as easy as asking them…”so, what do you want?” While we start by asking each candidate what they want in their next role, this only scratches the surfaces to the true needs and desires that each individual has. Honing in on specifics gives us a detailed portrait where we can see the individual brushstrokes that make up the overall picture.

So…what do you want? We ask our candidates, and you should ask yourself what you really want and need from your next role. Industry? Title? Technology? Location? Work from Home? Salary? Benefits? Organization Size? Start Up? Public Company? Often we compromise of the size of a company in order to get the ideal title or location. But if the healthcare industry is part of your future ideal job- let us know! We don’t want to miss anything that is important to you.

As we start the New Year and we’ve all had our fill our holiday festivities, one of my favorite ways to describe this process comes from watching “A Christmas Story”. Ralphie has brain freeze while on Santa’s lap and agrees that he wants a football for Christmas. But, as he slides down, away from Santa, he remembers what he really wants: an official Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot range model air rifle.

The lesson here is to ask twice and to be careful not to lead someone towards a role that they would like, but it isn’t really want they want or need. It is as much our responsibility to ask and ensure that we understand as it is yours, the passive candidate.

Simply saying that a role was turned down because someone was “passive” doesn’t get to the real reason that the offer is unaccepted. Without placing blame, we have been taught to hold our cards close. Because revealing everything means showing our true desires, insecurities or hot button issues. A role that is passed up doesn’t mean that it is not attractive or desirable- it just means that it wasn’t “better” for that candidate.

This needs to be a two way street. We, as recruiting professionals, need to support candidates in their current role. Something new is not necessarily always better. Sometimes the best advice we can give to a candidate is to stay put. This doesn’t mean that we don’t have something for them or a role that could fit their job searching criteria. It means that we’re looking out for your best interest in your current role. Technology has been very forgiving to those who move from role to role. New Software and startups move quickly and wait for no one. But sometimes our best advice is to stay put.

At the end of the day, very few candidates that are truly passive. And very few candidates can tell you that absolutely nothing, no other role, no other location or salary could be better. So does that mean that everyone is an active candidate? Not necessarily. With full employment coming into mid-2016, for the first time in a few years, companies will be dealing with “active recruits” in addition to “active candidates”.

So in this ocean of candidate labels, what does it all mean? Active recruits are going to cost more than an active or passive candidate. You want them. You pursue them. A fresh faced college student with a Computer Science degree could command close to $100k without having worked a day in the field. Some of the largest companies compete for top talent, paying premiums to recruit active candidates.

Our goal, as a company, is to ensure that our clients are getting the best candidates who know what they want and how they will fit into their structure. But our goal is also to provide candidates with job opportunities that give them what they want.

Instead of lumping everyone into a category, we need to consider where the candidate in their search (if there is one) and where a client stands on a position. Step back and ask yourself these questions before you blame a passive candidate or, if you’re the candidate, what would be “better”:


While these are only a few of the questions the clients and candidates should be asking themselves as they sort through their needs and wants, it is insight into how involved the hiring process is- no matter which side you are on. Human emotions and needs can derail a slam-dunk offer, no matter how great. If it isn’t the “better” that candidates are seeking out, then it won’t work. So passive, active, or recruit- your better, by better, and their better will never match 100%.

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Posted in Talener Blog, Uncategorized

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