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The Case of Hiring Urgency: Reconciling Need and Experience

November 20th, 2017

A lot of stock is put into educational and experiential pedigree.  You wouldn’t hire a lawyer who didn’t go to law school. And, on a more granular level, you may not hire a lawyer who didn’t go to the right law school.  The same applies when you hire someone out of a company; it should be the right company.

It’s no surprise that these traditional methods of evaluating candidates spill over into how technology candidates are measured.  But is this traditional way of hiring a luxury that organizations can afford when unemployment in technology roles is so low?

Henry Boulos, Talener’s EVP of Client Services says it ultimately boils down to one thing: urgency.  Job boards are filled with descriptions for software engineers.  There is a need that isn’t being met.

And yet, thousands and thousands of resumes are available at the click of a button. The internet has revolutionized hiring. Candidates maintain LinkedIn profiles and updated resumes on job boards. The way in which candidates search for, network for, or stumble upon jobs has fundamentally changed.  So how is it possible that traditional candidates are difficult to hire?

“Information technology is near full employment. You can whittle down this already small list of unemployed candidates even further when you screen for traditional experience paths,” says Boulos. “There are more positions open than there are candidates – employed or unemployed.  Good software developers know that they have opportunities. Urgency is a one-way door in the employee’s favor.”

Boulos continues, “So why do we attempt to lure these candidates away from their current roles when there are plenty of opportunities for them to pursue at will? It’s like joining a singles’ dating site but only being open to meeting married people.  I want candidates who are engaged and excited to join us without having to convince them to leave their current role.”

So how do established companies reconcile their urgent need for engineers with their desire for unavailable engineers with the right educational and experiential pedigree? Sometimes they can’t. This gap can be filled by those who have not followed the traditional path.

“It’s a sign of the times, and a fact that hiring managers in technology have to face,” explains Boulos. “If you aren’t the tech company du jour, then you’re competing with everyone else. It’s up to you to decide whether non-traditional experience is prohibitive when it comes to hiring within your organization.”

There is some proverbial soul-searching that many companies need to do. If you are leading a team whose expansion is paramount to success, you may need to hire outside of your comfort zone. Market conditions dictate the supply and demand of highly-skilled technology candidates. If needs are urgent, sourcing flexibility is significant. Leaving unfilled roles within a team isn’t just a matter of needs not being met, it’s also a catalyst for employees to leave. Feeling overworked, under compensated, and in the wrong culture can easily turn one open role into two.

There are advantages to traditional computer science degrees and the foundation they provide. Just as there are advantages to having experience with the tech giants of the world.  But the ability to learn on your own or at coding camps has opened doors to motivated individuals who see value in taking the initiative to further themselves and their careers. From reputation points on Stack Overflow to showcasing work on GitHub; technology has allowed for these non-traditional candidates to highlight their abilities and engagement beyond the traditional resume.

Every time- engagement trumps current skill-level, experience, or alma mater.  Your future employee should be engaged with your culture, your work, and your company. This fosters greater engagement and leads to buy in.

“You have to meet people. It isn’t just about the resume.  It’s about hiring people for who they can be, not who they have been,” urges Boulos. “Some of our best candidates have been self-taught or have taken the initiative to join a coding academy. Isn’t this the type of person you’re seeking out; the person who is self-motivated to learn and hone their skills?”

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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog

The Challenge of Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Tech Department

November 6th, 2017

Henry Boulos, EVP Talener

Our eyes open. We reach for the alarm – and for many, this means the first contact with the connected world. Messages, breaking news & alerts inundate our day before we’ve even rolled back the blankets. In this world of the 24-hour news cycle and never-ending social media, everyone has an opinion, a cause, or a pitch.

We’re all searching for, waiting for, or trying the next ‘big thing’. This hyper-connected world we live in spills over as we make our way from our personal lives to our professional ones. It influences how we perceive culture, social justice, and life in the workplace.

But what happens when our perception of the right thing doesn’t align with the easiest thing in the workplace?

In 19 years of technology staffing, I’ve talked with thousands of hiring managers and have worked just as many jobs. From California to Chicago, Boston to New York, the sentiment from them is the same from hiring managers: make hiring easy for me.

It’s true; my job is to make theirs easier. They all want the best person for the job; the person who is the most skilled, the most experienced, and who will make the greatest immediate impact in the business. They aren’t consciously searching for diversity.

“I want a self-starter; someone who needs little guidance and seeks out problems on their own. Our environment is very challenging because of… I don’t have time or bandwidth to train anyone.” This feeling from hiring managers has been repeated over the years. It boils down to this: Diverse is hard. Different is hard.

From a logical perspective, we know that diversity and inclusion practices are good for business. Studies, including one by MIT, illustrate the benefits of diversity in the workplace as it pertains to productivity and the bottom line. Human resources and talent acquisition teams understand and promote the benefits of diversity. But from a practical perspective, hiring managers have an immediate need for talent and work piling up. It’s easy to want easy.

Feedback is very often simply, “Just not a fit for my team.” Homogeny of gender, race, experiences, etc. make the workplace more comfortable; but does it mean that those people share your company’s core vision or are the most engaged? Diversity and inclusion bring new ideas, new experiences, and those people who share the values and vision that make up an inspired – and ultimately more productive team.

Technology moves fast. The gap between qualified workers and open jobs grows daily. Taking time to hire someone based on who they can be versus who they have been, is a challenge. But if you truly want to build a diverse team, then training is required. A view through a different lens doesn’t mean that the employee is more difficult. But it means consciously training teams on how to accept and embrace a diverse and inclusive environment as well as address conflict resolution in a productive way.

While great strides have been made in diversity hiring, we have a long way to go. Without realizing it, we try to make hiring easy on ourselves through our own lens. Retention in technology jobs are at an all-time low and even Fortune 500 companies are seeing shorter and shorter tenures. So many companies are reading a resume and providing this kind of feedback…

“We want people from top-tier universities.”

“We want people coming from Google, Amazon and Facebook.”

“We only hire people that have XYZ on their resume.”

Our individual lens narrows the diversity and inclusive possibilities before the first interview. I credit companies and individuals for bringing a greater sense of awareness to the global need for diversity in technology. But are we all practicing what we preach? To go from an environment where diversity and inclusion are truly created, rather than just promoted, this thought process will need to be realigned.

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Posted in Current Events, Talener Blog

How Do I Comply with the NYC Compensation History Inquiry Law?

October 29th, 2017

As a New York City based employer, or an employer that conducts interviews and hires employees in New York, you are subject to the compensation history inquiry ban that goes into effect on October 31, 2017.

This law aims to end the wage gap that leads to perpetual underpayment throughout the lifetime of an individual’s professional career.  But other than avoiding asking candidates about their salary, what do you really need to do in order to protect yourself and your business?

Talener has taken steps in order to ensure that we go above and beyond the law (and beyond our NYC office), embracing its true intent – closing the wage gap.

While every employer will choose different steps towards complying with the new law, there are several ways in which your organization can address the law head-on, mitigating the risk of non-compliance.

  • Removing compensation questions from all application documents. This includes questions about bonus, equity, retirement benefits, etc.
  • Refraining from asking candidates for pay stubs, W2s, or any other document that would indicate their compensation
  • Not seeking out compensation information via public search, background checks, or candidate-supplied references
  • Creating marketing / informational materials about the law that are easily accessible to candidates
  • Implementing internal procedures that indicate how an employee should document a candidate’s compensation if it has been voluntarily disclosed
  • Ensuring that any compensation documentation has been logged electronically and include a time and / or date stamp
  • Training and re-training all levels of staff; including senior-managers and executives
  • Requiring junior staff  to have a senior-level employee with them during the interview or negotiation process
  • Openly asking candidates not to share their compensation history with you or your staff
  • Openly informing candidates that you will not be documenting, sharing, or using any disclosed compensation history in any way
  • Requiring candidates to sign a disclosure agreement about how you can use their volunteered information

Ultimately, these steps help to safeguard your organization and can help to make the difference if a complaint is filed.  Penalties vary for offenses, but can be severe if the NYC Commission on Human Rights determines that the non-compliance was malicious or was due to neglect on the company’s part.  This law is the first of many that are cropping up around the country.  Similar laws go into effect next year in California, Massachusetts, and Oregon.


If you have an questions about the steps that Talener has taken to prepare for the law, please feel free to reach out to social.media@talener.com.

 

 

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Posted in Client News, Talener Blog

Talener Prepares for New York Salary History Inquiry Ban

October 26th, 2017

While there are only a few days left before the New York City Salary History Inquiry Ban goes into effect, Talener has been preparing for its enforcement for the past several months.

In May, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an amendment into law barring employers or staffing agencies in New York City from asking candidates for their compensation history.  Likewise, those who represent companies with jobs based in New York City will be prohibited from asking candidates about their compensation history.  This includes base, bonuses, equity, etc.

In an open letter, Talener CEO, Michael Dsupin addressed the true intent of this law: closing the wage gap by ending perpetual underpayment that may follow someone throughout their career.  Beyond compliance and words of support, Talener has taken strides to embrace the law by exceeding requirements – applying it to the entire company, beyond New York City.

The following steps are being implemented across all six Talener offices:

  • Talener has introduced a company-wide policy to no longer ask candidates about their compensation history
  • Training is being provided to employees to ensure they fully understand this policy
  • Talener employees have read and agreed to upholding our policy of no longer asking about or recording past compensation history
  • Digital and print brochures outlining the law and our internal policy are available to all clients and candidates in our offices or upon request
  • Brochures geared at candidates explain why they should not disclose their compensation history to us at any point in the interviewing process
  • In the case that a candidate accidentally brings up their compensation history, Talener will inform them that this information will not be recorded or used
  • A time and date-stamped note will be added to Talener’s applicant tracking system in the event that a candidate does disclose their compensation
  • Compensation history that is already known (past candidates / past placements) will not be shared or used

We will continue to prepare and educate our staff, clients, and candidates about the steps we are taking to be compliant with the law.  But ultimately, Talener is embracing inclusive hiring practices and the value of closing the wage gap that this law addresses.


For more information about the law or to learn more about the steps we have taken, please contact us.

Posted in Company News, Talener Blog

Job Hopping Tolerance Wanes

October 23rd, 2017

Traditionally, the tech industry has been tolerant of engineers and developers who move from one position to another in a short period of time. Unemployment in software engineering and development stays steadily below the national average; allowing employees to move from role-to-role, in what would be traditionally long-term positions.  But the tides are turning.  Alicia Scully, Director of Talener New York, explains that a shift is on the horizon: job-hopping tolerance in tech is waning.

Nap rooms, gourmet coffee bars & in-house massages don’t top the list of perks that keep engineering employees happy and engaged.  Scully regularly receives feedback from her candidates – and the echo is resounding: skills & purpose.  There is a strong desire to do something meaningful and to be challenged through their tech skills.  This includes learning new technologies on-the-job. Tech advances occur so rapidly that it is very easy to fall behind peers if skills are not being mastered and then adapted to the next technology.  A stagnant tech stack leads to lack of challenge, lack of learning, and ultimately the opportunity for employees to find a reason to go elsewhere.

“All else equal: salary, perks, location – potential employees will choose the position with the best, or potentially best technology stack for them,” says Scully. “Being challenged, staying technologically relevant, and doing purposeful work are good indicators of employee engagement.”

She explains that sometimes the job-jumping can be explained when an engineer moves from one contract position to another.  This has been commonplace in tech organizations; but companies that are just starting to build out internal technology teams may hesitate to hire these types of candidates for permanent positions.

“I’ve been receiving more and more push back from hiring managers about candidates with ‘jumpy’ backgrounds.  They are not as open to hire someone with short stints at their jobs,” articulates Scully. To sharpen their skills, an employee needs to feel as if they are learning and producing something useful to them in the short and long-term.  All of the unlimited snacks in the world won’t keep an engineer from leaving their role if it doesn’t further their professional skill set.

This shift towards wanting stable employees had spurred increased contract and contract-to-hire positions.  By turning the tables, organizations can hire employees without the burdens of a permanent role. And, when they leave their contract – there is no negative ripple effect that occurs with a layoff or termination.  Both parties get to test the waters, and there is no obligation on either end to extend the relationship.

In 2016, the Bureau of Labor & Statistics estimated that tenure in professions such as legal, engineering & management was approximately 5.1 years. However, permanent roles can inhibit those who are driven to keep up on new technologies.  Companies with legacy software or systems that require maintenance rather than new development may find it hard to retain engineers who thrive on learning new skillsets.

“Only time will really tell if this trend continues,” says Scully. “But the shift towards more contract-based employment seems to be creating a balance that both sides are seeking.”

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Posted in Current Events, Talener Blog

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