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Learning from Negative Interview Feedback

January 25th, 2018

“Take criticism seriously, not personally,” encourages Talener’s Gabe Klein.  The Chicago Director echoes this sentiment when he delivers negative feedback to his candidates during the interview process.  Whether he is conveying constructive criticism or relaying a ‘no’ after several rounds of interviews, Klein tries to focus on providing honest information.

Hearing negative feedback about yourself is never easy.  “Delivering it is just as tough,” says Klein.  “After making it through three or four rounds of interviews, candidates are often hopeful that they will get the call asking them, ‘when can you start?’”.

Whether you use a recruiting firm, or you are applying to a position on your own, it is important to objectively digest the negative feedback.  Did lack of sleep contribute to a less-than-stellar interview? Were you late? Or simply, was someone else more qualified for the job? Receiving negative feedback without understanding why you’ve gotten it, puts you back at square one in your job search. If you are taking on the job hunt alone and have received negative feedback, it is paramount to ask your HR team / interviewer what went wrong.

“Often, candidates don’t dig beyond surface feedback,” explains Klein.  “I’m trying to help both my candidate and client, so my goal is to listen for understanding rather than for debate. I can dig for detailed feedback that candidates may be uncomfortable asking for or too upset to address.” Klein says that he uses the feedback as a means for prepping the candidate for future opportunities. He has seen some of his best candidate relationships stem from a role in which they had been passed over or had received negative feedback.  Likewise, this feedback is an opportunity to qualify future candidates for that client.

“I often take responsibility for an unsuccessful interview process. It is my job to make sure that candidates are appropriately and effectively prepared. If they aren’t, I know that I have to do better as their recruiter.”

Overall, Klein advocates for open dialogue and transparency.  This includes things like knowing the number of candidates who are being considered, the interview type, and general information about the organization. The more questions you ask and the information you know, the better prepared you will be. Open dialogue and transparency all go hand-in-hand with providing feedback. Klein’s opinion is that any feedback can be good feedback, if you are willing to be open-minded and transparency on all sides shows that expectations are being managed and maintained.

Klein promotes cautious optimism. Being excited about an opportunity is part of the job hunt, but that doesn’t mean that a candidate should put all their time and energy into a single role. By looking into multiple roles, you’re given the chance to further develop your interview skill set as well as understand that each role and process is different.  And who knows? You may receive negative feedback from an interview on Monday and apply it to an interview on Wednesday.

If you are unsure about how to ask HR or an interviewer why you’ve not been offered a role or what you could have done differently, reach out to Gabe at gklein@talener.com for tips and tricks to successful interviewing.

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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog

Salary History Inquiry Bans: California Joins New York City in Closing the Wage Gap

December 1st, 2017

Over the past 6 months, Talener has taken significant steps to close the wage gap across its offices.  In addition to holding itself to the standard of creating a more inclusive work environment, it also helped to prepare the Talener New York City office for the NYC Salary History Inquiry Ban. This law took effect in October 2017; prohibiting employers, staffing agencies, or anyone representing a job in NYC from asking about or requiring disclosure of compensation history.  By eliminating compensation history, employers should no longer rely on previous compensation to determine future pay.

On January 1st, 2018, California will join New York City with an amendment to its Equal Pay Act; eliminating compensation / salary history as a factor for hiring.  Compliance to both acts are similar, but there are a few key differences that can cause headaches for organizations with offices in California and New York City.  Next year will also introduce these types of laws in Oregon, Massachusetts, San Francisco, and more.

What are the key differences between the California and NYC policies?

  • The New York City Law expressly allows asking about desired or expected salary. Likewise, asking about measurements of production, including sales revenue generated, are permitted. Plus, the NYC law addresses deferred compensation and unvested equity as a subject that is OK to initiate with potential candidates.  The California law does not expressly prohibit or allow these conversations.
  • Candidates / applicants in California are entitled to a pay scale for a position, under reasonable request.
  • California will prohibit employers from using prior compensation as the sole means to justify salary, an offer, or in the decision making process to hire someone.

What kind of steps has Talener taken to be compliant with these laws?

  • Removing compensation questions from any digital and print forms or applications
  • Requiring employees to agree to a policy which bars them from asking about, using, seeking out, or sharing compensation
  • Educating candidates and clients about the changes
  • Creating a time / date stamped feature in the applicant tracking system that documents when / if compensation has voluntarily been disclosed and how it occurred
  • Committing to not using or sharing already-known compensation information with clients
  • On-going staff training

To see more steps and to learn more about our compliance policy, read more here.


If you have questions about how the laws might affect you and what steps you should consider, feel free to reach out to social.media@talener.com or pick up a brochure in one of our offices today.

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Posted in Current Events, Talener Blog

Converting from a Contract to Permanent Job: Preparation for an Easy Transition

November 29th, 2017

IT contractors have become a vital part of organizations’ ability to innovate.  Highly-skilled software engineers who can hit the ground running, easily transition their skills across various types of organizations.  Plus, a contract gives the company and contractor a taste of what it is like to work with one another without many of intricacies of a permanent role.  It’s a try before you buy situation for both parties.

Increasingly, organizations use contract roles as a means to evaluate potential permanent employees.  If your hope is to move from a contracting role to a permanent role with your current organization, then it’s important to understand your own career goals as well as the goals of your potential permanent employer.

Nick Branholm, Manager of the Talener New York PHP Team discusses how he views a successful transition to a permanent position. “It is important for us to place candidates in the right position.  It is critical that we understand the contractor’s desires.  If the goal is to move into a permanent role, then it is our duty to learn the story behind the contracting position.” Branholm continues, “We want to know if there is a possibility for a contract extension before the job has even started. My team’s goal is to proactively remove any burden that a candidate could face when converting to a permanent role.”

If you aren’t using a staffing agency for the conversion, there are several questions to help set you up for your ideal situation.

“During your time as a contractor, you should actively ask yourself questions to be prepared for next steps.  As a recruiter, my role doesn’t end when you start your contract. I actively ask these questions throughout the contract; mitigating unforeseen scenarios that most people overlook,” explains Branholm.

  • Am I receiving regular feedback from my manager?
  • Is the feedback valuable to me if I would like to negotiate a permanent role?
  • Will this project last longer than the initial contract period?
  • Does the company culture align with my expectations & values?
  • What types of benefits are offered to permanent employees?
  • Am I performing at my best to showcase my abilities and strengths?
  • If I am offered a permanent role, what is my game-plan to negotiate compensation?
  • Will I need to start a provisional or probationary period again?
  • What options do I have if my employer decides not to convert the contract?
  • Will there be a lapse in work during the negotiation process?

“Successful conversion is in the details,” stresses Branholm. “If you don’t know where you stand at the end of the contract, how can you negotiate your desired compensation in a permanent role?”

“I want to be your voice and your champion,” continues Branholm. “I want to set check-in times with your hiring manager for feedback. I want to understand your take on the organization, their projects, and culture. This allows me to get a head start on paperwork, background checks, compensation negotiation – and ultimately ensure a smooth transition without a lapse in work.”

Having the right dynamic from the beginning of the contract is crucial.  When you know what is expected, you can go into the position with the confidence that if you perform well, a permanent position may be in the cards.


If you have questions about the process of converting from to a permanent role, please reach out to your Talener representative or get in touch with Nick for more information.

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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog

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

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