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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

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

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

Talener Washington DC: Open for Business!

January 6th, 2015

Talener is continuing to grow organically and is happy to announce that our Washington DC office has opened!   Thousands of tech jobs can be found through a simple search on LinkedIn or Indeed. These numbers back the tech expansion that has been talked about in Washington DC over the past few years.

The key is making the connection between these employers- (from start-ups to Fortune 500s) and top tech talent in the Washington DC metro area. Some of the finest talent comes from top universities like George Washington, American University, or Georgetown- all in the heart of our nation’s capital.

Tech start-ups have realized the potential of this market and have attempted to break out of Silicon Valley and across the country to the east coast. From Proudly Made in DC to the Washington Post– more and more tech and media outlets are highlighting the potential for rapid growth.

While the office space is new and the paint has barely dried- four of our veteran managers and directors have taken on the task of making Talener the tech staffing solution in Washington DC.

Meet the Team:

WashingtonDC_Meet the Team_PS

Justin Cottrell– Justin has moved up the ranks at Talener over the last five years, including his most recent position as Director of our New York City headquarters. His extensive knowledge of the software, Java, C# and QA markets make him an asset to the team and to any potential tech job seekers in the Metro DC area.

Chris Fanning– Chris has an exemplary background in placing Open Source technology candidates with some of the country’s top companies; all while running a successful team in New York City.

Margo Slaff– Margo’s personality, organization, and passion for the front end market have made her a valuable asset in New York. Moving to Washington DC gives her the opportunity to build out a successful team with as much passion as she has.

Kate Byrnes– As an expert in the software field- Kate has left a void in New York. The dedication to her clients and candidates is unparalleled. Her work ethic and desire to make the match between top tech talent and our clients is exemplary.

With several years of combined experience; Justin, Chris, Margo & Kate will take on the DC office in several different areas of technology, including:

Open Source Scripting, Front End & Mobile, Enterprise Software, Dev Ops, Project/ Product Management & Quality Assurance

From iOS to Drupal, JavaScript to the Cloud- our DC team can make the connection. Whether you are just starting the job search or hiring for that hard-to-find talent, Talener is your full service solution- recruiting, relationship building, market data, and placement.

Take a moment to contact the team to see how they can help you today.

Washington DC Metro:  1655 North Fort Myer Drive, Suite 100, Arlington, VA 22209

Phone:  703-592- 6000

Meet the Team

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

The Future of Digital: Business Insider Ignition

December 3rd, 2014

20141202_114911“Don’t obsess on the competition, obsess on the customer.”- John Doerr

This week in New York City, Talener, along with companies like Pandora, Getty Images & Porsche, sponsored Business Insider’s Ignition Conference.  Leaps and bounds  are being made within the digital space- from ads to marketing, engineering to business development.  The question is, how do CEOs like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos or Pandora’s Brian McAndrews anticipate these changes in order stay relevant in a digital world that changes pace faster than most of us change our socks?

While there was varied speculation about the future of smart watches, print newspapers, or Apple Pay- there was an overwhelming understanding that the future of digital is mobile.  Mobile devices have replaced TV, physical newspapers, and the way we consume social media.  For the first time ever, mobile usage, according to Flurry has overtaken TV consumption in Q3 of this year.  Why is this significant? Because platforms need to be responsive (and anticipate!) customers’ wants and needs.

If one theme came out of the conference that rang above all others, it is customer obsession. Every CEO, VP or industry leader that took the stage reiterated over and over again that at the end of the day, it is all about the customer. John Doerr put it best as many questions circled around the competitive digital space.

“Don’t obsess on the competition, obsess on the customer.”

So where does Talener fit into this digital media world?  Someone has to build these platforms,  ensure the best user experience, and secure this information.  While most of the audience was intent on hearing  about upcoming trends like digital healthcare, wearables, or marketing analytics, our Talener team is anticipating the tech needs for all of these future trends.  Who will build and encrypt the information for digital healthcare that complies with all security and HIPPA requirements?  Who will ensure that the development of the connected car with Pandora integration will provide the users with the best experience?  It is the coders, engineers, and technology project managers of the world.  Digital is much more than what we see as consumers; it is hundreds if not thousands of hours of  back end work.

If you have a few moments and would like to gain insight about how the world’s biggest players are constantly innovating and responding to the environment, check out the live Ignition conference feed or read about it here.  The future of digital doesn’t just concern media, marketing and advertising.  The backbone of all of these consumer wants and needs is the technology professionals of the world.

Do you have technology know-how and talent to prepare you for the future? If not, take a moment to contact us and see how we can provide you with the best solutions.  Our six offices – Los Angeles, New York , San Francisco, Washington D.C., Chicago and Boston are equipped to find you the best qualified candidates locally.  From mobile development to open source scripting, project management to front end coding- we are your technology staffing solution.

Check out our jobs to see the types of companies and positions that we are working with on a day to day basis.

Posted in Current Events, Events, Talener Blog

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