Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Time to Prepare for Your Next IT Layoff is Now

It might seem completely counterintuitive, but because information technology is a generally robust field at the moment, it would behoove IT professionals to take time now to prep themselves for layoffs.  This is not a doomsday prediction for IT staffing firms or IT contractors.  Hopefully the next recession is many years off.  However, it’s best for IT recruiters and IT consultants to prepare for layoffs and hard times on the job market far in advance of when they hit.

The first thing people can do to prepare themselves is to polish their resumes and other job hunting materials.  Making sure to have ideas of great references in mind, if not actually asking IT managers if they are willing to act as a reference should you need it, is just as important as having a spotless resume.  When these materials are perfect, it’s not a bad idea to find IT staffing firms that you want to establish relationships with for when times are hard. Having IT headhunters who already have your materials and needs in mind, even if they’re not actively marketing you, is not a bad thing

Beyond prepping job hunting materials, there is also the very important matter of prepping a financial cushion for emergencies.  Having 3 months of living expenses in savings is great.  Having 6 months of living expenses in savings is better.  No matter what field you’re in, or how well it’s doing, you can never be too careful.

Leaving Your Email Away Message in IT

As the Labor Day weekend draws near, IT recruiters, technical recruiters, and IT managers are all preparing for one last office-sanctioned escape from IT jobs and into summer weather.  IT professionals are particularly vulnerable to pressure to be ‘on call’ even when they are on vacation.  However, with a good away message on email, IT contractors and IT headhunters can, at the very least, diminish office disruptions to their vacations.  Below are some suggestions for IT consultants and IT staffing agencies for creating their away messages.

Keep the message simple and short.  It’s better not to ramble on or give multiple alternative points of contact.

Do make sure to give that alternative point of contact.  It could be a co-worker (that you have not coerced into the role), or it could be to your personal phone or email.  If you choose the latter, be clear about how likely it is that you will be able to respond to business inquiries to that number or address.

Avoid bragging about your luxurious vacation.  Nobody working during that time appreciates it.

Be friendly and courteous in your message.  You may feel like leaving everyone in your dust and not looking back, but you will be back.  On Monday.  So make sure you come back to a warm welcome.

A little appropriate joking can’t hurt either.  Better to leave ‘em laughing– with you, not at you.


Why So Many Have Forgone Vacations in IT This Year

As the summer draws to a close, the information technology industry, like many others, is seeing a record number of people who have decided to simply forgo their vacations.  IT recruiters, IT managers, and IT contractors have simply been too busy to take vacations this year.  There are two major reasons why the owners of IT staffing agencies, IT headhunters, or IT consultants may have made this decision to forgo vacations and stay at their IT jobs instead of flee to the beach.

The first major reason for a lack of vacations is that the economy is slowly but surely making a recovery.  The bump in business after such a long recession has made IT professionals reticent to leave any opportunities on the table.   Thus while the short term consequences weren’t as pleasant, they are only the symptoms of a good thing: a more robust economy.

While the lack of vacations might be good news, there’s also a reason why they may be bad news.  Sometimes the summer brings a slump in sales because business in generally slow.  IT hasn’t been doing as poorly as other industries, but like many fields, IT may have hit some snags over the summer.  IT professionals may have been forgoing their vacations in order to work overtime and bring the slow summer sales up.

IT Vacations: It’s All About Setting Expectations

With the Labor Day weekend coming up, many IT professionals and IT headhunters will be trying to sneak an extra day or so to get away from their IT jobs and fit in a quick vacation.  Information technology tends to require its IT contractors and IT managers to be on call, even when they’re not technically in the office.  Here are a few tips for IT recruiters and IT consultants to minimize the work they do during vacation:

Before vacation, it’s best to do a couple.  Firstly, get done what can be finished before you leave.  Secondly, start setting expectations with co-workers and supervisors.  Every company is different and it’s best to defer to your supervisor’s expectations.  However, setting the right expectations ahead of time (how often will you check in, will you check in at all, etc) will alleviate a lot of stress for everyone.

During vacation, it’s imperative to stick to these expectations.  Make sure to have a greeting response set up for anybody who emails you re-iterating your availability.  Do not go below or above the expectations you’ve set with your supervisor and coworkers.  No good can come of either. 

After vacation, hit the ground running.  Don’t stay in vacation mode and work on getting up to speed again as quickly as is reasonable.  One of the most important things: don’t brag about your lavish vacation.  Your co-workers and supervisors will appreciate a modest “I had a great time.”

Your Next IT Meeting: Will it Be by the Pool?

Lately in information technology and other corporate fields, meetings have been moved from the boardroom into more unconventional settings.  IT recruiters, IT contractors, and IT managers are all finding themselves taking meetings poolside, in the gym, or outdoors.  The trend tends to be far more popular on the East and West coasts.  IT staffing agencies and other companies that tend to entertain clients and IT consultants are noting a preference for activities that fit the healthier lifestyles people aspire to.

The West coast has far more IT headhunters and IT professionals taking meetings in yoga classes, poolside, or in juice bars, as well as just taking walks outside.  Of course, these activities and places are far more popular anyways in that area of the US, so it’s not surprising people choose them as backdrops for business meetings.  The East coast, on the other hand, tends to make use of more indoor activities and settings for its unconventionally located business meetings.  Spin, boot camp, and UFX classes are all popular alternatives to the conventional steak dinner or sports game.  Spin in particular is an East coast specialty, so it has quite a bit of popularity.

No matter the coast or area of the country, one thing is certain: business meetings are rapidly changing with the health-oriented priorities of their attendees.

Where the CEO Sits in IT– and Elsewhere

As the information technology field grows by leaps and bounds, it revolutionizes the work world with products and practices in workplace culture.  One of the more recent changes that have crossed over from just affecting IT recruiting companies and IT consultants is having leadership sit amongst their employees.  The trend has grown intensely amongst startups, which tend to have smaller groups that need to sit closely for team-oriented activities.

The benefits of moving a company’s leadership out of their corner offices extends beyond the obvious, though.  CEOs notice that no matter what their industry, they are pleased with the results of the seating change.  They actually gain a deeper understanding of their business as a whole and on a more detailed level when they are physically in the midst of the action.  CEOs and other leadership tend to be removed from the ‘small picture’ aspects of a business while their focus is on the ‘big picture’ aspects.  This results in various deficiencies in information for leadership, particularly for IT managers that can lose their technical knowledge as they step further and further away from IT jobs like programming or developing.

Another benefit that IT recruiters Boston to IT recruiters CA can point to is the change in relationships between leadership and their reports.  IT professionals can relate much better to the managers who actually sit amongst them.  Their rapports grow to a familiarity that fosters truly great teamwork and respect.  People are observing the surprising power of small moments like offering a tissue, sharing jokes, or becoming more aware of an employee’s personal struggles.  These moments establish warmth, which is a key quality in a good leader.

Obviously there are leadership positions that need offices with doors that can be shut.  Some information, including financial information, needs to be kept discreet, rather than out in the open.  However, on the whole, the re-seating of the CEO and other leaders is a hugely successful tactic that any company—IT or not—should consider.

IT’s Dark Side is Potentially Bright

IT recruiting agencies, IT contractors, and IT managers across American have basked in the glow of a very robust field.  Information technology is currently only at a 3.5% unemployment rate. IT professionals alone make up an astounding portion of the ‘startup’ trend and IT jobs are one of the shining beacons of hope for future graduates.  Technology is one of, if not the, life preservers the US is riding out the last waves of the great recession on.  This life preserver has its dangers, too though.

Recently a few different publications have run articles that breathlessly proclaim the dangers of a technology-laden life, both on individual and larger levels.  A world full of smart phones, various cameras, and Google glasses is one that is also full of surveillance.  Gilding aspects of your personal life, like your banking, your house, and your relationships with the latest apps and programmable gadgets leaves them all suddenly vulnerable to hackers.  The Atlantic ran a terrifying piece on the dangers of a smart home that might be hacked to harm its occupants.

What will make IT consultants and IT staffing firms successful is neither to bury their heads in the sand regarding these issues, nor to become overwhelmed by them.  These issues are also opportunities for the IT world.  As hackers exploit these weaknesses, IT professionals can be finding ways to strengthen and protect.  Development of the smart house can extend to its protection against hacking.  Development of devices that become part of constant surveillance can include ways to hide oneself and opt out of the unwanted spotlight.  IT has a darker side that is absolutely worth noticing, but the thing about darkness is that it has a staggering potential for light.

How to Safely Take Extended Leaves in IT

The New York Times Magazine ran a long article this week about the regret that many women in the opt-out generation seem to be feeling 10 years out.  IT consultants, IT recruiters, and IT managers can all learn a thing or two from their experiences—both their successes and missteps.  While maternity or paternity leave and longer, unpaid absences from work might be less common in information technology due to the vast array of telecommuting options, it is still a choice for IT professionals and technical recruiters.  Is it ok to opt out for a while—and will you still be eligible for IT jobs when you are ready to return?  Here are some tips to make your time out of the IT workforce less risky.

A key to the successful return to work of some of the women in the Times piece was to keep their network alive if they did leave the workforce for a bit.  Whether or a woman or man leaving IT to take care of children for a bit, keeping connections in the field is just as important as having resumes polished and ready to go when you begin job hunting again.

Another important way to lessen risk when leaving the IT field for a longer period of time is to keep skills sharp with classes and relevant volunteering.  Taking classes to keep certifications fresh and stay abreast of new technologies will make you more marketable even if you’ve stayed out of the workforce for a long time.  Volunteering your IT skills will make you even more marketable.  A recent survey noted that field-specific philanthropic work can make candidates particularly tempting to hire and doing this as a less time-consuming alternative to work does the double duty of adding to your appeal while demonstrating your continued ability to contribute in an IT capacity.

Tapping into Your Creativity in an IT Setting

Creative problem solving is imperative in information technology.  Indeed, sometimes IT jobs are little more than a constant stream of troubleshooting and solving client issues with products.  There are standardized ways to approach these problems, but sometimes the best method is to simply open your creative floodgates and throw caution to the wind.  Here are some methods IT consultants, IT recruiters, and IT managers could employ to prime their brains for some brainstorming sessions:

  •  Spontaneity breeds genius: Harry Potter and Shark Week are two great examples of ideas that came out of the blue.  You don’t necessarily have to use a napkin, but consider two lessons from these examples: Firstly, ideas/solutions you come up with at random moments are worth recording for late.  Secondly, sometimes the best way to break out of a mental rut is to physically leave the office and do something else for a period of time.  Walking away from a problem might relieve stress and your mental blocks.
  • Team Chemistry is an asset for a creative problem-solving environment.  To go back to the Shark Week example, the idea reportedly came when two co-workers were shooting the breeze at a bar after work.  People who build friendly, trusting rapports with each other will brainstorm together more effectively.  This makes building a strong team of IT professionals with good working chemistry is key to building an environment that encourages creative problem solving.
  • Laughter helps.  Joking around in the office is important; particularly before IT contractors tackle issues that require them to really think out of the box.  Studies show that laughing can put your brain in the right state for solving difficult puzzles—or perhaps debugging a difficult line of code.  A happy workplace is a creative, effective one.


Salaries are No Longer King in IT

In a field like information technology, where salaries are buoyant no matter what the state of the economy, IT recruiters are noticing that salaries are not the main factor in determining how long IT contractors stay at IT jobs. Even when technical recruiters find IT consultants jobs that perfectly match their salary requirements, the things that make a job tenable long term have more to do with IT managers and how well the skill requirements match their resumes.  Having positive, open communication with managers is always going to make IT professionals enjoy the jobs.  IT staffing firms can also better predict if a placement is a good if their job candidate finds their work meaningful.  IT headhunters that can make the best matches between IT job candidates and the workplace culture and the quality of the work will always be more successful.  If IT staffing companies can make matches that work both in terms of workplace culture and the quality of the work, they will have hit a homerun for sure.