Monthly Archives: January 2014

When Your IT Manager is a Bottleneck

As in any industry, IT professionals are sometimes faced with IT managers that are bottlenecks.  Sometimes it’s because there are simply too many things going on—Information Technology is of course a very busy industry.  However, sometimes the manager just is disorganized or inefficient.  There are a few things that IT recruiters would suggest that IT consultants can do in these circumstances.

1. IT contractors can anticipate the problem and do what they can to avoid it on their end.  If it’s obvious that getting approval from a manager is difficult, making sure that they’re handed something for approval well in advance of the date it’s need it will help.  So will trying to finish everything one can without that manager’s approval before going to them.  There are a lot of ways that one can address the problem subtly without going directly to the manager about it.

2. IT professionals can try to simplify things and make them as easy as possible for their managers.  After doing IT jobs for a while, people begin to see how their managers’ work styles and preferences.  Catering to these will streamline things a bit, even if it seems like a pain on the outset.

3. As a last resort, IT consultants can be direct with their managers.  If they have the right relationship, a conversation noting the issue and offering some solutions might go a long way.  Offering solutions is a key part here because it separates the truly valuable employee from the disposable ones.  Managers, particularly busy ones, really appreciate the extra effort.


Brooklyn: IT’s Newest Home

IT staffing agencies and IT headhunters are used to seeing an ever-growing concentration of information technology companies (particularly startups) in California, but Brooklyn seems to be starting its own colony of startups now, too.  IT recruiting agencies and IT recruiters are finding more and more interesting opportunities for their IT contractors on the East coast as the Brooklyn Tech Triangle slowly expands.

The Brooklyn Tech Triangle, arguably the start of this Brooklyn boom, was started in March 2012 by some local non-profits seeking to build the economy of the area.  Since this very successful launch, a steady flow of tech companies have come to Brooklyn, seeking a haven for like-minded companies, IT consultants, and IT managers, as well as surprisingly low rents.  In addition to boosting the local economy, the companies have also brought with them some new career possibilities for minorities in New York City and its surrounding suburbs.  The number of minorities in IT has jumped significantly.  Brooklyn, New York City and its citizens, and IT all seem to be winning with this newfound home on the East coast.


How to deal with Distractions in IT

Information technology as a field is already fraught with distractions for IT professionals.  Add in the effect of technology itself, including smartphones, social media, and the ever-increasing allure of the internet, and IT contractors and IT managers are constantly under siege from distractions.  Some studies show that the average worker is distracted every 3 minutes, to be exact.  Below are some methods by which IT consultants and IT headhunters can reduce distractions at their IT jobs.

Carve out time for deep thinking:  Blocking off time to work alone and without distraction from the phone, coworkers, or the internet can be incredibly useful.  It’s easy to get through because it’s finite—you aren’t unavailable all day, just for perhaps the length of a meeting or a long meeting.

Talk to people in person or on the phone: Making inquiries on social media or via email can mean several interruptions in the form of messages.  Have one conversation in which you deal with all aspects of an issue in person or on the phone.  Then move on to get the work done.

Reduce and schedule email time: Emails are distracting.  If possible stop answering them as they come in.  This only increases your emails in the future.  Instead, schedule a few times a day and answer and write emails then and only then.  Turn off email notifications and try to make people aware of your system if it helps them.  They may even want to try it themselves!


Weird Questions in IT Job Interviews

Periodically all IT professionals and IT recruiters encounter odd questions in interviews for IT Jobs. Questions like “What kind of cereal would you be?” or “What is the color of money?” are common, if not the prevalent in interviews for IT consultants and IT managers.  What is their use, though?

IT contractors and IT staffing agencies should take these odd questions seriously because they demonstrate a few important things about a candidate that resumes do not.  For one thing, IT jobs, especially customer-service oriented ones like tech support, tend to require the ability to think on one’s feet and respond to unexpected and sometimes stressful situations.  Questions that are bizarre can be the opportunity to test that in a job interview.

Another imperative reason to take these questions seriously is that they can be a moment to demonstrate how you are a cultural fit for an organization.  More than anything, these questions are good moments to showcase your personality.  If you know you’re interviewing at a team-oriented company or perhaps a company that really values creativity, these questions are the moment to show you have these qualities (rather than simply tell somebody you have them).  So be prepared to really give these questions a go—they might be the ones that get you the job!


Yahoo and the Country: Looking for a Magic Bullet in IT

IT Professionals, along with professionals in fields other than Information Technology, have been closely watching Yahoo and its semi-celebrity CEO Marissa Mayer for a long time.  Its ups and downs took on a whole new level of scandalous when Mayer’s first big hire, Henrique de Castro was fired by the famed CEO herself.  While Yahoo’s stock prices haven’t been particularly hard, the company is certainly hurting from the recent move.

In some ways, the company seems to be a stand-in for the country at-large as it tries to turn itself around from a terrible economy.  Like Yahoo, the US has been trying to find a road back to prosperity on the wings of new technology.  Everyone from IT contractors, IT recruiting agencies, to IT managers can testify to the ramped-up demand for IT consultants and work in places they’ve never been used before.  And with this new magic bullet, the economy has fared about as well as Yahoo: some success, some steps backwards, and plenty of speculation about what is to come.  IT turns out that both a tough global market and a record-breaking recession are not easily vanquished by even the magic bullet of technology—no matter how dazzling or quickly-evolving it may be.


The First 30 Days of Your New IT Job

The new year is a common time for IT recruiters to be placing IT contractors in new IT jobs.  There are plenty of obvious pieces of advice that IT staffing agencies give to their IT consultants starting new jobs.  There are a few subtle things that IT professionals can do to really impress their IT managers in their first 30 days on a new job.

Learn your new company’s business:  Learning your role and your job expectations is pretty par for the course, but to really stand out you can make a concerted effort to learn about the bigger picture for your company.  What are some of the major factors of your its industry?  What are the big challenges your company faces currently?  What are its goals?  Knowing these things and how your role might relate to them will make you really stand out from the crowd quickly.

Show passion and excitement for your new role:  Without getting on your managers’ or coworkers’ nerves (or taking up too much of their time), display an enthusiasm for your upcoming workload.  Show initiative and try to find ways to make sure you will truly succeed in your role.

Build relationships:  Build relationships with coworkers and managers, but also with contacts in your industry.  Create relationships with people who can act as resources within and outside of your company—whether it be the obvious, like potential clients, or the not-so-obvious, like a vendor that might get you a nice discount on some material your company uses.


Soft Skills IT Professionals Should Acquire

Having strong resumes in the Information Technology field is obviously imperative to nabbing IT jobs.  However, having some key soft skills carries a surprising amount of weight in the interview process for IT managers and IT recruiters.   While the value of these soft skills is different depending on the IT recruiting companies and jobs, the list of skills below are all worth working on as an IT professional.

Service skills: Working on these skills pay off particularly well in support positions or positions with a lot of client/end user interaction.

1. Flexibility/adaptability
2. Problem-solving skills
3. Positive attitude
4. Customer service

Internal Employee skills: These skills will serve anybody well within the office.  Whether it comes to how managers or co-works view you, these skills will come in handy.

1. Confidence
2. Independence and work ethic
3. Ability to accept and use feedback
4. Creativity
5. Time management
6. Teamwork


Factors to Control in Your IT Job Interviews

Technical recruiters prepare the IT consultants (and their resumes) working with them as thoroughly as possible for interviews for IT jobs.  However, there are a few things that IT contractors need to control themselves to make sure their job interviews go as well as possible.

Time:  While IT headhunters will make sure interviews occur at times that work for IT managers, the best thing you can do is to try to get your interview scheduled as closely as possible to Tuesday at 10:30 am.  This day and time are the ones in which research shows people to be most awake, alert, focused on work, and to feel the least rushed.

Space:  Do you best to show the utmost respect for the interviewing company’s space.  Wait until you’re asked to be seated to sit.  Don’t roam seeking water fountains or a bathroom—ask a receptionist. Don’t leave marks on any tables or chairs, and throw away any garbage you might create while you’re there.  You want to give the impression that you are going to do nothing but improve things for the company.  Leaving behind any damage or disrespectful impressions will not help your case.

Eye contact: Make comfortable eye contact with everyone you meet, even the receptionists or any doormen or drivers the company employs that you come in contact with.  Don’t be fawning or make eye contact that is too intense or uncomfortable.  Simply make sure you convey interest in what people have to say, confidence in yourself, and ease in dealing with people in any station.

Physical Appearance: Be well groomed and try to dress in a way that fits in well with the company culture (albeit the formal side of it).  If your appearance feels somewhat familiar to your interviewers, this might work in your favor.  Portraying yourself as a cultural fit for the company visually is certainly not going to hurt your chances!


Professional Failure in IT

Failure actually holds a high place in information technology.  IT professionals are constantly testing programs, code, potential solutions, etc.  Every time a test fails, IT consultants learn something.  IT contractors and IT managers could also learn quite a bit from embracing failure as professionals, too.  Having pristine resumes certainly attracts IT recruiters and lands jobs quickly.  However, making mistakes at work and even getting fired a time or two will teach you quite a bit.

It’s worth finding the value in the lessons that can be learned from making professional mistakes.  Obviously there are costs to these mistakes and the aim is to avoid them on the whole.  When they happen, though, we can learn a lot about our strengths and weaknesses as professionals.  We can also learn about how to become more resilient in the face of hardship so that future hiccups aren’t as difficult to deal with.  There are plenty of interesting articles about the coping tools we can develop to deal with failure and rejection, and these are worth checking out.  It’s also imperative to just start accepting that failure is inevitable sometimes and the best thing we can do is learn to appreciate its effects on our lives.  Learning more about our jobs, professional field and skills, or just about ourselves, is certainly not a bad thing.  And in the long run, that’s exactly what you can frame past failures as: learning opportunities.


How to Be a Better IT Leader

The most prized IT professionals that IT recruiters want to work with are the ones with not only stellar resumes, but stellar leadership skills.  Because the information technology field is overrun with project-based work, IT managers often prefer to use teams to accomplish tasks.  IT contractors that can effectively lead their teams to success are thus highly prized.  What are some ways IT consultants can sharpen their leadership skills?

One surefire way to become a better leader is to make sure your focus is shifted from hierarchy and job descriptions to the goals of the team.  The most effective leaders are the ones who are not seeking a title and glory, but success for the entire team in their goals.  If you provide guidance for your team members in orienting them towards the team’s goals and helping them contribute towards these goals, even if it means straying from original job descriptions or doing tasks that might feel ‘beneath you,’ you will earn a great deal of respect as a leader.

Another way to improve your leadership abilities is to maintain a positive and warm demeanor.  Sometimes leaders are not just responsible for their written duties or making sure their team gets to the finish line, so to speak.  Sometimes, their responsibilities are slightly more intangible.  Research consistently shows that positivity and being relatable are some of the most important traits in a leader.  If you can keep the right attitude at work, you can inspire your teammates to do the same and to avoid the distractions and destruction of negative thoughts and attitudes.  Being relatable makes it easier for your teammates and followers to trust you.  Combined, these two traits, no matter how ‘fluffy’ they might seem, are invaluable for leaders of IT teams.