Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Shall I compare thee...

After reading yet another article where a job search is compared to dating, I got curious to find out what other metaphors are being used for this process. Here are the results of my brief research:

While the dating comparison is, indeed, very common, approaching job search like a marketing campaign is popular, too.

How about looking at the process from the employer’s side? Turns out, the dating metaphor works on this side, too.

What else?
I have found posts comparing hiring process to:
- House buying - on both sides
- Car buying
- Shopping for groceries
- Shopping for shoes

So where does this leave me, a recruiter?
I can see my role as similar to that of a matchmaker or a real estate agent, but a salesmen? Not so much.

What does a job search/hiring process reminds you of?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Silicon Geography and History

We have Silicon Valley, we have Silicon Alley and now we have Silicon Beach.

What started as a nickname has now become a metonym for a place where hi-tech startups grow.

Silicon Valley is a name used for the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region where a large number of silicon chip innovators and manufacturers were located. Among the first was Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in 1956. This area is now home  to many of the world's largest high-tech corporations, as well as thousands of tech startup companies.

After Silicon Valley came Silicon Alley. This term was invented by a recruiter, Jason Denmark, who had posted several job ads in 1995 with the “Silicon Alley” label for companies in the technical hub of downtown Manhattan. Since then, the term has evolved to encompass all of the New York City metropolitan region and more fields within information technology, such as new media, telecommunications, biotechnology, game design and financial technology.

Now, we are witnessing the emergence of “Silicon Beach” - the west side region of the Los Angeles metropolitan area - as a new hi-tech hub with over 500 startups.
It reached the point where Google’s Los Angeles jobs page asks the question: “Who needs Silicon Valley when you can have Silicon Beach?” and entices with, “Prefer the sand and surf over a mountain view? Want 300 days of sun a year? Forget the Valley – pack your bags for Google L.A.”
So what is it, besides “sand, surf and 300 days of sun a year”, about this area that attracts hi-tech companies?  
In the article “Silicon Beach: Los Angeles emerges as contender for tech crownShawn Langlois explains, “El Segundo and Playa Vista ... are key to Silicon Beach’s next phase of growth. The area just south of Venice has it all. It is more affordable than Santa Monica and the Bay Area, has space to grow and is right next to the airport. Throw in its traffic-skirting proximity to some of the more attractive areas to live, like Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach, and it is not hard to foresee a continued boom.”

What is next for Silicon geography?

According to the article in Forbes, those cities - Austin, Dallas, Seattle, Chicago and Miami are poised to become the next hi-tech hub.
Huffington Post has a different opinion - it lists 8 cities, with some overlap: Miami; Boston; Detroit; New Orleans; Chattanooga; Cincinnati; Houston; Washington, DC.  

Does it mean that an aspiring software engineer should pick up and move to one of those areas?

You can read our article on advantages and disadvantages of Silicon Valley living: http://eltisolutions.blogspot.com/2014/10/bay-area-living.html

Also - we have jobs with the really cool Series B startup in Silicon Beach, check them out:

Newport Beach, CA,

  • Software Engineer. Build machine learning based talent matching platforms, and help great companies find great people. 
    Software Engineer, recent College Grad. Build the next generation employment platforms, and help great companies find great people.
  • Senior Software Engineer, Algorithms. Lead design and implementation of new data processing algorithms, system architecture, and product features for the next generation machine learning based talent matching platform. 
    Senior Software Engineer, Full-stack. Lead design and implementation of new data processing algorithms and system architecture for the next generation machine learning based talent matching platform.
  • Senior Software Engineer, Big Data. Lead design and implementation of new data processing algorithms and system architecture for the next generation machine learning based talent matching platform. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

What belongs on your resume, and what does not.

Assuming we all agree that a resume for a job in technology field should be under 3 pages, what exactly should go on it and what is better to leave off?

When deciding on this the guiding principle should be, “What am I communicating with this?”

So let’s go down the resume and see what we can come up with.

1st line - Your name. It is OK to have just your first name when you place your resume on a job board, but when you submit it to a recruiter or a hiring manager, please make sure your full name (or a name you want to be used) is there.

Next couple of lines: Your email - very important.
Your phone number where you prefer to take calls. If you’d rather not receive unscheduled calls, leave it off.
Your address - just a  city/state/zip code is enough, no need to broadcast your full address. If your current address is far enough from the location of the job you are applying for, mention your plans for relocating to the area.

Your work authorization status - if your education or experience sections include foreign countries, it makes sense to indicate your current visa status - are you a US Citizen, have a Green Card, have a work visa or need one?

Optional but highly recommended - your LinkedIn profile and any other professional sites you *want* a hiring manager to see. For example, if you have a GitHub repository, put it on your resume, but ONLY if it has a really clean working code. Do not expose your “work in progress” or a repository with only one check-in, or the one you have been last active on a year or more ago. You can refer to it during an interview instead.

Next section - Objective.  
There is a school of thought that it is not needed, and I tend to agree. One of the few circumstances when you do want to include objective is when you are changing fields, another one if you are just starting your career, and have very little experience in the industry.
Instead of Objective you may want to use Summary, but it has to be written in a way that a hiring manager will actually read, not skip over.

If you are a recent graduate - 5 years or less out of college/university - next section should be “Education”: If you have more than one degree in the field related to the job you are applying for, mention all of them.  For a recent graduate, GPA is important.  If your “in major” GPA is better than your overall GPA, use it. If your GPA is so-so … it probably makes sense to mention it as well, because omitting it is still an indication that your grades were not that great.

Next section - Skills. Very important. Sort your skills and competencies into categories, and arrange them from your strongest first to your weakest.  Do NOT mention skills that you are not absolutely confident about! Be prepared to discuss all the details of a tool or a language that is on this list. Do not mention MS Office.

Next section - Experience. In the software industry, technology evolves so fast, that, most probably, what you have been doing ten years ago is no longer relevant. That is why we recommend to have full details only on your last 10-15 years of jobs and only list major, relevant accomplishments during the previous years of professional experience. Try to describe what you have done in terms of achievements, not in responsibilities. Do mention the key technologies that you were working with on major projects. It can be done inline or as a separate line - “Tools used”, for instance. If you are a software developer, for instance, it is assumed that you write code and check it into a source control system, so no need to mention those activities on a resume.

Next section - if you graduated more than 5 years ago - Education.
If you had graduated more than 15-20 years ago, no need to specify dates.  Do include the relevant, recent classes you took, even if you do not have a certificate.

You can also include Personal Projects (if they are relevant), and publications.  If you have a lot of publications, it might be better to list them on your personal website and include a link to it on your resume.

If you follow those recommendations, your resume should fit on 2-3 pages, and will be read in its entirety by an interested recruiter/hiring manager.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Be mindful of your email address when job searching

I was reviewing a candidate’s resume recently. There were quite a few good keywords on it, but the projects were not too impressive, and the type of companies he was employed at did not match the company I was recruiting for.  So, I was on a fence.
I took another look at the resume header and noticed the candidate’s email address. It was an AOL address. That, I must admit, made it easier for me to decide to reject him.
Is it fair to judge a candidate based on his or her email address?  I am not entirely sure, but here are my thoughts:
We are in the Silicon Valley, and I am hiring engineers for startups. Therefore, I am interested in candidates who are keeping up with current technologies and innovations - at least in the software industry. Using an old AOL account, while understandable as many contacts may be stored there, does not characterise an innovator. Same goes for HotMail addresses or ISP domains.
It is OK to have AOL or HotMail email address for private correspondences, but if you do use them, you need to create a new email account for your job search if you do not want to appear old-fashioned.
Other email address blunders to avoid: goofy, cute, or risqué account names, using your date of birth as part of the name, having a shared email account with your spouse, and, of course, using your current work email for job search purposes!
See more on mail addresses (with some fun examples) here (a quote: “AOL is particularly bad, because AOL originally marketed itself as a safe way for non-web-savvy users to experience the big bad web, in their own safe little AOL community”).
And still more:

Monday, July 6, 2015

Generosity at work

Does being generous at work pay?
We have all met people who seem to be completely selfless and are always available if you need help.  We also know people of the opposite type - those who you know to never ask for any favors.  
So how do those personality traits play out in a work environment?
Unsurprisingly, there have been a number of researches trying to answer this exact question.
There are two aspects of being generous at work - how it affects you personally and how it affects your career.

It turns out, being generous improves one’s well-being:
"Our findings make a simple but profound point about altruism: helping others makes us happier. Altruism is not a form of martyrdom, but operates for many as part of a healthy psychological reward system," says professor Donald Moynihan, of  UW-Madison's La Follette School of Public Affairs, an author of the study that tested the relationship between altruism in the workplace and happiness. 

Does generosity help one’s career or hinder it? It can be both, Adam Grant notes in his book Give and Take. Grant is Wharton’s youngest full professor, who has consulted for clients that include Google, the NFL, Goldman Sachs, and the United Nations, and an extremely generous person himself. Grant’s studies show, among other findings, that many “givers” (employees who perform all sorts of selfless acts with no expectation of reciprocity) tend to linger at the bottom of the food chain, with low promotion and productivity rates. They fail to excel because they’re too busy helping other people do just that.
But though they’re overrepresented at the bottom, Grant’s most interesting finding is that givers also climb to the top.  They construct valuable networks out of all the grateful colleagues who correctly perceive them as selfless and agenda-less. Givers share credit without demanding any in return, which spurs co-workers to flock to their projects. Their generosity earns them deep and lasting respect, which translates into potency. This article  by Slate contributor  Seth Stevenson  summarises the difference between “losers” and “winners” among givers and provides more details about Grant’s study.
Generosity can be also a good for business, as Tesco’s retired CEO Terry Leahy told the New York Times:
“When I joined Tesco, somebody said to me, “They’ll eat you alive,” because it was known as a bit of a hard-charging place. That sort of brought out the street kid in me, and made me a little bit hard and combative. I had to learn later that there’s another way to get the best out of people, which is to really motivate them and make them feel good about themselves. So I changed. ….  If I had to sum it up, it would be about being generous at work rather than selfish.”

A study of “100 Best Companies to Work for” showed that, while perks like free food and unlimited vacations  are, of course, important, there is another “common denominator of employee satisfaction at these companies,” suggests Forbes’ contributor Ryan Scott: “the opportunity to be part of a company that places a premium on giving back. Most of the companies that made the list have a corporate philanthropy program that engages employees in some way and involves them in the process of connecting to their communities and the world at large.”
And then there is always the question: do companies provide generous perks out of pure altruism? Of course not, says this 2007 article from Wharton: Google “ wants to achieve several goals: Attract the best knowledge-workers it can in the intensely competitive environment for high achievers; help them work long hours by feeding them gourmet meals on-site and handling other time-consuming personal chores; show that they are valued; and have them remain Googlers, as employees are known, for many years.”

So, we see that generosity in the workplace, when done right, brings benefits not only to the subjects, but also to those who practice it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Offer negotiations - for candidates

We have written on various facets of offer negotiations in our blog and on Facebook, so here is a recap of our advice. Please keep in mind that there are no universal rules.

1. Timing.
  • When to start: While it is understood that we all work for the money, compensation discussion is probably not what a hiring manager wants to engage in during your first conversation. Usually a salary range is been discussed during an initial call with the recruiter to establish that you and the company are on the same page in this regard. If there was no discussion with the recruiter, you may bring this topic up when you are invited to the second round of interviews.
  • When to amend: If, during the interview process, you realize that the scope of your responsibilities is significantly broader than was defined in a job description, it is a good idea to bring this to the attention of a hiring team and update them on your acceptable compensation range.
  • When to finalize: Ideally, a written offer should have the numbers you are happy with, so try to negotiate all the details during a verbal offer stage. After you sign the offer, it will be really difficult to renegotiate. If there is an agreement on a raise within a certain amount of time after your start date, make sure it is included in the offer as well.

2. Base salary negotiation:
There are two different schools of thought, not surprisingly from the opposite sides of negotiation: One that says a candidate must disclose his/her current salary, the other says that “your salary history is no one’s business”.  
Here is our take on this dilemma:
  • If you are generally happy with your current compensation and just want a reasonable improvement on it, go ahead and disclose your current salary as a base from which to negotiate. Be prepared that this information can be verified and if it does not match, you can be fired - or your offer may be revoked.
  • If you feel strongly against disclosing your current salary, provide a desired range. Of course, your current salary still can be verified, and if it was significantly less than what you are asking, you need to have a good story why such a jump in your worth is justified.
  • If your current salary is way below the market, you can be really open about it and explain the reason for this (for instance, the company was sponsoring your Green Card, or this was your first job after graduation), and why you deserve a much higher salary now. In our experience, this is a win-win approach - a hiring team appreciates your openness, and you are more likely to get your desired compensation.

3. When compensation is not negotiable, but you are very interested in joining the company, here is what you can negotiate for instead:
  • schedule (vacation days, start/end time, telecommuting);
  • job responsibilities / opportunities for growth / training opportunities;
  • potential raises.

4. For startup companies, you can (and should!) negotiate your stock options.

For all the above points you are in much better position if you prepare for negotiations by doing research and thinking through all your options.