Doctor, Realtor...Recruiter? Time to Use an Expert

When you think of the reason that you hire an expert in any given field, what are the main reasons? Is it a matter of saving you time and frustration? Or making sure that you are being as thorough as you possibly can? Most people use a realtor to buy a house and an insurance broker to find the best coverage for their homes, cars and life insurance. Why wouldn’t you want a recruiter to help you through one of the most stressful life decisions to be made? And don’t forget that recruiters are beneficial at any stage in your career – not just during an active job search.

Since people love lists, here is a list of reasons to work unassisted when trying to find a job:

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Great! Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s understand the benefits of working with a local recruiter who specializes in your area of expertise:

  • Market Knowledge Doctor, Realtor...Recruiter? Time to Use an Expert

    The majority of tenured recruiters can offer insight into the hiring market around you. What skills are hottest? What do pay rates look like for my skill set? What is trending for growth? This information will help you position yourself to start your search and map out a plan. Are you looking to modify your skillset or get your hands into a new technology? Ask us how often we see those skills in our market. It may be what you want to hear or be the advice that saves you valuable time on a skill that isn’t worthwhile. Speaking of time…

  • Time

    We save you loads of it! Looking for a job is the equivalent of working a full-time job, and no one wants to do both at the same time. To truly maximize time savings in your job search, it’s helpful if you limit the number of recruiters you work with. Try to have two or three to go to when you are ready to see what’s out there.  

  • Networking

    Sad, but true…no recruiter has every job that is open in their area. But, what we do have in spades are excellent networks. Do you have a dream company you are targeting? If we don’t have it, we may have an introduction to someone who does. Curious about specialized local groups, but don’t know where to start? Chances are, we can introduce you to the groups or members involved.

  • Company Insight

    Want to wear shorts to work? Are you a Type A who only wants to work for a manager and team that gets things done in the most efficient way? We know companies that could fit either need. Our value includes sharing with you what isn’t written in the job description. That could encompass anything from culture and dress code to team size and where the manager went to college. These are the details that you will not know sending your resume into a black hole of applying to a company directly.

If you do choose to work with a recruiter, it is imperative that you are comfortable with the person you are working with. Keep in mind, this person’s reputation will have an impact on your job search. What does their social media makeup look like? Do they have stable tenure in the market you are targeting? Are they recommended by people in your field? And at any point if you don’t feel comfortable with the person you are dealing with, make a change! Your job search is stressful enough without dealing with someone who you don’t connect with. You don’t have to be best friends, though I’ll tell you, you might start to like us.

So, whether you are actively wanting to make a change or you just want to take the temperature of the market, you can update your job status with us to start the process of connecting with a recruiter. 

About the Author: 

Jamie Martin is the Recruiting Team Lead for the MATRIX Dallas office. She has 10+ years of IT staffing experience in the Dallas Market, specializing in application and software development placements. She is also skilled as a transportation engineer and conflict management specialist to her two young sons.

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Job Seeker

Being Prepared as a Software Craftsman

It happens every once in a while.

I waltz into the classroom looking forward to a new lesson and suddenly realize that today is the final exam. Everything I should have been preparing for is finally due. And I haven’t done anything — no flash cards, no notes, no readings, no late night, caffeine-infested sessions the night before. In fact, I can’t remember if I have attended any of the prior classes.Being Prepared

As I begin to panic and look for an excuse to leave and make up the exam later, I wake up. It was all a dream – or a nightmare! It takes a few seconds, but I finally realize that nothing that I was experiencing is actually true. What a relief!

How About You?

But how many of us come to work unprepared each day?

I mean — how well do we know our tools?

Do we know all of the ins and outs of our particular language, platform, tools, and techniques?

Or do we only know those parts that we had to use for our latest project?

Or do we only understand the basic “Hello, world” features that we learned from reading a blog, listening to a podcast, or attending a conference session?

Being a Passionate Programmer

This question came up in a book, The Passionate Programmer: Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development (Pragmatic Life) by Chad Fowler.

In it, he suggests that,

"Our industry tends to practice on the job."

He then relates our craft to the art of playing music, and,

"Musicians are paid to perform in public—not to practice."

So why would we expect to do it differently in our profession?

It takes hours of practice in order to learn our craft and, unfortunately, too many are practicing on the job these days, because it is acceptable. You cannot learn everything that you ought to know as a software craftsman by merely writing code for production software. Focusing on certain aspects is needed in order to increase the quality and resilience of what we produce.

One of the areas that musicians focus on developing is physical/coordination or focusing on fundamental technical aspects of playing an instrument. They do this by playing scales in all of the range of the instrument, building the muscles in their lips or gaining callouses in their fingers, practicing dynamics with their diaphragms, etc. They cannot always be playing nice sounding music – they have to play simple, focused, seemingly monotonous exercises to focus on these fundamentals.

How To Practice

How can a software craftsman do the same?

They can practice the full range of functionality available to them within a certain language, platform, tool, or technique, using them in private exercises known as code katas or building a demo project.

And even though they may not prove expertise in a particular technology, I have found certification exams to be invaluable in forcing me to look at the full scope of functionality that a platform provides.

For even more accountability and support, you could start/join a coding dojo, getting involved with a community of like-minded people wanting to grow in their knowledge and skills as well.

So spend some time thinking about what tools you already know something about and start practicing coding in areas of that tool or technique that you are not familiar with. Get to know what is available and practice the full range of motion. You will be much more prepared the next time you need to use that toolset.

Feel free to comment below on other suggestions you have for practicing our craft.

This blog was originally published here - visit Todd's blog for more posts.

About the Author: 

Todd Meinershagen is an accomplished architect with 18+ years of in-depth, hands-on experience designing and developing service-oriented, n-tier applications to solve business problems. He loves collaborating with teams, improving process, working with new technologies, techniques, and ideas while striving for excellence in everything that he does. He is currently a Senior Software Architect with MedAssets, a healthcare SaaS company, working with the Patient Access Solutions team. He is also husband to Tammy and father to three daughters, Ellie, Chloe and Sophie. You can find links to his blogs, social media profiles, and open source projects here.

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MATRIX Consultant Spotlight: William Takacs

This month’s MATRIX spotlight is on William Takacs, an Instructional Design Consultant working for one of our clients in Arizona.

MATRIX Consultant Spotlight: William Takacs

Tell me a little about yourself.
I was born in New Jersey, but grew up in Northern and Southern California. When I graduated high school, my family moved to Phoenix, and I attended Arizona State University where I met my wife and started my family. My father was a hardworking Financial Executive in the retail world and my mother was a dedicated teacher in the local public school system. Funny enough, that combination has been part of where my career has placed me today. I taught in public schools as a computer teacher for five years and transitioned into Instructional Design work for corporate America in retail and technology for 10+ years. My wife has enjoyed her career teaching special education in public schools and we talk about teaching and instruction often. We have a teenage son and we talk about his education often, too!

What does your life look like outside of work?
Outside of work, I am involved in my son’s Boy Scout Troop as an Outdoor Event Coordinator on the Troop Committee. I enjoy supporting and watching my son grow in skills and character as he advances in Rank and Merit Badges. Our family enjoys the outdoors on day trips and overnight camping when possible. When we are not exploring nature, we have two dogs that hang out with us in our home office while we work. At night, my wife is grading papers and pursuing a Master’s Degree, and I have taken up being the family cook, learning which meals taste good and which ones I should never cook again. When I am not cooking family dinners, I join my wife in the office to work hard meeting project deadlines in my contract work. When spare time becomes available, my next creative outlet is to write a “great American novel”, or some kind of science fiction story.

How did you get your start in IT?
My start in IT came from my love of teaching computers, and I was lucky enough to find my first Instructional Design job when an E-learning company hired me because of my background in teaching. I will admit that the Learning Development niche is a very small and unique job market. When MATRIX found me, I was heading out on a camping trip with my son. When we returned, there was an interview set up which brought me to where I am today. I am grateful that MATRIX was able to align my skills and abilities with employment without taking away my camping time with my son.

What’s your favorite or most rewarding part of your career?
In my career, I am able to use all the skills I learned in college, while developing creative skills that make my work interesting and engaging. I have been fortunate to work with a mix of employees and contractors within the company, and every project shows the quality standards and commitment to valuable deliverables that I strive for in my work. I enjoy the creative development process, the teamwork with people, and the completion of high-quality documentation and e-learning courses at the end of any project.

If you could give any piece of advice to other IT consultants, what would it be?
The advice I would give to other IT consultants is to be confident in what you can offer the company or management you are working for. I have found that when I can share insight to a project process or workflow and where my skills will be part of the project success, it becomes easier for co-workers and management to trust me to follow through on that action and project work. When I show confidence in what I can do, and follow through with project success in the completion, I build trust for future work.

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Why Your Employees Are Quitting - And How to Keep Them

Yesterday marked my 5 year anniversary at MATRIX. Crazy how time flies. I still vividly remember my first day. Newly married with a fresh fade, rocking a new shirt from Thomas Pink and glowing from two weeks relaxing in the Tulum sun. As I walked in that day, I approached my new challenge with the same naivety and confidence I had on my first day of 9th grade. Fast track five years and it is humbling to reflect on what we have accomplished, how I have grown personally, and the relationships I have built. However, one accomplishment we often overlook here at MATRIX is pretty special. And that is our culture of retention.The Secret to Employee Retention

I am going to start this with a confession. Last week, one of our key, perennial top performing recruiters resigned. It hurt. "Hmm....", you say. "Interesting way to start a blog claiming to have insightful tips on retention." Actually, it is. When you start to understand the context, it becomes, "oh wow." Because that resignation last week was only the fourth voluntary resignation we have had in our Dallas recruiting organization across the past five years. And we have a big team in Dallas, 20+ recruiters strong. If you calculate the math, that equals a 4% voluntary turnover rate. Compare that to our industry average, which many argue has the highest turnover of any professional vertical out there. If you work in our business, you get it. It is oh so common for recruiters and account managers to jump from company to company like they are playing a game of leap frog. That's what makes what we are doing here in Dallas so special.

It is often said that employees don't quit companies, they quit managers. To a certain extent, I believe that. Therefore, here are a few tips for new and experienced managers that will help you to retain what is most important.

Care about your people.

Genuinely and deeply. Build authentic relationships. Ask questions and listen. Like any good relationship, it takes time and emotional investment. It is common for me to pray for the people on my team. And I tell them I am praying for them. Let them know they are loved. "But", you say, "I do not even like my employees, how can I genuinely care about them?" One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes gives some good advice:

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

When you truly care, your people will know. In my experience, they will not only show loyalty but will also do whatever it takes to make the team successful.

Provide an opportunity for growth.

Many people think that has to mean a promotion but that is not true. Sure, that is often the path to growth, but it can appear in many different ways. As a manager, control what you can control. Not everyone can, or wants, to take the management path. Provide opportunities to become a SME in a specific niche and then ask the employee to share their expertise with the rest of the team. Provide an opportunity to take on new responsibilities that will give people a new challenge. Provide financial opportunity. Each year sit down with your people and show them a clear path to how they can make more money than they did in the previous year.

Be vulnerable.

Many will disagree with me here, but I feel that this is a powerful way to show your authenticity. Admit when you make mistakes and share those with your teams. To an extent, I will even share my personal mistakes. There is no facade of a perfect marriage or perfect life that can turn people off and be annoying. Open up about your passions and what makes you nervous and excited. Be honest about your weaknesses. Be transparent and tell the truth. The reality of what happened yesterday may not always paint the picture you are trying to create. But, your willingness to admit that fact creates an authenticity people want to be around.

This is not an exhaustive list and is meant to give a different perspective than what you would read in the management textbooks. Also works well on retaining a beautiful wife :) Hoping to have the same outlook after my next 5 years at MATRIX.

About the Author: 

Justin Thomason is the Regional Director of Recruiting at MATRIX. His expertise includes hiring, training, and leading world class recruiting organizations. With a focus on innovative delivery strategies, Justin's recruiting teams specialize in leveraging social media to develop lasting relationships with talented IT professionals.

Posted in: 
Hiring Manager

6 ways to position yourself for a better job and better pay

Whether or not you’re actively looking at other job opportunities, there is one thing almost everyone is open to: a better job and more money. Setting yourself up for this kind of success isn’t as complicated as you might think. I’ve worked with a lot of people to help them advance in their careers, and these are the top big and small ways I’ve come up with to increase your marketability.

  1. Complete your LinkedIn Profile

    When I am advising even seasoned job seekers, the first thing we do is open up their LinkedIn profiles together. Nine times out of ten there is very little there – a company name, a corporate overview taken from a web site and very few connections. This profile says “Yep, I tried that LinkedIn thing about five years ago and sort of forgot about it”. I am here to tell you under no uncertain terms, LinkedIn is the gold standard in social media for job seekers today and where potential employers are looking for you.

    LinkedIn is not only an opportunity to showcase your expertise and experience, it also allows you to highlight other areas that add to your marketability: volunteer work, organizations you are affiliated with, alumni groups, publications and yes, even personal interests. I teach a whole session on how to use this platform to market yourself but the first step is to make it current and complete.

  2. Volunteer in your community or at work

    In most industries, there are many opportunities to volunteer both within your company and outside in your community. Volunteering in your community shows a potential employer you are engaged in your area of expertise and that you are committed to giving back. Volunteering inside your company also gives you access to work that can add to your marketability. Freely offering time depicts a humble, generous worker– qualities any manager would want to promote.

    6 ways to position yourself for a better job and better pay

  3. Have a Professional look at your resume

    It may have been a while since you looked for a job or even wrote a resume. Things change fast in certain industries, especially IT, and some of the terminology on your resume could be woefully out of date and even potentially cost you a job if it makes you look like you are not current in your industry. Pay a professional to help you. (Or, if you are lucky enough to know an excellent recruiter, they can work with you on it. If not, we know some!)

  4. Finish your degree or Get certified

    It is well-documented that individuals with four-year degrees or higher earn more money throughout the course of their career and are exposed to more job opportunities as a result. I have routinely worked with candidates who are only two-or three classes shy of their degree and strongly counsel them to go back and finish as soon as they can. They have already invested so much time and money in this pursuit that it is a waste not to finish.

    If your degree is already complete, it’s time to get certified. Do you ever notice those letters that follow someone’s name on LinkedIn? Admit it, it looks important right? Because it is! In 18 years of recruiting in IT, I can tell you with all certainty that those candidates with a PMP, CSIE, MSCD (we have placed hundreds) all get premium pay because of these three or four letters after their name.

  5. Never underestimate the value of excellent written communication

    One of the single most valuable business skills you obtain in college, regardless of your degree, is the ability to think analytically and articulate your thoughts in a clear and concise manner in writing. In order to produce reports, craft clear and meaningful business communications, or even an email, you must be able to write well – in any job. Attention to proper grammar and use of the full version of a word versus the texting version of it are just small things you can do to impress your current or potential employer. I recently got an email from a company trying to sell me training content and the email started out “r u happy with your current LMS?” Really?? Check out my friend Hannah Morgan’s advice on this important differentiator.

  6. Be interesting, Be yourself

    People do not want to hire robots. They want to hire smart, interesting people who are confident and can get along well with others. Don’t be afraid to share aspects of your personal life that demonstrate who you are outside of work. Are you a diehard NY Jets fan who is training for a marathon and also writing a book? That is interesting and cool (except the Jets part) and it makes you human and REAL. Tell people about it!

    Don’t be afraid to RESPECTFULLY speak up, be authentic, take a risk and put yourself out there. It can be a little scary but can pay big dividends in the respect you will earn from your coworkers and leadership for being genuine and relatable and open the door to additional opportunities.

    If you would like to discuss these points further, get connected to one of our recruiters. You can start the process here or search our open jobs. If you're already part of our community but your job status has changed, update it here.

About the Author: 

Elizabeth Varrenti currently serves as the Vice President of Professional Development at MATRIX. Since starting with MATRIX in Atlanta in 1998, Elizabeth has fulfilled numerous roles including: Account Executive, Recruiter, Sales and Recruiting Team Lead, Director of National Recruiting and Vice President of National Accounts Delivery. A graduate of SUNY Geneseo, Elizabeth resides in Rochester, NY.

Posted in: 
Job Seeker