Inside an Agile Recruiting Organization

I am blessed with a really sweet gig. My role entails setting and implementing our delivery plan for the western region, managing a fast-growing nationwide intern sourcing program, and serving as the product owner for Bullhorn from a sales & recruiting perspective. However, what I enjoy most right now, is being in the trenches of our Dallas branch operation. And here in the craziness of Dallas, amongst double digit IT job growth and huge corporate relocations, you will find an agile recruiting organization in its truest form.MATRIX Agile Recruiting

First, some quick background. Our Dallas operation is large and very complex. We have 20 recruiters and five sourcers supporting 12 account managers. The team is mature, talented and very well respected by our competitors, customers and candidates. On any given day we are managing between 250-300 open IT jobs across 75-100 customers. We focus exclusively on IT within Dallas/Fort Worth and are very relationship-driven. Sure, we work the big boy VMS accounts, but the majority of our energy is spent on relationship-driven business.

The reason I detail our structure is to show that what works for us may not work for you. Agile recruiting in a smaller firm or in a corporate setting will not compare apples to apples. As a business leader, after doing the right thing, my number one responsibility is to maximize our margin opportunity. That means the way we prioritize may look very different than what you do. Finally, let me point out you need to have great recruiters. The best strategy around will not overcome weak or complacent recruiting. However, regardless of your current situation, I hope you can take a few things away that will help your recruiting team be more effective.

Our agile recruiting process starts with the backlog. For us, the backlog equals job orders- the positions our customers want to fill. Each day, twice a day, our leadership team grooms the backlog. This is the process of prioritizing our open jobs. It is a complex formula based upon past success, future opportunity, quality of relationships, feasibility, margin opportunity and on and on and on. For those of you who know our business, it is really just working closest to the money. How can we manage and guide a large, diverse team to efficiently work closest to the money today?

After the morning backlog grooming, we move into our daily stand-up. The scrum version of a hot job meeting, minus the account managers, that takes no more than 15 minutes of the recruiter’s time. Jobs, skillsets and focus are all assigned. We point out what has been accomplished in the previous sprint and what impediments are holding us back from locating the persona- the ideal candidate our customer wants to hire. Everyone walks out with a clear plan for the day and an understanding of what will define that day’s success. We then are in our sprint, which for us is defined as a one-day recruiting cycle on a job or skillset.

We track all of this on two large scrum boards visible for all to see. Jobs are constantly moving across the board, communicating their place in process and necessary next steps. The board gives you scary accurate insight into exactly what is happening in real time (Bullhorn does this in a very sexy way as well).

The afternoon backlog grooming session is not followed by a second stand-up. It is almost our version of a retrospective but not in the traditional sense of agile. Instead, this session is used by leadership to evaluate progress and drive next steps. Leadership analyzes the burndown charts, which means we are inspecting documented activity on assigned and focus job orders. The analysis will lead to next steps. Do we need more recruiting focus? Do we need feedback on submittals? Have we confirmed and prepped the interview? What is our next step on completed interview? And so on. Typically this session is more focused on driving account managers to complete needed next steps and drive activity into real revenue. This session also allows us to determine our velocity. In other words, we can anticipate our capacity to recruit and cover more jobs tomorrow. Subsequently, these details directly affect the formula we use to determine what will be the focus and what will be assigned in tomorrow’s stand-up.

And tomorrow, well, tomorrow we do it again. I may get some flack internally for sharing our “secret sauce”. But really, these are no secrets. They are the same fundamentals of the staffing industry that have worked for years and years, just executed under the agile methodology. And you have to have the right team to execute. That is why so many companies have tried to implement agile and failed. Don’t blame it on the methodology….

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.

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PM-Agile

MATRIX Consultant Spotlight: Ritu Banga

At MATRIX, we emphasize that our company is all about the people. On the outside, it appears that we employ software engineers, web designers, project managers, business analysts, support technicians, and so on.

This is technically true. But what we don’t advertise is that we also employ mothers, grandfathers, soccer coaches, marathon runners, world travelers, musicians, painters, community servants and so much more. Our consultants aren’t defined by their job titles. They each have a story and this blog will tell their stories.

Our first spotlight is on Ritu Banga, a Business Systems Analyst at one of our clients in North Carolina.

MATRIX Consultant Spotlight: Ritu Banga

Tell us about yourself.
I moved here from India seven years ago. My whole family still lives there so I only get to see them every few years. I have a Shih-Tzu puppy named Nawaab. At eight months old, he knows 23 commands and is still learning. Outside of work, I spend a lot of time reading and watching the news. There are always so many articles and new things coming up; I’m always reading. I am also a foodie. I love to try new foods and restaurants, and to cook at home. I enjoy watching good movies, spending time with friends and exploring new places. I always keep a positive attitude and celebrate each and every moment of my life with passion. I am truly blessed in both my personal and professional life and I don’t take it for granted.

How did you get your start in IT?
While I have a Master’s degree in Mathematics, I never expected to have a career in IT. After I graduated, I worked as a Teacher’s Assistant but didn’t feel challenged enough. Since I knew computers and had a mathematics background, I started with manual QA testing. The first year of my transition to IT was filled with learning, networking and a lot of hard work. I was motivated by my parents and colleagues, whom all believed in me and encouraged me. My background in mathematics really helped me land my first job. My specialty was coming up with tricks that saved clients hours of extra work. I took programming and management classes in community college to enhance my skills. Even now I’m working on my PMP. As an IT professional, the learning doesn’t stop. I’m taking classes every year to enhance myself. This industry gives you so many opportunities to grow, you just have to find them.

What would be your advice to someone thinking about getting into IT consulting?MATRIX Consultant Spotlight: Ritu Banga
Sometimes there are no second chances. Either do it now or don’t do it at all. I was not ready to go into it because I loved being a math teacher. However, if you want to learn, if you want to be creative, if you want to grow day by day, you have to get into information technology. This is one industry that is unceasing. It’s a never-ending chapter of a never-ending book with volumes and volumes.

What do you like most about consulting?
Getting to work with different clients and learning new technologies. Every company works differently. As a consultant, you have the ability to transfer yourself from one environment to another. You learn how to be flexible by moving around a lot.

What has been the most challenging part of your career?
Working on two projects simultaneously. However, being in a nice environment at work has helped. It has really taught me patience. I have such great colleagues and leaders at work; they are so helpful and let me work from home or at odd hours if I need to. In my first eight months on the job, I never took a day off. I have to always stay focused. It can sometimes be challenging to maintain work, my personal life and still be creative at the same time.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career?
Being able to work in so many different roles – starting as a QA tester and getting to my current role as a business systems analyst. Thinking about where I started at my current company to where I am now...all my hard work has paid off. I have experienced so much growth in the last few years. I’ve learned many new technologies and my confidence has grown every day.

About the Author: 

Jennifer Bradley is the Digital Content Specialist for MATRIX. Her primary mission is to understand what information our various communities want and need from MATRIX, and to deliver it to them in ways that are enlightening, engaging and in sync with who we are as a company. She loves pop culture, Oklahoma football and the great state of Texas. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Fun

3 Key Tips for Your Job Search in 2015

Ready to make a change in your career? Here are three key tips to consider as you begin your search for a new opportunity.

Tip #1 – Sell yourself, but be honest.

Years ago, I was working with a candidate who over the span of a several years and a few job searches, had eight interviews through MATRIX. In each of those interviews, he either got an offer or was going to receive an offer (several times he was in a position where he had to accept an offer before another company could respond). On his last search, I finally had to ask one of the hiring managers that interviewed him (and wanted to extend him an offer), “Why him? What did he do or say in the interview to indicate he was the right person for you?” The manager responded, “You know Rob, in the interview, he didn’t give me the shuck and jive.” “Huh?” I said. “The shuck and jive?” What is that? He explained that during the interview, he was very honest about what he knew and was clear to point out the things he did not know or had not worked with previously. He didn’t overstate his technical skills or experience. In fact, if anything, he downplayed his skills somewhat. The manager appreciated the honesty. He had hired people in the past that he thought had certain skills and abilities but in the course of their employment, he found out that they did not. As an IT manager who is responsible for delivering IT solutions to the business, he had to know the skills of his team so he can make realistic promises to the business, and any false understanding of the skill level of his team had gotten him into trouble in the past.

So, be honest with what you describe in your resume and what you say you know in the interview. Most managers appreciate this honesty. Now, if you don’t know something about a technical skill that is asked in the interview, don’t just say you don’t know it. Say you don’t know it but tell them what you do know or what you have used. You do have to sell yourself but it is important to be honest.

Tip # 2 - Build a model. 3 Key Tips for Your Job Search in 2015
Think about (and write down) the key attributes of your ideal position. Use this model when evaluating any new opportunity. The key to this step is to do it before you start your search. At MATRIX, we refer to these attributes as your MODEL. What is important to you? Easy commute? Being able to learn specific technical skills or grow your skills in general? The culture of the organization? A stable company that is growing and doing well financially? A smaller company where your contributions may matter more? The point is, you should write out what you want so that when you do interview, you can evaluate each position not to one another but back to your MODEL. A model also helps you formulate questions you should be asking in an interview. Too many people compare one position to another instead of comparing each back to their MODEL. Your MODEL may change over time so it is important to revisit this before any new job search.

Tip # 3 – Convey a professional image.
I guess no article about a job search these days can go without mentioning social media. Many hiring managers do check when considering any individual for a position. Does your LinkedIn profile look professional? Do the dates and other information match the content of your resume? Is your picture professional? Did you do a search of your name? This is how people will perceive you before you walk in for an interview so be sure you are portraying yourself in a professional manner. By the way, the same advice goes for your voicemail message. Make sure your voicemail has a clear, well-spoken and professional message.

Hope this information helps in your next career move. For more information, visit the MATRIX Career Help page.

About the Author: 

Rob McGrew is an Account Executive for MATRIX and has been providing IT staffing and technical services for his clients for over 15 years. Rob has a 25-year background in IT initially having done development at NASA during the initial Space Shuttle program and also at IBM's Robotics Lab in Boca Raton. Rob has a degree in Computer Engineering from Florida Tech.

Posted in: 
Job Seeker

Tech Hiring: Have You Considered H1B Candidates?

The number of job openings is currently at a 14-year high in the US with nearly five million job openings. In 2014, 129,600 tech jobs were added for a total of 6.5 million tech workers, representing the fourth consecutive year of growth in tech jobs. This has created a shortage of available talent for highly skilled technical workers. Organizations are now being forced to turn to non-traditional resources for hiring needs, including intern and apprentice programs and online freelance sites, just to name a few. If your needs require an experienced, full-time and (hopefully) longer-term resource, the options are more limited - and the competitive landscape for that talent is significantly more fierce. If this is where you find yourself, one possibility to consider is leveraging the H1B visa program.Tech Hiring: Have You Considered H1B Candidates?

(Before I go on, let me first acknowledge the debate that continues to rage about the merits of the program. If you aren’t familiar, Dice.com did a special report linked here that I highly recommend.)

So why should you consider hiring from the H1B labor pool?

Quite simply, the H1B program provides employers access to a vast number of highly-educated workers, with some of the most in-demand skillsets. Just how big is that talent pool? From the Dice article linked above, the number of H1B visas issued over the six-year period ending in 2012 was nearly 800,000. Of those, estimates are that approximately 500,000 H1B visa holders work in IT. With just over 2.5 million total IT workers in the US, this means that H1B visa holders make-up nearly 20% of the available workforce! If that isn’t compelling enough for you, here are a few other things to consider:

  • H1B workers require sponsorship, which can be a complicated process for the uninitiated (more on that later). For that reason, many companies choose not to even consider these workers in their hiring plans – thus reducing overall competition for these highly-skilled individuals.
  • Many workers applying for H1B visas are interested in permanent residency or citizenship within the US companies who assist in this process. These companies often benefit through increased loyalty and longer tenures from these hires.

In my role as Immigration Manager at MATRIX, I have witnessed firsthand that the demand for highly skilled H1B employees has consistently increased over the last few years. The benefits of successful H1B sponsorship are significant, but as mentioned above, the process of identifying and obtaining an H1B visa can have several risks if not handled correctly.

If you are considering H1B visa sponsorship to fulfill your job openings, here are a few things to keep in mind:

H1B candidates require a sponsoring employer. They cannot be hired directly unless they are sponsored.

  • There is a limited number of H1B visas issued each calendar year.
  • There are no guarantees of being awarded an H1B visa and legal fees and filings are not refundable.
  • The person whom you are considering for sponsorship can have multiple potential sponsors. They are under no legal obligation to accept your offer, even if your visa application is approved.

Time and cost.

  • Obtaining a new H1B visa is done seven months in advance of the employee being able to begin working on their H1B visa.
  • The average time to initiate the H1B visa transfer with premium processing is three to five weeks and does not account for a notice period.
  • Costs vary between $5,000 to $6,000 per H1B visa.

Limited time allowed – Six years is the maximum allowed for a H1B.

  • H1B visas are issued in two-three year increments. This time can only be extended if the H1B employee has gone through PERM/Green card process with PERM Labor certification and an approved I-140.

Cultural and communication barriers.

  • Adapting to the US business environment can prove to be very challenging for some H1B candidates. In most cases, English is a second or third language.

To sum it all up, hiring an H1B employee can be a great solution to your IT hiring woes - but can also be very difficult to navigate on your own. If you’ve done the research, and the task just seems too daunting, you might consider getting outside help. An immigration lawyer is a good option, or you could partner with a company like MATRIX who is intimately familiar with the process, and who has experienced resources in place to help deliver the talent you need.

If you would like to learn more about how MATRIX can help with your H1B hiring needs, please feel free to contact me or reach out to your MATRIX Account Executive.

About the Author: 

Robert Bouchard is the Immigration Manager at MATRIX. He possesses almost ten years of IT staffing experience and has served in his current role with MATRIX since July 2013. He is responsible for managing all immigration related matters across the organization. Robert earned a BBA from Georgia Southern University and lives and breathes Atlanta Falcons football. Please connect with him on LinkedIn.

Posted in: 
Hiring Manager

7 Ways to Spice Up Your Work Life This Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is here, and it’s time to celebrate the Patron Saint of Love! In addition to loving those in your personal life, try to spread a little love in your workplace as well. We spend 160 hours per month at work, so why not make it something that that we love? Life is much too short to work at something that doesn’t make you happy!7 Ways to Spice Up Your Work Life This Valentine's Day

Here are 7 ideas to use Cupid to spice up your workplace this February:

  1. Understand Your Why.

    Why do you do what you do? Why does your company do what it does? Connect the dots and find more love on the job. With greater understanding of the big picture, you’re more likely to crashproof your career.

  2. Give More Than You Get.

    Relationships are based on mutual need and benefit. Give a little bit more than you get and see your value in the organization rise and your job satisfaction soar.

  3. Just Drop It.

    Have a longstanding feud with a coworker? Drop it! Now is the time to drop the past, share the love, and move on to a better work relationship. Maybe you've been wronged or overlooked, but now the past is gone. Forgive and move on to bigger and better things.

  4. Manage Up, Down, and All Around.

    Manage yourself, manage your interactions with those around you, and yes, manage your boss. When you choose to manage all aspects of your workplace relationships, love for your job increases—and often so do your earnings.

  5. Hone Your Craft.

    Be sure to work on making yourself better while doing your job. Constantly seek ways to improve your skills and abilities in your craft. It's your responsibility to grow yourself, not your company. Find ways to get better and see love for your job and earnings increase.

  6. Take a New Route.

    Let's face it: sometimes work is a grind. No way around it. Try taking a new way to work to spice things up a bit. It could literally be driving a new route, rearranging your workspace, or maybe making a small adjustment to your way of working. Sometimes variety adds just enough spice to our work to make it more meaningful and rewarding.

  7. Choose Fun.

    No one said that work has to be drudgery. Whether you’re driving a cab or chairing the big annual board meeting, take the opportunity to have a few laughs. Spread the love by using humor, and you’ll help strengthen your network and crashproof your career. 

So, as you get flowers for mom,  make reservations at the hottest new restaurant for your loved one, take some time to spread the love in your job and enjoy the benefits. You’ll do better at the job you have today, and you’ll help crashproof your career for tomorrow!

About the Author: 

Jon Davis is Executive Vice President at MATRIX . He has 20 years of experience in leading sales teams and corporate recruiting efforts in all verticals ranging from startup companies, mid-market organizations and the Fortune 100. Follow Jon on Twitter for more career tips: @JonDavis12.

Posted in: 
Fun