Recruiters Gone Wild: The fake resume experiment

It’s a great time to be a skilled worker in the IT industry...

but it’s not all a bed of roses.

We frequently hear stories about candidates dealing with overeager, or just plain annoying, recruiters.

So to support our New Year’s resolution of being different, we decided to conduct a little experiment.

We created a fake resume for a developer and posted it online for five days. The results were unbelievable. Check out our video to see what happened:

Let us know your own stories in the comments. Keep it clean please :)

About the Author: 

Jennifer 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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The Most Important Question to Ask Yourself This New Year

Go to more networking events. Learn new skills. Clean up your social media profiles. Update your resume. Set goals for yourself. Measure the success of your goals.The Most Important Question to Ask Yourself This New Year

I sat down to write about career resolutions to set for yourself in 2015, and then realized that every blog out there is going to tell you all of the above.

If you're like me, you hoped to spend a little time over Christmas thinking about some potential resolutions for the New Year. But then food and family and pure laziness got in the way and you're still at square one. When I thought about it a little longer, I realized there's really only one question to think about.

What's going to be most important to you in 2015?

Take a few minutes to reflect back on this year and what you put first. Any regrets? Things you wish you would have prioritized differently? Now think about what you want to put first next year.

If it's your family, think about the hours and flexibility that your current job gives you to spend time with them. If you say family is your number one priority, but you’re working 60+ hours a week, something is wrong here. Decide how many hours you feel is right for your family and choose a job that will honor your schedule.

Your job. For starters, think about the job you have now. Do you look forward to going to work in the morning? I know it sounds cliché, but it's a question you have to consider. Yes, there are really people out there that enjoy what they do AND enjoy where they do it. If you can't say both of those for yourself, it might be time to start seeing what else is out there.

If it’s money/success/financial independence, evaluate the career track you’re on now and if it’s headed in the right direction. If your goal is to push your career forward, don’t get comfortable in one monotonous role for too long. You will become stale and it will only be harder to convince someone that you’re ready for a promotion.

If it’s training/improving your skillset, take advantage of all the resources that are online now. This one might be overlooked, but it’s a significant element for any professional. There is so much training available, that there is no excuse for you to stay locked up in your old skills. If you’re a veteran programmer, stop insisting that you’re the king of COBOL and learn Python. No matter what your skillset is, learning something new or getting certified in your craft will make you more marketable for when you decide to go after a new role.

“I just want to be happy.” Don’t we all. When you prioritize what matters most, it’s pretty clear to see what’s going to truly make you happy. That knowledge alone won’t get you where you want to be – you still have to take action. But it’s a necessary, and pretty easy, first step.

Whatever is “most important” to you this year, your friends here at MATRIX wish you the very best. Happy New Year!

About the Author: 

Jennifer 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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How I Got My Start in IT Consulting

The funny part of my career is that I never imagined myself being in an IT role. In 1976, I had recently been discharged from the Navy, had a new family and was in need of a better job. Finding nothing interesting in the general ‘Help Wanted’ section of the newspaper, I decided to be adventurous and checked out the ‘Engineering/Technical’ section.Daniel Morehouse

Low and behold, there was an ad from IBM, something that was unheard of in those days. Upon reading the requirement, I thought, "“Hey, I think I can do that!” So I went to the IBM building, applied for the job, passed their test and soon found myself training to be an IBM Customer Engineer servicing IBM typewriters. (For some of you that would be a “pre-computer/printer document generators”).

After a number of successful years servicing a variety of office equipment, an opportunity presented itself. IBM needed instructors for their new Print Application software at their Dallas Training Center. This was something that I was certainly not qualified for. However, I was willing to learn and my track record, along with support from my management, enabled this opportunity to become a reality for me.

Since then, there have been many other opportunities through which I have been privileged to achieve great success both as an employee and as a consultant. There is much more to this story but this is what I think is most important: I didn’t go to college (much to my colleagues’ surprise.) Please don’t misunderstand; I am not discounting the importance of education. It is more important today than in the past. However, education will only take you so far in this world.

To achieve true success in any field requires the right ATTITUDE.

If it’s all about you, you’ll lose. I have achieved great success because I determined to always do my best for my employers, my customers, and most of all, my fellow co-workers. Everything we do leaves an impression. What impression do you want to leave?

This quote has been a source of encouragement over the years:

It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belong to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who errs and comes short again and again; who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt

About the Author: 

Daniel Morehouse has been working in the IT industry for over 30 years. He initially started out servicing typewriters, and eventually moved into consulting, which led him to multiple positions with MATRIX as a technical trainer.

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Which Hat Do I Need Today?

Most corporate software developers are expected to perform a multitude of tasks outside their level of expertise. Often developers are asked to tackle QA, Technical Writing, Business Analysis, Project Management, and the beat goes on… Now pile on the fact that you are surrounded by lazy and sometimes inferior talent and you’ve got a ‘Kobayashi Maru’, the no-win scenario. You simply cannot do it all, so what now?Which Hat Do I Need Today?

Make sure all parties involved understand the development process and what is required for success. Enlightening stakeholders concerning the SDLC (software development life cycle), or at least some equivalent, will ensure the business is educated on required processes.

Oftentimes business management has no idea on complexity. They think creating a contact is trivial, but we know differently as this depends on such items as scale, localization, and roles. Communicate this through emails, blog links, sequence diagrams, discussions, and any other way you can. Business doesn’t know about software development. That’s your job.

Regardless of team or project size, you must know what the finish line looks like; otherwise, you’ll never get there. Along with the business, define the end goal and formulate a plan to get there. If compromises are agreed upon with the business, ensure they understand the ramifications.

Your plan needs to include solid processes such as agile in order to keep stakeholders and developers engaged and on the same page; especially, since you’ve been wearing multiple hats. This will quickly show the organization your worth and expose slackers and misplaced developers. You won’t have to say a word.

Try not to get to involved with this stage as hopefully you’ve obtained someone who can help (see technical writer role below), but the minimum following items need to be defined and documented:

  1. Sprint Deliverables i.e. On 1/22 users will be able to enter and save contacts.
  2. Project Responsibilities i.e. The business must deliver requirements two weeks in advance and be placed in the task backlog.

Now we are getting organized and acting like we know what we are doing. Expectations are everything. If everyone knows what is expected and it is clearly defined, then all parties are covered.

Each person within the organization needs to understand their role within the project. This is your opportunity to again show everyone the amount of business value you provide. At minimum, define the following:

  1. Business Project Manager. Your go-to person for all things business. When you need answers, this is the person who has them.
  2. Project Manager. Someone has to keep things in order and be responsible for development. All communication between the business and developers must go through this person; otherwise, you’ll open yourself up to misinterpretation. This person will end up setting schedules, allocating resources, controlling scope creep, and driving the project.
  3. Technical Writer. Who is going to work with the business to document use cases, user stories, deliverables, and requirements? The business needs to stay at least two weeks ahead of development with what they want to see delivered in the coming sprint. Now the business is driving exactly what they want to see developed. Beautiful.
  4. QA. Developers do not make good testers, so if you are pinned with this responsibility, make sure the business acknowledges the time requirements and risks. TDD (test driven development) will be your best friend in this case. Hopefully, at minimum, you’ll involve a few actors/users for regression testing.
  5. Development Team. Architect, Back end layers, Front end layers, middle tier, and production support. FYI… You can’t do them all.
  6. Systems Integration. Who’s responsible for saying the software is ready for production and where does the software live? Hopefully, you’ve negotiated getting everything up in the cloud as this will greatly speed up development and simplify items such as security, backups, and disaster recovery.

Time for you to wear yet another hat: sales. There are several ways to go about getting the above implemented into your everyday life. Threaten physical violence (highly recommend), tell your boss he’s a moron (highly likely) and threaten to quit, or be the consummate professional and present the facts.

  • Fact 1: Current processes are not rendering expect results. You’re not happy and neither is the business. Change is in order.
  • Fact 2: Current processes (if the are any) are not sustainable. High levels of anxiety prevail and top talent cannot be attracted. They know better than to enter here.
  • Fact 3: You must run software development like a business within a business.You cannot treat it like customer service or purchasing. It doesn’t subscribe to traditional business departments.

I could go on, but you’ll find plenty on your own that apply directly to your business.

The business needs you. You are the one who provides ‘business value‘. You’re asking for something that will improve the business by creating sustainable, extensible, and maintainable software that the organization can go forward with for years to come.

Time for business to realize chaos and grinding on their best performers is not a sustainable paradigm and will ultimately cost the business time and money, giving their competition the edge.

In the end, if the business does not want to listen to the wisdom with which you speak… Then it’s time to move on, professionally.

About the Author: 

Tom Williamson has thirteen years experience in project management, enterprise software development, and four years of cloud computing with specialized expertise in business process improvement, change management, and Business Analysis. Hates zombies, clipping toenails, and fighting with bullies. Follow Tom on Twitter and at his blog.

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Inevitable conflict: Navigating difficult conversations professionally

Resigning your position and giving two weeks’ notice? Firing an employee or delivering a bad performance review? Turning down a job offer or having to back out of a commitment?

Eventually, we are all faced with situations that require difficult conversations. For many of us, these conversations can be stressful and cause angst, but they are conversations that must be had. It may seem surprising, but handling these types of conversations professionally and effectively will go a long way in building your reputation and personal brand. Conversely, making bad choices in these situations will burn bridges and potentially be career-limiting.Inevitable conflict: Navigating difficult conversations professionally

Due to what I have learned to call “Selfish Passivity”, far too many individuals, including myself, naturally want to run from the smallest of conflicts. Often unknowingly, we choose to damage business relationships, tarnish our reputation, and lose credibility rather than tell the truth. However, if we are intentional in our dealings with inevitable conflict, we can turn these difficult conversations into positive growth.

My role at MATRIX gives me a unique perspective on this topic. Every year my recruiting teams guide thousands of technology professionals through the process of interviewing for a new job. We coach people each day on resigning professionally and also hear every excuse in the book in terms of declining interviews and rejecting job offers previously accepted. But leading recruiting is also running a sales organization, which means I know all too well about firing people you care for and the disappointment caused by resignations handled inappropriately.

It is your career. Conflict is inevitable. Relationships do matter.

Below are a few tips on handling difficult conversations professionally.

Tell the truth & Do the right thing

It sounds so simple but when we know our actions are going to disappoint someone, telling the truth can be hard to do. Whether it’s quitting a job, changing your mind on a big decision, delivering bad news, or backing out of a commitment, the best thing you can do is tell the truth. The other person will not always like what you say but they will respect the fact you were honest with them. Admit and own your mistakes. You will build a character of integrity and sow relationships built upon trust.

Do it in a timely fashion

Always give two weeks’ notice. If you feel wronged by an employer, the best revenge is to act with character. Stooping to their level and leaving them high and dry may make you feel better in the short term, but it will not help you sleep more peacefully and can come back to bite you in the future. Communicate in real time. If someone is not performing to expectations, let them know. Don’t blindside someone assuming they should have seen it coming.

Don’t feel guilty

Everyone makes mistakes. It is going to happen. Everyone has to make tough and unpopular decisions. Handle them like a professional. Address the inevitable conflict and difficult conversations professionally and move on. If you do the right thing, your reputation and personal brand will flourish. Don’t limit tomorrow’s potential by avoiding conflict today. If I can handle conflict and difficult conversations, you can too.

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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Hiring Manager