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.

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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.

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Job Seeker

MATRIX Employee Spotlight: Gail Ferreira

Our spotlight blog series aims to get to know MATRIX employees and consultants. Today we meet Dr. Gail Ferreira, our new Agile Practice Leader in San Francisco.

Tell me about yourself.
I’m proud to be one of the few natives actually born and raised in San Francisco. I got my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Computer Science and later went on to get my Doctor of Business Management degree. My first job after school was a consulting gig at Oracle, and I ended there as a Senior Principal Consultant. From there I went to Cap Gemini to do management consulting for technology companies. I have also been teaching in this area for the last 13 years.MATRIX Employee Spotlight: Gail Ferreira

Any fun facts people would be interested to know about you?
Although I’ve lived in the Bay Area my whole life, I do love to travel. I’ve actually been on over 35 cruises, traveling throughout North America, Europe and Asia. I rescue Siamese cats, and have a full house between them and my African grey parrot. On the weekends, I take advantage of my membership at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts (SFMOMA). Along with fine arts, I also enjoy wine tasting in Napa Valley.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your day job?
I really enjoy teaching and speaking to different groups of people. I am a professor and advisor for the U.C. Berkeley Agile Project Management program, the Walden University Doctoral Business program, and Capella University School of Business and Technology PhD program. I will be speaking on Hoshin Kanri at Agile 2015 in D.C. next month. If you’re planning to attend, come introduce yourself after my session!

What has been the most gratifying part of your career?
Seeing things get created and grow, and projects get completed. It has also been very rewarding to see people I’ve taught develop their careers over the years.

What are you excited about in 2015?
I’m excited to grow our practice in the Bay Area, where so many companies are exploding exponentially. This region provides a unique opportunity to help businesses grow. I would love to bring Agile to non-software companies – to expand this methodology into other industries and improve their organizations. I enjoy being able to support contemporary software startups, but I would love the opportunity to also bring Agile to non-software fields including legal or medical practices.

About the Author: 

Dr. Gail Ferreira joined MATRIX in 2015 as the Agile Practice Leader. Gail began her career in 1995 delivering professional services for strategy, leadership, management, enterprise portal, content management, business intelligence, and analytics for a variety of technology clients. Working in a variety of technology and business leadership roles, she has helped organizations define strategy, perform business analysis, lead application development teams, and govern program management using traditional, Lean and Agile methodologies. As an Agile Coach, she holds CSM and CSPO certifications from the Scrum Alliance, and the Scaled Agile Academy as a SAFe Program Consultant. Follow her on Twitter @LeanAgilist.

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Tech Recruiters Read Mean Tweets

We get it. Some people aren’t very fond of tech recruiters. We were curious to learn just how deep this sentiment runs, so we followed Jimmy Kimmel's lead and turned to Twitter to find out for ourselves. It wasn't pretty.

(Note: these tweets are not specific to MATRIX, just tech recruiters in general. Does that make it less offensive? Not really.)

Once again, we’re reminded that there is a certain stigma attached to tech recruiters and we’re doing everything we can to change it. At MATRIX, we believe recruiting shouldn’t just be a profession – it should be professional. So we launched #recruitright to shine a spotlight on common issues, with a goal of providing better recruiter interactions for the broader tech community. Our top priority is providing tech professionals with relevant job opportunities and valuable content that will ultimately help them take the next step in their careers. We feel privileged to have you in our community and we hope the feeling is mutual.

If you would like to learn what #recruitright is all about, 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: 

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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