BYOB: The Motto of Every Smart Professional

I’m sure you’ve all heard over and over again how important it is for professionals to have a mentor in their career. I’m not knocking that, but I think it takes more than a mentor. Your mentor might be a leader at your company, or the person who’s training you. Or it could be someone outside your company whom you aspire to be like, either professionally or socially.

Here’s one thing I do know: If you want to get the most out of your career, you have to Build Your Own Board.

Every big company needs a board of directors – why should you be any different? You should have a board of people with different backgrounds and beliefs that can give you the wisdom you need to achieve your goals. This board can include your spouse, your current or former supervisors, friends from college, peers in your industry, and just about any other person in your life. Having a personal board of directors will give you well-rounded perception without bias.Jon Davis board

So, who should be on your board? This part is up to you. Here are the people on mine:

• My wife, my best friend. She is and always will be the first person I turn to. However, she tends to be on my side, which is why I need more sources.
• My supervisors. This includes both my current and my former bosses. They have the leadership background to help me through any decision process I am faced with.
• My peers. These are the people at my company who know my job better than anyone else, and can offer informed counsel.
• Friends outside of work. This includes childhood friends, fraternity brothers, neighbors, and everyone in between. They all have different careers and see things from various points of view. They help me recognize every angle of situations and can share their opinions candidly.

Don’t stop with a mentor. And don’t be afraid to reach out to people. They will most likely be flattered that you’ve come to them for advice. Build your own board to give you the guidance you need – and the rewarding career that you deserve.

About the Author: 

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

Posted in: 
Job Seeker

The Cutting Edge Job Candidate

Would you buy a house if all you saw was the front yard? The porch with the swing may look nice, but what about the rest of the house? How about the structure? Is it built well? Has it been taken care of or does it look neglected? How would you know what special characteristics the house possessed unless you saw it inside and out? Your career credentials should provide as many dimensions in much the same way. Employers expect the complete tour when they meet you. According the U.S. Department of Labor, hiring managers are concerned with more than the basics. They’re looking for cutting edge talent in the following areas:

The Cutting Edge Job Candidate


• Communication skills
• Analytical skills
• Cross-functional skills
• Computer skills
• Leadership skills
• Job skills
• Current IT skills

• Management experience
• Technical expertise
• Personal attributes
• A positive attitude
• Results-oriented
• Committed to lifelong learning
• Realistic expectations about the job


Job candidates must convince prospective employers they’re ready and able to transition from the college classroom or last/current job into a new job opportunity. First, fine-tune your resume. Employers are searching for candidates with proven track records in solving specific problems unique to their organizations. You must show not only what you did, but also how well you did it. A simple resume of previous job duties won’t get much attention. Research the needs of the organization and tailor your resume to show how your past accomplishments meet the prospective employer’s criteria.

Second, develop a personal marketing campaign. Don’t rely totally on job board postings or recruiters to find and hire you. They’re only one of many resources available to you during your job-search process. Employers are as anxious to find the right people as candidates are to find the right positions. You need an aggressive strategy for locating opportunities. The key to a successful job search is a highly developed plan. If you want to be cutting-edge, you’ve got to structure your time effectively and organize your job campaign.

• Research the marketplace by targeting companies and decision-makers. At this point, don’t expect to find openings that are an exact fit. Instead, plan a strategic approach to gather information, establish rapport during the interview, and leave a favorable impression.
• Develop a list of contacts. Think of people you know who might fit into one of these three categories:

  1. People who have the power to hire you, because they own or manage the company, division or department.
  2. People who can introduce you to those with the power to hire you.
  3. People who can assist you in getting job leads.

• Schedule informational meetings with three or four contacts whom you know well and that have significant IT work experience. They will be more likely to understand your approach and to help you. You may only need a few of these contacts because your strategy is to build leads into new contacts who know the people who can hire you. This approach will also help you develop your self-marketing skills. You’ll be able to practice communicating your objectives and selling your strengths. Both are critical preparation for interviewing.

Third, be ready to prove your value to a prospective employer in a personal interview. Cutting edge skills are essential to landing the job of your choice. How and when they’re revealed can make the difference between a job offer and another rejection. Start by preparing a thirty-second “commercial” that tells the interviewer what you have to offer.

Practice out loud until you can articulately express what you want to them to know about you. The hit-or-miss approach to interviewing doesn’t work. You must be even more prepared than the person who’s interviewing you.

Part of the preparation for the interview is to gain information in advance about the interviewer. The more you know about the person who’s interviewing you, the easier it is to present yourself as the perfect match. Many hiring managers often look for, and are more comfortable with, people who are similar to themselves.
In addition, think about the interview from the interviewer’s perspective. Consider the job description, major responsibilities and company culture. What are they looking for in candidates? As they prepare to fill a vacancy or newly created position, they’re probably asking themselves some of the following questions:

• Do I need a candidate with a certain level of experience?
• Do I need a generalist or a specialist?
• If I need a specialist, what exactly am I looking for in a candidate?
• What kind of leadership style do I have and what kind of person responds best to my style?

In summary, to be on the cutting edge, you must prepare to convince prospective employers you can successfully transition from one IT job to enough. In addition, you need to determine your personal employment objectives and then seek out job opportunities in those fields. Part of this seeking process is to use contacts you already have and then make new contacts as you progress in your search.

A final important point to keep in mind: As you’re interviewed, carefully evaluate each job opportunity. Consider your likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. Some jobs may not offer you a compatible opportunity. If they don’t, keep looking, less you cannot afford to turn down the job being offered.

About the Author: 

Carol Hacker is the former Director of Human Resources for the North American Division of a European manufacturing company, Employee Relations Manager for the Miller Brewing Company, and County Office Director for the US Department of Labor. Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, Carol has been the President and CEO of Hacker & Associates since January 1989. She specializes in teaching managers, supervisors, team leaders, HR professionals, and executives how to meet the leadership challenge. Carol is the author of over 400 published articles and 14 books including the bestseller, Hiring Top Performers-350 Great Interview Questions For People Who Need People. She earned her BS and MS with honors from the University of Wisconsin. She can be reached at or 770-410-0517.

Posted in: 
Job Seeker

Why You Should be Nice to Recruiters

I see a lot of articles lately that rally against the evils of recruiters. And while I have seen the bad, I am here to tell you: You should be nice to recruiters.Collaboration

If you are even a somewhat competent developer you will get a lot of phone calls, email, and Linkedin requests from recruiters. That’s how it is in today’s job market. There are more tech jobs out there than there were at the height of the boom and it only seems to be going up. And there are recruiters out there trying to do their jobs filling those positions. Some recruiters will be good and will target you directly and some will be canvassing for anyone who will respond. Some will be experienced and some will be new and will be reading straight from a script. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be nice to recruiters.

Recruiters help you get a job – It seems stupid to even say this, but recruiters are trying to help you get a new job when you need/want one.

Recruiters become part of your network – Even if you don’t need a job right now, you may at some point. And if you don’t need a job then you may need to hire good people, developers or *gasp* non-developers. Having a strong network of people who can help you do that is a good thing. Weak ties tend to be important and recruiters tend to know a lot of people.

Recruiters can be a source of knowledge – Want to know what is actually going on in the job market? Ask the recruiters that call you. They can tell you what languages and technologies people are really using and hiring for. They can also tell you what problems their clients are facing.

Be a good human being – Beyond all of this, just be a good human being. That means being nice to people. Being rude to people doesn’t pay off.

What should you do about all the calls, emails, and Linkedin requests? Pretty simple. Answer the ones you find relevant, usually through email or Linkedin. If you aren’t looking, send the recruiter a simple message saying you aren’t looking currently but would like to keep in touch for the future and would like to connect on Linkedin. I have never had a bad response using this technique. In fact, most recruiters simply send a note back saying thanks and will keep in touch. Remember: recruiters don’t want to waste your time any more than they want to waste theirs.

What about the irrelevant emails or Linkedin requests? They are only irrelevant to you. Ignore them. No, don’t respond back. No, don’t send a form letter. No, don’t be rude. Just let it go. You don’t respond to every spam email you get, do you? It is pretty simple to tell if a recruiter is canvassing or not and if they are professional or not. I don’t accept every Linkedin request from every recruiter who contacts me. I look at their profile and make a decision.

Be nice to recruiters. Build your network even if you aren’t looking for a job right now. It will pay off in the future. And even if you never find a job through a recruiter, at least you were a good human being.

About the Author: 

Dennis has been in IT for 15 years, 12 of those as a consultant. He currently lives in the Dallas area and works as a search architect. He programs in multiple languages including C, Java, Python, and specializes in search engines, big data, and data science.

Posted in: 
Job Seeker

What Does Company Culture Mean To You?

Someone asked me recently if I wake up excited to go to work in the morning. Believe me, I never expected to answer yes to that question as an employee at a firm that provides IT solutions. But, honestly, I do – and it’s all because of the culture.

I was curious to know how other people define company culture, so I gathered feedback from people in my network. But first, here’s what company culture means to me –

If you follow my company on Facebook, you know that working for MATRIX entails office tailgating, pie contests, happy hours, baseball games, cookouts, bean bag toss tournaments, chili cook-offs, bowling competitions, holiday parties, March Madness brackets, birthday celebrations complete with singing and homemade treats, and much more.

As a 22-year-old recent college graduate, I know I’ve hit the jackpot.

But those aren’t the things that define my company’s culture. After spending a year with this community of people, I know that these are the factors that define MATRIX:

  • Work climate. In my opinion, a great work climate incorporates a collaborative team of employees backed by a team of shepherding leaders. Every company has a range of different positions and levels within itself. It's important to have a working environment where the newer team members are able to learn from those with more experience, and feel comfortable asking them for guidance. The support we get from our leaders at MATRIX is overwhelming. They encourage us to take risks, and always go to bat for us. The leaders set the tone for every company, so it's essential that they create a positive atmosphere.
  • Volunteering together. Everyone hears how important it is to give back to the community. Today charities make it easy to donate through mobile apps and SMS. But there’s something special about volunteering with the people that you do life with every day. Our team regularly serves in a variety of ways – preparing meals for those in need, walking in the Race for the Cure, fixing up low-income residences, working at clothes drives for foster kids, collecting school supplies, serving at food banks, etc. Volunteering together strengthens us a community.
  • Personal interest. It’s one thing to have daily small talk with your co-workers, but at MATRIX, people really care about each other. Having a leader in your office check on you every day makes all the difference. And they’re not just checking on your work – they’re asking about your daughter’s birthday party or how you’re settling into your new house. One conversation like this can easily turn a bad day into a good one.
  • Laughter. I think the thing that makes me most excited to go to work is knowing that I will laugh throughout the day. We work in an environment that encourages people to be themselves, and we have a lot of vibrant personalities. There’s nothing better than good humor in the workplace.

When I posed the question to people at other companies, this is what I got back:

What does company culture mean to you?

“It’s how we interact with each other. My company has a real family feel, which is great. We all know each other and feel free to be ourselves.” – Estevan Molinar, Auditor, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

“A corporate culture is simply a reflection of its character. It is measured by the emotional state that employees occupy the majority of the time. Culture should be viewed and measured by its leadership as being binary. It is either ‘incredible’ or it is ‘not incredible’. There is no middle ground. That way you know what character and emotional state ‘you’ must have ALL the time.” – Jeff York, Chief Sales Officer, Paycom

"The common buzz words we use to describe company culture, "great work/life balance", "established company", "family values", "startup environment", are used by everyone.  There are only a few answers that most companies use to describe what sets them apart. The only true differentiator other than your product or service is your people. No one else has your people. So a culture that celebrates the individuals in your organization on a regular basis, tells the day-to-day stories, and encourages its entire workforce to share what's great about the people they work with in online conversations creates a more engaged workforce and allows job candidates to more appropriately opt into the organization." – Craig Fisher, CEO, TalentNet

Follow MATRIX on Facebook to see more examples of a great company culture.

Ok now it’s your turn to give a response -

What do you think is most important for a company culture? What’s your favorite thing about your company culture?

About the Author: 

Jennifer is the Community Manager for MATRIX. She is experienced in social media management, content strategy and copywriting. She recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma and is now building her network in Dallas. Her goal is to bring a new form of creativity to the recruiting business.

You can find Jennifer on LinkedIn, Twitter, or email her at

Posted in: 
Job Seeker

Family Road Trip Apps and Tech Create Vacation Memories

Family road trips create vacation memories to last a lifetime and great technology and apps can help make them wonderful experiences. Our family just took another massive cross-country road trip this summer from Houston, TX to Rye, NY. Having road tripped around 1/2 of America, we have found that our tech gadgets and favorite apps make the planning and day-to-day travel easy and convenient. Keeping three children happy, the husband relaxed and juggling the trip logistics requires many arms and legs so we have to round up any help we can get.

Tech:Family Road Trip Apps

A Tech Savvy Car: helps the time pass quickly (usually family budget friendly so consider for the next round). Most cars now have smart phone charging plugs, GPS, DVD players and some like our Chrysler Town and Country Mini Van even feature 110 volt power outlets. Having your smart phone charged for quick access to google maps and key travel apps is a must

A Wireless Hot Spot: allows mom and dad to keep in touch with family, friends and work. Teens can even catch up on summer reading lists. We love our Verizon Hot Spot since it has powered our connections nationwide

A Smart Phone Camera: creates valuable memories of the kids and “the world’s biggest chair”. While we use our Go Pro camera for cool adventure shots, for everyday use we need something fast and simple to capture those spontaneous shots and videos. Our new Nokia Lumia 928 phone is perfect for taking family road trip photos.  When traveling, life is so much easier when you only have to carry one device. With the Nokia 928, we like how the 8.7 MP PureView camera keeps the shots and videos steady with its optical image stabilization. Our shaky cam days are over and our family and close friends will be forever grateful

Portable DVD players, iPads, iPods and Leapsters: keep the kids busy, but we try to balance the video games with reading, math, family car games (animal, mineral or plant guessing) and even singing (but, no show tunes!). Make sure you inventory all the devices and chargers as the family moves place to place and consider investing in a multiple device travel charger to organize the chaos


Apps make family vacations so much easier. You can find apps for everything from planning, logistics, to sharing the latest video adventure. On a road trip, locating gas, bathrooms, and restaurants along the way keeps your vacation stress free. We are so happy that we have apps that can handle these often dire situations.  While we have written about some of these apps before, we must sing their praises again since they saved our sanity. All apps are free and available for both Android and iOS unless noted.

Here are our top 5:

Gas Buddy: check out current gas prices, and find nearby stations which is useful while back roading to see the country side

Waze: use the free GPS app for navigating cities to avoid major traffic jams. Users fuel this app with current tips

Squat and Sit: find clean bathrooms across the country. You can even add your own ratings~ do we have some stories to share! Meanwhile, the app’s name gets the kids laughing if you need a diversion

Food Tripping: locate restaurants, farmers’ markets, juice joints, artisanals, and any local healthy alternatives to fast-food chains. This app worked great for our family since we like to sample each region’s cuisine and eat organic when we can.  If anyone has food allergies, be sure to read: Apps To Help with Food Allergies and Asthma

Joya: share vacation videos with friends and family while on the road regardless of file size. Within seconds, the video is in the hands of your friends and family with a simple click on a url. This means no more missed vacation highlights or spontaneous family dance moments

For actual trip planning check out our post: Great Travel Apps To Plan Family Vacations. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing adventures from our road trip family vacations so check back for more fun soon!

About the Author: 

Suzanna Keith ~ @skconcepts is an experienced marketing professional who believes in leveraging revolutionary insights and ideas to grow extraordinary brands. Her expertise includes researching consumer insights and building on these insights to drive long-term strategic direction in all aspects of brand management. Prior to starting her own consulting company Skconcepts, Suzanna served as Brand Manager for Mitchum AP at Revlon in NY, NY. Originally from Bristol, TN, Suzanna graduated from Bryn Mawr College and received her MBA in marketing from New York University. Suzanna is currently EVP for OnlineMomMedia, consults for, writes the blog and also blogs for Along with her husband and three children, Suzanna splits her time between NY and Texas.

Catch up with Suzanna online:
Twitter: @skconcepts
Facebook: TechandTravelmom


Posted in: