J Patrick + Associates Blog

The Bottom Line: The Pros & Cons of Contract Work

Posted by Glenda Gregorio on Thu, Aug 16, 2018 @ 01:44 PM

Contract Work


The word on the street in Silicon Valley is that we are currently in a “gig economy,” that is, more and more people are opting for contract work as opposed to traditional full-time employment. According to new research, conducted by labor economists Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger, between 2005 and 2015 the number of Americans seeking alternative work arrangements swelled by 9.4 million. The large move towards contract employment can be explained by several factors from the need of flexible work hours to increased autonomy.

But, if you find yourself thinking about joining the growing ranks of contract workers, you need to first understand the pro and cons of this kind of work.


PRO: Potential for Higher Earnings

Hiring contractors provides the flexibility companies need as it saves time, money and resources. Companies are also going to hire you because you’re an expert in your field. You know what to do and how to get it done in a timely manner, which is what companies look for in contractors. It is important to understand that most contractors are considered experts in their fields, so you will be rewarded for your expertise.


CON: Increased Uncertainty

The potential for higher earnings is a great benefit of contract work, but there’s no guarantee you will keep working once a contract expires. And since the nature of the work you’ve been hired to do is finite, you have no guarantee that you’ll make the money you thought you would. Another other thing to consider is that the project you were hired to work on can be unexpectedly cancelled. All of these factors can add up to increased financial instability --if you’re not working, you’re not getting paid. And finally, there’s no way of knowing the amount of time you’ll spend between contracts.  


PRO: Lifestyle Flexibility

According to Randstad’s Workforce360 Study, about 86% of independent contractors reported their level of job satisfaction to be good/excellent. With contract work comes more freedom, you’re able to control your career path without having to wade through office politics for a promotion, pay raise or time off. You negotiate to get the employment packages that suit you the most, and you take as much or as little time off in between contracts. If this type of flexibility is appealing to you, this will help boost your professional and personal satisfaction.  


CON: Outside Looking In

All that flexibility may be nice, but the price you pay is that you’ll always be the outsider.  Contract work makes it difficult to create ties, connections which might help advance your career further down the road... There’s also the lack of social engagement. As we all know, you spend more time at work than at home, so your social life tends to stem from your work life. Some in-house employees may not be inclined to get to know you because you’ll be with the company for a limited amount of time.


PRO: Increased Technical & Professional Knowledge

You’re the expert in your field and have a certain skill set that companies in your industry want. But, contract work also provides the opportunity to sharpen your expertise and work in different sectors. It allows you to broaden your experience in your field and perhaps gain new skills in other industries while you’re at it. You’re at liberty to choose the skills that you would like to further develop in other industries, allowing you to enhance your CV and marketability for future jobs. It can also be part of your story when explaining an employment gap to a potential employer.


CON: Career Development

The freedom provided by contract work to broaden your technical and professional skills means that you are in charge of your own development. Great, right? Maybe not. Although it feels empowering to be in charge of your own career development, it is a heavy burden to bear. You no longer have the human resources department or a talent management team to ensure that you’re properly trained and qualified for the job. It is now up to you to make sure that your skill set is up to par with the current trends of the industry.

Like everything in life, contract employment has its benefits and drawbacks. Although it is not a career long plan, if you’re returning back to the work force or need a flexible work arrangement, contract work might be a viable option.


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Tags: Job Search, Job Interviews, Career Strategies

Seal The Deal: The Sales Engineer Product Demonstration Interview

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Tue, Apr 11, 2017 @ 11:05 AM

Sales Engineer Interview


The road to a job offer for a Sales Engineer can look a bit different from other roles after the initial stages.

After impressing the hiring manager during your call or video interview, you've had a technical screen, interviewed with a senior sales engineer or perhaps some peers SEs. You might have even been screened by 1 or 2 of the sales reps you'd be supporting.

Now it's time for the final hurdle of the interview process -- the product demonstration interview. 

Whether you've been an SE for years, or this is your chance to step up into the role, there are some key factors to keep in mind as you prep for the demo.


The Ideal Candidate Marries Aptitude + Attitude

The ideal candidate for any SE role obviously has to have the technical knowledge and facility needed to support the product. But you know if you hadn't passed the technical screen you wouldn't be preparing to give a demo.

So, your job during the presentation goes way beyond being able to explain the back end of the product. The real point of the demonstration interview is demonstrating that you are relatable, passionate and creative.

Hiring managers are looking for SEs who can both make the tech accessible and clear, while instilling trust in the clients. Your job is to be an evangelist for the product, to transfer your enthusiasm and to tell the story of why this is the perfect solution for the customer.

Conveying that you have the perfect combination of aptitude and attitude during your presentation will put you within reach of an offer.


Confidence is Key

Since you aren't doing a demonstration for customers you don't have the benefit of discovery or a pre-call. And while you will have done your research on the hiring team, you're not pitching the product to fill a real need for them. In fact, you might even be in the position of having to demo the hiring company's product for them.

And puts you at a disadvantage. Whereas you're accustomed to being the expert in the room, suddenly you're in the position of having to sell people who know more about the solution than you do.

But, that doesn't mean you can't knock this demo out of the park.

And the key to that is confedince. 

We're not talking cocky swagger here. This is the confidence born of practice, research and deep, well-structured preparation. It's the ability to hold your agenda and convey your enthusiasm.

In some ways, a room full of skeptics is the best test of your talents. If you can convincingly sell a panel of Senior Sales Engineers, the VP of Sales and the hiring manager on their own product, then you can face the toughest customer challenges out there.


Share Your Passion

If your presentation is on the subject of your choice, choose something you're passionate about. Pick something you've done the deep research on, and that you can speak with perfect authority about.

We had a candidate do a demo on remote controlled helicopters - a subject that had absolutely nothing to do with the company's product, but it was a topic he could be an evangelist for.

He nailed the demo and got the job.


Close the Deal

Whether you're presenting on your current product, the hiring company's product or your favorite hobby, a successful Sales Engineers knows how to make any set of circumstances work.

You might not wind your demo looking for the sale, but you do want to bring the pitch to a clean close. Just as you know how to convert prospects into customers by from a position of knowledge intent on finding a solution, use that power of creative know-how to get the job.

Engaging with the room honestly - one person to another. Stay on target, explain functionality of the solution and convey your passion for helping them put a solution to work.


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Tags: Job Interviews, Sales Engineer

Yes, You can Rescue an Interview After a Bad First Impression!

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Tue, Apr 04, 2017 @ 11:04 AM

Rescue your interview after a bad first impression


First impressions matter. In fact, they're more powerful than facts. Research has shown that we form our most lasting impressions of someone within the first 5 seconds of meeting them, and that we rarely change these initial ideas even in the face of hard evidence.


5 seconds.


That’s hardly enough time to walk in the door of an interview and take your seat, let alone make a strong case why you’re the best candidate for the job. But, it is enough time to blow an interview. Stumbling over a bump in the carpet, offering up a weak handshake, poor eye contact, or misjudging your wardrobe can all cost you dearly.

Prevailing wisdom dictates that it takes at least 8 positive interactions to overcome a bad first impression. And while that may sound insurmountable, the good news is there are some steps you can take to hit the reset button and reverse your losses.



Think back to the last time you were watching a live performance and a dancer slipped, or an actor flubbed their lines. The dancer who seamlessly continues on with the choreography or the actor who allows the gaffe play in their favor often wind up as audience favorites. It’s the ones who pull a face, or get so flustered they can’t find their place that lose the audience’s favor - something no amount of raw talent can make up for.

Handling mistakes with grace goes a long way to mitigate their potential damage. Allow yourself a brief moment to recover, make a small joke or offer a polite apology appropriate. What is important is to dust yourself off and get back to the business at hand. You’re there for a reason - to get the job - now is the time to focus on that.  



Running yourself down or trying to overcompensate with ongoing apologies will only serve to highlight your flaws. Unless you’ve been summarily dismissed from the interview, you still have the opportunity to turn things around. It’s important that you turn your attention from yourself and your embarrassment and toward your interviewer.

Demonstrating that you are flexible and can bounce back from setbacks is attractive to potential employers- use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your resilience.



Now is the time to return the full force of your focus to the interview. Leave the mistakes behind and communicate in an open, expressive manner. Let the interviewer see who you are and your core competencies. Shine a light on what you bring to the company and try to help them see you in a new.

A word of caution: Don’t push. Overcompensating with only serve to further alienate yourself and could do even greater damage than the original slip-up.



Even a bad first impression can be softened if you and the other person share something in common. It is more difficult to affirm the negative ideas we formed when confronted by similarities. If you and your interviewer share a point of view or interest, they are less likely to hold their initial reaction against you.



Just as first impressions are important, the end of an interview can have lasting effects. Arriving prepared, having done your homework and presenting your interviewer with well considered solutions can help stem the tide that was flowing against you. There’s no reason to allow a poor beginning to set the tone for the entire interview- you’ve come to sell yourself, don’t sell yourself short.



There are also those things that are outside of your control. All that you can do it make certain that you are professional, and have communicated the value you bring to any position clearly. Focus on the things that are in your control and let the blunders and mistakes be your teachers for future interviews. After all, if you chose to wear grey shoes to an interview and the hiring manager absolutely detests grey shoes, there’s nothing you can do about it.


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J. Patrick & Associates, Inc is an Executive Recruiting firm that focuses on Executive Management, Sales, Marketing and Technical roles within Information Technology markets. We have over 20 years of experience recruiting in every aspect of AV/VTC/UC, Application, Storage, Information/Network Security, Mobile Technologies and Telecommunications.

Tags: Job Search, Networking, Job Interviews

The Bottom Line: Diversity is Good For Business

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 @ 11:04 AM

Diversity for a Business


At the most basic level, workplace diversity is important because it represents fair and equitable hiring practices. It's reflective of society and the truth of our demographics. After all, according to the US Census Bureau, Asian, Hispanic and multiracial groups will hit majority status by 2044.

Our businesses need to reflect who we are.

But there's another reasons businesses need to focus on building an inclusive workforce: a broad spectrum of talent and ideas is vital for success. Exposure to a variety of points of view can lead to more ideas and better decisions. Diversity pushes us to explore, rethink, innovate and push boundaries.

In short, diversity is good for business. 

We only have to look to The Renaissance for the perfect example. The Age of Enlightenment didn't just take shape out of thin air. It happened because technological advances (larger ships, navigation techniques etc...) enabled people to travel greater distances. When East met West all manner of ideas were exchanged. Creativity was ignited sparking the idea for countless, important innovations.

The same holds true for your business. If you're not attracting and retaining women and employees from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds then you're depriving your company of the full spectrum of available talent. And that is bad for your bottom line.


Let's explore 4 practical steps you can take to enhance diversity in the workplace.


1. Assess Yourself

In order to build an inclusive team you first have to take an honest look at where you are right now. To make any kind of shift, the organization needs to be willing to ask hard questions of itself and try to assess the situation with candor.

Some things to ask consider include:

  • What mechanisms have you established for offering promotions?
  • How are you managing your talent pipeline?
  • At what point on your corporate ladder are you experiencing the most drop off by women and ethnic minorities?
  • Are you utilizing exit interviews to gather information on drop off?
  • What, if any are you recruitment biases?

The best way to find positive solutions is to delve deep into your problems with an honest and unbiased approach.


2. Attract

Let's be clear, we are not speaking about quotas or hiring goals. This is about building teams that reflect a wide variety of experience, thinking style, personality type, and points of view.

But the truth is if your company culture does not reflect an inclusive mindset, all the quotas in world won't help you to attract the kind of talent you need to succeed.

Make certain that your brand aligns with your philosophy. Just as savvy consumers have learned to sniff out green washing, candidates will know when your commitment to diversity is superficial.

Hiring managers need to set their checklists aside. Rather than looking for candidates who can check off each box and fit the position profile to a T, look instead for team players who bring a new perspective or unexpected experience. What you want are broad thinkers who bring a spark of innovation to your team. And you're more likely to find that when you cast a wide net.


3. Retain

Now devote equal time and energy to getting new hires to stay. According to the 2016 Women in the Workplace Report by McKinsey & Co., women receive less access to the people, feedback and opportunities that lead to promotions. They are also less likely to receive the first critical promotion that will set them on the path to management. And that all adds up to higher attrition rates.

This is the time to lay the groundwork for the long run. It’s important to show your hires they have a future in the company. Establish mentoring programs to help build strong relationships and illustrate the pathways for advancement. The Women in Business, Turning Promise into Practice report by Grant Thornton revealed that providing mentors for female employees helps women to build their confidence, empowers them to speak up and to stand up for their ideas. It also provides a framework for seeing where they can go in the company.

As Kim Bohr, Executive VP Operations at Fierce, Inc. stated in the HR Daily report on 2017 workplace trends, "An objective within organizations should be to create an environment where all employees can feel at ease and capable of understanding differing perspectives that exist, regardless of gender, race, generation, religious affiliation, or any other aspect of identity." 


4. Inspire

Make certain that avenues for advancement are well known among all of your employees. Create an environment where innovation, flexibility and prudent risks are rewarded. And always highlight successes, both large and small. The confidence and appreciation you extend will be returned two-fold. 

In addition to focusing on current hires, also think about setting your sights on the future of the workforce. Get involved with organizations that mentor girls and minorities is another way support the diverse workplaces of the future. There are organizations devoted to girls and minorities in STEM fields, in Management and even programs geared toward encouraging girls and minorities to step onto the MBA path. Whatever your field, there's an organization promoting education for kids and job training for under served populations.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about diversity, is that it's not just about numbers. It's about a company culture that values equality, and recognizes the inherent strength in a variety of perspectives and ideas.


BONUS: For an interesting perspective on how VR is broadening empathy and increasing cooperation across a broad spectrum, read here.


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Tags: HR and Hiring

Do Video Conferencing Interviews Save or Cost Your Company?

Posted by Dylan Rivera on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

Will video conferencing interviews save or cost your company


More and more companies have begun using video conferencing to conduct the early stages of the interview screening process. What begun as a trend, has now become an industry standard, but is this really an effective use of a company’s resources? 

Let’s explore some of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of video interviews from a cost/benefit perspective.  




The need for two people to be in the same room is eliminated. Hiring managers and candidates both enjoy greater flexibility, meetings no longer have to be confined to the office, and both parties can meet from the comfort of their own office or home. 

Cuts Costs

Handling candidate screening remotely can cut traveling, scheduling, and costs. Money saved can be re-allocated to improving productivity in other sectors of the organization, or towards expansion. Similar to phone interviews, video feed can be one of the most cost effective ways to meet candidates.



No Face-to-Face Interactions

There’s no better way to get a feel for someone than shaking their hand and sitting across from them. Video can flatten out an interaction, allowing cues you might have picked up in person, to go unseen. When deciding to bring someone into your department, you want to be assured that there’s chemistry and a connection, something you can only fully experience in person.

Feel for the Space

During a face-to-face meeting, candidates are able to get a feel for the environment of the office. Remote meetings cut out the possibility for spontaneous introductions to different team members, while also eliminating the candidate’s opportunity to get a sense of what the office is like. A potential hire's first visit to the office is also one way of seeing if they are a good cultural fit for your organization.

SWOT of Video Conference Interviews



Saves Time

Time is money. Instead of budgeting time to get to and from the physical location, all that is necessary is a block of time in front of a computer. Most importantly, video conferencing reduces the time it takes to fill an open position, as you are able to meet more candidates in a shorter period of time.

Broader Selection

Distance is no longer be an issue for first or second round interviews. You can connect with candidates all over the globe with a touch of a button, allowing you to reach out and discover the hidden potential in unexplored terrains. You don't have to miss out on discovering the final piece to your puzzle because the applicant lives too far away. 


One of the prime features embedded in a virtual interview is the ability to re-watch or playback the meeting. After a face-to-face meeting, you are left to rely on memory and notes you took during the conversation. Video conferencing allows you to take a second look to analyze body language, or discover cues that might have slipped past you in the moment. You can dig deeper into the candidate's responses, and you can get more team members involved in the decision process.




For all of its advantages, technology can sometimes be unreliable. There’s always the possibility for hardware/software problems. Connection is a two way street, so the chances of an interference is doubled, and the wait time can be unpredictable. Lag and delay can both cause interruptions. Hardware problems such as microphone/webcam failures can make communication problematic. With video conferencing you’re buying into the possibility that complications can disrupt an entire interview, setting back your workday.

With the benefits of cutting costs and time, it makes sense to switch over to video conferencing for the early stages of the screening process. 


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Tags: Job Interviews, HR and Hiring

How To Motivate Your Sales Team For Sustained Success

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Tue, Mar 14, 2017 @ 11:04 AM

Motivate your sales team for success


There's one vital truth every sales manager knows: A motivated sales team is a successful sales team.

But sometimes motivation flags and the team hits a rough patch. It might be a case of the post-vacation blues, the March muddles or the mid-summer humdrums. You may never know what causes a flag in productivity, all you have to know is that it's up to you to re-invigorate and motivate your team.

Here are 6 ways to motivate your sales team and get them back to running at full tilt.


Build Trust

The foundation of any healthy relationship is trust, and this is no less true of the manager/employee dynamic. We already know that people who are invested in their work are more productive and more likely to succeed. (In fact, according to one study, they are 12% happier) The manager who sets a tone of mutual respect and trust is more likely to keep the team moving forward than one who focuses solely on metrics and outcomes.

In order for your team to succeed they have to feel that you have their best interest at heart, and that you are open to hearing about both their challenges and goals. Nurturing an environment based on transparency is vital to building the two-way bond of trust and engagement.


Provide Resources

It's one thing to train a new hire, but in order to keep your team upbeat and closing, you need to always be providing new resources for them to deepen their skills.

And while sometimes that might manifest as additional training, don't forget that the depth of your knowledge and experience is a vital source of information. Spend one-on-one with your reps: schedule time to listen in on calls, provide the opportunity for them to sound off with their questions, problems, stumbling blocks.

There's another benefit of spending time individually with your reps; not only are you building rapport, you're also sending the very strong signal that you are personally invested in their success.


Set Clear Expectations

Always make sure that your team understands what you want of them. Closing deals might be the obvious goal, but have you set clear objectives? The last thing you want is a team that consistently falls short of their quota.

And more importantly, are the objectives attainable? Have you made certain that your sales reps know what is expected of them?

It's one thing to set a quota, but if your expectations are based on out-dated metrics, or don't account for a change in the market, then you are setting your team up to fail.


Give Regular, Actionable Feedback

Regularly scheduled reviews (bi/tri/annually) providing ongoing feedback.

Make yourself available on a regular basis. It's important to create an environment where feedback is part of the daily/weekly process.

And most importantly, framing that feedback in a positive light, as an opportunity for growth and providing actionable items leads to trust and ultimately to better employee performance.


Reward Successes Large & Small

Even the most self-disciplined and talented salesperson needs to know that they are valued. Celebrate milestones and victories, both large and small.

The "No news is good news" axiom is not one you want to follow when it comes to managing your team.

Be certain to recognize those small daily victories that might not lead directly to closing a deal, but rather that add forward momentum. Everyone wants to feel appreciated - a pat on the back should not be conditional on closing a deal.


Manage the Individual

Every manager has a style, and hopefully you made yours clear during the hiring process.

Understanding what drives an individual is key to motivating them. And the best way you can form that understanding is by getting to know them. Some key preferences you may want to know are:

  • What do they want to accomplish?
  • What pace of feedback do they respond best to: daily/weekly/monthly?
  • How do they like to receive feedback: publicly/privately? In person/via email?
  • What motives them?
  • What is the surest way to squash their motivation?

Keeping your sales team inspired and motivated is about finding out what drives them, as individuals and as a collective. Once you do, chances are you'll see both quotas and employee satisfaction rise. 


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Tags: energize your employees, management

6 Ways To Refocus your Team and Get back to Making Deals

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Tue, Mar 07, 2017 @ 11:04 AM

Career Advice Making Deals


It happens to the best managers - your team was cruising along, making deals and running like the well oiled machine you built it to be.

But then something happens. The latest flu makes the rounds in the office picking your employees off one by one, or people are having a hard time refocusing after vacation.Whatever the reasons, it's time for you to refocus your team and get things ramped back up.


Here are some ideas to help guide you.


Wipe The Slate

A stockpile of work can be overwhelming, but there’s nothing worse than having fluff making the pile even higher. Take the time to go through projects and clear out irrelevant and outdated tasks. What seemed like an important project back in early July may no longer be applicable. Clear the decks so you can get the team working toward clear and achievable goals.


Make A Plan

Even if you had the whole year mapped out, now is the time to realign and reprioritize. The best way to get your team back into fighting shape is to present them with a game plan. Clear priorities and a newly energized effort helps set the tone. We are back and ready to start cranking out the deals!


Resurrect Boundaries

Dress code and Friday closing times aren’t the only things to get loosened up in the summertime. Boundaries and conventions have a habit of slipping as well. Take these days in the early part of September to re-establish the conventions that help make you the most productive. Close the door on your office or put your phone on Do Not Disturb for a few hours in the morning in order to give yourself the time you need to refocus. Do what you need to do to send the signal to your team that it’s nose to the grindstone time.


Authorize and Engage

Sometimes the best way to get the blood going, and to show your team they're valued, is to change things up. You've hired a cracker-jack team, now it's time to push them. Give an individual a new responsibility, enhance a particular group’s reach. This isn’t about playing favorites, but it is about creating new avenues for development, both individually and for the team as a whole.


A Little Competition Goes A Long Way

There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to get people back into fighting form. Creating a sales competition is a great way to get the blood going again.

If a sales competition is not pertinent to your business, then try a fundraising challenge or even plan a sporting event. The idea is to get the team reinvigorated and re-engaged both together, and individually.

Take the time to reinvigorate and re-engage your employees, and the benefits will be seen long past the close of the quarter.


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Tags: Career Strategies, Recruiter Tips, Career Advice

5 Reasons Why You Should Never Turn Down An Interview

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Tue, Feb 28, 2017 @ 11:04 AM



Here you are happy as can be in your current position, when out of the blue you get a call from a recruiter (or a friend drops you a line) saying they've got an amazing opportunity for you.

You weren't thinking about leaving - you like your job, your boss is a peach and life is running like clockwork. So you might be tempted to turn down the opportunity to go on the interview, after all you're busy, why waste anyone's time?

Well, there are some great reasons to take the interview, and not all of them center around finding a new job.


1) The Best Laid Plans

As they say, the only thing you can count on is change. One day things are running smoothly at work, and the next day you come in to find your company is being acquired. Or maybe your boss gets promoted or leaves and and now your team is learning how to work with a new leader. The new boss may not think as highly of you as the old boss, they may have a style that clashes with yours or they may simply have someone else they want to put in your position. You certainly can't plan for this kind of upheaval.

On the other end of the spectrum, you never know when you might stumble into the job of your dreams. We've all heard the stories of people who reluctantly went on an interview only to find their dream position.

Taking the time to meet for a coffee or lunch time interview may just be the best thing you can do to maintain control of your destiny.


2) Loyalty Can Be A Slippery Slope

Long gone are the days when a career spanned 25 years, and ended with a retirement party and a gold watch. In fact, the new normals for millennials is to spend an average of 2.5 years at any one position.

And even if you do find yourself in a long term position, you might be selling yourself short. Chances are incremental raises and promotions will not carry the same kind of bump in $ a new job will (unless of course you are given a counteroffer). Then too is the reality that there's a limit to how far one can climb at the same firm. While your boss may think highly of you, if you are looking to move into a new area or take on responsibilities that greatly vary from your current position, you might just stand a better chance of being thought of in a new light somewhere new.

And finally, the truth is, when cuts need to be made some companies will look to cut the costliest employees first. If the choice comes down between someone who is working near the top of the pay grade and a newer hire, chances are you very well might be the first on the chopping block.


 3) There's No Such Thing As Wasted Time

Just as going on vacation is a great way to re-energize and open new pathways of thinking, so too is talking to other companies.

Gaining insight into how other companies operate and other teams engage can act as jet fuel for your current position. While you're certainly not taking these meetings to spy, you can use it as a window into industry trends.

Information is power, so even if you're not interested in pursuing the opportunity any further, the worst thing that will come of the interview is insights into market trends. It might also highlight just how good you have it at your present job.


4) Stay On Your Toes

You know you should be keeping your resume up to date and your LinkedIn profile current, but if you're not always looking for the next great opportunity, most of us simply won't do it until we need to. But if you wait until you've either left or lost your present position, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage. No one wants to have to do that under duress.


5) Build A Better You

There's nothing like getting out in the world to see yourself in a new light. Even if you get nothing else from an interview, it's an opportunity to test how you rate in the marketplace. Afford yourself the chance to test which of your skills are in demand and which you are lacking. You'll be able to see how the marketplace views you and get a better understanding of your strengths and where you need to learn. Any chance to brush up your interview chops is one you should jump at.

There are however a few words of caution you must keep in mind:

  • Don't make phone calls on company time
  • Do not use company equipment to make phone calls, send emails, faxes or do research
  • Remain focused on your job while you're at work
  • If you can avoid it, don't schedule an interview during work hours
  • Don't make any mentions on social media
  • Don't use current co-workers or colleagues as references

As long as you remember these few rules, we encourage you to take advantage of every interview that comes your way, you never know where it will lead you!


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Tags: Job Search, Job Interviews

10 Programs Leading the Way For Girls in Tech

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 @ 11:04 AM

10 Programs Leading The Way For Girls in Tech.png


According to The National Center for Women in IT, tech companies with women in management positions achieve 34% higher return of investment.

34% higher return.

And yet women still only occupy 26% of the over 4 million computer science related positions in the country, and account for only 11% of executives in Fortune 500 tech companies. 

Not only is the lack of diversity in tech profoundly out of line, it's bad for business, especially when we 

The good news is that a good number of organizations and initiatives have cropped up around the country to change the game. Some are focusing on girls still in school, others on offering training to women already out in the workforce. But what unites all of these organizations is the belief that not only should women be occupying an equal share of the over 3 million tech jobs, but that they are in fact the future of tech.

Here's a rundown of 10 of the leading not-for-profits and organizations working to forge a path to get more girls in tech, and to help women make their mark in the industry.


1. Girls Who Code

The US based program has taught over 40,000 girls to code to date. They offer both after school clubs which are open to 6th-12th grade girls, and summer immersion programs for 10th-11th grade girls which take place at leading technology companies. With locations in 42 states they are driven by the single mandate to close the gender gap in the technology sector.

Brook view House in Dorchester, Ma, an organization dedicated to helping homeless families develop life-skills and training has opened their own chapter of #girlswhocode. This kind of out reach to under served communities is actively changing lives. Not only are they empowering girls who might not have ever thought they were entitled to a career, they are laying the very foundation these girls to launch successful careers in tech.


2. Black Girls Code

Black Girls Code's vision is to :"increase the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology. To provide African-American youth with the skills to occupy some of the 1.4 million computing job openings expected to be available in the U.S. by 2020, and to train 1 million girls by 2040."

And they're succeeding. By reaching out to underrepresented communities to teach coding on platforms such as Ruby on Rails and scratch, Black Girls Code is engaging girls who might never have been introduced to tech in their schools. Through programming and game design they are preparing black girls to not only take their place in the tech sector, but to become the designers of their own futures.


3. Code.org

A not-for-profit organization, Code.org is dedicated to expanding access to computer science to underrepresented populations and girls. They also provide professional learning programs for teachers to integrate CS into their classrooms, are working to set up policies supporting CS and partnering with school districts to add CS to the curriculum.

Their Hour Of Code initiative, a free one hour tutorial designed to provide a fun and easy introduction to coding is available in 45 languages and has been implement in over 180 countries.


4. Womanity

This not-for-profit has set out to empower girls and women in developing countries and to help accelerate progress within their communities. Inspired by the UN Sustainable Development goals, their mission is to

  • Support girls and women’s access to quality education and vocational training.
  • Create employment, revenue generation and professional career opportunities for women.
  • Promote avenues that give women a voice in society, politics and governance institutions.
  • Protect women and girls’ physical and psychological integrity.

Case in point is their Girls Can Code initiative in Afghanistan. Working in accordance with the Ministry of Education, they have been able to build the intensive introduction to coding for girls in Kabul.

In other words, they are working within cultures to help create a path for women and girls to succeed.


5. Geek Girl Camp

Founded in 2008, Geek Girl seeks to empower women & girls (and dudes!) of all ages and all financial levels in technology, from beginner newbie to startup savant." They hold Tech Conferences and workshops, and offer seminars, public speaking training as well as consulting. Geek Girl for Hire is their job initiative aimed at helping women find work.

Like these other organizations, Geek Girl is working to help create a a more diverse tech workforce and pave the way for a future where education and opportunity is available to everyone.


6. Built By Girls

#builtbygirls is one of the organizations leading the way past simply teaching girls to code. As stated on their homepage, they recognize that there are countless opportunities for careers in tech and they've made it their mandate to prepare girls to innovate and lead.

Wave Utilizing a devoted mobile platform, this mentorship connects girls 15-18 years old with mentors in the technology sector. Over the course of 9 months, the program pairs each of the 150 girls with 3 mentors, based on the girl's areas of interest. the 3 month period with each mentor is spent in communication in which the 2 will solve a hypothetical problem related to that business or sector. Much of the communication takes place through the app, but the program also includes a monthly visit.

At the end of the 3 months, the mentor then introduces their student to 2 relevant contacts from their network - meaning that upon the completion of the program, each student will have a minimum of 9 contacts in her field of interest.

The program launched with 150 girls, but has the goal of including 20,000 girls by 202. If they hit their mark, that mean those girls will have made over 90,000 connections in the tech sector.

 Girls Who Fund On the VC/start up end of the business, #builtbygirls offers a summer apprenticeship program for college bound girls at BBG Ventures, an early-stage seed fund investing in consumer tech startups with at least one female founder.

During the month long program girls learn the fundamentals of running a startup, study the bones of venture capital (VC). They also are afforded the amazing opportunity to not only meet leaders in the VC field, but to also sit in on pitch meetings.

The internship concludes with the girls judging the #BUILTBYGIRLSChallenge, a pitch competition for tech products built by girls.


7. Girl Develop It (gdi)

What began with one class offered in NYC in 2010 has since blossomed into an organization with chapters in over 56 US cities. GDI provides low cost training for women to learn web and software development. Their focus is on providing a judgement free experience where women of all backgrounds and economic levels can learn new skills while increasing their confidence and career prospects. And it seems that they are succeeding, as their organization represents over 55,000 women to date.


8. Rails Girls

Founded in Finland, Rails Girls has now blossomed into a global not-for-profit community. Sponsoring events that are organized by volunteers, Rails Girls focuses on providing women with the tools, the knowledge and the vocabulary to build out their ideas. By making technology more approachable they are empowering a new generation of business owners, entrepreneurs and content providers.


9. Railsbridge

Also born out of a single workshop, this one in San Francisco in 2010, Railsbridge is devoted to creating diversity in tech: not only gender, but race, sexual orientation, ability and class. While their first workshops might have focused on women, they have since expanded their scope.

As they say, they "value acceptance, enthusiasm, and hard work. The RailsBridge community thrives on optimism and a love for making great things."


10. Codechix

Dedicated to education, advocacy and mentorship, Codechix's aim is to increase the number of women engineers in both industry and academia. And a big part of that mission is to focus on retention. According to their website 56% of women engineers drop out of the industry within 10 years. One of the best ways to stem that tide is to do exactly what Codechix is doing: fostering opportunities for face-to face communication, community building and mentorship.

To this end, they "conduct eventsparticipate in competitions as a team, develop open-source projects on our Github repository and actively network to create a foundation for women engineers on the technical ladder in software and hardware."

There are countless other initiatives and organizations all working to foster diversity in tech, we'll explore some of the professional organizations in a future blog, and continue to delve into this issue on an ongoing basis. 


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photo credit: Paul Bergmeir

Tags: hiriring, Women in Tech

5 Hiring Mistakes That Will Cost You Top Talent

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Tue, Feb 14, 2017 @ 11:04 AM

Avoid these 6 hiring mistakes to win top talent


With top talent at a premium in sectors from cyber security to AV/IT, hiring great employees is more challenging than ever. And the last thing any company wants to face is hiring someone who doesn't work out. After all, replacing an employee can cost as much as 6 to 9 months of that employee's annual salary.

In order to avoid losing both time and money, or even worse not being able to find the right candidate at all, here are 6 hiring mistakes to make certain you avoid.


1) Chasing Perfection

All too often we see hiring managers clinging too tightly to their checklists. Of course there are certain prerequisites of any position, but if you are too set on an ideal you run the very real risk of missing out on a truly great candidate.

Or perhaps you are set on the idea of what your team should look like, the hiring equivalent of choosing from a take-out menu: one from column A, two from column B etc... But if you let go of pre-set ideals and consider candidates with diverse backgrounds and unexpected skills, you will enhance the team as a whole. An outsider's perspective can be refreshing and add the kind of new energy and boost you need to move the needle higher.

Remember: working with people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent and harder-working.


2) Not Truly Knowing The Job

It's one thing to know what function you're hiring someone for, but it's another thing to really understanding how the role functions on a day-to-day basis.

One of the best tools at your disposal to understand any given role on your team is the exit interview. And while that might sound counterintuitive, it makes perfect sense. After all, what better way to understand what works and what doesn't than to hear from people who are on their way out?

Yes, certainly there will be those employees whose opinion you will have to take with a grain of salt, but if you take care to ask the right questions and really listen to the answers you receive, you stand to learn an awful lot about the job you are now faced with filling.

So before you go into interviews to fill a role, take the time to talk to the people who have done the job. If you do, you'll not only be able represent the position accurately, but it will also help you look for the candidate best suited to do the job.


3) Forgetting That Time Truly Is Of The Essence

Every search has its own parameters. Some jobs demand casting a wide net due to location, skill set or competition for talent. Others need to be filled as quickly as possible in order to insure that critical concerns are handled. But no matter the extenuating circumstances your company needs to have an established hiring protocol.

While it may seem an obvious system to have in place, too many companies do not have clear hiring policies in place. But taking the time to build a set of protocols not only makes it easier on your hiring managers, it also sends a stronger message to candidates that you are desirable company to work for.

In terms of how long you should spend on a search, that will depend on the job you're filling. But take care to never allow the process to go on for too long, otherwise candidates will either lose interest, continue to take meetings at other companies, or decide you are not interested in them and take themselves out of the running.


4) Trying To Get Away With Less

Trying to undercut the competition might look good on paper, but it will not help you to attract top talent. If you're offering compensation that is not in line with your sector you are not only going to be less appealing to candidates, but you're also selling yourself short.

The best guideline to follow is a candidate's current compensation package. If you are not able to meet what they are currently making or beat it, adjust the candidates you are considering. Otherwise you'll just be wasting your time as well as the candidates.


5) Forgetting You're Also Selling

It's easy to forget that while you're vetting a candidate, they too are interviewing you. They're looking to see if your company supports a culture where they'll feel at ease, supported and can foresee an upward path for themselves. Since more of our time is spent at work than at home with friends and family, the contemporary worker wants to know that they'll be spending their time somewhere they'll feel valued.


Just as college recruiters have become marketing machines, pitching students why they're the best choice for their education, you too have to sell candidates on why your position is the one that they should take. 


Related Questions:

What do I have to do to hire the right candidate? 

How do I do on boarding right?  


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Tags: HR and Hiring