February 2014

Monthly Archives

  • Demand for Data Architects Keeps Rising

    “There has been an increase in demand for data architects ,” says Rob Byron, a principal consultant in WinterWyman’s Boston-based IT Search Division. Data provides knowledge and power to any company that knows how to harness it, and lately organizations have been pushing not only to capture all the data they can, but to understand how to leverage that information in a way that’s meaningful to their business. Consequently, data architects have become the critical link between business and technology. “That’s where the big boom in business intelligence is starting to happen,” says Byron. “It’s now a big piece of the data architect role.” Architects are expected to understand all elements of databases, and also ensure that a company’s technology group has a complete understanding of what the business actually needs. What Employers Are Looking For The data architect should be a technologist, a mediator/liaison and a data strategist. Per Byron, clients are looking for professionals who can evangelize best practices and good data practices to the technology team. They must also be able to socialize those practices within the business. Whether it’s the CEO, marketing or operations, the data architect must be able to understand each of the business’s variants and work with disparate teams to make sure information is organized precisely and in a way that’s actually useful to their employer. “The data has to be structured in a certain way,” says Byron. “The data layer has to be laid out correctly. These people not only have to be technically strong, they have to be able to interface with the business at a high level.” Base Knowledge The in-demand skill set still includes being conversant in traditional data-modeling tools both physical and logical, such as ERwin , PowerDesigner , ETL , Oracle and SQL Server Database . Even if the architect isn’t going to be hands-on, they must be able to develop a proof of concept, set the framework and communicate with the team who’s doing the final building. Big Data is Here Byron says the buzz around Big Data is getting louder. He notes that tools that were used in the past aren’t going work with cutting edge companies that are using massively parallel processing (MPP) databases. “There are NoSQL types of databases that are out there and we’re starting to see more requirements for MongoDB or Hadoop . The architect need not be an expert, but they must be able to build a proof of concept, evaluate the situation and work with selecting the right vendor when it’s time to turn the project over to the builders.” The post Demand for Data Architects Keeps Rising appeared first on Dice News .

  • How to Craft a Technical Resume – Hint: PSR

    The Problem: Employers are ignoring your resume. In fact, you’ve only scored one interview after sending it out to more than 100 open positions. The Solution: You use the PSR – for “problem, solution, results” — methodology to punch up your experience bullets and provide a brief project summary. The Results: You score a dozen interviews and two offers after tantalizing employers with a revitalized package that emphasizes your value. So what is this magical PSR methodology? In a nutshell, it’s a classic writing technique that authors have been using for years. Instead of providing information in a vacuum, you lure in reviewers by defining the challenge you’ve faced, your course of action and the results you achieved. The repeatable formula is often used by technical writers to create compelling marketing messages when space is limited. If you want to see the technique in action, take a look at these case studies from Microsoft . Let’s review the process and how to use the results to jump-start your search. Define the Problem: First, describe a situation where you used relevant technical and non-technical skills to solve an urgent problem. Say an employer is looking for someone to troubleshoot and resolve network issues. Instead of writing: “Troubleshot LAN/WAN connections for 16 locations,” provide context by asking yourself, “Did the network have a history of failures? What caused the problems and how did the issues impact productivity, user satisfaction and the bottom line?” Include that detail. Describe the Solution: After identifying the problem, describe the steps you took and the skills you used to resolve it. Did you use a specific tool to test routers, domains and other network components? Did you install new servers or correct configuration problems? Why was your solution effective or unique? Remember, it’s OK to boast as long as it’s accurate. Outline Your Impact: Describe your outcomes specifically and glowingly. Note who was impacted and how they benefited. After all, it’s how you align your skills to the company’s strategic goals and use them to solve problems that creates value for IT managers . Transform Your Information into Results The final step is to edit all of this into powerful accomplishment bullets, project summaries and interview vignettes. Use power verbs , colorful adjectives and statistics to create one- to two-sentence accomplishment bullets that address the major requirements. For example: Resolved a costly history of intermittent network interruptions by using Traceroute and Ping to test and troubleshoot route and router issues. Using diligence and expertise, initiated a unique alteration of the routing table that produced 100% uptime and increased staff productivity by 15%. Augment your resume by offering prospective employers a short synopsis of your relevant projects. Or, if you’re a consultant, consider incorporating snapshots of appropriate projects into your resume as we did in this sample for an information security consultant and this one for a freelance project manager . Integrate your resume with the interview by using the PSR formula to create a series of short vignettes that illustrate how you’ve solved problems, applied your skills and created value for previous employers or clients. Short stories are perfect for diffusing negative questions or responding to questions about your behavior , experience and work preferences. When you combine your achievements with information about the problem and the solution, you’re on your way to creating an appealing — and highly effective — resume. The post How to Craft a PSR Resume appeared first on Dice News .

  • Traits Amazon Likes in Tech Hires

    IT job seekers complain of the hoops they have to jump through to work at Google or Microsoft . Amazon’s not much different, though it does have its own unique set of hoops. To be a manager at the online retail giant, a person must have a certain personality profile, or at least be willing to adapt, transform and become an Amazonian, says George Packer in the New Yorker . And, according to a former Amazon employee he quotes, prospective managers need to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – hopefully ending up with a personality profile similar to that of founder Jeff Bezos. The key to understanding Amazon is the hiring process. You’re not hired to do a particular job – you’re hired to be an Amazonian. Lots of managers had to take the Myers-Briggs personality test. Eighty percent of them came in two or three similar categories, and Bezos is the same: introverted, detail-oriented, engineer-type personality. Not musicians, designers, salesmen. The vast majority fall within the same personality type – people who graduate at the top of their class at M.I.T. and have no idea what to say to a woman in a bar. Amazon executives hold disdain for publishers who select books based on instinct rather than analyzing customer data, Packer notes. Such metrics are applied to employees, as well. For example, the company writers who describe a product or conduct an interview aren’t judged by the quality of their copy, but by whether or not customers purchase the product before leaving the page. It stands to reason, then, that data scientists , business analysts and other show-me-the-metrics roles are held in high regard at the company. Amazon realized the value of customer data mining long before other companies got wise to its value. At an early publishing trade show… Bezos said that Amazon intended to sell books as a way of gathering data on affluent, educated shoppers. The books would be priced close to cost, in order to increase sales volume. After collecting data on millions of customers, Amazon could figure out how to sell everything else dirt cheap on the Internet. (Amazon says that its original business plan “contemplated only books.”) Amazon hasn’t lost its interest in deepening its use of data. The company has hundreds of job openings in the U.S., including data engineers , hardware developers and software developers , Susan Harker, Amazon’s vice president of global talent acquisition, told Dice News . “We hire a lot of machine learning scientists to work on challenging business problems,” she said. The post These Are the Traits Amazon Likes in Tech Hires appeared first on Dice News .

  • Amazon Hiring at Liquavista and Lab126

    Word on the street is that Amazon is hiring IT professionals, as it ramps up its Kindle research and development efforts. According to Good E-Reader , Amazon is working on a full color e-reader with a six-inch screen, similar to the resolution offered with its existing Kindles. Some of the positions Amazon is seeking to fill include process quality engineer , product test engineer , process development engineer , product development manager , and an Asia-based operations program manager . The new senior level positions will be at Amazon’s subsidiary Liquavista, with some of the jobs devoted to development and others related to production. The new product development manager is expected to work with Lab126, Amazon’s research and development arm. Amazon bought Liquavista from Samsung in May. Liquavista is known for its technology that allows e-readers to use a lower level of power than previous generations of e-readers. It also makes displays that are easier to view in all lighting conditions. The new Kindle could be available as early as this year. Lab126 is also hiring software engineers, program and product managers , and a hardware development engineer . Lab126 designs and engineers consumer electronic devices like the Kindle family of products. The post Amazon Hiring at Liquavista & Lab126 appeared first on Dice News .

  • Staples Hiring Spree Targets Hundreds of Engineers

    Office products retailer Staples has been on a hiring spree to support its big bet on e-commerce. The company has been adding “hundreds of engineers, including many from Web-only retailers who can help the retailer to bridge gaps in creating and managing technology across stores and digital,” according to Internet Retailer . While rolling out faster, sleeker and more personalized mobile sites, the company’s also looking to “omnichannel” technology that promotes in-store shopping. In September, Staples announced plans for its Seattle Development Center , described as “an innovation hub rivaling Silicon Valley” with up to 50 employees hired in positions like software development , product management , usability , analytics and online merchandising. It’s now advertising for several software engineering positions there. In October, Staples acquired San Mateo, Calif.-based conversion marketing platform company Runa to help build out its data analytics capabilities . Like other retailers, Staples is trying to gain capabilities in analytics through acquisitions that  also yield highly sought-after talent. Other big-box retailers that have done the same include  Home Depot , which bought pricing startup BlackLocus, and Walmart Labs  that acquired predictive analytics platform Inkiru. At the time of its Runa deal, Staples said it planned to add 20 to 30 more people to build up its analytics staff up to around 50. Staples’ mobile team is based at its Velocity Lab in Cambridge, Mass., with up to 75 employees focused on customers’ growing preference for mobile shopping. Its open positions there include senior engineer mobile , senior UI software engineer and e-commerce data architect . “Staples has been hiring additional engineers to its Seattle Development Center, as it continually enhances its digital properties to help customers make more happen,” Staples spokesman Mark Cautela told Dice News. “For the new Staples Innovation Center in San Mateo, Staples has been adding associates with backgrounds in Clojure programming , deep learning and data science . And for Staples Velocity Lab in Cambridge, the company is continually searching for the best mobile talent. Staples is also looking for project managers , additional engineers and e-commerce professionals for its corporate headquarters in Framingham, Mass.” Improving the Mobile Experience Last August, the company rolled out a redesigned mobile website with improved integration with its Staples rewards program. It plans to launch its first iPad app this spring. So far, the company’s maintaining a separate mobile site, smartphone app and tablet-optimized site rather than using responsive Web design to create one site that adapts to any screen size. That’s a more expedient way to improve the customer experience, though the retailer plans to move all its sites into responsive design starting at the end of this year, Executive Vice President of Global E-Commerce Faisal Masud said recently. Staples feels pressure to improve the mobile experience because frustrated buyers quickly move on to other sites, Masud said. “As much as we want to go to responsive, there’s not time right now,” he explained. “We have to fill a short-term gap where we have a lot of traffic going [to mobile].” Among other things, the company is incorporating buying histories into its product recommendations and using information about users’ browsing habits to make each session more relevant. In addition to its mobile strategy, Staples is leveraging technology as it pares down its brick-and-mortar stores. Its developers are working on software that allows customers with Android phones to connect with in-store kiosks that highlight products they’ve tagged in the mobile app. And, it has developed technology that alerts a sales associate if a customer stands in the store’s ink section for more than a minute and a half. While Staples sells more than $10 billion worth of products online annually, second only to Amazon among the world’s Internet retailers, sales dropped 1.2 percent in 2012. It will announce 2013 results on March 6. The post Staples Hiring Spree Targets Hundreds of Engineers appeared first on Dice News .

  • Majority of Engineers May Job Hop in 2014

    With tech salaries rising a modest 3 percent last year and IT professionals realizing the best way to bump up their salaries is land a new job, it’s not all that shocking that a new study finds more than 60 percent of engineers may seek a new job in 2014. And, of this group, 40 percent are already looking, according to the survey conducted by Experis , a unit of ManpowerGroup . “At the same time, 95 percent of hiring managers of engineers report difficulty filling open engineering positions,” the company reports. “Eighty-eight percent of these plan to hire engineers this year, while 29 percent do not believe they will be able to find the engineering talent they need for their businesses. Electrical / electronics engineers ranked highest on the list of the most in-demand.” With engineers finding compensation growth rather lackluster and new opportunities plentiful, hiring managers and recruiters may potentially find a greater pool of available talent. The survey of 700 engineers and 200 hiring managers also found that when it comes to engineers: 72 percent work eight to 10 hours a day 58 percent rarely or never have the option to work remotely An increasing number of companies are beginning to offer the ability to telecommute, especially in Silicon Valley – with the exception of Yahoo , which may be another reason engineers are looking for new opportunities. Of the companies surveyed, 17 percent seek electrical/electronics engineers, 14 percent mechanical or manufacturing engineers and 6 percent each for chemical and computer engineers . According to a separate talent shortage survey , engineers have been among the top 10 most difficult positions to hire every year since 2008, two years after the annual survey began. For hiring managers of engineers, the Experis survey reports challenges filling positions stem from a lack of applicants, 44 percent, lack of hard skills needed for the position, 37 percent, lack of experience, 33 percent, salary demands that are too high, 29 percent, and lack of workplace competencies/soft skills, 23 percent. The post Majority of Engineers May Job Hop in 2014 appeared first on Dice News .

  • EMC Restructuring Means Job Cuts Here, Hiring There

    Storage giant EMC has announced a restructuring that will involve about 1,000 job cuts , though with simultaneous hiring the company expects to end up with the same headcount as before, or even “slightly more.” EMC had 60,000 employees at the start of the year. The restructuring is “almost a mirror image of what we did last year,” David Goulden, CEO of EMC’s Information Infrastructure business, said during the company’s quarterly earnings call. In May, EMC said it would cut 1,004 positions, including jobs at its VMware subsidiary in Palo Alto, Calif. Jobs were eliminated in its Information Storage, RSA Information Security and Information Intelligence Group divisions. However, the company said it ended 2013 with a net increase of 2,000 jobs as a result of the shifts in its business. That may be an indication of where new hiring will take place this time around. Fourth-quarter earnings beat analyst estimates and executives stressed the company’s on track with its cloud and Big Data operations — which it spun off last year as a unit called Pivotal – and other emerging businesses. The new layoffs are expected to be “substantially completed” by the end of the first quarter, and fully completed by the end of 2014, EMC said. It has not made public the positions to be cut or the locations. However, as William Blair Analyst Jason Ader told the Register , “Management stated that the restructuring should be viewed more as a rebalancing, as the company moves people into ‘third platform’-oriented parts of the business and reduces headcount in legacy areas of the business.” “Third platform” involves the latest IT, plus mobile and cloud computing. Meanwhile, an EMC solution provider told CRN that the layoffs are focused on “people who sell EMC’s noncore products as the company moves the sales of some of its ancillary products to its core pre-sales personnel.” In its hiring, EMC looks for what Tom Murray, the company’s vice president of global talent acquisition, calls “classic” storage skills , but it also has a strong need for data scientists . The post EMC Restructuring Means Job Cuts Here, Hiring There appeared first on Dice News .

  • Demand for IT Engineers Shows in Salaries

    IT engineers continue to be in demand, and the proof is in their salaries, according to the 2013–2014 PayScale College Salary report . Their roles accounted for a sizable chunk of the top 10 salaries across all industries when measured by median pay for graduates with at least 10 years of experience. Computer engineering majors, sharing sixth place with electrical engineering majors, had an annual median salary of $106,000 for those at the mid-career level. When starting out – with five years’ experience or less– they earned $65,300 a year, compared to the slightly lower $64,300 for electrical engineers. Meanwhile, mid-career computer science graduates also earned six figures. Their median salaries stood at $102,000. Within computer science degrees, the five top jobs in terms of demand are software architecture and development , mobile app development , Big Data analytics , healthcare IT and video game design . Skills that are particularly in demand include . NET development , Java , JavaScript , C# , C++ , HTML5 and ASP.NET . Mechanical engineering majors round out the top 10 list, with mid-career professionals earning a median salary of $99,700. Demand for these jobs should continue strong, as well. According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in its 2013 salary report , “As the world’s population increases, so will the demands on the next generation of engineers to provide solutions for global challenges. Mechanical engineers will be at the forefront of solving these problems.” Over the past 10 years, there seems to have been a renewal of interest in mechanical engineering degrees, says Tom Perry, ASME’s director of engineering education. The number of students seeking bachelor’s degrees in the subject or related fields increased by 43 percent — to 130,000 — in 2012, he notes. He attributes this interest to the wide range of applications for mechanical engineering, from the long-held traditional use of control systems found in robotics to embedded systems used in sustainable energy smart systems. “It’s not just about mechanical engineering anymore,” Perry says. “This is not your grandfather’s mechanical engineering.” The post Demand for IT Engineers Shows in Salaries appeared first on Dice News .

  • Amazon’s Closed Approach to Open Source Costs It Talent

    Amazon’s unwillingness to contribute to the open source projects it relies on is costing it potential talent as some tech professionals avoid the company, says the Register . Insiders describe Amazon as a “black hole” where improvements and fixes for open-source software are kept close to the vest, a policy that comes “right from the top.” Amazon contributes far less software code and research papers to open source projects than either Microsoft or Google, its main rivals. The secrecy goes so far as to prevent Amazon engineers from speaking – or even asking questions – at industry conferences. On top of that, people inside the company claim the approach is costing Amazon talent, both in terms of employees leaving for other opportunities and candidates losing interest. “In the Amazon case, there is a particular schizophrenia between retail and technology, and the retail culture dominates,” one source told the Register. “Retail frugality is all about secrecy because margins are so small so you can’t betray anything – secrecy is a dominant factor in the Amazon culture.” Amazon’s secrecy may make sense for some purposes, but it runs against the ethos of the open source community, where improvements are supposed to be freely shared. In fairness, the Register notes, Amazon isn’t obligated to share its enhancements if it’s not distributing the code or if the license doesn’t require it. How much of an impact this could have on Amazon’s future remains to be seen, but it’s more challenging to innovate when you can’t get the best talent. Amazon’s approach to open source may be smart in the short term, but could hurt down the road as the tech professionals it needs look elsewhere for jobs that will keep them immersed in the wider tech community. The post Amazon’s Closed Approach to Open Source Costs It Talent appeared first on Dice News .

  • Amazon Posted More Than 16,000 Jobs Last Year

    Amazon posted more ads for IT jobs — 16,146 in all — than anyone during 2013, according to CompTIA’s annual IT Industry Outlook report. The report’s based on numbers from Burning Glass Technologies in Boston, which analyzes online job postings from approximately 32,000 jobs sites. It eliminates duplicates, then runs analytics to mine the particular skills employers are seeking. Rounding out the top 10 were: Accenture , 14,240 job ads Deloitte , 13,077 Microsoft , 12,435 Best Buy, 10,725 IBM, 10,221 General Dynamics , 9,705 Science Applications International Corp., 7,146 Lockheed Martin , 6,995 HP , 6,923. Amazon, whose overall headcount reached nearly 110,000 in October, has been hiring hundreds of engineers in Herndon, Va., after winning a $600 million contract to build a secure, super-secret cloud platform for the Central Intelligence Agency. It’s also been building up a development hub in Vancouver, B.C . Susan Harker, Amazon vice president of global talent acquisition, recently spoke to Dice News about what the company looks for in IT candidates. Best Buy’s hiring represents the growing importance of “middle skill” IT jobs, meaning  those that don’t necessarily require a bachelor’s degree, according to Burning Glass, which saw about 200,000 of those types of positions in its analysis. Those are the kind of jobs you might find at support organizations like Geek Squad. Think help desk. The post Amazon Posted More Than 16,000 Jobs Last Year appeared first on Dice News .